Tuesday Easter 6

#DailyDevotion When Jesus Comes To Judge The World Will You Be Living Or Dead?

Tuesday Easter 6

Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”


When Jesus returns to judge the earth, he is going raise up all people from the graves. We will all stand before him in resurrected bodies. In our every day parlance, everyone will be alive. So what does this mean, he will judge the living and the dead. I believe Peter here is speaking in spiritual terms.


You might remember God threatened Adam and Eve that the day they ate the fruit they would die. Well despite living another 900 years or so, they did both die that day. The life of God departed from them. They became the dead living. They created zombie land so to say. St. Paul tells us, Eph 2:1 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” That was the state of mankind. We walk about thinking we are living but in reality, we were all dead.


Now Jesus says, Joh 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” John has written, Joh 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” We were once dead. Now through faith in Jesus we have eternal life, even right now as a present possession. We were dead but in baptism, we have been regenerated, born from above, born of God. We have received his life. Our bodies are dead because of sin but our spirits are now alive. We are now are the living dead.


At the last judgment, while we all stand before Jesus resurrected, some of us will still be dead spiritually. These are the dead Jesus judges. Because they do not have his life in them, they will be found guilty and cast into the lake of fire. There standing before Jesus will be those who did trust him or trusting in the promise of him, they have God’s life in them. They will pronounce not guilty by Jesus and given the world and God as their inheritance.


When Jesus comes to judge the living and dead, which will you be? Are you going to be found without faith and without the life of God or will you be found with faith and the life God? Eternal life is the free gift of God won and purchased for you by Christ Jesus. He offers it to you today as a free gift. Take the gift.


Heavenly Father, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be the life of the world that whoever believes in him will have the gift of eternal life. Grant us faith to possess this life now and be judged not guilty, possessing this life as the living on the day of his revelation as our judge. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday Easter 6

#DailyDevotion The Christian Faith Is Based On Witnesses Of Jesus’ Resurrection

Monday Easter 6

Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.


The Christian religion is a religion of faith. It is a religion of faith in who Jesus is, what did he accomplish, and what happened to him for us, for the world. It doesn’t take faith to believe Jesus existed. That’s a fairly established fact except for people who just have a problem with religion in general. But to believe Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion, that his death won eternal salvation for all people, that he ascended into heaven bodily and he is coming back to raise the dead on day, that takes faith.


But our faith is not in some made up story. The Christian faith has a foundation. That foundation is the apostles. Jesus had chosen certain people, five hundred plus of them according to St. Paul, to be witnesses of his resurrection. That would include the apostles, Paul, and a number of other disciples he showed himself alive to and taught them what the Scriptures meant concerning him. They ate and drank with him, at different times because Jesus wanted them to know he wasn’t a ghost, a phantasm or a figment of their imagination. They even held him. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day just as he said he would.


Now if Jesus is raised from the dead, we are justified, declared innocent of our sins. It means the Father had laid our sins upon him and made Jesus the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the world. If Jesus is raised from the dead, then death can have no hold on us. Those who have this faith possess eternal life. While we may physically die, we do not experience the pains of death like unbelievers. We have the promise we will be raised from the dead like Jesus the day of his visible return. Even unbelievers are raised from the dead bodily like us because of the resurrection of Jesus, but are raised only to be cast into the lake of fire.


These are things the Lord Jesus Christ taught to his disciples while he was with them during his pre and post crucifixion event. All of his teachings the apostles handed down to us, his Church. None of his teachings are hidden away somewhere in a vault. Everything Jesus taught to his apostles has been handed to us in the form of the New Testament writings. It is upon these writings which the Church was founded and is what we believe, teach and bear witness to the world. As the apostles bore witness now we who believe their words and trust in Christ Jesus also bear witness to the world. Jesus is risen and in him is the world’s salvation


Heavenly Father, we thank you for the witness of the apostles of Jesus’ resurrection and his teachings with give us eternal life as handed down to us in the Holy Scriptures. Grant us faith always in this witness and grant us your Holy Spirit that we may be witnesses also of his resurrection power in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

6th Sunday of Easter

#DailyDevotion God Show No Partiality

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 10:34 Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),


Peter was preaching at the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion, a Gentile. This in itself was an amazing thing for Jews didn’t ordinarily enter the homes of Gentiles. But the Lord had told him in a vision to do so. Already the Gospel has gone to the Jews and the Samaritans. Now the Gospel was coming to the Gentiles just as Jesus had commanded the disciples.


Now Peter is not preaching that we are saved by good works here, though they are not excluded. The Old Testament had taught in many times and places that God shows no partiality. When Israel or Judah lost their fear of God and did evil in his sight, he punished them. When the Ninevites repented after Jonah’s preaching and did right, the Lord spared their city. To fear God is to trust the Lord. It is to believe what he has said and then to act on that belief.


Now Cornelius was a man who feared God. As Peter’s sermon demonstrates he already know not only about what the Lord taught in the Old Testament, but he knew about the events of Jesus’ life. He had not yet come to faith in Jesus though. The Lord Jesus had brought Peter that Peter may preach the faith to Cornelius and so he and his household may come to faith.


Peter here preaches the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. He is not talking about peace on earth, i.e. the cessation of all wars and conflicts. Rather the peace of Jesus Christ is about peace between God and man. Man’s sin placed him at enmity with God. God is holy. Man is sinful. God’s law demands a certain type of righteousness. Man is unable by his own power or strength achieve this righteousness. Jesus though has by his blood covered our sin and made atonement for it. His blood removes from us our iniquities. We have been reconciled to the Father by the death of Jesus.


God has given us a promise of reconciliation through Jesus’ suffering and death. This brings us peace of heart. If God forgives us then we won’t hate him. If God forgives us, then we can forgive those who sin against us. This is the peace Jesus brings. If we believe this good news, we have even greater news, the Father counts our faith in Jesus as righteousness, the righteousness that stands before God.


This is because Jesus is not any ordinary man. Besides being man, the son of David, Jesus is Lord of all. That means he is the Lord of Hosts. He is the Lord of the Old Testament who is Israel’s God. It is his righteousness that is given to us. So he is the Lord our righteousness. Then reconciliation and righteousness is gotten by Jesus the Messiah for all nations, making one holy nation in himself. That includes you.

Heavenly Father, ever grant us true fear and faith in you that we may believe the peace won for us by Jesus and that we may do all that he has instructed us to do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday Easter 5

#DailyDevotion You Abide In Christ By Abiding In Church, And He Will Bear Fruit Though You.

Saturday Easter 5

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”


On the one hand this might be quite terrifying. What if I don’t bear any fruit? Who wants to be taken away and cast into the fire? Well while this might be a warning, it need not be terrifying if you abide in Christ.

First, you are clean because of Jesus’ word, his word of forgiveness, in baptism, in sermons and the like. Through the word of Christ, you are incorporated into Christ. You are made vines in Christ the true vine. Now true, if you bear no fruit you will be cast off. This is not because you earn your spot in Christ by bearing fruit. It is because you have separated yourself from the life of Christ by separating yourself from the word he speaks.


But if you continue in the word Christ speaks, then you will bear fruit. Now if you bear fruit the Father will prune you. Pruning is not fun when it is happening. The pruning in your life is the suffering, trials and tribulations of our life in Christ. In Hebrews it is written the Father disciplines those he loves. No discipline is pleasant when we are going through it. But it will produce in us a harvest of righteousness. Peter tells us the suffering we undergo purifies our faith. Paul tells us it produces endurance, character and hope and ultimately helps us to bear the weight of eternal glory.


So we will bear fruit and the Father will prune us to bear more fruit. This will happen when we abide in Christ Jesus. How do we abide in Christ? Despite the view of ‘spiritual’ people, we go to Church. We gather together to hear Christ’s word in the absolution, the lessons and the sermon. We receive Christ in his body and blood in the sacrament. We study it together in bible studies. We meditate upon it during the week. As we abide in his word, we abide in him and he will bear fruit in us. It happens because we are joined to him, listen to him and trust him. If you do these things you need not fear that the Spirit will not bear fruit in you. How would he not? So stay with Christ in his body the Church and receive his life through his word and you will bear much fruit.


Heavenly Father, ever make present the word of your Son Christ Jesus, that we may hear it, be converted and abide in it and bear the fruit that you are looking for. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday Easter 5

#DailyDevotion To Confess Jesus Is The Son Of God Is To Confess He Is The Lord Of Hosts

Friday Easter 5

1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.


To abide in God’s love is to believe and confess Jesus is the Son of God. Now Jesus isn’t just any old son of God. He is the Son of God. To confess this is to confess Jesus is God; he is equal to God. Or to day it as the creed does, God of God, light of light, one in being and essence with the Father. St. Paul says, no one can say Jesus is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit. He mean Jesus is the all caps Lord you find all over your Old Testament. Jesus is Yahweh, Jehovah, Adonai, Yah, the Lord of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel.

If you believe and confess that Jesus is this Son of God in the flesh, that is, he has taken on our human nature through joining himself with Mary’s seed, the seed of David, then you must also believe what Jesus has done for you in the flesh. He has sacrificed himself for you. He has given himself unto death that you might receive everlasting life. The life he has had with the Father from the beginning, he now gives to you. The Father loves you and desired this. Jesus loves you and desired this and submitted himself to death, even death on a cross.


So now you know the love of God for you. To believe this is to have love perfected, i.e. completed with us. With this self sacrificial love, you can have confidence on the Day of Judgment. In this love, you don’t have to fear the Father. You don’t have to be terrified of your sins and the judgment you deserve. God’s love for you is perfect. His perfect love casts out your fear. You can stand before God with all boldness and confidence knowing you are covered with the blood of Christ Jesus. Your sins have been atone for.


And his love casts out or fears of this life. You can know the very hairs on your head are counted by the Father. Not a bird drops dead to the ground apart from his will and knowledge and you are worth more to him than many birds. You are worth the life of his son Jesus Christ.  Jesus is God’s Son. Now through faith in Jesus, through his blood, you too are his sons even now. While Jesus was God’s Son in this world and suffered, you too will suffer with him. But you need not fear because you suffer God is angry with you. No, you can be all the more certain his love and life rest upon you and in you, for God disciplines those he loves.


Heavenly Father, ever give us your Holy Spirit that we may confess Jesus Christ of Nazareth to be your only begotten son from eternity in our flesh that we may believe and live in the love you have for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday Easter 5

#DailyDevotion God Wants Me To Do What?!

Thursday Easter 5

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.


We all want to love, right? And we all want to be loved, right? But what kind of love is John talking about here? He’s not talking about romantic love. He’s not talking about the kind of love friends have for one another. He’s not even talking about the love parents have for children. So what kind of love is John talking about?


John is talking about the kind of love God has for us. With the love of God we are to love one another. This sort of love is from God and expresses itself in love for our fellow Christians, especially. If you don’t express this sort of love for your fellow Christians, the love of God is not in you and you have not been born of God nor do you know God, for God is love.


So what does this love look like? John tells us, God sent his son into the world so we may live through him. What does this mean? The Father sent his son, Jesus to die on the cross, to take the pains and suffering of death so that you may have eternal life. But how can we do that for each other? John further explains, Jesus was sent by the Father to be the propitiation of our sins. Jesus was sent by the Father to be the expiation of our sins as well. In Jesus’ death our sins and our guilt was removed from us. This also removed the obstacles between us and our relationship with the Father. The sins we have committed have been atoned for.


So for us to love with the love of God, because that’s the sort of love God wants us to love one another with, is the sort of love that dies, offers itself and makes peace for the other. Am I talking about I must physically die for another person to love them? No I am talking about some far far worse. I’m saying you have to forgive people. You have to die to your right to have a resentment against someone. God wants you to place what sins, hurts and harms someone has done to you and place them on the cross of Christ. He wants you, insofar as it is possible in your realm of action, to let the sins of others against you go. He wants you to be at peace with your fellow Christian.


Sometimes, we may have to pray, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” God isn’t asking you to drum up nice fuzzy feelings towards someone who has harmed you. He is asking that you remove the barriers on your side of things to be reconciled to them. He want you to place all your anger, whatever you believe you deserve to see happen to them on Jesus, on the cross and let Jesus be the atoning sacrifice for their sins, guilt and shame. In this way, you will show love for one another.


Heavenly Father, you want us to love one another as you have loved us. Grant us your Holy Spirit that we may realized the great love you have for us and with this love, love one another as you loved us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday Easter 5

#DailyDevotion Some Who Use Jesus’ Name Are AntiChrist

Wednesday Easter 5

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.


Just because someone uses the name of Jesus doesn’t mean they are a Christian. Just because someone is a pastor doesn’t mean they are teaching correctly what the Lord wants them to teach. We have become terribly too tolerant as Christians in particularly the United States. Ungodly forces among have been teaching us that it doesn’t matter what you believe or what you teach, we’re all going to the same place. But is that what Jesus teach? Mat 7:13  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.


In this epistle lesson we are commanded to test the spirits. We are not to accept everything that mentions Jesus or even uses the bible. The teaching must use the bible correctly and actually teach what the bible teaches in context.  John is addressing here a particular error popular in his time and becoming more popular today. That error is Gnosticism. Anyone who appeals to you today who downplays the bible we have and says we must look to these other books that we excluded from the bible are believing another spirit rather than the Spirit of Christ.


What does John mean when he says these spirits do not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh? There is a threefold false teaching in this damnable error. The first is Jesus only looked like he was human. He was purely spirit but made himself look like us. This Jesus cannot die for you. The second, Jesus was only a man, but the spirit of Christ, the Son of God possessed Jesus as his baptism. This Son of God cannot die for you and make satisfaction for your sin. In both of these Jesus isn’t truly God and Man. He is not the Lord, the God of the Old Testament in the flesh, who offers himself upon the cross, dying that we might possess eternal life. The third error is one where the erring spirit teaches what Jesus did in the flesh is not enough for your salvation. You must do something; you must contribute something to your salvation. Like the previous two it is most pernicious because while not denying that Jesus is truly God and Man, it denies the complete and total work of Jesus in the flesh. John warns us, these teachers are following and teaching the doctrines of the antichrist, the beast and the false prophet of the book of Revelation.


When Christians confess Jesus is the Christ, the Lord, we are confessing Jesus is the promised messiah who is the Lord of heaven and earth in the flesh. He is the Lord you see written in small capital letters from Genesis to Malachi in the flesh. Anything else is just a poser. Anything less will not and cannot save you from sin, death and the power of the devil. But Christ, the Wisdom of God, the Son of God, the Word of God, by whom and through whom heaven and earth were created taken upon himself the flesh, the seed of David, the seed of the woman, the Virgin Mary, and remaining truly God and Lord, he has saved you utterly, completely, without anything left undone so you may have salvation unto eternal life, freely, by his grace, through faith in him.


Heavenly Father, grant us a discerning spirit, so we may test the spirits and listen only to those who confess your Son, come in the flesh, for our salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday Easter 5

#DailyDevotion Christians Seek To Be Baptized, Not Seek Excuses To Avoid It

Tuesday Easter 5

Acts 8:36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.


Every so often, some people want to argue whether or not you need to be baptized, if baptism is necessary for salvation. Well I think the questions completely miss the point. Let us look at this Ethiopian eunuch. After being instructed in the ways of the Lord, what does the eunuch want? He wants to be baptized. Why does he want to be baptized?


Well Philip in his presentation of the good news of Jesus from the Old Testament must have presented something of the teaching of baptism to the eunuch. What did Philip teach? Well we cannot say exactly, but if we look to St. Peter’s sermons up to this point I think we can say something along these lines, Act 2:38  “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Earlier in the same chapter Philip was preaching to the Samaritans and after listening to him preach about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus they wanted to be baptized.


Why did they want to be baptized? Because the Christian message is be repentant and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. The question is never can you be saved without being baptized. The question is why don’t you want to be baptized If you don’t desire to be baptized you either a. haven’t heard the Christian message or b. you don’t want to be a Christian. The question is never, can you be saved without baptism. The question is why don’t you want to be saved by baptism.


Jesus commands the Church, his disciples to make more disciples by baptizing and teaching. He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Baptism gives the forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit comes in baptism. In baptism, we are joined with Christ Jesus’ innocent, suffering and death. We are joined to his resurrection power. We are justified, cleansed, regenerated, born from above, made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. Throughout the book of Acts, wherever and whenever Jesus is preached people sought to be baptized. Why? Because that is what people who believe in Jesus want, to have these gifts offered in baptism and to submit to the will of Jesus. Like the eunuch we go our way rejoicing in this gift of salvation.

Heavenly Father, always align our wills with your own so that as we hear the message of your kingdom and the name of Jesus we seek with rejoicing the gift of baptism into Jesus that we may be made one with him and with you through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday Easter 5

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is Witnessed To In The Old Testament

Monday Easter 5

Acts 8:34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.


The eunuch was reading a passage from Isaiah 53. He wasn’t quite sure whom the prophet was talking about. Philip knew his Old Testament. He knew Jesus. He was instructed by the apostles and was full of the Holy Spirit. With all those things combined he began to explain from this passage of scripture the good news of Jesus. So this is a good reason to know and study the Old Testament. For in the Old Testament you will find the witness from God concerning his son Jesus Christ.


What sort of good news can we find in the Old Testament can we find about Jesus there? Well in this passage from Isaiah we find the salvation story of Jesus’ innocent, suffering and death. We learn how Jesus did not fight back or insult those who were persecuting him falsely. We learn how Jesus willingly went to the cross to suffer for us.


Philip would have told how Jesus was stricken as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of his people. It was the will of the Father to crush Jesus and make him an offering for guilt. Yet Jesus did not stay dead but rose again to gather a people unto himself. He would have told the eunuch how from his anguish and sufferings he bore their iniquities. He probably told him how Jesus was numbered with transgressors in his crucifixion, and bore their sins, yet in all that Jesus interceded for them and for all transgressors.


We don’t know all that Philip told him about Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. I bet he went back to Genesis 3:15 and then followed the salvation story through Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He might have shown how Jesus fulfilled the Passover and all the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law. He probably showed how in Jesus’ life he manifested himself as the promised prophet and the promised king, the son of David. We don’t know how long Philip instructed the eunuch, who obviously either very conversant with Judaism or was a Jew living in Ethiopia but what we do know is that Philip instructed him to the point where he eunuch desired to be baptized into Jesus, a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins.


All these things Philip told the eunuch apply to you too. Jesus bore your sins. The Father offered Jesus up as a sin offering for your guilt; he bore your iniquities. Jesus offers you freely the life he won on the cross to you. He promises to give it through the waters of baptism in his name as we confess our sins and believe in him. He offers the benefits of his innocent, suffering and death to you daily as you confess and repent of your sins. So what are you going to do?


Heavenly Father, always place in our path those who can teach us your will in Christ Jesus and those whom we can witness to the mercies of Jesus ourselves so they can rejoice in your manifold grace, mercy and goodness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.