Daily Reading: April 25th

#DailyDevotion The Lord Wants Us To Celebrate With Joy

Easter Week 2 Tuesday

Read Ex 23:14–33

Exo 23:14-16  “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me.  (15)  You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed.  (16)  You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.


The Lord does not want a glum people. Besides weekly rest from their labors, the Lord provided for times of festivities to lighten the people, for joy and rejoicing, and for time in his word for mediation. There were given to the people of Israel three feasts to appear before the Lord for celebration. These festivals were not to be a burden upon the people but a time to remember and rejoice all that the Lord had done for them.


These were large parties that lasted a week at a time. There was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In this festival, they would begin with the Passover lamb and Unleavened Bread. They were to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt and how they had to make haste to leave that land for the Promised Land. It was a celebration in the beginning of Spring


There was the Feast of Harvest which was the be at the beginning of Summer. In it the firstfruits of wheat would be gathered, made into bread. It would recognize that the Lord had been good to them and provided their bread of sustenance.


Then there was the fall harvest, the Festival of Ingathering, which they kept. Here the gathering of the fruits of the earth that ripened after the Summer was kept. In all these festivals, the men were to appear before the Lord and offer up sacrifice. These sacrifices were not just burnt up, but they were shared with the priests, the widows and orphans, and with the foreigners dwelling among them. They were not only to eat and drink during this time, but as they appeared before the Lord they were to be instructed in the word of the Lord. They would be reminded all that the Lord had for them and how the Lord wanted them to live if they wanted to continue to receive all of his benefits.

The Church in its wisdom, although it was not required to keep these feasts, has set up special times of the year to recognize what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for them and for all the world. We celebrate Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. The first two parallel the feast of Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits; our Lord’s resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit and third, towards the beginning of winter, our Lord’s birth at Christmas. Here we celebrate all our God has done for us in the one he has put his name, Jesus, the firstfruit of the grave and our promised redemption that in him we too shall rise from the grave and be harvested into our eternal dwellings at his second coming.

Heavenly Father, ever bless us with the good things of the earth, that we gather before you with gifts in our hands, the fruit of our labor that we may celebrate all you have done for us in Christ Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 24th

#DailyDevotion Have You Been Sacrificing To Other Gods?

Easter Week 2 Monday

Read Ex 22:20—23:13

Exo 22:20  “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction….Exo 23:13  “Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.


The Lord is giving instruction in daily living to the Israelites, how they are to live in the land he had sworn to their fathers. We would do well to live by them as well as Christians. Who could really argue with them? They are the wisdom of God.


But before and after them we have these two instructions, not to sacrifice to other gods or take their names upon our lips. For other gods have not given instructions like these in how to live a godly and pleasing life upon the earth. These would separate the Israelites from all other peoples upon the earth. They were to be a different people.


When Jesus called the disciples upon the mountain and upon the plain and instructed them and us into the way of living before him, it was to be for a similar effect to the nations of the world. We Christians are to be different. Our morality is to supersede that of worldly governments. Certainly we are to live under the law of the governments but our righteousness is to exceed that even of the Pharisees.


No doubt, we have not been doing that in our daily lives. How often do we still let the sun go down in our anger? How often do we sue for our shirt and cloak? How often must we retain our rights and not be wronged? I know I have not given the sort of witness to the life of Christ within me as I should have. In a sense, we have sacrificed to the gods of this world and not been faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.


Thanks be to God, there is forgiveness and repentance with Jesus. With resurrected hearts and spirits we can repent, receive forgiveness and the Holy Spirit who transforms our lives to that of our Savior Jesus Christ..


Heavenly Father, grant that we may turn from our way of life in the world, worship you only, and live out Christ’ life in our lives to the glory of your holy name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 23

#DailyDevotion The Lord’s Covenant With Us Always Begins With The Good News

Second Sunday of Easter

Read Ex 20:1–24

Exo 20:1-2  And God spoke all these words, saying,  (2)  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.


With these words, the Lord begins the words of the covenant he makes with his people Israel. I know, you probably want to get straight to the commandments. But each one of those could be a devotion in itself. But these words are what we need to focus on today. You see, these are gospel words. Gospel words tell us what the Lord has done, is doing or what the Lord is going to do for us.


When the Lord opens his mouth to make a covenant with Israel he begins with Good News! You see without the good news there would be no Spirit to move, shape or (I hate to say it this way) motivate us to obey the commandments. Without the gospel, the commandments are just dead letters. Sin uses the law to impel our sinful nature to break them. But the Spirit of God through the good news frees our hearts to desire to do them and to accomplish them.


The good news here is the Lord brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. He freed them from the house of slavery. If Israel would only focus on that, then they could meditate on the law of God rightly, desire to keep it and then do it (even if feebly due to the weakness of the flesh).


Like Israel, we too need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord before we can desire and fulfill the will of God in our lives. People often think the main thing in Christianity is obeying and fulfilling all sorts of laws and keeping to a certain form of morality. That could not be further from the truth. Though in truth, we do desire to keep God’s commands and to live according to a certain form of morality.


But the main thing in Christianity is what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us and for all people. It is about Jesus dying on the cross, being buried and rising from the dead on the third day. It is about Jesus ascending to the right hand of God and coming back to raise all who trusted in what he had done to raise their bodies to life eternal. It is about Christ Jesus winning for us salvation and giving it to us freely.


It is only when that is the focus of our lives that we move on to loving our neighbor as our self. For the whole law is summed up in those words. We only want to do and do do those words when our hearts are focused on what God has done for us freely in Christ Jesus. If your starting point in life is the commandments, well you can’t get there from here. And they cannot be the end point either. They are the fruit of the Spirit born of the Good News of Jesus Christ and we take great joy in doing them.


Heavenly Father, ever give us the gospel of your Son Jesus Christ, that we may receive your Holy Spirit and rejoice in keeping your commandment in loving our neighbors as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 22

#DailyDevotion In Jesus You Become One Of God’s Chosen People

Easter Week 2 Saturday

Read Ex 19:1–25

Exo 19:5-6  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;  (6)  and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”…:11  and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.


The Lord had chosen Israel from all the nations of the world to be his own treasured possession. Indeed he owned them all and through creation had revealed his eternal power that they might worship him. But to be God’s treasured possession is like the money I set aside just for myself out of every paycheck. I can do whatever I want with it without accountability. It is mine and I can spend it all on me. Maybe you have something similar. Israel was that treasured possession for the Lord and he for them. They were going to be his people because of the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But not he enters into a covenant with the people of Israel. This covenant would be required if they and their descendents were going to be his covenant people. They would have to obey his voice and keep his covenant. In this covenant they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Yet we know, Israel broke this covenant pretty soon from this point and often afterwards. They were to be a light to the nations and witness to the glory of God so the nations of the world would come to know the Lord as God.


Well through this people Israel would come from their flesh one who would be Israel to the Lord, to God the Father and would obey the covenant in Israel’s place. That would be the Lord, God the Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus would be Israel and do all that Israel should have done. Jesus becomes the covenant that God would make not only with Israel but with the whole world. Those who would believe on Jesus and be baptized into his name would be joined to Israel and become Israel, not according to the flesh but according to the promise, according to the Spirit, Abraham’s descendents.


As the Lord revealed himself on the third day on the mountain to Israel, he reveals himself as Israel’s Lord and God to the apostles on the third day when he rises from the dead. This is the covenant the Lord Jesus makes with us, if we repent of our sins, are baptized and believe on him, i.e. trust him, our sins will be forgiven us and he will remember them no more. He will be our God and we will be his people. As Peter says, 1Pe 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”


Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ, to be our covenant and for calling us to be your chosen people in Christ Jesus. Grant us faith to be faithful unto you always and proclaim the excellencies of Jesus to those around us so they too may repent, be baptized and become your holy people. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 21st

#DailyDevotion Is Your Lord Jesus Christ Greater Than All Other Gods?

Easter week 1 Friday

Ex 18:5–27

Exo 18:8-11  Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the LORD had delivered them.  (9)  And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.  (10)  Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.  (11)  Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”


Moses’ father in law is like a lot of people.  They know about God, they might even know a fair amount about God.  But they believe the God they know (as much as they know) is one God among many gods.  When Jethro hears all that the Lord had done for the people of Israel through his son in law Moses his mind had to change a bit about God, the Lord.


First he rejoiced when he heard all that the Lord had done.  As Christians we need to witness about our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.  If we don’t open our mouths nobody will ever know the truth and they could never rejoice with us.  Secondly, through Moses’ witness Jethro came to know the one true God better and knew the Lord was at least “greater than all gods.”  Whether this is just a way of saying there aren’t any other gods, or whether he still gave some credence to other gods, I do not know.  But certainly Jethro realizes there is no god like Moses’ God, the Lord.


Hopefully in our witness to the world around us we can say such things about what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us that when we do open our mouths, they too will say with Jethro, “Now I know the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than all gods.” For our Lord Jesus Christ has become one of us. He has taken our iniquities upon himself. He has spilled his blood for us to atone for our sins. Jesus has taken our death upon himself that we might never taste death. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and promise to raise us also on the last day to everlasting life. Indeed Jesus is greater than all the gods which are not gods at all.


Lord Jesus Christ, so give us your Holy Spirit, that when we open our mouths concerning all you have done for us, people may give praise to you and put their faith in you. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 20th

#DailyDevotion Do You Grumble In Fear Or Pray In Faith?

Easter Week 1 Thursday

Read Ex 17:1–16

Exo 17:6-7  Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.  (7)  And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”


You can hardly blame the Israelites. The Lord and Moses bring the Israelites out of Egypt into the wilderness and they bring them to a place where there is no water. Remember there are about 3 million people here. That’s a lot of water needed. Why does the Lord do this? Well we know the Lord was testing them to see if they would do what he told them to do.  The number one thing he wanted was for them to trust him.


Well instead of trusting the Lord, who had already done marvelous and mighty acts, they grumble again against Moses and the Lord. They question why the Lord would bring them to such a place. I think we probably can understand it somewhat. But what they don’t do is go to the Lord, humbly, with faith and present their request to him. They grumble and complain. Well the Lord hears their complaint and gives Moses a plan to bring them water. There is a large rock in the wilderness where this occurred and it does look like water has worn it down. Despite the people’s lack of faith, the Lord provided them water.


Now how do you live your life? Has the Lord brought you some places you would rather not be? Do you grumble against the Lord and tell him how unfair he is? I find that I and other people do not always come before the Lord humbly, remembering the Lord cares for me and them. We forget the Lord actually does know what he is doing with our lives and we do not see the big pictures. Finally, we don’t come to the Lord with our prayers, supplications and petitions with faith that he will get us through whatever it is we are going through. We need to remember several things all the time but especially when life gets rough. One our Lord Jesus Christ does know what he is doing and knows what is going on in our lives. Jesus and the Father do care for us. Third, Jesus does want us to come before the Father confidently and boldly and bring our petitions and he will hear us. And fourthly, our Father, for the sake of Jesus, will work all things for good in our lives. We simply need to trust him. We might want to pray for greater faith while we do so.


Heavenly Father, we do not always understand or know what you are doing and why. Give us such faith in your son Jesus Christ, that we may always come humbly, but also boldly and confidently in the mercies of Christ to bring our supplications and petitions to you, trusting you will do that which is best for us and for your Church to the glory of your Son Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 19th

#DailyReading Will You Trust Jesus’ Promises Or Not?

Easter Wednesday

Read Ex 16:13–35

Exo 16:16  This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.'”…19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.”…:23 he said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.'”…29 See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.”


Now earlier the Lord had said, Exo 15:26 “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” Now he is testing them to see if they will do as he said. He is giving them the manna from heaven, the food of angels, to feed them in the wilderness and to see if they will obey him, that is to trust his word.


As we see in this reading there are always some who do not obey the Lord, that is, they don’t trust what he is saying. Some kept leftovers and those leftovers spoiled. God was giving them daily bread: just what they needed for the day. On the sixth day the Lord gave them enough for two days and it would not spoil for the seventh day would be a day of rest for the people of God. Some people did not gather enough and they went looking for food on the Sabbath. There was none there. The Sabbath was a gift from God so his people could rest and spend that day in worshipping the Lord and meditating on all that God had done for them.


Now Jesus has told us not to worry about tomorrow or be anxious about it. He reminds us to pray for daily bread.  Jesus teaches us, Mat 6:8 “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” And Mat 6:31-34 “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (32)  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. (33)  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (34)  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Like in the wilderness, Jesus is serious here. Will you be like the Israelites who trusted him or be like the ones who were disobedient? Trust Jesus and put receiving his gifts in worship first and you will see you won’t need to be anxious about anything.


Heavenly Father, grant us faith to trust your promises and obey your commands for you are a God who keeps his promises and our lives are better for it when we trust your word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 18th

#DailyDevotion Don’t Grumble Against The Lord


Easter Tuesday

Read Ex 15:19—16:12

Exo 16:6-9  So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt,  (7)  and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?”  (8)  And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”  (9)  Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.'”


This will be a continuing problem with the Israelites. They will not be happy in whatever situation that they are in and they will grumble against Moses and Aaron. Whether at the Red Sea or Mara or any other times things aren’t quite right they will grumble against Moses.


And as a principle, they are not grumbling against Moses and Aaron but they are grumbling against the Lord who had delivered them up from the Egyptians.  For Moses and Aaron are the Lord’s representatives. They are doing what the Lord had told them to do. When the Israelites grumble against them, they are expressing their lack of faith in the Lord. Even after all the Lord had done for them so far and seeing the glory of the Lord in the pillar of cloud Moses has to tell them, “When this happens, you will know it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt.” How could they not believe this by now? But as we shall see, no matter what the Lord does and how often he delivers these people, their hearts will turn against Moses, Aaron and the Lord.


The Lord never the less has mercy on the Israelites, again and again and again.


We may not always be faithful to the Lord either.


Like Moses and Aaron, the Lord Jesus Christ has given us pastors to teach, preach and administer the sacraments that we might be built up in the Lord, strengthened in our faith and endure in the faith unto life everlasting. (Eph. 4:11-12)  But like the Israelites, we don’t like the water. We don’t like the food.  We don’t like the situation in the church that we have and we grumble against the one whom the Lord has chosen to minister to us.  It is not against the pastors we are grumbling but against the Lord who has given them unto us. The Lord is merciful and kind. Instead of grumbling we need to give thanks and bring our concerns and cares to the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer. He will hear your prayer and answer it. Striking the shepherd he sends will not get you what you want.


Heavenly Father, give us faith that we may always give thanks for all your benefits to us, eyes to recognize your goodness, and a heart that knows your mercy that we may not grumble against you but look to you for every good thing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: April 17th

#DailyDevotion Jesus Is The Lord Who Won Our Victory

Easter Monday

Read Ex 15:1–18

Exo 15:1-2  Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.  (2)  The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.


This victory song recounts in poetic fashion what the Lord had just accomplished and it prophecies what is yet to come. The Lord had rescued the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh and his army. He did it in a fabulous manner parting the seas and then drowning them in those same seas. For the moment they recognize the might of the Lord sing of his strength. They proclaim the Lord’s salvation. They even recognize that the Lord is not new to Israel but he is their father’s God. The song prophecies how they will take the land of Canaan and the Lord will set up his sanctuary there.


But the singing will be short lived. They will harden their hearts against the Lord and against Moses. They will be fickle and forget all of the Lord’s mighty deeds and they will fall into sin.


This same Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ. We sing his praise this Eastertide. For Jesus has won for us, for all people, even a greater victory over Satan. By his death on the cross Jesus atoned for the sin of the World. He swallowed up death in his death. Sin no longer has its hold on us like it once did so Satan has lost his power. By his resurrection, Jesus has manifested his victory over sin, death and the devil. His victory is our victory.


Jesus, as he killed Israel’s enemy, Pharaoh and his armies, in the flood has another flood in which we may participate in his victory over sin, death and Satan. That is in baptism. St. Paul writes, Rom 6:3-5 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  (4)  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  (5)  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”


The flood waters of baptism are our participation in Jesus’ victory. There our sin is drowned and buried. There we are given eternal life. There we are given the promise that our bodies, like Jesus’ body will be raised from the dead on the last day and we too, like the Israelites will enter the promise land of the new heavens and new earth. Now that’s something to sing about.


Lord Jesus Christ, you are mighty and glorious. You have overcome our sin, death, the grave and Satan. Give us faith that we may ever sing your glorious praise and your victory which you share with us in baptism. In your precious name we pray. Amen.