#DailyDevotion Is Your Heart True To God’s Plumb Line?


#DailyDevotion Is Your Heart True To God’s Plumb Line?

Amos 7: 7This is what [the Lord God] showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line                   in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; 9    the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

 

A plumb line makes sure a building or wall is centered vertically and true. The Lord was putting a plumb line against his people Israel. That plumb line is the Law given them through Moses and the proclamation of the prophets since then. Yet the people of Israel and her kings were not plumb to his Law and proclamations.

 

The Lord had sent prophets to call them to repentance but they would not listen. Often the prophets he sent to them would be mistreated and sometimes even killed. The Israelites, as seen the book of Amos were living selfishly and self-centeredly. They cared only about themselves, pleasure and wealth to the detriment of the poor, the widowed, the orphan and the foreigner at the gate. They did not worship Yahweh alone but worshipped other gods and sometimes completely forgot him. So the Israelites and their kings were not true to God’s Law and will. Like a building that is crooked that must be torn down so too were the Israelites and their kings. The Lord is threatening them, warning them destruction is on its way. What do the Israelites do? Do they repent like the Ninevites? No, they double down and continue on their way. The Lord sends the Assyrians to destroy them within a couple of generations of further warnings.

 

Now the Lord Jesus Christ has sent his apostles into the world and sent pastors and evangelist to call people to repentance. For the whole world is like Israel, selfish and self-centered. It does not worshipped Yahweh in the flesh, namely Jesus. It does not worship his Father nor do they have the Holy Spirit. They seek wealth and pleasure at the expense of the poor, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner at the gate. They do not follow the law the Lord has written on their hearts. They do not love their neighbors as themselves. Now the Lord has set a date for judgment. He has sent out the warning to repent of our sins and to trust in his Son Jesus Christ for the atonement of our sins. He promises the Holy Spirit to those who are repentant and believe that they may be freed from their slavery of sin and live the lives he wants us to live, to have the life of Christ Jesus live through us. Through repentance and faith, we may avoid the judgment of the world when the Lord puts a plumb line to it and to us.

 

So will you repent, trust in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, live a new life and escape the judgment or will you continue to worship yourself, wealth and pleasure?

 

Almighty God and Father, you have sent your servants into the world to call us to repent of our sins and to trust in your Son Jesus Christ so we might not perish. Grant us your Holy Spirit that we may indeed live repentant lives of faith so we may enter into your kingdom on the day of Christ’s revelation and judgment. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Make Your Appeal To The Honor Of The Lord’s Name


#DailyDevotion Make Your Appeal To The Honor Of The Lord’s Name

Introit (Ps. 143:1–2, 8a; antiphon: Ps. 143:11) For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.

 

In our introit for the divine service today we get to be a little cheeky with our Lord. We’re in trouble, maybe even life threatening trouble. We may even brought this trouble upon ourselves. What do we cry out? For your name’s sake preserve my life. For Your Name’s Sake.

 

Now the Lord himself makes this claim often in the Old Testament. Despite the fact the Israelites get themselves into all sorts of trouble because of their unfaithfulness, because they bear upon them the name of the Lord and because the Lord has called them to be his own, for his name sake he delivers them.

 

Now we too as Christians bear the name of the Lord. It was placed upon us in baptism. We are called Christians.  The Lord promises where two or three are gathered in his name he is present and listens to us. He commands us to pray in his name, Jesus.

 

So that his name does not fall into dishonor among the nations we appeal to that name in the day of trouble so that when he answers our prayers, his name, his righteousness will receive the glory. Jesus has attached promises to his name and so we call upon it in the day of trouble. Like the psalmist we put forth his faithfulness and righteousness as the basis of our prayers and not our own righteousness, works or merits for as he says, no one is righteous before him.

 

When we come before God with our pleas and prayers, we should do so based on God’s character and his promises which have been revealed to us in his holy word. What we see in scripture is God is faithful and he can be trusted. While what we may deserve is judgment when we come before him in faith and trust in the name of Jesus, we will receive mercy. God will do for us what we need.

 

Gracious God and Father, for the sake of the name of your Son Jesus Christ, hear our prayers when they come before you that you may receive the glory due your name when we are delivered from all our trials and tribulations. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Kingdom Of God Is Taking Over


#DailyDevotion The Kingdom Of God Is Taking Over

Mark 6:7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them,  “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

 

In Mark, one of the themes is the kingdom of God making inroads into and conquering the kingdom of darkness in this world. Here we have an example of it. Jesus sends his disciples two by two proclaim the kingdom of God is at hand. As proof that their message was true, he gave them authority over the unclean spirits and they cast out many demons and healed many sick people.

 

The church and its ministers still preach the kingdom of God is at hand and we still cast out unclean spirits and demons. Occasionally even someone who is ill is healed. But the fact that people still come to faith in Jesus is proof that the kingdom of God is still making inroads into Satan’s kingdom and overcoming it. Through the good news that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection our sins are no longer held against us removes Satan’s power to accuse. By Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross we can know and believe that the Father is no longer angry with us and has reconciled himself to us.

 

The good news is that Jesus has overcome Satan and his kingdom for you. You are invited to part of Jesus’ kingdom. Confess your sins, turn from the devil and his selfish and self-centered ways and believe what Jesus has done for you and that for his sake you are accepted by God, the Father of lights.

 

Now concerning how Jesus sent out his disciples, this was to show them that they could trust he would take care of them. This was not a program that was to continue in their ministry after Pentecost. Jesus told them otherwise just before his death and his departure. Never the less, we also should trust in Jesus’ care for us and not be anxious.

Heavenly Father, grant us repentance and faith in your Son Jesus Christ, that we may be transferred from the kingdom of darkness t o the kingdom of your son Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

#DailyDevotion Does Jesus Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing?


#DailyDevotion Does Jesus Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing?

Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.

 

What does it take to amaze God? What does the Lord marvel at? In this lesson from Jesus preaching at his hometown we certainly find out. The people there were marveling at his teaching, but not in a good way. No doubt they saw Jesus grow up. They knew or at least thought Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father. He was a carpenter like Joseph which were not thought much of in those days. Jesus had never manifested probably anything of his divine nature until he started his ministry after John’s baptism. So they are kind of wondering where on earth did all this come about. Jesus ought to stick to carpentry and know his place.

 

Well Jesus marveled at their unbelief. After hearing about the miracles and hearing him preach, he marveled at their unbelief. Our unbelief amazes God. Our lack of faith, having heard the word of God, is not only disturbing, it makes the Lord marvel. If our lack of faith amazes God it is no wonder we often are disturbed when pondering why some people are not saved. He marvels at it too. Now in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) Jesus’ miracles are not used to create faith in people or incite it. They are the response of faith and they confirm people’s faith. This is why Jesus could not perform a lot of miracles there. It wasn’t because he didn’t have the power (he did heal a few sick people there) but performing them would go against why he did them in the first place. Miracles in Nazareth would only be a side show and that is not why Jesus came.

 

We might note our faith in Jesus also amazes him and makes him marvel. In Matthew the servants of a centurion approached Jesus and said, Mat 8:9-10 ESV  “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  (10)  When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.”  Jesus marvels at this centurion’s faith, the type of faith that ought to be found in his fellow Jews. Jesus is going to marvel at one of two things in you, your faith or you lack thereof. Jesus having died on the cross and risen from the dead on the third day has conquered sin, death and the power of the devil and promise to raise all to eternal life who believe in him on the Last Day. In what way are you going to make Jesus marvel today?

 

Gracious God and Father, grant us your Holy Spirit that we may make you marvel at our faith in Christ and not our unbelief, that we may be raised to eternal life in the fashion of you Son Jesus Christ on the Last Day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Live By Faith Or By How Amazing You Are


#DailyDevotion Live By Faith Or By How Amazing You Are

2 Cor. 12:7 So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me,  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Pride can be a serious detriment to one’s spirituality that is to  your relationship with God. God apparently didn’t want Paul running off the rails because of the visions he had received. He was given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass him. No one knows what this was. Some think it was a debilitating disease because of the ‘in the flesh’ phrase. Others think it was a person who followed Paul around harassing him, perhaps reminding Paul of his past. Some think is was perhaps some sinful habit to keep Paul always relying upon the grace of God in Christ Jesus for his salvation. We just don’t know.

 

Paul prayed three times that the Lord would take this affliction from him. The Lord said no. The Lord doesn’t often say no. No is an answer to unbelief and doubting usually. Wait, not in the manner, form, amount, time and the like is often an answer to prayer because we don’t know how or what to pray for, but the Lord answers our prayer in faith with yes but I have a better answer. But to Paul he says no.

 

Why? His answer, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul was going to have to rely on the Lord’s grace in dealing with how this thorn in his flesh affected him and his work. He could not rely on what he had experienced to back him up or elevate himself. Whatever it was that was afflicting Paul, like saints of old, he was just going to have to rely on God grace and mercy to do the work set before him. Like David facing Goliath, he was going to have to rely upon the promises of God. As said yesterday, often the Lord in the Old Testament would use impossible odds to demonstrate to his people that it was he who was fighting for them. It is no different for Paul and for us.

 

Perhaps you have something you’ve been asking the Lord to remove from you because you believed it made you weak. You keep asking but the answer seems to be no. Well perhaps the Lord is using that to keep you humble also. His grace is sufficient for you. Your standing before him is not based on whatever it is that  is afflicting you. Your standing before him is based on your faith in his grace, mercy and power in Christ Jesus. That grace is sufficient for you. His power is being made perfect in your weakness that is he is demonstrating his power in your life in and through that which makes you weak. If the Lord isn’t removing it, perhaps you should ask how you can use it to help others and to comfort others in their weakness.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you power is made perfect in weakness and your grace is sufficient. Grant us faith to believe this and to live our lives in faith in your promises. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Are You Going To Boasts In Jesus Or Your Experience?


#DailyDevotion Are You Going To Boasts In Jesus Or Your Experience?

1 Cor. 12:1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.

 

We are often an experience driven people. Experiences are nice. They can even build up the faith at time. But our faith cannot be based on such experiences. Paul had an experience. He was caught up to the third heaven (whatever that is). He was caught up to paradise. And while he was there he heard things which can’t be told or uttered. Now he could brag about that. He could go and base his faith on that. He initially speaks of this as it wasn’t him and would boast about himself in the 3rd person, but he would not boast about himself or have people listen to him because of the grace God had given him.

 

Instead, Paul would rather boast about his weaknesses. How strange. I think perhaps we want to experience something supernatural so that we could boast about it and have people pay attention to us so they would think we are special.  But Paul wants to boasts about his weaknesses. Now why would he want to do that? So that Jesus would be glorified.

 

You see Paul boasted how Jesus worked through him, through his weaknesses. Despite Paul’s past, Jesus worked through Paul to bring he message of salvation to the Jews and Gentiles. Though Paul were not eloquent of speech, Jesus used Paul to preach to people and bring them to faith in Jesus, turn them from idols, to repent of their sins and to have faith in the Living God. Despite whatever handicaps Paul had because of his stoning, beatings and the like God used Paul to spread the Gospel.

 

Now that is what it was like in the Old Testament as well. God used on old man and a barren woman to create a great people, the Israelites. He used a bratty kid to become governor of Egypt and save his people. He used Moses to lead his people out of Israel. He used Gideon, with only 300 men, to defeat the Philistines. The Lord took a lowly shepherd David to utterly defeat the Philistines. He once told the Isrealites to meet their enemies at the gates of Jerusalem with flutes and lyres and the enemy defeated each other leaving the Israelites to do mop up operations. Such is the method of God to use the weak and lowly to accomplish his great works.

 

Finally, he uses fallen men with just his word to preach Jesus Christ to you. No big miracles. No fancy shows. Not even big auditoriums but just your basic church building with an everyday speaker and organist who play too slow (on occasion), too loud, and hymns too strange to modern ears, so the focus of salvation isn’t on an experience but just Jesus’ word. He does this to have our faith in Jesus and not something else which fades or isn’t consistent. So we with Paul will boasts of our weaknesses so that Jesus may get the glory.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us such faith that in all we think, say and do, we do it to the glory of Jesus and recognize that anything good or great that is done through us is only due to his almighty power. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Sent Us A Prophet


#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Sent Us A Prophet

Ezekiel 2:1–5 1He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” 2 And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. 4 The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.

 

Ezekiel was being sent as a prophet to the people of Judah who were in exile with him in Babylon. It must have been a terrifying thing to be addressed by the Living God. On top of that, the Lord is telling him that he is sending him to a nation of rebels. They have rebelled against the Lord since the day he brought them up out of Egypt. With their griping and complaining with what the Lord provided them they rebelled. When they made the golden calf they rebelled. When they didn’t go into the Promised Land they rebelled.

 

They were impudent and stubborn these Israelites. Even once they got into the Promised Land they continually went and worshipped the gods of the inhabitants which they were to overthrow. They worshipped the gods of their neighbors. The Lord had sent them deliverer after deliverer when they repented but they kept going back to turning their backs of the Lord which is why they were in exile there at Babylon.

 

The Lord would give Ezekiel the words to speak so he could rightly say, “Thus says the Lord.” Through his word and actions the people would know God had sent them a prophet even in the midst of their punishment for their rebellion against him.

 

Now the Lord would send another one who is called the Son of Man. He sent them to the lost sheep of Israel not in Babylon but in the land of Canaan. They thought they were worshipping the Lord but in their rebellious, stubborn and impudent ways, they were following their traditions instead of the Law he had given them through Moses. This one would be the Lord himself, tabernacling in their midst, in their flesh. This one was Jesus Christ of Nazereth.

 

Through his word, the word given him by the Father, and by his actions, the people knew a prophet had come to them from God. He taught as one who had authority because he was the authority. Yet in their rebellious, impudent and hard hearts they killed the Author of Life, they crucified the Lord of Glory. But God had planned to use their defect and sinfulness to accomplish their salvation and the salvation of the world. They did not offer Jesus up as a sacrifice but the Father received it as such and it was the atoning sacrifice for their sin and for the sin of the world. This was a sacrifice for the sin of Israel to reconcile them to God their Lord and for your sin to reconcile you to your God and Lord. Therefore, repent of your sins and believe on Jesus Christ and be saved.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us your Holy Spirit this day that we may not harden our hearts, be rebellious and impudent but rather repent of our sins and trust in your Son Jesus Christ that we may possess eternal life an live lives pleasing in your sight. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Taste And See The Lord Is Good


#DailyDevotion Taste And See The Lord Is Good

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessèd is the man who takes refuge in him!

 

What sort of tasting is David talking about? This is the tasting or rather eating of faith that Jesus talks about in John chapter 6. Joh 6:51 ESV  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Which is preceded by Joh 6:35 ESV  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

 

To come to the Lord, to trust in the Lord is to eat and drink spiritually of the Lord Jesus Christ. David was trusting in the Lord when he feigned madness before Abimelech. The Lord delivered David from the Philistine’s king’s hand and David rejoices in it.  He was blessed by taking refuge in the Lord.

 

David calls out for us to take refuge in the Lord as well. He calls us to believe in his Lord and his descendent Jesus Christ. Taste, that is, take a leap of faith, take a chance that what Jesus says is actually true. Look at what Jesus has done for you and believe his sacrifice was indeed to reconcile you to God. Listen to his teachings. Take a leap of faith to act on them, to live your life according to the plan and life of the kingdom. You will see the Lord is good. You will be blessed when you take refuge in Jesus.

 

Now the blessedness we are referring to is not a big house, a new car and a life of leisure. It is not the outward trappings of the world. It is an inner state of blessedness, of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a state wherein we can rejoice in our sufferings knowing God is not against us but is using our sufferings to discipline us, to form us into his people and conform us to the image of Christ.

 

So when troubles come your way, and they will, cast yourself on the almighty, merciful hands of your savior Jesus Christ. Come to him and he will fill your hunger. Believe in him you will not thirst. You will be blessed with eternal life, a peace beyond all understanding and you will see the Lord Jesus Christ is good.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us strength of faith to believe in your Son Jesus Christ, to taste of his goodness, to come to him and have our hunger filled and to have our thirst removed. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Don’t Be Afraid. Only Believe


#DailyDevotion Don’t Be Afraid. Only Believe

Mark 5:35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

 

You can just hear the heart sink in Jairus. He got Jesus to come with him to heal his daughter but along the way Jesus stops and takes forever trying to figure out who touched him.  He believed Jesus could heal her but now…he gets news his little daughter has died. His friends tell him, “Why bother the teacher any further?”

 

But Jesus would have none of it. Jesus tells the father, “Do not fear, only believe.”(Knowing Jesus you might just think he stood around looking for this woman on purpose, much like he waited for Lazarus to die in John’s Gospel.) Many times Jesus tells people in the Old and New Testaments to not fear but to believe. Jeremiah wrote, Lam 3:57-58 ESV  You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’  (58)  “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life. Indeed, Jesus has taken up the father’s cause in this passage. Jesus has heard your cries for mercy and has come near unto you. He has redeemed your life.

 

Moses wrote, Deu 20:2-4 ESV “And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people  (3)  and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them,  (4)  for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’” You should know it is the Lord who fights your battles for you as well against your enemies, namely, sin, death and the power of the devil. Do not fear when your conscience troubles you but look to Jesus and believe. Even if worldly troubles come upon you do not fear. The cares of this world can only affect your body. They are temporary. Look to Jesus who cares for your soul and whose resurrection will raise your bodies to eternal life.

 

Jesus does not want us acting out of fear. We rarely do anything good acting out of fear. He has freed us from the slavery of the fear of death. When we act out of fear we normally commit some sort of sin because we think God doesn’t care for us or is going to do anything to help us. But Jesus does care for us even in our everyday lives. He tells us to not be afraid, only believe also. We have these promises: Rom 8:28 ESV  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And Rom 8:38-39 ESV “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  (39)  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As Paul also says in this chapter we have received a spirit of slavery that fears but the Spirit that cries, “Abba, Father.” So turn to God your Father in every trial and tribulation and do not fear but believe. He cares for you.

 

Almighty God and Father, your son Jesus Christ bids us to not fear but believe. Continually give us your Spirit that we may be freed from the slavery of fear and continually look to you for every good thing for the sake of your son Jesus Christ, in who name we pray. Amen.