Daily Reading: July 21st


#DailyDevotion Are You Treating The Lord Like A Lucky Charm?

July 21

1 Sam 4:1–22

1Sa 4:3  And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.”…4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim…1 And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died…21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

 

Hey now! What’s going on here? Indeed, that is what the Israelites were wondering. Why did God not fight for them on the field against the Philistines? So they go and get the Ark of the Covenant. Certainly now they will win. The get decimated. How could this have happened? Why didn’t the Lord defend the Israelites? Because they permitted evil in their midst.

 

Eli did not punish and correct his sons for their wicked behavior and he was going to be punished for his lack of parental oversight. But all Israel also knew of the wickedness of the sons of Eli at the tabernacle and they did nothing. They allowed the Lord’s name to be despised. Therefore they all shared in the sins of Eli and his sons. Because of this, the Lord allowed the Israelites to fall and for the Ark to be captured. Along with that, the glory he place upon the Ark went with it and so the Lord’s glory departed from Israel.

 

So are you wondering why you go to Church, you tithe, and you manifestly do many other good works and yet your world seems to be falling apart? You click on the superstitious memes, ‘share this and money will come your way’ ‘type Amen and receive a blessing’ and things only get worse.  You do everything you are told by other hoping to receive a blessing by God and nothing.

 

Well there may be several causes. One is you may have wickedness in your midst and you allow it or are in full participation of it. Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1-7:24). Are you living as Christ wants you to live? What wickedness in your heart are you holding back from the Lord? Perhaps the Lord doesn’t like being treated like some lucky charm, a fairly godmother, or a genie in a bottle. Are you treating him as such? Our Lord Jesus Christ wants a trusting relationship with you. He wants you to trust him so you may obey him and live your life according to his will. The Father in heaven wants you to be his child, not his spoiled child. The Israelites were treating the Lord and the Ark as a lucky charm. Jesus wants us to glorify his name and the Father in all we think, say and do. In our trusting relationship, things will not always work out as we like, but they will always work out to the glory of God and Jesus. In the end we will receive our inheritance from the Lord. If that isn’t good enough for you no other god will do either.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us true faith in your Son that we glorify him in all our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Readings: July 20th


#DailyDevotion Just Don’t Accept Condemnation. Repent and Believe The Good News!

July 20

1 Sam 3:1–21

1Sa 3:18-19  So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”  (19)  And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

 

By Eli’s reaction to the Word of the Lord from Samuel, I can see how his family was so messed up. He receives this horrible fate from the mouth of the Lord and what does he do? He just goes, “Oh well!” Really? He doesn’t lament, cry, or beg for forgiveness. He doesn’t remind the Lord of His Name—gracious, merciful, forgiving, steadfast love. At least Abraham got the Lord down to 10 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. He is almost as bad as Hezekiah who when he receives bad news for his future family just goes, “Well as long as it doesn’t happen to me.”

 

When the Word of the Lord comes to you in judgment don’t just take it passively. There are a lot of people who once went to church and when they heard they were going to hell for their bad behaviors said, “Oh well.” Then they go on with their lives and bad behavior. It is the strangest thing. Don’t be one of those people! Fall down, cry out loud, confess your sins and beg God’s forgiveness. Be repentant and turn from that sin. All the more believe in the promise of the forgiveness of sins.

 

That is where verse 19 becomes important. None of the words of Samuel fell to the grounds. That means everything he spoke came true. Indeed all of the words of God come to pass, though he will relent to mercy if people repent. Mercy is the Lord’s default position. When Samuel made predictions, things happened. The same is true of all of God’s Word. If all of God’s Word has come to pass then all of things God has promised us in His Word is dependable.

 

What Word should we maybe take to heart today if we have found ourselves in Eli’s position? 1Jn 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin…9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Don’t just stand there and be condemned. Confess your sins. Jesus is faithful and just and will forgive you your sins. He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Jesus will be your advocate before the Father and plead your case. Jesus will procure for you a judgment of not guilty.

Samuel’s words being fulfilled means all of God’s promises are yes in Christ Jesus. So God’s promise of an inheritance will come to pass. A new heavens and a new earth will be delivered. A new immortal, imperishable body will be given to all who trust in Christ Jesus at the resurrection. Life with God for all eternity will be a reality. But the judgment to everlasting damnation for all who do not repent is also coming to pass. So trust in God’s promises, repent and believe the good news.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us faith to repent of our sins, confess them and believe the good news of your name and receive all your benefits. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: July 19th


#DailyDevotion Who Will Mediate For You If You Sin Against God?

July 19

1 Sam 2:18–36

1Sa 2:25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death…35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.

 

Eli’s sons despised the Word of the Lord and the sacrifices brought to the Lord. They were so bad that even though they served at the temple of the Lord it is said they did not know the Lord. Obviously though they were before the Lord day and night performing the sacrifices the knowledge before them went without belief. They did not believe the Lord’s goodness or his wrath. They were like many today who serve as pastors who do it only for the money but who have no faith in God. They should know the Lord but the Lord is far from them.

 

These two brothers were not just sinning against a man. The man of God said if that were the case God would mediate for them. But their sin was against God himself. We often think a lot about the sins people commit against their fellow man. We think those are the worst sins of all. But for people to sin against God, that is not a big deal for us. Men and women can misuse Jesus’ name and nothing. They can teach false doctrine that sends men, women and children to hell for all eternity and we think nothing of it. We can spurn the gathering of the brothers of Christ, His Word and His sacraments and well we think God will give us a pass because we are so nice to people. People can go off and worship other gods and so to each his own, live and let live.

 

The Lord has other ideas. If you sin against God, the King of Israel, who can mediate for you? You snubbed your nose at your Redeemer! You have rejected your mediator, the Lord. Who can intercede for you? No mere mortal can bridge the gap and bring peace between you and the Creator of all.

 

The Lord though has raised up a faithful priest as he has promised. He has sent to us a priest who will do all the Lord requires according to the Lord’s heart and mind. He will do nothing apart from the will of the Lord. This priest is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lord himself come in the flesh. All his days he did and taught all the Father had given him. Finally, Jesus Christ our Lord gave his life as a sacrifice to bring reconciliation between God and all mankind. It was accepted by the Father and he no longer counts our trespasses against us. But if you reject your priest and mediator Jesus Christ, who then will speak for you? If you spurn his reconciliation how will your reconcile yourself to your Creator? You can’t. Trust Jesus is your priest before God today who has mediated your peace with your Maker.

 

Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have gotten for us reconciliation that we may stand before you on the Day of Judgment. Grant us faith in this great work that our trespasses may not be held against us on that day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Readings: July 18th


#DailyReading What Does Your Praise Sound Like?

July 18th
Read 1Sam 1:21—2:17
1Sa 2:1-10 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. (2) “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. (3) Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (4) The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. (5) Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. (6) The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. (7) The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. (8) He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor…

This is what Hannah sang when she brought Samuel, after being weaned, to dedicate him to the Lord’s service. Compare that to what Mary, the mother of God, sang when she visited her cousin Elizabeth:

Luk 1:46-55 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, (47) and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (48) for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; (49) for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (50) And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. (51) He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; (52) he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; (53) he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. (54) He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, (55) as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

In both the heart/soul magnifies the Lord. They both give praise to the Lord. Both describe the Lord has one who reverses fortunes of those who trust in him and those who do not. The Lord guides and aides those who are his. The both proclaim the Lord’s ultimate victory over his enemies. The both proclaim power, strength and exaltedness of his anointed. They are both based on other passages from Scripture.

Before you start singing that mindless “praise song” give heed to how the scripture praises the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament and the New ask yourself, “Does this look like or sound like any other songs in the scripture?” If not, maybe you need to try one of these first. Because of Jesus’ victory through his innocent suffering and death he deserves a little something better than Christian lite.

Lord Jesus Christ, even as you filled the women of old with your praises by the power of the Holy Spirit, so fill your people with the same Spirit that they may compose and sing your praises in a manner worthy of your name. Amen.

Daily Reading: July 17th


#DailyDevotion Some People Actually Want Children

July 17th
Read 1 Sam 1:1–20
1Sa 1:4-6 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters… (6) And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb…11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”..20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD.”

It is so sad and strange today the job that the “earthers” have done to women and men that they scorn the blessing of children. Sure, some come around to finding one or two a blessing and joy, on their own terms and time but then they are purely for the satisfaction of the doting parents. In our time though, many of these same people are found barren and spend thousands of dollars trying to have children later when they have spent so much time and effort earlier to not have children. There are those poor unfortunate souls who have always set themselves before the Lord and were willing to have children as the Lord willed but of no fault of their own they were barren. The Lord had sealed up their womb like this Hannah. Now this account is not a lesson on how to get pregnant. What is it about? Jesus.

A virgin is just as barren and humbled as a barren woman. Hannah had no child and was the object of scorn. She prayed to the Lord and made a vow that if the Lord would give her a son, that son would be dedicated to the Lord and be a Nazarite. The Lord heard her cry and gave her a son. She named him Samuel which means, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” Samuel indeed would be dedicated to the Lord and be a great prophet among the people of Israel. Indeed, he would anoint to different royal dynasties during his lifetime.

There was another woman without child, a Virgin name Mary. Though espoused she had not yet consummated her marriage and she was given a child in her virginity. It would be the Lord himself who was conceived in her womb. He too would be dedicated to the Lord. He too would be a Nazarite. Jesus was his name because the Lord would save his people from their sins through him. He was a prophet and more than a prophet. He would also be a king and more than a king. He was a priest and more than a priest. Jesus is The Prophet, The Priest and The King to end all prophets, priests and kings. He is the King of the Universe and the High Priest before the Father of Lights and the Very Word of the Father. Jesus the One dedicated to the Lord of Hosts is in fact the Lord of Hosts. He is also dedicated to the Lord’s service by coming to serve you. His mother while despised as a virgin would be the most blessed among all women. She gave birth to the one who came and was dedicated to saving you. He was not born into this world for her own pleasure but for God’s and for your pleasure.

Lord Jesus Christ, look upon all women desiring children the blessing of childbirth and be with all mothers that their children would be blessing unto them and them unto their children. May they all be raised up in the faith of your salvation to which you were dedicated to from conception by the holy angel and may we always remember the blessing for us by your conception and birth. Amen.

Daily Reading: July 16th


#DailyDevotion Do Not Spurn The Lord’s Grace

July 16th
Read Judg 16:4–30
Jdg 16:16-20 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. (17) And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” (18) When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. (19) She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. (20) And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Part of Samson’s problem his whole adult life was that he was constantly joining himself to women whom he had no business joining himself. They were all people of the land, people whom the Lord had dedicated to destruction. God had warned the Israelites not to make treaties with people in the land. Samson ignored this and made Philistine women his wives or concubines. This last one was the worst of all. She goaded him all the time to reveal the secret of his strength. She must have been a looker or perhaps Samson didn’t believe the secret of his strength himself because he finally told her. Having not trusted the Lord, the Lord left him. He was unable to defend himself. He was captured, blinded and made a fool.

St. Paul warns us Christians to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. There is no greater yoke than marriage. Christians should only marry Christians. True, occasionally an unbeliever may come to faith through their believing spouse but the odds are in favor of the unbeliever converting their believing spouse. More often than not they quit going to Church, being fed with the Word of Truth and they leave. They love their spouses more than they love their Savior Jesus Christ.

Not only should we marry a fellow believer but if I may, you should marry someone of the same faith/denomination. While the temptation is not quite the same, in order to avoid the discussions of where to go to church, when to go, which faith the children will be raised up, you should do this. If you want to marry someone of another Christian faith one of you needs to convert to the other BEFORE you say, “I do.” Perhaps it might not even be a denomination or faith either of you belong. But of course you should be certain you believe together that what that church teaches is the truth. If you don’t, you will find you have the same problems of the believer/unbeliever marriage. Otherwise, no one goes to church and no one perseveres in the faith. Our ultimate allegiance must be Jesus Christ and his Church.

Lord Jesus Christ, do not let us become entangled with unbelievers or those who teach you falsely, but grant us believing spouses who are wholly devoted to you and your truth. Amen.

Daily Reading: July 15th


#DailyDevotion Do Not Become Entangled With Unbelievers

July 16th
Read Judg 16:4–30
Jdg 16:16-20 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. (17) And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” (18) When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. (19) She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. (20) And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Part of Samson’s problem his whole adult life was that he was constantly joining himself to women whom he had no business joining himself. They were all people of the land, people whom the Lord had dedicated to destruction. God had warned the Israelites not to make treaties with people in the land. Samson ignored this and made Philistine women his wives or concubines. This last one was the worst of all. She goaded him all the time to reveal the secret of his strength. She must have been a looker or perhaps Samson didn’t believe the secret of his strength himself because he finally told her. Having not trusted the Lord, the Lord left him. He was unable to defend himself. He was captured, blinded and made a fool.

St. Paul warns us Christians to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. There is no greater yoke than marriage. Christians should only marry Christians. True, occasionally an unbeliever may come to faith through their believing spouse but the odds are in favor of the unbeliever converting their believing spouse. More often than not they quit going to Church, being fed with the Word of Truth and they leave. They love their spouses more than they love their Savior Jesus Christ.

Not only should we marry a fellow believer but if I may, you should marry someone of the same faith/denomination. While the temptation is not quite the same, in order to avoid the discussions of where to go to church, when to go, which faith the children will be raised up, you should do this. If you want to marry someone of another Christian faith one of you needs to convert to the other BEFORE you say, “I do.” Perhaps it might not even be a denomination or faith either of you belong. But of course you should be certain you believe together that what that church teaches is the truth. If you don’t, you will find you have the same problems of the believer/unbeliever marriage. Otherwise, no one goes to church and no one perseveres in the faith. Our ultimate allegiance must be Jesus Christ and his Church.

Lord Jesus Christ, do not let us become entangled with unbelievers or those who teach you falsely, but grant us believing spouses who are wholly devoted to you and your truth. Amen.

Daily Readings: July 14th


#DailyDevotion The Lord God Plays The Long Game

July 14

Judg 14:1–20

Jdg 14:4 His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel…6 Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done…19 And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

 

The Philistines, whom the Israelites were supposed to have wiped off the face of the earth because of their sinfulness but did not because of their own faithlessness, were ruling over Israel. The Israelites has cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent them Samsun as a judge. Now the Lord is setting into motion how he would have Samsun overrun the Philistines and relieve Israel from their rule.

 

The Lord had placed upon Samsun this ruse in order to bring about the ruin of the Philistines. Yet it will not happen in this chapter. Samsun puts a riddle to the wedding guests and it is only with the threats to her family the bride presses Samsun to get the answer to the riddle. Having lost the game to the wedding guests the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samsun to take the debt owed from them (none Israelites whom the Israelites were to wipe out from the land in the first place). In his anger though, he leaves his bride to go back to his father’s house and the family gives the woman to wife to his companion (he is a Philistine who stood as best man from the village since Samsun did not bring any companion of his own there).

 

So what can we learn from this? One, the Lord works the long plan often. It will still be a while before Samsun ultimately brings judgment upon the Philistines and this will be one factor in bringing it about. Secondly, the Lord uses fallen human beings to accomplish his work. He does not always use the best, the brightest, the wisest and the like to bring about what he wants.

 

Jesus, our very own Samsun, brings about our victory over the devil and death by dying on the cross. And does he, our Lord Jesus Christ, set about immediately wiping off evil from the earth? No. What does he do? He sets the Church to preach the good news and the Spirit of the Lord through that good news to convert people to faith in Christ Jesus. He gives pastors to the Church who are fallen men, men who are weak, not the wisest nor the smartest, men who are the not the most winsome and men who not those who generally attract others to themselves, to bring the good news of salvation to the fallen world and gain a kingdom for Himself. And the Lord Jesus has done this now for a couple of millennia. We always look at the world and think, He has to be coming soon! But our Lord Jesus Christ plays the long game. He expects to be faithful to him until all his purposes come to pass.

Lord Jesus Christ, continually give us your Spirit that we may with patience wait your return and see your ultimate victory over sin death and the devil. Until such time, grant us pastors who will faithfully proclaim your victory so our hearts may ever be strengthened by your Word and Spirit. In your name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: July 13th


#DailyDevotion  The Lord Jesus’ Name Is Wonderful

July 13th
Read Judg 13:1–25
Jdg 13:16-23 And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) (17) And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” (18) And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” (19) So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the LORD, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. (20) And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground. (21) The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. (22) And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” (23) But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”

Yes, the Israelites are at it again. But don’t look down on them. You can be just as stubborn, stiff-necked and rebellious at times. Entering into the discipline of the Lord they cry out and the Lord hears him.

We enter the account of the beginning of Samsun. Sometime I wonder if he were the actual basis for Hercules, except Hercules was even less moral than Samsun. In any case, the Lord is having mercy on his people by giving them a judge. He would be dedicated to the Lord through the Nazarite vow. The Angel of the Lord appears to his mother who is barren and announces his future birth. Going to her husband they seek him out again and find him.

When they meet him they ask him his name. “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” He replies. Now true the name here is in its adjectival form but we are given a further clue a few hundred years later. Isa 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Hey wait a minute, that’s predicting another future barren woman, well not exactly barren, virgin (but as long as they’re virgin they can’t conceive, don’t get me started on modern fertility clinics). So the Angel of the Lord is Wonderful and the future child of the Virgin is Wonderful.

And that takes us to one more thing, the Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord is God the Lord in a form we can handle. Angels are messengers and The Angle of the Lord is the supreme messenger. He is the Word of God. John 1:1ff. In other words, this is Jesus, the Lord pre-conception/birth from the Virgin Mary. There is a difference between “an” angel of the Lord and “The” angel of the Lord. “The” angel of the Lord is the Lord, the God of Israel. When we confess Jesus is Lord we mean that he is this Angel of the Lord who is the Lord. And he means to be gracious to us just like he was to Samsun’s mom and dad. That is why he came. And the fact that he is gracious and merciful to us who are undeserving is why his name is Wonderful.

Lord Jesus Christ, your name if Wonderful because in your name we have salvation and life. Grant us the same faith as Zorah and Manoah that we may trust in your mercy. Amen.