#DailyDevotion The Lord Will Gather His People
Isa 43:4-7 Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. (5) Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. (6) I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, (7) everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
For the sake of Abraham, Israel was precious in his eyes. He still loved them in the midst of their rebellion and sin. But that does not mean they had full reign to do whatever or be licentious. Indeed, even as Isaiah speaks the word of the Lord, the Assyrians are barreling down from the north with God’s wrath and destruction. They are going to carry the Israelites off to distant lands never to be seen again.
Yet God will not leave Abraham without children. God can raise up children for Abraham from the rocks if he needs to. And from the rocks the Lord does raise up children for Abraham. From hearts of stone in Gentiles throughout the world, the Lord converts the children of men and makes them children of Abraham. He circumcises their hearts with the good news of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins in his name.
So to all of us children of Abraham, Israel’s adopted sons and those born Jews whom the Lord had placed the name of Jesus upon, he tells us to fear not for he is with us. He has given us his Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts. He has promised whenever we gather in his name he is with us. He has promised he will never leave us or forsake us. All of these promises are true. We can be brave and face life and all it has to throw at us because the presence of the Lord is with us as we bear his holy name.
On the Last Day as he has promised here, Jesus will gather us from the east and the west, the north and the south. With great rejoicing he will gather everyone who is called by his name i.e. Christians, those who trusted in him even in name. We shall be gathered to inhabit the new heavens and the new earth. For we who have had the name of Christ placed upon our foreheads and our hearts and trust in him will receive the rewards promised to all who trust in him.
He had formed and made us. He has created us for his glory. Jesus is our God and we are his people. As his people he makes us holy, gives us his glory, his righteousness, his wisdom and knowledge and his dominion. Heavenly Father, continue to gather together your people throughout the world by the gospel of your Son Jesus Christ, that Abraham our father may have many descendents from all nations and the Christ Jesus may receive the glory due his name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Fear Not! Jesus Is The Lord, The Holy One Of Israel
Isa 43:1-3 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (2) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (3) For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Despite all the pronouncements of judgment upon Israel and Judah by Isaiah in the much of the previous chapters, the Lord gives those who have been crushed by these pronouncements hope. The first note of hope hear is the Lord has not abandoned his people. He pronounces his name, YHWH, the Lord, the name he had given them to call upon in times of trouble and praise. He reminds them that it is he who created and formed them. It is he who called them from all nations of the world to be his holy people.
Then the Lord puts forth this good news, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Indeed the Israelites have much to fear. They had abandoned the Lord their God and run after other gods. As a result of their abandoning the Lord they have abandoned his ways and fallen into many great sins, shame and vice. What they deserve is the wrath of God. Indeed the wrath of God was headed down the pike in the form of the Assyrians who would indeed put many of them to death, exile into slavery in distant lands and never to be heard from again. But there is a light shining through in the midst of this. Fear not! Why? Because the Lord has redeemed them.
The Lord himself has redeemed Israel by providing himself as
the redemption price. He has become man and offered himself up upon the altar
of the cross. They have not be redeemed with the blood of bulls and goats or
lambs or any other created thing but with the precious blood of Jesus is the
Lord their God.
He has called them by name and they are his. Just as the Lord calls out the stars one by one and makes them shine in the night sky, he knows their name and calls them by it. He gives them the comfort they may know they belong to him. In light of his previous calling out of Egypt the Lord makes the pronouncements against being harmed by the waters or fires which may come upon them, even as they had passed through the Red Sea and the Jordan river. Indeed we can see the three young men in Daniel who were thrown into the furnace and the Lord protected them.
Now for us too this word of comfort applies. Jesus is the Holy One of Israel. Jesus is the Lord our God. Jesus is our Savior just as he is for the house of Israel. He has called us to be joined to Israel and to become children of Abraham. Jesus has redeemed not only Israel with his sacrifice on the cross, but he has redeemed the whole world. While we may suffer much for his name’s sake we need not fear what man can do to us. It is only temporary. As we put our faith in Jesus, the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, we know we shall escape the floods of the pit and the fires of Gehennah. They shall not touch us. He has called us by name and declared us to be his as well. By his name we are protected from the wrath of judgment.
Heavenly Father, when the world causes us alarm, grant us faith to remember your Son Jesus Christ has redeemed us and called us to be his own so we will not fear but walk in faith in promise of eternal life and living in your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion What Are You Offering Christ?
Mat 2:9-12 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. (10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. (11) And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (12) And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
When’s the last time you rejoiced exceedingly with great joy? Was it Christmas morning perhaps when you got the gift you were really hoping for? Was it when someone said yes? Well the magi, just seeing the star which pointed the way to the messiah, the King of the Jews that gave them great joy, exceedingly great joy. We don’t know how long they have traveled. We do know what they were expecting, the babe born King of the Jews.
When they got to the house (yes, they had gotten a house by this point) they saw the child with his mother Mary and they fell down and worshipped him. Now worshipping in this context would already be sending one down on their knees with the head to the floor, but these guy ‘fell down’ and worshipped. That action would go along with their rejoicing exceedingly with great joy. For the child they had come to visit was no ordinary king and they knew it. He was the King of Israel, i.e. the Living God of Israel, YHWH, Jehovah, in the flesh. He was their Maker and their Redeemer, their Savior and the Savior of the World.
Having been received by the Christ Child they opened their treasure, offering him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. No doubt, they offered him a lot of it to him. Why they didn’t know, the family would need it in the days to come when they escaped to the safety of Egypt. But the gifts were worthy of a king.
Now we as Christians, where do we stand in this? When we come to church do we recognize the presence of our king? When we receive the host and the cup which are the body and blood of the one born King of the Jews, do we rejoice exceedingly with great joy? When was the last time you fell to the ground and worshipped Christ Jesus with joy? What do you offer him? Do you give him your best or your leftovers? What does Christ really want of you who believe in him? Christ wants the hearts of those who believe in him. He has come to take possession of our hearts and make his throne there.
Indeed Christ wants all of us. Is there anything we are holding back from Jesus? Is there some aspect of our life we don’t want Jesus ruling over. Is there something of ourselves we don’t want Christ ruling over? Then perhaps we haven’t thoroughly understood the gift Christ has given to us. For Jesus has held nothing back from us that is his. Upon the cross he offered himself fully and completely. Jesus has offered us his life, eternal life. He has given us his righteousness. Jesus has given us his kingdom. The glory of Christ Jesus will clothe us in the world to come. Indeed we do not even know or comprehend the riches Christ Jesus has prepared to give us at his revelation. All this he has given to us freely, as a gift. He has rejoiced exceedingly with great joy over you.
Gracious God and Father, you have given us your Son Jesus Christ and he has given himself and all he possesses unto all who trust in him. Grant us faith to believe this and to respond exceedingly with great joy and offering ourselves and everything we have to him. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion So What’s Really Important Here?
Mat 2:1-6 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, (2) saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (3) When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; (4) and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. (5) They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: (6) “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Now while we might want to focus on who are these guys who came to Jerusalem, whether they’re wise men, magi, kings, etc. what we need to focus on is why there are there. Yes, as moderns we may also want to trash the idea there were three just because there were three gifts. But again, is that is what is important here? No.
What is important? “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” This is what is important here. The Lord the Living God of Israel is fulfilling his promises. The Lord had promised David that one is seed who sit on his throne forever. Now that seed who is king of the Jews is born. Now at the time Herod was ruling over Judea (and he wasn’t a Jew but an Edomite). But the Lord God had remembered his promise and his mercy to Israel. A savior, the savior had been born and the Lord had given a sign to the nations they would recognize.
Now this child is not just a seed of David, he is someone the nations would come and worship. He is Christ, the Lord. Eve thought Cain was that promised seed when she said, “I have given birth to son, the Lord!” But she was wrong. The world indeed had been waiting for this promised seed, though like Eve, the message had gotten blurred over the ages. But now, the Living God, the Lord of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had joined himself to David’s seed and become man. He has come to save not only Israel but the nations from their sin, from death, from the darkness that veils men’s hearts and bring his light into the world.
And as promised, as foretold, he was born in Bethlehem in Judea, David’s town. He would be the new David, the shoot of the stump of Jesse and Jesse’s root. The Branch of David as was foretold by the prophets.
If the Lord God has fulfilled these promises, then you can trust he can and will fulfill his promise to you. If you are repentant, are baptized into Christ and trust in Jesus you will be saved. You have passed from judgment to eternal life. Christ Jesus will raise you up on the Last Day give you the inheritance, the kingdom of God and eternal life with God. You will be transformed into the image of the Son, Jesus Christ and be holy, blameless, without defect, righteous and will bear his glory. Yes, these are the promises the Lord has made to you. You can be certain they will be fulfilled because he has fulfilled the promises he made in the past.
Heavenly Father, give us faith in the promises of Christ Jesus as we see your promises that have been fulfilled in Christ, that we may be comforted and come to worship him as our Lord, King and God and receive through him the gifts he won for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion God Has A Secret
Eph 3:7-12 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. (8) To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, (9) and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, (10) so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (11) This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, (12) in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
As a pastor I can relate with Paul’s enthusiasm here with the gospel, particularly since I too can see myself as the least of all the saints. When you understand to some extent what you are as a sinner in need of salvation, seeing the flames of eternal torment as your due and then you experience the grace of God in Christ Jesus, well you are downright flabbergasted that God would chose you to be a minster of that gospel.
Paul was Saul who sought to destroy the Church. Now he has been called to build up the Church and preach the message he was trying to destroy. What a grace that had been given unto him. If God can save Saul, God can save you and he has. O the unsearchable riches of Christ, but we will try to make them known and bring them to light. Since the beginning God had a plan for the salvation of the children of Adam. God in Christ Jesus has saved us. The Creator has become the Created. Through the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, man, sinful man, has been glorified and renewed in the image and likeness of God.
Yes, through faith in Christ Jesus, you are being renewed in image of God which is Jesus Christ. Inwardly you are being changed one degree of glory to another. Through the promise of the forgiveness of sins, you are being made partakers of the divine nature. That divine nature consists in true knowledge of God, the righteousness of God, the true holiness of God, and the glory of God.
Not only is this made known in the Church on earth but also in the heavens above. God’s manifold wisdom in doing this is being made known. He has called us sinful human beings to be his children in Christ Jesus our Lord. Having us be the children of God is realized in Christ. Through faith in Christ Jesus and being baptized into Christ Jesus we are joined to Jesus in his glorification.
Now through faith in Christ Jesus, we can boldly come to our heavenly Father with confidence that whatever we ask, he will give and do for us. We need not fear rejection because of our sinfulness for in Christ Jesus he sees the righteousness and the glory of the Son. We do not see it now but we have the promise that when we see him we shall be like him. But the Father who has eternally decreed this sees us as this in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we fear we are not acceptable to God as we are, we confess that as true but then we also confess what is also true, we are acceptable to God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us and he has joined us to himself, bound himself to us and shares with us his glory, righteousness, and holiness by grace. It is a free gift.
Heavenly Father, ever and always continually remind us of your grace in Christ Jesus and until the day we are fully formed in Jesus Christ, give us greater boldness and confidence through faith in Christ Jesus to approach you as our Father. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
DailyDevotion Do You Know The Mystery of Christ?
Eph 3:1-6 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— (2) assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, (3) how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. (4) When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, (5) which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (6) This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
For what reason? The reason that Paul’s listeners are being built into a dwelling place for God. Now Paul’s readers were a mix bag of Jews and Gentiles. While everyone believed both Jew and Gentile could be saved, they were still unclear as to how they were to relate to one another. Some passages in the Old Testament make it seem as if the Gentile believers would be subject to the Jewish believers in the kingdom of God.
Paul has had the mystery of Christ made known better to him through revelation of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus himself instructed Paul into these things and appointed him to the be the apostle to the Gentiles. There were hints at it throughout the Old Testament. The Lord told Abraham that his seed (singular) would be a blessing to the nations. The Lord had prophesied through the prophets it was too small a thing for the messiah to save just the children of Israel. He would saved the nations also.
But now the Spirit has revealed that in Christ Jesus, the Gentiles are fellow heirs of the kingdom with the children of Israel. There would no difference between them. One would not rule over the other. In Jesus, they all have the same inheritance who is the Lord himself.
Through baptism both Jew and Gentile are made equal members of the body of Christ. No one nation has preeminence in the body of Christ. Each person in his body he gives peculiar gifts in his body for building up the body according to the grace given them Jesus as he sees fit.
In the Spirit, we are all partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. No one person partakes more of the promise than any other person. The promise we all partake of is the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, to be the very temple of God that bears his name and his presence. We all partake of the promise to be conformed to the image of Christ. And in these things is our hope, both Jew and Gentile.
There is no other mystery. There are no hidden gospels. There are no other hidden secrets of Jesus. This is it and its huge. You who are Gentiles are equal and fellow partakers of the kingdom of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God.
Heavenly Father, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of all nations and to gather people of every language, tribe, people and nation to part of his holy body. Grant us faith that we too may be partakers of his promises and inherit the kingdom on the Last Day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Don’t Be An Idiot. Take The Offer
Isa 60:4-6 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. (5) Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. (6) A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.
You ever wonder where they got three wise men or three kings from? Well there were the three gifts, but this passage is seen as fulfilled when they visit Jesus in Bethlehem and we got three places too, Midian, Ephah and Sheba. Of course the reality was most likely there was a large contingent from these places. A multitude of camels implies a lot of people. The only thing missing is myrrh but that’s not a problem as you can always add more. But they most certainly did have the gold and the frankincense.
Now verse 6 and verse 1-3 tend to deal mostly with the birth of Christ up to his departure into Egypt. But verses 4 and 5 are more eschatological (last days). Now when the apostles went forth into the world they brought the good news to the world, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. They were gathering up the sons and daughters of Israel and bringing them into the kingdom of God. Indeed, Christ’s Church continues even to this day to gather the sons and daughters of Abraham into the bosom of Christ and his Church.
Christ Jesus’ heart is thrilled and exulted and his face is radiant as his people are gathered to him. But that is too small thing for the Lord. So he is gathering the nations as well to become children of Abraham and subjects of Christ Jesus. For two thousand years now the nations and the wealth of the nations has been coming to Jesus and subjecting themselves unto him. For it is in being subject to Christ that we find our true freedom: freedom from sin, from the slavery of the fear of death, from being subject to the devil.
The wise men no doubt brought the good news of Jesus, the praises of the Lord back to their homelands where they would have to wait another thirty-three years or so until they heard again that the child they visited had indeed died for their sins, rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father. They received the good news with joy.
Now you are called to come to Jesus. Will you subject yourself to his reign and experience the freedom he has for you? Will you receive from him his kingdom which he offers to all who trust him? What does the world and the devil have to offer you? Only an eternity of torment. But Jesus offers you eternal life and sitting with him on his throne ruling creation. Don’t be an idiot. Take the offer.
Heavenly Father, grant us your Holy Spirit and faith that we may trust Jesus and receive from him eternal life and your eternal kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Time To Leave The Darkness
Isa 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. (2) For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. (3) And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Isaiah was living in dark times. The Assyrian empire was taking over the Middle East. They were coming for Israel and Judah. To make matters worse, Israel and Judah had become apostate. They had turned from the light of the Living God and turned to the darkness of idols. The people who were supposed to be a light on the hill to the nations were as if a bushel had been placed over them and hid their light.
The rest of the world had been in darkness again. The nations who were descended from righteous Noah had gone back to their old ways after the flood. Indeed then as now darkness covered the earth and thick darkness the peoples. They chose darkness to the light. Paul says, 2Co 4:4 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” That ‘god’ is the devil, Satan.
But Isaiah saw something in the midst of the darkness. The Lord would arise upon Israel and Judah and his glory would be seen upon them. That light and glory is the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Jesus says, Joh 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Those who walk in darkness believe the old serpent’s lie; You can’t trust God. He’s holding back from you the good things. I’m here to give you freedom.
But we know that was just a lie. The good news in Christ Jesus is God, the Living God, is not holding anything back from us. He has given us his all in Jesus. Jesus is our true light, not Lucifer. The true light dies and enters deepest darkness to obtain for you the forgiveness of sins. He, Jesus, removes the wrath of God from us because the Lord God doesn’t want to punish anyone and take no joy in the death of the wicked. To follow Jesus is to believe this about the Creator of the universe, of everything seen and unseen. The devil, Satan, Lucifer, the ‘old gods’ do not love you. They wish to destroy you so you enter eternal torment with them. They hate you because God loves you. So they try to deceive you into not trusting God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ.
The glory of Christ is his cross. At his cross Jesus gathers the nations. He has gathered you. Here he shows the mercy of the Father towards you. The perverted world wants you to see this as a wrathful God. God wants you to see his mercy and kindness towards you. If you believe Jesus did this for you, you have left the darkness and entered the kingdom of light. You have become children of light for the Light has begotten himself in you.
Now as children of the Light, he has called you to live as light to the world. You are no longer slaves of sin or the fear of death. You are no longer under the power of the god of this world but you have received the Spirit of the Creator, the Father of lights. You are now free to trust him and do the good he would have you live out in this world. Satan tried to put out the Light, but the Light of the world rose from the dead never to die again. His light is now your light and his kingdom your kingdom. So live as children of the light.
O Father of lights, you granted us faith in your son Jesus Christ, the Light of the world that we too may become children of light. Ever grant this light to our hearts and minds that we may never be deceived again by the prince of darkness and that we may inherit your kingdom at Christ’s revelation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Nothing Is Impossible With God, Including Your Salvation
Read Luke 1:26–38
Luk 1:28-34 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (29) But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. (30) And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. (32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, (33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (34) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (35)And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God. (36) And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. (37) For nothing will be impossible with God.” (38) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Gabriel is a busy angel. First bringing good tidings to Zechariah, and now he brings it to Elizabeth’s cousin Mary who is the house of David. I’ve always wondered about how these two are related. Somewhere along the way someone from the house of David married someone of the house of Aaron. But what message does the angel bring? One similar to Zechariah’s. Zechariah’s barren wife is going to have a child and Mary who is barren by virginity is going to bear a child. God has a way of bringing children to those who are barren, Sarah, Rachel, Hannah and the like. For, it is God who opens the womb and God who closes it. Mary will conceive and bear a child in her virginity. Jesus is conceived in Mary’s ear at her hearing and believing the message of the angel.
Who will this child be? He is the one the prophet of the Most High will prepare a way. He will be named Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. He is Yahweh who saves in the flesh. He is the Lord (all caps) of the Old Testament, the Son of the Most High, the Word made flesh. He is David’s son and will receive the promise eternal throne of David his father. He is God and Man. As Peter preached, Act 3:15 “and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” and Paul testified, 1Co 2:8 “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” this one born of Mary is God in the flesh.
How can God become man? How can the infinite take on the finite? How can God die for the sins of His creation and take the blame for that we have done? As the Lord told Abraham, Gen 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the LORD? and now he tells Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Yes, nothing is impossible with God, not even the free gift of salvation won for you by Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, the Son of God.
Lord Jesus Christ, grant us faith in your incarnation and even more so what you have accomplished for us in your becoming man, that in your flesh you have won righteousness for us and have defeated our foes-sin, death and the power of the devil. Amen.