#DailyDevotion You Are Born Of Imperishable Seed, The Word Of God

#DailyDevotion You Are Born Of Imperishable Seed, The Word Of God

1 Peter 123You were born again, not by a seed that perishes but by one that cannot perish, God’s ever-living Word. 24 All people are like grass, and all their glory like the flower in the grass. The grass withers, and the flower drops off, 25 but the Lord’s Word lives forever. This Word is the good news you have been told.

You were born again, born from above, if you have been born from above not by a seed that perished but by one that cannot perish. That seed is “God’s ever-living Word.” John tells us, 113 “They have been born, not of the blood of parents, nor of a sexual desire, nor of a man’s desire, but of God.” Now Jesus also tells us in John, 34“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered him, “if anyone isn’t born of water and the Spirit, he can’t get into God’s kingdom. 6Anything born of the flesh is flesh, but anything born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Don’t be surprised when I tell you you must all be born from above.” And Paul tells us, Christ makes us holy “by washing it[us] clean with water by the Word by washing it clean with water by the Word.”

Now the Word Peter tells us is the “good news you have been told.” It is the revealed name of God Jesus gives us in Matthew, “the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That name tells us the salvation of our God. It originates with the Father who sends the Son, Jesus. Jesus by his blood redeems us. The Spirit by the water and Word, the name of God, makes us born from above, gives us faith in Jesus, his work and his name. The Spirit and the Word are always together. It is through the Word the Spirit acts in giving us faith, life and salvation.

The seed cannot perish because it is the Word. People and their ideas perish. People and their glory fades away.  The Lord’s Word lives forever. This is because the LORD and the Word are one LORD. John tells us in chapter one, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” How does God, the LORD, fade, wither or perish. The Word is eternal. In baptism, as God’s name is placed on us and we in God, the Word, Jesus Christ is put into our hearts by the Spirit. It is the Word, Jesus Christ himself, our ransom and our redemption, who is the Life and Light of the world who gives us his Life and Light in baptism. Which is why Peter says a few chapters later, “baptism now saves us… by guaranteeing us a good conscience before God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”(3:21)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees us a good conscience. Our hearts, minds, and spirit is resurrected by the baptism we are baptized into and he who makes us his dwelling. Such resurrection also affects our bodily resurrection to eternal life on the Last Day. The Word of the Lord, Jesus Christ makes us born from above, born of God. The Word reveals us to be children of God on the Last Day. Because Jesus, the Word, does not whither, fade or perish, neither does his promise, nor his effects, nor his salvation given unto you. You can always depend upon him to do what he has said and what he has promised. So the certainty and assurance of our salvation is only and solely based on him and not what we do or don’t do. And that is good news.

O merciful and kind Father, you have given us birth from above not of perishable seed but by the imperishable seed your Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant that we may remain in this Word and receive the outcome of our faith in Christ, the salvation of our souls and the resurrection of our bodies. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Was Appointed To Be Slain For You Before Creation

#DailyDevotion Jesus Was Appointed To Be Slain For You Before Creation

1 Peter 120Appointed before the world was made, He was revealed in the last period of time to help you. 21And through Him you believe in God, Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory; and so your faith and hope rest in God. 22Now that by obeying the truth you purified yourselves to love sincerely as brothers, love one another with a pure heart and intensely.

Apparently God the Father thought you were worth it. What do I mean? Simply this, he knew what Adam and Eve were going to do. He knew in what ways you would join them in their sin and rebellion. He knew every act of evil that mankind would ever do. Yet he went ahead and created us. Before he created the world, knowing what would happen, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit planned on sending the Son, Jesus, to redeem it and mankind. It boggles the mind. Peter testifies here, “Appointed before the world was made, He was revealed in the last period of time to help you.” It is also revealed in Rev. 13:8 “the Lamb Who was slain from the beginning of the world.”

Yes, God thought it was worth creating you with all your sins knowing how those sins would affect the world and he still created you with a plan of redemption. His son would be sacrificed. The sin of the world would be laid upon him. Jesus’ blood would make atonement. Through his blood, through faith in his blood you would be purified of all sins and be made holy. It has been revealed to us in the last period of time you would be helped by him. We should note we do not have to wait for the Last Days. Peter says we were living in them when he was living and writing this. We continue to live in them now.

It is through Jesus we believe in and know God, that is God the Father. Jesus has said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is most certainly true. Apart from Jesus all we can know of God is that he is wrathful because of our sins. Any thought of God the Father being merciful and kind is borrowed from Christianity, although they deny the power. It is Jesus who has revealed to us, in his suffering and death the Father is merciful, kind, loving, long-suffering and forgiving. Through God the Father raising Jesus from the dead and giving him glory we know what our own destiny is who put our faith in Christ. We share in his glory as he has shared in our humanity. Because of this our faith in hope rest in God.

Obeying the truth is trusting that such things are really so. Such obedience or rather faith in our parlance purifies us. It calls upon us to love sincerely God and to sincerely love one another as God has loved us in Christ Jesus. That is the meaning of intensely here. Jesus has left us the command to love one another as I have loved you. This calls us to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as deserving more honor than ourselves. It calls us to sacrifice ourselves on behalf of our fellow Christians. This is not always an easy thing to do. Our flesh craves to be number one. But only Jesus is number one. He has testified how we treat our fellow Christian is how we treat him. Through faith, through obedience to the truth of his sacrifice we can and will do it.

Almighty and merciful Father, you appointed Jesus to be slain for the redemption of the created world and all who dwell in it. Give us such faith that we may live in obedience to this truth and truly, sincerely with the intensity of Jesus love our fellow Christians. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion We Have Been Freed From Our Worthless Lives Under The Torah & Traditions

#DailyDevotion We Have Been Freed From Our Worthless Lives Under The Torah & Traditions

1 Peter 117And if you call on Him as your Father, Who judges each one according to what he has done, without favoring one over another, live reverently as long as you are strangers here, 18knowing that you were freed from the worthless life you inherited from your fathers, not by a payment of silver or gold, which perish, 19but by the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb without a fault or a spot.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord that we may call upon God the creator of all as our Father. We should remember that these words are based on the previous words up to this point. We have called, chosen from all the people of the world to be God’s chosen people by his grace in Christ Jesus. He has called us by his grace through the good news of Jesus Christ to be his children and to be holy even as he is holy. To this end, he has given us faith and the Holy Spirit who has caused us to be born of God with the holy seed of his word, the free forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.

Now the Father judges each person according to what he has done not favoring one person over another. That is, we are forgiven our sins freely for Christ’s sake but we are not to trample upon the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus by willfully sinning and not think we will not be disciplined in some way by our heavenly Father. (cf. Heb. 12) Having been called and born of God we are not called to live like the rest of the world but to be holy. Peter tells us to live “reverently as long as you are strangers here.” We, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, like the Israelites in Egypt are strangers here in the world. The new age, the world to come, the kingdom of God, the new heavens and new earth are our home and inheritance. We, while living here, are called to live as those who are citizens of heaven, not as citizens of this world.

We have been freed, ransomed from the worthless life we have inherited from our fathers. Now this life is twofold, on the one hand it refers to the ways of pagans, unbelievers, and idol worshipers. On the other hand it also refers to the Jewish way of life following the law of Moses and the way of their fathers, their traditions. Remember Peter is the apostle to the Jews and is initially addressing Jewish believers in this letter, though its message is for all believers everywhere. Paul talks about this similarly in his letter to the Galatians when he says they have returned to the elementary principles of this world equating the pagan way of life and Jewish way of life and then pointing out Jesus who is the Way and the Life is far superior to both and has superseded them.

As the Lord had ransomed the Israelites from Pharaoh with the Passover Lamb and then placed them under the Mosaic Covenant, now he has ransomed Israel and all people from our previous way of life, not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb without fault or spot. It is the freedom, the ransom price which calls us to live a different life than before. The Holy Life is one of mercy, kindness, love, forgiveness, and patience as such the Father has shown us in Christ Jesus. The new birth from God affects this way of life. His Spirit brings this new way of life through the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood.

O Holy God and Father, you call us to live holy lives even as you are holy. Continually give us your Spirit and faith that we may live our lives in this world conformed to your way and life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion What Should We Do?

#DailyDevotion What Should We Do?

Acts 214 Then Peter got up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them:

36“Then all the people of Israel should know it’s true that God made Him Lord and Christ — this Jesus Whom you crucified.” 37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart. They asked Peter and the other apostles, “Fellow Jews, what should we do?” 38 Peter answered them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will be given the Holy Spirit. 39What is promised belongs to you, to your children, and to all who are far away, all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40He said much more to warn them. “Be saved from these crooked people,” he urged them. 41Those who accepted what he said were baptized. And that day about 3,000 persons were added.

So this is part of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost. The lectionary reading for this day is missing verses 15-35 which we’ll get on Pentecost Sunday. Much of that was talking about what Jesus did, how he had fulfilled prophecy and what the crowds in front of him had done to Jesus and how Jesus had risen from the dead.  It crescendos with verse 36, “Then all the people of Israel should know it’s true that God made Him Lord and Christ — this Jesus Whom you crucified.” Well how bad could it get? Pretty bad. The crowd, at the instigation of the Sandhedrin, had Jesus crucified and now he sits at the right hand of the Father as Lord and Christ. In their minds you can hear the gears working, “If he is Lord and Christ, what is he going to do to us for what we have done to him?” They were cut to the heart. They regretted what they had done and so they ask, “What should we do?”

Well all is not hopeless even if you did crucify and kill your LORD and your God. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,…” Be repentant. Have a change of heart and mind. It was directed at self before, direct it towards Jesus and the Father. Be contrite at heart for all the sins you have committed. Change sides to Jesus’ side. In conjunction with that be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. This is not different than being baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew gives us the formula to use, Peter here is designating in who name and authority the baptism is coming from and who is doing the baptizing. Baptism begins our journey of repentance. We are only baptized once but we are called to live in that baptism, being repentant all the days of our life.

This baptism, like John the Baptist’s, gives the forgiveness of sins and differently than John’s it bestows upon us the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this baptism we are made the temple of God. Like the temple in Jerusalem the Holy Spirit makes the LORD’s name rest upon us and he fills us and makes us his dwelling. As all males 8 days old and up were circumcised when they joined Israel, now all people, men, women and children were to be baptized, be repentant. The gift is for your and your children. We now live in this baptism having been joined to Christ Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We live in the Holy Spirit. We live in the forgiveness of sins. It is the sign God has given us that we have been called to be his holy children and to receive the inheritance. And it is not only a sign but it delivers the promise to us.

Almighty God and Father, you call all of us to repent of our sins, be baptized and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Grant that we live in our baptism being guided by the Holy Spirit all our days so we may on the day of redemption see the forgiveness of our sins and receive everlasting life in our resurrection. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Blessed Are Those Who Cry My Lord & My God By Faith

#DailyDevotion Blessed Are Those Who Cry My Lord & My God By Faith

John 2024But Thomas, one of the twelve, who was called Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciplės told him, “We saw the Lord.” “Unless I see the marks of the nails in His hands,” he told them, “and put my finger in the marks of the nails and put my hand in His side, I won’t believe it.” 26A week later His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace to you!” He said. 27Then He told Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at My hands — and take your hand and put it in My side. And don’t doubt but believe.” 28“My Lord and my God!” Thomas answered Him. 29“Do you believe because you’ve seen Me?” Jesus asked him. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 His disciples saw Jesus do many other miracles that are not written in this book. 31But these things are written so that you believe Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and by believing have life in His name.

I tell you, Thomas gets a bad rap. Poor guy gets called doubting Thomas. Well we all know from the Easter readings not one of the other disciples believed the report of the women or the disciples from Emmaus until they too saw Jesus with their own eyes and saw the marks of the nails in his hand or the wound in his side and saw him eat something to prove he wasn’t a ghost. I guess Thomas get a bad rap because he is the only one of them who was honest enough to speak out look what everyone else was only thinking.

Jesus however was than happy to oblige. “Peace to you! Shalom!” Jesus says as he makes himself visible in the locked room. Jesus addresses Thomas who wasn’t there Easter evening showing him his hands and his side and directing him to do everything Thomas said he needed to do to believe Jesus is risen. Thomas though needs not do any of that. He doesn’t even need to see Jesus eat some food. Thomas cries out with joy, “My Lord and my God!” Now it is most interesting with all the places in the Bible there may be a variant reading there is not one here. Every copy in the ancient copies of John, everyone of them says the exact same thing at this place. Seeing Jesus risen from the dead he knows exactly who he is dealing with.

Yet you and I are more blessed than Thomas or the rest of the Apostles. We are more blessed than the five hundred who saw Jesus risen or the Apostle Paul to whom Jesus appeared. Jesus says as much, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We have seen the risen Lord, yet at the message of the good news of Jesus Christ we believed what we were told. Such faith gives to us eternal life. This faith lifts us to the right hand of God where Christ reigns now. This faith receives all the gifts of God and the inheritance of God, his righteousness, holiness and glory. As St. Peter tells us, 8“You never saw Him, but you love Him. You don’t see Him now, but you believe in Him. And a joy, unspeakable and wonderful, fills you with delight 9as you receive by faith what you’re looking for — your salvation.” These things John saw and heard were written so you may believe and have life in Jesus’ name. Indeed it is the whole point and purpose of all the Scriptures that you believe in Jesus and have life in his name. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah! Amen.

Heavenly Father, you have provided the Scriptures to us that we may hear them, believe and receive eternal life from your hand. Open our ears, hearts, mind and spirit that when we hear the good news that we believe, are strengthened by it and receive all good things from you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Want Jesus’ Peace? Confess Your Sins To Your Pastor

#DailyDevotion Want Jesus’ Peace? Confess Your Sins To Your Pastor

John 2019That Sunday evening the doors were locked where the disciples were, because they were afraid of the Jews. Then Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace to you!” 20When He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were delighted to see the Lord. 21“Peace to you!” Jesus said to them again. “As the Father sent Me, so I send you.” 22When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23Whenever you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; whenever you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  

The disciples aka the apostles were behind a locked door Easter evening because they were afraid the Jews were going to come after them next; the Jews meaning the ruling priests, Pharisees and Scribes. They had had heard the witness of the women earlier that day and Peter and John had gone out to the tomb and found it empty, but they did not believe the women’s report they had seen Jesus risen from the dead. It was at this time in this fear that Jesus came and stood among them. “Shalom! Peace to you!” Jesus says to them. And with that Jesus shows them his hands and his side, I guess they could already see his feet. It was really Jesus. The women weren’t just seeing things. Someone didn’t steal his body. They were delighted to see the Lord. They didn’t have to be afraid anymore. Jesus is risen from the dead as he said he would. If Jesus is alive then they don’t have to fear death anymore or anyone or anything. Such is the peace Jesus gives with his resurrection.

If Jesus is alive, if he is truly risen from the grave, then our sins can no longer accuse us. They have been atoned for by Jesus blood. Since Jesus is risen death and the grave have been conquered. The punishment for sin has been overcome. The enemies of human life have no power over our life as Christians. The devil who has the power over death cannot touch us. Now you may be thinking, “But wait a minute, I see people and Christians die all the time.” True, you may see their bodies die, but the Christian possesses eternal life in his heart. He does not taste death like unbelievers. The Christian merely transitions from life in world to life with Christ as we await the resurrection on the Last Day.

“Shalom! Peace to you!” Jesus says again to the now apostles. Jesus creates the office of the Holy Ministry by breathing, by speaking these words upon the apostles whom he is sending into the world even as he has been sent. In this office resides the authority of God and the Son of Man, i.e. Jesus to overcome sin, death and the power of the devil. The apostles and all who are ordained through his bride the Church are given authority to forgive, to remit, to send away the sins of people who are contrite, who are burdened, who are terrified of their sins and their consequences and thereby give them life. You may say, “But God alone can forgive sins!” Well Jesus demonstrated he had authority to forgive sins in the healing of the paralytic. Jesus gives that authority to his Church and to its ministers. O foul Satan, hush your mouth! You do not want us to have the peace of God. Yes, dear friend, burdened with your sins, you pastor has authority from Jesus and speaks in the stead and by his command to forgive you your sins when you repent. And being forgiven, you receive the same peace Jesus gave his disciples on Easter.

O Lord, our God, you have given us such great and marvelous gifts, you even give us men with your authority to forgive and retain sins that we may know your peace. Grant unto us that we may go and hear with our ears your forgiveness from them that we may live in your peace now and for eternity. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Does Your Faith Delight You In The Midst Of Trials

#DailyDevotion Does Your Faith Delight You In The Midst Of Trials

1 Peter 16This delights you, although now for a little while you may have had to suffer various trials. 7Gold is tested by fire, and your faith, when it is tested, should be found to be much more precious than gold, which perishes. This is how you will have praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears again. 8You never saw Him, but you love Him. You don’t see Him now, but you believe in Him. And a joy, unspeakable and wonderful, fills you with delight 9as you receive by faith what you’re looking for — your salvation.

The salvation we are to receive on the Last Day, that is being kept safe for us, delights us. Indeed we are to look to that future salvation with joy even as “but for the joy set before him [Christ] endured the cross and shame.” It is this delight that enables us to endure the suffering, grief, and shame we will encounter in discipleship of Jesus Christ our Lord. “For a little while” we “may have to suffer various trials.” We should remember in particular that they are just for a little while. It may seem like forever when we are going through them. They will not last forever. The salvation promised us if we endure will last forever.

Our faith, like gold, is tested by fire, i.e. trials, tribulations, crosses and sufferings. It is tested by such things. To be tested means to be purified. As we go through them we are purged from trusting other people and other things to trusting in God our Father for all good things.  St. Paul says in 2 Cor. 416 “That is why we are not discouraged. No, even if we outwardly perish, inwardly we’re renewed from day to day. 17The light trouble of this moment is preparing for us an everlasting weight of glory, greater than anything we can imagine. 18We don’t look at the things that are seen but at the things that are not seen. What we see lasts only a while, but what we don’t see lasts forever.”

Enduring whatever comes our way and having it purify our faith will result in our praise, honor and glory when Jesus Christ appears. Hearing Jesus speak the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” will more than make up for whatever it is that we lose in this life because of our faith in Jesus. Of course Hebrews words bear true for the moment, Hebrews 125“My son, don’t think lightly of the Lord’s training or give up when He corrects you. 6The Lord corrects whom He loves, and He whips everyone He accepts as His son. 7What you endure is to correct you. God is treating you as His sons…11While we’re being corrected, it always seems unpleasant and painful. But after we’ve been trained, correction gives us the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

We live by this faith and this faith loves Jesus even though we haven’t seen him. The joy of his salvation, although unspeakable and wonderful fills us with delight because this faith gives to us his salvation. Yes though our conscience may speak ill to us and accuse us, we can silence it with Jesus who gives us a clear conscience and boldness to approach our Father in our time of need and know that he hears us. This clear conscience before God is our joy as we look forward to the day we see Jesus with our eyes in our own flesh and rejoice in his salvation.

Heavenly Father, you alone know what we need to purify our faith in Christ. Grant us your grace in strength in those times of our chastisement so we can endure and receive the promised praise, honor and glory at his revelation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.