Lent Day 8

#DailyDevotion The Christian Lives In The Wilderness Of Lent His Entire Life

Lent Day 8

Mark 1:12The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.


We spend 40 days during Lent focusing on being more repentant and hopefully also more faithful because Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. Jesus in his 40 days in the wilderness though stood in the place of Israel. The Lord had brought Israel into the wilderness to test them, to see whether or not they would trust him and do all that he had commanded them. Well, Israel failed and they spent 40 years in the wilderness failing spectacularly one event after another. Jesus stands in Israel’s place to redeem Israel. Through his obedience Israel is redeemed and ransomed. Jesus gains for Israel the inheritance promised through the fathers but lost because of their disobedience.


Now all the promises that the Lord had made Israel are available and are fulfilled through Christ Jesus i.e. through trusting in him, even in his name. Jesus has fulfilled the covenant the Lord made with Israel on Mt. Sinai in their stead. More than that, he has made them available to the world. When we are baptized into Christ and he is our trust, we are united with Jesus, made one with him. We are grafted onto Israel, Jesus, and made heirs and children of Abraham. The Israelites according to the flesh in the same fashion are called to be joined with Christ Jesus, the fulfillment of Israel that they may obtain the fullness of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. John the Baptist called the Jews to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus told the Jews to be baptized also. Finally the apostles of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed a baptism of salvation into Jesus. This is the blessing to the nations the Lord had promised Abraham.


Now as our Lord Jesus, the Messiah was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, so we too who belong to him and having been joined to him through baptism into his name, we too will be tempted. We will be tried throughout our lives. Jesus did not call us to an easy life when we were made part of Israel in our baptisms. Peter reminds us, 1Pe 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  (13)  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” You see the real trials of Lent are with us our entire lives. But if we keep the faith, that is, condemn our sinful actions and look to Jesus for our salvation1Pe 1:7 “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”


Almighty God and Father, as we remain in the wilderness of this life, grant us the faith of your Son Christ Jesus, that being joined with him, we may overcome Satan and receive the fulfillment of promises of the New Covenant in Jesus’ name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lent Day 7

#DailyDevotion Jesus Being Baptized Is Outlandish

Lent Day 7

Mark 1: 9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”


Jesus was baptized? Why that is one of the most outlandish things ever. Why is that? Because baptism, as used by the Jews in Jesus’ day, was normally something done to bring
Gentiles into the Jewish faith.  Jesus was already Jewish. But John was baptizing Jews. This is true, which is why it was outlandish to the Jewish leaders that John calls to repentance and baptism. Indeed Jesus was baptized into John’s baptism, a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. That’s really crazy. Why? Well we know Jesus had never sinned. He is God in the flesh, perfect and holy. He has nothing to repent of and has no sin.


So what is going on here? Well what happens when we are baptized? Our sins are washed away. We are justified by God freely by his grace. We are identified with Jesus for we are joined with him and made one with him.


So what happened to Jesus? Well just the opposite. He is identified with us sinner and made one with us. He is joined to us. Jesus is pronounced guilty and our sins are washed over him. Like the scapegoats in the Mosaic Law, our sins, the sins of the world are laid upon him that he may become the sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, your sin.


So when the Father speaks from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” it is because Jesus has voluntarily taken on the task of redeeming us, ransoming us and being the atoning sacrifice for fallen humanity. Now when we are baptized into Christ, the Father speaks these words to us. We have been joined to Christ and his work is applied to us. His righteousness is now ours and he gives us the Holy Spirit.


Gracious Father, at the baptism of Jesus you made him one with us in our sin, may we, when we are baptized into Christ grant us faith that we are made one with him and his righteousness that our consciences are cleansed and we may serve you with new spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 7

#DailyDevotion You Know What The Problem With People Is?

Lent Day 7

James 1: 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.


Sin is utterly sinful. It adheres to flesh in such a way sometimes it is hard to distinguish between it and the material and sin. But when Paul talks about the flesh he is not speaking of the material God has made but of its corruption. When we are tempted it is sin itself, that has totally corrupted our human nature which tempts us.


So we get a thought, a sinful thought. Where did it come from? It comes from our flesh, our fallen hearts. The desire in us to rebel and sin against God tempts us. Then we think about it, contemplate it. Wouldn’t it be fun? Can I get away with it? I’m important so I must get my way! It is in the contemplation of the desire that sin is given birth. You can’t keep sinful thoughts from coming up in your mind but you don’t have to get attached to them or contemplate them. But once you do, boom, the desire has given birth to sin. Will you carry it out or not? If you do, you have compounded the sin. If you don’t you are still guilty because your intent was to do it. You wanted you. But from fear of being caught, of being punished, you decided not to do it. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit may have called to you repent and you don’t want to do it anymore because it would not be pleasing to your Lord.


Paul talks about it in Romans, Rom 7:5 “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.” Sin, our desires, hear a law and says, “hold my beer.” Sin, lustful desires, cannot bear being told what to do and not do. It hates God. We deceive ourselves in thinking that we are really good people and don’t need the Lord’s grace and mercy. So He gave us the Law. Paul writes, Rom 5:20 “Now the law came in to increase the trespass.” Why would God give us the Law to increase the trespass? Paul says, Rom 7:13 “in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.” It is only through our failed attempts to keep the Law that we can see how utterly sinful we are and sin is within us.


When the Law finally, ultimately does the work the Lord has intended for it to do, show us all that we are indeed helpless sinners in need of God’s grace and mercy that His grace and mercy which is the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus, can work in us by the Holy Spirit to create in us a new heart. Through Jesus’ justification of us through faith in him and his work for our salvation, we get a new spirit and a new hearts. These create in us new desires, new thoughts, new affections which love God’s Law, want to do God’s Law and carry out God’s Law. He does this through and continues to do this through the Word of Truth.

Gracious God, heavenly Father, through the Word of Jesus, conceive in us a new heart, a new spirit that confesses our sins, repents of our sinful desires and seeks to carry out your love in our lives and has true fear of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His Name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 6

#DailyDevotion The Offspring Of Faith

Lent Day 6

Gen. 22: 17I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”


Faith in God’s promises results in actions in accordance with that faith. Abraham trusted God’s promises and that faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness. But as we can see in this week’s Old Testament lesson that faith produces works. God said sacrifice your son and Abraham goes to sacrifice his son. He believed God’s promise that he would have offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven through this son who was the son of promise. He believed God could raise him from the dead if he sacrificed him.


The Lord confirms His promise to Abraham, swearing by Himself, as Abraham demonstrates his faith in the Lord. So by the time Israel enters the Promise Land the first part of this promise is fulfilled: Deu 1:10 “The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven.” They would by the time of Solomon possess all the land the Lord had promised.


But there is that one peculiar promise just sitting there: “18and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” St. Paul tells us, Gal 3:16” Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” So this offspring is Jesus Christ. All nations are blessed through him because Jesus is the Life of the World. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World. So Paul says earlier, Gal 3:8-9 “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”  (9)  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” Paul concludes then, Gal 3:29 “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” So Abraham’s children are multiplied not only through his physical descendents; but his children are also all those who believe the Lord’s promises and trust his offspring (s.) i.e. Jesus.

You are called to trust in the Lord’s promise to Abraham. You are called today to believe you are part of all nations who are blessed because of Abraham’s offspring, Jesus Christ. You are called to be a child of Abraham and thereby be a child of the Living God, your Heavenly Father. Are you going to believe this and live out this life of faith?


Heavenly Father we thank you for your great and wonderful promises, particularly those made to Abraham whereby we receive his blessings. Grant us a faith like Abraham’s that we may trust your promises to us and live our lives according to them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Lent Day 5

#DailyDevotion The Lord Provided What You Need

Lent day 5

Gen. 22: 7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.


Now we could take this and go off on some tangent of how God will provide for whatever circumstances life brings you too but that isn’t always the case. He may have other plans for you. But I guess this is a good place to bring up, you may not even know what you need. Indeed, you probably don’t.


Now Abraham, as far as he knew, God had provided a lamb alright, his only son Isaac. That is what Abraham is thinking. The Lord who gave him this son from the womb of his wife Sarah, commanded him to offer him up as a sacrifice.


The Lord did provide a lamb, a ram to be specific as a substitute sacrifice instead of Isaac. At that place it is called ‘The Lord Will Provide.’ That place was Mt. Moriah. Abraham was fulfilling his prophetic office when he named that place. A much, much longer time from this moment, the Lord would provide another lamb on that spot. It would be himself in the flesh, the Descendent from Abraham from whom all nations are blessed. Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world would be sacrificed on the cross on that spot his ancestors, according to the flesh Abraham and Isaac, were sacrifice and sacrifice. The Father of Lights, offers up His Son, His Only Begotten Son and provides the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world.


Here, on this hill outside of Jerusalem, the Lord did provide. He provided what we needed, what we really needed, forgiveness of sins, atonement, the ransom, reconciliation with God, and eternal life. That is what we need; what we really needed. Now if you want to read about God providing for our daily needs of body, go read Matt. 6.


Heavenly Father, we thank you for providing what we need on that mount Isaac was offered up, your only begotten Son for our salvation. Continually grant us grace to realize this and faith to cast our every care upon you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

1st Sunday in Lent

#DailyDevotion You May Experience Some Terrible Things As A Christian

1st Sunday in Lent

Genesis 22:1–18

1After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”


Unlike Abraham, God is not going to tell you to sacrifice your child. God will allow numerous things to come into your life, sometimes horrific and sometime just horribly heartbreaking. What are you going to do with it? Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, his only son at age when his wife isn’t going to give him anymore. Isaac himself was a miracle, a child of promise. What did he do? He trudged the road with his son to the place the Lord commanded him trusting that the Lord knew what he was doing. We know from Hebrews that he trusted the Lord was able to raise his son from the dead, but to accomplish that he would still have to obey the Lord and offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Even with all the faith in the world, that would not be an easy task.


Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Father was about to offer him up as the Lamb the Lord provided, with perfect faith prays to the Father, “if there is another way, but not my will but yours be done.” With great trepidation, sorrow and pains to the depths of his soul he bows to the Father’s will and goes willingly to the cross. Being God and having perfect faith did not lessen the burden.


Now what are you going to do when the Father allows that one thing which many a person says, “I can’t believe in a God that would allow, do xyz?” Are you going to trust the Father and believe He knows what He is doing when He allows such things to happen? You may never know or see in this lifetime what the Lord has planned and done with the evil we encounter in our lives cause by the devil and wicked people. It is not an easy thing trudging out this life of faith we have been called to.


Sometimes the best we can ever do with the faith the Lord gives us is not lose hope that God’s promises ring true. God will accomplish what he sets out that is best for us, the Church and the spreading of the Gospel. He promises, “God works all things out for good for those who love God who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8) We know God has a purpose in our suffering. (Rom. 5 and 2 Cor. 1) Yet the suffering, the tragedy, the heartache, the pain doesn’t cease to exist because we have faith in Christ. But our faith in Christ is purified and our hope is made more certain when we look to Christ on the cross and know the suffering he endured for our sake.

Heavenly Father, throughout whatever trials and tribulations that may come our way, grant us such faith in Christ that we may not lose hope so that we may obtain our heavenly goal, through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lent Day 4

#DailyDevotion Where Are Your Treasures?

Lent day 4

Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21

[1[Jesus said:] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.


I think there are a couple of real important distinctions here that people often miss, particularly say on Ash Wednesday. The first is “practicing your righteousness.” These are things you do either by the command of God or personal piety. Of the list of things Jesus list in this lesson fasting is the only one not commanded by God (there are only a couple of mandatory fast days in the Mosaic law; Jesus is not referring to these here). We are commanded to pray and we are commanded to be generous to the poor. But how often and how much in the manner of how often, when, where etc. well that is generally up to us (not counting the tithe). Nor is this list of Jesus limited to just this list. Whatever works of piety or religious works you do will fall into his discussion.


The second important thing we should note is “in order to be seen by them.” Jesus has no problem with public prayer or giving to the poor publicly. The problem is in the motivation (though public acts are hard to be done without the intention of being seen). Are you doing this good work or pious work to be seen by people? Well that’s all the reward you’re going to get, i.e. people thinking highly of you. You really should question your motives. Maybe you’re not doing it to be seen by others. Maybe you’re doing it to make yourself feel good. Well, that’s probably all the reward you are going to get also.


But note, there is a reward for doing good works with the right motivation. Your prayer, your generosity, your fasting and whatever else you are doing has a reward from God. Not eternal salvation, that is a gift of God in Christ Jesus. But God does reward such things done in faith. Actions done in faith are pleasing to God.  Jesus says, 19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So you may not receive any reward from God in this life for whatever it is you are doing. But rewards in this life are transitory. Here today, gone tomorrow. We are to lay up treasures in heaven. What are these treasures? Who knows! But they have to be better than any earthly reward and they will be eternal. They will never be lost, broken, are stolen. So where is your treasure? In heaven or is it only on earth. Jesus encourages us, maybe even commands us to have our hearts in heaven for that is where the treasure we’re seeking is to be found.


Heavenly Father, conform our wills, hearts, minds and souls to the image of your Son Jesus Christ that we may seek to store up treasure in heaven by doing good works according to your will and pleasure. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

3rd Day of Lent Friday

#DailyDevotion God Has Provided A Way For Us To Be Reconciled To Him, Today

Lent day 3

2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10

20bWe implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Now what does it mean to be reconciled to God? The verses previous to this one say, 2Co 5:18-“19  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  (19)  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” So in Christ, God is reconciled to us by not counting our trespasses against us. Well why is that? Well verse 21 clues us into that. Christ was made sin, the atoning sacrifice for sin for us. He is the Old Testament Atonement goat and the Scapegoat. Our sins are laid upon Jesus as the High Priest would lay the sins of the people upon the two goats. One goat was sacrificed and its blood was poured out upon the altar and the other was cast outside the city into the wilderness because it was now unclean. (Lev. 16) Jesus’ blood was poured upon the mercy seat of God in the heavenly Holy of Holies and made atonement for the world. He was then led outside the city gates being unclean with our sins and crucified outside the city gates. Jesus has become our scapegoat before God.

Because of this then be reconciled to God. God is reconciled Himself to you on behalf of Christ. How do we reconcile ourselves to God? Well first we must believe God has done this for us. We must believe God no longer counts our trespasses against us. But I think there may be more to that as well. Many people are angry with God. They may have many reasons to be so. He allowed someone they love to die. They may have some incurable disease. They may simply look at this world and think how unjust it is and blame God for it. I think it is a good idea that we take everything we wish to blame God for and lay it on Christ just as He has done for us concerning our sin. The cross becomes a wash for God’s relationship to us and our relationship to Him. We get to start all over with God in Christ Jesus and we a new appreciation for our God and Creator.

But it is still more than that.  Paul tells us, “in him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God.” So God not only takes away our sin, but in Christ he also makes us the righteousness of God.  He not only removes our sins and iniquities, but he credits us the righteousness of Jesus, God’s own righteousness so that we no longer in the red, we are not just even, but we are deep in the black with God. We stand before God’s judgment throne not just cleansed of our sins but clothed with God’s very on righteousness. All the goodness of God is ours through faith in Christ’s work on the cross.

So, what are you waiting for? “Now is the favorable time. Now is the day of salvation!” Put your faith in Christ Jesus and his reconciling work. Today is the day of salvation for you. You only have today. Tomorrow never comes. Why go to bed still angry? Why go to bed believing God is angry with you? Trust God has reconciled Himself to you in Christ Jesus and be reconciled to God.

O Almighty God, grant us such faith in your reconciliation in Christ that we too may be reconciled to you in Jesus and receive your righteousness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.