Daily Reading: January 22nd


#DailyDevotion God reveals his name to us in Jesus.

January 22nd

Read Joel 2:1–17

Joe 2:11-14  The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it?  (12)  “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;  (13)  and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.  (14)  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?

 

It was a terrifying experience for the Israelites when the Lord fulfilled this prophecy.   The Assyrians, God’s army, were the original blitzkriegers.  The sheer numbers of soldiers and their horses and the like made the earth tremble and the dust kicked up by their march darkened the skies.  Eventually they would decimate Israel and carry them off into exile.

 

But it didn’t have to be that way.  They had the great “Yet even now.”  It is the Lord’s desire that all people everywhere be repentant.  What is needed is a change in heart.  That, in and of itself, is impossible for us by our own power and strength.  Yet the Lord gives us the threats and warnings of the Law to break our hearts of stone and causes us to bow down before our Maker in fear of Judgment.  But even more, he gives us that word of promise which is his name, “he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”  It is the name he revealed to the Israelites in the wilderness: Exo 34:6… “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” His name reveals his will towards his people and to all mankind.

 

Now in these latter days, the Lord has revealed to us a new name, Jesus.  It is written he is called that Mat 1:21  “for he will save his people from their sins.”  Jesus is from Joshua which means “the Lord saves.”  Jesus is the Lord. He is the Lord who spoke by the prophets to his people Israel.  He is the Lord who delivered them from the Egyptians.  He is the Lord who spoke and visited Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He has become man not only to save the Israelites but to be that promised blessed seed for the nations.  In Jesus he shows us, as he suffers and dies on the cross to take away the sin of the world, that he is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  Gracious and merciful in that he gives himself freely and merciful that he does what is necessary to win us from sin, death and the devil.   Slow to anger in that he gives millenniums to spread the good news of salvation to the inhabitants of the earth.  He abounds in steadfast love in that he has kept his promise of salvation.  This good news grants us the gift of repentance that we may hate our sins and trust in Jesus our savior.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, may your law break our hearts of stone and may the good news of salvation procured by you give us hearts of flesh that fear, love and trust in you above all things.  Amen.

Daily Reading: January 21st


#DailyDevotion God’s calling to repentance is an invitation to eternal life.

January 21st

Read Joel 1:1–20

Joe 1:13-15  Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.  (14)  Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.  (15)  Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.

 

Disaster is coming upon the Israelites and the people of Judah.  The locusts in this passage represent the kingdom of Assyria coming down from the north to exact the Lord’s vengeance upon his own people.  They had sinned against the Lord by worshipping other gods.  They performed all sorts of vile practices in the worship of the foreign gods.  On top of that they worshiped the Lord with false hearts and they sinned against their neighbor and oppressed the poor, the orphan, the widow and the foreigner who resided in their gates.  They did not follow the Law of God and broke His covenant.

 

When disaster comes or is coming that is the time to repent.  The Lord warned them this was coming.  He called for them to proclaim a fast, to put on sackcloth and ashes and turn to the Lord their God with all their hearts, confessing their sins and iniquities and begging his forgiveness.  The day of the Lord, the day of destruction was coming.  He warned them ahead of time.  So what did they do?  Nothing.  They ignored the warnings and went on with their life as if the Lord did not warn them.  Swift destruction came upon them all.

 

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians tells us these things happened so we might learn from them.  When disaster strikes, whether natural or man-made, we are not to dismiss it as nothing.  We are being called to repent of our sins and call upon God with faith and trust that he will forgive us for Christ’ sake and relieve of these disasters.  These troubles that come upon us individually, nationally and world-wide are not are not simply run of the course happenings.  They are the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth calling us to repent and believe in Jesus.  God takes no pleasure in disciplining mankind.  He takes no pleasure in our death and destruction.  He desires that we repent and live.

 

Unfortunately we read in Revelation, Rev 9:20 “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,…” and Rev 16:9 “They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”  We see it all around us.  Bad things happen and instead of repenting we curse God instead.  Instead of looking at our own sins, confessing our guilt and turning from them we blame God and do not turn to the relief he has provided us, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus his Son.

 

You however, don’t be that guy.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, may we always confess our sins and believe they are forgiven for your names’sake. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 20th


#DailyDevotion Our Best Life is Later at the Resurrection

January 20th

Read Ezek 47:1–14, 21–23

Eze 47:1  Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar…12  And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” …21″So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel.  (22)  You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.  (23)  In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord GOD.

 

Revelation 22:1-3  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  (2)  through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  (3)  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.

 

The Bible is one. It has one Author and one Purpose. We can see that from today’s lesson from Ezekiel. That which was shown to Ezekiel was also shown to John. The river that flows from the throne of God is the water of life and it gives life to all that drink it, man, animal, plants and land. This is a description of what dwelling with God will be like at the resurrection to eternal life. Will it look exactly like this? Probably not. It will be better but human language can only convey so much.

 

Not only the Jews or the Israelites according to the flesh who had faith in Christ will inherit the earth at the resurrection. No, the mystery of Christ is that the Gentiles who put their faith in Jesus are included with Israel, Rom. 9-11 and Galatians. Indeed the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. What can these leaves be other than the Word of God, the Good News of Jesus Christ? And so God and his Christ will have one holy people as there is one holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

We really have something to look forward to at the resurrection. Our best life is not now. Our best life is the one to come with Jesus. And this life is a free gift won and bought for you by Jesus. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to work to keep it. You simply rejoice in it with the family of God in Church.

 

Heavenly Father, grant us such faith in your Son Jesus Christ, that on the day of his second advent we may enter the New Jerusalem and partake of the water of life, the fruit of the trees and may be healed by the leaves of the trees that are fed by the water of life, Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 19th


#DailyDevotion What have your replaced Jesus with?

January 19th

Read Ezek 44:1–16, 23–29

Ezekiel 44:28-30  “This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession.  (29)  They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs.  (30)  And the first of all the firstfruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, that a blessing may rest on your house.

The Levites were to have no share in the land of Israel, though they did have some dedicated towns when Israel first possessed the land. But since the Mosaic covenant, their inheritance was God himself. They also received all that the people dedicated and sacrificed to God. There can be no greater inheritance than God.

In the New Testament, we all have become priest of God, as Peter says, 1 Peter 2:5 “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priest-hood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Everyone one baptized into Christ is now a priest of God. As a priest, you have an inheritance. Peter says, 1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  (4)  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,…”

And what might inheritance be? We shall inherit the earth. We shall inherit the kingdom of God. We shall inherit eternal life. Indeed, like the Levites we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ Jesus. Joined to him in holy baptism, everything that is Christ is ours. That should be enough. If it is not, then your priorities are all wrong. If you lose everything and you’re not happy, what have you replaced with Jesus. Jesus is our joy.

Heavenly Father, keep your promise and give us the guarantee our inheritance, the Holy Spirit, that on the day of resurrection, we may see and receive our inheritance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 18th


#DailyDevotion The Church is the Temple of God

January 18th

Read Ezek 40:1–4; 43:1–12

Eze 43:1-7  Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east… (3)  And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face.  (4)  As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east,  (5)  the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple… (6) I heard one speaking to me out of the temple,  (7)  and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places,

Mat 24:27  For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man….Rev 21:1-3  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  (2)  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  (3)  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God….Rev 22:3-5  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  (4)  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  (5)  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

The vision of Ezekiel is more clearly seen in Revelation 20 and 21.  Of course even there it is a vision so it symbolizes a greater reality.

But this is the reality that we have been promised, Jesus Christ is returning with all the saints who have gone before us and we shall be joined with them.  We are, the Church, the believers in the promises of God in Christ Jesus, the very temple of God.  We shall dwell in Him and he shall dwell in us.

At that time, there shall be no more evil, wickedness, sickness or death for that is cast into the lake of fire.  We will live in the light of Jesus and the Father and they shall fill the desires of our heart which is true union with them and with one another.

But only those who have this faith shall be there.  All are invited to this place with Christ as their Lord.  The payment for being there has been paid for all by the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is he who purifies us and presents us pure, holy and blameless before the Father of lights.

Lord Jesus Christ, give us this faith which makes us living stones in the temple of our God that your and the Father’s presence will fill us with peace, joy and happiness. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 17th


#DailyDevotion Don’t be one of those who are taken. Be left behind!
January 17th

Read Ezek 39:1–10, 17–29

Eze 39:17-20  “As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood.  (18)  You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth–of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan.  (19)  And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you.  (20)  And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the Lord GOD. ..22 The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward.  (23)  And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword.

The Revelation to John depicts this as well, Rev 19:17 “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God,  (18)  to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”  Jesus also foretold of it, Luk 17:34-37  I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left.  (35)  There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”  (36)  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.] (37)  And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

 It doesn’t sound like good news.  For those who are taken it isn’t.  They shall be food for birds.  But for the people of God on that last day it will be a day of great joy.  God gathers his Israel also.  Though they and we have sinned and continually sin grievously against the Lord.  We cast ourselves upon the mercies of God found in Christ Jesus.  For the sake of the Name of Jesus the Lord God forgives us our sins.  We shall forget our shame and the sins we have committed.  We shall dwell securely in the land, the new heavens and new earth he has prepared for us.  The world will know on that day that Jesus is Lord, the creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.  He is the Judge of the living and dead.  Those who have put their faith in the son of God will never have to fear anyone or anything again.

However on the last day when Christ returns, it will not bode so well for all who have not repented of their sins, though the Lord had sent signs and wonders in the world to call men to repentance all their lives.  Young, old, rich, poor, religious or spiritual, all alike are condemned for their sins and more importantly, they have rejected the good news, the free gift of eternal life offered to all mankind in Christ Jesus. A horrible death, a terrifying realization as they are raised from the dead and being cast into the lake of fire to suffer for all eternity, is their fate. Don’t let that be your fate.

Lord God, heavenly Father, on the day of your Son Jesus Christ’s return, may we be found those who are left behind to be gathered by your holy angels into your grace and may the glory of your name be known in all the earth.  Amen.

Daily Reading: January 16th


#DailyDevotion Christians aren’t afraid of the Antichrist or the World

January 16th

Read Ezek 38:1–23

Eze 38:17-23  “Thus says the Lord GOD: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who in those days prophesied for years that I would bring you against them?  (18)  But on that day, the day that Gog shall come against the land of Israel, declares the Lord GOD, my wrath will be roused in my anger.  (19)  For in my jealousy and in my blazing wrath I declare, On that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel…(22)  With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur.  (23)  So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.

Revelation chapters 16, 19 and 20 give us some insight into this great and terrible day of the Lord.  It reminds us that the people of the world, the unbelievers, the goyim (Gog) shall be gathered up to make war upon the people of God (the Church) and the Lamb.  We people of God, Christians, need not fear the world and what it may do to us.  We need not fight against it with the sword.  We are to live in peace, as much as we can, with the world around us, even though we are aliens and strangers here.  This is not our home.

But we do not need to break out arms against the world (Gog) who will come upon us in the last days, on the last day.  Nope, like the ancient Israelites who came before us, we will simply trust the Lord and break out in singing, playing musical instruments and dancing.  We won’t need and won’t have walls to defend ourselves against the Antichrist and the unbelievers who are stirred up to come against us to destroy us.  They do not come against us only but against the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

The Lord sends the demonic hosts to gather them against us and him (Rev. 16).  He shall as at the time of the Ammonites have them fight against one another.  He shall rain down upon them fire and brimstone and with the breath of his mouth and the holy angels shall put to death all the enemies of the people of God, the Church.  Then they shall know Jesus Christ is Lord.  He shall raise them up from the dead and cast them and the fallen angels into the lake of fire to suffer for all eternity.  He shall raise us from the dead or change us into His glorious body and we shall dwell with Christ and our Father in a new heaven and a new earth in blessedness forever.  This is the promise made to all who trust in Jesus for their salvation.

Lord Jesus Christ, you shall display your glory on day of your visible return by destroying the nations, the peoples of the world who rejected and denied you.  May we be part of that number which dwells in peace with you and are raised to everlasting life on the day of your return.  Amen.

Daily Reading: January 15th


#DailyDevotion Jesus is our sanctification

January 15th

Read Ezek 37:15–28

Eze 37:22-28  And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.  (23)  They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.  (24)  “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.  (25)  They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever.  (26)  I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore.  (27)  My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  (28)  Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

 

On the last day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns, he will gather all his people from all the nations of the world and make them one.  No doubt many of these will be from the house of Israel and from the house of Judah.  But the nations that have been joined to Christ through baptism will also be part of Israel, for only those who have the faith of Abraham, which is faith in Christ Jesus are God’s Israel.  Jesus shall indeed be our king and we shall live with and under him in joy forever.

 

We see here that it is the Lord who sanctifies his Israel.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the One who saves us from our backslidings.  He is the one who cleanses us from our sins.  He is the one who gathers us together to be his people and declares to us he is our God.  It is an important correction to most our thinking and it certainly is a correction the world’s thinking.  The world and our flesh set about to sanctify ourselves, but we are unable to do this.  Jesus, through the gospel (the forgiveness of sins) and the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) sanctifies us through and through. 

 

Jesus promises to present us before the Father blameless and guiltless.  It is not our doing.  It is all the Holy Spirit’s doing in Christ.  What a great and wonderful promise this is and oh how freeing it is to live under the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As St. Paul tells us in Romans chapter 6 we are no longer under law but under grace.  So Jesus is our covenant of peace with God.  We know he will do all that is necessary to present us to the Father pure and holy.  We will most certainly do it.

 

Lord God, Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to be our peace before you and for sending the Holy Spirit through word and sacraments to sanctify us and gather us unto yourself as a holy people under your Son Jesus Christ.  Ever keep us in this faith through same word and sacraments unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 14th


#DailyDevotion Don’t Fret. The Resurrection is Child’s Play for the Lord.

January 14th

Read Ezek 36:33—37:14

Eze 37:12-14  Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.  (13)  And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.  (14)  And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

The foot bone con-nected to the (pause) leg-.bone,
The leg bone connected to the (‘) knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the (‘) thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the (‘) back bone,
The back bone connected to the (‘) neck bone
The neck bone connected to the (‘) head bone
Oh hear the word of the Lord!

The resurrection is a key article of the Christian faith.  It was also one of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time.  Hear the Word of the Lord!  God has explicitly declared the resurrection from the dead here in Ezekiel.  We do not need to fret or fear how the Lord is going to accomplish this.  Many people are concerned about those eaten by lion, tigers and bears, by sharks and other wild animals. Some are concerned about those who have been burned to ashes.  How is God going to raise the dead particularly those whose parts whereabouts are unknown?  Silly people.

 

Have you not read, Gen 2:7 “then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”  If the Lord and maker of heaven and earth is able to do this, if you marvel at the construction of the universe and wonders of the human body and believe the Lord made it, then resurrecting it from the dead is child’s play.

 

These questions are not new. 1Co 15:35 “But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”  (36)  You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  (37)  And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain…(42)  So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.  (43)  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.  (44)  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body… (49) Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”  As all humanity was joined to Christ Jesus in his baptism, so they are in his resurrection.  Those who faith in Christ are raised to everlasting life and those without faith are raised to everlasting perdition.

 

Lord Jesus Christ we thank you than in your resurrection in the flesh all mankind is raised from the dead.  Grant us faith in you that we may be raised to everlasting life.  Amen.