Daily Reading: May 14th


#DailyDevotion How Will You Escape Death For Your Sins?

5th Sunday of Easter

Read Lev 20:1–16, 22–27

Lev 20:7-9  Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.  (8)  Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.  (9)  For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him…24  But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.

 

Now if you have read this chapter, you will see that there are a lot of sins which if the people of Israel commit, they would be put to death, worshipping Molech, sassing parent, adultery, various other sexual sins and the like. But the Lord precedes these with these words, “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.” The Israelites were to be a holy nation. A nation separate from the other nations of the world. They were not saved from the Egyptians by the Lord to be like other people. They were called to be a light to the world. But to become darkness, to sin with the rest of the world, was to annul God’s covenant and to lose one’s purpose with God.

 

The wages of sin is death. We normally think about our being mortal, that indeed one day our bodies will experience death because of our sinfulness. Yet the Lord here in the covenant with Moses shows how serious our sins are by hastening deaths to those who commissioning these sins. Sin is not something the Lord God just excuses or sloughs off. It is serious. Deadly serious.

 

Now we Christians are not part of the Mosaic Covenant. These decrees of death for these various sins do not apply to us to carry out in the land we live in. Indeed, even the Israelites only has jurisdiction over the people in the land they were promised. But we have not yet reached that land promised to us. To escape the penalties of temporal death for our sins and more importantly, to escape the eternal punishment for our sins, the Lord, the God of Israel became man, a specific man, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

The Lord Jesus does not want to kill people for their sins nor does he desire their eternal death in the lake of fire, prepared to punish the angels who rebelled against him. No, Jesus, the Lord, wants to save you and give you eternal life. To this purpose, Jesus gave us his own life for you on the cross. There on the altar of the cross, in his sacrifice, he experience what those who reject him and his ways experience at death. Yet death could not hold Jesus and he rose on the third day. Now he promises his life is your life. He has become a covenant for you. He has a promised land for you where righteousness reigns and there is no more evil. This he will give to you if you believe he has done this for you.

 

Heavenly Father, you have called us to be your holy people in Jesus the Messiah. Grant us your grace to live holy lives among the people of the world and give us your word of life that we may give it to others and rescue them from eternal death for Christ’s sake. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Daily Reading: May 13th


#DailyDevotion Remembering Who Jesus Is Dictates What You Do

Easter Week 4 Saturday

Read Lev 19:9–18, 26–37

Lev 19:30-37  You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.  (31)  “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.  (32)  “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.  (33)  “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  (34)  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.  (35)  “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity.  (36)  You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.  (37)  And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the LORD.”

 

In the reading above you will read all sorts of commandments, statutes, precepts and the like.  Some of them deal with the moral law.  Some of them are ceremonial and some deal with aspects of Israelite life only.  But the one constant theme throughout all of these is this: “I am the Lord.”

 

After each announcement of Law, we here that refrain.  What’s going on here?  I can only imagine it is this, that we remember who saved us, who delivered us, who is taking care of us, who is going to deliver us into the promise land.  To be true these were given to Israel but many of the principles apply to us as well.  Some of them might even be presented to governments as to what sort of laws they may want to enact.  But it all comes down to this:  The only true God is the Lord and He has a claim on your life.

 

If Jesus is the Lord, we as Christians need to remember this.  We don’t simply go out and do as our sinful flesh pleases.  We are to remember we are Jesus’, the Lord’s chosen people.  Jesus didn’t give us as his people a whole list of laws, rules and regulations in the gospels and his apostles didn’t particularly either (we must remember when they spoke it is the voice of Jesus speaking).  If there is any law that is out there that either Jesus or Jesus through the apostles gave us it is summed up in this: Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Pretty simple, whatever you would want people to do to you, do to them.  And whatever you don’t want people to do you, don’t do to them.  Not that loving your neighbor earns you salvation.  “I am Jesus, the Lord.  I saved you.  I claimed you in baptism.  I made you my own people.”  That claim is what saves us.   When we have the Spirit in us that witnesses to that fact, our lives are new and we are not our own.  Our desire in life is to lead a life pleasing to Jesus.  Sure, we stumble and fall here and there but our eyes are fixed on the one who claims, “I am the Lord.”  With our eyes fixed on Jesus our lives are then fixed on loving our neighbor.  It’s simply what we do because we are his people.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, ever help us by your good Spirit, to live lives according to your will, giving praise to your name by living out your commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Amen

Daily Reading: May 12th


#DailyDevotion The Nations Should Repent and It Starts With Us

Easter week 4 Friday

Read Lev. 18:1–7, 20—19:8

Lev 18:24-28  “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean,  (25)  and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.  (26)  But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you  (27)  (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean),  (28)  lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. Lev 19:2  “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

 

The sins of the Canaanites polluted the land.  This is why the Lord sends the Israelites into the land to be hand of his wrath.  They are the instruments through which his wrath is executed.  Now the Lord is warning them to not pollute the land through similar sinful ways.  They have been called to be holy as the Lord God is holy.  The laws and rituals that were given were there to instruct them how to live holy before the Lord and be a witness unto the surrounding nations.

 

Well we know what happened.  The Israelites went into the land and for several hundred years went back and forth between following the Lord and following the way of the pagan nations surrounding them.  Because they did this the Lord sent the Assyrians first to wipe out Northern Israel and then a couple of hundred years later the Babylonians to bring the Jews into exile.  After returning to Canaan for several hundred years the Jews rejected their God in Christ and the Lord destroyed the temple in 70 AD.

 

Now we, like the Israelites, have been called to be his holy people.  As we have been baptized into Christ Jesus we have been grafted into Israel.  By baptism he has declared us holy and makes us holy.  By the gift of the Holy Spirit we are able to turn from the sinful ways of the world and our own flesh and are called to do so.  We are to be witnesses of God’s reconciliation with the World in Jesus.  We proclaim a free gift of forgiveness, life and salvation on account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

 

But what if the Church turns from God?  What if the nations spurn that message?  If we as a nation approve of what is wrong, sinful and evil and reject what is good and holy and if we practice injustice will the Lord God leave us alone?  God forbid! If we pollute the land which the Lord has placed us will the land vomit us up and out? May it never be! But we read that God the Lord calls the nations to repentance through calamity and war, disease and famine, droughts and flood and you name it.  If we see these things in our land then we should repent.  We should call our neighbors to repent.  That is we should change our direction, admit our faults and look to God for mercy in Christ Jesus.

 

May our Heavenly Father grant us and our nation such repentance that leads to eternal life.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Daily Reading: May 11th


#DailyDevotion The Life Is In The Blood!

Easter Week 4 Thursday

Read Lev 17:1–16

Lev 17:10-14  “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.  (11)  For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.  (12)  Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.  (13)  “Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.  (14)  For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.

 

It seems like a pretty stiff penalty for eating blütwurst doesn’t it.  But there is a point in it.  And it’s a good thing that the Old Testament law has been abrogated by Christ Jesus.  But the fine point of the message here is that the life is in the blood.  When you spill something’s blood you are removing its life.  They were not to eat the life of the animal but only its flesh.  The life belonged to God.  So whether it was a sacrifice or a quick meal on the run, the life belonged to God by having its blood poured out at the temple as an offering for sin or buried in the ground.

 

Hebrews tells us there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.  You see the wages of sin is death.  The only way to escape death was t to shed blood, that is an alternate life must be offered up.  Hebrews also tell us that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins or give a clear conscience.

 

But all this bloodshed at the temple represented the blood Jesus would shed for us in his innocent suffering and death.  The sin we commit is always against an eternal God.  It would take the like of an eternal God to atone for our sin against him.  Jesus is eternal God.  Having become man eternal God has blood he can shed to make atonement for our sin and in particular you sin.  Through holy baptism you are washed in the blood of Jesus because you are baptized into his death. Rom. 6:3 ff.

 

And unlike the Old Testament sacrifices where you did not eat the blood, Jesus in his Supper gives us his very blood to drink for in drinking his blood in the cup of the sacrament we are participating in the New Testament. Jer. 31:31ff  Jesus’ blood is unlike the animals blood.  Jesus is the Author of Life.  His blood gives us forgiveness, His life and His salvation.  No longer is the blood poured out on the ground or put on the temple made with hands. You are the temple of God upon which and in which God’s blood is poured on, in and anointed with.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for shedding you life-giving blood for us and anointed us with that blood in baptism and your Supper.  Ever give us such faith in your blood that we may participate in your eternal life. Amen.

Daily Reading: May 10th


#DailyDevotion Need A Scapegoat? You Have One In Jesus

Easter Week 4 Wednesday

Read Lev 16:1–24

Lev 16:7-10  Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting.  (8)  And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel.  (9)  And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and use it as a sin offering,  (10)  but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel. Lev 16:20-22  “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat.  (21)  And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.  (22)  The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.

 

One goats blood was to be an atonement sacrifice for the sins of the people.  The other goat, the SCAPEGOAT, would have the sins of the people laid on it and it would led into the wilderness and set free to be seen of again.

 

Jesus is our goats.  Jesus is the first goat because his blood was shed for us and made atonement for us not in an earthly temple made with hands, but his blood was poured out on the eternal mercy seat of the Father to cover our sins and be the due punishment for them.

 

Jesus is also the scapegoat.  You know what a scapegoat is right?  It is an innocent party that gets blamed for the guilty party.  Well you are the guilty party!  Our heavenly Father laid his hands on Jesus through the Roman guards as he was led out of the city.  He is blamed for the sin of the World.  Jesus carries our sins away from us never to be seen again.  For Jesus is the fulfillment of the New Testament as Jeremiah testifies in 31:34 For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” And David says, “Psa 103:11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him…”

 

Thank God we have One whose blood makes atonement for us and takes the blame for our sins.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you that through the shedding of your blood you have made atonement for us and we thank you for separating our sins from us as far as east is to the west.  Amen.

Daily Reading: May 9th


#DailyDevotionThank God We Have Jesus!

Easter Week 4 Tuesday

Read Lev 10:1–20

Lev 10:1-2  Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.  (2)  And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD…12 Moses spoke to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his surviving sons: “Take the grain offering that is left of the LORD’s food offerings, and eat it unleavened beside the altar, for it is most holy.  (13)  You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons’ due, from the LORD’s food offerings, for so I am commanded.  (14)  But the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed you shall eat in a clean place, you and your sons and your daughters with you, for they are given as your due and your sons’ due from the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the people of Israel.  (15)  The thigh that is contributed and the breast that is waved they shall bring with the food offerings of the fat pieces to wave for a wave offering before the LORD, and it shall be yours and your sons’ with you as a due forever, as the LORD has commanded.”

 

One overall theme runs through this chapter…do things the way the Lord said to do them. In the first instance two sons of Aaron offer up incense in manner unprescribed by the Lord. For this infraction, the Lord’s fire consumes them. Really, obeying the Lord and doing what he commands and how he commands it is very important in the Old Testament. This is particularly true for the priests for they represent the Lord before the people.

 

Secondly we have when, where, who and what are the sacrifices to be consumed. The Levites were not to have land in the land the Lord was giving the Israelites. The Lord was their inheritance. The offerings given to the Lord which were not whole burnt offerings, the priest were to be given a share. Not only that but they were to eat it in a clean place, a place sanctified by the Lord in the manner he prescribed for it to be sanctified. To do otherwise would be to anger the Lord.  Now with our New Testament eyes, this may seem pretty extreme of the Lord. But God gave the commandments so that sin would be seen as utterly sinful. Indeed the Law increased sin because there were more ways to sin against the Lord. Yet even in the Writings and the Prophets the Lord lets us know, “I demand mercy and not sacrifice.” The Lord is utterly merciful and Jesus crucified proves that.

 

Peter reminds us in his speech before the first Church council that they and their ancestors were never able to keep God’s Law. The Lord in his great mercy sent his Son Jesus Christ to redeem us from the curse of the Law. Jesus suffered what judgments we see carried out upon those who rebel against the Lord and even trespass against his commandments unknowingly. It is in Jesus and his death we see the mercy of God.

 

Heavenly Father, we do not deserve your mercies or kindness for we have broken and trespasses but you had mercy on us in Jesus Christ. Grant us grace and faith to receive your mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: May 8th


#DailyDevotion Getting Saved Is A Messy Job

Easter Week 4 Monday

Read Lev 9:1–24

Lev 9:8-9  So Aaron drew near to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.  (9)  And the sons of Aaron presented the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood and put it on the horns of the altar and poured out the blood at the base of the altar…12 Then he killed the burnt offering, and Aaron’s sons handed him the blood, and he threw it against the sides of the altar…18 Then he killed the ox and the ram, the sacrifice of peace offerings for the people. And Aaron’s sons handed him the blood, and he threw it against the sides of the altar…22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings…24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

 

Approaching the Lord, the Creator of the Cosmos is a bloody business. It isn’t neat and clean. Look at what Moses and Aaron had to do to have the Lord’s glory come near unto them. The animals of course were sacrificed and the majority of them were burnt whole with various and sundry parts removed first, the fatty parts of the entrails and kidneys. I understand these were considered to be some of the best parts. Well the best belongs to the Lord.

 

But then the blood of the animals was cast against the sides of the altar, from each and every one of the offerings. When the temple was later built there was a ditch that carried all the blood out of the temple grounds, that’s how much blood was required for the priests and for the people to approach their Lord and God.

 

All these sacrifices were a type, an icon of the sacrifice that ultimately would bring God and man together. The blood of bulls, goats, lambs and the like could never truly reconciled man to God. But these were a picture to give an idea of what would be necessary to make peace between God and men. It would take the blood of one who is both God and Man, a whole burnt offering, whose scourging is seen in the way the sacrifices of the Mosaic covenant were prepared, which would truly bring peace. That one would be Jesus of Nazareth. Only his sacrifice, only the spilling of his blood upon the cross, only his scourging could ever allow us to approach the Father of lights as we do today. Even as the Lord set fire to the sacrifice before Moses and the people, the Lord exacted his price from Jesus as he cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Yet for the sake of his sacrifice, our Father no longer counts our trespasses against us and our relationship is restored. But not without a price and not without a sacrifice, that which is made by our Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, we hardly begin to understand the sacrifice you have made for us by your passion and death. Always put before us your cross that we may always be grateful and that we may not treat your grace cheaply but hold it in highest esteem. In your name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: May 7th


#DailyDevotion The Lord Has Anointed A New Priesthood

4th Sunday of Easter

Read Lev 8:1–13, 30–36

Lev 8:30  Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron and his garments, and also on his sons and his sons’ garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him…33 And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you.  (34)  As has been done today, the LORD has commanded to be done to make atonement for you.

 

Aaron and his sons had to be consecrated, set apart from all Israel as they were going to serve the Lord. Had they not been consecrated with blood, the Lord would see their sins and put them to death if they came in to serve him. Atonement had to be made for them and for all priests who would serve the Lord in the sanctuary. Seven days they had to undergo this ordination. It is as if they were being recreated, i.e. going through the seven days of creation, for the old creation cannot stand before the Lord of Creation.

 

Jesus entered into the Holy of Holies in the Heavens above, the throne room of the Father, not with the blood of bulls and goats but with his own precious blood and poured it not upon himself but upon the mercy seat of God. Now he stands for us our high priest before the Father in heaven interceding for us and our salvation.

 

But not only that, but at the right hand of God, our Lord Jesus Christ sprinkles us with his blood in baptism, in the Lord’s Supper, through the proclamation of salvation in his name. In doing this, he has made us a new creation. We are not the same. We are being renewed into his image and likeness in holiness, righteousness and knowledge.

 

More than that, through the sprinkling of his blood upon us, he has made all of us royal priests in the household of God. We are called to be living sacrifices like our Lord Jesus Christ devoting our lives unto his service. It is a service of serving others with sacrificial love, i.e. at times looking more into the interest of others more than our own. It is a priest hood of extolling the excellencies of him, Jesus, who sacrificed himself for us and it now risen from the dead. For more detail on what it means to be a living sacrifice read Romans 12-15.

 

Heavenly Father, you have by the blood of Jesus made him our high priest whose glory is greater than that of Aaron. You have also by his blood made priest of Christ. Grant us such faith, grace and the Holy Spirit, that we may indeed live our lives as living sacrifices. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Reading: May 6th


#DailyDevotion Seeing Isn’t Believing

Easter week 3 Saturday

Read Ex 40:17–38

Exo 40:34-38  Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  (35)  And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  (36)  Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out.  (37)  But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up.  (38)  For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

 

What can we say?  Seeing is not believing.  The Israelites saw the cloud and fire at the tabernacle all the days they were in the wilderness.  That did not stop them from worshipping a golden calf, grumbling against him, rebelling against Moses and a host of other infractions of God’s law.

 

God had given the Israelites a visible presence of his glory for the Israelites and that was not enough.  Indeed, signs are a help and seal of faith, but faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  Faith relies solely on the promises of God.

 

We see this in Jesus’ life.  Many of the Jewish leaders saw the signs performed by Jesus and heard Jesus’ teaching.  Because they did not believe Jesus’ teaching they did not believe the signs either.

 

You and I are called to believe Jesus and his Word.  No amount or greatness of miracles will cause you to believe in Jesus and his work if you will not believe him simply on the Word of Promise.  This is what Jesus has promised you:  By his life he has earned you righteousness before God.  By his death he has paid the penalty for your sin so you will not be held accountable before God the Father for them.  By his resurrection and ascension he has conquered death and the power of the devil and makes intercession for you at the right hand of God.  Now you can trust these promises or not but no image of Jesus in piece of French toast will cause you to believe.

 

Jesus has indeed given us signs to encourage and strengthen the faith of those who believe in him in his Word.  These signs are baptism, in which he joins himself to us, makes us one body with him, washes away our sins, and gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The other is his Supper, where he gives us his body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  In this sign he seals himself to us promising us perseverance in the faith unto life everlasting.  But both of these require us to believe his Word of promise.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for your Word of Promise which gives us eternal salvation.  We thank you for Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to strengthen us in our faith.  Ever give us your Word and Sacraments that we may endure in faith all the days of our life. Amen.