Daily Reading: January13th


#DailyDevotion God has sprinkled us with His Blood

January 13th

Read Ezek 36:13–28

Eze 36:23-28  And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.  (24)  I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.  (25)  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  (26)  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  (27)  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  (28)  You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

 

Jeremiah who was a contemporary of Ezekiel said something very similar. Jer 31:33-34  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  (34)  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

 

It for the sake of the name of the Lord, that the Lord will accomplish this great thing.  He is doing this even to this day.  He started in the days of John the Baptist who came proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  This very baptism Jesus experienced on behalf of all people.  Jesus sends forth his disciples to continue on with this baptism.  We are baptized into his name, the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

 

Here in baptism we are sprinkled with water and cleansed from our sins.  Here the Holy Spirit comes upon us and gives us a new heart and a new spirit.  We are now able to fear, love and trust in God above all things.  In baptism we know the Lord for we know he forgives us for his name’s sake.  We are called to be his holy people and he makes himself our God, the One whom we look to for every good.

 

So as God calls us to be his holy people out of the nations and before the nations his name is vindicated.  His holiness is upheld as we are brought into the covenant, the new covenant and made God’s holy people.  We are given new impulses, new thoughts, and new affections.  We desire to do God’s will and not the will of the flesh.  Such it is for those whom God calls to be his own through baptism.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you call us to be your holy people though baptism and you enter into an eternal covenant with us.  Grant us you Holy Spirit as you have promised that we may know you and live according to your Word.  Amen.

Daily Reading: January 12th


#DailyDevotion Jesus is YHWH, who seeks out the Lost Sheep

January 12th

Read Ezek 34:1–24

Ezekiel 34: (11)  “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out…(13)  And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country…(15)  I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. (16)  I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

 

This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus. It is written in the gospel of John, John 10:11-15

(11)  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…(13) I know my own and my own know me,..(14)  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,…(16)  And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

 

Jesus identifies himself as the good shepherd. When Jesus does this he also identifies himself as the one speaking to the prophet Ezekiel. Jesus is the Lord, the God of Israel.

 

As such Jesus is the one who seeks out his people. People will often flock to Jesus but Jesus seeks out his own, even as he chose his disciples instead of them choosing Jesus. Jesus even now, through his church, the members of his church is seeking out the lost sheep. The church and the Word of God she preaches calls out to the lost sheep of God. When those who belong to Christ hear that Word, they recognize the voice of their Shepherd, Jesus and they follow him.

 

Because Jesus is our shepherd this is what he has come to do for his sheep, he will “bring back the strayed, “bind up the injured,” and strengthen the weak.” Those who are fallen away from the faith he calls them back with repentance, so they may confess their sins, turn from them and believe Jesus accepts them back. Jesus binds up our wounds for many times we have been spiritually assaulted and spiritually beaten up with false doctrine yet the free gift of salvation in Christ binds up our wounds. We may at times get weak, yet it is with the promises of God in Christ Jesus we become partakers of the divine nature and become strong in him. In all these things, it is the pure word of God and the sacraments which call, seek, bind and strengthen us.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, continually send out your Church into the world and call men to serve under you who be your voice and your hands to your lost and wounded sheep. May we all hear your voice and be gathered together with you in your Church that we may ever dwell in green pastures by the quiet waters of your kingdom. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 11


#DailyDevotion The only coat tails you can ride into heaven on is Jesus’

January 11th

 Read Ezek 33:1–20

Eze 33:7-9  “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.  (8)  If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  (9)  But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul… 33:11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?  …17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just.  (18)  When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it.  (19)  And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this.  (20)  Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

 

Forget the temple in Ezekiel.  The authors of the daily lectionary have it right when they skip all those readings.  This is the meat of Ezekiel.  We see this theme picked up again in Chapter 33 which we left in chapter 18.  Those whom the Lord sends to speak his word are to do so.  They are to warn the wicked of their impending doom.  If they do so, they save not only those they are sent to but themselves as well.

 

The Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  And well, we’re all wicked, there is no one who does good, not even one.  Ezekiel reminds us who are righteous not to depend on our righteousness if we return to sinful ways.  Our good deeds of the past will not help us when God comes for us and ask of us about our current sinful state.  Our current sins is what we have to face up to today.

 

Those who have no righteousness, they too are called not to look to their own righteousness but to the Lord.  All of us are called to correct our past and current misdeeds.  The Lord desires that our lives get turned around when he comes to us offering free forgiveness.  But we rebel.  One says it’s unfair for God to punish us because we are made like this.  The other says God is unfair because he holds us to account for our current sin not letting our past righteousness stand in the way of punishment.  But the Lord condemns both and calls both to repent and believe in the mercy found in Jesus Christ.  You are forgiven your past and current sins because Jesus has won righteousness for you.  His righteousness will stand before the righteous Judge on the day of judgment.

 

Lord God, Heavenly Father, grant us faith to repent of our sins, trust in your Son’s righteousness, correct our past misdeeds and do the good you want us to do.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 10th


#DailyDevotion The God of Israel takes no pleasure in the death of men.

Epiphany Old Testament lessons

January 10th

 Read Ezek 18:1–4, 19–32

Eze 18:4  Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. ..21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  (22)  None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live.  (23)  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?  (24)  But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. 25  “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 30″Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.  (31)  Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?  (32)  For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

 

From what is being reported in this chapter of Ezekiel, Israel must have misunderstood what the Lord said when Moses wrote, “Exo 20:5-6  … for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,  (6)  but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”  God does not change.  Moses should be understood then in light of this passage from Ezekiel.

 

Verse 32 is extremely important in our understanding of the Lord.  The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of anyone.  It injures him so much that he gave a  prescription for death, his death.  Sin is extremely deadly.  The soul that sins is the soul that will die.  Death is the penalty for sin.  Not just physical death, but spiritual death.  One follows the other.  Adam sinned and he died that day spiritually.  Later the body followed.  There is no particular amount or particular sin that kills the spirit.  Any old sin will do it to you.

 

Yet the Lord does not want us to die.  So he gives us this warning and this promise.  If you have been sinning and you repent, that is you turn to the Lord and seek his forgiveness for the sake of Christ, you will receive eternal life and you will not die.  However, if you had been trusting the Lord and you turn away from the Lord, you will die, not just a physical death but more importantly a spiritual one.  There’s only one thing left to do then, repent like the habitual sinner.  The Lord’s promise of forgiveness is for all people everywhere.  Jesus does not want to punish anyone or sent anyone into eternal perdition. He wants you to live.  He promises us that he who believes in him will never die.  We have eternal life in Jesus.  Like spiritual death, physical death follows, eternal life is followed by physical life at the resurrection.  So daily repent of your sins and trust in Christ.

 

Lord God, you desire not our deaths but that we turn to you and live.  Give us your Holy Spirit that we may do this and live with you and your Son Jesus forever. Amen.

Daily Reading: January 9th


#DailyDevotion God doesn’t want to punish us but rather to forgive and love us.

January 9th

Read Ezek 3:12–28

Eze 3:18-21  If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  (19)  But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.  (20)  Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand.  (21)  But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”

 

There is a lot that is going on the in visions Ezekiel is having that makes us scratch our heads and go, “Hmm, I wonder what that is all about?”  While all of scripture is important to us, some parts are or at least seem to be more important than others.  So in the midst of these crazy visions we have this nugget we can grasp hold and say, “Here’s something I think I can understand!

The prophet Ezekiel is given a charge.  One might even conclude that it is a charge given to all those whom the Lord calls into the service of his word.  This is the charge that we are given: to warn sinners whom God, the Lord has placed in our path of their coming destruction.  It is a call to repentance he calls us to pronounce.  It isn’t because God doesn’t want us having any fun.  It isn’t because he gets his joy from punishing us.  It is because he loves us that he warns of the consequences of our sins that we might turn from them and avoid the consequences.  He loves us.  He doesn’t want to punish us or to inflict vengeance upon us.  As St. Peter says, 2Pe 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

 

So for the sake of the one’s being warned and for the sake of the soul of the preacher, we preach the Law, we threaten with damnation and eternal punishment.  It doesn’t please us to do so.  It’s the most difficult thing a preacher can do.  But he does it in the hopes of wakening people up concerning the direction they’re heading, like giving a shove to a person asleep at the wheel.  It is the hope that they’ll realize the state they are in and seek a different path.

 

And therein lies the joy of the prophet/preacher, to proclaim the glad tidings of the Lord, the good news that God forgives them for Jesus’ sake.  It is the good news the Lord forgives and gives eternal life to all who turn to Jesus and his merits as the basis of their standing before God which changes our lives from those who seek to do wicked things to those who struggle against it and seek how we may be of service to our fellows.  The new mindset that comes with faith gives us a new perspective in which we can see our God as someone we love and cherish rather than fear and hate.

 

Lord God, heavenly Father, ever place in the lips of those around us, your word of warning concerning our sins but even more so place in their lips the word of forgiveness for Christ’ sake that we may turn from our sinful ways and live in your life. In Jesus’ name. Amen