#DailyDevotion The LORD Our God Keeps His Promises

#DailyDevotion The LORD Our God Keeps His Promises

Matthew 2:1–12 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea when Herod was king. Then wise men came from the east to Jerusalem. 2“Where is the Child Who was born King of the Jews?” they asked. “We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3When King Herod heard about this, he became alarmed and all Jerusalem with him. 4He called together all of the people’s ruling priests and Bible scholars and tried to find out from them where the Christ was to be born. 5“In Bethlehem, in Judea,” they told him, “because the prophet has written: 6And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are not at all the least among the leading towns of Judah, since from you will come a leader Who will be the Shepherd of My people Israel…” 9After hearing the king, they started out. And there was the star they had seen in the east! It led them on until it came to a stop over the place where the Child was. 10They were overjoyed to see the star. 11They went into the house and saw the little Child with His mother Mary. Kneeling, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and offered Him gifts: gold, incense, and myrrh. 12But God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they went home to their country by another road.

Now we don’t know what the star was the wise men or magi saw. There was some conjunction of planets some people think in the last years of Herod the Great, but no one  is really convince of that considering the start they had seen did not actually do everything that is reported here in Matthew. More likely than not, it was a supernatural event the magi saw in the sky. I like to think the first appearance of it was the angels, with the glory of God, singing to the shepherds at night was the first appearance. The second appearance leading them to the place Jesus was would be another singular angel. Being astrologers and the LORD wanting to make known his birth to the Gentiles who followed such stuff, he gave them a sign in the sky to let them know a king was born to the Jews who would be the Savior of men.

They went to Jerusalem looking for one born King of the Jews. Now Bethlehem isn’t all that far from Jerusalem. It would be considered the suburbs these days. But Jesus was not in the palace where kings should be born. The people there had not heard Jesus, the king of the Jews had been born. Herod had not had any new children, that they knew of, and everyone was alarmed as to what this might mean. Herod called the ruling priests and scholars to look into the prophecies to find out where the child was to be born. Micah the prophet prophesied that the child was to be born in Bethlehem. You seed David, the second king of Israel (Saul was the first) was born in Bethlehem. The LORD had promised a dynasty and someone would sit on his throne forever. So from the town of David, David’s descendent who would rule eternally would be born just like him.

The importance for us in all this is the LORD keeps his promises. He promised a King, of the house of David, would rule on David’s throne forever. The LORD has kept this promise through Jesus Christ who now sits at the right hand of the Father ruling eternally. Since the LORD has kept his promise to David here, then you can be certain the LORD Jesus Christ who has promised a resurrection to eternal life to all who trust in him, he will keep that promise too.

Heavenly Father, you have fulfilled your promise to David and through your prophet Micah. Grant us faith to believe this so we may also trust Jesus’ promise of eternal life to all who believe in him. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion God’s Plan Is To Make You One With Israel Through Faith In Christ Jesus

#DailyDevotion God’s Plan Is To Make You One With Israel Through Faith In Christ Jesus

Ephesians 3:2–12

2surely you’ve heard how God gave me the responsibility of bringing His grace to you… 4When you read this, you can see I understand the hidden truth of Christ… 6that in Christ Jesus the people who are not Jews have the same inheritance, belong to the same body, and have the same promise through the good news… He gave this grace: to bring the news of the unsearchable riches of Christ to the non-Jews 9and let everyone see clearly what God planned to do according to the truth hidden from the beginning in God, Who created everything, 10so that through the church God’s many-sided wisdom would now be shown to the rulers and authorities in heaven. 11He planned it through the ages and then did it in Christ Jesus, our Lord. 12In Him, by believing in Him, we have confidence and can boldly come to God.

Epiphany, little Christmas or Gentile Christmas, the meaning of it is detailed here in these words from Ephesians. The Ephesian congregation was by this time mostly Gentile though it started in the Jewish synagogue. Paul, here, claims that he has revealed a great mystery, the hidden truth in Christ. And just what is that? “…in Christ Jesus the people who are not Jews have the same inheritance, belong to the same body, and have the same promise through the good news.”

Just think about that a minute. We see the LORD coming to Abraham with a promise to make his  a great nation, to give him many descendents and a promised land. The LORD also promised at the time that through Abraham’s seed (singular) all nations would be blessed. While the blessing is not explicit there in Genesis, hence the hidden truth in Christ, it is explicit in the New Testament. That truth is through faith in Jesus Christ the Gentiles are also children of Abraham and inheritors of the Promised Land. That Promised Land is the New Heavens and New Earth.

The LORD is not so concerned anymore with a little piece of real estate on the eastern side of the Mediterranean. He wants his people to have dominion over all creation. So through faith in Jesus Christ and only through faith in Jesus Christ both Jews and Gentiles are joined to Christ Jesus and his body. It is only through baptism into Christ that we are made inheritors of God and co-heirs with Christ. Part of this inheritance is to receive the righteousness of God. He also bestows upon us his glory and dominion. He makes us participants in his divine nature. In Christ, we are given the holiness of God and made perfect in him.

This salvation of ours, Paul says, “He planned it through the ages and then did it in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” There is salvation nowhere else from God than in and through Christ Jesus. All of God’s salvation plan is seen in Jesus Christ. There is salvation by, in, through or any other qualifiers than through faith in Jesus Christ. It is open to all but only received through trusting what Jesus has done for you. In Jesus, by believing or trusting in Jesus, we have confidence and came come boldly before God our Father. It is his name that gives us access to the Father and his name alone. But with his name we can boldly come before our Father in heaven with all our request because we know that in Christ we have peace with God. Everything that separates us from the Almighty is removed by the name of Jesus who planned it this way. Thanks be to God.

Almighty and merciful Father, you planned before the foundation of the world that men would have access to you and become your heir through faith in Jesus Christ, your Son our LORD. Grant that we may always have this faith unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Rise! Shine! Give God The Glory, Glory!

#DailyDevotion Rise! Shine! Give God The Glory, Glory!

Isaiah 60:1–6 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the LORD’s glory is shining on you. 2Darkness still covers the earth and thick darkness covers the peoples, but the LORD will rise over you, and His glory will appear over you. 3Gentiles will come to your light, and as you shine, kings will come near. 4Lift your eyes and look around. All of them gather and come to you. Your sons come from a distance, your daughters carried on the arm. 5When you see it, you will be radiant, your heart trembling with pride and glad to know the abundance of the sea is turning to you and the wealth of the nations is coming to you. 6Many camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. All of those from Sheba will come, bringing gold and incense. They will tell of the LORD’s wonderful deeds.

Who is being told to arise and shine? Upon whom is the LORD’s glory shining upon? On the one hand, the LORD could be speaking to Israel and therefore the Church. On another hand he could be speaking to our LORD Jesus Christ. Then again, Jesus is Israel. He is God’s son whom he called out of Egypt and Israel is God’s son. Then we, the Israel of God, the Church, being united to Jesus become truly Israel by our union with him.

Jesus is the Light of the world. Jesus also tells us we are the light of the world. We are to let our light shine, so the command here to shine makes sense that he is speaking to us here. Indeed our Light has come and the LORD’s glory shines upon us. The light we are called to shine is the good news of Jesus Christ.

For darkness still covers the earth and thick darkness covers the people. But we are letting our light shine. We are proclaiming the good news, Jesus has come and brings pleasure eternal. He has overcome the darkness. The darkness has not overcome his light. The LORD Jesus Christ has risen and his glory appeared upon the earth has he was lifted up upon the cross, making atonement for the sin of the world, nailing the curse of the Law to the cross and taking away our guilt and shame.

So the nations come to Christ Jesus and come to the Church who proclaims him and makes him present through the Word and Sacrament. The LORD Jesus Christ is gathering his people together from sea to sea, from the north and from the south. On the day of his revelation, his holy angels will gather us up from the east and the west, the north and the south to be with our Savior Jesus Christ. We see on Epiphany how the LORD revealed to the Gentiles through his star the manifestation of his coming and they came bearing him gifts due a king. They returned home and shared the good news with their people. Having received the good news ourselves and seeing Jesus through the good news, the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life in his name, we also tell of the LORD’s wonderful deeds. We make known to those in darkness around us their light has come to bring them into the light of his glory, the glory of the cross and the glory of his eternal kingdom.

Heavenly Father, as the light of your son Jesus Christ has come upon us, give us faith and your Holy Spirit to proclaim to all around us his marvelous deeds so we may shine his light into the darkness that surrounds us and we may bring his people to him. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Grew Up, Just Like Us

#DailyDevotion Jesus Grew Up, Just Like Us

Luke 240The little Child grew big and strong and full of wisdom, and God’s favor was with Him. 41Every year His parents would go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. 42And so when He was twelve, they went up for the festival as usual…  46Two days later they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47His understanding and His answers surprised all who heard Him. 48They were amazed to see Him there. “Son, why did You do this to us?” His mother asked Him. “See how anxiously Your father and I have been looking for You!” 49“Why were you looking for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you realize I must be in My Father’s house?” 50But they didn’t understand what He told them. 51Then He went back with them to Nazareth. And He obeyed them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52And Jesus grew wiser and taller and won the approval of God and of people.

We don’t get a lot about Jesus’ childhood. Because of that the early Church had people who wrote things, alternative Gospels that filled in the gaps. This was kind of like fan fiction, bad fan fiction. But we do get a small glimpse into Jesus’ early years here. And overall, it’s fairly unremarkable, which in and of itself is fairly remarkable. What do I mean by that? Well you would expect that someone who is God in the flesh would be doing some fairly amazing stuff but for the most part, Jesus is not doing that.

What do we see here? In verse forty Jesus grew big and strong and full of wisdom. In verse fifty-two Jesus grew wiser and taller and won the approval of God and of people. Overall not that amazing. Kids grow up. Kids hopefully grow wiser and they usually do. Jesus, though he was and is God, did not use his divine abilities in growing up. He didn’t grow any quicker than anyone else. He humbled himself to have to learn and grow in wisdom and knowledge. What is amazing is he was like us in every way. Jesus was and is truly human. Jesus’ only advantage over us was he did not have Adam’s sin hampering his development.

Because of that, probably, we see Jesus in the Temple here. He was twelve. He didn’t leave with his family when they left with the caravan to go back to Nazareth. He was there several days. It was in fact the third day Mary and Joseph found him there. One cannot but hearken forward to the Easter tomb and think about Jesus was found by the women on the third day risen from the dead. Well what was Jesus doing? Luke says, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Now at the age of thirteen a Jewish boy becomes a Son of the Commandments, Bar Mitzvah. He would have by this time studied the commandment of the Torah and be able to answer basic questions about it much like confirmands do at their confirmation concerning the Small Catechism. Jesus still has a year to go. What we do see amazing here is, “His understanding and His answers surprised all who heard Him.” Jesus was asking questions of the elders that would run with the best of them and his answers to their questions showed a lot of understanding of what the Torah taught.  It surprised all who heard him. They were not just surprised but astounded. Jesus isn’t wowing the crowd here with miracles but with wisdom and understanding of the Torah (Law). But Jesus didn’t have sin hampering him either. Jesus was and is truly human like us. He became one of us to save us in his flesh by humbling himself to death, even death on a cross to save us.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for revealing to us the humility of Jesus taking on our flesh to save us and to redeem us in the flesh. Grant us faith in Jesus so that as Jesus was exalted to your right hand we too may be glorified in him. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion God The Father Is More Crazy Generous Than Anyone

#DailyDevotion God The Father Is More Crazy Generous Than Anyone

Eph. 1. So 8He poured out the riches of His grace on us, giving us every kind of wisdom and understanding 9He told us the hidden meaning of His will. It was His kindly purpose in Christ 10 to manage everything in heaven and on earth in such a way that when the right time would come it would all be organized under Christ as its Head.

The Vonage company had a commercial where they appeared to be crazy generous. Well our LORD Jesus Christ and our Father in heaven is crazy generous. Here in Ephesians tells us of his generosity with words such as pour, riches, grace, giving, every, everything, kindly and the like.

So we see here he poured out the riches of his grace on us. When you hear the word ‘pour’ you should think of your baptism for that is where you can be certain your God poured out the riches of his grace upon you. There he gave you faith, he sealed you with his Holy Spirit and he washed away your sins. You were made one with Jesus in his life, death and resurrection. He made you children of God, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. He made you citizens of the kingdom of God and Heaven.

If that were not enough, he has given us every kind of wisdom and understanding. The wisdom of God is Jesus Christ. When we looks to Jesus and what he has done for us we gain understanding of how and why God the Father does what he does. In Christ we understand the Father loves us and has a kindly gaze upon us. We understand our Father in heaven is merciful and forgiving. We see his wisdom in sending his son to become one of us and one with us so he may take our death upon himself, take our sins and guilt and nail them to the cross, and pour out his blood as an atoning sacrifice and propitiation for our sin.

God the Father in his crazy generosity tells us the hidden meaning his will. The hidden meaning now revealed that he wants to save the world, all people in Christ Jesus through his death and resurrection. He shows us how he has placed everything in heaven and on earth under Jesus Christ as its head for Jesus said in John 12, 32“And once I have been lifted up from the earth, I will draw all [people] to Me.” You might note I put people in brackets because the Greek just says all. Translators put people there. All is more fitting as Jesus redeemed not only all people but all creation as Paul tells us in Romans 8, 20“For this created world must waste away, not because it wants to but because its Master would have it so, but it does so with the hope 21that this created world also will be freed from the slavery of decay in order to share the freedom of glory with the children of God.”

Jesus is the head of creation as its source and Jesus is the head of creation as the one who leads and guides everything to bring us to faith, sustain and strengthen us in our faith in him and to have us regain our dominion over it with him as he reigns eternally at the right hand of God.

Heavenly Father, continually manifest your magnificent generosity towards us in Christ Jesus so we may properly give all honor and praise to your Son Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

#DailyDevotion God Has Shown His Kindness & Love In Christ

#DailyDevotion God Has Shown His Kindness & Love In Christ

Eph. 14He has done what in His kindness He planned to do: Before He made the world, He Who loved us 5appointed us to be made His sons by Jesus Christ. In Him He chose us to be holy and blameless before Him 6in order to praise the glory of the love He gave us in His dear Son, 7Who bought us with His blood to forgive our sins and set us free.

We may wonder sometimes why God would have gone through with his creation of man if he knew beforehand what we were going to do and how we were going to mess things up down here. Yet, he decided to go ahead with creation and before we did anything good or bad, he made a plan to save us. Paul says He did in His kindness what he planned to do. If God had not gone through with his plan of creation then we might not even exist. How would that have been kind of God to not even let us come into existence? So God carried through with his plan of creation, to bring us all into existence in His kindness.

In his kindness, before God made the world, God appointed us, you, to be made his sons by Jesus Christ. We see in Jesus’ genealogy in Luke who Jesus was the son of, until we get to Adam, who is God’s Son. Jesus is God’s Son from all eternity being of one substance with the Father. Now, in Christ Jesus the Father has chosen you to make you his sons. In baptism, you have been joined with Jesus and have been made one with him. If you are one with Jesus then you are God’s sons for you are in the Son.

In Christ Jesus, God chose you to be holy and blameless before him. This is not your doing, though you should try be live up to your calling to be holy and blameless. Jesus himself though will present you holy and blameless to the Father through the water and the Word as Paul says in Ephesians 5. Jude tells us, 24“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and have you stand without a fault and with great joy before His glory,…” Paul also writes in Col. 122“He has made you friends in order to have you stand before Him without sin or fault or blame.” He has done this and will do this 6 “in order to praise the glory of the love He gave us in His dear Son.” We began with God doing this in his kindness and now we see it is also in the love he gave us in his dear son.

The basis that we can see this love and kindness of God is demonstrated in this, 7“Who bought us with His blood to forgive our sins and set us free.” Yes, the Son of God becomes man so that he may shed his blood for us to redeem us, to buy us. Jesus sheds his blood for us in his circumcision, in the Sanhedrin, in Pilate’s and Herod’s courts, and upon the cross to forgive us our sins and set us free. This demonstrates God’s great love for you that Jesus would suffer this for you. Your sins have been atoned for. They no longer have a hold of you, of your mind and spirit. You have been set free from the slavery of sin and the fear of death through faith in Christ Jesus’ blood. So great is the kindness and love of God toward us in Christ Jesus.

Heavenly Father, in your kindness and love, you prepared a great salvation for us so that at the judgment, we would be presented to you holy and blameless in Christ Jesus. Continually give us your Holy Spirit that we may believe this and see the fulfillment of it at the revelation of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion God The Father Has Blessed You In Christ Jesus

#DailyDevotion God The Father Has Blessed You In Christ Jesus

Eph.13Let us praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who in Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven.

We have a God, no the one and only living God, who is our Father. Many things claim to be God or we make them God, for we put our trust in them to provide us with every good thing. But the one and only true living God is the Father. He is the source of all things and he is the provider of all good things. We also have our LORD Jesus Christ. The Father is the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ. Our LORD Jesus Christ is also the one true living God. He has the name LORD because he is the LORD we see throughout the Old Testament. LORD in the Old Testament stands in the place of the divine name of God, Yahweh, “I am who I am.” He existed before creation with the Father and is eternal, one and equal to the Father in every respect. As the book of Hebrews tells us, “He is the Expression of His Being.” Paul says in Col. 115“He is the Image of the invisible God.” Now for just being the one true living God, the Father and the Son deserve to be praised.

But the Father deserves to be praise also as Paul says here, “Who in Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven.” “In Christ” is very important and is central to everything Paul writes in Ephesians, though it is a big theme throughout his letters. The Father does everything in Christ. All creation was created in and through Christ. It is in Christ the Father saves all humanity from the sin of Adam and from death. It is in Christ the Father defeats Satan and all his plans and devices.

But we praise God the Father especially for blessing us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ. What sorts of spiritual blessings has the Father blessed us with? For starters in Christ we have an atoning sacrifice which removes our sins from us. In Christ, we are blessed with God righteousness as a gift, a free gift. In Christ we are justified, declared not guilty of our sins. In Christ we receive the holiness of God. God in Christ makes us his heirs and co-heirs with Christ of the kingdom of God. The Father conforms us to the image and likeness to Christ in Christ. In Christ we participate in the divine nature of God. In Christ Jesus our LORD we are declared and make holy and perfect like God our Father.

We receive all these spiritual blessings in heaven in Christ when we are placed in Christ Jesus. When were we placed in Christ Jesus? Where can we be certain we are in Christ Jesus our LORD? Paul tells us in Romans 6, 3“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4Now when we were baptized into His death, we were buried with Him so that as the Father’s glory raised Christ from the dead we, too, will live a new life. 5If we were united with Him in this likeness of His death, then we will be united with Him also in the likeness of His resurrection.” Where we can be certain we have been united with Christ and all his blessings in your baptism into Christ. So treasure and praise God the Father for your baptism regularly.

Heavenly Father, you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in our LORD Jesus Christ and have assured us of these blessings by baptizing us into Christ Jesus. Grant us faith to praise and bless you continually for all your blessings unto us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Will You Be Wiser Than King Solomon?

#DailyDevotion Will You Be Wiser Than King Solomon?

1 Kings 310The LORD was pleased that Solomon asked for this. 11“You asked for this,” God answered, “and you didn’t ask for a long life or riches or the death of your enemies, but you asked to be able to understand how to be just in giving judgment. 12I’m going to do what you ask. I’m giving you such intelligence and understanding that no one before you or after you will be like you. 13But I’m also giving you what you didn’t ask for — riches and honor, so that no other king will be like you as long as you live. 14And if you live according to My ways and keep My rules and commandments as your father did, then I will also give you a long life.” 15 Solomon woke up. It had been a dream. He went into Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the LORD’s covenant and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he gave a dinner for all his household.

The LORD was pleased with Solomon’s answer. He tells us why, “but you asked to be able to understand how to be just in giving judgment.” He didn’t ask for wealth, long life or the death of his enemies, something we would probably ask for.  If the LORD asked us the same question would be sincerely answer similarly, sincerely? You may tell yourself, “I know what Solomon did and what he got, so I’m going to do the same thing.” But the LORD would see through your hypocrisy and know you are shamming humility and wisdom. It is the world’s wisdom that thinks this way.

Solomon, being a young man, yet wise in his own time knew he didn’t know how to rule a kingdom. So he asked for what was needed to be a good king. The LORD was impressed and granted Solomon’s prayer. He would be given such intelligence and wisdom as the world had ever seen or heard. On top of that, the LORD promised to give Solomon everything he didn’t ask for, riches and honor. If Solomon lived the way his father David did, he would even give him a long life. Well all these things came to pass. Solomon in all his glory surpassed everyone else who  ever lived and ruled in all these ways.

Yet, with all his wisdom and intelligence, Solomon did not live as the LORD would have him live. He had many foreign wives and concubines. He built temples for the false gods of these women and he worshipped their false gods. If you read his book of Ecclesiastes you will see that ultimately he found out what was truly important was not all this stuff but fearing God and enjoying your work.

You and I can be wiser than Solomon. We don’t have to experience everything he had experienced to come up with the same conclusion. We start off with putting our faith in Jesus who is the Wisdom and Knowledge of God. Jesus through the free gift of the forgiveness of sins gives us his Holy Spirit that we may know and fear God properly. The greatest wisdom we can have which surpasses Solomon is looking into the face of Jesus and knowing the Father’s attitude toward us. Wisdom in Christ is knowing everything that is God’s is ours in Christ Jesus and trusting him to gives us such things as he knows we need them when we need them. We can be wiser than Solomon by only trusting the Triune God for all good things and to live out our lives with love and faith in Jesus.

Heavenly Father, you gave wisdom to Solomon which surpassed all men. Give us your Holy Spirit that we may be wise in Christ and fear, love and trust in you above all things. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.