#DailyDevotion If Jesus Isn’t The LORD of The Old Testament, You Are Still In Your Sins

#DailyDevotion If Jesus Isn’t The LORD of The Old Testament, You Are Still In Your Sins

Mark 4:38-41 38Meanwhile, in the back of the boat, He was sleeping on the cushion. They woke Him up. “Teacher, we’re drowning,” they told Him. “Don’t You care?” 39He got up and ordered the wind to stop. “Hush!” He said to the sea. “Be still!” And the wind quieted down, and it became very calm. 40 “Why are you so afraid?” He asked them. “Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” 41Struck with awe, they asked one another, “Who is He? Even the wind and the sea obey Him.”

Yesterday we talked about how there are two major heresies, i.e. false teachings which normally attack Christianity. One is that Jesus is only human, the other is Jesus is only God. There are some that try to make him out to be some mixture but even they end up on one end of that spectrum. Today’s devotion focuses on how Jesus is truly God. Now the boat was filling up with water and Jesus was sleeping. They woke him up saying, “Teacher, we’re drowning. Don’t You care?” Now by their response to what Jesus does next, I think we can safely say they were not expecting him to do a miracle. No, they were expecting Jesus to pick up a bucket and start bailing out the boat with the rest of them.

But what does Jesus do? He orders the wind to be quiet and the sea to be still. Immediately everything becomes calm. This stikes awe into the disciples and has them asking, “Who is He? Even the wind and the sea obey Him.” Who is Jesus that the wind and sea obey him? That is a good question.

The introit for the Sunday this Gospel lesson appears is from Psalm 107 which says in part, 28“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. 29 He made the storm calm down, and the waves around them were still. 30 They were glad it was quiet. So He brought them to the haven they longed for.” The disciples didn’t realize it yet but when they cried out to the LORD for help, he was asleep in the stern of the boat. Jesus is the LORD spoken of in Psalm 107. He is the God of Israel in the flesh. He is the LORD who spoke to Job out of the storm. He is the LORD who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He is God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.

It is important we believe and confess that. Anyone who cannot and will not confess that does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and they are not in a state of salvation yet. It is important that Jesus is that LORD of the Old Testament because only one who is LORD could make his death the redemption price of the whole world and eveyone ever born into it. Jesus as man could die but his death at best could be exchange for the lift of another, if he were not truly God. But because Jesus is God, the LORD, his death is the ransom for all people, everywhere of every time and place. His death as the LORD brings us to the haven we long for, the kingdom of God, the new heavens and earth. Put your faith in this Jesus who can still the wind and the waves because he is the LORD and he will deliver you from death and the grave and give your eternal life.

Heavenly Father, you sent your son Jesus, begotten from eternity so that whoever calls on him may be saved. Give us your Holy Spirit that we may call upon the name of Jesus and be delivered from the storms of this fallen world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion As A Matter Of Fact Jesus Is Truly Human & That’s Important

#DailyDevotion As A Matter Of Fact Jesus Is Truly Human & That’s Important

Mark 4:35–38 35In the evening of that day Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took Jesus, just as He was, with them in the boat. There were other boats with Him. 37Then a violent storm came up, and the waves dashed into the boat so that it was filling up fast. 38Meanwhile, in the back of the boat, He was sleeping on the cushion.

There are two major heresies, i.e. false teachings which normally attack Christianity. One is that Jesus is only human, the other is Jesus is only God. There are some that try to make him out to be some mixture but even they end up on one end of that spectrum.

Today’s devotion focuses on the fact that Jesus is truly human. This account in the Gospel of Mark shows us that Jesus is truly human. Jesus had been teaching the people all the day before this. Teaching people can be quite exhausting. So Jesus wanted to get away with his disciples and he also wanted to go and teach other people. As they were going along, what was Jesus doing?

Jesus was fast asleep in the stern, the back of the boat. Jesus being truly human got tired. He needed to sleep. He was sleeping so well that when a storm came which was dashing against the boat and filling up with water he didn’t even get aroused by it. His disciples would have to wake him up. If Jesus were not truly human he would not have needed sleep.

Of course there are other passages which depict the humanity of Jesus. We know from Matthew and Luke, Jesus was conceived in and born of the Virgin Mary. We know that after his fasting in the wilderness he was hungry. In his prayer in the garden he sweated what looked like drops of blood. He drank and ate with his disciples.

So why is it important that Jesus is truly human and not just appearing human important? Why do we go to extreme and condemn anyone who diminishes Jesus’ humanity? Because as St. Gregory of Nazianzus (The Theologian), in his letter to to Cledonius, says: “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole.”

So Jesus has a human body, a human will, a human spirit or soul. Jesus has human emotions, affections, feelings and the like. Indeed whatever is truly necessary to be truly human Jesus has. You may quip, “Jesus didn’t have a human father.” You are correct, but Adam didn’t have a human father or mother. Yet Jesus is born of the seed of the woman as he told the serpent in Genesis three. Jesus became fully and truly human to save all of you, your whole being. There is nothing of you that is truly human that is not saved and redeemed and assumed into the Godhead by Jesus. Because of this, when Jesus dies on the cross, all you is indeed redeemed and saved by Jesus. You never have to be worried or doubt that some part of you is not saved and redeemed.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to assume our human nature that in it, he redeemed everything truly human about us so we may join him with you in your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion How Do You See Those The LORD Sent To Minister To You?

#DailyDevotion How Do You See Those The LORD Sent To Minister To You?

2 Cor. 6:8b-13 We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. 11 We have talked frankly to you Corinthians. Our hearts are wide open. 12There’s plenty of room in them for you, but you’re narrow in your attitude toward us. 13I ask you as my children: Treat me as I treat you, and open your hearts wide, too.

Paul here explains how he and his companions have been treated by the Corinthian congregation by the so-called apostles who have come behind them in their ministry and have told them these supposedly negative things which it appears the congregation has perhaps believed to some extant. The had been called imposters, unknown, dying, punished, sorrowful, poor, and having nothing. These are things I guess people say about other people of whom they are jealous of and trying the win the affection and support of those supported Paul and company.

Yet Paul and company have been called by God to be apostles to the Gentiles. They are true to their calling. If they were not true then there would likely be no Corinthian congregation. They are known to all the Churches. While like all Christians dying according to the flesh, according to the spirit they are living. While enduring punishments at the hands of unbelieving Jews and Romans they could not be killed until the LORD Jesus had willed it. They may sorrow over those who refuse the free gift of God in Christ Jesus they rejoice over those who heard it and accepted it receiving into themselves the gift of eternal life. They are treated as poor and having nothing yet they make everyone rich in grace and possess everything because they belong to Jesus. Things are not always as they seem. Under the cross of Christ it may all seem as loss but with the cross and death also comes life and salvation.

Paul and company have always been frank and honest with the Corinthians. Their hearts are wide open to them and can received them all into it. The Corinthians have been narrow in mind towards them because of the reports from the so-called super apostles. The Corinthians were thinking Paul was holding back on them when the reverse was true. They had revealed everything to the congregation. Paul wants them to treat him like he treats them and open their heart wide to him.

Now how do feel towards your pastor. Do you listen to other’s bad talk about him because they want you to leave him and join their congregation? Do you look down on him because you don’t like the way he does things yet there is nothing biblically wrong with what he is doing? Do you open your heart to him and does he open his heart to you? I hope you shut down negative talk about the man Christ Jesus called to be your pastor quickly. I hope you give him your support and your love as he gives his support and love to you by his ministry. Is he teaching you correctly from the Scriptures? Does he provided sound teaching of the faith? Does he visit you when you are sick? Does he provided for you the sacraments when you need him to do so? I hope all those questions are in the affirmative. If so, rejoice in him and be glad. If he has any weaknesses pray the Holy Spirit would give him the gifts needed to minister to you and yours.

Heavenly Father, may we receive with joy those who send with the Word of promise and express our thanks for him with earthly goods and spiritual prayers. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Your Christian Life May Not Be Attractive To The World

#DailyDevotion Your Christian Life May Not Be Attractive To The World

2 Cor. 6:3-8a 3We’re not in any way giving people a reason to turn away, to keep them from finding fault with our work. 4Instead we’re in everything showing we’re God’s good workers by great endurance in suffering, in need, and in hardships; 5when we’re beaten or put in prison, when there are riots; when we’re overworked and go without sleep and food; 6by being pure, by knowledge, by patience and kindness; by the Holy Spirit; by sincere love; 7by telling the truth; by God’s power; with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left;

So, to modern evangelical American mind, Paul may be out of his mind here. He and his companions do not look like the super preachers we may see on tv or radio. Yet he tells the Corinthians he has not given people a reason to turn away. Instead what he has been undergoing, what looks like weakness to the world commends his work as genuine. Paul was having to deal with super-apostles causing the disciples to Christ, who he had won for Christ, to depart from his teaching. I’m guessing his opponents were full of ad hominems (attack against his person).

Yet he says what he has been going through shows he and his companions were God’s good workers. They had by great endurance experienced suffering, need and hardships. Satan was working hard to make Paul’s mission as difficult as possible. Jesus had told Annanius before he healed Paul’s blindness, “he will suffer much for my name.” You too, because you are a disciple of Jesus will most likely experience many crosses in your life. The Christian life if rife with them.

People opposed Paul at every turn. He was beaten, put in prins and experienced riots. So we see Paul’s experience in Ephesus and in Jerusalem particularly. When he got started in Damascus, he had to let down the wall at night in a basket because people were trying to kill him. I’m certain Acts does not list all the troubles Paul experienced at people’s hands. You too should be prepared to experience troubles at the hand of unbelievers because of your confession of faith in Jesus. Don’t think it strange. Paul and his companions were overworked and went without sleep and food. Well you may not experience this for Christ’s sake, but you never know.

Starting at verse six through eight we have a bit of a sandwich of “By-through.” The meat of the sandwich is the power source of these “bys-throughs.” The bys are “by being pure, by knowledge, by patience and kindness.” These four are actions seen by others. The meat that powers these and what follows is the “by the Holy Spirit.” It is only by his power Paul and you can manifest these things in our lives. These also are in the center, “by sincere love; 7by telling the truth; by God’s power.” The Holy Spirit generates these which are the meat of the Christian life. Finally there is the through, “with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left.” Christ’s righteousness is our weapons for getting through all these things. A righteousness freely given us through faith are our offensive weapons. We charge forward with it knowing in the world to come it is not our works that stand before God but Jesus’. Paul’s Christian life may not always seem that attractive. Your life as a Christian may not always seem attractive, to others or even yourselves. It is nevertheless the life Christ has called us to live. When in doubt of your Christian life, look to the Cross of Jesus and see what your life is going to be like.

Heavenly Father, grant us your Holy Spirit that with Christ righteousness we may live our lives here, enduring all, so we may give glory to Jesus whe he returns in glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Now Is The Day Of Salvation. You May Not Have A Tomorrow

#DailyDevotion Now Is The Day Of Salvation. You May Not Have A Tomorrow

2 Cor. 6:1,2 As men who are working with God we plead with you: Don’t let God’s grace be wasted on you. 2He says: At a favorable time I have heard you; On the day of salvation I have helped you. Look, now is the favorable time. Look, now is the day of salvation.

Paul here quotes Isaiah 49, 8“When the time comes to be kind, I will answer You; when the time comes to save, I will help You. I will protect You and give You to be the Covenant of the people, to restore the country, to allot again the possessions that have been laid waste.” This part of Isaiah is speaking to the restoration of Israel. Now this takes place in Jesus who is the Holy One of Isaiah 49. In Isaiah 49 the LORD says of Jesus, 5“And now says the LORD, Who formed Me in the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him and to gather Israel to Him – the LORD treated Me with honor, and My God has become My Strength — 6He says: “It is not enough that You’re My Servant to raise the tribes of Jacob and bring back those in Israel who have been preserved – I have also made You a Light for the nations that My salvation might reach to the most distant parts of the world.” So both Israel and Gentile are brought together in Jesus Christ to be one holy people unto the LORD, his holy Israel according to the faith.

Now the grace that Paul pleads with the Corinthians not to be wasted on them is the free gift of reconciliation with God the Father in chapter 5. There we are told in Christ Jesus our trespasses are not counted against us. All this is from God. How would that grace be wasted on us? Well Paul pleads with them to be reconciled to God. If we do not trust, believe and receive this reconciliation and remain at enmity with God because of our sins and rebelliousness that grace has been wasted on us. It is still there for us but if we don’t make use of it, it does us no good and actually condemns us for unbelief.

We have come to the favorable time of God, right now, as you read this. God has heard your groans from the suffering of your body and mind and soul. Even unbelievers cry out because of what they experience in this world. God has heard their cry and has given us Jesus. God has give your Jesus. Jesus is your reconciliation. He is your redemption, propitiation and expiation. Jesus is your holiness, righteousness and glory. Jesus is your resurrection and assumption into the Godhead in the kingdom of God.

So, as St. Paul says, “Look, now is the favorable time. Look, now is the day of salvation.” You don’t have tomorrow to be saved. You might not be here tomorrow. Tomorrow this may not be offered to you. Tomorrow you may forget about it. Today is it. Now is it. Hebrews 4 reminds us, 7“so He sets another day — today — when long afterwards He says in David’s words, already quoted: “Today if you hear Him speak, don’t harden your hearts.” Now is today. You don’t have to tomorrow to receive and accept this precious gift. If you harden your heart against this day of salvation, you may never get another one. So rejoice you have been given this favorable time, this day of salvation so that you may enter into eternal life, to the resurrection of the body into eternal glory. Don’t let this invitation be wasted on you. It may be the only one you ever get..

Heavenly Father, you have given us this favorable time, this day of salvation in which you have reconciled us to yourself through Jesus Chrsit our LORD. Grant us faith to believe and accept it and rejoice in every day in which we have a today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Would You Be Able To Answer God?

#DailyDevotion Would You Be Able To Answer God?

Job 38:1–11 Proper 7

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm: 2“Who is this that obscures My purpose by talking without understanding? 3Prepare yourself like a man: I will ask you, and you show Me. 4Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you understand. 5Who determined its measurements – you surely know! Or who stretched a measuring line over it? 6On what were the sockets of its pillars placed; who laid its cornerstone, 7while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8Who shut in the sea with doors when it broke through and came out of the womb, 9when I made the clouds its garment and dark clouds its baby clothes; 10when I prescribed its shoreline, and set up bars and doors, 11and said, ‘You may come this far but no farther, here your surging waves will stop?’”

For thirty something chapters Job and his friends were wishing God would come down and solve their problem, i.e. give an answer to why Job was suffering. Well, unexpectedly, the LORD gives an answer to their demands for why Job is suffering. From the answer we get from the LORD here, it seems to be, “It’s none of your business. You’re not in charge here.” At least, that is what it seems like to me.

So what is the LORD’s answer? Well it’s a series of questions. “Who is this that obscures My purpose by talking without understanding?” We simply do not and cannot have the understanding our maker has in his purposes. We will certainly muddle things up as we try to answer questions the LORD has not revealed the answer to. God then asks a series of questions which only he himself would know, or rather he is ithe answer to them.

It is the LORD who determined the earth’s measurement. It is the LORD who placed it securely in its orbit around the sun which is in the Goldielock zone. It is the LORD who keeps the sea back and prescribed the shoreline and keeps the waves from flooding. Well if he did all that, and you weren’t even there to witness it and sing the LORD’s praises with the angels, what makes you think you can demand anything from the LORD?

Yet the LORD is patient with us. He gives us some understanding of how things work. Yet, he does not always reveal to us his purpose in everything. The one thing he often doesn’t answer, at least not always how we would like to receive what he says, is why do we suffer. But in a sense, he has done that as well. We suffer because we are sinners in a sinful world. It is sin that brings suffering into the world. Even if we do repent there is the temporal consequences of our sin. Other people sinning bring misery into our lives. There is the brokenness of sin in our flesh which causes our flesh to fail. There are no good people, no, not one, not eve Job in all his righteousness.

Yet there is one good man. His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He is good because he is God. The best answer suffering is displayed on his cross. Jesus took our suffering upon himself on the cross and sanctified it. On the cross, our suffering becomes the means by which we are prepared for eternal glory. It develops in us perseverance, character and hope. It keeps us looking to God for relief in the resurrection.

Heavenly Father, you are our maker and all things happen according to your plan. Help to humbly accept your will and grow in faith. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion The Growth Of The Kingdom Of God Is An Article Of Faith

#DailyDevotion The Growth Of The Kingdom Of God Is An Article Of Faith

Mark 4:30-34 30 “What should we say God’s kingdom is like,” He asked, “or how should we picture it? 31It’s like a mustard seed, which when sown on the ground is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. 32 But when it’s sown, it comes up and becomes the largest of all the garden plants. It grows such large branches that the birds in the air can nest in its shade.” 33He used many parables like these to speak the Word as they were able to hear it. 34 He wouldn’t speak to them without a parable. But when He was alone with His disciples, He would explain everything to them.

Again, Jesus is teaching us something about the kingdom of God. Like the previous one it includes the kingdom of God, the Word and mystery.

So today, Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It starts off small. But when it is sown it comes up and becomes the largest of all the garden plants. It becomes large enough that all kinds of birds can nest in its shade. Now I’m not going to get into what kind of mustard plant this is that does this. Google is your friend. But what is Jesus talking about here.

I think we need John’s help from his Gospel. He writes, “IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” and again, 14“And the Word became flesh and lived among us for a time and we saw His glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus tells us in John 12, 24 “Surely, I tell you, if a kernel of wheat doesn’t fall into the ground and die, it will be just one kernel. But if it dies, it produces much grain.”

Jesus in himself is the kingdom of God. He is that mustard seed that is sown into the ground and dies but also comes up. He is the one who crucified and dies and then is raised from the dead on the third day. By the preaching of the result of Jesus’ work repentance and the free gift of grace for the forgiveness of sins we are made part of that mustard plant which is growing every day. It may not seem like God’s kingdom is growing in your particular local but it is filling the world. Even then where we see it’s growth by visible confessors of the faith we do not know if they are true believers or hypocrites. We confess our faith, “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church and the communion of saints.” As an article of faith it cannot be seen but only believed in by faith.

Now the crowds only got parables to learn from Jesus in what they could handle but Jesus did not explain the meanings to them, only the disciples were taught what they meant. It would have been nice if all the parables Jesus taught that were in the gospels were also explained. But the Gospel writes helped in this, usually the parables were grouped together and in that grouping one of the parables meaning was given. I’m certain that interpreted parable helps us understand the others. In this case it would be the parable of the sower. So if you want to dig deeper into the parables in chapter 4 of Mark, you should first meditate on the interpretation of that parable and then look at the rest through the lens it provides.

Heavenly Father, you have promised through your Son Jesus Christ that your kingdom would grow in such stature that the birds of the air could take their rest in it. Grant us faith when we are discouraged by the growth in the Church where we are so we may take heart and know you are always growing your Church when and where is pleases you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute Or We Trust The Holy Spirit

#DailyDevotion There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute Or We Trust The Holy Spirit

Mark 4:26-29 26“God’s kingdom,” He said, “is like this: A man will sow seed on the ground. 27He will sleep through the night and get up for the day, and the seed will come up and grow, although he doesn’t know how. 28The ground by itself produces grain, first the green blade, then the head, then the full wheat in the head. 29When the grain is ready, he swings the sickle, because it is time to cut the grain.”

This parable along the preceding parable of the sower and the one that follows all go together. They teach different things for sure but they have common elements. What they seem to have in common is the kingdom of God, the Word, and mystery.

Now one of the most fantastic hoaxes foisted upon the Church in last few decades is the Church Growth Movement. P. T. Barnum is thought to have said, “There’s a sucker born every moment.” It has been and continues to try to teach the Church of God that if it just practiced sound marketing principles particularly from the no longer divine Harvard Business School, it would grow. In many places attendance and church rolls did increase. Unfortunately it was mostly shuffling chairs around on the Titanic. What I mean is this, why did be buy into this hoax in the first place? Fear. Fear plain and simple. We saw our attendance and membership rolls on the decline. Would our congregation survive or would become like the church museums in Europe? Certainly there was and is some desire to bring people to Jesus. But bringing people to faith in Jesus cannot be done with marketing techniques no matter how sanctified.

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s look at this parable. It is about God’s kingdom. What does Jesus use to illustrate God’s kingdom? A man who sows seed on the ground. Already like the parable of the sower. After sowing the seed he goes to sleep and later, without him doing much more than watering it, possibly, the seed comes up and he doesn’t know how. It’s just the way it works. There may be smarter people than me who study this in detail but I don’t know if we really know how it works. Certainly we see to know what is going on now, but I’ve never read a paper that really tells me how it works. It’s a mystery. Finally the plant grows up like God designed it to do and then there is the harvest.

The LORD Jesus Christ has his Church preach and teach the Word and administer the sacraments. Through these means people come to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit and his Church, i.e. the kingdom of God, grows. It is totally and completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. He makes Christians when and where he wills. We should make sure then that what we preach and teach is according to his Word (for only the pure Gospel does the Spirit work). Now I’m not saying we, as Church members, not intentionally go out into our communities and share the good news of Jesus with people. We need not fret about not getting it right when we share the Good News of Jesus. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. (Luke 12:12) What I am saying is we need not fear our congregations dwindling down to nothing. If we are teaching and preaching the Word of God rightly and administering the sacraments according to Christ’s institution, then it is totally up to God the Holy Spirit if people come to faith, much less join our congregation and make financially better off. There is an elect group of People God has chosen to save. Not one of them will be lost. We have God’s promise on that.

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray, use us to bring your Good News to people so they may hear, believe and be saved. In your precious name we pray. Amen.