#DailyDevotion Jesus, The LORD, Will Raise Us To Eternal Life From The Dead

#DailyDevotion Jesus, The LORD, Will Raise Us To Eternal Life From The Dead

Ezekiel 37:11-14 11Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Ezekiel prophesies during the time Judah is beginning to be exiled to Babylon. He was among the first exiles. During the time of his service Jerusalem would be destroyed with the temple and the rest of the Jews that would be exiled he would prophesy to them as well. This part of the prophesy he was given to speak to all his fellow exiles there in Babylon. No doubt the exiles felt this way about themselves and their future. They had seen the northern tribes exiled by the Assyrians a couple of hundred years earlier and had not heard or see them again. No doubt they thought they were a ruined people. This doubt springs from the facts of why they were there in the first place, they didn’t believe or trust God’s word of judgment and they didn’t believe and trust his word of promise he had already given them.

So the LORD gives them another promised. Maybe they’d listen to this one and look ahead to a brighter future for themselves and their descendents. He gives them the promise of the resurrection from the dead. It’s a pretty direct promise, “I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.” Upon such a promise the Pharisees taught the resurrection of the dead. Not only would he raise them from the dead but he would put his Spirit in them so they would know him as the LORD and they would live and walk in the ways of God. This is similar to the promise given by Ezekiel’s contemporary Jeremiah who preached in Jerusalem, “I will put My law within them and write it on their hearts, and so I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34And no more will anyone have to teach his neighbor or his brother, and say, Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them says the LORD, because I will forgive the wrong they did and not remember their sins anymore.” (Jer. 31)

Knowing the LORD is to know him who raises the dead, forgives sins, and gives his Holy Spirit to his people. The own land they would inherit is the kingdom of God in the new heavens and new earth where righteousness reigns.

Now this promise is not just for the Jews in exile but for all people everywhere. It is written in Isaiah 52, 10“The LORD has made bare His holy arm while all the nations are watching. And all the distant parts of the world will see our God’s salvation.” Jesus said in John 6, 40“Yes, My Father wants everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him to have everlasting life, and He wants Me to raise him on the last day.” Jesus will raise you from the dead and give you life for he is the same LORD who spoke to his people through Ezekiel the prophet.

Heavenly Father, draw us to Christ Jesus that we may believe on him, receive his Spirit, and be raise to eternal life on the Last Day and inherit the kingdom you have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Before Christ We Were As Dead As Very Dry Bones

#DailyDevotion Before Christ We Were As Dead As Very Dry Bones

Ezekiel 37:1–14 1The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 7So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

The LORD was showing Ezekiel a vision; A valley of dry bones. These bones were very dry. They had no life in them. He asks Ezekiel if these bones can live to which he can only reply, “Lord Yahweh, you know.” And so the LORD commands Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones speaking to them what the LORD is going to do to them. As Ezekiel spoke the bones came together, the foot bone to the ankle bone, the ankle bone to the leg bone, the leg bone to the hip bone and so forth, now hear the word of the LORD. Sinew and flesh came upon them but there was no breath and the LORD commanded him to prophesy again and the Spirit came upon these dead men and gave them life.

Now, the LORD will tell Ezekiel in the following verses, these bones are Israel. And indeed they are. The LORD will raise Israel from the dead. But we too, like ancient Israel walking around as we are, are just as dead as those dry bones. Paul tells us, Eph. 2:1 “You, too, were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you once followed the ways of this present world and the ruler whose power is in the air, the spirit who is now working in the people who disobey.”  Yes, our minds were set on the flesh which is death. You were as dead as very dry bones.

But the LORD our God was kind to us. He sent men in the spirit of Ezekiel to prophesy to us,
“Turn from your sins and believe in the LORD Jesus Christ. He died for your sins and gives the gift of eternal life to all who believe in him.” The Spirit took that word, implanted it in us and gave us life. Whenever the Scripture is read and proclaimed the Spirit accompanies it convicting men of their sins and converts their hearts, makes them alive so they may believe in Jesus and have his life in them unto all eternity. When he has us baptized with the water and the word, the Spirit is there with the word raising us from our spiritual death and giving eternal life to us. Don’t close your ears to the Spirit’s witness. Repent of your sins and believe the good news of Jesus that in him you have the forgiveness of all your sins.

Heavenly Father, give us your word of prophecy concerning your Son Jesus Christ, so the Spirit may accompany that word, give us repentance and faith so we may no longer be dead but have eternal life in his name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Sanctifies Us With His Word, The Word Of Truth

#DailyDevotion Jesus Sanctifies Us With His Word, The Word Of Truth

John 17:11b–19 11b Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You gave Me, so that they will be one as We are one. 12While I was with them, I kept them safe in Your name, which You gave Me. I watched over them, and none of them was lost except that lost one — what the Bible says had to come true. 13But now I am coming to You, and I say this while I am in the world so that they will have all My joy in their hearts. 14I gave them Your Word. But the world has hated them because they don’t belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. 15I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16They don’t belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. 17Make them holy by the truth; Your Word is truth. 18As You sent Me into the world, I sent them into the world. 19In this holy way I give Myself for them to make them holy, too, by the truth.

What we have here is a part of Jesus’ high priestly prayer. While this took place in the garden before his crucifixion, we have it now in our Church year just before Pentecost and just after the Ascension. It is placed here probably because of verse 13, “But now I am coming to You, and I say this while I am in the world so that they will have all My joy in their hearts.” Jews was coming to the Father soon and he would no longer be visible to us. He is seated at the right hand of the Father as our constant intercessor and you can believe everything in this high priestly prayer he continues to pray for you and his Church on earth.

So what does Jesus pray for for us? One that we would be kept in the Father’s name, the name He gave to Jesus so that we will be one as the Father and the Son are one. That name is the name we have received in baptism, the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is in baptism God makes us one in Christ, one with one another, and in Christ, one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. While all we may see at times is divisions in the Church, at the instigation of Satan for certain, in and through the Spirit, all believers are one in Christ, on earth and in heaven. Not that differences don’t matter. Those differences can separate us from Christ and from one another. Jesus here prays for unity in heart, confession and Spirit.

Jesus’ Word, the Word he gave us separates us from the world and the world hates us because of it. That Word is Jesus is the only way to the Father. That Word that only through faith in Jesus and what he has done for us by his life, death and resurrection gives us eternal life. That Word that through faith in Jesus, even in his name, the Father no longer counts our sins against us and gives us the kingdom of heaven for Jesus’ name sake and not because of anything we have done. The world wants us to accept it as it is and give approval. The world wants us to acknowledge there are many ways to God and excuse and give approval to their idolatry. The world wants us to think of God as a tyrant and not as a merciful, kind, forgiving and faithful Father. Whatever deities the world worships, the think their idols demand sacrifices the Father never asked for.

What has God the Father asked for? That we trust and believe his Word. This Word is the Truth and this Truth sanctifies us and makes us holy, apart from what we have done. Jesus gave himself unto death to make us holy by his truth. Continue in this Truth, the Father loves and accepts you only on account of Jesus and his name.

Heavenly Father, continually keep your ear open to Jesus so we may be kept holy and one with you, the Son and one another and that we be kept safe in your Word and Truth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Not Everybody Has Life In Them

#DailyDevotion Not Everybody Has Life In Them

1 John 5:9–13 9If we accept the testimony of men, God’s testimony is greater because God’s testimony is the truth He told about His Son. 10If you believe in God’s Son, you have in you the testimony of the truth. Anyone who will not believe God has made Him a liar because he hasn’t believed the truth God told about His Son. 11He told us this truth that God has given us everlasting life and this life is in His Son. 12If you have the Son, you have life. If you don’t have God’s Son, you don’t have life. 13I’m writing you this so that you who believe in the name of God’s Son will know you have everlasting life.

We accept what two or three witnesses say in a court of law. God’s testimony is greater than that because his witnesses are the Spirit, the water and the blood. These testify that Jesus is God’s Son who became flesh, died to atone for our sins and justified us by his resurrection from the dead.

If we believe God’s testimony, you have in you the testimony of the truth. The truth is the Spirit and Jesus in you. We cannot say Jesus is LORD (meaning YHWH the God of the Old Testament) except by the Holy Spirit. With our hearts we believe and with our tongues we confess our faith in Jesus Christ. We just don’t witness to this faith willy nilly. Now some may confess Jesus is Lord (meaning ruler) and they do not have the truth in them. They do not have the truth in them because they will not confess Jesus is the Word, one in essence and being with the Father. Only those who have God’s testimony in them will confess Jesus is light of light, God of God, one in being and essence with the Father. We confess that this Jesus died for our sins and his blood cleanses us from all our sins. We confess he rose from the dead on the third day and sits at the right hand of God the Father. We confess he is coming again to judge the living and the dead.

If this is not the confession of a person’s heart and lips then that person has made God a liar because they don’t believe the truth God told about his Son. We often want to pussyfoot around concerning people and their spirituality. We don’t want to tell people they are wrong. We don’t want to judge people’s faith. We don’t want to do that so people won’t think ill of us or reject us. But we must test the spirits. We should correct people’s faith. If they belong to God they will accept the correction. If they reject the God of the Scriptures, they will reject your correction. They don’t belong to God.

This testimony concerning the truth of God’s Son Jesus Christ gives us life, everlasting life. If you have this confession about Jesus you have everlasting life. Eternal life dwells in you and you cannot die. Your body may die but your soul is alive. Your body and soul will be reunited at the resurrection. Unbelievers do not have life in them. Their bodies died and at the resurrection their dead souls are reunited with their bodies. The reward for their unbelief is everlasting death, not annihilation but they don’t have the life of God in them. They will exist without God  and not know his love.

Believe this testimony and you have eternal life.

Heavenly Father, always give us your Holy Spirit that we may believe in your Son Jesus Christ and have his life in us unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Continues To Choose Men For The Ministry

#DailyDevotion Jesus Continues To Choose Men For The Ministry

Acts 1:12–26 12Then they went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, as it was called (it’s near Jerusalem, only half a mile away). 13 When they came into the city, they went to the second-floor room where they were staying…14With one mind these all kept praying together. With them were the women, including Jesus’ mother Mary, and His brothers….Then someone should be added to our number as a witness of His resurrection. 21 He should be one of these men who went with us all the time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22from John’s baptism to the day He was taken up from us.” 23The disciples named two: Joseph (called Barsabbas; he was also called Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, You know the hearts of all. Show us which of these two You have chosen 25to serve in this office of apostle, which Judas left to go where he belonged.” 26They provided lots for them, and so Matthias was chosen and added to the eleven apostles.

There are several things to take note of in this lesson. One, we only have eleven apostles. You would have thought if there was one that was going to be replacing Judas, Jesus would have taken care of that before the ascension, but he didn’t. Secondly, they were gathered together in prayer. Third there are the women, most likely Mary and Martha, Mary the mother of Clopas, and perhaps others that contributed to the ministry. Finally you have the Virgin and Jesus brothers (or close relatives if you will). The funny thing is his brothers didn’t seem to think much of Jesus before the resurrection, but now they seem to have come to faith. One of them, James would end up leading the Church at Jerusalem.

I think this should tell us something when we gather together as Jesus’ holy people. We need to pray whenever we get together. We need to pray for each other. We need to pray for our congregation. We need to pray for the Church at large. They were able to pray because they were of one mind. We too need to check ourselves and make sure we are of one mind ourselves with each other and with the Church as a whole.

Remember I said there were only eleven? Well, Peter speaks us and says the Scriptures say that someone else should take Judas Iscariot’s place. The qualifications are somewhat reasonable. They should have been following Jesus since the Baptist and they must have witnessed Jesus risen from the dead. We know from first Corinthians there were five hundred who have seen Jesus risen from the dead. Only two were considered for this office. Perhaps the others were not followers of Jesus for as long. They prayed for guidance and cast lots for the Lord Jesus’ decision. The lot fell to Matthias.

Now some false teachers say Peter sinned in doing this. They say Peter was overruled by Jesus when he chose Paul to be an apostle. Yet, they have no proof for this. Paul never says this. John never says this. Peter never says this. We have no biblical witness to say this. The twelve apostles were to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel, Jesus said. Matthias was chosen by lot to fulfill this role. They, the twelve were going to focus on the lost children of Israel, bringing them to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul was chosen by Jesus to bring the good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name to the Gentiles. Today to Church continues to reach out to both Jew and Gentile so they can know Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.

Heavenly Father, continually call men into the ministry so the good news of Jesus may be brought to the nations. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Opens Our Minds To Understand The Scriptures

#DailyDevotion Jesus Opens Our Minds To Understand The Scriptures

Luke 24:44–53 44“While I was still with you,” He said to them, “I told you that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must come true.” 45Then He opened their minds to understand the Bible. 46“This,” He told them, “is what is written: The Christ will suffer and will rise from the dead on the third day; 47and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all people, beginning at Jerusalem. 48You will testify of these things.” 49 “I am sending you Him Whom My Father promised. Wait here in the city until you are armed with power from above.” 50 He took them out to a place where Bethany lay ahead of them. Then He raised His hands and blessed them. 51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was taken up to heaven. 52They knelt and worshiped Jesus. And then they went back to Jerusalem filled with joy. 53And they were always in the temple praising God.

Before Jesus departs visibly from his disciples he reminds them all that he had taught them concerning himself, i.e. everything written about him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets ad the Psalms must come true. The summary of his instruction was and is, the Christ will suffer and will rise from the dead on the third and that the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name beginning at  Jerusalem. What preacher or teacher of Christian truth wouldn’t have liked to been there as Jesus taught them how he fulfilled the Scriptures. As it is, we have some of that teaching from the apostles in the Gospels and the letters in our bibles. Yet, these Old Testament quotes we have a just a few of Scriptures we are explicitly told that Jesus taught them.

On the other hand, Jesus opened their minds to understand the Bible. He sends upon them the Holy Spirit so as they read the Old Testament, they will be shown by the Spirit how Jesus fulfilled those Scriptures. He has given us the Spirit when we were baptized. The Spirit also opens our minds to see how Jesus has fulfilled all that was written about him. While scholars may disagree with us when we think we have read something in the Bible that Jesus fulfilled, if you think you see an instance of Jesus fulfilling a Scripture in the Old Testament, you are probably right. The Spirit, whom Jesus sends to us from the right hand of God, does continually reveal to us how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament writing. While knowing the original languages, grammar and vocabulary is very helpful at times to understand a particular difficult passage, without Jesus opening our minds we will never understand how they apply to him. As Luther writes in his Small Catechism, we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit enlightens us.

Finally Jesus blesses his disciples and he blesses us through those he has appointed to proclaim his name for the forgiveness of sins. That message and blessing has come down to us through myriad tongues and lips through the ages. In Jesus’ name we can have repentance and forgiveness of sins. We need no longer fear the wrath of God for all our wrong doings. When we turn to Christ in sorrow over our sins, with the authority of Jesus we can hear and receive forgiveness for those sins and stand before God the Father with a clear conscience.

Heavenly Father, may your Son Jesus Christ continually bless us with the Holy Spirit so our minds may be opened to understand how he fulfilled the Scriptures and that we may believe that in his name we have repentance and forgiveness of sins. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion There Is A Mighty Power Working In Those Who Believe In Jesus

#DailyDevotion There Is A Mighty Power Working In Those Who Believe In Jesus

Ephesians 1:16–23 15That is why, since I heard how you believe in the Lord Jesus and love all the holy people, 16I never stop thanking God for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, to give you His Spirit to make you wise and reveal the truth to you as you learn to know Him better 18and to enlighten the eyes of your minds so that you know the hope He called you to, the riches of the glory of the inheritance He gives to His holy people, 19and the vast resource of His power working in us who believe. It is the same mighty power 20with which He worked in Christ, raised Him from the dead, and made Him sit at His right in heaven, 21 above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and any name that can be mentioned, not only in this world but also in the next. 22And He put everything under His feet, and gave Him as the Head of everything to the church, 23which is His body, having all that is in Him who fills everything in every way.

There is a power at work in us who believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation. Indeed, without this power at work in us we would not believe and we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins. This power raised us from the dead and gave us eternal life. It regenerates us and makes us God’s children who fear, love and trust in him above all things. This power is not an inanimate power but the power of the Holy Spirit who filled Jesus Christ at his baptism and work in and through Jesus during his visible ministry among us. It is the power that Paul says here raised Jesus from the dead. Now what we have here is proof that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are truly one but distinct in personhood. For in one place it is written the Father raises Jesus from the dead. In another place it is Jesus who has authority to give his life and to take it up again. And now here, it is the Spirit who raises Jesus and seats him at the right hand of the Father at the Father’s bidding.

Jesus then exalted to the right hand of the Father, as God and Man, is placed 21“ above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and any name that can be mentioned, not only in this world but also in the next. 22And [the Father] put everything under His feet.” Fulfilling what was promised in Ps. 110:1 “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” This is where Jesus is ruling now in the symbolic 1000 year reign in Revelation. Here he is exercising his authority to spread the gospel, strengthen his church of earth, overcome the devil and his demons in the hearts of men and intercedes for us. His exercising authority is not for his own name’s sake but for his Church of which he is the head.

From here he sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts so we may know Jesus better, the hope he has called us to and to make us wise. It is this Spirit that creates in us new hearts, makes us new people who believe in Jesus Christ and love all the holy people. The ‘know’ here is not simply book knowledge, but rather to know him personally as a wife knows her husband. As we live in his love and receive his gifts of grace the more and better we learn that Jesus is the name of God revealed in Exodus 34, “merciful and gracious, slow to get angry, rich in love and faithfulness, 7continuing to show mercy to thousands, forgiving wrong, rebellion, and sin, without treating it as innocent, but disciplining children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation for the sins of their fathers.”

Almighty God and Father, send forth your Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may know Jesus better and love his people more fully. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

#DailyDevotion Jesus Must Ascend To Send The Spirit

#DailyDevotion Jesus Must Ascend To Send The Spirit

Acts 1:4-11 4When He met with them, He ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised: “You heard Me tell about Him: 5John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6When they came together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You now going to reestablish the kingdom of Israel?” 7“It isn’t for you to know,” He told them, “what times or periods the Father has set by His own authority. 8But when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will receive power and will testify of Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the world.” 9When He had said this and while they were watching Him, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him away so they couldn’t see Him anymore. 10 As He was going and they were gazing up into the sky, two men in white clothes were standing right beside them. 11“Men of Galilee,” they asked, “why are you standing here looking up to heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken away from you to heaven, will come back the same way you saw Him go to heaven.”

Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure. He reminds them he is going to send to them the promised Holy Spirit. We can see from how the apostles proceed after Pentecost that water baptism is not separated from being baptized by the Holy Spirit. But for the early apostolic period, there may be distinctions between the two to a. show apostolic authority and b. that God accepts all people of every nation. But in order for the Holy Spirit to come, Jesus must depart. He must ascend to the right hand of the Father. There all power, dominion and authority is granted to him as both God and Man. The Word must be fulfilled,  Psa 110:1 “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” David is not speaking of himself but of his descendent who is his Lord. Jesus is David’s Lord because Jesus also is the LORD. From the right hand of God Jesus sends the Holy Spirit.

Jesus tells them when they receive the Holy Spirit, they will be is witnesses from Jerusalem, to Samaria, the farthest parts of the world.  We see his happen in Acts. First the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples in Jerusalem. Then through the Apostles’ laying on of hands he comes to the Samaritans. Finally, the Spirit comes upon the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. There is even an outpouring, i.e. a physical manifestation upon the Baptist’s disciples when they are baptized into Jesus.

So Jesus ascends into heaven to the right hand of the Father as he has foretold them. Yet he is not out of sight forever. The angels told the apostles, as they had seen him ascend into heaven, so too, Jesus shall return with the clouds on the Last Day. So we should be looking for Jesus to return in this way. Any Jesus who shows up and doesn’t come in this manner isn’t the Jesus who is the Son of God who became man of the Virgin, crucified under Pontus Pilate, rose from the dead and ascended to the Father. Jesus is returning as he left and when he returns he raises us from the dead, transforms us into his own image and likeness, and gives us his kingdom, that is to those who believed the apostles’ witness and put their faith in him. We, the Church, are his witnesses from a long line of witnesses. Jesus is risen and he is coming again to judge the living and the dead. Be the living on that day, those who trusted him and have his life in them.

Heavenly Father, you had Jesus sit at your right hand so he may send to us the Holy Spirit. Grant us the Spirit so we may believe in Christ and raised from the dead to eternal life when Jesus comes again on the clouds. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.