Daily Reading: October 28

Read Matt 19:1–15
Mat 19:3-9 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” (4) He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, (5) and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (6) So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (7) They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” (8) He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. (9) And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

I oftentimes hear people say Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. Well here in this case Jesus most definitely confirms what marriage is. It is a husband and a wife, a male and a female in a lifelong union of their flesh. Jesus affirms what was written in Genesis with our first parent as God brings the woman he made from the flesh and bones of the man-she is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones. The two became one flesh. Jesus tells us marriage is this oneness of the man and woman. When a couple gets married, God has joined them together. Divorce is not something God wants. God hates divorce. Indeed few people like divorce except perhaps that person who decides the grass is greener on the other side. But it isn’t painless for them either.

Why is that? Why does God care about marriage and divorce? Paul in his letter to the Ephesians gives us some insight as he affirms what Moses wrote and Jesus affirms when he says, Eph 5:24-27 “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (26) that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” And Eph 5:29-32 “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, (30) because we are members of his body. (31) “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (32) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Marriage is an icon of the relationship between Christ Jesus and the Church. Particularly in Christian marriages should this be seen but marriage is not just a Christian institution but one God has instituted for all people everywhere. It is the image of how Christ looks for the best interest of his bride the Church and sheds his blood that she might live. It is the image of how we are spiritually one Spirit with Jesus who forgives us and sees us as holy to him, spotless, without fault or blemish. Jesus cannot and will never leave us or forsake us. Such is what marriage should be among us.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have bound us to yourself as you sacrificed yourself for us. Grant us as husbands to sacrifice our interest for our wives and we as wives submit in trust to our husbands as we do unto you. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 27

Read Matt 18:21–35
Mat 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (22) Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven….32-35 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. (33) And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ (34) And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. (35) So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Believe it or not Jesus is not giving us a number to count to when forgiving people. He is using hyperbole. No worse than hyperbole, the number is actually infinite. In this parable of the unforgiving servant or the unbelievably forgiving king, Jesus puts forth to us a lesson in faith. The king forgives the servant something like 16 billion dollars in today’s market. One can only guess the generosity of the king to lend him that much money. But there does come a day of accounting. The servant doesn’t have it to pay back. He pleads with the king and instead of giving the guy time to pay back or throwing him into prison, the king forgives the debt completely. What a loving, forgiving and merciful king. God is like this king. Exo 34:6-7 “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, (7) keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”

The servant on the other hand doesn’t appear to trust the king’s generosity or forgiveness. What do we find him doing? He trying to get money he loaned out to others and even throwing a guy in prison who couldn’t pay, who asked for the same treatment the wicked servant asked the king for. He doesn’t even give the guy the mercy he asked the king for. The problem with this guy is he doesn’t believe the king has really forgiven him or at least, he thinks the king is going to change his mind so he trying to get as much money as he can for the day the king does change his mind.

We are like this when we don’t forgive other people who ask us for forgiveness. When we don’t forgive it is because we really don’t believe God has forgiven us in Christ Jesus. We want someone else to point God to when He comes for us. Look at Bob! Look at Sue! Did you see what they did to me! Just like our parents Adam and Eve, we blame everyone including God but ourselves. Jesus taught earlier, Mat 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, (15) but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” If we believe God forgives us freely for Christ’s sake, we are forgiven. But if we don’t believe that we will not forgive others and consequently, God will not forgive us either. But it’s because of our lack of faith in His mercy which results in being unforgiving in our lives not the act of unforgiving.

Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us such faith in the mercies you granted us freely in Christ Jesus, that we bear your glory in forgiving those who sin against us, dying to our right of vengeance. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 26

Read Matt 18:1–20
Mat 18:1-10 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (2) And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them (3) and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (4) Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, (6) but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea…(10) “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

In today’s society we may oftentimes point to a child as an example. You can blame this passage for that most likely. Yet when Jesus did this, he wasn’t pointing to the child for anything that anyone in his day found admirable. Actually, we probably don’t either for the reason that people in Jesus’ day didn’t either. We like to think of children as innocent, who believe things easily and the like. But the one characteristic that Jesus is pointing to is this—utter dependency.

Being totally dependent on the goodness of others, that is the quality Jesus says makes one great in the kingdom of heaven. When we become totally dependent on God, when we look to God for every good thing, that is when we are most pleasing to God. God wants you to be completely dependent on him and believe he is going to provide you with everything you need to support this body and life.

But not only for mundane things of this world does God want you to dependent on him. He also wants you to be completely dependent on him for your salvation. For your salvation he gave his son to become one of us, to shed his blood for you, to give his life for yours. He does not want you looking to yourself or to your family or your friend. He doesn’t want you looking to vain philosophies for spiritual life. He wants you to be dependent on Jesus and Jesus alone for your salvation.

The person who becomes dependent upon the Father and the Son for the mundane things of this world and the spiritual things of this world is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. That is the one who is pleasing to God. That is one whom Christ puts forward as one to be emulated. How about you? Are you willing to be totally dependent upon God and Christ? Are you ready to cast aside all other crutches and be supported by the only and true living God? He will take care of you.

Lord Jesus Christ, may we ever become like little children depending solely on your grace from day to day and know the joys of your Father’s care. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 25

Read Matt 17:14–27
Mat 17:17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.”
Mat 17:20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

So at this point pastors often get their knickers in a bunch because Jesus is talking qualitative faith and not just ‘faith’ faith. Mainly because we don’t want people to think they cannot and are not saved if they don’t go around performing miracles.

Look to whom Jesus is talking! He’s talking about his disciples, the Apostles. He also seems to be hitting everyone around him also. The disciples did not believe in the power given by Jesus at their commission. The people are kind of doubting Jesus because his disciples failed. And Jesus is like, “How long do I have to put up with you people!”

Jesus chastises his disciples for having little faith. How little? Littler than a mustard seed size of faith. What does this mean? You and I quantitatively don’t even have faith the size of a mustard seed on some days, maybe even most days. How many mountains have you moved? How many flat tires have you prayed over to no avail? How many times have you laid your hands on your car on the side of an interstate and nada, nothing? Me, too many times.

Yet what we see here is Jesus is merciful to those most in need of it. Jesus doesn’t reject them because of their lack of faith. Jesus is an exact representation of the Father. He shows us the Father’s love. He has mercy on us and upon us though we do not deserve it. He goes to the cross dying for his enemies, the ungodly and those who hate God so they may have eternal life and live with him in blessedness forever.

Can we have faith the size of a mustard seed? Maybe, maybe not. But put your trust in the mercy of God in Christ Jesus and in the end, it will all work out for you. His mercy is always dependable.

Heavenly Father, grant unto us faith the size of a mustard seed that we may always put our faith in your Son Jesus Christ and never be moved from it that we may experience your mercy on the day of judgement. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 24

Read Matt. 17:1-13
And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” (Mat 17:4-7)

There are a number of things we can take away from this reading. The first we can take away is that Jesus is the Son of God. When we say Jesus is the Son of God we mean he is God, he is equal to God concerning his divinity. Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father. As the Son is the exact representation of the Father. If you see and know Jesus you have seen and know the Father.

The Father is well pleased with the Son. The Son, Jesus, is being obedient through suffering becoming and to become the perfect sacrifice. Jesus was and is taking our infirmities, our guilt and our shame. He becomes sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

The Father wants us to listen to Jesus. What does Jesus say? Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Mat 11:28) “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (Joh 14:1) Some may want to go to the commands God gives us through Jesus and those certainly are valid. But looks what follows. I believe it gives us the context of what the Father wants us to listen.

Rise and have no fear. The Father wants us to rise and have no fear. You will be in fear if you are focusing on the commandments. The commandments are used by sin to stir us to break them and then we have the fear of death because of our sins. But the Son says, “have no fear.” If we are to have no fear then we can’t be focused on the commandments of the Son but the invitation. We are called to get rest in Christ Jesus. We are already heavy laden and burdened by the commandments and our failure to keep them. We are called to lay our trouble on Jesus by believing in him, that is to say, we trust Jesus has us accepted by the Father in spite of our troubles. Without fear we can rise and stand tall resurrected from spiritual death to spiritual life. We can lift eyes above without fear as we look to the Father through the Son, Jesus.

Lord God, Heavenly Father, give us ear that listen to your Son so we may not fear sin, death or the power of the devil trusting your Son has delivered us from their power. IN Jesus Name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 23

Read Matt 16:13–28
Matt 16:15-21 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (16) Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (17) And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (18) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (19) I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (20) Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (21) From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

People have all sorts of opinions on who Jesus is and what he taught. Most of it is wrong and comes from sources not from the Bible. Some people twist things from the Bible to fit their own presuppositions. Just who is Jesus? Peter confesses, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ, he is the anointed one of God. He is our Prophet, Priest and King given to us to save us, redeem us and ransom us from sin, death and the power of the devil.

Peter tells us Jesus is “the Son of the living God.” Being the son of God Jesus is also God. Jesus tells us elsewhere he and the Father are one.

We can only confess this ourselves if it is revealed to us from the Father, just like Peter. Jesus also tells us elsewhere, John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” All of us are alike, the Father reveals Christ to you and He uses the preaching of good news and the sacraments to give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us faith in the good news.

And just what is that good news? Verse twenty-one tells us, the Christ must suffer, be killed and on the third day be raised. Why how is that good news? St. Paul reminds us, 1Co 15:3-4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,…” His death was our punishment for our sins. His resurrection is stamp that our sins are forgiven us and that Death has been conquered. For where sins are forgiven there is no penalty for sins, i.e. death. So Jesus died and atoned for your sins. While we may still experience temporal punishments for our wrongdoings, i.e. strife, civil and criminal penalties and even physical death, we have been given by this forgiveness eternal life now and the promise of a resurrection of the body just like Jesus at his return. Not only does Peter receive authority to forgive sins, but so does the Church (Matt 18:18) and all who are place in the office of the ministry (John 20:23ff) so that we may receive this good news all the time and be filled with the Holy Spirit and know God and Jesus.

Lord Jesus Christ, ever grant us to hear the forgiveness of our sins won for us by Jesus’ death and resurrection and give us the Spirit that we might believe it. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 22

Read Matt 16:1–12
Mat 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall no sign be given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah. And He left them and went away… 6 And Jesus said to them, Take heed, and beware the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you about loaves, but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? (12) Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Of course, Jesus had given all kinds of signs by this time, healings, casting out demons, raising the dead and multiplying the loaves, but the Pharisees and the Sadducees would have none of it. They are given the same thing that we are given to believe, the Word of God and an empty tomb. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham tells the rich man, they have Moses and the prophets. If they will not listen to them, they will not repent even if someone rises from the dead.

But you see, someone did rise from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead. His empty tomb is with us to this day. That’s all we have and the Word of God pointing Jesus to us as our messiah, our redeemer, our savior from sin, death and the power of the devil. If you are seeking anything more, you are part of that wicked and adulterous generation. No other sign will be given you.

Now what is this leaven, this doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees? Just this, that Jesus isn’t the messiah, the chosen one of God. Beware of this doctrine that has you seeking another person or another way to God other than faith in Jesus. They are false and misleading and take you off the path that leads to repentance and faith in Christ unto eternal life. The way of the Pharisees and Sadducees demands proof, but proof they will never be satisfied with.

If you don’t want to follow Christ, no amount of evidence will convince you to repent of your idolatry and follow Jesus. No miracle in the sky or wonder worked below will ever satisfy your soul that you are doing the right thing being a disciple of Jesus. You are already predisposed to not follow him.

But listen to this, Jesus is risen from the dead. His lifeblood was received by the Father above as an atoning sacrifice for your sins. You are forgiven by God the Father on account of Christ Jesus. Because Jesus is risen from the dead, you too are given the promise of a resurrection unto eternal life through faith in him and being joined to him in the waters of baptism. (Rom 6:3ff).

O Lord, Jesus Christ, help us always to discern the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees that we might righty reject them and keep our hearts trusting firmly in your life, death and resurrection and be joined with you in the heavenly places now and forever. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 21

Read Matt 15:21–39
Mat 15:21-29 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. (22) And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” (23) But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” (24) He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (25) But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” (26) And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (27) She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (28) Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (29) Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there.

You might think Jesus is being a little rude here. She’s a person after all even though she’s not a Jew. Jesus ought to treat her with a little dignity. But no, that is not the way of the Lord. For she’s pretending to be a Jew, but it doesn’t get past Jesus. “O Lord, Son of David” she cries, well she isn’t even a Samaritan who are half-Israelite. When Jesus does get around to not ignoring her he tells her that she’s not part of his mission. He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. To top it off, Jesus calls her a dog even after she prostrates and humbles herself before him. But this is one smart cookie. She believes Jesus is able to help her. She is unwilling to believe he will not help her. So she takes Jesus at his word and turns it against Jesus. If I’m a dog I should get scraps. I’m not looking to sit at the table. I just want what falls from the table. To this Jesus is amazed at her faith and indeed says great is her faith. Jesus only says this about a few people in the gospels and all of them aren’t Jews. So Jesus gives her what she desired.

So what about you? Is Jesus ignoring you? Are you pretending to be something you are not? Are you praying and asking for things based on what God says about you and what He says about Himself? Are you still not getting what you want? Jesus may be purifying your faith. You may have lots of pride still and you may not have humbled yourself before the Almighty One. It is not as if your Father in heaven does not care for you. But he will answer your prayer in the manner, fashion, time, amount etc. that is best for His kingdom. But also test our faith at times because He wants to strengthen it. He wants to purify it. And the testing of metal only comes with tribulation and fire and so does our faith.

Secondly, when we pray, we need to pray what God has said in his word. That is what the woman did. Based on what Jesus said she made her request. On what basis are your prayers? Or you simply asking for things to fulfill the desires of the flesh? Upon what promise or nature of God is your petition based?

Heavenly Father, grant us such a faith in Christ that we may be like the pagan woman who prayed to your son Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 20

Read Matt 15:1–20
Mat 15:15-20 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” (16) And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? (17) Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? (18) But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. (19) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (20) These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Well it looks as if we need a heart transplant. The natural man, who is not born again, has an evil heart. It’s been like this since the beginning. Gen 8:21 …”I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” It is our hearts that defile us Jesus says. Every bad thing that we think and every bad thing that we say and every bad thing that we do proceeds from the heart. Now we’re not talking about our physical heart but the very center of our being.

But where can we get a new heart? Or at least how can it be cleansed? Paul in Romans 2:29 tells us we need to have our hearts circumcised. Well how is that going to happen? It is written, Heb 10:22 ..”hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” This is baptism. In baptism our hearts are cleansed and renewed. We are joined to Jesus Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:3ff) and to his heart.

With Christ’ heart we begin to have new thoughts, new affections, new desires, and new actions proceeding from a clean, circumcised, new heart. This heart now worships God in sincerity and truth. We will begin to seek to do the will of God from our hearts, not to be seen by others but out of love for God.

What is more, through baptism into Christ Rom 10:8-10 ..”’The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); (9) because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Our hearts and mouths are one. Want to know what is inside of person. Listen to what they say. If it is in line with God’s Word then God’s Word is there. If it twist and makes false God’s Word then you know their hearts are evil.

Lord Jesus Christ, sprinkled our hearts with your blood in baptism that they may we circumcised and that we may truly worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit in sincerity and truth. Amen.

Daily Reading: October 19

Read Matt 14:22–36
Mat 14:26-33 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (28) And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (29) He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. (30) But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (31) Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (32) And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. (33) And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

This is one of those passages that teaches us how to apply Scripture to ourselves and when those Scriptures are not speaking to us. What I mean is this, Jesus is not asking us to jump out of boats and walk on the water. If you do, you are going to get wet.

So what then of this passage are we to take away from it? What does it teach us? Well for one, Jesus is on our side. He does not want us to be terrified of him. Jesus came to save us. Jesus came as our redeemer to deliver us from sin, death and the power of the devil. So while it may be our first impulse to run away or fall down in fear when we are in the presence of his Word, he tells us, “Don’t be afraid.” Why not? He’s there to help us.

Secondly, when Jesus does tell us to do stuff in the Scriptures that actually do apply to us, we need not fear. We don’t need to fear succeeding in what he’s given us to do nor do we need to fear failing in what he’s given us to do. We simply need to be about doing what he’s given us to do. And really, Jesus has only given us two things to do in our lives: trust him and love the person in front of us like we love ourselves.

Next we learn as we practice these two things that we often are not acting in faith or we’re not doing anything because we have so little faith. Jesus’ chastisement of Peter does too often apply to us. So like Peter we are to focus our attention more on Jesus and realize who is telling us to do the things he tells us to do. The disciples confession of faith here must be ours as well, “Truly you are the Son of God.” The one who is telling us what to do is the Son of God, which means he is God. He is trustworthy, kind and merciful and he’s on your side. So do not fear trusting him or loving your neighbor. He is with you in all these things to help you carry them out. He died for you to make peace between you and the Father in heaven.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us your Holy Spirit that we may trust in you in all our ways in all our days and that we may carry out your command to love our neighbors without fear. In your precious name we pray. Amen.