July 30 2015
TDP: November 7;
Original Broadcast: Friday; 2008-11-07;
'The disciples came to [Jesus] privately, saying, "Tell us, ... what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Matthew 24:3-8, ESV)
The disciples want to know when the End of the World will come. It is a good question. We'd like to know, too. We have families to raise, bills to pay, and "bucket lists" to complete. We think that if we know when, we'll be better prepared. Jesus says we have all we need to know. Look around you and see how the world works. It is a dangerous place. False teachers thrive. Wars threaten our way of life. Economies crumble. Nature strikes out against people. Jesus says all these are signs, but they don't tell us when, other than soon. These kinds of events have always been around. Nothing is going to change. Jesus doesn't tell us when he just tells us to watch and be ready. We are prepared when we trust Jesus for our salvation. We are prepared when we live everyday in the forgiveness he won for us on the cross. Evil things that happen remind us that the world is broken because of sin. Jesus lived and died and rose again to remove our sin and give us eternal life.
Let us pray: Savior, take my sin and give me forgiveness. Help me to be prepared for your coming. Amen.
Devo ID: 25
July 29 2015
TDP: November 6;
Original Broadcast: Thursday; 2008-11-06;
'My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me. Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people from the length and breadth of the land: "Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?" ... "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." ... I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored? (Jeremiah 8:18-22, ESV)
Life isn't easy. There's trouble every where. Even God's people suffer. When we face suffering we often wonder where God is. When we face illness, or disaster, or even death we wonder why God seems to be far away. We might even wonder why God doesn't heal us, or end our suffering. "What did I do to deserve this?" we ask our pastor. "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no comfort for me in my trouble? Well, sometimes we don't have an answer to that question. Good and bad happens to everyone the same. God never promises an easy life to Christians. What he does promise is that "all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28, ESV) We place these things in his hands. Why is that a good bet? It is because God shows his love for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin. If he is willing to do that, he'll make sure all things work out for our good. God sees everything. Just like a good parent, he knows what is best for us. Faith is trusting in his promises for us.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, protect me and give me comfort in my trouble. Amen.
Devo ID: 24
July 28 2015
TDP: November 5;
Original Broadcast: Wednesday; 2008-11-05;
'Jesus said, "The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:11-12, ESV)
It sounds like a great thing to do. Humble yourself. Be a servant. We want to know how. Most of the time when we hear Jesus talk this way we think he's talking about churchy stuff; serve on church boards and committees, keep up the church property; knock on doors and tell people about Jesus; quit your job and be a missionary; stand on the corner and preach. Well, these things are important, they can and should be done, but Jesus isn't saying these jobs are more important than the ones you do every other day. God calls us to serve. He gives us gifts and abilities to do just that. Not everyone is called to be a church worker. Being a pastor isn't a "better" job in God's eyes than being a construction worker. It isn't a higher calling to fix the leak in the church roof, than to help your neighbor fix his flat. Being a missionary doesn't make you closer to God than changing a baby's diapers. Each person is to serve in the way that God gives them to serve at the time. We serve because God first serves us. Jesus served people wherever he was. When sick people came to him he healed them. When people needed to be taught he taught. Jesus dies on the cross for our forgiveness. We need forgiveness because we often don't serve others as we should.
Let us pray: Dearest Jesus. Help me to serve every day as you have served me. Amen.
Devo ID: 23
July 27 2015
TDP: November 4;
Original Broadcast: Tuesday; 2008-11-04;
'And one of them, a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40, ESV)
Jesus sums up God's Word in a very neat package. Love God and love your neighbor. In fact, life is that simple. Love God with your whole being, heart, soul and mind and you will love your neighbor as yourself. God created people to be in relationships; first with Him; and second, with other people. But that's the problem with us. We don't love God with our whole "heart, soul and mind." We are self centered. We want to be our own god. The same sin affects our other relationships. We put ourselves first instead of our neighbor. That is the very nature of sin. How do we fix it? Simple, love God with your whole heart, soul and mind. Talk about the impossible, we can't be done. We need someone to do it for us. Jesus does. He lives his life following the "two great commandments." He lives a perfect life. He dies on the cross as a perfect punishment. He raises from the dead a perfect new life. God gives to us Jesus' life as a gift. Because of Jesus we have a relationship with God again. When we live in God's forgiveness our relationships with other people can be different.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, help us to love our neighbors as you have loved us. Amen.
Devo ID: 22
July 24 2015
TDP: November 3;
Original Broadcast: Monday; 2008-11-03;
'Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, ... Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:15-21, ESV)
Here the enemies of Jesus ask him a no win question. "Should we pay taxes or not?" If Jesus answers "yes", he'll be in trouble with the crowds that follow him, because taxes are paid to the Romans who are the occupying force, the enemy. If he says "no" the government is going to be after him. Jesus answers the question in a way they don't expect. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." God gives us government as a gift. We need government. Government needs taxes. Jesus is also talking about working in our everyday vocations. Teachers are to teach. Police are to protect. Garbage collectors are to collect garbage. Give to Caesar. Work for the good of those around you. We are God's people through faith in the forgiveness that Jesus Christ won for us on the cross. By serving our neighbors in our work we also give to God what is his.
Let us pray: Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of government. Help me to serve my neighbors. Amen.
Devo ID: 21
July 23 2015
TDP: October 31;
Original Broadcast: Friday; 2008-10-31;
'Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to [Jesus] with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. ... "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." (Matthew 20:20-23, ESV)
It's a mother wanting the best for her sons. But she's mistaken about what following Jesus, being on his right and left in his kingdom means. Jesus calls it a cup to drink. He's talking about drinking all of God's anger over sin. That cup is given to Jesus to drink on the cross. All of God's anger and punishment over our sin is poured out of the cup into Jesus. He suffers and dies under God's anger. Jesus is willing to do that for us. He drinks God's anger and punishment instead of us. Our punishment is taken by Jesus we don't have to drink the cup that he drinks. Jesus tells these boys that the places at his right and left are already reserved, and they really don't want them. Saint Matthew tells us about that too. And when they had crucified [Jesus]... two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. (Matthew 27:35,38, ESV)
Let us pray: Dearest Jesus, thank you for taking the punishment of my sin to the cross. Help me to trust in you more. Amen.
Devo ID: 20
July 22 2015
TDP: October 30;
Original Broadcast: Thursday; 2008-10-30;
'Jesus said, "For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers...After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour... the sixth hour... the ninth hour, ... the eleventh hour he ... found others standing. ... He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.' And when evening came, [he] said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages...' Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them ... received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us ... he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. ... So the last will be first, and the first last." (Matthew 20:1-16, ESV)
We are very much like the disgruntled workers. We think we've earned something from God because we think we've done the best we can at keeping God's law. We look askance at the person in church who has lived a less than perfect life. We think we've earned what they cannot. Jesus tells us God gives forgiveness equally to all. We don't like it. It doesn't seem fair. And yet, thank God he isn't fair. For none of us deserves to be paid anything from God except his anger and punishment. We can see it is true in our attitudes and unwillingness to accept those who are different. If God were fair we would all spend eternity in hell. God isn't fair. He sent Jesus to suffer and die for us and bring us forgiveness. We need it, just the same as any "sinner" in the pew.
Let us pray: Gracious God, thank you for not being fair and giving me forgiveness. Amen.
Devo ID: 19
July 21 2015
TDP: October 29;
Original Broadcast: Wednesday; 2008-10-29;
'And behold, a man came up to [Jesus], saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And [Jesus] said to him, "...If you would enter life, keep the commandments." ... The young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22, ESV)
Jesus pushes this man to the wall. He thinks he can earn salvation by doing good stuff. "I've kept all the commandments!" he says. "What else is there?" Jesus opens up the man's heart and shows him his sin. "Sell everything and follow me." He can't. He loves his wealth too much. That's what God's law does. We might be good on the outside but in our hearts we are often selfish. Only perfect people can earn salvation. We are not. There is only one person who is. Jesus does everything perfectly. He loves God and people completely. He even dies selflessly on the cross. He is the perfect sacrifice for the sin of all people. When we believe that Jesus life, death and resurrection are for us, God gives us Jesus' perfect life as a free gift. God counts us perfect because of Jesus. Don't try to earn it, trust Jesus instead.
Let us pray: Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress; Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head.
Devo ID: 18
July 20 2015
TDP: October 28;
Original Broadcast: Tuesday; 2008-10-28;
'[Jesus] answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 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'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matthew 19:4-6, ESV)
It is a wonderful picture. A bride and groom stuck together for life. It is the way that God made human beings; a man, a woman; together; a family. God doesn't sanction other kinds of marriage relationships. This one is under attack. Satan works day and night to remove this picture from our view. Culture tells us that we shouldn't care what is done in privacy of a home. We want to be free from the constraints of how God tells us to live. Why does Satan work so hard? Why does the world hate this picture? Why do our hearts look for other means of satisfying ourselves? This picture isn't just a picture of how God has defines a family; it is a picture of Jesus and his church. Jesus is the bridegroom. The church is his bride. He lays down his life for her. He suffered and died on the cross to bring her forgiveness. St. Paul tells husbands "Love your wives as Christ loved the church." Marriage, the relationship between a man and his wife is the foundation of life. Forgiveness and self sacrifice are seen first in the home as husband and wife love and forgive each other.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, help us to honor you and your plan for our families. Amen.
Devo ID: 17
July 17 2015
TDP: October 27;
Original Broadcast: Monday; 2008-10-27;
'"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29, ESV)
The world can be a confusing place. We don't understand how things work. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. World events careen out of control, economies crash and nations crumble. Yet we know God is in control. He operates outside of our understanding. His reasons are the "secret things" this passage is talking about. In faith we believe that God knows best. And yet, we often fret and worry about things we can't control or change. Our worry won't add a single day to our life. This passage offers a better way. Leave the secret things to God. Let him take care of what you can't control or understand. Lean on the things that he has told us about. That's what the passage calls the things that are revealed. God has especially revealed to us our Savior Jesus. In his word he promises forgiveness of sin, life and salvation to all who believe in Jesus. His word is clear. Here is something we can hold on to with both hands. It belongs to us forever.
Let us pray: God of the universe. Be with me as I struggle to understand the world. Help me to cling to my Savior. Amen.
Devo ID: 16