Week of 10 Pentecost – A – 08/13 – 19/2017

August 12, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 10 Pentecost – A

Sunday 10 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 20, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 10 Pentecost A

1 Kings 3:5-12 (13-14) — Prayer for Understanding;
Psalm 119:129-136 — God’s Word Imparts Understanding;
Romans 8:28-30 — God’s Purpose;
Matthew 13:44-52 — Parables of the Kingdom;

1 Kings Background:

Gibeon was the priestly city* where the tabernacle was located at this period, until Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon had succeeded his father, David, to the throne of Israel. Solomon had gone to Gibeon to offer sacrifices to God.

Kings Paraphrase:

During the night God spoke to Solomon in a dream, and asked Solomon what he wanted God to do for him. Solomon replied that God had given David great steadfast love, because David lived according to God’s will in faithfulness and righteousness (doing what is good, right and true in God’s judgment). Solomon acknowledged that God had blessed David by giving him a son to reign on David’s throne. God had made Solomon King of Israel, although Solomon was like a small child in his ability to assume the responsibility. Solomon seemed so inexperienced that it was as if he didn’t even know “how to go out or come in” (1 Kings 3:7b). Solomon was to reign as God’s representative over God’s chosen people, so vast that they were beyond counting. So Solomon asked God to give him understanding so that Solomon could discern good and evil, and govern God’s people wisely.

God was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom to govern God’s people, rather than asking selfishly for wealth, long life, or vengeance upon Solomon’s enemies. So God promised that he would give Solomon wisdom beyond any human before or since, and God also promised to give Solomon wealth and honor above any other worldly king during Solomon’s reign. In addition, God promised that if Solomon trusted and obeyed God’s Word, as David had, God would give Solomon long life.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The psalmist testified that he was happy to trust and obey God’s Word because he had found that God’s Word is wonderful, and imparts enlightenment and understanding. He longed to know God’s Word like one who pants for air when “out-of-breath” because of strenuous exertion.

The Lord is attentive and gracious to those who love the Lord’s name. The Lord has promised to keep them from stumbling and from domination by sin. The Lord will redeem his people from human oppression so that they can obey God’s Word. The Lord will look with favor upon his servants and teach them his commandments. God’s servants mourn for those who do not know and obey God’s Word.

Romans:

“Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ have come to know (by experience; John 6:68-69 RSV) that, in everything, God is working for good; and those who love him, who have responded to his call according to God’s eternal purpose are cooperating and joining with him in working for what is eternally good in accordance with God’s Word. God’s eternal purpose has always been to conform his “chosen” people to the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the “firstborn” of many children of God’s family.

God knew each of us before we were born, and his will has always been for us to accept his call to be his children, to be justified (judged not guilty in God’s judgment) and to share in the eternal glory of Jesus Christ.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of heaven with several parables (stories of everyday experience to impart spiritual truth). The kingdom of heaven is like a field in which a man found buried treasure. He covered it back up and then went and sold all his possessions and bought the field.

Similarly, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine rare pearls. Finding one of extraordinary value, he sold all his possessions so that he could buy that pearl.

The kingdom of heaven is also like a fishing net, cast into the water, which gathered a large number of fish. Then the fishermen hauled the net in and sorted the fish, keeping the good, and discarding the bad.

Jesus warned his disciples that this parable illustrates the Day of Judgment at the end of this temporal age. Angels will gather all those who have ever lived on earth, and will separate the righteous from the wicked. The righteous will enter God’s eternal heavenly kingdom, and the wicked will be cast into the eternal fiery furnace of hell, where people “weep and gnash their teeth” in eternal torment.

Jesus asked his disciples if they understood what Jesus had told them and they said they did. Then Jesus said that every scribe (those educated in the Bible scriptures) who has been fully trained for the kingdom of heaven will be like a householder who treasures among his possessions both what is old and what is new.

Commentary:

God’s purpose has always been, from the very beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God has created this temporal world to allow us to have freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and to learn by “trial and error.” God knew that, given freedom, we would all choose to do our own will rather than God’s will.

Disobedience of God’s Word (God’s will) is sin. This world is designed to allow the possibility of sin and disobedience of God’s Word, but this Creation and we individually are limited by time. God is not willing to allow sin and disobedience forever, nor allow it in his eternal kingdom. Otherwise it would not be “heaven.”

God has designed this world so that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). God doesn’t want us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8, John 3:16-17). God has designed a Savior, Jesus Christ, into this Creation (John 1:1-5; 14). Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin, salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction, and restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation).

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for Creation, first through Creation itself, then through the Bible, then through Jesus, and ultimately through the infilling of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus came into the world to show us what God is like, and to demonstrate how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates the reality of existence after physical death, and the possibility of eternal life for those who trust and obey God’s Word.

God “anointed” Solomon to succeed Solomon’s father, David, as king of Israel. God manifested himself to Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon what Solomon wanted God to do for him. Solomon asked for (divine) wisdom so he could carry out the responsibility God had given him.

God always provides the resources we need to accomplish what he calls us to do. If we realize that we lack (divine) wisdom we can ask him and trust that he will give it generously without criticism (James 1:5).

Jesus promises that if we will seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good and true in accord with God’s Word and judgment) we will have the worldly material resources as well. But if we first try to accumulate worldly security we will never attain it, because ultimately there is no security apart from the kingdom of God and God’s Word, and we will never get around to seeking the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

God’s (divine) wisdom is unlike what the world falsely calls “wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8). Worldly wisdom changes, and ultimately fails and disappoints; God’s wisdom is eternal and unchanging, and can be utterly relied upon.

God also promised Solomon that if Solomon trusted and obeyed God’s Word as his father, David, had, God would give him long (eternal) life. That same promise applies to us through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, who is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world, in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Bible is the Word of God through which God imparts spiritual enlightenment and understanding, as the psalmist testified. God will reveal his Word to those who truly desire to know it in order to do it. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) opens the minds of Jesus’ disciples to understand the Bible scriptures (Luke 24:45). Those who trust and obey God’s Word will find that it is absolutely true and trustworthy, and that God’s will for us is better than anything we would choose for ourselves, because we really don’t know what we want and what will truly satisfy us.

God is attentive and gracious to those who love God’s name (his whole person and character; Jesus is the name of the Lord; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28) and know, trust and obey God’s Word. God is God whether we acknowledge him or not, but God is not obligated to be all that an almighty, loving and merciful God implies, to people who don’t know and obey his Word (Isaiah 42:5e, John 14:23-24).

Just adding Jesus’ name to the end of our prayers doesn’t obligate God to answer them. There are conditions for praying prayers God is willing to hear and answer (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right). Praying for God to give us divine wisdom is not going to be answered if we haven’t bothered to read God’s Word and haven’t committed to trust and obey it.

Christians are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples (students; Acts 11:26c) of Jesus Christ who have begun to trust and obey Jesus and have received the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We have learned from experience that in everything God is working for good; and his people work with him, by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

In a sense we are all God’s “chosen” people; but we have the free will to choose whether to respond to God’s call in obedient trust or not. God has had a purpose for Creation from the beginning, but we are not “predestined;” not forced to go along with God’s purpose. We are revealed to be God’s people by our choosing to trust and obey God’s Word and Jesus’ example and teaching.

Eternal life in uncontaminated paradise in God’s kingdom in heaven is of priceless, inestimable value. Even by selling all our material possessions we could never afford it, but Jesus has paid the price on our behalf, and offers it to us as a free gift, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus.

To some the kingdom of heaven is just a worthless vacant lot, but to those who know the hidden treasure it contains it is precious beyond calculation. It will cost us everything we possess, but it far exceeds the cost in eternal value.

This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to know our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually reborn to eternal life. There is a Day of Judgment coming when we will each be accountable for what we have done individually with God’s Word in our lifetimes. Have we sought divine eternal wisdom, or have we accepted worldly wisdom? Have we sought to know and do God’s will, or have we lived to please ourselves?

This lifetime is our opportunity to train for life in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. The Bible is the Word of God. It contains both wonderful promises and ominous warnings. We will either accept the free gift of Salvation through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, or we will be condemned to eternal destruction and eternal death in hell by God’s Law and Judgment.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*When the Promised Land was distributed to the Tribes of Israel, the Tribe of Levi was not given a territory, but rather assigned forty-eight cities (and surrounding areas of fields), six of which were designated cities of refuge. Priests were of the Tribe of Levi, but specifically from the descendants of Aaron. Others of the tribe, called Levites, were assigned to subordinate duties of the sanctuary service; they were the assistants to the priests. See Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Priest,” & “Levite


Monday 10 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 21, 2008;
Podcast: Monday 10 Pentecost A

Psalm 104:25-31 — God our Provider;

Paraphrase:

Consider the great, wide, ocean, full of creatures beyond counting, both great and small. The sea is like a vast un-tamable monster, and yet man ventures forth in ships upon it, depending on the Lord to keep it subdued.

All creatures in this world depend on the Lord to give them their food as needed. When the Lord gives them their food they gather it up. They are filled with good things when the Lord opens his hand. When the Lord turns away from them they are dismayed, and when the Lord takes away their breath they die and return to the dust from which they were created. When the Lord sends forth his Spirit they are created, and the Lord renews the face of the earth.

“May the Glory of the Lord endure forever. May the Lord rejoice in his works” (Psalm 104:31).

Commentary:

God is the Creator and ruler of the Universe. Every creature in this world is dependent upon the Lord for life and every necessity.

Creation is vast and complex beyond human comprehension, and the forces of nature are powerful beyond human control. Yet everything is under the Lord’s control and works according to the Lord’s design.

Humans try, and imagine that they have succeeded in subduing the forces of nature, until the “monster” of storm and flood breaks loose. We imagine that we can supply our own food and store it up as security against the “monster” and we can, until the Lord hides his face. We imagine that we can extend our lives with medical care, and we can, as long as the Lord allows.

The Lord has given us the breath of physical life. God has designed and intends this physical lifetime to be our opportunity to receive the “breath” of spiritual, eternal life. This is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, whom God designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is is God’s one and only provision for our salvation from spiritual eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus warns that we must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in order to have eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. This is only possible through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17; Isaiah 42:5e). When the Lord sends forth his Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), to fill us and dwell within us, we are created anew; we are renewed to eternal life which God intended, but which we all lost because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a discernible, ongoing event which each of us can experience and know with certainty for ourselves (Acts 19:2). Anyone who isn’t sure should ask themselves, “Why not?”

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 10 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 22, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 10 Pentecost A

Isaiah 55:1-5 — Spiritual Sustenance;

Paraphrase:

Come all who thirst spiritually and those who are spiritually poor. Come and obtain wine and milk without cost.

Why do you spend hard-earned money for that which is not bread and labor for what will not satisfy? Listen to the Lord and eat what is good; take pleasure in wholesome food.

Come to the Lord and listen to him, so that your soul will live, and the Lord will make an everlasting covenant with you; the promise of his steadfast love, as he had for David. Notice that the Lord made David a witness to all people. He made David a leader and commander over the people.

Watch and see; God’s people will call nations that never heard of you, and they will come to you, “because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you” (Isaiah 55:5b).

Commentary:

All who realize their spiritual neediness are invited to come to the Lord and receive spiritual milk and wine without cost. Spiritual milk is the Word of God which enables new-born Christians to grow to spiritual maturity (1 Peter 2:2). The wine of the sacrament of Holy Communion (Eucharist; The Lord’s Supper) is the blood of Christ, the supernatural drink which satisfies the spiritual thirst and nurtures and strengthens the Holy Spirit within us.

Jews were forbidden to drink the blood of animals or eat meat with its blood because the blood was believed to contain the spirit of the animal. Jesus told his disciples to drink his blood in the wine of the Lord’s Supper, so that they would sustain and strengthen the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ with in them.

We know that we need physical food and drink to sustain our physical bodies, but we have even more need of spiritual food and drink, and yet we often don’t recognize our spiritual need. We feed our bodies but starve our souls. Our bodies are temporal; they will wear out and die, regardless of what we do to sustain and preserve them, but our souls are eternal. If we have made no provision for our souls in this temporal lifetime, there will be no place and no way for us live in eternity; we will spend eternity in eternal death and destruction in Hell.

Heed (hear and obey) God’s Word and partake of the spiritual food and drink which is eternally wholesome and eternally satisfying. Trust and obey God’s Word so that your soul will live.

David was the shepherd boy whom God made king of Israel. David is an example of God’s blessing and empowerment of those who trust and obey the Lord. David is the forerunner and illustration of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the ultimate, perfectly sinless, eternal king of God’s people. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s everlasting covenant of steadfast love to David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the Son of David (Matthew 21:9), the heir to the eternal throne of David.

God, our Creator, has revealed himself through Israel, by his Word, recorded in the Bible, and fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14). The true Church of Jesus Christ is the “New Israel,” the New People of God. The Church calls all people to receive free spiritual food and drink, through Jesus Christ, and all nations will come in order to obtain true, spiritual, eternal life.

Jesus is God’s one and only provision for our salvation from eternal condemnation and death, for reconciliation and fellowship with God which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and for spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 10 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 23, 2008;
Podcast: Wednesday 10 Pentecost A

Romans 8:35-39 — Assurance of God’s Love;

Paraphrase:

No one and nothing can separate us from Jesus’ love; not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword. The prophecy of Psalm 44:22 is being fulfilled, that believers are continually being killed for their faith. They are being slaughtered like sheep. But in all these things they are more than triumphant through the Lord’s love for us. Nothing, whether we live or die, not even supernatural beings, whether good or evil, nor the heights of heaven or the depths of the grave, or any other thing in creation can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

In the first-century Church there was real physical danger and persecution for believers. There is still great physical danger and persecution of Christians in parts of the world today. All Christians also can expect to face opposition from worldly people, regardless of where they live.

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the assurance of the love of God within us. By his power we can endure and prevail in any circumstance we face.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. In every difficulty the indwelling Holy Spirit comforts, sustains and encourages us, and we have the certainty within us that even our physical death cannot defeat us (Hebrews 2:14-15). We need not fear any human, or even supernatural beings or powers, because the Holy Spirit within us is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), who is above all powers and authorities in all of Creation.

Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a discernible, ongoing experience which we can know with certainty for ourselves (Acts 19:2).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 10 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 24, 2008
Podcast: Thursday 10 Pentecost A

Matthew 14:13-21 — Feeding the Five Thousand;

Paraphrase:

After Jesus heard that John the Baptizer had been executed, Jesus took his disciples to a secluded place by boat. The crowds following Jesus anticipated where he was going and went by foot and met him as the boat landed. Jesus had compassion on them and healed the sick.

Commentary:

At the end of the day his disciples told Jesus to send the crowd away to buy food in the towns nearby. But Jesus told his disciples to feed the crowd. They only had five loaves and two fish, but Jesus told them to bring them to him. Jesus told the crowd to sit down on the grass, and he took the bread and fish and blessed and broke them into pieces. Then he had his disciples distribute them, and the crowd ate and were satisfied. The disciples collected twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand people had been fed.

Jesus’ mission was to offer spiritual healing and feeding to a spiritually sick and hungry world. His miracles of physical healing and feeding were intended to reveal who Jesus is, and that he can heal and feed spiritually.

Many of the people who came to Jesus were interested only in what Jesus could do for them physically. They received physical healing, but unless they accepted Jesus as the Messiah and became his disciples, they missed the spiritual healing and feeding only Jesus can provide (see John 6:25-35).

Jesus is the source of the spiritual bread of (eternal) life (John 6:35, 48-51). On the night Jesus was arrested he celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples, and Jesus instituted the feast of the New Covenant, the Lord’s Supper; (the Eucharist; Holy Communion; see Matthew 26:26-29). Jesus offered his body on the cross as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word). Communion is the spiritual New Passover feast. Believers participate in the body and blood of Jesus’ sacrifice through the elements of bread and wine, through which we are nurtured and sustained unto eternal life.

Jesus’ salvation is for all who are willing to receive it in obedient trust. Jesus is able to take a small amount of physical resources and extend them to provide nurture and sustenance for all to be filled and satisfied. It doesn’t require great resources from us; just the simple “yes” of faith (obedient trust). As we bring our “yes” to Jesus, he will cause our faith to grow abundantly to meet our need so that we are filled and satisfied.

The image of Jesus sharing a simple meal with his followers is an illustration of the spiritual fellowship we can have with Jesus, now, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23; Revelation 3:20), and a foretaste of the fellowship we will have with him in his eternal kingdom.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 10 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 25, 2008;
Podcast: Friday 10 Pentecost A

Jeremiah 7:1-7 — The Temple Sermon;

Paraphrase:

The Lord told Jeremiah to stand at the gate of the temple and preach to the people entering the temple, warning them to change their ways and their deeds if they expected God to honor his promise to allow them to dwell in the land he gave their fathers. He said three times, for emphasis, not to think that going into the temple of the Lord guaranteed the Lord’s favor and protection.

Commentary:

God expected his people to change their ways and deeds to conform to God’s Word, to provide justice for all, not to oppress aliens, orphans, or widows, not to shed innocent blood, and not to follow false gods. Doing such things would damage themselves and the Lord would withdraw the promise of the inheritance of the land which he gave to their fathers.

Jeremiah was the prophet of the Lord to Judah and Jerusalem in the period immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the exile of the people to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. The Southern Kingdom of Judah was the remnant of Israel after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians when Samaria was conquered in 721 B.C.. Judah had not learned from the example of the Northern Kingdom, and did not heed Jeremiah’s warning to return to obedient trust in God’s Word and to refrain from idolatry, so they ultimately were conquered and deported to Babylon for seventy years from 587 to 517 B.C. as Jeremiah had prophesied (Jeremiah 25:11-12).

Notice that seventy years is a life-sentence for all who were adults at the time of the deportation. God fulfilled his promise to bring them back from Babylon to the Promised Land, but it was a renewed people, who had learned to trust and obey the Lord during their captivity.

The Lord brought them back from Babylon and they rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple, but the people forgot what they had learned in exile, and were unprepared for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. As a result Jerusalem and the temple were again destroyed in 70 A.D., by the Romans. Israel ceased to exist as a nation. The people were scattered throughout the world, until they began to return and reestablish the nation following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

Judaism effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the moment of his death, the curtain separating the holy-of-holies from the people was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51a), symbolizing that Jesus has become the new and better way into the presence of God. Jesus had become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Acts 4:21; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). There is no further need of the Jewish temple and priests.

One of the reasons the Jews gave for crucifying Jesus was because they feared that the Romans might destroy their nation and temple in retaliation for Jesus’ “insurrection.” They accused Jesus of saying that he would destroy the temple, but Jesus was referring to his physical body (John 2:19-21). Their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah precipitated the end of Judaism.

At the time of Jesus’ coming, the religious leaders were running Judaism as if it were their personal empire, instead of seeking to know and do God’s will. They were running the religion for their own personal benefit. They did not recognize Jesus because they didn’t know God or understand God’s Word.

In too many instances, the nominal “Church,” particularly in America, is in a similar situation today . Ministry is too often a “career choice;” a means of making a living and a position of social status (“peddlers of God’s Word;” 2 Corinthians 2:17 RSV). Many Church leaders have been formally trained to know a lot “about” God, but don’t have a personal relationship with the Lord. Many are not “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) and it takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples.

The Church is supposed to be a “disciple-making” organization, but many congregations are failing to make disciples, and settle for making “church members.” Too many “churches” are teaching “Cheap Grace:”* Salvation by grace (unmerited favor; free gift) without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus Christ (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

Many people think that they can manipulate God in their favor by going to church. They think that calling Jesus “Lord” makes them Christians (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). God is not obligated to be all that an almighty, loving and merciful God implies if we are not willing to be his obedient, trusting people (Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26:3; Leviticus 26:12; see also Jeremiah 11:4c-5). God is not obligated to answer our prayers just because we add the name of Jesus to the end (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right).

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46) to judge the living and the dead, in both the physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29). That day is not far off; it will come for each of us within our lifetime, and none of us can be sure we’ll live to see tomorrow. When we die our eternal destiny is fixed and unalterable. Today is the day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Will we be any more ready for Jesus’ return than the Jews were for his first coming?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Saturday 10 Pentecost – A

First Posted 07/29/05
Podcast:Saturday 10 Pentecost A

Hebrews 3:7-15 — Warning Against Rebellion and Unbelief;

Matthew 11:16-24 — Warning Against Unrepentance;

Hebrews Paraphrase:

The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95:8, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit, warning God’s people that today (from now on) when they hear God’s Word, not to rebel against it, and not to test God. During the forty years in the wilderness, Israel had experienced the faithful providence of God, and still did not trust and obey God’s Word. Their hearts were set on disobedience and rebellion. So God swore in anger not to allow that generation to enter God’s rest (in the Promised Land).

So we must take care not to allow evil and disobedience to take root in our hearts, so that we not fall away from the living God. We should exhort one another every day not to become hardened “by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13b). We share in the inheritance we have in Christ only if we hold onto the faith (obedient trust) we had in him when we first believed, until the end.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus compared the people at the time of Jesus’ ministry, to children who want others to play according to their rules and expectations. They called John the Baptizer crazy, because John lived on food scavenged in the wilderness, instead of feasting and drunkenness. Then they criticized Jesus as a glutton and drunkard because he didn’t fast, and he ate with tax collectors and sinners.

Jesus began to rebuke the cities where he had done most of his miracles, saying, “Woe to Chorazin (near Capernaum) and Bethsaida (near Gennesaret on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee). Jesus said that Tyre and Sidon (Philistine cities on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea) would surely have repented if Jesus had done the miracles there that he had done in Chorazin and Bethsaida. Jesus warned that on the Day of Judgment Tyre and Sidon will fare better than Chorazin and Bethsaida. Of Capernaum (Jesus’ headquarters), Jesus warned that Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented and not been destroyed by God if they had seen the miracles Jesus did in Capernaum. Capernaum will fare worse in the Day of Judgment than Sodom and Gomorrah did.

Commentary:

Israel had to wander for forty years in the wilderness because, after seeing their miraculous delivery from slavery in Egypt, by the ten plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, and experiencing the revelation of God to them at Mt. Horeb (Sinai) they did not trust and obey God’s command to enter and possess the Promised Land. So God removed his favor from them so that the were unable to enter the Promised Land on their own, and were forced to wander in the wilderness. God didn’t allow them to enter again until the generation of those who had rebelled against God had died in the wilderness (except for Joshua and Caleb who had urged Israel to trust and obey God’s command to enter and possess the land).

Early in their wilderness exile the Israelites complained to Moses about the lack of water, and God instructed Moses to bring forth water from the rock (Exodus 17:1-7). So they called the place Meribah and Massah, which mean “rebellion” and “testing,” because the people rebelled against the Lord and demanded that the Lord provide water, to prove to the people that he was still with them.

Rebellion and disobedience were a continual problem of Israel after they entered the Promised Land, regardless of the many experiences of God’s faithfulness and providence, recorded in the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament). At Jesus’ first coming, the Jews experienced God’s presence and great works among them through Jesus Christ, just as they had in the wilderness, and yet they refused to repent and trust and obey God’s Word

First-century Christians were exhorted to remember and learn from the experiences of Israel, to avoid rebellion and disobedience of God’s Word, so that they would not be deceived by sin and fall away from true faith (obedient trust) in the Lord. Salvation is conditional upon our continued obedient trust in Jesus Christ, and we share the same nature and tendency of Israel to rebel and disobey.

Israel had the experience, the Biblical record of the fulfillment of God’s Word, and the examples of the consequences of rebellion and disobedience; yet when Jesus came, in fulfillment of God’s Word, they wanted Jesus to conform to their society, instead of repenting and conforming to God’s Word.

Jesus was Israel’s promised Messiah and eternal king, but the Gentiles were more ready and willing to accept Jesus than the Jews. Sodom and Gomorrah were notoriously wicked and ungodly, but the cities of Galilee where Jesus preached and performed miracles will be more accountable to the Lord on the Day of Judgment, because they had the knowledge of God, the Scriptures, and the fulfillment of the Messiah in their midst and refused to repent and return to the Lord in obedient trust.

Today our culture and our “nominal” Churches are in the same situation as were Israel and Judaism at the time of Christ’s first coming. Our society wants God to play by our rules. It wants God to hear and answer our prayers, without making the effort to know, trust and obey God’s Word. It wants God to do our will, instead of learning to do God’s will.

The history of Israel recorded in the Bible is also intended to be a “parable,” a metaphor for life in this world. In a sense we are all God’s people because he is our Creator, whether we acknowledge him or not. We are all wandering in the “wilderness” during our lifetime, and we will learn to trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), the “New Moses,” or we will die eternally in the “wilderness”

There is a Day of Judgment coming soon within our lifetimes, when Jesus is going to return to judge “the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5), in both the physical and spiritual senses. Everyone who has ever lived on earth will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime (John 5:28-29). Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in God’s eternal paradise in heaven; those who have rejected and refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

At the moment we die physically, our eternal destiny is fixed and unchangeable. After physical death comes Judgment, not “nothingness,” and not reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for forgiveness for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal death and destruction in hell (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

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Week of 9 Pentecost- A – 08/06 – 12/-2017

August 5, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/ 

Shepherdboysmydailywalk’s Blog

.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

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http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/c_year/wklx_c.html

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Free to distribute; for personal use, Bible Study Groups, and Adult Christian Education. Disk Image and/or .zip file to burn the complete Bible Study to CD are available at:

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

How Bad Do Things Have to Get…

…before Americans realize how much we need to return to faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ?

On Sunday July 6, 2008 this Associated Press article in my local newspaper caught my attention:

“There’s ‘Too Much Wrong’”

2011 Update:

The_One_Percent documentary by Jamie Johnson available streaming from netflix (2006).

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/10/17/disturbing-statistics-on-the-decline-of-americas-middle-class/

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/09/census-finds-widest-gap-ever-between-rich-and-poor-americans/1

http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/16/news/economy/middle_class/index.htm

2017 update:

Terrorism! Russian meddling in U. S. Election! North Korean nuclear threat!

I am a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian and love to study the Bible. In 1977, Peter Marshall, Jr, the son of Peter Marshall (the well-known preacher and Chaplin of the U.S Senate; The Man Called Peter of the book and movie by that name. The book was written by his wife, Catherine, the well-known Christian author) Their son, Peter, published a book in collaboration with David Manuel, The Light and the Glory* based on the premise that God had a plan for America. They assert that Christopher Columbus (his name means Christ-bearer) knew that he had been called by God to discover and found a “New Israel,” a nation under God.**

The Bible is the inspired Word of God which has recorded the dealings of God with his people, Israel, as a warning to us, New Promised Land, the New Israel, the new people of God, not to make the same mistakes ( 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). History recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible reveals, over and over, that Israel continually went through a cycle of obedience to God’s Word, then, in their prosperity, falling away from obedience to rebellion and idolatry. The Lord would lift his providence and protection from them, and they would experience trouble and want and then they would turn again to the Lord for help. Through repentance and obedience they would be restored to God’s providence.

God is eternal and unchanging. What was true for Israel is true for us today. America has experienced that cycle of prosperity, spiritual decline, travail, repentance, and restoration. The first colonists were dependent upon God for survival, but as they became successful they fell away, attributing their success to their own ability. As settlers set out for the western frontier, they again realized their vulnerability and need for God’s providence and protection, which led to a spiritual revival.

America has experienced several spiritual “Great Awakenings,” periods of repentance and return to faith (obedient trust) in God,. In 1745, the First Great Awakening in Northampton, Mass. began through the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. The Second Great Awakening occurred between 1790 and 1840. Charles Grandison Finney (August 29, 1792 – August 16, 1875) was a major preacher.

In the 1970’s there was youthful revival of the Jesus Movement, considered by some as the Fourth Great Awakening, trying to counteract the allure of sex and drugs of the “Flower Children.” One of the best programs to come out of the Jesus Movement was the Calvary Chapel fellowship, begun in Costa Mesa by Chuck Smith. Although I was not of the Hippie generation, I came under the teaching and influence of Chuck Smith myself through his radio and tape ministries. Until recently I attended the local congregation Saturday evening worship for my young adult daughters when they had to work Sundays.

Our society hasn’t improved since the seventies when The Light and the Glory was written. Sex, and drugs are still leading our children astray. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are ever more prevalent and dangerous. Television is more and more sexual in content. “Swingtown” is an example, a new series this season which glamorizes indiscriminate adultery and group sex. If they do it on TV it must be ok, right?

This era is the New Seventies. Iraq is our New Vietnam War. One of the most alarming problems is the lack of moral values in our children, who are virtually raising themselves without parental guidance. Gang violence is more and more prevalent. Gang members have no appreciation for the value of life. High School youths plot to bomb and shoot their classmates and teachers.

California’s legislature just legalized Homosexual marriage, avoiding the vote of the people in the November election. If the people vote it out in November, the “gay rights” activists have already accomplished their goal. That act is inviting God’s judgment.

Consider all the devastating weather and natural disasters: fires in California, floods and hurricanes in the midwest, our economic woes. Do we find ourselves working harder and harder for less and less? Does it seem likely that God has begun to lift his favor and protection from our Nation?

david -shepherdboy


* Marshall, Peter, J., Jr. and Manuel, David, “The Light and the Glory” (underline), Fleming H. Revell, Baker Books, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Mich. 41956-6287. ISBN 0-8007-5054-3 (paper)

**ibid, Columbus’ ‘Book of Prophecies, private translation from Spanish by August J. Kling, quoted in “The Presbyterian Layman” October, 1971.


Podcast Download: Week of 9 Pentecost A

Sunday 9 Pentecost A

First Posted July 13, 2008

Podcast: Sunday 9 Pentecost A

Isaiah 44:6-8 — The Redeemer;
Psalm 86:11-17 — God’s deliverance;
Romans 8:26-27 — Intercessor and Sustainer;
Matthew 13:24-30 (36-43) — Weeds Among Wheat;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord is the King of Israel and Lord of hosts, our Redeemer. The Lord is the first and last (Revelation 1:8; 22:13); there is no other god but the Lord. Who can compare to the Lord? Who else has ever declared in the past what would happen in the future that has been fulfilled? Don’t be afraid. God has revealed his purpose from long ago, and his people are his witnesses! Is there any other God beside the Lord? No! There is no other Rock (strong refuge; foundation).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Lord, teach me to live according to your way and to know your truth. Unite my heart so that I may fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) your name (God’s person and character).

I will give thanks to God with all my heart, and glorify his name forever. In his great, unconditional love for me, he has delivered my soul from the grave and the power of death.

Arrogant and ruthless people who do not reverence God have arisen against me and plot to take my life. But the Lord, my God, is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). The Lord will hear and answer my plea. He will have pity upon me and give me his strength and save me, his servant. The Lord will show me his favor, so that those who hate me will see and be ashamed, because my Lord has helped and comforted me.

Romans Paraphrase:

“Born-again” Christians are sustained by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the “first fruits” of eternal life, and the “security deposit” that guarantees our hope of our “adoption” as children of God and the redemption of our bodies (from death and decay; Romans 8:22-25). Also, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us to God, beyond our human ability to express, because we don’t even know what to pray for. God knows our innermost needs. God knows the mind of the Spirit, and the Spirit intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will (compare 1 Corinthians 2:11-13).

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus taught in parables: stories of common daily experience used to teach spiritual truth. In the parable of the weeds among wheat, a person sowed good seed in his field, but during the night while people were sleeping, his enemy sowed weed seeds in the field. When the seed sprouted and grew, the servants noticed and reported to their master that there were weeds among the wheat, and asked if the seed the master had sown was faulty. The master said it was not the fault of the seed he had sown, but the work of his enemy. The servants asked if they should weed the field, and the master told them to wait until the harvest; otherwise they would damage the wheat. At the harvest the master will have the reapers collect the weeds into bundles to be burned, and then will harvest the wheat and store it in the master’s barn.

Later, when Jesus was alone with his disciples they asked him to explain the parable. Jesus said that the sower is the Son of man (Jesus) and the field is this world. The wheat represents the children of God’s kingdom, and the weeds represent the children of Satan, our enemy. The harvest is the end of this age. The reapers are God’s angels.

At the end of this age, God’s angels will separate the children of Satan from his kingdom, bind them, and cast them into the eternal fires of hell with all evil, where they will be in eternal agony and mourning. Then the children of God will be glorified and live eternally in God’s kingdom restored to paradise. Jesus warns us to use our ears to listen and learn what he is saying.

Commentary:

Jesus is the name of the Lord. Jesus is the Redeemer, God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction in hell (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is God’s “anointed” eternal King (Messiah and Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively; Matthew 2:2; 21:5; 25:34; 27:37; 28:18). Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus is the first and last, the beginning and end of all things (Revelation 1:17-18).

Fulfillment is the hallmark and definition of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The Bible is the Word of God, and the record and testimony of the fulfillment of God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for Creation, first through Creation itself, then through the Bible. Jesus is God’s ultimate revelation of himself to the world, and the gift of the Holy Spirit is God’s ultimate revelation of himself to us personally and individually.

Jesus is the rock of eternal foundation (Matthew 7:24), spiritual refuge, and the source of spiritual (life-giving) “water” in the “wilderness” of this world (1 Corinthians 10:4; Numbers 20:7-11). Jesus is the cornerstone of his Church, but the rock of stumbling and offense to the disobedient and unbelievers (1 Peter 2:6-8).

Jesus came into the world in part to teach us how to know and live according to God’s will and to enable and strengthen us to do it.

We are born with “divided” hearts. We can desire and aspire to do what is righteous (right, good, and true, according to God’s Word), but our flesh is in opposition. Only by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ can we be freed from slavery to our flesh. Only by the Holy Spirit can we have the strength to overcome sin.

Jesus is the invisible God made visible in human flesh. Those who have “seen” Jesus have “seen” God the Father (John 14:8-11; Matthew 11:27). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24).

God loves us and doesn’t want any of us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). God has saved us from eternal death through Jesus Christ, which we must claim and receive through faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is the Redeemer who delivers us from death and the grave (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

The promise of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is the redemption of our physical bodies from death and decay. Those who have been “born-again” have the assurance of eternal life within them by the testimony of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is only a foretaste of the perfect full-time fellowship that is to come in eternal life. We can be encouraged and comforted by the presence, guidance, and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. We can be assured that the Lord knows our situation and need, and that he will reveal God’s will to us and empower and strengthen us to do it.

We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “reborn.” We are all born children of flesh and of Satan. This lifetime is our opportunity to be “reborn” as children of God.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when every one who has ever lived will be accountable to God, through Jesus Christ, for what we have done in this life. The Day of Judgment is not far off; it will be within the lifetime of each one of us. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), in this lifetime, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom restored to paradise in heaven. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as Lord and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 9 Pentecost A

First Posted July 14, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 9 Pentecost A

Psalm 119:129-136 — God’s Word is Wonderful;

Paraphrase:

God’s Word is wonderful, so my soul delights in keeping it. “The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:30 RSV). My longing for your Word is like my panting for air when I’m “out of breath.”

Incline toward me and be gracious to me, as is your nature to do to those who love your name (person and character). Keep my steps steady as you have promised and don’t let sin get power over me. Free me from oppression by other people, so that I can keep your commandments. Look favorably upon your servant and teach me your laws. My eyes are filled with tears of sorrow, because people don’t do what your Word commands. Commentary:

Those who trust and obey God’s Word will discover that it is truly wonderful, and that it is to our eternal benefit to learn and keep it. God’s Word is intended to be a blessing to us; to lead us to true eternal life, and to keep us from doing things which harm and destroy life.

God’s Word is divine eternal truth, unlike what the world falsely calls truth. What is accepted as worldly truth is subject to change, but God’s truth is eternal and unchanging.

Jesus is God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in human flesh in this temporal world (john 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the only way to know God and God’s divine eternal truth (John 14:6). Jesus is the only way to true, eternal life. Jesus is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:17-24).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17) which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). When we are spiritually “born-again” by the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he will teach us all things 14:26) and will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God is gracious toward those who love him and trust and obey his Word. Those who love the Lord will want to obey his Word (John 14:21).

God’s Word is able to keep us from stumbling and from wasting our lives. God’s Word will keep us free from human oppression and from bondage to sin and eternal death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

God’s Word is a blessing to those who have learned to know, trust and obey it, but it will condemn those who have refused to hear, learn, trust and obey God’s Word.

God wanted us to have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, so he designed the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) into Creation. God created this world as a paradise (Genesis 1:31), but the evil in this world is the result of human sin. God foresaw human sin and designed a Savior, Jesus Christ, into Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

This world could be restored to paradise, if all people would learn to trust and obey Jesus Christ. But there are those who love sin and hate God’s righteousness (John 3:19-21). Those who have learned to know, trust and obey God’s Word mourn for those who are spiritually lost and eternally dead because of their unbelief in God’s Word.

Jesus Christ is going to return on the Day of Judgment, at the end of this temporal age (and the end of our physical lifetime for each of us). He will judge the living and the dead, in both the physical and spiritual senses (1 Peter 4:5; John 5:28-29). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “reborn” during this lifetime and will live eternally in God’s kingdom, restored to paradise in heaven; those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will spend eternity in eternal death in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 9 Pentecost A

First Posted July 15, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 9 Pentecost A

1 Kings 3:5-12 — Prayer for Understanding;

Paraphrase:

King David, the great shepherd-king of Israel had died, and his son, Solomon, had succeeded him. Solomon was at Gibeon (about 10 miles northwest of Jerusalem in the hill country of the tribal territory of Benjamin). It was a priest-city where the tabernacle was located until Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. The Lord appeared to Solomon in an dream and asked what Solomon would desire from the Lord.

Solomon answered that the Lord had shown great steadfast love to David, because David had lived in faithfulness, righteousness and uprightness in heart for the Lord. God had kept David in God’s great and steadfast love, and had given him a son to continue on the throne of David. Solomon acknowledged that the Lord had given him the throne of David, although Solomon felt like a little child who had not yet learned “how to go in and go out.” Solomon recognized that he was responsible for God’s chosen people who were now vastly beyond counting. So Solomon asked God to give Solomon an understanding mind, so that Solomon could govern God’s people and distinguish good from evil; otherwise Solomon would not be able to govern God’s people properly.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had not asked selfishly for long life, or wealth, or revenge upon his enemies, but had asked for discernment to know what was right (according to God’s Word). So the Lord promised to give Solomon the wisdom and discernment he had asked for. There was no one before, nor would there ever be after Solomon to compare with Solomon’s wisdom. God also promised to give Solomon what Solomon had not asked for: both riches and honor. God declared that there would be no other king who would compare with Solomon during Solomon’s lifetime, and if Solomon lived according to God’s Word, as Solomon’s father, David, had, the Lord would give Solomon long life.

David had been a man after God’s own heart (who cared about the same things God did and was obedient to God’s will; Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20), and God promised to give David an eternal throne (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). God fulfilled his promise by “anointing” Solomon to succeed David as king of Israel.

The Lord rewards those who try to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. Those who respond to God’s call to be his servants, God will equip with the abilities to carry out God’s mission, and as the servants of the Lord carry out their service to God, God will provide the material and physical necessities as well.

Jesus told his disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness and they would have everything else they needed as well (Matthew 6:33). Worldly wisdom says that we must pursue our physical and material security first, but we cannot provide our own security, no much how many physical and material resources we accumulate; we’ll always need “just a little more” than we have, and we’ll never get around to the true spiritual eternal security we need, which is only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

In the time of David and Solomon, only a few people chosen by God to lead God’s people had a personal relationship with God. In Solomon’s case it was initiated by God in a dream. God was pleased to supply Solomon with the spiritual resources needed to do the mission God had called Solomon to do.

Among the reasons for Jesus’ coming was to make it possible for all God’s people to be filled with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “anoints” with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are spiritually “reborn” to eternal life, the “long life” God has promised to his servants who trust and obey him. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

It is by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are guided, equipped and empowered to know and accomplish God’s call for each of us individually and personally. We are called to be Jesus’ disciples (students) and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel). As we trust and obey Jesus he will fill us with his indwelling Holy Spirit. After we have been spiritually “born-again” (Luke 24:45; Acts 1:4-5, &8) we are guided and empowered to go into the world and make (“born-again”) disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to know, trust and obey all Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28:19-20).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 9 Pentecost A

First Posted July 16, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 9 Pentecost A

Romans 8:28-30 — God’s Purpose;

Paraphrase:

“Born-again” Christians, like Paul (Saul of Tarsus), know (from experience) that God is working for good in all things, with those who love him and have responded to his call to complete his purpose. God’s purpose is to conform those, who respond (in obedient trust) to his call, to the likeness of his Son (Jesus Christ), so that Jesus is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. God knew beforehand who would accept his call, and he planned from the beginning of Creation to accomplish his purpose. God calls all those he foreknew and planned beforehand to fulfill his purpose, and those who accept his call are justified (attributed blameless in God’s judgment) and glorified.

Commentary:

Jesus says that one must be “born-again” to see the kingdom of God, now, all around us, and to enter it in eternity (John 3:3, 5-8). People who are spiritually “reborn” have a personal relationship with the Lord, by the indwelling Holy Spirit; the Spirit of Christ; the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9). People who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will receive the gift (“anointing;” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Disciples who trust and obey Jesus have believed in Jesus, and have come to know with certainty within themselves (John 6:68-69 RSV) by the indwelling Holy Spirit. They are learning by experience that God is working for good in every thing, every situation, in this world. Christians are to work with God to bring about his good purpose.

God’s purpose is for us to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are called to trust and obey Jesus and be filled with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus demonstrated obedient trust in God’s Word, and was the model of the indwelling Holy Spirit dwelling within human flesh (John 1:32-33; Colossians 2:8-9).

God’s purpose has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus was “designed into” Creation from the very beginning.

Jesus is the firstborn Son. Jesus has special status and authority, and the spiritual inheritance of God’s kingdom belongs to Jesus. He will share that inheritance with his disciples (Isaiah 53:12). We are to be like Jesus, but we are not equal to Jesus (Matthew 10:25a).

God foreknew us and he planned from the beginning of Creation to accomplish his purpose, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have free choice. “Predestination” is the false doctrine that God knew beforehand who would be saved and who wouldn’t and so it doesn’t matter what we do. God calls us to fulfill his purpose, but we must accept his call by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

God’s purpose is for our eternal benefit. God wants us to have what is truly and eternally life. We are to cooperate with God’s good purpose, personally, to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Once we have received the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are to work with the Lord, by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to bring forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction to a spiritually lost and dying world.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of the Lord, which we all can be. He was confronted by the Spirit of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-4), accepted Jesus’ rebuke and Jesus’ lordship (Acts 9:4-5a), obeyed Jesus’ command (Acts 9:5b-8), repented (Acts 9:9), was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), until Paul had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-19a), and then was guided and empowered to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which Jesus gave to his disciples (Acts 9:19b-22) to be carried out after they had received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 9 Pentecost A

First Posted July 17, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 9 Pentecost A

Matthew 13:44-52 – The Kingdom of God;

Paraphrase:

Jesus told his disciples a series of parables (stories of everyday experiences to teach spiritual truth) to illustrate the kingdom of God. The kingdom of heaven is like treasure buried in a field. A man found it and then covered it up and went and sold all that he had and bought the field.

The kingdom of heaven is like a fine pearl of great value. When a merchant seeking fine pearls found it he sold all that he had to obtain it.

The kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net thrown into the sea. When it was hauled in it was full of fish of all kinds and the fishermen sat down and sorted the good fish into containers, but threw away the bad fish. Jesus warned that at the end of this temporal age, angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous. The evil will be thrown into the eternal fire of hell, where people will “weep and gnash their teeth.”

Jesus asked his disciples if they understood what Jesus had said, and they told him they had. Then Jesus said that every scribe (teacher of the Law of Moses; the Old Testament scriptures) who has been trained for the kingdom is like a householder whose treasure includes what is new and what is old.

Commentary:

Eternal life in the kingdom of paradise restored in heaven is a valuable treasure beyond calculation. In a sense it is hidden to be discovered by those who seek it. It will cost the seeker everything he has to obtain it, but it is worth much more than that. An observer might wonder why the seeker is willing to pay so much for that particular field, but the observer isn’t aware of the treasure the field contains.

Similarly, the kingdom of heaven is the pearl of great price, worth much more than all that we possess to obtain it, but not everyone is searching for the pearl, and not everyone recognizes a great pearl when they see one.

There is a Day of Judgment coming at the end of time when all who have ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime. There is no way to avoid being gathered and separated in the judgment into one of two categories. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will be judged righteous, blameless in God’s judgment. Those who have rejected Jesus, or who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in the fire of hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The Day of Judgment is not far off; it will come for everyone at the end of their lifetime, and no one knows with certainty when that will be.

Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the only time we have to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord and begin learning to trust and obey Jesus.

We’re all born physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, by the “baptism” (anointing; infilling; gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus “baptizes” with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us that we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The householder values some possessions because they’re “antiques” and although old are well made and useful. But just because an item is old doesn’t necessarily make it valuable. He also values items because they’re new, not just for newness but for usefulness as well.

Jesus was telling his disciples that we shouldn’t discard the Old Testament scriptures because we have the New Testament. The Old Testament scriptures contain many valuable things that enhance our appreciation of the New Testament, but we must understand the Old Testament scriptures from the perspective of the New Testament. We shouldn’t hang on to Old Testament teachings, such as dietary laws, or circumcision, or the Jewish Sabbath, just because they’re old and traditional (see Galatians 2:16, 5:2-4).

We are no longer bound by the Old Covenant of Law, provided that we are being led by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9). Those who have received the indwelling Holy Spirit are under the New Covenant of Grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), which Jesus instituted at the Last Supper (Hebrews 8:8-10, 13; 12:24; Matthew 26:26-29 RSV note “g”).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 9 Pentecost A

First Posted July 11, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 9 Pentecost A

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 — David’s Prayer;
2 Timothy 1:3-14 — Paul Encourages Timothy;

1 Chronicles Paraphrase:

David turned over his plans for the temple to his son Solomon and installed Solomon as King of Israel succeeding David. Then David prayed in the assembly of all the people, blessing the Lord for ever and ever. David acknowledged the greatness, power, victory and majesty of the Lord. David acknowledged that everything in heaven and on earth belongs to the Lord. David acknowledged that the kingdom belongs to the Lord and that the Lord is the ruler above all human leaders and over all people. The Lord is the source of riches and honor, power and might. The Lord has the power to exalt and give strength to all. So David and all the assembled people give thanks to God and praise his glorious name.

2 Timothy Paraphrase:

Paul was Timothy’s spiritual mentor, and Timothy was like Paul’s spiritual son. Paul was serving God to the very best of his ability, as had his ancestors, and had no reason to be ashamed. Paul always gave thanks to God for Timothy in Paul’s prayers, and longed for the joy of seeing Timothy again. Paul recalled Timothy’s sincere faith, which had been transmitted to him by Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, and had become Timothy’s own. Paul reminded Timothy to stir up the gift of God (the indwelling Holy Spirit which Timothy had received through the laying on of Paul’s hands. The indwelling Holy Spirit gives one boldness, power, love and self-control.

Paul urged Timothy not to be timid in testifying to Jesus Christ, nor to be ashamed of Paul who was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. So Timothy should accept the possibility of persecution in the strength which God supplies and not allow it to interfere with his testimony. God has saved us (from condemnation and death) and has given us a holy calling, not because we are worthy on our own merits, but because of God’s purpose and the grace (unmerited favor) which he gave us in Jesus Christ “ages ago,” which has now been revealed through the coming of the Messiah (Christ) Jesus, who has abolished death and revealed immortality through the Gospel. That is the Gospel for which the Lord appointed Paul to be a preacher, apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) and teacher. That Gospel is the reason Paul was suffering persecution, but Paul was not ashamed, because he knew the Lord in whom he had believed, and was confident that the the Lord is able to guard what had been entrusted to Paul until the Day (of Judgment). So Paul urged Timothy to follow Paul’s example and teaching, in the faith and love which are his in Jesus Christ, and to guard the Gospel truth which had been entrusted to Timothy by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

The Lord had promised David to establish an eternal throne through David’s descendants, and the succession of Solomon was the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise (2 Samuel 7:(5-11),12-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus Christ is the “Son of David” who is the ultimate fulfillment, the eternal king reigning over God’s people in God’s eternal kingdom. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, above all earthly rulers (1 Timothy 6:15).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had originally been a persecutor of Christians, and was on his way to arrest Christians in Damascus when he was confronted by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus on the road (Acts 9:1-4). Paul accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5), became obedient to Jesus’ commands (Acts 9:6-8) repented (Acts 9:9), was “discipled” by a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (Acts 9:10-17), until Paul was “born-again” by the “baptism” (“anointing;” “Infilling”) of the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18). Then Paul began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:19b-22).

Paul is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ, as we all can be. Paul was fulfilling the Great Commission which Jesus gave his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to make “disciples” of Jesus Christ and teach them to obey all Jesus’ teachings, which Jesus commanded them to be carried out after they had received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Timothy is the example of Paul’s “discipling.” Timothy’s mother and grandmother had brought-up Timothy in faith. Timothy was probably already a Christian believer when Paul came to his town. But Paul “discipled” Timothy until Timothy was “born-again” by receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul’s conversion is extraordinary because it happened so quickly, but we should remember that Paul was already formally trained in the Biblical scriptures and in Judaism. Paul already loved, trusted and obeyed God. He just needed to recognize that Jesus was the promised Messiah (Christ).

Jesus’ original disciples were with Jesus constantly for about three years, and yet were still not ready to fulfill their calling until they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit. Discipleship is an ongoing process. Disciples must learn to know and be guided by Jesus’ teachings in their daily lives. They receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit once they have committed themselves to trust and obey Jesus. Then the Spirit begins to “disciple” them as Jesus did the original disciples. “Born-again” disciples are still learning to know, trust and obey the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), and are growing in faith as they experience the power and faithfulness of the Lord.

It is important not to try to proclaim the Gospel and attempt to carry on Christ’s mission in our own human strength and ability. Christ’s mission can only be accomplished by the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). The Lord promises that the Holy Spirit will give his disciples what to say at the moment it is needed (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12), and I personally testify to that truth.

The Holy Spirit will give us boldness and power as we step out in faith, but we must co-operate and not resist the Spirit’s guidance. I was rather shy and quiet when I was newly “reborn” and it took some time and trial and error to learn to respond to the Lord’s prompting. But gradually I became confident of the Lord’s guidance and ability to supply what I needed at the right time.

I never faced any persecution to compare with what first-century Christians faced, or what oppressed Christians face now in other parts of the world, but all Christians will experience some forms of persecution for the Gospel. But the Holy Spirit will comfort and sustain us. The Lord is abundantly able to preserve us and sustain us in true faith until we enter eternal life.

Christians need to read the entire Bible for themselves, and they need to read and be guided by it daily. That is the only way to guard the Gospel truth, so that we are able to convey it to others.

The Church is to be a “disciple-making” organization, but in many nominal “churches” today that is not happening. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. Discipleship is not an optional category of “super-Christian.” “Born-again” disciples are the only genuine Christians there are. Christians are by definition disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c). Jesus said that one must be “born-again” to see and enter God’s eternal kingdom (John 3:3, 5-8).

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 9 Pentecost A

First Posted July 12, 2008

Podcast: Saturday 9 Pentecost A

Luke 12:32-48 – Watchfulness;

Believers shouldn’t worry about missing the kingdom of God, because wants to give it to us. We should sell our possessions and give to the poor and needy. Doing so is like creating an eternal banking account in heaven. Our wealth will be spiritual rather than material. There our treasure will never be exhausted, stolen or decayed. Our hearts are tied to whatever we regard as our treasure.

Jesus tells us to be watchful and prepared for Christ’s return, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding feast, prepared to open the door for him when he knocks. The servants whose master finds them awake when he returns will be blessed. The master will have them sit down at the table and the master will serve them. If he comes during the night when most people are asleep and finds them ready and alert, the master will bless those servants. But remember, if a householder knew when a thief was coming, he would waiting and would prevent the thief from breaking in. So we must be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming, because he will come at an hour we do not expect.

Peter asked Jesus if this parable was intended just for Jesus’ disciples or for all people. Jesus answered that his disciples are like stewards of a householder, and are expected to feed the servants while their master is away. If the master returns and finds the stewards doing their job they will be blessed and will be given authority over all the master’s possessions. But woe to the steward who thinks the master is delayed and begins to abuse the servants and get drunk and feed himself without feeding the servants. His master will come and surprise him at a time the steward doesn’t expect. The master will punish the steward and put him among the unfaithful. The punishment for servants who know the Master’s will but did not prepare and do it will be more severe than for those servants who did not know the master’s will. Jesus declared that to those who have been given much, much will be required. The more responsibility we have, the more for which we will be accountable.

Commentary:

If we earnestly seek God’s kingdom, we needn’t worry that we will fail to receive it. It is God’s desire to give it to us and he is able to accomplish it if we will cooperate with him. We must not spend our earthly lives accumulating and hoarding material things which will be of no benefit in eternity.

God has provided everything we need in this world. The problem is that those resources intended for everyone are not distributed fairly according to need. If we would trust in the Lord for our security and sustenance, instead of thinking that we must hoard vastly more resources “for a rainy day,” there would be more resources available for those who need them. We should realize that, in God’s view, we are all equal, instead of imagining that we are more entitled to wealth and luxury than others because of our education, abilities, social status or birth. Poor people don’t cause poverty!

Jesus tells his disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness (doing what is right and good and true according to God’s Word), and we will also have the physical resources we need. But if we seek wealth, success and worldly security first, we’ll never get around to seeking the kingdom of God, because security can never be obtained by worldly effort and resources. We’ll always need “just a little more” than we have. By pursuing worldly resources and goals, we are binding ourselves to a temporal Creation which is going to pass away, and making no preparation for eternity.

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment at the end of this temporal age. He will return to judge the living and the dead in both the spiritual and physical senses (1 Peter 4:5). Each of us will face the Day of Judgment at the end of our lives, and no one knows when that will be. The moment we die our eternal destiny is fixed and unchangeable. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Lord warns us to prepare for his return and to be watchful, alert to his coming at any time. He’s coming like a thief in the night, at a time we do not expect.

In one sense all people are servants in God’s household, and the Lord will hold them accountable for what they have done with God’s Word in this lifetime. Those who have not believed in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, and acted upon it in faith (obedient trust) will be contemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “reborn,” and will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven with the Lord (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Christians are the stewards of God’s household, who are to provide spiritual guidance and nurture to the lost and spiritually dead. Those who have only fed themselves and done what they pleased will be accounted and punished as unfaithful. Most people, inside and outside of the Church will not be able to plead ignorance of the Gospel and expect to receive lenience.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 8 Pentecost –A 07/30 – 08/05/2017

July 29, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/usage.html

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

This ‘blog is mirrored at:

http://shepherdboy-mydailywalk.blogspot.com/ 

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.mp3 Podcasts via Linux Festival text-to-speech and Panopreter Basic text-to-speech are available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/a_year/Wklx_a.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/c_year/wklx_c.html

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

 

Podcast Download: Week of 8 Pentecost – A

Sunday 8 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 6, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 8 Pentecost – A

Isaiah 55:10-11 — God’s Word is Always Fulfilled;
Psalm 65 — The River of God;
Romans 8:18-25 — “First Fruits” of Salvation;
Matthew 13:1-9 (18-23) — Parable of the Sower;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Rain and snow fall from heaven and water the earth to bring forth seed for sowing and bread for food, and do not return to heaven without accomplishing their purpose. So also, God’s Word goes forth from the mouth of God and does not return without accomplishing God’s purpose.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The Lord, who reigns in Zion (the temple mount; the City of God), is worthy of our praise, and our faithfulness to keep our vows to him. He is the One who hears and answers prayers. All humans will be accountable to him for sin (disobedience of God’s Word). When sins prevail over us God forgives them. Those whom God chooses and draws near to dwell in his house are blessed. We will have satisfaction in the goodness of his house and his holy temple.

The God of our Salvation has answered our need and delivered us with great deeds. He is the hope of all the world, to the most distant corners and across the vastest seas. The Lord who raised up the great mountains by his great power, who stills the roaring seas and their mighty waves also stills the tumults of the peoples. Those who dwell in the remotest places on earth fear his great power. The Lord makes sunrise and sunset occasions for celebration and joy.

The Lord visits earth; he waters it and makes the earth fertile. “The river of God is full of water” (Psalm 65:9 b). The Lord provides grain for food, according to his plan and timing. He provides rain, settling the earth’s furrows and softening it, and blessing growth.

“Thou crownest the year with thy bounty; the tracks of thy chariot drip with fatness” (Psalm 65:11 b). The pastures in the wilderness become lush. The meadows are full of game and the valleys are fertile with grain. Creation shouts and sings for joy.

Romans Paraphrase:

Compared to the glory that will be revealed to us, the sufferings of this temporal lifetime are well worth it. All Creation eagerly awaits the revealing of the children of God. Creation has been subjected to decay and death by God in hope, because Creation will be released from decay and death and will share the glorious liberty of God’s children. We realize that Creation has been groaning until now in travail like childbirth, and we also, who have the “first fruits” of the Holy Spirit groan inwardly, awaiting our adoption as God’s children, and the redemption of our bodies. This is the hope which we received by faith when we were saved. There is no need to hope for what we already have, but if we do not yet see it we hope for it patiently.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus was sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a large crowd gathered around him, so he got into a boat and taught them many things in parables as they stood on the shore.

One was the parable of the sower. A sower went out to sow seed, and some seed fell on the path. Birds came and ate the seed immediately. Some seed fell on rocky ground. It sprouted quickly, but wilted and died in the sun, because there was no soil for it to take root in. Some seed fell among thorns, and as it sprouted and grew, the thorns choked it and it didn’t mature and produce a harvest. Some seed fell on good ground, and it rooted and grew to maturity and produced a harvest many times the amount of the seed expended. Jesus told the crowd that if their ears “worked” properly they should use them to “hear” what Jesus was telling them.

Privately Jesus explained the parables to his disciples. The seed is the Gospel, the Word of God. The path represents those who hear but do not understand, and Satan comes and takes the Gospel from their hearts. Rocky soil represents those who receive the Gospel gladly, but don’t let it take root within them and grow. When trouble or persecution arises they fall away. The thorny ground represents those who receive the Gospel and let it take root, but the cares and pleasures of this world choke the growth, and the Gospel doesn’t mature and produce a harvest. The good soil represents those who hear the Gospel and let it take root and grow to maturity and harvest, where it produces many times more than the seed that was sown.

Commentary:

God has designed this Creation as a physical garden, but also as a spiritual garden, and we are his plantings. God’s intention has always, from the very beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find and come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, who has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

Creation bears witness to the goodness and power of God. Everything in Creation works to accomplish God’s purpose. The physical experiences of Creation testify to spiritual truth. God has designed a physical Creation in which God provides rain and snow to soften and water the earth; he provides seed for sowing and grain for bread, and food for every creature.

God’s Word is the spiritual seed which gives us spiritual life, sustains us and causes us to grow spiritually and produce a spiritual harvest. God’s Word is the spiritual bread which sustains us to eternal life. God’s Word is accomplishing and will ultimately fulfill God’s eternal purpose, whether we choose to cooperate with his purpose or not.

The Bible is the Word of God, given to us to help us know and understand God’s purpose for Creation and our life. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the example we are to follow and the illustration of what Spirit-filled children of God can and are to be.

God has supplied everything we need physically and spiritually in Creation. Unequal distribution of those physical resources is the result of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Spiritual resources are available freely to all who are willing to receive them through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

We are all chosen and called by God to dwell eternally in his heavenly kingdom, and God will draw us to himself, if we will allow him, but he gives us freedom to accept or reject his call. If we accept, we will personally experience his goodness and the joy, blessing and true satisfaction of life in his presence eternally, beginning right now!

God has foreseen the consequences of giving us free will, and has provided the Savior, Jesus Christ, through whom our sins are forgiven. He has designed Creation so that none of us deserves salvation from eternal condemnation, so that he can give salvation as a free gift to everyone who trusts and obeys Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the “first fruit” of the harvest of eternal life. God commanded Israel to give the “first fruit” of their harvests to God, before they took any for themselves. In the same way, God offers us his gift to us of the “first fruits” of eternal life by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we experience the presence and fellowship of the Lord now.

The Holy Spirit is the river of God, the spring welling up within his disciples to eternal life (John 4:14); the river of living water which is to flow out from the hearts of Jesus’ disciples into the wilderness of this world (John 7:37-39) to transform it and give life to a sinful and dying world.

We are spiritually “born-again” John 3:3, 5-8) by the “baptism” (“anointing;” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have personal experience of and fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; John 14:23). Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus taught in parables, which are stories of common daily experiences used to convey spiritual truth. Today’s text in Isaiah is an example of a “parable” comparing physical experience to spiritual truth by God’s Word through the prophet. Jesus used parables so that people were free to choose whether to accept his message or not. Jesus will explain his teachings and open minds to understand scripture (Luke 24:45) for anyone who is willing to be Jesus’ disciple.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, is the spiritual seed, which if allowed to germinate and grow to maturity, produces a harvest of eternal life, not only for ourselves but for others through us. The Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, is the bread of eternal life which sustains us and provides the seed for sowing.

The Lord reigns supreme over all the earth, whether we acknowledge him as Lord or not. He is the one and only Lord who hears and answers the prayers of his people (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when every one who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what they have done in this temporal lifetime in this Creation. The Day of Judgment is not far off; it is within everyone’s own lifespan, and no one knows how long their life will be. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “born-again” and will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus, and have refused or failed to trust and obey him will receive eternal destruction and death in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

The “sun” will set on this Creation and our physical lives, and will rise on the new eternal Creation restored to paradise.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 8 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 7, 2008;
Podcast: Monday 8 Pentecost – A

Psalm 86:11-17 – Walking in God’s Truth;

Paraphrase:

O, Lord, teach me to know and live according to your way and your truth. Let my heart be united to fear (have appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) your name (person and character). With my whole heart I will give thanks to the Lord, my God, and glorify his name for ever. For the Lord has steadfast love for me and has delivered my soul from the power of death.

O Lord, ruthless and godless men have risen up against me. They do not honor and fear you. But you, O Lord, are gracious, merciful, with abundant steadfast love and faithfulness. Have pity on me and help me. Give me your strength and save me for I am your servant, the son of your handmaid. Reveal to me a sign of your favor, help and comfort me so that my enemies will see and be put to shame.

Commentary:

Believers will seek to know and live according to God’s Word. His Word is the only way to know divine, eternal truth and have eternal life in the presence and fellowship of God our Creator.

Jesus is the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and demonstrated in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God, to know divine, eternal truth, and to have eternal life (John 14:15-17). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from our eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the name of the Lord (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ can we be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection demonstrate to the world the truth and power of God’s Word. Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life was experienced by over five hundred eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) and is testified to by every truly “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple of Jesus Christ since then, beginning with the Apostle Paul.

We need to pray for “united hearts” (Psalm 86:11 c). We can desire to know and do God’s will, but our hearts may also still want to live according to the desires of our flesh. We need to learn to resist the desires of our flesh so that we can trust and obey God’s will with our whole hearts.

God has shown his steadfast, unwavering love for us in giving his only Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins, while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-17). God has delivered us from the power of death (Hebrews 2:14-15) through our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Worldly people live to please themselves. Believers who try to live according to God’s Word will find themselves opposed by ruthless and godless people in this world. By the Bible record and by personal experience, as we trust and obey God’s Word, we know that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and having abundant, steadfast love and faithfulness.

God is fully able, faithful and willing to show us his favor, to give us his strength and save us from the power and intent of worldly people, so that the world can see his power and goodness. Because of God’s faithfulness, we can pray to the Lord to give us his strength and for deliverance from our enemies in certainty that he will hear and answer our prayer (See Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right, home).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 8 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 8, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 8 Pentecost – A

Isaiah 44:6-8 — God’s Uniqueness;

Paraphrase:

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: ‘I am the first and I am last; beside me there is no god” (Isaiah 44:6 b). Let him who is like God proclaim and prove it in God’s presence. Who has known and declared from ancient times the things that are to come? Let them foretell what is coming in the future. Don’t be afraid. The Lord has told us from the beginning, and we have witnessed it. Who is God beside the Lord? There is no Rock, nor any other god.

Commentary:

The Lord was the King of Israel, but Israel wanted a human king like the neighboring nations. The earthly kings of Israel were supposed to be the representatives of God, but they turned from obedience to God’s Word and to idolatry. The result was a divided monarchy, the annihilation of the northern kingdom of the ten tribes, and later the conquest and exile of the southern kingdom to Babylon.

The prophets of God’s Word warned the northern kingdom of the consequences of idolatry and disobedience of God’s Word, but the leaders and people refused to repent until they were conquered and swept away to oblivion at the fall of Samaria in 721 B C.* Likewise, the southern kingdom didn’t learn from the example of the northern kingdom or heed the prophets’ warning, and were exiled for seventy years from 587*-517 B C,** as God’s Word declared (Jeremiah 25:12). Both these disasters could have been avoided if Israel had returned to obedient trust in God’s Word. Both are examples of God’s declaration beforehand of things to come, and the fulfillment of God’s Word.

The hallmark of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word is eternal and it is always fulfilled, and fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The Bible is the testimony to the truth and faithfulness of God’s Word.

Jesus Christ is the Messiah, (Christ; both mean “anointed”) God’s “anointed” Redeemer and eternal King. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this temporal world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus was with God from the very beginning, and has been “designed into Creation. Jesus is not “another god;” Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus is the Son of God and Son of man, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:31-35).

Jesus is the Rock on which we must build our lives if they are to withstand the storms of life (Matthew 7:24-27). Jesus is the Rock who is the source of spiritual “living water,” the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Numbers 20:7-11), in the “wilderness” of this temporal world.

Jesus is the Redeemer, God’s only provision for our salvation from sin, eternal condemnation and eternal death (Acts 4:12), the only way to live according to God’s Word, to know divine, eternal truth, and to have true, eternal life in fellowship with God (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God has revealed his eternal plan for Creation in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God our Creator, and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:23). Jesus declared that one must be “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to see (now and ultimately) the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5-8). This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God in Jesus Christ, and to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

God’s Word warns that there is a Day of Judgment coming when Christ will return to judge the world. That day is not far off; it will come for each of us at the end of our lifetimes, and no one knows how long they will live. Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what he or she has done in this lifetime.

The standard of judgment is Jesus Christ. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “reborn” and will enter eternal life in paradise restored in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have refused to accept Jesus as Lord and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Are you ready for Christ’s return? Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Chronological Table of Rulers, p. 1533, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

**Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Exile” digital edition, bibledatabase.org – http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html

(see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right).


Wednesday 8 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 9, 2008;
Podcast: Wednesday 8 Pentecost – A

Romans 8:26-27 — The Spirit’s Intercession;
1 Corinthians 2:11-13 — Romans:

Romans Paraphrase:

The Holy Spirit intercedes according to God’s will, (for those who have been “born-again;” John 3:3, 5-8). God knows our innermost needs and attitudes. In our human weakness we don’t know what we need or what to ask for. We don’t know how to pray according to God’s will, but the Holy Spirit knows us and our situation perfectly and also knows perfectly God’s will. And God knows the thoughts and feelings of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11). The Holy Spirit is able to intercede for us beyond human expression or understanding.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Just as no person knows his innermost thoughts except his own spirit within him, so no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We (who have been “born-again”) have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God, so that we can understand the spiritual gifts God has given us. We are taught by the Spirit, and pass on, to those who possess the Spirit, that teaching, not by human wisdom but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

Jesus is our great high priest, our intercessor to God on our behalf. He is the ideal intercessor, because he has experienced life in human flesh in this world, just the same as us, but without yielding to temptation and sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Hebrews 4:14-16).

Jesus came to reveal the nature and character of God the Father (John 14:7-9), to show us how to to know and live according to God’s will, to make it possible for us to be forgiven for sin by his sacrifice on the Cross, and to give us spiritual, eternal life, through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9). When we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit knows us better than we know ourselves, and he knows perfectly the will of God (1 Corinthians 2:11-13). The Holy Spirit intercedes for us to God, and teaches and empowers us to know and do God’s will.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 8 Pentecost – A

First Posted July 10, 2008;
Podcast: Thursday 8 Pentecost – A

Matthew 13:24-30 (36-43) — Weeds Among Wheat;

Paraphrase:

Jesus taught in parables, stories of common daily experiences used to convey spiritual truth. In the parable of weeds among wheat, a man sowed good seed in his field, but while he slept, his enemy sowed weed seeds in it. So when the seed sprouted and grew, his servants reported the weeds to their master, and asked if the seed had contained weeds.

The master told them that his enemy had sown the weeds. The servants asked him if they should pull out the weeds, but the master told them to wait until the harvest, so as not to damage the wheat. The master said that at the harvest, he would have the reapers gather the weeds first and burn them, and then they would gather the wheat into the master’s barn.

When Jesus was alone with his disciples they asked him to explain the parable. Jesus said the man who sows good seed is the “Son of man” (Jesus). The field is the World. The good seed represents the children of God’s kingdom. The weeds are the children of Satan, the enemy. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. At the end of the age (the Day of Judgment), the Lord will send his angels to gather all the wicked to be burned in hell, where they will suffer and mourn eternally. But the righteous will be glorified and live eternally in God’s kingdom in heaven.

Commentary:

God has always intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This world is God’s “garden” for growing God’s “children.” Jesus has been “designed into” Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to show us what God is like, and to die on the Cross as the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and people, for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Jesus’ life demonstrates how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word, and the fact of existence beyond physical death. Jesus made it possible for us to have spiritual, eternal life through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We’re all born physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life. We’re all born in slavery to sin and death and the power of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15). Only Jesus can set us free (John 8:31-36; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus came proclaiming the Gospel (“good news”) of forgiveness of sin and salvation from God’s eternal condemnation and destruction. Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, the only way to have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God, and the only way to have eternal life (John 14:6).

Jesus taught in parables so that people were free to understand his message or not, as they chose. Jesus explained the meaning of the parables to those who were willing to be his disciples (students) and learn from him.

Jesus warns that there is a Day of Judgment coming, within our lifetime, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to God through Jesus Christ for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “reborn” spiritually during this lifetime, and will enter eternal life. But those who have rejected Jesus, have refused to trust and obey Jesus, will be gathered by the angels of God and thrown into the eternal fires of hell where they will spend eternity in agony and regret (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 8 Pentecost – A

Posted July 11, 2008
Podcast: Friday 8 Pentecost – A

Jeremiah 15:19-21 — God’s Promise;
Matthew 7:22-29 — Build on the Rock;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

God promises that if his servants return to him he will restore them. If they speak God’s truth rather than what is worthless they will be God’s spokespersons. God’s servants are to set an example for others, rather than being conformed to the world’s standards. God will give his servants strength like a wall of bronze. Worldly people will fight against them but will not prevail, because God is with his servants to save and deliver them. God will deliver his servants from the power of the wicked, and redeem them from the control of the ruthless.

Matthew Paraphrase:

At the Day of Judgment, many will call Jesus Lord and claim to have done many mighty works in Jesus’ name, like prophesying and casting out demons. But Jesus will tell them to depart, because they are evildoers and he never knew them.

Jesus said that those who hear Jesus’ teachings and do them are like a wise person who builds his house on a foundation of solid rock. The storms of life will not prevail, because of the firm foundation. But those who do not do what Jesus teaches are like one who builds a house on sand, without any foundation. The first storm that comes along will sweep it away, and it’s collapse will be a great catastrophe.

The crowd was amazed at Jesus’ teachings because he taught with authority, unlike the scribes.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God kept his promise to Jeremiah, and he will keep that promise to us, if we will return to him in obedient trust. God will give his servants strength to proclaim God’s Word. God’s servants can expect to be opposed by the ungodly, but God will deliver and redeem his servants from their power.

God’s servants must be careful to be an example to the world, rather than being conformed to the world’s standards. Many people today including many “church members,” nominal “Christians,” think that they will be saved because they call Jesus Lord (see Matthew 7:21). They think that, because they’re “Christians,” whatever deeds they do for the “Church” are serving the Lord. Jesus warns that it isn’t those who call Jesus Lord, but those who seek to know and do God’s will who are God’s people and citizens of God’s kingdom.

Jesus warns that we must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) we must have a personal relationship with him by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Authentic Christians are disciples (Acts 11:26 c) of Jesus Christ; students who learn and do what Jesus teaches (Matthew 28:19-20), and are “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Disciples are to be “discipled” within the Church by “born-again” disciples until they are “born-again,” before they are to be sent out into the world to carry on Christ’s mission (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples.

In too many instances today the nominal “Church” has adopted the standards of the world, rather than being an example of God’s standards in the world. The debate over homosexual clergy is one example. Too many times the “Church” has validated the secular status quo; has given its approval to the secular government, instead of using its influence to shape secular government.

Jesus’ teaching has authority because Jesus’ word is the Word of God. It has the creative force of God’s Word (Matthew 8:26-27). Jesus is God in human flesh (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Christians need to learn and know what Jesus teaches, and apply his teachings in their daily lives. Too often nominal “Christians” rely on the teaching of their “pastor” and their “church” instead of the teaching of Jesus recorded in the Bible. Only those who seek to know and obey Jesus will have a personal relationship with Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and will continue to be “discipled” by the Spirit of Christ to spiritual maturity.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 8 Pentecost – A

First posted 07/15/05;
Podcast: Saturday 8 Pentecost – A

Acts 20:17-38 – Paul’s Farewell;

Paraphrase:

At the end of Paul’s third missionary journey he came to Miletus, on the southwestern coast of present-day Turkey, and summoned the elders of the Church of Ephesus nearby. When they had assembled, Paul reminded them of how he had served the Lord in humility, with tears and trials of persecution by the Jews. Paul had preached the full gospel in public and in individual houses, not altering it to make it more appealing, teaching both Jews and Greeks the message of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Now Paul was returning to Jerusalem, knowing by the indwelling Holy Spirit that trouble and imprisonment awaited him there. But Paul didn’t regard his physical life as important; his only interest was in finishing the ministry Jesus had given him of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God. Paul told them that the Christians in Asia would see Paul no more. Paul had declared the full Word of God, so he would not be responsible for the eternal death of anyone in the Church. He instructed the elders to guard and feed the Church diligently, remembering that Jesus had established it by his blood.

Paul warned that fierce “wolves” would attack the Church and false teachers would arise among the Church to lead astray the disciples (Church members; believers; Acts 11:26c). So the elders should remember that Paul had worked and suffered for the Church for three years to establish it.

Now Paul commended the Church to the Lord’s care and to the “Word of his grace,” which is able to build them up and give them a share in the eternal inheritance of the saints. Paul had set an example for them, not seeking monetary reward for his ministry, but instead working in a secular trade so that the Church would not be burdened by Paul’s living expenses and those who were with him. Paul had demonstrated that Christians must make every effort to help the weak, remembering that giving is more blessed than receiving.

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all wept, embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving because they would not see Paul again. Then they accompanied Paul to the ship.

Commentary:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had been a persecutor of Christians until his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22). At Paul’s conversion, the Lord told the “born-again” disciple, Ananias, who “discipled” Paul, that Paul would suffer much for the gospel (Acts 9:16-17).

Paul didn’t let persecution prevent or cause him to modify his preaching of the gospel so as to be more “popular.” Paul knew trouble awaited him in Jerusalem, but that didn’t prevent him from going.

Jesus had established the gospel at the cost of his suffering and death on the Cross, and Paul was willing to accept his “cross” of suffering for the sake of the gospel. Paul was fulfilling Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 10:38) and Jesus’ “Great Commission” to his disciples to make disciples, teaching them to obey all Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28:19-20), after they had been “reborn” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Paul warned the Church to be on guard against false teachers and false prophets within and outside the Church. Paul had made great sacrifices to teach the new Christians sound biblical, apostolic (as taught by the apostles including Paul) gospel of Jesus Christ. Now it was up to the individual believers and Church leaders to hold fast to the full gospel Paul had taught.

There are many false prophets and teachers today within and outside of the Church. There are many congregations where the leaders preach only part of the gospel; the part that people enjoy hearing (2Timothy 4:3-4). Convicting people of sin and calling for repentance and obedient trust in God’s Word is not popular, but unless leaders are willing to be “unpopular” they will be held accountable for the eternal death of their members. It is possible for people to choose congregations to join that tamper with or preach only a partial gospel, but those congregations are not doing their members any good.

It is important for all Christians to read and know the entire Bible for themselves, and to also read portions daily. That is the only way to guard against false teaching and false prophets. Any average reader can read the entire Bible from cover-to-cover in one year (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right).

It is important to remember that the New Testament scriptures are available to us because of the commitment of Paul and the other Apostles, and by many others since. Paul made great effort to accurately preserve the apostolic gospel.

Paul was not merely a “peddler of God’s Word” (2 Corinthians 4:2). Paul was guided and empowered by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul’s ministry was not a “career choice.” Paul wasn’t trying to glorify himself.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 7 Pentecost – A 07/23 – 29/2017

July 22, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 7 Pentecost – A

Sunday 7 Pentecost A

First Posted June 29, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 7 Pentecost A

Zechariah 9:9-12 — Our Coming King;
Psalm 145:1-2 (3-13) 14-21 — God’s Character;
Romans 7:15-25a — Inner Conflict;
Matthew 11:25-30 — Jesus’ Authority;

Zechariah Paraphrase:

The children of Zion (the temple mount; Israel; the Church), children of Jerusalem (the city of God), rejoice greatly with loud shouts. “Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). In that day the Lord will end warfare and will destroy the weapons of war. He will command peace to all nations, and he will reign in sovereign authority over all lands and people of earth, from the River (Euphrates; the river flowing from the Garden of Eden; the cradle of civilization), to the most distant corners of the earth.

By the blood of the (New) Covenant, the Lord will free us from captivity (to sin and death) in the waterless pit (Hell). Return to the Lord who is our stronghold, and become captives of hope. The Lord has promised to restore us doubly.

Psalm Paraphrase:

I will lift up and bless the name of the Lord, my God and King. I will bless and praise the Lord every day throughout eternity. The Lord is great and worthy of all our praise. His greatness is vastly more than we can comprehend.

Let each generation praise and declare God’s works to the next. Let us meditate on the glorious splendor of God’s grandeur and his wondrous works. People will proclaim God’s awesome power and works. They will proclaim and build up God’s fame for his abundant goodness, and praise his righteousness. I will declare God’s greatness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:8-9).

All God’s creatures will give thanks to God; all who are godly (all who obey God’s Word; “believers”) will bless his name. They will testify to the glory and splendor of his kingdom, and of his power and mighty deeds. His kingdom is eternal, and his sovereign authority is throughout all generations.

God’s Word and his every deed is faithful and gracious. He lifts up the fallen and restores the oppressed. All creatures depend upon the Lord to supply their food as needed. When the Lord gives, he satisfies the need of every living thing. All of his ways are just, and all his deeds are kind. He is near to all who call upon him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear (have the appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority of) God. He hears their cries and saves them. He will preserve all who love him, but he will destroy the wicked.

May I praise the Lord in all I say. May I bless his name throughout eternity.

Romans Paraphrase:

It is hard to understand how we can desire to do what we know is right, but still not do it. If we recognize that we do what we know is not right, we affirm that God’s Law is good. The fact that we do what we know is not right shows us that our physical nature is sinful. We cannot overcome sin by our own will.

The fact is, that whenever we want to do what is right, temptation to evil is close by. In my spirit I delight in God’s Law, but my physical body is at war with God’s Law, and I am enslaved by my physical body. Only God, through our faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, can deliver me from slavery to sin which otherwise results in eternal death. Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:23).

Matthew Paraphrase:

The mystery of God’s plan for creation is hidden from those who consider themselves wise and understanding by worldly standards (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8), but by his gracious will he reveals it to those who are humble, trusting and obedient like children. God has given all authority over all things to Jesus. Only Jesus knows God as fully as God knows Jesus, and Jesus reveals God the Father to whomever he chooses.

Jesus invites those who are burdened and tired and he will give them rest. The yoke of discipleship to Jesus is not too difficult or burdensome, compared to our bondage to sin and death. We can learn humility and gentleness and receive spiritual rest from Jesus.

Commentary:

We have all been born into slavery to sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and (eternal) death (the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23). Jesus came into the world to become the only sacrifice, once for all time and all people, acceptable to God, for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus’ blood, shed on the Cross, seals the New Covenant of Salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right). Under the New Covenant, which Jesus instituted on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-29), we are saved from eternal condemnation and eternal death by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Jesus is the Savior God promised, to free us from captivity to sin and eternal death in Hell (Zechariah 9:11). Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, entering Jerusalem on a young donkey the week before his crucifixion (Matthew 21:1-11), which the Church celebrates as Palm Sunday.

God has designed Creation so that we can learn to trust and obey him, by “trial and error,” and be “reborn” to eternal life in his heavenly kingdom. Jesus Christ had been God’s plan from the very beginning and has been “built into” Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). God sent Jesus into the world in flesh and blood, to show us how to live in obedience to God’s Word and to make it possible for us to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8).

It is impossible for us in our own human flesh to overcome sin by our own will. We are slaves of sin and death. Jesus came in human flesh to destroy the power of Satan and eternal death (Hebrews 2:14-15). We are all enslaved by our physical bodies and only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we be delivered from the power of sin and death.

We will all serve Jesus or we will serve Satan. Those who sin are in slavery to sin and death (John 8:34-36). Only Jesus can set us free.

In order to be disciples of Jesus we must be willing to sacrifice our self-will in order to do his will. Self-will leads to eternal destruction, but God’s will leads to eternal life. God’s will for us is far better than we could imagine or design for ourselves. We will have to serve someone or something; serving Jesus is eternally rewarding.

The (nominal) Church is failing to pass on the praise of the Lord to the next generation. The Church has failed to make “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ, who have a personal relationship with Jesus and God the Father through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Without born-again disciples who have a personal knowledge and experience of the Lord there can be no personal testimony to the the character and works of God.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 7 Pentecost A

First Posted June 30, 2008;
Podcast: Monday 7 Pentecost A

Psalm 65 — Lord of the Harvest;

Paraphrase:

The Lord God in Zion (the temple mount; the Holy City; the Church) deserves our praise. Our Lord hears our prayers; all people shall come to him because of sin. When we succumb to sins the Lord forgives them. Those who the Lord chooses and draws near to dwell in his household are blessed. We will find true satisfaction with the goodness of the Lord’s house, his holy temple.

The God of our salvation answers us with deliverance by awesome deeds. Hope in the Lord extends to those who are at the farthest ends of the earth. The Lord is the Creator of the highest mountains by his great power. The Lord controls the roaring of the sea and its waves, and he reigns over the tumult of the people. The people in the most remote places on earth fear the manifestation of the Lord’s power. The Lord gives joy in the sunrise and sunset.

The Lord waters the earth and makes it fertile. “The river of God is full of water” (Psalm 65:9 c). The Lord provides food in the harvest in due season, according to his design of Creation. The Lord waters the field, smooths the ridges, softening the soil with showers and blessing its fertility. The Lord glorifies the year with abundant goodness. “the tracks of thy (the Lord’s) chariot drip with fatness” (Psalm 65:11 b). The meadows are covered with flocks, the valleys are carpeted with grain. Together they sing for joy.

Commentary:

The Lord reigns in Zion (his heavenly city) over Creation. He is worthy of our great praise. He is our Lord who hears and answers our prayers. He is the only cure for the consequence of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) which is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

The Lord chooses all of us and draws us near to him (John 12:32), so that we can dwell in his eternal household, but we must choose to accept his calling. Those who enter his house will be abundantly blessed and find true satisfaction now, and eternally.

When we cry out in faith (obedient trust) to God to save us he answers us with deliverance by awesome deeds and supernatural power. Even at the farthest ends and remotest corners of the earth we are not beyond hope in his salvation.

The Lord of Creation reigns over it. He can calm the roaring of the seas and waves and quiet the tumults of people. In him the beginning and end of each day is blessed and joyous.

The design of God’s Creation is very good (Genesis 1:31); in fact, perfect. He has designed the earth to be fertile and produce food abundantly for all his creatures. He brings forth a bountiful harvest. As we follow in his way, we will be blessed with the fulfillment of every need.

This Creation is the (physical) garden of the Lord. He has designed it to provide every good thing we need. If we trust and obey him and follow in his way (the “track of his chariot;” Psalm 65:11 b) we will be blessed and find true satisfaction and goodness in this lifetime and eternally.

This Creation is also God’s spiritual garden, and we are his planting and his crop. We are all chosen by God to dwell in his eternal household, but he gives us the choice of whether to accept his invitation. We are free to accept or decline his spiritual nurture which will produce a fruitful spiritual harvest in and through us.

The Holy Spirit is the spiritual river of God (Psalm 46:4). Ezekiel foresaw the spiritual river of God as a spring flowing from the altar in the temple in Zion and out into the world, getting larger as it flowed (Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8; Revelation 22:1-2). The Holy Spirit is the spring of “living water” within Jesus’ disciples that flows out from them into the world and wells up to eternal life (John 7:37-39).

Jesus is the only source of “living water” (John 4:10-15). Only Jesus “baptizes” with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the only source of spiritual “rebirth” and eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We have all sinned and have fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation from eternal condemnation for sin (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God is the Lord who hears and answers prayer, through Jesus Christ, for those who trust and obey Jesus (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right). Jesus is the only way to forgiveness of sin, restoration to fellowship with God and to eternal life in God’s eternal household and kingdom in heaven (John 14:6).

Jesus is God’s answer to our need for deliverance from sin and eternal death. Jesus demonstrated by great supernatural deeds that he is our deliverer who alone can heal our spiritual sickness and raise us from spiritual death to eternal life. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the ultimate supernatural act of God demonstrating that there is existence after physical death and that God has the power to raise us from the dead through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 7 Pentecost A

First Posted July 1, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 7 Pentecost A

Isaiah 55:10-11 — God’s Word;
Romans 8:18-25 — Futility in this World;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return without accomplishing their purpose to water the earth and bring forth seed to be sown and grain for bread to be eaten. So likewise, God’s Word goes forth and does not return to God empty, but it accomplishes what God intended, and the purpose for which he sent it.

Romans Paraphrase:

Compared to the glory of eternal life in heaven, the sufferings of this present world are well worth it. Creation awaits the revealing of the children of God with eager longing. This Creation has been subjected to futility by God who subjected it in hope, because Creation will be set free from the bondage to decay and death and obtain liberty with the Children of God.

Until now, the entire Creation has been suffering travail like birth pangs, as we ourselves, “who have the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons (and daughters) of God, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). That is the hope in which we were saved. There is no need to hope for what one sees, but if one hopes for what is not seen, one waits for it patiently.

Commentary:

The hallmark of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God’s Word is always fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God created this world for a specific purpose: to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. God designed this Creation to be a physical garden and also a spiritual garden. God provides physical seed for sowing and physical bread for eating by providing physical rain and snow for watering, and he blesses and causes the earth to be fertile and produce a physical harvest.

But earth is also a spiritual garden, and we are God’s planting. He has given us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey him or not, and the opportunity to learn by “trial and error.”

God has given us his spiritual Word in the Bible and in the “living Word,” Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). God’s Word has gone forth and will not return to him without accomplishing his purpose.

Those who trust and obey God’s Word through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ will be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31.34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We are the spiritual planting of the Lord, intended to grow to spiritual maturity and to produce a spiritual harvest. We are to learn how to be guided by the Holy Spirit and to fulfill the mission of Christ to bring forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation to a spiritually lost and dying world.

The Holy Spirit is the spring of “living water” within us (John 7:37-39) which makes it possible for us to know and do God’s will and produce spiritual “fruit” which God intends for us to produce (Ephesians 2:10). The Lord intends for the “living water” of the Holy Spirit within us to flow from us out into the world. But we must first be filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8).

In order to provide us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, God has designed Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), but God is not going to tolerate sin forever, and not in his eternal kingdom, so we and all Creation are limited by time which leads to decay and death. God created a perfect world (Genesis 1:31); the things we see that are wrong with this world are the result of human sin.

All of us have sinned and have fallen short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right and good and true according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). God doesn’t want us to perish eternally but to live eternally in paradise in his heavenly kingdom (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when this temporal Creation will end and everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime. This won’t be generations away; each of us will face it within our lifetime, and no one can be certain how long that will be.

When we die our eternal destiny will be fixed and unchangeable. Those who have learned to trust and obey God’s Word through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ will receive eternal life in God’s new Creation, restored to paradise in his kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “reborn” during this lifetime. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the firstfruit of eternal life, which begins now in this lifetime in this temporal world. We begin now to experience the presence and fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father now. We can expect abuse and persecution from the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but we experience a mere taste of the joy of the presence and the fellowship with the Lord which is coming in his eternal kingdom. The indwelling Holy Spirit is our comforter and consoler (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7 KJV); which makes suffering for the Gospel bearable.

God subjected this Creation to bondage to decay and death with hope. God hopes that we will learn to trust and obey him and realize that his Word is our best interest; it is the way that leads to truth and to eternal joy, satisfaction and true life (John 14:6).

We do not yet see Creation restored to perfection. We do not yet see the presence and fellowship unbroken that we will experience in eternal life, but we have the foretaste and assurance now. We can learn from experience that God’s Word is absolutely dependable and true. We can know with certainty that we have been spiritually reborn, and that that we will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 7 Pentecost A

First Posted July 2, 2008;
Podcast: Wednesday 7 Pentecost A

Matthew 13:1-9 (18-23) — The Parable of the Sower;

Paraphrase:

Jesus was sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd gathered around him, so he got into a boat and the crowd stood on the shore, and he taught them many things in parables (stories of everyday experiences used to convey spiritual truth).

In the parable of the sower, a sower went out to sow, and some seed fell along the path and birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground. Because there was no depth of soil, the seed sprouted quickly but soon withered because the roots had no depth. Some seed fell among thorns and as they grew the thorns choked them out. Some seed fell on good soil and yielded a harvest of thirty, sixty or a hundred times what had been sown.

Jesus explained his parables privately to his disciples. The seed is the Gospel, the Word of God. The path represents those who hear the Gospel without understanding. Satan comes and snatches it from their hearts before it has a chance to sprout. The rocky soil represents those who hear the Word and receive it enthusiastically but do not allow the Word to become deeply rooted in them. When trouble or persecution arises they wither and fall away. Thorny ground represents those who hear the Word, but the cares and pleasures of this world choke it and it becomes unfruitful. The good soil represents those who receive the soil and allow it to grow to maturity and produce fruit.

Commentary:

The parable of the sower describes our spiritual situation. In America and even within the Church today there are many people who haven’t heard the Gospel with understanding. There are those who think they know; they’ve heard about Jesus, but they haven’t allowed the Gospel to take root in their hearts and lives. Or they have allowed the Gospel to sprout but not put down deep roots, so that when trouble happens they fall away. Or they have allowed worldly possessions and pleasures to crowd out the Gospel.

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26 c) who has been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Seekers and believers are to be “discipled” within the Church by mature, “born-again” disciples, until they are “reborn” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8) and then they are to be guided and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit to be fruitful (Ephesians 2:10) and help in the spiritual harvest of many times their own souls. Born-again Christian disciples are then to go into the world and make “born-again” disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

Unfortunately in many “nominal” Churches this is not happening! Many “Churches” are settling for making “members” and building buildings, instead of making disciples and teaching them to trust and obey all that Jesus teaches. Many Church “people” think that discipleship is a optional category of “super-Christian.”

Discipleship is a process of spiritual growth toward spiritual maturity. Jesus showed us how the Church is supposed to do it. The first disciples were with Jesus twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for about three years, and still were not ready to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel until they had been “born-again” on the first Christian Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), the “birthday” of the Church.

The Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was intended by God to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, (instead of Matthias, whom the disciples elected when they were supposed to be waiting for the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit; Acts 1:15-26). Paul was intended by God to be the prototype and example of all modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, as we all can and should become. His conversion (Acts 9:1-22) is unique because it happened in days instead of years, but that is because he already loved God and had been formally educated in the Biblical Scriptures. He just needed to realize that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ; God’s promised “anointed” Savior and eternal king).

Paul’s conversion is intended by God to be the model for the Church. Paul was confronted by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4-5). Paul accepted Jesus’ rebuke and Lordship (Acts 9:5a), and became obedient to Jesus’ command (Acts 9:6). Paul’s loss of physical vision was intended to make Paul aware of his spiritual blindness. He went into Damascus and repented with prayer and fasting for three days, waiting for the fulfillment of Jesus’ word, telling him what to do. A “born-again” disciple, Ananias, was led by the Holy Spirit to go to Paul (Acts 9:10-16) and disciple him until Paul was “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18), and then Paul was guided and empowered to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 9:20-22).

Jesus attracted large crowds, but not every one allowed the Gospel to take root and produce fruit. Jesus preached in parables, so that people were free to not understand if they chose, but Jesus explained his parables to those who were willing to be his disciples.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 7 Pentecost A

First Posted July 3, 2008;
Podcast: Thursday 7 Pentecost A

Jeremiah 31:23-25 — The Lord will Restore;

Paraphrase:

Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah, the remnant of Israel, who warned Judah of the judgment of God coming upon them as the result of their idolatry and disobedience of God’s Word. Judah had time and opportunity to repent and avoid exile to Babylon, but did not, up to the moment that Jerusalem was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

God allowed Judah to be conquered and carried off into exile, but he promised in advance that he would bring them back after 70 years (a virtual life sentence for adults at the time of exile; Jeremiah 25:12). The seventy years are calculated from the destruction of the temple in 587 B. C., to its restoration in 517 B.C.. God’s Word was fulfilled.

Today’s text from Jeremiah was written sometime after 587 B.C.* God promised that he would restore the fortunes of Judah. Once more Judah would be blessed by the Lord as the habitation of righteousness and God’s holy hill (Zion; the temple mount in Jerusalem).

The Lord promised that Judah would be restored to their homes in the Promised Land. They would again farm and herd flocks of animals. “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:25).

Commentary:

God disciplines his children for their good, like a good father. They refused to trust and obey God’s Word through Jeremiah, so God allowed them to suffer the consequences, in exile in Babylon. In exile they learned to trust and obey God, and the remnant of Israel who returned to their Promised Land were a transformed and renewed people.

The Exile in Babylon was also intended by God to be a metaphor, a parable, of life in this world. In one sense we are all in exile in “Babylon,” learning to trust and obey God’s Word, and hoping in God’s promise of satisfying and restoring the weary and the languishing souls (our eternal being within each of us).

In another sense, “Babylon” is a metaphor for Hell, the eternal consequence of idolatry and disobedience of God’s Word. God has given us his Word in the Bible and through his prophets. Now is the time to hear and obey his call for repentance and return to obedient trust in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Satan is at the very gate where we live. If we are carried off to that “Babylon,” we will die eternally there; there is no hope of return to the “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Jeremiah 31:23-40n, p. 955, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Friday 7 Pentecost A

First Posted July 4, 2008;
Podcast: Friday 7 Pentecost A

Acts 14: 8-23 — Mistaken for “gods;”

Paraphrase:

On Paul’s first missionary journey, at Lystra, in what is present-day Turkey, he encountered a man whose feet were crippled and who had never walked. Paul looked intently at the man, and seeing that he had the faith to be healed, told him to stand up on his feet. The man rose and walked. When the crowd saw what had happened, they hailed Paul and his companion, Barnabas, as gods, Hermes and Zeus, respectively. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, came with garlands and with oxen to offer as a sacrificial feast to them.

Paul and Barnabas spoke to the crowd, telling them that Paul and Barnabas were mere mortals, like themselves. Paul and Barnabas had brought them “good news” (“Gospel” means “good news;” specifically the Gospel of Jesus Christ) so that they should turn from futile idolatry to the one true, living God, the creator of heaven and earth and everything in them. Until this time, God had allowed the nations to pursue their own ways, although God had provided testimony to his existence and nature through Creation. He gave them rain and harvest, providing them with food and gladness. So Paul and Barnabas barely restrained the people from offering sacrifices to them.

Paul had been persecuted by Jews in the previous villages of Iconium and Antioch, and Jews followed him to Lystra and incited the people to stone Paul and leave him for dead outside the city. But when the disciples gathered around Paul, he got up and went back into the city. The next day Barnabas and Paul went on to Derbe.

After preaching the Gospel and making many disciples they returned through Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, encouraging the new disciples and exhorting them to be strong in faith, knowing that they would experience trials on the way to God’s eternal kingdom. After prayer and fasting, the missionaries appointed elders in each Church, and then left, having commended them to the Lord in whom they believed.

Commentary:

Notice that when the people of Lystra mistook Paul and Barnabas for “gods,” the missionaries refused to accept their “worship.” But Jesus, when his disciples equated Jesus with God, did not “correct” or rebuke them (Matthew 16:16-18; John 20:28) because Jesus is God in human flesh; the Son of God (Colossians 2:8-9).

God is the one and only true, living, God, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. God hears and has the power to answer prayer (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right). Loving and serving any one or any thing as much as or more than God is idolatry. All other “gods” are idols, the creation of the hands and minds of humans. Idols can’t even do anything for themselves, but become a burden to their human creators. Some modern idols are wealth, power, success, pleasure, career, family, and home.

Creation testifies to the goodness and wisdom of the Creator. God allowed the people of earth to pursue their own ways until the coming of the Messiah (Christ). At the perfect moment in history Jesus came into the world to fulfill God’s purpose; to become the one and only sacrifice, for all time and all people who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust), acceptable to God, for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and our restoration to fellowship and eternal life with God in his eternal kingdom.

Now that God’s character and plan for Creation have been revealed in Jesus Christ, we are accountable to him for what we do with the “good news” of the Gospel. God overlooked our former spiritual ignorance, but from now on, our response to the Gospel has personal and eternal consequences for each of us.

Those who cannot recognize spiritual truth in the Bible and in Jesus Christ will be eternally condemned by their unbelief (John 3:18-20). People will either love, trust and obey Jesus, or they will hate and refuse to trust and obey him, and will seek to destroy him.

If people hate and try to destroy Jesus, they will treat his disciples no better. The people of Lystra were pleased to welcome Paul and Barnabas because of their power of physical healing; free health care. But when Paul began to rebuke their “religion,” their idolatry, they became angry enough to attempt to kill him. The only reason they didn’t succeed is because God did not allow it.

Paul was carrying out the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, &8) which Jesus gave to his disciples, to make (born-again) disciples of Jesus Christ only after they had been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). Paul is the prototype and illustration of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as we all can and should be.

Paul was making “disciples.” Paul had been “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-15), until Paul was spiritually “reborn” (Acts 9:17-18). And then immediately Paul began to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 9:20-22). God’s Word prophesied that Paul would suffer greatly for the Gospel (Acts 9:16) and that prophecy was being fulfilled. Paul told the new believers that they would also have to withstand trials in their spiritual walk.

Paul chose congregation leaders by the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. He chose leaders God knew would be “born-again” disciples. Everyone who believes (trusts and obeys) Jesus will be “reborn” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 7 Pentecost A

First Posted July 5, 2008;
Podcast: Saturday 7 Pentecost A

Matthew 10:24-31 — The Cost of Discipleship;

Paraphrase:

A disciple is not greater than his teacher nor a servant above his master. If the worldly have called the master of the house Beelzebul (the Prince of demons, Satan), won’t they say even worse things about his household?

So disciples should not fear the worldly; that which has been covered up will be revealed, and what is hidden will be made known. What Jesus makes known to his disciples in private they are to declare in public; and what they hear whispered they should shout from rooftops. Disciples should have no fear of those who can kill them physically but who have no power over their souls; instead, they should fear him who can throw both body and soul into hell. Small birds (for sacrificial offerings) were sold two for a penny, yet not a single bird dies without God’s notice and will. God even knows the number of hairs on our heads, so don’t worry, we are more precious than many sparrows.

Commentary:

The worldly people hated Jesus and tried to destroy him by crucifixion. God allowed it because it was part of God’s eternal plan for Creation. Those who are living in their “flesh” are hostile to God and cannot and will not submit to God or please him (Romans 8:7-8).

We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ Acts 4:12; john 14:6). This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again,” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Satan is the present ruler of this world, but he has already been defeated at the Cross of Jesus Christ. He wants to destroy us, but only the Lord has the authority to judge “the living and dead” (1 Peter 4:5), in both the physical and spiritual senses. Worldly people can kill Jesus’ disciples physically, but they cannot kill them spiritually and eternally. “The fear (respect for the power and authority) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).

Who we believe Jesus to be is a matter of eternal consequences for each of us individually and personally, and it reveals our spiritual condition. Those who misperceive Jesus as Beelzebul, the Prince of demons, demonstrate that they are children of Satan and spiritually dead (John 8:37-47).

Jesus’ disciples cannot expect to be better treated by worldly people than Jesus was. The truth of the Gospel and God’s eternal plan cannot be suppressed or hidden by the enemies of the Gospel. The Gospel is not a secret; God has revealed it to Jesus’ disciples in his Word, the Bible, and in Jesus Christ.

We must not be intimidated by worldly people. We must try to serve and please the Lord, and not be concerned by what the world thinks of us, or may try to do to silence us. God is able to protect us unto eternal life.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 6 Pentecost – A – 07/16 – 22/2017

July 15, 2017

July 23, 2011

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 6 Pentecost A

Sunday 6 Pentecost A

First Posted June 22, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 6 Pentecost A

Jeremiah 28:5-9 – The Test of Prophecy;
Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 – David’s Throne;
Romans 6:1b-11 – New Life in Christ;
Matthew 10:34-42 – Discipleship;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

The prophet Jeremiah had warned Judah, the remnant of Israel since the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the divided monarchy, in about 605 B.C.,* that because of disobedience of God’s Word and idolatry (loving anyone or anything more than the Lord), Judah would be exiled to Babylon for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:9-12). In 594 B.C. Hananiah proclaimed in the temple in the presence of Jeremiah and all the priests and people that God had promised that within two years, the people and sacred temple vessels that had been carried of to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar would be returned.

Then Jeremiah replied, Amen! (may it be so). May the exiles and the sacred vessels be returned as Hananiah had prophesied. But Jeremiah told the people to hear and remember that from ancient times prophets had prophesied war, famine, and epidemics against many nations and kingdoms. “As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.

Psalm Paraphrase;

The psalmist testified to and praised the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord. The Lord’s steadfast love is eternal and his faithfulness is as unshakable as the heavens. God has made a covenant with his chosen one and has promised David that David’s descendants and David’s throne will be established forever (see Psalm 89:19-37; 2 Samuel 7:16).

People who know the festal shout, who walk in the light of God’s presence, who rejoice in the name of the Lord and praise his righteousness are blessed. Be glorified, Lord, for your are our strength, and by your favor we are given power. Our allegiance belongs to the Lord; our king belongs to the Holy One of Israel.

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul taught that salvation is by God’s grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) and some were suggesting that it was alright to continue in sin. Paul refuted that conclusion. How can those who have died to sin continue to live in it? All who have been baptized into Jesus Christ have been baptized into Jesus’ death, so that we may also be raised with Jesus from the dead to new, spiritual, eternal, life.

If we are united with Christ in his death we will also be united with him in his resurrection. We should realize that our old sinful nature has been crucified with Christ, so that our sinful flesh will die, freeing us from sin, because the dead are no longer in the power of sin. If we have died with Christ we can be certain that we will also live with him. Christ, having been raised from physical death to eternal life will never die again, having been freed from the power of death. Jesus died to sin so that he can live for God, and so we must follow Jesus’ example and consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus warns that he has not come to bring peace on earth. Jesus knows that his message will cause division and opposition in the world, even between the closest relationships between family and among friends. Those who love family or friends more than they love the Lord cannot be Jesus’ disciples. Those who are unwilling to bear suffering and self-sacrifice for Jesus’ sake are unworthy of the Gospel. Those who find satisfaction in their worldly lives will lose them, but those who are willing to lose their worldly lives for Jesus will find what is truly and eternally life.

Those who receive Jesus’ disciples receive Jesus, and those who receive Jesus receive God the Father who sent Jesus. Those who receive a prophet receive the same reward as the prophet, and those who receive a righteous person will receive the same reward for righteousness. Anyone who does the slightest favor for a disciple of Jesus because he is a disciple will not go unrewarded.

Commentary:

God had called Jeremiah to proclaim God’s Word of warning and impending judgment on Judah, the remnant of Israel, who had turned away from obedient trust in God’s Word and was pursuing idolatry. Jeremiah had faithfully and fully proclaimed God’s Word. Another person claimed to proclaim God’s Word, suggesting that the impending exile to Babylon would be no big deal; they’d be back home in two years and would recover all that had been taken from them. Jeremiah said he wished that might be so, but he warned that the test of prophecy is its fulfillment.

The prophecy of Jeremiah was intended to bring Judah to repent of their idolatry and disobedience, and to return to obedient trust in the Lord so that they could avoid the consequences of sin, which is eternal death (Romans 6:23). The effect of Hananiah’s prophecy was to lull them into complacency until they had been exiled to Babylon. Then it would be too late for them to change their destiny, and seventy years was a virtual life sentence for adults at the time of the deportation.

Those who have experienced the Lord will testify to, and praise, the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness. God’s Word is always fulfilled. God promised David that David’s descendants would be established for ever (Psalm 89:4 a), and the throne of David would be eternal. God’s Word was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the “Son (descendant) of David” (Matthew 1:1; 21:9), the “anointed” (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively) savior and eternal king. Christians are the spiritual sons of David who have been established for ever in eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

People who trust and obey Jesus will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the light of God’s presence within Jesus’ disciples to guide our lives. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can express the festal shout of glory and praise to the Lord in worship. It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are strengthened and empowered so that we can glorify the Lord. We only receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we commit our allegiance to Jesus as our Lord, and acknowledge that Jesus is our king, the eternal heir to the throne of David, “anointed” to reign eternally by the Holy One of Israel. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh in this temporal world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus showed us how to live in obedient trust in God’s Word. Jesus resisted sin even to death by crucifixion. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates that there is existence beyond physical death, and that dying to sin in the flesh leads to eternal life.

We have to give up trying to serve and please ourselves, and learn to serve and please the Lord. We must follow Jesus’ example, as he trusted and obeyed God’s Word, knowing that it would lead to his crucifixion. He carried his cross physically to his execution.

Jesus didn’t come to bring peace with those who hate and oppose God. He didn’t come to bring what the world falsely considers peace (Matthew 14:26-27). Jesus gives his disciples eternal peace which cannot be taken away; peace with God, not peace with the world. Discipleship requires us to surrender everything temporal to the Lord, but we receive in exchange everything eternal, including eternal life in paradise restored in the kingdom of heaven.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9 b). Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who receive the “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as they begin to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings. Those who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit receive the Spirit of Christ, and those who receive the Spirit of Christ have received the Spirit of God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 14:23).

Those who receive Jesus’ disciples receive Jesus. Those who recognize a prophet of God’s Word will receive the same reward as the prophet. Those who recognize righteousness will be rewarded with the righteous. Those who recognize and bless the disciples of Jesus will be blessed along with his disciples.

There are many people in the world and in the (nominal) Church today who claim to proclaim the Word of God but who preach false reassurance to people who desperately need to be convicted of sin so that they can repent and turn from idolatry and disobedience of God’s Word. The test of prophecy is its fulfillment, but by the time people are in the “Babylon” of Hell, it is too late to change their eternal destiny. They will die eternally there. God will bring a remnant of his people into his eternal Promised Land, but it won’t include them.

There are only two ways to know whether a prophet truly proclaims God’s Word or not, and one is fulfillment of prophecy. The other is to have read and know God’s Word recorded in the Bible. Those who haven’t read and know what the Bible says, are easily victimized by false teachers and false prophets. The average reader can easily read the entire Bible in one year, and there are many plans available (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right).

There are two main false teachings in the (nominal) Church today which were present in the first century Church and are recorded and refuted in the New Testament. One has recently been known as “Cheap Grace,”** teaching salvation by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor), which is true, but without the requirement of obedience and discipleship (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right) which Paul has refuted in this text. We have been saved by grace, but that doesn’t mean that we can continue to live in sin.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Jeremiah 25:1-14n, p.945, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962

**See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Monday 6 Pentecost A

First Posted June 23, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 6 Pentecost A

Psalm 145:1-2 (3-13) 14-22 – Hymn of Praise;

Paraphrase:

The Psalmist, David, vows to exalt the Lord, his God and King, and bless and praise his name every day forever. The Lord is great and worthy of great praise, and his greatness is beyond knowing.

“One generation shall laud [the Lord’s] works to another, and testify to [his] mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4). Let us meditate on God’s glorious majesty and his amazing works. Let us proclaim his awesome power and greatness. Let the fame of his greatness and abundant goodness pour forth. Let us sing aloud of his righteousness.

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:8-9).

Let all the creatures give thanks to the Lord, and let all his saints bless him. They will testify to the glory of the Lord’s kingdom and his power, to make known to all people the great things the Lord has done and the splendor of his kingdom. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom and his reign is over all generations.

The Lord is always faithful in all his words and all his deeds are gracious. The Lord upholds those who stumble, and lifts up those who are burdened. All creatures depend upon the Lord for their food, and the Lord provides for them at the right time. When the Lord opens his hand the desire of every creature is satisfied. All his ways are just and kind. “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. He fulfills the desire of all who fear him, he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him; but all the wicked he will destroy” (Psalm 145:18-20).

Let us praise the Lord; let all people bless his name for ever and ever.

Commentary:

David was the shepherd boy who trusted and obeyed the Lord and came to a personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord. God said of David that his heart followed God’s and he was committed to do all God’s will (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20). He personally experienced the Lord’s faithfulness and power to deliver and protect him from his enemies, to forgive him when David sinned, and to lift him up from shepherd boy to become the great king of Israel. David was able to personally testify to the great things the Lord had done for him.

David is also a prototype and illustration of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, whom God had promised, who would be fully obedient to God’s Word and would be the heir to David’s throne and kingdom for eternity.

God has always intended from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. This Creation has been designed to allow us to have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s Word is “good, acceptable and perfect.” This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27).

God wants us to seek and find him, and he has been progressively revealing himself to us, first in the goodness of creation, then through the Bible record of God’s dealing with Israel, then through Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh, and ultimately through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The Bible is one way in which the older generation has passed the record of the great power, faithfulness, and steadfast love of the Lord to the following generations. The Bible is the recorded testimony of people who trusted and obeyed God’s Word and experienced God’s great glory, providence and saving acts. Those who trust and obey the Word of God in the Bible will come to personally know and experience the Lord God through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26 b) who have trusted and obeyed Jesus and have been spiritually “reborn” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have personal experience, knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord and can testify to “seekers” and new generations the truth, power and faithfulness of God’s Word.

In many instances the “nominal” Church, particularly in America, has failed to pass on the testimony of the character and great works of God to the next generation. In many instances the Church has settled for making members and building buildings instead of making “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples, and passing on the personal experience and knowledge of God to the next generation.

The Church urgently needs revival. “Christians” need to commit themselves to be “disciples,” to make it a personal priority to know Jesus’ teachings with the commitment to applying them in their own daily lives. Christians need to seek the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“Christians” cannot testify to what they haven’t personally experienced. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. The place to begin is with ourselves.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 6 Pentecost A

First Posted June 24, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 6 Pentecost A

Zechariah 9:9-12 – The Coming King;

Paraphrase:

Celebrate with great joy and singing, daughter of Zion (the hill on which the temple was built in Jerusalem; God’s People), daughter of Jerusalem. “Lo, your king comes to you ; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on the colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9 c). In the Messianic age, the Lord will bring about the end of war (Psalm 46:9), he will destroy the instruments of war: the chariot, war horse, and bow and arrow (Hosea 2:18; Psalm 46:9; Micah 4:3). The Lord will reign in power “from sea to sea, and from the River (Euphrates; cradle of Civilization; the river of the Garden of Eden) to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72:8).

The Lord declares that he will free the captives (of sin) from the waterless pit (Hell) because of the blood of the Lord’s covenant (see Mark 14:24; Hebrews 9:22). The prisoners of hope shall wait in their stronghold; the Lord will doubly restore them.

Commentary:

Christians are the “New Israel,” the “New People of God,” and the Church is the “New Zion,” the “New Jerusalem” on earth. Jesus is the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy of the triumphant king, coming humbly on a donkey. Jesus entered Jerusalem in exactly that way on the week of his crucifixion, which the Church celebrates on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11).

Jesus is going to come again, at the end of the temporal age, to judge the living and dead in both the physical and spiritual senses (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). Jesus’ return will be in great power and glory. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will live eternally with him in heaven; but those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46).

In the new kingdom, Jesus will reign over all creation. In his reign he will command peace. There will be no more war and all will live in peace with one another. There will be no sorrow, sighing, no more illness or death (Revelation 21:4).

God has established his (new) covenant with his people, which has been sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Mark 14:24), shed on the Cross, for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). It is the blood of Jesus which sets us free from bondage to sin and the “waterless pit” of eternal death in Hell, which we must receive through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Lord is the stronghold of Christians. We are to abide in the Lord in obedient trust as we await our redemption and restoration. Our hope is in the Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). The Lord will abundantly reward his disciples, “doubly,” beyond what we deserve; but he will abundantly and fully punish those who have rejected and refused to trust and obey Jesus.

Jesus’ reign begins now as we as individuals accept his Lordship and begin to trust and obey his teaching and example. Jesus is Lord, whether we acknowledge his Lordship or not, but there is a Day of Judgment coming (within our physical lifetimes; the moment we die our eternal destiny is fixed and unchangeable), when all will have to acknowledge him as Lord (Philippians 2:10-11) and give account to him for what we have done in this temporal lifetime. In that day, it will be too late to change our eternal destiny.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 6 Pentecost A

First Posted June 25, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 6 Pentecost A

Romans 7:15-25 a – Freed from Sin;

Paraphrase:

We can desire to do what is right, but fail to do it; instead we do what we detest. We can agree that the law of God is good, but that our sinful flesh is not. We can desire to do what is right but instead do what we know is evil. So our innermost self is enslaved by sin. Whenever we desire to do what is right, sin is nearby. Our spirits are in conflict with our physical nature which holds us captive. We are unable to free ourselves, but God is able to deliver us through Jesus Christ.

Commentary:

We are all eternal beings in physical bodies. We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. If we live to satisfy our physical natures we will die eternally in our physical bodies.

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of his righteousness (doing what is good, right and true, according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The standard of righteousness is not the world’s standard but God’s standard, as recorded in the Bible and as taught and demonstrated by Jesus Christ.

God has given us his Word in the Bible, and in the “living Word,” Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus came into the world to show us how to live according to God’s Word, and to make it possible for us to be forgiven for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

If we accept Jesus as our Lord and begin to trust and obey Jesus, we will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to live according to the Spirit instead of living according to our physical natures (Romans 8:1-8). Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Only Jesus can free us from bondage to sin and (eternal) death, which is the penalty for sin (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 6 Pentecost A

First Posted June 26, 2008;
Podcast: Thursday 6 Pentecost A

Matthew 11:25-30 – Divine Wisdom

Paraphrase:

God’s purpose is hidden from those who are “wise and understanding” according to worldly standards. But in God’s gracious will he reveals it to those who are humble and childlike in faith (obedient trust). God has given all things to Jesus. Jesus knows God the Father as fully as God knows Jesus. No human knows God except those to whom Jesus chooses to reveal him. Jesus invites those who are heavily burdened to come to him for rest. Being joined with Jesus as his disciples is not a heavy burden or hardship. We can learn gentleness and humility from Jesus and find spiritual rest.

Commentary:

God has intentionally designed Creation so that humans cannot find and know God by worldly “wisdom.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8). Only Jesus can open our minds to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45). Only Jesus can reveal God to us.

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation Acts 4:12). The only way to know God and have eternal life is through Jesus (John 14:6).

Salvation and eternal life cannot be earned, bought, or taken by force or deception. Salvation is a free gift which must be claimed and received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The yoke of discipleship is not heavy compared to the bondage to sin and death which we are under until Jesus sets us free. Only Jesus can give us rest for our souls. Jesus can teach us how to live according to God’s will, so that we can have a fulfilling life now and eternally.

Jesus is God revealed in human flesh; fully God and fully human (Colossians 2:8-9). The indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), is the fullest revelation of God and Jesus Christ to us individually and personally. We begin to know about God and Jesus by reading the Bible, and then as we begin to trust and obey God’s Word in Jesus Christ we will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit through whom we will have personal fellowship with Jesus and God the Father (John 14:23).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 6 Pentecost A

First Posted June 27, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 6 Pentecost A

Exodus 20:1-17 – The Ten Commandments;

Paraphrase:

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments which were the basis for the Covenant of Law between God and Israel. God had just recently brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Therefore, Israel was to have no other gods but God alone.

Israel was not to make images of any thing, person or animal in heaven or on earth to worship and serve. God warned that he would tolerate no rivals, and that he would punish disobedience to the third and fourth generation, but would love steadfastly those who love him and obey his commandments.

God’s people are not to use God’s name as a magic incantation, in false testimony, or in cursing. The Sabbath is to be a day devoted to God. God’s people are to set aside their daily routine on that day and focus on God. They are not to do any work, nor permit anyone in their household, as servants or guests, or even livestock, to do any work on the Sabbath. The Lord finished all the work of Creation in six days and rested on the seventh day, and blessed and designated it as a day of rest for us also.

We are commanded to honor our father and mother, if we want God to bless us with long life in the Promised Land. God’s people must not commit murder, adultery, theft or robbery, nor covet anything which doesn’t belong to us.

Commentary:

God had just saved Israel from bondage in Egypt, so that they could be God’s chosen people, free to serve God. God covenanted with Israel to be their God if they would trust and obey God’s Word.

God is God alone; whether we acknowledge him or not, but God is under no obligation to us to be all that the concept of God implies, unless we are willing to trust and obey God. God is under no obligation to hear and respond to our prayers unless we are willing to hear and obey God’s Word (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar top right).

In ancient times image-worship was common. There are still examples of image-worship, but there are also more subtle forms of idolatry today. Any thing or person which we care about and work for, as much as or more than God, is idolatry. Modern examples are wealth, power, success, home, family, pleasure, and self.

The Sabbath day of rest is a gift to us. We can accomplish all our necessary work in six days. We need a day to put aside our worldly pursuits and be spiritually restored and refreshed. Israel found that they could not accomplish any more in seven days than they could in six (see Exodus 16:22-30).

Jesus is the name of the Lord (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). But Jesus’ name is not a “magic incantation.” Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” will be saved from eternal condemnation on the Day of Judgment; only those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46).

The Ten Commandments describes our relationship with God and our fellow humans. We are to love, trust and obey God, and we are to love and treat our fellow humans the way we love ourselves and want others to treat us (Matthew 22:36-40).

The history of God’s dealing with Israel is intended to also be a metaphor and illustration of life in this world. In a sense we are all in slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this world (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is the “Moses” God raised up to free us from sin and death, and to be the mediator of the New Covenant of salvation from eternal condemnation by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in heaven.

God has accomplished his great saving act in Jesus Christ, as he had just delivered Israel from Egypt in the day of Moses. He offers us his New Covenant in Jesus Christ, which Jesus established on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28; Hebrews 8:8-13). If we love the Lord we will trust and obey him, and he will “baptize” us with the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17), God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 6 Pentecost A

First Posted June 28, 2008;
Podcast: Saturday 6 Pentecost A

Ephesians 2:4-10 – Saved by Faith;
Matthew 19:16-30 – The Rich Young Man;

Ephesians Paraphrase:

When we were still as good as dead because of our sins, God in great mercy and love for us made us alive with Christ, saved by God’s grace. We have been raised with Christ to reign with him in heaven, where we will experience the incalculable riches of his grace to us in the coming ages through Christ. “For by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) you have been saved by faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God- not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Matthew Paraphrase:

A man came to Jesus and asked what good deed he must do to in order to enter eternal life. Jesus replied that God alone is good. If the man wants to enter eternal life he should keep God’s commandments. The man asked which ones (of the Ten). Jesus listed the commandments relating to one’s obligations to other people (omitting the ones dealing with one’s relationship with God): to not commit murder, adultery, stealing, lying, to honor father and mother, and to love others as oneself. The man replied that he had kept those commandments from childhood. He asked Jesus what more he lacked. Jesus told him that if he wanted to be perfect, he should sell his possessions and give to the poor, so that he would have treasure in heaven, and then come and follow Jesus. Hearing this the man went away in sorrow, for he had many possessions.

Jesus told his disciples that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. It would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom. His disciples were astonished at this saying, and asked who then could be saved. Jesus replied that what is impossible for humans is not impossible for God. Nothing is impossible for God.

Peter said that he and the other disciples had left everything and followed Jesus. What would they have? Jesus replied that in the new world, when the Son of man (Jesus) is enthroned, his twelve disciples will be enthroned as judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. Everyone who has left homes and family and lands for Jesus’ name’s sake will receive much more, and will inherit eternal life. But there will be a reversal of status in the new kingdom. Those who are first now will be last, and the last will be first.

Commentary:

The rich young man came to Jesus hoping to find an easy way to have eternal life. He wanted to know what “good deed” would earn him eternal life. He claimed to have kept God’s Commandments from his childhood, but he didn’t love God as much as his possessions, and he didn’t love his fellow humans as much as he loved himself. He was unwilling to leave his possessions to follow Jesus.

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Saving ourselves is impossible. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve salvation and eternal life.

God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). God has provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, who has been designed into Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). Through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ we are saved from eternal death as a gift from God (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

“Good deeds” are not what we do to earn and deserve salvation, but are the evidence that we are saved. God has designed good deeds for us to do, if we are willing to seek his will and trust and obey him through Jesus Christ.

If we abide in Jesus and he in us (John 15:5-6), through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we will be guided and empowered to do good deeds. We cannot do good apart from Jesus (Zechariah 4:6). Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

In order to follow Jesus we must be willing to surrender everything we have to his lordship. The rich man’s possessions kept him from following Jesus, and he did not trust and obey Jesus’ advice to sell his possessions and follow Jesus. But all the man’s possessions could not buy eternal life in paradise.

In the kingdom of God in heaven, there will be a different standard than that of this world. Those who are great in God’s kingdom are those who are the most humble servants of others (Matthew 18:1-4; 23:11-12). Money and possessions won’t buy honor and greatness. Is there something in our life which is keeping us from following Jesus?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 5 Pentecost – A – 07/09/ – 15/2017

July 8, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 5 Pentecost – A

Sunday 5 Pentecost A

First Posted June 15, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 5 Pentecost – A

Psalm 69:1-20 — Prayer for Deliverance;

Jeremiah 20:7-13 — Personal Lament;
Romans 5:12-15 — Christ and Adam Compared;
Matthew 10:24-33 — Warnings on Persecution;

Psalm Paraphrase:

The psalmist, David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, called on God to save him from his enemies. He felt overwhelmed and in danger of being swept away, as if up to his neck in a torrential flood; sinking in deep mud. David was exhausted from crying and faint from waiting for God’s help.

His enemies were more numerous than the hair of his head. David had done nothing deserving their hatred, and yet powerful enemies plotted to destroy him physically and morally with treachery and deceit. David felt his enemies were demanding penalty without justification.

David acknowledged that the Lord knew all David’s follies and wrongs. He prayed that those who seek and hope in the Lord might not be put to shame and dishonor through David.

David had suffered shame and reproach for the sake of the Lord. He had become estranged and alienated even from his own brothers. “For zeal for thy house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me” (Psalm 69:9). He had been criticized for expressing his religious devotion with fasting, and acts of repentance and humility before the Lord. The idle and drunkards ridiculed David.

But David continued to call upon the Lord, trusting that in God’s perfect timing and steadfast love, the Lord would answer and rescue him. The Lord would not allow the “flood” of tribulation or the grave prevail and overcome David.

David called upon the Lord for help because of the Lord’s steadfast love and mercy (not because David was worthy). David begged the Lord not to turn away from him or to delay answering David’s plea, but to draw near and free David from the power of his enemies.

David declared his faith that the Lord knew David’s shame and dishonor, his enemies, and his despair over their heart-breaking insults. David declared that he had searched and found that there is no pity and comfort in any one but the Lord.

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Jeremiah cried out to the Lord that the Lord had persuaded him to proclaim God’s Word and that Jeremiah had become the subject of ridicule and derision as a result. Since the Lord’s call, Jeremiah could not speak without declaring God’s impending judgment, violence and destruction. God’s call was an irresistible force, in Jeremiah’s heart and soul, compelling Jeremiah to proclaim God’s name and his Word.

Jeremiah’s family and friends had turned against him, plotting to denounce, overcome and take revenge upon Jeremiah. But Jeremiah entrusted his situation to the Lord, the almighty warrior, confident that the Lord would cause Jeremiah’s enemies to make mistakes and fail to accomplish their intention. Jeremiah trusted that his enemies were the ones who would experience eternal shame and dishonor.

Jeremiah acknowledged that it is the Lord alone who is the judge of the righteous, who sees the inner secrets of heart and mind. Jeremiah committed his circumstances to the Lord and trusted in the Lord to exact vengeance upon them. Jeremiah trusted that the Lord would deliver the lives of the needy from the power of evildoers.

Romans Paraphrase:

Sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and (eternal) death (the consequence of sin; Romans 6:23) came into the world through the first man, Adam, and spread to all humans, because all shared his sinful nature. But, although God did not hold us accountable for sin until the Law (God’s Word) was given (to Moses), death was the destiny of all from Adam to Moses, even over those who were not overtly disobedient of God’s Word. Adam was a type of the promised Messiah (because Adam represents the opposite end of the spectrum). Adam introduced sin, which caused the (eternal) death of many; Jesus, the Messiah, is the free gift from God, of salvation, which redeemed many from sin and death (through faith, which is obedient trust, in Jesus), so that they could have (eternal) life.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus warned his disciples that a disciple or servant is not better than his teacher or master. The best one can achieve is to be like his teacher or master. Worldly people called Jesus Beelzebul (lord of demons; Satan), and Jesus’ disciples could not expect to be treated better.

Jesus told his disciples not to fear the enemies of Jesus. Nothing can be hidden which will remain unknown. What Jesus told his disciples privately they were to shout from housetops.

Jesus told his disciples not to fear worldly people or even demons, because the worst they could do was kill the the disciples’ physical bodies. Instead they were to fear (have awe and respect for) the Lord, who has the power and authority of eternal life or eternal death over us; over whether we will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell.

Jesus said that God the Father has power and authority over the most insignificant details of life in this world. God’s will determines the life and death of an individual sparrow and he knows every detail about us down to the number of hairs on our heads. Jesus assures us that God the Father loves us much more than many sparrows.

Jesus warns that those who acknowledge Jesus to other people will be acknowledged by Jesus to God, but those who deny Jesus to others will be denied by Jesus to God.

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. We are all eternal souls in physical bodies. We were all born physically alive but spiritually dead because we have all inherited the sinful nature of our human forefather, Adam.

We have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word) and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is good, right and true, according to God’s standard; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this temporal world (John 1:1-5, 14). Adam is the way we are; like Jesus is what we can become, through faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word in Jesus Christ.

David is the forerunner and illustration of Christ. David trusted and obeyed God’s Word, and had a personal relationship with the Lord. David suffered persecution by the enemies of the Lord, even from among his own family, but he continued to trust in and wait for the Lord’s deliverance and vindication. David learned from experience that the Lord is able and faithful to sympathize and comfort as no human can.

Jeremiah also had a personal relationship with the Lord. Jeremiah was persecuted by enemies of the Lord for proclaiming God’s Word. Even his family and close personal friends had turned against Jeremiah. But Jeremiah trusted his circumstances to the Lord, confident that the Lord was able and faithful to uphold him.

Adam had a personal relationship with God which was broken by sin (disobedience; Genesis 3:9-19, 23), and the consequence of sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Adam introduced sin and death into Creation. Jesus came to forgive sin and restore eternal life through faith (obedient trust) in the Lord.

Disciples of Jesus Christ cannot expect the world to treat them any better than Jesus was treated. Jesus was hated and crucified, but Jesus was vindicated and raised from physical death to eternal life by God.

Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ will not be popular in this world. Those who deny Jesus and refuse to trust and obey Jesus will be rejected by Jesus on the Day of Judgment.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sin, and restoration to fellowship with God and to eternal life is not a secret. Those who have come to a personal knowledge of and fellowship with the Lord through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are commanded, guided and empowered to go into all the world to proclaim the Gospel and make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, who trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Only Jesus gives (“baptizes;” “anoints” with) the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 5 Pentecost A

First Posted June 16, 2008;
Podcast: Monday 5 Pentecost – A

Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 — The Lord’s Covenant with David;

Paraphrase:

The psalmist recalls and praises the Lord for his steadfast love and his faithfulness through all generations. The Lord is eternal and his steadfast love and faithfulness are for eternity, and as unshakable as the heavens. The Lord said “I have made a covenant with his chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your descendants for ever and build your throne for all generations’” Psalm 89:3-4).

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout and walk in the light of the Lord’s countenance; who exult (rejoice) in the name of the Lord and extol his righteousness throughout every day. For our strength is glorified in the Lord and our power and might are exalted (lifted up) by the Lord’s favor. “For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.

Those who trust and obey the Lord’s Word will come to experience and know the Lord’s faithfulness and steadfast love, as had the psalmist. David, the great shepherd-king of Israel, is an example for all of a person who trusted and obeyed the Lord, had a close personal relationship with the Lord, and experienced and testified to the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord.

Commentary:

The Lord anointed David king of Israel and made a covenant with him to establish the throne of David forever (2 Samuel 7:13; Psalm 89:20-29). David is the forerunner and example of the promised Messiah (Christ; the “anointed one”), the descendant of David, and the eternal heir to David’s throne, Jesus Christ, in whom God’s covenant promise to David was fulfilled (Matthew 1:17; 21:9).

David is the example of what we can be, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. In David’s time only a few individuals had a close personal relationship with the Lord. Jesus came to make it possible for each of us to have a close personal relationship with the Lord, which is only possible through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we know and are able to express the “festal shout” (Romans 8:15-16; 1 John 4:1-3). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience the light of the Lord’s countenance upon us (2 Corinthians 4:6). It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can exult (rejoice) in the name of the Lord and extol his righteousness.

It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit within us that we are spiritually “born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, and become the spiritual descendants of David and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is only by the Holy Spirit abiding within us (John 14:16, KJV) that we are guided to “walk” (live) according to his light, and empowered to carry on Christ’s mission to proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ (Zechariah 4:6 c; John 15:4-5). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 5 Pentecost A

First Posted June 17, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 5 Pentecost – A

Jeremiah 28:5-9 — Jeremiah and Hananiah;

Paraphrase:

Jeremiah had prophesied (in Jeremiah 25:12) that the Lord would exile Judah in Babylon for seventy years, and then would bring them back to their Promised Land. In August, 594 B.C.,¹ Hananiah, a prophet, confronted Jeremiah in the temple and prophesied that in two years the Lord would bring back the exiles and the vessels of the temple that had been carried off to Babylon (Chaldea) by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon (Jeremiah 28:3-4).

Jeremiah replied to Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people where in the temple, saying Amen! (so be it). Jeremiah said he hoped that the Lord would do as Hananiah had prophesied, but he warned Hananiah, and all who were present, that throughout history prophets had prophesied wars, famines and plagues against many great lands and peoples. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when his prophecy is fulfilled it will be apparent that the Lord has sent that prophet.

Commentary:

The Babylonians had started carrying off princes and the temple vessels in 606 B.C.³ In 598 B.C.³ They carried off the nobles, warriors and artisans, leaving only the poor and weak. In 588³-586 B.C.⁴ There was another general deportation, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, and the rest of the sacred temple vessels were carried off. The seventy years of the Exile is commonly calculated from the destruction of Solomon’s (the first) Temple in 587 B.C.⁴ to the rededication of the temple (the Second Temple) in 517 B.C.³

Jeremiah was called by God to proclaim God’s Word of warning to Judah (the kingdom of the two tribes), the remnant of Israel. The Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes had ceased to exist after the conquest and fall of Samaria to the Assyrians in 722/721 B.C.⁵ Judah refused to learn from example to avoid the consequences of idolatry and disobedience of God’s Word which had come upon the Northern Kingdom. Judah could have avoided exile if they had heeded Jeremiah’s prophecy and had repented and returned to obedient trust in God’s Word, right up to the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah’s prophecy of seventy years of exile in Babylon was made about 605 B.C.² The time of the fulfillment of that prophecy was drawing near, but there was still time to repent and avoid it. Hananiah claimed to know and proclaim God’s Word, but he was telling the people what they wanted to hear and which would comfort and lull them, so that they would not realize the consequences of their sin and repent.

Jeremiah warned the leaders, priests and the people that the test of authentic prophecy is it’s fulfillment (compare Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The problem is that by the time the people learned that Hananiah was not speaking God’s Word they would already be in exile in Babylon with sixty-eight years to go (a virtual life sentence for adults at the time of the deportation).

God’s Word is eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The people of the Northern Kingdom didn’t listen to God’s Word proclaimed by God’s prophets and they suffered the consequences. Judah didn’t learn from their example, and didn’t heed Jeremiah’s proclamation of God’s Word, and suffered similar consequences. A remnant of Judah returned as God had promised but it was a new remnant, born in Babylon.

Israel had forgotten the Biblical lessons of the fall of the Northern Kingdom and the exile of Judah, and were unprepared for the coming of the promised and awaited Messiah. As a result, Jerusalem and the temple were again destroyed, in 70 A.D. by the Romans. The Jews were scattered throughout the world and ceased to exist as a nation until they began to return after World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt. Judaism effectively ended at the cross of Jesus Christ, when the temple curtain was torn in two, and with the destruction of the temple, which effectively ended the Old Covenant of Law and the provision for sacrifice for forgiveness of sin.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel has been recorded in the Bible for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11). The Bible isn’t outdated. In many ways America, and the Church in America, are in a very similar situation today as Israel and Judaism at the time of Jesus first coming. America is the “New Israel,” the “New Promised Land,” and the Church is the “New Jerusalem,” the “New City of God,” and the “New People of God” on earth.

In many instances, we have pursued idolatry (the love of anything or anyone more than God) and have turned away from obedience to God’s Word (the definition of “sin”). Wealth, power, success, pleasure, career, home, and family are a few modern “idols.”

In too many instances there are prophets like Hananiah who claim to know and proclaim God’s Word, but who are telling people what the people want to hear. Two modern examples of false teaching are Cheap Grace⁶ and Salvation by Works (doing good deeds; see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

God’s Word contains both wonderful promises and ominous warnings. If we trust and obey God’s Word we get the promises; those whom refuse to hear and obey God’s Word will receive the consequences the warnings were designed to help us avoid. We need to hear and proclaim the full Gospel; not just the parts that make ourselves and our hearers feel good.

Many people are shopping for (nominal) “Churches” which teach what they want to hear, and many (self-proclaimed) “Churches” are offering “seeker-friendly” programs to appeal to those seekers. Are we seeking Churches that fully and accurately proclaim God’s Word, or Churches which offer the best “deal” on salvation?

There are only two ways to know for sure who is proclaiming the authentic Word of God, and who is offering false security. One is to pick what you like and find out on the Day of Judgment that you’re in the “Babylon” of Hell for eternity. The other way is to read the Bible fully (at least once) and daily, seeking God’s help and guidance in understanding and applying it one day at a time.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


¹ The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Jeremiah 28:1-17n, p. 949, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

² ibid, Jeremiah 25:1-14n, p.945.

³ “Exile,” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, digital module, BibleDatabase freeware, see Free Digital Bible Study Tools, sidebar top right.

⁴ Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, “Exile,” pg. 439, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5

⁵ ibid, “Samaria,”p.1158

⁶ See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Wednesday 5 Pentecost A

First Posted June 18, 2008;
Podcast: Wednesday 5 Pentecost – A

Romans 6:1b-11 — New Life in Christ;

Paraphrase:

Although salvation is by God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), that doesn’t mean that we can continue in sin (disobedience of God’s Word). We who have been baptized into Jesus Christ have been baptized into his death; we have been buried with Christ in baptism, so that we share in his resurrection from death, by the glory of God, so that we might live the new (eternal) life.

As we have been united with Christ in his death we can be certain that we will be united with him in his resurrection. Our old sinful nature has been crucified with him so that our fleshly desires will die, freeing us from their bondage. The dead no longer sin. But if we have died with Christ we will also live with him. Having been raised from death, Jesus will never die again; death no longer has any power over him (compare Hebrews 2:14-15). He died to sin in the flesh; now he lives for God. So we must also consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ.

Commentary:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as we all can be (Acts 9:1-22). He became an evangelist to the Gentiles and established a number of church congregations.

Already in the first century of the Church, there were several false teachings besetting the Church, which Paul dealt with and are recorded in the New Testament (see False Teachings, sidebar top right). One was what has recently become know as “Cheap Grace;”* teaching salvation by grace, without the requirement of obedience and discipleship. That heresy is what Paul was rebutting here.

Salvation is by God’s grace, which must be claimed and received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, as Paul taught the Ephesians. We don’t earn or deserve salvation by doing good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9), but we are saved so that we can do the good deeds God has prepared for us to accomplish (Ephesians 2:10). Our good deeds are testimony to our salvation.

From the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5,14) Jesus has been God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from the penalty for sin, which is eternal death (Acts 4:12, John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right). At the perfect time in history Jesus came into the world in the fulfillment embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

We are all immortal souls in physical bodies. We’ve been born physically alive but spiritually dead. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to find and know God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually reborn so that we can live eternally with the Lord in his eternal heavenly kingdom in paradise.

Only Jesus “baptizes” (“anoints”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). In order to be reborn, we must crucify our self-will, so that we can do God’s will; we must die to our physical desires, in order to live according to God’s Word. When we do, we are reborn by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ within us (Romans 8:9 b), and is given only to those who are willing and committed to be guided by and obedient to the Spirit (Isaiah 42:5 e; Romans 8:1-4).

It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6



Thursday 5 Pentecost A

First Posted June 19, 2008;
Podcast: Thursday 5 Pentecost – A

Matthew 10:34-42 — On Discipleship;

Paraphrase:

Jesus’ message will bring division among people, even within families and between close personal relationships. Believers will be opposed by their own household. Those who are unwilling to risk losing father, mother, sister and brother is not worthy of the Gospel. Anyone who is unwilling to bear his own cross and follow Jesus is unworthy of the Gospel. Those who find life will lose it, but those who are willing to lose life for the sake of Jesus will find it.

Those who receive Jesus’ disciples receive Jesus, and those who receive Jesus receive God the father who sent Jesus. Those who receive a prophet because he is a prophet will receive the same reward as the prophet. Those who receive a righteous person because that person is righteous will receive the same reward as the righteous person. Anyone who does the slightest favor, such as a cup of cool water, to a “little one” (Jesus’ spiritual “child”) because he is a disciple will not go unrewarded.

Commentary:

Jesus knew that his message would be offensive to worldly people and would cause division and opposition even among family and friends. Hearers of the Gospel must be willing to accept opposition and loss of relationships in order to receive the promises of the Gospel.

A Christian is a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26 e) who learns to know and follow Jesus’ teaching and example (Matthew 28:19-20). In order to be a disciple of Jesus Christ we must be willing to bear our own Cross of suffering and self-sacrifice, following the example of Jesus.

Those who pursue what worldly people consider life, worldly success and acclaim, will ultimately lose it, and the satisfaction of physical pleasures will come to an end. But those who are willing to give up worldly pursuits and desires for the sake of Jesus will find what is truly and eternally life.

Those who are open to receive the Gospel will welcome the disciples and prophets of Jesus, and will receive the same rewards of the Gospel that all disciples and prophets receive because they accept the same Gospel and Lord. Those who recognize and appreciate righteousness (doing what is good, right and true, according to God’s Word) will welcome Jesus’ disciples and will receive the same reward of righteousness which is only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22; Philippians 3:9).

Disciples who trust and obey Jesus’ teachings receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Those who have received the indwelling Holy Spirit have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to true, eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The indwelling Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ within his disciples (Romans 8:9b). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. Those who are open to the disciples of Jesus Christ and open to the Gospel they proclaim will receive Jesus within themselves by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and those who receive the Spirit of Christ, receive the Spirit of God who sent Jesus.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 5 Pentecost A

First Posted June 20, 2008;
Podcast: Friday 5 Pentecost – A

Jeremiah 16:14-21 – Homecoming;

Paraphrase:

The Lord declared that the time was coming when the remnant of Israel would no longer regard the Exodus from Egypt, but instead the return from Exile in Babylon, as the great saving act of the Lord. The Lord promised to bring Israel back to the Promised Land.

The Lord was going to use the Babylonians as fishers and hunters to catch and herd the people of Israel. There would be no place for Israel to hide. The Lord was aware of Israel’s ways and they couldn’t hide their sins or hide themselves from God’s punishment. God promised to repay them double for all their sins, because they had polluted, with idolatry and abominations, the land God had given them as his inheritance.

The prophet declares that the Lord is his strength and his fortress, his refuge in times of trouble, and foresees the time when other nations will come to the Lord from the farthest corners of the world. They will compare their idols and their inheritance from those idols to the God of Israel and Israel’s inheritance from God, and will realize the futility of idolatry. God will reveal his power in the exile and return of his people, so that all people and nations will know that God is Lord.

Commentary:

The Lord warned Judah, through Jeremiah, of the consequences of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and idolatry (caring for any thing or person as much as or more than the Lord), but Judah refused to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord up to the very moment they were carried off to Babylon (modern-day Iraq). The Lord had declared that the exile would be for seventy years, which was a virtual life sentence for those who were adults at the time of the deportation. God’s Word also promised that the sacred vessels of the temple plundered by Nebuchadnezzar would be returned.

The Word of God was fulfilled. It was seventy years from the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 587 B.C., until the rebuilt temple was dedicated in 517 B.C.* The Lord had promised to bring back the remnant of Israel to the Promised Land, but they were a renewed (“reborn”) people, who had learned to trust and obey the Lord during their exile; the people who had gone into exile perished in Babylon.

The Lord used the Babylonian army as fishers and hunters to roundup and herd Israel into exile. Then, amazingly, he used Cyrus, King of Persia (modern-day Iran), to overthrow the Babylonians and release Israel to return to their Promised Land. Not only was Israel allowed to leave Babylon, but the sacred vessels of the temple captured by Nebuchadnezzar, were returned, and Cyrus gave Israel money and authorization to help rebuild their temple (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 4:3; 5:13-17; 6:3-5).

God’s power and faithfulness were revealed for the world to see in the exile and return of Israel. God’s Word is always fulfilled, and fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The history of God’s dealings with Israel are recorded in the Bible as a warning, for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).

The history of the exile and return is also intended as a metaphor for our life in this world. We are in exile in the “Babylon” of this present world and the Lord promises to bring us back to the “Promised Land” of his eternal kingdom at the end of our lifetimes, if we have learned to trust and obey him, and have been spiritually “reborn” in this lifetime. The alternative is eternal exile in the “Babylon” of Hell, for those who refuse to accept the Lord as God and trust and obey his Word.

Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s power and faithfulness for the world to see. Jesus is God’s ultimate saving act of deliverance and restoration of his people (Acts 4:12; John 14:6, see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus is God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” We are all born physically alive, but spiritually dead. Jesus said we must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in order to see the kingdom of God, which is all around us now, and ultimately, to see (enter; dwell in) the kingdom of God in eternity. Spiritual rebirth is by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself, whether or not one has received the gift of the the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Jeremiah suffered abuse and persecution for the Word of God. He learned by experience and testified that the Lord is a faithful source of strength and refuge. The remnant of Israel who returned from Babylonian exile learned from experience to trust and obey the Lord, but Israel forgot the lessons of the exile and was unprepared for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

In one sense America and the Church, particularly in America, are each the “New Promised Land,” the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.” In too many instances both the nation and the (nominal) Church have turned from obedient trust in the Lord and have been polluted by idolatry and abominations. The Lord is calling for repentance and return to the Lord in obedient trust. The Lord knows our ways and our sins. There is no where to hide to conceal our sins or to escape his judgment.

Is the inheritance of idolatry and self-indulgence worth the loss of eternal life in creation restored to paradise? Are we ready for Christ’s return?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “Exile,” digital edition, bibledatabase.org – http://bibledatabase.org/eastons.html


Saturday 5 Pentecost A

First Posted June 21, 2008;
Podcast: Saturday 5 Pentecost – A

1 Peter 2:4-10 — The Cornerstone;
Matthew 16:13-26 — Peter’s Confession;

1 Peter Paraphrase:

Come to Jesus, the “living stone” who men rejected but who God has chosen and considers precious. Be yourselves, like living stones, built into a spiritual house. We are to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture of a chosen and precious cornerstone laid in Zion by God. God promises that those who believe (trust and obey) Jesus will not be put to shame.

So Jesus is also precious to those who believe; but to those who do not believe, Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy of a stone which was rejected by builders but which has become the cornerstone and a stumbling block on which people will trip and fall. They will stumble because that is the destiny of those who reject and refuse to believe (trust and obey) Jesus.

Christians are a chosen race, God’s own people. We are to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, so that we can declare the great things God has done to bring us out of the spiritual darkness of sin and spiritual ignorance, and into the wonderful light of God’s presence and righteousness. Once we had no special significance, but now we are God’s own chosen and precious people. Once we were sinners without hope of mercy, but now we have received mercy.

Matthew Paraphrase:

As Jesus and his disciples came to Caesarea Philippi, near the border of Syria, Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying that Jesus was. They replied that some thought he was John the Baptist, others said he was Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Jesus asked who his disciples would say he was, and Peter replied that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15 b). Jesus said that Simon (Peter), son of John, was blessed because this understanding was not by Peter’s human ability but that God the Father had revealed it to Peter. Then Jesus gave Simon the name “Peter” (meaning “Rock;” “Petros” in Aramaic, Jesus’ language; Kepha in Greek, the language of the New Testament; or “Cephas:” see 1 Corinthians 15:5), and on this “rock” (“petra” in Aramaic; “Kepha” in Greek) Jesus would build his Church.

Jesus said he would give his disciples the keys (symbol of power and authority) of the kingdom of heaven. They were to be judges of the people and what they forbade on earth would be forbidden in heaven, and what they allowed on earth would be allowed in heaven (see Matthew 19:28). Jesus strictly ordered his disciples to reveal to no one that Jesus was the Christ.

From then on Jesus began telling his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, where he would suffer abuse by the Jewish priests, elders, and teachers of scripture, and be killed, and then on the third day he would be raised. Peter rebuked Jesus, saying “God forbid!” and vowing not to let that happen. But Jesus told Peter that Peter’s attitude was a hindrance to Jesus and allied with Satan’s desire rather than God’s will.

Then Jesus told his disciples that anyone who wanted to follow Jesus must be willing to deny himself and take up his “cross” of suffering and follow Jesus’ example. Anyone who wants to save his temporal life will lose it; only those who are willing to lose their temporal life will find true, spiritual, eternal life. What good would it be to own the whole world but lose one’s life. What would a person be willing to give for his life.

Commentary:

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Word of a “cornerstone” on which Christ’s Church, the house of God, would be founded. Jesus is the “living cornerstone.” Jesus is the “living rock” in the wilderness of this lifetime (1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Exodus 17:6), through whom God gives “living water” of the Holy Spirit to revive and sustain us unto eternal life (John 7:37-39).

Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the “rock,” the solid foundation and cornerstone on which the Church is built. Obedient trust in Jesus’ teaching and example is the “rock” on which we must build our lives if we don’t want to be swept away by disaster and eternal destruction (Matthew 7:21-27).

We are to follow Jesus’ teaching and example and become “living stones” by which the foundation of Christ is built into a spiritual Church. All Christians are to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices of obedient trust through Jesus Christ, the sacrifice which is acceptable to God, on behalf of ourselves and others.

When we accept Jesus as God’s anointed eternal Savior and King and begin to trust and obey Jesus, we become the spiritual children of Abraham by faith in Jesus. We become the spiritual heirs of Israel, the people of God (Galatians 3:5-7, 9, 26). We are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

By the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience and come to know the great things God has done and is doing in us to bring us out of bondage to sin and spiritual ignorance, and we experience the light of God’s presence and righteousness.

Christians are disciples (Acts 11:26 c) who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. “Seekers” are to be discipled by “born-again” disciples (see Paul’s (“Saul’s”) conversion; Acts 9:1-21; NB v. 10-17) within the Church (the New Jerusalem; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8) until they are “born-again,” before we experience, and are guided and empowered to declare the Gospel and testify to the great things God has done, is doing, and will yet do.

Disciples are given the authority and the responsibility to teach and enforce behavior within the Church according to what is appropriate in heaven according to the Word of God. Things which are called abominations in God’s Word must not be tolerated in the Church.

Jesus wanted to be sure his disciples understood who Jesus was. Then he began to prepare them for what would happen to Jesus in Jerusalem. Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ; both mean God’s “anointed;” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). But Peter didn’t understand that it was necessary for Jesus to die on the Cross and then rise again from the dead. Jesus was fully human (and also fully God; Colossians 2:8-9). His human nature didn’t want to suffer and die, and Peter’s reaction was adding to the temptation Jesus was experiencing from Satan, and Peter was in opposition to God’s plan. Peter himself did not want to suffer the the death of Jesus.

Disciples of Jesus must be willing to endure things they would rather not experience, in order to follow Jesus’ example and accomplish God’s will. Disciples of Jesus must be willing to give up their temporal lives in order to have what is truly, eternally life.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 4 Pentecost – A – 07-02 – 08-2017

July 1, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 4 Pentecost – A

Sunday 4 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 8, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 4 Pentecost – A

Exodus19:2-8a — God’s Covenant with Israel;
Psalm 100 — Praise the Lord;
Romans 5:6-11 — Peace with God through Christ;
Matthew 9:35-10:8 — Laborers in the Harvest;

Exodus Paraphrase:

Three months after leaving Egypt the Israelites came through the pass at Rephidim, entered wilderness of Sinai, and camped at the base of Mount Sinai (Mount Horeb). Moses went up to the top of the mountain and God spoke to him. God commanded Moses to tell the people that they had witnessed the great demonstrations of God’s power against the Egyptians, and that God had brought them to himself, as on eagles’ wings. God offered to make a covenant with Israel. If they promised to obey all God’s Word and keep his covenant, they would be God’s particular people, though all the earth and its peoples belonged to God, their Creator (whether they acknowledge him or not). The people of the covenant will be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). God commanded Moses to declare God’s Word to the people.

Moses came down from the mountain and gathered the leaders of the people and told them all that God had told Moses. And all the people agreed to do as the Lord had said.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let all nations rejoice and praise the Lord. Let us serve him gladly and rejoice in his presence. May all realize that that God is Lord. He is our Creator and we all belong to him. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! The Lord is good in all his ways, and his love is steadfast. His faithfulness is eternal.

Romans Paraphrase:

Christ died for us while we were sinners enslaved by sin. Who among us would be willing to die even for a righteous person? A few might be willing to die for someone we consider good (think highly of; love). God demonstrated his love for us by sending Christ (his only begotten Son) to die for us while we were still sinners (in rebellion against God). Since we have been freed from guilt for our sin by Christ’s blood we are most assuredly saved from God’s wrath. If, when we were sinners we were saved by the death of God’s Son, certainly we will be saved (eternally) by the risen Christ’s life. So we are also able to rejoice in God through Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus traveled from village to village, teaching in synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and healing the sick and disabled. He had compassion for the people, because they were like sheep scattered and helpless without a shepherd. He told his disciples that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Then Jesus called his twelve original disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and infirmity. The names of the twelve are: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, James and John, who were the sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, the tax collector, James, who was the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (Lebbaeus), Simon, the Canaanaean, and Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer.

Jesus sent the twelve out to go only to Jewish communities, to the lost sheep of Israel, not to Gentiles or Samaritans. They were to proclaim the imminent coming of the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons and cleanse lepers. Jesus told them not to accept payment for the Gospel because they had received it without charge.

Commentary:

God called Moses to proclaim God’s Word to the Israelites. God initiated a covenant between himself and Israel, with Moses as the mediator of that covenant.

God is the one and only God, and Lord of all Creation, whether we acknowledge him or not. We are all his people because he is our Creator. But those who willingly choose to trust and obey God enter into the covenant God initiated, and are his particular people, called by his name: “the people of God;” the “citizens” of his kingdom.

God’s people are called and empowered to be a kingdom of priests and a holy people (consecrated to God’s service). They are intended to carry on the proclamation of God’s Word and the mediation of God’s covenant to the world, as Moses is our example.

The psalmist was fulfilling the role of a member of the people of God. He had come to know God personally, had experienced God’s goodness and faithfulness, and proclaimed it to others, among the Israelites, and also to the people of the world.

God has always intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. Jesus Christ has been part of God’s plan from the very beginning and has been “designed into” Creation (John 1:1-5, 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The history of God’s interaction with Creation and his dealing with the people of Israel recorded in the Old Testament reveals the constant ongoing work of God to fulfill that plan. At the perfect moment in history God’s promised Messiah came into the world.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist announced Jesus’ coming, and then Jesus began his ministry. He chose twelve disciples, and began to train them. Jesus demonstrated the mission to proclaim God’s Word and to bring spiritual healing and spiritual, eternal life to people.

Jesus showed his disciples the spiritual need of people and told them to pray to the Lord for “harvesters” to help with the spiritual harvest. Then Jesus empowered, guided and sent his disciples into his fields to do the harvesting.

The original disciples had not yet received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but the indwelling Holy Spirit was not yet necessary, because Jesus was still physically present (see John 7:39). Jesus directed his disciples into a specific ministry; not to wherever they might want to go. This mission was training for the original disciples, and was intended to be an example for future disciples.

After Jesus’ resurrection, he warned the original disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit, before they went out into the world in the mission of the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). After they were “reborn” they were to go into all the world and make (“born-again”) disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 28: 19-20).

That warning is for us as well. We are to stay within the Church, being “discipled” by “born-again” disciples, until we have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus is the example for us of a child of God who trusts and obeys God’s Word. He had a personal relationship with God the Father and he made God and God’s Word known to people. Jesus is the “New Moses,” the mediator of a New Covenant which God has initiated with his people who trust and obey God and keep the covenant with God (Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 12:24; Matthew 26:27-28, note “g,” RSV).

We are to be God’s people, who trust and obey God’s Word fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the “living Word” (John 1:1-5, 14). We are to be “reborn” and then to be guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the imminent coming of God’s kingdom, and to heal spiritually and give spiritual life to those who are spiritually lost and spiritually dead.

Paul is the example of a modern, “post-resurrection,” “born-again” John 3:3, 5-8), disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, which we are all called to be. Paul did not come to know Jesus until after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) was confronted by the Holy Spirit of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul’s response to that confrontation was to acknowledge Jesus as Lord (Acts 9:4-5), to repent (Acts 9:9) and to trust and obey Jesus as Lord (Acts 9:6-7). He was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (9:10-17), until he was “reborn” (Acts 9:18), and then immediately began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:20).

Paul is the author of the Letter to the Romans. He is carrying on the ministry of Jesus to proclaim the Gospel and to spiritually heal and resurrect the spiritually sick and dead. He is demonstrating his obedience to the “Great Commission” which Jesus gave to his (born-again) disciples, to make (born-again) disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul is as much an apostle as the original Twelve (Luke 6:13).

I’m convinced that Paul is the apostle who God chose to replace Judas Iscariot, the betrayer (Acts 1:15-26; remember that the eleven had not yet received the Holy Spirit). Paul is intended to be our example to follow.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday 4 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 9, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 4 Pentecost – A

Psalm 69:1-20 — Cry for Deliverance;

Paraphrase:

The psalmist feels overwhelmed by distress, as though caught in a flood. He feels up to his neck in trouble, and is sinking in deep mud, where he can find no foothold. He is emotionally exhausted with crying and waiting for the Lord’s help.

The psalmist’s enemies are more numerous than the hairs of his head. His enemies hate him without cause; they attack him with lies. They seek retribution for that of which the psalmist is not guilty.

The psalmist trusts that the Lord knows the psalmist’s weakness and shortcomings and he appeals to the Lord so that others who trust in the Lord will not be brought to shame and dishonor through the psalmist. It is for the Lord that the psalmist has borne reproach and shame. The psalmist has become a stranger to his neighbors, and a foreigner to his brothers. “For zeal for thy house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me” (Psalm 69:9). When the psalmist humbled himself before the Lord with fasting and sackcloth (ritual garb of mourning and repentance) he was reproached and became an object of ridicule. He has been disparaged by the idle and drunkards.

But the psalmist vows to pray to the Lord, trusting that the Lord, in steadfast love, will answer him at just the right time. The Lord will faithfully rescue him from sinking in deep mud. The Lord will deliver the psalmist from his enemies, and from the deep waters of his distress. The deep will not swallow up the psalmist, the flood will not sweep him away, and the grave will not close over him.

The psalmist trusts that in the Lord’s steadfast love, goodness and mercy, the Lord will not abandon the psalmist or hide from him. In distress the psalmist calls upon the Lord to hurry and set him free from his enemies.

The psalmist is certain that the Lord knows the psalmist’s shame, reproach and dishonor, and knows who the psalmist’s enemies are. The psalmist’s heart is broken with insults, so that he feels great despair. He sought pity and comfort but found none.

Commentary:

When we experience distress, the metaphor of the flood that sweeps us away is an accurate description. When trouble strikes, friends and family seem to disappear. Even when they try to help, they cannot supply the help, understanding and consolation that only the Lord can give us. We need to learn how to wait for the Lord’s help, instead of seeking instant “help” elsewhere.

Sometimes we need to experience trials in order to realize how much we need the Lord, and to experience his power, faithfulness and love to deliver us from them when we trust in him. The Lord doesn’t cause troubles, but he allows them to happen. This temporal world has been designed to allow us to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and to learn by trial and error, that God’s way is our best interest. Trouble is the consequence of sin, which is disobedience of God’s Word. Sometimes our troubles are the consequences of our own sins, and sometimes the sins of others. We need to learn to live in obedient trust in God’s Word.

Trusting and obeying God’s Word won’t keep us from experiencing trouble in this lifetime, but it will allow us to learn the power, faithfulness and love of God to deliver us. We will come to know with certainty that the Lord will also keep us from being swept away eternally by the flood of death and eternal condemnation in the Day of Judgment. Jesus is the only one who can deliver us from sin and the consequence of sin, which is eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Trusting and obeying God’s Word won’t keep us from experiencing trouble. We cannot expect to be treated better by worldly people than Jesus was. Worldly people hated Jesus and they hate Jesus’ disciples. Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 69:9 (see John 2:17) for bearing the insults of those who hate God. Jesus can console and encourage us because he has experienced the same hatred and persecution that his disciples face, and has overcome it.

It is better to endure trouble for the Gospel, the Word of God, than to suffer because of sin. We will be vindicated by the Lord on the Day of Judgment.

We need to be careful not to bring shame, reproach and dishonor upon the Gospel. We must remember that what we do with God’s Word affects how worldly people will receive it and how our conduct will affect the faith of other believers.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is possible only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey the Lord and to live according to his Word. When we learn to trust and obey him now, we will be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life so we can enter God’s heavenly kingdom. In God’s eternal kingdom there will be no more troubles, sickness, sorrow, or death, because there will be no more sin (Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 11:9; 65:25).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 4 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 10, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 4 Pentecost – A

Jeremiah 20:7-13 — Jeremiah’s Lament; Paraphrase:

Jeremiah accused the Lord of persuading him to do what was causing Jeremiah to be derided and mocked; he acknowledged that he was unable to resist the Lord’s power over him. Whenever Jeremiah opened his mouth he shouted, “Violence and destruction.” His proclamation of God’s Word had caused Jeremiah “reproach and derision all day long” (Jeremiah 20:8d). Yet Jeremiah couldn’t resist the urge to proclaim God’s Word; it was as if it were a burning fire within his heart and trapped in his bones. Jeremiah had grown weary trying to hold it in, and still was unable to restrain it.

Jeremiah quoted Psalm 31:13 (attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel) feeling surrounded by terror and the plotting of his enemies. His close friends denounced him, expecting him to come to disaster. They hoped Jeremiah would make a mistake, so that they could overcome him and get revenge upon him. But Jeremiah trusted that the Lord was a powerful warrior who would cause Jeremiah’s persecutors to fail; they would not prevail over Jeremiah. They would fail and suffer shame and eternal dishonor.

Jeremiah committed himself to the Lord of hosts,* the judge of righteousness, who knows the heart and mind. He prayed to see vengeance upon his persecutors because Jeremiah had committed his situation to the Lord.

Commentary:

Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah, the remnant of Israel, and Jerusalem, the capital, in the period immediately before the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar and the exile of Judah to Babylon for seventy years.

Judah had witnessed the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel of the divided monarchy in the recent past (721 B.C.), but had not learned from that example. They didn’t want to hear Jeremiah’s warning that they faced a similar disaster.

The Lord called Jeremiah to be his prophet and to speak God’s Word, regardless of its reception by his hearers (Jeremiah 1:4-10). Jeremiah was filled with God’s Word, and proclaiming it became an irresistible need. Jeremiah did not enjoy proclaiming the bad news of God’s impending judgment and punishment, but it was God’s will and Jeremiah’s necessary duty.

God’s Word is a powerful, creative force (Hebrews 4:12), and it is eternal and eternally true. God’s Word is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions of its fulfillment are met. Jeremiah quoted Psalm 31:13 as he was experiencing and fulfilling it, as had the psalmist. But that psalm is also Messianic prophecy (Psalm 31:10-13), ultimately fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the Cross (Matthew 27:39-44).

The Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes (Jewish religious leaders) had plotted to overcome and destroy Jesus. They had conspired to take Jesus’ life. They had questioned Jesus, hoping that he would make a mistake. But Jesus trusted in God the Father and committed his situation to God (Luke 23:46), and Jesus was not overcome, but prevailed, by his resurrection from the dead. His persecutors suffered shame and eternal dishonor.

Both David and Jeremiah also were delivered from their enemies and vindicated because they had committed their situations to the Lord. Jeremiah had been imprisoned by the King of Judah for prophesying that the Babylonian army would conquer Jerusalem (Jeremiah 37:7-8, 15-38:13), and that prophecy was fulfilled because Judah refused to heed God’s Word of warning to repent and return to obedient trust in God. When the city fell, the Judeans were exiled to Babylon for seventy years, but the Babylonian forces allowed Jeremiah to choose whether to go to Babylon with the captives or not (Jeremiah 40:2-4).

Note that seventy years is a virtual life sentence for all who were adults at the time of the exile. Jeremiah saw God’s vengeance upon those who had opposed Jeremiah’s prophecy and they suffered shame and eternal dishonor, while Jeremiah was saved and vindicated.

America, the “New Promised Land,” and the nominal Church, the “New Jerusalem,” the “New Israel,” are in much the same position as Samaria and Jerusalem at the time of their falls to the Assyrians and Babylonians, from the same region we are now under attack by Islamic terrorists. The “War on Terror” is a spiritual problem.

America and the nominal Church are also in the same situation as Jerusalem and Judaism at the time of Jesus. Israel had not learned the lessons of the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians and the exile of Judah to Babylon, and as a result were not prepared for Jesus’ first coming. As a result Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A.D., the people were scattered throughout the world, and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until it was reestablished following World War II.

Are we willing to hear God’s Word, even when it makes us uncomfortable? Are we willing to heed God’s call to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord? Are we willing to place our trust in the Lord and proclaim God’s Word fully even when it is unpopular? Are we willing to suffer abuse and persecution for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

*The Lord of hosts originally meant “Lord of armies;” “God of battles:” The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, 1 Samuel1:3n, p. 331, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

The host of heaven means the heavenly beings; the angels: Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, William B., “Host of Heaven,” p. 612, Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5

Wednesday 4 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 11, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 4 Pentecost – A

Romans 5:12-15 — Adam and Christ Contrasted;

Paraphrase:

The first man, Adam, sinned, and introduced sin, and death, (which is the consequence of sin), into Creation. Sin and death spread to all humans because they all sinned (they shared the same sinful nature with Adam). Sin existed in the world before the Law (God’s Word) was given (to Moses), but sin was not counted before the Law was introduced. Yet death, which is the consequence of sin, reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not overtly defy God’s Word, as Adam had. Adam is a “type,” (a prefiguring) of the Messiah who was promised. Adam’s sin brought death to all humans, but Christ brought the free gift (of forgiveness, salvation and life) to many.

This Creation has been designed by God to allow us freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not. God knew that, given freedom, humans would choose to do their own will rather than God’s, so God designed Christ, the Savior, into Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Adam represents our sinful human nature and Jesus represents the obedient trusting children of God which we can become, through obedient trust in God’s Word. Adam is the worldly, physical man and Jesus is the heavenly, spiritual man.

God has designed Creation so that we are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good and true in God’s judgment). None of us deserves forgiveness and salvation from eternal death, so God can give forgiveness and salvation as a free gift to those who trust and obey Jesus.

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. God has been progressively revealing himself and his plan for Creation. Creation itself reveals the goodness and wisdom of God. God has revealed himself to us in his Word in the Bible, beginning with the Law which he gave through Moses. The Bible reveals God’s nature in dealing with his people and progressively revealing and fulfilling his purpose for Creation.

Jesus is the fullest revealing of God’s nature and purpose to the world. Jesus is God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to find, know and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This lifetime is our only opportunity to learn to know, trust and obey God’s Word. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life. All this is only possible only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word; Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to know God, to know divine, eternal truth, and to have true, eternal life (John 14:6). Jesus is the only one who gives (“baptizes;” “anoints” with) the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus said that we must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to see the kingdom of God all around us now, and to enter it in eternity. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the ultimate revelation of God and Jesus Christ to us personally and individually.

A Christian is a “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26d). The “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit is an ongoing event which we can personally experience and know for ourselves (Acts 19:2). Anyone who isn’t sure, within themselves, hasn’t been “born-again.” Any nominal “Christian” who hasn’t been “born-again” should ask themselves why not.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 4 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 12, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 4 Pentecost – A

Matthew 10:24-33 — Discipleship;

Jesus warned his disciples that disciples and servants are not greater or better than their teacher or master. The best they can hope for is to be like their teacher or master. If people have called Jesus Belzebul (“ruler of demons;” i.e. Satan) they will malign his disciples even more readily.

Jesus told his disciples not to fear people or evil powers. Nothing can be kept secret that will not be made known. What Jesus told his disciples in private they were to shout from the rooftops. They were not to fear those who can only kill them physically, but to fear (have awe and respect for) the Lord, who has the power and authority to cast body and soul into Hell (eternal death and destruction).

Two sparrows were sold for a penny, but one does not die except by God’s will. God knows the slightest details; even the number of hairs on our heads. So we need not be afraid, because we are more precious to God than many sparrows.

Jesus will acknowledge to God everyone who acknowledges Jesus to others; but those who deny Jesus to others will be denied to God by Jesus.

“Christians” are, by definition, disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26d) who trust and obey Jesus. They are spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has been “born-again” (Acts 19:2).

Disciples of Jesus Christ are commanded to stay in “Jerusalem” (i.e., within the Church) until they have been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then they are to go into the world to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to trust and obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:19-20).

The indwelling Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ within his disciples (Romans 8:9). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are guided and empowered to testify to others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christian disciples cannot expect to be popular and respected by worldly people. The world hated and crucified the perfect sinless Son of God, and we cannot expect to be any more well-received than Jesus was. But we have a mandate to continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

“Born-again” Christians know by personal experience that Jesus is eternally alive and that the Holy Spirit within them testifies that they have eternal life also. Our concern should be to serve our Lord by the guidance and resources he provides. What we say and do in our daily lives should testify to Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus warned that there will be many, who call Jesus their Lord and who claim to have prophesied and done many great deeds in Jesus’ name, who Jesus will deny knowing on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46). Saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is obedient trust in Jesus’ teachings! Any one who truly believes in Jesus will seek to know and apply Jesus’ teachings in their daily live (Matthew 7:24-27).

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in their lifetime. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been “reborn” by the indwelling Holy Spirit and will enter God’s eternal kingdom, but those who have rejected Jesus and have failed or refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction and spiritual death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 4 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 13, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 4 Pentecost – A

Isaiah 58:6-12 — The Service God Desires;

Paraphrase:

The service that God desires is not ritual fasting, but breaking the bonds of wickedness and release of the oppressed. God wants us to share our food with the hungry, our homes with the homeless, and to clothe the naked. We should not hide ourselves from the human needs around us.

When we practice kindness and justice we will have the light of righteousness; we will have healing and righteousness, and the glory of God will be with us. Then, when we call upon the Lord, he will hear and answer us.

If we remove oppression, contempt and wickedness from among us and make an effort to relieve the hungry and afflicted, then our gloom will be lifted from us. Then the Lord will guide us and bless us with good things, and give us health and strength. We will be like a watered garden; like a spring which never stops flowing. Then our foundations will be restored and our ancient ruins will be rebuilt. We will be known as repairers and restorers.

Commentary:

Faith is obedient trust. If we want the Lord to heal, restore and bless us we must begin to live according to his Word. God is Lord whether we acknowledge him or not, but God is not obligated to be all that a good, loving, all-powerful God implies, unless we are willing to be his obedient, trusting people (Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26:3; Leviticus 26:12; see also Jeremiah 11:4c-5).

God deals with us with kindness and justice, and he expects us to deal with others the same way. God has blessed us with so many blessings in this world, but he intends them to be blessings for all to share equally.

God does not desire ritual or sacrifice; he desires kindness, justice, and obedience to his Word. How we treat the least of our neighbors, the poor and the powerless, indicates our spiritual condition. We want freedom, justice and opportunity for ourselves, but do we work to insure that others have them too? If we want the Lord to hear and answer us we must be willing to hear and obey him.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 4 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 14, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 4 Pentecost – A

Romans 14:7-17 — Walking According to Love;
Matthew 5:43-48 — Love for Our Enemies;

Romans Paraphrase:

None of us live for ourselves alone. Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord. Christ came and died and arose to life again so that he could be Lord of both the living and the dead.

We must not be judgmental and despise our brother, because we will all be accountable at God’s throne of judgment. Paul quoted Isaiah 45:23, that at the Day of Judgment, every one will bow to the Lord and give him praise.

So instead of criticizing others we should be considerate and make the effort to live in such a way so that they will have no cause to stumble because of us. Paul was convinced that nothing is unclean in itself, but if anyone believes something is unclean, then for him it is. We should consider the effect upon others of what we do. If our freedom damages the faith of another, we are not living in accordance with love. Similarly, we should not let others criticize what we regard as good. The kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Conventional morality suggests that we should love our friends and hate our enemies. But Jesus taught his disciples a higher standard of righteousness. We should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In doing so we will prove that we are the children of God and share his nature. God gives the blessings of this world to all, without distinction of whether people are just or unjust; righteous or unrighteous. We have no commendation if we love our friends and hate our enemies, because even the wicked do that. It isn’t sufficient to conform to the world’s standard of righteousness, but instead we are to conform to God’s standard.

Commentary:

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27, and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God has designed this Creation from the very beginning, intending to establish an eternal kingdom of people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. Jesus has been God’s plan from the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14), and has been “built into” Creation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is God made visible in human flesh (Colossians 1:15; 2:8-9; Matthew 11:27). He came to reveal God’s love for us, and to teach us to live in obedience to God’s Word. He died and rose again to demonstrate that there is existence after physical death and that we will also be raised from physical death to eternal life if we trust and obey him, and have been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

There is a Day of Judgment coming for each of us at the end of this lifetime, and nobody knows when that will be. Each of us will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime, and the standard of Judgment will be Jesus Christ. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in heaven; Creation restored to paradise. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction and unending death in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46).

In the Day of Judgment everyone will bow before the throne of God and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and give praise to God (Philippians 2:9-11). In that day it will be to late to change our eternal destiny.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)

Week of 3 Pentecost – A – 06/25 – 07/01/2017

June 24, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

I will post weekly by Saturday, noon, (God willing), Pacific time (UTC-8:00) for the week of the Church Season which begins on Sunday. Please scroll down for the desired day, or save the week to your desktop/hard drive.

Podcast Download: Week of 3 Pentecost A

Sunday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 1, 2008;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Pentecost A

Hosea 5:15-6:6 — Turn and be Healed;
Psalm 50:1-15 — Divine Judgment;
Romans 4:18-25 — Righteousness by Faith;
Matthew 9:9-13 — The Great Physician;

Hosea Paraphrase:

The Lord declared through Hosea, his prophet, that the Lord would remove his presence and favor from among his people until they acknowledge their guilt and seek the Lord’s presence and help. When the people experience distress they may return to the Lord and seek his providence and protection. The Lord has torn, but he also heals; he strikes, but he also will bind up. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2).

We should make every effort to seek and come to know the Lord. His existence is as certain as the dawn; his presence will refresh and restore us like the spring rains water the earth.

The Lord rebukes Ephraim and Judah, symbolic of God’s blessed people, because their love is as ephemeral as morning mist or dew which quickly disappears.

The Lord uses his prophets to shape his people, and those who do not conform to his Word will be (eternally) slain. The Lord’s judgment goes forth as light. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

Psalm Paraphrase:

The Lord God Almighty calls all people all day, from dawn to dusk. From his eternal city the beauty and perfection of God shines forth.

The Lord our God comes. He is not silenced. His coming is with a devouring fire and a mighty storm. He calls earth and heaven to assemble for judgment of his people. He summons his faithful people who have made a covenant with him sealed by sacrifice. God alone is judge, and his righteousness is declared throughout the Universe.

God calls his people to listen to him. The Lord will testify against them, for he is their God. The Lord does not blame them for lack of sacrifices. They offer burn offerings continually, but God refuses to accept their sacrifices.

God refuses to accept their sacrifices, because all the cattle and every creature belongs to God. God has no need for mankind to provide him with food (through their sacrificial offerings). If God were hungry he wouldn’t have to ask mankind for food. God doesn’t eat the flesh or drink the blood of animals.

The sacrifice that God desires is the sacrifice of thanksgiving and obedient trust, keeping our covenant vows to the Lord, and relying on him for help in the day of trouble. Then the Lord will deliver them, and they will glorify the Lord.

Romans Paraphrase:

Abraham believed and hoped in God’s promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations, even when it appeared hopeless. He believed God’s Word that his descendants would be as numerous beyond counting as the stars in the heavens. He didn’t waver when he considered his age, that he was about one hundred years old, nor when he considered that his wife was past child-bearing age, and had never conceived. He didn’t allow distrust to shake his faith in God’s promise. Instead, his faith grew as he trusted that God was fully able to do what he promised. So righteousness was attributed by God to Abraham because of Abraham’s faith (Genesis 15:6).

The testimony of God’s Word concerning Abraham’s righteousness was not written for Abraham’s benefit but for ours. We, who believe that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our “justification” (vindication; attribution of righteousness; acquittal from guilt), will be attributed as righteous in God’s Final Judgment.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus passed by the office of a tax collector named Matthew, and Jesus called to Matthew saying, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed Jesus.

At dinner at Matthew’s house, Jesus and his disciples were joined by many tax collectors and sinners who were Matthew’s friends. When the Pharisees (legalistic Jewish religious leaders) saw this, they criticized Jesus to his disciples for eating with tax collectors and sinners. When Jesus heard it, he told the Pharisees that those who are healthy have no need of a physician; only those who are sick. Jesus told the Pharisees to go and learn what God’s Word means, that God desires mercy rather than sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). Jesus declared, “I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13b).

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal and eternally true. It is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God proclaimed through Hosea that God withholds his providence and protection from his people who have turned from obedient trust in the Lord to disobedience and idolatry. The Lord withholds his favor in hope that his people will realize their need and dependence upon the Lord and will return to him and call upon him for help.

Hosea prophesied that God would revive his servant after two days and would raise him up on the third day. That prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the perfect trusting and obedient servant of God, at his resurrection. It remains to be fulfilled by us as we trust and obey Jesus.

The Lord wants us to seek and come to know him, and he promises to make himself known to those who earnestly seek him (Hosea 6:3; Acts 17:26-27; Hebrews 11:6; John 14:21). God is the one and only true God; he is; the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). His existence is certain and is attested to by Creation, God’s Word, and by every truly “born-again” Christian, because we have personally have come to know and have fellowship with him through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to have forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), to know divine eternal truth, to receive restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life in the kingdom of God (John 14:6).

Jesus is the only one who “baptizes” (“anoints”) with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is the presence of the Lord within us by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are spiritually revived from spiritual death to eternal life. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Ephraim and Judah are symbols of the people God has blessed. Ephraim means “double fruitfulness.” He was the second son of Joseph born in Egypt, who was blessed above the first-born by Jacob (Israel; Genesis 41:52; 46:20; 48:10-20). Ephraim received unmerited blessing. Judah, the fourth son of Jacob (Israel) by Leah, was a leader in family matters (Genesis 43:3-10; 44:14, 16-34; 46:28). Joseph was the one to whom the birthright belonged (1 Chronicles 5:2, but Judah became the chief among the brothers, so he also was blessed beyond his own merit. We also who trust and obey Jesus are blessed beyond what we deserve by God’s grace (unmerited favor).

The Lord has proclaimed his Word in the Bible and through his prophets so that we can be molded according to his will. Those who refuse to conform to his Word will be eternally destroyed. God does not want “fair-weather” friends; people who will serve the Lord if and when it suits them. The Lord doesn’t want people who only go through the motions of religious ritual. The Lord wants people who love him enough to trust and obey him and seek his presence and fellowship.

The Lord calls all people. The only people who are excluded are those who choose to be excluded by resisting his call. God’s people are those who choose to covenant with God and are willing to sacrifice their self-will in order to do God’s will.

There is a Day coming when every one who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done, individually, in this lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46). The Lord is coming to judge all people and his coming cannot be stopped; his judgment cannot be silenced. His judgment will be a destroying fire and a terrible storm for those who have rejected and refused to trust and obey the Lord.

Saving faith is trusting and obeying the Lord, even when his promises seem humanly impossible. The Lord wants us to learn to trust and obey him. If we will begin to trust and obey, he will show us that his promises are completely reliable and true, and as he demonstrates his faithfulness, goodness and power to do what he promised, our faith will grow to certainty. We will learn that God’s Word is always fulfilled.

We are all sinners who fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus came to heal and restore sinners, but he can only help those who recognize their shortcomings and need for spiritual healing. Jesus calls us all, but the only ones who will be healed and restored are those who hear and respond with obedient trust. If we know we need spiritual healing we must call upon Jesus to heal us and begin to trust and obey what he tells us.

Has the Lord removed his presence, his providence, and protection from our churches and our nation? Would we notice if he had? Are we seeking his providence and protection or are we seeking help from some other source?

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 2, 2008;
Podcast: Monday 3 Pentecost A

Psalm 100 — Song of Thanksgiving;

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100).

Commentary:

In one sense we are all God’s people because he is our Creator; and he is Lord, whether we acknowledge him or not. God’s plan has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. This temporal world has been created intentionally by God to allow us to seek and come to find and know God (Acts 17:26-27), to provide us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and the opportunity to learn by “trial and error.” This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus John 14:15-17). All these can only be accomplished through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:21; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

If we seek the Lord he will allow himself to be found by us (Jeremiah 29:13-14a; Matthew 7:7-8). If we will trust and obey God’s Word we will experience his goodness, steadfast love and faithfulness, and the joy of his presence within us. We will learn the joy of serving him. We will enter into his “house” with thanksgiving and praise, now, which is just a foretaste of what it will be like ultimately to enter his eternal temple in heaven.

Disobedience of God’s Word is the definition of sin. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Everything in this creation is constrained by time, because God is not willing to tolerate sin forever, nor allow it in his eternal kingdom. Otherwise it wouldn’t be “heaven.”

The best and most satisfying thing we can do on earth is to serve the Lord in obedient trust. I personally regret not having discovered this until my mid-thirties. Thankfully, I was able to come to know the Lord, to learn to be his disciple, to discover that God’s will is our best interest, and that serving him is such a joy!

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 3, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 3 Pentecost A

Exodus 19:2-8a — God’s Covenant with his People;

Paraphrase:

The Israelites camped at Rephidim at the entrance to the Sinai desert, three months after they left Egypt (Exodus 19:1). They entered the Sinai wilderness and camped at the base of Mount Sinai (Mount Horeb). Moses went up to the top of Mount Sinai and the Lord called to Moses and told him to tell the Israelites that they had seen what the Lord had done to the Egyptians to deliver the Israelites from bondage to them. The Israelites had seen how the Lord had brought them “on eagle’s wings” to himself (at the Lord’s holy mountain).

The Lord proposed a covenant with Israel: If Israel would obey God’s Word and keep the covenant that the Lord was proposing, the Israelites would be the Lord’s particular possession among all the people of earth. Everything on earth belongs to the Lord but Israel would be God’s special possession, and they were to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This is what the Lord told Moses to tell the people of Israel.

Moses assembled the elders of the people and told them what the Lord had said, and all the people of Israel agreed to do all that the Lord had commanded.

Commentary:

God is the Creator and Lord of all the earth, whether we acknowledge him or not. God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God’s Word. God knew Israel’s suffering and bondage in Egypt, and called Moses to lead them out of bondage in Egypt and into the land which God had promised to give to Abraham and his descendants.

God had fulfilled his promise to deliver Israel from Egyptian captivity, and Israel had seen the Lord’s deliverance and power. Now the Lord asked them to trust and obey God’s Word, and be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Moses was to be the mediator of the covenant which God initiated with his people.

The history of God’s dealing with Israel, which is recorded in the Bible, is also a parable and a metaphor for life in this temporal world, and a foreshadow and illustration of what the Lord was doing for all the people of earth in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “New Moses” who has been called by God to deliver us from bondage to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world, of which Satan is “Pharaoh.”

The Lord brings us through the “sea” of baptism, through which we are saved from our spiritual enemies, “Pharaoh’s armies,” who cannot pass through, into Jesus Christ, and brings us to the holy mountain of God. God offers us a “New Covenant” with him, through Jesus Christ. If we will obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), we will be God’s special, chosen people among all the people of earth, and we are to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

The true Church (as distinct from the “nominal” Church) is the “New Israel” and the congregation is to be a kingdom of priests, carrying on the mission of Christ to be mediators of the “New Covenant” to the people of earth, and to be a holy nation, consecrated to the Lord’s service. Jesus Christ will lead us through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, and bring through the “river” of physical death (without getting our feet “wet;” Joshua 3:14-17) and into the “Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

When we realize what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, the Lord asks us to believe in (trust and obey) Jesus, the “living Word” and keep our “covenant” with the Lord into which we are “baptized” in Jesus Christ, and we will be his kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Baptism into Jesus Christ is the seal of the “New Covenant” in which we promise to trust and obey God’s Word in Jesus Christ, and as we begin to trust and obey God’s Word we will receive the “baptism” (“anointing,” “gift”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The Holy Spirit is the “pillar of fire” (Exodus 13:21-22), who leads us the through the spiritual darkness of this world,” and guides and empowers us to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation in the world. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

This “wilderness” is where we are to learn to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, to learn to be led by his Holy Spirit, and to rely on and experience God’s providence and protection.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 4, 2008;
Podcast: Wednesday 3 Pentecost A

Romans 5:6-11 — Reconciliation with God;

Paraphrase:

Christ died for us, while we were still helpless (enslaved by sin) and ungodly (far from God’s righteousness). Not many of us would be willing to die even for a righteous person, although a few might, for a good person. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Since we are now justified (found not guilty in God’s judgment) by the blood of Jesus, we are saved by him from God’s wrath. If by the death of his son we were reconciled to God, much more will we be saved by his life. So we can rejoice in God through Jesus Christ through whom we have been reconciled to God.

Commentary:

We are all sinners (sin is disobedience of God’s Word) and all fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is good, right and true -Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). We were all helplessly trapped in sin, unable on our own to save ourselves from God’s wrath.

God has always intended, from the very beginning of this Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. God designed this Creation from the very beginning to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God or not, and he knew that we would have to learn, by trial and error, that his will was better than our own. But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, and will not allow it in his eternal kingdom, or it wouldn’t be heaven.

This Creation and our physical lives are limited by time. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “born-again” John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

God foresaw that we would need a Savior in order to escape eternal condemnation, and so he designed Jesus Christ into the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from sin (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God loved us enough to send his only begotten Son to die for us on the Cross, so that we could be saved from the wrath and eternal condemnation of God on the Day of Judgment. Jesus is the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and all people who are willing to accept it, for the forgiveness of sin. Who of us would be willing to sacrifice our own child to save someone who has wronged us?

Those who have received the blood of Jesus by faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word will be found “not guilty” on the Day of Judgment, and we have been reconciled to God now and eternally. We are restored to fellowship with God that was broken by our sin.

When we believe God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), we will begin to trust and obey Jesus. As we do so we are spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14: 15-17). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus Christ and God our Father. We experience Jesus’ life within us.

If we have been reconciled to God by Jesus’ death, “much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the testimony of Christ’s resurrection within us, and the seal and guarantee that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can rejoice in God through Jesus Christ, through whom we have been reconciled.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 5, 2008;
Podcast: Thursday 3 Pentecost A

Matthew 9:35-10:8 — Laborers in the Harvest;

Paraphrase:

Jesus went from village to village, teaching in synagogues, preaching the gospel of God’s kingdom, and healing every sickness and disability. He had compassion on the crowds, “because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Jesus told his disciples that there is a plentiful harvest, but few laborers, so they should pray that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into the harvest.

Jesus called his twelve original disciples and gave them authority to heal spiritual and physical illnesses, disabilities and death. The names of the twelve were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, the tax collector, James, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (Lebbaeus), Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer.

Jesus sent the twelve out with instructions to go only to Jewish communities, to the “lost sheep” of Israel, and not to Gentiles or Samaritans. Jesus told them to preach that God’s kingdom was at hand. They were given authority to heal the sick, the leprous and demonic, and to raise the dead. They were to proclaim the gospel without being paid, because they had received it without having to pay.

Commentary:

Jesus came to proclaim the Gospel of God’s eternal kingdom. He came to bring spiritual healing and spiritual life. His miracles of physical healing and resurrection were intended to reveal that he is the Son of God and has the power of spiritual healing and life.

Jesus had compassion on people, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. They had great spiritual need and no one to guide them and protect them from their spiritual enemy.

Jesus is the Lord of the spiritual harvest. He came to begin that harvest, and to show us how to do it. He called his twelve original disciples, and taught them the Gospel. They came to know Jesus and know that he is the Messiah. Then Jesus gave them Jesus’ authority over illness and death, and sent them out to continue what Jesus had been demonstrating.

On their journey they were to learn to depend on the providence of God, rather than relying on their own resources. They were to make the Gospel that they had received from Jesus, without paying, freely available to others, regardless of their ability to pay, but relying on God to provide their necessities through those who received the Gospel who had the resources. We also need to learn to rely on the empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit to provide the spiritual guidance and resources we need to carry out the mission he gives us, rather than trying to do the mission by our own human understanding and resources.

Jesus is the Lord of the harvest. Today there is a tremendously great spiritual need right around each of us. Many around us are like sheep without a shepherd, spiritually lost and in great danger.

Jesus is the true, “Good Shepherd.” There are many others who claim to be “shepherds” but who are thieves and robbers (John 10:1-16); “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

Only Jesus’ “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples can do the harvesting. We must first come to Jesus and be “discipled” by “born-again” disciples until we have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). We must have a personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Then we can pray to the Lord of the harvest, and he will direct and send us and empower us to do the work of harvesting, just like Jesus did with his original disciples. This is exactly how I have come to this internet ministry.

The original disciples had been taught by Jesus and were empowered, directed, and sent by Jesus, although the indwelling Holy Spirit had not yet been given. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit wasn’t necessary yet because Jesus was physically present, and the mission was intended to be training for them and an example for future disciples. But after his resurrection Jesus warned his disciples not to go and proclaim the Gospel until they had been “born-again” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are all born physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday – 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 6, 2008;
Podcast: Friday 3 Pentecost A

Micah 7:18-20 — The Lord’s Compassion;
Luke 15:11-32 — The Prodigal Son;

Micah Paraphrase:

There is no other god than the Lord, who pardons sin and forgives trespasses for the remnant of his heritage. The Lord does not hold grudges because he prefers steadfast love. The Lord will have compassion for us again, he will stamp out our iniquities and cast away all our sin, as into the depths of the ocean. The Lord will show faithfulness and steadfast love to his people, to Jacob and to Abraham (the patriarchs and inheritors of God’s promise), as God promised to our forefathers long ago.

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus taught in parables (fictional stories of everyday experiences to illustrate spiritual truth). In the parable of the prodigal son, a man had two sons, and the younger asked his father for his share of the inheritance, so the father divided his estate and gave the younger son his share. Shortly after, the younger son left and went to a distant land, and there he wasted his inheritance in “loose living.”

When the inheritance had been spent, there was a famine in the land and the son lacked the basic necessities, so he became the servant of a citizen of the land who hired him to feed his pigs. The son realized that the man’s pigs ate more and better that the son did, and he recalled that his father treated his servants better than the son was now being treated, so the son decided to return to his father, confess his sin, and ask to be his father’s hired servant, since he was no longer worthy to be his father’s son.

As the son drew near to his father’s home, the father saw and recognized him. The father ran to meet him and greeted him with a kiss. The son confessed his sin and acknowledged that he was no longer worthy to be his son, but the father called his servants to fetch the finest clothes and a ring for his son and to prepare a feast to celebrate the son’s return, because the son had been as though dead and had returned to life; was lost and had now been found.

The son’s older brother had been working in the field, and when he came back, he heard the celebration and asked one of the servants what was going on. He was told that the father was celebrating his brother’s safe return. The older son was angry, and refused to join the celebration.

He felt that he was more deserving of his father’s favor than the prodigal son, since the older son had always obeyed and served his father, while the younger son had wasted his father’s inheritance in immorality. But his father said that the older son would always be with the father and that all of the father’s inheritance belonged to the older son, so he should not begrudge the celebration for the younger son who had returned from death to life.

Commentary:

There is no other God than the Lord. Other “gods” are the creation of human minds and hands, and are incapable of doing anything, even for themselves. Instead of doing what we hope and need, they become our burdens and responsibility.

The Lord’s nature is good, loving and merciful. Often, we don’t realize our sinfulness and how much we need forgiveness. God has given us his Word in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” (John 1:1-5, 14) to show us our need for forgiveness, not to make us miserable, but so that we can ask for and receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ, who is the only way to forgiveness.

We are all “prodigal” sons and daughters. We have all received our inheritance in this physical life, and unless and until we realize and appreciate what we’ve been given by God, our Father, we are squandering our inheritance in “loose living;” living to please ourselves. Sometimes we need to experience spiritual “famine” so that we can begin to recognize our spiritual need and our sinfulness. Then we can turn back toward our Father, confess our sins, and receive forgiveness and salvation, which he gladly wants to give us.

If we turn toward the Father, he will come and meet us. None of us is worthy of his love and his eternal inheritance, and when we recognize that, he is happy to give it to us as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The children of God should share their Father’s joy in the return of prodigal brothers and sisters. No one is more or less deserving of forgiveness and salvation. The steadfast son didn’t appreciate what his Father had done for him, but the prodigal son did. Jesus is the ultimate faithful son, to whom all of the Father’s inheritance belongs, but he rejoices in our return from death to true, eternal life; from being lost to being saved. Jesus is glad to share his inheritance with us.

We are all born physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God our Father (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus Christ is the only way to forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and restoration of fellowship with God, which was broken by sin. Jesus is the only way to know divine, eternal truth, and the only way to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life (John 14:6); the only way to be saved from God’s eternal condemnation and our eternal destruction in Hell (Acts 4:12; Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation; sidebar top right).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn.” Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday– 3 Pentecost – A

First Posted June 7, 2008

Podcast: Saturday 3 Pentecost A

Paraphrase:

Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, obtained authority from the high priest at Jerusalem to go to the synagogues at Damascus to arrest people belonging to the “Way” (“Christians”). As he approached Damascus a bright light flashed around him. It was so bright that he fell to the ground. He heard a voice calling him by name and asking why Saul was persecuting him. Paul replied, “who are you, Lord” and the voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” The voice of Jesus told Saul to get up and enter Damascus, and wait for further instructions.

The men traveling with Paul heard the voice, but saw no one and they were speechless. When Paul got up he could not see and had to be led by the hand into the city. For three days Paul was blind and he did not eat or drink anything.

There was a disciple, Ananias, at Damascus, and the Lord called him in a vision, and told him to go to Straight Street to the house of Judas to talk to Saul of Tarsus. The Lord told Ananias that Saul was praying and had seen a vision of a man named Ananias come and lay hands on Saul and restore his sight.

Ananias told the Lord that he had heard of Saul and knew that Saul was a persecutor of Christians. Ananias knew that Saul had come to Damascus to arrest Christians. But the Lord told Ananias to go to Saul, because the Lord had chosen Saul to be an instrument of the Lord to proclaim Jesus’ name to the Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel.

Ananias did as the Lord had told him and went to Saul. Ananias told Saul that the Lord Jesus who had confronted Saul on the road to Damascus had sent Ananias to Saul so that Saul’s sight might be restored and that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and his vision was restored. Then Saul arose and was baptized.

Commentary:

Paul is deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) that we all can be. He was chosen by the Lord to be the evangelist to the Gentiles, and to present the Gospel to several kings (for example, governor Felix: Acts 24:1-27; King Agrippa: Acts 26:1-23).

Paul was chosen by the Lord to be the replacement for Judas Iscariot. Jesus had told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. While they were waiting they decided to choose someone to replace Judas, but they weren’t yet empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, so they chose, by “lot,” (by chance) one among them named Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). Nothing is ever heard again about Matthias, but from the time of Paul’s conversion Paul is a leading figure and the rest of the New Testament is filled with accounts of his ministry.

Paul’s conversion is unique in its speed. The original Twelve were with Jesus twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for about three years, learning to be Jesus’ disciples. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the Gospel in a matter of a few days (Acts 9:19b-20). But Paul had been formally educated in Judaism, he knew the Bible Scriptures, and he loved God. He just needed to be pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.

“The Way” was the early name for Christianity. “Disciples” was the early name for Christians. (Acts 11:26c). Disciple is not a optional category of “super-Christian.” Anyone who doesn’t want to be a disciple can’t be a Christian.

Notice that Paul was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple until Paul was “born-again.” How do we know Ananias was “born-again?” Because he had a personal relationship with the Lord (Acts 9:10).

Paul was confronted by the Lord. He realized his sin, he repented, he accepted Jesus as his Lord, and became obedient to Jesus. As he trusted and obeyed Jesus he was “reborn” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The infilling of the Holy Spirit is a discernible, ongoing event (Acts 19:2). One who needs to ask some religious authority whether one has been “reborn” hasn’t been. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Paul went on to be a “disciple-maker.” Timothy is an example. Paul “discipled” Timothy until Timothy was “reborn” (2 Timothy 1:6) and he taught Timothy to make “born-again” disciples who would repeat the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

They were not making disciples for themselves but for Jesus (consider 1 Corinthians 1:10-17). They were fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) that Jesus gave his disciples, to be carried out after they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Paul was as much a disciple and apostle as the original eleven.

In too many instances the nominal Church today, particularly in America, is failing to make “born-again” disciples. Instead they are making church “members” and building buildings. It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. If the Church doesn’t make “born-again” disciples it doesn’t have “born-again” leaders.

The nominal church is not only not doing their members any favors by telling them they are automatically reborn through some ritual such as water baptism; they are actually hindering their members from seeking the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit!

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Week of 2 Pentecost – A – 06/18 – 24/2017

June 17, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/dw_bible2/b_year/wklx_b.html

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of 2 Pentecost A

Sunday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 25, 2008;

Podcast: Sunday 2 Pentecost A

Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28 – Obedience;
Psalm 31:1-5 (6-18) 19-24 — Trust in the Lord;
Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28 — Salvation by Faith;
Matthew 7: (15-20) 21-29 — Lordship of Jesus;

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

As Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land from the east, after forty years of wilderness wandering, Moses, who was not allowed to enter, gave them his final instructions from God. Moses proclaimed God’s Word and he told them to remember and obey it in their hearts and souls. God’s Word was to be so constantly in their thinking that they should bind it on their hands (as we might tie a string around a finger), and as a headband with a packet between the eyes, so that God’s Word would be constantly within the edge of their vision. They were to use every opportunity to teach God’s Word to their children, when sitting in the home, and when walking to and fro, when going to bed and when arising. They were to write God’s Word on their doorposts and gates, so that they would be reminded as they came and went from their homes. Their long life in the Promised Land was dependent upon their obedience of God’s Word.

Moses told them that God’s Word contained both blessing and curse; promise and warning! They will be blessed if they obey God’s Word, and they will be cursed if they do not obey God’s Word. Moses told them that when they entered the Promised Land they were to affirm the covenant with God in a ceremony (at Sychar) between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, where Gerizim represented the blessing, and Ebal represented the curse (see Deuteronomy 27:11-26; Joshua 8:30-35).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Psalm 31 is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king, and is prophetic (God’s Word; by inspiration of the Holy Spirit). David, himself under attack by his enemies, took refuge in the Lord, trusting that he would not be put to shame. He prayed for the Lord’s deliverance; that the Lord would hear his request and rescue him at the perfect time. David took refuge in the Lord as behind a rock or in a fortress.

David asked the Lord to lead and guide him, not because David was worthy, but because of the Lord’s character and nature (as the One who has steadfast love, faithfulness and power to deliver). David trusted the Lord to deliver him from hidden snares set to entrap David. David committed his eternal being to the Lord, trusting that the Lord, who is completely faithful, would redeem him, as though it had already happened.

God’s unlimited goodness has been stored up for those who fear (have respect and awe for the power and authority of) and take refuge in God, publicly, in this world. God hides and shelters them from the schemes and false accusations of worldly people.

David blessed and praised the Lord God, who demonstrated his steadfast love when David had felt like a city under siege by his enemies. When David though he had been driven far from God, God was still able to hear his cries and respond with help.

All those who have committed themselves to the service of the Lord will love the Lord. They will know that the Lord preserves those who have faith in him, but will fully and abundantly punish those who are arrogant. All those who trust in the Lord are encouraged to be strong and courageous and to wait for the Lord.

Romans Paraphrase:

The Law and (the writings of) the prophets (that is, the Jewish Scriptures; the Old Testament), testify to the righteousness (doing what is good, right, and true) of God, but now his righteousness has been revealed to the world, separated from (works of; keeping of) the Law. Paul is referring to the righteousness of God which is attributed to all believers through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. God shows no partiality; since all have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1;8-10), all may be declared righteous in God’s judgment by grace (unmerited favor) as a gift through the redemption (payment of penalty) which is (only) in Jesus Christ (God’s only “anointed” Savior and eternal King), whom God designed and created (John 1:1-5, 14) to extinguish guilt of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) to all who willingly receive it by faith (obedient trust; in Jesus).

Human boasting is excluded, not by the principle of works (doing good deeds; keeping the Law) but by the principle of faith (obedient trust). “For we hold that a [person] is justified by faith (obedient trust) apart from (regardless of) works (keeping; obedience) of God’s Law (God’s Word).

Matthew Background:

The Gospel text is the conclusion of the “Sermon on the Mount,” a summary representative of Jesus’ teachings.

Matthew Paraphrase:

Jesus warned his hearers to beware of false prophets and false teachers, who disguise themselves as “sheep” (God’s people) but who are inwardly, ravenous wolves (predators of sheep). Jesus told his hearers to examine the “fruit” of teachers and leaders, so that they could discern truth from error, and good from evil. As “bad” plants produce “bad” fruit, and “good” plants produce “good” fruit, so can we determine good and bad teachers and leaders by their “fruit.” It is impossible for plants to produce fruit contrary to their nature (but it can sometimes be hard to tell good fruit from bad).

Commentary:

Not everyone who claims that Jesus is their Lord is going to enter eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. On the Day of Judgment, there will be many who claim that they have done good deeds, have prophesied, have ministered to the ill, and have done miracles in Jesus’ name, but Jesus will deny knowing them, then declare them evildoers, and send them away from his presence (Matthew 7:21-27).

Jesus warned that those who hear Jesus’ teachings and trust and obey them in their daily lives are like a builder who builds on a rock. The result will be unshakable in any storm. But those who don’t listen to Jesus’ teaching, and don’t apply that teaching in their daily lives will be like one who builds on sand, without any foundation. The first storm that comes will destroy him.

The people were amazed at the authority of Jesus’ teaching, which was unlike the teaching of the scribes (the formally educated teachers of scripture of Judaism).

Commentary:

Faith is not getting whatever you believe if you believe “hard enough.” Faith is obedient trust in the One who is trustworthy. God has given us his Word in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word;” the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in human flesh in this temporal world (John 1:1-5, 14), so that we can learn to know, trust and obey God.

God’s Word through Moses warned God’s people that the condition for entering and possessing the Promised Land was obedience of God’s Word. The reason that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years was because they didn’t trust and obey the Lord to enter the Promised Land the first time they had the opportunity (Numbers 13:1-33). Their forty years in the wilderness was intended to teach them to trust and obey the Lord and rely of the Lord’s providence.

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Obedient trust in God’s Word was the condition for Israel’s entrance and possession of the Promised Land, and it is also the condition of our entrance and possession of eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven. This lifetime is our “forty years” of “wilderness wandering,” during which we are to learn to trust and obey God’s Word and rely on his providence.

We are responsible to read and hear God’s Word, so that we can obey and learn to trust it, not only superficially, but in our hearts and souls. We are responsible to make God’s Word known, trusted and obeyed by our children.

God’s Word contains both blessing and curse; promise and warning. We will be blessed if we trust and obey God and we will be eternally destroyed if we do not learn to trust and obey God’s Word.

God does not desire sacrifices and ritual; he desires our obedient trust. Obedient trust is the sacrificial offering and act of worship that God desires.

We will either worship and serve the Lord or we will worship and serve the “god” of this world (Satan); we cannot worship and serve both (Mathew 6:24). Mount Gerizim represents the worship and service to God, and the accompanying blessing; Mount Ebal represents the worship and service to idols, and the curse and destruction which will result.

David is the example of obedient trust in God (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20-29). David learned to trust and obey God’s Word. When David was in danger from his enemies, he called upon the Lord to protect and deliver David. Psalm 31 describes David’s situation; but it also prophesies and describes the situation of Jesus Christ, the Son (descendant) of David, fulfilled by Jesus on the Cross. David is the intended forerunner of Christ, which God gave to illustrate the coming Messiah.

The enemies of David did not prevail, and neither did the enemies of Jesus Christ, because of their faith in the power, faithfulness and love of God. God is the source of inexhaustible blessings to those who acknowledge his sovereign authority and power and take refuge in the Lord. The Lord is never so far away that he can’t hear and respond in perfect timing with help to those who call upon him in faith.

The most difficult lesson for us to learn is to wait for the Lord, instead of seeking immediate response elsewhere. We’re so used to immediate response. We flip a switch and the light comes on. We seek and obtain information by dialing the phone or by a click of the “mouse” on the computer. Especially in America we’ve been trained to believe that we can and must be self-sufficient.

The wonderful thing about learning to trust and obey the Lord is that, once we do, he’s available, able, willing and faithful to help us even in the wilderness, away from cellphone reception and internet connection (see Personal Testimonies, sidebar, top right). We will learn that the help that only the Lord can provide, is ultimately more eternal and satisfying than the help of humans, which will ultimately fail and disappoint (Psalms 146:3).

The Old Testament Law and prophets teach us that God is righteous, but Jesus Christ has revealed God’s righteousness to the world. The Law did not make us righteous; it just showed us our sinfulness. Jesus is the demonstration of God’s righteousness in human flesh in this world.

God is completely impartial. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). None of us is worthy of God’s favor and mercy. So God offers forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation (from eternal condemnation and destruction) as a free gift. Jesus has paid with his life on the Cross for our forgiveness and salvation.

Jesus is God’s only “anointed” eternal Savior and King; there is salvation in no other person or thing (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Anyone willing to accept Jesus as Lord and to trust and obey Jesus (which is what it means for Jesus to be Lord; Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-27) is cleansed from guilt for sin.

God’s plan of salvation precludes human boasting and human pride. Salvation is not based on the principle of works (good deeds) but on the principle of faith (obedient trust). Salvation is by faith (obedient trust) by grace (unmerited favor) in Jesus Christ, not by works (keeping of) the Law (Ephesians 2:8-9).

There are two major heresies in the Church today that arose in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament of the Bible. One is “works righteousness,” earning salvation by doing good deeds; keeping the Law; and the other is “Cheap Grace,”* salvation by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) without the requirement of discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

Good deeds are not the means, but the evidence, of salvation (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus warns that we are not to follow false prophets who teach that we must do certain “good deeds” to earn salvation; nor are we to believe false teachers who say that we do not have to trust and obey God’s Word. We must, however, understand God’s Word from the prospective of Jesus Christ (the New Testament). Obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit supersedes obedience to the letter of the Law of Moses (Romans 8:1-14).

In order to discern truth from error, we must know and remember God’s Word. Unless we know God’s Word we have no standard by which to discern true from false teachings, or good fruit from bad.

Jesus’ name is not a magic incantation. God is not obligated to answer our prayers just because we add Jesus’ name at the end. Jesus is not obligated to save us and give us eternal life just because we call out in his name (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right home).

If Jesus is truly our Lord we will trust and obey him. We will seek the infilling of his Holy Spirit, and be guided and empowered by him to know and do God’s will. We won’t be saved by church “membership” or church “ritual.” We aren’t saved by doing good deeds like church attendance, singing in the choir, or teaching Sunday School. Salvation is only by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


 

Monday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 26, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 2 Pentecost A

Psalm 50:1-15 — God’s Coming Judgment;

Paraphrase:

God, the Lord, the all-powerful one speaks, calling the people of earth from daybreak to nightfall. God shines forth from Zion, God’s eternal kingdom, the ultimate of beauty and perfection.

Our God is coming, bringing devouring fire and a mighty tempest. God’s call goes forth through heaven and earth, summoning his people for his judgment. Let his faithful people, who have covenanted with the Lord by sacrifice, be gathered to the Lord. God alone is judge and heaven declares his righteousness.

God calls his people to listen to him. The Lord will testify against them, for he is their God. The Lord does not blame them for lack of sacrifices. They offer burn offerings continually, but God refuses to accept their sacrifices.

God refuses to accept their sacrifices, because all the cattle and every creature belongs to God. God has no need for mankind to provide him with food (through their sacrificial offerings). If God were hungry he wouldn’t have to ask mankind for food. God doesn’t eat the flesh or drink the blood of animals.

The sacrifice that God desires is the sacrifice of thanksgiving and obedient trust, keeping our covenant vows to the Lord, and relying on him for help in the day of trouble. Then the Lord will deliver them, and they will glorify the Lord.

Commentary:

God has appointed a day when he will judge all people who have ever lived, by his only begotten Son, his “anointed” (Christ and Messiah both mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively; Matthew 25:31-46) eternal Savior and Righteous Judge. God is the only God, and he has the sovereign power and authority to judge Creation, and has given that authority to Jesus (Matthew 28:18).

Jesus is the righteous judge, because Jesus lived in this temporal world in human flesh, and experienced every temptation, but without sinning (disobeying God’s Word). Jesus trusted and obeyed God’s Word unto physical death on the Cross, and his resurrection demonstrates that he has been judged righteous by God; God has raised Jesus from physical death to eternal life.

The Day of Judgment will be like a destroying fire, and a devastating storm to the people who have rejected God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the “living” Word (John 1:1-5, 14) and have refused to trust and obey Jesus. But the people of God, who have trusted and obeyed God’s Word, will rejoice, because the Lord is bringing justice and reward for them.

God’s people are the people who have entered into the New Covenant of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction by Grace (God’s unmerited favor; a free gift), through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). They have promised to trust and obey Jesus. They are no longer under the condemnation of God’s Word, provided that they live in obedient trust in Jesus through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

The people of Israel thought they could have God’s favor by offering animal sacrifices to God, without thankfulness and obedient trust in God’s Word. Christians are the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.” Many nominal “Christians” today have the same problem. They think that they can appease and manipulate God to do their will, by “religious” ritual.

God doesn’t need our religious ritual any more than he needs animal sacrifice. What God desires is people who acknowledge and give thanks to God for the many great things he has done for us, beginning with forgiveness and salvation as a free gift, through Jesus Christ; and to love the Lord enough that we are willing to trust and obey him (John 14:23-34).

God is God, whether we acknowledge him or not. God has given us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey him. But God has no obligation to be all that being an all-powerful, faithful, loving God implies, unless we are willing to be appreciative of what he does for us and willing to trust and obey his Word. If we will be God’s People, he will be our God: Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26:3-4, 12; see also Jeremiah 11:4-5. God can hear our cries to him, when we are in trouble, but he is not obligated to listen and answer our prayers unless we are willing to hear and keep his Word (see Conditions for Answered Prayer, sidebar, top right)

We have the freedom to choose, but there is a day coming, when we will no longer be able to reject and disobey God’s Word. In the Day of Judgment, everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and we will have no choice but to accept his judgment (Philippians 2:10-11).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 27, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Pentecost A

Hosea 5:15-6:6 — Judgment and Restoration;

Paraphrase:

The Lord will depart from his people until they acknowledge their guilt and seek his presence. In their distress they may seek the Lord and return to him, realizing that the Lord who tears also mends, and he afflicts but he will also heal. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:2). We should endeavor to know the Lord, for his presence is as certain as the dawn. He will come to us and refresh us as certainly as the spring rains water the earth.

The Lord declares that the love of Ephraim and Judah (patriarchs of two of the twelve tribes; Judah became the remnant of Israel) for the Lord is as transient as the morning fog and dew which quickly dries. So the Lord declares that he has hewn them by his prophets and slain them by God’s Word, and God’s judgment goes forth like a flash of light. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice; the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offering” (Hosea 6:6).

Commentary:

Repeatedly in the history of Israel, God’s people forgot the great things God had done for them and turned away from obedient trust in the Lord to disobedience and idolatry. Then the Lord would withdraw his providence and protection from them and allow them to experience trouble, so that they would turn again to the Lord and seek his presence and blessing. One example is the exile of Judah to Babylon for seventy years. The wilderness wandering is a similar example.

Judah, the Southern Kingdom of the divided monarchy was the remnant of Israel. The Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes had refused to heed the warning of God’s Word by the prophets, and did not return to obedient trust in the Lord, although they had opportunity right up to the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed and the ten tribes were scattered throughout the Assyrian kingdom (present day Syria and Northern Iraq) and effectively ceased to exist.

Judah didn’t heed the example of the Northern Kingdom or God’s Word spoken by the prophets, so again God withdrew his providence and protection from them and allowed them to be conquered and exiled to Babylon (present-day Iraq) by the Chaldeans. Seventy years exile in Babylon was virtually a death sentence for people who were adults at the time of the deportation. The Lord brought back Judah from Babylon, but it was a renewed people, who had learned to trust and obey the Lord during their exile.

The Exile in Babylon was similar to the forty years of Israel’s wilderness wandering, which was the result of Israel’s disobedience of God’s Word commanding them to enter and possess the Promised Land. God lifted his providence and protection from them, and when they tried on their own to enter they were repulsed by the occupants of the Land, and were forced to wander in the wilderness until that generation of Israelites perished in the wilderness.

The people who returned from Babylonian Exile had turned to the Lord and had learned to trust and obey his Word, but the remnant of Israel forgot the lesson learned in the Exile and again fell away from obedient trust in God’s Word. As a result they were unprepared to receive the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Because they rejected Jesus, the Messiah, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14), God again removed his providence and protection from them. In 70 A.D. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans and the Jews were scattered throughout the world, as the northern kingdom had been. At the destruction of the temple, Judaism effectively ceased to exist. The veil of the temple had been torn in two from top to bottom at the crucifixion of Jesus (Luke 23:45b), symbolizing that Jesus has become the new and better way into the presence of God.

At the resurrection of Jesus, the Church has become the “New Israel,” the “New People of God,” the “New Jerusalem.” The condition of the Church today is very similar to that of Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first advent (coming).

At the time of Jesus, Judaism had ceased to be a covenant relationship with God and had become a human institution, which the religious leaders used to their personal advantage. They used “religion” to confirm their “righteousness” and their status in the society, and to serve their own interests, instead of seeking to serve the will of God. In much of the nominal “Church,” that is the same situation today. “Religion” is man’s attempt to manipulate God to man’s will, and that’s what the “Church” has become in many instances.

The Lord lifts his providence and protection from his people who have turned away from obedient trust in the Lord, and allows them to experience tragedy and disaster, so that they can realize that they need the Lord to protect and bless them, and so they can learn the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. The Lord allows them to learn by trial and error so that they will return to him in obedient trust and receive restoration and eternal life in his kingdom in heaven. God disciplines us for our good, as a good parent, so that we will not perish eternally.

I personally testify that I had been raised in the Church, but when I became an adult I turned away from obedient trust in the Lord and pursued my own interests. My interests were idolatrous; I pursued and served them more than I cared for seeking and serving the Lord. The Lord removed his providence and protection from me and allowed me to experience great troubles. The result was that I was compelled to examine my Christian beliefs and seek truth.

I began to read the entire Bible and read it daily to find truth, and by the time I finished reading it completely, I knew that Jesus is the truth. I asked him to be my Lord. I returned to Church, and the Lord began “discipling” me, and led me through a number of experiences to show me that he was able and faithful to provide for and protect me. He guided me to seek the fulfillment of the promise of “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Since I’ve been “reborn’ (John 3:3, 5-8), he has continued to disciple and lead me daily by his Word and his Spirit within me for more than thirty years.

America today has also turned away from the Lord to pursue worldly goals and idolatry. During our colonial and wilderness periods Americans learned to seek the Lord’s providence and protection, but since we’ve become rich and successful, we’ve forgotten the lessons learned in the “wilderness” and “exile.” Notice that the “enemies” that threaten America today are the same, geographically, culturally and spiritually as those who historically threatened Israel.

American culture has glorified values of “self-reliance” and stubborn determinism; if one fails, one keeps on trying until one succeeds. Those attitudes lead to repeating the same mistakes over and over, and never learning the lessons the Lord wants us to learn.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek and come to know the Lord God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus is God’s only “anointed” Savior and eternal King. Jesus is the only way to God’s presence, the only way to know God and God’s eternal truth, the only way to be spiritually “born-again” to eternal life (Acts 4:12; 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is the only one who “baptizes” with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Jesus fulfilled and demonstrated the truth of the promise that the Lord will revive his people and raise them on the third day, from physical death to eternal life in the Lord’s presence (Hosea 6:2; Matthew 16:21; Acts 10:40). God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. What God did for Jesus he will do for those who trust and obey Jesus.

The Lord wants us to turn to him, to seek him, and to learn to trust and obey him, so that we can have eternal life with him in his eternal kingdom in paradise restored. If we seek him we will find him; if we turn to him he will revive, renew and refresh us, as individuals, as the Church, as a nation, and as the world.

The Lord has given his Word in the Bible and through his prophets so that we can be warned and “sculpted” into the kind of loving, obedient, trusting people that God wants for his kingdom.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 28, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Pentecost A

Romans 4:18-25 — Justification by Faith;

Paraphrase:

In faith, Abraham believed what seemed hopeless, from a human perspective, that he would become the father of many nations, by the Lord’s promise, “So shall your descendants be” (as numerous as the stars in the heavens; Genesis 15:5). Abraham didn’t waver in faith, when he considered that he was at the end of his life, since he was about a hundred years old, and that Sarah was past childbearing age and had never conceived.

Abraham never doubted God’s promise, but was completely convinced that the Lord was able to do as he had promised, and his faith grew strong as he gave glory to the Lord. So the Lord accounted Abraham as righteous because of Abraham’s faith in God’s Word (Genesis 15:6), and it was recorded in the Bible for our benefit. We will also be accounted righteous if we believe in God who raised, from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead so that we could be acquitted of sin.

Commentary:

The Lord intends to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. He has designed this temporal world to allow us free choice to trust and obey his Word or not, and to learn by trial and error; but he will not allow rebellion and disobedience in his eternal kingdom. He knew that if he gave us free choice we would choose to do our will rather than his. So we are all guilty of sin (disobedience of God’s will; Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). But God loves us and doesn’t want us to perish eternally (Romans 5:8; John 3:16).

Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin and for salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). God has promised to forgive and save all who believe his promise in Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace (a free gift; unmerited favor) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel, and also the spiritual father of all who believe God’s Word in the Bible, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14), the “living Word.” Since the coming of Jesus Christ, the Church is the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.”

There is a Day of Judgment coming for each one of us at the end of our lifetime on this earth. We will all be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life during this lifetime and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey him will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Abraham was accounted righteous in God’s judgment because Abraham believed (trusted and obeyed) God’s Word. We who believe God’s Word will similarly be accounted righteous (justified; vindicated; acquitted) in the Day of Judgment.

Saving faith is not merely intellectual assent. Believing in Jesus isn’t just adding his name to the end of our prayers, and claiming him as our Lord when trouble happens (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-27). Saving faith is trusting and obeying Jesus.

Faith begins like a tiny “mustard seed” (Luke 13:19; Matthew 17:20), simply our “yes” to trust and obey the Lord. As we begin to trust and obey, the Lord will show us that he is able and faithful to do what he promises, and will cause our faith to grow to spiritual maturity.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Thursday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 29, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 2 Pentecost A

Matthew 9:9-13 – Call of Matthew;

Jesus passed the office of a tax collector named Matthew, and Jesus called to him and said, “Follow me.” And Matthew got up and followed Jesus.

At dinner at Matthew’s house, many other tax collectors came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees (legalistic Jewish religious leaders) criticized Jesus to his disciples for eating with tax collectors and sinners. When Jesus heard them he told them that those who are healthy have no need of a physician, but only those who are sick. Jesus told them to go and learn the meaning of God’s Word that God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). Jesus told them that he had come to call sinners, not those who are righteous.

Commentary:

Jewish tax collectors were hated by the Jews because they were collaborators with the occupying Roman government. The Pharisees, as religious leaders, were to care for the spiritual conditions of the people, but instead they were cutting off from forgiveness and restoration people they regarded as sinners, and making themselves appear to be righteous.

We’re all sinners and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The Pharisees needed spiritual healing as much as the people they regarded as sinners, but the “sinners” recognized and acknowledged their sinfulness and trusted and obeyed Jesus. Their sins were forgiven and their sinfulness healed, but the Pharisees refused to recognize and acknowledge their sinfulness and refused to receive the spiritual healing which only Jesus can provide (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

God is merciful. We don’t deserve to be saved from eternal condemnation, but he is willing to forgive and save us as a free gift, which we receive only by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God is the Creator of everything, and he has no need for us to do anything for him. He wants to do something for us. What he desires is our obedient trust. The sacrifice he desires is our sacrifice of our will, and submission to his. No religious “ritual” can substitute for our obedient trust in his Word.

If we recognize our need for forgiveness and salvation, we will be thankful to God for what he has done for us through Jesus Christ, and we will be loving and merciful to others. We will care about the spiritual condition of others and will offer them the opportunity for forgiveness and salvation which we have received.

As we go about our daily lives, Jesus is passing by. He calls us to follow him, and if we accept and act on his invitation he will come into our hearts as Jesus entered Matthew’s home. He will have fellowship with us as he shared a meal with Matthew (Revelation 3:20; John 14:23-24). Jesus doesn’t come to us to criticize and condemn us. He knows our spiritual need and he wants to heal us and give us eternal life in paradise with him.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Friday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 30, 2008;

Podcast: Friday 2 Pentecost A

Isaiah 25:6-9 — Messianic Feast;
Revelation 3:14-22 — Christ’s Reign;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

On Zion, the mountain of the Lord, the Lord will provide a great banquet of rich food and fine aged wine for all people. He will remove and destroy the veil that is over all nations and people. “He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8). In that day it will be said that the Lord is our God; we have waited for his salvation. He is our Lord for whom we have waited; let us celebrate and rejoice in his salvation.

Revelation Paraphrase:

John was given messages from Jesus to be sent to seven churches. The seventh message was to the church at Laodicea, a wealthy city near Corinth. Jesus is “the Amen, the fulfillment of God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:20), the faithful and true witness (who testified to the Gospel), the beginning of God’s creation” (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Lord knows the spiritual condition of the church at Laodicea, and rebukes them as nauseating because they are lukewarm; neither hot nor cold. The congregation thinks they are rich and have prospered and need nothing, not realizing that they are wretched, poor, blind and naked. Jesus warns them to buy from Jesus gold refined by fire, so that they will be truly rich, white robes to cover the shame of their nakedness and salve to heal their blind eyes.

The Lord rebukes and corrects those whom he loves, so they should be eager to hear and repent. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus will share his throne in glory with those who overcome the world, as God has shared his throne with Christ. Those who can hear should pay attention to what the Spirit says to the Churches.

Commentary:

Isaiah foretold the fulfillment of the Messianic feast of Christ and his Church in heaven. It is the fulfillment of the Messianic feast which Christ initiated on the night of his betrayal at the “Last Supper” (Matthew 26:26-28), and which he promised his disciples would share with him in heaven (Matthew 26:29).

There is a veil over the minds of all people which keeps them from understanding God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:13-16), until they are “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The indwelling Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand God’s Word (John 14:26; 16:13; Luke 24:45).

Disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey Jesus are spiritually “reborn” to eternal life by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). One can know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

In the day when we are reunited with our Lord in heaven we will live eternally with him in a New Creation restored to paradise. There will be no more sorrow, trouble, pain, sickness or decay (see Revelation 21:4). In that day the reproach that the people of God have endured in this world will be removed, and we will rejoice and celebrate our salvation with our Lord. Then we will know that the waiting we’ve endured in this lifetime has been well worthwhile.

The seven churches of Asia of whom John wrote are typical of the types of churches in the world today. The congregation at Laodicea is representative of many churches in America today. There are many “lukewarm” members in our churches. Many are rich and successful in their worldly lives and don’t realize how spiritually poor, blind, naked and wretched they really are.

The Lord rebukes and disciplines us in love, for our own good. It is not loving to let someone do what is going to injure and destroy them. We should be willing to hear the Lord’s rebuke, so that we correct what is harmful and be restored to what God intends for us.

Jesus is the only true source of spiritual wealth, and spiritual enlightenment, and only Jesus can provide the robes of salvation. The only way we can obtain these spiritual necessities is by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the “Amen,” the “yes” to all the promises of God’s Word. Jesus is the beginning of God’s Creation and its fulfillment (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus has been designed into this Creation by God from the very start.

Jesus promises that he is standing and knocking at the door of our hearts. If we will listen and open that door, he will come in and live with us in close personal fellowship (Revelation 3:20; compare John 14:15-17, 21, 23-24).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturday 2 Pentecost A

First Posted May 31, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Pentecost A

Luke14:25-35 — Costly Discipleship;

Paraphrase:

Large crowds were following Jesus and he turned and told them that anyone who wants to follow Jesus and become his disciple must “hate” father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and even his own life. Everyone who follows Jesus as his disciple must carry his own cross.

Jesus said that a person who plans to build a tower should calculate the cost of construction before he begins. Otherwise, he might run out of money and be ridiculed because he was unable to finish the building. Likewise, a king preparing to do battle against another king must consider whether his army is sufficient to prevail against an army twice as large. Otherwise, he should send an emissary to the other king seeking peace while the adversary is far off. Similarly, one must renounce all that he has in order to be Jesus’ disciple.

Jesus said that salt is good, but if it were to lose its saltiness, how could it be restored? Without its savor it would be good for nothing and would be thrown away. Those who can hear spiritual truth should pay attention to what Jesus is saying.

Commentary:

People were willing to follow Jesus when they were receiving free food and free medical care. But Jesus wanted them to understand that following Jesus requires discipleship and self-denial. Jesus deliberately exaggerated his illustrations in order to make the point. Disciples are not literally to hate their friends and relatives, but they must love Jesus so much more that the difference is that great.

Jesus’ crucifixion is the illustration of what discipleship costs. Jesus’ obedient trust in God’s Word is the example we are to follow. Worldly people hated and crucified Jesus because of the Gospel he proclaimed, and his disciples cannot expect the world to treat them better. The Gospel is still hated by many today.

Disciples must be willing to “die” to themselves, renouncing their lives, their self-wills, their possessions and even their families, if necessary, to follow Jesus’ example and teaching. Disciples must be willing to endure and persevere despite hardships and persecutions.

Obedient trust in Jesus Christ is the requirement, the cost, of discipleship. One of several major false teachings in the Church today, which was present from the very beginning of the Church and is refuted in the New Testament is “Cheap Grace,”* the teaching that salvation is by grace (unmerited favor) without the requirement of discipleship and obedience (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

In many Churches, particularly in America today, leaders are failing to make disciples of Jesus Christ, settling for making “members” instead. Discipleship is not an optional category of super-Christian. “Christian” is the name given to Jesus’ disciples (Acts 11:26d).

Jesus said that in order to see the kingdom of God, which is all around us now, and to “see” (enter and dwell in) it in eternity, one must be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8). We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and know the Lord (Acts 17:26-27), and to be spiritually “reborn.” This is only possible by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift (“baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a discernible ongoing event, which one experiences for oneself (Acts 19:2).

Many churches today have adopted the “Church Growth” movement, are trying to “market” themselves as “consumer-friendly,” and trying to be “entertaining,” offering programs to appeal to every interest.

Many church members are interested in the benefits they receive from the church program. They attend if the air conditioning isn’t too hot or cold, and if the seats are padded, and if the pastor’s message is brief, entertaining and makes them feel good, and if there isn’t some secular activity that’s more interesting and fun to do.

Jesus’ disciples are to be “salt.” They are to keep the distinctive characteristic of Christian disciples: obedient trust in Jesus’ teaching and example. Their influence on others is as great as is salt’s ability to add savor to much greater portions of food. If “Christians” don’t live any differently than worldly people they aren’t doing what they were called in Jesus Christ to do, and they’re liable to being discarded.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Week of Holy Trinity A – 06/11 – 17/2011

June 10, 2017

This is a Three-Year Lectionary based on the Lutheran Book of Worship 3-year Lectionary (for public worship), “Prayers of the Day…” (Propers), p. 13-41, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978. It is based, with only minor variations, on the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many denominations, including the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches:

http://www.commontexts.org/

and:

http://www.commontexts.org/rcl/ (usage)

The daily readings are the Propers (Lections) for the following Sunday, so that the daily devotions can prepare us for worship. Additional Lections are from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, “Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers,” United Lutheran Church of America, General Rubrics VIII. Scripture lessons for Matins and Vespers, p. 299 – 304, Philadelphia, 1918.

The previous 2- year Bible Study based on the Lutheran Book of Worship, Daily Lectionary for personal devotions p.179-192, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1978, is available at:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/ (Please bookmark this link).

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To get the most from these studies, it is suggested that you first read the scripture texts for the entry, and then the paraphrase and commentary. It is also recommended that you look up the scripture references, unless you recognize and recall them from memory.

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Podcast Download: Week of Trinity-A

Sunday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 11, 2008;

[Trinity Sunday is the day the Church celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity: One God in three “persons” or “expressions.”  Although the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, the doctrine is present throughout. It was taught by the original Apostles to the First-Century Church (and see The Apostles Creed). The Holy Spirit, the third “person” of the Trinity, is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9)]

Podcast: Sunday of Trinity – A

Genesis 1:1-2:3 — God the Creator;
Psalm 29 — God of the Storm;
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40 — No Other God;
2 Corinthians 13:11-14 — Benediction;
Matthew 28:16-20 — The Great Commission;

Genesis Paraphrase:

This Universe has been created from watery chaos by the Word of God. God’s first act was to call light into existence. “God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4). God called the light, “Day,” and the darkness, “Night.” Morning became evening, the end of the first day (Jews considered the day to begin at evening).

God called forth the firmament (the heavens were considered to be a dome) in the midst of waters, to separate the waters above from the waters below. God called the firmament Heaven, and the second day ended.

God commanded the waters below to be gathered together and for land to appear, and it happened. God called the land, “Earth,” and the waters, “Seas.” God examined his work and found that it was good. God commanded the land to bring forth all sorts of plants, yielding all kinds of seed and fruits according to their kind. God saw that the results were good, and the third day ended.

God commanded there to be lights in the heavens to separate Day from Night, and as signs for direction, to indicate seasons, days, and years, to give light on earth, and to separate light from darkness, and it happened as God had commanded. God created two main lights, the Sun to rule the day, and the Moon to rule the night. God also created the stars. God found the result good, and the fourth day ended.

God commanded the waters to bring forth swarms of living creatures, and winged creatures to fly in the air above. God created every living creature great and small. The result was good in God’s judgment, and he blessed the creatures he had made and told them to multiply and fill the earth. The fifth day ended. On the sixth day God commanded the land to bring forth every kind of land animal, and the result was good.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26). “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). God blessed mankind and commanded them to multiply and fill and subdue the earth and have dominion over all the creatures God had made. God gave mankind and all creatures every kind of plant, seed, and fruit, according to their kind, for food. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). The sixth day ended.

All the work of Creation was ended and God rested on the seventh day from the work of Creation. “So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed” (made holy; set apart for God’s purpose) the seventh day (Genesis 2:3).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let all beings in heaven and on earth acknowledge the glory and strength of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord and worship him in holiness.

The voice of the Lord is like thunder upon the waters. The Lord’s voice is powerful and majestic. His voice shatters cedars of Lebanon. He makes the mountains of Lebanon and Sirion (Mt. Hermon) leap like frisky young wild animals. The voice of the Lord flashes forth like lightening bolts, and shakes the wilderness.

The voice of the Lord is like a mighty windstorm, which causes mighty oaks to bend and whirl and strips the trees of the forest. In his temple his people give him glory.

The Lord is enthroned and reigns eternally above the flood. Pray that the Lord will bless his people with strength and peace!

Deuteronomy Paraphrase:

Has there ever at any time in history been a people whose god has done such great things for them as God has done for his people, Israel? Has any other people ever heard the voice of God speak to them out of the midst of fire as the Israelites heard, and lived to tell about it (Ex 20:18-26)? Has the god of any other nation ever brought his nation out from domination by another nation, with great and terrifying supernatural demonstrations of power, as the Lord did for the Israelites in Egypt, as they had witnessed? Therefore know, acknowledge and remember always, that the Lord is God in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. Therefore we must keep his commandments so that we and our children can thrive and prosper and enjoy long life in the land the Lord has given us for eternity.

2 Corinthians Paraphrase:

At the end of Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth, he urged them to heed his teaching and change their ways, and to live peacefully with one another, so that the God of peace will be with them. Christians should greet one another with love as family members. Paul prayed that by the grace of Jesus Christ they would experience the fellowship and love of God the Father, through their sharing in the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The eleven disciples (minus Judas Iscariot, the betrayer) went to the mountain in Galilee as Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 28:10). There the disciples saw Jesus and worshiped him, although some had doubts. Jesus came to them and told them that he had been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 11:27a; Luke 10:22a; Ephesians 1:20-22). Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples (of Jesus Christ) in all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity), and teaching them observe (i.e. obey) all that Jesus had commanded his disciples, and as they did so, Jesus promised to be with them always, “to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20b; the “Second Coming,” the Day of Judgment).

Commentary:

God is Spirit, and God’s Spirit was above and in authority over the storm of watery chaos (Genesis 1:2). This Universe has been created by the Word of God, for God’s specific purpose. God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey his Word.

When God speaks, what he commands happens. He could command us to trust and obey him, and we would have no choice but to comply. But God wants us to have the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey him, and whether or not to live in his eternal kingdom.

God is God of heaven and earth, whether we acknowledge him or not. But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever. This Universe and we individually are limited by time. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God, and to learn by trial and error to trust and obey him.

This World was created by God and was very good as created. The evil and sin that mar Creation are the result of disobedience of God’s Word and doing what is bad in God’s judgment, as a result of giving us free will.

God knew that if he gave us freedom to choose whether or not to obey him we would choose to do our will rather than his. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). God has designed this Creation to provide for our salvation from sin and eternal condemnation, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; See God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus has been designed and “built into” Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

God’s Spirit reigned over the watery chaos at Creation and he reigns over the Universe now. God’s Word thundered over the watery chaos at Creation and wrought his will, which was very good, and God’s Word reigns now over the Universe created by the Word of God. God reigns over the storms of life, and is able to give his people strength and peace in the midst of the “storm and flood” of this life.

The Bible, the Word of God, is the history of God’s purpose of Creation and his dealing with his people. God’s Word reveals that he is good, faithful, and powerful.

The history of God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage to sin and death in Egypt is deliberately intended to be a parable, a metaphor for life in this temporal world. Jesus is the “New Moses” who frees us from slavery to sin and death, through the “Sea” of our baptism into Christ, and leads us through the “wilderness” of this lifetime, through the “River” of physical death, and into the eternal “Promised Land” of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

God has revealed himself in the Biblical history as the one and only true God of heaven and earth. God is Spirit. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God in human flesh. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh in this world in perfect obedience (John 1:1-5, 14).

The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God the Father, and Jesus Christ, to us personally and individually. Only Jesus gives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34) only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

The Bible records the great things God has done for his people in the past, and the great things God has promised to do for his people in the future. The characteristic which identifies God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22); God’s Word always is fulfilled, and because it is eternal it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

As we begin to trust and obey God’s Word in Jesus Christ, we will personally experience the great things God has done, is doing, and will do in the future for us. We must learn and remember what God has done for us, as recorded in the Bible, and what we have experienced personally. We must learn and remember his commandments in his Word, so that we and our children can thrive and prosper spiritually now, and for ever in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Paul was “discipling” the Corinthian congregation. He was teaching them to know and apply the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Paul was teaching them that if they wanted the promises of God they had to trust and obey God’s Word. If they wanted God’s peace, they must live peaceably with one another. Paul’s prayer for them was that by the grace (unmerited favor) we can receive through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, we would experience the fellowship and love of God the Father, through participation (sharing) in the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul’s benediction manifests the Trinitarian doctrine (the Holy Trinity). God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one God in three persons (expressions). Salvation is not deserved or earned; it is the free gift of God to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10). If we receive God’s grace through Jesus Christ by obedient trust, we will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom Jesus will manifest himself to us personally and individually (John 14:21), and through whom we will experience the love and fellowship of God the Father. “Born-again” Christians personally experience and testify to the truth and reality of the Holy Trinity.

Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples, before he ascended into heaven, was to wait in Jerusalem until they had been “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and then to make disciples, teaching them to trust and obey Jesus, and baptizing them in the name of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the Holy Trinity.

Today is the day the Church celebrates the doctrine of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; one God in three persons (expressions). The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, but the doctrine is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. It was taught by Jesus to his disciples (John 14:15-17; Matthew 28:19), and by his disciples to the Church, as recorded in the New Testament (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Appropriately, Trinity Sunday follows the Day of Pentecost, which commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, since “born-again” Christians personally experience God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Monday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 12, 2008;

Podcast: Monday of Trinity – A

Psalm 31:1-5 (6-18) 19-24 — Trust in the Lord;

Paraphrase:

I seek refuge in the Lord; may I never be put to shame. Because the Lord is righteous he will deliver me. He will hear me and quickly rescue me. Please, Lord, be my refuge and strong fortress to save me.

Yes, you are my rock and fortress. For your names’ sake (character and glory) you will lead me and guide me. Remove me from the hidden trap that has been set for me, for you are my protector. “Into thy hands I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God” (Psalm 31:5).

The Lord detests those who trust in vain idols; my trust is in the Lord. I will rejoice and celebrate your steadfast love; you know my afflictions and adversities, and have not let my enemies capture me; you have given me solid footing. Lord, be gracious to me; my soul and body are worn out with grief. “For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery and my bones waste away: (Psalm 31:10).

“I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, and object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the streets flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. Yea, I hear the whispering of many- terror on every side! -as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in thee, O Lord, I say, ‘Thou art my God.’ My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors” (Psalm 31:11-15). Look upon me with favor and, in steadfast love, save me! I call upon thee; let me not be put to shame.

It is the wicked who will be ashamed; they will die unable to justify their deeds. Their lies will be mute and their pride, contempt, and insolence against the righteous will be silenced.

Those who fear the Lord will discover his abundant goodness for those who take refuge in him. In his presence he hides them from the plots of men and verbal fighting.

May the Lord be blessed for his wondrous steadfast love for me, when I was under attack like a besieged city. I was afraid that I was far from the Lord’s help, but he heard and delivered me. All his saints love the Lord but he will adequately repay the haughty. May those who wait for the Lord be strong and take courage.

Commentary:

This psalm is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel. David was prophetic, and the Word of God in this psalm was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son (descendant) of David and eternal heir to David’s throne.

Jesus quoted and fulfilled Psalm 31:5 as he yielded up his spirit on the cross (Luke 23:46; see also Psalm 22; compare Matthew 27:46). On the cross Jesus’ body and soul, and his days and years, were spent with grief and sorrow. His physical strength failed, and his bones wasted away (Psalm 31:9-10).

Jesus had become the scorn of his adversaries. His disciples had fled from him in fear. Around the cross he heard the whispering of his enemies as they carried out their plot to kill him (Matthew 27:39-44; Mark 15:29-32; Luke 23:35-38).

Jesus came to reveal God’s steadfast love, faithfulness and power to save those who put their trust in the Lord. Jesus committed his spirit into the hand of God and God redeemed him from physical death to eternal life. Jesus came to show us by his example that we can entrust our lives and our eternal souls to the Lord and he will save and preserve us.

God’s Word contains great and precious promises which we can claim by faith (obedient trust). God’s Word is eternally true, and fulfilled over and over again as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Those who, like David, seek refuge and salvation in the Lord will testify to the Lord’s power, love and faithfulness to save and vindicate them over their enemies.

David experienced attack by powerful worldly enemies and learned from experience that the Lord hears and rescues us when we call upon him in faith (obedient trust) for help. Countless believers since then, including myself, have trusted the promises in this text, experienced and testify to the power, love and faithfulness of God to deliver us from our enemies.

I have had times when I felt surrounded by enemies who plotted against me, and I found that there is true refuge and protection only in the Lord. When I have felt under attack I have learned to turn to the Psalms, and have been encouraged and strengthened to trust in the Lord and to wait for his deliverance.

Those who trust in their own resources and abilities will ultimately be defeated. Jesus’ enemies will go to eternal death in hell without a single word to defend them at the Day of Judgment. In that day, the lies and insolence of the enemies of Christ will be silenced forever.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Tuesday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 13, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday of Trinity – A

Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28 — Truth or Consequences;

Paraphrase:

As Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land from the east, after the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Moses, who was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, reminded the people to keep the Covenant of Law which was established at Mt. Sinai, with the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses. God’s people were told to store up God’s Word in their hearts and souls. They were to bind the commandments on their hand (as we might tie a string around our finger) in order to be constantly reminded to remember and keep God’s Word. They were to bind them in a packet on a headband over and between their eyes so that God’s Word would be constantly in sight, so that they would remember to obey it.

God’s people were to teach God’s Word to their children at every opportunity; when sitting at home, or when walking to and fro; when going to bed in the evening, and when getting up in the morning. God’s people were to write God’s Word upon their doorposts and their gates, so that they would be reminded to keep God’s Word when they left their house, and when they returned.

God declared through Moses that God’s Word contains a blessing and a curse: A blessing if we learn, trust and obey God’s Word, and a curse if we do not learn, trust and obey God’s Word, but instead turn aside from the way of obedience to God’s Word and pursue other gods “which they have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:28d).

Commentary:

The condition for blessing and long life in the Promised Land was knowledge of, and obedient trust in God’s Word. It was true for Israel and it is still true for us today. For us, the promise is eternal life in the “Promised Land” of God’s kingdom in heaven, and now is the time when we can and must enter that kingdom, if at all, by faith (obedient trust) in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus is the only way to know divine Truth (John 14:15-17; ), the only way to come to knowledge of and fellowship with God, and the only way to receive forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and to receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

We must be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives, (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). It is impossible to be “born-again” and not know it; if we have to ask someone else if we have been “reborn” we haven’t been (Acts 19:2)!

Christians are no longer under the Old Covenant of Law, but under the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), provided that we trust and obey Jesus by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11). Christians are the “New Israel” the “New People of God.” If we are God’s people, we must learn to know, trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living” Word (John 1:14).

Jesus came to teach us by word and example how to trust and obey God’s Word. He came to give us the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we are able to remember and apply God’s Word, but in order for the Holy Spirit to remind us of God’s Word, we must first have read and heard it. We need to know God’s Word completely and to read it daily.

Weekly attendance at a church which proclaims the Word by the weekly readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (schedule of Scripture readings for the Church Year) is helpful, but doesn’t cover the entire Bible texts, and doesn’t replace personal daily Bible reading. Many “Churches” don’t even utilize the Lectionary, and too often the Sermon, if it is even based on a Bible text, may only be a verse or two.

Israel’s practice of binding God’s Word on their hands, their foreheads, their doorposts and gates, was intended by God to be a graphic illustration of the importance and practice of remembering and applying God’s Word. We must learn to know by practice and experience God’s Word and how to apply it in our daily lives, so that we can teach obedient trust in God’s Word by word and example to our children.

The responsibility to teach our children to know, trust and obey God’s Word is the primary responsibility of Christian families. Just sending our children to Sunday School one hour a week won’t fulfill our parental responsibility, and many nominally “Christian” families don’t even do that. We don’t have to look far in the culture in which we live to see the results of our failure to teach our children obedient trust in God’s Word.

God’s Word contains wonderful promises, but also terrible warnings of the consequences of disobedience. The promises are conditional upon our obedient trust. The warnings are intended to help us to avoid the consequences of indifference to, and disobedience of God’s Word.

When we are not trusting and obeying God’s Word, we are pursuing “gods we have not known;” modern idols such as wealth, power, success, fame, pleasure, home, family, security, possessions. Idolatry is loving and serving anyone or any thing as much as or more than the Lord. These are “gods that we cannot know,” because they aren’t gods at all, and ultimately they can never satisfy. We can never obtain the “promises” they seem to offer.

God alone is the one true God. He is the one God that we can seek and come to know, and this is the reason and purpose for life in this temporal world (Acts 17:26-27). By trusting and obeying Jesus we will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, through whom we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father, and Jesus Christ, his Son (John 14:21, 23).

God’s Word warns that there is a Day of Judgment coming, when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have individually done in this lifetime. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually reborn, and will live eternally in God’s heavenly kingdom; those who have rejected Jesus, and have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Not having known God’s Word will not excuse us from failure to trust and obey it.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Wednesday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 14, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday of Trinity – A

Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28 — Justification by Faith:

Paraphrase:

Since the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true) has been revealed apart from God’s Law, although attested to by the law and the prophets (the Jewish Scriptures; the Old Testament). The righteousness of God through faith (obedient trust) is attributed to all who believe. “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified (found not guilty) by his grace (unmerited favor) as a free gift, through the redemption (release from guilt) which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation (making amends for; extinguishing of guilt) by his blood, to be received by faith (obedient trust)” (Romans 3:23-25).

Thus, we have no grounds for boasting, because our justification (righteousness in God’s judgment) is not based on our deeds (keeping of the Law) but on faith (obedient trust). For we hold that a [person] is justified by faith apart from works (keeping) of law” (Romans 3:28).

The Old Covenant of Law was intended to show the righteousness of God (Deuteronomy 4:6-8), and reveal our sinfulness (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:20). It was intended to restrain sinfulness until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew respectively), God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King. Jesus is the revelation of God to the world in human flesh. Jesus is the righteousness of God made visible.

Jesus is not the end of the Law but its fulfillment (Matthew 5:17-19). Under the Old Covenant, sacrifices had to be made continually for forgiveness of sin. The Law didn’t eliminate sin; it revealed sin. Jesus came to make it possible for us to satisfy the requirements of the Law by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. God knew that in giving us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey him, we would all disobey, and would need to learn by trial and error to trust and obey God. Jesus Christ, God’s promised, anointed Savior, has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14).

All of us have sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3;23; 1 John 1:8-10 ). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation from eternal death, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to know and have fellowship with God, to know divine Truth (John 14:15-17; 16:13), and to receive spiritual eternal life (John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus’ blood shed on the cross is the only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and all people who are willing to receive it, for the forgiveness of sin through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:22; 9:25-28).

There are two false teachings in the nominal “Church” today, which were present in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “works-righteousness,” salvation by “works” (keeping) of the Law. The other is the opposite extreme: “Cheap Grace:”* teaching salvation by grace (a free gift; which is true) without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teaching (which is false). The text for today clearly refutes both false teachings (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right).

Faith is not getting whatever we believe if we believe “hard enough.” Saving faith is truly believing in Jesus Christ, God’s only “anointed” Savior, enough to learn, trust and act in obedience upon what Jesus commands. How is Jesus our Lord in whom we believe if we do not do what he tells us (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21-27).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Thursday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 15, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday of Trinity – A

Matthew 7: (15-20) 21-29 — Build on the Rock;

Paraphrase:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). One can differentiate false prophets from true prophets by their deeds. Grapes are not produced by thorns, nor are figs produced from thistles. Good trees produce good fruit and bad trees bear evil fruit. It is impossible for them to produce fruit contrary to their nature. Every tree which does not produce good fruit will be cut down and burned. So be discerning, and notice their fruit.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). When that time comes (the Day of Judgment), many will claim Jesus as their Lord and claim that they had done many things, prophesying, healing, and doing great miracles, in Jesus’ name, but Jesus will deny knowing them, condemn them as evil doers, and send them away from him.

Every one who hears Jesus’ teaching and does what Jesus teaches is like a wise person who builds his house on a rock. No storm will destroy his house because it is on a solid foundation. But those who hear Jesus’ teachings and do not do what he teaches are like people who build a house on sand. The first storm that comes along will sweep them away to disaster because they have not built on a solid foundation.

The crowds were amazed by Jesus’ teaching, because they realized that he possessed authority which the scribes (teachers of the Law; the Bible) did not possess.

Commentary:

As soon as the Church was born, on the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), false teachers and false prophets arose. There are many false prophets in the world and in the Church today. Even Satan and his demons try to disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

One must be discerning to tell the true prophets and teachers from the false. One can tell by their deeds, but one must know the Bible in order to have a standard by which to discern truth from error, and good from evil.

There are many nominal “Christians” today who claim Jesus as their Lord, and claim to be doing good deeds in Jesus’ name, who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus and are not obedient to God’s will. The Church should be making “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ, teaching them to obey all that Jesus teaches, but in too many instances, the nominal “Church” settles for making church “members.” New believers should be “discipled” by spiritually mature “born-again” disciples until the new believers have been “reborn” by the anointing (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but it takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples.

Only Jesus “baptizes” with (“anoints;” gives the gift of) the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). One can know with certainty for oneself if one has been truly “reborn” (Acts 19:2).

Only by the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit can a disciple know God’s will for him personally and individually, and be guided and empowered to fulfill God’s will. In too many instances the nominal “Church” is led by “unregenerate” (not “born-again”) people who do not understand the difference, and can’t teach others what they haven’t experienced. Too often, “Christian” ministry is regarded as a “career choice” instead of a genuine calling by God’s will.

There are two major false teachings within the nominal “Church” today, which were present in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “works righteousness:” The teaching that salvation is by doing good deeds. The other is “Cheap Grace:”* Teaching that salvation is by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teaching. The scriptural (recorded in the Bible) apostolic (as taught by the apostles) doctrine is midway between those two extremes. (See False Teachings, sidebar, top right.) Knowledge of the Bible makes it possible to recognize and avoid false teachings and false teachers.

Jesus taught with authority which the “professional” teachers of the Old Testament scripture of Judaism did not possess. Jesus taught by the fullness of the Holy Spirit within him (John 1:33-34; Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus’ “born-again” disciples also teach the Bible with similar authority by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Jewish scribes had human authority as teachers of the Scriptures because they had been formally educated by other human teachers, but their teaching was false, because they taught against Jesus Christ.

There are many leaders and teachers in the nominal “Church” today who have similar human authority, but who lack the divine authority of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and their teaching is faulty because not only aren’t they “born-again” but they also do not encourage, and even discourage, their members from seeking the anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit. People who are familiar with the Bible should be able to tell the difference, if they are willing to hear and see.

Today’s text is the conclusion of the “Sermon on the Mount,” (Matthew 5:1-7:29) which is a representative summary of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus’ conclusion clearly teaches that discipleship and obedience to Jesus’ teaching is a requirement for salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Church membership, singing in the choir, or teaching Sunday School won’t save us; only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will save us, and that is only possible through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which requires obedience to Jesus in order to be received John 14:15-17). “For by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) you have been saved through faith (obedient trust); and this is not your own doing, it is the work of God – not because of works (keeping the Law; good deeds), lest any [one] should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


*See: The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Co., NY 1963 ISBN 0-02-083850-6


Friday of Trinity – A

First Posted May 16, 2008;
Podcast: Friday of Trinity – A

Jeremiah 9:23-24 — True Glory;
1 Timothy 6:6-19 — True Riches;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Those who are wise in this world should not glory in their (worldly) wisdom; the powerful should not glory in their power; and the rich should not glory in their wealth. Instead, let the one who glories, glory in understanding and knowing the Lord, who is steadfast in love, and just and righteous in all his ways, for he delights in these virtues.

1 Timothy Paraphrase:

Godliness with contentment is of great benefit. We are all born into the world with nothing and we cannot take anything with us when we leave this life, so let us be content with having food and clothing. Those who desire wealth fall into temptation, a trap, and into unreasonable and harmful desires which lead to (spiritual) ruin and destruction. “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Those who desire to be God’s people must avoid these worldly temptations. We must focus on righteousness, godliness (emulating God’s nature and character), faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. “Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Paul, reminding Timothy that we are in the presence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, charged him to keep the commandment (Jesus’ teachings) unstained and above reproach until Christ returns. Christ will return at the perfect time determined by the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He alone is immortal, invisible and dwells in unapproachable light. He is worthy of honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

The rich are to be instructed to not be haughty, nor to rely on wealth, which is uncertain. Instead they should rely on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. The rich should be rich in good deeds, liberality and generosity, storing up a solid foundation for the future, so that they may possess life which is truly and eternally life.

Commentary:

True wisdom is divine, eternal wisdom, not what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:2-8). True wisdom is personally knowing the Lord, and understanding his character and his purpose for us and for Creation. “The fear (awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it” (Psalm 111:10).

The Lord is just, righteous, and steadfast in love. He delights in these virtues, and if we want to please him we should emulate these virtues in our own lives. We should make righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness our aim.

Those who seek worldly goals, such as worldly wisdom, wealth, political power, physical health and strength, focus on those things, which never satisfy and don’t last, instead of what is eternally important and precious.

Being God’s people requires commitment, effort and self-sacrifice. The Christian faith is in conflict with worldly values. We must be ready to face opposition; we must step forward with the Gospel and fight the good fight. We must claim the promise of eternal life by grasping and holding on to the promise, by commitment and by acting upon it.

The “good confession” is our acknowledgment and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord, with the commitment to trust and obey Jesus. The “commandment” is the sum of Jesus’ teachings. We are to live according to Jesus’ teachings, so that we don’t bring reproach upon or damage the acceptance of the Gospel by others.

Those who are rich, wise or powerful according to worldly standards must be willing to sacrifice those things and learn to rely instead upon God (Mark 10:17-22). That won’t be easy for those who have desired and pursued those worldly values (Mark 10:23-25). It will be hard for those with worldly power to submit to the Lord’s authority, and for those who have worldly wisdom it will be hard for them to accept the wisdom of God embodied in Jesus, crucified (1 Corinthians 1:22-25; 2:5, 7-8).

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life in this world is the opportunity to seek and to come to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). This lifetime is our only opportunity to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually to eternal life, by the gift (“anointing;” “baptism”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16). Only by the indwelling Holy Spirit are we able to know and have fellowship with the Lord personally, and understand his character and his will for Creation and for us individually.

The Lord God is the King of kings and Lord of lords, whether we acknowledge him or not. He is immortal, invisible and dwells in unapproachable light. Jesus is the only way to “see” God (Matthew 11:27; John 14:21, 23). Jesus is the only way to obtain and know divine eternal wisdom and truth. Jesus is the only way to receive eternal life. Jesus is the only way into God’s presence in his Kingdom of Light in heaven (John 14:6).

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?

Saturdayof Trinity – A

First Posted May 17, 2008;

Podcast: Saturday of Trinity – A

Luke 12:13-21 — The Rich Fool;

Paraphrase:

A man in the crowd which had gathered around Jesus told him to command the man’s brother to share his inheritance with the man. Jesus replied that he was not a judge and had not been appointed to arbitrate disputes. Jesus said to the crowd that we must beware of all covetousness (desire for wealth or for another’s possessions), because life is more than abundance of possessions.

Jesus used a parable to illustrate his point. The land of a rich man produced more crops than his barns could store. So the rich man decided to tear down his barns and build larger ones. Then the rich man thought he would be able to retire and eat, drink and be merry, since he had stored enough to live on for many years.

But God called him a fool and took his life that very night. The abundance the rich man had accumulated passed to someone else. So it is, with people who enrich themselves and are not rich toward God.

We weren’t “born to shop” and the one who dies with the most clothes isn’t the “winner,” although our society suggests that. God’s purpose for Creation has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27). This is only possible through Jesus Christ, by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Jesus is the only way to be restored to fellowship with God which was broken by sin (disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-10), the only way to salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction, which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), and the only way to eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom in heaven (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Many people today are working hard to accumulate enough wealth and possessions so that they can retire and live comfortably, but they give little or no thought to where and how they will spend eternity. We cannot know with certainty that we will live to see tomorrow, but we can all be certain that there is existence beyond physical death, because God’s Word says so and Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates it (John 5:28-29).

Many people think that they will go to heaven when they die, because they are “good people.” The only people who will go to heaven and live eternally with the Lord are those who have sought, trusted and obeyed the Lord in and through Jesus Christ now, in this lifetime, and have been spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8).

We have all been born physically alive, but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our opportunity to be born spiritually by the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that one is in Christ and has eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has been “reborn” (Acts 19:2). If one is uncertain, one has not been reborn. If one has not been reborn, one should ask why. Has one sought the Lord? Has one been trusting and obeying God’s Word?

We can’t take any material resources with us, but what we do now in this lifetime will determine our eternal destiny. This lifetime is our opportunity to learn to know, trust and obey the Lord.

Jesus warned that we are to seek God’s kingdom first, before we worry about food, clothing, and shelter (Matthew 6:31-33). We have no assurance that tomorrow will come, and material resources only provide the illusion of security. No matter how much we accumulate, we’ll always need just a little more than we have. If we don’t seek God’s kingdom first, we’ll never get around to it.

Is Jesus your Lord (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)? Are you Jesus’ disciple (John 8:31)? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus (John 14:21)? Have you received the indwelling Holy Spirit since you first truly believed (Acts 19:2)? Are you making disciples of Jesus Christ and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commands (Matthew 28:18-20)? Do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity (1 John 5:11-13; Ephesians 1:13-14)?


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