Week of 3 Epiphany A – 01/22-02/28/2016

January 21, 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:

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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 3 Epiphany A

Sunday 3 Epiphany A

First Posted January 23, 2011;

Podcast: Sunday 3 Epiphany A

Isaiah 9:1b-4 – Light in Darkness;
Psalm 27:1-9 – Light and Salvation;
or Amos 3:1-8 – Judgment;
1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – Unity;
Matthew 4:12-23 – Prophetic Fulfillment;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In the past the Lord had brought contempt to Zebulun and Naphtali (constituent territories of Galilee), but the prophet declares that in the future the Lord will glorify (by the coming of the Messiah) “the way of the sea” (the highway from Damascus to the Mediterranean), the “land beyond the Jordan” (the Persian Province, “Beyond the River;” of the time of Isaiah), “Galilee of the nations” (of the Gentiles; a Roman province).

The people have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness (“shadow of death;” KJV), on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). The Lord has increased the nation and its joy (of its salvation) as at harvest, or as when an army divides the plunder. The Lord has broken the yoke and burden of oppression and has broken the oppressor’s power, as in the day of Midian.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those who accept the Lord as their (spiritual) light and salvation and take refuge in him won’t fear anyone or thing. The enemies of the Lord’s people will not prevail in their opposition. Though the enemy greatly outnumbers them and attacks them, God’s people will not fear or lose confidence.

Those who seek, trust and obey the Lord desire one thing above all others; to dwell in the Lord’s house all their days, to see the beauty of the Lord and to learn from him. The Lord will conceal and shelter his people in his tent in the day of trouble, and set them upon a high rock (Jesus), so that they will be above their enemies and they will offer sacrifices with joy and sing and praise the Lord.

God’s Word tells us to seek God’s face. To those who desire in their hearts to see God’s face, God will not hide from them, and will answer them when they cry to him. God will not turn away from his servants in anger. He will not cast off or forsake those who have trusted in him for their salvation. Those whom God has helped in the past can be assured that God will continue to help those who trust and obey him.

Amos Paraphrase:

Through Amos the Lord declared a Word of judgment against his people, the whole family of descendants of Israel whom he had delivered from Egypt. Because God has had a personal covenant relationship with Israel alone, of all the people of earth, God will punish them for their iniquities (disobedience, immorality, idolatry, injustice, and superficial religion).

The prophet uses proverbial wisdom to show that there are consequences to their actions. Two people do not walk together without prior arrangement. Lions don’t roar when they are hungry (or they’d never catch any prey). Birds cannot be caught without setting a snare, and snares do not trip without something tripping it. The watchman doesn’t blow his trumpet unless there’s a reason for warning. Evil does not befall a city unless the Lord allows it.

The Lord makes known to his prophets what he is doing. “The Lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy” (Amos 3:8)?

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

The Corinthian Church had been founded by Paul’s ministry and Paul was continuing to “disciple” its members by letter. Paul had heard that there was dissension among the members. Some members favored the preaching of Apollos, and others favored Peter. Paul told them that whom they had been converted by or baptized by was not important; the importance was Jesus’ crucifixion, and the Gospel of Jesus, which should unite all believers.

Paul emphasized that he had not baptized many at Corinth, for which he was glad, so that his baptizing would not be a point of division among the members; and Paul hadn’t preached the Gospel with eloquence, either. The power of the Gospel does not depend upon human eloquence or wisdom, but on the power and wisdom of God.

Matthew Paraphrase:

After being baptized by John and being tested in the wilderness, Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum in Galilee (the people in Nazareth had not welcomed his ministry and virtually threw Jesus out; Luke 4:16-31). After John had been imprisoned, Jesus began traveling throughout the villages of Galilee calling people to repent (turn from disobedience to faith and obedience to God), saying that the kingdom of God was imminent.

This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2. Galilee, including the tribal lands of Zebulun and Naphtali was, at the time of Jesus, the Galilee of the nations (Gentiles; i.e., the Roman province of that name). Isaiah had prophesied that the people who had been in spiritual darkness would see the spiritual light of righteousness, and divine revelation, and those living in the shadow of death would see the light of eternal life, which was fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

As Jesus walked on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he encountered two brothers, Peter and Andrew, fishing with a casting net. Jesus invited them to follow him and become fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and came along with Jesus. Further on Jesus encountered two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, in a boat with their father, mending nets. Jesus called them and they immediately left their father and the boat and followed Jesus.

Jesus began going throughout Galilee teaching and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and healing all sorts of diseases and disabilities.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal, absolutely true, and trustworthy. What God says, will be fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God has always intended from the beginning of Creation, to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who would willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and learn to know trust and obey God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s one and only plan of salvation (from sin, i.e. disobedience of God’s Word; and eternal destruction, which is the penalty for sin; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah, God’s “anointed” eternal savior and king, from “Galilee of the Gentiles” during the Roman occupation and Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy. God’s Word through Isaiah promised that the Messiah would be the light of righteousness, divine wisdom, and eternal life, and Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Those who accept Jesus as the light of enlightenment, righteousness and true eternal life will have nothing to fear. They can be certain that the enemies of light will not prevail.

God’s Word promises that, to those who earnestly and sincerely seek to find and know God, God will reveal himself. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the fullest revelation of God’s character and person in this world (John 14:8-10). The gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), 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 the Father and Jesus Christ to us individually and personally. Jesus promised that he would manifest himself, and God the Father, to his disciples who keep Jesus’ commandments (John 14:21, 23).

At the Cross, Jesus won the victory over our spiritual enemy Satan and our slavery to sin and death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus is the high rock which elevates us above our enemy and gives us sure footing.

Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we have God’s guidance, protection, and teaching; we have daily fellowship with the Lord and the assurance of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

God’s Word contains great promises but also ominous warnings. God has given us forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ as a free gift to be received by faith (obedient trust; Ephesians 2:8-9). But for those who refuse God’s gracious gift there will be eternal condemnation and punishment.

Amos was a shepherd who was called by God to proclaim God’s warning of Judgment to the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes of the divided monarchy. The Northern Kingdom was at the height of its prosperity and power, and the people considered themselves God’s chosen and favored people. But Amos denounced them for their disobedience of God’s Word, reliance on their own human ability and resources instead of on God, and of idolatry, immorality, social injustice, and superficial religion.

Amos called them to repent and return to obedient trust in the Lord, but they refused to heed the prophetic warnings. The religious leaders of the Northern Kingdom forbade Amos to prophesy and sent him away. The Assyrians came by “the way of the sea” in 733-732 B.C.* (Isaiah 9:1), and the Northern Kingdom was completely destroyed and ceased to exist in 721 B.C. .

The Church at Corinth had been established by Paul’s ministry and he continued to “disciple” the members by letter. The Corinthian Church was suffering division, because the members were relying on human strength and resources, and relying too much on their “chosen-ness” and God’s grace (see False Teachings, sidebar, top right) without the commitment of discipleship and obedient trust in God’s Word.

The Lord had brought contempt and condemnation upon the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, but Judah, the remnant of Israel did not learn the lesson of the Northern Kingdom’s punishment. As a result, Judah went into a seventy-year exile in Babylon (from 587-517 B.C.**) and then was restored. But the remnant again forgot the lessons of the Northern Kingdom, and of their own Babylonian Exile, and were unprepared for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

When the Lord brought blessing to Israel through Zebulun and Naphtali by the coming of the promised Messiah, Judah rejected Jesus, as Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, had. They missed the spiritual healing, nurture and restoration that only Jesus can give. The result was that Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A.D.*** Israel ceased to exist as a nation, and the Jews were scattered throughout the world, until the nation was reestablished following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

America and the Church, at least in America, are each, in a sense the New Israel, the “chosen” people of God in the national and spiritual senses. We’re in the same position as Israel at the time of Jesus. In many ways our religious and political leaders regard their office as their private empire for their benefit, rather than as stewardship on behalf of God’s people. We need to hear the prophetic Word of God’s judgment as much today as Israel did in the time of Jesus or of Amos.

Haven’t many Americans and Christians turned away from obedient trust in God’s Word? Haven’t many become immoral and idolatrous? Aren’t there great social injustices in our land? Hasn’t religion become a meaningless ritual for many?

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, Isaiah 9:1n, p. 833, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

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

*** ibid, Temple, Herod’s


 

Monday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted January 24, 2011;

Podcast: Monday 3 Epiphany A

Psalm 1 – Rewards of Righteousness;

Paraphrase:

Happy is the person who does not follow the counsel of the wicked, who does not follow the example of sinners or scoffers. Instead, he delights in the law of the Lord and he meditates on God’s Word day and night. He will thrive like a tree planted near a stream, where it will bear fruit in season and its leaves won’t wither. He will prosper in all that he does.

The wicked are not like the righteous; they are like chaff which will be blown away by the wind. They will not stand in God’s judgment, nor will they have fellowship with the righteous. The Lord knows who the righteous are, but the wicked will perish.

Commentary:

Sometimes it seems that the wicked flourish, but their reward is perishable, and will not survive the Day of Judgment. Sometimes worldly people equate worldly success with God’s approval. What God wants is obedient trust in his Word. God wants economic, moral, and social justice, mercy, and humble obedience to his Word (Micah 6:8).

Jesus taught that we should not lay up temporal worldly treasures, but instead seek eternal spiritual treasures (Matthew 6:19-21). Jesus taught his disciples to seek God’s eternal kingdom and his righteousness before even the physical necessities of life (Matthew 6:25-33), because God will provide those physical necessities as well. But if we focus on physical needs we’ll never get around to the spiritual necessities which are eternal.

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is not to accumulate material things, worldly honor and recognition, or to seek physical pleasure. The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and be spiritually reborn to eternal life (John 3:3, 5-8).

Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus has been designed into the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus has promised to manifest himself and God the Father to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:21, 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 gift of the Holy Spirit is the only way we can have a personal fellowship with the Lord. 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 not just a stream, but a river of living water (John 7:38-39) which enables us to thrive spiritually and produce spiritual fruit for eternity. Have you read God’s Word? Do you meditate on it daily? Are you seeking the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit in the river of 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)?

Tuesday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.
First Posted January 25, 2011;

Podcast: Tuesday 3 Epiphany A

Micah 6:1-8 – What the Lord Requires;

Paraphrase:

The Lord has a controversy with his people because they have forgotten his saving acts on their behalf. To what court can they appeal? Let them make their case before the mountains and the very foundations of the earth.

What has the Lord done to weary his people? The Lord brought them out of slavery in Egypt and raised up Moses, Aaron and Miriam to lead them. Remember how, when Balak, king of Moab, tried to have Balaam, the seer, curse God’s people, Balaam refused and blessed them instead (Numbers 22:1-6; 36-38).

Shittim was the camp east of the Jordan across from Jericho. From there they crossed the Jordan on dry ground, since the Lord stopped the flow of the river while they crossed. They took up stones from the riverbed and made a cairn (a memorial of piled rocks) at Gilgal where they first camped in the Promised Land, to commemorate God’s saving acts.

What can God’s people bring to God as a worthy offering? Would even a thousand rams and ten thousand rivers of oil be enough to please God? Could sacrificing one’s first-born atone for one’s sin; the fruit of the flesh for the sin of the soul? “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Commentary:

In one sense we are all God’s people because he has created us. In another sense God’s people are those who acknowledge God and what he has done for us, and trust and obey him. Have we heard and believed what God has done for us in Jesus Christ?

God does not need burnt offerings and sacrifices. No amount of sacrifices and offerings, or religious “rituals,” can atone for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), or “earn” our forgiveness. Even the sacrifice of our first-born is not sufficient. But God has done that for us; he gave his first-born, Jesus Christ, as the one and only sacrifice for all time and all people for the complete forgiveness of all our sin, to be received by faith (obedient trust; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God has done nothing to bore or weary us; it is we who weary him. God has shown great patience and forbearance toward us. God has revealed his Salvation for all to see. Salvation is a free gift to all who are willing to receive it by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). How will God feel if we reject his gift of forgiveness which he has provided at the cost of his Son?

Who will be our arbitrator on our behalf before God? Only Jesus Christ! Jesus is our “Moses” and our High Priest. The blood of his sacrifice on the Cross cleanses us of sin.

In a sense the Jordan River represents physical death. God’s people will pass through the “river” of physical death without getting “wet,” by obedient trust in Jesus Christ, our “Joshua,” who will lead us from the “Shittim” of this world into the “Gilgal” in the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

God does not require of us more than we can give. The only thing we can really give God is our obedient trust. We can choose to be just or unjust with others. We can choose whether to be kind and loving to others. We can choose to humbly trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

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 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 26, 2011;

Podcast: Wednesday 3 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – Spiritual Maturity;

The Corinthian Church had been founded through Paul’s ministry. Paul was continuing to disciple the members. There was division in the Church by some who thought they were spiritually wise and mature.

Paraphrase:

Paul had taught that divine wisdom is unlike what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-25). He asked the Corinthians to consider their call to faith. They were not wise, powerful or socially elite by worldly standards. God chooses what is week and foolish according to worldly standards, even spiritual things which the world thinks are nothing compared to the apparent solidity of physical things, to show that the worldly standards are wrong. No one will be able to boast in God’s presence. God is the source of (eternal) life through Jesus Christ who is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification (purification and dedication to God’s service), and redemption (ransom from the penalty for sin). Paul quoted Jeremiah 9:23-24, to suggest that one can boast only of the Lord.

Commentary:

A Christian is a “born-again (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26b). Paul is the prototype of the ‘modern,” “post-resurrection” “born-again” disciple and apostle that all believers are called to be. As Saul of Tarsus, he was confronted by the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-7); he repented and became obedient to Jesus (Acts 9:5, 8-9). He was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17) until Paul was “born-again” by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and then Paul began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:18-20).

Paul’s conversion was exceptional for its speed. The original Twelve disciples, spent day and night, seven days a week, for two and a half years with Jesus, yet were unable to carry out his Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) until they had received the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13). But Paul was already formally educated in Judaism, and zealous for God; he just needed to be pointed to Jesus, the Messiah, confess his sin and receive the Holy Spirit.

Paul discipled Timothy that way and taught him to repeat it with others (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul was continuing the discipling process with the Corinthian Christians. This is what the Church should be doing, but in too many cases isn’t.

The Corinthian Christians were like a lot of new Christians, who have been converted but who want the instant benefit and recognition of spiritual maturity without experiencing the effort and discipline of spiritual growth. The Corinthian Church was divided between factions boasting that their baptism was better because of the church leader who baptized them (1 Corinthians 1:11-17). They were not ready for spiritual “meat;” they were still on a diet of spiritual “baby-food” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).

The Corinthian Christians considered themselves spiritually wise and sophisticated, while tolerating immorality within the congregation (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; 9-13; 6:1-20). Some also thought that it was OK to eat food sacrificed to idols because they knew that idols are inanimate objects and they suggested that the ones who had concerns were less spiritually wise and sophisticated (1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Paul showed them that they were not as wise and sophisticated as they thought, because there are demons behind idols, and their attitude toward their fellow believers was not loving (1 Corinthians 10:18-33).

The same problems and attitudes are present within the Church today. Members tend to think that they are spiritually mature when they become members of the Church. Many think that discipleship is optional, and only for “super-Christians.” Just reading the entire Bible through once does not make one spiritually mature. We need to read the Bible daily, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and learn to apply God’s Word in our personal lives daily.

There are two major heresies being taught in the (nominal) “Church” today which existed in the first century Church and are refuted in the New Testament. One is “legalism:” salvation by doing “good works;” the “circumcision party,” who insisted that Gentile converts must keep Jewish law, including circumcision and dietary laws, dealt with here (see also Galatians 2:12, 16, 21-3:14; 5:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-10). The other is “Cheap Grace:” salvation by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), without the obligation of discipleship and obedient trust; “Libertinism;” “Nicolaitanism;” false freedom from self-discipline; i.e., licentiousness; (see Ephesians 4:17-24; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 6:9-20), which is also dealt with here. Each is a deviation, in opposite directions, from the central apostolic doctrine of the New Testament (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


Thursday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 27, 2011;

Podcast:  Thursday 3 Epiphany A

Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes;

This is the beginning of what is called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:27), which is representative of Jesus’ teachings.

Paraphrase:

Crowds came to Jesus and he went up on the side of a mountain and sat down and began to teach his disciples.

· God blesses those who realize their spiritual poverty and need, for they will enter God’s kingdom.

· Blessed also are those who mourn, for they will be comforted and strengthened.

· Those who are meek will inherit the earth.

· Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.

· Those who are merciful will receive mercy.

· Those who are pure in heart will see God

· Those who work for peace will be called God’s children.

· Those who are persecuted for righteousness will enter God’s kingdom.

· When Jesus’ disciples are reviled, persecuted and slandered they can rejoice, because they will be rewarded in heaven. The world has always responded with evil toward God’s servants and prophets.

Commentary:

The Lord will bless those who seek to live in his kingdom under his reign. If we realize our spiritual need we can ask and he will satisfy us with spiritual healing and nurture. Jesus’ miracles of physical healing and feeding were intended to reveal that he is the Son of God, with the power and authority of God’s Word, and that he alone can provide the spiritual healing and feeding that we must have to live eternally in God’s kingdom in heaven.

Those who mourn for their sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and for the “lost-ness” of this world will be comforted, encouraged, and restored.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace (unmerited favor) to the humble” (James 4:6b; compare 1 Peter 5:5b RSV). Worldly people are successful by being arrogant and ruthless, but those ways do not work with God. Eternal life and citizenship in God’s kingdom cannot be bought or earned, or taken by force or deception.

Those who desire righteousness, according to God’s Word, and understand that it is as necessary for spiritual life and health, as physical food is to physical life, will receive the righteousness they desire and be spiritually satisfied.

We all need God’s mercy, because we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). If we hope to receive and recognize that we have received God’s mercy, we will show mercy to others who need our mercy.

Jesus is the only one who can purify our hearts. 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). If we accept Jesus as our Lord and begin to trust and obey him, he will purify our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is only through Jesus Christ that we can have peace with God. Jesus came to bring reconciliation and peace with God to the world, and if we have experienced that peace which only Jesus can give, we will carry on his mission to bring God’s peace to others.

God raised up many prophets among the people to proclaim God’s righteousness, and the people hated, persecuted and killed the prophets of God. Jesus was the only perfect, righteous, sinless Son of God, but the people of the world responded with hate and persecution and crucified him. The message of the Gospel is no more popular in the world today than it ever was.

If they did those things to Jesus, his disciples cannot expect better treatment. Being a disciple requires faithfulness in proclaiming the Gospel fully and accurately; not just the parts that are popular and make us feel good.

The Beatitudes describe what God blesses; but there are corresponding woes to those who choose the alternatives (see Luke 6:20-26).

· Woe to those who don’t recognize their spiritual neediness.

· Woe to those who don’t mourn their own sinfulness and the lost condition of this present world.

· Woe to those who are prideful and arrogant.

· Woe to those who are satisfied with their assessment of their own righteousness.

· Woe to those who are ruthless and merciless.

· Woe to those who don’t recognize the impurity and sinfulness of their own hearts.

· Woe to those who don’t seek peace with God and others.

· Woe to those who are popular and highly regarded according to worldly standards.

There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead (in both physical and spiritual senses; 1 Peter 4:5). Every one who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted, trusted and obeyed Jesus as their Lord will receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus, and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; 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)?

Friday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 28, 2011;

Podcast: Friday 3 Epiphany A

Isaiah 43:1-3 – Israel’s Redemption;

Paraphrase:

God had punished the remnant of Israel with Babylonian exile for Israel’s disobedience and idolatry. But the Lord promised to redeem Israel. The Lord was the creator of Jacob (the inheritor of the birthright); the Lord had formed Israel. The Lord had named Israel, marking them as his people (Genesis 32:28).

The Lord promised that he would be with his people through all dangers; through flood and through fire, and would protect and preserve them. “When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2; compare Daniel 3:13-28).

The Lord God is the Holy One of Israel, her Savior. The Lord was going to give Egypt and Ethiopia (nations of Africa) and Seba (Arabia)* as a ransom for his people.

Commentary:

The Southern Kingdom, Judah, was the remnant of Israel, after the Northern Kingdom of the divided monarchy was destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.** Judah had not heeded the warnings of the prophets and the example of the fall of the Northern Kingdom, so God withdrew his favor and protection and allowed the Chaldean army of Nebuchadnezzar to carry Judah into exile in Babylon.

God told Judah beforehand what was going to happen, and promised that he would bring them back to the Promised Land after seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12). Judah could have repented and avoided the exile at any time, up to the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 587 B.C.**

God’s Word was fulfilled. Judah went into Babylonian exile for seventy years. Then God used Cyrus of Persia to conquer the Chaldeans and release Judah to return to the Promised Land. The seventy years ended in 517 B.C.** with the dedication of the second temple.

God’s Word was fulfilled. The remnant of Israel had passed through the flood and fire and had not been consumed. God brought a renewed Israel back from Babylonian exile.

God’s Word was fulfilled. God gave Egypt, Ethiopia, and Arabia into the hands of Cyrus as a ransom for God’s people.

Egypt was attacked and made a province of the Persian Empire in 525 B.C. for about thirty years.*** Ethiopia had succumbed to the Assyrians and was briefly a province of the Persian Empire (Esther 1:1, 8:9).**** Seba was probably also a province of the Persian Empire under Cyrus.*

Jacob was the grandson of Abraham (Abram) who inherited the “birthright” (Gen. 25:29-34; 27:1-45), the promise of God to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) through Isaac, the son of the promise (Genesis 15:1-5), through whom God would make a great nation and give them the Promised Land.

God “named” Israel. God re-named Jacob “Israel” after he had wrestled with God (Genesis 32:28) as Jacob was returning to the Promised Land from Haran, the homeland of Abraham, later part of the Assyrian and Babylonian (Chaldean) Empires.

Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians, and God parted the waters so they passed through on dry ground, while the Egyptian pursuers were drowned by the returning waters (Ex. 14:22-31). God brought Israel into the Promised Land through the Jordan River, stopping its flow so that they could pass through on dry ground without getting their feet wet (Josh. 3:14-17).

The Red Sea is a metaphor for baptism into Jesus Christ, and the Jordan River is a metaphor for physical death. Jesus delivers us from slavery to Satan and sin in the Egypt of this world, through the waters of baptism. Jesus is our “Moses” who leads us through the wilderness of life; our “Joshua” who leads us across the Jordan River of physical death and into the Promised Land of eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Christians are the “namesake” and heirs of the promise and birthright of Israel through Jesus Christ.

God condemned and destroyed the world once by flood (Genesis 6:11-8:19). God promised never to destroy the world again by flood (Genesis 9:8-17). The next time God Judges the earth, he will destroy the wicked by fire, (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), as was Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:16-21; 19:1-29).

Jesus is the “Son of God” who delivers believers, who trust and obey him, from destruction by fire in Hell, as Daniel was delivered from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:24-25; 28) in Babylon.

Jesus has promised to return, on the Day of Judgment at the end of the (temporal) age, to judge all who have ever lived on earth. Everyone will be accountable to him for what they have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus and have trusted and obeyed him will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in fiery Hell (John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:31-46).

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, Isaiah 43.3c-7n, p. 875, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

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

*** Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, “Egypt; Saite-Persian Period, p. 380,” David Noel Freedman, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5

**** ibid. “Ethiopia,” p. 432.


Saturday 3 Epiphany A (Variable)

To be used only if there is a 4 Epiphany Sunday – Otherwise skip to 8 Epiphany.

First Posted January 29, 2011;

Podcast: Saturday 3 Epiphany A

Romans 4:16-25 – Justified by Faith;
Matthew 14:22-33 – Faith and Doubt;

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul taught that God’s plan of Salvation (see sidebar) is based on faith (obedient trust), so that the promise is through God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) and guaranteed to all the (spiritual) descendants of Abraham who share Abraham’s faith (which came before the Covenant of Law; Romans 4:10-12). Abraham is the spiritual father of us all, in fulfillment of Genesis 17.5: “I have made you a father of many nations.” The promise is guaranteed by God, in whom Abraham believed, who gives life to the dead and existence to things that do not exist.

Abraham believed God’s promise, even when it seemed hopeless, that he would be the father of many nations. His faith didn’t weaken when he considered that his body was at the end of his life, because he was about a hundred years old, or that Sarah was barren. “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave God glory, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). For that reason his faith was accounted as righteousness, and his experience is recorded in the Bible for our benefit, so that we also will be accounted righteous who believe in God who raised, from the dead, Jesus, who died for our sins, and was raised from death for our justification (acquittal; imputation of Jesus’ righteousness to us through faith in Jesus).

Matthew Paraphrase:

After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus sent the disciples back to Capernaum by boat while Jesus dismissed the crowd. Then Jesus went into the surrounding hills by himself to pray. When night came, Jesus was alone, and the boat with the disciples was far from land and not making much progress because the wind and waves were against them.

Just before dawn Jesus came to them walking on the surface of the sea. When the disciples saw him they were terrified, thinking that he was a ghost. But Jesus identified himself and told them not to be afraid.

Peter replied that if it was indeed Jesus, he should tell Peter to come to Jesus on the water. Jesus did so, and Peter got out of the boat and came toward Jesus. But when Peter experienced the wind he became afraid and started to sink. Jesus reached out and caught him by the hand and asked Peter why he had so little faith and had doubted. When they got into the boat the wind stopped, and the others in the boat were convinced that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

Commentary:

God’s Word is absolutely true and trustworthy. God has given us his Word so that we will learn to trust and obey him. Our salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction depends on our trusting and obeying Jesus. Jesus is God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus Christ is God’s only provision by whom we can and must be saved (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23) and the penalty for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is eternal death. Salvation from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation is by grace as a free gift to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation cannot be bought or earned, or taken by force or deception.

Paul was making disciples of Jesus Christ in accordance with Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Abraham is an example of faith in God’s Word. Abraham heard God’s call and trusted and obeyed. As he went forward in obedient trust in God’s Word he grew strong in faith, and because he trusted and obeyed God’s Word, he was accounted righteous in God’s judgment. This is the pattern of spiritual growth that takes place when we say “yes” to God’s Word.

Abraham believed that God can raise the dead, and God demonstrated that truth in raising Jesus from the dead. The witnesses in the New Testament, and every “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian since, testifies to the truth that Jesus has been raised to eternal life. Those who trust and obey Jesus will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17), which only Jesus can give (John 1:31-34). 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 miracle of Jesus’ walking on the water is also a lesson in faith. They set out on their own, at Jesus’ command, but spent nearly all night getting far from land but not reaching their destination because wind and wave were against them. Jesus came to them and at first they were frightened, thinking he was a ghost. Jesus identified himself and calmed their fears.

Peter was eager to trust and obey Jesus, but he let doubt arise within him because of the forces seemingly against him. But Jesus was there to reach out his hand and steady Peter when he started to sink. When Jesus got into the boat, the wind and waves ceased (and in John’s Gospel, they immediately reached their destination; John 6:21).

The disciples were following Jesus’ word, but they didn’t have Jesus with them. They’re like believers who have the word of Jesus in the Bible, but haven’t yet been “born-again.” Supernatural forces are against them and they cannot make headway in their own human strength. The mission of Jesus Christ must be carried on by “born-again” disciples in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6c; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Only when Jesus is in our “boat” with us can we accomplish his command and reach the destination.

Peter was eager to act in faith, but he allowed doubt to cause him to waver. But Jesus was nearby and was able to help Peter by touching him and strengthening his faith. That’s what the Lord can do for those who are born-again. But if Peter had gotten out of the boat in the middle of the sea in the middle of the night without Jesus, he would have sunk. Jesus is able through his Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and cause us to grow spiritually when we have trusted and obeyed him and have been born-again.

God’s Word warns us not to believe every spirit (1 John 4:1-3). The disciples were frightened that Jesus might be a ghost (demonic), but Jesus identified himself to them and they recognized him. Likewise Jesus will identify himself to us so that we will recognize him, and we must recognize him, instead of receiving false and lying spirits. False spirits may claim to be “god,” but the true Spirit of God will never tell us to do what is contrary to God’s Word, or anything that will harm ourselves or others.

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 Epiphany A – 02/04 – 10/2016

January 14, 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 ‘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:

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

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

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 2 Epiphany A

Sunday 2 Epiphany A

First Posted January 16, 2011;

Podcast: 2 Epiphany Sunday A

Isaiah 49:1-6 – The Lord’s Servant;
Psalm 40:1-12 – The Lord’s Deliverance;
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 – Thanksgiving;
John 1:29-41 – John’s Testimony;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The Lord’s Servant calls the coastlands (of the Mediterranean Sea; neighboring countries) and the people from far off. God called his servant from his mother’s womb and named him before he was born (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). God put God’s Word, the sharp two-edged sword of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12), in his mouth and protected him in the shadow of God’s hand; God made him a polished arrow and hid him in God’s quiver. God declared him his servant, Israel, who would glorify God. The servant seemed to have labored in vain to exhaustion, but trusted in God to bring forth results.

The Lord created him in his mother’s womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob (renamed Israel by God; the inheritor of the birthright; father of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel) back to God, and gather Israel to him. God has honored the servant and has become his strength.

God declares that the salvation of Israel alone is too small a thing (compared to the sacrifice of God’s Son); his sacrifice must be a light to the nations (Gentiles), “that his salvation may reach to the end of the world” (Isaiah 49:6c).

The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, declares “to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the servant of rulers: ‘Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you” (Isaiah 49:7).

Psalm Paraphrase:

Those who have trusted, obeyed, and waited patiently for the Lord, including the psalmist and myself, testify that the Lord hears and answers our cries. He draws us up from the pit of trouble, the quagmire of evil, and even the grave of physical death. He sets our feet upon the rock (of salvation; Jesus Christ) and guides and protects our daily path. He gives us a new song of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done for us and will fear (have appropriate respect for the power and authority of) God and put their trust in the Lord.

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods” (Psalm 40:4)! The Lord has blessed us with goodness far beyond our awareness and ability to recall (compare John 21:25).

God doesn’t want sacrifice, offering, or religious ritual; he wants us to use our spiritual ears to hear, trust and obey him. He wants us to come to him, to store up his Word in our hearts, and have delight in doing his will, as the Scripture (the Bible) has said.

When we have experienced his deliverance, we are intended to and should want to testify and share the good news in the congregation of believers, and among our neighbors in the world. Let us not restrain our testimony or hide God’s saving help within our hearts. Let’s not keep to ourselves the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness, and his power to deliver and save.

If we trust and obey him, the Lord will not withhold his mercy, steadfast love and faithfulness from us when we are beset with trouble; he will preserve us forever. When evil and sin overtake and threaten to overwhelm us, and we see no way of escape, the Lord will deliver us without delay.

1 Corinthians Paraphrase:

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was called by God to be an apostle (a messenger; of the Gospel; Acts 9:1-21; NB v. 15) of Jesus Christ. He was writing to the Church at Corinth which had been established through Paul’s ministry; to those who had been sanctified (purified and consecrated) in Jesus Christ, called to be saints (“sanctified” Christian believers; i.e., “born-again” Christian disciples) together with all Christians everywhere who accept and acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Grace (unmerited favor) and peace (with God and mankind) are only from God through Jesus Christ.

Paul was thankful to God for the grace the Corinthian Christians had received through Jesus Christ, through whom they received every spiritual blessing, by which their testimony to Christ was confirmed. Paul was confident that the Lord Jesus Christ would preserve and sustain them without guilt as they waited for Christ to be revealed at his Second Coming on the Day of Judgment, because God, who had called them into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, is faithful.

John Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness, and saw Jesus passing by, after Jesus had been baptized by John. John told the people to look and see the “Lamb of God (the sacrificial lamb of Passover), who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29b). John had said that this man was coming after John, in chronological appearance, but was before John in importance and existence (John 1:1:26-27; John 1:1-3, 14).

John had been sent by God (Luke 3:1-3), to preach water baptism for repentance, to prepare the people for the revealing of the Messiah. John himself did not know who the Messiah was, but God had given him a sign: the one on whom the Holy Spirit descended from heaven as a dove and remained was the Messiah. God had told John that the one on whom the Spirit had descended would baptize with the Holy Spirit. John saw the sign, and testified that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

The next day John was talking to two of his disciples when Jesus again walked by, and John told his disciples to look and see the Lamb of God. The two heard what John said and followed after Jesus. Jesus turned and asked them what they were seeking, and they asked Jesus where he was staying. Jesus invited them to come and see, and they stayed with Jesus that day because it was already 4:00 PM. One of the disciples was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Andrew went and found Simon and told him that they had found the Messiah.

Commentary:

Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the prophecy by Isaiah of the Lord’s servant. God called him forth from the womb of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-38) and named him before he was born (Matthew 1:18-25). Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to raise up a prophet who would declare God’s Word; Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14).

Jesus came to his own people, Israel, and his own hometown, Nazareth, but they did not welcome (Luke 4:16-29), trust and obey him. Instead they crucified him. It seemed that the Lord’s servant had labored to exhaustion and physical death in vain, but he trusted in God the Father to bring forth results. Jesus rose from physical death to eternal life, demonstrating existence beyond physical death, and victory over sin and evil. God has honored Jesus (Philippians 2:9-11) and has become his strength.

Jesus was and is despised and abhorred by nations including Israel, but God’s Word of prophecy, that kings would see, arise and prostrate themselves before him, began to be fulfilled at his birth, in the visit of the Magi (“Wise Men;” the “Three Kings;” Matthew 2:1-11). It will be fulfilled ultimately at his Second Coming on the Day of Judgment, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy of God’s servant, but Israel was intended to follow that example. Instead, Israel turned aside from that call. The Church and each believer is the New Israel, the heir to God’s call to servanthood, to carry on the mission of Christ to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to a spiritually lost and dying world.

This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to know, trust and obey God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ, by the gift of his 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 the record of God’s dealing with his people. God’s Word is faithful and eternally true. As we trust and act on his Word, we experience God’s faithful mercy, love and deliverance for ourselves, and our faith grows. If we want his deliverance we must be willing to trust and obey his Word.

If we have experienced for ourselves the truth of God’s Word and his deliverance from trouble we will want to share our testimony with others. We must follow the example of Jesus and carry on his call to proclaim his Gospel of salvation to the end of the world. The Lord will provide his strength (and guidance) and make our efforts productive through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul is intended to be our example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. God called him to be the Lord’s servant, to learn from Jesus and then to testify to the Lord’s deliverance and salvation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right) to the end of the world. Paul demonstrates “discipling” ministry and personal testimony.

John the Baptizer was the last Old Testament prophet and the first New Testament prophet, and yet his role was less than the least of all “born-again” disciples (Matthew 11:11). John trusted and obeyed God’s Word and Spirit, experienced the fulfillment of God’s promised sign, and testified to his experience.

Andrew is intended to be an example to us of a disciple and apostle. Andrew heard and acted upon the testimony of John, he came to personally experience Jesus, and immediately went, found his brother, Peter, and testified to his experience. All he needed to do was say, ‘Come, and see for yourself.’

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 2 Epiphany A

First Posted 01/16/05;

Podcast: Monday 2 Epiphany A

Psalm 27:1-9 – My Light and Salvation;

Paraphrase:

Those who make the Lord their light (understanding; standard of righteousness) and their salvation (from evil; sin; death) need not fear any person or thing. When evildoers attack and slander the Lord’s people they will not prevail. Even though the enemy seems to greatly outnumber God’s people they can be confident.

The one important thing to pray for and seek is to spend all the days of our life in the house of the Lord, to experience his beauty and learn his teachings. In the day of trouble the Lord will conceal and shelter his people, and set them high “upon a rock” above their enemies. Then his people will bring offerings and rejoice and sing to the Lord.

The Lord will hear and answer those who call upon him in faith (obedient trust; Hebrews 11:6). God wants us to seek his presence (Deuteronomy 4:29; 1 Chronicles 16:10-11), and when we seek him with our hearts he will not hide from us.

Commentary:

What is the meaning and purpose of life? For most people it seems to be to maximize pleasure and avoid troubles for as long as possible. All effort is directed at achieving “security” by our own resources. But security is never achievable by worldly resources; it always seems to take just a little more than we have.

I believe that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek and come to personal knowledge and experience of God (Acts 17:26-27), who is the only true source of security; and the security he provides is eternal. This lifetime is our only opportunity to be “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, eternal life. Our personal relationship with God and spiritual “rebirth” is only possible through Jesus Christ, God’s one and only provision to accomplish that purpose (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

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). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

Jesus taught his disciples to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, ahead of even daily necessities like food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-33). If we put God first in our lives he will provide all those other things as well, and we will have security in the assurance that we have eternal life in paradise restored in heaven. Nothing can happen to us in this world that the Lord cannot deliver us from.

True wisdom and understanding come from God, not what the world falsely calls wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8). The standard of righteousness by which everyone is judged is Jesus Christ, not the worldly standard of goodness.

The one important thing to seek in this lifetime is the presence of the Lord, to experience his goodness, faithfulness and love, and to learn his teachings; to learn to trust and obey his Word, fulfilled, embodied, and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). The Lord wants us to seek him. When we begin to trust and obey him he reveals himself to us (John 14:21, 23).

The Lord does not ask what is impossible for us. The place to begin to seek God is in his Word, the Bible. The way to put God first in our lives is to set aside time each day to read his Word, meditate on it, pray seeking his will and guidance for us for that day and then remember and apply 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)?

Tuesday 2 Epiphany A

First Posted 01/17/05;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Epiphany A

Isaiah 9:1b-4 – The Light of Life;

Background:

Zebulun and Naphtali were part of what became the Roman province of Galilee, beyond the Jordan (on the west bank). The way of the sea was the highway from Damascus, probably by which the Assyrians had invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel.*

In former times the Lord brought that region into contempt, but later glorified it (by bringing forth the Messiah from it).

Paraphrase:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness (or “shadow of death;” KJV), on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). The Lord has multiplied the nation of Israel and increased its joy; they rejoice before the Lord as at a great harvest, or as at a great military victory they divide the plunder.

The Lord has broken Israel’s yoke and burden and the rod of its oppressor as in the day of Midian (Judges 7:15-25).

Commentary:

The Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes was invaded by the Assyrians in 733-732 B.C.* because the leaders and people disobeyed God’s Word, practiced idolatry, and refused to heed the Lord’s prophets. In the time of Jesus, Galilee was a Roman province, “Galilee of the nations (i.e. Gentiles). It was generally regarded with contempt. Nathanael, who became one of Jesus’ Twelve disciples, asked if anything good could come from Nazareth (in Galilee; John 1:43-46). The religious leaders of Israel rebuked Nicodemus over whether the Messiah could arise from Galilee (John 7:45-52).

Jesus was given as a light to the “nations” (not just to the Jews; Luke 2:32; Isaiah 49:6). Jesus has and gives the light of (true, eternal) life (John 1:4-5, 9; John 8:12).

We are all in the spiritual darkness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and ignorance of divine wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 1:17-27, 2:1-8). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the revelation of God and the revealer of divine enlightenment (John 1:9, 14:8-9; 16:13).

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 the Holy Spirit within us who cleanses us, makes it possible for us to know the Lord personally, and makes it possible for us to know, remember and do God’s will. It is by the gift of the Holy Spirit that we are spiritually “born-again” (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).

The true Church of all “born-again” disciples is the “New Israel.” It is by the Holy Spirit that we experience and express the joy of salvation and eternal life, beginning now in this world. The Holy Spirit is the “first-fruit” of the harvest of eternal life in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus is our Savior who has broken the yoke and burden of sin, and the rod of Satan, which is death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The day of Midian was the great victory of Gideon and three hundred men over the vastly larger army of Midian, by faith (obedient trust) in the Word of God (by prophetic dream; Judges 7:15-25) and the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6; Judges 6:11-21).

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, Isaiah 9:1n, p. 833, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Wednesday 2 Epiphany A

First Posted 01/18/05;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Epiphany A

Isaiah 9:1b-4 – The Light of Life;

Background:

Zebulun and Naphtali were part of what became the Roman province of Galilee, beyond the Jordan (on the west bank). The way of the sea was the highway from Damascus, probably by which the Assyrians had invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel.*

In former times the Lord brought that region into contempt, but later glorified it (by bringing forth the Messiah from it).

Paraphrase:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness (or “shadow of death;” KJV), on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). The Lord has multiplied the nation of Israel and increased its joy; they rejoice before the Lord as at a great harvest, or as at a great military victory they divide the plunder.

The Lord has broken Israel’s yoke and burden and the rod of its oppressor as in the day of Midian (Judges 7:15-25).

Commentary:

The Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes was invaded by the Assyrians in 733-732 B.C.* because the leaders and people disobeyed God’s Word, practiced idolatry, and refused to heed the Lord’s prophets. In the time of Jesus, Galilee was a Roman province, “Galilee of the nations (i.e. Gentiles). It was generally regarded with contempt. Nathanael, who became one of Jesus’ Twelve disciples, asked if anything good could come from Nazareth (in Galilee; John 1:43-46). The religious leaders of Israel rebuked Nicodemus over whether the Messiah could arise from Galilee (John 7:45-52).

Jesus was given as a light to the “nations” (not just to the Jews; Luke 2:32; Isaiah 49:6). Jesus has and gives the light of (true, eternal) life (John 1:4-5, 9; John 8:12).

We are all in the spiritual darkness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and ignorance of divine wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 1:17-27, 2:1-8). Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the revelation of God and the revealer of divine enlightenment (John 1:9, 14:8-9; 16:13).

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 the Holy Spirit within us who cleanses us, makes it possible for us to know the Lord personally, and makes it possible for us to know, remember and do God’s will. It is by the gift of the Holy Spirit that we are spiritually “born-again” (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).

The true Church of all “born-again” disciples is the “New Israel.” It is by the Holy Spirit that we experience and express the joy of salvation and eternal life, beginning now in this world. The Holy Spirit is the “first-fruit” of the harvest of eternal life in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus is our Savior who has broken the yoke and burden of sin, and the rod of Satan, which is death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The day of Midian was the great victory of Gideon and three hundred men over the vastly larger army of Midian, by faith (obedient trust) in the Word of God (by prophetic dream; Judges 7:15-25) and the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6; Judges 6:11-21).

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, Isaiah 9:1n, p. 833, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Thursday 2 Epiphany A

First Posted 01/19/05;

Podcast: Thursday 2 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – Church Unity;

Paraphrase:

The Church at Corinth had been founded by Paul’s ministry and Paul continued to “disciple” the members, by letter. One of the families had reported to Paul that there was dissension among the members, and Paul urged them to reconcile and be unified in mind and judgment. The members had been divided by loyalty to various leaders. One group identified with Apollos, another identified with Peter, and some with Paul. Each group thought they were superior to the others.

By whom one is baptized is not important; the name of Christ in whom they were baptized is what is important. Christ is the one who was crucified for them, not Paul, or Apollos or Peter. Paul made his point by saying that he was glad that he had baptized only a few individuals there, so that being baptized by Paul wouldn’t be a source of division. Paul said that his role in the Congregation had not been to baptize, but to preach the Gospel, and not with eloquence or human wisdom, so that their faith would not depend upon human ability but on the power of the cross.

Commentary:

Problems in the first century church recorded in the New Testament are still within the Church today, and the New Testament should be our guide in identifying and correcting them. Isn’t there much disunity within the Church today over the same issues? Members still seem to divide over loyalties to particular leaders, which has led to the splintering of the Protestant Church into various denominations.

Instead of focusing on our common Apostolic doctrine recorded in the New Testament, denominations emphasize distinctions in interpretation (see 2 Peter 1:20). Instead of making “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples of Jesus Christ, Churches have made “members,” and “disciples” of a particular denomination or pastor. Many members are biblically illiterate, and prefer to adopt a list of denominational distinctions rather than to read and learn the Apostolic doctrines recorded in the New Testament.

Instead of reading the Bible and being led by “born-again” disciples to spiritual rebirth and a personal relationship with the Lord through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, people seek a personal relationship with the pastor or leader and seek guidance through him (or her). People choose eloquent oratory over sound Biblical teaching, because they don’t know the Bible. In many instances the Church has become a “consumer” religion instead of a “disciple-making” ministry.

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 Epiphany A

First posted January 21, 2011;

Podcast: Friday 2 Epiphany A

Matthew 4:12-23 – Jesus’ Ministry Begins;

Paraphrase:

Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptizer and had been tested in the wilderness for forty days. Then, after John had been arrested (by Herod Antipas; Luke 3:19), Jesus left Nazareth and dwelt in Capernaum, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, in Galilee, the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles- the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region of the shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time, Jesus began to preach, calling the people to repent because the kingdom of heaven was imminent.

As Jesus walked on the shore of the Sea, he saw Simon Peter and Andrew fishing with a net on the shore and invited them to follow him and become “fishers of men.” They immediately left their net and followed Jesus. Further on, Jesus saw James and John the sons of Zebedee, with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them and they immediately left their father, the boat and the nets, and followed Jesus

Jesus began traveling throughout Galilee and teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Gospel of God’s kingdom, and healing every disease and disability.

Commentary:

According to Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was not well-received in his hometown, Nazareth (Luke 4:16-31), and was literally thrown out, so he moved to Capernaum. In Capernaum he called Peter, Andrew, James and John, commercial fishermen. They were making a living fishing, but at Jesus’ invitation, they left their jobs and the tools of their trade and followed Jesus, learning to become “fishers of men.”

John the Baptizer had preached repentance (returning from disobedience to faith in God) in order to prepare for the coming Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed in Hebrew and Greek; i.e. God’s “anointed” eternal savior and king). When Jesus began his ministry, John’s role was completed. John was imprisoned and later beheaded (Matthew 14:3-12).

Jesus continued John’s call to repentance, announcing that God’s kingdom was coming (in Jesus). Jesus preached the Gospel of God’s plan of salvation [from sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and eternal condemnation which is the consequence of sin; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 John 1:8-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right]. Jesus’ healing miracles were to reveal who Jesus was, and to demonstrate that Jesus can also heal spiritually. Jesus’ resurrection from physical death to eternal life demonstrates the reality of existence beyond physical death, and the promise of eternal life in him.

Jesus is the light of God’s righteousness in a world of spiritual darkness (John 3:16-21). Jesus is the light of divine wisdom and knowledge in a world of spiritual ignorance and foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8; John 1:9). Jesus is the light of eternal life (John 1:4-5, 9; 8:12) in a spiritually dying world.

Jesus used the imagery of fishing with a net to illustrate the fulfillment of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:47-50) at the end of this age. At that time, the angels of God will gather all who have ever lived, and they will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this life (Matthew 25:31-46), like net fishermen fill their nets and then toss out what is bad and keep the good.

Until then, fishing for men is more like fishing with baited hook. The Gospel is the bait, and it must be presented fully and honestly, but attractively, to be received so that people will come to it and want to stay.

When we answer the call of the Gospel in Jesus Christ we must leave the worldly life we had in order to follow Jesus, but when we do, he will show us and teach us a better life. We’re called to be his disciples, to learn the Gospel by first-hand personal experience with Jesus, 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). Then we’re to carry on Jesus’ ministry to preach repentance and healing to the sinful and spiritually dying world.

At the end of the age (or the end of our lives), repentance and restoration will no longer be an option. In that day, our eternal destinies will be forever fixed.

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 Epiphany A

First Posted 01/21/05;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Epiphany A

Jeremiah 33:6-9 – Promise of Restoration;
Hebrews 11:1-16 – Examples of Faith;
Luke 17:5-10 – The Mustard Seed;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

Judah was about to go into exile in Babylon because of their disobedience of God’s Word, and their idolatry. But the Lord promised that he would heal them and restore them to health, security and prosperity, and rebuild them (Jerusalem and the temple) as they were before. The Lord promised to cleanse them and forgive them of all their sin and guilt, and their rebellion against the Lord. Jerusalem’s name will become a joy, a praise and a glory to God among the nations of the world, and they will tremble with fear before God because of all the good and prosperity the Lord will give Jerusalem.

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Faith means being certain of receiving what has been promised, and believing in what is not seen. Throughout Israel’s history, people who had faith in God received his approval.

By faith, Abel’s offering was more acceptable to God than Cain’s and received God’s approval, attested to by God’s acceptance of the sacrifice. Although Abel died, his example testifies to his faith. Enoch was taken up to heaven because he had faith and had pleased God. “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 MKJV; emphasis mine). Noah believed God’s warning and acted in faith without having seen the events God had foretold. He built the ark and saved his family. By his faith the world was condemned “and he became the heir of the righteousness which comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7b).

Abraham obeyed God’s call by faith, when God told him to go to a place he had never seen, and didn’t know where it was, which he was to receive as an inheritance. Abraham, and his descendants, Isaac, and Jacob, who shared the promise, lived in tents in the Promised Land as visitors without ownership or citizenship in the land, because they looked forward to the eternal city of God where they would have permanent homes (instead of tents). By faith in God’s promise Sarah conceived when she and Abraham were beyond the age for conception. So from one man who was at the end of his life, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore.

All these people died believing but not having received the fulfillment of God’s promise, although having seen it coming as from far away. They all recognized and acknowledged that they were aliens and visitors on this earth seeking an (eternal) homeland. They could have returned to the land of their birth, but instead they desired a better, heavenly country. “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16).

Luke Paraphrase:

Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus replied that faith as small as a tiny mustard seed is sufficient to accomplish the most seemingly impossible things.

A servant’s duty to his master doesn’t end at the end of the day’s work. He still has the duty to attend to his master’ needs first, before receiving his compensation. The master doesn’t thank the servant for the performance of his duties; so we also should not expect special commendation for doing our duty to God and fulfilling his commands.

Commentary:

God’s Word is absolutely true and trustworthy. The hallmark of God’s Word and the test of prophesy is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God warned Judah, the remnant of Israel, through the example of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of the divided monarchy, and through his prophets, to repent and return to obedient trust in God’s Word or suffer the consequences, but Judah refused to listen and obey.

Through Jeremiah, God promised Judah, before it happened, that Babylon was going to attack and carry them off to exile for seventy years. Even then, they could have repented and avoided exile up until the moment Jerusalem fell to the enemy, but Judah refused to repent and return to the Lord. So God withdrew his favor and protection and allowed Judah to be carried off to Babylon by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in 588/587 B.C.*

God promised to bring Judah back from exile after seventy years and restore them to what they had before, and God fulfilled his promise. In 517 B.C.,* after the seventy years of exile, Judah dedicated the Second Temple replacing the one destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

Seventy years of exile was a virtual life sentence for those who were adults at the time of the exile. The Israelites who went into exile in Babylon because of disobedience and unbelief died in Babylon. But those in exile who believed God’s promise of healing and restoration returned to the Promised Land a healed and restored people.

The Old Testament of the Bible is the history of God’s relationship with Israel, but it is also intended to be a parable and metaphor for life in this world. If we know and believe God’s Word we can learn to avoid the same mistakes Israel made.

In one sense Babylon is a metaphor for Hell. Those who refuse to trust and obey God’s Word will be condemned to eternal death in the “Babylon” of Hell.

In another sense, Babylon symbolizes our life in this world. We are all born into exile in “Babylon,” and the only way out and to the Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven is by knowing, trusting and obeying God’s promise in God’s Word.

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the (only) way to God and eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven; the (only divine, eternal) truth, and the only way to (true, eternal) life (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell, restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life which begins now in this lifetime (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

The Bible contains great promises and also ominous warnings. We will either believe the promises or we will experience the grave misfortunes that the warnings are intended to help us avoid. In order to receive the promises we have to know what they are so that we can claim them by faith.

Faith is obedient trust. People in this world believe in all sorts of things, but faith in God and God’s Word is the only faith which will not ultimately prove untrue and disappoint us. Lots of people think faith is getting whatever they believe if they believe “hard enough.” Faith is not wishing something is true. One cannot truly believe something without acting accordingly.

“Religion” is mankind’s attempt to get God to do their will and favor them. The true relationship with God is faith, seeking to know and do God’s will. If we want God’s approval, we must trust and obey him.

God is our master and we are his servants. Do we expect God to wait on us and serve us? Do we expect God to give us special recognition and reward for doing God’s will and his commandments? Do we expect God to give us what we want without first doing what he wants?

Abraham’s life is intended to be an example. Each one of us is called by God to leave where we are, where we feel comfortable at home, and go to a place we’ve never known, can’t see, and don’t know how to reach, except by trusting and obeying God’s Word and guidance. The journey is for our lifetime, beginning with the first step in faith, and continuing one day at a time. We will be aliens and travelers heading for a place we will never reach in our lifetime. But as we walk in faith we will see the goal from afar, as we experience God’s faithfulness and love daily and see the fulfillment of God’s promises along the way.

Faith is like a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, indivisible, the least amount possible. If we have any faith in God’s Word at all, if we “plant” it by acting upon it in obedient trust, God will cause it to grow to maturity and to a size that is supernatural beyond our earthly expectations.

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


Week of 1 Epiphany – A – 01/08 – 14/2017

January 7, 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).

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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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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: Week of 1 Epiphany C

1 Epiphany – Sunday C

First posted January 10, 2010

Podcast: 1 Epiphany Sunday C

Isaiah 42:1-7 – The Lord’s Servant;
Psalm 45:7-9 – The King’s Wedding;
Acts 10:34-38 – The Gospel to the Gentiles;
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Jesus’ Baptism;

Isaiah:

The Lord upholds his servant whom he has chosen and in whom he delights. The Lord has given him God’s Spirit. God’s servant will establish justice for all nations. “He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench” Isaiah 42:2-3). He will faithfully enact justice. He will not fail or become discouraged until justice has been accomplished in the world, and distant lands await his law. The Lord God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He “gives breath to the people upon it, and spirit to those who walk in it. He is the Lord and in righteousness he has called his servant; he has guided and protected his servant. God has given his servant to the people of the world as a covenant, and a light to the nations, to heal the blind, to release the prisoners from the dungeon and darkness.

Psalm:

The Psalmist says of the king on his wedding day that because the King loves righteousness and hates wickedness God has anointed the king with the oil of gladness above his subjects. The king is dressed for his wedding in robes perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cassia. The music of stringed instruments comes forth from ivory palaces in celebration. The ladies of honor in the wedding party are daughters of kings, and the queen is adorned with jewelry of Gold from Ophir (possibly India; a region famous for gold jewelry).

Acts:

The Lord had led Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile Roman Centurion, to send for the Apostle Peter to tell Cornelius and his household the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:1-8). Meanwhile God also prepared Peter to proclaim the Gospel to Gentiles by giving him a vision and declaring that the Jewish dietary laws no longer applied (Acts 10:9-16).

When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home, he began his message by saying that he had learned that God does not show partiality to anyone. Instead, in any nation, anyone who does what is right is acceptable to God. Peter summed up the Gospel by saying that after his water baptism which John the Baptizer preached, Jesus began to go throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, preaching the “Good News” (the definition of “Gospel”) of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Jesus had been anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and supernatural power. Jesus had traveled throughout Galilee and Judea doing good and healing all who were in bondage to Satan by the presence of God with Jesus.

Luke:

The people of Israel were expecting the coming of the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed”), and they wondered if John the Baptizer was the Christ. John answered them by saying that John baptized with water (for repentance and spiritual cleansing, to prepare the people to receive the Messiah). John told them that the Messiah was coming. The Messiah is so much greater than John, that John was unworthy to be the Messiah’s most menial servant. The Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The Messiah’s coming will be like threshing grain at the harvest. He will separate the grain from the chaff, and will gather the grain into his granary, but will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.

After Jesus was baptized he was praying, when heaven was opened and the the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven declared that Jesus was God’s beloved Son, with whom God was well pleased.

Commentary:

God’s Word is eternal and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Israel was called to be the Lord’s servant but they turned away from that call, by rejecting Jesus as the promised Messiah. At his crucifixion, Jesus was the last faithful person in Israel. Even his disciples had fled from Jesus (Matthew 26:31). Beginning on Easter morning, with Jesus’ resurrection, the Church became the New Israel, the New people of God. The Church is the heir to the call of God to be the Lord’s servant. The ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s servant is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the example of the Lord’s servant that we are to follow.

God has designed this Creation to accomplish his ultimate purpose of establishing an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him and thus become his servants. We are all called to be the Lord’s servant. There is no greater thing we can do in this lifetime than serving the Lord.

We are born into this world physically alive but spiritually “unborn.” This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find, 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). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), through whom we have personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father. This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life, which is only by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Notice in the text from Isaiah, that the Lord gives the breath (of physical life) to those who live on this earth, and Spirit to those who walk in obedient trust in the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-14). (The Hebrew word means breath or wind, thus: the breath of spiritual life; Notice in John 3:3, 5-8, the same play on words for wind and spirit in Greek).

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, God visibly “anointed” Jesus with the Holy Spirit. It was the “sign” God had given John the Baptizer to reveal the Messiah to him and to Israel (John 1:31-34). Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit so that he could “baptize” his disciples with the 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). Jesus didn’t baptize anyone with water; only his disciples did (John 4:2).

The “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible ongoing event; if one is not certain, one hasn’t been (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).

God taught the people of Israel that priests, prophets and kings were to be anointed with oil to consecrate them to God’s service. They were thus known as “the Lord’s anointed.” Anointing the king was the equivalent of crowning him. The titles of Messiah and Christ each mean (God’s) “anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek respectively. The Messiah (Christ) is the Lord’s anointed Savior and eternal King.

The Lord’s anointing also refers to the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Isaiah 61:1). The “anointing” of the Holy Spirit is also figuratively described as “the oil of gladness” (Psalm 45:7, which is quoted in Hebrews 1:9).

Peter testified to Cornelius, in the first presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, that Jesus was the one anointed by God with the Holy Spirit to heal spiritually. Jesus’ physical healings, feedings and resurrections were intended to show that Jesus could also and more importantly heal, feed, and resurrect spiritually.

Jesus is the New Moses, the mediator of the New Covenant (Testament) of grace, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus initiated the New Covenant at his celebration of Passover on the night of his betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:26-28).

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), the light of righteousness (John 1:5; 3:19-21), enlightenment (John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4).

Is Jesus your Lord? Are you Jesus’ disciple? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus? 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 1 Epiphany A

 First posted January 14, 2008;

Podcast: Monday 1 Epiphany A

Psalm 40:1-12 – Deliverance from Trouble;

Paraphrase:

The Psalmist describes the experience common to those who commit themselves and their situations to the Lord. The Lord hears us when we cry to him for help and wait patiently for him to respond. I personally testify with the psalmist that I have been in the “pit of trouble,” (perhaps even “one foot in the grave”), in the “miry bog,” and the Lord lifted me out and set my feet on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. He made my steps secure by the guidance of his Word and his Spirit. He has put a new song of praise to our God in my mouth. The Lord will do for others what he has done for me, as they hear and see what he has done for me and fear (have appropriate respect for his power and authority) and trust the Lord.

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods (Psalm 40:4)! The Lord has done many great things for each of us that we aren’t even aware of, and are beyond numbering or recollection (John 21:25).

The Lord does not desire sacrifice and offering, or religious ritual. What he desires are people with spiritual ears that listen to his Word and delight to do his will; who have his law written on their hearts.

When we have experienced his deliverance we want to share the glad news with others. Yet sometimes we feel hesitant to speak out, perhaps because of self-consciousness or fear of the reactions of our hearers. We need to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit and to trust him to give us what to say at the appropriate time (Luke 21:14-15). We must make the commitment and effort not hide his steadfast love, faithfulness, and saving help within our hearts.

When we face overwhelming troubles we can remember the Lord’s power and faithfulness to deliver us in the past, and be confident that he can and will deliver us from them now, no matter how overwhelming to us.

Commentary:

This psalm is a description of discipleship and spiritual growth. It’s what life in this world is about. God doesn’t cause trouble; our own sinful nature does, but he allows it, for now, in this world. Sooner or later we all experience trouble in life. If we have heard and believed God’s Word in the Bible, we can trust in God to deliver us as he delivered his people in the Bible testimony.

The Lord wants us to trust in his Word so that we can experience his unchanging love, his power and faithfulness, and his saving help. Sometimes we need to come to the end of our own human and material resources before we recognize and acknowledge that we need God’s saving help.

No matter how bad our worldly troubles are, they are nothing compared to the spiritual tragedy we all face, apart from the salvation God has provided only in Jesus Christ. We are all eternally terminally ill; we have all sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and the punishment for sin is eternal condemnation and destruction (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). The problem is that while everything is going well for us in this life, we may be unaware of our spiritual “lostness” and eternal danger.

More than thirty years ago I came to the end of my own resources, and turned to the Lord for help. When I first began learning to hear God’s Word with spiritual ears, the Lord used this very text to teach me to trust and obey his Word and to show me that he has the power and willingness to deliver us from troubles. (See the second entry, “Discipleship” in my personal testimonies, sidebar, top right.)

If we think “disaster preparedness” is a good idea, the place to start is to read the Bible.

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 1 Epiphany A  

First posted January 15, 2008;

Podcast: Tuesday 1 Epiphany A

Isaiah 49:1-6 – Redeemer of Israel;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Listen, neighboring countries and people far away! The Lord called forth his servant (the Messiah) from the womb and named him before his birth (see Matthew 1:20-21).

God made his servant’s words like a sharp sword and hid him in the shadow of his hand; like a polished arrow, hidden in his quiver. God appointed him as his servant. In Israel God will be glorified. The servant’s ministry seems futile, but he trusts in God for his reward.

The Lord formed his servant in the womb and created him to be God’s servant who would bring Jacob (the inheritor of the birthright; renamed Israel; his sons became heads of the twelve tribes of Israel) back to the Lord and gather Israel to him. The Lord honors his servant and has become his strength.

The Lord declares that he is not satisfied for his servant just to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the remnant of Israel. The Lord has given his servant as a light to the nations (Gentiles) “that my salvation may reach the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6b).

“Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one despised and abhorred by the nations, the servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they will prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you” (Isaiah 49:7).

Commentary:

The servant of the Lord is the promised Messiah, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, but the Church and the people of God are also called to be his servants. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

God’s people need to know the Bible so that the Holy Spirit can call it to their minds as needed. God’s people need to be “polished” by “discipleship” so that they are ready instruments for God’s service. They must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit so that they can be guided and empowered to serve God (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8), and can be assured that their service is not in vain (Isaiah 49:4). 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 whom God honors his servant, and becomes his strength (Isaiah 49:5c; Zechariah 4:6).

The Church is the heir to the call of Israel to be God’s servant and to glorify him. Israel turned away from that call in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, but it is still God’s will for the remnant of Israel to be raised up and restored to the Lord through his servant Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:37-39; Romans 11:11-12). The Messiah was given through Israel, but his salvation is for all people who trust and obey him.

Jesus was despised and abhorred by the nations, including Israel, but kings have seen and have come to him and prostrated themselves before him, beginning with the visit of the “wise men” to the Christ Child (Matthew 2:1-11). Jesus is going to return, at the end of the world, on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), and every knee will bow before him and every tongue will acknowledge him as the King of kings and Lord of lords (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)?

Wednesday 1 Epiphany A 

First posted January 16, 2008;

Podcast: Wednesday 1 Epiphany A

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 – Thanksgiving;

Paraphrase;

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was the first “modern,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ; he did not come to faith in Jesus during Jesus’ physical lifetime (Acts 9:1-20), and so is an example for us. Paul was writing to the Church at Corinth that he had founded on his second missionary journey, and where he had stayed for a year and a half (Acts 18:1-11).

Paul had been called by God’s will to be an apostle, by Christ’s initiative, on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9). The Church is the body of believers who call on (trust and obey) the name (the person and character) of Jesus and have been sanctified (purified of sin and consecrated to God’s service) in Jesus (by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit). Paul prays that they will have the true Grace (God’s unmerited favor to us) and peace (with God and with their brethren) which are only possible through God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul gave thanks to God for the Corinthian Christians because of the grace of God which they had received in Christ Jesus (forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal condemnation, and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit) through whom they were enriched with every spiritual blessing, in knowledge of and testimony to Christ which was confirmed in them. They lack no spiritual gifts, and will be sustained by Jesus and kept blameless (through his indwelling Holy Spirit) as they await the return of Christ on the Day of Judgment. God, who is completely faithful, has called them into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Commentary:

Paul was sought and confronted on the road to Damascus by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ. Paul accepted his rebuke and the authority of Jesus as Lord (Acts 9:5), repented and obeyed Jesus command (Acts 9:8-9). A “born-again” disciple of Jesus Christ living in Damascus named Ananias was prepared and guided to disciple Paul (Acts 9:10-16) until Paul received the gift (“anointing”) of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18), and then Paul began trusting and obeying the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:19-20).

Paul’s conversion was exceptionally rapid. The original disciples of Jesus’ earthly ministry had been with Jesus twenty-four hours a day for about three years, and still were not ready for ministry until they had been “born-again” by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-13). Paul, on the other hand, was formally well-educated in the Bible and in Judaism, and he had the passion for God; he just needed to be redirected to trust and obey Jesus. Discipleship is a process of spiritual growth that takes time. One should not expect it to take less than two or three years.

By the indwelling Holy Spirit Paul be came the missionary to the Gentiles and preached the Gospel for the first time in Europe, including Corinth.

Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth “discipling” the believers there, and continued to do it by letters to them later. The Holy Spirit is the grace of God which is received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Only Jesus baptizes with the 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).

It is through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father (John 14:23). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:16-17) and the Counselor who teaches Jesus’ disciples all things and brings to their remembrance all that Jesus said (John 14:26). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the confirmation of the Gospel within believers. The Holy Spirit cleanses, consecrates, and sustains us guiltless at the Day of Judgment (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

This is the eternal purpose and central promise of God recorded throughout the Bible. God is faithful and will keep his promise. Those who hear and believe (trust and obey) the Gospel will receive the promise.

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 1 Epiphany A

First posted January 17, 2008;

Podcast: Thursday 1 Epiphany A

John 1:29-41 – Finding Jesus;

Paraphrase:

John the Baptist was led by the Lord to begin preaching water baptism for repentance and forgiveness of sin, to prepare Israel to receive the Messiah. People were going to him at the Jordan River.

John saw Jesus coming to him and declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God (the sacrificial “Passover Lamb”) who takes away the sin of the world! John said that Jesus was the one who was to come after John chronologically, but who ranked before him in importance and existence. John’s mission of water baptism was to reveal the Messiah, but John had not known who the Messiah was. God had promised he would give John a sign: The Holy Spirit would descend in the form of a dove and remain on the Messiah, and that Messiah was the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. John testified that he had seen the sign, and that Jesus was the Son of God.

The next day John was talking to two of his disciples when Jesus passed by. John told the disciples to look and see the Lamb of God. The two disciples heard what John was saying, and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and asked what they sought. The disciples addressed him as Rabbi (teacher) and asked where he was staying, and Jesus invited them to come and see.

They went with Jesus to where he was staying and since it was about 4:00 PM they stayed with him. One of the disciples who had acted on John’s testimony was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. He went and found Simon and told him that he had found the Messiah (Christ; both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively).

John the Baptizer was trusting and obeying God’s Word and God’s call. He was calling people to repent and prepare for the coming Messiah, which God had promised in his Word (the Bible). As John carried out God’s call, God promised to reveal the Messiah to him, and when he had done so, John testified to what God had revealed to him; that Jesus was the “Passover Lamb” of God whose sacrifice would remove the sin of all who accept and believe in him as God’s anointed Savior and (only begotten) Son. John testified that only Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34).

The disciples believed John’s testimony and acted on it, following behind Jesus. Jesus asked them what they wanted and they asked to become his disciples (students) and to stay with him, and for him to be their teacher. Jesus invited them to come and see (to give it a try). Andrew immediately found his brother Simon, and told him that he had found the Messiah.

Commentary:

This is the Gospel experience. God’s Word promises the coming of his anointed Savior and the baptism with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who trust and obey God’s Word are seeking his coming.

The Church is the heir to John’s mission to call people to repent and be baptized with water for spiritual cleansing in preparation to receive the Messiah, God’s anointed eternal Savior, who will baptize his disciples who trust and obey Jesus with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17).

Christians are “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) “disciples” of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26c) who trust and obey Jesus’ teachings and have been baptized with the indwelling Holy Spirit. God has revealed Jesus to them personally by his Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) within them, and they point to Jesus and declare that he is the Messiah; the Savior; the “Lamb of God.” To those who hear, believe their testimony and begin to follow Jesus, Jesus says, “Come and see.”

To come and see, we must turn from what we were doing and follow Jesus, stay with him and accept and learn to apply his teachings. As we begin to trust and obey Jesus he will baptize us with his indwelling Holy Spirit, 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 after the Lord has revealed himself to us through his Holy Spirit (John 14:21-23; Luke 24:45; Acts 1:4-5, 8), can we testify to others that we have found the Messiah, and seek our brothers and sisters and invite them to come and see.

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 Epiphany – Friday C

First posted January 15, 2010

Podcast:Friday 1 Epiphany A

Romans 12:6-16 – Christian Lifestyle;

By the indwelling Holy Spirit, “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians have various different spiritual gifts by God’s grace (unmerited favor), so we are to use them: If prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; if service, let us serve; if teaching, let us teach; if exhortation, let us exhort; if contribution, let us be generous; let those who give aid do so with zeal; let those who do acts of mercy, do so cheerfully.

Let us be genuine in our love; let us hold on to what is good and hate what is evil. Let us love each other with brotherly affection; let us try to outdo one another in showing honor. Let our zeal not grow tired; let us glow with the Holy Spirit, always serving the Lord. Let us always rejoice in our hope; in tribulation let us be patient, and let us pray constantly. Let us contribute to saints (believers in Christ; consecrated to God’s service) in need, and show hospitality to all.

Let us bless rather than curse our persecutors. Let us rejoice with the joyful, and weep with those who mourn. Let us live with one another in harmony. Let us never be conceited or haughty; instead, let us associate with the lowly, and be willing to do humble tasks.

Commentary:

In my experience, I have found that the Holy Spirit gives us different gifts at different times, according to our spiritual growth and opportunity for ministry. As a new “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christian, I began as a student in Adult Sunday School and in weekly Bible Study. I had read the entire Bible, but I was just beginning to grow spiritually. In preparation for each session the Lord opened my mind to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45), and gave me great revelations from his Word. I was able to contribute and to grow spiritually.

I have found that if we seek to know, with the intention of doing, God’s will for us at a particular time and situation in life, that he will reveal it to us. The Lord wants to lead us, one day at a time, (Matthew 6:11; 33-34).

It is important to set aside a specific time each day to read the Bible with prayer and meditation (perhaps the first thing in the morning or the last thing at night). When God begins to show us things from his Word, we can pray them back, to make sure that we have understood. But remember that the Lord will not ever tell us anything contrary to his Word, or that will harm ourselves or others.

Jesus said that one must be “born-again” in order to see the kingdom of God which is all around us now, and ultimately to see and enter it in eternity (John 3:3, 5-8). I believe that the Church is the heir to the ministry of John the Baptizer, to call people to repent, to turn them to obedient trust in Jesus, to baptize them with water in preparation to receive Jesus, and to disciple new believers until they have been “born-again.”

The Church was intended to be a “disciple-making” organization. Unfortunately, in too many instances the nominal Church has settled for making “members” and building “buildings.” In too many instances the nominal Church is being led by “unregenerate” (not “born-again”) leaders. But the situation isn’t hopeless; what the Church needs is revival and reformation.

The new believer should make reading the Bible in entirety his first goal. Setting aside a time each day to read, meditate, and pray will establish an ongoing daily devotion or “quiet time” which we can follow for the rest of our lives. The Bible can easily be read by the average reader in one year, and there are a number of plans to choose from. My preference is one that includes Old Testament and New Testament portions each day (see Free Bible Study Tools, sidebar, top right). The knowledge of the Bible will help us avoid false teaching and false doctrine. Then one should find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching Church.

Jesus told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had been “reborn” by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-13) before going into the world with the Gospel to make disciples of Jesus and to teach them to know and obey all Jesus’ teachings (The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20). We cannot complete the mission of Christ without the guidance and empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Faith is one of the most misunderstood words in the nominal “Church” and in the world today. Faith is not “wishing on a star,” or like making a wish as we blow out birthday candles. Faith is not getting what ever we want if we believe “hard enough.” Saving (from eternal condemnation) faith is obedient trust in Jesus Christ, who alone is God’s “anointed” (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed,” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively) eternal Savior and King of God’s eternal kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Saving faith begins as a tiny “mustard seed” (Matthew 13:31-32), our “yes” to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and our commitment to learn, trust and obey Jesus’ teachings. When I had finished reading the Bible from cover-to-cover, I believed that Jesus was the way, truth and life, as he said (John 14:6), and I asked him to be my Savior and Lord. I realized that I needed to begin applying Jesus’ teachings in my life, so I decided to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:28; representative of Jesus’ teachings). I had no problems with some teachings, but was guilty of others; some were things I couldn’t deal with right away, but I picked one that I could work on and began there.

Jesus doesn’t immediately give the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We need to demonstrate commitment to discipleship, and to learn to hear, trust and obey Jesus. Premature “rebirth” would be spiritual disaster (Hebrews 6:4-6). As we trust and obey Jesus we will learn that Jesus’ teachings are good, not too difficult, and our very best interest; and such experiences will cause our faith in Jesus to grow.

Prophecy is not foretelling the future. Prophecy is declaring God’s Word; the fact that it is God’s Word means that it will be fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for fulfillment are met (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The Bible contains both wonderful promises and ominous warnings. Anyone who doesn’t trust and obey the conditions for the fulfillment of the promises will receive the consequences the ominous warnings were intended to help us avoid.

There are several hazards to discipleship. One is that once one has read the Bible, one thinks one is ready to teach others. Reading the entire Bible is just the place to start. It’s the equivalent of a new born baby who cannot digest anything except Mother’s milk. The other is that one thinks that prophecy is that one can predict the Second Coming and the Day of Judgment. The new believer spends all his time speculating about “End Times” and never grows to spiritual maturity. I testify that I have seen both happen to new “disciples.” Jesus said that it is not for us to know (Acts 1:6-7). We need to be focused on discipleship and obedient trust in Jesus.

Instead of trying to determine our spiritual gifts, we should try to determine our current ministry opportunity. My first opportunity was weekly small-group Bible study and Adult Sunday School. Then I became Chairman of the Social Ministry Committee (aid and mercy for the lowly; hospitality). When those doors closed I began to seek other opportunities. As we identify the opportunities, the Lord will provide what we need to pursue them.

I felt that the lack of support of Social Ministry in the congregation indicated a need for Evangelism, so I became the chairman of the Evangelism Committee. The congregation regarded Social Ministry as an inreach (service to members) and Evangelism as an outreach (service to non-members) whereas I regarded them as the opposite. I hope you can understand the difference.

For a while, the only opportunity I had was “friendship evangelism.” I walked my youngest daughter to elementary school and met other parents there. I had a number of opportunities to share the Gospel with parents.

An opportunity opened to testify in another denominational church, and I had several great opportunities. But ultimately I had to go on to another denominational congregation. My current congregation provides spiritual support. The Lord gave me an Internet ministry which is not dependent upon a denomination or congregation. The Internet ministry suits my circumstances and abilities right now.

I had been looking for a way to feed myself in God’s Word daily, and the Lord led me first to a lectionary in my (ELCA) Lutheran Hymnal intended for personal devotions. Before I finished I realized that it should be published online so that others could use it. I asked the Lord and he approved. I searched for a ‘blog host, and found journalspace. Gradually it grew to what it is today.

My focus has been on discipleship from early on. I had introduced discipleship in my home congregation. When that opportunity closed, and I went to a new denomination, I allowed them to teach me in discipleship, and was able to testify to my experiences. Sometimes we can teach best by being students.

I’m convinced that the meaning and purpose of life is to seek, find and have fellowship with God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, who alone baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to God for what we have done in this lifetime. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have trusted and obeyed Jesus’ teachings, will have been spiritually “reborn” to eternal life, and will enter God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus as Savior and Lord, who have refused or failed to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings, will be cast into eternal destruction in hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Is Jesus your Lord? Are you Jesus’ disciple? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus? 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 Epiphany – Saturday C

First posted January 16, 2010

Podcast: 1 Epiphany Saturday A

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 – Spiritual Wisdom;

To the spiritually mature, the apostles (messengers; of the Gospel), including Paul, the author of this letter, do teach wisdom, not of the world nor the worldly rulers whose fate is to pass away. The apostles teach the wisdom of God which was a secret, hidden wisdom, which God commanded at the beginning of Creation, so that his people would be glorified. Worldly rulers did not know this or they would not have put the Lord of glory to death. Paul quotes Isaiah 64:4, saying that man has not seen or heard, nor has he imagined in his heart, what God has prepared for those who love him. But now he has revealed it to his “born-again” people by the Holy Spirit.

As no one can know the innermost thoughts of a person except his own spirit. Likewise, no one knows the innermost thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but God’s Holy Spirit, so that we might understand the spiritual gifts God has given us. By the indwelling Holy Spirit apostles teach what they have learned by the Holy Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those to who possess the Spirit.

The unspiritual (unregenerate; un-born-again) person has not received the gifts of the Spirit and cannot comprehend them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person can judge everything, because he has the mind of Christ, but cannot be judged by the unspiritual person. Who is able to direct God’s Spirit or counsel or teach him?

Commentary:

God’s wisdom is unlike what the world falsely calls wisdom. Man’s wisdom seems right for a time, but often later is found to have been wrong. Pollution is one example. Another is the health benefits or risks of certain foods or preparations of food, which seems to change from day to day. God’s wisdom is eternal and eternally true. When we trust in God’s wisdom we can be sure that it won’t ever change.

God’s wisdom has been hidden because we aren’t able to know and understand his purpose until he reveals it to us. God has been gradually revealing his purpose for this Creation from the very beginning, so that his people would be glorified (honored; experience the joy of heaven). God reveals himself first in the goodness and complexity of Creation. Then he began to reveal himself to individuals who trusted and obeyed him and became the people of Israel.

The Old Testament (Old Covenant) of the Bible is the history of God’s dealing with Israel. It is a series of word-pictures, metaphors revealing the meaning and purpose of life in this Creation. The release from slavery to sin and death in the “Egypt” of this present world, though baptism into Jesus in the Red Sea, the wandering in the “desert” for forty years learning to trust and obey God’s Word and guided by the Holy Spirit who is the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21-22). Jesus is the “Joshua” who will lead us through the “river” of physical death and into the eternal Promised Land of God’s kingdom in heaven. The history of Israel is written for our instruction so that we can avoid the mistakes of the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:11).

In God’s perfect timing, he revealed himself in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:8-9). Jesus is God made visible in human flesh in this world. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived in human flesh in this world (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus it the fullest revelation of God to the world.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (note the Trinity; Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit is the fullest revelation of God to us individually and personally through 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). By the indwelling Holy Spirit we have personal daily fellowship with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. By the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the joy of the Lord’s presence and his love for 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).

The indwelling Holy Spirit teaches “born-again” Christians all things and reminds us of everything Jesus’ teaches (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit guides, empowers and equips us to be apostles, proclaiming God’s Word in the world (Matthew 10:19-20).

Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem (the Church is the modern equivalent) until they had received the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, &8) before going into the world with the Gospel, to make disciples and teach them to know and obey all Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 28:19-20). The Church is intended to be a disciple-making organization, following the example of Jesus.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus), is intended by God to be the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple (student) and apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, as we all can be. Paul demonstrated the method of making disciples that we should follow. Paul was discipled by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10), until Paul received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Then Paul began to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ. Timothy is a good example (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Then he taught Timothy to repeat the process with others who would be faithful to repeat the process again (2 Timothy 2:2).

Unfortunately, many nominal Churches have failed to make “born-again” disciples, because they’re led by “unregenerate” leaders. If the Church doesn’t make “born-again” disciples there won’t be any to be recruited for leadership. Doesn’t this text make clear what is wrong with nominal Churches today? It takes “born-again” disciples to make “born-again” disciples. The unregenerate don’t know what they’re missing or how to get it; otherwise they would be “born-again” too.

Some mainline denominations are teaching that the indwelling Holy Spirit is automatically conferred by some Church rite such as water baptism. This false doctrine not only doesn’t help its members, but actually causes spiritual harm, by discouraging them from seeking the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (see False Teachings, Spiritual Rebirth, sidebar, top right.

Many worldly people today are seeking spirituality in all the wrong places. Many others try to keep their physical bodies well and fit, with no thought to their spiritual health and fitness. Many refuse to believe anything they can’t see or touch. Many believe in demonic spirits but not in God. Many believe in worldly religions, which are mankind’s attempt to manipulate God to do their will.

Is Jesus your Lord? Are you Jesus’ disciple? Are you trusting and obeying Jesus? 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 1 Christmas – A – 01/01/ -07/2017

December 31, 2016

Week of 1 Christmas – A

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).

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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.

1 Christmas – Sunday – A

First posted December 27, 2009; 
Podcast: 1 Christmas Sunday-A
Isaiah 63:7-9   –   Our Savior;

Psalm 111    –    Great Works of the Lord;

Galatians 4:4-7    –   Freedom in Christ;

Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23   –    Escape to Egypt;
Isaiah Paraphrase:

Let us remember, give thanks and praise to the Lord for his goodness to his people, in his mercy and abundant steadfast love. He has treated them like trusted sons, and has become their Savior. He took their afflictions upon himself, “and the angel of his presence saved them” (Isaiah 63:9b); he redeemed them because he loved and had pity upon them; he lifted and carried them throughout their past.
Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord. I will thank the Lord with all my heart, among the congregation of his upright people. Those who study and recognize the great works of God will take pleasure in them. He is worthy of honor and majesty and his righteousness is eternal. His great works will be remembered for his graciousness and mercy.

The Lord provides food for those who fear him; he never forgets his promises. He has revealed his mighty power by his works to his people, and has given them the wealth of nations. Everything he does is faithful and just, and all his teachings are trustworthy. His Word is established for ever, to be obeyed in faithfulness and righteousness. The Lord has sent redemption to his people and established his covenant for ever. Holy and awesome is his name! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
Galatians Paraphrase:

In exactly the right time God sent his son into the world to be born of a human mother, in Israel, God’s people, under the Covenant of God’s Law, to redeem them from the Law so that they could receive adoption as his children. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God’s Son, has been given to his children, through whom they call God “Father”, and who testifies that they are children of God. So by God’s gift we are no longer slaves under the Law, but sons and daughters, heirs of the kingdom and promises of God.
Matthew Paraphrase:

An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Bethlehem, where Mary had given birth to Jesus, warning him to escape with Mary and the child to Egypt, because Herod the Great who ruled over Judah was seeking to kill Jesus. Joseph got up and left for Egypt during the night with Mary and the baby as the Lord had told him.

Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived in Egypt until the Lord told Joseph that it was safe to return to Israel because Herod had died. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

Being warned by the Lord that the son of Herod the Great, Archelaus, was ruling over Judea (the southern province of Israel, Joseph and his family returned to Nazareth in Galilee (the northern province of Israel, separated from Judea by Samaria), where they had lived when the angel had announced the conception of Jesus to Mary (Luke 1:26-38). The name “Nazareth” means “shoot,” or “sprout,” and Jesus was a “Nazarene” and a descendant of David, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1 of a shoot, the righteous branch, from the stump of Jesse (the father of David).
Commentary:

God’s purpose for this Creation has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. God has designed this creation to allow the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we can have the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey him or not, and to learn by trial and error. But God retained control by setting a time limit on Creation and on our lifetimes, and by his terms of forgiveness and salvation. Realizing and having the proper respect for the power and authority of God, who has the power of eternal life or death over us is the beginning of true wisdom.

From the very beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14) Jesus Christ has been God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of sin and salvation from eternal condemnation and eternal destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God was not surprised when Adam and Eve disobeyed his Word in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is not an afterthought by God to save Creation after sin was introduced.

The Bible is the Word of God and the history of God’s relationship with his people in bringing about the fulfillment of his purpose for Creation, beginning with the call of Abraham. The Bible is the record of God’s goodness, mercy, love, and faithfulness, and the progressive revelation of himself and his purpose for Creation.

By God’s Word, we have all sinned and fall short of his righteousness (doing what is right according to his Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).

By his Word through Isaiah, God has promised to become our Savior; he promised to take our sins upon himself, and to provide the “angel” of his presence to save us. In Jesus Christ God became our Savior; Jesus was fully human by his mother, and also fully God by the Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:8-9: John 20:28).

Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by his crucifixion, to redeem us from the penalty of the Law. Jesus’ sacrificial death made it possible for us to receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:7), which is only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 1:31-34; 14:15-17). The gift of the Holy Spirit is the “angel” of God’s presence within us which God promised through Isaiah (angel can be understood as Spirit (Acts 12:13-15; Revelation 1:1).

Jesus is God’s revelation of himself in human form. In Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection, God’s mighty power was revealed to all Creation. God has established a New Covenant of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift), to be received by faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Through faith in Jesus we have been redeemed from the condemnation of the Law of sin and eternal death, provided that we trust and obey Jesus through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-9). 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 given us this lifetime to seek and come to a personal fellowship with him (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mary and Joseph are examples of God’s people who trusted and obeyed God’s Word. They accepted and obeyed the guidance of his angel (his Spirit), and by doing so, helped fulfill God’s eternal purpose, and received the fulfillment of his promise.

God’s Word is eternal. It is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God’s Word has creative force: God spoke Creation into being (Genesis 1:3; Hebrews 4:12). Jesus is the “living” Word of God, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), with the creative force of God’s Word (Matthew 8:25-27). He could command us, but he allows us to choose for ourselves, whether to trust and obey.

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 – January 2 – A

First Posted Jan 2, 2010;
Podcast: January 2-A
Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18  –  Spirit of Knowledge and Revelation;

Paraphrase:

Let us bless and thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received every spiritual blessing in heaven. Before the foundation of the world God chose us through Christ to be holy and blameless in his judgment. God destined us to be his children through Christ according to his will and purpose, to the praise of his glorious grace (unmerited favor) which we generously receive in God’s Beloved.Paul’s prayer for all believers is that, through faith in Jesus and love for all the saints (believers), God would give them “a spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of him” (God; Ephesians 1:17b),” that their spiritual eyes might be enlightened, so that they would know the hope they have been called to share, and the richness of his inheritance in the saints.

Commentary:

From the very beginning of Creation, God has intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. The meaning and purpose of life in this world is to seek, find and come to personally know God (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus Christ has always been God’s one and only plan (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), through whom we are made holy (consecrated to serve God) and blameless in God’s Judgment (all our sins forgiven; sin is disobedience of God’s Word). Jesus has been designed into this Creation from the very beginning.  God is worthy of praise for his goodness and mercy to us, which we don’t deserve and can’t earn, but which he generously gives to us, with every spiritual blessing in heaven, through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

 

Believers who trust and obey Jesus will love the saints (their brothers and sisters in Christ; John 13:34), and as they trust and obey Jesus they will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17, 21, 23), the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), the Spirit of wisdom, revelation and personal knowledge of God (Isaiah 11:2). It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who teaches and reminds us of all Jesus’ teachings and empowers us to know and do God’s will. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit through whom we know and experience the hope and the richness of our eternal inheritance that we are called to share. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, (Romans 8:15) by which we are spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8), as children of God, to eternal life.

Only Jesus gives the gift (“baptism;” “anointing”) of the 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). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself, whether or not one has received the indwelling Holy Spirit (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)?

Tuesday – January 3 – A

First posted January 3, 2010;
Podcast: January 3-A
John 1:1-18  –   The Living Word;

Paraphrase:

At the beginning of Creation was the Word, the active, creative, eternal Word of God. The Word was with God in unity, and was God (shared the divine nature; was fully God). He existed in the beginning with God. Everything in Creation was made through him and nothing in creation was made without him. In him was (real, eternal) life “and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4b). “The light (of righteousness; eternal life) shines in the (spiritual) darkness, and the darkness (evil) has not overcome it” (John 1:5).John the Baptizer was a man sent from God to bear witness to the light, so that all could believe through his testimony. John was not the light but he came to bear witness to the light.

 

The true light that gives spiritual enlightenment to all people was coming into the world. He was in the world, and he was the creator of everything in the world, but the people of the world did not know and recognize him. He came to his own people and his own town, but his own people rejected him (Luke 4:16-30). “But all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace (unmerited favor; forgiving love) and truth (faithful promises); we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only (begotten) Son from the Father” (John 1:14). This is he of whom John said that he came after John in chronological appearing, but was before him in rank and existence. From his abundance we have received grace upon grace. The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth are through Jesus. No one has ever seen God; but God’s only Son, who is in complete communion with God, has revealed him.
Commentary:

Jesus Christ is the “living Word;” he is the fulfillment, embodiment, and exemplification of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24). Jesus’ word has the creative force of God’s Word (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus was fully human and also fully God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus is God, who became a man; not the other way around. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; one God in three expressions; in unity; the Trinity (Romans 8:9).

The structure of Creation has been designed with God’s promised Messiah, Jesus Christ at its very center (Ephesians 1:9-10). God has intended from the very beginning to create an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27) and to learn to trust and obey him. God has created this world to allow for the possibility for sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we will have true freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word, but he has also fixed a time limit on Creation and our individual lifetimes.

All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23). The penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for the forgiveness of our sin, salvation from God’s judgment of eternal condemnation and destruction, restoration of fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus is the “light of the world,” “the light of life” (John 8:12). Light represents righteousness and darkness is sin and evil. Jesus is the true righteousness and he imparts his righteousness to those who trust and obey him (Philippians 3:9; 2 Timothy 4:8).

Light also symbolizes true, spiritual enlightenment, eternal truth, the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8) contrasted with the darkness of spiritual ignorance, false teaching and unbelief (Romans 1:21; Ephesians 4:18).

Light also represents eternal life and the eternal kingdom of light (1 Timothy 6:15-16), contrasted with the darkness of eternal death.

[For me, from a background of High School Physics many years ago, I understand that the speed of light is a speed limit in this creation. One can never reach the speed of light, because as one does, time slows down and would appear to stop as the limit is reached. The result would be “relative” to the point of view of the observer; outside, time stops; inside, time goes on forever. This is not a scientific argument to prove “eternity,” but I have learned from experience that God’s Word is true, whether we understand everything about this Creation or not.]

Jesus came to his own people, Israel, God’s chosen people, who had a covenant relationship with God, who had the Bible scriptures, but many refused to recognize, accept, trust and obey him. Even in Nazareth, his hometown, he was rejected and driven out (Luke 4:16-30).

To those who accept Jesus, who trust and obey him, Jesus gives the “power” to become adopted children of God, who are “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). Jesus makes it possible for us to be spiritually “born-again,” but we must receive it by obedient trust in him. We cannot buy it, earn it or take it by force or deception. 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).

Abraham was the mediator of the Old Covenant of Law between God and Israel. The Law was to restrain evil until the coming of Christ, and to show that no one is able to be saved by doing good works (keeping) of the Law (Galatians 2:16). They were only able to maintain the Covenant by continual sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sin.

Jesus’ coming ended the Old Covenant and established the New Covenant of Grace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus initiated the New Covenant at the Last Supper, and at his crucifixion, the curtain of the temple separating the people from the presence of God was torn in two from top to bottom, symbolizing that Jesus was the new and better way into the presence of God (Luke 23:45). Jesus has become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God, for all time and all people, for the forgiveness of sin. The Old Covenant sacrificial system ended with the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D.

Jesus provides abundant grace (saving love; unmerited favor) and truth (faithful promises) to those who trust and obey him. Those who believe God’s Word recognize Jesus as God’s Son, and those who see and recognize Jesus, see what God looks like in human flesh. Only through obedient trust in Jesus can we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit and come to know Jesus and God the Father personally and intimately (Revelation 3:20; John 14:21, 23).

John was the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New. The true Church, the “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ, are the heirs of John’s call to announce the coming of Jesus and point others to 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)?

Wednesday – January 4 – A

First posted January 4, 2010;
Podcast: January 4-A
Ephesians 3:2-12  –  Mystery Revealed;

Paraphrase:

Paul was an evangelist to the Gentiles because his preaching had been rejected by the Jews, who had caused Paul to be imprisoned (Acts 21:27-22-29). Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) had become a steward of God’s grace to the Gentiles because of a revelation to him of the mystery of God’s plan. This mystery had not been known to former generations but had now been revealed by the (Holy) Spirit to the apostles and prophets of God. That plan is that Gentiles share with Jews the same inheritance, members of the same body and partakers in the same promise in Jesus Christ through the Gospel.By God’s grace (unmerited favor).

Paul was made a minister of the Gospel by the power of God working in and through Paul (by the indwelling Holy Spirit). Paul considered himself the least worthy of the saints (believers) and realized that it was God’s unmerited favor which made it possible for Paul to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to reveal to all people, the mystery of God’s plan which had been hidden for ages past in God, the Creator of everything. Through the Church the great wisdom of God has been revealed to the entire Universe. This is according to the eternal purpose of God which he has accomplished in Jesus Christ, our Lord. By faith in Jesus we can have bold and confident access 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. This Creation has been designed according to God’s eternal purpose. It has been designed to allow the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we truly have free choice whether or not to trust and obey God. God will not tolerate disobedience forever; he has placed a time limit on this Creation and on our lifetimes.

The meaning and purpose of this temporal lifetime is to seek and come to know God (Acts 17:26-27). This lifetime is our only opportunity to learn to know, trust and obey God, and to be spiritually “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

This is only possible through Jesus Christ, around whom Creation has been designed (John 1:1-3, 14). All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23), and the penalty for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for forgiveness of our sin, for salvation from eternal condemnation, and restoration to fellowship with God and eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12, John 14:6). None of us is worthy of salvation and eternal life; it is the gift of God to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

In order to have eternal life one must be “born-again (John 3:3, 5-8), by the 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). 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 Christ is the revelation of what formerly was the mystery of God’s eternal purpose, now revealed to the “born-again” disciples and apostles (messengers; of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of the “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” disciple, apostle (messenger; of the Gospel) and prophet (spokesman of God’s Word by the Holy Spirit) of Jesus Christ, as we all can be. Paul had not known Jesus during Jesus’ physical lifetime and was a persecutor of Christians until he was confronted on the road to Damascus by the Spirit of the risen and ascended Christ (Acts 9:1-9). He repented, accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5, 8-9), was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-16), until Paul was “born-again” (Acts 9:17-18), and then Paul became an apostle guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:20). Paul’s rapid conversion was exceptional, because he was already formally educated in the scriptures and loved God and God’s Word.

The true Church is the body of “born-again” disciples, apostles of Jesus Christ and prophets of God’s Word, stewards of the Gospel. They have received and personally experienced the revelation of the mystery of God’s plan in Jesus Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15), and are guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel and to make disciples of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the Great Commission which the risen Jesus gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (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 – January 5 – A

First posted January 5, 2010;
Podcast: January 5-A
Psalm 72   –   Prayer for the King;

Paraphrase:

The psalmist prayed that the king would dispense God’s justice and righteousness. O that he would judge God’s people with righteousness and give justice for the poor. May the land prosper and provide favorable conditions. May the king uphold the cause of the needy, give relief to the needy and eliminate the oppressor.May he live as long as the universe exists, through all generations. May he be like refreshing showers on mown grass. In his reign may righteousness flourish and peace abound until the universe passes away.May his dominion be from sea to sea and from the river (Euphrates; cradle of civilization) to the ends of the earth. May he have victory over his enemies and completely subdue them. May the kings of the earth pay tribute to him. May they bring him gifts, fall down before him, and all nations serve him.

The Lord’s anointed King delivers the needy, the poor and helpless; he pities the poor and “saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; precious is their blood in his sight” (Psalm 72:13b-14).

May he have long life, “may gold of Sheba (south Arabia) be given to him. May prayer and blessing be offered for him continually” (Psalm 72:15b). May the Land produce food in abundance and its people thrive and prosper.

“May his name endure forever, and his fame continue as long as the sun! May men bless themselves by him, and all nations call him blessed” (Psalm 72:17)

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed; He alone does marvelous things. May his great name be blessed forever; may the entire earth be filled with his glory! Amen! Amen!
Commentary:

The Lord was to be the King of Israel. When Israel asked for an earthly king like other nations, the Lord allowed it, although he warned them that their earthly king would tax them and conscript them to serve him, and not deal with them as righteously and lovingly as the Lord  (1 Samuel 8:4-22). Samuel was a priest and prophet of God who began the “anointing” of God’s chosen person to be king (1 Samuel 10:1-2).

Of the earthly kings of Israel, David was the closest to the ideal king and prefigured the coming of the Messiah (Messiah and Christ; mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively), the “anointed” eternal king God had intended from the very beginning of Creation.

Jesus Christ is the “Messiah,” the “royal Son,” the fulfillment of the psalmist’s prophecy of a king who would dispense God’s justice and righteousness; the righteous judge who would give justice to the poor, needy and helpless, and defeat the oppressor.

Jesus is the eternal king who will reign over God’s eternal kingdom in heaven. In his reign righteousness and peace flourish and abound for ever. He will reign over all the earth; he is the King of kings and Lord of lords. His name will continue forever. All people will bless themselves by him and call him blessed.

This psalm is messianic prophecy, foretelling the coming of the Lord’s “anointed” eternal King. At Jesus’ birth, wise men (the “three kings”) from the east came seeking the child who had been born King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2). They came to the Christ child in Bethlehem and bowed down before him and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Earthly “kings” will be judged by God’s Word according to how they treat the poor, the needy, and the helpless. America claims to be a “Christian” nation, with leaders who claim to be “Christian.” We claim to have a government of the people, by the people, for the people. But increasingly it is the government of the people, by the rich, for the rich. Instead of being a land of equal opportunity it is becoming a society of two classes: the “haves” and the “have-nots,” with a widening separation between the two.

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment in great power and glory, to judge everyone who has ever lived. In that day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to God (Romans 14:11). Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in his eternal kingdom in heaven, the fulfillment of the psalmist’s prophecy of a land of righteousness, peace and prosperity. 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; 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)?

Friday – Epiphany – January 6 – A

First posted January 6, 2011;
Podcast: Epiphany January 6 – A
Epiphany means “manifestation.” The Church commemorates the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, at the coming of the Magi (“Wise Men”).

Isaiah 60:1-6   –    Zion Restored;
Mathew 2:1-12   –    The Wise Men;Isaiah

Paraphrase:

[This text was written just prior to the fall of Babylon and looks forward to the restoration of Judah, the remnant of Israel, to the Promised Land after their Babylonian exile.]

Zion (Jerusalem, the people of God) is urged to arise and shine, reflecting the glory of the Lord which is rising upon them. There is thick (spiritual) darkness upon the peoples (Gentiles) but the Lord will shine upon Zion and the Gentiles will see the glory of the Lord reflected by Zion, and the nations will come to that light, “and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:3b).Look around and see; all gather together and come to Zion, her sons and daughters come from far away. Then Zion will be radiant and rejoice, “because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, and the wealth of nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah (Arab tribes east of the Red Sea); all those from Sheba (Descendants of Noah through Raamah, who settled on the Persian Gulf, to the east; Genesis 10:7) shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” Isaiah 60:5b-6).

Matthew Paraphrase:

When Jesus had been born in Bethlehem in Judea (the southern Roman province of Israel; the Kingdom of Judah before the Exile) in the reign of Herod the Great, “Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him’” (Matthew 2:2).  This upset Herod who caused turmoil throughout Jerusalem, assembling all the priests and scribes to find the scriptural basis of this event. The religious authorities quoted Micah 5:2, saying that the location was to be Bethlehem in Judea (Judah).

Herod summoned the wise men and in private found out the date that the star had appeared, and told the wise men to return to Herod when they had found the child, so that Herod could go and worship him also. The wise men left and continued to follow the star until it came to rest over the place where the child was. They were filled with great joy and entering, they found the child with his mother, Mary, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then they presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then they returned to their homes by another route, having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod.

Commentary:

This is the day that the Church celebrates the visit of the Wise Men (the “Three Kings,” “Magi”) to Christ. It is the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. This text of Isaiah was written prior to the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.*

God’s Word is absolutely reliable and true, and it is eternal; it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The test of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

The prophecy of Isaiah was marvelously fulfilled in the return of Judah, the remnant of Israel, to the Promised Land after seventy years of exile in Babylon, and it was fulfilled again at the first Advent (coming) of Christ and the visit by the Wise Men.

The prophecy also applies to the Church, the “New Zion,” and to Christians who are the “New Israel,” the “New People of God.”

Christ comes individually and personally 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). He is the one who frees us from captivity in Babylon and restores us to the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom. We are “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) by his “birth” within us.

Christians are “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ who are called to rise and shine with the reflected glory of Jesus Christ, the “Light of the World (John 1:9; 8:12).” Light is the symbol of divine righteousness and divine truth, not by worldly standards but by the standard of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

None of us are righteous in God’s judgment by our own doings (Romans 3:23). Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ can we fulfill the requirements of God’s Word. None of us can know eternal truth and divine wisdom except through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8). The fear (appropriate respect for the power and authority) of the Lord is the beginning of true, divine wisdom (Proverbs 9:10, Palms 111:10).

Jesus has called his followers to be his disciples (Acts 11:26c) and to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16) in the spiritual darkness of this world, so that we will draw people to Jesus who is the source of righteousness and truth.

The “Wise Men” were wise in worldly knowledge and they were able to see the signs of God in nature which led them to Jerusalem, the “city of God,” but they needed “believers” who were knowledgeable of the scriptures who were able to point them to Christ (“Messiah;” both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively; i.e., the promised Savior). The Jewish religious leaders considered themselves wise in religious knowledge, had the scriptures (the Old Testament Bible), and knew God’s promise of Christ, yet failed to trust and act on the scriptures themselves, to seek and find the Christ.

In many ways the situation is the same in our society today. Educated people are seeking spiritual answers in the wrong places. Religious people know a lot about God, but don’t know God personally. Leaders have formal education in the Bible, but don’t trust and obey the Word and receive the promises. Some use the Bible to further their own self-interests, instead of seeking to worship and serve the Lord.

Are you Wise? Are you seeking the Lord with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29)? Are you willing to worship him and give him your best gift, your obedience?

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, Introduction to Isaiah, p. 822, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Saturday – January 7 A

Use only until First Sunday after Epiphany.
First posted January 7, 2011;
Podcast: January 7-A
 

Psalm 45:7-9;Paraphrase:

Because the Lord’s anointed king loves righteousness and hates wickedness, God has anointed him with the “oil of gladness” above others. His robes are fragrant with precious perfumes. In ivory palaces stringed instruments play for his pleasure. Daughters of kings are among the bride’s attendants, and at his right hand is his queen adorned in gold of Ophir (a gold-producing region; perhaps India).

Commentary:

This psalm was probably written to celebrate a king’s marriage. It also applies to the Messiah (Christ, God’s anointed eternal king) and his bride, the Church.

Jesus is the Lord’s anointed eternal King of kings. Jesus had the same standards of righteousness and wickedness as God, and he was obedient to God’s Word unto physical death on the Cross, so God raised him up to eternal life and has given him a name and authority above all others, in heaven and on earth (Philippians 2:8-11; Matthew 28:18).

The true Church (as distinct from the “nominal” Church) is the body of “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) “disciples” (Acts 11:26c) of Jesus Christ. The true Church is the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9), the “New Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2). Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the wedding garment, the “anointing” (gift) of the indwelling Holy Spirit, without which no one will be allowed to attend the wedding (Matthew 22:11-14).

Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the “robe” of righteousness and the “garment” of salvation (Isaiah 61:10); it is Jesus’ righteousness and salvation which they are given, not their own, through his indwelling Holy Spirit within them (Romans 8:9; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Only Jesus baptizes with the 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). It is possible for one to know with certainty for oneself whether or not one has received the “anointing” of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2).

The wedding of the king is coming soon! We must get ready for the celebration. The Church is called to be the “ivory palace” of the king, precious and pure; not a social club. Her members are to be clothed in the wedding garments. We’re to be making “music” pleasing to the king. We’re to be serving the Lord, preparing for the wedding and glorifying him. We’re to be alert for his coming, not caught napping; not short of “oil” for our “lamps” (Matthew 25:1-13); not abusing our fellow servants; not indulging our physical appetites (Matthew 24:45-51).

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 Christmas A -12/25 – 31/2016

December 24, 2016

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 ‘blog is mirrored at:

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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.

Sunday Christmas – December 25 A;
First Posted December 25, 2010
Podcast: Christmas Sunday A

Isaiah 9:2-7   —    Eternal King;

Psalm 96    —    The Lord Reigns!

Titus 2:11-14   —   Our God and Savior;

Luke 2:1-20  —    The Birth of Jesus;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” Isaiah 9:2). The Lord has multiplied the people of his kingdom, he has increased their joy. Their joy is like joy at the harvest, or when conquerors divide the spoils.

The Lord has delivered his people from their oppressors and bondage, as in the day of Midian (when Gideon and a few hundred men completely defeated a vastly more numerous army of Midianites, by obedient faith in God; Judges 7:15-25). The enemies of God who have attacked and shed blood will be burned as fuel for eternal fire.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). His government and the peace he establishes will never end. He will establish his kingdom upon the throne of David and will uphold it with justice and righteousness for evermore. This will be accomplished because it is the Lord’s fervent commitment.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us sing a new song to the Lord, all the earth. Bless his name and tell of his salvation every day. Let us declare his glory and mighty works to all people and nations. The Lord is great and worthy of great praise! He is to be feared (having proper respect for his power and authority) above all gods, because all other “gods” are merely idols (the creation of humans), but the Lord is the Creator of the universe! His character is honor and majesty; in his sanctuary are strength and beauty.

Let everyone on earth acknowledge the Lord’s glory and strength. Give him the glory due his name; bring an offering into his courts. Come to worship him with cleansed garments (see Exodus 19:10-11). Let all the earth fear him.

Declare to all nations that the Lord reigns! He rules over the entire world, and his rule cannot be overthrown. He will govern with justice and fairness. Let all heaven and earth rejoice. Let earth and sea and everything in them exalt; let all nature rejoice at the coming of the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world and all people with truth and righteousness.

Titus Paraphrase:

The grace (unmerited favor; free gift) of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, so that we might turn from unbelief and the pursuit of earthly desires; that instead we might live sober, godly, righteous lives in this world as we wait the fulfillment of our great hope in the glorious return of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus gave himself for us, to redeem (pay the penalty for) us from all our sin (disobedience of God’s Word), “and to purify for himself a people of his own, who are zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

Luke Paraphrase:

In about 6-5 B.C.,* Caesar Augustus (27 B.C. to 14 A.D.*) decreed that a census should be recorded throughout the Roman Empire. This was the first such census, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Every head of the house was to return to the city of his birth, and Joseph went with Mary, his betrothed, who was pregnant, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of David, in Judea, since Joseph was a descendant of David. While in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor and delivered her first-born, a son. They were in a stable, because the inn was full, and Mary wrapped the child with swaddling cloths and used a manger for the child’s crib (consider Isaiah 1:3)

In a field nearby, shepherds were watching over their flocks during the night, and an angel of the Lord appeared to them, transforming the darkness with the radiant light of God’s glory, and the shepherds were afraid. The angel told them not to be afraid, because the angel had a message of good news and great joy for them and all people. The angel announced that a Savior, Christ the Lord, had been born that day in the city of David (Bethlehem). The Angel told the shepherds that they would find an infant wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly there were a multitude of angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14).

When the angels left, the shepherds decided to go and see the child which the angels had announced, and they found Joseph and Mary and the child, as the angels had told them. Then they made known what the angels had said, and all who heard wondered about what the shepherds had told them. Mary kept thinking about what the shepherds had said. The shepherds returned to the field praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angel had told them.

Commentary:

In the era long before city streetlights, the shepherds were out in a field in vast darkness. The announcement of Christ’s birth by the angel was intended to be a graphic illustration of the fulfillment of God’s Word through Isaiah (Isaiah 9:2). God’s kingdom of light (righteousness) has appeared in the dark night (of sin) of this world.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior, who saves God’s people from sin, eternal condemnation and destruction. Jesus is the promised Messiah (“Christ;” both mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively), the promised eternal king and heir to the throne of David, the great shepherd-king of Israel.

Jesus is the Savior who gives us victory over our spiritual enemy, Satan, as God gave Gideon over the Midianites. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross paid the price of our redemption from the penalty of our sin. Jesus’ blood cleanses us of sin and provides the holy garments we need to enter into God’s presence and worship him in spirit and truth.

Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for us to be cleansed and made holy so that we could receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9),  and so that we could personally know and have fellowship with God our Father and Jesus our Lord and Savior. 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 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, within us who have been “reborn” (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).

The shepherds trusted and acted upon God’s Word delivered by the angel, and they experienced for themselves the truth of God’s Word and the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah. Having experienced God’s salvation for themselves, they told everyone what God had revealed to them, praising and glorifying God.

Jesus is the “bread of (eternal) life” (John 6:33-35, 48, 51). Jesus’ placement in the manger was the fulfillment of God’s Word through Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 1:3). An ox knows its owner, and an ass knows its source of food is the manger its master provides, but the people of Israel do not know or acknowledge their master or his providence.

Jesus has appeared for the salvation of all people, but that salvation must be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Jesus is the King of kings, the Lord of the Universe. He reigns now and eternally. Only individually can we choose whether or not to allow him to reign over us, now, in this lifetime.

Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment, to judge the living and the dead (in both the physical and spiritual senses; 1 Peter 4:5). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in paradise;  but those who have rejected Jesus and refused to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (John 5:28-29; Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Those who have been “born-again” will pray for, work for and rejoice at Christ’s return, but those who have rejected Jesus will be fainting with fear (Luke 21:26) and trying to hide from the wrath of God.

Are you ready for Christ’s Second 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)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Luke 2:1n, p. 1242, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Christmas Monday – December 26 A

Podcast:  December 26 Christmas A

Psalm 111   —     Praise the Lord!

Paraphrase:

In the congregation of the righteous I will praise the Lord with my whole heart. The works of the Lord are great and studied by those who delight in them. He does everything with honor and majesty and his righteousness will endure for ever. His wonderful works will not ever be forgotten.

The Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him. He is faithful to his covenant. He reveals to his people the power of his works, and has given them the wealth of nations. All his works are faithful and just and his teaching is trustworthy. His Word will endure forever, to be carried out with faithfulness and righteousness.

He has given redemption to his people. His covenant is established forever. Let his name be reverenced and feared. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures for ever” (Psalm 111:10).

Commentary:

God has been progressively revealing himself, first through the goodness of Creation, then through the history of his dealing with Israel recorded in the Bible, in the physical manifestation of Jesus Christ, and ultimately, individually and personally in the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit.

The meaning and purpose of this lifetime is to seek, find and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27). God wants us to trust and obey his Word, so that we can learn that he is powerful and faithful to do what he promises, and that his will is good and our very best interest.

As we trust and begin to act in faith upon his Word in our daily lives we will grow in faith as we experience his power and faithfulness. We will begin to know, study and remember what he has done for us, and we will want to praise and glorify him in worship in the congregation of his people. We will want to study his teachings so that we can live the fullness of life that he wants us to have.

We cannot begin to know anything about ourselves and life in this world until we realize that God exists, that he is much greater than ourselves, and that he has the power and authority of eternal life or death over us. He is Lord, whether we acknowledge him or not.

Creation has been moving toward the coming of the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus Christ, from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). Nothing reveals the power and wisdom of God more clearly than Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). Christ’s birth is the central moment in history, and since that moment has been moving toward its conclusion at Christ’s return on the Day of Judgment.

Jesus is the one and only Redeemer God promised (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the mediator of the eternal covenant between God and his people (John 14:6; Matthew 26:26-28; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Each one of us will experience Christ’s return either personally and individually 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), or at the end of our physical lifetime at the throne of judgment. 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 only opportunity to be “re-born” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, 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)?

Tuesday December 27 – Christmas A

First Posted December 27, 2010
Podcast: December 27 Christmas A

Isaiah 63:7-9 — Abundant Steadfast Love;

Paraphrase:

Let us remember and declare the steadfast love of the Lord and give him praise, according to all that he has given us. With great goodness and mercy he has dealt with Israel, in accordance with his abundant steadfast love. He acknowledged them as his people, treated them as trusted sons, and became their Savior. He bore their affliction, “and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:9).

Commentary:

The Bible contains the historical record of God’s abundant steadfast love for his people. In one sense we are all God’s people, because he is our Creator, but in another sense, Christians are the “New Israel.”

God has intended from the very beginning to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. He designed Creation to allow the possibility for sin in order for us to have freedom of choice, and he built the Savior, Jesus Christ into the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

God loves us and has demonstrated great steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness to us. He has come into the world in human flesh in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:8-9) to be our Savior; to bear our affliction in our place, and to redeem us from (pay the penalty for) sin (disobedience of God’s Word; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose throughout history, and the coming of the Messiah is the central point in history. God has designed Creation so that we all need forgiveness, and that forgiveness is a free gift to all those who trust and obey God’s one and only Savior, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6)

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, is the “angel” of his presence. “Angel” can be understood to mean “Spirit” (consider Acts 12:12-15; Revelation 1:1; 22:16). Only Jesus gives the gift of his 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 came to save us from sin and eternal condemnation by making it possible for us to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, his presence within us to lift, empower and guide us.

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 December 28 – Christmas A

First Posted December 28, 2010
Podcast: December 28 Christmas A

Galatians 4:4-7 — Spirit and Sonship;

Paraphrase:

Paul compared the Law of Moses to guardianship of a minor. God’s people were heirs of God’s estate and eternal life, but under control by the Law until the time set by God for them to receive the inheritance.

In the perfect timing of God, God sent his Son, born of a human mother, born into Israel and Judaism, under the Law, so that he could redeem those under the Law, so that they could become God’s adopted children.

Commentary:

It is by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we receive adoption. It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God’s Son, within us, through whom we can call God our Father, and who testifies that we are his sons and daughters. So, through God, by the sacrifice of his Son on the Cross, we receive adoption as sons and daughters by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who we received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal and guarantee that we are heirs of God’s kingdom and 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 freed from bondage and condemnation under the Law (Romans 8:1-9). 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 won’t give the gift of the Holy Spirit until we make an earnest commitment to trust and obey Jesus. When we make that commitment, he will give us the Holy Spirit so that we can trust and obey God’s Word as we were unable to, under the Law.

God’s Law, God’s Word, the Bible, and 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), were given to Israel and through Israel to the world.

The world did not have a covenant to trust and obey God’s Word as Israel did, but we are all ultimately accountable to God and will be judged by the standard of his Word. Jesus is the ultimate standard of God’s Word. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven, but those who have rejected Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and eternal destruction in Hell (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; John 3:16-19).

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 December 29 – Christmas A

First posted Dec. 29, 2009;
Podcast: December 29 Christmas A

Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 – Escape into Egypt;

Paraphrase:

After the visit by the Magi (“wise men”), an angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus, because Herod the Great was about to order the male infants in the region under two years old to be killed, in an attempt to destroy the Messiah, Jesus (Matthew 2:16). Joseph left with Mary and the child, in the night, and went to Egypt, as the Lord had told him. They remained there until Herod died. The prophecy of Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I have called my son,” was thus fulfilled.

When Herod had died, an angel of the Lord told Joseph in a dream that it was safe to return to Israel, because those who had tried to kill the child were dead. Joseph returned to Israel with Mary and Jesus, but when he heard that Herod Archelaus (son of Herod the Great) reigned in Judea, they returned and dwelt in Nazareth of Galilee (the northern province of Israel, separated from the southern province of Judah by Samaria). So another prophecy was fulfilled: Nazareth means “shoot” or “sprout” from which came Jesus, the righteous “shoot” and “branch” from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1).

Commentary:

Nazareth was where Joseph and Mary were living when the angel announced Jesus’ conception to Mary (Luke 1:26-38). Bethlehem, the city of David, was the birthplace prophesied by scripture, and was fulfilled by the necessity of the Roman census, which required Joseph to return to the city of David, since Joseph was a descendant of David (Luke 2:1-7).

Jesus was the promised Messiah (God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King). David was the great “shepherd-king,” and Jesus was the “Good Shepherd” and eternal King, the “son of David,” who inherited David’s throne as God had promised (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

God was able to fulfill his promise in every detail, and was able to protect Jesus until God’s purpose was fulfilled. God’s promise was fulfilled in God’s perfect timing, in every detail, when all the events were aligned: the Roman census, crucifixion (which was the Roman form of execution), and the circumstances which led Joseph to return to Nazareth.

God’s will and purpose for Creation has always been to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. He has designed this creation with the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we can have free choice whether or not to trust and obey God, but he has set a time-limit on this creation and on our lifetimes. God’s eternal Savior and King, the Messiah, Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus Christ has been designed into the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

God’s will and purpose will be accomplished whether we cooperate with it or not. Herod the Great tried unsuccessfully to prevent Jesus from fulfilling God’s purpose. The Jewish religious leaders tried unsuccessfully to prevent Jesus’ fulfillment by having him crucified, but their rejection of Jesus actually fulfilled God’s purpose. Judas rejected and betrayed Jesus, but only accomplished God’s purpose (1 Corinthians 2:6-8; Acts 13:27). But their rejection cost their eternal lives in the kingdom of God in Heaven.

God’s will and purpose will be accomplished whether we cooperate with it or not, but our choice will have personal, eternal consequences. Mary and Joseph trusted and obeyed God’s Word, became part of the fulfillment of God’s plan and received the blessing of its fulfillment. Are we willing to cooperate with God’s plan, or do we expect God to cooperate with our plans and our agenda?

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 December 30 – Christmas A

First Posted December 30, 2010
Podcast: December 30 Christmas A

Isaiah 11:1-5 – The Righteous Branch;

Paraphrase:

Isaiah foresaw, by the Holy Spirit, a shoot coming forth from the stump of Jesse (David’s father), a branch growing from his roots. He would be known by the Spirit of the Lord upon him, the spirit of (divine) wisdom and understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord (awe and respect for his power and authority). He will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will be the righteous judge, not influenced by what people say or do outwardly. He will judge with righteousness for the poor and meek. His word will correct the errant and slay the wicked. His judgment will be controlled by righteousness and faithfulness.

Commentary:

Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the “Son (descendant) of David,” the “Nazarene” from Nazareth (the name means “shoot”). John the Baptizer testified that he had witnessed the Holy Spirit descend and rest upon Jesus physically as a dove at Jesus’ baptism by John, and testified that the Lord God had told him that this sign would identify the Son of God, the Messiah, who would “baptize” with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34).

Jesus promised that his disciples who trusted and obeyed Jesus would receive the “baptism,” the “anointing” with the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17), and that the Holy Spirit would counsel, guide, teach, and remind them of all that Jesus taught (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit would give Jesus’ disciples what to say at the moment they were required to testify (Luke 12:11-12).

Jesus’ promise began to be filled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Peter, who recently had denied knowing Jesus three times to a maidservant of the high priest (John 18:15-27), was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave a great first sermon (Acts 2:14-36).

Before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, only a few individuals like Isaiah had a personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ coming made it possible for his disciples to share in the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and experience a personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23). We can experience the wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, and knowledge, and delight in the fear of the Lord.

Only Jesus baptizes with the 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).

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 December 31 – Christmas A

First Posted December 31, 2010;
Podcast: December 31 Christmas A

Hebrews 2:9-16 – Suffering of Christ;
Luke 2:22-32 – Light of Revelation;

Hebrews Paraphrase:

Citing the prophecy of Psalm 8:4-6, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Jesus was for a time made lower than angels, but now has been crowned with glory and honor because he was willing to suffer death for us (he died for our sins so that we would not have to die eternally for them ourselves).

Jesus is the one for whom and by whom all things exist (Matthew 28:18; John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus is the “pioneer” (the one to show us the way) of our salvation, who has been made “perfect” (spiritually mature) through suffering. The sanctifier (Jesus; one who purifies and consecrates to God’s service) and those who are sanctified [who receive salvation through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus] have the same origin: God the Father. So Jesus can unashamedly call us brethren, in fulfillment of Psalm 22:22. Jesus has proclaimed God’s name to his brethren and has glorified God’s name in the midst of God’s people. Jesus has trusted in God to the point of death on the Cross, and his disciples are the “children” God has given him (Isaiah 8:17c-18a).

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus’ ministry was not to angels, but to mortal humans.

Luke Paraphrase:

Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple for the rite of purification of Mary and the Child, according to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:2-8), to present Jesus to the Lord (because every first-born male is holy to the Lord), and to offer the required sacrifice. There was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon who was righteous and devout, who was looking for the coming consolation of Israel (the Messiah), “and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25c). The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the Christ (“anointed;” Messiah; Savior) of God before Simeon died.

Led by the Spirit, Simeon entered the temple, and when Mary and Joseph presented the young Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

Commentary:

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word, lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is fully God and fully human (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28). Jesus set his divine nature aside and became obedient to God (Philippians 2:8-11).

Jesus is God’s promised, “anointed” eternal Savior and King. He was attendant at Creation, and everything in Creation was made by him and for him (John 1:1-5, 14).

This Creation has been designed by God to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This lifetime is our only opportunity to learn by trial and error to trust and obey God, to seek and come to know personally God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Jesus came to be the only sacrifice, once for all time and all people, which is acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin, salvation from eternal condemnation, and restoration to fellowship with God and eternal life in his heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Jesus came to show us, by word and example, how to be God’s children. He came to show us the way to eternal life in God’s kingdom in heaven. He came to make it possible for us to be cleansed and consecrated so that we could be “anointed” with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He came to make it possible for us to be spiritually “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life by the indwelling Holy Spirit. By his Resurrection, he demonstrated that there is existence beyond physical death! He came to free us from the fear of physical death. Jesus came to free us from slavery to sin and eternal condemnation.

Simeon was one of only a few people before Jesus’ coming who was “anointed” (filled with) the Holy Spirit. He prefigures the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Simeon believed God’s Word promising the Messiah and had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would witness the birth of the Messiah. He trusted and obeyed the Holy Spirit and the revelation of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. Simeon praised God by the Holy Spirit, and was unafraid of, and accepting of physical death.

As we believe and obey God’s Word, revealed through Jesus Christ, Jesus will reveal himself to us (John 14:21) and will make God the Father known to us (John 14:23; John 14:8-11; Luke 10:22). We will know with certainty that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

We are called to trust and obey Jesus and to follow his example and teaching, to seek the fulfillment of the promises of God’s Word, and to grow to spiritual maturity by the guidance and empowerment of 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)?

Week of 4 Advent A – 12/18 – 24/2016

December 17, 2016

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).

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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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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 Advent A

Sunday 4 Advent A

Variable; use until Christmas Day.
First Posted Dec. 20, 2009;
Podcast: Sunday 4 Advent A

Isaiah 7:10-14 (15-17) The Sign of Immanuel ;
Psalm 24 King of Glory;
Romans 1:1-7 Apostleship;
Matthew 1:18-25 Announcement ;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

In 734-733* B.C., when Ahaz was king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and Pekah was king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Pekah allied with the king of Syria to attack Jerusalem. God sent Isaiah, the prophet of Judah, to Ahaz, to tell him not to fear but to trust and obey God. God assured Ahaz that the enemies would not prevail. God told Ahaz to ask for a sign, no matter how seemingly “impossible,” which God could give him, in order for Ahaz to trust and obey God, But Ahaz said that he would not put God to the test.

Then Isaiah said to Ahaz, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman (a virgin) shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:13-14). Isaiah prophesied that before the child was old enough to eat solid food he would know right from wrong, and before that, the lands of the kings who threatened Judah would be deserted. The Lord declared that he would also bring tribulation on Judah greater than that of the time Ephraim split to create the divided monarchy (i.e. the Northern Kingdom).

Psalm Paraphrase:

[The psalm, which is attributed to David, may have been used as a processional, led by the Ark of the Covenant (representing the presence of God), ascending to the temple gates.]

Remember that the earth and everything and everyone in it belongs to the Lord, who has established solid ground from the primordial flood (watery chaos; Genesis 1:9-10). Only those who are cleansed of sin and pure in heart, who do not desire what is false or practice deceit, can ascend the hill of God and stand in his temple. They are the ones who will be blessed and vindicated by God who has provided their salvation. They are the ones who seek God and a personal knowledge of and fellowship with him.

The Psalmist cries out, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in! Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle! Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory” (Psalm 24:7-10 KJV)!

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul was writing to the Roman Church which had already been established by others. He was writing to introduce himself, to announce his intention of visiting them, and to set forth his understanding of the Gospel.

Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ who had been called and set apart for the Gospel (the “Good News” of God’s Plan of Salvation, which see: sidebar, top right), which God had revealed beforehand by his prophets and recorded in the Holy Scriptures (the Bible). This Gospel was fulfilled in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who was, by his earthly family, the descendant of David, the great shepherd-king, and revealed as the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through Jesus we have received grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) and apostleship (the call to be a messenger; of the Gospel), to bring about the obedience of faith (faith is obedient trust) for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5b), including the Roman Christians and all who have responded to the call to belong to Jesus.

“To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).

Matthew Paraphrase

Mary was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David, but the marriage had not yet been consummated, when Mary was found to be pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph knew that the child was not his, but he didn’t want to cause Mary public shame, so he decided to divorce her quietly. While Joseph was contemplating this, he had a dream in which an angel of the Lord told him not to be afraid to marry Mary, because the child had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. She would give birth to a son, who was to be named Jesus (his name means “savior”) because he would save his people from their sins (disobedience of God’s Word). This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 that an “[unmarried] young woman” (a virgin), would conceive and bear a son who would be called “Emmanuel” (Immanuel) which means “God with us.”

Commentary:

God’s people were under attack from their enemies, and Isaiah, a prophet of God, was sent to declare God’s Word, telling Ahaz, their leader, not to worry, because God promised them that their enemies would not prevail. God offered to give Ahaz a sign so that Ahaz would trust and obey God’s Word, but Ahaz said he didn’t want to put God to the test.

His reply seemed “pious,” but Ahaz did not actually trust and obey God’s Word. Instead he sought worldly alliance with Assyria, paid for out of the temple and palace treasury, and Judah became a vassal of Assyria (2 Kings 16:1-20) initiating the decline that led to Babylonian exile, and fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7:17. Ahaz literally sold God’s people into slavery and exile with the treasure of the temple and king (2 Kings 16:7-8).

God’s promise that Judah’s attackers would not prevail and would be wiped out didn’t do Judah any good because their “king” didn’t trust and obey God’s Word. Instead his disobedience caused them to receive the punishment that God’s Word of assurance and warning was intended to prevent.

Ahaz put his trust in human “kings” instead of the King of Glory, and it led to disaster. The people of Judah put their trust in their earthly leader, Ahaz instead of the Lord and they suffered tribulation and exile. In contrast, Jesus is the true Savior and King of kings. Those who put their trust in Jesus will not be sold into, but rather redeemed from exile and slavery.

In one sense all are God’s people because God is our Creator. In another sense God’s people are those who choose to trust and obey God. If we will be God’s People, he will be our God (Jeremiah 7:23; Ezekiel 11:20; Leviticus 26:3, 12; Jeremiah 11:4c). This lifetime is an “ascent” of the people of God to the gates of the eternal heavenly temple of God, the Creator and Lord of Creation. This lifetime is our opportunity to “assent” to the Lord as our King.

Only those who are cleansed of sin and pure in heart, who do not pursue what is evil or practice deceit, will be able to enter his gates and stand within God’s temple. On our own merits not any one of us qualifies! All have sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right according to God’s standard, his Word; Romans 3:23).

Only by the power of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17) can our sins be cleansed and our hearts purified; only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we be freed from slavery to sin and be able to resist temptation.

This Creation has been designed to allow us the opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness (of sin) and salvation (from eternal condemnation and destruction; Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Those who seek God will find him, and those who find him and learn to trust and obey him will be blessed and vindicated by God who has provided their salvation through Jesus Christ.

God’s Word calls us to prepare for and await the coming of the eternal Savior and victorious almighty King of glory! Let us unbar the gates of our hearts and open the doors of our souls to receive him (John 1:12; Revelation 3:20)!

God’s Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14), and God has been progressively revealing it by his prophets as recorded in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of scripture and prophecy, the eternal Savior and heir to the throne of David.

Jesus is the revelation of God’s person and character in human flesh. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world by human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14). Jesus’ resurrection is the demonstration of the truth and power of God’s Word, and the fact of existence beyond physical death.

Those who trust and obey Jesus receive the promised indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus (Romans 8:9), through whom we have personal fellowship, and the assurance that we are in Christ and have eternal life (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16).

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) is the prototype and example of a “modern,” “post-resurrection,” “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. He was convicted by the Holy Spirit of the risen, ascended Jesus, on the Road to Damascus (Acts (9:1-9), repented and accepted Jesus as his Lord (Acts 9:5-9), was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple, Ananias (Acts 9:10-17), until Paul was “re-born” (Acts 9:18-19) and then Paul, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, began fulfilling (Acts 9:20) the Great Commission, which Jesus gave to his “born-again” disciples (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8), making “born-again” disciples and teaching them to repeated the process (2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul taught that Christians have received grace (the free gift of forgiveness and salvation through faith, i.e., obedient trust) in Jesus, and apostleship to bring all “believers” to obedience of faith in Jesus. All of us are called to be “saints” (set apart for God’s use). Grace (God’s unmerited forgiveness and salvation) and peace (with God and other people) are only from God, only through Jesus Christ our 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)?


*The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Isaiah 7:21-8:15n, p. 830, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Monday 4 Advent A

Variable; use until Christmas Day.
First Posted Dec. 21, 2009;

Podcast: Monday 4 Advent A

Psalm 96 – The Lord Reigns!

Paraphrase:

Let all the earth sing to the Lord a new song; let us bless his name and tell of his salvation every day. Let us declare his glory and his marvelous works to all people and all nations. The Lord is great and worthy of great praise. He alone is the one true God, to be feared (having proper reverence and respect for his power and authority) above all (“so-called”) gods (idols), for the Lord is the maker of the universe. Honor and majesty are his character and there is strength and beauty in his sanctuary.

Acknowledge the Lord, all people. Acknowledge his glory and strength. Give him the glory due his name (his character and person). Bring offerings to him and worship him, trembling before him, all people of earth.

Proclaim the Lord’s reign among all nations. The world has been established and cannot be changed; the Lord will judge the people of earth with equity. Let all Creation rejoice: Earth, heavens, sea and field and everything in them, rejoice, for the Lord comes to bring justice to the earth; he will judge the world with righteousness and all people with his truth (divine truth; God’s Word; the Bible), fulfilled embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ, the living Word (John 1:1-5; 14).

Commentary:

God is the Creator of the Universe. God has always intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. He has designed this Creation to allow the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) but he will not tolerate disobedience forever. He has set a time limit on this temporal world and our own lifetimes. He won’t allow the disobedient and rebellious to enter his eternal kingdom, or it wouldn’t be heaven.

Jesus has been designed into the very structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14). God’s Word declares that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and that the penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s one and only provision for forgiveness of our sins, salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell, restoration to fellowship with God, and eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Forgiveness and salvation are by grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (Acts 14:15-17).

The meaning and purpose of life in this world is the opportunity for us to seek and find God (Acts 17:26-27), and to learn by trial and error to trust and obey God’s Word.

God wants us to seek and find him. He has been incrementally revealing himself to us throughout history, first in Creation itself; then in the record of his dealing with Israel recorded in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of his revelation to us in human flesh, and the indwelling Holy Spirit is the ultimate revelation of himself to us personally and individually.

God is Lord of the Universe, whether we know and acknowledge him or not. Jesus is God’s promised eternal Savior and King. Jesus came in the flesh to become the one sacrifice acceptable to God, for all people and all time, for the forgiveness of our sins, to those who accept him in faith (obedient trust).

Jesus began his reign over his eternal kingdom on the day of his resurrection from physical death to eternal life. Jesus has promised that he will return to this earth to judge “the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5), in both physical and spiritual senses. Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what we have done in this life (John 5:28-29). In that day “…at the name of Jesus every knee should (shall) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11; Isaiah 45:23).

Jesus Christ is the Judge, and the standard of judgment, by which we will all be judged. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will have been spiritually “re-born” and will live eternally in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those who have refused to accept Jesus’ Lordship and trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Jesus’ disciples come to a personal fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:21, 23). We testify to the truth of God’s Word, the reality of spiritual rebirth, and personal fellowship with the Lord. We testify to what we have personally experienced and know to be true. Jesus reigns as Lord in his “born-again” 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).

As his “born-again” disciples we are commissioned to proclaim God’s Word, the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ, to a lost and dying world.

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)?

Tuesday 4 Advent A

Variable; use until Christmas Day.
First Posted December 23, 2008;
Podcast: Tuesday 4 Advent A

Isaiah 9:2-7 – The Messianic King;

Paraphrase:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). The Lord has enlarged the nation and magnified its joy; their joy is like the joy of a great harvest; as when men divide the spoils of war. The Lord has broken the oppressor’s rod and removed the burden of the oppressor, like the day of Midian (the great victory of God over Midian; Judges 7:15-25). Every boot of marching soldiers and every uniform with the blood of war on it will be burned with fire. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). His government and peace will be over all and will never end. His kingdom will be established on the throne of David and upheld with righteousness and justice from now on through eternity. God will accomplish this because it is his great fervent desire.

Commentary:

This is the prophetic vision foretelling the Messiah, the ideal king. The world is in spiritual darkness, and Jesus is the the light of the world (John 8:12); the light of righteousness (John 1:4, 3:19-21), the light of spiritual enlightenment (John 1:9), and the light of eternal life (John 1:4).

The Lord has enlarged his nation to include all Gentile believers over time since the first coming of Jesus, in human flesh. The Church is the “New Israel” and all who believe (trust and obey) Jesus are the children of Abraham and the children of God (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7, 14).

“Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ; Acts 11:26c), have the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which testifies with our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:16-17), 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 through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we experience the love of God and the joy of our salvation. It is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit that we are able to worship and praise our Lord (Romans 8:15; John 4:23-24). It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have personal knowledge of and fellowship with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23), and can testify that Jesus is risen from physical death to eternal life.

Spiritual “rebirth” is the great spiritual harvest in which we rejoice. The world is in great need of spiritual truth, spiritual healing, and spiritual “birth” today. The only source of genuine spiritual truth (John 14:17), healing and rebirth is in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14:6, 17). 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).

“Born-again” Christians are called to join in the spiritual harvest; to complete the mission of Christ at the Day of Judgment at the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus came to bring the “Good News” (“Gospel”) of forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Jesus is the only way to know divine eternal truth, the only way to have peace and restoration of fellowship with God that was broken by sin, and the only way to have restoration to eternal life (John 14:6) from eternal death which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Gideon was a Judge, a leader of Israel in lieu of a human king (God was the King of Israel), before the monarchy. God raised Gideon up from the people to free them from the oppression of the Midianites. Gideon selected his army according to God’s guidance. Some thirty thousand men mustered, and from that Gideon selected only three hundred (Judges 7:2-8).

Gideon’s three hundred men surrounded the enemy camp of uncountable thousands during the night, carrying lamps concealed in jars, and trumpets (their hands were full of non-weapons). When Gideon blew his trumpet all his men did the same, and broke the jars, holding the lamps in their left hands. The vast army of the enemy erupted with confusion, and the enemy turned their weapons against their own fellow soldiers. The remainder of the enemy was routed and the Israelites pursued them and captured their kings and killed them. The enemy was completely destroyed.

Christians are involved in a spiritual battle, and the enemy is Satan and his demons. We cannot fight the battle in our own strength; we must be equipped, empowered and guided by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Jesus warns his disciples to stay in Jerusalem (the modern equivalent is the Church) until they have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, before going into the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Jesus is the child who was born; the Son who was given. He is the Lord’s “anointed” (designated) Savior and eternal King. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (the Spirit of God; Romans 8:9), the wonderful “Counselor” (“Paraclete”; John 14:26 RSV), Mighty God (the Spirit of God; Romans 8:9; Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28), Eternal Father (Romans 8:15-16), and Prince of Peace (following the order of Melchizedek: the name means “King of Righteousness;” Melchizedek was king of Salem; which means “King of Peace”).

Since Melchizedek has no genealogy and no date of birth or death recorded in the Bible, he symbolizes and foretells an eternal kingdom. Jesus has been given eternal dominion over all Creation (Matthew 28:18); he has been appointed the Righteous Judge of the Universe (2 Timothy 4:8; Acts 17:31). Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Luke 2:14; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1). Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise of God of an eternal kingdom founded upon the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

From the very beginning of Creation God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who would trust and obey God. This Creation is a “seedbed” intended to grow obedient people of God. This Creation allows the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), but is limited by time, since God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek God, to grope for him in our spiritual blindness, to find him and be spiritually enlightened (John 1:9; Luke 24:25, 32; 2 Corinthians 3:13-16) and have fellowship with him (Acts 17:26-27).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be spiritually “reborn” to eternal life by the gift of 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)?

Wednesday 4 Advent A

Variable; use until Christmas Day.
First Posted Dec. 23, 2009;
Podcast: Wednesday 4 Advent A

Titus 2:11-14 – Our Salvation;

Paraphrase:

God’s grace has been revealed for the salvation of all people, teaching us to renounce irreligion and the passions of this world, and to live sober, godly, upright lives in this world as we await our blessed hope, the appearance with glory of our great savior and God, Christ Jesus. He sacrificed himself for us so that we can be redeemed from all sin and to purify people for himself who are zealous for good deeds.

Commentary:

It has always been God’s plan, from the beginning of Creation, to create people who would willingly choose to trust and obey God’s Word, in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in this world in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).

This world is God’s seedbed, to grow disciples of Jesus Christ. We are all born into this world physically alive but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek, find and have daily fellowship with our Creator, and this is only possible through the “baptism” of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (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). It is possible to know with certainty for oneself that one has been “born-again” (Acts19:2).

God has given us the freedom to choose for ourselves whether to trust and obey God in this world, but God is not going to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom, or it wouldn’t be Heaven; Paradise restored.

Jesus is God, with the whole fullness of God dwelling within him (Colossians 2:8-9, John 20:28).

God has taught the Israelites over a long period of time that blood sacrifices are required for the forgiveness of sin. Animals were sacrificed on the altar, and then the worshipers had a feast of the remains. Jesus has become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God, once for all time and all people who will receive it by faith.

His flesh provides the perfect unblemished “lamb” of the New Passover, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist. His blood, shed on the cross, marks us as his people, to be passed over by the destroyer.

Israelites were forbidden to drink the blood of animals, or consume meat with it’s blood. Blood was thought to contain the spirit of the animal. God doesn’t want us to be filled with the spirits of animals, but with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.

The New Passover, Holy Communion, is a spiritual feast. The elements of Communion (bread and wine) with his pronouncement accomplish what he promises (his body and blood). It isn’t the amount, but the faith in his promises, which accomplish the miracle.

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 Advent A

Variable; use until Christmas Day.
First Posted December 23, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday 4 Advent A

Luke 2:1-20 – The Birth of Jesus;

In about 6-5 B.C., Caesar Augustus decreed a census of the world (the Roman Empire). Quirinius was governor of the Roman province of Syria (and Augustus appointed him to replace Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, as governor of Judea, after Archelaus’ removal in 6 B.C.*). Everyone was required to return to their ancestral home to be registered.

Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, was a descendant of David, the great human shepherd-king of Israel. Joseph lived in Nazareth, but was required to go to the city of David, Bethlehem (David’s birthplace), to be enrolled with his betrothed, Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-38).

While in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor and Jesus, her first-born son, was born. She wrapped him in swaddling cloths (strips of cloth, as was the practice, in much the way that newborns are wrapped tightly with a blanket today). Then she laid him in a manger (a cattle feeding trough, which was unusual, but at hand because of the circumstance). All the inns were crowded and Mary and Joseph had to make do by staying in a stable.

In the vicinity, there were fields where sheep were grazing, and the shepherds were required to watch over the flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, supernaturally radiant with the glory of the Lord (see Matthew 17:1-6; Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36). The shepherds were terrified by the sight, but the angel told them not to be afraid. Then the angel announced the birth of Jesus, saying that the child born that day in Bethlehem, the city of David, would result in great joy for all people, because a Savior, who is Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed;” thus designated by God) as Lord (one who has power and authority; a master; a ruler; governor; a prince; a proprietor, an “owner;” the eternal King of God’s kingdom).

The angel told the shepherds that they would find a baby swaddled and lying in a manger, in confirmation of what the angel had told them. Then a large multitude of angels filled the sky, glorifying God in heaven with highest praise, and offering peace among people on earth with whom God is pleased.

Then the angels disappeared, and the shepherds decided to go into town to see what they had been told. In haste, they went and found Mary and Joseph and the child, who had been swaddled and laid in a manger as the angel had said. Having witnessed it, the shepherds told everyone they could, about what they had seen, and what they had heard from the angels about the child. The people were amazed at what the shepherds told them. Mary made a point of remembering and thinking about what the shepherds had said. The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising and glorifying for all they had heard and seen, as they had been told.

Commentary:

Luke was probably a physician in Troas (northwest Asia Minor: present-day Turkey) who had been converted by Paul (Saul of Tarsus). His accurate, extensive medical knowledge and interest shows that he was educated and scientific in his outlook. So it is unsurprising that his account of Jesus’ birth includes historical “benchmarks” by which important dates can be closely determined. Thus we can believe that Jesus was a historical figure, whose time and place of birth can be determined.

Genealogy was important to Jews because inheritance in the Promised Land was based on portions allotted to tribes and families. The land had been distributed at the time Israel entered the land, and was passed down to the descendants.

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God. This present Creation is deliberately intended to be an opportunity for us to learn by trial-and-error to trust and obey God, and to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to eternal life.

In order to allow us the freedom to choose whether to trust and obey God, God designed Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ the “living Word,” fulfilled, embodied and exemplified; John 1:1-5, 14). But God limited this Creation and we ourselves by time, because God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom.

We are all sinners, who fall short of God’s standard of righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word; Romans 6:23). Jesus, the Christ, has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). He is the eternal Savior, God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin, and salvation from eternal condemnation and death in hell, which is the penalty for sin (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise of an eternal Savior, which has been made continuously throughout the Old Testament scriptures, beginning after the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15). The angel declared the fulfillment of God’s promise to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus, and as the shepherds acted in faith (obedient trust) they found it as the angel had said.

The shepherds became the first evangelists to personally discover the truth of the Gospel (the “good news” of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus) and to proclaim it to others. As people continue to believe and act upon God’s Word, we personally experience Jesus Christ by the “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). Like the first evangelists, the shepherds, we will eagerly tell others what we have “heard and seen.”

Jesus is the only way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) to have peace and fellowship with God which was broken by sin. God offers everyone peace through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, but only those who please God, by obedient trust in Jesus, receive that peace (Matthew 7:21-27, Luke 6:46).

The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (Acts 19:2). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The baptism of the indwelling 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 baptism of the Holy Spirit is the “second birth” (John 3:7 BBE -Bible in Basic English: compare Revelation 20:6 RSV, KJV, NKJV; being “born-again:” John 3:3, 5-8 KJV; “born anew:” RSV; “born from above:” RSV note “e).

David, the human shepherd-king, was deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and illustration of the Christ, who is the ultimate “good” shepherd-king of God’s people (John 10:11-14).

Bethlehem means “house of bread;” it’s modern name is Beit-Lahm, meaning, “house of flesh.” Jesus was placed in a manger (a “crib,” a trough for grain; food; “bread”) for the livestock. Isaiah’s prophecy of 1:3 was fulfilled: “The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.” The ox (considered pretty dumb; “dumb as an ox”) knew his master, and the ass (also considered dumb; “slow”) knew where to find his daily “bread,” but Israel, who had the Old Testament scriptures prophesying the Messiah (Savior; Christ; Lord: master; king) didn’t recognize and acknowledge him as master and source of the bread of eternal life (John 6:33, 35, 48-50.

Jesus is the “Lamb” of God (the sacrificial lamb of the New Passover; John 1:29, 36) whose body sacrificed on the cross became the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin. The Passover Lamb, perfect, and unblemished, was offered as a sacrifice to God. The meat of the lamb became the meal of salvation, and the shed blood marked the houses of the Israelites to be “passed over” by the destroying angel (Exodus 12:1-14).

On the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-19), and instituted the New Passover (Matthew 26:26-28 RSV: see note “g;” compare NKJV). The New Testament of the Bible refers to the New Covenant of God with his people, through Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion, Eucharist) is the New Passover feast. It is a spiritual feast: the elements of bread and wine or grape juice are tiny, but the spiritual result is great.

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)?


*Dates: The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Luke 2:1n, p. 1242, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Friday 4 Advent A

Variable; use until Christmas Day.
First Posted Dec. 24, 2010;
Podcast: Friday 4 Advent A

Isaiah 7:10-14 – The Sign of Immanuel;

Background:

Isaiah was the prophet to Judah and Jerusalem from 742-687 B.C..* Jerusalem was attacked by Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel of the divided monarchy, in alliance (734 B.C.***). Ahaz, King of Judah (742-727 B.C.****), was frightened and wavering. Isaiah prophesied to Ahaz, by God’s command, that the attack would not succeed. It was necessary for Ahaz to believe God’s Word, in order to withstand the attack.

Text Paraphrase:

Through Isaiah, the Lord offered Ahaz the opportunity to ask the Lord for a sign (as proof), no matter how high or deep, of the fulfillment of God’s Word. Ahaz declined to test the Lord by asking for a sign, so Isaiah, asked Ahaz, the heir to the throne of David, the great human shepherd-king, if it wasn’t sufficient for Ahaz to weary (try the patience of) humans; did he have to weary God as well? Isaiah declared that God himself would give Ahaz a sign: A “maiden” (“virgin;” young woman; girl; Isaiah 7:14b note;* RSV note “i”) would conceive and bear a son, who would be called Immanuel (or Emmanuel), meaning “God with us” (compare Matthew 1:18-23).

Commentary:

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria with the fall of Samaria, the capital, in 721 B.C.. The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist, because of the Assyrian policy of exiling citizens of a conquered land to other conquered territories, and bringing aliens to settle and pacify the land. Only the poorest, least healthy residents were allowed to remain and thus intermarried with the aliens, resulting in the Samaritans, of mixed race and religion, at the time of Jesus’ physical ministry.

This prophecy was given through Isaiah about 730 years before its fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ (6-5B.C; Herod the Great died early in 4 B.C.**). Evidently Ahaz did not believe God’s Word, because he made an alliance with Assyria for protection, and Judah became a vassal of the Assyrians.

Jesus became the ultimate, eternal heir to the throne of David, as God had promised David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). David had been deliberately intended by God to be the prototype and illustration of the Messiah (meaning God’s “anointed”). Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise: the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15), the “son of David” (David’s descendant; heir to David’s throne; Matthew 21:9), the eternal king of God’s Kingdom (1 Timothy 1:17; Matthew 28:18). Jesus is God in human form (Colossians 2:8-9; Matthew 11:27; compare John 14:7).

Jesus is Immanuel: God with us. Only Jesus baptizes with the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34) the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (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). By the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we personally experience “God with us.”

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, Matthew 1:21n, p. 1172, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

** ibid, Matthew 2:1n, p 1172.

***Ahaz, p 33, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, David Noel Freedman, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids Michigan, 2000, ISBN 0-8020-2400-5;

**** ibid p 31


 

4 Advent – Saturday – A

Variable: Use until Christmas Day.
First Posted  12-24-2016
Podcast: 4 Advent Saturday A
Hebrews 11:1-12 — Faith;
John 1:1-14 – Prologue;Hebrews Paraphrase:

Faith is the certainty of fulfillment of what one hopes for; the conviction of things unseen. Our forefathers in faith received divine approval through faith. By faith we believe that everything which exists in this world was created, by God’s Word, from things which are unseen.Cain and Abel each offered sacrifices to God. Because his was offered in faith (obedient trust) Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God as righteous (good, right and true according to God’s Word); but Cain’s was not (because Cain’s attitude was not right; Genesis 4:7). Abel died, but his example of faith lives on.

Enoch lived in obedient trust in God; he disappeared and was never found, because God took him into heaven, so that Enoch would not experience physical death, since Enoch had pleased God. “And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:5-6). When God warned Noah of the impending flood, although no evidence was yet seen, Noah built the ark to save his household, by faith. Thus Noah’s faith condemned the unbelieving world, and Noah inherited the righteousness which comes by faith.

When God called Abraham to go to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance, Abraham went in faith, although it was a land he had not seen or known. When he got there, he lived in the promised land as an alien, camping in tents with his sons, Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs in the same promise. Abraham lived with his hope focused on the city (eternal  Jerusalem) in heaven,  established and built by God upon an eternal foundation (in contrast with foundationless tents).

By faith, Sarah conceived and bore a child by the power of God, after she was no longer able physically to bear children, because she considered God faithful to do as he had said (Genesis 17:19; 18:11-14; 21:2). Although Abraham had been as good as dead, concerning childbearing, he became the father of a vast number of descendants, as innumerable as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore.

John Paraphrase:

The Word, the creative action of God, existed at the very beginning of Creation; the Word was with God in personal relationship from the very beginning, and was God in his entire nature and being. Through him (the Word) all things were created, and nothing came into existence apart from him. He is the sole source of physical and spiritual life, and light is the essence and symbol of life. That light shines in the darkness (of sin and death), and has not been overcome by darkness.

John (the Baptizer; not the Apostle; John 1:19-28) was a human who was sent from God to testify to the light, so that all might believe through his testimony. John was not himself the light (the Word of God, in human form), but came to attest to the light.

The true light (of righteousness and eternal life), the source of divine enlightenment, was coming into the world. That light had come into the world, which had been created through him, but the world did not recognize him. Even the people of his own hometown didn’t acknowledge and welcome him. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name (his total character and nature), he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only (begotten) Son from the Father” (John 1:14).

Commentary:

Faith is trusting and obeying God’s Word, without having seen what is promised (Romans 8:24-25). Faith is not getting whatever one believes, if one believes “hard enough.” Faith is not like wishing on a star, or making a wish over birthday candles.

God’s Word is unlike mankind’s word. “God’s Word is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12); it is a creative force. The defining characteristic of God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22); God’s Word is always fulfilled, and it is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met.

This world was created by and for God’s Word. God spoke, saying “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3). Jesus is the “living Word,” God’s Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified (John 1:14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God, with the creative force of God’s Word (Mark 4:39-41; compare Genesis 1: 9).

Jesus is the Messiah (Christ; both words mean God’s “anointed”), the promised eternal Savior and King, deliberately designed into Creation from the very beginning. Jesus is not an afterthought, added to Creation after man sinned (disobeyed God’s Word). God designed this Creation with the possibility of sin, in order to provide us the opportunity to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and the time to learn, by trial-and-error, that God’s way is our own very best interest. But God is not willing to tolerate rebellion and disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. So God has limited this Creation and we, ourselves, by time.

God knew that given free choice, we would all choose our own will rather than God’s. So we are all sinners, who 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). Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness of our sin, restoration to fellowship with God which was broken by sin, and our salvation from eternal death (Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

We are all born into Creation physically alive, but spiritually unborn. This lifetime is our opportunity to be spiritually “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8), by the “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 baptism of the Holy Spirit is a personally discernible, ongoing, daily experience (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).

The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and contains both wonderful promises and ominous warnings. To receive the promises we must believe (trust and obey; assent to and act upon) them. In order to do that, we must read and hear God’s Word to know what it contains. The warnings are given to help us avoid the consequences of ignoring or disobeying God’s Word.

Note that the promises of God’s Word must be received and acted upon (John 1:12-13), by knowing and claiming them for oneself. Spiritual rebirth is not automatically conferred by some Church ritual, such as water baptism.

The offerings of Cain and Abel are the beginning of the tithe (a tenth) offering of the harvest of both plant and animal. The offering acknowledged God’s lordship and providence. The offering of Abel was acceptable to the Lord because Abel’s motives were righteous (doing what is good, right, and true according to God’s Word) and Cain’s were not (Genesis 4:7).

God began teaching his people from the very beginning about sacrifice; the duty to return to the Lord a portion of what he has provided us, and the necessity of blood sacrifice for forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus’ blood shed on the cross became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of sin, and that forgiveness is received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. When we realize the love of God given to us through Jesus Christ, we will be motivated to trust and obey Jesus, not out of fear of punishment, but in gratitude and love.

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), the light of righteousness (John 1:5, 3:19-21), the light of divine enlightenment (John 1:9), and eternal life (John 1:4; 8:12; 14:6).

It is not true that faith is “blind.” We don’t have to wait until we die physically to see whether there is life (or existence) beyond physical death. When we believe God’s Word, we will come to know with certainty that God’s promises are true (John 6:68-69). The only people who don’t know with certainty where they will spend eternity are those who have not believed in Jesus and are spiritually “lost” and perishing eternally.

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 Advent A – 12/11 – 17/2016

December 10, 2016

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).

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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 3 Advent A

Sunday 3 Advent A

First Posted December 16, 2007;
Podcast: Sunday 3 Advent A

Isaiah 35:1-10 — Zion Restored;
Psalm 146 — The Lord’s Eternal Reign;
James 5:7-10 — Christ’s Imminent Return;
Matthew 11:2-11 — Ministry of John the Baptizer;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah, the prophet, declared God’s promise of a Savior who would restore Zion (Jerusalem; God’s people; the Church; the heavenly city). The “wilderness” of this world will be transformed into lush paradise. God’s people will rejoice with joy and singing. Barren wasteland will be transformed and become like Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon: places of great beauty and fertility in Israel. God’s glory will be manifested by this transformation.

God’s people are to be encouraged and strengthened, and not to fear God’s coming. He is coming with vengeance and retribution, but will save his people. In that day the blind and deaf will be healed, the lame will become agile, and the mute will sing for joy.

Springs of water will arise and streams of water will flow in the desert, where jackals were once the only inhabitants, and will transform it into marshland. There will be a highway in the transformed wilderness, called the Holy Way. No unrepentant sinners, or ravenous beasts will be allowed, but the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing. They will have everlasting joy and gladness, and there will be no more sorrow or suffering.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my soul as long as I exist!

We are warned not to put our trust in any human, even those who are great and powerful according to this world’s values. Their authority and plans are brief and die with them.

True happiness is experienced only by those whose trust and hope are in God, the creator of heaven, earth, seas, and everything in them. He is eternally faithful, and he alone gives justice for the oppressed and food for the hungry.

The Lord frees the spiritual prisoners from sin and death, opens the eyes of the spiritually blind, lifts up the oppressed, and loves those who do what is right according to God’s Word. The Lord protects the aliens, upholds widows and the fatherless; but God will destroy the wicked.

The Lord will reign as Lord, for all eternity, over his people, who have accepted him. Praise the Lord!

James Paraphrase:

Christians are urged to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord (Christ’s return, on the Day of Judgment). The spiritual harvest is compared to an agricultural harvest. As the farmer must have patience while the seed sprouts and grows to maturity and produces fruit, so we must be patient for the fruit of the spiritual harvest. So we should set our minds and focus on the coming of the Lord, and not grumble and complain, because the righteous judge (Jesus) is at the very threshold. Let us recall and follow the example of the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord with steadfastness and faithfulness. The Bible record testifies to the steadfast faithfulness of Job, and the compassion and mercy of the Lord.

Matthew Paraphrase:

John had been imprisoned by Herod (Antipas) because John preached against Herod for marrying Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother, Philip. Languishing in prison, John heard rumors of Jesus’ teaching and miracles, and sent John’s disciples to Jesus seeking confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus told John’s disciples to go back to John and tell him what they had seen and heard Jesus doing: the blind and lame are healed, lepers are cured, the hearing of the deaf is restored, the dead are raised to life again, and the poor receive “good news” (“gospel” means “good news). Jesus declared that those who are not offended by Jesus will be blessed.

As John’s disciples left, Jesus asked the crowd what they expected to find when they had gone out to John in the wilderness. Surly, they hadn’t gone out merely to hear the sound of a reed shaken by the wind, and they certainly wouldn’t expect to find someone in fine clothes, because such people live in luxury in fine houses. So why had they gone; to see a prophet? Of course, but John was more than a prophet.

John was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a messenger sent by God to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. John was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets because he proclaimed and witnessed the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, but Jesus said that the least member of the kingdom of heaven would be greater than John.

Commentary:

God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey him. God has designed Creation with the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word), so that we would be free to choose whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word, and the opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s Word is faithful and true; that it is good, acceptable (possible and agreeable to do), and perfect (our very best interest; compare Romans 12:2).

Jesus has been designed into Creation from the very beginning (John 1:1-5, 14). He was not an afterthought by God to save his Creation after it had gone wrong. God knew from the beginning that giving his people free choice would lead to sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

The meaning and purpose for life in this Creation is to provide us an opportunity to seek, find, and come to personal fellowship with our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin, and salvation from our eternal condemnation and destruction by God’s judgment in accordance with God’s Word (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

The prophecy of Isaiah promised that the God of Israel would come to them to save them and give them vindication and justice over the enemies of God’s people. The miracles of healing for the blind, deaf, mute, and lame would accompany the coming of the Messiah and reveal the glory of God.

The coming of the Messiah will restore the “wilderness,” of this world, and within our hearts, to the fertile garden this Creation was intended to be, and the life-giving and transforming water is the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). Jesus’ Second Coming is both public, on the Day of Judgment, and also personal and individual, in the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus is the highway (John 14:4-6), the Holy Way, by which the Lord’s redeemed (ransomed from sin and death by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross) come through the wilderness of this world and into eternal life in the “Zion” of God’s heavenly kingdom.

We are warned not to place our trust in any thing or person in this world, except God. Everything else will pass away; only God is eternal and those to whom he chooses to give eternal life.

We have been given the opportunity to choose whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not, and we are free to make that choice, but it will bear personal, eternal consequences. The Lord is able and willing to free spiritual prisoners of sin and death; only he can heal the spiritually blind and deaf. The Lord lifts up the oppressed. Those who choose to do what is right according to God’s Word will be rewarded with eternal life, but those who do what is wicked according to God’s Word will be eternally destroyed. The Lord reigns eternally over those who choose to allow him to reign over them now.

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ who have been “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 7:37-39) which the disciples who trust and obey Jesus have been promised (John 14:15-17). That spring of eternally life-giving water within us is to flow outward into the world and become a river which transforms the wilderness of this world into eternal paradise. We cannot be part of that life-giving river without having first received the promise of the “wellspring.”

Saving faith is obedient trust in Jesus. Discipleship is a spiritual growth process to Christian maturity. We must be patient and cooperate with the Lord so that we can grow to Christian maturity, and then we must be patient and cooperate with the Lord to sow the seed of the Gospel in others and irrigate and care for them until they also produce spiritual fruit.

The Biblical record of God’s dealing with Israel, the Bible, has been written for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:6-12). We must know the Bible in order to claim and receive the promises it contains. One such promise is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to those who trust and obey Jesus. Another is the encouragement of our steadfastness and faithfulness when we consider the example of the prophets. Another is the ability of discernment, for those who know the “signs” God has given us in scripture to tell truth from deception.

John the Baptizer was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets because he announced and experienced the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah. Until the coming of Jesus, only a few individuals had personal knowledge of and fellowship with God. John is an example. But the least “born-again” disciple of Jesus is greater than John because he has personal knowledge of and fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only Jesus’ coming made possible.

God gave the signs that would attend the coming of the Messiah through Isaiah and other prophets which are recorded in the Bible. People who believed God’s Word and saw the fulfillment of the signs of the Messiah were prepared to receive him and eternal salvation. Those who didn’t know, or didn’t believe, were unprepared and lost eternal salvation.

The Bible gives the “signs” which allow the believer to tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and evil spirits, false “christs” and false prophets (for example 1 John 4:1-3; Matthew 24:24). The Holy Spirit is the “sign,” 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). Now is the time to learn God’s Word so that we will not be caught unprepared in the day of the Lord’s Second 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)?

Monday 3 Advent A

First Posted December 17, 2007;
Podcast: Monday 3 Advent A

Psalm 24 — The King of Glory;

Psalm Paraphrase:

This world and everything and everyone in it belongs to the Lord. He has parted the waters and established solid ground (Genesis 1:9-10).

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3-4). Those who seek God and the face of God (a personal relationship) will receive blessing and vindication from God his Savior.

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle!

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory” (Psalm 24:7-10 KJV)!

Commentary:

This psalm is attributed to David, the great shepherd-king of Israel. It was probably used for a processional up to the gates of the temple in Jerusalem, which was built on a hill (Zion) surrounded on three sides by valleys. Zion can be used to refer to the hill, to the city of Jerusalem, to the people of Israel, to the Church, and to the heavenly city.

The image of the procession to the earthly temple is a metaphor for the spiritual pilgrimage we are making to the heavenly temple.

God is the creator of the world and everything in it. Who can ascend to the holy place on the hill of the Lord; to the eternal kingdom in heaven? Only those who have clean hands and a pure heart, who do not indulge in what is false, or practice deception, judged according to God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who are judged righteous will be blessed and vindicated by the God of their salvation.

Those who seek God and a personal relationship with him will trust and obey his Word, and will come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God, through Jesus Christ who is God’s one and only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God’s people are intended to be his temple, in whom he wants his Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) to dwell, by spiritual “rebirth” (John 3:3, 5-8) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. We must lift up the doors and gates of our hearts to allow him to come in (Revelations 3:20), and we will experience his glory and his great power working in and through us.

God has intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. He has created this temporal world to allow us to choose whether to trust and obey him, and to learn by trial-and-error. This world was created perfect, but has been corrupted by sin (disobedience of God’s Word). That’s why there’s a time-limit on this creation and our own lifetimes. God is not going to tolerate evil forever, and he won’t allow evil in heaven.

God designed this world so that no one is good enough to deserve salvation on his own merit. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23) so that God can give salvation as a free gift (grace; unmerited favor) to all who are willing to receive it by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Clean hands and a pure heart are unattainable, except by the power of the Holy Spirit within us through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life in God’s kingdom 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)?

Tuesday 3 Advent A

First Posted Dec. 18, 2009;
Podcast: Tuesday 3 Advent A

Isaiah 7:10-14 (15-17) — The Sign of Immanuel;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah was the prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the conquest and fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. During the reign of Ahaz in Judah, the Northern Kingdom in alliance with Syria attacked Judah, and the people of Judah were afraid. The Lord sent Isaiah to Ahaz, king of Judah, telling Ahaz not to fear but to trust in the Lord. The Lord told Ahaz to ask for a sign, no matter how difficult, but Ahaz refused to put the Lord to the test.

Then the Lord declared, through Isaiah, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman (a virgin) shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (meaning ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7:13-14).”

God also declared that Immanuel would know right from wrong at a young age (while still eating “baby food”), and that before that, the lands of the two kings who were threatening Judah would be deserted (Samaria; the Northern Kingdom). The Lord also declared that he would bring upon Judah tribulation worse than any “since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah” (1 Kings 12:1-20; the sixty years of constant war between the two kingdoms after the ten northern tribes separated from Judah).

Commentary:

Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s Word was fulfilled. Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 721 B.C.;* the people of the ten tribes were deported and dispersed throughout the Assyrian empire, effectively ceasing to exist. Samaria was repopulated from other nations conquered by the Assyrians. The aliens intermingled with the remnant of the ten tribes who had avoided deportation and became the Samaritans, which at the time of Jesus, were regarded as racially and religiously impure.

Judah didn’t learn the lesson of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, and did not heed the warning of the prophets including Isaiah to return to trust and obedience of the Lord, and they were conquered by Nebuchadrezzar (Nebuchadnezzar), King of the Babylonian empire which had arisen from the Assyrian empire after the fall of Nineveh in B.C. 606.** The people of Judah, the remnant of Israel, were carried off to exile in Babylon for seventy years from 587-517 B.C.* in fulfillment of prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10).

Seventy years was a virtual life sentence for those who were adults at the time of the Exile. The Lord brought the remnant of Israel back to the Promised Land after the seventy years, as promised but they were not the same people; they were a renewed people.

God was able to fulfill his promise of a Savior and eternal king from the descendants of David (the House of Judah), while punishing the disobedient. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Word, the promised eternal Savior and King, Immanuel (Mathew 1:22-23).

The people who returned from Babylon had learned to trust and obey God’s Word, but over time they forgot (and failed to transmit to their children) the lesson. At the time of Jesus’ coming, many had fallen away from obedient trust in God’s Word and were unprepared to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

God’s Word is eternally true, and is fulfilled over and over as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. Fulfillment is the definitive characteristic of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

The history of God’s dealings with Israel should be a warning to us; these things have been written for our instruction, so that we can avoid their mistakes (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). Ahaz seemed “pious” by declining to put God to the test, but Ahaz didn’t heed the warning of God’s Word through Isaiah. He made an alliance with the king of Assyria instead of trusting and obeying God’s Word, which ultimately led to the conquest of Judah by Babylon.

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 Tables, p. 1532-1533), New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.

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


Wednesday 3 Advent A

First Posted December 19, 2007;
Podcast: Wednesday 3 Advent A

Romans 1:1-7 — Disciple-making;

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul was writing to the Church at Rome, which had already been established by others, in order to introduce himself, to announce his intention of visiting, and to set forth his teaching of the Gospel.

Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ, who had been called to be an apostle (“messenger”), to proclaim the Gospel (“good news”) of God (God’s plan of forgiveness and salvation; see sidebar, top right), proclaimed beforehand by the prophets and by Holy Scripture (the Bible). That Gospel is about God’s Son, who was a descendant of David, inherited from his human family, and revealed as Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him, Paul and all apostles have received grace (unmerited favor; a free gift) and apostleship (the call to be a messenger; of the Gospel), “to bring about the obedience of faith (faith is obedient trust) for the sake of his name” (Romans 1:5b) among all nations, including the Romans who had received the call to belong to Jesus Christ.

“To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).

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 of Jesus Christ, as all Christians are called to be. Paul had a personal encounter with the risen and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), was “discipled” by a “born-again” disciple (Ananias; Acts 9:10-19) until he had received the Holy Spirit, and then he immediately began proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s conversion is exceptional in that it happened almost instantly. The rest of the Twelve original disciples, had been with Jesus night and day for about three years, and still weren’t ready to carry on Jesus’ ministry until they had received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Paul was already formally well-educated, in the Bible and Judaism, and he already loved God, so in his case, once he knew about and accepted Jesus and was “born-again” he was immediately ready for ministry.

God has always intended from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey him. God designed creation to allow us the freedom to choose whether or not to obey God’s Word. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know and have fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, through the 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 designed Creation so that everyone needs, and no one deserves, forgiveness (of “sin;” disobedience of God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10) and salvation (from eternal condemnation and destruction; Romans 6:23), so that he could give forgiveness and salvation as a gift (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-9), to be received by all who trust and obey Jesus (John 1:12; Revelation 3:20). Jesus is God’s one and only plan for our forgiveness and salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6), and he has been designed into the structure of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14).

Paul is the illustration (“blueprint”) of the mission of the Church. Paul was convicted by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b), on the road to Damascus, which made him receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ananias was a “born-again” disciple (he had a personal relationship with the Lord through the indwelling Holy Spirit) who trusted and obeyed the Holy Spirit. Ananias went to Paul and “discipled” him until Paul had received the indwelling Holy Spirit. Only then did Paul go into the world to proclaim the Gospel, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Paul began his ministry in fulfillment of the Great Commission which Jesus gave to his disciples to make “disciples,” to be carried out after they had been “born-again” (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Paul’s relationship with Timothy demonstrates his mission of disciple-making (2 Timothy 2:2). We are all called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to be “born-again,” and then to make “born-again” disciples of Jesus Christ.

True grace, and peace with God and our fellow humans, is only possible through Jesus Christ as our personal 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)?

Thursday 3 Advent A

First Posted December 20, 2007;
Podcast: Thursday 3 Advent A

Matthew 1:18-25 Announcement

Matthew Paraphrase:

Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David, but while she was still a virgin she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph knew that the child wasn’t his, but didn’t want to cause Mary shame, so he decided to divorce her quietly.

As he was considering this, Joseph had a dream in which an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him not to refrain from taking Mary as his wife, because the child she was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The child was a boy, and they were to name him Jesus (Greek form of “Jeshua,” or “Joshua;” meaning Jehovah the Savior), because Jesus will save his people from sin (disobedience of God’s Word). This was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of a virgin who would conceive and bear a son called Emmanuel (or Immanuel), meaning “God with us.”

Joseph awoke from the dream and did as the angel had told him. He took Mary as his wife, but did not have marital relations with her until after she had delivered the baby; and he named him Jesus.

Commentary:

Creation has been designed from the beginning around Jesus (John 1:1-5, 14). God has always intended to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly trust and obey God. This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to knowledge of and fellowship with God (Acts 17:26-27), and our opportunity to learn to trust and obey God. It is our opportunity to be spiritually “re-born” to eternal life.

God has been progressively revealing himself to us, first in Creation, then in his Word, the Bible, then in Jesus Christ, the “living Word,” the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word in human flesh. The ultimate revelation of God to us personally and individually is by the gift of his Holy Spirit, which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-35), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

Jesus came in God’s perfect timing, as the central act in history. It separates the previous age (B.C., i.e. “Before Christ, from the messianic age; A.D.; the “Year of the Lord”). The crucifixion of Christ marks the end of the Old Covenant of Law, of Judaism, and of Israel as God’s chosen people, and the beginning of the New Covenant of Grace through Faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. The Church of Christian disciples is the “New Israel.”

Jesus is “God with us” in human form (Colossians 2:8-9, John 20:28). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), “God with us” personally and individually, through faith in Jesus Christ. 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’s Word declares that Jesus will return on the Day of Judgment, the end of the messianic age and of history. Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to the Lord for what they have done in this lifetime (John 5:28-29). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom, but those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal condemnation and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Every one of us will face God’s judgment within our lifetime, and no one can be certain how soon that will be.

Jesus Christ is God’s “anointed” Savior of the world (Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed”). Jesus is God’s one and only plan for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) salvation (from eternal condemnation and destruction) and eternal life, through spiritual “re-birth” (John 3:3, 5-8) by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right.

Mary and Joseph each received God’s Word and chose to trust and obey (Matthew 1:24; Luke 1:38); to cooperate with God’s plan. God’s Word is fulfilled whether we trust and obey or not, and he gives each of us a choice. Only by cooperating with God’s plan can we receive the blessings he promises and wants to give us.

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 Advent A

First Posted December 21, 2007;
Podcast: Friday 3 Advent A

Isaiah 40:1-8 — Consolation;
Luke 1:67-80 — Zechariah Restored;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Judah’s seventy year exile in Babylon was nearly over and the prophet was called upon to announce God’s visitation. God speaks tenderly to comfort his people, telling her that her exile is complete, and her iniquity is pardoned; she has received twice the penalty for her sin.

The herald cries out, telling God’s people to prepare for the coming of the Lord in the wilderness; to make a straight highway in the desert. Valleys will be raised up, mountains and hills will be lowered, uneven and rough ground will be made smooth. “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5).

“A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The Grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:6-8).

Luke Paraphrase:

Zechariah had been struck mute by an angel for doubting the angel’s message that Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son. When she delivered the boy, Zechariah named him John, as the angel had instructed, and immediately Zechariah’s voice was restored and he spoke, blessing God.

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy, blessing God for visiting and redeeming his people, raising “a horn of salvation” in the house of David (the great shepherd-king), as God had promised through his prophets long ago, to show mercy to God’s people as he had promised their forefathers, that they should be saved from the power of their enemies. God remembered the holy covenant which he had sworn to Abraham, that God’s people would be free from the threat of their enemies, so that they could serve the Lord without fear, in holiness (set apart for God’s service) and righteousness (doing what is right according to God’s Word) all their lives.

Zechariah prophesied that his son, John, would be a prophet of God and precede the Messiah, to prepare his way, to announce salvation to God’s people by the forgiveness of their sin by the tender mercy of God. Then it will be like day dawning from heaven upon God’s people, giving light to those who are in darkness and the shadow of death, and light “to guide our feet in the way of peace” (Isaiah 1:79b).

John grew up in spiritual strength, and was in the wilderness until the day he was revealed to Israel.

Commentary:

Judah, the remnant of Israel, had refused to heed the many warnings of the prophets to repent and return to obedient trust in God, and had not learned from the example of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. God punished Judah as a good parent would punish a willful, disobedient child, by exile in Babylon for seventy years, so that Israel would learn to repent and trust and obey God.

God promised beforehand that the exile would end after seventy years, and he promised to restore them to the Promised Land, and the Lord’s promises were fulfilled. God disciplines for our good, but he also comforts and is merciful.

God’s Word is eternal (Isaiah 40:8), and is fulfilled over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. God’s Word through Isaiah was intended to prepare Judah in exile in Babylon for their release and restoration to the Promised Land. That Word also applied and was fulfilled in the first advent (coming) of Jesus, announced by John the Baptizer. Now the Church is the prophet and herald of the coming of the Lord, personally as we accept Jesus and receive his indwelling Holy Spirit, and at his Second Coming on the Day of Judgment.

This world is a spiritual wilderness. God’s people are in spiritual exile in “Babylon,” awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promise to save us and restore us to his eternal Promised Land in Heaven. In the Day of Judgment, at Christ’s return, the glory of the Lord will be revealed and everyone who has ever lived will see it; Isaiah 40:5 will be fulfilled.

In another sense, we are individually in spiritual exile in wilderness, and we can individually prepare for and receive Christ’s coming, personally, through the gift of his 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 will personally experience the glory of the Lord, by his indwelling Holy Spirit.

Zechariah doubted God’s Word delivered through the angel, and was rendered mute. When Zechariah returned to obedient trust by naming the boy John, Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, was able to glorify the Lord, and was given prophetic utterance.

God wants us to learn to trust and obey him. Learning is a matter of trial and error. God gives us free choice, and allows us to experience the consequences of that choice. His discipline is designed to bring us to repentance so that he can show us his faithfulness and reward our obedient trust. In that way he can lead us to grow in faith to spiritual maturity.

Jesus is the “horn of salvation” which God has raised up. Hebrew altars had raised corners resembling and called “horns,” and were places of sanctuary where those who were falsely accused or threatened could take refuge. By faith (obedient trust) in Jesus we are forgiven our sins and find refuge from our spiritual enemies, Satan and death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

In Jesus we are cleansed from sin so that we are fit to serve God, and freed from slavery to sin and death so that we can do what is right according to God’s Word and serve him without fear.

Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12) which dispels the darkness of spiritual ignorance (of lack of knowledge of God’s will; lack of divine wisdom), sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and the shadow of death. Jesus’ “light” guides our lives in the way of peace with God and with other people.

God had a plan for John the Baptizer from his conception, to be a herald of the Messiah, proclaiming God’s Word. He grew up in spiritual strength to spiritual maturity so that he was ready to serve the Lord when the Lord gave John his Word. That is what we are all called to do. God has plans for each of us (Ephesians 2:10). We are to learn to trust and obey God’s Word, to grow in spiritual strength to spiritual maturity so that we are fit and able to serve God when he calls on us. We are also to provide the spiritual nurture and guidance to enable our children to do the same.

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 Advent A

First Posted December 22, 2007;
Podcast: Saturday 3 Advent A

Hebrews 12:15-29 — Mt Sinai or Mt Zion?

The author was writing to Jewish Christians and the main theme is the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. In this text Mount Sinai and Mount Zion are contrasted.

The author exhorts the congregation to ensure “that no one fail to obtain the grace (unmerited favor; i.e. forgiveness and salvation) of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ spring up and cause trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau who sold his birthright for a single meal” (Hebrews 12:15-16). Remember that later, when Esau desired the inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected and had no opportunity to reverse his previous decision, although he was sincerely sorry (“repentant”).

Christians’ experience of relationship with God is not like the experience of the Jews; Mount Sinai is of this physical world, where it could be defiled by touch. The Jews were unable to draw close to God. They were separated from him at Mount Sinai by gloom, fire, tempest, the sound of loud trumpet, and a voice which made them ask not to hear any further messages; they could not endure the command that not even livestock could touch the mountain, at the penalty of being stoned to death (Exodus 19:12-22; 20:18-21). The experience of God’s manifestation of himself was so terrible that even Moses was afraid (Deuteronomy 9:19).

In contrast, Christians have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, and to a festal gathering of angels and the assembly (Church; the Saints) of the first-born (Jesus) who are enrolled in heaven; to God who is judge of all, and to the spirits of people found just and made perfect (through Jesus, by his Holy Spirit), “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (of grace through faith; Ephesians 2:8-9), and to the sprinkled blood (of Jesus, for the cleansing of our sin). Jesus’ blood speaks forgiveness by grace through faith; but Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance and the penalty of law (Genesis 4:8-12).

Be careful not to refuse the Lord who is calling. At Mt Sinai if anyone had refused the command not to touch the mountain they would not have escaped punishment, and we should take God’s warning from Mt Zion just as seriously. Then, God’s voice shook the earth, but God has promised not only to shake the earth again, but also the heavens, so that only what cannot be shaken will remain. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29 RSV).

Commentary:

These exhortations are just as important to the Church now as they were in the first century. The Church should be diligent to ensure that none of its members fails to obtain the grace (forgiveness and salvation) of God which is only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ, by 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 Church can only accomplish this by being “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) disciples and then making “born-again” disciples. 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 gift and mark of grace we are promised through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Church is warned not to allow any “root of bitterness” to spring up and defile the members. The “root of bitterness” (see Deuteronomy 29:18) is idolatry (love of any thing or person equal to or greater than God); a lack of obedient trust in God. Examples of modern idols are wealth, power, success, pleasure, career, family, or home. Another “root of bitterness” is false teaching contrary to the Bible. Two examples of false teaching in the Church today, which were present and refuted in the New Testament Church** are “Cheap Grace”* (teaching the gift of salvation without the requirement of obedience and discipleship; ) and the contrasting false teaching of “works-righteousness” (salvation earned by doing “good deeds”).

Let us be careful not to trade our spiritual inheritance for the fleeting pleasures of this world, as Esau did for a single meal when he was hungry (Genesis 25:29-34). Those who put off seeking the Lord and learning his ways now will likewise come to a point where it will be too late to change their decision.

The Old Covenant of Law was the basis of Judaism. Under that covenant only the high priest could come into God’s presence only once a year and only with a sacrificial offering for the sins of himself and the people. Under the Old Covenant we are convicted by the blood of Abel because we all share the sin-nature of Cain. Under the Old Covenant, people are constantly under condemnation and the wrath of God because it is humanly impossible to satisfy the requirements of the Law (Galatians 2:16).

Jesus Christ is the mediator of a New Covenant of Grace which is received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. Through the New Covenant the blood of Jesus pleads for our forgiveness. Through obedient trust in Jesus we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit.

If we are guided by the Holy Spirit we are no longer under condemnation under the Law (Romans 8:1-9). Instead, we have personal fellowship with Jesus and God the Father, and experience God’s love and salvation. Instead of the terrifying experience of God’s presence at Mt Sinai, we have the wonderful foretaste, now, of the festival we will have in Mount Zion, God’s eternal kingdom in heaven.

Now is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now the Lord is calling us to be reconciled through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. God’s Word warns us of the eternal consequences of disobeying his Word.

There is a Day of Judgment coming when God will shake heaven and earth. The Coming of the Lord will be much more terrifying to the people on earth who have rejected Jesus than it was in the day of God’s presence on Mt. Sinai. In that Day it will be too late to avoid the wrath of God and eternal destruction. But for those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, it will be the beginning of a great festival like a marriage feast or like the greatest worship experience in the presence of the Lord.

If we are grateful for an eternal inheritance that is unshakable and imperishable, let us be careful to offer acceptable worship to God, with reverence and awe, and obedient trust!

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

**There are many examples of these two contrasting false teachings and their rebuke in the New Testament. Here are a few:

“Works-Righteousness:” “Legalism” the “Circumcision Party;” the “Judaizers;” “earning” salvation by doing good deeds; see Galatians 2:12, 16, 21-3:14; 5:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-10

“Cheap Grace:” “Libertinism;” “Nicolaitanism;” false freedom from self-discipline; i.e., licentiousness; see Ephesians 4:17-24; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 6:9-20


Week of 2 Advent – A -12/04 – 10/2016

December 3, 2016

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 ‘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:

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

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

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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:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

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:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

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 2 Advent A

Sunday 2 Advent A

First posted December 9, 2007;

Podcast: Sunday 2 Advent A

Isaiah 11:1-10 — The Messianic King;
Psalm 72:1-14 (15-19) — Prayer for the King;
Romans 15:4-13 — The Root of Jesse;
Matthew 3:1-12 — The Coming King;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from the stump, the root, of Jesse (the father of David, the great shepherd-king), like a shoot, a branch. The Spirit of the Lord will be upon him, marked by divine wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear (appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority) of God. The fear of the Lord will be his delight.

The Messiah will not judge according to outward appearance or human testimony, but with righteousness, in accord to God’s Word. He will give justice and equity to the poor and the meek.

The Word of his mouth will be like a rod to strike and punish worldly people and destroy the wicked. His judgment will be controlled by the righteousness and faithfulness of God.

In the Day of Judgment he will establish a new eternal creation restored to paradise, in which all will dwell in peace and security. There will no longer be predator or prey; all will live together in harmony, “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6d). There will no longer be injury and destruction, in God’s eternal kingdom, because all will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

In that day the root of Jesse (the Messiah; Jesus Christ), will stand forth as a signal flag, and all nations and peoples will seek and glorify him.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The people of God pray for a King, the royal Son, who will possess God’s righteousness and justice, so that he can judge the people with righteousness and give justice to the poor. May the land be blessed with prosperity as the people follow God’s righteousness. The King will defend the rights of the poor, deliver the needy, and crush the oppressor.

The Messiah will reign forever, throughout all generations. He will refresh and sustain his people like rain on mown grass. Peace will last forever. The Messiah will reign from sea to sea; from the river (Euphrates; cradle of civilization) to the ends of the earth. His foes will bow down before him and his enemies will be completely vanquished. The kings of the earth will pay him tribute and bow before him; all nations will serve him.

The Lord delivers the needy, the poor and helpless, has pity on them and saves their lives; their blood is precious to him.

Romans Paraphrase:

The Bible record of God’s dealing with Israel has been written down for our instruction, so that we might be encouraged and have hope in the steadfastness of God’s Word. God is the source of steadfastness and encouragement; may he help us live in harmony with one another and in accord with Jesus’ teachings, that we may glorify God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ with “one voice.”

Since God has graciously welcomed us into his family, we should be gracious and welcoming to other people. Jesus became a servant to the Jews so that God’s truthfulness in fulfilling his promise to their patriarchs could be clearly seen, and the Gentiles can thank and glorify God for his mercy in including them in salvation.

Paul used quotes from Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 11:10 to show that God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ has always been intended for the Gentiles (“nations;” non-Jews) as well as for the Jews. Paul’s prayer is that the Gentile Christians would be filled with the joy and peace, with God and with others, by the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us hope.

Matthew Paraphrase:

In God’s timing, John the Baptizer began preaching in the wilderness east of Jerusalem, calling people to repent (turn from disobedience to obedient trust in God’s Word), because the coming of the kingdom of God was imminent. John was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, of a voice crying in the wilderness, for the people to prepare for the coming of God’s kingdom, straightening their ways so that they could receive the Messiah; God’s “anointed” eternal Savior and King.

John was dressed in the manner of Old Testament prophets (2 Kings 1:8), and lived off food he gathered in the wilderness, like locusts and wild honey. Crowds came to him from a wide area around Jerusalem, confessing their sin, and were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

Pharisees and Sadducees (Jewish religious leaders) also came for baptism, but when John saw them he said, “You brood of vipers (poisonous snakes)! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father;’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10).

John declared that he was baptizing with water for repentance, and was the most menial servant of the Lord, but the Messiah, who would be much greater than John, was coming and would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John described the Messiah’s coming as that of a thresher of grain. The Messiah would thresh the wheat and separate it from the chaff. He would gather the wheat into his granary, but would burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Commentary:

The Word of God through Isaiah, his prophet, promised that the Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively) would come forth like a shoot from the “stump” of Jesse (the father of David, the shepherd-king). God had promised that the Messiah would be the eternal heir to David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29).

The Lord fulfilled his promise in Jesus Christ, the “son of David” (Matthew 1:1-17; Matthew 21:9). The “stump of Jesse” indicates that Judaism and the Old Covenant of Law comes to an end and the Messiah initiates a New Covenant. Judaism effectively ended at the crucifixion of Jesus. The veil (curtain) of the temple was torn in two (Mathew 27:51a), symbolizing that Jesus Christ has opened a new and better way into God’s presence. Jesus initiated the New Covenant of grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) at his “Last Supper” on the night of his betrayal (Matthew 26:26-29 NKJV; Hebrews 9:15).

God lifted his favor and providence from Israel, and Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The Jews were scattered throughout the world and Israel ceased to exist as a nation until reestablished following World War II. The temple, on which the Old Covenant depended, has never been rebuilt. Jesus’ death on the cross has become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for our forgiveness and salvation.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophetic hope of the psalmist for a royal Son and eternal King of kings. The magi (wise men; the “Three Kings”) came to worship Jesus at his birth, bringing gold, incense and myrrh (Psalm 72:10-11, 15; Matthew 2:1-2, 11)

The Messiah is God’s anointed Savior and eternal King, but he is also God’s appointed righteous Judge. Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24). There is a Day of Judgment coming, when Christ returns. The standard of judgment will be God’s Word, and Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who trust and obey Jesus will be forgiven their sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and will be saved from God’s eternal condemnation and eternal death in unquenchable fire in Hell. The Word of God will punish and destroy eternally those who have rejected Jesus and have refused trust and obey Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

At the Second Coming (Advent), when Christ returns, he will establish a new eternal Creation, restored to paradise, with no sin, evil, injury or death, where his people will live eternally in peace, security and harmony. Everyone will know the Lord and live according to his Word. The people of God, who know and believe God’s Word, long for the coming of the kingdom of God.

In this world there is no true justice or equity. The rich and powerful prey upon and oppress the poor and the weak. God’s Word should be a warning to us, particularly in America, that if we want to continue to enjoy the prosperity of our land which God has blessed us with, we cannot continue to prey upon and oppress the poor, the needy and the weak. God lifts his providence from nations which pervert justice, as the Bible record documents.

Living as citizens of the kingdom of God begins now, in this lifetime. This is our opportunity to seek and know God (Acts 17:26-27), to discover and understand his will so that we can do it. As we begin to apply God’s Word in our daily lives, we learn personally and individually that God’s Word is true, faithful and good, and our very best interest (Romans 12:2).

As we begin to trust and obey Jesus, he will reveal himself to us (John 14:21) and give us the gift of his 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). We must be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) in this lifetime, in order to see God’s kingdom coming, now, in this world, and to live in God’s kingdom eternally in heaven. 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 of what obedient trust in God’s Word “looks like,” lived out in this world, in human flesh. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he alone can fill us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit imparts spiritual, eternal life, and also divine wisdom (not what the world falsely calls “wisdom;” 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-8), understanding, guidance, power and ability, knowledge, and awe and respect for God’s power and authority (Luke 24:45; John 14:25-26; Mark 13:11). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we experience the truth and faithfulness of God’s Word and the joy, peace and assurance of hope which only Jesus gives only through his indwelling Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the fulfillment of God’s Word of the return of “Elijah” to herald the coming Messiah. Before the coming of Jesus, only certain individuals had a close personal relationship with God. John is an example, and he was led and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. John began the call for repentance and return to obedient trust in God’s Word, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, and the Church continues that call today.

John was the fulfillment of God’s Word and his prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. God’s Word is always fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The test of prophecy is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Jesus has promised to return to judge the earth, and his return is imminent in the sense that each of us will face his judgment within our lifetimes. No one can be certain of living until tomorrow. Today is the only opportunity we can be sure of, to repent of our disobedience and commit to Jesus Christ as our Lord in obedient trust. Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

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 2 Advent A

First posted December 10, 2007;

Podcast: Monday 2 Advent A

Psalm 146 — The Lord Reigns;

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us praise the Lord! With my soul I will praise the Lord as long as I live and exist. “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Psalms 146:3-4).

Those whose hope is in the Lord their God, who rely on the Lord for help, will be blessed. It is the Lord God who has created heaven and earth and sea, and everything in them. His faithfulness is eternal; he gives justice to the oppressed and feeds the hungry.

The Lord frees the prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, and uplifts those who are brought low. The Lord loves those who do right (according to his standard; his Word). The Lord watches over sojourners, upholds widows and orphans, but he brings the wicked to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever; our God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!

Commentary:

It is tempting to put our hope and trust in human achievement and material possessions. Our culture emphasizes “self-reliance,” worldly success and human achievement. Worldly security is an illusion, which can never be achieved by our efforts. So many people spend so much of their life and effort trying to get hold of and hang on to what cannot satisfy or provide security, which is not eternal, and which will soon pass away. The more we have the more we have to lose; the more we have to worry about.

When we entrust ourselves, our families and our possessions to the Lord, he will show us his faithfulness and power to help and bless us and provide what we truly need, and we will grow in faith (obedient trust) and security in him. Nothing can happen to us in this world that he can’t handle.

Only the Lord can set us free from slavery to the “gods” of this world. Only he can open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Only he can deliver us from the fear of physical death (Hebrews 2:14-15) and give us eternal life.

The Lord cares for the poor, the oppressed, the weak, the needy, and the down-and-out; people that our culture rejects. On the Day of Judgment, everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what they have done in this world, in this lifetime. This Creation is God’s “garden” and we will be accountable for our stewardship of its resources (Matthew 21:33-43). Have others gone without necessities, because we tried to provide our own material security by hoarding resources? Have we neglected our spiritual health while trying to retain physical youth, beauty and health?

Jesus warned that as we treat the least of our fellow humans, we are doing so to Jesus. He warned that it is not those who call Jesus their Lord, but those who do what he teaches who are his disciples and have eternal life (Matthew 25:31-46).

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 Advent A

First posted December 11, 2007;

Podcast: Tuesday 2 Advent A

Isaiah 35:1-10 — The Coming of Messiah;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

The barren wilderness will blossom and become lush, fertile and beautiful, with joy and singing. Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon are examples of beauty, lushness and fertility. The glory and majesty of the Lord will be revealed and they will rejoice.

Let those with weak hands, feeble knees and fearful hearts be strengthened and encouraged and fear not, because our God is coming, with vengeance and recompense, to save us.

Then the sight of the blind and the hearing of the deaf will be restored, the lame will become agile, the mute will sing for joy. Springs of water will break forth in the wilderness and streams will irrigate the desert. Instead of burning sand there will be pools of water. Barren wastelands will become swamps.

There will be a highway, known as the Holy Way. The unclean (unrepentant sinners) won’t be allowed, and fools shall not make mistakes on it. Predators and ravenous beasts will not be found there; the highway is for the redeemed of the Lord, who have been ransomed (from sin and death) and they shall return to Zion (the eternal city of God) rejoicing. They will have everlasting joy and gladness, and there shall be no more sorrow or suffering.

Commentary:

John the Baptizer heralded the first advent (coming) of the Messiah in the wilderness (Luke 3:1-17). The glory and majesty of the Lord are revealed in Jesus. Jesus opened the fountain of salvation in the “wilderness” of this world and the barrenness of human hearts. It is that spiritual fountain which causes the wilderness of our lives to blossom and become fertile, and that fountain is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). It is that spiritual fountain which gives 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).

God’s Word promised that the coming of the Messiah would be attended by healing and restoration of the blind, deaf, mute and lame, and this was fulfilled in Jesus (Matthew 11:2-6). Jesus healed physical disabilities in fulfillment of the Scripture, but that physical healing was intended to show that he can also heal spiritual disabilities, spiritual blindness and deafness, and can raise us from physical and spiritual death to eternal life.

The gift of the Holy Spirit within us is the fullest revelation of God the Father and Jesus Christ to us personally and individually. It is the testimony of the Holy Spirit within us that strengthens and reassures us and calms our fears. Through the Holy Spirit we experience God’s love. We can rejoice in and pray for the Second Coming, knowing that the Lord will vindicate and save us.

Jesus is the (only) way (John 14:6); the highway to Zion, the eternal city of God in Heaven, and to eternal life. No evildoers, no unrepentant sinners (disobeyers of God’s Word) will be allowed on that highway. The way of salvation is not too difficult for even the simplest, least “educated” of people, but those who are spiritually reckless and insincere will not be allowed.

Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross is the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and our salvation from God’s eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). Jesus paid the price which ransoms us from the slavery and punishment of sin and eternal death. Jesus is the only way to everlasting joy and gladness in paradise restored in Heaven. Forgiveness and salvation are free gifts from God, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God fulfilled his promise to send a Savior and eternal King in Jesus’ first coming, and God’s Word promises that Jesus will return on the Day of Judgment and will judge the living and dead (1 Peter 4:5; in both the physical and spiritual senses). Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what they have done in this lifetime (John 5:28-29). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven with the Lord; those who have rejected and have refused to obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46).

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 Advent A

First posted December 12, 2007;

Podcast: Wednesday 2 Advent A

James 5:7-10 — The Lord is at Hand;

James Paraphrase:

Christians are urged to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord. For example, the farmer must wait for the precious fruit of the harvest, patiently tending it through the growing cycle. So we also must be patient, settling our hearts, because the Lord’s return is at hand. Let us not complain or argue with one another, so that we will have no cause to be judged, because the judge is at the very door. Be encouraged by the example of the prophets of the Lord who spoke in his name.

Commentary:

It is easy to become distracted by the things of this world, when we begin to think that the Lord’s return is delayed, especially in this season and this culture. Preparations for the secular celebration of the holiday take our attention away from our spiritual preparation.

Spiritual harvest is like farming. The seed has to be planted, and then tended through a period of growth until it is ready for harvest. The seed can’t be planted and then neglected; there’s no harvest without the planting and patient nurturing.

Christmas is a celebration of the first Advent (coming) of Christ, and the anticipation of his return. Israel had waited for hundreds, even thousands of years, for the promised Messiah (Christ; God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King) to come, but suddenly he was revealed, he proclaimed his Gospel, was crucified and resurrected, and ascended into Heaven in the matter of about three years. Many in Israel were unprepared for the coming of the Messiah. Some non-Jews were more willing to receive him than many of the Jews, although the non-Jews hadn’t had the testimony of God’s Word, the Bible.

The world is in the same situation today as that of Israel at the time of Jesus’ first advent. Many have been told that Christ will return to judge the earth. Many consider themselves the people of God, the “New Israel” and citizens of the “New Jerusalem.” They have access to the Biblical testimony.

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ who knows Jesus’ teaching, who trusts and obeys Jesus, and 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). 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).

Discipleship is a process of spiritual growth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the seed. “To all who received him, who believed on his name (his character and person) he gave the power to become children of God” (John 1:12). But that power must be received and appropriated by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. We must invite Jesus to be our Lord, to be our Master, to teach us his way, and we must be committed to following his teaching (Revelation 3:20).

Spiritual maturity isn’t instantaneous. It’s a process of learning to trust and obey by trusting and obeying; by trial and error. “The Twelve” original disciples were with Jesus twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for about three years, and yet were not ready to continue Jesus’ ministry until they had received the indwelling Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). Jesus told them to wait for their “rebirth” before going into the world with the Gospel (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). We should thank God that he’s been patient with us and has given us time to prepare for Jesus’ return (2 Peter 3:9).

Christ’s Second Coming is imminent. We can be certain that he will return within our own lifetime, because this lifetime is all the time we have to be “reborn” through obedient trust in Jesus, by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit, and no one can be certain of living until tomorrow. Today is the only time we can be certain of; Today is the Day of Salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

The Bible is God’s Word of encouragement to those who trust and obey him. God’s dealing with Israel was recorded in the Bible for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11). Any average reader can read the entire Bible in one year (see Free Bible Study Tools; sidebar, top right). Those who haven’t read the whole Bible and don’t read it daily for guidance are missing the great promises, encouragement and divine wisdom it contains.

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 Advent A

First posted December 13, 2007;

Podcast: Thursday 2 Advent A

Matthew 11:2-11 — Fulfillment of God’s Promise;

Matthew Paraphrase:

Herod had imprisoned John the Baptizer for preaching against Herod’s marriage to the wife of his brother, Philip (Mark 6:17). In prison John heard about what Jesus was doing, and he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he was the Messiah prophesied to come.

Jesus replied by telling John’s disciples to tell John what they saw and heard Jesus doing: healing the blind and lame, cleansing lepers, restoring hearing to the deaf, raising the dead, and preaching good news to the poor. Those who are not offended by Jesus will be blessed by him.

When John’s disciples left, Jesus spoke to the crowd, asking them why they had gone out to John in the wilderness. Surely they hadn’t gone out to see a reed shaken by the wind, nor a person in fine clothes, because such people are in palaces. Hadn’t they gone out to see a prophet? Indeed John is more than a prophet.

Jesus declared that John was the fulfillment of Scripture (Malachi 3:1) of a messenger to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. Jesus declared that John was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, and yet those who are least in the kingdom of God are greater than he.

Commentary:

John was languishing in prison and needed reassurance that his hope in Jesus as the Messiah was true. He was hearing rumors about what Jesus was doing, but was unable to witness them himself. John sent his own disciples to ask Jesus to declare whether Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus answered by telling John’s disciples to tell John what they saw and heard Jesus doing. Jesus was doing the miracles (“signs”) prophesied as accompanying and revealing the Messiah’s identity (Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1; compare Luke 4:17-21).

Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and example of God’s Word in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus’ word is the Word of God (John 14:10, 24), and has the same creative power (Genesis 1:3; compare Mark 4:37-41). Jesus was careful not to tell people who he was, because he wanted them to be free to decide for themselves who Jesus is. That is the reason Jesus usually referred to himself as the Son of man, which was true (and was a scriptural hint; see Daniel 7:13), but allowed them to decide for themselves whether he was also the Son of God.

John is the fulfillment of God’s Word of the “Elijah” who was to return to herald the coming of the Messiah, if people choose to accept his message. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promised Messiah, but people are free to accept or reject him and his message.

Those who accept John’s message are prepared for the coming Messiah, but those who reject him miss the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah for themselves. The Jewish religious leadership rejected John. Herod was offended by John’s message.

Those who accept Jesus, who are not offended by him, will be blessed. Many Jews including Jewish religious leaders took offense at Jesus and missed the promise and blessing of God. Many today are offended by Jesus Christ and by God’s Word.

If John’s message was meaningless, like the rattling of a dry reed by the wind in the wilderness, why would people go out to find him in the wilderness? If they judged John’s message by his clothing and appearance, would they accept his message over that of the religious leaders who wore the robes of their leadership position, or over the secular Roman governors?

Jesus declared that John was the (last and) greatest of the Old Testament prophets, who had the privilege of announcing and witnessing the coming of the long awaited Messiah promised in God’s Word. In Old Testament times only a few individuals, God’s chosen prophets (spokespersons) had a personal relationship with God. John had a personal relationship with God, who guided John to begin his ministry and gave him the message he was to proclaim, but the least disciple of Jesus has a better personal relationship with Jesus and God the Father through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which Jesus’ coming was to make possible.

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 the indwelling Holy Spirit through whom Jesus personally and individually reveals himself to us and through whom we have fellowship with God the Father (John 14:21, 23). It is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit which causes us to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) to spiritual, 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).

If we do not read the Bible completely and daily, we have no basis on which to make spiritual decisions which have personal and eternal consequences. God’s Word has been given to us so that we can know God’s will and purpose, and recognize God’s prophets and God’s Messiah.

The Lord wants us to be free to accept or reject him. To receive his blessings, his promises, in God’s Word personally, we must trust and obey God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation (from our eternal condemnation and destruction by God’s judgment; 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)?

Friday 2 Advent A

First posted December 14, 2007;

Podcast: Friday 2 Advent A

Malachi 3:1-6 — Messenger of the Lord;

Malachi Paraphrase:

Malachi proclaimed God’s Word that God would send a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, the Lord, who would “suddenly come to his temple” (Malachi 3:1). He is the Lord of the (new) covenant, in whom they delight. But who will survive his coming?

The Lord will be like a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap (bleach). He will first purify the Church (the sons of Levi; lay leaders) as a refiner purifies silver and gold by fire. Then they will present offerings acceptable to the Lord as they had in the past.

Then the Lord will judge all people, and will destroy those who practice sorcery, adultery, lying, those who deny workers a just wage, who oppress widows, orphans, and sojourners (non-citizens). God’s Word is faithful and unchanging; he has shown forbearance to Israel and not destroyed them outright.

Commentary:

Four or five-hundred years before the birth of Christ, Malachi declared God’s Word of the coming (advent) of the promised Messiah. John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy of the messenger God would send to prepare Israel for the coming Messiah (Luke 3:1-9; Matthew 17:10-13).

To God’s people who delight in a covenant relationship with God, the Messiah is bringing a New Covenant, not based on fear of punishment, but on God’s grace (a free gift; unmerited favor), to be received by faith (obedient trust) in the Messiah (Ephesians 2:8-9; Jesus; God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King; “Christ” is the Greek equivalent).

The prophecy of the coming of Messiah applies to his first advent, his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection, but also to his Second Coming, when he will return to judge the “the living and the dead” (in both the physical and spiritual senses; 1 Peter 4:5). The Lord’s judgment will begin with the Church (Malachi 3:1; compare 1 Peter 4:17), so that they will again make acceptable offerings to the Lord. The purified, “reborn” (John 3:3, 5-8) Church is to be the New Messenger, the New John-the-Baptizer,” to continue his call to repent and prepare for the Second Coming.

Jesus came to Israel, God’s covenant people of the Old Covenant of Law, sacrifice and punishment. He came to establish a New Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus, who is the mediator of the New Covenant between God and his people. Jesus established the New Covenant at his Last Supper on the eve of his crucifixion (Luke 22:20 RSV note “j;” Hebrews 9:15).

The Lord’s refining judgment is intended to refine and purify God’s people so that they will be acceptable to him, but will remove and destroy the wicked who do not obey the Gospel (1 Peter 4:17).

A “fuller” was someone who whitens cloth. Fuller’s soap whitens cloth and removes stains. Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross as a sacrifice for our forgiveness and salvation removes the stains of sin and provides the white robes of righteousness in God’s judgment through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus (Revelation 7:14).

A refiner of precious metals uses fire to separate and remove the dross (contaminations) from silver and gold to purify them. Fire doesn’t destroy what is precious, but only what is corrupt.

God and God’s Word are eternal and unchanging. What he promises is fulfilled. God warns us that he will not tolerate sin (disobedience of God’s Word). What God hated thousands of years ago and recorded in the Bible is still unacceptable to him, but he has had great patience with us to allow us to learn to trust and obey his will by trial and error. He doesn’t destroy the wicked immediately, but within our lifetimes we will all face his judgment, and then he will destroy the wicked, unrepentant sinners

Jesus has received all power and authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and has promised to return on the Day of Judgment, to judge everyone who has ever lived. The standard of judgment will be Jesus Christ, the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word lived out in human flesh (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the paradise of the New Creation of God’s eternal heavenly kingdom. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey him will receive eternal destruction in the unquenchable fire of Hell (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)?

Saturday 2 Advent A

First posted December 15, 2007;

Podcast: Saturday 2 Advent A

Romans 1:16-25 – God’s Judgment on sin;
Luke 1:39-56 – Mary’s Testimony;

Romans Paraphrase:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). God’s righteousness is revealed to those who believe, so that their faith might increase and be strengthened. Those who trust and obey Jesus in faith are accounted righteous by God and have eternal life.

The wrath of God is upon the ungodly and wicked who by wickedness suppress the truth. Although God is invisible, God has revealed himself, his eternal power and deity to all people through Creation. So people have no excuse; it isn’t that they don’t know that God exists, but they refuse to honor and give thanks to him. By denying the truth, their minds have become darkened and their thinking futile. They claim to be wise but have become fools, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images of man or animals.

God allowed them to pursue the impure lusts of their hearts, and they dishonored their own bodies. “…they have exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:25).

Luke Paraphrase:

After the Angel of the Lord had revealed to Mary that she was pregnant with the Messiah, she went from Nazareth to the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was Mary’s kinswoman, and was also supernaturally pregnant with John the Baptizer (Luke 1:5-25).

When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby within Elizabeth leaped for joy. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed that Mary was blessed above all other women, and praised and glorified Mary’s baby, acknowledging that Mary was the mother of Elizabeth’s Lord (the Messiah). She praised Mary for believing that the Word of the Lord would be fulfilled as Mary had been told.

Mary praised the Lord and acknowledged God as her Savior. Almighty God had exalted and done great things for Mary, a lowly maiden, who would be exalted through all generations.

Mary testified that God’s mercy is on those who fear (have proper respect for the power and authority of) God. God has revealed his great power. God scatters the proud who imagine that they are great, he dethrones the mighty, but he exalts the humble. God feeds the hungry with good things, but turns away the rich empty-handed. God has been merciful and has fulfilled his promise to help his people who serve him, as he promised to our ancestors, to the posterity of Abraham forever.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home.

Commentary:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ applies the power of God to save us from sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and (eternal) death (the penalty for sin; Romans 6:23) for all who believe (trust and obey). God brought the Gospel of Salvation to the Jews first, but it has always been intended for all people.

The meaning and purpose of this lifetime is to seek, find and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God, our Creator. This is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from God’s eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

God has been progressively revealing himself to all people, first through Creation itself, then through the history of God’s relationship with Israel, recorded in the Bible. Then through Jesus Christ, recorded in the Bible, and ultimately revealed individually and personally through 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 reveals the righteousness (doing right, according to God’s standard) of God in the Bible. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word in human form (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus is the righteousness of God revealed in human flesh. Those who believe (trust and obey) God’s Word experience God’s righteousness through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which causes our faith to grow to spiritual maturity (John 14:21, 23; 16:7-11).

God has given us the freedom to choose whether or not to trust and obey God’s Word. The wicked and ungodly want to be their own “god.” They appear to thrive now, in this world, but God has appointed a Day of Judgment, when we will all be accountable for what we have done in this lifetime.

Jesus is (divine, eternal) truth (John 14:6). Satan is the “god” of this world and he is a liar and the father of lies. If we refuse to accept, trust and obey Jesus, we are blinding ourselves to eternal truth. If we refuse to worship the Lord we will be slaves of Satan and have exchanged the love and goodness of the Lord for our own wicked desires.

Mary and Elizabeth are examples of faith. Mary was a virgin and Elizabeth was old and barren. An angel of the Lord gave them God’s Word that they would each become pregnant. The child of Mary was the long-awaited Messiah, and the child of Elizabeth was John the Baptizer, the “new Elijah” (Matthew 17:10-13), who was expected to herald the coming of Messiah. Through the obedient trust of those two women, God’s plan of salvation was fulfilled, for all who trust and obey God’s Word.

Mary and Elizabeth knew from first-hand personal experience that the Lord lifts up the humble, and blesses the faithful with good things, but those who are arrogant and selfish will be brought low. In the advent of the Christ as a child, Jesus Christ, God has fulfilled his promise of a Savior who was to come through Abraham and his descendants to be a blessing to all people who trust and obey Jesus.

God’s Word is eternally true. We can choose whether or not to trust and obey it. Those who trust and obey will experience God’s love, truth and faithfulness. Those who refuse will ultimately receive God’s wrath and the due penalty for 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)?

Week of 1 Advent A – 11/27 – 12/03/2016

November 26, 2016

Week of 1 Advent A

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 ‘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:

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

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

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:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

Please Note:

This ‘blog is now available in mobile-optimized format:

http://winksite.mobi/shepherdboy/MyDailyWalk

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:

http://shepherdboy.byethost12.com/#Burn_Site_to_CD

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.

This entry for 1 Advent marks the beginning of the Church year, cycle A.

Podcast Download: Week of 1 Advent – A

Sunday 1 Advent A

First Posted 12/2/07;
Podcast: Sunday 1 Advent A

Isaiah 2:1-5 — The New Age;
Psalm 122 — Peace for Jerusalem;
Romans 13:11-14 — Christ’s Imminent Return;
Matthew 24:37-44 — The Thief in the Night;
or Matthew 21:1-11 — Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

God revealed God’s Word of prophecy to Isaiah concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

God declared that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the highest, above other hills. All people and nations will come to it, eager to be taught the Lord’s ways so as to live according to them.

From Zion (the hill of the house of the Lord; Jerusalem; the Church; the Heavenly City) shall go the Law; the Word of God. The Lord will judge over the nations and peoples.

The new Age of the Lord’s reign will be will be an age of peace between God, and mankind, and their neighbors. Instead of making weapons they will make agricultural tools. People will no longer learn or practice war between people and nations.

Psalm Background:

The songs of ascents were intended to be sung by pilgrims going up to the temple on the hill of the Lord in Jerusalem which was surrounded on three sides by valleys. It prefigures the Christian’s spiritual pilgrimage from the valley of this present world to the eternal house of the Lord in the heavenly city.

Psalm Paraphrase:

The pilgrims will rejoice as they journey to the house of the Lord and when their feet ultimately stand within the gates of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is intended to be a unification of various tribes of people in one Lord and one assembly, where all will give thanks to the name of the Lord. The eternal throne of Judgment has been established in the house of the Lord through the descendants of David.

God’s people are to pray for peace in Jerusalem, and prosperity for those who love her, for the sake of the pilgrims and brethren. For the sake of the house of God we will seek their good.

Romans Paraphrase:

Paul urged Christians to be awake and watchful for Christ’s return, because the Day of the Lord is drawing ever closer. The night of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) is nearly over; the day of righteousness and judgment is at hand.

Christians must discard the works of darkness like dirty clothes, and put on the armor of light (Christ’s righteousness). We should conduct ourselves in righteousness, as in the light of day and scrutiny, not in the kinds of wickedness that people do when they think their sins are concealed by darkness; not in revelry drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling or jealousy. Instead, let us be clothed in Jesus’ ways and his righteousness, and make no attempt to gratify physical desires.

Matthew 21 Background:

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples, where he knew he would be crucified (Matthew 20:17-19).

Matthew 21 Paraphrase:

At Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, he told two disciples to enter the village, where they would find a donkey tied (either a young foal, or with a young foal, depending on whose Gospel account; Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30; John 12:14; Zechariah 9:9). If anyone should question their action they were to say that the Lord had need of [it]. The disciples did as Jesus had told them and found it exactly as Jesus had said. Thus the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled. They brought the animal and put their garments on it and Jesus sat thereon.

The crowd accompanying him spread their garments or cut branches on the road to make a carpet for him. They shouted Hosanna to the Son of David (i.e. the “Messiah,” God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal heir to the throne of David; 2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). The people of Jerusalem were stirred up by this procession, and asked the crowd what was going on, and the people in the crowd told them that Jesus was the prophet from Nazareth who was entering the city.

Matthew 24 Background:

Jesus spent about a week in Jerusalem before his betrayal and crucifixion, and was teaching in the temple daily. His disciples commented on the grandeur of the new (not-yet-finished temple, built by Herod the Great). Jesus commented that it soon would be destroyed, and his disciples asked Jesus privately when the temple destruction would take place and what would be the signs of the end of the age (Matthew 24:1-3).

Matthew 24 Paraphrase:

Jesus began to teach his disciples about the end of the age and the coming Day of Judgment. Jesus warned them that the Second Coming and Day of Judgment would be like the coming of the flood in the time of Noah. Worldly people were pursuing earthly desires and ignoring God’s Word until the day of destruction, while Noah and his family escaped destruction by obedient trust in God’s Word.

Jesus warned that the judgment will be so precise and selective that of two men working side-by-side in the field, one will be taken and the other left; of two women milling grain, one will be taken and the other left. We must therefore be alert and watchful, because the Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night.

Realize that if a householder knew when a thief was planning to break in, the householder would be watching and would not let the thief break in. So also we must be alert and watchful, because we do not know the day or hour of Christ’s return.

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the very beginning of Creation to establish an eternal kingdom of his people who would willingly trust and obey God’s Word. God knew that we would have to learn to trust and obey him by trial and error, and he designed Creation to allow for sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and provided a way of  forgiveness in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). From the very beginning of Creation, Jesus has been God’s one and only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from God’s eternal condemnation (John 1:1-5; 14).

God has been progressively revealing himself and his purpose for Creation. He revealed himself personally to Abraham (Abram; Genesis 12:1-7) and through Abraham created a nation of his people, through whom we have the Bible record of his progressive revelation, and the fulfillment, embodiment and example of God’s Word revealed in Jesus Christ (John 1:14).

God first reveals himself to us in his Bible, and as we trust and obey his Word, he reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ. As we trust and obey Jesus, he reveals himself to us individually and personally through 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, 21, 23).

The meaning and purpose of life is to seek and come to personal knowledge of and fellowship with God our Creator (Acts 17:26-27) and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

God’s Word promised that he would establish his eternal kingdom, and that kingdom would come forth from Jerusalem. The kingdom of God will be the New Age, the age of peace and righteousness. The citizens of that age will be eager to be taught God’s Word, because they will know that living according to God’s Word is good (right), acceptable (possible and satisfying), and perfect (their very best interest; Romans 12:2). The New Age of the Kingdom of God will be an age of true peace, with God, and with one another.

Life in this world is a pilgrimage of the believer toward the eternal Kingdom of God. The Church is to be the New Jerusalem on earth, which prefigures the eternal city. We should pray for and work for peace and spiritual well-being within the Church. The pilgrim rejoices to be in the house of the Lord, but it is only the foreshadowing of the true joy when we at last stand in the eternal city.

Christians are by definition (Acts 11:26c) disciples who trust and obey Jesus. Naming the name of Jesus, or calling ourselves Christians won’t save us, as Jesus has warned (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21-27). Only a personal relationship with Jesus through the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit will save us. Christians are warned to be alert and watchful, being careful to follow Jesus’ teachings, instead of pursuing worldly things and physical desires.

The Jews had the Scripture (the Old Testament) and they personally witnessed the miracles (signs showing who Jesus was) that Jesus did. They witnessed Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in fulfillment of scripture, but within a week, they demanded his crucifixion (Matthew 27:22-25).

The world and the Church are in the same situation today as the world in the time of Noah and as Jerusalem in the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. The World pursues their worldly physical lusts and refuses to give heed to God’s Word. The Church has the Bible, with the New Testament witness to Christ, but often the members are pursuing worldly lives, and don’t know, trust and obey God’s Word.

God promised to send the Savior, the Messiah, and his promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He promised that Jesus will return to judge the physically and spiritually living and dead (1 Peter 4:5). Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment are imminent. We can be certain that his return will be within our lifetimes, because at the moment of our death our eternal destiny is determined and unchangeable.

None of us can be certain that we will live beyond today, but it is possible for us to know with certainty for ourselves whether we are saved and have eternal life. Those who trust and obey Jesus will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, an ongoing, personally discernible event (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)?

Monday 1 Advent A

First posted 12/03/07;
Podcast: Monday 1 Advent A

Psalm 72:1-14 (15-19) — Prayer for the King;

Psalm Paraphrase:

“Give the king thy justice, O God and thy righteousness to the royal son” (Psalm 72:1), so that he will judge the people with righteousness and give justice to the poor. May the nation prosper by righteousness. May the king defend the poor, give deliverance to the needy and destroy the oppressor.

May the king reign through all generations, as long as sun and moon endure. May he be refreshing and sustaining like rain on mown grass. May he reign in righteousness and peace forever.

“May he have dominion from sea to sea and from the River (Euphrates; the ‘cradle of civilization’) to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72:8). May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him” (Psalm 72:10-11).

The king and the nation will prosper because the king hears and delivers the needy, the poor, and the helpless. He redeems them from violence and oppression, because they are precious to him.

Commentary:

This psalm was used to celebrate the human monarchy of Israel, but is also prophetic and points to the coming of the promised Messiah, the eternal savior and king, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate example of Godly government. Jesus is the royal son.

In the days of King Solomon’s reign, the Queen of Sheba (Queen of the South; Matt. 12:42) came to him bringing gifts of gold, spices and jewels (1 Kings 10:1-13) because Solomon had asked God for, and had received divine wisdom to rule over God’s people with justice and righteousness (1 Kings 3:5-14), and she had heard of Solomon’s wisdom.

After Jesus’ birth wise men (magi; the “Three Kings”) from the east came to Jerusalem seeking the new-born king of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2), bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-11), fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 72:10, 11, 15).

The Lord was the true righteous and just King of the Jews, but the people asked for a human monarchy. David, the man after God’s heart and obedient to God’s Word (Acts 13:22; Psalm 89:20) was the great human shepherd-king of Israel, but David was unable to provide the righteous and just government of God’s people that God intends. David was the human king who foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah, Jesus, the “Son of David,” the “Good Shepherd,” God’s anointed eternal Savior and King of kings.

Solomon asked for and received divine wisdom to govern God’s people with righteousness and justice, but Solomon, despite divine wisdom, departed from obedience to God’s Word. The two best examples of human kings of God’s people failed because of sin (disobedience of God’s Word). Neither was able to save himself or his people from our sinful human nature. Jesus is the perfectly sinless sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin, and the perfect righteous judge and eternal king. Only Jesus can redeem us from the oppression of sin.

Jesus is coming with all power and authority to establish his eternal kingdom. Jesus will establish justice and righteousness in his kingdom on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46).

Throughout his dealing with his people, recorded in the Bible, God has shown his concern and care for the poor, helpless and humble and his condemnation of the arrogant and the oppressor. The Day of Judgment is coming when all earthly leaders and rulers will have to give account to the Lord for how they have governed God’s people. All of us are God’s people in the sense that God is our Creator, whether we acknowledge him as Lord or not.

God’s Word promises that nations that want to continue to prosper over a long period must treat their poor, needy and humble with justice and righteousness according to God’s standard. How are we doing as a nation and as a church?

America has been richly blessed by God, but are our leaders distributing those blessings fairly and justly? Are our leaders ensuring equal opportunity for all? Do all have an equal voice in the government of our country? Is our government protecting its people from oppression and exploitation by the rich and powerful? Is Jesus our king, or we relying on human government for our providence and success?

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 1 Advent A

First posted 12/04/07;
Podcast: Tuesday 1 Advent A

Isaiah 11:1-10 — The Messianic King;

Isaiah Paraphrase:

A shoot will come forth from the stump of Jesse (the father of David; 1 Samuel 16:10-13). “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear (appropriate awe and respect for the power and authority) of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2-3a).

The Messiah is the righteous judge, who will not be swayed by outward appearances or by what people say. He will not be influenced by human wealth and power. He will treat the poor and meek with fairness and justice. His Word will oppose and defeat worldly people and destroy the wicked. His conduct will be bound and controlled by God’s righteousness and faithfulness

In his reign Creation will be restored to paradise with peace and harmony between all creatures. No longer will creatures prey and be preyed upon by others. Wild animals will be gentle enough for a small child to lead. The most poisonous of snakes will be no threat even to infants and small children. Creatures will no longer hurt or destroy in God’s kingdom, because all will know God fully and personally.

In that day, the root of Jesse (the Messiah; Jesus) will stand forth as a signal flag. All nations will seek him and “his dwelling shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10).

Commentary:

God’s Word prophesied that the Messiah would come forth from the stump of Israel. Jesus is the Son (descendant) of David (and thus of Jesse, David’s Father; Matthew 1:1-17). Israel would be cut off but the “New Israel” would come forth through that one branch which is Jesus Christ. His Church is the “New Israel.”

The fullness of the Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus, as John the Baptizer testified (John 1:31-34). The infilling of the Holy Spirit is characterized by divine (not “worldly”) wisdom and understanding, counsel, supernatural power, a personal knowledge (experience) of and relationship with God, and reverence and respect for God’s power and authority, not in fear and dread, but in delight.

Jesus came in human flesh to become the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right). He came to spiritually cleanse us so that we could individually become the dwelling place of God in the 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).

Through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit we can have divine wisdom, spiritual understanding, divine counsel, personal experience and fellowship with the Lord, and supernatural enabling and power to do what the Lord calls us to do (John 14:21, 25-26). We can delight in doing God’s will with joy, rather than in fear and dread.

Jesus is the righteous judge, not basing his judgment on outward appearances or what people say. He will give justice and equity for the poor and meek. His Word will confront and defeat worldly people and will destroy the wicked. All his ways will be governed and characterized by righteousness and faithfulness.

Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and has promised to return in great glory and power on the Day of Judgment. Everyone who has ever lived will be accountable to him for what they have done in life (John 5:28-29). The standard of judgment will be God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in God’s New Creation in Heaven. Those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will be condemned to eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Creation will be restored to the paradise God intended, but which was lost through sin (disobedience of God’s Word). In the new Creation there will be peace and harmony between all creatures and all will know the Lord and his Word personally and fully and be glad to trust and obey him. In that day, Jesus will be a banner and signal of victory and salvation to all people, and he will be glorified.

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 1 Advent A

First posted 12/05/07;
Podcast: Wednesday 1 Advent A

Romans 15:4-13 — The Root of Jesse;

Romans Paraphrase:

The Bible, the record of God’s dealing with Israel, was written down for our instruction, so that by the faithfulness of God and his unfailing promises we might be encouraged and strengthened for endurance with hope. Paul prayed that the Romans (and all Christians) would live in harmony with one another, in accord with the teachings of Jesus Christ, “that together [we] may with one voice glorify God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6).

So we should show the same hospitality to one another which God has shown us. Christ came as a servant to the Jews to demonstrate the truthfulness of God’s Word and the promises made to the Jewish patriarchs (which it contains), and so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy (for their inclusion in salvation).

Paul quoted Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10 to show that the Gentiles share in the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the root of Jesse (father of David, the great shepherd-king of Israel) “who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope” (Isaiah 11:10).

Paul’s prayer is that all believers may experience the joy and peace which comes through faith (obedient trust) and may have hope and encouragement through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises of God’s Word of a Savior through whom we would receive forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from God’s eternal condemnation. Jesus is the completion of the Old Covenant of Law and the beginning of a new and better Covenant of Grace (unmerited favor) through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).

Jesus didn’t end God’s Law but came to make it possible for us to fulfill it, not from fear of punishment, but by love, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 5:17-19). Through the Holy Spirit we have the power to resist Satan and temptation, and complete forgiveness when we fall short.

Jesus came through the Jews in fulfillment of God’s promises to the patriarchs, but came to bring Salvation (from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right) to all people. In Jesus Christ he created a “New Israel” a new People of God from Jews and Gentiles who believe in (trust and obey) Jesus (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). All people, Jew and Gentile, must come to God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

God has shown no partiality. Anyone who comes to him through true, Biblical faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ is acceptable to him, and so we should also welcome one another in the name of Jesus.

The Church is the New Israel. Judaism effectively ended at the Crucifixion. The curtain (veil) of the temple was torn in two, symbolizing that Jesus had opened a new and better way into God’s presence (Luke 23:45) through Jesus. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans, the people were scattered, and the nation ceased to exist, until reestablished after World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was a “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8; Acts 9:17) Christian disciple, making “born-again” disciples of the Roman Christians, teaching them from the Bible to trust and obey Jesus’ teachings and to seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of Christ’s “Great Commission which he gave to his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), to be carried out after they had received the infilling with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ who trust and obey Jesus and have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9b, 11, 15-16), which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). The Bible has been written for our instruction to give us hope and encouragement through the promises of God that it contains and the record of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. We need to read the Bible completely and also daily so that we can know and claim the promises of God and receive hope and encouragement from them.

The “nominal” Church is fragmented today, and is speaking in anything but one voice. The “true” Church is the Bible-teaching, Bible-believing Church. It is the work of Satan to divide the “Church” and create counterfeit “churches.” There are many false teachers and false prophets today. We must be personally responsible to read the Bible and know what it contains, so that we are not deceived (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

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 1 Advent A

First posted 12/05/07;
Podcast: Thursday 1 Advent A

Matthew 3:1-12 John the Baptizer

Matthew Paraphrase:

In God’s timing, John the Baptizer started preaching in the wilderness of Judea, announcing that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and calling people to repent (i.e. to turn from disobedience, and to obedient trust in God’s Word). John was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of one crying in the wilderness, calling for repentance in preparation for the Messiah’s coming (Isaiah 40:3).

John was dressed in the manner of Old Testament prophets, in a camel-hair shirt, with a leather belt (compare 2 Kings 1:8), and he lived off food he gathered in the wilderness, like locusts and honey. Crowds came from the wide surrounding areas confessing their sins and being baptized by John in the Jordan River.

“But when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Jewish religious leaders) coming for baptism, he said to them ‘You brood of vipers (poisonous snakes)! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our Father;’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10).

John declared that his baptism was with water for repentance; John was the most menial servant of the Messiah, but the Messiah, who is greater than John, “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3).

John described the Messiah’s coming as a thresher, who will thresh and winnow the harvest, separating the wheat from the chaff. “He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12b).

Commentary:

John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the fulfillment of prophecy of the return of Elijah to herald the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 17:10-13).

John’s baptism with water for repentance is carried on by the Church, calling people to turn from sin (disobedience of God’s Word), and to obedient trust in Jesus, preparing them for the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ. Only Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34), only his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17).

The prophecy of John that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), the birthday of the Church. The true Church is the “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Church. 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 Church is the “New John the Baptizer,” calling people to repent, turn from disobedience to obedient trust in God’s Word and to seek and await the coming of Jesus through his Holy Spirit (John 14:21). Believers are to be “discipled” within the church by mature, “born-again” disciples, until they have received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as Jesus commanded his original disciples (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Only then are they to be sent out into the world to carry on the ministry of John the Baptizer and of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), to bring forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation (from God’s judgment and condemnation), to all who will receive it through obedient trust in Jesus.

The conditions are very similar in the world, the nations, and the Church today, particularly in America, as they were in the time of John the Baptizer. In John’s day the religious leaders had turned from obedient trust in God’s Word, and relied on their “tradition.” They were not led by God’s Spirit (Matthew 3:7c), as John was (John 1:33; Luke 3:1-3). They conducted their religion as their personal empire, to further their own self-interests, instead of seeking and doing God’s will. They thought they could avoid God’s condemnation by some “religious ritual,” such as (water) “baptism.”

John didn’t try to make his message flatter his hearers or make them feel good. His message was an attempt to save them from God’s eternal damnation. Unless people are willing to hear the Biblical truth, they cannot turn in repentance and faith (obedient trust) to Jesus and be saved (John 14:6). Jesus is God’s only provision for our salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

This Creation is God’s wheat field and threshing floor. We are intended to produce spiritual fruit through obedient trust in Jesus Christ. The Day of Judgment at Christ’s Second Coming (Advent) is the day of the harvest, threshing, and winnowing (Matthew 25:31-46). When Jesus returns, he will separate the wheat from the chaff; the sheep from the goats. Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in paradise in God’s eternal kingdom with the Lord. Those who have rejected and refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal death and destruction in Hell with all evil.

Everyone who ever lived will face God’s judgment (John 5:28-29). We can be certain that the Day of Judgment will occur within our lifetimes. No one knows whether one will live to see tomorrow. Today is the only day we can be sure of. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). What we decide to do today determines where we will spend eternity.

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 1 Advent A

First posted 12/07/07;
Podcast: Friday 1 Advent A

Micah 4:1-7 – Messianic Reign;
Romans 2:1-16 – God’s Judgment;

Micah Paraphrase:

The prophet foresaw the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. The mountain of the house of the Lord (Zion) will be above every other mountain (ruler). All people and nations will come to Zion to be taught God’s ways, so that they can live in obedience to him. God’s Law will be issued from Zion, and Jerusalem will be the capital from which God’s Word goes forth.

The Lord will be the Judge who will arbitrates between many people, and powerful nations far away. The nations will convert their weapons of war into agricultural implements, because nations will no longer learn or engage in war. Every person will live in peace in his own home on his own land. None shall make them afraid because God has declared his Word.

The nations of the earth live according to their “gods” (idols) but God’s people will live eternally in accordance with the Lord our God.

In the Day of the Lord he will gather those who have been driven away, and those he has afflicted, and he will make, of the lame and outcast, survivors and a strong nation. And the Lord will reign over them forever.

Romans Paraphrase:

Those who pass judgment on others condemn themselves, because they are guilty of the same sins. God’s judgment rightly falls upon people who do such things, so if we are guilty of such things we will not escape God’s judgment.

Do you presume upon the abundance of God’s kindness, forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is intended to allow you to be guided to repentance? By resisting repentance, you are storing up judgment against you on the day of God’s wrath when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

In that day every person will receive judgment according to what he has done. Those who have sought what is good, honorable, and eternal, by patience in well-doing, will receive immortality, but those who are rebellious and obey wickedness instead of truth will receive God’s wrath and fury.

Everyone who does evil will receive tribulation and distress in the day of the Lord, both Jew and Gentile; but for those who do right there will be glory, honor and peace, whether Jew or Gentile, since God shows no partiality.

The Gentiles who are not under God’s Covenant of Law will perish without the Law, and the Jews who have the Law will be judged by the Law. It is not the hearers of the Law but those who do the Law who are judged righteous by God. When Gentiles do what the Law requires they are righteous by their conscience, which shows that God’s Law is written on their hearts. They will be justified or condemned according to what they have done by the law of their conscience, in the Day of Judgment by Jesus Christ, before whom no secrets are hidden.

Commentary:

God has given us his Word, the Bible; his Law, by which we are to live. In and through the Bible he has revealed his plan for Creation: the establishment of an eternal kingdom of his people who willingly choose to trust and obey God and his Word. God has revealed the fulfillment of his promise in his Word of a Savior and eternal King in Jesus Christ.

The prophet foresaw the establishment of that eternal kingdom when Christ returns on the Day of Judgment. Zion was the hill in Jerusalem on which the temple was built. It is used to refer to the nation and people of Israel, and to the city and temple of God in Heaven. The Church has become the New Jerusalem and the New Zion on earth which foreshadows the eternal city and temple in Heaven.

This lifetime is our opportunity to seek and come to know God and his will; his Law (Acts 17:26-27). This is our opportunity to choose whether or not to live according to God’s Word. 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 God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sins (disobedience of God’s Word) and our salvation from God’s eternal condemnation (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right).

Worldly nations and people live according to their “gods;” modern idols such as wealth, power, possessions, pleasure, home, family, career, success, worldly honor. Any thing or person which we love as much as or more than the Lord is an idol. This lifetime is our opportunity to choose to live according to worldly idols or according to God’s Word, but note that God’s Word promises that only those who live according to his Word will live eternally in paradise with him (Micah 4:5).

The Church is the “Zion” and “Jerusalem” in this world, where people and nations can come to learn God’s Law and learn to live according to his Word. In this world disciples of Jesus Christ will experience affliction and persecution, but God is able to preserve us as the faithful remnant of (all) the people God created, and make of us a strong nation.

Jesus is God’s “anointed” Savior and eternal King, but he is also God’s designated righteous judge, who will return on the Day of Judgment to judge everyone who has ever lived. Jesus is worthy to be the judge, because he was completely obedient to and trusting of God’s Word, even in submission to physical death of a most excruciating type. Jesus was the perfect, unblemished sacrificial “lamb” who became the one and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins.

God’s Word warns against being judgmental of others. Worldly people think they are “good” people because they aren’t as “bad” as others. That is not the standard of judgment Jesus will use. The standard of Judgment will be God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ.

Ignorance of God’s Word will be no excuse. God has revealed himself in Creation, he has revealed his plan of salvation in the physical life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he has written his Law on our hearts (has given us a “conscience”). God has designed this Creation to allow for the possibility of sin (disobedience of God’s Word) so that we can have a true, free choice of whether to trust and obey God’s Word or not. He intends for us to learn by trial and error that God’s Word is good, acceptable (possible and gratifying) and perfect (our best interest; Romans 12:2).

Church members are the “New Jews.” Just because we were “born-into” the church or have leadership roles in church doesn’t exempt us from knowing, trusting and obeying God’s Word. God shows no partiality. Ignorance of God’s Word will be no excuse, and because we are church members and church leaders the Lord will hold us more accountable.

God’s patience and forbearance of our rebellion and disobedience is intended to allow us time and incentive to repent. If we keep resisting his grace (unmerited favor) and mercy (undeserved forgiveness) we are going to receive condemnation and eternal destruction on the Day of Judgment, and in that day we will know that we deserve 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)?

Saturday 1 Advent A

First posted 12/08/07;
Podcast: Saturday 1 Advent A

Luke 1:26-35 — Jesus’ Birth Foretold ;

The angel Gabriel appeared in Nazareth in Galilee to a woman named Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David (the shepherd-king). The angel greeted Mary, saying that God had favored her and was with her. Mary was very troubled by the greeting, wondering what it meant. Gabriel told her not to be worried, because God favored her. She was going to bear a son whom she was to call Jesus. The angel declared that Jesus was to be great, the Son of the Most High (God), who would give him the throne of his ancestor, David, and that Jesus would reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever.

Mary asked the angel how this could be, since she was unmarried. The angel replied that the Holy Spirit, the power of God, would come upon her and she would conceive. Thus the child would be holy, and would be called the Son of God.

Commentary:

Jesus was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the “son” (descendant) of David, in fulfillment of God’s promise (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29), through his (adoptive) father Joseph, and Son of God by the Holy Spirit. He is fully human and fully God (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28).

Jesus is the “son of David,” and thus the fulfillment of God’s promise in scripture of an eternal King and heir to the throne of David, the promised Messiah (Christ; both words mean “anointed,” in Hebrew and Greek, respectively). Jesus usually referred to himself as the “son of man” (mankind), emphasizing his human parent, rather than his divine parent. He did this so that his hearers would be free to decide for themselves whether he were the Son of God, the Messiah, for themselves. (It is also a sign and fulfillment of scripture of Daniel 7:13-14).

Jesus is the first-born (supernatural) Son of God and thus the heir of God. Through obedient trust in Jesus we are “adopted” into the family of God, and share in the inheritance with Jesus. The whole fullness of God dwelt in Jesus bodily (Colossians 2:8-9). We can experience the Spirit of God dwelling within us 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 first-born, the only “begotten” Son of God. He is the heir to the throne of David and the throne of God. We cannot become “God” or “like God” (Genesis 3:5). Our place in the family of God is by God’s favor, to be received by faith (obedient trust) in Jesus as we acknowledge him as our Savior, Lord and eternal King. We become the house of Jacob, the New Israel, as we accept Jesus as our Lord and eternal King. We share in the inheritance of Jesus by his unmerited favor (Isaiah 53:12).

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)?

Christ the King – C – 11/20 – 26/2016

November 19, 2016

Week of Last Pentecost C
Christ the King

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).

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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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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 Last Pentecost C

Sunday Last Pentecost C

Christ the King  

First Posted November 21, 2010;
Podcast: Sunday Last Pentecost C 

Jeremiah 23:2-6 – Messianic Oracle;

Psalm 95:1-7a – God’s Kingship;

Colossians 1:13-20 – Delivered from Satan’s Power;

Luke 23:35-43 – The Crucifixion;

Jeremiah Paraphrase:

The Lord God rebuked the priests and prophets of Israel who were supposed to be “shepherds” of God’s people, but who were failing to fulfill their responsibility. They had scattered and driven away God’s “flock.” They had not attended to the needs of God’s people. The Lord promised to repay the unfaithful shepherds according to their evil deeds.

Then, the Lord promised, he would gather the remnant of his people from where they had been driven and bring them back to their “sheepfold” where they can be fruitful and multiply. The Lord promised to raise up shepherds who would properly care for his flock. The flock would no longer need fear or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing.

Psalm Paraphrase:

Let us sing in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, the rock of our salvation. Let us make joyful music and praise the Lord as we enter his presence, for the Lord alone is a great God and King, above all others. He rules the deeps and heights of earth, as well as the oceans and dry lands, for he is the Creator of all.

“O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7a).

Colossians Paraphrase:

The Lord has delivered us from domination by darkness (evil; Satan) and transferred us to the kingdom of  his beloved Son, through whom we we are redeemed (ransomed from the penalty of sin and eternal condemnation) and receive forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God’s Word).

Jesus is the likeness of the invisible God. Jesus is the first-born of Creation (John 1:1-5, 14; pre-existent with God at Creation; the first to rise from physical death to eternal life). All things in creation have been created for, by and through Jesus, and all things, whether visible or the invisible; thrones, dominions, principalities and authorities are bound together in him. Jesus is the head of the Church, which is his body (in an analogy to a human body), so that he is pre-eminent in everything. “For in him the whole fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19; compare 2:8-9). Through Jesus he gives reconciliation and peace to all thing, in heaven and on earth, to himself, by his blood (sacrificial death) on the cross.

Luke Paraphrase:

When Jesus had been crucified, and while the people watched, the Jewish leaders ridiculed Jesus, telling Jesus to come down from the cross and save himself if he were truly the Christ (Messiah; both words mean God’s “anointed”), God’s Chosen One.

The (Roman) soldiers who executed Jesus also mocked him, offering him sour wine (turned to vinegar) and telling Jesus to save himself if he truly was the King of the Jews, as the inscription (written at Pilate’s command; John 19:19-22) declared.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals (Luke 23:32-33). One of them taunted Jesus to save himself and the criminals, if Jesus truly were the Christ. But the other criminal rebuked the first, asking if the first criminal shouldn’t fear God, since they were both under condemnation and their sentences were justified because they were guilty, but Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing. Then the second criminal asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus had received authority and kingdom. Jesus replied that certainly the second criminal would be with Jesus in Heaven that very day.

Commentary:

God has always intended, from the beginning of Creation, to raise up people who would willingly trust and obey God. He has given us the freedom to choose for ourselves whether to trust and obey him or not, but God is not willing to tolerate rebellion or disobedience forever, or at all in his eternal kingdom. We will determine for ourselves where we will spend eternity: in the presence of God’s love and providence, or separated eternally from him and all his goodness.

In Israel in the time of Jesus’ physical ministry, the Israelites were shepherds. They raised sheep for food and clothing. They knew that sheep needed a shepherd to care for them, or they would become lost, scattered, or attacked and destroyed by predators.

An owner needed to appoint shepherds to care for his flocks. God also appointed “shepherds” to care for God’s “flock: God’s people. God’s shepherds were the leaders of Judaism, Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes (teachers of God’s Word). At the time of Jesus’ physical ministry, the religious leaders were like unfaithful shepherds; they neglected the sheep of God’s flock. They cared more for themselves than for the spiritual condition of God’s people (for example: Matthew 27:3-5).

We must recognize that we are “sheep” in need of a “Good Shepherd,” Jesus Christ (John 10:11-15), whom God has raised up for us as he promised in his Word (Jeremiah 23:4-6). Jesus is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy that God would raise up a “Righteous Branch” from David to inherit the eternal throne God promised David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the “son” (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1; 21:9, 15-16).

Christianity today is very much like Judaism at the time of Jesus’ first coming. In the nominal Church there are many unfaithful “shepherds,” who use their position of leadership for their own benefit, and don’t properly care for the spiritual needs of the “flock.” Two examples of this are the false teachings of “Works Righteousness (teaching that salvation is by doing good deeds; compare Ephesians 2:8-10), and “Cheap Grace,” which is teaching that salvation is by God’s grace (unmerited favor; a free gift; which is true), but without the requirement of discipleship and obedience to the Lord (which is false; John 14:15; Matthew 28:19-20). These false teachings were present in the first-century Church and are refuted in the New Testament, and still exist in the nominal Church today (See False Teachings, sidebar, top right, home).

God has raised up faithful leaders in the true Church, but one must be knowledgeable about the Bible in order to discern the true from the false. The Bible is the standard by which all teaching and doctrine must be judged. Only by reading the Bible completely, and also reading portions daily, can we protect ourselves from false teaching.

We are all sinners (disobedient of God’s Word, in the Bible and in the example of Jesus, the “living Word), who fall short of God’s righteousness (doing what is right, good, and true according to God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of our sin and salvation from eternal death (Acts 4:12, John 14:6), which is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home).

God has been teaching us, in the record of his dealings with the Israelites, in the Old Testament, that there is no forgiveness of sin without blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross is the ultimate and only sacrifice acceptable to God for the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7). God transfers us from the power of evil into the kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ, by our redemption (ransom) through Jesus’ blood sacrifice (Colossians 1:14).

We are all, like the thieves on the crosses, justly guilty of sin and worthy of eternal condemnation. One of the thieves recognized and acknowledge his sin and committed himself into Jesus’ care, and he received eternal life in paradise restored in Heaven with the Lord. The other thief had one last chance to repent and be forgiven, and lost it.

This may be your last chance! Yesterday is gone; tomorrow may never come. Today is the Day of Salvation; today is the only day we can be sure that we can still repent (turn from sinning) and be saved through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus Christ.

The unrepentant thief didn’t accept that Jesus was sinless and the thief’s only last chance. He didn’t accept the testimony of his fellow thief, and he didn’t trust and obey Jesus’ word. His suggestion to Jesus to come down from the cross and save him as well was not made in faith that Jesus could or would.

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 Last Pentecost C

Christ the King 

First Posted November 22, 2010;

Podcast: Monday Last Pentecost C 

Psalm 122  –   Peace for Jerusalem;

This “Song of Ascents” was intended for use by pilgrims ascending to the temple in Jerusalem from the surrounding valleys.

Paraphrase:

The pilgrim rejoices in the opportunity to go to the house of the Lord. At last the pilgrim’s feet are standing within the gates of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a great city bound together in unity, where all the tribes of the Lord come together to give thanks to the name (entire person and character) of the Lord. Jerusalem is where the (eternal) throne of David is established; the throne of Judgment.

Let us pray for peace for Jerusalem; may those who love her, prosper. May peace and security be within her walls and towers. Let us pray for peace in Jerusalem for the sake of our brethren and companions. Let us seek her good for the sake of the house of God.

Commentary:

“Jerusalem” is the City of God on earth which foreshadows the eternal City of God in heaven. Since the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, God’s anointed Savior and eternal King, the Church is the “New Jerusalem” and Christians are the “New Israel;” the “New People of God.” “Born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) Christians are the temple and household of God individually and collectively.

Judaism effectively ended at the Cross of Jesus Christ, when the temple curtain, separating God’s presence from the people, was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), symbolizing that a new and better way into God’s presence had been opened through Jesus Christ. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.. The people were scattered throughout the world; Israel ceased to exist as a nation, until reestablished following World War II. The temple has never been rebuilt.

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of an eternal Savior (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home) and heir to the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Jesus is the son (descendant) of David (Matthew 1:1-17). Jesus is the name of the Lord (Colossians 2:8-9; John 20:28)!

Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Jesus has promised to return on the Day of Judgment, where he will judge the physically and spiritually living and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in the New Jerusalem in God’s kingdom in heaven. 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; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Christians need to pray and work for unity and peace within the (true) Church. There is unity and peace among genuine, Biblical Christians. Unfortunately, false “christs” and false prophets have arisen, and have created false “churches,” and division within the nominal “Church,” as the Word of God has warned (1 John 4:1-6). God’s Word in the Bible has been given to us to help us discern truth from error. Christians need to know and be guided by the Bible. There cannot be peace and unity between Christians and false teachers and false prophets.

In a sense Christians are pilgrims in this world, on our way upward to the eternal heavenly Jerusalem. It is an “ascent” in the sense of effort and perseverance in spiritual growth to Christian maturity, when at last we will stand within the gates of heavenly Jerusalem. Are we praying and working for peace and unity within the Church? Do we look forward to and rejoice in the opportunity to worship in the house of the Lord each week? Are we heading toward and looking forward to eternity with the Lord 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)?

Tuesday Last Pentecost C 

Christ the King 

First Posted November 23, 2010;

Podcast: Tuesday Last Pentecost C 

Isaiah 2:1-5   –    The New Age;

Paraphrase:

Isaiah declared God’s Word concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In the future, the mountain of the house of God will be elevated above all mountains. All people will go up the mountain to the house of God so that he can teach them his ways and they can live by them. From Zion (the mountain of the Lord) shall come the Law (God’s Word). The Lord will be Judge over all people and nations. They will convert their weapons of war into agricultural tools, because wars will no longer be waged.

Come, house of Jacob (Israel; God’s chosen people) let us walk in the light (divine knowledge; righteousness) of the Lord.

Commentary:

In the age to come, following the Day of Judgment, the Lord will reign over all people and nations, and all will seek to know and live according to God’s Word. It will be an age of peace with God and with other people.

God’s people are called to learn to live according to God’s Word now, in this present age. This is our only opportunity to seek and come to know God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is possible only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to be re-born (John 3:3, 5-8) spiritually, 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). Only those who have learned, in this age, to trust and obey Jesus, will survive the Day of Judgment and enter into the new eternal age of peace, when Creation will be restored to the perfection God intended. Only those who allow the Lord to reign over them now will enter 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)?

Wednesday Last Pentecost C 

Christ the King

First Posted November 24, 2010;
Podcast: Wednesday Last Pentecost C 

Romans 13:11-14    –    Christ’s Imminent Return;

Paraphrase:

Christians should “wake up” and realize that Christ could return at any moment. Our salvation is closer now than when we first believed. The long night of ungodliness and rebellion is almost over; the day of righteousness is about to break forth. “Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light ” (Romans 13:12b).We should conduct ourselves as in the light of day, not participating in the works of darkness; not indulging in revelry, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling or jealousy. Instead let us apply Christ’s teaching in our lives and not pursue and indulge in the desires of the flesh.

This Creation has been designed by God to be an opportunity to learn by trial and error that God’s Word is trustworthy and true, and to receive eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus Christ has been God’s one and only plan for our salvation (Acts 4:12; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home), and has been designed into Creation from the very start (John 1:1-5, 14).

This lifetime is our only opportunity to seek and come to know God, our Creator (Acts 17:26-27), and this is only possible through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), by the Holy Spirit which only Jesus gives (John 1:31-34), only to his disciples who trust and obey Jesus (John 14:15-17). This lifetime is our only opportunity to be “born-again” (John 3:3, 5-8) 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).

God has provided forgiveness for our sin (disobedience of God’s Word) and salvation from eternal condemnation in Jesus Christ. But that salvation must be claimed and received through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus. We must be “re-born,” spiritually, so that we are filled, guided and empowered by his Holy Spirit. We should be following Jesus’ example and carrying on his ministry of redemption to a lost and dying world.

None of us can be sure that there will be a tomorrow; today is the only day we have, to do what we can and should. We can be certain that the Day of the Lord will come within our lifetime.

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 Last Pentecost C

Christ the King 

First Posted November 25, 2010;
Podcast: Thursday Last Pentecost C 

Matthew 24:37-44   –    The Thief in the Night;

Paraphrase:

His disciples asked Jesus for signs of the end of the age and his second coming (Matthew 24:3). In reply, Jesus warned that his return will be like the days of Noah (Genesis 6:5-7:24). In Noah’s day, people were “eating and drinking; marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:38) up to the day that Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and all were swept away, except for Noah and his family who were in the ark.

Jesus warned that salvation will be so selective that of two men working in a field, one will be taken and the other left behind, and likewise, of two women milling grain, one will be taken and the other left. We must be watchful, because we won’t know the Day of the Lord’s coming.

Remember that if a householder knew when during the night the thief was coming, he would be awake and watching, and would not let the thief break into his house. So also we must be alert and watchful, for the Son of man (Jesus) is coming at an hour we do not expect.

In the days of Noah, worldly people were doing what was wicked, indulging their fleshly appetites in eating, drinking and “partying,” and did not have regard for the Lord and his Word. In contrast, Noah feared (had proper respect for the power and authority of) God, and sought, believed, and acted upon God’s Word. So Noah and his family, acting in faith in God’s Word, were saved. Noah built the ark according to God’s instructions.

Commentary:

Jesus Christ is the “ark” which God has provided to save us from the judgment and eternal condemnation which is coming upon the earth because of wickedness (doing what is evil in God’s judgment) and sin (disobedience of God’s Word). While worldly people are pursuing the lusts of the flesh, Christians are trusting in God’s Word and are preparing for the Lord’s return. Worldly people thought Noah’s preparations were foolishness right up to the moment of their destruction.

Worldly people are trying to provide their own salvation from God’s coming judgment in various ways, like building better levees, storm cellars, gated communities, earthquake-proof buildings, stockpiling survival supplies, seeking medical miracles to prolong physical life, trying to halt global warming, and even participating in “religious rituals.” None of those measures will prevent Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment.

Worldly people want to know the signs of Christ’s return so that they can indulge themselves until the last possible moment and then call out to Jesus to save them. Claiming salvation in Jesus’ name won’t save us if we haven’t trusted and obeyed Jesus, and been “born again” (John 3:3-5-8) by the gift of his indwelling Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:21-27).

We can be certain that Christ’s return will be within our lifetime. The day we die physically, our eternal destiny will be sealed; the very next instant is judgment at the throne of the Lord.

God has given us his Word, the Bible, the spiritual “survival manual,” and his living Word fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14). Jesus demonstrated perfect trust and obedience in God’s Word. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates the reality of existence after physical death and the possibility of eternal life. In order to be saved we must trust and obey God’s Word, and seek and prepare for our salvation according to God’s Word.

Jesus is God’s only provision for forgiveness of our sin and salvation from eternal judgment and condemnation (see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar top right, home). There will be no way to survive God’s Judgment except by trusting and obeying God’s Word through Jesus Christ, 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 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 the Day of the Lord, Jesus is going to separate the physically and spiritually living and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 4:5). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus will receive eternal life in Heaven, and those who have rejected Jesus and have refused or failed to trust and obey him will receive eternal condemnation and 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)?

Friday Last Pentecost C 

Christ the King 

First Posted November 26, 2010;
Podcast: Friday Last Pentecost C 

Matthew 21:1-11  –   Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem;

Paraphrase:

Jesus was going to Jerusalem knowing that he would be crucified (Matthew 20:18-19). At Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, he told two of the disciples to go into the village and they would find a young donkey* tied, which they were to untie and bring back. If anyone questioned them they were to say that the Lord has need of [it]. The disciples went and found it as the Lord had said. Thus the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled.

When they returned they put their clothes on the donkey’s back for Jesus to sit upon. The crowd that was with them carpeted the road with clothing and leafy branches and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest” (Mathew 21:9).

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the townspeople were excited and asked the crowd following Jesus who he was. The followers told the people of Jerusalem that it was the prophet Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee.

Commentary:

This text is one on which the Church celebration of Palm Sunday is based. It is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It reminds us of Jesus’ first coming, in humility, to die on the Cross, and anticipates the Second Coming, when the victorious Christ returns in great power and glory on the Day of Judgment.

Hosanna means “O, Save.” “Jesus” means “savior; he will save” (Matthew 1:21), and “Son of David” is the Messianic title. Jesus is the descendant of David (Matthew 1:1-17), to whom God promised to establish an eternal throne through David’s descendant (2 Samuel 7:5-13; Psalm 89:20-29). Christ and Messiah each mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively; God’s anointed Savior and eternal King.

God’s Word is eternal and is always fulfilled, over and over, as the conditions for its fulfillment are met. The test of prophecy as God’s Word is its fulfillment (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). God promised to send a Savior hundreds of years before. The people were looking for the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of God’s Word, but was rejected and crucified by his own people. The Jews didn’t trust and obey God’s Word, but couldn’t prevent, and actually fulfilled God’s Word by crucifying Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

Jesus’ disciples are those who trust and obey Jesus. Jesus sent two disciples to borrow the donkey, and as they did as Jesus commanded, they found the situation exactly as Jesus had said. As disciples trust and obey Jesus they find that what Jesus says is true and what Jesus tells them to do is accomplished. As we trust and obey Jesus we learn and come to know with certainty that he is absolutely true and trustworthy.

If Jesus came today as in his first coming, in meekness and humility, would he be any better received? Jesus is coming again in fulfillment of God’s Word, but his second coming will be in triumph with great glory and power, and he will be coming not to suffer and die for us but to judge the physically and spiritually living and dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Peter 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). Those who have trusted and obeyed Jesus, and who 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), will receive eternal life in God’s kingdom in Heaven. But those who have rejected Jesus and have refused to trust and obey Jesus will receive eternal destruction and eternal death in Hell with all evil (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

All of us have sinned (disobeyed God’s Word; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). The penalty for sin is (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). Jesus is God’s only provision (Acts 4:12; John 14:6) for forgiveness of our sin and salvation (from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation), from the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5; 14; see God’s Plan of Salvation, 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)?


*The other Gospels only refer to one donkey (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30; John 12:14), and the Hebrew text, Zechariah 9:9, on which it is based and quoted in the text refers to one, not two, donkeys. The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Matthew 21:5n, p. 1198, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.


Saturday Last Pentecost C

Christ the King

First Posted November 27, 2010;
Podcast: Saturday Last Pentecost C

Luke 3:1-6    –   John the Baptizer;

Paraphrase:

John the Baptizer began his ministry in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Tiberius Claudius Nero;* the year of 26-27 A.D.**), while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and the rest of the provinces of the kingdom of Herod the Great were divided among Lysanias, and the sons of Herod the Great, Antipas, and Philip (and Archelaus). Caiaphas was high priest, and his father-in-law Annas, the former high priest, was still influential.

John the Baptizer was of priestly descent through both parents (Luke 1:5), and his mother was a kinswoman of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:36). John had been living in the wilderness (south and east of Jerusalem) in the manner of Old Testament prophets, when John received the Word of God to call the people of Israel be baptized with water as an act of repentance (return to obedient trust in the Lord) and cleansing, for forgiveness of their sins (disobedience of God’s Word) in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.

John was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3-5) of a voice in the wilderness warning Israel to prepare for the coming of the Lord, the Messiah, who brings righteousness and salvation, but also brings judgment and condemnation.

Commentary:

Luke carefully dates the beginning of John’s ministry, which is also the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John is the fulfillment of God’s Word of a prophet, in the manner of Elijah (Matthew 17:10-13), who was to herald the coming of the Messiah. John didn’t know who the Messiah was or when he would appear, but he believed God’s Word and acted upon it, and God’s Word was fulfilled in Jesus (John 1:31-34).

John’s call for repentance and commitment to obedient trust in the Lord is just as important and relevant today as it was at the time of John. God’s Word promised to send a Savior and eternal King, through whom God’s people would be forgiven and restored to righteousness (doing what is right in God’s judgment; in accordance to his Word), and God fulfilled that promise at the right moment in history, in Jesus Christ (Messiah; both words mean “anointed” in Greek and Hebrew, respectively).

God’s Word also promises that Christ will return, on the Day of Judgment, and his Second Coming (Second Advent) will bring judgment and condemnation on those who have refused to trust and obey Jesus. God will fulfill that promise as surely as he fulfilled the promise of Jesus’ first advent.

John’s warning to us is as urgent and relevant today, particularly in America, and the Church in America, as it was at the time of Jesus’ first coming. Christ’s return is as imminent now as his first advent was then. We can be certain that Jesus will return within our lifetime, because the moment we die physically our eternal destiny is fixed and unalterable. If we haven’t learned to trust and obey him now in this lifetime, we will face his judgment and condemnation. But we cannot be certain that we will live to see tomorrow. Today is the day to repent and turn to obedient trust in God’s Word, fulfilled, embodied and exemplified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

Jesus is God’s only provision for our forgiveness and salvation from eternal condemnation and destruction (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; see God’s Plan of Salvation, sidebar, top right, home). Only through faith (obedient trust) in Jesus can we fulfill the requirements of God’s Word, by the gift of his 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)?


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

**The Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, Ed. by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, Luke 3:1-20n, p. 1244, New York, Oxford University Press, 1962.



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