Today’s devotion is based on Hebrews 10:19-25. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
There is much to learn from these passages. When Jesus died, the temple curtain was torn from the top down. The curtain was a heavy woven curtain. If you have ever tried to tear a woven fabric, you know that it is impossible. Only the power of God could have torn that curtain. The tearing of the curtain symbolized for all to see that the old way of approaching God was finished. Where before you had to have a priest approach God, now everyone can approach God.
When you are united with Christ your life changes, you love others. You want to do good deeds. You also want to worship God with others so that everyone is encouraged in their faith.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen I give you thanks and praise for welcoming me into your presence. Help me always to remember that I am loved so that I will continue to love others. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Hebrews 9:22-10:1. “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
Blood sacrifices before Jesus’ death had to be made over and over again to atone for the peoples’ sins. Jesus’ death was the final blood sacrifice. Atonement and forgiveness are here, more than enough for all time. It is just a matter of receiving it.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen I know that I must face God in heaven on Judgment Day. I know that even though I have accepted your forgiveness I still deserve your wrath. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus who took the punishment I deserve upon himself. All praise to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Hebrews 4:9-12. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Just before these verses, it was written that some of the Israelites never reached the Promised Land because they had turned away from God. In these verses, the writer is warning those hearing his message that they too, even though they too must watch that they do not fall away from God, thus losing entering God’s eternal Sabbath rest.
While certain sins are obvious and naturally bring to mind the need for repentance, there are other sins that we are not aware of. The Word of God can only expose those sins. We need to study God’s Word so that we, like the Israelites of long ago, do not fail in our journey to God’s eternal Sabbath rest.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen may your Word come to me in all its power, penetrating all the obstacles of life in this day and age. Guide me in the Spirit of truth, so I can stand firm in faith as I look forward to Your eternal Sabbath rest. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on I Corinthians 11:27-30. “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”
The question that needs to be answered here is what does Paul mean when he writes that taking communion in an unworthy manner is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. It cannot mean that a person taking communion has to be worthy of receiving communion for no one is worthy. We are all sinners and don’t deserve God’s grace. So that cannot be what Paul is saying.
What he is saying here is that we to take communion believing what God’s Word says it is, the body and blood of Christ. It is not just a meal where you get a bit of wine and a wafer. You might be thinking, “How can that be? It makes no sense.” It is important to remember that we don’t have to understand how that can be. We only have to believe that what the Bible says is true, for they are the words of Jesus.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen guide me in the Spirit of truth so that even though I do not understand how the bread and wine can be the body and blood of Christ I believe it because you said it is your body and blood. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Exodus 522-6:1. “Then Moses turned to the LORD again and said ‘Lord, why do you mistreat your people? Why did you send me here? Ever since I went to the king to speak for you, he has treated them cruelly. And you have done nothing to help them!’ Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you are going to see what I will do to the king. I will force him to let my people go. In fact, I will force him to drive them out of his land.’”
Moses was not having much success with Pharoh. He believed God was the cause. Moses must have forgotten that God made it clear that following him wouldn’t be easy. He had forgotten that God promised him success. And yet at the first setback, Moses turned on God. He accused him of making things worse.
How often, however, do we act like Moses? We know as he did that the problems of life aren’t easy. We know as he did that the almighty God will triumph. Yet we too fail to rely on God’s promises. The battle will be tough. If we let Satan con us. But if we trust God and the power of his word, ‘One little word can fell him.’ That is God’s promise.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen I know you have won. Help me to stay firm in the faith, so that with your help, I can withstand satan's attacks. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Isaiah 1:15-17. “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
Today’s passage tells us that even though a nation is proclaiming its love for God, what it is doing can still be abhorrent to God. In Isaiah’s time, the people were powerless. They had no choice in choosing their rulers. The rich and powerful controlled their lives.
In our time, we do have a choice. Our form of government allows us to have a say in how our government functions. This means that we also have a portion of responsibility in how the government functions. We, too, are to uphold justice, do right, and defend those who are oppressed.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen, I give thanks to you for the blessings you have bestowed on our country. Help me to recognize injustice for what it is, sin against you. Give me the strength and wisdom to act on behalf of those who are oppressed. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Amos 5:14-15. “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”
What happens when those in power abuse their power? God speaks of this in and through the prophet Amos. Isreal had turned their back on God. They still went through the motions, but those in control lived in defiance of God’s will. The nation was suffering. God wanted to restore his favor on Isreal, so he urged those in authority and those under them to “Seek good, not evil.”
Nothing has changed over the centuries. Everyone in power says, “God is with us. He is on our side.” While those in power might believe that, it does not mean that God agrees with them. God’s will is justice for all, rich and poor. God’s will for us is to hate evil and love good. Each one of us must look deep in our hearts to see if what we believe and do is in accordance with God’s will.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen, help us to recognize our sinfulness. Give us the courage to change when needed. Give us the wisdom to speak when justice is not done. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 12:18-21, "Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name, the nations will put their hope."
So many times, we hear a particular political party claim that they are the ones that Jesus would belong to if he were living today. They say that because they believe their political party is just, thus, Jesus would be on their side. The question is though, “What justice is that Jesus proclaims?”
It is best to see what the Bible says about that question. Naturally, Jesus is on the side of the oppressed, those who are being treated unjustly. Nevertheless, it is impossible to have the sole right to Jesus in politics. You can’t confine him to a particular political agenda, for he is the Savior of all, for all people are oppressed by sin.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen, help me always to be on your side, where you stand. As your willing servant, may I always be prepared to stand up for your justice. Help me always to be willing to help those who are forgotten, left out, and badly treated. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Romans 13:4-7. “For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
Paul, in writing to the Christians in Rome, reminds them and us that the government is for our good. God instilled in his human creation the desire for order and peace. The government is meant to meet that desire and need. Because our desire for government is instilled in us by God, the government is thus from God.
This does not allow the government to abuse its power. It also does not mean that God demands our slavish submission to an oppressive government. God wants a fair and impartial judicial system. This means that we are not to sabotage it or exempt ourselves from obeying its laws. The question that remains is, “What if the government’s laws are unfair?” More on this tomorrow.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things seen and unseen, help me to see that the world and all that is in it is yours. Help me to see that you are active in the world through the institutions you have given us to bring order and peace to our lives. Help me to be thankful for all that you have given us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on 1 Peter 2:2-5. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone-- rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him--you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
The holy priesthood is usually referred to as “the universal priesthood.” As I have been studying the words “holy priesthood,” I have come to realize that it is quite often misunderstood. The word “holy” does not mean sinless but means “set apart” from the values of the world. In the Old Testament, there were two types of priests, priests that taught delivering God’s word to the people and priests that served in the temple, sacrificing what the people brought to the temple. We are the latter priests who still offer; instead of sacrificing animals, we offer spiritual sacrifices to God. Those sacrifices being prayer, thanksgiving, and the good deeds of our lives all of which are spiritual worship.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things you have consecrated us as your sacrificial priests in our baptism. You have made us one with our High Priest, Jesus. Thank you for