Each Day in the Word, Sunday, December 10, 2023

Psalm 65:1-13 NKJV

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.

65 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.
Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.

Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.

By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us,
O God of our salvation,
You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of the far-off seas;
Who established the mountains by His strength,
Being clothed with power;
You who still the noise of the seas,
The noise of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs;
You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.

You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
10 You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.

11 You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.

A Psalm of thankfulness and praise to the Almighty for His goodness and mercy. Sinful flesh, however, gets pulled away from the surety and promises contained within God’s Word, because of the enticements of the world, our sinful flesh and the devil. We get tugged at to go search for peace through the created things of the world — ever searching for our own version of peace (ever avoiding suffering). These are the things man always has in his fallen heart and mind — even as Christ said to Peter. (see Matt. 16:23)

The true source of peace, however, is only found in the Lord, that is, a rightly focused faith in the Lord. Psalm 65 reveals God’s sovereignty — He is the One who is always in control. Yet, being sovereign, this means that He also allows suffering to happen. Man (ever trying to avoid hardship) asks: “Why does there have to be suffering in the world?”

Luther says this abut suffering: First, “in this way [God] wants to make us conformed to the image of his dear Son, Christ, so that we may become like him here in suffering and there in that life to come in honor and glory.  Second, “even though God does not want to assault and torment us, the devil does, and he cannot abide the Word. Then our Lord God looks on for a while and puts us in a tight place, so that we may learn from our own experience that the small, weak, miserable Word is stronger than the devil and the gates of hell.”

Third, he says, “it is also highly necessary that we suffer not only that God may prove his honor, power, and strength against the devil, but also in order that when we are not in trouble and suffering this excellent treasure which we have may not merely make us sleepy and secure.” And lastly, Luther says, “Christian suffering is nobler and precious above all other human suffering because, since Christ himself suffered, he also hallowed the suffering of all his Christians.” (LW 51, 198-208)

Let us pray: Forgive us for caving in to the world, the devil and our sinful flesh — and pull us back to the surety of Your promises and a right understanding through Your Word. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Saturday, December 9, 2023

Psalm 62:1-12 NKJV

To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

62 Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.

How long will you attack a man?
You shall be slain, all of you,
Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.
They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.
10 Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.

11 God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.
12 Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work.

Psalm 62 is not a prayer, but a reflection on God’s faithfulness and an encouragement, both to oneself and to other believers, to rely on our faithful God.

King David reflects—and urges us to reflect—on God’s stability and dependability and on His promises to help those who seek Him in times of trouble. Given that, we can “wait silently” for God. Yes, we speak our prayer for help. But then we wait in silence, without any need for endless pleas or loud complaints. We wait in silence, without the need to run around, frantically trying to become our own help or our own salvation. We wait in silence, because we trust that our God has heard us, is determined to help us, and will answer us in His time and in the perfect way.

Our faithful God stands alone as the source of the Christian’s help and strength. The Psalm reminds us that it’s useless to trust in men, whether of high or low degree. It’s useless to trust in sinful solutions, like oppression or robbery. And it’s useless to trust in riches or the things you can buy with your wealth. As Jesus also said, “You cannot serve both God and Mammon” (Matt. 6:24).

No, for the Christian, God is our strength. And God is enough. He is both powerful and merciful, both able to help and willing. Wait silently for Him. Trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart before Him. For God is a refuge for us and for all who seek His mercy and favor through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: O Lord, You alone are my Rock, my Salvation and my Defense. To You, O Lord, belong power and mercy. Help me to set my heart on You alone and to wait in silence and in confidence for Your help; through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Friday, December 8, 2023

2 Corinthians 7:2-16 NKJV

Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.

For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.

13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.

In this chapter, St. Paul refers to a letter he had written to the Corinthians that caused them sorrow. He may be referring to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, in which he scolded them, in places, for bad thinking or behavior on their part. Or he may be referring to another letter which God has not preserved for His Church. In either case, we see here the heart of a faithful minister opened wide toward God’s people.

Sometimes God’s people need to be rebuked. Several of the congregations to whom St. John wrote in the Book of Revelation received a strong rebuke from Jesus. But a faithful minister takes no pleasure in scolding or rebuking a Christian congregation. He does it out of love for God and out of love for them, as a loving father disciplines his children. How the congregation responds to being scolded reveals the genuineness of their faith, or the lack of it.

In the case of the Corinthians, we rejoice together with Paul that his former letter that had made them sorrowful produced fruit in bringing them to repentance. He had caused them grief in a godly manner, with love and for their own good, as a surgeon must cause pain for his patients, not for their harm, but in order to bring about healing. When a congregation responds by becoming disgruntled or bitter toward their pastor, they bring God’s wrath upon themselves, “for so they treated the prophets who were before you” (cf. Matt. 5:12). But when a congregation responds in a godly manner to godly correction, it is a great blessing for pastor and people alike. “What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!”

Pray for God’s people to receive their pastor’s correction in humility. And prepare yourself for the day when you may have to be corrected, that you may not allow pride to thwart God’s good purpose for you!

Let us pray: O Lord, teach us true humility, that we may always be ready to listen to Your Word and to the minister whom You have sent to proclaim it. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Thursday, December 7, 2023

2 Corinthians 6:11 – 7:1 NKJV

11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Once the Corinthians recognize Paul and his fellow ministers as the true ministers sent from God, they are to stop practicing church fellowship with those who show themselves to be unbelievers.

 When Paul says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” he is referring to the yoke that goes across the back of a farming animal so that the farmer can direct it as it plows his field. If there are two or more animals joined together by a yoke, the animals have to be relatively equal in size and strength, or else they will zigzag their way through the field and may be injured in the process. Christians, then, are not to be associated with or work together with unbelievers in matters that pertain to the Church.

This does not mean Christians must avoid unbelievers. Far from it! How can we be lights in the world if we avoid the unbelieving inhabitants of the world? But as Paul told the Corinthians in his first epistle, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality, etc.” (1 Cor. 5:9-11). This means that Christians should not pretend to worship or serve God together with a person who claims to be a Chrisitan but who shows himself to be an impenitent unbeliever, either by his words or by his actions. Nor should a Christian remain in fellowship (worshiping and serving God together) with those who mix together truth and error. Instead, God calls upon His believers to separate themselves from such a fellowship, that we may be a holy gathering of holy people, devoted to teaching and confessing only the pure truth of God’s holy Word.

Let us pray: Father in heaven, we praise You for Your grace in bringing us into the light of the knowledge of Your Son. Grant us wisdom and courage to discern what is good and right and to lead holy lives, avoiding all the filthiness of error and unbelief. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Wednesday, December 6, 2023

2 Corinthians 6:1-10 NKJV

6 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:

“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

The apostle now appeals to the Corinthian Christians, as those who have received the ministry of reconciliation and have thus been reconciled to God through faith in Christ, to continue steadfastly in God’s grace, lest it should all have been in vain.

The danger to the faith of the Corinthians lay in being enticed away from the true ministers of the Word toward self-serving ministers. So Paul lays out for them some evidence that confirms him and his fellow ministers as the true ministers of God.

What does the ministry of Paul and the genuine ministers look like? Paul lists, first, the physical and emotional afflictions and abuses he and the other ministers have suffered in carrying out their God-given ministry (vv. 4-5). He then lists the godly traits demonstrated by him and his fellow ministers, including “purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, genuine love, truthful speech, etc.” (vv. 6-7). Finally, he describes how they are treated sometimes well, sometimes poorly, highlighting the hopeful perspective they have maintained even in the midst of bad treatment, always putting their hope in God’s promises of present help and future reward (vv. 8-10).

Who would willingly endure all this? Who would devote himself to a life like this? Only the men who have known the goodness of God in Christ and who have been called and enabled by God to do so. The Corinthians should evaluate Paul’s life and come to the conclusion that, yes, he is a genuine minister of Christ. They should listen to him. They should believe him over the others who claimed to be ministers but lived for themselves.

We should look for the same qualities in any who claim to be ministers or who aspire to become ministers of the Gospel. And those who aspire to the office of the ministry should know what to expect and be ready to embrace it all for the sake of Christ and for the benefit of His beloved Christians.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, we thank You for sending true ministers to Your scattered Church. Preserve all Your ministers in pure teaching and holy living, and strengthen them through all the trials they face for Your name and for our good. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Tuesday, December 5, 2023

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 NKJV

11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Paul’s defense of his ministry reaches its climax in today’s reading. What is the purpose of God’s ministers? It is to speak as Christ’s mouthpieces in the world, to bring sinners into Christ by faith, so that they may be justified and reconciled to God in Christ.

Paul alludes here to false ministers “who boast in appearance and not in heart.” In contrast, the true ministers of Christ are compelled by the love of Christ to carry out their ministry zealously. They know that Christ died for all. They know that they themselves were brought from death to life when Christ called them to faith by the Gospel. Therefore, their chief desire is to live for Him. Like all Christians, they have been given the gift of reconciliation with God, being changed from enemies of God into friends of God; they have been made a new creation in Christ Jesus.

But ministers have been given something special by the Lord. They have been given the “ministry of reconciliation.” How, specifically, do ministers live for Christ? By zealously carrying out the ministry that brings reconciliation to men—the same ministry by which the ministers themselves were reconciled to God.

The reconciling of the world mentioned in today’s reading is not a completed act, as if all people of all times were already, once and for all, reconciled to God. God “was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them.” As the same apostle explains to the Romans in chapter 4:5-8, that “not counting their sins against them” applies to believers, not to all men. The act of reconciliation takes place when sinners are brought into Christ by faith—something that happens when sinners hear and believe the Gospel invitation spoken by Christ’s ambassadors, “Be reconciled to God! For God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!” Let us pray: O Lord, we were your enemies, but in Your mercy, You gave Your Son into death for our sins, called us by Your Gospel, and reconciled us to You through faith. Help us now to live for You in all things; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Monday, December 4, 2023

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 NKJV

5 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Paul devotes much of this Second Epistle to the Corinthians to a defense of the ministry that God had given to him and to the other ministers who had been sent to serve the Christians in Corinth. But woven into that defense is a rich exposition of key Christian teachings.

As chapter 5 begins, Paul has been defending his ministry by reminding the Corinthians just how many earthly hardships he and the other ministers had to endure in order to serve Christ’s people faithfully. Their earthly lives, even their earthly bodies, were subject to great pain, suffering, and loss.

But do Christ’s ministers spend their time complaining about this? Hardly! Instead, they look forward—and teach God’s people also to look forward—to the home that awaits us after this life. These bodies that suffer, these bodies that are mistreated, these bodies that eventually wear out will soon be replaced with bodies that are immeasurably better, with bodies that won’t be mistreated and that won’t wear out. The life that most certainly awaits us after this life is what God’s ministers and all of God’s people must long for.

If we long for that life, where we will see our God face to face, then we can put up with the pains and the scarcities of this life. If we long for that life, then it will also affect how we live this life. “We make it our aim,” Paul says, “to be well pleasing to Him.” That was the aim of Paul and his fellow ministers. He wants it to be the aim of the Corinthian Christians, and of all Christians, to dedicate our lives to pleasing God, whether or not men are pleased by it. That perspective helped the Corinthians to understand why Paul had had to deal rather sternly with them in the past. He was not seeking to please them, but to please God by speaking the truth to them, so that they, with him, might be able to stand blameless before the judgment seat of Christ, not clinging impenitently to their sins, but justified by faith and producing the good works that flow from it.

Let us pray: Father in heaven, turn our hearts to the eternal life You have graciously prepared for us, and help us to live such godly lives here that we may please You in all things. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Sunday, December 3, 2023

Psalm 61:1-8 NKJV

To the Chief Musician. On a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David.

61 Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!

So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.

Psalm 61 is a prayer for God’s help “when my heart is overwhelmed.” Every Christian has experienced this faintness of heart, when one trouble follows the next and nothing seems stable or firm.

At such times, the King David reminds us to look up and to pray, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” “I” am not stable. “I” am not firm. “I” am not in control of many things that happen to me and around me. But God is stable and firm, and He is in control of everything. He is a dependable shelter. Therefore, we pray, “Lead me to rest in You, O God, to cast all my anxiety on You, to find peace and rest and safety in You!”

As always, the Lord’s past deliverance encourages us, even as it encouraged David, to keep turning to Him and trusting in Him whenever our heart is overwhelmed. The Lord preserved David through all his struggles with Saul, with the Philistines, and with trouble after trouble during his reign. The Father eventually sent Christ, the Son of David, to bear our iniquities and to carry our sorrows, to die for our sins, to rise from the dead, and to sit on His throne as King. Now the Lord Christ reigns, not for His own benefit, but to rule and control all things for His dear Christians.

There is a little prophecy in this Psalm about Christ’s reign. David says, “You will prolong the king’s life, his years as many generations. He shall abide before God forever.” That’s hyperbole when applied to David, but it’s literal truth when applied to David’s Son. The eternal reign of Christ is truly “the rock that is higher than I” and is a dependable source of comfort and strength for the Christian. It’s part of the heritage of those who fear God’s name.

Let us pray: Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Saturday, December 2, 2023

Psalm 51:1-19 NKJV

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

This Psalm stands as a profound testimony of King David’s repentance and his cry for renewal. In his commentary from 1531, Martin Luther highlights the exceptional instructive value of this psalm, revealing the nature of sin and the path to freedom from it.

David’s plea begins for God’s mercy and sets the stage for a central theme in this psalm—God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies. As Luther points out, sin is an inherited condition, deeply rooted within us. No human works can free us from its grasp; only God’s grace and forgiveness can blot out our transgressions.

In verse 10, Luther’s commentary resonates with David’s words, emphasizing that the solution to our sin problem lies in God’s creative power. It is through the Holy Spirit’s work that God must recreate us, transforming us into new beings and new creatures. We need a clean heart and a steadfast spirit, gifts only God can bestow.

Verse 17 is echoed by Luther’s understanding of true sacrifice and worship. It is not about elaborate rituals or external acts of penance but about the condition of our hearts. A broken and contrite heart, recognizing its need for God’s grace and mercy, is the true offering that God desires. The raving saints, as Luther calls them, who trust in their own sacrifices, miss the essence of genuine worship.

In these verses, David articulates the depth of his repentance and his reliance on God’s grace for renewal. His experience reflects the universal human condition, reminding us that we, too, are in need of God’s mercy and transformation. Thus, we understand that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Sin is a reality in our lives, and like David, we must turn to God in repentance and humility. It is only through God’s lovingkindness, His creative power, and the work of His Spirit that we can find renewal and be transformed into new creatures.

Let us pray: O Lord, forgive the offenses of your people, that by your goodness we may be delivered from the bonds of sin which we have brought on ourselves because of our weakness; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Friday, December 1, 2023

2 Corinthians 4:11-18 NKJV

11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Here again, the Apostle Paul provides a message that distinguishes between pastors (including himself and the Apostles) and believers in general while emphasizing the common hope we share as the body of Christ.

In verses 11-15, Paul uses “we,” “us,” and “our” to refer to himself, the Apostles, and pastors in general, who are called to sacrificially serve the Church. They carry the message of Christ and are willing to endure hardship for the sake of the Gospel. The “you” and “your” pronouns refer to the hearers and believers in general, those who receive the ministry and proclamation of the Gospel. Paul emphasizes the common faith that unites both pastors and hearers. The hope of the resurrection is shared by all believers, and it is through the ministry of pastors that this hope is proclaimed, leading to thanksgiving and glory to God.

In verses 16-18, Paul uses inclusive pronouns like “we,” “our,” and “us” to address all believers—pastors and hearers alike. They collectively share in the reality of life’s challenges and the process of spiritual renewal. The “light affliction” that believers face, both pastors and hearers, is temporary and is contrasted with the eternal glory that awaits them. As Confessional Lutherans, we recognize that pastors have a unique role in shepherding the flock and proclaiming the Word of God, but all believers share in the hope and promises of the Gospel. We are all on this journey of faith together, focusing on the eternal rather than the temporary.

In conclusion, we take to heart the message of these verses. Pastors and hearers alike are part of the body of Christ, each with their distinct roles and responsibilities. While pastors proclaim the Word and endure hardships for the sake of the Gospel (such as Paul mentions), all believers, both pastors and hearers, share in the general persecution of believers, the hope of resurrection, and the promise of eternal glory. Together, we look beyond the temporary challenges to the eternal realities of the kingdom of God. Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, send forth your Son we pray, that he may lead home his Bride, the Church, that we with all your saints may enter into your eternal kingdom; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Friday, December 1, 2023