Each Day in the Word, Wednesday, November 29, 2023

2 Corinthians 3:10-18 NKJV

10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Here, the Apostle Paul offers us a glimpse into the transformative power of the gospel and the surpassing glory of the New Covenant in Christ.

Paul begins, in verses 10-11, by emphasizing that the glory of the Old Covenant, symbolized by the fading radiance of Moses’ face, pales in comparison to the surpassing glory of the New Covenant in Christ. The Old Covenant was temporary, whereas the New Covenant’s glory is eternal and transformative. Thus, we understand the centrality of Christ in the New Covenant and the enduring, surpassing glory of His gospel.

In verses 12-14, Paul contrasts the veil that Moses used to cover his radiant face with the unveiled proclamation of the gospel. In faith, we recognize that the Old Testament points to Christ, and in Him, the true meaning of the Scriptures is unveiled. We boldly proclaim the gospel of Christ without veils or hidden meanings, knowing that it is in Christ that the fullness of God’s grace and glory is manifested.

Paul continues, in verses 15-18, to emphasize the importance of turning to the Lord for the veil to be removed. It is in Christ that we find true liberty, and through the Holy Spirit’s work, we experience transformation. With unveiled faces, we celebrate the liberating power of the gospel and the transformative work of the Spirit in our lives. We are continually being conformed to the image of Christ, and this process is guided and empowered by the Spirit.

In conclusion, we take to heart the message of these verses. The New Covenant in Christ surpasses the glory of the Old Covenant. We are called to boldly proclaim the gospel without veils, knowing that in Christ, the veil is removed. The Spirit’s work transforms us into the image of Christ, and we experience true liberty in Him. As we continue to behold the unveiled glory of the Lord, being transformed by the Spirit from glory to glory, we share this surpassing glory with the world.

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, Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Tuesday, November 28, 2023

2 Corinthians 3:1-9 NKJV

3 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

In this passage, St. Paul delves into a profound message about the transformation of our lives through Christ.

In verses 1-3, Paul begins by addressing the question of commendation. He contrasts the idea of relying on written letters of recommendation with the transformed lives of the Corinthians. Thus, we recognize the significance of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. It is not through human effort or achievements but through the transforming power of God’s Spirit that our lives become testimonies of Christ. We are, in a sense, living epistles, bearing witness to the gospel through our words and actions.

Paul emphasizes, in verses 4-6, that our trust and sufficiency come through Christ and from God alone. Thus, we hold dear the principles of the Reformation, which emphasize salvation by grace through faith. We understand that our sufficiency and righteousness come from Christ and are received by faith alone. It is the Spirit who breathes life into our faith, making us new creations in Christ.

In verses 7-9, Paul draws a striking parallel between the ministry of the Old Covenant, symbolized by the tablets of stone and the glory on Moses’ face, and the New Covenant ministry of the Spirit. While the Old Covenant was glorious, the New Covenant ministry of righteousness in Christ surpasses it in glory. Thus, we appreciate the distinction between law and gospel, recognizing that the law condemns, while the gospel brings righteousness and life. The glory of the New Covenant in Christ outshines the glory of the Old Covenant.

In conclusion, we take to heart the message of these verses. We are living epistles, our lives a testimony to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit and the sufficiency found in Christ. The New Covenant ministry of the Spirit brings righteousness and life, far surpassing the glory of the Old Covenant.

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.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Monday, November 27, 2023

2 Corinthians 2:12-17 NKJV

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

Here, the Apostle Paul shares a beautiful metaphor that provides deep insight into the Christian life, ministry, and our relationship with Christ.

In verses 12-13, Paul describes his inner restlessness due to the absence of Titus, his fellow laborer in the ministry. Despite an open door for ministry in Troas, he was deeply concerned about Titus, emphasizing the importance of Christian fellowship and the bonds that unite us as brothers and sisters in Christ. This highlights the significance of community and mutual support within the Church.

Paul’s words take a beautiful turn, in verses 14-15, as he likens the Christian mission to the diffusion of fragrance. The aroma we carry is the knowledge of Christ. Whether we are in moments of victory or in challenging circumstances, God leads us in triumph through Christ. In both times of success and times of struggle, our lives release the fragrance of Christ’s love and grace. This is a powerful reminder that our Christian witness is not dependent on our circumstances but on the knowledge of Christ that dwells within us.

Paul’s reflection continues, in verses 16-17, by explaining that the aroma of Christ has different effects on different people. To some, it is the aroma of death, and to others, the aroma of life. Our proclamation of the Gospel may bring conviction to some and salvation to others. In this, Paul acknowledges the sovereignty of God in the hearts of individuals.

In conclusion, these verses remind us of our unique and vital role as Christians. We are carriers of the fragrance of Christ in a world that desperately needs it. Our lives, words, and actions are a testimony to His love and grace, impacting those around us in different ways. As we strive for sincerity in our witness, we rely on God’s strength and guidance, and we remember that we are not peddlers of the Word of God but sincere messengers of His truth. May the fragrance of Christ permeate our lives, leading those around us to the knowledge of Him and eternal life.

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, Monday, November 27, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Sunday, November 26, 2023

Psalm 50:1-15 NKJV

Dr. Martin Luther, in his 1531 “Summaries of the Psalms,” says that the 50th Psalm is a powerful proclamation of true worship and the proper sacrifice that God desires. In a world filled with false saints who believe that their sacrifices and acts of worship obligate God to them, this psalm serves as a profound reminder of God’s perspective on our worship.

The psalm begins with a powerful image of God’s majesty. “The Mighty One, God the LORD, has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down.” (Ps 50:1). This verse reminds us that God is the one who initiates the dialogue. He is not bound by our rituals or sacrifices; rather, He is the one who calls us into His presence. This sets the tone for understanding the true nature of worship.

As Luther points out, the false saints believe that their sacrifices are so precious that God should be indebted to them. But God’s intentions are quite the opposite. He desires that His goodness and help be highly esteemed so that we, in turn, are thankful and indebted to Him. Our worship should not be an attempt to barter with God but a response to His grace and mercy. It should be an outpouring of gratitude for what He has done for us through Jesus Christ.

The heart of the psalm reminds us of what true worship entails. “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High” (Ps 50:14). Luther clarifies that the vows mentioned here are not self-chosen vows but those commanded in the Ten Commandments, especially in the first and second. True worship involves praising God, trusting in Him, calling on Him, and thanking Him as our only God. It’s about recognizing His grace, seeking Him in times of distress, and fulfilling the vows we’ve made to Him in our faith.

In a world where many misunderstand the nature of worship, Psalm 50 and Luther’s commentary show us that true worship is not about what we can gain or demand from God; it is about recognizing His majesty and His grace for us in Christ.

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.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Sunday, November 26, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Saturday, November 25 , 2023

Psalm 48:1-14 NKJV

A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

48 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In His holy mountain.
Beautiful in elevation,
The joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north,
The city of the great King.
God is in her palaces;
He is known as her refuge.

For behold, the kings assembled,
They passed by together.
They saw it, and so they marveled;
They were troubled, they hastened away.
Fear took hold of them there,
And pain, as of a woman in birth pangs,
As when You break the ships of Tarshish
With an east wind.

As we have heard,
So we have seen
In the city of the Lord of hosts,
In the city of our God:
God will establish it forever. Selah

We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness,
In the midst of Your temple.
10 According to Your name, O God,
So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is full of righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion rejoice,
Let the daughters of Judah be glad,
Because of Your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion,
And go all around her.
Count her towers;
13 Mark well her bulwarks;
Consider her palaces;
That you may tell it to the generation following.
14 For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide
Even to death.

Of this psalm Martin Luther writes, “This psalm is a psalm of thanks… It also praises God for protecting and defending Jerusalem against the kings and princes. They had to retreat in shame and let the temple stand, along with the worship of God and His holy Word. With this God has kept His promise, namely, that in accordance with the First Commandment, He would be their God. For, the psalm says, what we have heard and believed, we also see and experience in God’s actions” (Reading the psalms with Luther, p. 117).

What Jerusalem rejoiced in and what the sons of Korah rejoiced in, we also rejoice in, for our God is the only true God who has loved His people to death and back to life again through the suffering, death, and resurrection of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In His Word God promises to guard and protect His people from all ultimate harm and danger. God has never let any of His people down, and He is not about to start with you.

Consider how God has been with you and how He continually delivers Himself to you in His Gospel rightly preached and His Sacraments rightly delivered. Consider how God has blessed you with fellow Christians, both in your community and in your congregation, to walk with you, hold you up, weep with you, and rejoice with you; these are all people whom God has put in your life as His gifts to you.

May our good and gracious God give you the strength and confidence spoken of in today’s psalm – that you may say, “This is God forever and ever; He will be [my] guide even to death.”

Let us pray: O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that, being ever mindful of the end of all things and the day of Your just judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here and dwell with You forever hereafter; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Saturday, November 25 , 2023

Each Day in the Word, Friday, November 24, 2023

2 Corinthians 2:1-11 NKJV

2 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?

And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.

But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Paul addresses the conclusion of a sticky situation from I Corinthians 5:1 where a man had sexual relations with “his father’s wife.” The man was unrepentant, and Paul, using the binding key, bound the man’s sin to him with the words, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (I Cor 5:5). Paul had also severely chastised the Corinthian congregation for boasting about the sinful behavior and not calling it out.  Paul now praises the congregation in Corinth for carrying out his pastoral exhortation.

The Corinthians had indeed repented of their previous acceptance of the man who had his father’s wife and carried out Paul’s exhortation from I Corinthians 5. Paul now instructs them to comfort the man and reaffirm their love for him. It would appear also that the man had repented and sought reintegration back into the fellowship of Christ’s church. In response to this, Paul exercised the loosing key and declared his own forgiveness for the man and pointed out the power of the absolution which is a bulwark against Satan’s attempt to take advantage of the saints. The repentant sinner was absolved and forgiven; let no one bring it against him again!

The binding and loosing keys – the difficult but faithful practice of your pastor to “forgive the sins of repentant sinners but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent” (Small Catechism, “What is the Office of the Keys?”) – is to be considered ongoing general maintenance for God’s people, not emergency road service. It reminds us of the first of Luther’s infamous 95 Theses where he stated, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’’ (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

So, dear Christian, ask your faithful pastor to hear your confession and to speak Christ’s forgiveness into your ears for your strength and spiritual health.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for paying for my sins and delivering that benefit to me in Holy Absolution. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Friday, November 24, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Thursday, November 23, 2023

2 Corinthians 1:12-24 NKJV

12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

15 And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit— 16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea. 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? 18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. 24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.

St. Paul begins today’s reading by stating that he and his companions “conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God…”  In the Greek, the words for “simplicity” and “sincerity” are nearly synonymous and imply a complete lack of pretense and the ability to be simple and sincere. These are excellent traits for all Christians to model as they live out their lives under God’s grace in a world that hates and mistrusts them.

We are exhorted to be sincere, unpretentious, and uncompromisingly clear in our confession of the one true faith. Recall those in the early church who were martyred for their adherence to Christianity; their confession of and belief in Christ was seen by many as a sign of being unbalanced, revolutionary, and in defiance of earthly authority. In Acts 5 Peter and the other apostles had been imprisoned for defying orders not to preach about Christ and were willing to suffer instead of compromise. And while many Christians in those days were martyred, their killers and persecutors looked on and were astonished that anyone would be willing to die instead of denouncing their faith and live in this world’s false security and lack of true peace.

Recall the vows taken at your confirmation, that you would be willing to “suffer all, even death, rather than fall away” from God’s love for you in Christ. Recall your Christian catechesis and how God’s Word and Sacraments sustain you and keep you from falling. Even more importantly, recall and give thanks to God for sending His Son Jesus to take your sins upon Himself and die your death in your place, thereby freeing you from the threat of eternal damnation and giving you the sure and certain hope of everlasting life with Christ.  May God give you the conviction to conduct yourself in “simplicity and godly sincerity” when called upon to do so.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for calling me to faith in You, and strengthen me as I walk with You. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Thursday, November 23, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Wednesday, November 22, 2023

2 Corinthians 1:1-11 NKJV

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

Of all the words Paul writes in today’s portion of 2 Corinthians 1, these from vv. 3-4 bear repeating: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 

In brief, it is our duty and delight to share the comfort we have received from the Lord with others in the church who need it. There is not one single Christian whom our good and gracious God has not helped, comforted, or strengthened in any number of ways. He strengthens us in our weaknesses, in our sicknesses, in our struggles, in our relationships with others, and in many and various other ways. We may not realize it at the time, but God is the One who allows these burdens to come our way, and then arranges for our rescue, help, comfort, and healing if we only look to Him. 

Nothing ever happens to us without God’s foreknowledge and concern. We are to learn in all situations to rely on God, and then we are to praise Him for His countless mercies. In thankfulness we are then privileged to share God’s mercies with others who have experienced the same kinds of difficulties as we have. God gives us great opportunities to bolster the faith life of others by telling them how and in what ways God helped us, and then walking with them through those challenges.  We pray for them, encourage them, and support them, and love them in Christ.

The “comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted by God” comes to us best in the Gospel and Sacraments.  God feeds us with His Word of salvation in Christ’s payment for all our sins. He feeds us with our daily reminder that we are His baptized children, bought and paid for with His holy, precious blood. He feeds us with His own body and blood in Holy Communion. It simply doesn’t get any better than that.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for all Your love, mercy, and help. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Tuesday, November 21, 2023

I Corinthians 16:12-24 NKJV

12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints— 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.

17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.

19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s.

22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Here at the close of Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth, two things seem to stand out.

First, in v. 13 Paul urges the brethren to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave (literally ‘act like men’), be strong.”  In Paul’s day the Corinthian congregation had some serious concerns such as adultery, an unclear grasp of the Lord’s Supper, and an unclear understanding about Christ’s resurrection and resurrection in general.  Paul spent no small number of words in this first letter trying to get them on the right track again. They were to keep watch over their lives, watch and wait for the Lord’s return, and watch out for each other as the household of faith, and they were to be brave and strong in doing so. Their bravery and strength came only, of course, from Christ.

Then at the end of the letter, Paul writes some shocking words: “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” Some may say this is not loving at all, but the warning Paul gives is quite appropriate. Whoever does not love Jesus – in other words, whoever does not believe by faith that Christ’s all-atoning suffering and death for all sin is for him – cannot be saved and will ultimately be damned. God’s offer of forgiveness is for all people of all time and is refused to one’s eternal peril.

Most certainly, these imperatives are just as relevant today as they were to the first century church. Watchfulness is the “watchword” for the end of the Church Year and into the Advent season during which time our attention is focused on the second coming of Christ. He is coming again to receive His Bride, the Church, to Himself on the Last Day. All who do not believe will perish eternally, but all who by God-given faith do believe in Christ will be saved.

May our good and gracious God strengthen and feed you with His saving and comforting Gospel and His life-giving and eternal life-sustaining Sacraments, so that you may be able to say with confidence, “O Lord, come!”

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, keep me in the one true faith until You bring me Home. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Each Day in the Word, Monday, November 20, 2023

I Corinthians 16:1-11 NKJV

16 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.

Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.

But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

10 And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.

God’s Word never ceases to amaze and surprise. Right after the powerful proclamation of Christ’s resurrection in I Corinthians 15, Paul drops this little gem: “Now concerning the collection for the saints…”, and it seems a jarring change of direction and focus. But on second look, it is quite fitting for Paul to address what to do with one’s income in view of the surpassing greatness and blessings that God bestows upon His people, most particularly the power and certainty of Christ’s resurrection which gives all believer confidence about what will happen when they are called Home to be with Him.

When Paul mentions this collection, he is not referring to what many have said are the actual offerings in modern-day churches from which the bills and the pastor are paid.  Rather, he is referring to the gathering of funds for distribution to the poor and needy in the Christian community, particularly in Jerusalem, as he says in v. 3.  The New Testament Church was encouraged to thank God for any opportunity she had to help others, thereby serving God by serving the neighbor.  God most certainly does not need anything from us – not money, not any material things, not even our help.  All those things are to be directed toward our neighbor who does need them.

So, what do you do with your money? Do you hoard it, stow it all away, or like the prodigal son, waste it on riotous living and careless expenditures?  If so, repent and change your ways with God’s blessing.  Perhaps you may consider helping your neighbor with some of the blessings with which God has tremendously blessed you.  Look around and ask God to soften your heart toward your neighbors in need, or even others in your own congregation, for we are to do good, “especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).

Prayerfully consider how you may thank and praise God for paying for all your sins and giving Himself to you in abundance through His Gospel preached and His Sacraments rightly administered.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for all Your blessings, and show me how I may help my neighbor. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Monday, November 20, 2023