Each Day in the Word, Saturday, February 3, 2024

Psalm 90:1-17 NKJV

A Prayer of Moses the man of God.

90 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.

For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.
14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

There are many people who, sadly, go through life believing however they want regarding ‘a god’ that they have created in their head. Why? Because they have not had eyes of faith created in them by the Word of God. Folks, such as these, usually end up making a god that is all about love, or some theory of a balance of good versus evil, or a ‘karma-god’ that gives people what they deserve. It’s all dross apart from God’s Word of truth.

God pours out a reality check upon fallen mankind through Moses’ words in Psalm 90. What’s the reality check that man — specifically the old man — cannot stand to hear? God’s truth about death and the brevity of life; all because of sin! Only God can bring about such spiritual discernment (aka: the reality check). And in gaining such truth of God, one becomes wise.

Luther writes of this Psalm: “Moses here opens widely this punishment of sin, and this horrible misery; setting forth the proof of it in the shortness and uncertainty of human life; which life, in addition to this its shortness and uncertainty, is subject to all kinds of calamity; and in verse 11, Moses saith that this very unspeakable misery death, and all other human calamities, as parts of that death, tend, or should lead us, to seek the grace and mercy of God, who alone can deliver us from all these evils, sin, the slavery of the devil, and death. Hence all the calamities and afflictions of life, and even death itself, the punishment of sin, work together for good unto the elect, and unto those that fear God; that they may, by all things, be humbled, broken down, and crucified, and so, thirst after grace.  “So teach us that we must die,” says Moses, “that we may become wise:…” (A Manual on the Psalms, pg. 253) 

Let us pray: Gracious Father, keep the truth of Your Word in our ears, that we may know the wages of sin and the brevity of life, and flee to the only source of rescue and true life, through Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Friday, February 2, 2024

Ephesians 5:22-33 NKJV

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Well, this is ‘that text’ which most faithful Christian couples desire to have read at their wedding ceremony. But, at the same time, they cringe because, as Paul says himself, it is a mystery and its deep, spiritual meaning is easily missed. This is understandable because man, according to his own fallen and finite reason cannot truly grasp the spiritual things of God. (See 1 Cor. 2:14-16)

Here are some concluding words of a commentary that aid in revealing the mystery to which Paul was inspired to write:

“Ephesians 5 not only contains a most remarkable restoration of the original institution and purpose of marriage as a blessing to man and wife this life, but it also transcends the earthly blessings by revealing the mystery of the Gospel hidden in every marriage, if husband and wife would have the eyes of faith to discern it. For, each day as the husband loves his wife a thoroughly self-sacrificing way, he proclaims Jesus Christ to her and likewise to himself as he puts to death the old man and emerges in the image of Christ. And each day, as she submits to his love, as she entrusts herself to him, as she respects his headship , she learns ever more the nature of faith and sees the contours of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice in the Christlike figure God has placed into her life. In this way marriage is for the Christian couple a very holy thing.” (Ephesians, Concordia Commentary, Winger, pgs. 652-653)

Some believe that the analogy doesn’t hold because the woman is of the same nature as the man but the Church participates in Christ in name only, but not in nature. Biblical/Lutheran theology, however, supports the analogy, for we rightfully believe teach and confess that man is declared justified (righteous) and forgiven — beheld as having a new, born again from above, nature — by God’s accounting it to us through faith alone. Rejoice in God’s beloved accounting! Let us pray: Gracious Father, we give thanks for the new nature You have accounted upon us by belief and Baptism. Give us eyes of faith to discern all of Your mysteries. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Thursday, February 1, 2024

Ephesians 5:11-21 NKJV

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Paul continues his holy inspired encouragement of not only staying away from the things of darkness, but further exhorts that such things be exposed! How do Christians stay alert to these ways of the dark? By walking ‘circumspectly.

Now walking circumspectly is certainly a good thing, but exposing the dark things? That can end up bringing hard times. Man’s flesh does not like anything uncomfortable (mainly because man, by his old nature, is selfish). So any mention of self-sacrifice would strike the old man super hard. In other words, such a concept is foreign to man’s flesh. Thus, any self-sacrifice from a Christian would be generated because of God’s sacrifice for us. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). But, can we actually give thanks if exposing darkness or sacrificially loving our neighbor brings us hard times?

Here’s what Jerome (an early Church Father) writes: “Paul now calls us to give thanks always in everything. This is to be understood in a double sense, both in adversity and in good times… In this way the mind rejoices and bursts out in gratitude to God, not only for what we think good but for what troubles us and happens against our will… It is obvious that generally we are called to give thanks to God for the sun that rises, for the day that goes by and for the night that brings rest… for the rains that come, for the earth that brings forth the elements in their course… All these things, however, the heathen also does, and the Jew and the publican and the Gentile. But the second sense of giving thanks is seen in the special gift of Christians to give thanks to God for adversity… Those who are saintly in their own eyes are prone to give thanks to God because they have been released from dangers and afflictions. But according to the apostle the greater virtue is to give thanks to God precisely amid those very dangers and afflictions.” (Migne PL 26:529A-D [652-53]) Let us pray: O Lord, bring us to have the renewed mindset that You desire, exposing darkness and loving sacrificially, all because You have loved us first through Your Son. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Ephesians 5:1-10 NKJV

5 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Darkness has no fellowship with light. That should really go without saying, right? But… back at the time of Paul sexual immorality was rampant (and most likely long before then, and, clearly, long after it, because it continues right up to our present day). What was taking place was new believers thought they could dabble within such a promiscuous setting and still be a believer. In doing so, they would be exposing themselves to all kinds of uncleanness not fitting for new saints of God.

People (both Christians and unbelievers) are always playing on what they can get away with and not be affected. Heck, this starts at an extremely young age. Just look at a toddler who grabs something they are not to have — the parent says “no, put it down” — and the toddler proceeds to run away with it. It’s idolatry at it earliest display. Well, Christians should not expose themselves to such a belief in thinking that they are just fine continuing (if even nonchalantly dabbling) in that which they know to be wrong.

Oh, there will be excuses (empty words that lead astray) — from unbelievers and from our own sinful flesh. There will be attempts at justifying remaining in such inappropriateness (ungodliness, that is unbecoming of God’s saints). Chrysostom, an early Church Father, preached about it this way:

“There are always people among us who want to diminish the force of words. When Paul clearly says that covetousness is idolatry, they immediately argue that this is an exaggerated saying and in this way compromise all the commandments. It is to these that Paul is alluding when he writes to the Ephesians, Be sure of this, that no one who is covetous, that is, an idolator, has any inheritance on the kingdom. Empty words are words that are for a moment attractive, but in no way are proved by deeds. They become a flimsy deceit.” (Homily on Ephesians, IOEP 4:276) By the grace of God, resist such empty words, flee to Christ in repentant faith, and remain children of light! Let us pray: O Lord, fill me with Your truth, that I may know what is error, and remain a child of Christ’s light.  Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Ephesians 4:22-32 NKJV

22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

“…put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (vss. 22-24)

So… put on the new man?  Many Christians have no idea what this means. But well catechized Confessional Lutherans, however, know that this is as simple as remembering your Holy Baptism, where you were born again from above. Before Baptism you had one nature (old), and after Baptism, you have two (old & new). Let the struggle begin.

According to the new man, a Christian’s life is spent repenting and believing in the fully atoning merits of Christ, and they are to bear the fruits of repentance. Oh boy, here we go again. Many Christians have no idea what this means. But well catechized Confessional Lutherans, however, know that the fruits of repentance are the virtues opposite of the sin committed.

Paul demonstrates this in Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” The thief is to labor. The one with an adulterous eye is to pursue chastity. The false witness is to speak the truth and defend his neighbor’s reputation. The covetous person is to be content with his daily bread. Fruits of repentance are born in our vocations toward others. That is because the fruits of repentance—sorrow over sin and faith in Christ’s forgiveness—leads us to love our neighbors and work for their well-being. The fruits of repentance are revealed as we walk in the Law of the Lord, and “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10). What a blessing how God works!

Let us pray: O Lord, give ear to our prayers and lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation.  Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Monday, January 29, 2024

Ephesians 4:11-21 NKJV

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:

When Christ Jesus ascended on high He was not abandoning the people of earth. He wasn’t leaving everyone to guess about their salvation. Rather, Jesus instituted the continuation of His own Office, establishing an absolute delivery system for God’s truth and blessings. What sweet relief!

Holy Scripture, the written Word of God through His prophets, apostles, and evangelists, gives us an everlasting source and norm for all things to be taught in the Church. From His sure and certain Word — His pastors teach us and feed us in these desert lands; giving us to drink of His pure waters. They do this work of ministry — of service to Christ and neighbor — so that the Church is truly and rightly edified (built up). Thus, Christ’s holy people are equipped to serve in their various vocations, so that in both words and works all confess the same thing (at least that’s the aim). Our faith is united in this singular knowledge of the Son of God being declared to all, that others might join us in confessing the same. In this, Jesus’ word is fulfilled, that your “light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16; cf. 1 Pet. 2:9–10).

Through pastors and deacons —who, by the grace of God are committed to the standard of the pure Word of God, purely confessed in the Book of Concord — Christ’s Church is fitted together to completion, so that the members of Christ’s body are not led astray, but fed with His grace so that each member supports and builds up the other.

Let us pray: O God, Who did teach the hearts of Your faithful people by sending to them the light of Your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Sunday, January 28, 2024

Psalm 89:1-5, 19-29 NKJV

A Contemplation of Ethan the Ezrahite.

89 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.
For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever;
Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.”

“I have made a covenant with My chosen,
I have sworn to My servant David:
‘Your seed I will establish forever,
And build up your throne to all generations.’ ” Selah

And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord;
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints.

19 Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one,
And said: “I have given help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found My servant David;
With My holy oil I have anointed him,
21 With whom My hand shall be established;
Also My arm shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him,
Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
23 I will beat down his foes before his face,
And plague those who hate him.

24 “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him,
And in My name his horn shall be exalted.
25 Also I will set his hand over the sea,
And his right hand over the rivers.
26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.’
27 Also I will make him My firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My mercy I will keep for him forever,
And My covenant shall stand firm with him.
29 His seed also I will make to endure forever,
And his throne as the days of heaven.

A psalm that opens with God’s faithfulness — the only faithfulness that really matters. It is always shocking to hear of the other confessions of the Christian faith in the world and discover how their theology brings man to be focused on himself and his faithfulness to God. Seriously, just stop and think on that for a moment. Would you honestly want to rely on your own faithfulness to God — or, rather, rely on the faithfulness of God toward you? Which offers more comfort?

It’s a no brainer, truly! The steadfast love of the Lord is fully displayed through the sending of the Son to make full satisfaction for the sins of the world. In speaking on God’s faithfulness, Psalm 89 is a prophecy on Christ and His kingdom.

Luther writes: “Thy faithfulness and truth,” (says the Psalmist) “are established in the heavens;” that is, a heavenly righteousness is preached by the gospel, which is not placed in us, or in any worthiness or merit of ours; but is out of us, and is the righteousness of Christ, and is imputed, for Christ’s sake, unto all that believe in him: and hence, the promised riches of this kingdom are the gift of the Spirit, and the remission of sins, with all other spiritual blessings: all which are not offered unto us on any condition of the law, or of our works or merit, but are given unto us freely of God. Salvation, therefore, is not a matter conditional on our works, but freely given unto us for Christ’s sake; that thus all doubting and uncertainty may be taken from our souls; and that we may safely rest, entirely and only on the immutable and immovable certainty of this truth and promise of God.” (A Manual on the Psalms, pg. 250) 

Rejoice that God has overcome our flesh (that ever presumes itself to be righteous) and brought us to confess the truth of His Word — about ourselves, and about His gracious mercy toward us! Let us pray: We give thanks to You, O Lord, for Your undeserved and unmerited faithfulness toward us through the blood of Your Son. Bring us to ever rest in His merits. Amen

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Each Day in the Word, Saturday, January 27, 2024

Psalm 86:1-17 NKJV

A Prayer of David.

86 Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.
Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
12 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
13 For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.
15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

16 Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

David, prays, “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” David confesses that for him to walk in the Lord’s truth, the Lord must teach His ways to him. It isn’t enough that David learned to walk in God’s ways once. It is a teaching David regularly needs to hear, for his sinful flesh daily enticed him to walk according to its ways and according to its desires instead. David prays that the Lord would always be teaching him His ways to strengthen the new man God has created in him by the gospel.

The Lord had instructed David in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart.” Yet David confesses that his heart is fractured and divided and needs to be united so that he may fear, love and trust in God above all things, and praise the Lord with all his heart. David understood that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9), and that men are always tempted to divide their fear, love, and trust between two masters. But no one can serve two masters (Matt 6:24). David feels this reality within himself and asks God to unite his heart so that he may praise God with an undivided heart, focused solely upon walking in God’s ways.

If David, whom God had chosen to shepherd His people and rule over Israel, had to ask to be taught God’s ways and for a united heart, how much more should we ask for these things? How often are our hearts divided so that we attempt to serve two masters, God and whatever else it is that our heart wants? By nature, our hearts are fractured and chase after whatever wicked lusts it desires, imagining that if we can obtain what we desire, then we will have all good things. The sinful flesh, if left to itself, will drag us in every direction to multiple idols, all for the purpose of seeking peace, joy, and life. But only the Lord gives these blessings. Among the gods—those things we make into gods—there is none like Him, for He is good, ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all who call upon His name.

Let us pray: Unite our hearts to fear Your name, O Lord, and strengthen us to walk in Your ways. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Friday, January 26, 2024

Ephesians 4:1-10 NKJV

4 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:

“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Paul teaches Christians to walk “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (2-3). The unity of the Spirit is oneness in doctrine, a unity of faith. Paul urges the Ephesians to prize oneness in doctrine and live in such a way that preserves the unity of faith. To that end, Paul encourages them to walk as Christ walked during His earthly life. He was gentle and lowly; He bore with others in patience, even as He taught the heavenly doctrine.

We, as members of His body, have this same mind in us. We are members of one body, Christ’s body. We have one spirit. We were called in one hope, that is, there is only one gospel, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, because there is one God and Father of all.

Sadly, there are many who pervert the unity of the Spirt—the oneness in doctrine—that Christ and His apostles taught. Some teach the traditions of men or the imagination of their own hearts as if they were God’s doctrine. This destroys the visible unity of doctrine in the church because the apostle teaches elsewhere to mark and avoid those who cause divisions in doctrine (Rom 16:17). Others demand that unity be expressed in uniformity of outward rites, traditions, forms of church government, or customs. While a certain degree of uniformity demonstrates the unity of the faith, the unity of Christ’s body—the church—does not consist in such uniformity, and to demand it destroys Christian freedom and brotherly love. Still others simply demand that the church cater to their opinions. With all these we should still be gentle, lowly, and longsuffering, but we must not yield any part of the doctrine Christ has taught us.

While we endeavor to keep this unity of the spirit in lowliness, gentleness, and longsuffering, we also pray that God would continue to establish it among us, and that we may walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. Let us pray: Restore those who err, O Lord, and grant peace to Your church in our days. Amen.

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Each Day in the Word, Thursday, January 25, 2024

Ephesians 3:11-21 NKJV

11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The Ephesians were tempted to lose heart on account of Paul’s tribulations. And who isn’t tempted like this when they see God’s ministers suffer on account of the gospel, or when they see how shamefully the gospel is treated by the world? But the apostle would not have them be discouraged because of any affliction on his part of their own.

He encourages them by praying that they would be strengthened with strengthened with might through God’s Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith. The inner man is the renewed nature, the new creation which God has brought forth in baptism. The new life is strengthened as believers apprehend the fact that Christ dwells in their hearts through faith. If Christ—who atoned for every sin, conquered death, and is the only Mediator between God and man—dwells in them, why should affliction and trial grieve them? They have everything if they have Christ dwelling in their hearts through faith. Paul prays that they be rooted and grounded in Christ’s love so that they know the love of Christ which passes knowledge and grow in their comprehension of Christ’s great love for them—the width and length and depth and height of it. He prays that they be filled with fullness of God, that is, filled with every good gift God supplies in the gospel.

Every Christian experiences trials of various kinds at different times. Some are bodily afflictions. Others are spiritual. Sometimes God allows the cross—suffering specifically for one’s confession of Christ and His word—to come upon us. When trials come upon us, upon our pastor, or our congregation, we are be on guard so that we do not lose heart. Instead, Paul’s example shows us how we ought to pray that God strengthen us according to the inner man, so that in the midst of our afflictions we mediate on the fact that Christ—who atoned for every sin, conquered death, and is our only Mediator between God and man—dwells in our hearts with His love. This strengthens us to joyfully bear every burden and carry every cross to the glory of His holy name. Let us pray: Strengthen our inner man, O Lord, that we may comprehend Christ’s love for us amid every trial. Amen.

Posted in Each Day in the Word | Comments Off on Each Day in the Word, Thursday, January 25, 2024