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7 During[a] the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched up to Jerusalem to do battle, but they were unable to prevail against it.[b]

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The Second Sunday of Advent

Based on 1 Corinthians 16:5-24

With these words, Paul concludes his letter to the congregation in Corinth. It might be titled, “What do we do in the meantime?” Paul has planted this congregation, but it is now struggling under pressures from outside the church (sexual immorality, pagan religious influences and corruption) and division within the church. He hopes to visit again, but until then, he is engaged in pastoral correspondence aimed at restoring and refocusing the faithful on the mission of Jesus Christ. As he closes his letter, he provides some suggestions regarding what to do in the meantime. He begins this letter reminding them of “the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 1:4-8, emphasis added).

Paul was well aware that though Jesus’ return in power and glory was expected at any time, already Christians were losing sight of that fact, being caught up in bickering, quarreling and division. As time passed and time continues to pass, disciples necessarily ask, “What are we to do in the meantime?”

The advice is the same for us, as for those Corinthians: “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like adults, be strong.” Similarly, watch for, and give heed to those who “refresh my spirit as well as yours.” There will always be difficult, skeptical people who destroy our spirit of hope and encouragement. Avoid those, and seek, rather, the faithful, hopeful, and encouraging who are here to uplift and build up the Body. We need lots of people in the Body of Christ who refresh our spirits. Perhaps you can be one of those who work for unity, love and peace in the congregation! What do we do in the meantime? What do we do as we wait, in these dark days of Advent, for the coming of Christmas? Pray, with Paul, “Our Lord, Come!”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, come, and come quickly! Help us to be watchful, to stand firm in the faith, to be mature disciples — strong, patient and obedient. Amen.

Advent action: NALC Life-to-Life Discipleship is about raising up mature disciples and followers of Jesus, who will be leaders. Check out nalclifetolife.org and learn more!

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 7:1–25

7:1 During the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched up to Jerusalem to do battle, but they were unable to prevail against it.

2It was reported to the family of David, “Syria has allied with Ephraim.” They and their people were emotionally shaken, just as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. 3So the Lord told Isaiah, “Go out with your son Shear-jashub and meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool which is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth. 4Tell him, ‘Make sure you stay calm! Don’t be afraid! Don’t be intimidated by these two stubs of smoking logs, or by the raging anger of Rezin, Syria, and the son of Remaliah. 5Syria has plotted with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah to bring about your demise. 6They say, “Let’s attack Judah, terrorize it, and conquer it. Then we’ll set up the son of Tabeel as its king.” 7For this reason the Sovereign Lord says:

“It will not take place;

it will not happen.

8For Syria’s leader is Damascus,

and the leader of Damascus is Rezin.

Within sixty-five years Ephraim will no longer exist as a nation.

9Ephraim’s leader is Samaria,

and Samaria’s leader is the son of Remaliah.

If your faith does not remain firm,

then you will not remain secure.”

10The Lord again spoke to Ahaz: 11“Ask for a confirming sign from the Lord your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.” 12But Ahaz responded, “I don’t want to ask; I don’t want to put the Lord to a test.” 13So Isaiah replied, “Pay attention, family of David. Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of my God? 14For this reason the Lord himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel. 15He will eat sour milk and honey, which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right. 16Here is why this will be so: Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate. 17The Lord will bring on you, your people, and your father’s family a time unlike any since Ephraim departed from Judah – the king of Assyria!”

18At that time the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19All of them will come and make their home in the ravines between the cliffs, and in the crevices of the cliffs, in all the thorn bushes, and in all the watering holes. 20At that time the Lord will use a razor hired from the banks of the Euphrates River, the king of Assyria, to shave the hair off the head and private parts; it will also shave off the beard. 21At that time a man will keep alive a young cow from the herd and a couple of goats. 22From the abundance of milk they produce, he will have sour milk for his meals. Indeed, everyone left in the heart of the land will eat sour milk and honey. 23At that time every place where there had been a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels will be overrun with thorns and briers. 24With bow and arrow men will hunt there, for the whole land will be covered with thorns and briers. 25They will stay away from all the hills that were cultivated, for fear of the thorns and briers. Cattle will graze there and sheep will trample on them.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 130

130:1 A song of ascents.

From the deep water I cry out to you, O Lord.

2O Lord, listen to me!

Pay attention to my plea for mercy!

3If you, O Lord, were to keep track of sins,

O Lord, who could stand before you?

4But you are willing to forgive,

so that you might be honored.

5I rely on the Lord,

I rely on him with my whole being;

I wait for his assuring word.

6I yearn for the Lord,

more than watchmen do for the morning,

yes, more than watchmen do for the morning.

7O Israel, hope in the Lord,

for the Lord exhibits loyal love,

and is more than willing to deliver.

8He will deliver Israel

from all their sins.

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 16:5–24

16:5 But I will come to you after I have gone through Macedonia – for I will be going through Macedonia – 6and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you can send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7For I do not want to see you now in passing, since I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. 8But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9because a door of great opportunity stands wide open for me, but there are many opponents.

10Now if Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I am too. 11So then, let no one treat him with contempt. But send him on his way in peace so that he may come to me. For I am expecting him with the brothers.

12With regard to our brother Apollos: I strongly encouraged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was simply not his intention to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.

13Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong. 14Everything you do should be done in love.

15Now, brothers and sisters, you know about the household of Stephanus, that as the first converts of Achaia, they devoted themselves to ministry for the saints. I urge you 16also to submit to people like this, and to everyone who cooperates in the work and labors hard. 17I was glad about the arrival of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus because they have supplied the fellowship with you that I lacked. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours. So then, recognize people like this.

19The churches in the province of Asia send greetings to you. Aquila and Prisca greet you warmly in the Lord, with the church that meets in their house. 20All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21I, Paul, send this greeting with my own hand.

22Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come!

23The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

24My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes:] “Here the Spirit plainly ascribes to Scripture that it allumines and teaches, that understanding is given alone through the words of God as through a door for, as they call it, a first principle (principium primum) with which everyone who will come to light and understanding must begin. Again: “‘Principle or head of thine words is truth’ (Ps. 119:160). There you see that truth is here ascribed only to the head of the words of God, that is, if you learned the words of God in the rst place and used them as the first principle when you judged the words of all. And what else does this whole psalm do than to condemn the foolishness of our labor and call us back to the fountain (revocet ad fontem) and teach us that we should rst of all and alone spend our labor on the Word of God and that the Spirit is ready to come voluntarily and to expel our spirit so that we pursue theology without danger? … Therefore, nothing but the divine words are to be the first principles (prima principia) for Christians, all human words, however, are conclusions which are deducted from them and must again be reducted to them and approved by them. They must first of all be well known to everyone but not sought through men nor learned by them, but men must be judged by them. If this were not true, why should Augustine and the holy Fathers, whenever they contradict each other, go back to the holy Scripture as to the first principles of truth (ad sacras literas seu prima principia veritatis) and illumine and approve by their light and trustworthiness their own that is dark and uncertain? By doing so they teach that the divine words are more understand- able and certain than the words of all men, even their own … I do not want to be honored as one who is more learned than all, but this I desire that Scripture alone rule as queen (solam Scripturam regnare), and that it is not explained through my spirit or other men’s spirit but understood by itself and in its own spirit.” (77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – December 7, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/12/07/daily-reading-december-7-2019/ Sat, 07 Dec 2019 09:00:53 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38805

6 In the year of King Uzziah’s death,[a] I saw the Lord[b] seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs[c] stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet,[d] and they used the remaining two to fly. 3 They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy[e] is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies![f] His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” 4 The sound of their voices shook the door frames,[g] and the temple was filled with smoke.

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Saturday of the Week of Advent I

Based on Isaiah 6:1-13

Most of the readings in this season of Advent will be taken from the appointed New Testament passages in the three-year cycle mentioned in the introduction. Occasionally, when there are messages of particular interest or appropriateness to our Advent meditation, we will hear from the Old Testament. This is the first of those devotions, as we hear from Isaiah.

Our reading today begins with Isaiah’s vision of the Lord God, sitting upon a throne. The seraphim call to one another in a hymn of praise, “Holy, holy, holy is he Lord of hosts…” (See LBW Hymn 165). As Isaiah hears the voice from the throne shake the very foundations of the temple through clouds of incense, he is humbled and afraid, being an impure, unclean human being in the presence of the Almighty, the King, the Lord of Hosts. One of the seraphim touches Isaiah’s lips with a burning coal from the incense burner, purifying him to be a worthy prophet, capable of speaking the word of the Lord. And what does Isaiah prophesy? What is the word of the Lord for the people?

Isaiah’s task is not a welcome one, for he is to speak words of judgment on the people for their sin and disobedience — a judgment which would be visited upon them by the coming Assyrian invasion. We love to sing the words of the song, “Whom shall I send?” responding wholeheartedly, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” We would welcome the chance to bring Good News to the poor and the afflicted. Would we welcome, as well, the opportunity to proclaim the Law and judgment of God to the people? Isaiah is called to speak Law and Gospel to the people, in God’s good time and at the Lord’s instruction. His is not an easy calling, nevertheless. The proclamation of wrath and woe is balanced with hope for restoration, in the very next passage, announcing, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). We need to hear the Lord God’s announcement of judgment and wrath so that we may then more powerfully hear the Good News of His Son, Immanuel!

Prayer: Lord God, here I am, send me to speak your words of Law and Gospel, judgment and grace, that all may come to know your Son, Jesus, God With Us! Amen.

Advent action: In the pastor’s sermon tomorrow, see if you can discern both Law and Gospel.

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 6:1–13

6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. 3They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” 4The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke.

5I said, “Woe to me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” 6But then one of the seraphs flew toward me. In his hand was a hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7He touched my mouth with it and said, “Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.” 8I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, “Here I am, send me!” 9He said, “Go and tell these people:

‘Listen continually, but don’t understand!

Look continually, but don’t perceive!’

10Make the hearts of these people calloused;

make their ears deaf and their eyes blind!

Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears,

their hearts might understand and they might repent and be healed.”

11I replied, “How long, Lord?” He said,

“Until cities are in ruins and unpopulated,

and houses are uninhabited,

and the land is ruined and devastated,

12and the Lord has sent the people off to a distant place,

and the very heart of the land is completely abandoned.

13Even if only a tenth of the people remain in the land, it will again be destroyed, like one of the large sacred trees or an Asherah pole, when a sacred pillar on a high place is thrown down. That sacred pillar symbolizes the special chosen family.”

(NET Bible)

Ps. 129

129:1 A song of ascents.

“Since my youth they have often attacked me,”

let Israel say.

2 “Since my youth they have often attacked me,

but they have not defeated me.

3The plowers plowed my back;

they made their furrows long.

4The Lord is just;

he cut the ropes of the wicked.”

5May all who hate Zion

be humiliated and turned back!

6May they be like the grass on the rooftops

which withers before one can even pull it up,

7which cannot fill the reaper’s hand,

or the lap of the one who gathers the grain!

8Those who pass by will not say,

“May you experience the Lord’s blessing!

We pronounce a blessing on you in the name of the Lord.

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 15:50–16:4

15:50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 52in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,

Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

16:1 With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia: 2On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come. 3Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve with letters of explanation to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me.

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – December 6, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/12/06/daily-reading-december-6-2019/ Fri, 06 Dec 2019 09:00:37 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38804

Therefore my[a] people will be deported[b]
because of their lack of understanding.
Their[c] leaders will have nothing to eat,[d]
their[e] masses will have nothing to drink.[f]
14 So Death[g] will open up its throat,
and open wide its mouth;[h]
Zion’s dignitaries and masses will descend into it,
including those who revel and celebrate within her.[i]

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Friday of the Week of Advent I

Based on 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

One of the greatest struggles in life has to do with death — what is resurrection like? What will we be like when we are resurrected? Will we know our loved ones? Will they know us? Paul anticipated our questions, and perhaps those in Corinth were already asking, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Paul may well have considered us “foolish” for asking these questions, but our questions remain! Death and resurrection remain a mystery, and we would like to have answers.

In the midst of Advent, it is worth a little time to consider these questions. Unfortunately, Paul doesn’t provide answers to every question and the answers he does provide may be less than satisfying. There are several things which may be said, however.

Paul reminds us that our earthly, natural bodies are of one kind, while our spiritual, resurrection bodies will be another. We see that in the resurrection of our Lord, who was raised, with noticeable features on His body, yet, it appears, without the limits of time and space. In other words, Jesus could show the marks of crucifixion on His hands and side, but He could appear behind closed doors. Will our resurrection bodies be the same? We will have to wait and see. It is clear, however, that while Jesus’ disciples were not expecting to see Him risen from death, once He got their attention, they recognized Him, acknowledging, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7) What matters, finally, is not whether our loved ones will recognize us, but whether the Lord knows us and will take us to Himself! As the Lord promises, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). He continues, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life…” (John 10:27-28).

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, because you live, give me hope and confidence that I, too, will be raised to new life with you. Amen.

Advent action: Send a card or note to a friend, family member or member of your congregation who has lost a loved one to death since last Christmas, reminding them of the hope of the resurrection!

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 5:13–30

5:13 Therefore my people will be deported

because of their lack of understanding.

Their leaders will have nothing to eat,

their masses will have nothing to drink.

14So Death will open up its throat,

and open wide its mouth;

Zion’s dignitaries and masses will descend into it,

including those who revel and celebrate within her.

15Men will be humiliated,

they will be brought low;

the proud will be brought low.

16The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted when he punishes,

the holy God’s authority will be recognized when he judges.

17Lambs will graze as if in their pastures,

amid the ruins the rich sojourners will graze.

18Beware, those who pull evil along using cords of emptiness are as good as dead,

who pull sin as with cart ropes.

19They say, “Let him hurry, let him act quickly,

so we can see;

let the plan of the Holy One of Israel take shape and come to pass,

then we will know it!”

20Beware, those who call evil good and good evil,

who turn darkness into light and light into darkness,

who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.

21Beware, those who think they are wise,

those who think they possess understanding.

22Beware, those who are champions at drinking,

who display great courage when mixing strong drinks.

23They pronounce the guilty innocent for a payoff,

they ignore the just cause of the innocent.

24Therefore, as flaming fire devours straw,

and dry grass disintegrates in the flames,

so their root will rot,

and their flower will blow away like dust.

For they have rejected the law of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

they have spurned the commands of the Holy One of Israel.

25So the Lord is furious with his people;

he lifts his hand and strikes them.

The mountains shake,

and corpses lie like manure in the middle of the streets.

Despite all this, his anger does not subside,

and his hand is ready to strike again.

26He lifts a signal flag for a distant nation,

he whistles for it to come from the far regions of the earth.

Look, they come quickly and swiftly.

27None tire or stumble,

they don’t stop to nap or sleep.

They don’t loosen their belts,

or unstrap their sandals to rest.

28Their arrows are sharpened,

and all their bows are prepared.

The hooves of their horses are hard as flint,

and their chariot wheels are like a windstorm.

29Their roar is like a lion’s;

they roar like young lions.

They growl and seize their prey;

they drag it away and no one can come to the rescue.

30At that time they will growl over their prey,

it will sound like sea waves crashing against rocks.

One will look out over the land and see the darkness of disaster,

clouds will turn the light into darkness.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 128

128:1 A song of ascents.

How blessed is every one of the Lord’s loyal followers,

each one who keeps his commands!

2You will eat what you worked so hard to grow.

You will be blessed and secure.

3Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

in the inner rooms of your house;

your children will be like olive branches,

as they sit all around your table.

4Yes indeed, the man who fears the Lord

will be blessed in this way.

5May the Lord bless you from Zion,

that you might see Jerusalem prosper

all the days of your life,

6and that you might see your grandchildren.

May Israel experience peace!

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 15:35–49

15:35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. 37And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed – perhaps of wheat or something else. 38But God gives it a body just as he planned, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39All flesh is not the same: People have one flesh, animals have another, birds and fish another. 40And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly body is one sort and the earthly another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory.

42It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. 49And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – December 5, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/12/05/daily-reading-december-5-2019/ Thu, 05 Dec 2019 09:00:38 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38803

5 I[a] will sing to my love—
a song to my lover about his vineyard.[b]
My love had a vineyard
on a fertile hill.[c]
2 He built a hedge around it,[d] removed its stones,
and planted a vine.

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Thursday of the Week of Advent I

Based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

Fictitious race car driver, Ricky Bobby, in the movie “Talladega Nights” prefers to think of and pray to Baby Jesus, “Eight-pound, six-ounce Newborn Baby Jesus…so cuddly but still omnipotent.” (Never thought you’d find that reference in a devotion, didn’t you?)

Of course, we all love the image of Jesus as a baby, “no crib for his bed,” “holy infant, so tender and mild.” Martin Luther loved to focus on the nativity of our Lord, writing, “Behold Christ lying in the lap of his young mother, still a virgin. What can be sweeter than the Babe, what more lovely than the mother!” He also wrote, “Let us, then, meditate upon the Nativity just as we see it happening in our own babies. I would not have you contemplate the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ, but rather his flesh. Look upon the Baby Jesus.” And yet, for Luther as for us, the baby lying in a manger can never be separated from the Son of God, dying on the cross! Luther proclaims, “Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience and guilt, if you come to this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save” (Martin Luther’s Christmas Book).

At the beginning of Advent, it is appropriate, then, to hear Paul’s reminder to the church in Corinth. Paul reminds the Church of the truth of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord. We are not on a journey only to Bethlehem, the stable and manger. We will arrive at Golgotha and the cross, the empty tomb and Easter morning. The message and meaning of Christmas are empty without the ever-present reality that this child, this babe born in Bethlehem, was born to be the Savior of the world. He was born to be the first fruits of those who have died, now to be raised from the dead. Let us be mindful each day during Advent that the shadow of the cross always falls across the manger. Let us never doubt the miracle of God With Us nor the Good News that Christ was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, we give thanks for your birth as a baby, to be the Savior of the world. Help us to remember your humble birth, suffering, death, and joyful resurrection. Amen.

Advent action: As you display your home/family nativity scene, include a cross in the tableau.

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 5:1–12

5:1 I will sing to my love –

a song to my lover about his vineyard.

My love had a vineyard

on a fertile hill.

2He built a hedge around it, removed its stones,

and planted a vine.

He built a tower in the middle of it,

and constructed a winepress.

He waited for it to produce edible grapes,

but it produced sour ones instead.

3So now, residents of Jerusalem,

people of Judah,

you decide between me and my vineyard!

4What more can I do for my vineyard

beyond what I have already done?

When I waited for it to produce edible grapes,

why did it produce sour ones instead?

5Now I will inform you

what I am about to do to my vineyard:

I will remove its hedge and turn it into pasture,

I will break its wall and allow animals to graze there.

6I will make it a wasteland;

no one will prune its vines or hoe its ground,

and thorns and briers will grow there.

I will order the clouds

not to drop any rain on it.

7Indeed Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

the people of Judah are the cultivated place in which he took delight.

He waited for justice, but look what he got – disobedience!

He waited for fairness, but look what he got – cries for help!

8Beware, those who accumulate houses,

who also accumulate landed property

until there is no land left,

and you are the only landowners remaining within the land.

9The Lord of Heaven’s Armies told me this:

“Many houses will certainly become desolate,

large, impressive houses will have no one living in them.

10Indeed, a large vineyard will produce just a few gallons,

and enough seed to yield several bushels will produce less than a bushel.”

11Beware, those who get up early to drink beer,

those who keep drinking long after dark

until they are intoxicated with wine.

12They have stringed instruments, tambourines, flutes,

and wine at their parties.

So they do not recognize what the Lord is doing,

they do not perceive what he is bringing about.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 127

127:1 A song of ascents, by Solomon.

If the Lord does not build a house,

then those who build it work in vain.

If the Lord does not guard a city,

then the watchman stands guard in vain.

2It is vain for you to rise early, come home late,

and work so hard for your food.

Yes, he provides for those whom he loves even when they sleep.

3Yes, sons are a gift from the Lord,

the fruit of the womb is a reward.

4Sons born during one’s youth

are like arrows in a warrior’s hand.

5How blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

They will not be put to shame when they confront enemies at the city gate.

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 15:1–34

15:1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. 3For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, this is the way we preach and this is the way you believed.

12Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. 15Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. 18Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.

20But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. 22For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be eliminated is death. 27For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. But when it says “everything” has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him. 28And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

29Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are they baptized for them? 30Why too are we in danger every hour? 31Every day I am in danger of death! This is as sure as my boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If from a human point of view I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what did it benefit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 33Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34Sober up as you should, and stop sinning! For some have no knowledge of God – I say this to your shame!

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

The post Daily Reading – December 5, 2019 appeared first on North American Lutheran Church.

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Daily Reading – December 4, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/12/04/daily-reading-december-4-2019/ Wed, 04 Dec 2019 09:00:57 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38802

18 [a] At that time[b] the Lord will remove their beautiful ankle jewelry,[c] neck ornaments, crescent-shaped ornaments, 19 earrings, bracelets, veils, 20 headdresses, ankle ornaments, sashes, sachets,[d] amulets, 21 rings, nose rings, 22 festive dresses, robes, shawls, purses, 23 garments, vests, head coverings, and gowns.[e]

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Wednesday of the Week of Advent I

Based on 1 Corinthians 14:26-40

As Paul discusses the reality of worshipers speaking in “other tongues” at the church in Corinth, he makes it clear, first, that the aim of Christian worship is building up, encouraging and consoling. All speech offered in worship is to be in plain, clear, intelligible language, so that the community will be edified. Now, Paul says that everything that is done in worship should be done decently and in order. How powerful that Paul says, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” Some translations have it, “God is not a God of [chaos/disorder/dissension] but of order.” Paul then gives specific instructions about how and when people should speak. He explains that there should be both speaking and listening, with time to weigh in on what is being said, so that “all may learn and be encouraged.”

These words of Paul are instructive for those of us who worship within the Lutheran and yes, catholic tradition. The word “catholic” comes from the words for “of the whole —” meaning, what is believed and practiced in the whole Christian church, always and everywhere. It means our worship is not separate from the way Christians have worshiped from the beginning. In our worship, Word and Sacrament is offered in an ordered, biblical and peaceful manner. The first half of our worship service is reflective of synagogue Sabbath worship, with hymns, psalms, scriptural readings, preaching and prayers. The second half of our worship service, the Lord’s Supper, flows directly from the meal that our Lord instituted on Holy Thursday. This is the order of worship most Christians have followed since the first century of the Christian church and it provides for peace, order and structure in worship. The same is true of the Church Year, which begins with Advent. Advent prepares us for the birth of Jesus. Our lives are then shaped by the life of Christ, as day by day we remember His life, miracles, death and resurrection!

Prayer: Lord God, as in worship, remove from our lives chaos and confusion, that we may worship, pray and praise you in peace and joy! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Advent action: During Sunday worship, consider how our liturgy is actually a dialogue!

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 3:18–4:6

3:18 At that time the Lord will remove their beautiful ankle jewelry, neck ornaments, crescent shaped ornaments, 19earrings, bracelets, veils, 20headdresses, ankle ornaments, sashes, sachets, amulets, 21rings, nose rings, 22festive dresses, robes, shawls, purses, 23garments, vests, head coverings, and gowns.

24A putrid stench will replace the smell of spices,

a rope will replace a belt,

baldness will replace braided locks of hair,

a sackcloth garment will replace a fine robe,

and a prisoner’s brand will replace beauty.

25Your men will fall by the sword,

your strong men will die in battle.

26Her gates will mourn and lament;

deprived of her people, she will sit on the ground.

4:1 Seven women will grab hold of

one man at that time.

They will say, “We will provide our own food,

we will provide our own clothes;

but let us belong to you –

take away our shame!”

2At that time

the crops given by the Lord will bring admiration and honor;

the produce of the land will be a source of pride and delight

to those who remain in Israel.

3Those remaining in Zion, those left in Jerusalem,

will be called “holy,”

all in Jerusalem who are destined to live.

4At that time the Lord will wash the excrement from Zion’s women,

he will rinse the bloodstains from Jerusalem’s midst,

as he comes to judge

and to bring devastation.

5Then the Lord will create

over all of Mount Zion

and over its convocations

a cloud and smoke by day

and a bright flame of fire by night;

indeed a canopy will accompany the Lord’s glorious presence.

6By day it will be a shelter to provide shade from the heat,

as well as safety and protection from the heavy downpour.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 126

126:1 A song of ascents.

When the Lord restored the well-being of Zion,

we thought we were dreaming.

2At that time we laughed loudly

and shouted for joy.

At that time the nations said,

“The Lord has accomplished great things for these people.”

3The Lord did indeed accomplish great things for us.

We were happy.

4O Lord, restore our well-being,

just as the streams in the arid south are replenished.

5Those who shed tears as they plant

will shout for joy when they reap the harvest.

6The one who weeps as he walks along, carrying his bag of seed,

will certainly come in with a shout of joy, carrying his sheaves of grain.

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 14:26–40

14:26 What should you do then, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church. 27If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two, or at the most three, one after the other, and someone must interpret. 28But if there is no interpreter, he should be silent in the church. Let him speak to himself and to God. 29Two or three prophets should speak and the others should evaluate what is said. 30And if someone sitting down receives a revelation, the person who is speaking should conclude. 31For you can all prophesy one after another, so all can learn and be encouraged. 32Indeed, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, 33for God is not characterized by disorder but by peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says. 35If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church. 36Did the word of God begin with you, or did it come to you alone?

37If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command. 38If someone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39So then, brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues. 40And do everything in a decent and orderly manner.

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – December 3, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/12/03/daily-reading-december-3-2019/ Tue, 03 Dec 2019 09:00:19 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38801

3 Look, the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies[a]
is about to remove from Jerusalem and Judah
every source of security, including[b]
all the food and water,[c]
2 the mighty men and warriors,
judges and prophets,
omen readers and leaders,[d]
3 captains of groups of fifty,
the respected citizens,[e]
advisers and those skilled in magical arts,[f]
and those who know incantations.

The post Daily Reading – December 3, 2019 appeared first on North American Lutheran Church.

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Tuesday of the Week of Advent I

Based on 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

In this passage, Paul is contrasting the practice of “speaking in tongues” with that of prophesying — speaking the Word of the Lord, we might say preaching the Word. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been those who speak in other tongues — Spirit-language that is unintelligible, unless there is someone to interpret the meaning. Paul has this gift, but it is only valuable for the church when there is interpretation. Nevertheless, says Paul, “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

Paul’s message here is clear and easily understood. His wish, and what should also be our intention, is that what is spoken within the Body of Christ builds up the Church! Prophesy, speaking and preaching ought to always be for the purpose of encouragement and consolation! Our reading for yesterday begins, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). It brings to mind the song of the angels at the birth of the Christ child, as “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased’” (Luke 2:13-14).

What a blessing that this message of peace and love was offered, not “in the tongue of angels” but in a language that could be received by shepherds keeping watch over their flocks — and by us! What a blessing that this message was not encrypted, needing a decoder for it to be understood! The good news of the coming of God With Us was not a mystery hidden, but a promise that was proclaimed and finally fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Each Sunday, offering still, encouragement and consolation, Christians in every land announce, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace!”

Prayer: Lord God, let our every word be for the upbuilding, encouragement and consolation of those who are troubled and in need of Good News. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Advent action: During the season of Advent, add to each email or text, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth!”

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 3:1–17

3:1 Look, the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies

is about to remove from Jerusalem and Judah

every source of security, including

all the food and water,

2the mighty men and warriors,

judges and prophets,

omen readers and leaders,

3captains of groups of fifty,

the respected citizens,

advisers and those skilled in magical arts,

and those who know incantations.

4The Lord says, “I will make youths their officials;

malicious young men will rule over them.

5The people will treat each other harshly;

men will oppose each other;

neighbors will fight.

Youths will proudly defy the elderly

and riffraff will challenge those who were once respected.

6Indeed, a man will grab his brother

right in his father’s house and say,

‘You own a coat –

you be our leader!

This heap of ruins will be under your control.’

7At that time the brother will shout,

‘I am no doctor,

I have no food or coat in my house;

don’t make me a leader of the people!’”

8Jerusalem certainly stumbles,

Judah falls,

for their words and their actions offend the Lord;

they rebel against his royal authority.

9The look on their faces testifies to their guilt;

like the people of Sodom they openly boast of their sin.

Woe to them!

For they bring disaster on themselves.

10Tell the innocent it will go well with them,

for they will be rewarded for what they have done.

11Woe to the wicked sinners!

For they will get exactly what they deserve.

12Oppressors treat my people cruelly;

creditors rule over them.

My people’s leaders mislead them;

they give you confusing directions.

13The Lord takes his position to judge;

he stands up to pass sentence on his people.

14The Lord comes to pronounce judgment

on the leaders of his people and their officials.

He says, “It is you who have ruined the vineyard!

You have stashed in your houses what you have stolen from the poor.

15Why do you crush my people

and grind the faces of the poor?”

The Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies has spoken.

16The Lord says,

“The women of Zion are proud.

They walk with their heads high

and flirt with their eyes.

They skip along

and the jewelry on their ankles jingles.

17So the Lord will afflict the foreheads of Zion’s women with skin diseases;

the Lord will make the front of their heads bald.”

(NET Bible)

Ps. 125

125:1 A song of ascents.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be moved and will endure forever.

2As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

so the Lord surrounds his people,

now and forevermore.

3Indeed, the scepter of a wicked king will not settle

upon the allotted land of the godly.

Otherwise the godly might

do what is wrong.

4Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,

to the morally upright!

5As for those who are bent on traveling a sinful path,

may the Lord remove them, along with those who behave wickedly!

May Israel experience peace!

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 14:1–25

14:1 Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit. 3But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. 4The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened.

6Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I help you unless I speak to you with a revelation or with knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7It is similar for lifeless things that make a sound, like a flute or harp. Unless they make a distinction in the notes, how can what is played on the flute or harp be understood? 8If, for example, the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will get ready for battle? 9It is the same for you. If you do not speak clearly with your tongue, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10There are probably many kinds of languages in the world, and none is without meaning. 11If then I do not know the meaning of a language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12It is the same with you. Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, seek to abound in order to strengthen the church.

13So then, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. 15What should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind. 16Otherwise, if you are praising God with your spirit, how can someone without the gift say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17For you are certainly giving thanks well, but the other person is not strengthened. 18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 19but in the church I want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21It is written in the law: “By people with strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, yet not even in this way will they listen to me,” says the Lord. 22So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23So if the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and unbelievers or uninformed people enter, will they not say that you have lost your minds? 24But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called to account by all. 25The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.”

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – December 2, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/12/02/daily-reading-december-2-2019/ Mon, 02 Dec 2019 09:00:07 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38800

6 Indeed, O Lord,[a] you have abandoned your people,
the descendants of Jacob.
For diviners from the east are everywhere;[b]
they consult omen readers like the Philistines do.[c]
Plenty of foreigners are around.[d]
7 Their land is full of gold and silver;
there is no end to their wealth.[e]
Their land is full of horses;
there is no end to their chariots.[f]
8 Their land is full of worthless idols;

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Monday of the Week of Advent I

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

I read an article recently commenting on the fact that the University of California, Los Angeles is using a $20 million donation to establish a Kindness Institute. The author of the article, Daniel J. Hannan, states that there is a need for greater kindness. He acknowledges that people today so readily condemn, seek to “cancel,” negatively label and dehumanize others with insults, suggesting a primordial tribal viciousness lurking underneath our modern sensibilities. “Kindness” is defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.” I’m all for more kindness, as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:32, “…and be kind to one another…”

It seems, however, that kindness is just the beginning of what’s needed in the world today — and especially in North America. More than that, we need “love” — and not just any old kind of love, but the love Paul is writing about in our reading for today — ἀγάπη (anglicized as agapē). Most are aware that in the Bible there are three words for love — what we define as sexual love, familial or brotherly love, and then agapē — sacrificial, self-giving, divine love. Some consider this the highest form of love. It certainly may be considered the hardest form of love. Why would we say that? Read how Paul describes agape: patient and kind; not envious or jealous; not arrogant or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way. It doesn’t rejoice at the wrong, but at the right. It hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. This love never ends. Who can love in this way? This surely is an “other-worldly” kind of love! And that’s Paul’s point, isn’t it?

The love described by Paul is just the kind of love with which the Father God loves His children — and loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son — to be born as we are born, to live as we live, to die as we die. To then be raised, so that we, too, might have newness of life. That we, too, might be raised from death to life, to live with Him eternally! This is the love which we celebrate — and for which we give thanks as we prepare for Christmas!

Prayer: God, our Father; thank you for your love which redeems and strengthens us day by day; in the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen.

Advent action: Do something loving for the person you find hardest to love!

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 2:6–22

2:6 Indeed, O Lord, you have abandoned your people,

the descendants of Jacob.

For diviners from the east are everywhere;

they consult omen readers like the Philistines do.

Plenty of foreigners are around.

7Their land is full of gold and silver;

there is no end to their wealth.

Their land is full of horses;

there is no end to their chariots.

8Their land is full of worthless idols;

they worship the product of their own hands,

what their own fingers have fashioned.

9Men bow down to them in homage,

they lie flat on the ground in worship.

Don’t spare them!

10Go up into the rocky cliffs,

hide in the ground.

Get away from the dreadful judgment of the Lord,

from his royal splendor!

11Proud men will be brought low,

arrogant men will be humiliated;

the Lord alone will be exalted

in that day.

12Indeed, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has planned a day of judgment,

for all the high and mighty,

for all who are proud – they will be humiliated;

13for all the cedars of Lebanon,

that are so high and mighty,

for all the oaks of Bashan;

14for all the tall mountains,

for all the high hills,

15for every high tower,

for every fortified wall,

16for all the large ships,

for all the impressive ships.

17Proud men will be humiliated,

arrogant men will be brought low;

the Lord alone will be exalted

in that day.

18The worthless idols will be completely eliminated.

19They will go into caves in the rocky cliffs

and into holes in the ground,

trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord

and his royal splendor,

when he rises up to terrify the earth.

20At that time men will throw

their silver and gold idols,

which they made for themselves to worship,

into the caves where rodents and bats live,

21so they themselves can go into the crevices of the rocky cliffs

and the openings under the rocky overhangs,

trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord

and his royal splendor,

when he rises up to terrify the earth.

22Stop trusting in human beings,

whose life’s breath is in their nostrils.

For why should they be given special consideration?

(NET Bible)

Ps. 124

124:1 A song of ascents, by David.

“If the Lord had not been on our side” –

let Israel say this! –

2if the Lord had not been on our side,

when men attacked us,

3they would have swallowed us alive,

when their anger raged against us.

4The water would have overpowered us;

the current would have overwhelmed us.

5The raging water

would have overwhelmed us.

6The Lord deserves praise,

for he did not hand us over as prey to their teeth.

7We escaped with our lives, like a bird from a hunter’s snare.

The snare broke, and we escaped.

8Our deliverer is the Lord,

the Creator of heaven and earth.

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 13:1–13

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.

4Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 6It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – December 1, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/12/01/daily-reading-december-1-2019/ Sun, 01 Dec 2019 09:00:21 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38796

2 Here is the message about Judah and Jerusalem that was revealed to Isaiah son of Amoz.

2 In the future
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure
as the most important of mountains,
and will be the most prominent of hills.
All the nations will stream to it,

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Introduction

We are now preparing to enter, again, into the holy season of Advent. We will all benefit from additional time, if brief, spent reading God’s Word — meditating on it and responding to it. This easy to use Advent devotional booklet is intended to stimulate personal, daily time in the Scriptures that encourages faithfulness. We also hope that these brief readings and meditations will help those not used to daily Bible reading, to begin the practice, at least during Advent. Perhaps readers will continue on with Scripture reading from Christmas into the New Year!

In 2018, we introduced, together with our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) sisters and brothers, a three-year daily Bible reading calendar. If there is one thing missing from our Lutheran tradition today it’s familiarity with the Holy Scriptures. We worked together as a consultation — NALC, LCMS, LCC — because we all recognize a lack of knowledge of the Bible in our churches.

You can find the daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, on the NALC website. There are readings listed for each day, in a three-year cycle. If you complete the three years, you will have read through the entire Bible. Along with the daily calendar are weekly readings from the book, Luther on Scripture, by Johann Michael Reu. Perhaps you will add those readings to your daily devotional time during Advent. It is meaningful and insightful to learn how Martin Luther understood Holy Scripture.

You will notice that the daily Bible reading guide leads readers continuously through each book of the Bible. This means that the Old Testament readings for Advent are all from Isaiah, while the New Testament readings, except Advent I and Christmas, are from Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. Most of the devotions are based on the Corinthian readings, with a few coming from Isaiah highlighting the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. You will also note in a few instances the assigned reading may be shortened. This is for no other reason than to make the reading and devotion fit the allotted space. I trust you will read the entire passage in your own Bible.

As with all personal devotional practices, approach these readings with grace. If you miss a day or two, catch up when you have time. Bible reading, meditation and prayer are gifts of God to be enjoyed in freedom, not guilt or compulsion! Yes, we wish to be faithful in our devotional disciplines, but when we stumble, we get up, and by God’s grace, we begin again. There is no prize or award for keeping your devotional routine pure and without blemish!

You may be reading these devotions in booklet form, provided by your congregation or printed on your own printer at home. They are also available on the NALC website or Facebook page. Our intention is to make your devotional time as convenient as possible, realizing it is all too easy for time in Scripture and devotion to be squeezed out of our busy days!

May our love for Holy Scripture and our knowledge of the Bible grow as we journey through Advent, together!

The First Sunday of Advent

Based on Matthew 21:1-11

On this first Sunday of Advent, it may seem out of place to have as our reading a traditional Palm/Passion Sunday passage of the account of the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On Palm/Passion Sunday, this Processional Gospel (the procession into Jerusalem) is read at the beginning of the service. The Gospel reading during the service is most often the entire narrative of Christ’s passion, beginning with the Maundy Thursday meal, His prayer and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, His appearance before Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod, and finally, His death on the cross, as He concludes, “It is finished,” His body prepared, and the tomb sealed with His crucified body inside.

Palm Sunday begins with joy and welcome as those in Jerusalem wave palm fronds, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9). The focus shifts as the full force of the Jewish religious establishment and Roman empire are brought to bear upon Jesus, ending with His crucifixion. Palm/Passion Sunday ends with the sealing of the tomb and worshipers leave in somber silence, left to ponder and meditate upon the paradoxes of joy and sorrow, welcome and rejection, life and death.

Our reading from Matthew 21 is a fitting beginning to Advent, as the disciples are sent to prepare for the coming of the Savior. The season of Advent is a time of preparation, as we take time to prepare heart, home and life for Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee. We would like to observe this season full of joy and laughter, light and life! And yet, we experience the same wrestling with joy and sorrow, light and darkness, life and death, as day by day we are reminded that Jesus comes to us in the midst of struggle, grief, loss, loneliness, as well as happiness, fulfillment and peace. May we be prepared for His coming, regardless of our mental, emotional or life situation. May we, too, welcome Him, saying, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes!”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, come to me as light in the midst of darkness, as hope in the midst of struggle, as life in the midst of death. Amen.

Advent action: Take a few moments to read Matthew’s account of the Passion, chapters 26-27.

 

This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

Is. 2:1–5

2:1 Here is the message about Judah and Jerusalem that was revealed to Isaiah son of Amoz.

2In the future

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure

as the most important of mountains,

and will be the most prominent of hills.

All the nations will stream to it,

3many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain,

to the temple of the God of Jacob,

so he can teach us his requirements,

and we can follow his standards.”

For Zion will be the center for moral instruction;

the Lord’s message will issue from Jerusalem.

4He will judge disputes between nations;

he will settle cases for many peoples.

They will beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nations will not take up the sword against other nations,

and they will no longer train for war.

5O descendants of Jacob,

come, let us walk in the Lord’s guiding light.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 122

122:1 A song of ascents, by David.

I was glad because they said to me,

“We will go to the Lord’s temple.”

2Our feet are standing

inside your gates, O Jerusalem.

3Jerusalem is a city designed

to accommodate an assembly.

4The tribes go up there,

the tribes of the Lord,

where it is required that Israel

give thanks to the name of the Lord.

5Indeed, the leaders sit there on thrones and make legal decisions,

on the thrones of the house of David.

6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

May those who love her prosper!

7May there be peace inside your defenses,

and prosperity inside your fortresses!

8For the sake of my brothers and my neighbors

I will say, “May there be peace in you!”

9For the sake of the temple of the Lord our God

I will pray for you to prosper.

(NET Bible)

Rom. 13:11–14

13:11 And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers. 12The night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near. So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light. 13Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.

(NET Bible)

Matt. 21:1–11

21:1 Now when they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Right away you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:

5Tell the people of Zion,

Look, your king is coming to you,

unassuming and seated on a donkey,

and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6So the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those following kept shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10As he entered Jerusalem the whole city was thrown into an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” 11And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – November 30, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/11/30/daily-reading-november-30-2019/ Sat, 30 Nov 2019 09:00:15 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38772 2 Here is the message about Judah and Jerusalem that was revealed to Isaiah son of Amoz.

2 In the future
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure
as the most important of mountains,
and will be the most prominent of hills.
All the nations will stream to it,

The post Daily Reading – November 30, 2019 appeared first on North American Lutheran Church.

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Is. 2:1–5

2:1 Here is the message about Judah and Jerusalem that was revealed to Isaiah son of Amoz.

2In the future

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure

as the most important of mountains,

and will be the most prominent of hills.

All the nations will stream to it,

3many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain,

to the temple of the God of Jacob,

so he can teach us his requirements,

and we can follow his standards.”

For Zion will be the center for moral instruction;

the Lord’s message will issue from Jerusalem.

4He will judge disputes between nations;

he will settle cases for many peoples.

They will beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nations will not take up the sword against other nations,

and they will no longer train for war.

5O descendants of Jacob,

come, let us walk in the Lord’s guiding light.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 123

123:1 A song of ascents.

I look up toward you,

the one enthroned in heaven.

2Look, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a female servant look to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes will look to the Lord, our God, until he shows us favor.

3Show us favor, O Lord, show us favor!

For we have had our fill of humiliation, and then some.

4We have had our fill

of the taunts of the self-assured,

of the contempt of the proud.

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 12:12–31

12:12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 14For in fact the body is not a single member, but many. 15If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 16And if the ear says, “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 17If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell? 18But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided. 19If they were all the same member, where would the body be? 20So now there are many members, but one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor in turn can the head say to the foot, “I do not need you.” 22On the contrary, those members that seem to be weaker are essential, 23and those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity, 24but our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member, 25so that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another. 26If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a member is honored, all rejoice with it.

27Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it. 28And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. 29Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform miracles, do they? 30Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they? 31But you should be eager for the greater gifts.

And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “The meaning of the prophet is that Christ uses no other power against the world than only the Word of God, as we daily see that he acts against the sin, the sinner, and the devil with nothing but the Word, and yet by means of the Word he has converted and subjected the whole world and till the last day his own will defend themselves against all temptation with the Word and defeat all the attempts of devil, esh and world.” —Compare Luther’s words to Spalatin of 1521 over against Hutten’s oveer to defend the gospel by the sword … Through the Word the world has been conquered, the church was preserved, through the Word it will also be renewed; but the anti-Christ also, as he began without external power (manu), will also be destroyed without external power, through the Word.” (75)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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Daily Reading – November 29, 2019 https://thenalc.org/2019/11/29/daily-reading-november-29-2019/ Fri, 29 Nov 2019 09:00:35 +0000 https://thenalc.org/?p=38771 18 Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins have stained you like the color red,
you can become white like snow;
though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet,
you can become white like wool.
19 If you have a willing attitude and obey,
then you will again eat the good crops of the land.
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
Know for certain that the Lord has spoken.

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Is. 1:18–31

1:18 Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord.

“Though your sins have stained you like the color red,

you can become white like snow;

though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet,

you can become white like wool.

19If you have a willing attitude and obey,

then you will again eat the good crops of the land.

20But if you refuse and rebel,

you will be devoured by the sword.”

Know for certain that the Lord has spoken.

21How tragic that the once-faithful city

has become a prostitute!

She was once a center of justice,

fairness resided in her,

but now only murderers.

22Your silver has become scum,

your beer is diluted with water.

23Your officials are rebels,

they associate with thieves.

All of them love bribery,

and look for payoffs.

They do not take up the cause of the orphan,

or defend the rights of the widow.

24Therefore, the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

the Powerful One of Israel, says this:

“Ah, I will seek vengeance against my adversaries,

I will take revenge against my enemies.

25I will attack you;

I will purify your metal with flux.

I will remove all your slag.

26I will reestablish honest judges as in former times,

wise advisers as in earlier days.

Then you will be called, ‘The Just City,

Faithful Town.’”

27 Zion will be freed by justice,

and her returnees by righteousness.

28All rebellious sinners will be shattered,

those who abandon the Lord will perish.

29Indeed, they will be ashamed of the sacred trees

you find so desirable;

you will be embarrassed because of the sacred orchards

where you choose to worship.

30For you will be like a tree whose leaves wither,

like an orchard that is unwatered.

31The powerful will be like a thread of yarn,

their deeds like a spark;

both will burn together,

and no one will put out the fire.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 122

122:1 A song of ascents, by David.

I was glad because they said to me,

“We will go to the Lord’s temple.”

2Our feet are standing

inside your gates, O Jerusalem.

3Jerusalem is a city designed

to accommodate an assembly.

4The tribes go up there,

the tribes of the Lord,

where it is required that Israel

give thanks to the name of the Lord.

5Indeed, the leaders sit there on thrones and make legal decisions,

on the thrones of the house of David.

6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

May those who love her prosper!

7May there be peace inside your defenses,

and prosperity inside your fortresses!

8For the sake of my brothers and my neighbors

I will say, “May there be peace in you!”

9For the sake of the temple of the Lord our God

I will pray for you to prosper.

(NET Bible)

1 Cor. 12:1–11

12:1 With regard to spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans you were often led astray by speechless idols, however you were led. 3So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 7To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. 8For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.

(NET Bible)

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.

[Luther writes]: “The meaning of the prophet is that Christ uses no other power against the world than only the Word of God, as we daily see that he acts against the sin, the sinner, and the devil with nothing but the Word, and yet by means of the Word he has converted and subjected the whole world and till the last day his own will defend themselves against all temptation with the Word and defeat all the attempts of devil, esh and world.” —Compare Luther’s words to Spalatin of 1521 over against Hutten’s oveer to defend the gospel by the sword … Through the Word the world has been conquered, the church was preserved, through the Word it will also be renewed; but the anti-Christ also, as he began without external power (manu), will also be destroyed without external power, through the Word.” (75)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More

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