Home > Devotions > Daily Reading – December 2, 2019

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.

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