Home > Devotions > Daily Reading – December 19, 2018

A Commitment to the Truth

 

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

– Luke 7:31–35 ESV

The question our Lord asks in verse 31 of this passage is haunting in our day and age. “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like” (ESV)? Meditate on that for a few minutes. Consider what Jesus was saying then and what He is saying to us now.

John the Baptizer and Jesus the Christ were both rejected by religious and civil leaders. They found John too strict and austere (and really, weird!) while they accused Jesus of being too lax, too loose, eating and drinking, sometimes without ritual purity, sometimes with the unclean—with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners. On the one hand, it seemed they didn’t know what they wanted. On the other, we know all too well what the religious and civil leaders wanted.

People then and people now want whatever they want, without anyone questioning them, accusing them, making them feel guilty, self-conscious or uncomfortable. It is amazing that people today consider themselves god over Holy Scripture and the one, true Triune God. People today make decisions about life and death, ethics and morals, not on the basis of God’s Word and the timeless tradition of Christian faith and teaching, but on how they feel, what they want and on what will make their lives comfortable and convenient. Like children, many in our generation expect to get whatever they wish for—if they want you to dance, they expect you to dance—if they want you to sing or weep, they expect that as well. This, Jesus says, is what our generation is like—many are like spoiled, self-absorbed children!

A commitment to the truth and authority of God’s Word means a commitment to repentance, confession and amendment of life, as John proclaimed it. It also means we are committed to Jesus, who is “the way, the truth and the life,” the only path to the Father (John 14:6). A commitment to the truth and authority of God’s Word also means a commitment to life, as a gift from God—always a gift from God, from conception to natural death. As we prepare for our celebration of the greatest gift of all—Jesus, born in Bethlehem, let us commit ourselves anew to the Word made flesh to dwell among us, full of grace and truth! (John 1:14)

Prayer: O Lord God, we give you thanks for John and our Lord Jesus, who call us to bear witness to the truth of our salvation, the truth of your Word, the truth that Jesus is life! Amen.

Pro-Life Action: Find and read the NALC words of counsel “The Bible as the Word of God” and “The Lord is With You: The Sanctity of Nascent Life” at thenalc.org/statements.

 Today’s devotion was written by Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism.

This year’s Advent devotions are written by the members of NALC Life Ministries. The devotional follows the daily Revised Common Lectionary for Advent and includes a Bible reading, commentary, prayer and pro-life action for every day until Christmas Eve.

As we move through the season of Advent, Scripture reveals the anxiety of an unplanned pregnancy, as Mary and Joseph ponder this miracle and seek to understand who this precious child might be. This devotional examines our responsibility to protect all human life in light of Mary and Joseph’s protection of Jesus, the savior of the world.

Our authors include Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Rev. Mark Chavez, Rev. Dr. Dennis Di Mauro, Rev. Dr. Cathi Braasch, Rev. Scott Licht, Rev. Sandra Towberman, Rev. Steve Shipman, Ms. Rebecka Andrae, Rev. Melinda Jones, Rev. David Nelson, Ms. Rosemary Johnson, Rev. Mark Werner and Rev. Steve Bliss.

Learn more about NALC Life Ministries

Judges 4 (ESV)

Deborah and Barak

And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

12 When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14 And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15 And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.

17 But Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18 And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 And he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. 20 And he said to her, “Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’ ” 21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. 22 And behold, as Barak was pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went in to her tent, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg in his temple.

23 So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel. 24 And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

Psalm 140 (ESV)

Deliver Me, O Lord, from Evil Men

140 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men;
preserve me from violent men,

who plan evil things in their heart
and stir up wars continually.

They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s,
and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah

Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
preserve me from violent men,
who have planned to trip up my feet.

The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
and with cords they have spread a net;
beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah

I say to the Lord, You are my God;
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!

O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation,
you have covered my head in the day of battle.

Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;
do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah

As for the head of those who surround me,
let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!

10  Let burning coals fall upon them!
Let them be cast into fire,
into miry pits, no more to rise!

11  Let not the slanderer be established in the land;
let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!

12  I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
and will execute justice for the needy.

13  Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.

Acts 11:1–18 (ESV)

Peter Reports to the Church

11 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

[Luther writes]: “The Holy Spirit is the most simple writer and speaker in heaven and earth; therefore His words have only one sense, the most simple one, which we call the literal sense.” … “In order that these word jugglers may be seen in their true light, I ask them, who told them that the fathers are clearer and not more obscure than the Scripture? How would it be if I said that they understand the Fathers as little as I understand the Scriptures? I could just as well stop my ears to the sayings of the Fathers as they do to the Scriptures. But in that way we shall never arrive at the truth. If the Spirit has spoken in the fathers, so much the more has He spoken in His own Scriptures. And if one does not understand the Spirit in His own Scriptures, who will trust him to understand the Spirit in the writings of another? That is truly a carrying of the sword in the scabbard, when we do not take the naked sword by itself but only as it is encased in the words and glosses of men. This dulls its edge and makes it obscurer than it was before, though Emser calls it smiting with the blade. The bare sword makes him tremble from head to foot. Be it known, then, that Scripture without any gloss is the sun and the sole light from which all teachers receive their light, and not the contrary. This is proved by the fact that, when the fathers teach anything, they do not trust their teaching but, fearing it to be too obscure and uncertain, they go to the Scriptures and take a clear passage out of it to shed light on their teaching, just as we place a light in a lantern, and as we read in Ps. 18: ‘Thou wilt light my lamp, O Lord.’” (77–78)

–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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