Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 11, 2019

Wednesday of the Week of Advent II

Based on 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11

As we read through the Corinthians correspondence, we are aware that in between the first and second letters, other events were taking place of which we can only guess. It appears that Paul had indeed visited Corinth again, and during that visit, some member of the congregation had caused offense against Paul, for which Paul demanded discipline and an apology. Evidently, this happened, Paul has forgiven the offender and wishes to move on for the sake of all. The reality, it seems, is that not all in Corinth are ready or willing to accept this. So, Paul has decided not to visit again and risk stirring up the situation. Paul’s words in this passage deal with this situation. In some ways, it may seem a difficult text for us to apply to our lives, as we are not fully aware of the complete circumstances. Still, there is something we can take from this passage.

It is important for us to realize that when someone causes pain to another within the Body of Christ, it causes pain to all within the Body of Christ. It is unfortunate that in every congregation, there is, day by day, offense given. Sometimes it is unintentional, often it is intended. It can be a word or action, it can be a decision made in council, it can be a hasty text or email sent without sufficient thought. Nevertheless, a painful offense in the church brings pain to all, not just to the two or three who may be directly involved. When this happens, it is important that the offense is acknowledged, apology offered and accepted, and situation reconciled. This is how the Body of Christ is to function. When the offense is not acknowledged and apology offered, forgiveness is withheld and there is no reconciliation. This creates a breach or wound in the body, leading, finally, to a toxic infection that will be hard to heal! Advent, it would seem, is an appropriate time for addressing such situations for the sake of apology, forgiveness and reconciliation — for the sake of the whole congregation!

Prayer: Lord God, touch the hearts of those who have offended others, and bring reconciliation and restoration where needed, within the Body of your church. Amen.

Advent action: Is there an offense you have given? Apologize and seek reconciliation.

 

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. 9:8–10:4

9:8 The Lord decreed judgment on Jacob,

and it fell on Israel.

9All the people were aware of it,

the people of Ephraim and those living in Samaria.

Yet with pride and an arrogant attitude, they said,

10 “The bricks have fallen,

but we will rebuild with chiseled stone;

the sycamore fig trees have been cut down,

but we will replace them with cedars.”

11Then the Lord provoked their adversaries to attack them,

he stirred up their enemies –

12Syria from the east,

and the Philistines from the west,

they gobbled up Israelite territory.

Despite all this, his anger does not subside,

and his hand is ready to strike again.

13The people did not return to the one who struck them,

they did not seek reconciliation with the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

14So the Lord cut off Israel’s head and tail,

both the shoots and stalk in one day.

15The leaders and the highly respected people are the head,

the prophets who teach lies are the tail.

16The leaders of this nation were misleading people,

and the people being led were destroyed.

17So the Lord was not pleased with their young men,

he took no pity on their orphans and widows;

for the whole nation was godless and did wicked things,

every mouth was speaking disgraceful words.

Despite all this, his anger does not subside,

and his hand is ready to strike again.

18For evil burned like a fire,

it consumed thorns and briers;

it burned up the thickets of the forest,

and they went up in smoke.

19Because of the anger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the land was scorched,

and the people became fuel for the fire.

People had no compassion on one another.

20They devoured on the right, but were still hungry,

they ate on the left, but were not satisfied.

People even ate the flesh of their own arm!

21Manasseh fought against Ephraim,

and Ephraim against Manasseh;

together they fought against Judah.

Despite all this, his anger does not subside,

and his hand is ready to strike again.

10:1 Beware, those who enact unjust policies,

those who are always instituting unfair regulations,

2to keep the poor from getting fair treatment,

and to deprive the oppressed among my people of justice,

so they can steal what widows own,

and loot what belongs to orphans.

3What will you do on judgment day,

when destruction arrives from a distant place?

To whom will you run for help?

Where will you leave your wealth?

4You will have no place to go, except to kneel with the prisoners,

or to fall among those who have been killed.

Despite all this, his anger does not subside,

and his hand is ready to strike again.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 133

133:1 A song of ascents, by David.

Look! How good and how pleasant it is

when brothers truly live in unity!

2It is like fine oil poured on the head

which flows down the beard –

Aaron’s beard,

and then flows down his garments.

3It is like the dew of Hermon,

which flows down upon the hills of Zion.

Indeed, that is where the Lord has decreed

a blessing will be available – eternal life.

(NET Bible)

2 Cor. 1:23–2:11

1:23 Now I appeal to God as my witness, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth. 24I do not mean that we rule over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because by faith you stand firm. 2:1 So I made up my own mind not to pay you another painful visit. 2For if I make you sad, who would be left to make me glad but the one I caused to be sad? 3And I wrote this very thing to you, so that when I came I would not have sadness from those who ought to make me rejoice, since I am confident in you all that my joy would be yours. 4For out of great distress and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not to make you sad, but to let you know the love that I have especially for you. 5But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well. 6This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, 7so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him. This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair. 8Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 9For this reason also I wrote you: to test you to see if you are obedient in everything. 10If you forgive anyone for anything, I also forgive him – for indeed what I have forgiven (if I have forgiven anything) I did so for you in the presence of Christ, 11so that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes). (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.

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