Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 15, 2019

The Third Sunday of Advent

Based on 2 Corinthians 5:1-15

Paul writes, “if our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” Those of us who know we are saved by God’s grace, through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, long for that heavenly, eternal home — “groaning,” “burdened” while still in this “earthly tent” of our physical bodies. Yet, while living on this earth, “we are of good courage,” aiming to please God whether we are here or there! And how are we to live, aiming to please God while still in this life? Paul shifts his message here, encouraging us not to live our lives preoccupied with when we will enter our heavenly home. Rather, while in this life, Paul would prefer we focus on bringing others to faith in Jesus, introducing others to Jesus so that they, too, may have the hope and promise of eternal life! This is why Paul speaks, now, of “persuading others.”

Paul says, “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” We share the Good News of Jesus as Savior and Lord, hoping, praying that all will come to know Him and the power of His resurrection. Our desire is that no one should be lost, but that each and every person would confess Jesus Christ as Lord, to stand confident on the day of judgment, boasting not of themselves, but of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for us and for our salvation. On the day of judgment, Jesus Christ and His righteousness will be our hope! And where do we begin in our attempt to persuade? We begin with God become flesh to live among us, in Jesus!

Prayer: Lord God, let the love of Christ control and guide us, as we seek to reach the lost. Amen.

Advent action: Write down a three-minute version, an “elevator speech” sharing what God has done for you in Jesus Christ, to be offered when given the opportunity.


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. 13:1–22

13:1 This is an oracle about Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:

2 On a bare hill raise a signal flag;

shout to them,

wave your hand

so they might enter the gates of the princes!

3I have given orders to my chosen soldiers;

I have summoned the warriors through whom I will vent my anger—

my boasting, arrogant ones.

4 There is a loud noise on the mountains—

it sounds like a large army!

There is great commotion among the kingdoms—

nations are being assembled!

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is mustering

forces for battle.

5They come from a distant land,

from the horizon.

It is the Lord with his instruments of judgment

coming to destroy the whole earth.

6Wail, for the Lord’s day of judgment is near;

it comes with all the destructive power of the Sovereign One.

7For this reason all hands hang limp,

every human heart loses its courage.

8They panic—

cramps and pain seize hold of them

like those of a woman who is straining to give birth.

They look at one another in astonishment;

their faces are flushed red.

9Look, the Lord’s day of judgment is coming;

it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger,

destroying the earth

and annihilating its sinners.

10Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations

no longer give out their light;

the sun is darkened as soon as it rises,

and the moon does not shine.

11 I will punish the world for its evil

and wicked people for their sin.

I will put an end to the pride of the insolent,

I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants.

12I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold

and people more scarce than gold from Ophir.

13So I will shake the heavens,

and the earth will shake loose from its foundation,

because of the fury of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

in the day he vents his raging anger.

14Like a frightened gazelle

or a sheep with no shepherd,

each will turn toward home,

each will run to his homeland.

15Everyone who is caught will be stabbed;

everyone who is seized will die by the sword.

16Their children will be smashed to pieces before their very eyes;

their houses will be looted

and their wives raped.

17Look, I am stirring up the Medes to attack them;

they are not concerned about silver,

nor are they interested in gold.

18Their arrows will cut young men to ribbons;

they have no compassion on a person’s offspring;

they will not look with pity on children.

19Babylon, the most admired of kingdoms,

the Chaldeans’ source of honor and pride,

will be destroyed by God

just as Sodom and Gomorrah were.

20No one will live there again;

no one will ever reside there again.

No bedouin will camp there,

no shepherds will rest their flocks there.

21Wild animals will rest there,

the ruined houses will be full of hyenas.

Ostriches will live there,

wild goats will skip among the ruins.

22Wild dogs will yip in her ruined fortresses,

jackals will yelp in the once-splendid palaces.

Her time is almost up,

her days will not be prolonged.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 136

136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his loyal love endures.

2Give thanks to the God of gods,

for his loyal love endures.

3Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for his loyal love endures.

4To the one who performs magnificent, amazing deeds all by himself,

for his loyal love endures.

5To the one who used wisdom to make the heavens,

for his loyal love endures.

6To the one who spread out the earth over the water,

for his loyal love endures.

7To the one who made the great lights,

for his loyal love endures,

8the sun to rule by day,

for his loyal love endures,

9the moon and stars to rule by night,

for his loyal love endures.

10To the one who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,

for his loyal love endures,

11and led Israel out from their midst,

for his loyal love endures,

12with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

for his loyal love endures.

13To the one who divided the Red Sea in two,

for his loyal love endures,

14and led Israel through its midst,

for his loyal love endures,

15and tossed Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea,

for his loyal love endures.

16To the one who led his people through the wilderness,

for his loyal love endures.

17To the one who struck down great kings,

for his loyal love endures,

18and killed powerful kings,

for his loyal love endures,

19Sihon, king of the Amorites,

for his loyal love endures,

20Og, king of Bashan,

for his loyal love endures,

21and gave their land as an inheritance,

for his loyal love endures,

22as an inheritance to Israel his servant,

for his loyal love endures.

23To the one who remembered us when we were down,

for his loyal love endures,

24and snatched us away from our enemies,

for his loyal love endures.

25To the one who gives food to all living things,

for his loyal love endures.

26Give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his loyal love endures!

(NET Bible)

2 Cor. 5:1–15

5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens. 2For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked. 4For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 6Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord— 7for we live by faith, not by sight. 8Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.

11Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people, but we are well known to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too. 12We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who take pride in outward appearance and not in what is in the heart. 13For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died. 15And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. (NET Bible)

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

[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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