Wednesday of the Week of Advent III
Based on 2 Corinthians 7:2-16
Once again, we are aware of the fact that there were things happening in the relationship between Paul and the church in Corinth. There had been an occurrence in which deep and hurtful offense was given to Paul and Paul called the offender (and the community) to account. This caused what Paul calls, “godly grief” or we might say “godly sorrow” that brought recognition, repentance and finally, reconciliation. Paul contrasts this with a worldly attitude that creates resentment and regret without the hope of reconciliation. Thankfully, Paul learns from Titus that the godly grief or sorrow has led to repentance that leads to salvation — as it led to an eagerness to resolve the situation.
Sadly, even in the Body of Christ, we do not arrive at godly grief that leads to reconciliation. Often offense is given and rather than the offender acknowledging the offense, humbly apologizing and seeking forgiveness, the offender is arrogant, believing himself justified or righteous in the outcome, leaving the offense, the hurt and the breach in the community. As mentioned previously, such an unhealed wound in the Body of Christ leads to infection and often a toxic situation in the congregation. In all things as the Body, we are to be ambassadors of Christ Jesus, seeking always repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation!
Prayer: Lord God, give to us the joy that comes from always seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Advent action: To whom have you given offense? In godly grief, apologize and reconcile.
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.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
14:12 “Look how you have fallen from the sky,
O shining one, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the ground,
O conqueror of the nations!
13You said to yourself,
‘I will climb up to the sky.
Above the stars of El
I will set up my throne.
I will rule on the mountain of assembly
on the remote slopes of Zaphon.
14I will climb up to the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High!’
15But you were brought down to Sheol,
to the remote slopes of the Pit.
16Those who see you stare at you,
they look at you carefully, thinking:
‘Is this the man who shook the earth,
the one who made kingdoms tremble?
17Is this the one who made the world like a wilderness,
who ruined its cities
and refused to free his prisoners so they could return home?’
18 As for all the kings of the nations,
all of them lie down in splendor,
each in his own tomb.
19But you have been thrown out of your grave
like a shoot that is thrown away.
You lie among the slain,
among those who have been slashed by the sword,
among those headed for the stones of the Pit,
as if you were a mangled corpse.
20You will not be buried with them,
because you destroyed your land
and killed your people.
“The offspring of the wicked
will never be mentioned again.
21Prepare to execute his sons
for the sins their ancestors have committed.
They must not rise up and take possession of the earth
or fill the surface of the world with cities.
22“I will rise up against them,”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“I will blot out all remembrance of Babylon and destroy all her people,
including the offspring she produces,”
says the Lord.
23“I will turn her into a place that is overrun with wild animals
and covered with pools of stagnant water.
I will get rid of her, just as one sweeps away dirt with a broom,”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.(NET Bible)
139:1 For the music director, a psalm of David.
O Lord, you examine me and know me.
2You know when I sit down and when I get up;
even from far away you understand my motives.
3You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest;
you are aware of everything I do.
4Certainly my tongue does not frame a word
without you, O Lord, being thoroughly aware of it.
5You squeeze me in from behind and in front;
you place your hand on me.
6Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension;
it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it.
7Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee to escape your presence?
8If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.
If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.
9If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn
and settle down on the other side of the sea,
10even there your hand would guide me,
your right hand would grab hold of me.
11If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me,
and the light will turn to night all around me,”
12even the darkness is not too dark for you to see,
and the night is as bright as day;
darkness and light are the same to you.
13Certainly you made my mind and heart;
you wove me together in my mother’s womb.
14I will give you thanks because your deeds are awesome and amazing.
You knew me thoroughly;
15my bones were not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret
and sewed together in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb.
All the days ordained for me
were recorded in your scroll
before one of them came into existence.
17How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God!
How vast is their sum total.
18If I tried to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Even if I finished counting them,
I would still have to contend with you.
19If only you would kill the wicked, O God!
Get away from me, you violent men!
20They rebel against you and act deceitfully;
your enemies lie.
21O Lord, do I not hate those who hate you
and despise those who oppose you?
22I absolutely hate them;
they have become my enemies.
23Examine me, O God, and probe my thoughts.
Test me, and know my concerns.
24See if there is any idolatrous way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way.(NET Bible)
2 Cor. 7:2–16
7:2 Make room for us in your hearts; we have wronged no one; we have ruined no one; we have exploited no one. 3I do not say this to condemn you, for I told you before that you are in our hearts so that we die together and live together with you.
4I have great confidence in you; I take great pride on your behalf. I am filled with encouragement; I am overflowing with joy in the midst of all our suffering. 5For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way—struggles from the outside, fears from within. 6But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. 7We were encouraged not only by his arrival, but also by the encouragement you gave him, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your deep concern for me, so that I rejoiced more than ever. 8For even if I made you sad by my letter, I do not regret having written it (even though I did regret it, for I see that my letter made you sad, though only for a short time). 9Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. 10For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death. 11For see what this very thing, this sadness as God intended, has produced in you: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, what punishment! In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12So then, even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did wrong or on account of the one who was wronged, but to reveal to you your eagerness on our behalf before God. 13Therefore we have been encouraged. And in addition to our own encouragement, we rejoiced even more at the joy of Titus because all of you have refreshed his spirit. 14For if I have boasted to him about anything concerning you, I have not been embarrassed by you, but just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting to Titus about you has proved true as well. 15And his affection for you is much greater when he remembers the obedience of you all, how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16I rejoice because in everything I am fully confident in you.(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.