Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 19, 2019

Thursday of the Week of Advent III

Based on 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

I have on my desk a Holy Bible with a camo cover, produced by the Armed Services Ministry of the American Bible Society. This version of the Bible is given to recruits as they begin their basic training and inside the front cover, it introduces “The Basic Training Challenge; Spiritual Fitness for the Warrior.” There are 75 sections highlighted in this Bible, aimed at introducing these young men and women to God and His plan revealed and completed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It then challenges them to grow as disciples and followers of Jesus, developing into mature leaders. It would be hard to imagine how many soldiers came to know Christ through these pocket-size Bibles, and how many of these Bibles went with these soldiers into service as a constant companion and guide.

I mention this because one of the 75 passages highlighted in Scripture is our reading for today, II Corinthians 8:1-15. Here, Paul writes of the faith and generosity of the churches of Macedonia who, out of their abundance of joy (and extreme poverty) gave of themselves for the spread of the Gospel and the “relief of the saints.” Paul speaks powerfully about the Christian life, how it is the call of the disciple to give oneself to God first, then to others! And what a meaningful Advent message that is, as we remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive! (Acts 20:36).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as you so graciously gave your Son to be our Savior, move our hearts to overflow in a wealth of generosity for those in need, this holiday season. Amen.

Advent action: Whether you give out of abundance or poverty, find a way to share something with those who have no shelter, food or stability, in response to the gift of God’s Son, Jesus.

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. 16:1–14

16:1 Send rams as tribute to the ruler of the land,

from Sela in the wilderness

to the hill of Daughter Zion.

2At the fords of the Arnon

the Moabite women are like a bird

that flies about when forced from its nest.

3 “Bring a plan, make a decision!

Provide some shade in the middle of the day!

Hide the fugitives! Do not betray the one who tries to escape!

4Please let the Moabite fugitives live among you.

Hide them from the destroyer!”

Certainly the one who applies pressure will cease,

the destroyer will come to an end,

those who trample will disappear from the earth.

5Then a trustworthy king will be established;

he will rule in a reliable manner,

this one from David’s family.

He will be sure to make just decisions

and will be experienced in executing justice.

6We have heard about Moab’s pride,

their great arrogance,

their boasting, pride, and excess.

But their boastful claims are empty!

7So Moab wails over its demise –

they all wail!

Completely devastated, they moan

about what has happened to the raisin cakes of Kir Hareseth.

8For the fields of Heshbon are dried up,

as well as the vines of Sibmah.

The rulers of the nations trample all over its vines,

which reach Jazer and spread to the wilderness;

their shoots spread out and cross the sea.

9So I weep along with Jazer

over the vines of Sibmah.

I will saturate you with my tears, Heshbon and Elealeh,

for the conquering invaders shout triumphantly

over your fruit and crops.

10Joy and happiness disappear from the orchards,

and in the vineyards no one rejoices or shouts;

no one treads out juice in the wine vats –

I have brought the joyful shouts to an end.

11So my heart constantly sighs for Moab, like the strumming of a harp,

my inner being sighs for Kir Hareseth.

12When the Moabites plead with all their might at their high places,

and enter their temples to pray, their prayers will be ineffective!

13This is the message the Lord previously announced about Moab. 14Now the Lord makes this announcement: “Within exactly three years Moab’s splendor will disappear, along with all her many people; there will be just a few, insignificant survivors left.”

(NET Bible)

Ps. 140

140:1 For the music director; a psalm of David.

O Lord, rescue me from wicked men!

Protect me from violent men,

2who plan ways to harm me.

All day long they stir up conflict.

3Their tongues wound like a serpent;

a viper’s venom is behind their lips. (Selah)

4O Lord, shelter me from the power of the wicked!

Protect me from violent men,

who plan to knock me over.

5Proud men hide a snare for me;

evil men spread a net by the path;

they set traps for me. (Selah)

6I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”

O Lord, pay attention to my plea for mercy!

7O Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,

you shield my head in the day of battle.

8O Lord, do not let the wicked have their way!

Do not allow their plan to succeed when they attack! (Selah)

9As for the heads of those who surround me –

may the harm done by their lips overwhelm them!

10May he rain down fiery coals upon them!

May he throw them into the fire!

From bottomless pits they will not escape.

11A slanderer will not endure on the earth;

calamity will hunt down a violent man and strike him down.

12I know that the Lord defends the cause of the oppressed

and vindicates the poor.

13Certainly the godly will give thanks to your name;

the morally upright will live in your presence.

(NET Bible)

2 Cor. 8:1–15

8:1 Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia, 2that during a severe ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in the wealth of their generosity. 3For I testify, they gave according to their means and beyond their means. They did so voluntarily, 4begging us with great earnestness for the blessing and fellowship of helping the saints. 5And they did this not just as we had hoped, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us by the will of God. 6Thus we urged Titus that, just as he had previously begun this work, so also he should complete this act of kindness for you. 7But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you – make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too. 8I am not saying this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love by comparison with the eagerness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich. 10So here is my opinion on this matter: It is to your advantage, since you made a good start last year both in your giving and your desire to give, 11to finish what you started, so that just as you wanted to do it eagerly, you can also complete it according to your means. 12For if the eagerness is present, the gift itself is acceptable according to whatever one has, not according to what he does not have. 13For I do not say this so there would be relief for others and suffering for you, but as a matter of equality. 14At the present time, your abundance will meet their need, so that one day their abundance may also meet your need, and thus there may be equality, 15as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

(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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