Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 21, 2019

Saturday of the Week of Advent III

Based on 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

It would be easy and all too expected to continue our recent line of thought these last few days with further devotional conversation about each one giving “as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul certainly is speaking directly and plainly to the Corinthian Christians about their obligation to give, the joy and cheer that comes from giving and his expectation that disciples of Jesus will give generously and from the heart!

The key to Paul’s thought, however, comes from verse 15, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” What matters is not what we give or how much we give. What matters is that God has first given to us — an inexpressible gift — the gift of His own Son! Born to Mary and Joseph, born in a stable in Bethlehem, born to give His life on the cross for us and for our salvation!

Paul reminds his readers that, as it is written, “‘[God] has distributed freely, he has given to the poor, his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” Paul is careful to remind the Corinthians — and us — that God is the giver; that God first gives to us. Paul reminds us that God created us and all that exists — the universe, the earth, the soil and seed, sun and moon, wind and rain, plants and animals for food, home, family and relationships. The greatest gift of all, however — the inexpressible gift — is the gift of His Son Jesus! It is this gift which so moves and opens the heart that we cannot help but give God our thanks and praise and give to others whatever we can to help them in their need. Christmas is indeed a festival of giving. As the Father gives the Son, we receive Him, and give, in love, to others!

Prayer: Father God, we give thanks for the inexpressible gift of your Son, Jesus! Amen.

Advent action: As we draw near to Christmas — be cheerful, in joy and thankfulness for 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. 18:1–7

18:1 Beware, land of buzzing wings,

the one beyond the rivers of Cush,

2that sends messengers by sea,

who glide over the water’s surface in boats made of papyrus.

Go, you swift messengers,

to a nation of tall, smooth-skinned people,

to a people that are feared far and wide,

to a nation strong and victorious,

whose land rivers divide.

3All you who live in the world,

who reside on the earth,

you will see a signal flag raised on the mountains;

you will hear a trumpet being blown.

4For this is what the Lord has told me:

“I will wait and watch from my place,

like scorching heat produced by the sunlight,

like a cloud of mist in the heat of harvest.”

5For before the harvest, when the bud has sprouted

and the ripening fruit appears,

he will cut off the unproductive shoots with pruning knives;

he will prune the tendrils.

6They will all be left for the birds of the hills

and the wild animals;

the birds will eat them during the summer,

and all the wild animals will eat them during the winter.

7At that time

tribute will be brought to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies

by a people that are tall and smooth-skinned,

a people that are feared far and wide,

a nation strong and victorious,

whose land rivers divide.

The tribute will be brought to the place where the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has chosen to reside, on Mount Zion.

(NET Bible)

Ps. 142

142:1 A well-written song by David, when he was in the cave; a prayer.

To the Lord I cry out;

to the Lord I plead for mercy.

2I pour out my lament before him;

I tell him about my troubles.

3Even when my strength leaves me,

you watch my footsteps.

In the path where I walk

they have hidden a trap for me.

4Look to the right and see.

No one cares about me.

I have nowhere to run;

no one is concerned about my life.

5I cry out to you, O Lord;

I say, “You are my shelter,

my security in the land of the living.”

6Listen to my cry for help,

for I am in serious trouble.

Rescue me from those who chase me,

for they are stronger than I am.

7Free me from prison

that I may give thanks to your name.

Because of me the godly will assemble,

for you will vindicate me.

(NET Bible)

2 Cor. 9:6–15

9:6 My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. 9Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” 10Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. 11You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, 12because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God. 13Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone. 14And in their prayers on your behalf, they long for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown to you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

(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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