Monday of the Week of Advent IV
Based on 2 Corinthians 10:7-18
Still, Paul is defending his ministry among the Corinthians, as there are those who are accusing him of throwing around a little too much weight in his letters, a little too much of his authority — maybe frightening some through his letters, as they are “weighty and strong.” But Paul asserts, “we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.” In other words, God has given Paul the task of preaching to the Gentiles, and his ministry to the Corinthians is within that responsibility. He states, his aim, first and foremost, is to be “the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ.” And his hope is that he may then, with their support, go on to preach the Gospel in lands beyond!
To whom has God given us — you and me — the responsibility for bringing the Gospel of Christ? The beloved and familiar African American spiritual goes, “If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus and say, ‘He died for all.’” Whom has He given to you and me to announce, “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole—to heal the sin-sick soul?” Every one of us is commissioned to go announce the Good News of the birth of Jesus, the Word made flesh to dwell among us. We are commissioned to go and make disciples, one by one, life-to-life, telling of the love of Jesus and that He was born, lived and died for all!
As tomorrow is Christmas Eve, in the midst of final preparations and busy-ness, let us consider the love of God in Jesus Christ, and the fact that He came to die for all!
Prayer: O Lord God, give me an open door to be able to say to someone, somehow, “Jesus loves you, was born for you and died for you!”
Advent action: Say to someone, somehow “Jesus loves you, was born for you and died for you!”
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.
19:16 At that time the Egyptians will be like women. They will tremble and fear because the Lord of Heaven’s Armies brandishes his fist against them. 17The land of Judah will humiliate Egypt. Everyone who hears about Judah will be afraid because of what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is planning to do to them.
18At that time five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. One will be called the City of the Sun. 19At that time there will be an altar for the Lord in the middle of the land of Egypt, as well as a sacred pillar dedicated to the Lord at its border. 20It will become a visual reminder in the land of Egypt of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. When they cry out to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a deliverer and defender who will rescue them. (NET Bible)
144:1 By David.
The Lord, my Protector, deserves praise—
the one who trains my hands for battle
and my fingers for war,
2who loves me and is my stronghold,
my refuge and my deliverer,
my shield and the one in whom I take shelter,
who makes nations submit to me.
3O Lord, of what importance is the human race that you should notice them?
Of what importance is mankind that you should be concerned about them?
4People are like a vapor,
their days like a shadow that disappears.
5O Lord, make the sky sink and come down.
Touch the mountains and make them smolder.
6Hurl lightning bolts and scatter the enemy.
Shoot your arrows and rout them.
7Reach down from above.
Grab me and rescue me from the surging water,
from the power of foreigners
8who speak lies
and make false promises.
9O God, I will sing a new song to you.
Accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, I will sing praises to you,
10the one who delivers kings
and rescued David his servant from a deadly sword.
11Grab me and rescue me from the power of foreigners
who speak lies
and make false promises.
12Then our sons will be like plants,
that quickly grow to full size.
Our daughters will be like corner pillars,
carved like those in a palace.
13Our storehouses will be full,
providing all kinds of food.
Our sheep will multiply by the thousands
and fill our pastures.
14Our cattle will be weighted down with produce.
No one will break through our walls,
no one will be taken captive,
and there will be no terrified cries in our city squares.
15How blessed are the people who experience these things.
How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.(NET Bible)
2 Cor. 10:7–18
10:7 You are looking at outward appearances. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reflect on this again: Just as he himself belongs to Christ, so too do we. 8For if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of doing so. 9I do not want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters, 10because some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is weak and his speech is of no account.” 11Let such a person consider this: What we say by letters when we are absent, we also are in actions when we are present.
12For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. 13But we will not boast beyond certain limits, but will confine our boasting according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us, that reaches even as far as you. 14For we were not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach as far as you, because we were the first to reach as far as you with the gospel about Christ. 15Nor do we boast beyond certain limits in the work done by others, but we hope that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded among you according to our limits, 16so that we may preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond you, and not boast of work already done in another person’s area. 17But the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. 18For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the Lord commends.(NET Bible)
[Luther writes:] “Paul takes them all together, himself, an angel from heaven, teachers upon earth, and masters of all kinds, and subjects them to the holy Scripture. Scripture must reign as queen (haec regina debet dominari), her all must obey and be subject to. Not teachers, judges, or arbiters over her, but they must be simple witnesses, pupils and confessors of it, whether they may be the Pope or Luther or Augustine or Paul or an angel from heaven” … —“I let you cry in your hostility that Scripture contradicts itself, ascribing righteousness now to faith and then to works. It is impossible that Scripture contradict itself; it only seems so to foolish, coarse, and hardened hypocrites” … — “We abandon the talk of the Jews and stick to St. Paul’s understanding which, not without cause, emphasizes the little word ‘seed’ and thereby indicates that Holy Scripture in Gen. 12:3 and 22:18 speaks of a single seed not of many, and says plainly that Christ is such seed. Paul does so out of a genuine apostolic spirit and understanding. We Christians do not care if such interpretation does not please the Jews. Paul’s interpretation weighs more with us than all glosses of the rabbis” … — “One letter, even a single tittle of Scripture means more to us than heaven and earth. Therefore we cannot permit even the most minute change.” (82–83)
–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.