Tuesday of the Week of Advent I
Based on 1 Corinthians 14:1-25
In this passage, Paul is contrasting the practice of “speaking in tongues” with that of prophesying — speaking the Word of the Lord, we might say preaching the Word. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been those who speak in other tongues — Spirit-language that is unintelligible, unless there is someone to interpret the meaning. Paul has this gift, but it is only valuable for the church when there is interpretation. Nevertheless, says Paul, “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
Paul’s message here is clear and easily understood. His wish, and what should also be our intention, is that what is spoken within the Body of Christ builds up the Church! Prophesy, speaking and preaching ought to always be for the purpose of encouragement and consolation! Our reading for yesterday begins, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). It brings to mind the song of the angels at the birth of the Christ child, as “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased’” (Luke 2:13-14).
What a blessing that this message of peace and love was offered, not “in the tongue of angels” but in a language that could be received by shepherds keeping watch over their flocks — and by us! What a blessing that this message was not encrypted, needing a decoder for it to be understood! The good news of the coming of God With Us was not a mystery hidden, but a promise that was proclaimed and finally fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Each Sunday, offering still, encouragement and consolation, Christians in every land announce, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace!”
Prayer: Lord God, let our every word be for the upbuilding, encouragement and consolation of those who are troubled and in need of Good News. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Advent action: During the season of Advent, add to each email or text, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth!”
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.
3:1 Look, the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies
is about to remove from Jerusalem and Judah
every source of security, including
all the food and water,
2the mighty men and warriors,
judges and prophets,
omen readers and leaders,
3captains of groups of 50,
the respected citizens,
advisers and those skilled in magical arts,
and those who know incantations.
4The Lord says, “I will make youths their officials;
malicious young men will rule over them.
5The people will treat each other harshly;
men will oppose each other;
neighbors will fight.
Youths will proudly defy the elderly
and riffraff will challenge those who were once respected.
6Indeed, a man will grab his brother
right in his father’s house and say,
‘You own a coat—
you be our leader!
This heap of ruins will be under your control.’
7At that time the brother will shout,
‘I am no doctor,
I have no food or coat in my house;
don’t make me a leader of the people!’”
8Jerusalem certainly stumbles,
for their words and their actions offend the Lord;
they rebel against his royal authority.
9The look on their faces testifies to their guilt;
like the people of Sodom they openly boast of their sin.
Woe to them!
For they bring disaster on themselves.
10Tell the innocent it will go well with them,
for they will be rewarded for what they have done.
11Woe to the wicked sinners!
For they will get exactly what they deserve.
12Oppressors treat my people cruelly;
creditors rule over them.
My people, your leaders mislead you;
they give you confusing directions.
13The Lord takes his position to judge;
he stands up to pass sentence on his people.
14The Lord comes to pronounce judgment
on the leaders of his people and their officials.
He says, “It is you who have ruined the vineyard!
You have stashed in your houses what you have stolen from the poor.
15Why do you crush my people
and grind the faces of the poor?”
The Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies has spoken.
16The Lord says,
“The women of Zion are proud.
They walk with their heads high
and flirt with their eyes.
They skip along
and the jewelry on their ankles jingles.
17So the Lord will afflict the foreheads of Zion’s women with skin diseases;
the Lord will make the front of their heads bald.”(NET Bible)
125:1 A song of ascents.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved and will endure forever.
2As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
now and forevermore.
3Indeed, the scepter of a wicked king will not settle
upon the allotted land of the godly.
Otherwise the godly
might do what is wrong.
4Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
to the morally upright.
5As for those who are bent on traveling a sinful path,
may the Lord remove them, along with those who behave wickedly.
May Israel experience peace.(NET Bible)
1 Cor. 14:1–25
14:1 Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit. 3But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. 4The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened.
6Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I help you unless I speak to you with a revelation or with knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7It is similar for lifeless things that make a sound, like a flute or harp. Unless they make a distinction in the notes, how can what is played on the flute or harp be understood? 8If, for example, the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will get ready for battle? 9It is the same for you. If you do not speak clearly with your tongue, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10There are probably many kinds of languages in the world, and none is without meaning. 11If then I do not know the meaning of a language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12It is the same with you. Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, seek to abound in order to strengthen the church.
13So then, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. 15What should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind. 16Otherwise, if you are praising God with your spirit, how can someone without the gift say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17For you are certainly giving thanks well, but the other person is not strengthened. 18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 19but in the church I want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21It is written in the law: “By people with strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, yet not even in this way will they listen to me,” says the Lord. 22So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23So if the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and unbelievers or uninformed people enter, will they not say that you have lost your minds? 24But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called to account by all. 25The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
–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.