Home > Reading > Daily Reading – March 18, 2023

Romans 6:12–23 (Listen)

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Slaves to Righteousness

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday of the Third Week in Lent

St. Paul’s discussion of our bondage to sin as over-against our freedom in Christ can be somewhat difficult for us to hear and understand today. Bible translations approach this differently, some having “slaves” as in the ESV, others using “bond-servant” or simply “servant.” As with so many biblical, theological concepts, Paul is trying to help his readers — you and me, as well as Christians in ancient Rome — to understand how it is that while we were once committed to and living in bondage to sin, now, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are free to live new lives.
Paul says, “I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations.” In other words, he’s using the slavery/freedom language to make clear how our relationship with God, the Law and the Gospel has changed because of Jesus Christ. Paul’s concern, however, is that though we have been set free by the free gift of God in Jesus Christ, we continue to live as those in slavery to sin!
I recently completed a biography of U.S. Grant. In current jargon, once Grant had won the war, he found it more difficult to win the peace! While slavery as an institution was ended, our nation continued to live, in many ways, as if still engaged in the evil of slavery! And that is Paul’s point, with regard to our sin and freedom. We are set free from sin, but often we live as if we are still in bondage to, controlled by, obedient to, our sinful selves.

Lent is that season of the church year when we, again, receive and cling to the Good News that by God’s grace, we have been set free from sin — free to live new lives and eternal life in Jesus Christ!

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, because we have been set free, make us to be obedient from the heart, living lives of love, joy, peace and service. Amen.

Devotion written by The Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel

Jeremiah 13:1–11 (Listen)

The Ruined Loincloth

13:1 Thus says the LORD to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water.” So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the LORD, and put it around my waist. And the word of the LORD came to me a second time, “Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. And after many days the LORD said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “Thus says the LORD: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. 11 For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.

Morning Psalms

Evening Psalms

“Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, 386”

This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After several challenging years in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.

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