"Give us each day our daily bread." ~ Luke 11:3
Read Pastor Karl's daily devotionals!
New devotionals will be posted Monday through Friday, and will remain here on the website for a week's time.
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
“To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6)
People in our world long for all sorts of freedom:
*freedom from persecution,
*freedom from oppression,
*freedom from illness,
*freedom from anxiety,
*freedom from debt.
The list could go on.
As Christ followers we dare to repeat the declaration of Scripture that the freedom we need above all others is freedom from sin.
The other freedoms we long for are real and they are important. However, the great oppression we face is that which results from our own actions and words.
One description of sin is: “Sin is all in thought, word, and deed that is contrary to the will of God."
In Christ we are set free FROM the guilt and the shame of our “thoughts, words, and deeds” that have contradicted the will of God.
In Christ we are also set free FOR becoming citizen/priests who serve our God and Father.
Christ has set free FROM sin, as He has sets free FOR service.
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
“Do not despise the words of the prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)
In an old episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye is attempting to disarm an American bomb that has mistakenly landed in the hospital compound. As Hawkeye works to diffuse the bomb Henry calls out to him as he, Henry, reads verbatim the instructions that have been provided by the army.
At one point Henry yells something like, “Cut the yellow wire.” After Hawkeye cuts the yellow wire, Henry looks back down at the instructions and reads out, “…but first cut the green wire…"
Hawkeye takes off running as the bomb explodes. Turns out it was a propaganda bomb filled with leaflets.
The scene makes for good comic effect.
It also reminds us that the order in which things are done matters greatly.
It’s probably nothing, however, I noticed the order of Paul’s commands in the verses above: (1) hold fast to what is good, and then (2) abstain from every form of evil.
Could it be that the holding onto what is good is the very thing that makes possible the abstaining from what is evil?
As in many areas of life, so also with the Gospel: the proper sequence is important.
Monday, December 6, 2021
"Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you pardoned their sin.
You withdrew your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us.” (Psalm 85:1-4)
These words of the Psalmist were written about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. The above prayer for restoration acknowledges both: (1) the wrath of the Lord, and also (2) His forgiveness.
The “wrath of God” is the “response of divine holiness to human sin."
God is filled with wrath at all human actions that deface, despoil, and harm His good creation. Humans are to exercise a divinely appointed dominion over creation. They are not to behave toward God’s good creation with self-centered caprice. This is especially true with respect to how God’s people treat one another.
The Psalmist knows that the final word is not human sin. The final word is divine forgiveness and restoration. The Psalmist knows that the Lord will “put away (His) indignation toward us” when we repent from our sin, receive His forgiveness, and walk in righteous paths.
This season of Advent provides us with an opportunity to: repent, receive, and walk.
We do this with a deep and abiding faith that our Lord Jesus is faithful.
Friday, December 3, 2021
"John the Baptist said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (John 1:23)
John the Baptist was getting a great deal of attention. Many were going out to the wilderness of the Jordan River to listen to the preaching of John the Baptist and to be baptized by him. It was extraordinary that so many people were making the long and difficult journey to the Jordan River to hear a rather harsh message of repentance.
John’s popularity was not lost on the Jewish authorities. They sent representatives to inquire as to who John thought he was. After all, religious messages, messages of repentance and personal change, should really be run by these religious authorities first. If found acceptable, these messages should be preached in the Temple, not out in the wilderness.
Who did John think he was?
John’s answer was, “I’m just a voice.” Or, “I’m just the voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.” John said, “I am the one about whom the Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke.” "I’m not the One we are all looking for,” says John. “Rather, I am the one getting things ready for the One we are all looking for."
In a sense, John’s calling to prepare the way is also our calling.
Jesus certainly came into the world in a unique, unrepeatable, way when He was born in Bethlehem. On that night “the Word became flesh.” (John 1:14)
However, Jesus still comes into this world with forgiveness, grace, and healing.
Like modern day John the Baptists, we are called to speak words, and live lives, that prepare the way for Jesus.
Thursday, December 2, 2021
“For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5)
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah is speaking words of comfort to God’s People who are in exile in Babylon. The People of God are longing to return from their misery in Babylon, to the Promised Land.
While the Lord as SENT them into exile in Babylon because of THEIR sinfulness, He will BRING them back home because of HIS mercy.
The daring image used to describe God’s love and affection for His people is that of the love and affection a young man has for his bride.
The Lord does not send His people home; the Lord brings His people home. In other words, the Lord is with them in their return.
As we prepare for the celebration Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, we recall that He is Emmanuel, “God with us.” We also wonder at those amazing words, “…so shall your God rejoice over you.” Our Lord rejoices over us.
How wonderful is that!