Jeremiah 18: God Says, “Go See a Potter With Some Clay and Learn About Me and You.”

(23 verses, 2:34 to read)

READ & LISTEN

What I’m about to READ

  • Jeremiah is asked to visit a potter with clay in his hands to learn about God and His Israel.

MARK & LEARN

  • 1-11: After Jeremiah arrives at the potter’s house and sees the potter reworking a spoiled piece of clay into something good, the Word of the Lord came to him, ““O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”  The is declaring two options for the house of Israel.  1.) Repent and I will shape good out of the evil you have done or 2.) If you will continue to not listen, I will instead shape evil against you.
  • 12-17: As ridiculous it is to imagine a piece of clay mocking the molder, so Israel speaks back to God.  The Lord knows what their response will be. “12 “That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’
    • The questions asked in vs. 14 seem to be saying something like, “Has God ever failed you?  Has He ever stopped being an ever flowing fountain of mercy, grace, and blessing?  As it has always snowed in the mountains of Lebanon and as that snow, when melted, has always fed into a stream of fresh and living water, so God will always and cyclically be your source of blessing.”  Yet, the people have forgotten Him (15).  Thus, set on following their own desires and plans, they will be given over to destruction
  • 18-23: The people then declare they will despise Jeremiah’s word, assuming God will continue to be with them in blessing as long as they have law and prophets.  Whose law and prophets are they, though?  The ones of their own choosing.  Finally, the reading closes as Jeremiah prays and commits them to God for judgment.

MEDITATE

  • “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” O, Lord, you know the works of my hands.  I do not have “clean hands or a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4).  Like my father Adam, I have too often reached out my hand for that which is not good for me.  I also have too often looked to my own hands and hands of Your creation to provide for me and my family.  Help me to confess that I am the clay and You are the potter, that You are my God, and that I am a part of those that are “the people of [Your] pasture, and the sheep of [Your] hand (Psalm 95:7).”  Forgive me for the sake of He of Whom this is spoken of: “16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet(Psalm 22)” and “16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49).”  How could I think you have forgotten me?  How could I think that Your Word of Law and Gospel is not for my good?  It is good to be clay when I am Your clay and in Your hands.  Grant to me faith that believes Your promise, “13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you (Isaiah 41).”  As Your Son is seated at Your right hand, He has in His hand the “seven stars,” that is, the very angels that protect the Holy, Christian Church (Rev. 1:16, 20).  Thus, in faith, I pray, commending all things to You, the very prayer my Lord Jesus prayed from the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46)” for indeed, You are the potter and I am the clay.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/ or if reading on facebook, check out the blog: https://rightlydividedbible.wordpress.com/

Christopher Stout, Pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Kannapolis, NC & Abundant Life Lutheran Church, Charlotte, NC

James 2: Faith and Works

Reposted from Pastor McKinley

(26 verses, 2:57 to read)
LISTEN and READ

What I am about to READ

  • St. James teaches us about the proper relationship between faith and works.

MARK

  • vv. 1-7 address the specific problem evaluating a person’s value based on his economic worth.
  • vv. 8-13 apply the Law to those who were guilty of the above, but in a general enough way as to show that all of us are guilty under God’s Law.
  • vv. 14-26 unpack the relationship between faith and works.

LEARN

  • In reading the Lutheran Confessions, one can quickly see that being able to make distinctions is key in doing theology. There is a distinction to be made between justification and sanctification. There is a distinction to be made between Law and Gospel. There is a distinction to be made between men and women. However, we also see from the Scriptures that no distinction exist among those under the Law. In our epistle reading from Reformation, we heard St. Paul say, “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22b-23). Apart from God’s grace, we stand as equals under the Law–sinners who deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment. To regard one person as greater than another based on temporal and passing things, such as wealth, strikes at the very heart of the Gospel, that Christ died to save all sinners. St. James reminds us that God has little regard for the proud, but seeks to exalt the lowly (cf. Luke 1:46-55). Wonderfully, Christ made Himself to be poor, like us, to make us rich (II Corinthians 8:9). This leads us to the other place where there is no distinction: in justification. When God declares us righteous for Christ’s sake, there is no distinction to be made among us. There are no degrees of salvation, but we are all given the crown of life (Galatians 3:28).
  • Committing the sin of partiality, as St. James details above, is to live by the Law. However, because of our own sinfulness, we cannot fulfill the Law. St. Paul reminds us in Galatians that to use the Law in this way is to fall under its curse. Quoting from Deuteronomy, St. Paul warns, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10).
  • St. James shows his capability as a preacher of God’s Law by setting a trap for us here. While we might not think we’ve committed this specific sin, we know that we’ve sinned in other ways. This means that we’ve broken all the Law, because to break the Law at one point is to break it all. Living by the Law is an all or nothing endeavor. All sin is a manifestation of unbelief, which is a sin against the first commandment. When we fail to keep the first commandment, we fail to keep the rest of the Law, too.
  • The only way the Law can be fulfilled is through love. Love is the true fulfillment of the Law, as Jesus reminds us (Matthew 22:34-40, cf. Romans 13:10). In this way, Jesus loves us. He fulfills what we cannot by loving God and neighbor perfectly. By forgiving us our sins, Christ enables us, in great weakness, to begin to fulfill the Law. Freed from our desire to love ourselves, we are now able to direct our love to our neighbors. We ought to remember that these are those for whom Christ has died–just like us!
  • vv. 14-26 are probably part of what inspired Luther to call James the epistle of straw. However, St. James is trying to teach us about the nature of good works and how they relate to justification. Faith, by necessity, results in good works. It is impossible for a Christian to not do good works. However, we do not rely on them for salvation. To borrow a phrase, good works are merely an outward sign of an inward reality. The Augsburg Confession puts it this way: “Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone” (AC VI).
  • Our Roman Catholic opponents may use this to undermine what we confess, especially pointing to the example of Abraham St. James uses here. However, take note of the order of things! He says Abraham was justified by works when he offered Isaac on the altar, which he says is a fulfillment of what Moses wrote earlier, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” When you actually read the narrative of Genesis, Abraham is first justified by faith alone in the promises of God (Genesis 15:6). This results in the good work, commanded by God, of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22). This good work proved Abraham’s faith in God was genuine, just as our good works done in faith do for us.
  • If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, I’d recommend reading the Formula of Concord’s discussion on the relationship between faith and good works. You can find that here.
  • One other thing that we must consider here is that the Scriptures often use the terms justification and sanctification slightly differently than we do. This is due in large part to the fact that the Bible is not a dogmatic treatise like you might find in the Confessions.

MEDITATE

  • Prayer: Almighty and merciful God, of Your bountiful goodness keep from us all things that may hurt us that we, being ready in both body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish whatever You would have us do; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity XIX)

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN

Learn more about Trinity:
On the Web: http://www.trinityvallonia.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TrinityVallonia
Twitter: @TrinityVallonia

Psalm 24: Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates

Originally posted by Pastor Flamme on September 26, 2014

(10 verses, 1:02 to read)

READ & LISTEN

What I am about to READ

  • This psalm points to the coming Messiah who will enter into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

MARK

  • All creation belongs to the Lord (1-2).
  • A Question is asked concerning the One who will stand in the presence of the Lord (3).
  • An Answer about the purity, honesty, and righteousness of this Man (4-6).
  • Praise for the King of Glory, the Lord of Hosts, who enters to overcome sin, death, and the devil (7-10).

LEARN

  • We pray this psalm in conjunction with Psalm Sunday.
  • All of creation is contrasted with the holy hill of the Lord. Not everyone can stand in the Lord’s presence upon the hill save Jesus who alone is sinless.

MEDITATE

  • Christ entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to do battle with powers that hold us in bondage. Though his appearance was lowly and humble, the people thronged around him shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.” Jesus came, not as a worldly war hero, but as a suffering servant. The Lord of Hosts shows his power in weakness. By his death he overcame death.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Pastor A. Brian Flamme

Jeremiah 17: Sin, Prayer, and Deliverance

(27 verses,   3:34 to read)

LISTEN and READ

What I am about to READ

  • The Lord speaks against His people whom have broken His covenant.

MARK

  • vv. 1-13:  The Lord speaks of the sin of Judah
  • vv. 14-Jeremiah prays for deliverance from those who put him to shame
  • vv. 18-20:  The Lord’s calling to repentance through the Sabbath day

LEARN

  • The sin is open and bear for all to see.  There is no hiding it and no pretending that it isn’t there.  It has been etched in the people’s hearts with a pen of iron and a tip of diamond.  There is no use in hiding this fact from the Lord.  He sees all people:  those who trust in man and those who trust in Him.
    • How true is this today as well?  Not only in all that we see around us; although this should not bother us for we know that the world is an enemy of God’s.  But more than that, when we look at ourselves and the sin that has etched itself into our own lives.  There is not hiding the fact that it is there, and there is no human way for it to ever be removed.  …  And so where do we turn for comfort and salvation:  man (ourselves or God).
  • All this, Jeremiah has constantly preached; and he is told by God to continue to do so.  This is good and needed; for one’s heart can not be broken unless the Law of the Lord is proclaimed.  So as a prophet of the Lord Jeremiah proclaims this.
    • And in so doing that means the people’s anger will be directed toward the messenger.  He is cast aside, thrown in prison, thrown down a well, reviled, hated, and despised.
    • Jeremiah prays for deliverance from all of this; which, of course, the Lord will give.  And yet His deliverance always comes in His perfect way and for our ultimate good.
  • For the Lord calls the people back to repentance; which is really nothing other that to hear the Law, become contrite of heart, and then hear the Gospel, that is, to be forgiven of my sin.  He does this by calling them to sanctify the Sabbath.
    • And this of course is ridiculous, because the Sabbath, the Day of the Lord, does not need us to hallow it or make it holy.  And so the Lord’s concern isn’t so much for the temporal adherence to this command (even though it still stood with the people of Israel during Jeremiah’s time and was not taken away until Christ) but that the Sabbath would be set aside so that God could give to His people on that Sabbath day.
    • Man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath for man.  That is, God has given us His preaching and His Word so that we might gladly hear and learn it, so that we might constantly be broken by His Law proclaimed, but then just as quickly, to be revived by His Gospel of the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Christ.
    • God call’s the people, calls us, to remember the Sabbath, not because He needs our attention, but because we need Him and His forgiveness.

MEDITATE

  • Prayer: O Lord, we pray this day for Your Church, that her people would fear and love You so that they do not despise preaching and Your Word, but hold it sacred, gladly hearing and learning it with the knowledge that by the Your Gospel alone, the sinner is clean.  Lord in your mercy…

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Rev. Eli Lietzau
Faith in Christ Lutheran Church, ABQ, NM

James 1: Every Good and Perfect Gift

(27 verses, 3:10 to read)

LISTEN & READ

What I am about to READ

  • There is a lot going on in this opening chapter of James – first he teaches on how God is using trials in your life, prayer and doubting, and then he discusses temptation, followed by a discussion of what it means to be a hearer and doer of the Word (and a whole lot more).

MARK

  • Greeting (1)
  • Trials and Testing (2-4)
  • Endurance is a Gift from God (5-8)
  • The Crown of Life (9-12)
  • Source of Temptation (13-16)
  • Every Good and Perfect Gift (17-18)
  • Hearers and Doers of the Word (19-27)

LEARN

  • James immediately jumps into the issue of trials and the testing of your faith. He says that we can count it all joy when going through various trials because through these the Lord is strengthening our faith and producing steadfastness in us.
  • The next section deals with prayer – prayer without faith is not truly prayer. God has commanded us to pray and promises to hear our prayers. The foundation for our prayers is His Word. Thanks be to God that He provides the faith we need to pray rightly.
  • God does not tempt us. God tests us to strengthen our faith, while Satan and our own sinful flesh tempt us with the goal of destroying our faith.
  • God has made us His children through His own will through His Word. We cannot boast in anything, but Him for He alone has made us Christians.
  • Because we are in Christ and because He is working in us by His Spirit we are called to live lives of patience and purity. Hearing God’s Word leads to a striving to live out the Word. This includes caring for those in society who are most vulnerable.

MEDITATE

  • There’s a lot going on in this chapter and all of it is worthy of meditation.  Verse 17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  It is God’s nature to give and give and give and then to give some more.  He provides everything we need for our bodies and souls. Everything we have is a gift from the One who does not change and always remains true to His promises.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Pastor Andrew Packer

Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd

(6 verses, :36 to read)

What I am about to READ
  • This chapter is, perhaps, the most popular in the Scripture, the beautiful picture of the Lord as a caring and faithful shepherd for us, His sheep.

MARK

  • There are a few things to notice in the structure of this Psalm that show, even more, its beauty.
    • First, there are two major images through the Psalm: 1-4: The Lord is our shepherd. 5-6: The Lord takes care of us peacefully in the midst of violence.
    • Second, overlapping this, is another structural element. 1-3 is a sermon, 4-5 is a prayer, 6 is a final sermon.
    • Third, the verses get longer as the Psalm progresses, as the blessings of God’s are expounded.
    • This interweaving of image and person and lengthy is uniquely beautiful.

LEARN

  • The image of our Lord as our Shepherd comes to its fullness with Jesus (John 10), who is the Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep!

MEDITATE

  • The Psalm is full of comfort. Soak it in!
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/
-Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller

Jeremiah 16: Behold, the days are coming

(21 verses, 3:49 to read)

LISTEN and READ

What I am about to READ

  • God commands Jeremiah to be a living illustration what will befall Judah, but He also promises to rescue a remnant.

MARK

  • vv. 1-4: This is the Lord’s Word to Jeremiah warning of the disaster that will come upon children born in the land, demonstrating the extent of the Lord’s anger over their sins.
  • vv. 5-9: This is the Lord’s Word concerning the consolation of sinners. Because of their hardness of heart, no peace will be given to those who mourn.
  • vv. 10-13: The Lord expressly reveals the reason for His anger toward His people.
  • vv. 14-21: But the Lord’s anger does not last forever. He promises to restore Israel.

LEARN

  • This passage from Jeremiah is an excellent master course in distinguishing Law and Gospel. The first half of the text (vv. 1-13) detail the curse that the people had brought upon themselves because of their sins. This shows us that all wickedness is a result of sin, both of our own and of the sin of the world. However, we cannot know this on our own, that is, naturally. We must have God’s Word of Law applied to us directly. Without this application, we may become puffed up, thinking that any disaster we see is a result of sinners worse than me, or we might fall into despair, thinking that God has a personal vendetta against me. We do well to remember our Lord’s preaching concerning the tower of Siloam and the blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices in Jerusalem (Luke 13:1-5). There, our Lord reminds us that we deserve punishment, both temporal and eternal, for our sins. The proper response lies between pride and despair–that is, in repentance and faith.
  • But the Law serves the purpose of leading us to the Gospel. God does not desire to leave us in our sin, because He does not desire the death of the sinner. Here, He promises to gather the faithful back to Himself. He uses the imagery of hunters and fishers, which is likely in the background of Jesus’ call of the apostles in Luke 5.
  • Take note of who is doing the action here! It is the Lord who brings the people out of the north country (v. 15). It is the Lord who sends out the fishers and hunters (v. 16). Whenever we see texts about the office of the ministry, we ought to recall that it is the Lord Himself who works through the men He sends to bind sins to unrepentant sinners and loose sins from those who repent.
  • Finally, the Lord assures His hearers that He will doubly repay the people for their sins (v. 18). This is language similar to Isaiah 40:2, where the Lord promises to give double for the sins of the people. Ultimately, this wrath is poured out entirely on Christ at the cross. There, He bears the wrath of God for our sins. It is in the crucifixion that we see how God regards our sins. But it is also in the crucifixion that we see the depth of God’s love for sinners. There, in the broken body and shed blood of Christ Jesus, is a double payment for our sins. Jesus does not simply pay enough to make up for our sins, but He pours so much grace upon us that our cups overflow.

MEDITATE

  • Prayer: Lord God, Heavenly Father, do not discipline us in wrath, but bring us to repent of our sins and believe in the Gospel proclaimed to us through the preaching of the Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/

-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN

Learn more about Trinity:
On the Web: http://www.trinityvallonia.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TrinityVallonia
Twitter: @TrinityVallonia
Find our sermon podcasts through iTunes (Search “Trinity Vallonia”)
or at http://trinityvallonia.podbean.com/