The Daily Lectionary – November 13, 2016

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Today’s readings: Joel 1:1-13; 1 Corinthians 14:1-12; Matthew 20:1-16

How many times in your life have you shouted in your mind, “Not fair”? It is a basic human instinct to want all things in life to be fair. The reality is that many events occur in our lives over which we have little or no control, and when they do not go as we want them to go, we declare them “not fair.” As self-centered, sinful creatures, it is a part of our DNA.

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard illustrates our natural envy and desire for fairness in all things. When we begin to compare our individual contributions to the work of the kingdom to those of our neighbor, we begin to lose sight of the truth, promise, and justice of the gospel. In the actions of the Master, we see that God’s abundant grace and mercy abounds for those whom Jesus calls, no matter how much they have contributed to the work of the kingdom.

Once again, Jesus teaches the crowds that sin is overcome by God’s grace. We may see someone as undeserving, but in the kingdom of heaven, grace and mercy belong to God. It may not be fair, but it is not for us to worry.

Prayer: Lord, free me of my envy of others and my desire for fairness and allow me to see your grace and mercy in all things. Amen.

Today’s devotion was written by Ernie Sheldon, Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Statesville, NC.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 12, 2016

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Today’s readings: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Revelation 18:1-14; Luke 14:1-11

Once again we find Jesus hanging out with the Pharisees, even going to eat with one of them at his house. By chance a man suffering from dropsy was at the same dining party. Most of the time we marvel at the miracle and discard all else surrounding the incident. Never should we dismiss the miracle, however, it is really secondary to the story.

Jesus knows the Pharisees and their penchant for the law. You see, for the Pharisees the observance of the law was beyond question and one must follow it to the tee. In fact, it was against the law to heal the man on the Sabbath as this would constitute not keeping the Sabbath in the eyes of the Pharisees.

Their silence speaks loudly as they believe Jesus is going to make their case for them against himself and they would not have to lift a finger to discredit Jesus. He would do the dirty work for them.

As usual, Jesus schools the Pharisees and demonstrates their lack of understanding of what is important. The rule and the observance of it are not to overshadow people. God cares for people much more than rules and traditions.

Prayer: Father, help us to put people before our pet peeves and traditions. Amen.

Today’s devotion was written by Carlin Ours, Pastor of Organ Lutheran Church, Salisbury, NC.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 11, 2016

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Today’s readings: Zephaniah 3:8-13; Revelation 17:1-18; Luke 13:31-35

In the time immediately following Jesus’ baptism, Satan directly attempted to cause him to abandon his mission of redemption. Today, the same devil attempts to thwart God’s plan through the efforts of others. Some Pharisees presented Herod as an obstacle along the road to the cross. Jesus paid little attention to their warning, electing to continue the work to which he was called. Such is the example for the mission driven Church today.

The realities of our fallen world are ever present. As we strive to carry out our life given in baptism, the world continues to place obstacles in the path of the faithful. Division, conflict, pride, anger, and envy are a few of Satan’s tools working to lead people away from a life in Christ.

The prophet Zephaniah encourages God’s people to seek mercy through God’s promise of the Redeemer. John the Seer is witness to God’s overcoming the corruption of worldly desires and his conquering of sin once and for all. And the example of our Lord teaches us that, even as the victory is won, we are free to accomplish the mission set before us: preaching the gospel of Christ while ministering to the needs of our neighbor.

Prayer: Holy God, keep us in faith that we may follow your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today’s devotion was written by David Nuottila, Pastor of Union Lutheran Church in Salisbury, NC.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 10, 2016

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Zephaniah 3:1-7; Revelation 16:12-21; Luke 13:18-30

A recent, esteemed guest on a national radio program said that it was time for people to grow up by stop believing in God. The prophet has something to say to such people and to those who put them on the public airwaves. “Woe!” When a people will listen to no voice but their own, when they refuse to draw near to God, “Woe!” That people will tear themselves apart.

Yet God will continue to be faithful. With each rising sun, he awaits people’s repentance. It does not come—at least en masse. God’s angels pour out measures of wrath but remarkably, people will still not repent. Yet God in his patience, sees his invisible kingdom is surely and gradually growing year by year throughout the millennia.

While there is still time, let us not occupy ourselves with reports from wise guys. Listen to the voice that matters. God still calls out for people to enter through the narrowing door, for the time is drawing near; the door is closing. Put your hope in Jesus, the door of heaven. Enter his kingdom now before the door is shut.

Prayer: May my focus be you, Lord. Amen.

Today’s devotion was written by Mark Ryman, Communications Coordinator for the NALC and Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Advance, NC.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 9, 2016

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Zephaniah 2:1-15; Revelation 16:1-11; Luke 13:10-17

We cannot free ourselves from the spirit that disables us. Our affliction calls for more than a self-help book. We will never straighten up on our own. If we are humble, we will recognize our great need and seek the Lord. In seeking his righteousness, not only is our greatest need satisfied, all of our needs will be met (Matt 6:33).

There is a need far greater than physical affliction, hunger, thirst, clothing, or shelter. We must be straightened out by being loosed from the bondage of sin and death. This only happen for Christ’s sake. Only God sets the faithful free and hides them in his Son when the day of judgment comes.

Prayer: I seek you, O Lord of my righteousness. Amen.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 8, 2016

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Zephaniah 1:14-18; Revelation 14:14–15:8; Luke 13:1-9

The great day of the Lord is near. Bear fruit—or else—for the end is near. The reaping sickle of God is about to be swung to harvest the earth. The good fruit will be gathered to heaven, while the fruitless will perish. But when the wrath of God is finished, the 144,000 of God—all who believed in the eternal gospel (Rev 14:6) will be found standing before God in his heavenly sanctuary.

What will deliver us from God’s wrath, and cause us to stand before the Lord of heaven? Will our silver or gold deliver us? Will we be spared a sudden, overwhelming, and eternal end because of our fine deeds? Only one thing will exempt us from God’s eternal displeasure. We must bear the good fruit of faith in Christ; we must keep the “great commandment” (Matthew 22:36-40). And “this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 1:23; Deut 6:5).

Prayer: Give me faith to believe in you, Lord. Amen.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 7, 2016

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Today’s readings: Zephaniah 1:7-13; Revelation 14:1-13; Luke 12:49-59

Isaiah’s warning to the people of Israel is startling. God’s people have gone astray, and their elaborate worship practices have become an abomination. They observe the festivals and offer sacrifices, but their worship is hollow. They offend God, because the faith they profess and the faith they live are two very different things. God’s people have become hypocrites. They have forgotten that the purpose of worship is to stir faith into action, apathy into compassion, and complacency into service.

Has the distance of time erased the truth of Isaiah’s prophecy? We might like to think so, but modern worshipers are not all that different from worshipers of long ago. We still have difficulty translating our faith into action. And all these centuries later, our hands are still stained with the blood of sin.

In this season of preparation, let us take the prophet’s words to heart. Let us hear him speak honestly to us, calling us into account for our wrongdoing, pleading with us to repent—to cease doing evil, learn to do good, seek justice, and correct oppression. And may we humbly accept God’s gracious invitation to be washed clean of our sin by the blood of Christ.

Prayer: Loving God, help us to see the error of our ways and stir our faith into action, compassion, and service, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

oday’s devotion was written by Paulette McHugh, Associate Pastor, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Lexington, SC. 

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The Daily Lectionary – November 6, 2016

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Today’s readings: Zephaniah 1:1-6; 1 Corinthians 12:27–13:13; Matthew 18:21-35

Those who mock the Church are deliberately ignorant. “They deliberately ignore,” declares Second Peter, that the Word of God brought the universe into being. Deliberately! This is a strong charge. Reason points to the Creator. They work hard to ignore him.

When Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence,” what he had decided to pass over, to silently ignore, was God. And a century of thought has followed in that footstep. In most quarters today, the existence of God is not so much carefully disputed as it is carefully ignored.

But Second Peter clues us in: when those who mock the Church claim to know nothing of God, their ignorance is not as innocent as they would have us believe. It is deliberate. They willfully suppress the witness to God arising in creation and in their own souls.

How might we relate with such “scoffers” as Second Peter describes? They may be our loved ones and friends. Can we hear their taunts about our “still believing all that” as a welcome sign that they still struggle with God? Can we patiently walk with them?

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me love and listen. Amen.

Today’s devotion was written by Gary Blobaum, Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Sumter, SC.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 5, 2016

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Today’s readings: Nahum 3:8-19; Revelation 13:11-18; Luke 12:32-48

Are your works better than a Buddhist’s, than a Hindu’s, than any other religious person? Are you deeds superior to those who have no religion at all? If you heap your works about you, trusting in them for salvation, you will nonetheless go into the captivity of sin. You may put on the persona of the Lamb’s followers, and say religious things, but trust in works is the language of the devil.

But it is the Father’s joy to simply give salvation to those who trust in his work: the salvation of the true Lamb of God. If your treasure (Luke 12:31) is the cross of Christ, your lamp will be burning brightly when the Lord returns. You will be prepared for the return of the King for you will be dressed in the robes of the Lord himself (Gal 3:27), instead of wrapped up in poor rags of human righteousness (Isa 64:6).

So, do good deeds, as fine or better than anyone else—but put your trust in Christ alone.

Today’s devotion was written by Mark Ryman, Communications Coordinator for the NALC and Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Advance, NC.

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The Daily Lectionary – November 4, 2016

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Today’s readings: Nahum 2:13-3:7; Revelation 13:1-10; Luke 12:13-31

The gospel contains several warnings against placing our security in self-sufficiency. Such a security leads to eternal death for it prevents one from relying on Jesus Christ and on his gifts of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The rich man is not called “fool” because he was rich, but because he placed his security in his material possessions. In several other passages of the Scripture, we are warned against placing our security in material possessions. The rich man’s material abundance led him to corrupt his soul by relying on his wealth. Because he placed his security in his wealth, he made no provisions to help the needy with his material possessions.

Stories of people like the rich fool man are many. It is sometimes puzzling to find in poverty-stricken nations of the world, a handful of individuals who own the wealth that would make a big difference in alleviating suffering if it were to be put to the service of the nation. The danger to place one’s security in material possessions hunts even those who are not materially rich. Whether rich or poor, anyone who places his security in something other than God, resembles the rich fool man.

Prayer: Father God, in your love for me, free me from the power of the things of this world so that I may fully rely on you and your gift of salvation through your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today’s devotion was written by Stéphane Kalonji, Pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church in New Bern, NC.

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