Today's Scripture: Matthew 7:15-23
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
“Beware!” Every time that word is used in the New Testament it is talking about one thing: false doctrine. False doctrine, it turns out, is the most dangerous thing in the world. There are a lot of things that can destroy our bodies, but false doctrine and unholy teaching is like cancer to our soul. “Beware,” says Jesus, “of false prophets.” Look out for them, because they come to devour you with lies. Out life is found in truth, or better, in the Truth. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” says Jesus, and the truth of His death and resurrection give us life and peace.
Devotion by Pastor Bryan Wolfmueler
Produced by Around the Word Devotion
"Be patient and await His leisure in cheerful hope, with heart content, To take whate'er thy Father's pleasure and His discerning love hath sent, Nor doubt our inmost wants are known to Him who chose us for His own.
"God knows full well when times of gladness shall be the needful thing for thee. When He has tried thy soul with sadness and from all guile has found thee free, He comes to thee all unaware and makes thee own His loving care."
Organizations sometimes have employees participate in team-building and trust-building activities. One exercise may require an individual to fall backwards, trusting that fellow workers will be there to break the fall. In another test, a person wearing a blindfold must depend only on a voice for guidance down a path or through a simple obstacle course. Such exercises may not be very difficult for us. We know that other people are there for us; we can hear them and sense the presence of others around us. We can physically hear the voice calling out directions and feel the arms that support us.
The hymn instructs us to be patient, waiting "in cheerful hope, with heart content," for God to act in our lives. That kind of trust may at times be more difficult than trusting people in a teamwork exercise. We cannot physically hear God's thundering voice or feel His touch or sense His presence. As Scripture reminds us, "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Yet, by faith we can be certain that our wants and needs "are known to Him who chose us for His own." The apostle Paul encourages us to set aside our wavering trust: "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31b-32). If we trust God for so great a thing as our eternal salvation, we can surely trust Him in all else.
We depend on our senses and rightly so. God created us to experience the world through sight and sound and smell, through touch and taste. He has graciously given us His Son to be our Savior, and it is through Christ Jesus that the God in whom we trust comes to us even when we are "all unaware" and calls us to trust His loving care. He comes to us in ways that even our physical senses can grasp. We hear Him speak whenever and wherever His Word is proclaimed. We feel His touch and taste His forgiveness as we receive Jesus' body and blood in His Holy Supper. We hear and taste and trust, until that day when we stand in His presence, when faith becomes sight and trust is fulfilled beyond all doubt.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God and Savior, You know our inmost wants and needs. Lead us by Your Spirit to trust You in all things. Amen.
Today's Scripture: Psalm 125
"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the Lord will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!"
The psalm may be interpreted thus; Mt. Zion is the holy Christian church in both Testaments. It is the people of God who are made righteous by hearing the promise of the Savior’s sacrifice for their sin and believing it. On this holy mountain there is stability, strength, and steadfast love from God. His Word builds the walls. His Promises establish the palisades and gates that shut the enemies out. The scepter of wickedness is the devil’s dominion of fear, sin, and death. He has no power on Mount Zion. His scepter is smashed and useless. Jesus reigns here. His scepter gives forgiveness, life, and salvation to his saints. He makes them righteous and upright in heart.
“Give peace to your Israel, O Lord, and keep us in your Son’s kingdom.” Amen.
Today's Scripture: Acts 14:8-23
"Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed."
Jesus said to Ananias when Paul was first converted, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16). In Lystra, Paul saw a cripple who believed the Gospel. To confirm the power of the Word, Paul told the man to stand up and walk. Immediately, this good work is met with near idolatry from the Greeks and hatred from the Jews. He was stoned and left for dead. It’s not a low point. Christ’s power was manifest by his refusal to give up. St. Paul says, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). In weakness we suffer, but praise God that his power to save by his Word and Faith rests on his strength and not our own.
“Strengthen me by your Word, O Lord.” Amen.
Today's Scripture: Matthew 10:24-31
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
It’s enough for Christians to be like Jesus. If our Lord has been called the prince of demons, how can we expect to escape the world’s enmity? Don’t be afraid. No manmade plot, no demonic power, and not even the frailty of your flesh will rob you of the Father’s love. Their schemes are exposed by the light of Jesus’ Word. When the light of the Father’s mercy shines on our enemy’s weapons of sin and death, their traps come to nothing. The world always reacts badly to this. They heap malice upon malice. But the Lord remembers you. If He knows when one of his sparrows fall from the air, how much more does He remember you for whom His Son has died?
“Remember me, O Lord, and give me the light of your promises to comfort me.” Amen.