Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

Revelation 1:19  “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.

1 Corinthians 13:12  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Hebrews 2:8  YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

2 Peter 1:19  So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

Jude 1:17,18  But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, • that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”

1 Timothy 4:1  But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

1 John 2:18  Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

Romans 13:12  The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

 

Friday (January 18): “We never saw anything like this!”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Friday (January 18): “We never saw anything like this!”

Scripture: Mark 2:1-12

1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic — 11 “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Meditation: Do you know the healing power of forgiveness and compassion? Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt.

Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and spirit. Is there any area in your life that cripples you from walking in the freedom of Christ’s transforming love and forgiveness?

Bishop Ambrose of Milan (339-397 AD), an early church father, explains how the healing of the paralytic points not only to Christ’s power to heal the whole person, but also to raise the body to everlasting life as well:

But the Lord, wanting to save sinners, shows himself to be God both by his knowledge of secrets and by the wonder of his actions. He adds, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you’’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” In this passage he shows the full likeness of the resurrection. Alongside of healing the wounds of body and mind, he also forgives the sins of the spirit, removes the weakness of the flesh, and thus heals the whole person. It is a great thing to forgive people’s sins – who can forgive sins, but God alone? For God also forgives through those to whom he has given the power of forgiveness. Yet it is far more divine to give resurrection to bodies, since the Lord himself is the resurrection. (excerpt from EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 5.12–13.5)

Do you believe in the healing transforming power of Christ’s forgiveness and merciful love? Ask him to set you free and transform your mind and heart to be like his heart.

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your love, truth, and righteousness.”

Psalm 89:2,15-19

1 I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever. 
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your countenance, 
16 who exult in your name all the day, and extol your righteousness. 
17 For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. 
18 For our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel. 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Reverse your relation with sickness, by Peter Chrysologus (400-450 AD)

“Take up your bed. Carry the very mat that once carried you. Change places, so that what was the proof of your sickness may now give testimony to your soundness. Your bed of pain becomes the sign of healing, its very weight the measure of the strength that has been restored to you.” (excerpt from HOMILY 50.6)

[Peter Chrysologus was a renowned preacher and bishop of Ravena in the 5th century] 

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

Thursday (January 17): The Lord Jesus can make me clean

Daily Reading and Meditation

Thursday (January 17): The Lord Jesus can make me clean

Scripture: Mark 1:40-45

40 And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Meditation: Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus’ time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.

This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.

How do you approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.

Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.”

Psalm 44: 10-11, 14-15, 25-26

10 You have made us turn back from the foe; and our enemies have gotten spoil. 
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter, and have scattered us among the nations. 
14 You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples. 
15 All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face, 
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our body cleaves to the ground. 
26 Rise up, come to our help! Deliver us for the sake of your steadfast love! 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Why did Jesus touch the leper, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

“And why did [Jesus] touch him, since the law forbade the touching of a leper? He touched him to show that ‘all things are clean to the clean’ (Titus 1:15). Because the filth that is in one person does not adhere to others, nor does external uncleanness defile the clean of heart. So he touches him in his untouchability, that he might instruct us in humility; that he might teach us that we should despise no one, or abhor them, or regard them as pitiable, because of some wound of their body or some blemish for which they might be called to render an account… So, stretching forth his hand to touch, the leprosy immediately departs. The hand of the Lord is found to have touched not a leper, but a body made clean! Let us consider here, beloved, if there be anyone here that has the taint of leprosy in his soul, or the contamination of guilt in his heart? If he has, instantly adoring God, let him say: ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.'” (excerpt from FRAGMENTS ON MATTHEW 2.2–3)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

Monday (January 14): “The kingdom of God is at hand”

Daily Reading & Meditation

  Monday (January 14): “The kingdom of God is at hand”

Scripture: Mark 1:14-20

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

Meditation:What is the Gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement – such as the birth of a newborn king or the victory over an invading army or occupied force. God sent his prophets to announce the coming of God’s anointed King and Messiah. After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit he begins his ministry of preaching the Gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.

God rules over all
What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority. The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The Scriptures tell us that God’s throne is in heaven and his rule is over all (Psalm 103:19). His kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor (Psalm 145:11-13). 

In the Book of Daniel we are told that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14,18,22,27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King”. God sent us his Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of his gospel message.

As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began his in Galilee, his home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the gospel cannot be silenced. Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls disciples to believe in the gospel – the good news he has come to deliver. What is the good news which Jesus delivers? It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God – Ephesians 6:15), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23 ), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (he rewards those who seek him – Ephesians 3:6)), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).

Two conditions for the kingdom – repent and believe
How do we enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do to in order to receive the kingdom of God: repent and believe. When we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives and believe the gospel message the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of his kingdom. He gives us grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31). That is why repentance is the first step. 

Repentance means to change – to change my way of thinking, my attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us. True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of his love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will. His grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from his love and truth. 

To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with himself. He is our Father and he wants us to live as his sons and daughters. God loved us first and he invites us in love to surrender our lives to him. Do you believe that the gospel -the good news of Jesus – has power to free you from bondage to sin and fear?

Like fishermen – we are called to gather in people for the kingdom of Christ
When Jesus preached the gospel message he called others to follow as his disciples and he gave them a mission – “to catch people for the kingdom of God.” What kind of disciples did he choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work:  he chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. 

When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Do you believe that God wants to work in and through you for his glory?

Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel. Paul the Apostles says, But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15). Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel and do you pray for your neighbors, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love?

“Lord Jesus, you have called me personally by name, just as you called your first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Help me to believe your word and follow you faithfully. Fill me with the joy of the gospel that your light may shine through me to many others.”

Psalm 116:12-19

12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me? 
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 
16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid.  You have loosed my bonds. 
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, 
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Common people on an uncommon mission, by Eusebius of Caesarea (260/263-340 AD)

“Reflect on the nature and grandeur of the one Almighty God who could associate himself with the poor of the lowly fisherman’s class. To use them to carry out God’s mission baffles all rationality. For having conceived the intention, which no one ever before had done, of spreading his own commands and teachings to all nations, and of revealing himself as the teacher of the religion of the one Almighty God to all humanity, he thought good to use the most unsophisticated and common people as ministers of his own design. Maybe God just wanted to work in the most unlikely way. For how could inarticulate folk be made able to teach, even if they were appointed teachers to only one person, much less to a multitude? How should those who were themselves without education instruct the nations?… When he had thus called them as his followers, he breathed into them his divine power, and filled them with strength and courage. As God himself he spoke God’s true word to them in his own way, enabling them to do great wonders, and made them pursuers of rational and thinking souls, by empowering them to come after him, saying: ‘Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for people’ (Mark 1:17, Matthew 4:19). With this empowerment God sent them forth to be workers and teachers of holiness to all the nations, declaring them heralds of his own teaching.” (excerpt from PROOF OF THE GOSPEL 3.7)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

Sunday (January 13): “Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire”

Daily Reading & Meditation

  Sunday (January 13): “Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire”

Scripture: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Meditation: Do you want to be on fire for God? John the Baptist said that the Messiah would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deuteronomy 4:24), his righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin and evil (Isaiah 66:15-16). Fire can also be a sign of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11-12 and Acts 2:3). God’s fire both purifies and cleanses us, and burns within us a passionate love, holy desire, and reverent fear (respect and awe) of God and his word.

Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire
Jesus came to give us the fire of his Spirit that we may radiate the joy and truth of the Gospel to a world in desperate need of God’s light and truth. His word has power to change and transform our lives that we may be burning lights pointing others to Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you want the Lord’s power, grace, and love to burn brightly in your life? Ask him to fill you with his Holy Spirit.

John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John’s baptism? In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?

Jesus’ baptism – beginning of a new creation
The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan river. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.

Heaven will open for those who bow before the Lord
How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD), an early church father tells us: “Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.” Do you want to see your life transformed in the likeness of Christ? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well. 

The Lord Jesus is ever ready to renew and refashion us in his likeness through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit – and he anoints us for mission as ambassadors of his kingdom of righteousness (moral goodness), peace, and joy (Romans 14:17). We are called to be the “light” and salt” of his kingdom that radiate the beauty and aroma of his mercy and goodness to those around us (Matthew 5:13,15-16). The Lord Jesus wants his love and truth to shine through us that many others may may find new life, freedom, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and with the fire of your love and goodness. May I always find joy and delight in seeking to please you in doing your will just as you have delighted in the joy of pleasing your Father and doing his will.”

Psalm 29:1-4,9-10

1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy array. 
3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, upon many waters. 
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 
9 The voice of the LORD makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forests bare; and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king for ever. 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The divine – human reconciliation, attributed to Hippolytus, 170-236 A.D.

“Do you see, beloved, how many and how great blessings we would have lost if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John and declined baptism? For the heavens had been shut before this. The region above was inaccessible. We might descend to the lower parts, but not ascend to the upper. So it happened not only that the Lord was being baptized – he also was making new the old creation. He was bringing the alienated under the scepter of adoption (Romans 8:15). For straightway ‘the heavens were opened to him.’ A reconciliation took place between the visible and the invisible. The celestial orders were filled with joy, the diseases of earth were healed, secret things made known, those at enmity restored to amity. For you have heard the word of the Evangelist, saying, ‘The heavens were opened to him,’ on account of three wonders [appearance of the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together at the baptism]. At the baptism of Christ the Bridegroom, it was fitting that the heavenly chamber should open its glorious gates. So when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the Father’s voice spread everywhere, it was fitting that ‘the gates of heaven should be lifted up.'” (excerpt from THE DISCOURSE ON THE HOLY THEOPHANY 6)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:23  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:25,27  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, • that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Colossians 1:28  We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

2 Thessalonians 2:16,17  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, • comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

1 Corinthians 1:8  who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Friday (January 11): “Lord, you can make me clean”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Friday (January 11): “Lord, you can make me clean”

Scripture: Luke 5:12-16

12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one; but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” 15 But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

Meditation: Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus’ time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.

This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.

How do you approach those who seem difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some physical or mental weakness? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord Jesus is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving.

Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.”

Psalm 147:12-15,19-20

12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your sons within you. 
14 He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. 
15 He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 
19 He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. 
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the LORD! 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Jesus’ healing demonstrates the power of the kingdom of heaven, by Ambrose of Milan, 339-397 A.D.

“The authority of power in the Lord is here compared with the steadfastness of faith manifest in the leper (Luke 5:12-13). He fell on his face because it is a mark of humility and modesty that each feel shame for the sins of his life, but shyness did not restrict his confession. He showed the wound, he begged for the remedy, and the very confession is full of piety and faith. ‘If you will,’ it says, ‘you can make me clean’” He conceded the power to the Lord’s will. But he doubted concerning the Lord’s will, not as if unbelieving in piety, but as if aware of his own impurity, he did not presume. The Lord replies to him with a certain holiness. ‘I will: be clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.’ For there is nothing between God’s command and his work, because the work is in the command. Thus he spoke, and they came into being (Psalm 33:9). You see that it cannot be doubted that the will of God is power. If, therefore, his will is power, those who affirm that the Trinity is of One will affirm that it is of one power. Thus the leprosy departed immediately. In order that you may understand the effect of healing, he added truth to the work.” (excerpt from EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 5.2–3)


Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Thursday (January 10): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Thursday (January 10): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

Scripture: Luke 4:14-22

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; 17 and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 

20 And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

Meditation: What can bring us true freedom and joy? In Jesus we see the healing power of God’s love and mercy in action. Wherever Jesus went, people gathered to hear him speak about the kingdom of heaven and God’s promise to bring freedom and healing to those who put their trust in God. His gracious words brought hope, joy, and favor to those who were ready to receive him. 

Jesus began his public ministry in his own land of Galilee where he was reared. His proclamation of the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah brought wonder to the people. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus awakened their hope in the promises of God. They, in turn, received his words favorably and wondered what would become of “Joseph’s son”. Their hearts were hungry for the word of life and they looked to Jesus with anticipation and wonder. Do you look to Jesus with confidence and hope in the fulfillment of all God’s promises?

The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free, not only from their infirmities, but from the worst affliction of all – the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one’s life. God’s power alone can save us from dejection, hopelessness, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for everyone who will receive it. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to bring us the kingdom of heaven?

“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your kingdom of peace and righteousness”.

Psalm 72:1-2, 14-17

1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! 
2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! 
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight. 
15 Long may he live, may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day! 
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may men blossom forth from the cities like the grass of the field! 
17 May his name endure for ever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May men bless themselves by him, all nations call him blessed!

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Christ brings hope of release from spiritual bondage, by Eusebius of Caesarea, 260/263-340 AD

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me’ (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1). Clearly this happened to those who thought that the Christ of God was neither a mere man nor an unfleshed and unembodied Word who did not take on a mortal nature. Instead they say he is both God and human, God in that he is the only-begotten God who was in the bosom of the Father, and man… from the seed of David according to the flesh (Luke 1:32). Thus, God the Word, who through the prophecy has been called Lord, speaks out this prophecy that is preeminent among other promises: ‘I am the Lord, and in the right time I will draw them together’… 

“Taking the chrism in the Holy Spirit, he, chosen from among all, appears as the only-begotten Christ of God. And the verse ‘he has sent me to proclaim good news to the poor’ (Luke 4:18), he fulfilled in that time when he ‘was preaching the kingdom of heaven’ and explaining the beatitudes to the disciples by saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 5:3)… And for those nations then imprisoned in their souls by the invisible and spiritual powers he preached release to his newly encouraged disciples… Therefore, he preached release to the prisoners and to those suffering from blindness who were those enslaved by the error of polytheism, and he creates a year that is acceptable, through which he made all time his own year. And from the passing years of humanity he provides days of created light for those close to him. He never kept hidden the age that is to come after the perfecting of the present. For that age will be a time much on the Lord’s mind, being an age and day of requiting. For he will grant a change of fortune or a year of favor to those struggling in the present life.” (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH 2.51.5)

[Eusebius of Caesarea (260/263-340) was a bishop, Scripture scholar and first historian of the Christian church.]

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.

Psalm 9:10  And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Proverbs 18:10  The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.

Isaiah 12:2  “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.”

Psalm 37:25  I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.

Psalm 37:28  For the LORD loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.

1 Samuel 12:22  “For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.

2 Corinthians 1:10  who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,

Hebrews 13:5,6  Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” • so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”

 

Wednesday (January 9): “Take heart, it is I; have no fear”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Wednesday (January 9): “Take heart, it is I; have no fear”

Scripture: Mark 6:45-52

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” 51 And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Meditation: Does the Lord Jesus ever seem distant when trials or difficulties come your way? Right after Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, he left his disciples by themselves so he could go to a remote place to pray alone.It was at Jesus’ initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake of Galilee, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm. Although they were experienced fishermen, they feared for their lives. The Lake of Galilee was known for its sudden storms whipped up by strong winds which swept down from the nearby mountains. The disciples must have cried out for help when they recognized that their boat was about to be capsized by the threatening waves.

Jesus always intercedes for us 
Although Jesus was not physically with them in the boat, he nonetheless had been keeping vigilant watch for them in earnest prayer. When Jesus perceived their trouble he came to them walking on the sea and startled them with his sudden appearance. The disciples were terrified rather than joyful when they saw Jesus’ presence on the water. They thought a ghost had appeared to seal their doom. They couldn’t believe it was really him until he spoke words of assurance: “Don’t give in to fear or panic, but take courage and be calm, because I am here for you and ready to help you in your need.” Jesus not only calmed their fears, but the threatening waves and storm as well.

Do you recognize the Lord’s abiding presence with you? 
Does the Lord Jesus seem distant when trials and difficulties come your way? The Lord never leaves us alone, but keeps constant watch over us at all times, especially when we are tempted and feel weak or helpless. Do you look to the Lord Jesus to give you his strength and help when you are in need? Jesus assures us that we do not have to give into fear or discouragement if we put our trust in Him and remember his great love for us. He will see us through any trial that comes our way. When calamities and trials threaten to overwhelm you, do you respond with faith and hope in God’s love and presence with you?

“Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your saving help and your ever watchful presence, especially in times of adversity. Fortify my faith with courage and my hope with steady perseverance that I may never waver in placing all my trust in you who are my all.”

Psalm 72:1-2, 10-13

1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! 
2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! 
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! 
11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! 
12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. 
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The wind was against them, by Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)

“Meanwhile the boat carrying the disciples – that is, the church – is rocking and shaking amid the storms of temptation, while the adverse wind rages on. That is to say, its enemy the devil strives to keep the wind from calming down. But greater is he who is persistent on our behalf, for amid the vicissitudes of our life he gives us confidence. He comes to us and strengthens us, so we are not jostled in the boat and tossed overboard. For although the boat is thrown into disorder, it is still a boat. It alone carries the disciples and receives Christ. It is in danger indeed on the water, but there would be certain death without it. Therefore stay inside the boat and call upon God. When all good advice fails and the rudder is useless and the spread of the sails presents more of a danger than an advantage, when all human help and strength have been abandoned, the only recourse left for the sailors is to cry out to God. Therefore will he who helps those who are sailing to reach port safely, abandon his church and prevent it from arriving in peace and tranquility?” (excerpt from SERMON 75.4)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager