Saturday Psalm 2

Prayer: Almighty God, I am glad You are here and listening, help me to listen to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Where we find refuge

12 …Happy are all who take refuge in him.

Well that’s not all it says!  Just before that in verses 10-11 the psalmist writes; “10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling…”

And before that in vs’s 1-9 kings and rulers are admonished to pay attention to the Lord. Not just to pay attention, but to listen with trepidation to what God will do if they do not rule wisely and serve the poor. The Lord can make leaders and destroy them as well.

Our DW writes; “God cares for the people even as many rulers and forces seek to destroy, oppress, and kill.  The image of God laughing at unjust powers and ready to break pots is a comfort for those who have suffered, who have been enslaved, and who have been oppressed. God has bigger plans than those of any unjust powers.”

God desires a future when the rich and powerful leaders will be struck down and the lowly raised up.  So, take refuge in God’s power, and trust that He will do as He has promised.

Prayer: “Hear the prayers of all who cry to you for help, O God.  Thank you for being our refuge. Amen.”

Psalm 2

God’s Promise to His Anointed

Why do the nations conspire,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder,
    and cast their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    with trembling 12 kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

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Friday Exodus 19:9b-25

Prayer: Gracious and Merciful God, teach me through Your Word, in Christ. Amen.

The hiddenness of God

19 As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.

Why did God tell Moses; “Go down and warn the people not to break through to look. Tell them not to come up.” Why the mystery? Was it because it was a holy situation? Or the people would not really listen? Whatever the reason, God was very clear about it.  Only Moses was to be in the presence of God.

Our DW writes; “The glory of God is often hidden from us too.  But God’s holiness and glory also come to us.  The uncontrollable, untamable God did invite others to come up the mountain at times.  The God of all came to the people and dwelled with them as they journeyed. The God who made all and loves all reveals the divine glory in Jesus.  Hidden in suffering and death, God reveals Godself to love the creation, all people, and you.”

What do you think?

Prayer: “Glorious God, you revealed your love at Sinai, in Jesus, and so often since. Help us perceive you. Amen.”

Exodus 19:9-25

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.”

The People Consecrated

When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows;[a] whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. 19 As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. 20 When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. 22 Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.” 23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’” 24 The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

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Thursday Exodus 6:2-9

Prayer: Show me, O God, how to help through Your Word. Amen.

When we don’t know how to help

I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’”

Moses was really afraid of facing Pharaoh. Before he did, he was sent by God to tell the Israelites about a new land and freedom.  Slavery takes a toll on human spirits.  So much so that freedom becomes a foreign concept and nearly impossible to understand.

So that Moses didn’t have to do all the talking, God sent Moses his brother Aaron.  Moses was given help to speak and perform signs.  Also, God hardens the heart of Pharaoh.

As we know, soon the Israelites were freed and on their way to the promised land.  They were given hope but it was not without challenges and help from the Lord.  Today we know there are people who are enslaved and oppressed in our world.  Most of us do not know how to help or what to do to help.  What can be done?  Our DW answers; “I want to know.  So I read. I listen. I try to learn. And I pray for God to act.”

Prayer: “Powerful God, when I feel helpless, show me how I can be of service for the sake of justice. Amen.”

Exodus 6:2-9

God also spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty,[a] but by my name ‘The Lord’[b] I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they resided as aliens. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’” Moses told this to the Israelites; but they would not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.

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Wednesday Psalm 119:9-16

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your Word and its guidance, in Christ. Amen.

Delighting in God’s word

11 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

In today’s psalm we see that the psalmist loves and looks forward to the guidance of God’s word.  In today’s psalm we praise and thank God for His goodness and His word.  What is your feeling about it?

Our DW’s appreciation starts with worship and even before it begins.  He prays with his concerns and opens his heart; especially those that keep burning in his mind. One was about whether or not to retire.  God answered his question.

He resigned and retired. He writes; “The word of God I heard in worship and the word of God I sang and spoke also moved me to join with others to help feed those who are hungry and homeless.  God’s word continues to speak to me to my heart, to show me where God is sending me.”

Where does God call you?

Prayer: “I treasure your word, O God. Be with me always and show me your ways. Amen.”

Psalm 119:9-16

9 How can young people keep their way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    do not let me stray from your commandments.
11 I treasure your word in my heart,
    so that I may not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes.
13 With my lips I declare
    all the ordinances of your mouth.
14 I delight in the way of your decrees
    as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts,
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your wo

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Tuesday James 2:1-13

Prayer: Guide me with Your law, O God.  Through your Word and Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Do we not show more respect and appreciation for the well dressed than we do if we see someone dirty and disheveled?  Would we not be more apt to show the rich person to a better seat than the poor person?

James tells us that we should not show favor to either.  To fulfill the law, we need to welcome both equally. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  So being “good” means following all the commandments not just those we focus on.  We also know that we can readily see the needs of the poor and dirty neighbor. We need to address these needs.

Our DW writes that the one without a home or clean clothes, to be first and foremost our neighbor. “When those with privilege judge those without the same privilege, they fail to act in love. James announces: ‘Mercy triumphs’ (v. 14).  May we show mercy and welcome as God has done to us.”

Prayer: “God, remind me of your mercy. Move me to show love indiscriminately to others, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

James 2:1-13

Warning against Partiality

2 My brothers and sisters,[a] do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?[b] For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,”[c] have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.[d] Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

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Monday Exodus 20:1-21

Prayer: Merciful God, help me to listen to You through Your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Do not be afraid

19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”

Moses repeats God’s words to the people.  He is careful to repeat them exactly so there will be no misunderstanding and the people will know what God has said.  Yet we still fear for our lives that God might lash out on us because we violate these commandments.  We often do this even as Moses said:

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”

We often still fear that maybe God does not hear us because we see injustice and horrors and death all around.  We ask “why do innocent people die? Or our churches bombed or attacked? Or tyrants’ rule and ignore the needs of their people?  These things can cause us to seek revenge or at least feel anger and express punishment.  That makes is easier to assume that God feels the same towards us and may not rescue us or hear our cry’s for salvation.

Our DW has an answer; “…if we were to hear God speaking or see God’s face, we might collapse under the weight of such glory. But God’s glory is exactly what the people witnessed at the holy mountain, and it is precisely what we witness in Christ Jesus.  The glory of God is to save God’s people. In Christ Jesus we hear God, again saying, Do not be afraid! Live!

Prayer: “God of love, speak words of life and hope to us and to those who are afraid. Amen.”

Exodus 20:1-21

The Ten Commandments

20 Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before[a] me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not murder.[c]

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

18 When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid[d] and trembled and stood at a distance, 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.” 21 Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

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Sunday Matthew 5:21-37

Prayer: Holy Father, thank You for calling me to Your service through Jesus. Amen.

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[f] and then come and offer your gift.

In other words…go the extra mile.  Don’t just literally follow the commandments, but go all in.  Don’t hold anything back.  Like if your enemy wants your coat, give him your shirt also.  Shower them with love.  When you forgive, let it all go. Jesus says that even when you use angry words, you might also be committing murder in your heart.  Does that not sound extreme?

In addition, it is fairly easy to get along with our family, brothers, and sisters, but Jesus tells us that all who “hunger and thirst for righteousness and mercy are our brothers and sisters.  His words are so extreme that even our enemies are to be loved.

Let us remember how much love Jesus has for us that we are forgiven for our failures many times over and day after day.

Prayer: “God, help us follow Jesus’ teachings and be reconciled to one another.  We pray in his name. Amen.”

Matthew 5:21-37

Concerning Anger

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[a] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[b] a brother or sister,[c] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell[d] of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister[e] has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[f] and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court[g] with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Concerning Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.[h] 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.[i]

Concerning Divorce

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Concerning Oaths

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.[j]

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