Lent 2018 Daily Devotions

Pay Your Taxes? ~ Saturday, February 24, 2018

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Pay Your Taxes?

Read Matthew 17:24-27

TEXT: When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?' (Matthew 17:24)

The two-drachma tax was something that every Jewish man was supposed to pay for the support of the temple. So when the collectors came to Peter about it, they probably wanted to know whether Jesus was a good temple-supporting Jew or not. The way they phrased their question - "Doesn't your teacher pay the tax?" - suggests they had their doubts.

Peter went to find Jesus, and Jesus asked him a strange question; "Do kings tax their own sons, or other people?" It doesn't take much to follow the connection: God, the King of everything, doesn't tax His own Son either. Jesus is clearly exempt from the temple tax.

But look more closely. Jesus uses the plural when He tells Peter, "Then the sons are free." Who are these other children of the King? Why, Peter. You. Me. Every believer in Jesus. Jesus lay down His life to make us God's own children. Now we are truly free - not just from the tax, but from all the impossible demands of the Law. Christ has fulfilled them all.

Now His Holy Spirit lives in us, giving us faith, and making us ever more like Jesus. And look what Jesus says here: "So as not to give offense to them, go do this..." and He spells out the miracle He's about to do in order to provide both of them with temple tax money. "So as not to give offense to them." Jesus doesn't owe them anything, but He's going to pay anyway - to avoid upsetting them unnecessarily, and especially to make sure nothing stands in the way of their eventually believing the Good News about Jesus.

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatian 5:13). Now that Jesus has made us children of God, His Holy Spirit lives in us, causing us to love and serve our neighbors, even tax collectors - even when we don't have to. The Lord is working through us to draw those around us to faith in Jesus.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You for making me free in You. Help me to serve others even as You have served me. Amen.

Posted by Faith Lutheran

New Clothes ~ Friday, February 23, 2018

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New Clothes

Read Luke 8:26-39

TEXT: Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. (Luke 8:35)

The story of the demon-possessed man of the Gerasenes starts out as a horror tale. The poor man was afflicted with thousands of demons - thus the name "Legion," which refers to a group of more than 5,000 Roman soldiers. As a result of their torment, he could not control his own behavior; he lived naked among the toms. When anyone tried to lock him up, he broke locks and escaped.

Helping this man seems impossible. Nobody can even keep him in one place long enough to do anything for him! Yet when Jesus stepped out of the boat, there was the man ready and waiting for help - and before the demons could get their first words out, Jesus was already commanding them to leave.

What a wonderful use of divine power! And yet there was one more need to meet. The man was still naked. Yet when the townspeople came to see what had happened, he was fully clothed.

Where did they get the clothes? We don't know. Most likely Jesus and the disciples supplied them. Someone gave up their extra change of clothes to cover the man's shame. It was the only decent thing to do.

So we have a two-part blessing here - Jesus drives out the demons, and then Jesus - Himself or through a follower - provides the man with the basic covering he needed not to be ashamed. And this is what Jesus does for us, too, isn't it? When He willingly went to suffering and death, He overcame the power of the devil for us. He set us free from Satan's slavery. And He rose from the dead to give forgiveness and covering from shame to all of us who trust in Him.

Now we are no longer harassed, helpless, and naked, under the power of the devil. As Paul tells us, "In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27). Christ has made Himself our clothing, and we need never be ashamed again.

THE PRAYER: Lord, You have covered my shame and made me Your own. Use me to bless other people as well. Amen.

Posted by Faith Lutheran

Asleep In The Boat ~ Thursday, February 22, 2018

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Asleep In The Boat

Read Mark 4:1-2; 35-41

TEXT: And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" (Mark 4:37-38)

He must have been really tired. After preaching all day, Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat, asleep on a cushion - and what was that, exactly? A cloth thrown over some bundled-up nets? Whatever it was, it surprises me that it was comfortable enough for Him to stay asleep, even in the middle of a storm, even with the waves crashing into the boat and slopping water into the bottom. That's some kind of tired.

And that was some kind of scared the disciples were feeling, too. Several of these men were fishermen; they knew the Sea of Galilee in all its moods. They had been out in storms before. These weren't first-time sailors! And yet this storm had them terrified - waking up Jesus with the words, "Don't You care that we are about to die?"

That certainly woke Him. Rude as it was, the disciples' sort-of "prayer" got Jesus up and dealing with the situation. "Peace! Be still!" He says, and the storm tidies itself away. The wind stops howling; the waves go flat. Then He turns to His disciples and deals with their personal storm; 'Why are you so afraid? Don't you trust Me yet?"

As I type this, I have just learned that someone I love is probably sick with cancer again. This is not a storm I want to be sailing in. And I've been down on my knees, begging Jesus to get up, to deal with the storm, I'm frightened, HELP! This boat is filling with water. Wake up, Lord! Please!

This situation is horrible. And yet Jesus is with us, here in the boat. He hasn't gone anywhere. He will hear my prayers, no matter how scared or how rude or how "little-faithed." And when He speaks, the storm will know its Master.

Thank God He is with us.

THE PRAYER: Lord, keep me with You, trusting You, when I'm afraid. Amen

Posted by Faith Lutheran