Lent 2018 Daily Devotions

The Image on a Coin ~ Sunday, February 25, 2018

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The Image on a Coin

Read Mark 12:13-17

TEXT: And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?"... (Mark 12:16b)

Here again we have the leaders trying to trap Jesus in His own words. "Does God want us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? What does His Law say?" They knew very well that if He said, "Pay them," He would be in trouble with the people, who hated the Roman Taxes, yet if He said, "Don't pay them," He could be executed by the Romas for rebellion. And Jesus knew very well what they were trying to do with their question.

So He cuts to the heart of the matter and asks him whose name and image are on the tax coin. Oh, Caesar's, you say? Well, then, give Caesar what belongs to him. But more important, give God what belongs to Him. Give God your whole heart and mind, body and soul together - because you yourself carry the image of God.

What He said to the leaders, He says to us today: "Give to God what belongs to God." Give yourselves, because God has created you in His Image and has placed His Name upon you in Baptism. You are not your own, you belong to the Lord.

And to place that fact beyond the shadow of a doubt, Jesus is on the way to Calvary - to carry away your sins and mine, to remove every possible claim the devil might have on any human being as a result of our wrongdoing. His suffering and death cleared away any liens the devil might have on us. And now that He has risen from the dead, He promises us that we who believe in Him will also rise to everlasting life - new, freshly minted, with the image of God glowing and perfect on us. Because we belong to Jesus.

THE PRAYER: Father, You have put Your image upon me, but I have marred it in many ways. Forgive and restore me in Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen

Posted by Faith Lutheran

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