North American Lutheran Church https://www.thenalc.org Sun, 18 Feb 2018 10:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Daily Reading – February 18, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-18-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-18-2018/#respond Sun, 18 Feb 2018 10:00:11 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26105 First Sunday in Lent And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, […]

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First Sunday in Lent

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. They he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. (Matthew 22:1-10)

We misuse parables when we think we can “fit” them into our experience in every point and aspect. For example, this parable, as with all parables, is meant to communicate a particular message. It is not intended to suggest that God, like the king in the parable, “send his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” Those are details of the parable intended to make the story real to its hearers. It is not intended to say that is what God is like.

The message of the parable, however, is clear: God extended an invitation to the Jewish people to come share in the marriage feast of His Son, Jesus. Many in Israel, especially many religious leaders, rejected the invitation and would not come. God also, then extended his invitation to all—both good and bad, Jews and Gentiles! While not quoted above, the parable goes on to proclaim that guests enter the marriage feast by putting on a wedding garment—in other words, we enter only by being clothed in our baptismal garment—being clothed in Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

The parable does, however, present some details that are all too relevant to our human experience and real life today. Every week, we are called to come share in the marriage feast of the Son of God, as the Lord’s Supper is the foretaste of the feast to come. Every week, all sinners are invited, but many will not come. Many “make light of it” and go off, “one to his farm, another to his business.” We can blame our culture and the demands and temptations which are barriers to our regular participation in worship, but the gracious, loving invitation stands and it is for us to respond and come, as the Lord has made all things ready and is present to host the meal! Many consider Lent a heavy, dark, burdensome season. Perhaps we can give thanks and rejoice that Lent allows us to hear again the invitation and joyfully respond with our presence at the marriage feast!

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the invitation to the marriage feast—and for clothing us in the righteousness of Christ, our proper wedding garment! Amen.

Lenten Response: Make the Lord’s Supper a priority in your life each week!


Video Devotional:
From Ashes to Easter

Additional Daily Readings: Genesis 35:1–15; Psalm 45; Matthew 21:45–22:14

Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2CMv4Lp

Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

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Daily Reading – February 17, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-devotional-february-17-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-devotional-february-17-2018/#respond Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:00:47 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26095 Saturday after Ash Wednesday Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you […]

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Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. (Matthew 21:42-45)

Often, we hear Scripture verses, passages and parables and immediately think of ourselves— “Where am I in this text? What is God saying to me?” This is right and good, but that should come after we ask, “What is this text saying about Jesus? What is this passage, verse, parable telling me about who Jesus is and why He came?” The Bible is intended, first, to proclaim the good news of God in Jesus Christ. Second, the Bible calls us to respond to the good news. This is helpful instruction as we read the Bible and hear readings and sermons in worship.

It is something of an understatement when Matthew tells us in verse 45 of our reading, “they perceived that he was speaking about them.” Yes, Jesus was speaking about them! He’s been speaking about them, and telling instructional parables about them, trying to break through to them with the good news that He is the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, sent to call them, and all, to repent and return with hearts and lives to the Lord God Almighty! Jesus is confronting them with the truth that though they claimed to be religious leaders in Israel, their lives did not manifest obedience and faithful fruit-bearing. Rather than hear and heed Jesus’ words, they questioned his authority to say such things. They would have arrested him then, but they “feared the multitudes…”

The good news is that in Jesus, the kingdom of God has come to us. Jesus is the light of the world, born in Bethlehem, visited by wise men from the East, revealed as Son of God and Savior on the mountain top as he was transfigured before Peter, James and John. He is the Word made flesh to dwell among us. He is the way, the truth and the life. He died and was raised for us and for our salvation. He is with us always, even to the end of the age. He will return in power and glory. In the meantime, we are to give our lives to Him. In the meantime, we are to be baptized, be disciples, make disciples. In the meantime, we are to love God, love our neighbor, have faith, bear good fruit. As Jesus is speaking about the chief priests and elders, challenging their lack of faith and fruit, do we perceive that He is also speaking about us?

The very stone which “the builders” rejected, is now the chief cornerstone. Let us build our lives upon Jesus, Son of the Living God! Let us bear fruit that befits the kingdom!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place my trust, my faith, my life in your hands. Use me for your purposes, that I may bear good fruit! Amen.

Lenten Response: Tomorrow in worship, ask first, what is this lesson saying about Jesus?


Video Devotional:
From Ashes to Easter

Additional Daily Readings: Genesis 34; Psalm 44; Matthew 21:28–44

Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ

Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

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Daily Reading – February 16, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-16-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-16-2018/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:00:51 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26092 Friday after Ash Wednesday And when [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23) I remember all too well the day our daughter, Rebekah, […]

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Friday after Ash Wednesday

And when [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)

I remember all too well the day our daughter, Rebekah, said to me, “You’re not the boss of me!” I’m guessing every parent has heard that from their children at some point. It grows out of our age-old rebellion against God and parents, as we convince ourselves that we can be like God—or at least, like our parents, making our own decisions and choices without someone (God or parent) telling us what to do. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that lack of respect for, or belief in, God has led to lack of respect for any authority and the breakdown of homes, families and society. When one believes in and respects the reality of God, one will necessarily respect parents, teachers, police officers and government.

Jesus has just been teaching the Jewish authorities, through deed and word, about God and His will. He cleansed the temple and then told them that they would be cursed because they were not bearing good fruit. Now they are questioning by what authority Jesus was saying and doing such things! Who made you the boss of us, they asked Jesus? They were being convicted by Jesus’ criticism of them, but were not convinced. Rather than take his teaching to heart, they rejected what he was saying and questioned whether and by what right He should be speaking to them in such a way. And isn’t that the way it is today?

As we are seeing a renewal in the Church by a recommitment to the Great Commission and Jesus’ command for us to be disciples and make disciples, there are those who question this initiative and renewal. And yet, it is by Jesus’ own authority that we have this commission. Before calling us to go and make disciples, Jesus says in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Interestingly, you can find word usage frequency, over time, in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. From 1800 to 2010, the latest year reported, there has been a significant decline in the use of the word, “authority.” No wonder and no surprise, really. Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority when they ate of the “forbidden fruit.” The priests and scribes in the Temple chafed under Jesus’ authority. People today would rather not have a “boss” of any kind telling them what to do. Still, the Christ-like life is all about yielding to God’s will and authority. Being a disciple of Jesus is all about following Him, obeying Him, listening to His words of light and life. Lent is a time of opening ourselves, once again, to the absolute authority of Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives and our church!

Prayer: Jesus, Lord of life, all authority in heaven and on earth is yours! Be Lord of my life! Amen.

Lenten Response: Take a few moments to look up the definition of “authority” in the dictionary.


Video Devotional:
From Ashes to Easter

Additional Daily Readings: Genesis 33; Psalm 43; Matthew 21:18–27

Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ

Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

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Daily Reading – February 15, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-15-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-15-2018/#respond Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:00:38 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26087 Thursday after Ash Wednesday And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. [Jesus] said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but […]

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Thursday after Ash Wednesday

And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. [Jesus] said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. (Matthew 21:12-14)

It would be tempting for us to read the account of Jesus cleansing the temple and give thanks that we are not like them! Although we receive offerings each week in worship, we are not buying and selling in the church, and we are certainly not making salvation available for purchase! And yet, is the church—our congregations—fulfilling God’s will for His people? Is the church a place of prayer and worship? Are the blind and lame being healed? Or do our congregations sometimes become something other than what God intends?

Sadly, congregations and church-bodies do lose their way. Pastors, lay leaders and members often forget that God’s house is to be a place of prayer, praise and thanksgiving, where people are set free, healed and restored by Jesus Christ, God incarnate, truly present in Word and Sacrament. What then becomes the focus, when we lose our focus on God dwelling with us full of grace and truth?

Too many congregations are still preoccupied with the church as an institution—focused mainly on paying the bills, maintaining the furnace and air conditioner, having monthly fellowship activities, making sure people keep the cozy, family feeling. These are not the main things in the Body of Christ. Neither is power, control, pushing your agenda or getting what you want! We may not be buying and selling salvation in our congregations, but all too often we spend too much time fussing and fighting over who’s in charge, who gets their way, who should be running the church! Congregations caught up in tension, conflict and fighting are almost always losing members and in decline—because that is not what God intends for the Body of Christ!

Lent is, above all, a time of honest, sincere, heartfelt reflection on our current reality, aimed at repentance and renewal as we prepare for our observance of Holy Week and Easter. This is important for us as individual Christians, as well as for congregations. Just as each follower of Jesus asks, “Am I fulfilling God’s will in my life?”, each congregation might be asking, “Are we fulfilling God’s will for us in our life together? Is the Word of God central in our congregation? Are we a place of healing and care, or are we a place of pain and conflict?” By God’s grace, Lent can be a time of reorientation and renewal!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us be people of love, care and healing—and let our congregations be places of prayer, praise and thanksgiving! Amen.

Lenten Response: Pray for healing and encouragement for all in your congregation.


Video Devotional:
From Ashes to Easter

Additional Daily Readings: Genesis 32; Psalm 42; Matthew 21:1–17

Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ

Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

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Daily Reading – February 14, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-devotional-february-14-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-devotional-february-14-2018/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 10:00:18 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26070 Ash Wednesday Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants…Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare thy people, O LORD, and make not thy heritage […]

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Ash Wednesday

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants…Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare thy people, O LORD, and make not thy heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:15-17)

Church bells were once installed high on top of most every church building, ready to call people to prayer and worship. This was useful in city, town or village settings, as well as in rural areas where clusters of small family farms were close enough for the bells to be heard ringing out across the fertile countryside. Bells were often rung fifteen minutes before worship and then again at five minutes before worship, calling people and reminding them that “it is time for prayer, please come!” The bell was often rung again during the praying of the Lord’s Prayer, so that those still at their labors could at least join in with the prayer of the community.

Our reading from the prophet Joel is intended to call us to repentance, sanctification, and inward and outward cleansing—just as the Israelites were called to return to the Lord with their whole being. The passage begins with the LORD saying, “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” The disobedience of the people had become rampant and any show of religiosity was often just that—an external show, not heartfelt worship and devotion. The situation was so severe that “nations” and “peoples” would look at Israel and question whether there was a God of Israel! If so, why would this God not do something—to call the people back to Him, to save them from their sin and disobedience? The behavior of the people of God was a witness to the world.

On Ash Wednesday, what is our witness to the world? Do our worship, prayer and devotional life manifest commitment to a living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Do we gather with the assembled congregation, entering together into the season of Lent for repentance, renewal and restoration? Is our discipleship a response of heart and life or an outward show meant to impress?

If only we had a trumpeter or a bell-ringer to call us to worship, prayer and sanctification/holiness on this important day when we cross the threshold into Lent. If only God would send us an alert on our phone that would indicate a text from the Living God that says, “Return to me with all your heart…for I am gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…” Then again, maybe this is God’s “text message” to you today!

Prayer: Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.

Lenten Response: Send the highlighted passage (bold text) above in a text or email to friends or family.


Video Devotional:
From Ashes to Easter

Additional Daily Readings: Joel 2:12–19; Psalm 51; 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:10; Matthew 6:1–6

Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ

Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

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Daily Reading – February 13, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-13-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-13-2018/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 10:00:14 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26032 Genesis 31:25-55 25 And Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen pitched tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26 And Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? […]

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Genesis 31:25-55
25 And Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen pitched tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26 And Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? 28 And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly. 29 It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30 And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?” 31 Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours, and take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find them. And he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle and sat on them. Laban felt all about the tent, but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household gods.

36 Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37 For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. 38 These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”

43 Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne? 44 Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I. And let it be a witness between you and me.” 45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he named it Galeed, 49 and Mizpah, for he said, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight. 50 If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.”

51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. 53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, 54 and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.

55 Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.

Psalm 41
O Lord, Be Gracious to Me
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

41 Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
2 the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
3 The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness you restore him to full health.

4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
while his heart gathers iniquity;
when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
7 All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me.

8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
he will not rise again from where he lies.”
9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them!

11 By this I know that you delight in me:
my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
and set me in your presence forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.

Matthew 20:17-34
Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time
17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

A Mother’s Request
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ

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Daily Reading – February 12, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-12-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-12-2018/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:00:57 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26030 Genesis 31:1-24 Jacob Flees from Laban 31 Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” 2 And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. 3 Then the Lord […]

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Genesis 31:1-24
Jacob Flees from Laban
31 Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” 2 And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. 3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”

4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was 5 and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I have served your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. 9 Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. 10 In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. 11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’” 14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? 15 Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. 16 All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”

17 So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. 18 He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. 19 Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20 And Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he intended to flee. 21 He fled with all that he had and arose and crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

22 When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, 23 he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him for seven days and followed close after him into the hill country of Gilead. 24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”

Psalm 40
My Help and My Deliverer
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

4 Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.

6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!

Matthew 20:1-16
Laborers in the Vineyard
20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ

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Daily Reading – February 11, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-post-february-11-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-post-february-11-2018/#respond Sun, 11 Feb 2018 10:00:16 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26026 Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ Exodus 34:29-35 The Shining Face of Moses 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and […]

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Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2DgeswJ

Exodus 34:29-35
The Shining Face of Moses
29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

34 Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Psalm 50
God Himself Is Judge
A Psalm of Asaph.

50 The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.

3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah

7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

16 But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.

19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The Light of the Gospel
4 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Mark 9:2-9
The Transfiguration
2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

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Daily Reading – February 10, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-post-february-10-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-post-february-10-2018/#respond Sat, 10 Feb 2018 10:00:21 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26024 Genesis 30:25-43 Jacob’s Prosperity 25 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have […]

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Genesis 30:25-43
Jacob’s Prosperity
25 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.” 27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you. 28 Name your wages, and I will give it.” 29 Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me. 30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31 He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: 32 let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. 33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.” 34 Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” 35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. 36 And he set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban’s flock.

37 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. 38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Psalm 39
What Is the Measure of My Days?
To the choirmaster: to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

39 I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent;
I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.
3 My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

4 “O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.
8 Deliver me from all my transgressions.
Do not make me the scorn of the fool!
9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it.
10 Remove your stroke from me;
I am spent by the hostility of your hand.
11 When you discipline a man
with rebukes for sin,
you consume like a moth what is dear to him;
surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah

12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers.
13 Look away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart and am no more!”

Matthew 19:16-30
The Rich Young Man
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

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Daily Reading – February 9, 2018 https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-9-2018/ https://www.thenalc.org/daily-reading-february-9-2018/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 10:00:59 +0000 https://www.thenalc.org/?p=26021 Genesis 30:1-24 30 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 […]

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Genesis 30:1-24
30 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.

9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad. 12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.

14 In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. 17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.

19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”

Psalm 38
Do Not Forsake Me, O Lord
A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering.

38 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

5 My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.

12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
and meditate treachery all day long.

13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.

15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
who boast against me when my foot slips!”

17 For I am ready to fall,
and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin.
19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,
and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20 Those who render me evil for good
accuse me because I follow after good.

21 Do not forsake me, O Lord!
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

Matthew 19:1-15
Teaching About Divorce
19 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

Let the Children Come to Me
13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

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