Daily Devotions

by Pastor Jacob Boer

Check out my blog: Jacob's Musings

Rom. 1:22-23 Images

posted by Jacob Boer

"Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles."

I’ve sometimes wondered why God made our senses so powerful and important to us and then remains invisible to us and tells us to make sure that we don’t make anything in his image to worship him. It’s so much easier to worship something when you can see, touch, smell, hear or taste. Worshiping God requires faith; faith that trusts that God knows best, but we also have a gracious God who gives us sacraments that we can see, touch, taste, smell and hear in bread, wine/juice and water that keep pointing us to who God is, not what he is. We also have Jesus who became just like us, so we have a God who understands us in our physicalness and desires, and we have a God who lives in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who directly reassures that our God is real.

 

Q. What is God’s will for us in the second commandment?

A. That we in no way make any image of God nor worship him in any other way than has been commanded in God’s Word.

 

Matt. 10:37-39 Commandment 1

posted May 28, 2020, 8:40 AM by Jacob Boer

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

The first commandment is “you shall have no other gods before me.” I am always surprised when people in the church tell me that this commandment doesn’t really have any weight today in our culture because we don’t worship other gods. Personally, I know my own heart, but it took Tim Keller’s insight that we too often take the good things God gives us and make them more important than God, making them gods in our lives. Rooting the gods out of our lives is a daily battle because it’s surprising how quickly something can move into out hearts and become a god to us without us even realizing it, sometimes for a long time. As we root out the gods from our hearts, Jesus becomes more important in our hearts and sacrificing our gods becomes a blessing that fills us with strength and courage to follow Jesus with everything we are and have.

Q. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?

A. That I, not wanting to endanger my own salvation, avoid and shun all idolatry, sorcery, superstitious rites, and prayer to saints or to other creatures.

That I rightly know the only true God, trust him alone, and look to God for every good thing humbly and patiently, and love, fear, and honor God with all my heart.

In short, that I give up anything rather than go against God’s will in any way.

 

Eph. 2:10 Good Works

posted May 27, 2020, 8:07 AM by Jacob Boer

“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

The Bible calls us to do good works which God has prepared for us to do: but what are these good works, are they simply anything that feels nice? The catechism tells us that these good works are works that come out of our relationship with Jesus, shaped by our attitude that’s shaped by Jesus. We do good works because we believe in Jesus and are asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do.” They are always in line with what Jesus taught, flowing out of love for God and our neighbours, and they are things that we do that cause people to acknowledge that there is a God; that our belief in Jesus is showing up in the things we do. So, at the beginning of each day, ask God to give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts filled with love to recognize and respond to the good works that are waiting for us to do.

 

Q. What are good works?

A. Only those which are done out of true faith, conform to God’s law, and are done for God’s glory; and not those based on our own opinion or human tradition.

Rom. 14:17 Joy in Our Faith

posted May 26, 2020, 9:00 AM by Jacob Boer

“For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Following Jesus is not just about doing the right things, doing good works all the time; it’s part of it, but following Jesus also is about a change of heart, a change in how you approach life. The Bible and Catechism both tell us that following Jesus develops a sense of joy and a deep desire and delight in our hearts and souls. This helps us live life with a spirit of gratitude for everything in our life, even the hard things, even when things don’t go the way we want because we know that we are in God’s hands and that Jesus is with us through it all, helping us to see how God is using all our circumstances to teach us to trust in him and know the joy of being his child.

 

 

Q. What is the rising-to-life of the new self?

A. Wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a love and delight to live according to the will of God by doing every kind of good work

 

Joel 2:12-13 Turn to Me

posted May 25, 2020, 10:13 AM by Jacob Boer

"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing."

Becoming a follower of Jesus means making a change in the direction in your life. Don’t under-estimate how hard it can be to change your life direction because most of the time we think our direction is pretty good the way it is. Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves and we picture our life as a road that leads to Jesus, most of us will have to admit to either a really windy road or a road that gets close, but not quite to Jesus. Our hearts have a tendency to want the bright lights of the world, the comforts of right now rather than the long-term strength and person change that comes from a deep commitment to Jesus. This is why the Bible describes committing to Jesus as being like our old self actually dying so that the new self shaped by Jesus can be born.

 

 

Q. What is the dying-away of the old self?

A. To be genuinely sorry for sin and more and more to hate and run away from it.

Eph. 4:22-24 Changed by Jesus

posted May 22, 2020, 8:43 AM by Jacob Boer

"You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

I have a friend who laughs at me for being a follower of Jesus and a pastor. He has said to me a number of times, “You Christians, you figure you can do everything I do as long as you go to church on Sunday, when it’s convenient, and then tell your God that you’re sorry. What kind of commitment is that to something you say is supposed to be life shaping?”

Unfortunately, I can see where he’s coming from. Jesus has always asked for our whole life, for a complete giving over of our lives to him. He even tells us to count the cost before we choose to follow him. True repentance as a follower of Jesus is a daily commitment to saying “No” to ourselves and “Yes” to Jesus, asking Jesus to use us to be a blessing wherever he leads us each day. This takes faith, trusting that Jesus knows what is best for us and that in following him, that we are becoming who God has created us to be. Thankfully, unlike my friend, I get to see and walk alongside so many of you whose lives have been changed by choosing to follow Jesus and allowing him to shape your lives and hearts!

Q. What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?

A. Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the rising-to-life of the new.

Eph. 5:1-20 Living Life for Jesus

posted May 21, 2020, 9:31 AM by Jacob Boer

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

One of the saddest realities in the world is that there are always going to be some people who simply don’t want to be part of God’s family because of the expectations Jesus places on us in our daily lives. Jesus calls us to follow him, to carry our crosses (meaning that we willingly sacrifice our desires for Jesus’ and give our lives over to him for his purposes), and to shape our lives around loving God above everything and then our neighbours as ourselves. It is our choice and Jesus will honour our choice to be part of his family or not, and the way we show our choice is through how we live life. What so may don’t realize is that the way Jesus calls us to live when we choose to follow him creates full, meaningful, exciting lives that make everything and everyone around us better. The choice is yours; do you choose Jesus or do you choose yourself?  

Q. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and unrepentant ways?

A. By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like will inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 12:1–2 (The Message) Good Works!

posted May 20, 2020, 9:10 AM by Jacob Boer

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

As followers of Jesus, we’re told again and again how important it is to live good lives and do good works. At the same time, we’re told that these good works don’t do anything to save us, so why bother since Jesus is the one who saved us on the cross? Doing good works is one of the ways our hearts are shaped to be more like Jesus: humble, focused on others instead of ourselves, bringing shalom into the world around us, being a blessing wherever God places us, and doing good works reminds us that sacrifice is good and connects us to Jesus at our heart level. Doing good works is also how we show Jesus how thankful we are for his sacrifice for us and it helps others to see what kind of a God we worship. Doing good works is a powerful way to show the world who we love and serve: great reasons to focus on doing good works I would say!

 

Q. Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works?

A. Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image, so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us, so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.

Matt. 18:15-20 Making Things Right

posted May 19, 2020, 11:18 AM by Jacob Boer

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Before I left home, my father took me aside and we talked about a lot of things, but one thing has stuck with me, he said, “Son, I don’t have much to give you, but I have given you the most precious thing I have, a good name.” He then went on to tell to always keep our family name in good respect, not only for me, but for the whole family. Out of everything my father has done for us as a family, a good name, I have learned is most important. I can imagine Jesus having that same talk with us through our parents, telling us that we need to make sure that we keep the family name, his name, in good respect, not just for ourselves, but for all our brothers and sisters. If you don’t, it means that you don’t care about your brothers and sisters and you need to be held accountable so that you can change and become a part of the family again. That’s the end goal, that we are all together again caring for everyone, not just ourselves.

 

 

Q. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?

A. According to the command of Christ: Those who, though called Christians, profess unchristian teachings or live unchristian lives, and who after repeated personal and loving admonitions, refuse to abandon their errors and evil ways, and who after being reported to the church, that is, to those ordained by the church for that purpose, fail to respond also to the church’s admonitions—such persons the church excludes from the Christian community by withholding the sacraments from them, and God also excludes them from the kingdom of Christ. Such persons, when promising and demonstrating genuine reform, are received again as members of Christ and of his church.

John 3:31-36 Testifying

posted May 15, 2020, 11:07 AM by Jacob Boer

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

I love preaching, I love studying and preparing sermons for preaching, I love digging deep into who God is and who Jesus calls us to be, and I love sharing that with everyone. The goal of preaching though is not simply to learn or teach, but it’s about opening the door to the kingdom of heaven and inviting people in as we show them how much God wants them in the kingdom. The saddest thing for me is that sometimes people listen to my preaching, or other pastor’s preaching and then say it’s not for them. It hurts because they have closed that door and it happened through the preaching, and yet this is part of what testifying to who Jesus is, it’s about inviting people in, but giving them the choice to receive or reject the invitation. My prayer is that each one reading this will accept the amazing invitation to become part of God’s family and come into the kingdom of heaven.


Q. How does preaching the holy gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?

A. According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of Christ’s merit, truly forgives all their sins.

The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation rest on them.

God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.

 

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