Posted

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” Hebrews 11:11-12 (Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7)

Do you have faith like Sarah? Do you question God’s promises and have doubts but are then moved to believe?

Certainly, Sarah doubted God’s promise at the first and even laughed at the thought. After all, how could she, when she was 90 years old and past her child-bearing years, give birth to a son in her old age? And how could Abraham, 99 years old, have a son by her? But, “is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).

But God’s promise moved her to trust. And, she gave birth to Isaac (which means laughter) when Abraham was 100 years old and she about 90. And, through Isaac, God’s promises were fulfilled to make Abraham’s descendants as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. And through Isaac God fulfilled His promise to make Abraham a blessing to all the people of the world, to send the promised Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent and undo the work of Satan (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-5).

Sarah’s faith reminds us of the faith of another woman in another promise – related to this promise but also impossible according to human understanding and natural law – Mary, a virgin, would conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son who would redeem His people Israel from their sins and be the Savior of the world (cf. Luke 1:26ff.; Matthew 1:18ff.).

Mary questioned the angel, saying, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). The angel answered her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God … For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:35,37). And Mary’s doubts were overcome by faith in God’s promise. She responded: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). And, of course, God fulfilled His promise to send His Son to be our Savior (Luke 2:1ff.).

God also promises to us what is by nature’s laws impossible – redemption by Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ Jesus, our resurrection and eternal life in heaven for Jesus’ sake. We question how this can be, but the Holy Spirit uses God’s promises to work in us faith to believe His words to us are true: that Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4); that God justifies and forgives us sinners, counting us righteous in His sight, when we simply trust in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (cf. Romans 3:21-26; John 3:14-15; 1 John 1:5 – 2:2); that Christ washes away our sins and gives us His Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism (cf. Acts 22:16; Titus 3:4-7; Colossians 2:11-15); that Christ gives to us in His Supper to partake of His body and blood given and shed for us for the remission of all our sins (cf. Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.); that Christ will raise up our bodies from the dust on the Last Day and give to us and all believers eternal life with Him in heaven (cf. Job 19:25-27; Psalm 17:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:51ff.;). “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

O gracious and merciful God, pardon our unbelief when Your promises seem impossible to us, and strengthen our faith to believe Your Word and to live our lives trusting in all that You offer and promise to us in Christ Jesus. Grant this to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

Author
Categories

Posted

While most churches of a Reformed (usually Arminian) background, as well as a growing number of “Lutheran” churches, seek to make their services entertaining and emotionally moving – probably connected to their emphasis on free will and personal decision – Lutheran worship is replete with the Means of Grace and centered around Christ and His redeeming work.

We begin with confession and absolution (John 20:21-23; James 5:16); worship with psalms and hymns which tell of God’s grace and mercy in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:16); read the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” and are “given by inspiration of God, and … profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:14-17); hear the Word of God preached and applied to us in accord with the Apostle Paul’s directive to Timothy and Christ’s great commission to “Preach the Word” and teach all things Christ has commanded (2 Tim. 4:1ff.; Matt. 28:18-20); are reminded of our baptism (Titus 3:4-7); and receive the body and blood of Christ given and shed for us for the remission of sins (1 Cor. 11:23ff.).

Lutheran worship is centered around Christ and His Word and Sacraments, the means by which God comes to us sinners and creates and sustains faith in Christ Jesus in our hearts.

Lutheran worship may not always be entertaining or even emotionally moving, but it ministers to the greatest needs of our hearts and souls and makes it possible for us to respond to God’s grace and mercy in Christ Jesus!

Author
Categories

Posted

“To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” Psalm 95:7b-11

Will you enter God’s eternal rest, or are you hardening your heart against Him? God’s Word comes to you. You have it in your Bible, and it is still preached by faithful ministers; but will you hear it and believe it?

The Children of Israel heard God’s words through Moses and even directly from God Himself on Mt. Sinai. They saw God’s mighty works in Egypt, at the Red Sea and in the wilderness. But did they believe? Did they trust in the LORD God to lead and guide them, provide for them in their journeys and bring them safely into the Promised Land? The answer is, No! Again and again, they grumbled and complained. Again and again, they disobeyed the commandments of the LORD. And, when it was time to go up and take possession of the land the LORD was giving them, they doubted God’s Word to them and wanted to return to Egypt. Therefore, because of their unbelief, they did not enter into the promised rest.

Now, the Word of the LORD comes to you. It calls you to repent of your sinful ways and rebellion against the LORD and receive forgiveness and life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s own dear Son. Will you hear God’s Word? Will you acknowledge your utter sinfulness and rebelliousness before the LORD? Will you come to God and trust in Him to receive you and forgive you of all your sins because Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God in human flesh, fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s law for you and then bore your punishment upon the cross and rose again?

If you refuse to repent and turn to the Lord Jesus for mercy, you go astray in your heart. You do not know the way of the LORD, and you will not enter into His eternal rest! But if you humble yourself before the LORD, hear His Word and believe, you will receive of His mercy and be blessed with the eternal joys of heaven for Jesus’ sake!

LORD God, have mercy upon us and grant that we do not harden our hearts against You and the truth of Your Word. By Your Holy Spirit, grant us true repentance and faith In Jesus Christ our Savior. In His name, we pray. Amen.

Author
Categories

Posted

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand….” Psalm 95:1-7a

In Hosea 8:14, we read that “Israel hath forgotten his Maker.” They were still a religious people, but they had forgotten who the LORD God was and how to worship and serve Him.

These words are not only true of Old Testament Israel at the time of Hosea the prophet; they are true of us today. As a nation and people – even as the outward, visible church – we have forgotten our Maker and we neglect to give Him the glory and praise due unto His name.

We need to remember that “the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

In spite of man’s attempts to escape this fact, the truth still remains that the LORD (Jehovah) God of the Bible (the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost) has created us and all things by His almighty word (Genesis 1-2; Nehemiah 9:6). It is He who formed us in our mothers’ wombs and gave us life (Ps. 139:13-16), and He it is who sustains our lives (cf. Psalm 145:15-16).

And, not only is He the Creator and Sustainer of all things, He gave His only begotten Son and redeemed us through the innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus that we might have forgiveness for all our sins and again be alive to Him and worship His name (cf. Psalm 130:7-8; John. 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8-11).

Isn’t it about time we remember our Creator; look to Him to forgive our sins for the sake of the holy life and bitter sufferings and death of the Son, Christ Jesus, and then worship and serve Him with our lives?

If we do not humbly kneel before Him now, we shall be humbled and kneel before Him on the Last Day when He executes His judgment upon all people (cf. Philippians 2:5-11; Psalm 2).

O Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, for the sake of Christ Jesus, our Savior, forgive us for our many sins against You, and grant that we might kneel before You and worship You both now and forevermore in heaven! Amen.

Author
Categories

Posted

Sad to say, many churches preach popular opinion rather than preaching Christ Jesus as the only way of salvation! Instead of preaching the cross of Jesus, they preach in accord with the everchanging winds of manmade doctrine.

At Good Shepherd, we preach Christ and His cross for our salvation, and we teach and preach all that God reveals to us in His Word, the Bible!

Author
Categories