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“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.” Luke 14:16-17 (Read Luke 14:15-24)

You have been invited to the greatest banquet of all! Even though you are a sinner and deserving of God’s eternal wrath and punishment, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s Law in your stead and then to suffer and die on the cross and bear the full punishment for your transgression and sin. God calls you through the preaching of the Gospel and invites you to receive His pardon and forgiveness and to be a part of His everlasting kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus.

The Bible tells us that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). It tells us that “Jesus Christ … loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5); that “in [Him] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7); and that “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18).

And, the risen Lord Jesus even now is preparing a place for all who believe in Him, in the mansions of His Father’s house (John 14:1-3). Through the preaching of this good news, God calls you to come to Him and receive the everlasting blessings of His kingdom.

Even now, as you read these words, God’s Spirit calls you to “come; for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17); and to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Jesus told the Parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24) to admonish His hearers for rejecting the salvation God was providing for them in His Son.

The Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures, which promised eternal salvation through the coming Messiah and Savior; but when Jesus, God’s Son, came into this world to accomplish the salvation God had promised of old — when the Gospel invitation went out: “Come; for all things are now ready” — the Jews excused themselves for various reasons. They were too busy with the things of this world to come to Christ Jesus and receive from Him forgiveness for their sins and eternal life. One bought a piece of land and wanted to go and see it; another had bought five yoke of oxen and wanted to try them out; and another had just gotten married and could not come (cf. Luke 14:18-20).

What about you? This same Gospel invitation has gone out to you: “Come; for all things are now ready.” Do you have time to come to Jesus and learn of Him and the eternal blessings He has won for you? Do you come to hear His life-giving Word and learn of God’s offer and promise of forgiveness for all your sins and of the everlasting joys of heaven? Or, are you too busy with the cares and concerns of this life?

What is your excuse? Are you too busy checking on land or property? Do you have to try out that car or truck or tractor? Do you have to try out that new tool or toy? Are you too busy with work or school or business to come to Jesus? Have you married a wife and become too busy with family concerns to take time for church services and the hearing of God’s Word? What is your excuse?

The excuses in Jesus’ parable angered the man who made the great supper (v. 21). He said, “None of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (v. 24).

Will God accept your excuse? Is not this a warning to us not to become so busy with other things in this life that we neglect that “one thing … needful” (Luke 10:42)?

Jesus admonishes us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). And Jesus warns: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (Heb. 2:3)?

What did the master of the house in Jesus’ parable then do that his house might be filled with guests? He sent his servants out into the streets and lanes of the city to bring in the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. And, when there was yet room, he sent them out into the highways and hedges (where the poor often camped) to compel those there to come in (Cf. Luke 14:21-24.)

It is by the grace of God that we have heard the Gospel of Christ and come to trust in Him for forgiveness and life (Eph. 2:4-9); “and yet there is room” (v. 22)! Our Heavenly Father sends His servants out into the streets and lanes, and to the highways and hedges, to compel them to come in — to call upon all, whether rich or poor, healthy or handicapped or sick, to come to Christ Jesus in faith and partake of the blessings of His kingdom.

Jesus commands His disciples to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). They are to preach “repentance and remission of sins … in his name among all nations” (Luke 24:47). They are to say: “Come; for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17). And, Jesus tells us: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

Dear LORD God, our Savior, grant that we not neglect and excuse ourselves from partaking of the salvation so graciously provided for us through the innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Jesus Christ. Fill us also with Your love for lost sinners that we may obey Your command and send men into all the world with Your saving Gospel and compel them to come in! In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23

Not all who call Jesus, “Lord,” will enter God’s eternal kingdom. Not all who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ truly are Christian.

We can think of groups that take the name of Jesus on their lips and claim to hold to His doctrine but who do not believe in Him as their Savior and Redeemer. It is not enough to look to Jesus as an example, as a son of God, or only as a lord and master.

But Jesus spoke these words that we, too, might examine ourselves and be certain we are holding fast to Him in faith and trusting in His innocent sufferings and death for our salvation.

The Scriptures admonish us: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Cor. 13:5).

It is not enough to just take the name of Jesus on our lips and call Him Lord. It’s not enough to preach in His name or do miracles or good works in His name. Jesus says we must do the will of His Father in heaven.

What is that will? Jesus answered that question for us when He said, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

It is the will of God the Father that we sincerely repent of our sins and wickedness and place our faith and confidence in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Christ Jesus our Savior. It is the will of God the Father that we not only see Jesus and take His name on our lips but that we believe and trust in Him and continue trusting in Him unto life everlasting.

Jesus called upon His hearers to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15; Matt. 4:17); and He still calls upon us today, through His Word, to turn from our evil and rebellious ways to Him for forgiveness and life.

The Bible tells us to “repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).

And, where there is true repentance, there are also “fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8). Those who are sorry for their sins and place their faith and hope in Jesus Christ will also, as a fruit of their faith, seek to live their lives for Him in accord with his Word.

Thus, as Jesus said, many who have professed to know Him will be cast out on the Last Day, for their repentance and faith were feigned — they may have even deceived themselves. They may claim to be followers of Jesus, but they are not truly sorry for their sin and unbelief and do not turn to Christ Jesus for forgiveness. Nor do they seek his help and strength to amend their lives and live for Him.

And then Jesus will, as He said, “profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Jesus spoke these words in His Sermon on the Mount that we might not be deceived and find ourselves cast out on the Last Day. We, therefore, ask ourselves if we are truly sorry for our sins; if we trust in Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for our salvation; and if we, with the help and aid of the Holy Ghost, truly desire to amend our lives and live in accord with God’s commandments. If we cannot honestly answer all three of these questions with a yes, we need to consider the consequences we shall pay for our sin and rebellion against the LORD God and His anointed.

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation as God has provided for us in His own dear Son (Heb. 2:3)? Or, as the Bible says in Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

But how comforting it is to know that we can yet, by God’s grace, turn to the Lord Jesus for mercy and He will not cast us off but wash away our sins! Because Jesus suffered and died for all sins and rose again, the Lord is indeed “good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon” Him (Psalm 86:5).

O Lord Jesus Christ, keep us from impenitence and unbelief and grant that we sincerely repent of our sins and trust in You for mercy and forgiveness that we may be received into Your everlasting kingdom and not be cast out on the Last Day. And as a fruit of our faith, grant that we also seek to walk in accord with Your commandments while we await Your return. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

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Order of Matins

V. O LORD, open Thou my lips. R. And my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.
V. Make haste, O God, to deliver me. R. Make haste to help me, O Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Hallelujah.

V. O come, let us worship the Lord. R. For He is our Maker.

Venite
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. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Hymn: “Our Father, Thou, in Heav’n Above” by Martin Luther

1 Our Father, Thou in heav’n above,
Who biddest us to dwell in love,
As brethren of one family,
And cry in ev’ry need to Thee,
Teach us no thoughtless words to say,
And from our inmost heart to pray.

2 Thy name be hallowed. Help us, Lord,
In purity to keep Thy Word,
That to the glory of Thy name
We walk before Thee free from blame.
Let no false doctrine us pervert;
All poor, deluded souls convert.

3 Thy kingdom come. Thine let it be
In time and in eternity.
Let Thy good Spirit e’er be nigh
Our hearts with graces to supply.
Break Satan’s pow’r, defeat His rage;
Preserve Thy Church from age to age.

4 Thy gracious will on earth be done
As ’tis in heaven before Thy throne;
Obedience in our weal and woe
And patience in all grief bestow.
Curb flesh and blood and every ill
That sets itself against Thy will.

5 Give us this day our daily bread
And let us all be clothed and fed.
From war and strife be our Defense,
From famine and from pestilence,
That we may live in godly peace,
Free from all care and avarice.

6 Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore,
Remove from us their burden sore,
As we their trespasses forgive
Who by offenses us do grieve.
Thus let us dwell in charity
And serve our brother willingly.

7 Into temptations lead us not,
When evil foes against us plot
And vex our souls on every hand,
Oh, give us strength that we may stand
Firm in the faith, a well-armed host,
Through comfort of the Holy Ghost!

8 From evil, Lord, deliver us;
The times and days are perilous.
Redeem us from eternal death,
And when we yield our dying breath,
Console us, grant us calm release,
And take our souls to Thee in peace.

9 Amen, that is, So shall it be.
Confirm our faith and hope in Thee
That we may doubt not, but believe
What here we ask we shall receive.
Thus in Thy name and at Thy Word
We say: Amen. Oh, hear us, Lord! Amen.

Epistle: James 1:21-27
21 Therefore lay apart all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26 If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

V. O Lord, have mercy upon us. R. Thanks be to God.

Gospel: John 16:23-30
23 And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name. Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs; but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day ye shall ask in My name, and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” 29 His disciples said unto Him, “Lo, now speakest Thou plainly and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things and needest not that any man should ask Thee. By this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.”

V. O Lord, have mercy upon us. R. Thanks be to God.

Sermon: “Doers of the Word” — James 1:21-25

“21 Therefore lay apart all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:21-25

“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.

It is through the hearing of God’s Word that we are saved, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

The Word of God convicts us of our sins and calls us to repent of our evil ways — of “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness” — and to look in faith to the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for pardon and forgiveness. The Word is engrafted into our hearts and there creates faith that takes hold of God’s promises of mercy and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.

However, as James warns us, such faith is not just an empty assent to the facts. It’s not a faith that produces no fruits; it’s not an empty, dead faith, for “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). And so, James says, “But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (v. 22).

When we hear the Word of God preached and proclaimed, or when we read it in our Bibles, it will do us no good unless we act on it. To hear the Word and not do as it says is self-deception — thinking that all is well with our souls when it is not — when we have no real and genuine faith in Christ Jesus.

It is to hear the Word of God calling us to repent of our evil ways and to look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for forgiveness but then not repenting of our sins and not looking to Christ. It is to continue on in our sinful ways rather than to lay aside “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.”

It is seeing ourselves in the mirror of God’s law — seeing our utter sinfulness and the just condemnation we deserve on account of our sins — but then coming away and forgetting our wretchedness and, consequently, not seeing our need to repent and look in faith to the cross of Jesus.

As James writes, “For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:23-24).

Do you do this? Do you see from reading and hearing God’s Word that you are a sinner and deserving of God’s wrath and punishment but then just go your way and do nothing about it? Do you assume it’s OK to continue on as you are and not repent and look in faith to Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world?

John the Baptist said to his hearers (Luke 3:7-9): “O generation of vipers! Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say unto you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees. Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.”

If one truly looks at himself and examines himself in the mirror of God’s law and sees his wickedness and sin and then hears of Christ and His holy life and His innocent suffering and death in our stead, of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2), this word, if it becomes engrafted in the sinner’s heart, will move him to repent of all sins, trust in Christ for pardon and forgiveness, and then, as a fruit of faith, to amend his evil ways and seek to live for the LORD God in accord with His Word.

Has God’s Word become engrafted in your heart? Is it putting down roots and growing, moving you to repent of your sinful ways and look in faith to Christ and His cross for pardon and forgiveness?

James writes: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

The one in whom the Word of God has taken root repents of his evil deeds and looks to Christ for mercy and forgiveness. But the Word also moves him to then amend his evil ways and seek to live for Christ who died for him and rose again. He is set free of the guilt and condemnation of his sins that he might freely live for His Savior!

As the Scriptures say in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “He [Christ] died for all, that those who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.”

Grant that I be not a forgetful hearer but a doer of Your Word, O Lord. Grant that I see my sins and repent, trusting in Christ and His cross for forgiveness and life everlasting, and then amend my ways and live for You. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]

The Canticle — Te Deum Laudamus
We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting. To Thee all Angels cry aloud, the heavens, and all the powers therein. To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy Glory. The glorious company of the Apostles praise Thee. The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise Thee. The noble army of Martyrs praise Thee. The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee; The Father of an infinite Majesty; Thine adorable, true and only Son; Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father. When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a Virgin. When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father. We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge. We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood. Make them to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine heritage. Govern them and lift them up for ever. Day by day we magnify Thee; And we worship Thy Name ever, world without end. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us. O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us as our trust is in Thee. O Lord, in Thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded.

Kyrie
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord’s Prayer
OUR Father, Who art in heaven; Hallowed by Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

V. The Lord be with you. R. And with thy spirit.

Collect
O GOD, from Whom all good things do come: Grant to us Thy humble servants, that by Thy holy inspiration we may think those things that be right, and by Thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

Collect for Grace
O LORD, our Heavenly Father, Almighty and Everlasting God, Who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with Thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by Thy governance, may be righteous in Thy sight; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

V. Bless we the Lord. R. Thanks be to God.

Benediction
THE Grace of our Lord + Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. +

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Members desiring the Lord’s Supper but not comfortable attending services during the COVID-19 pandemic may call Pastor Moll at 479-233-0081 or email him at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org and he will arrange a time to bring the Sacrament to them.

Online Services will continue each week via Facebook Live and with recorded YouTube videos posted on the church website after the service when we are back in the church building. The bulletin is posted and made available online. In addition, devotionals and sermon summaries are also available on the church website: https://goodshepherdrogers.org.

Midweek Bible Study will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday via Google Meet. We continue our study of the Gospel of John.

Ascension Day Vespers may be held at the church at 7 p.m.on Thursday, May 13, or in an online service, depending on the progress in the building.

A Voter’s Assembly meeting will be held following our morning worship service on Sunday, May 23. In addition to other items, the congregation will consider adopting an amended Constitution and Bylaws.

Church Council will next meet via Google Meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18.

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“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:19-21

Why do people not come to Jesus? Why do they avoid reading their Bibles and going to churches where the Word of God is taught and proclaimed? Why do they even try to silence the preaching of God’s Word and keep its message from being posted and proclaimed on the internet and in the media? They love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil!

This is true of every one of us as we are by nature. What did Adam and Eve do after they had sinned and then heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden? They hid themselves from the presence of God (Genesis 3:8).

What do we do when we fall into some sin? Are we eager to hear God’s Word? Are we anxious to go to church where we might be reproved for our wickedness? No, none of us likes to have our evil deeds exposed. So, we attempt to hide, cover up and make excuses for our sin. We would rather stay in the darkness instead of letting the light expose our wickedness.

Instead of allowing that light to shine and agreeing with God that our thoughts, words and actions are full of evil and wickedness – instead of letting the light shine down deep into our hearts and acknowledging that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (cf. Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19-20) – we love the darkness where we can pretend that we are not all that evil, that our sins are only diseases and weaknesses for which we should not be held fully accountable. We like the darkness where we can imagine that God is pleased with us and will accept us on the merit of our own works and accomplishments. But, of course, it’s all a lie – that same lie of which the father of lies has tried to convince mankind from the beginning.

The light, on the other hand, exposes evil and wickedness. It reveals the utter sinfulness of sin. It shows us the wickedness of our own hearts and reveals to us that even our best righteousnesses are filthy before God (Isaiah 64:6). But the light – the truth of God’s Word – also reveals to all who stand in its brightness that Jesus is God the Son in human flesh, that He went to the cross to suffer and die and make atonement for the sins of the world, that He rose again in victory on the third day, that in Him there is pardon and forgiveness, and that through faith in Him there is life everlasting! (Cf. John 3:14-17).

People don’t like to come to Jesus, the Light of the world, because He exposes the sinfulness and wickedness of our hearts and deeds. They would rather stay in the darkness and not be confronted with the unadulterated truth, but the result is death and condemnation; for they do not accept the truth about their utter sinfulness and they do not look to Jesus and trust in Him alone for life and salvation (John 3:18)!

In his first epistle, the apostle John writes it this way (1 John 1:7 – 2:2): “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [the Greek word homologeo, which means to say the same thing as God], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

In Psalm 32:1-5, David wrote: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”

It does no good to hide from the truth. It will benefit us nothing to pretend we are not sinners deserving of God’s everlasting wrath and punishment. The end result is to die in our sins and bear our just punishment.

But, when we acknowledge our sins and agree with God’s truth about our sinfulness and look in faith to Jesus, who was lifted up on the cross to be condemned for us and atone for all our sins and iniquities, we have forgiveness and life eternal. God grant that we walk in this light!

Dear Lord Jesus, shine the light of truth upon my heart and life and expose my sin and guilt that I might see the wickedness and error of my ways and turn to You and Your shed blood for cleansing, forgiveness and life everlasting. Amen.

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

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And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the LORD thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:1-2

What right did God have to give these commandments to the people of Israel? Why should they listen to God’s commandments and obey him? God tells us the answer.

He says, “I am the LORD thy God.” He is JEHOVAH God, the Creator of all things. He is the Triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — the only true God! He also redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt. In fulfillment of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God brought the people out of Egypt and was leading them to the land of Canaan, where He would fulfill His promise to send the Seed of Abraham — the promised Messiah and Savior — through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed (cf. Genesis 22:18).

This is why God had the right to give these commandments to His people. He is the LORD God, their Maker and their Redeemer! And this is why God’s people should have listened to God’s commandments and gladly and willingly obeyed them.

God has every right to demand that we, too, obey His commandments; for He is the LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer — we belong to Him! He created and formed each one of us in our mother’s womb (Cf. Psalm 139:13-16). He made us for Himself — to live for Him and to serve Him.

But instead of loving Him and serving Him, we love and serve ourselves. As fallen sinners, we do not and cannot keep God’s commandments as He requires.

Because of His gracious love and mercy, the LORD God also redeemed us and won salvation for us by sending His only begotten Son into the world to suffer and to die upon the cross for our sins and then rise again on the third day!

We are the LORD’s — and doubly so! He made us, and even though we have come far short of keeping His commandments, He paid the just penalty for our sins, redeemed us and made us His own again by bringing us to know and trust in Christ Jesus for pardon and eternal salvation! He delivered us from our bondage under sin and is leading us to the promised land of heaven, which is ours entirely as His gracious gift!

Therefore, the LORD God has every right to give us His holy commandments and to expect obedience! And, as His redeemed children — having through faith and for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, His pardon and forgiveness for all our sins and failures — we have every reason to gladly and willingly obey Him!

O LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer, we give You thanks that You have both made us and, by Christ’s shed blood, redeemed us. Help us to gladly and willingly obey Your holy commandments. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21), Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]

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