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A Series of Devotions by Pastor Randy Moll

Colossians 1:1-8
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.” Colossians 1:1-8

Though the Apostle Paul may never have visited the church in Colosse, when he heard of the believers’ faith in Christ Jesus and the resulting love they had for their fellow believers, he, together with Timothy, gave thanks to God for giving them the confident hope of eternal life in heaven through Messiah Jesus.

The good news of God’s pardon and forgiveness and the promise of everlasting life in heaven because God the Son became true man and redeemed mankind reached the ears of the Colossians through Epaphras (and perhaps others, too) and faith in Jesus was kindled in their hearts through the hearing of the Gospel.

As the good news of God’s gracious gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven for Jesus’ sake was used to generate faith in the hearts of the believers at Colosse nearly 2,000 years ago, so this same message generates faith in human hearts today. The same Gospel, that Word of truth, tells us of the certain hope laid up for us in heaven, not because of anything we have done or can do, but because God’s own dear Son, Jesus Christ, came into this world and suffered and died for the sins of all people and rose again in victory. God’s Word tells us that His gift to us for Jesus’ sake is life everlasting in the mansions of heaven.

Such a gracious gift of God – the forgiveness of all our sins because of His own Son’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death in our stead and the assurance that we have a place in His eternal, heavenly kingdom – will also move us to selfless love for other believers and fellow heirs of eternal life in heaven, but this love is the result of God’s loving gift of salvation to us, not the cause of it.

What a comfort to know that, though we have sinned and come short of the holy demands of God’s good law, Jesus fulfilled it for us and then took our sins upon Himself, paying the just penalty upon the cross that we might have forgiveness and life everlasting! And this hope which we have is not an uncertain hope, but simply a waiting for of the things assured to us by the promises of God.

God has offered and promised to us a place in heaven through faith in His Son. That place has been made certain to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We await that day in confidence and assurance that heaven is ours for Jesus’ sake.

When we face the end of our lives here in this world, we need not doubt and wonder if we will make it into heaven. Heaven is guaranteed to us because Jesus shed His blood for us and paid in full for all our sins. If our salvation depended upon us or anything we did, we could have no certainty and no hope; but because it depends upon Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for us, we have every assurance and hope of everlasting life in the mansions of our heavenly Father’s house!

Paul wrote this letter, while he himself was a prisoner, because there were those who were seeking to rob these believers of the assurance and hope they had in Jesus by placing other demands upon them – suggesting such things as the worshiping of angels, eating of certain foods or observing certain days. Today, too, there are many false teachers who would suggest and say that, to be true Christians, people must exercise certain gifts, eat certain foods or observe certain days.

The apostle’s message, the true Gospel, is that we are complete in Jesus – our salvation and everlasting life are certain in Him – there is nothing we need add to His redemptive work!

Dear Father in heaven, thank You for graciously bringing to us the word of truth, the saving gospel of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting for the sake of Your Son, Christ Jesus. By Your Spirit, move us to believe and take heart and be assured that, for Jesus’ sake, our sins are forgiven and, for Jesus’ sake, we have life everlasting with You in heaven. Amen.

Colossians 1:9-14

“9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

Though the ancient city of Colosse no longer exists – the old east-west road was moved, causing the once-important city to wane – by the grace of God the believers who once lived there are now reigning with Christ Jesus in His glorious heavenly kingdom.

Paul – probably while he was a prisoner in Rome, along with Timothy, when they heard of the faith and love of these believers in the Roman province of Asia (in modern-day Turkey) – prayed for them that they might continue in the true faith and grow in their knowledge of God.

Paul wrote to them in his letter: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy….”

Paul and Timothy continually lifted up their fellow believers in Colosse, requesting that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, together with all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that they would use this knowledge of God rightly and live a life pleasing to Him, doing God’s will rather than following the whims of false teachers who held up another way of faith and life. They prayed that the believers there would continue to grow in the knowledge of God and be strengthened by Him so that they would endure in the true faith and rejoice in Him and what He had done for their salvation.

Paul and Timothy prayed for these believers that they too would give thanks to God the Father for graciously making them acceptable and fit to be partakers of the eternal inheritance of the saints in light – the blessings of heaven which God graciously gives to all who trust in Christ Jesus. It was God the Father who had delivered them from the rule and power of darkness – the kingdom of the devil – and conveyed them into the eternal kingdom of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. And, it was in Christ Jesus and for the sake of His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world, that they had been redeemed, forgiven of all their sins and made acceptable in God’s eyes.

What Paul writes applies to all of us who believe today. How important it is for believers – for you and for me – to learn and be filled with the knowledge of God through the study of His Word! And it is not enough to just learn facts about God. We need to know Him and His ways and so be strengthened in our faith in Him and rejoice in the salvation He has provided us in His Son. Then, as a fruit of our faith in Him, we will also seek to please Him by walking in His ways.

And, in all this, we have every reason to give thanks to God the Father; for it is He who has made us acceptable for His kingdom by sending His only-begotten Son to die for us and redeem us with His holy and precious blood shed upon the cross! It is in Jesus that we have pardon and forgiveness. It is in Jesus that we have life everlasting and a place in God’s eternal kingdom. God rescued us from the rule and dominion of darkness by sending His Son to redeem us. He translated and conveyed us into the kingdom of His dear Son by bringing us to know and trust in Jesus for our salvation.

Again, the point of it all is that our salvation is complete in Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us, paid for the sins of the whole world and rose again in victory on the third day. God the Father, through the death of His Son, made us fit and acceptable in His sight; and He, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, brought us to faith in Jesus and thus rescued us from the doomed kingdom and rule of the devil and conveyed us – transferring and carrying us – into the eternal kingdom of His only begotten Son!

We thank You, dear Father in heaven, for graciously sending Your only-begotten Son to redeem us and for mercifully bringing us into His eternal kingdom. Grant that we might grow in our knowledge of You and walk worthy of Your gracious calling. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Colossians 1:15-18

“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:15-18

Who is Jesus Christ? The Apostle Paul answers that question in unmistakable terms. Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” In other words, if you desire to know God, know Jesus, for He is God Himself in human flesh.

The Gospel of John (1:1, 14, 18) states of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth … No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”

Jesus is the firstborn of all creation – not in the sense of being created, but in that all was created by Him and for Him, and He is the inheritor of all. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

Again, the Gospel of John says (1:3, 4): “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Jesus is before all things for, in the beginning, He was. He is the great “I AM,” Jehovah God in the flesh (cf. Exodus 3:14; John 8:58).

Jesus is the head of the body, the church, for He loved the church and gave Himself for it – suffering and dying upon the cross for the sins of the word – that He might present it to Himself, “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:22; cf. Ephesians 5:25ff.).

Jesus is the firstborn from the dead because He died for the sins of all and rose again from the dead on the third day. He is firstborn because all who trust in Him for forgiveness and life will also be raised up with glorified bodies on the last day to live and reign with Him forever in His eternal kingdom.

Paul’s point to the Colossian believers and to us? Jesus is indeed God Himself in human flesh, being miraculously conceived and born of the Virgin Mary, and we are complete in Him. He is our creator and He has accomplished our salvation by His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. As He rose from the dead on the third day, so He will raise up on the last day all who trust in Him and grant them life everlasting in His heavenly kingdom. Christ Jesus is our life and hope! We need look nowhere else!

O dearest Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of man, thank You for creating us and giving us life; and thank You for redeeming us with Your holy and precious blood shed for us on the cross that we might be granted forgiveness, new life and a place with You in Your eternal kingdom. Keep us steadfast in You. Amen.

Colossians 1:19-23

“19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Colossians 1:19-23

It was the plan of God the Father to send His only-begotten Son into the world, a true man, to make peace between God and man by shedding His holy and precious blood upon the cross for the sins of the whole world. And that is what Jesus has done through His death and resurrection. He took the sins of all mankind upon Himself and paid in full the just punishment, reconciling the word of sinners to God. His resurrection is proof that God accepted His sacrifice for sin.

The people of Colosse, as well as you and me, were at one time separated from God and alienated from Him in our minds because of wicked works. Instead of loving God and gladly and willingly seeking His perfect will, we were all in rebellion against Him and went our own way, desiring and doing what we deemed to be pleasing and best for us at the moment.

But even while we were yet in rebellion against our God and Maker, He gave His Son to redeem us, pay for our sins and accomplish our reconciliation (cf. Romans 5:6-11). The Colossians – and you and me – were reconciled “in the body of His flesh through death.”

And why did Jesus die for our sins, and the sins of the world? Why did He accomplish our reconciliation and the reconciliation of all mankind? That He might present us “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Jesus died on the cross and paid the just punishment for your sins and my sins – indeed, for the sins of the whole world – that He might present us to Himself without sin and unblameable in His sight! Jesus paid the penalty for your sins and mine that He might pardon and forgive us and present us to the Father free of all sin and guilt.

And how does this forgiveness and reconciliation become our own? How do we appropriate it for ourselves? How can we be presented holy and righteous and unblameable in His sight? Through faith in Jesus! This pardon and forgiveness, this reconciliation accomplished by Christ Jesus, becomes our own simply by believing the Word of God which tells us we are reconciled and forgiven through Jesus’ blood shed for us on the cross! That is how the believers in Colosse became saints in God’s eyes, and that is how you and I can be presented holy and righteous before our heavenly Father.

It is as Paul says, “If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven” The Holy Spirit worked faith in the Colossian believers’ hearts and He continues to call us to faith in Jesus yet today. It is “faith of the working of God” (Colossians 2:12 from the Greek).

Jesus, God the Son in human flesh, reconciled the whole world of sinners to the Father by His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. He reconciled the Colossians, and He reconciled you and me, by paying in full upon the cross. In Jesus, your sins and my sins are paid for and forgiven. In Jesus, we can be presented before God the Father holy and without blame.

Simply trust in Jesus – He has done it all and we are complete in Him! Believe what God tells you in His Word. By the working of God’s Spirit, trust that in Jesus, no matter how great your sins have been, you have forgiveness and life in God’s eternal kingdom. Trust that in Jesus you are indeed “holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Why, because you are through faith in Christ Jesus!

O Jesus precious Savior, thank You for going to the cross and shedding Your holy and precious blood to redeem me and make me acceptable and righteous in Your sight. Grant me faith to trust in Your pardon and forgiveness, and preserve me in that faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 1:5 – 2:2

The Bible tells us “that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).

Many who heard the teaching of Jesus sought to discredit Him and silence Him because His words, His teaching, revealed their sinfulness and failures to live up to all that God requires of us in His Word. Today, too, when the light of God’s Word shines upon us, it reveals to us our sinfulness and our failures to live in accord with God’s Word. But it also reveals to us Christ Jesus and all He has done for us to atone for our sins and redeem us from sin and death and give to us forgiveness for all our sins and eternal life.

The Apostle John, in his first epistle, speaking about what it is to walk in the light, says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

To walk in the light is not to deceive ourselves and imagine we are without sin. Rather, it is to let the light of God’s Word shine upon our lives and reveal our sins and then to agree with God’s verdict about our sins – to confess our sins – and to trust in Christ Jesus and His cross for pardon and forgiveness.

And how can God be both just and yet forgive our sins? It is because God’s Son, “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” Jesus, by His holy life in our stead and by his innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for the sins of the world, propitiated and satisfied the just demands of God’s Law against our sins, making full atonement for the sins of all.

Therefore, when we confess our sins and look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for pardon and forgiveness, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

And so, I ask you, do you let the light of God’s Word shine upon your life? Do you permit God to reveal to you your sins and sinfulness?

Do you agree with God and say the same thing with God in regard to your own sins? Do you confess to God your sins and sinfulness?

And, do you look in faith to Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world for pardon, forgiveness and life everlasting?

As the Scripture says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness … If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

For the sake of Christ and His atoning sacrifice, I announce the grace of God unto you and forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Luke 8:5-8 (read v. 4-15)

From Jesus’ parable of the sower, we learn that not all who hear the Word of God with their ears rightly receive it in faith. In fact, some who initially hear it and come to faith in Jesus fall away again; but, by the grace of God, some of the seed of God’s Word falls on good ground – prepared by the Lord – and grows and produces faith and its fruits.

As we read the parable of the sower and its explanation, we are quick to identify people we know with the poor kinds of soil and ourselves with the good ground. But, when we do this, we miss the warning and comfort of this parable for ourselves.

This parable certainly warns against being like one of the three poor kinds of soil. We may think of ourselves as the good soil, but how often do we not also fit the descriptions of the poor ground?

Many times we are like the hard ground. The Word of God is sown upon us, but it doesn’t sink in and produce fruit in our lives because we have either been uninterested or inattentive. Then the Word is snatched away by the devil.

Often we are also like the rocky soil. In times of trouble, affliction or persecution, we shrink back from a bold and faithful confession of the truths of God’s Word because we have not let that Word sink its roots deep into our lives.

When trouble comes, or persecution, we turn away in doubt and unbelief.

And how often, like the thorny ground, we let the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things in this life keep us from faithfully hearing and learning God’s Word! These things choke out the Word and keep us from living our lives by faith in Christ Jesus.

When we are good soil, we can take no credit. We must say with Jesus that it is a blessing of the Lord when the Word sinks in, grows and produces fruit in our lives (Matt. 13:16).

It is the Lord who cultivates the soil of our hearts, breaking up the hard ground, removing the rocks and pulling out the weeds, that the Gospel of forgiveness of sins and life eternal for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross might be heard and believed by us and produce fruit in our lives.

Almighty God, Thy Word is cast like seed into the ground; now let the dew of heaven descend and righteous fruits abound. Amen. The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #49, Verse 1

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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1 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’” 13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” 15 Then Nathan departed to his house. 2 Samuel 12:1-15a

It is, many times, so much easier to see the sin in others than to see our own. We recognize the wickedness of sin in those around us in this world but fail to see the wickedness of our own sins.

After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband Uriah in battle to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11), the Lord God sent Nathan the prophet to David with the story of the rich man with many flocks and herds who took his poor neighbor’s one little ewe lamb to feed his guest.

And David was furious! He recognized the wickedness of this rich man and said, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”

Yet, David did not get the point of the story until Nathan said to him, “You are the man!”

And how often we are the same way! We read a Bible text or hear a sermon preached, and we say, “So and so sure needed to hear that message. He is guilty of sin and deserves to die!”

But God’s Word says to us, “You are the man!” While it may be true that our neighbor is guilty of sin, God’s Law reveals to us our own sin and wickedness.

Even if we haven’t sinned like David by committing adultery with a neighbor’s spouse and then covering up our sin with murder, who is innocent of sinful thoughts and desires? What man is there who has not committed adultery in his heart as Jesus defines it in Matthew 5:28: “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”? And who has not been “angry with his brother without a cause” or called his neighbor a fool or emptyheaded (Matthew 5:21-22)? God says we are “in danger of hellfire”!

When we read and hear God’s holy commandments, it is not just so that we can pass judgment upon others; it’s so that we can examine ourselves and see our own sin and guilt before God. Cf. Matthew 7:3-5.

The Bible says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). God’s Law says to us: “You are the man!” We are guilty and deserve only God’s eternal wrath and punishment!

When David confessed his sin to Nathan, saying, “I have sinned against the Lord,” Nathan told him, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” Though there remained consequences for his sin in this world, God pardoned and forgave David of his sins for the sake of the coming Messiah and Savior who would “redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:8). David would not suffer eternal death and condemnation for his sin because, when He confessed his sin unto the Lord, the Lord forgave the iniquity of his sin (cf. Psalm 32:1-6; Psalm 51).

As God sent Nathan the prophet to David, so God sends pastors today to preach and proclaim God’s Law and say, “You are the man!” But God’s purpose and desire in sending men to preach the Law of God is that we see our sin and confess our guilt before God that the Gospel of God might be proclaimed to us and we receive in faith God’s mercy and forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. For, when we acknowledge our sinfulness before the Lord, when we acknowledge that we “have sinned against the Lord,” God’s ministers proclaim to us, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”

God’s ministers proclaim to us the Gospel – that Christ Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). They proclaim to us that through faith in Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross, we are “accepted in the Beloved,” that “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6.7). They proclaim to us that we shall not die eternally but have everlasting life (cf. John 5:24).

And, in the Supper of our Lord, Christ gives to us, through His ministers, to partake of His very body and blood which were given and shed for us on the cross for the remission of all our sins. He gives us to eat of His body which was broken for us and to drink of His blood of the new covenant which was shed for us that we might be assured our sins are forgiven for the sake of His sacrifice and that, instead of death and damnation, we have life eternal in heaven for Christ’s sake.

So I ask you before God: Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner and have sinned in thought, word and deed? Do you confess and agree with God that you are guilty and deserving of his wrath and punishment? Do you trust that Christ Jesus has truly redeemed you and made atonement for all your sins? Do you also believe that Jesus, in His Supper, gives you to partake of His body and blood which were given and shed that your sins might be forgiven you? And, as a fruit of your faith, do you truly desire and seek God’s help to amend your life and live it in accord with God’s Word?

If you are truly sorry for your sins and look to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for pardon and forgiveness, I announce unto you the grace of God and, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” Amen.

O LORD God, by the gracious working of Your Holy Spirit through the Word, grant that we see our own sin and wickedness and not just that of others, and grant that we truly repent of our sins and look to You in faith for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus, our Savior. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“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 faith in 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 His mercy and be blessed with the eternal joys of heaven for Jesus’ sake!

LORD God, have mercy upon us and grant that we 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.

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

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