“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38-39

In his Pentecost sermon, Peter told his Jewish hearers that they had rejected and crucified the Messiah and Savior sent for them by the LORD God, and they were pricked in their hearts and asked what they should do.

Peter’s response to them was: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

While we may not like to think of it, Messiah Jesus was crucified because of you and me as well. As it says in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

And, when we continue on in our own ways instead of turning back to the LORD God and His Christ, we tread under our feet the Son of God and count the blood of the covenant which He shed on the cross to redeem us a common and unholy thing and despise and reject the gracious working of the Holy Spirit to bring us to repentance (cf. Heb. 10:29).

Peter’s answer to his Jewish hearers is just as valid today for you and me and the rest of this fallen and sinful world. We have, by our sins, crucified the LORD’s Christ and the only way we can be saved is to repent and be baptized in the name of Messiah Jesus for the full and free remission of all our sins. Then we too will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who regenerates us and creates and preserves faith in our hearts in the Lord Jesus (cf. Tit. 3:3-7).

To be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ is, of course, to be baptized in the name of the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – as Jesus Himself commanded (Matt. 28:19).

And, as Luther explained, to continue in baptismal grace is to continue to live in daily contrition and repentance, daily acknowledging and confessing our sins and failures and looking to the Lord Jesus and His blood shed for us upon the cross for our forgiveness and for life everlasting (cf. Romans 6:1ff.; 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).

O dearest Lord Jesus, Son of God and our Savior, forgive us for our sin and rebellion against You and grant that we live in continual repentance, acknowledging and turning from our evil ways to You for mercy, forgiveness, and life everlasting. Amen.

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

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And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Luke 16:1-13

What do we learn from the unjust steward? What is Jesus teaching us with this parable?

With this parable, Jesus instructs us concerning wise use of the money and earthly goods that are entrusted to us by God. While Jesus does not commend the wickedness of the unjust steward, He does hold up the wisdom of this unjust steward as an example for us.

When this unjust steward saw that he would lose his position as steward or manager of his lord’s goods, he used the short time he had left as steward to reduce the bills of his lord’s debtors so that they would show kindness and care for him when he was no longer steward. In this way, the unjust steward wisely used the money and goods entrusted to his care to provide for his future well-being.

During our earthly lives, God also entrusts us with money and goods to use wisely for Him. Like the unjust steward, we ought to consider our eternal future and use this money and these goods in a way that looks ahead to that day when our earthly life comes to an end and we stand before God’s judgment.

Certainly, we cannot buy our way into heaven with the unrighteous mammon of this world; but since God freely gives us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life in heaven for Jesus’ sake, we should use the unrighteous mammon entrusted to us to make ready for everlasting life in heaven.

Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21).

As Christians, we should use the money and goods entrusted to us in this world to advance God’s kingdom of grace, to spread the Gospel of forgiveness and life eternal through faith in Jesus Christ. Then our treasure will be in heaven, where we also will be received by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

“Lord of Glory, who hast bought us with Thy life-blood as the price, never grudging for the lost ones that tremendous sacrifice, give us faith to trust Thee boldly, hope, to stay our souls on Thee; but, oh! best of all Thy graces, give us Thine own charity. Amen.” (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #442, Verse 5)

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

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“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy …” Exodus 20:8

The Lord God required His people (under the old covenant) to set aside the seventh day as a day of rest from their labors and as a day to consider Him and His ways. Since God Himself created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh, so also His people were to refrain from their labors on the Sabbath to hear His Word and honor Him (cf. Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15; Isa. 58:13-14).

We are no longer required to rest from all our labors on the seventh day, or on any other day of the week (cf. Col. 2:16-17; Rom. 14:5-6; Acts 15:1ff.; Gal. 1:1ff.). But, as God required the children of Israel to rest on the Sabbath Day so that they might have time to hear His Word and worship Him, so He commands us to set aside time from our earthly labors that we also might hear and consider His Word and glorify His holy name (cf. Isa. 58:13-14; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Luke 11:28; Acts 2:42; Ps. 95:1ff.; Ps. 111:1; Gal. 6:6-8; etc.).

In order to do this, Christians have historically set aside Sunday, the day of Christ’s resurrection, as a time for worship and meditation upon God’s Word. And Christians also seek to take time on a daily basis for Bible reading and prayer.

To neglect the services of God’s house and not to take the time for Bible reading and prayer in our homes is a sin against God’s commandment. And, when we neglect to hear and carefully consider the teaching of God’s Word, we endanger our own souls, for it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit reveals to us our Savior and eternal life in His name (cf. Heb. 10:24-25; Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim. 3:14-17).

Hearing God’s will and commandment regarding the Sabbath should move us to repent of our neglect of His Word and to turn back to Him for mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, God’s Son. His commandment also guides us as we then seek to amend our ways and live for Him so that we regularly set aside a portion of the time God has given us to meditate upon His Word and worship Him.

And, as with all of God’s commandments, obedience brings with it rich blessings we would otherwise never know or experience. The treasures of God’s Word are rich!

Dear LORD God, forgive us for neglecting to set aside time to hear Your saving Word and worship You. Give us true love for You and Your Word so that we continue to learn of the salvation You have provided for us in Christ Jesus, our Savior. In His name, we pray. Amen.

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

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Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7

Many consider it a light thing to misuse God’s name in their language and speech. They curse, swear, lie and deceive by it. Some use God’s name or His Word, the Bible, to support their own false beliefs and teachings. Some use it superstitiously, as though their use of God’s name or things connected with it will bring them good luck and fortune. And all too seldom is God’s name used rightly to pray to Him, to praise and glorify Him, and to give Him thanks!

God says that He “will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” It is not a trivial offense with God to abuse His holy name, but a serious offense which will bring His wrath and judgment!

This commandment condemns us all for our misuse of God’s name and for our neglect to use it rightly in ways which bring to the LORD God honor and glory and praise. God’s Word applies to each of us when it says, “The LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, for He kept this commandment perfectly for us and used God’s name rightly. Jesus called upon His Father in prayer and praises. He taught God’s Word rightly. And His whole life brought honor and glory to God’s holy name – whether that be through His manner of living, His teaching or His miracles.

And, in His death and resurrection too, Jesus brought honor and glory to God’s holy name. He willingly carried out His Father’s will and went to the cross and bore the guilt and shame and punishment for the sins of all mankind that God might show us mercy and give to us forgiveness in His Son, Christ Jesus. Jesus rose again and ascended to the right hand of His Father, and He continues His work of bringing life and salvation to lost sinners.

Jesus rightly prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:1-4).

Jesus Christ, on the tree of the cross, brought glory to His Father’s name and bore the full punishment for all our sins. He desires that we, too, bring God glory by repenting of our misuse of God’s name and of our failures to live and speak in ways that bring God’s name glory. He desires that we turn to Him for mercy. And, in His Word, He promises that forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting, as well as the help to use God’s name rightly, are ours through faith in Jesus’ name.

And placing our faith in Jesus – trusting in Him alone for forgiveness and life – brings glory to God’s name!

O LORD God, forgive us for taking Your holy name in vain and for neglecting to use it rightly. Graciously help us to hallow Your name among us. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross to redeem us. Amen.

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

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Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6

We are not to make ourselves an image or likeness of anything and worship or honor it as if it were a god or could in some way help us.

While this clearly prohibits the making of idols of wood, silver and gold, it also forbids making a god after our own image. We are not to make our god to be like us by putting our values and our thoughts into our image and understanding of God (cf. Ex. 32; Isa. 55:8-9). Rather, we are to accept and honor the LORD God of the Bible, believing what He Himself tells us of Himself in His Word.

As our Maker and Redeemer, the LORD God has every right to be a jealous God. And, since He has made us, He also has every right to punish us when we turn away from Him and disobey His commandments. He created us to live for Him and to do His holy will. How it angers and disappoints the LORD when we are rebellious and sinful creatures!

Our God does not take sin lightly, as some suppose; nor can one escape His judgment. He visits and punishes the sins of the fathers upon the children even unto the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. This means that, in addition to the eternal punishments of hell which all unbelievers will suffer, God will, during their earthly lives, punish the unbelieving children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, for the sins of those who hate Him and turn aside from His holy commandments.

This is certainly a warning to us against giving in to the temptations of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh! If we turn aside from the LORD God and live in sin, He will punish us also! Our claims to love the LORD God mean little if we are unwilling to live for Him and keep His commandments.

Rather, let us acknowledge our sins to the LORD and turn to Him for forgiveness and the needed strength to amend our lives and live for Him. For the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death in our stead, God will be gracious and merciful to us. Cf. Psalm 32.

Dear LORD God, for the sake of Christ’s bitter sufferings and death and His glorious resurrection, forgive our sins and renew our hearts that we might live for You in obedience to Your holy commandments. Amen.

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

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