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“Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:6-8

Many deceive themselves, thinking that they can sow to the flesh — living to gratify their own sinful desires — and still reap life everlasting. They feel that they can use their time, energy and money to gratify their own selfish ambitions and yet still grow and mature spiritually and be ready for the Day of Christ’s return and judgment. How foolish!

God’s Word warns us of the fallacy of such thinking when it says: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).

God would not have us be deceived. And, God will not be mocked. If one sows weeds, he cannot expect to harvest wheat! So it is with our spiritual lives. If we sow to the flesh, we cannot expect to reap life, but corruption.

Again, the Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Thus, if we live to enjoy the pleasures of sin, we shall die. But if we sow to the Spirit of God, who has regenerated us and brought us to faith in our Savior, He will continue His gracious working in our lives through Word and Sacrament and keep us in the true faith and graciously give to us the eternal life won for us by Christ’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death on the cross in our stead.

How do people sow to the flesh? When they live in such a way that they gratify the will and desires of their sinful nature, when they provide opportunities for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. Thus people sow to the flesh when they flirt with sin and temptation and when they give in to their own evil desires. They sow to the flesh when they go places and do things that will arouse the desires of their hearts.

How do people sow to the Spirit? When they make regular use of God’s Word and His Sacraments and support the preaching of His Word (cf. v. 6) that the Spirit of God might use these means to strengthen faith in Christ Jesus and teach men to live godly lives, when they provide opportunities to do that which is God-pleasing and to follow the leading of His Spirit. Thus, people sow to the Spirit when they regularly attend church services and Bible studies, when they read the Scriptures daily and spend time in prayer, and when they seek to live according to the counsel and guidance of the Holy Ghost given to us in the Scriptures.

God will not be mocked. If we spend our time courting the pleasures of sin, if we live to carry out the sinful desires of our old evil nature, we will reap what we have sown: spiritual corruption and death!

On the other hand, if we devote ourselves to Christ and His Word and read and study the Scriptures and partake of the Sacraments that the Holy Ghost might strengthen and preserve us in the true faith, we will reap of the Spirit life eternal in Jesus Christ our Lord!

O Spirit of God, grant that we sow, not to our flesh and its evil desires, but unto Thee, that Thou might graciously grant unto us the everlasting joys of heaven for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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

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“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (Read v. 25-34)

Do we seek first God’s kingdom and trust God to provide for all our earthly needs? Or do we seek first our needs in this world and neglect our greatest need — to be part of God’s everlasting kingdom?

It is easy for us to be overly concerned about earthly things such as what we will eat and what we will wear. Even in our affluent society where the thought of going without food or clothing is far from our minds, we still devote a great deal of time and energy to gathering and keeping an ample store of food, clothing and other things we deem necessary for our life and enjoyment.

Jesus tells us not to be filled with worry and concern over such things as having enough food to eat, or enough clothes to wear. Using the examples of the birds which God feeds, even though they do not plant, reap or garner their food, and of the lilies of the field, which are clothed in fairer dress than Solomon in all his glory though they quickly wither and are used as fuel for the fire, Jesus illustrates that God our Maker can and will care for our daily needs; for, indeed, we are of more value than the grass of the field or the birds of the air.

And what good will worry do us? We cannot, by worrying, add to our stature or to the length of our lives!

Rather than being filled with worry and concern over our earthly wants and needs, Jesus would have us devote ourselves first and foremost to seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

Jesus says: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Our first concern ought to be seeking a place in God’s eternal kingdom and being counted righteous and holy in His eyes through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son made man to redeem us (cf. John 1:1,14; Col. 1:19-23)!

As sinful human beings, we focus our attention on having the things we need and desire in this life instead of seeking after our greatest need, to have God’s forgiveness for all our sins for the sake of Jesus’ sufferings and death on the cross in our stead. We seek to cover our bodies and make them appealing to others instead of having God cover the guilt and shame of our sins with the perfect righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. We seek to store up the goods of this world so that we will never be in need, and we neglect to nourish our souls with God’s life-giving Word that we might be preserved in the true faith unto life everlasting.

Jesus tells us to focus on what is really important first — to follow after Him that we might have a place in His kingdom and be clothed in His righteousness. And He adds the promise that our heavenly Father will supply all our earthly needs as well (cf. Gal. 6:6ff.; 1 Kings 17:8ff.; Prov. 3:9-10).

And so, don’t be worried and overly concerned for tomorrow — each day has enough trouble of its own. Rather, follow Christ Jesus that He might wash away your sins in His own blood, clothe you with His perfect righteousness and give you a place in His eternal kingdom!

Dear Father in heaven, forgive me for worrying about the needs of this life and neglecting my greatest need, the forgiveness of my sins and life everlasting through faith in Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant me a place in Your eternal kingdom and clothe me in Jesus’ righteousness. And, dear Lord, give me faith to seek after You first and to trust You to care for all my daily needs. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

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“Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” Psalm 119:36-37 (Read Psalm 119:33-40)

If only I had this! If only I could see that! And we never seem to be satisfied with what God has given us.

In our foolishness, we think that we will find some sort of happiness or fulfillment in the worthless stuff of this world. Whether it be new cars, stylish clothes, the latest movies, plenty of time for our favorite sports and recreation, or even the guy or girl of our dreams; yet these things will provide no lasting happiness or fulfillment. And, often, our preoccupation with these things keeps us from what is really important in life — from true fulfillment and happiness!

For this reason, the psalmist prays: “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”

And this is a prayer we all ought to pray often and regularly. We pray, “O LORD God, give me a desire to hear and learn Your Word, and to live according to it. Keep me from the empty distractions and passing amusements of this world and make me alive in Your way!” Instead of coveting and desiring the things of this world, we pray that God would draw us into His Word and teach us of Him and His ways.

St. Paul, writing to Timothy, said: “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is 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 Timothy 3:14-17).

Through the Scriptures, God the Holy Spirit reveals to us our utter sinfulness; but He also reveals and promises to us forgiveness and life through faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and His atoning sacrifice on the cross. And, through the Scriptures, God teaches us of His will and His ways that we might walk in them as His dear children through faith in Christ Jesus.

O LORD God, “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” Amen.

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

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“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 (Read all of chapter 3)

The law makes it clear that we have all sinned and are guilty before the LORD God. None of us measures up to the righteousness God requires of us.

The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10-18 (Cf. Eccl. 7:20; Psa. 14:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Isa. 59:7,8; Psa. 36:1): “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The law stops our mouths from all boasting because it reveals our utter sinfulness and failure to live up to the righteous demands of God’s commandments. It shows the judgment of God we all deserve. We read in Romans 3:19-20: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (cf. Psa. 143:2).

But there is a righteousness apart from our keeping of the law (v. 21). It is an imputed righteousness which is ours through faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus fulfilled all the righteous and holy demands of God’s law in our stead. He lived a holy and sinless life for us in His thoughts, desires, words and deeds. And Jesus made full atonement for our sins and the sins of all the world when He suffered and died on the cross and was forsaken and condemned of God the Father (cf. Matt. 27:46; 1 John 2:1-2). And Jesus rose again on the third day, proving that God accepted His sacrifice for sin (cf. Rom. 4:23-25; 1 Cor. 15:3-4).

The Bible tells us that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:24-26; cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-21).

Thus, all of us have sinned and come short of God’s glory, but we who believe are declared forgiven, just, and righteous in God’s eyes because of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus in our stead.

The law of God, which reveals God’s holy will for us, reveals as well our utter sinfulness and shortcoming in regard to being righteous and acceptable in God’s sight. The Gospel reveals to us the righteousness of Christ Jesus and the forgiveness and life which are ours through faith in Him who died for our sins and rose again.

I have sinned, O God, and deserve only Your wrath and punishment. Forgive my sins for Jesus’ sake, and grant me a place in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

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

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How did God create the heavens and the earth? Again, the Bible says: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light…” (Genesis 1:1-3; Read all of Genesis 1 and 2).

The Hebrew word for “created” in verse one is “bara” and indicates that God created all out of nothing. He called it into existence by saying, “Let there be,” and “There was.”

The Scriptures echo this truth throughout.

Psalm 33:6 says: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”

Hebrews 11:3 says: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

These words teach us the truth that God created all things and sustains them by the power of His word.

The Bible says of the Son of God, in Hebrews 1:2-3: “Whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power….”

So, what has God done? He created all things out of nothing. He created and called all into being by His all-powerful word. And, it is by that same creating word that all continues to exist.

It is as Nehemiah wrote: “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee” (Nehemiah 9:6).

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