Posted

Since we will gather for worship and to partake of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins, it is indeed good and right that we examine ourselves in accord with 1 Corinthians 11:28-29: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

We do so this week on the basis of Psalm 139.

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. 19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. 20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Is there anything about us that the LORD does not see and know? Can we hide from His presence or keep anything hidden from His sight? All such attempts are futile since He is present everywhere and knows every detail about each of us, including our thoughts and desires, words and actions.

David prays: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (v. 23-24).

So also, we pray that we would not attempt to hide or cover up our sinfulness but that God would reveal to us our sins and shortcomings that we might repent of our sinful ways and look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for pardon and forgiveness and then seek God’s help to amend our ways. And God, through His Word does so, showing us our sins and pointing us to Christ Jesus, our Savior, and giving us His Holy Spirit to teach us, lead us and guide us in His ways.

Again, if we are honest, we must admit that none of us is without sin. Under God’s law, we are all guilty and deserving of His wrath and punishment.

But Jesus Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), and He took our sin and guilt upon Himself and suffered our just punishment when He shed His blood and died upon the cross for our sins (cf. Isaiah 53:6).

Therefore, we who are guilty and condemned under God’s law flee to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross that we might receive God’s pardon, forgiveness and life eternal through faith alone in Jesus’ name!

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 from the curse of God’s law? Do you also believe that Jesus, in the Sacrament, gives you to partake of His body and blood which was given and shed that your sins might be forgiven you? 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, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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

Author
Categories

Posted

“While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.” Mark 5:35-36 (Read v. 21-43)

Do things ever seem beyond hope? Have you ever prayed for the Lord’s help only to have things go from bad to worse, with no intervention in sight?

Think how Jairus must have felt when he sought Jesus to come to his house and heal his 12-year-old daughter who was ill and near to death. While on the way, with crowds pressing in upon Jesus, a woman with a flow of blood touches his garment and is healed, and Jesus stops to speak with her. Jairus had hope – faith, whether strong or weak – that if Jesus would just get there in time and lay His hands upon his daughter, she would be healed. But then the bad news came. It was too late. His daughter had died! Why bother Jesus – “the Teacher” – any longer?

But note what Jesus did as soon as He heard those discouraging words. He gave Jairus words of hope, words upon which his faith could rest: “Be not afraid, only believe.” Rather than letting Jairus give up all hope, Jesus called upon him not to be afraid but to believe!

The Scripture record tells us what happened next. Jesus arrived and, accompanied by His inner circle of disciples, He puts out those weeping and mourning over the girl’s death, saying she’s not dead but sleeping. They laugh at Him, knowing she’s dead. They had no hope.

Then Jesus takes hold of the child’s hand and speaks to her the words: “Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise” (v. 41). The Scriptures tell us: “And straightway the damsel arose, and walked” (v. 42).

We may see no hope. We may think it is too late for God to intervene. We may even consider our sins too great and think there is no help for us. But Jesus says, “Be not afraid, only believe”

Cannot the God who created and still sustains all things help us in every time of trouble? We remember the words of the prophet in Jeremiah 32:17: “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Cf. Ps. 50:15.).

And need we give up hope of salvation? Jesus died for our sins and rose again (1 Cor. 15:3,4). He suffered our just punishment and paid the price. Jesus will be our judge, but He is also the same one who died on the cross and paid in full for our sins and the sins of the world and rose again. The Bible comforts us: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34; cf. 1 John 2:1-2). And Jesus says to us, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

There is still hope, no matter how hopeless all may appear. Rather than giving up in despair, trust Jesus. “Be not afraid, only believe.”

O dearest Jesus, Son of God and my Savior, grant that I not despair and be afraid, even when all appears hopeless, but trust in You and in the everlasting salvation You won for me by Your death upon the cross and your glorious resurrection. Amen.

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

Author
Categories

Posted

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14 (Read v. 9-23)

How is it that you and I, rebellious sinners by birth, were made meet (or fit) to be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”? How is it that God the Father could translate us from the kingdom and power of darkness into the kingdom of His own dear Son? How is it that our sins could be pardoned and forgiven?

We find the answer in St. Paul’s letter to the believers at Colosse. It is because of the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, when He suffered and died upon the cross.

The inspired Word tells us that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (v.15-18).

Jesus is God Himself in the flesh, the eternal Son of God and the Creator of all things who took upon Himself our nature and became a true man (cf. John 1:1-5, 14-18; Hebrews 1:1-3; 2:14-17). And, as our Redeemer and the firstborn from among the dead, He is the head of the church.

And, “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (v. 19-20).

God’s only-begotten Son became true man that He might take our place under God’s law and fulfill all righteousness for us, and He took the guilt and just punishment of our sins and the sins of the world that He might appease God’s wrath and satisfy the just demands of God’s law against us sinners.

God the Father made peace through the blood of Jesus’ cross (aorist active participle), in order to reconcile (aorist active infinitive) all things unto himself, whether in earth or in heaven.

“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight…” (v. 21-22, again using the aorist tense). The salvation and reconciliation of believers to God always go back to the cross of Christ Jesus and what He accomplished for all there when he offered up Himself as a sacrifice for sin.

This applied to the believers at Colosse, and it applies to us, as well (cf. Rom. 3:19-26; Eph. 2:11-18). In our natural state, from conception and birth onward (cf. Ps. 51:5), we were in rebellion against God and living in death because of our disobedience and sin (cf. Eph. 2:1ff.). But God, in His grace and mercy, sent to us His Word and brought us to see our lost and sinful condition under the law and to see, through the preaching of the Gospel, Christ Jesus our Savior, the Lamb of God who shed His blood on the cross and made atonement for the sins of the world (John 1:29)! Thus we, who are rebellious sinners by birth and separated from the family of God by our sins, are reconciled to God when we trust in the atoning and reconciling sacrifice of Christ Jesus – the satisfaction rendered by God’s own dear Son when He suffered and died upon the cross for our sins and the sins of all mankind.

When Christ Jesus, God the Son and true man, fulfilled all righteousness for us and died on the cross for our sins and rose again in victory, the redemption price was paid, satisfaction was rendered, peace with God was won. And this was done that lost and condemned sinners might look to Jesus in faith and be pardoned, forgiven, justified, counted righteous, holy, unblameable and unreproveable in God’s sight.

And how are they forgiven, pardoned, counted righteous, holy, unblameable and unreproveable in God’s sight? How is it that you and I, rebellious sinners by birth, are made meet to be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”? It is through faith in Christ (cf. Rom. 3:19-26; Eph. 2:8-9; John 3:16; 5:24). And St. Paul says the same here: “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (v. 23).

Through the redemption accomplished by Christ and through the preaching of the Gospel, God the Father has made us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” He has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

We thank and praise You, O Christ, for redeeming us and bringing us to know and trust in You for forgiveness and life everlasting. Preserve us in this true and saving faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

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

Author
Categories

Posted

Since we will gather for worship and to partake of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins, it is indeed good and right that we examine ourselves in accord with 1 Corinthians 11:28-29: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

We do so this week on the basis of God’s commandment: “Thou shalt not covet.” In Exodus 20:17, God says: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

Here, we deal with sins of the heart – desiring persons or things which are not ours to have, whether it be the property and goods of another, a neighbor’s spouse, servants or employees. Rather, we ought to be satisfied with what God gives us and help our neighbor keep what God has given and entrusted to him.

We break this commandment in so many ways because our sinful hearts are never satisfied with what God has given to us and entrusted to our care. Instead of trusting in the LORD God to provide us with all our needs, we grumble and complain about God’s gifts to us and desire what He has not given us, thinking that if we only had this or that person or thing, we would be happy.

Jesus warns us: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

And God’s Words says: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3); and, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5-6).

Notice that covetousness is called idolatry and brings God’s judgment – because it flows from a lack of fear, love and trust in the LORD God. And so often, the covetousness of the heart leads to outward sins of the flesh, whether it be acts of adultery, lying, or even obtaining the property and goods of another by theft or dishonest dealings.

We ask ourselves if our thoughts, words and actions truly reflect loving our neighbor as we are commanded. For, if we love our neighbor, we will not lust after or seek to obtain his or her spouse, employees or property. And, if we loved the LORD God with all our heart, soul and mind, we would trust in Him to provide us with all we truly need and with those things which are truly good for us.

Again, we see our own sins and stand condemned by this commandment of the Lord God. We deserve God’s wrath and punishment for our evil thoughts and desires.

Christ Jesus kept this commandment perfectly in our stead. In all things, He trusted in God the Father to provide. And then, in love for us sinners, He selflessly went to the cross to suffer our just punishment, all that we might repent of our sinful ways and be pardoned and forgiven through faith in Him and His sacrifice for the sins of all (Romans 5:6-8).

The Bible also tells us (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2): “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 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.”

Therefore, we who stand condemned by God’s Law flee to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross that we might receive God’s pardon, forgiveness and life eternal through faith alone in Jesus’ name.

I ask you before God: Do you acknowledge that you have sinned? 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 from the curse of God’s law? That He fulfilled the law’s righteous demands and then took your sins upon Himself, along with the sins of the whole world, and suffered your just punishment when He died upon the cross?

Do you also believe Jesus, in the Sacrament, gives you to partake of His body and blood which was given and shed that your sins might be forgiven you?

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, to trust in the LORD God, to love your neighbor, and not to grumble, complain or desire what God has not entrusted to you?

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, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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

Author
Categories