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Devotion: “Father, into Your Hands,” Luke 23:46

 

Daily Prayer, Early Evening LSB 297

Devotion on Psalm 100, Luke 23:46, 3rd Petition

 

The words of our Lord from the cross we know.  We also know what happens after. Jesus died.

In the conclusion of both Luther’s morning and evening prayer, these words are prayed, “Into your hands I commend my myself, my body, and soul, and all things.”

On the surface, these words say what they mean.  In the midst of experience, they are exhaustive and include everything.  Everything.

To say such a prayer, only the Christian can pray. This prayer reflects only what a Christian can pray. When all else seems lost, the Christian continues to have hope, and to be hopeful.

Such hope and such hopefulness does not rest in our decisions, but in the Lord who establishes in the faith, and feeds that faith with and by none other than Christ and His precious gifts.

As God’s children, purchased “not with gold or silver but with Christ’s holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death” (Meaning to 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed), we have, really, nothing to fear.  As our hope is in Christ, so is our confidence that all will be according to God’s will, in His time, and in His way.

God sustains and will keep a people for Himself, by means of His Holy Word.

What things might look like in time to come, doing what we are able with the blessings God continues to freely bestow, as His people, we entrust ourselves into His care and keeping, certain of His promises, which are “Yes” in Christ, and unto eternity (2 Corithians 1:19).

Uncertainty might remain with reference to how things will be on this side of heaven, but there is the certainty that God’s church will always remain His church, for it is His, not ours.

Also are we not our own.  We belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8).

Let these words sink in.  “The Lord, He is God.  It is He who made us, and not we ourselves.  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

We are His.  The Church is His. His will be done.  And it is, and will be, as He “breaks and hinders” the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh, and “when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die.”  So He does.  Amen.

Praying-Hands-Stretched-CanvasPrayer: Lord, you have your church to proclaim the good news of sins forgiven in Christ, to faithfully confess your name, to speak the truth in love to those who would hear it and to those who will not. As we your children petition you to guide and direct our conversations and thoughts, so do so, that we reflect Christ and be ever confident in your unmerited and abundant mercies.  Help us to know that whether we have less or more, true contentment is found in you alone.  Amen.

 

 

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Readings for Easter Wednesday (C)

Jesus-OpenArms

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light.  Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Acts 3:13–15, 17–19

13“The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. . . .

      17“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out. . . .”

Epistle: Colossians 3:1–7

1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

      5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

Gospel: John 21:1–14

1After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

      4Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them,  “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them,  “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

      9When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them,  “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them,  “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

The Battle Within

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:21-25

 

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen!

The war and struggle between the human flesh and God’s spirit working within the Christian is real.  However, only the Christian has such struggle.  Such struggle demonstrates itself as one day may be of greater or lesser intensity than another.

Unbelievers do not have the same struggle as the Christian, nor do they see such a struggle of the Christian as of any major significance, for the unbeliever does not have faith.  Yet for the Christian, the battle within, even greater than the battle with out, can often be overwhelming and even paralyzing, because the struggle of which I speak is not merely of the mind or of the heart, but of the soul.  Does God still love me?  How can God still love me?  Things really shouldn’t be this way.  I shouldn’t be this way!  I should know better.

Granted, Christians don’t always ask such questions at every moment.  Sometimes the confidence of the Christian is unwavering.  The Bible does say that you are loved of God! (i.e. Romans 8:38-39)

God, in His tender mercy, gives such confident faith, and for this, Christians give unceasing thanks and praise.

There are times, though, that despondency and the sense of hopelessness, however brief or intense, may raise their ugly heads.  These, though, are not of God.  Therefore do we also pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

God instead gives certainty and promise.  God does not lead to doubt and despair, but instead gives joy and certitude in His blessed Son our Savior.

When the questions of God’s mercy and His kindness appear, and they will, and when you face such struggles, remember that God is your Helper.  He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).  His Word is sure and everlasting! (1 Peter 1:25)

These things are so, not because you believe them, but because God has declared them so.  Know that His love for you in Christ is abundant and abounding, and not at all dependent on how you feel or how you have failed (or are failing).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.   For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.   And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation”  (Romans 5:8-11).

God also says, even to you, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” (Jeremiah 31:3).

If you don’t feel such struggles as God’s beloved child, you need not look far to find them.  They will find you.  But when they do come, whether big or small, do not give in to despair.  Rather, hope in the Lord!  It may be that at those times, all you can do is pray and call out.  Such is what faith does.  You don’t have to change for God to hear you or love you.  Know that He already does, in Christ!  He is your comfort, whether the struggle be slight or intense.  And should you ever sense that you can’t hold on any longer, know that it is He who is holding on to you.  It is not you that carry God.  It is He that graciously carries you! (See Luke 15:4-7)

Thus does your Lord say, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

And, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Your Lord does care, and because He does, so do His people!

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” ( Ephesians 6:10-13).

 

Luther

“Because the flesh cannot believe for sure that the promises of God are true, it resists the spirit.  Therefore it contends against the spirit and, as Paul says, holds the spirit captive (Romans 7:23), to keep it from believing as firmly as it wants to (Gal. 5:17).  This is why we continually teach that the knowledge of Christ and of faith is not a human work but utterly a divine gift; as God creates faith, so He preserves us in it.  And just as He initially gives us faith through the Word, so later on He exercises, increases, strengthens, and perfects it in us by that Word.  Therefore the supreme worship of God that a man can offer, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, is to practice true godliness, to hear and read the Word.  On the other hand, nothing is more dangerous than to become tired of the Word.  Therefore anyone is so cold that he thinks he knows enough and gradually begins to loathe the Word has lost Christ and the Gospel.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p64).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, do not forsake Me.  Grant me faith to believe Your promises and to hold on to them as my own at all times, for You freely give them to me.  Amen.

“A Firm Confidence,” 2 Timothy 4:3-8

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you through our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

The basis for today’s sermon comes from those few words from St. Paul the Apostle to Timothy, where he writes, 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:3-8).

With these words, St. Paul writes to Timothy, his spiritual son in the faith (i.e. 1 Timothy 1:2). St. Paul the Apostle knew that his death was approaching. He recognized that his days were numbered (Psalm 90:12). He knew that he could not escape his own death, but with confidence, he wrote to Timothy of what he was sure.

In confidence, he declared, 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

From where had St. Paul the Apostle obtained such confidence? From where had St. Paul, even in the midst of facing his own death, such certainty that he was able to face death head on, positive of the crown of righteousness awaiting him, positive that he had kept the faith, sure that he had finished the race, and in unwavering faith declare, I have fought the good fight?…

11.01.26FuneralSermon.GenevaBennett.pdf

Devotion

…and through God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.

Galatians 1:1

Does the Christian need to be afraid, trepid, fearful, or anxious about anything? Not really!

God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. What does this mean? It means that your faith in Christ is not futile. Christ has, indeed, been raised from the dead.

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:14-22).

Your faith not being futile means that your hope is not a ‘what if’ or ‘possibility,’ but a certainty, for it’s grounded in none other than the risen Christ.

All who here speak in uncertain terms, saying that you can’t be sure of God’s favor and forgiveness (or going to heaven) or despise such hope in Christ alone are showing themselves for who they really are—false teachers and not of God.

Christ Jesus is your certainty, in life—and in death. He is your peace with God.

“Of Him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Jesus, too, is your confidence, before God—Yes! And also before one another!

Luther

At the very outset Paul explodes with the entire issue he intends to set forth in this epistle. He refers to the resurrection of Christ, who rose again for our justification (Rom. 4:25). His victory is a victory over the Law, sin, our flesh, the world, the devil, death, hell, and all evils; and this victory of His He has given to us. Even though these tyrants, our enemies, accuse us and terrify us, they cannot drive us into despair or condemn us. For Christ, whom God the Father raised from the dead, is the Victor over them, and He is our righteousness. Therefore “thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). Amen (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p22-22).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you raised Your Son from the dead for our justification. Give us confidence in Your promises, that we boldly confess Your Name and rejoice in Your bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, amen.

Certainty in Christ!

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me

Galatians 1:1-2

Certainty is a blessed thing.  St. John writes, “If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21).  Such confidence before God you find in Jesus, not in yourself.  Of course, some exist who try to find surety in themselves or in other things other than God’s Son.  And for a time, that surety may remain, but then it is soon taken away in a blink of eye, a fleeting thought, always temporary and not lasting.

Confidence in self or man-made things, teachings, activities, etc. do not give lasting confidence before God.  But the work and word of Christ do give such confidence, such hope—the hope that cannot be ungiven or undone, for Jesus Christ died and is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18).  The word and Word of Christ cannot be undone.  It is already.  And it’s for you.

Nothing surpasses the certainty of God’s favor in Christ Jesus.

So St. Paul writes, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11).

Such certainty Paul had because of Jesus.  Such certainty also do you have—in Jesus.

And such certainty does the Lord give by means of His  faithfully preached Word, that you also continue in such certainty—that you continue in Christ.  Amen.

Luther

Therefore let the preacher of the Gospel be sure that his calling is from God.  It is perfectly proper that he should follow Paul’s example and exalt this calling of his, so that he may gain credence and authority among the people.  To glory this way is not vain but necessary; for he does not glory in himself but in the king who has sent him and whose authority he seeks to have honored and elevated. (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p16)

Prayer: Dear Lord, bless our pastor with faithfulness to Your Holy Word, and give us ears to hear, that we, too, would have such confidence as You Yourself give in Your Word, and have such certainty of your favor and kindness toward us on account of Jesus Your Son.  Amen.

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