• May 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • Audio Sermons & Devotions

  • Recent Posts

  • Post Categories

  • Fighting for the Faith

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 561 other followers

  • Blog Stats

    • 38,527 hits
  • Advertisements

National Day of Prayer–Some thoughts

“The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”

Proverbs 15:29

 

In the Holy Name of the risen Christ. Amen.

NationalDayOfPrayer2According to the National Day of Prayer task force, “The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.”

This encouragement to pray is a good thing. In fact, God commands prayer (the Second Commandment).   Not praying, therefore, is a sin. Praying for the nation in which we live is also a good thing (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Prayer for ourselves and for others, as well as for our nation, is indeed “good” and “pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” God promises to hear prayer, as revealed through the Psalmist, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me (Psalm 50:15).

Thus, not only does God command prayer. He also promises to hear prayer (Read the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer in Luther’s Large Catechism). The command and the promise of prayer move the Christian to pray, and so His people do pray, even “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Yet, the National Day of Prayer task force and the annual observance do not make the distinctions that God does. They lump people of all faiths together, as if all prayer of all people are acceptable to God, and therefore, heard by Ps1bHim.

Nevertheless, God does not hear the prayers of all people, as recorded in the Proverb text above. The Psalmist, too, exalts this truth by saying, “The LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:6).

The righteous are they who look to God for mercy in Christ, who repent of their sin, who seek salvation from Christ alone, recognizing their dependency on the Lord for help and deliverance from sin and death. These are they who have faith, and only these have the certainty of God’s hearing and help (Hebrews 11:6; Luke 17:5-10; 1 John 5:14-15).

The wicked, however, are they who reject God’s salvation in Christ and have a different confession of faith than the faith revealed in Holy Scripture (John 8:31-32, 47; 14:23-24; 1 John 5:9-13; 2 John 1:9) . God does not hear the prayers of the unbeliever because they do not pray in faith (Romans 14:3; James 1:6).

We make such distinctions because God Himself makes such distinctions. Thus, instead of lumping all people together as having the same God, and praying to Him, we believe God’s Word and therefore, seek to speak the truth of that Word which alone converts souls from death to life.  We also humbly pray that the Lord would keep us from arrogance and pride, even as we pray for all people, our nation and ourselves, even concerning the more significant and eternal matters of God’s mercy and forgiveness through His Son, in whose Name God’s people with confidence pray.

Advertisements

When you rely upon the living God…

 DrStanley

In a recent letter (“From the Pastor’s Heart,” April 2013) from In Touch MinistriesCharles Stanley, the author lists and briefly expounds upon some of the blessings of Christ’s resurrection.  Following are some of his statements.

“Jesus’ resurrection gives us truth we can cling to no matter what we experience.”

“Our Savior conquered death.”  (He then quotes 1 Corinthians 16:26-27, and references Romans 8:38-39).

“No matter what seemingly desperate or helpless situation we face, it will eventually be transformed for our good.”

The preceding quotes from Stanley’s letter are correct.  No matter our experience, and whether we feel God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, or not, these do not change what God has done for us in Christ.  Even should death be near, this in no way means that God is far away (John 11:25; 12:25-26; Revelation 14:13).  Regardless of feeling, God’s Word is sure (John 14:1).  Whether we feel forgiven or not, God’s Word stands (1 John 1:8-9; John 20:23).  God’s love for you in Christ doesn’t depend on you in any way (Romans 5:8-11).

St. Paul says, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  This is true.  Therefore, we don’t live by faith in what we see, but according to the Lord’s Word (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3).  This applies to our lives in Christ in the world concerning justification (how we stand before God) and how we live our lives in the world (sanctification).  Only according to what God says do you have the certainty of sins forgiven and peace with God.  Feelings, emotions, experience, etc. often may (and do) say something completely different from what the Lord says.  However, Christ’s resurrection from the dead and His empty tomb demonstrate the victory of our Lord over sin and death, inclusive of our own, through faith (1 John 5:1-4).

Having said these things and Charles Stanley stating what is right and true in his letter, he concludes by saying, “So how are you living?  Do you trust the Father?  Are you enjoying the resurrection life, triumphing through the power that raised Jesus form the dead?  Remember, when you rely upon the living God to sustain you, no foe that stands against you will prosper, all things—no matter how hopeless—will be transformed for your good, and you will be fit for the very halls of heaven (Italics mine).  You were saved to soar.”

By asking such questions and then stating, “when you rely upon the living God…will be transformed for your good…”, Stanley confuses Law and Gospel.  His words here confuse his words written previously.  Such matters might seem insignificant and trivial, yet Stanley is placing the burden of activity for transformation and being “fit for the very halls of heaven” upon the individual and taking it off Christ.  This may not be what he wants to do, but this is what he’s doing. 

“So how are you living?”  “Do you trust the Father?” “Are you enjoying the resurrection life, triumphing…?  These questions are Law questions, and condemn us (Romans 3:9-10, 19-21; Mark 9:24; Romans 7).  To them, we answer, “Not so good, not enough, and not always.”  Like the tax collector, we too can only say, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner” (Luke 18:3).  We are not as God wants us to be. 

It is not in our relying upon the living God that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:18) or that all things will be “transformed for our good.”  Instead, it is the promise of God that makes these things so.  Thus, they are, not because we believe or because we rely on Him, but only according to His Word.  Otherwise, we could never be sure, for the promises of God are not dependent on our faith.  Rather, it is our faith that is dependent on God’s sure promises.  These are what make faith solid and true (Romans 10:17).

Sermon for 4th Sunday after Pentecost, 2012B

Prayer

I’ve been praying for something for quite some time now, but it doesn’t seem that God hears me. How do I know when to stop praying?

2004 ATP.Prayer.pdf

%d bloggers like this: