In the Lessons for this week the price of being a Christian is to take hardship. persecution, and even sacrifice. Since Jesus was acknowledged as the Christ, the thing that went with it was the cross to which Peter objected as being beneath the Son of God. In like manner, Jesus teaches that His followers must take the same path of the cross. The principle of life for a Christian is the losing of one’s self in service to God. Jeremiah protests against the afflictions he is experiencing as a faithful prophet and God assures him deliverance from his enemies. The suggested Psalm is the palmist’s cry for God to vindicate him from his enemies because he trusts in God. The hymn carries on the theme Hail Thou once despised Jesus. This theme deals with the reality of Christians living in a hostile world which inflicts innocent suffering upon God’s people. Voluntary suffering and sacrifice constitute the Christian way of life.
Collect for Proper 17 – Almighty God, Your Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption. Grant us courage to take up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Monday, August 25, 2008 – Psalm 37:1-8 Antiphon, Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart! In the Introit for next Sunday, the psalmist gives us instruction in godly wisdom. Here he will contrast the wicked from the righteous.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 – Jeremiah 15:15-21 – God’s faithful are persecuted. God assures Jeremiah that he will be delivered from those who persecute him for preaching God’s Word. Jeremiah had persecutors. What wrong had he done to deserve their hostility? His crime was that he spoke the Word of God. The truth of the Word hurt the people who wanted to hear words of peace and security. Jeremiah was a victim of innocent suffering, because men prefer evil to good. They hate those who expose their evil ways. It was the case, too, with Jesus. When they cried for his death, Pilate asked, “What evil has he done?” It is a fact of the Christian’s life: Persecution is a normal part of living like a Christian. If so, why are Christians so infrequently persecuted for doing good?
When people suffer, especially if they suffer innocently, they ask God, “Why?” Jeremiah asked why he must continually experience reproach, hatred, and rejection. Jeremiah gets angry with God and accuses God of being “deceitful.” It seemed to him that God called him to be a prophet, and now he felt deserted and abandoned into the hands of evil men. When misfortune strikes and we feel we have done nothing to deserve it, we, too, get angry with God. Like Job, we have a case against God.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 – Romans 12:9-21 – A life of sacrifice as worship of God. Romans12 begins the ethical section of Romans. For Paul ethics are the by-product of theology. “Therefore” refers to the preceding theology of justification. The “mercies of God” refer to God’s grace in Christ. In response to what God has done, we are to offer our whole selves as a sacrifice. This is our worship — practical living. When we totally dedicate ourselves to God, we will know the will of God and humbly use our gifts in service. The specific moral admonitions are specific applications of this offering of service as a sacrifice.
Thursday, August 28, 2008 – Matthew 16:21-28 – The necessity of cross-bearing. Jesus announces His coming suffering in Jerusalem and calls His disciples to take up their crosses and follow Him to death. Peter tries to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem, but Jesus calls his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him to death. We are still at Caesarea Philippi. Peter had just made his famous confession that Jesus is the Messiah. Thereupon Jesus announces that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise again. For Peter this was a denial of Jesus’ being the Christ, Lord, and King. It did not fit at all into the concept of the Messiah who as God’s Son would be victor over any and all enemies, even death. But, Jesus saw in Peter’s rebuke a temptation of Satan not to fulfill his mission. Then he called upon his disciples to similarly deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow him to death and resurrection. For the principle of life is to lose it in order to find it. When Christ returns, every disciple will be rewarded for what he has done with his life.
Friday, August 29, 2008 - Psalm 26- The Psalm appointed for next Sunday has as its key verse, 3, “For Thy steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to Thee.” The psalm is a prayer for god’s discerning mercies to spare his faithful and godly servant from the death that overtakes the wicked and the ungodly. His prayer for vindication suggests that the king is threatened by the deceitful (v.4) and bloodthirsty (v.9) men to whom he refers. David directs his cry for help to the Lord’s throne room in the temple.
Saturday, August 30, 2008 –Revelation 4:11 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn. “Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus” This verse brings us back to Genesis, chapter 1 where we see that God created all things in both heaven and earth. He is worthy of our praise as He is the creator and sustainer of all things.
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