Monday, February 23, 2009

Time in the Word Lent 1

The theme for the First Sunday in Lent is The Way of the Cross Leads to the Testing of Faith. The devil hates God, but is unable to defeat Him. In fact, the devil knows that it is he who has already been defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This does not mean, however, that the devil is not still a dangerous enemy. Terrorists and mobsters know that, when you are unable to defeat a man head-on, you go after his family, the ones he loves. So it is, that the devil attacks the family of God, the ones He loves, that is, us. He will bring temptation and adversity into our lives to try and separate us from our Creator and Redeemer. When such tribulation comes to us, we must cling all the more tightly to the Words and promises of God, who tells us ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ (Joshua 1:5)
Monday, 23 February 2009—Psalm 91:9–13; antiphon, Psalm 91:15–16—The Introit sets the theme for the day: that, in times of trouble, the Lord is our only sure dwelling place and refuge. The Lord loves everyone who puts his trust in Him, and so He promises, ‘When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.’

Tuesday, 24 February 2009—Psalm 25:1–10—In this psalm, David prays for God’s mercy when he is under attack by his enemies. He asks the Lord to remember His mercy and steadfast love, and not to look upon David’s sins. We do the same when we pray the Lord’s prayer. We ask God to deliver us from evil, and, in praying ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ we pray that ‘our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor on their account deny our prayer.’ (Small Catechism)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009—Genesis 22:1–18—Our Old Testament reading is a familiar one: the testing of Abraham. When we New Testament believers hear this account, it reminds us of our Savior Jesus. Jehovahjireh—The Lord Will Provide—supplies a substitute for Isaac. The ram is caught by its horns, and thus remains unblemished, the perfect sacrifice. Likewise, the Lord offered up His Son Jesus on the cross to be our substitute. He was the perfect sacrifice, unblemished by the taint of sin.
Thursday, 26 February 2009—James 1:12–18—When we are baptized, it is as if a bull’s-eye is painted on us. The devil will attack us, for he knows that, in Baptism, we are washed clean of our sins, and are made the children of God. When temptation comes, therefore, as it surely will, we must remain steadfast in the faith we received at Baptism. We do this by reading and hearing God’s Word, by daily remembering our Baptism, and by being regular in our church attendance, where we confess our sins and receive absolution and where we receive the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening and nurturing of our faith.
Friday, 27 February 2009—Mark 1:9–15—After our Lord’s Baptism, the Spirit led Him into the desert to suffer temptation at the hands of the devil. He endured the same temptations as were presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, as the holy Evangelist John names them (1 John 2:16). Unlike our first parents (and us), however, He does not give into temptation, but resists the devil with the words of Holy Scripture.
Saturday, 28 February 2009—The great hymn of the Reformation, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB 656), is our hymn of the day. It reminds us that, though the devil is a formidable foe, one whom we are unable to overcome on our own, he has been defeated by the Word made flesh, our Savior Jesus. ‘Our victory has been won; The Kingdom ours remaineth.’
Collect for the First Sunday in Lent—O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der B├╝cher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures).

Pr. Jeff Keuning Dexter, IA contributed to this week's Time in the Word

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