Monday, February 7, 2011

Time in the Word - Epiphany 6

Christ Sets Life before Us so that We Can Walk in His Ways
The God who reveals Himself in His incarnate Son promises life and blessing to all who obey His commandments “by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules” (Deut. 30:16). However, we are “people of the flesh” and “infants in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1) among whom “there is jealousy and strife” (1 Cor. 3:3). Jesus must instruct us against the human ways of anger, adultery, divorce, and false witness (Matt. 5:21-37), because all who live in these ways “shall surely perish” (Deut. 30:18). On the cross He died to forgive our sins and free us from the ways of curse and death. Since Jesus Christ is our “life and length of days” (Deut. 30:20), we can be reconciled to our brother, live in chastity and marital faithfulness, and speak with honesty. He who serves from His cross also offers His gift of reconciliation at His altar, and we can be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are “God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9).

Collect for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany: O Lord, graciously hear the prayers of Your people that we who justly suffer the consequence of our sin may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for pardon, growth in grace, and divine protection: O Lord, our God, we acknowledge Your great goodness toward us and praise You for the mercy and grace that our eyes have seen, our ears have heard, and our hearts have known. We sincerely repent of the sins of this day and those in the past. Pardon our offenses, correct and reform what is lacking in us, and help us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Inscribe Your law upon our hearts, and equip us to serve You with holy and blameless lives. May each day remind us of the coming of the night when no one can work. In the emptiness of this present age keep us united by a living faith through the power of Your Holy Spirit with Him who is the resurrection and the life, that we may escape the eternal bitter pains of condemnation.

By Your Holy Spirit bless the preaching of Your Word and the administration of Your Sacraments. Preserve these gifts to us and to all Christians. Guard and protect us from all dangers to body and soul. Grant that we may with faithful perseverance receive from You our sorrows as well as our joys, knowing that health and sickness, riches and poverty, and all things come by permission of Your fatherly hand. Keep us this day under Your protective care and preserve us, securely trusting in Your everlasting goodness and love, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Monday, 7 February 2011Psalm 98:7–9; Antiphon, Psalm 98:2—Psalm 98 is a hymn of high praise. Verses 7–9 call upon all of creation to praise the LORD—not just the inhabitants, but the seas, and the rivers, and the hills, as well. Why? Because the Lord, the righteous Judge, has made known His salvation, and has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. When Adam and Eve sinned, the whole world was subject to the consequences. St Paul writes, in Romans 8, that the whole creation has been groaning together, looking forward to the day of salvation in Jesus Christ. That day has come, and thus, we and all creation sing for joy together before the LORD.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011Psalm 119:1–8—Last week, the second section of Psalm 119 served as the Introit. This week and next, other portions of the same psalm are used as the Psalm of the Day. Psalm 119 is a wonderful example of a form of Hebrew poetry called an acrostic. Every line of each section starts with the same Hebrew letter. In this first section, each line begins with aleph: ℵ. The main purpose of this poetic technique is to express completeness. The psalmist wants to meditate carefully on every aspect of God’s Word “from A to Z.” Unfortunately, the acrostic pattern gets lost in the English translation, but the message of exhorting us to the study of Holy Scripture remains: I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011Deuteronomy 30:15–20—Before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses, who would not accompany them, re-iterated the Lord’s covenant with them (Deuteronomy 29—30). In this section of his speech, Moses speaks for the Lord, laying out the way of life and the way of death. The way of the Lord is the only way to life. All other gods are false ones, and lead to everlasting death. All other belief systems are false, and lead to eternal condemnation. Faith in anything but the true God, the Lord GOD of Israel, leads only to endless torment in hell, with the devil and his fallen angels. The LORD alone—the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is your life and length of days.

Thursday, 10 February 20111 Corinthians3:1–9—Spring is coming and it will soon be time to plant vegetables and flowers. What a miracle it is to bury a seed in the ground and watch it grow and bring forth its yield! How does it know when to sprout? How does it know which way is up? How does it know when to blossom or set fruit or grow a head of grain? Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. So it is with His Word. We dare not take credit for how many people we have led to the Lord or how many we have saved. The answer is none; the Holy Spirit does so by the Means of Grace, the Word and the Sacraments.

Friday, 11 February 2011Matthew 5:21–37—The Sermon on the Mount continues with Jesus showing how the external works of the Pharisees were for naught, for their hearts were hardened against God and against His promised Messiah. Good works save no one; only faith in Christ does. Later in Matthew’s Gospel (23:27), Jesus will refer to the Pharisees as whitewashed tombs: outwardly, they looked good by their many deeds, but their self-righteous hatred for the Son of God made them rotten on the inside, where only God sees.

Saturday, 12 February 2011—Sunday’s hymn of the day is Songs of Thankfulness and Praise (LSB #394). It shows how Jesus is the Son of God: God in man made manifest. The Magi from the East came to worship Him, the Father declared Him to be His beloved Son at His baptism, He performed miracles, such as turning water into wine and healing people of sickness and disease. This same Jesus will one day return in glory, when all will see the Judge appear and will take those who confess Him as Lord to His heavenly home, where we shall praise Thee, ever blest, God in man made manifest.
Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship.
Artwork, ‘The Israelites and the Ten Commandments,’ by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeff Keuning pastor of St. John Dexter, and Zion, Casey, IA

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