Time in the Word
An Excellent Way of Life
The life of a Christian is the primary subject of this Sunday. It is a way of life that is better than living by the letter of the Law. According to Isaiah, true fasting results in meeting the social needs of people. The Epistle gives the source of Christian living – a Gospel of power and not the wisdom of man. Christ is the Word of Life. We ask that we may see and hear Him as the Life.
Light is the dominant theme of Epiphany. A candle is a symbol of the season. Christ is the Light of God whose glory is manifested throughout the season. Epiphany 5 continues the theme of life but with a different twist. Now Christians are the light of the world because they are in Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus tells His followers, “You are the light of the world,” Isiah in the Old Testament says the light shines out of those who properly fast. In the Epistle lesson, the source of the light is in the crucified Christ proclaimed by Paul.
Monday, 3 February, 2014—Psalm 119:1-6; antiphon, Psalm 112:12—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me Your statutes! This Psalm is an acrostic based on the Hebrew letter Aleph. We meditate on the Word of our Lord and we walk blameless as we are directed by Him who speaks to us in and through that same word.
Tuesday, 3 February 2014—Psalm 15—This psalm gives instruction to those who wish to have access to God at His temple. Thomas Jefferson called this psalm the picture of “a true gentleman.” This is a testimonial of the man of God. What does God require of the individual who seeks his company? He expects right conduct, right speaking (verses 2-3a), right relationships with others (verses 3b-4), and a right use of wealth (verse 5) (see Psalm 24). Who swears… (Verse 4) i.e. who keeps his word whatever the cost; Verse 5, one of the Jewish laws, see Leviticus 25:36-37. It was not a total ban on lending at interest, but applied to fellow Israelites.
Wednesday, 5 February 2014—Isaiah 58:3-9a—The godly life is expressed in service. Among most Christians today, fasting is scarcely practiced. If Isaiah were living today, he probably would not have used it. Though fasting is not generally practiced, the principle still applies. Religiosity in terms of cultic practices, without practical helpfulness to the neighbor, does not bring God’s blessings. When we put our religious devotions into sharing with the less fortunate, we open ourselves to God’s presence and blessings.
Thursday, 6 February 2014—1 Corinthians2:1-12—The Christian life results from a gospel of power. Paul decided to know nothing except Christ. Is that smart? Paul knew more than most. He knew how to make a living by making tents; the Bible thoroughly, for he was a student of the great Gamaliel; the philosophies of the day, for he was a university student. When it came to making a living, we need to know much. When it comes to making a life, knowledge and wisdom are useless. It is enough to know Christ, for He is the truth about God and life.
Weakness can be strength. This was the case with Paul. He felt that his ability to speak oratorically in great wisdom, as was the custom of his day, was inferior.
With fear and trembling, he perhaps stuttered and stammered the words of the Gospel. In spite of his halting speech, people came to accept Christ as Savior. What did this prove? The Word of the cross is the power to win people to Christ.
Friday, 7 February 2014—Matthew 5:13-20—The Christian life exceeds living by the Law. Followers of Jesus, Disciples of Christ are the light of the world. Since Jesus said He was the light of the world, this may seem to be a contradiction. Christians are light. You do not become light by good works. You are light because, and only because, you are in Christ, the Light. The light you have is not produced by your own. You are only the reflection of the light of Christ who dwells in you by faith. If you are not seen as light in the dark world, it indicates you are not in Christ. If the light is in you, it will be seen by your good works, which result as naturally as a candle sheds its light as a natural part of its essence.
The word “righteousness” has a twofold meaning. Its ethical meaning embraces virtue, goodness, and uprightness. The religious meaning means being rightly related to God and neighbor. The righteousness of God is God’s rightly relating us to Himself. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was an ethical righteousness, which involved a strict keeping of the letter of the law. The Christian has a righteousness that exceeds the ethical. It is a right relationship with God and with people. Anger is a symptom of a broken relationship. Forgiveness renews the relationship.
Saturday, 8 February 2014—1John 3:16-19; Hebrews 13:16; Matthew 25:40—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is Thy Strong Word (LSB #578). This wonderful hymn tells the story of salvation as the Lord speaks to us in and through His Word. All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in the last stanza. God the Father, light-creator, Jesus is the one eternal God begotten from the Father light of light. The Holy Spirit is the light-revealer. Together with angels in heaven, we praise the Triune God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day You revealed Your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know Your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of Your glory.
Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Collects for Epiphany 5: O Lord, keep Your Church continually in the true faith that, relying on the hope of Your heavenly grace, we may be ever defended by Your mighty power.
O God, You know that we cannot withstand the dangers, which surround us. Strengthen us in body and spirit so that with Your help, we may be able to overcome the weakness that our sins have brought upon us.
Collect for Psalm 112: Lord Jesus You are the light shining in darkness for the upright. Teach us to love one another as You love us, that we might bring peace and joy to the world and find the happiness of Your home where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things