Prayers for the Epiphany Season – 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 has brought upon us.
Almighty God, you sent your Son to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with the power of your Spirit that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind upon the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives.
O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
For citizenship – Lord keep this nation under Your care. Bless our nation with faithful leaders that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Grant that he may make wise decisions for the general welfare and serve You faithfully in this generation; through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
A prayer before we study the Word – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith
There is no one in the whole world who can withstand death. All men flee from it and quake in terror before it. Nevertheless, they are overtaken by death. But faith remains firm and stands up against death. Faith conquers death and devours this ravenous glutton. Likewise, the whole world cannot constrain or suppress the flesh. But faith takes hold of the flesh and subdues it. Faith bridles the flesh into obedience. Similarly, no man can endure the raging, persecution, blasphemy, reproach, hatred and jealousy of the world. It makes a mockery of faith and treads it under foot, and even finds joy and pleasure in all this. Yet faith alone is the victory that overcomes the world. (Martin Luther)
The theme for the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany can be summarized by the word authority. Jesus teaches and heals with authority. A prophet like Moses is to be obeyed because he speaks the words of God. This is an authority of God’s Word. In the Epistle lesson authority is implied: Knowledge of God gives authority to be free from idols. A review of Luther’s great teaching hymn, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice,” (LSB #556) would be an excellent devotional guide as you read the propers for this coming week.
Collect for Epiphany 4—Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
January 26-31, 2015
Preparation for next week, Epiphany 4
Monday, January 26, 2015—Psalm32:1-2, 5-7 –- The Antiphon is taken from Psalm 32:10, “Many are the woes of the wicked but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him.” Appealing to God’s unfailing love, kindness, and mercy is frequent in the Old Testament since it summarizes all that the Lord covenanted to show to His people. This is an excellent Psalm which gives testimony to the joy the sinner has having experienced the Father’s forgiveness in Christ.
Tuesday, January 27. 2015—Psalm 111—The key verse of this psalm is verse 3,”Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.” The Psalmist praises the Lord for His unfailing righteousness. The psalm combines hymns of praise with instruction in wisdom. Truly, an excellent Psalm.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015—Deuteronomy 18:15-20— The authority of reception – who gave it to you. God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses. The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ last address to the people before entering the Promised Land. Sunday’s Old Testament lesson is a part of a section dealing with prophecy. A prophet like Moses is promised to replace the false prophets. This true Moses will mediate between the Lord and the people. The passage explains how through Moses God provided for the institution of prophecy. True prophecy demands obedience on the part of the people and loyalty by the prophets.
Thursday, January 29 2015—1 Corinthians 8:1-13—The authority of revelation – what you know. Knowledge of God gives freedom to eat meat offered to idols. Paul discusses a specific situation in Corinth, which caused a problem for Christians. Pagans participated in offering animal sacrifices to their gods. Part of the meat was burned on an altar and the rest was sold for food at the markets. Some Christians had no qualms of buying such meat for home consumption while others were conscience-stricken at the idea, for it seemed to them that they were participating in a pagan practice. Paul says no one should object to meats offered to idols because idols have no existence. God is the one and only true God. However, if some weaker brothers still feel it is wrong, those who have the knowledge that God alone is God should not each such meat to prevent offense and the destruction of their faith.
Luther speaking of “Christian liberty” once said the Christian is the freest of all men but the servant of all. Our knowledge of God frees us from superstition, legalism, and a bad conscience, but love enslaves us for the welfare of our brother who might not yet have such knowledge. How many Christians today are willing to sacrifice their freedom of life-style to prevent offending a narrow Christian?
Friday, January 30, 2015—Mark 1:21-28—The authority of identity – who you are. With authority Jesus teaches and drives out an unclean spirit. After calling four disciples, Jesus begins his ministry by teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. The people are impressed by His authoritative teaching compared with the teaching of the scribes. A man in the congregation has an evil spirit, which addresses Jesus and knows Him to be the Messiah. With authority, Jesus commands the demon to leave the man. At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus comes into contact with evil powers. As God’s Son, He conquers the evil spirit. He does it by exercising His authority as God’s Son.
The word “immediately” (vv.21, 23) is a word Mark will often use. It has theological significance. It denotes a sense of urgency and importance. The Kingdom cannot wait. There is no place for laxity or procrastination. One must work while it is day before the night comes. The fields are white unto harvest. Jesus has a world to save in three years! He has the whole truth of God to reveal. He needs to set up a movement to carry on His work when He leaves. The church today needs to imitate Christ in this matter to overcome lethargy.
Saturday, January 31, 2015—John 6:37—The hymn of the day is, “Just as I Am, Without One Plea,” (LSB #570). God’s action, not man’s, is primary in salvation and Christ’s mercy is unfailing. See John 6:44, 10:29, 17:6, 18:9. This hymn has become a treasured hymn of many people.
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES B © 1981 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)