Time in the Word
24-29 August 2015
Preparation for next week, The 14th Sunday after Pentecost
The theme for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost is Faith in Action. The Pharisees of Christ’s day adhered strictly to the dietary restrictions laid down by God in His Law. They even extended them. However, they believed that this strict outward fulfillment would save them. They gave little thought to the condition of their hearts, for even as they were outwardly pious in following the letter of the Law, inwardly, they were filthy with sin, hating Christ and His disciples and even hatching a plan to murder Him.
Jesus tells us that what matters is not the outward act, but the condition of one’s heart. Now this does not mean that we are free to act however we will. True faith will always manifest itself in doing good works, and a desire to adhere to the Word of God. People will be able to see that we have put our faith in action by our love for others.
As for the dietary laws of the Jews, we can be thankful that Christ has fulfilled the Law and has declared all foods clean. We are free to enjoy bacon cheeseburgers, pork chops, shrimp, and much more without guilty consciences.
Wickedness and evil come “from within, out of the heart,” and that is what defiles a person (Mark 7:21–23). Hence, we cannot save ourselves, because we are sinful and unclean from the inside out. But as the Lord Jesus “declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:19), so He cleanses us by His Word, by the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, “listen to the statutes and the rules” of the Lord, “and do them, that you may live” (Deut. 4:1). For His Word is righteous, and to live according to it is “your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples” (Deut. 4:6). Cling to His Word, and also teach it “to your children and your children’s children” (Deut. 4:9). Put on this “armor of God” by hearing and heeding what He speaks to you, that you may “stand firm” in the evil day (Eph. 6:11–13). Gird yourself with the righteousness of Christ, by faith in the “gospel of peace,” and take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” by confessing Christ Jesus and “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:14–18).
Prayer before confession and absolution: Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant us a true confession that, dead to sin, we may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in Your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for teaching the faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, even as You have committed the care and nurture of children to Your people, graciously enlighten those who teach and those who are committed to their instruction that they may know Your eternal truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for steadfast faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for aid against temptation: O God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for spiritual renewal: Almighty God, grant that we, who have been redeemed from the old life of sin by our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, may be renewed by Your Holy Spirit to live in righteousness and true holiness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for deliverance from sin: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.
From Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Monday, 24 August 2015—Psalm 51:7, 10–12; Antiphon, Psalm 51:2—Sunday’s Introit is a portion of David’s pœnitential psalm, the one he wrote after being confronted with his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1—12:14). David evinces true repentance: grief, shame, and contrition over his sin, but also faith and trust in God that he would be redeemed of all his iniquity. When we sing this as the Offertory, we make David’s plea our own: we ask for—and receive—a clean heart, a right spirit. We have been washed thoroughly from iniquity and cleansed from all sin by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
Tuesday, 25 August 2015—Psalm 119:129–136—Psalm 119 is the longest psalm, and it extols the virtues of delighting in the Word of God. One who is righteous by faith has a great desire to live according to the precepts of God’s holy Word. The Word of God gives light and understanding; it keeps us from having our iniquity getting dominion over us. We the redeemed long to live by faith according to the Word; we shed tears because people do not keep God’s Law.
Wednesday, 26 August 2015—Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9—As the Children of Israel were about to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving them, Moses reminds them of all that the LORD had taught and commanded them. His advice is to them and to us, heirs through Christ of the spiritual Promised Land, the Kingdom of Heaven. We must be diligent to hear the Word of God and preserve it, making it known, not only among ourselves, but to our children and our children’s children.
Thursday, 27 August 2015—Ephesians 6:10–20—This last reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians fit exceptionally well with Sunday’s other readings. Moses had given his instruction to the Israelites because he knew how easy it is for people to fall away from God. In times of both adversity and prosperity, people may be tempted to forsake the Lord. Attacks will come, for the devil hates God and all whom He loves.
The Christian must gird himself for spiritual warfare with the weapons which God has provided: truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation—with these, we are equipped for the assaults of the Evil One.
Friday, 28 August 2015—Mark 7:14–23—What defiles a person? Is it what goes into him? No. We are all defiled by sin. We have inherited our sinful nature from our first parents, and are inclined toward evil. Jesus gives a whole laundry list of wicked thoughts and actions which proceed out of our sinful hearts. We must ever be on guard, not only against the attacks of Satan, as in the epistle lesson, but even on the treachery of our own hearts. We must not depart from the Word of God, but read, hear, and learn it daily to know of both our salvation and of the will of God.
Saturday, 29 August 2015—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Be Strong in the Lord (LSB 665) exhorts us to make full use of the armor of God, that we may withstand the wiles of the devil and our sinful nature. Having been equipped by our Lord, we can be certain of the victory.