The Theme for Lent 4, “God Receives Sinners” is seen in all three lessons. In the Old Testament lesson - Isaiah 12:1-6 – Salvation is of God. In the Epistle - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 – Paul speaks of the renewing quality of our salvation in Christ. We are new people. In the Gospel lesson - Luke 15:1-3; 11-32 – We see the response to salvation. The Hymn for the Day, “Salvation unto us has come,” sings the story of salvation.
Collect for Lent – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment., You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Collect for Lent 3 – O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
A prayer for Home and Family – Visit, we implore You, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, and keep far from them all harm and danger. Grant us to dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels and may Your blessing be with us forever; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A morning prayer – Faithful God, whose mercies are new to us every morning, we humbly pray that You would look upon us in mercy and renew us by Your Holy Spirit. Keep safe our going out and our coming in, and let Your blessings remain with us throughout this day. Preserve us in Your righteousness and grant us a portion in that eternal life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A prayer before worship – O Lord, our Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter, as we come to worship You in spirit and in truth, we humbly pray that You may open our hearts to the preaching of Your Word, so that we may repent of our sins, believe in Jesus Christ as our only Savior, and grow in grace and holiness. Hear us for His same.
A prayer for help in times of temptation – Almighty and everlasting God, through Your Son You have promised us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that in our daily need and especially in all time of temptation, we may seek Your help and , by a true and lively faith in Your Word, obtain all that You have promised; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Monday, 29 February 2016—Psalm 51:2-6, Antiphon, Psalm51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundance mercy blot out my transgressions. The psalmist asks that God in His mercy would grant pardon. Throughout this psalm look at the words the psalmist will use: mercy, unfailing love, great compassion, blot out, was, cleanse, transgressions, iniquity, sin. This psalm sings the story of salvation. As we are in the midst of Lent, our focus is now on the cross and of Him who suffered and died for us.
Tuesday, 01 March 2016—Psalm 32; key verse, verse 11- Rejoice in the Lord and be glad you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart. This psalm is a grateful testimony of joy from God’s gift of forgiveness toward those who with integrity confess their sins and are receptive to God’s rule in their lives. It is a fitting psalm to be used in this Lenten season. As you pray this psalm, reflect on all Christ has done to win for you salvation and life.
Wednesday, 02 March 2016—Isaiah 12:1-6–The Old Testament lesson deals with the basic element of the Christian faith: God’s grace in the cross for man’s reconciliation. Isaiah reminds us that salvation is from God and that salvation is all by grace. This causes us to be thankful as we receive this gift of salvation freely by grace through faith.
Thursday, 03 March 2016—2 Corinthians 5:16-21–Paul will admit that before coming to faith in Christ he had a secular understanding of Jesus based purely on human considerations. But now having been united with Christ through faith in Him and committed to Him, now he is a new creation. Everything in his life now centers in Christ. God takes the initiative in redemption. He sustains it and brings it to completion. When the Savior died, God’s justice was satisfied, His anger was appeased. At the cross, God was reconciled to the world.
Friday, 04 March 2016–Luke 15:1-3; 11-32–The Gospel lesson for this week assures us of God’s joyous reception for the repentant sinner. Jesus was criticized for associating with sinners. In His defense, Jesus tells the parables recorded in Luke 15 of God’s acceptance of a repentant sinner.
Jesus associated with sinners not because He approved of their way of life. He knew they needed Him. They needed friendship and understanding. He went to them for a purpose, to lead them to repentance. He did not, nor should we, go to them to become one of them but to get them to become one with Him. This is the reason for today’s church to go to the worst – to win them back to God.
Do you honestly feel about sinners as God does? Are you glad when a sinner sees his error and comes back? Do you love the sinner, and accept him as though nothing happened? Like God will you forgive from the heart without passing judgment or asking questions? Would you take an ex-murderess into your home to care for your youngest child? Really? Then you identify with the Father.
Saturday, 05 March 2016—-Romans 3:1—31; 8:1-11; Galatians 3:1-25; Ephesians 2:1-10-Sunday’s suggested hymn of the day is Salvation unto us has come (555 LSB). Originally written for children, the hymn tells the story of salvation from beginning to end. It teaches the faith and is a hymn that can easily be put to memory. I recall a few years ago walking across the playground hearing a student singing this hymn while swinging back and forth on the swings. We are now in the middle of our journey through Lent. The cross becomes ever clearer. As you meditate on this hymn, rejoice in your salvation.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House
Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C – John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH