Words of Encouragement for June 15, 2011

Meditations in Genesis

And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Genesis 48:15-16 (Read Genesis 48)

It was customary to give to one’s eldest son the birthright, a double portion of the inheritance passed down to one’s sons. Though Reuben was Jacob’s eldest, Jacob gave the double portion to Joseph, his eldest son by Rachel, by adopting Joseph’s eldest two sons Manasseh and Ephraim as his own. That is why, instead of a tribe of Joseph there were the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (cf. 1 Chron. 5:1-2).

But not only did Jacob give Joseph a double portion of inheritance in the land of promise, he crossed his hands when he blessed Joseph’s sons, prophesying that the tribe of Ephraim would become greater and more populous than the tribe of Manasseh. The descendants of the younger child would become greater than the elder. A reading of the Old Testament bears out the fulfillment of this blessing as well.

God’s calling and choosing are not according to human expectations. He often chooses the unexpected, the weak, the lowly, and grants to them His blessing (cf. 1 Cor. 1). Thus, you and I, though probably not even descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by birth, have been chosen of God, raised from spiritual death and darkness and made children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, His only-begotten Son who suffered and died for the sins of the world and rose again from the dead. We have been made children of our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus, adopted into God’s family by His undeserved grace and mercy, and given a portion in God’s everlasting kingdom (cf. Gal. 3:26ff.). We too have the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and we too look forward to an eternal home and a heavenly city, whose builder and maker is God, for Jesus’ sake (cf. Heb. 11:10).

O gracious and merciful Father, thank You for adopting us as Your own dear children through faith in Christ Jesus and giving us an inheritance in Your everlasting kingdom for Jesus’ sake. Keep us ever trusting in Jesus and His blood shed for us upon the cross for forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Amen.

 

Martin Luthers’ Large Catechism

The Lord’s Prayer

The Fifth Petition

85] And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

86] This part now relates to our poor miserable life, which, although we have and believe the Word of God, and do and submit to His will, and are supported by His gifts and blessings, is nevertheless not without sin. For we still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among men who do us much harm and give us cause for impatience, anger, revenge, etc. 87] Besides, we have Satan at our back, who sets upon us on every side, and fights (as we have heard) against all the foregoing petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a persistent conflict.

88] Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and to pray: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer (for He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept such forgiveness. 89] For since the flesh in which we daily live is of such a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God, and is ever active in evil lusts and devices, so that we sin daily in word and deed, by commission and omission, by which the conscience is thrown into unrest, so that it is afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it is ceaselessly necessary that we run hither and obtain consolation to comfort the conscience again.

90] But this should serve God’s purpose of breaking our pride and keeping us humble. For in case any one should boast of his godliness and despise others, God has reserved this prerogative to Himself, that the person is to consider himself and place this prayer before his eyes, and he will find that he is no better than others, and that in the presence of God all must lower their plumes, and be glad that they can attain forgiveness. 91] And let no one think that as long as we live here he can reach such a position that he will not need such forgiveness. In short, if God does not forgive without ceasing, we are lost.

92] It is therefore the intent of this petition that God would not regard our sins and hold up to us what we daily deserve, but would deal graciously with us, and forgive, as He has promised, and thus grant us a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer. For where the heart is not in right relation towards God, nor can take such confidence, it will nevermore venture to pray. But such a confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the [certain] knowledge of the forgiveness of sin.

93] But there is here attached a necessary, yet consolatory addition: As we forgive. He has promised that we shall be sure that everything is forgiven and pardoned, yet in the manner that we also forgive our neighbor. 94] For just as we daily sin much against God, and yet He forgives everything through grace, so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows malice toward us, etc. 95] If, therefore, you do not forgive, then do not think that God forgives you; but if you forgive, you have this consolation and assurance, that you are forgiven in heaven, not on account of your forgiving, for God forgives freely and without condition, out of pure grace, because He has so promised, as the Gospel teaches, but in order that He may set this up for our confirmation and assurance for a sign alongside of the promise which accords with this prayer, Luke 6:37: Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Therefore Christ also repeats it soon after the Lord’s Prayer, and says, Matt. 6:14: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, etc.

97] This sign is therefore attached to this petition, that, when we pray, we remember the promise and reflect thus: Dear Father, for this reason I come and pray Thee to forgive me, not that I can make satisfaction, or can merit anything by my works, but because Thou hast promised and attached the seal thereto that I should be as sure as though I had absolution pronounced by Thyself. 98] For as much as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, appointed as external signs, effect, so much also this sign can effect to confirm our consciences and cause them to rejoice. And it is especially given for this purpose, that we might use and practise it every hour, as a thing that we have with us at all times.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings appointed for Sunday are: Psalm 8; Genesis 1:1 – 2:3; Acts 2:14a, 22-42; and Matthew 28:16-20. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Adult Bible Class will continue in the Gospel of John at chapter 21, verse 20.

Remember to Pray

Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We pray for God’s healing and strengthening of our congregation, as well as for God’s help with our church’s financial needs. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us; for those who have been absent from us, for our extended families and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations in the Philippines and Japan, for Christians in Nigeria, Haiti and Chile, and for believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

Evening Congregational Bible Study has tentatively been set for Wednesday, June 22, at 7 p.m.

On-line video of worship services can be found at: http://goodshepherdrogers.org/blog/worship-service-video.

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by e-mail at goodshepherdrogers@yahoo.com.

 

 

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

 

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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