“Jesus’ resurrection gives us a living hope”

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

Have you been born again? Many ask this question and even speak of the need for people to be born again but then speak of it as something we do – with it being our decision, our prayer, our commitment to Jesus.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, Jesus told him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When Nicodemus questioned how this could be, Jesus responded, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Jesus was telling Nicodemus that one could not enter God’s kingdom except he be born of God, from above, through a rebirth of water and the Spirit.

In John 1:12-13, we read: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Thus this rebirth from above, of water and Spirit, is not man’s working but God’s. God’s Spirit, working through His Word and through the waters of baptism, regenerates those dead in their trespasses and sins and gives them new life in fellowship with God the Father through faith in Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death for the sins of the whole world (cf. Col. 2:12; Tit. 3:4-7).

And so, as those born again from above of God’s gracious working, what assurances and promises do we have? The Scriptures tell us: “Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Because Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day, we have a true and living hope of a heavenly inheritance which cannot be taken from us.

As children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26-29), we have an eternal inheritance in heaven which will not be corrupted, defiled or fade away. It is awaiting us in heaven, and it is sure because God is at work in our lives and will preserve and keep us in the true and saving faith until we receive the full salvation won for us by Christ Jesus (cf. John 14:1-6; Phil. 1:6; 3:20-21; Rom. 8:28ff.; 2 Tim. 4:18; Rev. 21:1-4; 7:9-17).

Blessed be You, O gracious God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for raising us up from spiritual darkness and death and giving us a rebirth from above as Your children through faith in Jesus Christ. Preserve and keep us in the true faith until we receive the living hope You have assured to us through the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead. We thank and praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible]

What hope we have in Jesus!

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:9-11 (Read the entire psalm)

What comfort, what hope, we have when our trust is in the LORD God who both made and redeemed us! When, instead of placing our hopes in this life or in other gods and religions, we place our confidence in the LORD (Jehovah) God and He is our inheritance, we have every reason to be glad and rejoice.

We may have nothing in this world; yet we are rich for we have an inheritance in heaven, won for us by Jesus’ innocent sufferings and death upon the cross and assured to us by His glorious resurrection from the dead on the third day (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3-9). The lines (the division of our inheritance) have fallen to us in pleasant places (cf. Matt. 5:3-5).

The LORD Himself counsels us, leads us and guides us through life, with His Word, which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). And, even when we face death, we need not fear any evil because the LORD is there with us and will protect us as He leads us safely from this life to Himself in heaven (cf. Ps. 23:4; 2 Tim. 4:18).

As the psalm states, “My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” Our bodies are laid in the grave and rest in hope. Why? Because Jesus’ soul was not left among the dead, nor did His body see corruption (cf. Acts 2:22-33; 13:35-39). He was raised up from the dead, and we too will be raised up to be with Him forevermore in the mansions of heaven (cf. Job 19:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; John 14:1-6). And in Jesus’ presence is fullness of joy. With Jesus, at God’s right hand, are pleasures forevermore (cf. Rev. 7:9-17; 21:1ff.)!

O gracious and merciful Lord Jesus, grant that we place our hope and trust in You and in the salvation and inheritance You have won for us by Your death on the cross for our sins and Your glorious resurrection. Amen.

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

 

Worldly blessing or heavenly inheritance?

“…from men of the world whose portion is in this life, and their belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with sons, and will leave their riches to their babes. As for me, in righteousness I will look upon Your face; when I awaken, I shall be satisfied by Your image.” Psalm 17:14,15

When praying to the LORD God for deliverance from the evil schemes of men and for God’s judgment upon the unbelieving and rebellious, David speaks of an important truth for all of us to consider.

Have you ever noticed how the ungodly prosper in this world? How they are greatly blessed in this life with wealth and earthly success while the believer often has nothing in comparison?

It is as the psalm says of “men of the world whose portion is in this life”: “Their belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with sons, and will leave their riches to their babes.” People of this world are often blessed of God with wealth and prosperity. They have, it would seem, all their heart could desire. They leave a rich inheritance for their children.

Believers, on the other hand, often have little or nothing in this world. They struggle to get by. Instead of a nice home, they may live in a small rented apartment. Instead of driving a luxury car, they may drive a used car and still have difficulty making their payments. Instead of leaving a rich inheritance for their children, they can’t even afford to help them get a good education.

But believers do have untold wealth! Though they may be poor in the goods of this world, they have their inheritance in heaven.

As the psalm says: “As for me, in righteousness I will look upon Your face; when I awaken, I shall be satisfied by Your image.”

Believers in Jesus, the promised Messiah and Savior of the world, have a better inheritance. They have the blessings of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting for the sake of Jesus Christ and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world. They have the certainty of the resurrection – of being raised up righteous and without sin to forever be with the Lord Jesus. They have the rich inheritance of being raised up to look upon the face of the LORD God and being fully satisfied forever because His image will be restored in them. Believers will, as the catechism says in the explanation to the second article of the Apostles’ Creed, “live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.”

So, though those who have turned from their sinful and rebellious ways to the LORD God for mercy and forgiveness in the Son may have little or nothing in this world, they truly have everything, for they shall be raised up on the Last Day in righteousness. They shall behold the face of their Lord and Savior. And they shall be in His image and share in the glories of His heavenly kingdom forevermore!

O LORD God, grant that I not become discouraged when I see the wicked prosper in this world. Keep my eyes upon You and the inheritance awaiting me in heaven for the sake of Christ Jesus and His glorious redemption. In His name I pray. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

 

 

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.]