Praying with faith in Christ Jesus

“Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.” Luke 7:7 (read v. 1-10; cf. Matt. 8:5-13)

How should a person come to God in prayer? James writes: “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

The centurion in Luke 7 (and also Matthew 8) is certainly an example for us. He came, not seeking material blessings for himself, but healing for his servant – showing his love and concern for his servant. The Jewish elders counted him worthy of Jesus’ help and healing because he loved the Jewish nation and had even built a synagogue for the worship of the true God. But what made him stand out is his humbleness and faith (cf. v. 9).

One might expect this man, as a Roman centurion and benefactor to the Jews, would count himself as worthy and deserving of his request; but he didn’t. He didn’t even count himself worthy that Jesus should come under his roof.

Instead of feeling we deserve Jesus’ attention and answers to our prayers because of all our works and service for the Lord God, we ought learn from the centurion of our unworthiness. We are undeserving of the privilege of prayer – unworthy to have Jesus pay heed to us and answer our petitions.

Yet the Bible tells us: “This is the confidence that we have in him [Jesus Christ, Son of God], that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Because Jesus’ died for our sins and rose again, God forgives us and accepts us as His own dear children and gives us the privilege and right to come to Him with our prayers and our petitions (cf. Eph. 1:4-7; Heb. 10:19-22).

The centurion also had faith in Jesus’ great power and authority, as well as in His compassion and concern for His creatures. He believed Jesus had the power to just “say in a word, and [his] servant shall be healed.”

We too need remember that our Savior is not limited in what He can do. Our limitations and weaknesses don’t apply to Him. With Jeremiah, we can pray to the Lord Jesus: “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee…” (Jer. 32:17; cf. Matt. 28:18).

When James commands those who are sick to summon the elders of the church to pray for them, anointing them with oil “in the name of the Lord,” God’s Word also says: “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…” (James 5:14,15).

O Jesus, You have all power and authority in heaven and earth. You created us and all things and You so loved us that You died for our sins and rose again. Grant that we humbly come to You in faith with all our needs and for the needs of others. Amen.

Words of Encouragement for the week of March 13

The Lord’s Prayer

A Series of Devotions by Randy Moll

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:5-8

Prayer is not to be a show of religious piety but the sincere communication of the heart and soul to God the Father. Jesus urges His followers to quietly and, in the privacy of their own homes, pour out their hearts before the LORD God, trusting in Him to mercifully hear and answer their prayers. Those who make a show of their prayers to be seen by men have their only reward, but those who pray to God in secret will be heard by God in secret and rewarded openly.

Nor are Christians to use vain or empty repetitions in their prayers, as the heathen do, thinking that God will hear and answer their prayers because of their many words. Jesus teaches us that God desires the prayers of our heart and not empty words uttered by our lips. Thus the mere repetition of prayers will merit us nothing before God and are not really even prayer at all! Rather, Christians are invited by God to come before Him with their petitions and thanksgiving, trusting that He indeed will hear and answer us for the sake of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for the sins of the world (cf. 1 John 5:11-15).

It is not our many words or our religious piety which persuade God to hear and answer our prayers. Rather, it is His love and mercy toward us for Jesus’ sake that moves Him to reach out to us and invite us to come humbly before Him with our prayers and petitions, knowing and believing that He will hear us and grant what is best for us as His dear children through faith in Christ Jesus. And, as Jesus says, our Father knows the things we need before we even ask them of Him.

Dear Father in heaven, we thank You for Your grace and mercy toward us for Jesus’ sake, and we thank You for the privilege of coming before You in prayer. Move us to come before You in humility, trusting that You will hear and receive us for the sake of Jesus and His blood shed for us on Calvary. Amen.

 

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” Matthew 6:9

The Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the most misused prayer in all the world. People recite its words – sometimes repeatedly – with little or no thought as to what the prayer really asks of God. Instead of being a sincere prayer of the heart, it is often only empty words uttered from the lips.

When we remember that Jesus tells us, when we pray, to “not use vain repetitions as the heathen do” (Matthew 6:7), we would do well to consider the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer and take the time to pray through it with our hearts and minds and not just recite its words thoughtlessly.

We pray to “our Father in heaven.”

What a privilege it is for us to address the Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, as “our Father”! But that is what He is to us – our Father. Not only did He create each and every one of us, He also redeemed each and every one of us from our own sin and rebellion by sending His only-begotten Son to fulfill all righteousness for us and to suffer and die for all our sins.

As believers in Christ Jesus, we sinners have the privilege of addressing God as “our Father” and can be assured that He has forgiven us and will both hear and answer our prayers for Jesus’ sake.

The Bible tells us in Galatians 3:26-27: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

In 1 John 5:13-15, we also read: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

Because Christ Jesus suffered and died upon the cross for the sins of all and then rose again and ascended to the right hand of God the Father to intercede for us with His blood and be our Advocate before the Father, we can come boldly before the holy LORD God and He will hear us!

Is any petition too large when coming before the Maker of all things? Is any request too small for a God who has given such great attention to even the most minute detail?

What a privilege we have to be able to call God, the Maker of heaven and earth, our Father! And we can call Him just that and know that He, as our loving Father in heaven, will hear and answer all our prayers for the sake of His Son, Christ Jesus, who suffered and died for all our sins and rose again.

Dear Father in heaven, we thank You for Your love and mercy toward us and for the gift of Your Son to redeem us and make us Your own children through faith in Him. We thank You for the privilege of calling You “our Father” and for Your promise to hear and answer our prayers for Jesus’ sake. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” Matthew 6:9

And what should be our first request, as Jesus here teaches us to pray? “Hallowed be Your name.”

Hallowed means to keep holy and set apart. We might ask, “Isn’t God’s name already holy?” And, most certainly it is. What then do we ask of the LORD God when we ask that His name be kept holy?

We ask that His name be kept holy among us and in our lives. In this petition we ask God to let all we think, say and do bring glory and honor to His holy name. We ask that we would live in such a way that we do not dishonor His holy name and drag it down with us into the mud of sin.

It brings God glory and hallows His name when we humbly believe His Word, acknowledge our sinfulness and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior. (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14).

Isaiah the prophet wrote (Isaiah 8:13): “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”

Instead of looking to ourselves, other gods and other people or things for help, we are to look to the LORD God and place our trust in Him.

God Himself says to us in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 23:28, 31: “‘The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the LORD… ‘Behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the LORD, who use their tongues and say, He says.’“

Thus, we learn that it brings honor to the name of the LORD God when we are faithful to His holy Word in our teaching, preaching and in our witness for Him. It dishonors the LORD when we preach our own words, ideas and opinions and attribute them to Him.

We pray in this petition of the Lord’s prayer that all we think, speak and do may bring glory to our Father in heaven – that His name would indeed be kept holy among us.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” May we bring Him glory!

Our dear Father in heaven, Your name is indeed holy of itself. Grant that we would keep it holy among us also and not misuse it. Let us bring glory to You and Your holy name by acknowledging our sin and trusting in Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ, for forgiveness and life everlasting. And grant that we might live for You here in this world until we join You in heaven in Christ’s eternal kingdom. Amen.

 

“Your kingdom come.” Matthew 6:10a

Even though God is patient and long suffering with the people of this world, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9), He already rules over all things and the day is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 2:10-11). And so, we might wonder, why does Jesus direct us to pray to the Father: “Your kingdom come”?

Jesus here directs us to pray that His kingdom of mercy and grace would come to each of us and to people all over the world. Messiah Jesus was lifted up on the cross and crucified to pay the full penalty for our sins against God the Father – He died for the sins of the whole world and rose again from the dead on the third day. But, in spite of that fact, we would go on our merry way in ignorance of the import and meaning of what took place on that Roman cross outside of Jerusalem.

Of ourselves, we cannot enter God’s kingdom or be a part of it. As Jesus says, we must be born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:3ff.). And so Jesus directs His followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come – for God the Holy Spirit to graciously regenerate us through water and the Word and keep us trusting in Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness and life everlasting. In this way, with childlike faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, we are God’s children and a part of His eternal kingdom. The Bible tells us: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26, 27).

Not only do we pray that God’s gracious kingdom would come to us, but that it would come to others also. We pray that people, both near and far, would hear the good news of salvation through faith in God’s Son and that they would turn from their sinful and rebellious ways and trust in Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness and life.

Jesus Himself was moved with compassion on the multitudes of people around Him because they were weary and scattered abroad as sheep without a shepherd. He tells us: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Finally, we are directed to pray for Jesus’ coming and the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom. As the Scriptures teach us, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). We look forward to the day of Jesus’ return in hope and longing for the blessings of His eternal kingdom (cf. Romans 8:22-23), and so we pray: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:21).

Dear Father in heaven, graciously grant that Your kingdom would come to us – that we might have a place in Your kingdom for the sake of the Son, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice upon the cross for our sins. Grant that others too, both near and far, may learn of Your mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus and trust in Him. And, dear Father, as You have promised, come and reign over us forever through Your only begotten Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In His name, we pray. Amen.

 

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10b

In heaven, all live in accord with God’s perfect and holy will.

The psalmist writes: “Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure” (Psalm 103:20-21).

On earth, since the fall of mankind into sin which is recorded in Genesis 3, it is not so; but man, as he is by nature, rebels against God’s perfect will and seeks to go his own way. Again, the Bible tells us: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Jesus, in the prayer which He has taught us to pray, directs us to pray that God’s will be done on earth – in our own lives – as it is in heaven! And what is God’s will? We find His perfect will recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures; and so, God would have us faithfully believe and teach God’s Word and live according to it, submitting our will to His perfect will for us.

Though Jesus, God’s Son, faithfully carried out the will of His Father in heaven, even praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), and being “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8), we, on the other hand, so often say with our words and actions, “Not Your will, but mine be done!”

Christ Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the grave, and He would have all of us repent of our rebellion against God and His will and submit to Him, trusting in His shed blood for forgiveness and life, and, as a fruit of faith in Him, seek to conform our lives to His. This He desires for all mankind (cf. 1 Timothy 2:3-6).

Thus we pray: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Dear Father in heaven, I am by nature sinful and rebellious. I have not lived in accord with Your holy and perfect will. Forgive my sin for Jesus’ sake. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and grant me both the desire and the strength to live in accord with Your perfect will. “Not my will, but Yours, be done”! “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Amen.

 

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

Though the LORD God provides for the needs of both believer and unbeliever, God desires that we look to Him and trust in Him to provide us with food, clothing and all we need day by day. As the Gospel of Luke says, “Give us day by day our daily bread” (11:3).

God taught His children that very thing when He led them out of Egypt and into the wilderness. When they needed food, He provided them with manna from heaven, sufficient for all to eat. But He also commanded them to gather only enough for each day.

When some disobeyed His commandment and gathered more than needed for a single day, the leftover manna bred worms and stunk on the next morning. On the day preceding the Sabbath, God commanded that they gather enough for two days; and it did not spoil as on other days. Again, when some did not listen and went out on the Sabbath to gather manna, there was none. Cf. Exodus 16.

Thus, God taught His people, who had grumbled and complained because they needed food in the wilderness, to trust Him each day for their daily bread.

Moses told the people: “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

God even let His people suffer hunger that He might teach them to look to Him for their daily bread, and to His Word for their very life!

The Bible teaches us that we should be satisfied if we have the food and clothing needed for each day. Paul wrote to Timothy: “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).

Yet we are often fearful if we do not have our needs supplied for months, or even years, in advance. Jesus would have us trust our heavenly Father and look to Him to meet all our needs each and every day of our lives. He would not have us worry about what we will eat, what we will drink, or what we will wear. Rather, He would have us, in faith, turn to Him who knows our every need and so graciously provides (cf. Matthew 6:25-34).

Indeed, He may even let the cupboards be bare and the closets be empty to teach us to trust Him day by day. God would have us cast all our care upon Him, for He cares for us (cf. 1 Peter 5:7).

And thus, Jesus teaches us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Dear Father in heaven, we look to You to provide each day our daily bread. Keep us from worry or complaint and teach us to trust You to care for our every need, day by day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

The Bible teaches us that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20); and that even our best “righteousnesses are like filthy rags” in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, our greatest need from God the Father is His mercy and forgiveness; and so we ask that He would not look upon our sins and failures to keep His commandments but forgive our sins for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death for us upon the cross. Like the tax collector who knew his own sinfulness and shortcomings and would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, we also say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13).

Because God’s own dear Son, Messiah Jesus, took our sins upon Himself and bore our punishment when He suffered and died upon the cross in our stead, God is merciful and forgiving toward us.

The Bible tells us: “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5); “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:3, 4); and, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness … And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1, 2). It is because of Jesus, who suffered and died for our sins and rose again, that we can confidently come before God the Father and seek His mercy and forgiveness, saying, “Forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4).

God has graciously provided atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world in His Son. “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12).

Because God has been merciful to us and has forgiven us all our sins for the sake of His Son, we also promise to forgive those who have sinned against us. We pray that God would forgive us “as we forgive our debtors.”

The Bible calls upon us to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). When we consider and remember our own unworthiness to be shown mercy, and the great debt of sin which our heavenly Father has forgiven each of us for Jesus’ sake, certainly we can also share and extend that mercy and kindness toward others who have sinned against us!

When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother who sins against him, suggesting up to seven times, Jesus said to Peter: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21, 22; cf. verses 23ff.). Jesus also said, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Dear Father in heaven, graciously forgive us all our sins against You for the sake of Jesus and His blood shed for us upon the cross, and move us also to extend Your grace and mercy to others by forgiving those who have trespassed against us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13a

The Bible clearly tells us: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:13-14). Therefore, we are not, in this petition of the prayer which the Lord Jesus has taught us, asking God not to tempt us; for He “cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”

Rather, since we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own sinful longings and desires, we ask our Father in heaven to lead us in such a way through our daily lives that we are not tempted – to be lead on such a path where we are kept safe and protected from our own sinful longings as well as from the enticements which the devil and the world put before us.

The Bible also assures us: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Though God does not send temptation to evil, he does permit temptations to come. Yet, He limits the temptations and provides us a way out so that we may be able to endure and overcome them. Thus, we ask our heavenly Father to lead us in such a way that, when temptation does come, He would lead us safely through it and give us the victory.

Connected with this petition to our heavenly Father is the prayer that He would also deliver us from the evil one.

Again, the Bible tells us that we are to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

The devil – or Satan – is the father of lies and the deceiver. He seeks to keep us from God and His truth (cf. John 8:44). Like the roaring lion who stalks his prey and seeks out one that is weak or straying, so the devil watches for our weaknesses and attacks us when and where we are most vulnerable to his ploys. He seeks to keep us from God our Father and life everlasting through faith in Christ Jesus by causing us to doubt God’s Word and by leading us into a life of disobedience and sin.

Therefore, we are in constant need for the protection and deliverance of our Father in heaven; and we humbly pray: “deliver us from the evil one.”

And included in this petition, we pray that, when we do fall into sin and disobedience, God would graciously, for Christ’s sake, deliver us from the grasp of the devil and bring us to repentance. We pray that we would acknowledge our sin and disobedience and turn to the LORD God for His mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead.

The Bible says, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

When we repent of our sin and turn to the LORD for His mercy and forgiveness in Messiah Jesus, He delivers us from the grip of the evil one and brings us back into His eternal kingdom for Jesus’ sake.

As believers, we take heart in the words of St. Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:18): “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”

Dear Father in heaven, lead me through life in such a way that I do not fall into temptation and sin; and deliver me from the attacks of the evil one upon my soul and upon my salvation in Your Son, Jesus Christ. And, Father, when I do fall, mercifully bring me to sincere repentance and faith, and preserve me for Your eternal kingdom. I ask this for the sake of Jesus’ blood shed for me. Amen.

 

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13b

The Lord Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father and say, “Your kingdom come.” Indeed, the kingdom belongs to the LORD God, our heavenly Father; for He not only created all things, He is building and establishing His kingdom of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Though all other kingdoms of this world will pass away, His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that will never end (cf. Daniel 2:44; Revelation 7:9-17; 19:16; 21:1ff.).

God the Father established this kingdom by sending His only begotten Son to suffer and to die for the sins of the world and rise again. And, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, He calls His elect children to faith in Christ Jesus and gives them life in Jesus’ name, thus rescuing them from the kingdom of darkness and bringing them into the kingdom of His own dear Son, in whom there is forgiveness of sins through His shed blood.

It is as the Bible says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Thus, we pray to God the Father and trust that He can and will hear and answer our prayers because His is the kingdom and His is the power.

In His grace and mercy, God the Father has brought us to repent of our sinful ways and trust in His Son, and so He has brought us into His kingdom. By His gracious power and working, He has called us from spiritual darkness and death to life through faith in Christ Jesus. And, of course, He continually rules over all and works for the good of His children. He can and will provide us with our daily bread. He can and does lead us safely through this life, and He will deliver us from every temptation and attack of the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh upon us and bring us safely into His eternal and heavenly kingdom of glory.

And, His is the glory. He has done it all. He created us by His almighty Word. He redeemed us by the innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Jesus Christ. As He raised up Christ from the dead, so He, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through His Word, calls us from death to life through faith in Christ Jesus. He preserves His children in the faith and keeps them in His kingdom and He shall bring them to glory. All the glory is His!

The Bible tells us, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our salvation is entirely “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14).

Dear Father in heaven, we laud and praise Your holy name for creating us, redeeming us and making us Your own dear children through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. We thank You for hearing and answering our prayers. “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

 

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15

Clearly connected to the petition, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” Jesus points out a truth we often are ready to forget: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Does our heavenly Father forgive our sins because we forgive others? No, but rather, we forgive others because He forgives us; and, if we are unwilling to forgive those who have sinned against us, it indicates that we have not really accepted and grasped God’s mercy toward us in Christ Jesus – His pardon and forgiveness won for us by the shed blood of His own dear Son. A refusal to forgive another who has offended us in some way, after God Himself so loved us that He sent His only begotten son into the world to suffer and die upon the cross for our sins and the sins of the world that we might be forgiven, is really a refusal to take hold of God’s mercy toward us in Christ Jesus.

In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 18, verses 21 through 35, Jesus speaks of this further, illustrating with the parable of the servant who was forgiven a great, great debt by his master but who then would show no mercy and forgiveness toward a fellow servant who owed him a very small debt in comparison. Since the servant who had been forgiven so much was unwilling to show mercy to his fellow servant, he was delivered to the torturers until he paid all that was owed to his lord. Jesus concludes by saying: “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (v. 35).

Clearly, Jesus’ words are to us a warning against refusing to pardon and forgive others as we have been pardoned and forgiven by our heavenly Father for the sake of His Son, the crucified and risen Messiah and Savior. Rather than being without mercy and love in our dealings with others, the Scriptures encourage us to: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

And how can we do this? Consider your own sinfulness according to God’s law, and consider the great debt of sin God has forgiven you because He sent His only-begotten Son and punished Him in our stead. When we consider and receive God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus, forgiving others for their sins against us will suddenly grow easier.

Dear Father in heaven, I have deserved nothing but Your wrath and punishment and am undeserving of the loving kindness and mercy which You have shown to me for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Your beloved Son in my stead. Thank You for graciously forgiving and pardoning my great debt of sin against You. Grant to me also a merciful and forgiving heart toward others who sin against me, that I may be like You and show mercy and loving kindness for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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

Preparing for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 10; 2 Timothy 2:1-26; Luke 5:17-26. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship.

Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of 1 Peter, continuing at chapter 3, verse 18ff.

Words to Remember

“Son, be of good cheer; Your sins are forgiven you.” Matthew 9:2

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 continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Betty Mayer, Tonny Mayer, Bonnie Hawes, Dawn Hiebert, Sam Rusch, Mel Boren, Jennifer Rhamy; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus. Remember the efforts to spread the Word of God through publication of the Scriptures and other faithful materials on the Internet through the Sword Project, Crosswire Bible Society, Xiphos and other organizations.

Events and Announcements

Choir will practice following church services on Sunday.

Lenten worship continues on Wednesdays, with worship services at 7 p.m. and a soup and sandwich supper at 6:20 p.m.

A church cleaning day has been postponed until after the organ is assembled.

Worship on Holy Week includes services on Maundy Thursday (March 28) and Good Friday (March 29). Service time on both days is 7 p.m.

Worship and Bible Classes on Easter Sunday (March 31) will be at their usual times. An Easter breakfast will be held, thanks to Mike and Kathy Hawes, with serving beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by email at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org.

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

 

Words of Encouragement for the Week of Feb. 27, 2013

Meditations in St. John’s Second Epistle

“Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.” 2 John 12-13

In an age when so much of our communication is electronic – not even paper and ink any longer – “face-to-face” conversation is still important for us as Christians. Not only is it possible, in many cases, to avoid or head off misunderstandings before they cause divisions and offenses, face-to-face communications are important to us as we encourage and help build each other up in the faith with the Scriptures.

The apostle John had many things he wished to share with the members of this church, but he chose not to do so with paper and ink. Rather, he intended and hoped to come to them, speak to them and encourage them in the true faith that their joy might be full and complete in Christ Jesus.

While we can learn much through reading and sharing via pen and paper or via internet, email and text, there is still a need to gather together around God’s Word, hear it and encourage each other with it.

The Bible tells us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” Col. 3:16); and “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:23-25).

What a blessing it is to gather together and share the Word of God with our fellow believers, give and receive mutual encouragement and comfort in Christ Jesus, and to join together in worship and in prayer for one another!

Indeed, as we hear and are assured of the promises of God’s Word, we are filled with joy in Jesus our Savior! We are assured of forgiveness and life everlasting for the sake of Jesus’ innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, and we are comforted by the promises of the Scriptures shared with and applied to us by our fellow believers.

Finally, John shares with the believers of this church the greeting of another congregation of believers, elect and called to be saints through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we see the fellowship we have with all other true believers in Christ Jesus – fellowship which even extends across time to all who are members of Christ’s everlasting kingdom and church through faith in their Lord and Savior, Messiah Jesus.

Grant, O Lord, that we not neglect to join together with our fellow believers, that we might hear and share Your life-giving Word and rejoice in You and in the salvation You have provided for us through Your innocent sufferings and death upon the cross and by Your glorious resurrection. Amen.

Preparing for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 8; 1 Timothy 6:1-21; Luke 5:1-11. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship.

Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of 1 Peter, continuing at chapter 3, verse 13ff.

Verse to Remember

“Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:10

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 continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Ethan (Mayer) Hardigan, for Dawn Hiebert, for Sam Rusch, for Mel Boren, for Jennifer Rhamy; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus. Remember the efforts to spread the Word of God through publication of the Scriptures and other faithful materials on the Internet through the Sword Project, Crosswire Bible Society, Xiphos and other organizations.

Events and Announcements

Choir will practice following church services on Sunday.

Lenten worship continues on Wednesdays, with worship services at 7 p.m. and a soup and sandwich supper at 6:20 p.m.

A church cleaning day is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, March 23, beginning at 10 a.m.

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by email at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org.

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

 

Words of Encouragement for December 5, 2012

Meditations in St. John’s First Epistle

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15

“What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer” (Joseph Scriven, 1819-1886).

How true these familiar words are! Because Jesus bore the curse and condemnation for our sins and the sins of the entire world when He suffered and died upon the cross, we have the privilege of being children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, addressing God as “our Father” and coming into His very presence with all our prayers and petitions, and He hears us.

It is as the writer to the Hebrews states: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:12-22).

As believers in Christ Jesus, we not only have the forgiveness and life Jesus won for us by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, we have the right and privilege as God’s forgiven children to come before the very throne of God in heaven with all our prayers and petitions. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection in our stead, God invites and welcomes us into His presence and hears our prayers.

And, as John writes, “If we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

What a privilege, what a comfort, to know that God hears and answers our prayers for Jesus’ sake? And since we know that He hears us, whatever we ask of Him, we also know that He will grant our petitions in accord with His good and perfect will (cf. Psalm 37:4-5; 50:15).

O gracious and merciful Father, thank You for the privilege of prayer, and thank You for hearing my prayers and granting my petitions in accord with Your good and perfect will, all for the sake of Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross for me. Amen.

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 66; 1 Thessalonians 2; and Luke 1:26-38. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of 1 Peter, chapter 1, at verse 13.

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 continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Dawn Hiebert who is recovering from surgery, for Mel Boren who is in a nursing home, for Crystal Brooks, for Pastor Moll who is having skin cancer surgeries this week; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus. Remember the efforts to spread the Word of God through publication of the Scriptures and other faithful materials on the Internet through the Sword Project, Crosswire Bible Society, Xiphos and other organizations.

Events and Announcements

Advent Worship will be held tonight and next Wednesday. Worship will be at 7 p.m. A soup and sandwich supper will begin at 6:20 p.m.

Choir practice will be held after church on Sunday. New members are welcome.

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by email at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org.

 

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

 

 

Like sheep without a shepherd

There’s a passage in the Gospel of Matthew which so well describes the people of this world: “And seeing the crowds, He was moved with pity for them, because they were tired and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (9:36).

How true these words remain! Like sheep without a shepherd and wandering aimlessly here and there looking for fulfillment in life but not finding it, trying this and trying that but without any lasting happiness or purpose: how well this depicts so many around us!

And, how sad! I wonder sometimes how people can live like that, not really knowing their Maker and why they are here in this world. Though they may be knowledgeable and wise, they are not wise in the things which really matter. Though they experience many temporary joys, they know no lasting peace and happiness!

Jesus was filled with pity — moved with compassion — for the people of His day whom He encountered during His earthly ministry. Though they may have been religious, most didn’t even know the God they claimed to worship. Though He was their Maker and came into the world to suffer and die to redeem them, they didn’t recognize Him. Instead of being concerned about their spiritual and eternal well being, their concern was only for earthly things. Instead of desiring the Bread of Life to nourish and give life to their souls, they desired only earthly bread to temporarily nourish their bodies. Though they thought they could see, they were blind to the truth taught throughout the Scriptures.

And nothing has changed. Many people are still religious, but few know their Maker and Redeemer. They seek the Lord, but not for forgiveness and life everlasting; they seek Him only when they desire help to meet their earthly needs. They think they see and know the truth, but they are spiritually blind, dead and in rebellion against their God and Maker.

It’s especially disheartening to see one’s own children or family members wandering about in life without knowing and following the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep and who seeks to gather them into His fold and lead them to nourishing pastures and springs of life-giving waters. Instead of seeking out their Shepherd and hearing Him call them through His Word, they wander off in other directions and pay no heed to the Word.

Jesus urged His disciples to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the harvest; for, He said, the harvest truly is great but the workers are few. That is true today as well. There are so many wandering through life, clueless as to what it’s all about and not knowing the One who suffered, died and rose again and who now offers them pardon, forgiveness and life in fellowship with their Maker, both now and in eternity. But the workers are few — most are clueless themselves and are blind leaders of the blind. While many hold up Jesus as an example of a loving and caring life, few proclaim what Jesus did for all when He, in love, went to the cross and laid down His life for us wandering sheep to win for us forgiveness and life everlasting.

It is my prayer — and I hope it is yours too — that Jesus, the Lord of the Harvest, would raise up workers who, like Him, have pity on all the lost sheep of this world, and that they would go out and proclaim God’s Word — nothing more and nothing less — and call those wandering sheep back from their wandering ways to Jesus, the true Shepherd of their souls.

Jesus is the giver of life and only in Him can lost souls have life!

 

 [Green's Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr. All rights reserved.]

Words of Encouragement for March 15

Watch and Pray

“32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane. And He said to His disciples, Sit here while I pray. 33 And He took along Peter and James and John with Him. And He began to be much amazed and to be deeply troubled. 34 And He said to them, My soul is deeply grieved, unto death. Remain here and watch. 35 And going forward a little, He fell on the ground and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to You; take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will. 37 And He came and found them sleeping. And He said to Peter, Simon, do you sleep? Were you not strong enough to watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak. 39 And going away again, He prayed, saying the same thing. 40 And returning, He found them sleeping again, for their eyes were heavy. And they did not know what to answer Him. 41 And He came a third time, and said to them, Sleep on now, and rest. It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise up, let us go. Behold, the one betraying Me has drawn near.” Mark 14:32-42

 

“Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak.” v. 38

How important Jesus’ words are, not only to His disciples, whom He asked to watch and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane while He was in terrible agony over His coming sufferings and death for the sins of the world, but for us as well! The spirit – that new nature created in us by the Holy Spirit when we were baptized and brought to faith in Christ Jesus – is willing, but our flesh – that corrupt and sinful nature in us all – is weak and powerless when it comes to spiritual things.

Consider Jesus’ own disciples, who saw Jesus in terrible agony over the cup He was about to drink. Though their new spiritual nature was willing to watch and pray, their flesh was weak. Instead of watching and praying, they fell asleep and were of no help and comfort to Jesus. They were totally unprepared for the temptations which were about to come upon them. And what happened? Peter denied even knowing Jesus, and the others forsook Him and fled for their lives.

But you and I are no different. Our regenerated spiritual nature is ready and willing to watch which Jesus, contemplate His sufferings and death for the sins of the world and pray that we hold fast to Jesus and not fall into temptation and sin. Our new nature is willing to do as Peter admonishes in his epistle: “Be sensible, watch, because your adversary the Devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone he may devour; whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are being completed in your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). In addition to putting on the armor of God and walking in His strength, our new nature is willing to watch and pray with all who trust in Christ “through all prayer and petition, praying at every time in the Spirit, and watching to this same thing with all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints” (Eph. 6:18; cf. 10-18).

But like Peter and the rest of the disciples, our flesh is weak and powerless. Instead of watching with Jesus by reading and studying the Scriptures and coming to hear His Word, we occupy ourselves with other things and even fall asleep rather than watching and meditating upon the sufferings and death of our Savior.

And, instead of praying that God would “not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil” (Matthew 6:13), we are oblivious to the dangers which threaten our souls and we sleep on (spiritually) even as the devil lurks about, marks us out and seeks to destroy our faith and rob us of eternal salvation.

How important Jesus’ words are for us: “Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation”!

And how thankful we can be that Jesus watched and prayed in the Garden, that He prayed to His heavenly Father and was strengthened by an angel (cf. Luke 22:39-46)! Even though the thought of bearing the guilt and condemnation for the sins of the world was rightly repulsive to Jesus, the holy and sinless Son of God, He prayed, “Yet not what I will, but what You will” (v. 36). And Jesus, did not give in to the tempter’s power. He willingly submitted to the will and plan of His heavenly Father and went to the cross to bear the just condemnation and punishment – being forsaken of His own Father – for our sins and the sins of the entire human race.

Because Christ Jesus did that, because He suffered and died for the sins of the world and rose again, you and I who sleep and fail to watch and pray, have forgiveness of God. Jesus paid in full for all your sins, all my sins and for the sins of all mankind! In Him, we have forgiveness and in Him we have life everlasting!

This, of course, is all the more reason for us to watch and pray with Jesus. It is reason to set aside time from our earthly cares to watch and consider the just punishment for our sins which was laid upon Jesus. And it is time to consider and take hold of in faith the forgiveness and life He won for us and all by His innocent sufferings and death in our stead and assured to us by His glorious resurrection!

Of ourselves we are weak and powerless to watch and pray with Jesus, but in the power and strength which the Holy Spirit provides, our new and regenerated nature is willing and ready to watch and pray with Jesus and to consider and take hold of all that He has done for us by His submission to the plan of the Father to redeem us lost and condemned sinners.

God grant us the faith and strength to watch and pray with Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

 

From the Lutheran Confessions

The Smalcald Articles

THE THIRD PART OF THE ARTICLES

Concerning the following articles we may [will be able to] treat with learned and reasonable men, or among ourselves. The Pope and his [the Papal] government do not care much about these. For with them conscience is nothing, but money, [glory] honors, power are [to them] everything.

Part III, Article I. Of Sin

1] Here we must confess, as Paul says in Rom. 5:12, that sin originated [and entered the world] from one man Adam, by whose disobedience all men were made sinners, [and] subject to death and the devil. This is called original or capital sin.

2] The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments, such as [distrust] unbelief, false faith, idolatry, to be without the fear of God, presumption [recklessness], despair, blindness [or complete loss of sight], and, in short not to know or regard God; furthermore to lie, to swear by [to abuse] God’s name [to swear falsely], not to pray, not to call upon God, not to regard [to despise or neglect] God’s Word, to be disobedient to parents, to murder, to be unchaste, to steal, to deceive, etc.

3] This hereditary sin is so deep [and horrible] a corruption of nature that no reason can understand it, but it must be [learned and] believed from the revelation of Scriptures, Ps. 51:5; Rom. 6:12ff ; Ex. 33:3; Gen. 3:7ff Hence, it is nothing but error and blindness in regard to this article what the scholastic doctors have taught, namely:

4] That since the fall of Adam the natural powers of man have remained entire and incorrupt, and that man by nature has a right reason and a good will; which things the philosophers teach.

5] Again, that man has a free will to do good and omit evil, and, conversely, to omit good and do evil.

6] Again, that man by his natural powers can observe and keep [do] all the commands of God.

7] Again, that, by his natural powers, man can love God above all things and his neighbor as himself.

8] Again, if a man does as much as is in him, God certainly grants him His grace.

9] Again, if he wishes to go to the Sacrament, there is no need of a good intention to do good, but it is sufficient if he has not a wicked purpose to commit sin; so entirely good is his nature and so efficacious the Sacrament.

10] [Again,] that it is not founded upon Scripture that for a good work the Holy Ghost with His grace is necessary.

11] Such and many similar things have arisen from want of understanding and ignorance as regards both this sin and Christ, our Savior, and they are truly heathen dogmas, which we cannot endure. For if this teaching were right [approved], then Christ has died in vain, since there is in man no defect nor sin for which he should have died; or He would have died only for the body, not for the soul, inasmuch as the soul is [entirely] sound, and the body only is subject to death.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 19; Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; and John 2:13-25. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter six, verse 9ff.

 

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 Dixie Grant who is recovering from injuries received in a traffic accident; for Dawn Hiebert who is undergoing tests and will be undergoing surgeries; for Sam Rusch, that he would remain well; for Bonnie Hawes, who is recovering from heart surgery; for Mel Boren who is in a nursing home; for Pastor Moll, who will be undergoing surgery; 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 and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

Lenten Worship continues on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m., with a soup and sandwich supper at 6:20 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.

 

[Scripture taken from Green's Literal Translation (LITV), Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved.]

Words of Encouragement for Jan. 12

You are God’s temple, His sanctuary

“Or do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit in you, which you have from God, and you are not of yourselves? You were bought with a price; then glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Many consider their bodies to be their own, to do with as they please, whether that be to engage in illicit sex, abuse themselves with alcohol or other drugs, or even to harm themselves or commit suicide; but that is not the case. We were created by the LORD God that we might live for Him.

Since mankind turned aside from the ways of the LORD and fell into sin, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, redeemed us by shedding His own precious blood for us upon the cross (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19) and winning for us forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting.

We most certainly are not our own! We have been bought with a price, the blood of our God and Savior! “He died for all, that the living ones may live no more to themselves, but to the One having died for them and having been raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).

God not only poured out His Spirit upon the first disciples at the feast of Pentecost; He also graciously gave us His Spirit at our baptism (cf. Acts 2:38-39). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son as well make their abode with us (cf. John 14:15-23). The Spirit of God graciously brought us to trust in Jesus as our Savior and now He dwells in us to sanctify and keep us in that true and saving faith (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13-17; Phil. 1:6). What a blessing this is!

The Holy Spirit dwells in us believers – in our bodies. Therefore, we certainly would not desire to use our bodies to sin! Whether we be tempted to commit fornication, to use drugs or become intoxicated by alcohol or to do anything which is contrary to God’s holy will, we as Christians will want to consider what God’s Word says. We are God’s sanctuary; God the Holy Spirit dwells in us!

O Spirit of God, You dwell in us. Graciously continue Your sanctifying work in us that we might repent of our sins and continue in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus as our Savior and live our lives as Your sacred temple. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Devotion in Audio Format:  http://mollfoto.com/audio-devotions/1Cor6.19-20.mp3

 

From the Lutheran Confessions

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration

XII. Other Factions, Heresies and Sects. Which Never Embraced the Augsburg Confession.

1] However, as regards the sects and factions [sectarists and heretics] which never have embraced the Augsburg Confession, and of which express mention has not been made in this our explanation, such as are the Anabaptists, Schwenckfeldians, New Arians, and Anti-Trinitarians, 2] whose errors have been unanimously condemned by all churches of the Augsburg Confession, we have not wished to make particular and especial mention of them in this explanation, for the reason that at the present time this has been our only aim [that we might above all refute the charges of our adversaries, the Papists].

3] Since our opponents alleged with shameless mouths, and decried throughout all the world our churches and their teachers, claiming that not two preachers are found who agree in each and every article of the Augsburg Confession, but that they are rent asunder and separated from one another to such an extent that they themselves no longer know what is the Augsburg Confession and its proper [true, genuine, and germane] sense; 4] we have not made a joint confession only in brief words or names, but wished to make a pure, clear, distinct declaration concerning all the disputed articles which have been discussed and controverted only among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession, 5] in order that every one may see that we do not wish in a cunning manner to dissemble or cover up all this, or to come to an agreement only in appearance; 6] but to remedy the matter thoroughly, and have wished to set forth our opinion of these matters in such a manner that even our adversaries themselves must confess that in all this we abide by the true, simple, natural, and proper sense of the Augsburg Confession, in which we desire, moreover, by God’s grace, to persevere constantly until our end; and so far as it depends on our service, we will not connive at or be silent, lest anything contrary to the same [the genuine and sacred sense of the Augsburg Confession] is introduced into our churches and schools, in which the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed us teachers and pastors.

7] However, lest there be silently ascribed to us the condemned errors of the above enumerated factions and sects ["of which evil the papistic tyranny, which persecutes the pure doctrine is the chief cause"], 8] -which as is the nature of such spirits, for the most part, secretly stole in at localities, and especially at a time when no place or room was given to the pure Word of the holy Gospel, but all its sincere teachers and confessors were persecuted, and the deep darkness of the Papacy still prevailed, and poor simple men who could not help but feel the manifest idolatry and false faith of the Papacy, in their simplicity, alas! embraced whatever was called the Gospel, and was not papistic,-we could not forbear testifying also against them publicly, before all Christendom, that we have neither part nor fellowship with their errors, be they many or few, but reject and condemn them, one and all, as wrong and heretical, and contrary to the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles, and to our Christian Augsburg Confession, well grounded in God’s Word.

Erroneous Articles of the Anabaptists.

9] Namely, for instance, the erroneous, heretical doctrines of the Anabaptists, which are to be tolerated and allowed neither in the Church, nor in the commonwealth, nor in domestic life, when they teach:

10] 1. That our righteousness before God consists not only in the sole obedience and merit of Christ, but in our renewal and our own piety in which we walk before God; which they, for the most part, base upon their own peculiar ordinances and self-chosen spirituality, as upon a new sort of monkery.

11] 2. That children who are not baptized are not sinners before God, but righteous and innocent, and thus are saved in their innocency without Baptism, which they do not need. Accordingly, they deny and reject the entire doctrine concerning original sin and what belongs to it.

12] 3. That children are not to be baptized until they have attained the use of reason and can confess their faith themselves.

13] 4. That the children of Christians, since they have been born of Christian and believing parents, are holy and the children of God even without and before Baptism; and for this reason they neither attach much importance to the baptism of children nor encourage it, contrary to the express words of the promise, which extends only to those who keep God’s covenant and do not despise it, Gen. 17:9.

14] 5. That a congregation [church] in which sinners are still found is no true Christian assembly.

15] 6. That no sermon should be heard or attended in those churches in which the papal masses have previously been said.

16] 7. That no one should have anything to do with those ministers of the Church who preach the holy Gospel according to the Confession, and rebuke the errors of baptists; also, that no one should serve or in any way labor for them, but should flee from and shun them as perverters of God’s Word.

17] 8. That under the New Testament the magistracy is not a godly estate.

18] 9. That a Christian cannot with a good, inviolate conscience hold the office of magistrate.

19] 10. That a Christian cannot without injury to conscience use the office of the magistracy in matters that may occur [when the matter so demands] against the wicked, neither can its subjects appeal to its power.

20] 11. That a Christian cannot with a good conscience take an oath before a court, nor with an oath do homage to his prince or hereditary sovereign.

21] 12. That magistrates cannot without injury to conscience inflict capital punishment upon evil-doers.

22] 13. That a Christian cannot with a good conscience hold or possess any property, but is in duty bound to devote it to the common treasury.

23] 14. That a Christian cannot with a good conscience be an inn-keeper, merchant, or cutler.

24] 15. That married persons may be divorced on account of faith [diversity of religion], and that the one may abandon the other, and be married to another of his own faith.

25] 16. That Christ did not assume His flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary, but brought them with Him from heaven.

26] 17. That He is not true, essential God either, but only has more and higher gifts and glory than other men.

27] And still more articles of like kind; for they are divided among themselves into many bands [sects], and one has more and another fewer errors, and thus their entire sect is in reality nothing but a new kind of monkery.

Erroneous Articles of the Schwenckfeldians.

28] Likewise, when the Schwenckfeldians assert:

29] 1. First, that all those have no knowledge of the reigning King of heaven, Christ, who regard Christ according to the flesh, or His assumed humanity, as a creature, and that the flesh of Christ has by exaltation so assumed all divine properties that in might, power, majesty, and glory He is in every respect, in degree and position of essence, equal to the Father and the eternal Word, so that there is the same essence, properties, will, and glory of both natures in Christ, and that the flesh of Christ belongs to the essence of the Holy Trinity.

30] 2. That the ministry of the Church, the Word preached and heard, is not a means whereby God the Holy Ghost teaches men, and works in them saving knowledge of Christ, conversion, repentance, faith, and new obedience.

31] 3. That the water of Baptism is not a means by which God the Lord seals adoption and works regeneration.

32] 4. That bread and wine in the Holy Supper are not means by which Christ distributes His body and blood.

33] 5. That a Christian man who is truly regenerated by God’s Spirit can in this life keep and fulfil the Law of God perfectly.

34] 6. That a congregation in which no public excommunication or regular process of the ban is observed, is no true Christian congregation [church].

35] 7. That the minister of the Church who is not on his part truly renewed, righteous, and godly cannot teach other men with profit or administer real, true sacraments.

Erroneous Articles of the New Arians.

36] Also, when the New Arians teach that Christ is not a true, essential, natural God, of one eternal divine essence with God the Father, but is only adorned with divine majesty inferior to, and beside, God the Father.

Erroneous Articles of the New Anti-Trinitarians.

37] 1. Also, when some Anti-Trinitarians reject and condemn the ancient approved symbola, Nicaenum et Athanasianum (the Nicene and Athanasian creeds), as regards both their sense and words, and teach that there is not only one eternal divine essence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but as there are three distinct persons, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, so each person has also its essence distinct and separate from the other persons; yet that all three are either as otherwise three men, distinct and separate in their essence, of the same power, wisdom, majesty, and glory [as some imagine], or in essence and properties unequal [as others think].

38] 2. That the Father alone is true God.

39] These and like articles, one and all, with what pertains to them and follows from them, we reject and condemn as wrong, false, heretical, and contrary to the Word of God, the three Creeds, the Augsburg, Confession and Apology, the Smalcald Articles, and the Catechisms of Luther. Of these articles all godly Christians should and ought to beware, as much as the welfare and salvation of their souls is dear to them.

40] Since now, in the sight of God and of all Christendom [the entire Church of Christ], we wish to testify to those now living and those who shall come after us that this declaration herewith presented concerning all the controverted articles aforementioned and explained, and no other, is our faith, doctrine, and confession, in which we are also willing, by God’s grace, to appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, and give an account of it; and that we will neither privately nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it, but, by the help of God’s grace, intend to abide thereby: therefore, after mature deliberation, we have, in God’s fear and with the invocation of His name, attached our signatures with our own hands.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 139:1-10; 1 Samuel 3:1-20; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; and John 1:43-51. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter two.

 

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 Dixie Grant who is recovering from injuries received in a traffic accident; for Sam Rusch; for Bonnie Hawes, who is recovering from heart surgery; for Mel Boren who was hospitalized; 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 and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

Our annual voters’ meeting, which includes election of officers and adoption of a budget for 2012, is scheduled for this Sunday, Jan. 15, following our morning worship service and a pot-luck dinner.

A pot-luck dinner is planned, following our worship service, on Sunday, Jan. 15. All are welcome to join us.

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.

Audio Devotions - In addition to the newsletters and written devotions and articles, the church website, http://goodshepherdrogers.org, has a number of audio devotions which can be listened to on a computer or smart phone.

 

New Website

In addition to our church website at www.goodshepherdrogers.org, a new website has been started as an outreach site for people to send in questions about life issues for Bible-based answers at www.life-issues.org. The site is especially designed to answer questions for today’s young people, but questions of all kinds are welcome.

[Scripture taken from Green's Literal Translation (LITV), Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved.]

Watch and Pray – Mark 13

“Take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time is.” Mark 13:33 (Read v. 24-37)

Yes, Jesus is coming again! He said: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of Heaven shall fall, and the powers in the heavens shall be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He shall send His angels and shall gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven”

Though we know neither the day nor the hour, we know by the times that Jesus’ return to judge the living and the dead is close at hand and could come at any moment. The tribulation described has taken place and the gospel of forgiveness and life in Messiah Jesus has been published among all nations (v. 10). The time is near!

Are we ready for that day? Jesus admonishes us to “take heed, watch and pray, for you do not know when the time is.” Jesus warns us lest that Day should find us unprepared and not looking for the return of our God and Savior and not walking in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus.

Since we know not the day or the hour, we would be wise to watch and pray in anticipation of Christ’s return. We watch and live in the expectation that Jesus could return at any time. We pray that He who raised us up from spiritual darkness and death and brought us to trust in Christ Jesus for pardon and peace would preserve us in that faith unto Christ’s return – that He would guard and keep us from all the assaults of the devil, the world and our own corrupt and sinful flesh and keep us trusting in Jesus’ shed blood for forgiveness and life.

To be ready for that Day, we heed the message of God’s Word and live in continual repentance. We acknowledge our sins and disobedience to God’s commandments but take hold of the comfort of forgiveness and life offered to us in the Gospel for the sake of our crucified and risen Savior, Christ Jesus (cf. 1 John 1:9).

Jesus is coming soon, but we can be ready and rejoice at His coming because He has won for us forgiveness and life everlasting.

Come, Lord Jesus. Graciously keep me from all evil and grant that I live in continual repentance, placing all my hope and confidence in You and Your blood shed for me upon the cross. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the Modern King James Version of the Holy Bible Copyright © 1962 - 1998 by Jay P. Green, Sr., used by permission of the copyright holder.]