A New Creation

You[will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
   and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-2 ESV

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
   my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to theLord,”
   and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32: 1-5 ESV


17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[ the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” II Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV

As beautiful as these orchids are, they pale in comparison to the beauty of our status before our Almighty God, the Creator of the world–we are forgiven through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. Isaiah spoke of this forgiveness. The Psalm writer wrote about this forgiveness. St. Paul wrote about our status as a “new creation.” No sin is dark enough. No circumstance is hopeless enough that God’s mercy cannot reach you. During this season of Lent our Lord calls us back to Himself. He calls us to turn away from our idols and to look at Him alone–even as He looked upon us as He hung from the Cross with love to reconcile us to our Heavenly Father. May the beauty of God’s Word strengthen you and give you hope this day.

Advertisements

Temptation

image by Briton Revieri
"O Christ, You walked the road our wand'ring feet must go. 
You faced with us temptation's pow'r and fought our ancient foe.
No bread of earth alone can fill our hung'ring hearts.
Lord, help us seek Your living Word, the food Your grace imparts.

No blinding sign we ask, no wonder from above.
Lord, help us place our trust alone in Your unswerving love.
When lures of easy gain with promise brightly shine,
Lord, help us seek Your kingdom first;
our wills with Yours align.

O Christ, You walked the road our wandr'ing feet must go.
Stay with us through temptation's hour to fight our ancient foe."

O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. When I call, answer me. O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. Come and listen to me. In boldness I pray to you for you have been forever faithful and have promised to listen. You know what is on my heart and mind this night. I lift my prayer to you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Transfiguration

Painting by Carl Bloch

“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

“Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”–not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

“And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” Luke 9:28-36

It was no dream…Peter and James and John with their own eyes and ears saw and heard Moses and Elijah conversing with their Lord who shown bright on the mountaintop that day. The scene inspired Peter to declare a holiday– “Let’s camp here!” (my paraphrase) It wouldn’t be the last time that Peter would try to throw a monkey wrench into the plan meant for our Savior. Moses and Elijah and Jesus–heads together–spoke about the days ahead. The mantel of the Law and the Prophets now rested on our Lord’s shoulders. He would bear the load of sin–alone–on the cross–for you, for me. A prolonged camping trip was not on His agenda.

A swirling cloud swallowed up the men on the mountain. God declared His agenda, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” The disciples heard those words and there was no more talk of tents. Peter didn’t say a word as they went back down the mountain. He and James and John kept the mountaintop experience to themselves. It would still be in the future that they would really HEAR/UNDERSTAND all the words from their Master’s lips–and that by the power of the Holy Spirit. They had a road trip to Jerusalem ahead of them.

Soon we will enter the season of Lent. A time of reflection. A spiritual road trip. And God tells us to listen to His Son, His Chosen One. He speaks to us in His Word and through His sacraments. We hear Him implore all who are weak and heavy laden to come to Him and to receive His rest. He promises to walk this road with us.

LORD may we listen to You and follow Your lead in word and deed. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

Be Merciful

“So Joseph said to his brothers, “come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:4-5

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103: 8-12

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36

These verses are a part of the Scripture readings that we will be hearing read tomorrow in the Divine Service. There is a beautiful, comforting theme that runs through them. First Joseph forgives his brothers and draws them to himself. Then the Psalmist tells just how far God removes our sins from us. And we hear Jesus’s words to his disciples to love those who seem impossible to love–their enemies. Acts of mercy. Words of forgiveness. I know how much I deserve God’s wrath, but instead I hear him say, “Come near to me. I forgive you. Go and be merciful too.”

Lord God, you do not treat me as my sins deserve.  Your Word instructs me in your way, but I often fail in following it.  When others sin against me I fail to be as gracious and merciful as you are to me. 

 Forgive me, Lord and help me to forgive those who sin against me.  Just as Joseph did not hold his brothers in contempt, let me also let go when I am wronged.  Let your grace and mercy rule in my heart, for Jesus’s sake, I pray.  Amen.

Who do you need to forgive?

Return

“Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2:13

If you’ve been “away” from the Lord, too busy to listen to His Word, preoccupied with your own doubts and fears, take heart.  God’s promise remains true.  He’s like the Father of the Prodigal son who runs to meet his undeserving son and lavishes his love and acceptance upon him.  God’s shows His lavishness and great faithfulness to you on a wooden cross where His only Son was hung to die.  Advent is the prequel to Christmas when we take time to realize that we celebrate Christmas because we cannot save ourselves from God’s anger.  He who hates sin and cannot bear it really DID bear it all on the cross.  Jesus’ cross bearing was for our sake.   He was raised for our sake!  And He lives and reigns at the Father’s right hand.  One day all who confess Jesus as their Lord will also be where He is–to live eternally. 

If you have never peeked inside a Bible–open one up and read from the book of John written by one who knew Jesus very well.  You’ll see what the Advent ‘reveal’ is all about.  God bless you!

Trust

Matthew 18:2-3 

“And calling to him a child, he [Jesus] put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Simple faith.  Simple trust.  Children are born dependent.  Our Creator, God the Father, created us to be totally dependent on Him.  We are His children, born of the Spirit through Water and the Word. 

Do we ever outgrow our dependence on Him? 

Lord God, many times we think and act as if we are all “grown up” spiritually and that we can do everything on our own.  We fail to recognize that it is by your grace and mercy that we “live, move, and have our being.”  Forgive us Lord, for our childish rather than childlike attitude toward life–one of trusting in You alone above all else, calling to You when we are in need, thanking and praising You for all that You “daily and richly” provide us.   In Jesus’ name we pray and give thanks!  Amen.


“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24-25

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

“I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.”       ~ Luther’s Morning prayer