Midweek Lenten Service VI

March 28, 2012

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Get a Good Start in Life

March 26, 2012

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. – Genesis 12:1-8

Everyone wants to get a good start in life. Most parents see that as the most important part of raising their children, to make sure that they get a good start. They teach them about life, send them to school, take them to church, get them interested in sports or hobbies, and maybe even send them to college. If children get a good start, they have a better chance of having a good life. Most will also agree that having a good role model is important to getting a good start.

Our Bible reading today is about Abram, later known as Abraham. It is the beginning of the record of his life and if you read it carefully you can see that he would make a good role model. He shows us how to get a good start in life.

First of all he listened to God. God told Abram that he wanted him to move to a land far away from his home land. Even though he didn’t know where God was leading him, Abram listened to God’s word and obeyed. (God was going to guide Abram to the land of Canaan.) Listening and obeying God’s word is one way to get a good start in life.

Next Abram believed God’s promises. Along with promising to bless Abram’s life, God also promised that the whole world would be blessed through him. Abram recognized those words of God as a promise that the Savior of the world would come from his descendants. Abram trusted God as his Savior, another sure way to get a good start in life.

Then we are told that as he traveled and settled in the land, Abram stopped and took time to worship God. He saw the Lord’s hand in his life, and he took the time to acknowledge the Lord’s blessings and thank him. A person who sees his life as a gift from God has a good start in life.

After his good beginning, the Bible records the rest of Abram’s life. Like most people’s lives, Abram had a lot of ups and downs, but God never left him. God kept his promises; he prospered Abram and protected him. Most importantly, he fulfilled his promise of bringing the Savior into the world from the line of his family.

It’s interesting that the “good start” that Abram got in life began when he was 75 years old! It just goes to show you that it is never too late to get a good start.

Prayer: Lord, help me to hear your word and obey it. By the power of your Spirit, like Abram, help me to believe in you as my Savior. Amen.


Fifth Sunday in Lent

March 25, 2012

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Midweek Lenten Service V

March 21, 2012

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Blood Relative

March 19, 2012

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about – but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” … Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. – Romans 4:1-3,16-17

God picked Abraham, who was born hundreds of years after the Flood, for a special purpose.  God said, “… all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).  God had planned from the beginning to send this world a Savior who would be born to Abraham’s family line. Of course, Abraham didn’t know the when or the where, but God worked a beautiful thing in his heart: “Abraham believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” He believed God’s promise and God gave him the promised Savior’s perfect holiness and heaven.

From then on, every Jewish person knew they had Abraham’s blood in them. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, they made his blood more important than his faith. The writer of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul, was such a man during his early years. Proud of his bloodline, he also believed that he was earning more favor with God because he did Jewish things, such as following the Old Testament laws regarding what to eat and wear and how to worship, etc.

That is, until he met Jesus, the only perfect person to ever live on this earth. Suddenly he could see how blinded he had been by the traditions and false teachings that had been handed down to him. He could see that God’s Law convicts every one of us – we are all crooks in God’s perfect sight. The Holy Spirit brought Paul to believe in Jesus as his own Savior. He once said of all the traditions and his superficial obedience to rules, “I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9). It makes no difference if you’re Jew or Gentile. Faith in Jesus Christ … alone … is what brings us God’s gracious gift of heaven. No one else died and rose again for our sins.

Heritages can be a good thing. If you’ve traced your family history back to Europe in the 1300’s and have found some royalty among your forebears, it connects you, and gives you a better sense of who you are (horse thieves notwithstanding). But it can become a false hope, if, for instance, your mother was a faithful, devoted Christian or your grandfather was a pastor and you are expecting that your connection with them puts you in God’s favor. The same is true for those who swallow the popular “traditional” belief that if we “try to live a good life” we will all end up in heaven some day.

It’s not Abraham’s nor anyone else’s blood in our bodies that saves us, nor the flawed lives we live. Only the blood of Jesus ON us by grace through faith can do that. Such faith makes Abraham our father. His faith looked ahead, ours looks back. Our family line meets at Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for bringing me to believe in Jesus as my Savior through your holy Word and sacraments. Please help me to appreciate always the rich faith heritage I have together with father Abraham. Amen.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 18, 2012

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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Midweek Lenten Service IV

March 14, 2012

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