Cross Examination

May 28, 2012

When he [the Counselor] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. – John 16:8

It is never easy to serve as a witness in a court room. The challenge starts when the oath is taken to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” After the testimony is given, an even greater challenge follows. It is the cross-examination. Here attorneys from either the defense or the prosecution will try to find flaws in the testimony. Certainty of facts will be questioned, as will eye-witness accounts. Even the reliability of the witness will be scrutinized. It is a stressful process, but it becomes necessary to either refute or convince.

It is interesting that Jesus chooses this concept to explain the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the Counselor. When he comes, he will cross-examine the world and its testimony about sin, righteousness and judgment. It is a cross-examination to which I need to pay careful attention.

It is easy for me to adopt the world’s wisdom and ways. I downplay the severity of my disobedience. I lower God’s standard for my life. I maintain false notions about Judgment Day. However, will my adherence to these ways pass the Counselor’s cross-examination?

Worldly ways and wisdom will be refuted when compared to the wisdom that comes from God’s Word. The truth will always stand. It will clearly define God’s position on sin, righteousness and judgment. God’s truth is that I deserve his sentence of eternal punishment for my sin. My righteous works will never measure up to God’s perfect standard. It is impossible for me to stand on my own accomplishments on the Day of Judgment.

With worldly ways and wisdom refuted, I cling to the truth God provides. That truth directly leads me to Jesus. Through his work as my Savior, I am forgiven. Through his sinless life of obedience, I am clothed with his righteousness. Through his humiliation and exaltation, I am declared not guilty and ready for Judgment Day. What Jesus has done will always stand as true, and will always stand up under cross-examination.

That is why I put my confidence in Jesus alone. He is my Savior from sin. He is my righteousness. He is my Rock and my Hope. He also assures me, when I put my confidence in him, I will never be put to shame.

Prayer: O blessed Savior, you have promised to send me your Holy Spirit. Fill me with his power. Lead me through his counsel. Strengthen me with his presence, so that I never fail or fall. Amen.


May 27, 2012

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Lord, Open My Eyes

May 21, 2012

 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him – Luke 24:31

The two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus had a problem. They were blind. That blindness was not a physical disability. Rather, it was one of the heart. While they walked to their destination, they talked about the events of the past week. They discussed everything that had happened to Jesus – his suffering, death and resurrection. Unfortunately, none of it made any sense, because it didn’t match what they wanted to see.

It is a blindness which affects me. I may have an acquaintance with Jesus. I may even appreciate his commitment and the example of his life. Still, I am disappointed because I want Jesus to match my view of him. I want him to be in my life, but not too involved. I want him to be ready to help me, but only when I am in a desperate situation. I want him to be ready to guide me, but only when I am completely lost. If this is how I see Jesus, then I am just as blind as the Emmaus disciples.

This is when I need Jesus to come to my rescue, just as he came to those disciples. The Bible says that “he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”(Luke 24:27). Jesus explained everything he did according to what God said he would do. He also drew them back to the upper room where he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it them. In these acts of love, Jesus opened their eyes to the truth.

In humility I am thankful that Jesus does not abandon me in my blindness. He reaches out to me in love even though I have turned away from him. He offers me forgiveness even though I didn’t seek it. He opens up the Scriptures to me even though I have neglected them. Jesus even offers me a stunning picture of his loving faithfulness through the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus’ sincerest desire is that my eyes are open to the great things he has done for me. He withholds nothing so that I can clearly see him and see what he has done for me. Certainly, I will have to deal with daily distractions. The devil will try to deceive me, as will the world with its disappointments. Consequently, every day I will need to rely on what the Lord has revealed to me. I will also need to pray daily:  “Lord, open my eyes!”

Prayer: O gracious Savior, through your holy Word and the gift of the Lord’s Supper, open my eyes to see you as my Savior, and as the giver of everything I need for this life and the life to come. Amen.

Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 20, 2012

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Ascension Day

May 17, 2012

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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God’s Hand Holds Us

May 14, 2012

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. – Acts 2:14a, 22-32

When we were children and we were scared, wasn’t it good to have somebody’s hand to hold? I can remember as a child once being lost in the grocery store.  n a panic, my mother nowhere in sight, I began to cry. A nice lady rounded the corner of the aisle, hearing my sobs, and extended her hand. She offered to help me find my mother. I no longer felt alone.

Peter’s words to the crowd on Pentecost echo some of these thoughts. He begins with the guilt of sin. Sin caused Christ’s horrible, painful death. And the horrible truth of his death is that it was our fault. “You…put him to death by nailing him to the cross,” Peter says. Though none of us were actually there, we did nail Jesus to the cross. It is the guilt of our sins that demanded his death. And by God’s plan, Jesus died instead of us.

As Christians we rejoice in this fact. Jesus Christ died to pay for our sins so that God’s anger over our sin would be removed. But Peter goes even further. Our joy is that “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on [Jesus].” Quoting one of King David’s psalms, Peter gives us a beautiful way to think about that truth. The Savior speaks through David’s words. He describes his strength and confidence even in death because God was at his right hand. Picture God the Father holding Jesus’ hand as if to remind him that God had not abandoned the Savior to death, but that life was just around the corner.

The Christian’s greatest joy is that Jesus not only died but was raised to life again. By the disciples’ firsthand witness we are able to testify about these facts in our lives. We know sin’s guilt was paid when Jesus died. We know he wasn’t conquered by death. He rose again. Together, these facts bring comfort. We know the payment for sin is made. We live free from guilt and fear. Because of Jesus’ power over death, the death we face someday won’t be able to hold us either. We can walk through life and even enter the grave with the confidence that God’s hand is firmly wrapped around ours. In Jesus our Savior, we are safe with God forever.

Prayer: Lord, in your Son’s death and resurrection you assure me that I’m your dear child. As I study your Word, lead me by the hand, guide, and care for me today and every day. Amen.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 13, 2012

Matins, Page 208, Lutheran Worship

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