Getting Ready For Quittin’ Time

There are signs of the Lord’s coming all around: the cross that marks His Church, the violence and death of the sinful world, and the shaking of the natural order. “There will be great distress upon the earth” (Luke 21:23), but the faithful know that “the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31). Therefore, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Be awake and alert, and heed the words of Christ, which “will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). For you, “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (Mal. 4:2). He sends His preachers of repentance in the spirit and power of Elijah “before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (Mal. 4:5), in order to “direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5). Although you are often faithless, “the Lord is faithful,” and by the preaching of His Word “he will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3). Therefore, “do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thess. 3:13). In the midst of calamity, believe upon the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Free Indeed!

“Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over
to violent men, that we might eat and drink with Him in His kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). For He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal
Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by
hearing the Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Two Prayers

Jesus tells a parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (Luke 18:9). In this parable, the Pharisee unjustly boasted before God on the basis of his own merits, whereas the tax collector intently prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). That poor, miserable sinner trusted Christ, and he went “down to his house justified, rather than the other” (Luke 18:14). So do little children, “even infants,” come to Jesus with their need, and they “receive the kingdom of God” through faith (Luke 18:15–17). For “the one who humbles himself will be exalted,” but “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” (Luke 18:14). That is why “the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard” (Gen. 4:4–5). St. Paul’s life, “poured out as a drink offering,” was another sacrifice like Abel’s (2 Tim. 4:6). The Lord stood by Paul and strengthened him, that “the message might be fully proclaimed” (2 Tim. 4:17). It is by that Gospel message of Christ that we “have loved his appearing” and as repentant sinners pray to “the Lord, the righteous judge” by faith (2 Tim. 6:8).

Six Lessons from Ten Lepers

Jesus comes in mercy and, by His Word, heals you in body and soul. “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” for you are cleansed (Luke 17:14), and you are granted access to the Lord’s temple. It is “at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks” (Luke 17:16), that you worship God, for Christ Jesus is your great High Priest; His body is the true temple. In Him, you “find rest, each of you in the house of her husband” (Ruth 1:9), for the Lord has “visited his people and given them food” (Ruth 1:6). The person of Jesus Christ lodges Himself in holy food — bread and wine for believers to eat and drink. You lodge where Jesus lodges; His Father is your God, His people are your people. Death cannot part you from Him because His death and resurrection are eternally yours through Holy Baptism. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Tim. 2:8). As surely as death could not hold Him, so surely “the word of God is not bound” (2 Tim. 2:9). His Gospel is entrusted “to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2), so that you “may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:10). Such is the confession of faith for all the saints, who believe, teach and confess the one Lord and Savior — Jesus Christ.

Faith Goes to Work

We are surrounded by “destruction and violence” (Hab. 1:3) because the Law “is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth” (Hab. 1:4). In fact, the Law cannot rescue us from our enemies; it is our fiercest enemy of all. Therefore, not by sight, experience or feeling, nor by works, “the righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). “Temptations to sin are sure to come” (Luke 17:1), but as often as we sin, the Lord rebukes us, turns us to repentance and forgives us. We pray that He would thus “increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). And indeed, He does! Though we are His “unworthy servants” (Luke 17:10), He prepares His Supper for us, dresses us properly and gives us His body and blood to eat and drink. He appoints pastors for us, “by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:1). For the Gospel brings “life and immortality to light” (2 Tim. 1:10). This we believe. Therefore, “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard,” by which He guards you “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13).

Following Jesus Into Eternity

“The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side,” and “the rich man also died and was buried” (Luke 16:22). The poor man Lazarus, who knew many bad things on earth, began to be comforted forever, whereas the rich man, after a lifetime of good things, began to be “in anguish” (Luke 16:25). Therefore, “woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1), for “the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away” (Amos 6:7). The wealthy are urged “not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches,” but “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim. 6:17–18). Covetous desire for what God has not given is idolatry and “a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim. 6:10). Contentment belongs to faith, by which the Christian has “great gain” in godliness (1 Tim. 6:6).