Isaiah 65:1-9. This passage is filled with God’s compassion and long-suffering. Vs. 1 proclaims that the Lord is ready to receive those outside the covenant community of Israel; that’s good news to us because the Lord is open to us and receives us in His grace. Ask and seek Him, He is here.
But vs. 2 and following take on a disheartening theme as we see that the Lord is open to His people Israel, but that they have turned away from Him and have turned to pagan religious practices that lead them further away from the Lord. Isaiah proclaims a warning from the Lord that God will punish His people who turn from Him to other gods; but He will not make a complete end to them, He will save a remnant.
How are we doing? Do we ask and seek the Lord, or do we turn away to false religions? By the Holy Spirit, let us stay in the Lord.
Lord God, by Your Holy Spirit keep us close to You, You alone are our Lord and Savior. Move us to ask and seek You, trusting that You are already there to hear, answer, and receive us. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Psalm 3. The context of this psalm is that king David’s son Absalom has rebelled against David, and seeks to kill him. Closely read the psalm: notice how David is fully aware of his enemies, that they are even saying that the Lord has turned away from David and will let him be destroyed. But notice in vs. 3 and following that David trusts completely in the Lord to rescue and preserve him.
As you might remember, it was Absalom who was killed, David was preserved, and died as an old man, praising the Lord.
Almighty God, so many evils surround us, and the old enemy seeks to destroy us. Increase our faith so that we, like David, trust completely in You to protect and preserve us. Keep us in faith in Your Son. In His Name we pray. Amen.
Galatians 3:23-4:7. The Second Reading continues reading through major sections of Galatians. In this passage the apostle Paul notes the importance of the Law – it was our guardian until Jesus came; now our relationship with God is based on FAITH, not in keeping the Law. This passage is just as important today as the day it was written: many people claim to have faith, but turn to the Law as the means of putting us right with the Lord. This happens so subtly that we don’t notice it until we are back following the Law instead of Jesus.
Notice also the words of Paul regarding Baptism: Baptism unites us with Christ and with His Body, the Church. All of us are equal at the foot of the cross, redeemed through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Because we are children of God in Baptism, we can call out to God as our heavenly Father; the perfect parent Who gives us His kingdom, making us part of His family. To God be the glory!
Lord Jesus, we thank and praise You that You have fulfilled the Law and given us Your righteousness in Baptism. Thank You that at the foot of cross we are all children of God. Keep us in faith, keep us from falling back into keeping the Law as an attempt at righteousness. We thank You that through Your death and resurrection, and being joined to Your death and resurrection in Baptism, we have eternal life by grace through faith. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
Luke 8:26-39. In this passage we see the battle between the forces and powers of evil and Jesus. Demons, a “Legion” of them, have invaded this man’s life, driving him away from his community into the place of the dead, the cemetery. As soon as Jesus arrives, the conflict begins, the demons recognizing Jesus. Notice that they begged for mercy from Him, mercy is something they did not give to the poor man they had invaded. Notice also that in this confrontation, which really isn’t much of a confrontation, Jesus is in charge throughout. He sets the man free from the “Legion” of demons, and gives permission for the demons to invade a herd of (unclean) pigs. The pigs are so terrified of what has happened to them that they rush down the hillside into the lake and drown. What happens to the demons? They end up in the abyss.
There is great joy for the man who has been set free, but notice the reaction on the towns people, they ask Jesus to leave; they are more concerned about the loss of their pigs than they are that the man is free from the demon possession. How do we react when Jesus sets someone free? Are we filled with fear of what we might lose, or with joy that Jesus has freed someone?
Lord Jesus, we praise You for Your power over the forces of evil, and that You set us free. We especially praise You that in Your death and resurrection You ultimately set us free from sin, death, and the devil. Let us always rejoice in the new life we have, and in the new life You give to others. In Your Name we pray. Amen.