THIS WEEKS DEVOTIONS

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WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 18

Tuesday, JUNE 18, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“Maximum Forgiveness”

READING: I John 1:8-2:2 – If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

The other morning I was watching some sports on ESPN when they went to a commercial break. The third ad was for a company that makes and sells high-end golf clubs. One of their pitches caught my ear. It was for a new driver with a great big club head on it. The announcer breathlessly hawked its virtues and one was prominent: that club head would give the golfer “maximum forgiveness”. Now he meant that with the wide head and the weighted heel, you could make a straight drive even if you didn’t quite hit the ball square as you swung through it. To the serious golfer that equates to better, straighter drives and better scores. To the Christian with a tuned ear if means something quite different.

I have lately had discussions with several people who carry a terrible burden around with them. They worry a lot about their sins and their Christian shortcomings. They fear that their sins are so grievous and so plentiful that God will not forgive them, and they will fall short of heaven. They related to me past sins, some from years ago. They have tried hard to make amends for their sins. They have tried hard not to commit more sins. They were filled with contrition, and they were almost sick with the sorrow they felt over their faults. They loathed themselves to some degree because they kept failing to be “good Christians.”

Oh, folks! How ready we are to fall back into the world’s religion! That religion is “Works Righteousness”! Every religious system save for Biblical Christianity follows the same pattern: a sense of moral failure, a desire to make things right, real effort at doing good works in payment, and a constant fear of failure and falling short. You must earn it. You must pick yourself up and get right with the gods. You, you, you! And that is precisely the problem and the terrible dilemma people find themselves in. YOU can’t make it work!

And by the way a second trap lies there as well: self-righteousness. This is a feeling that I am doing pretty good at being good. Maybe not perfect, but certainly a lot better than most of the people I see around me. I’ve got this figured out. I go to Temple or the Mosque or the Church; I make the right offerings and sacrifices; I study Torah or the Koran or the Bible, and I try to be good to people. Surely Allah or Buddha or God can see my goodness.

Either way, when a person depends on their own efforts to earn forgiveness or salvation, the results will be ineffective. The folks I talked to were weighed down with guilt, exhausted by their constant self-examination, and fearful of God and his wrath. Others will never talk to me about their sins because they don’t really think they’ve done all that many. They feel they’re doing all right.

The only good path to tread is the path that walks in Jesus’ way. St. John in our text lays it out in straightforward fashion. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Then again, “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” Anyone who needs and desires “Maximum Forgiveness” does not depend upon their own efforts – positive or negative. We will never find the truth there inside ourselves. No, the ONLY place to look is to the perfect Son of God who gave himself for ALL our sins there on that cross. When he said, “It is finished!” – he meant it. “Maximum forgiveness” was bought for us by the blood and judgment of Jesus.

To those troubled children of God I could only speak the Gospel and point them to Jesus. There is no other rest for the weary. I assured them that Jesus had taken every and all of their sins with him to the Cross. Now their only comfort should be in God’s grace announced in book after book of the Scriptures. Faith in Jesus brings “Maximum forgiveness” for all who believe. But don’t take my word for it. Take His. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) VBS! VBS! VBS! Yes, it’s almost here! Sunday, June 23-Wednesday, June 26. Spread the word to any family you know with young children. This is for them! Pastor Woods can use you help if you are able. He’ll be there every Tuesday and Wednesday evening until it’s here.

2) FRANKENMUTH BUS TRIP – September 29-October 2. Registration is now open. Find information and forms in “News & Tidbits”, online, and in the Narthex. 53 seats available.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/2xAA42XUdLE

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJune18.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 17

Monday, JUNE 17, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Clothes Make the Soul”

I do not like shopping for clothes. I am not fond of trying stuff on. I do not care to waste time worrying about Kohls points. I would gladly wear work wear all day every day if I could get away with it. However, most of us know well that what we wear to church is not always what we wear at nighttime before going to bed. I once saw a woman at Kroger’s on a Saturday morning, pushing a shopping cart in a pair of slippers, a bath robe, hair in rollers, like she was walking through her kitchen trying to decide what to have for breakfast. It was so out of place that I did a double take. I thought that kind of stuff was reserved for Walmart late at night.

Any rational person knows that being appropriately dressed matters.

Something revealing is given to us in Genesis 2 and 3 that shows us how important it is that one is clothed with the right clothing. Genesis 2:25 says, Adam and Eve were both naked (arommim) and felt no shame. The root of naked is aram. Note that Adam and Eve felt no shame.

As we quickly discover in Genesis 3 aram means not only naked but also crafty or shrewd. Genesis 3:3 says, “Now the serpent was more crafty (aram) than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The serpent knew how to play on the naivete of the man and the woman. It has been observed here that serpents shed their skin. The serpent is naked deceiver. His craftiness is motivated by a hatred for God’s creation and for God. He is a contrast to God. It’s an interesting play on words. Craftiness nor nakedness are the problem. What does matter is what or who the shrewdness is attached to.

Once Adam and Eve realize they were naked aram their first instinct was to hide because of their shame. Their nakedness was not just an absence of clothes at this point but a shedding of innocence. Now they were no longer the perfect image of God but now they were like the serpent, having shed the perfect image they once had. The nakedness exposed them to God’s wrath as God’s curses are pronounced in the second half of Genesis 3:14ff

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock

and all wild animals!

You will crawl on your belly

and you will eat dust

all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity

between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

and you will strike his heel.”

Afterward the woman was cursed with pains in childbearing. For Adam the ground was cursed so that gardening would take a lot of work with lots of sweat from his brow. And most profound is the introduction of death—a return to the dust from which he was made. (Interesting in verse 20 that Eve is finally named, because she would become mother of all the living.) Each of us are bound by this curse as descendants of Adam, the Father of us all, and Eve, the mother of us all. We are therefore all naked before the Lord and exposed to God’s wrath.

Jesus reveals our desperate state in John 3:18 when He tells Nicodemus, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” We are not born neutral but born in sin and exposed to God’s wrath. Romans 5:12 further confirms this when it says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—.” In sin we too are naked to God’s wrath unless we are covered with His righteousness.
The solution to nakedness is the right clothing. In Genesi 3:21 we hear, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” God clothed them. He clothes us too.

We are clothed in the same way as the Prodigal son in Luke 15:22 where the Father puts the best robe on His son—presumably from His own closet. The Father provides the clothes through Jesus. 1 Peter 2:24 tells us: “‘Jesus himself bore our sins’” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

Our Baptism is where we first receive this new clothing. Galatians 3:26-27, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Children of God are clothed with Christ. It is a clothing that remains into eternal life. Finally, Revelation 7 identifies the believers of uncountable multitude each wearing white robes; people who have been made righteous in the blood of the lamb.
The nakedness of Eden is forgotten in heaven. The nakedness of our sin is covered in the blood and righteousness of Jesus. Unfortunately, our sin still curses us with age, sickness, bad days, lost opportunities, and eventually death. But this curse is met with a promise just as it was in Eden. Jesus has crushed the head of the serpent and we will finally be allowed to participate in the tree of life. The clothes truly make the soul. Wear them well in Jesus.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJune17.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/MJE44m6AD8o

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327