Bible Mediations for Busy People. Limited quantity. One per household. Send name and address with $3.00 which is only for postage.
Deacon Cavaliere, Trinity Lutheran Church, 22 West Nicholai Street, Hicksville. NY 11803
“And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (1 John 3:22).
The major religions of the world claim to teach about love, yet do not believe in a loving God who dispenses mercy and unconditional grace to undeserving people. Almost every religion other than Christianity centers on the performance of good works or the attainment of inner purity or self-awareness by means of good deeds or meditation. Thus most religions teach that the good works of men, the righteous acts mankind performs will make them righteous and holy and one with God, or as in case of some such as Buddhists, make us one with the universe or universal spirit. Christianity teaches that such a thing is impossible for all men are sinners and incapable of pleasing God on their own. No human is inherently righteous or holy. No human can perfectly perform good acts and deeds with consistently pure motives. At best even the most altruistic of human deeds is performed with mixed motives.
God gives righteousness and holiness to those men and women who have faith in Him. And whom does God choose to grant His favor to? To those who are noble and do good things or appear righteous, religious, rich or famous? No, He grants His favor to sinners, to the weak, the despised and the humble for only they realize their need for God. And why does He grant His favor to anyone at all? Because He loves us.
Jesus calls us to follow in His footsteps. He calls us to love Him by loving our brethren in thought, word and deeds. In Jesus, God has shown His love for all mankind. He gave Himself up for us. We ought to do the same for Him, not out of obligation, or guilt or the desire to be liked or to do enough good to make it to heaven, but out of thankfulness for all He has one for us.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’ And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.” (Mark 1:35-39)
As Jesus began His earthly ministry He launched an assault on Satan and his forces. He did this not in some arena in great city with millions watching Him in person or by live video feed, but in an obscure backwater of the mighty Roman Empire known as Galilee. He attacked by preaching the truth: the Kingdom of God had arrived in Him, bringing freedom and liberation from sin. He demonstrated this loving the people He came to save with acts of healing and deliverance. He came to deliver not the high and mighty, nor the self-righteous and self-reliant, but the miserable and humble people whom they oppressed. These wretched people flocked to Him for help with their troubles, illness and demonic oppression.
The miracles Jesus performed, the signs and wonders He wrought were powerful demonstrations of His authority and power that showed that He came from God. The most powerful of His works was His preaching. He gave people hope as He spoke of God’s coming permanent deliverance from sin, sickness, death and the devil for it was Jesus who had come to reconcile the world to God. This would happen on the cross as Jesus took offered Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all.
The world needs to know that Gospel of reconciliation. The Words and authority of God have been entrusted to us to bring that message to the billions in our world oppressed and enslaved by Satan. And we do this not with displays of signs and wonders but with acts of love, mercy, and compassion as servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville
“‘For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:37-38)
The angel of the Lord who appeared to Mary to tell her that she was to give birth was the same who had appeared to her kinsman, Zacharias a priest. But Mary was a simple and humble country girl who in some way knew the scriptures. She knew the Lord and had faith in Him. She knew He was capable of mighty deeds, yet the message the angel Gabriel gave her made no sense since the supernatural conception of a child by the Holy Spirit was something never heard of before. Mary understood that the Lord was finally fulfilling His age old promise of Messiah and was glad of it. She was willing to do what the Lord commanded even if she did not fully comprehend how it was to happen. In addition, she did think about the affect this would have on here life or the consequences to her reputation and social status. All she thought was the Lord commanded and she had to obey without hesitation.
Mary is a good example for us to emulate. She had faith in the Lord. She knew that God always fulfills His promises. She knew that the Lord exalted the lowly. He called the least likely people to accomplish His work, not the rich, famous and mighty. The Lord God delights to extend mercy. His ways and His will confound humans because He does things contrary to what the world thinks best. He favors and blesses the lowly, the humble, the insignificant, and uses them to accomplish His greatest works. He still does this through us His Church.
Merry Christmas to all!
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. ‘Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.'” (Habakkuk 2:3-4 ESV)
After Habakkuk spoke his complaint, he waited on the Lord for a further reply. He wanted good news. He wanted words of encouragement. So he waited on Yahweh to answer. He did not worry and fret. He did not shout or yell or repeat the same phrases or complaints or petitions over and over. He realized that God had heard and would answer. And He did. The answer He gave was meant to provide His people, then as well as now, with practical help that would sustain them through trying times while remaining faithful to the Lord.
The righteous people of Judah were about to face devastation which they had never known before. The very foundation of their world was about to crumble. They were going to lose everything: their homes, fields and maybe their lives. Their families would be torn apart and exiled to a land a thousand miles away, enslaved and abused by idolatrous and cruel pagans. Since there was no way to avoid this, what possible hope could they have? What good news would make these circumstances more endurable? What would the Lord give them to help them to remain faithful without falling into despair or turn away from Him? According to Habakkuk the righteous will live by faith. They will walk in obedience because they believe what God says will happen even though the evidence of their eyes and their experience say different.
Now this explanation of the righteous will live by his faith in context differs in some way from our understanding of what it means for the righteous to live by faith. Our understanding of that phrase derives from Martin Luther’s proclamation that our salvation depends on God’s work not ours. Luther’s understanding of the verse was based on its reinterpretation by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 4:10-14.
Paul knew the practical meaning of the passage, that the righteous must live by faithful obedience to God’s word, trusting in His promises even in the midst of turmoil. This is the right way to live because it is God’s way. Yet under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul explained the fuller meaning of the verse, a meaning which liberates us from the tyranny of keeping the Law. We no longer have to worry that God will condemn us. He offers mercy, forgiveness, wisdom and strength to those who come to Him knowing that without His help, no one can live a life of righteousness even if he or she wanted to. We can live in righteousness but we only as we rely on Christ. The words the righteous will live by faith mean that salvation does not depend on our good works, our piety or even our keeping of the law, or failure to do so. Salvation is by faith in the righteousness of Christ, in His atoning work on the cross. The benefits of His work are granted to all those who are humble and broken and who surrender themselves to His will.