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Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them, that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance. Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the Sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert. So he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy. And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. Then they believed his words; they sang his praise. But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. (ESV)


Keeping Track of Grace

Friday of Pentecost 7

17 July 2015

Christ must be all in all. With our limited capacity for understanding and our minds impaired by perversity we have difficulty keeping track of all the ways in which our Lord Jesus relates to us as His precious possession (1Pt 2:9). He takes care of us "inside and out." What I mean is that the tasks Scripture attribute to our Lord Jesus Christ in his relationship to us often seem to us to be contradictory. For example, He is our shelter and He dwells within us (Jn 6:56) by the power of His Spirit. He is both the house and the interior; the inside and the outside. All of this is impossible for us to juggle in our minds. So why is the divine revelation so full of different images of Christ's relationship with us by grace? One of the answers, I believe, is that the divine revelation is always apotelesmatic, that is that holy Scripture always has our comfort, assurance of salvation, and the forgiveness of sins as its foremost focus.


There certainly are times when we need to know that Jesus is our covering in the presence of our Father. We need to be covered when we feel uncovered by the law and naked in the presence of the holy God. There are times when we need to know that Jesus washes away our sins. We need to be washed when we feel the mud and mire of our own sin and wickedness adhere to our flesh. There are times when we need to know that Jesus dwells within us. We need to be assured that Jesus dwells in us when we feel our souls fainting under the burdens of this life because of the wickedness of the world. All of these assurances of Christ's care for us are all and all at once true, however, our need for them is entirely occasional. The word and promise of God is always there to pick us up exactly when and where we need it. Its richness does its work. Because we have abundant trials, He gives us a superabundance of grace.


I often see how this works in people's lives as they go through different stages in their lives. Recently, a young mother expressed appreciation for what I said in sermon about the faith of infants and young children (Mt 18:6). This was important and comforting to her because she can see the neediness of young children up close and personal. The passages that speak of the faith of young children might not have the same impact for someone who has never had the responsibility of caring for children full time. That's just fine. There are other words from God that will fit their particular need now in the midst of this suffering or this trial. God is perfectly capable of caring for tomorrow's trouble with another Word of God. God shares His gracious care for us in Christ in so many ways that we will never be able to keep track of them all.


John Chrysostom


"'Put on the Lord Jesus Christ' (Rm 13:14). Paul no longer speaks of works, but he raises them to greater things. For when he was speaking of vice, he mentioned the works done by it. When of excellence, he speaks not about works, but of defenses, to show that excellence puts him in complete safety and brilliant light. His discourse even goes on to what was greater, a thing far more awesome. He gives us the Lord Himself for a garment, the King Himself. For whoever is clad with Him has complete, not partial, excellence.


"In saying, 'Put on,' Paul bids us be clothed with Him all around. As in another place he says, 'But if Christ is in you' (Rm 8:10). Again, that Christ might dwell in the inner person (Eph 3:16-17). For He would have our soul to be a dwelling for Himself, and Himself to be laid round about us like a garment, that He may be unto us all things both in us and outside us. For He is our fullness. He is 'the fullness of him who fills all in all' (Eph 1:23). He is the way, the husband, and the bridegroom. 'For I betrothed you to one husband' (2Co 11:2). He is a root, drink, meat, and life. He says, 'I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me' (Gal 2:20). He is apostle, high priest, teacher, father, brother, fellow heir, and sharer of the tomb and cross. 'Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his' (Rm 6:4-5). He is an advocate. 'We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God' (2Co 5:20). He is an 'advocate with the Father' (1Jn 2:1), for 'Christ Jesus...indeed is interceding for us. (Rm 8:34) He is a home and inhabitant. He says, 'He abides in me and I in him' (Jn 6:56). He is a friend. 'You are my friends' (Jn 15:14). He is a foundation and cornerstone. We are His members, His heritage, building, branches, and fellow workers. For what is there that He does not consider Himself to be to us, when He makes us join to Him and fit on to Him in every way? And this is a sign of someone who loves greatly. Be persuaded then, arise from sleep, put Him on, and when you have, give your flesh up to His bridle."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 24

O Lord, You have revealed Your Son in glory and in beauty, and have washed us in His blood and clothed us in His righteousness. We implore You to sanctify us for Your use. Grant by Your grace that we may be faithful servants to the glory of Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.


For Lloyd Wittenmyer, who has undergone heart bypass surgery, that doctors and nurses would bring him the care he needs for a full recovery and that the Lord Jesus would grant it


For Jonathan Buck, that the Lord would watch over him granting him health and healing


For church leaders who are vacationing, that they would rest and be granted the peace that surpasses human understanding
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057