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Psalm 99

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them. In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.
O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy! (ESV)
Look on Christ
Jacob (Israel), Patriarch
5 February 2016
Optimists always see the good in every situation. Pessimists are capable of seeing the black cloud surrounding every silver lining. It just depends on your perspective. Just as in the story of the two children one of whom, a pessimist, receives a pony as a birthday gift and the other, an optimist, is given a pile of manure as a birthday gift. The pessimist, upon seeing is little equine gift, moans about all the work entailed in mucking out his pony's stable. The optimist, dives into the manure pile, shouting excitedly, "where there is manure, there has to be a pony!"
Our Christian faith isn't "optimistic" in this way. For it is not dependent on our positive perspective. However, it does depend on what we look at. If we look upon our sins and the sins of fellow believers, we will conclude God is a liar. God has said that the church and her children are holy, but that is not true according to our experience. Our experience tells us that the children of the church are cantankerous, uncooperative, self-centered, offensive, greedy, and get the picture.
Our faith does not look upon the sinful members of the church, but upon the Lord Christ whose holiness becomes the church's holiness by faith. Faith looks to Christ alone and in Him sees something far better and more certain than all experience and even than life itself. This is how we bear with one another, because we look on Christ, not upon our sin. For His blood and righteousness covers the sins of the world.


Martin Luther

"If sin makes you anxious, and if death terrifies you, just think that this is an empty specter and an illusion of the devil, which it surely is. For in fact there is no sin any longer, no curse, no death, and no devil, because Christ has conquered and abolished all these. Accordingly, the victory of Christ is utterly certain; the defects lie not in the fact itself, which is completely true, but in our unbelief. It is difficult for reason to believe such inestimable blessings. In addition, the devil and the sectarians, the former with his flaming darts (Eph 6:16), the latter with their perverse and wicked doctrine, are bent on this one thing: to obscure this doctrine and take it away from us. It is above all for this doctrine, on which we insist so diligently, that we bear the hate and persecution of Satan and of the world. For Satan feels the power and the results of this doctrine.
"Now that Christ reigns, there is in fact no more sin, death, or curse. We confess this every day in the Apostles' Creed when we say: 'I believe in the holy church.' This is plainly nothing else than if we were to say: 'I believe that there is no sin and no death in the church. For believers in Christ are not sinners and are not sentenced to death but are altogether holy and righteous, lords over sin and death who live eternally.' But it is faith alone that discerns this, because we say: 'I believe in the holy church.' If you consult your reason and your eyes, you will judge differently. For in devout people you will see many things that offend you; you will see them fall now and again, see them sin, or be weak in faith, or be troubled by a bad temper, envy, or other evil emotions. 'Therefore the church is not holy.' I deny the conclusion that you draw. If I look at my own person or at that of my neighbor, the church will never be holy. But if I look at Christ, who is the propitiator and cleanser of the church, then it is completely holy; for He bore the sins of the whole world."
Lord, turn my gaze to You that I might not look upon the sins of my fellow Christians. Let me see only Your righteousness and holiness in them. Amen.
For France Stenberg, that the Lord of the church would grant her strength and healing
For Joseph Randrianasolo of the Lutheran Church of Madagascar, that he would be kept in the faith of Christ and given strength of body and soul
For all those who know the Lord Jesus Christ to have borne the sins of the world, that they would come to the gatherings of the church made holy by His blood tomorrow
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  The Crucifixion (c. 1515)

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