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Psalm 50:1-15

 
The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
 
Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: "Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!" The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge!
 
"Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
 
"If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." 
(ESV)

Forgive!

Joseph, Patriarch

31 March 2016

We humans are always looking for a way to become like God. That is the story of the fall in Genesis. The original enticement offered to Adam and Eve by the serpent was, "You will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gn 3:5). Our first parents already knew and possessed every good, they had perfect fellowship with God who was Himself the highest good and so all that was left to be given was the knowledge of evil. Adam and Eve grasped at knowing what God knows, seeking to become like God. They sought to become what God had already made them (Gn 1:27), and puffed up with knowledge (1Co 8:1) became so much less. Since the fall we humans seek to elevate ourselves by reaching up toward the divine; our whole struggle is upward toward knowledge and empowerment.
 
But God-like-ness is not about knowing nor the empowerment that knowledge brings. To be like God is to be gracious and forgiving. To be like God is to stoop to our neighbor's need, even when our neighbor is angry and vicious toward us or seeks to hurt us. To be like God is not to strive upward or to struggle after higher knowledge, but to have the mind of Christ who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing (Phil 2:5-6). If you want to be like God then the tools of such becoming are found in the power of forgiveness, in the willingness to abase ourselves and humbly forgive those who sin against us. Here we see the truth of the gospel that those who would become first must be last (Mk 9:35). To be truly godlike is not to possess some indelible mark or empowering characteristic, but it is to forgive our neighbor from our heart.

 

Martin Luther

"[In the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer] there is attached a necessary, yet comforting addition: 'As we forgive.' God has promised that we shall be sure that everything is forgiven and pardoned, in the way that we also forgive our neighbor. Just as we daily sin much against God, and yet He forgives everything through grace, so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows malice toward us, and so on. If therefore, you do not forgive, then do not think that God forgives you (Mt 18:23-25). But if you forgive, you have this comfort and assurance, that you are forgiven in heaven. This is not because of your forgiving. For God forgives freely and without condition, out of pure grace, because He has so promised, as the Gospel teaches. But God says this in order that He may establish forgiveness as our confirmation and assurance, as a sign alongside the promise, which agrees with this prayer, 'Forgive, and you will be forgiven.' (Lk 6:37) Therefore, Christ also repeats it soon after the Lord's Prayer, and says, 'For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you' (Mt 6:14), and so on.
 
"This sign is therefore attached to this petition when we pray. We remember the promise and think, 'Dear Father, for this reason I come and pray for You to forgive me, not so that I can make satisfaction or can merit anything by my works. I pray because You have promised and attached the seal to this prayer that I should be as sure about it as though I had Absolution pronounced by You Yourself.' For Baptism and the Lord's Supper-appointed as outward signs-work as seals (Eph 1:13). In the same way also, this sign can serve to confirm our consciences and cause them to rejoice. It is especially given for this purpose, so that we may use and practice forgiveness every hour, as a thing that we have with us at all times."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism, 3.93-98
 
Prayer
Dear God and Father, forgive all our enemies and all who offend and wrong us, as we also forgive them from the heart. They cause themselves the greater harm by provoking You as they harm us. Since we will not profit by their downfall, we would rather see them rejoicing with us. Amen.
 
For the family of Robert DeYoung, that they would be comforted by the power of Christ's resurrection as they mourn their loss
 
For all our catechumens, who will receive the sacrament of Christ's body and blood for the first time on confirmation day, that they might receive it in true faith for the forgiveness of sins
 
For all those suffering from depression, that they would be encouraged that God will never leave them nor forsake them
Art: RUBENS, Peter Paul  The Resurrection of Christ (1611-12)

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