Herrenhuter readings for Wednesday, the 24th February 2016

King David prays: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psa 51:11 NIV) And the apostle St.Paul writes: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Th 5:9 NIV)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you + now and always +

Dear friends of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ: The prayer of King David reminds us this morning of the terrible possibility that we’re cast from the presence of God and that his Holy Spirit is taken from us. The terror of this option is unimaginable. Even looking through the illustrations of Dante’s “Inferno” by Doré can’t get near to the horror and trepidation of this isolation and desertion. Homesickness is but a weak reflection of this utter desperation as is any illness with the most sickening feeling of weakness, nauseousness, pain and agony. The frightening awfulness of a stricken conscience probably comes closest to this. Knowing that I’m in the wrong and God is out to get me, punish and strike me with condemnation and all out attack, to strike me down and to wipe me out and off from the community of the living in his vitalizing and favorable presence.  That’s much worse still than even the expulsion from paradise was, because then God’s punishing hand was stayed by the promise of the coming Messiah and the hope of coming reprove. In comparison with the verdict then the final condemnation will be without leniency and utter despair. Then it was the bad news: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen 3:17-19 NIV) Still, that was not final and there was hope of eventual rest and reprieve. Yet the final cut-off with the damning words: “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.” (Mat 25:11-12 NIV) will be truly desperate news. The “depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat 25:41 NIV) will know no acquittal nor amnesty ever. Rather his negative verdict and punishment: “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mat 22:13 NIV) and “He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mat 24:51 NIV) knows no end. It’s painful and sore and suffering beyond anything we know: Eternal damnation! That is why king David pleads, don’t deal with me as I deserve. Rather have mercy and think of your own goodness and forgiving love and fatherly compassion. Taking me away from your presence and leaving me without the gift of your Holy Spirit are cutting off my life-blood and the very goal of my existence. Without you I am nothing. Your grace (Chesed) is better even than life. You are all and everything.

The truly good news is summarized in apostles St.Paul’s sentence to the Thessalonians: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Th 5:9 NIV) See, it’s God’s good and gracious will that we be not lost, but saved. He doesn’t want the sinner to die in his sin, but rather that he repent and turn from his evil ways and be converted to God’s good and healing ways. God did not create us people to suffer wrath or final condemnation, rather he wants us to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why he is so ready to forgive sins. That’s why he sent out prophets, apostles, evangelists, missionaries, pastors, bishops, teachers and many, many more carriers of his good tidings. They all do and teach, what the Lord of all himself taught and entrusted them to do: Teaching, baptizing, making disciples, winning souls for Christ. That’s why the triune God still goes all out even today to call and invite and bring in people from the very ends of the earth, from the most stubborn nations like the Germans, the Zulu and the Oromo , Indians, Arabs and Chinese into the sanctuary and apothecary of his church – handing out medicine of healing, pardon of sin, gracious favour to cover up the multitude of our iniquities. Forgiving, remitting, writing off debt, granting instead gifts of grace, love, mercy and peace. Changing our fear, hatred, rebellion, vice and crime into trust, hope, faith and love. There is still room. There is still time. It is still day time. The mission is still going on. There still are far too many unreached. They too are to hear this delightful and encouraging gospel of the apostle St.Paul: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Th 5:9 NIV) The example of king David, who was forgiven for murder and adultery by the prophet Nathan in the stead and by the command of our Lord and God, is to encourage us to put all our hope and faith in the triune God. He is the one, who can save us. He has done it already and we are forever grateful for his mercy. He will finish the good work too. Therefore we thank and praise him now and always. Amen.

The peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you always + Amen.

  1.  Jesus sinners doth receive;
    Oh, may all this saying ponder
    Who in sin’s delusions live
    And from God and heaven wander!
    Here is hope for all who grieve–
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    2. We deserve but grief and shame,
    Yet His words, rich grace revealing,
    Pardon, peace, and life proclaim.
    Here their ills have perfect healing
    Who with humble hearts believe–
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    3. Sheep that from the fold did stray
    No true shepherd e’er forsaketh:
    Weary souls that lost their way
    Christ, the Shepherd, gently taketh
    In His arms that they may live–
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    4. Come, ye sinners, one and all,
    Come, accept His invitation;
    Come, obey His gracious call,
    Come and take His free salvation!
    Firmly in these words believe:
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    5. I, a sinner, come to Thee
    With a penitent confession;
    Savior, mercy show to me
    Grant for all my sins remission.
    Let these words my soul relieve:
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    6. Oh, how blest it is to know;
    Were as scarlet my transgression,
    It shall be as white as snow
    By Thy blood and bitter Passion:
    For these words I now believe:
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    7. Now my conscience is at peace,
    From the Law I stand acquitted;
    Christ hath purchased my release
    And my every sin remitted.
    Naught remains my soul to grieve,–
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    8. Jesus sinners doth receive.
    Also I have been forgiven;
    And when I this earth must leave,
    I shall find an open heaven.
    Dying, still to Him I cleave–
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    Author: Erdmann Neumeister, 1718
    Titled: “Jesus nimmt die Sünder an”

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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