28 February 2020

By the Prayer and Fasting of Christ Jesus

God the Father in heaven has had mercy upon you, and has given His Son to die for you, and for His sake forgives you all your sins.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, has come down from heaven for you and your salvation.  In flesh and blood like your own, He has come down from the majestic Mountain in order to go the way of the Cross — in order to save you and give you life with God in Himself.

He has thus confronted and contended with your enemies — with the demons that haunt you, with the world that taunts and harasses you, and with your own fallen and perverted flesh.  And by His Cross and Passion, He has conquered in the fight.  He has accomplished your salvation.

Against your unbelief, He has set His steadfast faith and faithfulness.  In the place of your illness, He has bestowed His own perfect health and strength.  Instead of your lunacy, He has brought divine wisdom and the peace that surpasses human understanding.

Here, then, is the God’s-honest Truth: The Lord has given Himself for you, and He gives Himself to you, along with every good and perfect gift, on earth as it is in heaven.

So, why do you persist in the futility of your sins, returning to the same bad habits over and over and over again?  Why must you keep throwing yourself back into the fire, from which the Lord has delivered you at the cost of His own body and life?  And why do you keep jumping off the deep end into water that’s way over your head, when you know that you can’t swim or pull yourself out?

You cannot fix yourself or make things better for yourself, not in the ways that matter before God forever.  You cannot pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.  Whatever your weakness may be — a short temper, a gossiping tongue, gambling with money, addictions (of whatever sort), lust or laziness, bitterness or envy — you won’t be able to master it and overcome it by your own abilities and efforts.  Yet, left unchecked, it will destroy you.  It is hurting you already, even now.

Pray that God the Lord will still have mercy upon you, and that He will come quickly and help you.  For you cannot save yourself — no more than you can save your family, friends, and neighbors in the world, except by the Word and Spirit of Christ Jesus.  But pray and confess His Word, and call upon His Name in the confidence that He will hear and answer, that He will save you by His grace.

Repent of your sins, and believe the Gospel.  Fear, love, and trust the Lord who loves you.  Take heart that Christ is here with you, and that He is for you, now and forever and always.

Exercise your little faith.  Discipline yourself to do without your legion of false gods, and discover that your life is in Christ Jesus.  Bring your loved ones, too, as others have brought you to Christ.

For you it is impossible, but not for Him.  You are powerless and helpless, but His almighty power is manifest for you in mercy and compassion, in free and full forgiveness of sins.  Not only that, but, ironically, His almighty power has been made perfect for you in His voluntary weakness.

He has humbled Himself and become obedient, even unto death upon the Cross.  He has prayed for you, and He ever lives to intercede for you.  He has fasted for you, for your faith and life and full salvation, even as He now and ever feeds and nourishes you with Himself.  He has suffered and died on your behalf — thrown Himself into your fire, drowned Himself in your flood — so that you are purified by the fire of His Holy Spirit and cleansed by the waters of His Baptism.

By His Word of the Gospel, He has brought the majestic Mountain to you, from heaven to earth.

That holy and glorious Mountaintop is here, centered in His Altar in His Church.  From Mount Calvary He feeds you with His Body and His Blood, so that, by faith, you ascend His holy Hill.

And when you are faithless and unbelieving, doubtful, and afraid, He remains faithful, steadfast, and sure.  He cannot deny Himself, and He will not deny the Word that He has spoken to you.

How long, then, shall He be with you?  And how long shall He put up with you?  For as long as He remains, risen from the dead, seated at the Right Hand of the Father, immortal, imperishable, victorious and glorious, your merciful and great High Priest, forever and forevermore.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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