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Lineage Does Not Equal Salvation

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Scripture: “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’” (Matthew 3:9)

Observation: John the Baptist is preparing the way for Jesus. He is chastising a group of Pharisees and Sadducees who were snooping around. His warning is sharp – “there is wrath that is coming, but your stature in society and your lineage as Jews will not save you – only fruit bearing repentance will!” John tells them in no uncertain terms – you will not be saved simply because you are a Jew (having Abraham as your father).

Application: Today, Christians struggle with the fact that the Jews are God’s “chosen and loved” people. But does that mean that they have a guaranteed salvation simply because they are Jews and descendents of Abraham? This verse makes unequivocally clear – that the answer is NO. Salvation is granted only to those who repent of their sins and believe in the name of Christ – the Lamb of God for whom John is preparing the way.

Prayer: Father, thank you that I need not be a descendant of Abraham to inherit eternal life. Thank you for saving me through the birth, death & resurrection of your Son, Jesus! Amen.

A New Creation

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Scripture: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Observation: As we know, Paul is writing to the Corinthian congregation. This is a congregation that has really struggled with Christian living. As Lutheran Christians, we understand that our behavior does not earn us salvation. We call this JUSTIFICATION by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). However we are also careful to make the distinction that, just as this text says, as Christians we are new creations. Paul even says in verse 21 that we literally “become the righteousness of God.” We recognize that now that we have Christ dwelling within us, we are dead to sin. And while we may live in this world, we do not live for this world. Consequently we strive each day to become more like Christ… “compelled” by His love (verse 14). In this way we live out the fact that we are a new creation – and as such we have a new identity in Christ. Now our deeds are not driven out of compulsion or fear, but rather because the Lord lives and works through us. We call this SANCTIFICATION.

Application: I continue to struggle with what it means to live the Christian life. I understand that my works do not earn my favor with God. However I must recognize that wherever I go I bear the name of Christ. Are my actions demonstrating the fact that I am a new creation? How can I live no longer for myself, but for him who died for me and was raised again? (Verse 15).

Prayer: Father, thank you for showing me in your law the sin that I have left behind, and the sins that no longer define me. Thank you also for Jesus Christ. Not only is he my savior from sin, but he is my example for living in a way that is pleasing to you. Help me live less for myself, and more for you. Amen.

He Watches Over You

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Scripture “He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:3)

Observation – The Psalmist begins this psalm with the words “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? … my help comes from the Lord… maker of heaven and earth!” The psalm writer is in some sort of trouble. We don’t know what it is. Maybe he’s gazing off to the hills looking for help? Or maybe he’s actually CLIMBING the hill? … either way – the source of the help is clearly God; none other than the maker of heaven and earth! This verse says simply – If you have a problem, God’s powerful enough to take care of it. After all – he made the heavens and the earth! And this promise is valid at any hour. God does not sleep! He’s watching over you and making sure you are guarded and safe!

Application – I woke up early today. I couldn’t sleep. (Possibly too much Halloween chocolate?) And even though I’m awake, I am still drowsy and sluggish. This helps me appreciate just what it means that God is always awake and active … even when I am sleeping. Even when I’m not awake, he’s watching out for me. I can be confident that He will keep me from all harm (v. 7).

Prayer Lord, I feel attacked and weary sometimes. Satan does not want me to press on. Thank you for always guiding my step and protecting me even while I sleep and am not awake! Amen.