“O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
A Devotion from the Pastor's Devotion
During Holy Week I read through the Passion History Reading for my own personal devotion. With the Passion History in mind, I am also looking ahead and preparing two confirmands to confirm their faith on May 15th. And I noticed more of what the disciples said and did on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
In the upper room, While they were reclining and eating, Jesus said, “Amen I tell you: One of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I, Lord?” Do you remember your confirmation? How many kids were confirmed with you? If the Pastor told the group of confirmands, “One of you will betray Jesus and stop believing in Jesus” what do you think you all would have said, “Surely, not I!”
Later that night, Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!”
Jesus replied, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Simon, Simon, pay attention: Satan has asked to have you all, so that he may sift you as wheat. But I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have returned to me, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter answered him, “Even if all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”
Jesus said to him, “Amen I tell you: Tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” And all the disciples said the same.
The boldest and most outspoken with his faith, and yet we know what happened. He denied Jesus three times. Peter failed to stand by Jesus’ side. Peter coward when he had the opportunity to share his faith. How many of us were bold and outspoken about our faith before High School? Then only to fail to stand by Jesus’ side as we grew older. To coward when the opportunity arose to share our faith? When we were confirmed, we stated that we rather die than give up our faith, yet we cannot always speak about Jesus with others.
Finally that same night in the Garden of Gethsemane after Jesus was arrested, Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. One for twelve betrayed Jesus. Eleven for twelve deserted and fled. Twelve for twelve didn’t stay by Jesus side. For twelve men who stayed by Jesus side for 3 years, learning from him every day, how will boys and girls after four or less years of once a week instruction fare to stay by Jesus side for life?
Again, I look at the twelve disciples. Yes, one was lost to Satan, but the other eleven. They came back to Jesus. Jesus welcomed them. Jesus accepted them. Jesus loves them. Jesus forgave them. Jesus strengthened and bolstered their faith. Then Jesus sent them out throughout the world to gather disciples of all nations.
Even when we are unfaithful to God, God is still faithful to us. That is called mercy. Even when we sin against God, God still loves us. That is called grace. Those who confirmed their faith in Jesus only to desert Jesus, they can come back to Jesus. Jesus will welcome them. Jesus will accept them. Jesus loves them. Jesus forgives them. Jesus will strengthen and bolster their faith. Perhaps you have received God’s mercy and love first-hand in this way. Thanks be to God for bringing you back. Perhaps you are one who has not deserted Jesus completely since your confirmation. Then praise be to God for giving you a strong faith.
Let us pray for those being confirmed this month.
Lord God, heavenly Father, in Holy Baptism you began your good work in these young believers. You have also blessed their training and instruction in your Word, so that they now look forward to their confirmation and to receiving your Holy Communion. We pray that you would pour out your Holy Spirit on their hearts and minds as they study your Word so they may truly love and fear you, confess their faith joyfully and boldly, and with their lips and their lives glorify you, their faithful God and Lord, through Jesus Christ, their Savior and ours. Amen. (Taken from “There’s a Prayer for That…)
How much do you know about Martin Luther and what makes us, members of Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) truly Lutheran? Joel Otto, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, wrote 14 articles that answer that very question of “What it Means to be Truly Lutheran” in Forward in Christ. This article is about the Lord’s Supper.
What it means to be truly Lutheran
What it means to be truly Lutheran: Lord’s Supper
By: Joel D. Otto
Most American Protestant Christians have views of Baptism different from Lutherans. Some see Baptism as little more than a dedication ceremony where the parents are promising to raise their child as a Christian. They don’t think Baptism has the power to do anything. Others think infants should not be baptized. Still others believe that Baptism is something believers do to show their commitment to God. They turn Baptism from gospel into law.
That is not how true Lutherans view Baptism because that’s not what the Bible teaches. In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther wrote that “baptism works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this.” He could say this because the Bible says that in Baptism God forgives our sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16) and saves us (1 Peter 3:20,21; Mark 16:16). Luther wrote that Baptism is “a gracious water of life and a washing of rebirth by the Holy Spirit.” He could say that because the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is given in Baptism (Acts 2:38) and that through Baptism the Spirit works rebirth and renewal (Titus 3:5).
Baptism seems so simple—a splash of water and a few words. Those who deny the power of Baptism often point to the fact that it is just an outward ceremony. In the Small Catechism, Luther rightly points out that “it is certainly not the water that does such things, but God’s Word which is in and with the water and faith which trust this Word used with the water.” God’s Word is powerful. It was powerful enough to call the universe into existence. It is powerful enough to give the spiritual and eternal blessings God promises through Baptism (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Following Luther’s example, true Lutherans find great comfort in Baptism because Baptism is God’s work for us. Paul wrote that we are clothed with Christ through Baptism and made children of our heavenly Father (Galatians 3:26,27). We are connected to Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6:3,4). Everything Christ won for through his death and resurrection is given to me—personally, individually—through my baptism.
In a sermon, Luther explained, “Holy baptism was purchased for us through this same blood, which [Christ] shed for us and with which he paid for sin. This blood and its merit and power he put into baptism, in order that in baptism we might receive it. For whenever a person receives baptism in faith this is the same as if he were visibly washed and cleansed of sin with the blood of Christ. For we do not attain the forgiveness of sins through our work, but rather through the death and the shedding of the blood of the Son of God. But he takes this forgiveness of sin and tucks it into baptism” (Luther’s Works 51:325).
Questions to consider
1. What Bible passages would you use to defend the biblical teaching and practice of infant baptism? Explain how you might use those passages.
The first place to start is Matthew 28:19. Jesus said to make disciples of “all nations” by baptizing and teaching. Infants are included in “all nations.” That’s an inclusive term, and there is no reason infants are not part of “all nations.”
While some people say infants do not need Baptism because they are born innocent or morally neutral or not guilty of sin, Psalm 51:5 points out we are sinful from the time of conception. God says in Genesis 8:21 that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” Infants need the cleansing of sin which God gives in Baptism.
At the conclusion of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, he encourages the crowd, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38,39). The promise of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit that God gives through Baptism is not limited by age.
Some also will argue that infants cannot believe in Jesus. Therefore, Baptism is useless for them, if Baptism even gives faith. Jesus, however, talks about the seriousness of not causing “one of these little ones—those that believe in me—to stumble” (Matthew 18:6). Jesus says that little children can trust in him.
Jesus desires children to be brought to him so that they can be blessed by him (Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). The Greek word used in Luke’s gospel is for “infants.” He desires that all of us receive the kingdom of God like a little child, humbly and unquestioningly trusting in him.
2. When Luther was battling temptations to doubt his salvation, he would remember, “I am baptized.” Why is this better than saying, “I was baptized”? How can this truth strengthen you in times of doubt?
“I am baptized” stresses the ongoing identity we have as a result of our baptism, while “I was baptized” can make it sound like our baptism was a past event with no current benefit. Remembering that we are baptized can strengthen us when we doubt that we are forgiven or that eternal life is secured for us or that God still loves us. God has connected us to Jesus’ death and resurrection through Baptism (Romans 6:3,4). We can silence Satan’s accusations because in Baptism we’ve been clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26,27); God has rescued us from our sins (1 Peter 3:21), He has promised forgiveness and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38,39), and he has cleansed us from our sins (Ephesians 5:25-27). The Holy Spirit has given us a new birth and made us heirs of eternal life through Baptism (Titus 3:4-7). These blessings are ongoing because of what God has accomplished for us in Baptism. “I am baptized” can be our battle cry and a source of great comfort because that is our new identity: baptized children of God (see the hymn, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It,” Christian Worship: Supplement 737).
Confirmation Sunday: On May 15th, during the Bible Study hour, the confirmands will be answering questions about their faith. During the service they will be confirmed in their faith and members of Redeemer Ev. Luth. Church. Please give your support and encouragement to Brayven Mitchell and Maddix O’Daniel leading up to and on May 15th.
Ascension Service: A forgotten church holiday is Ascension Day. 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead (Easter) Jesus ascended into heaven where he rules over all things for the benefit of his church. We will celebrate the Ascension of our Lord on Thursday, May 26th at 6:30pm. There will be a simple supper offered before the service.
Wednesday Services are Back: Last Summer we added a second service on Wednesday that was the same as the previous Sunday’s service. We are doing that again this summer! The first Wednesday service will be on June 8th starting at 6:30pm.
Congregational Mission Statement: The mission of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church is to reach out with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to call those who are lost, comfort those who mourn, rejoice with those who come to know and believe that Christ’s victory is their victory and to grow together in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ until the final victory is ours.