“I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in security. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You suffer Your godly one to see corruption. You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:8-11

As we consider Jesus’ sufferings and death for the sins of the world and His glorious resurrection from the dead on the third day, it is fitting to consider what this historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection, attested to by hundreds of witnesses (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3ff.; Mark 16:1ff.), means for each of us as believers, and Psalm 16 is one of many passages of God’s Word to consider.

After Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sins of the world, His body was laid in the tomb. But, as the psalm states, and Peter testified at the feast of Pentecost, and Paul at Pisidian Antioch, Jesus’ body was not left in the grave and did not see corruption and decay. Rather, His body was raised up to life again on the third day — a glorious and heavenly body — and was received up to the right hand of God the Father in heaven, where there are “pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16).

In Acts 2:22-33, we read: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested to you by God with powerful works and wonders and signs, which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know. You have taken Him, who was handed over to you by the ordained counsel and foreknowledge of God, and by lawless hands have crucified and killed Him, whom God raised up by loosening the pull of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. For You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy with Your presence.’ Brothers, I may speak confidently to you concerning the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. But being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of his seed according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he foresaw this and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. God raised up this Jesus, of which we all are witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this which you now see and hear.”

In Acts 13:34-39, we read: “That He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give You the holy and sure blessings of David’ [Isa. 55:3]. So He says in another Psalm: ‘You will not let Your Holy One see decay’ [Ps. 16]. For after David had served by the counsel of God in his own generation, he fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw decay. But He whom God raised up saw no decay. Therefore, brothers, let it be known to you that through this Man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him everyone who believes is justified from everything from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.”

So also, because Christ has died for us and is risen again, we who place our faith in Him have been justified and raised up to spiritual life in Christ Jesus and have the LORD God at our right hand to preserve and keep us — we shall not be moved. We have a glorious inheritance awaiting us in the promised land of heaven.

In Ephesians 2:4-7, we read: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

1 Peter 1:3-5 tells us: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away, kept in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are baptized into His name are children of God and have an eternal inheritance awaiting them (cf. Gal. 3:26-29).

Because Christ has paid in full for all our sins and is risen again, our hearts, too, are glad; we trust in Him and rejoice in His mercy and forgiveness toward us.

Speaking of the blessings promised to Abraham, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 4:23 — 5:2: “Now the words, ‘it was credited to him,’ were not written for his sake only, but also for us, to whom it shall be credited if we believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our transgressions, and was raised for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and so we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

And, when we die, our bodies rest securely in hope — looking forward to that day when the dead in Christ are raised up with glorified bodies and will be forever with the Lord. Because Christ’s body saw no corruption but was raised up again on the third day, we can be certain that we too will be raised up and we shall see, in our resurrected and glorified bodies, our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20ff.).

Job, thought to be a contemporary of Abraham and Isaac, said (in Job 19:25-27): “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I will see for myself, and my eyes will behold, and not another.”

And Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: “But I would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and arose again, so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall be forever with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Because of Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of the world, and because He rose again in victory, we have the confidence that we will be raised up in Christ’s likeness and that we will enjoy the pleasures which are at God’s right hand for evermore!

We, as believers, can say with David: “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied when I awake with Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15).

“Jesus lives! And now is death but the gate of life immortal; This shall calm my trembling breath when I pass its gloomy portal. Faith shall cry as fails each sense: Jesus is my confidence!” (Lutheran Service Book, Page 490, v. 5).

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7 (Read 1 John 1:1 – 2:2)

Are you walking in the light or in the darkness? Sad to say, many, even among professing Christians, are walking in darkness; and each and every one of us would also choose to walk in darkness rather than coming to the light where our sinfulness and evil deeds are exposed (cf. John 3:19-20; John 1:1-14). But to continue on in darkness leads to death; to walk in the light leads to forgiveness and life everlasting.

While many would profess to have fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ, that is not possible if they are walking in darkness — if they are hiding and covering up their sins and sinfulness and pretending to be righteous of themselves. One cannot be a Christian and be continuing on in sin and willful disobedience, and one cannot have fellowship with the Father and be hiding and covering up sin (cf. Heb. 10:26ff.; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21).

If we pretend to be Christians and in fellowship with the Father and are impenitent, continuing on in our old sinful ways, we are deceiving ourselves and not practicing the truth. If we are hiding and covering up our sins rather than acknowledging them and seeking God’s forgiveness, we are lying and walking in darkness and unbelief (cf. Psalm 32:1ff.).

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. … If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7,9).

To walk in the light is to acknowledge our sins and sinfulness — literally to say the same thing as God about our sins (ομολογωμεν) — and He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness so that we are acquitted, declared innocent and justified in His sight.

And how can God be faithful and just in forgiving our sins? It is because “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2). Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sins and the sins of all. Our sin was punished in Jesus and atonement was made. God’s justice is satisfied. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness and life eternal!

Again, are you walking in the darkness or in the light? Jesus and His Word shine into the darkness of this world, exposing sin, error and disobedience but also offering forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Don’t hide from the light. Rather, walk in the light, confessing your sins and receiving God’s forgiveness and life for the sake of Jesus’ shed blood.

Shine upon us, Lord. Reveal our sinfulness but bring us to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior. In His name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association.
Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

Lord, to Thee I make confession

1 Lord, to Thee I make confession:
I have sinned and gone astray.
I have multiplied transgression,
Chosen for myself my way.
Led by Thee to see my errors,
Lord, I tremble at Thy terrors.

2 Yet, though conscience’ voice appal me,
Father, I will seek Thy face.
Tho’ Thy child I dare not call me,
Yet receive me to Thy grace.
Do not for my sins forsake me;
Do not let Thy wrath o’ertake me.

3 For Thy Son did suffer for me,
Gave Himself to rescue me,
Died to heal me and restore me,
Reconciled me unto Thee.
‘Tis alone His cross can vanquish
These dark fears and soothe this anguish.

4 Then on Him I cast my burden,
Sink it in the depths below.
Let me know Thy gracious pardon,
Wash me, make me white as snow.
Let Thy Spirit leave me never;
Make me only Thine forever. Amen.

Lord, to Thee I Make Confession
German Title: Herr, ich habe missgehandelt
Translator: Catherine Winkworth (1863, alt.)
Author: Johann Franck (1659, cento)
Composer: Johann Crüger (1649)

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Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” John 9:39 (Read John 9:1-41)

Could it be that your own opinions and beliefs are keeping you from knowing and trusting in Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior of the world? Do you turn from Him and reject His mighty work as your Savior because He, somehow, doesn’t fit into your religious views and ideas?

When Jesus healed a man born blind, the blind man came to know and believe that Jesus was indeed the promised Christ and the Son of God spoken of in the Scriptures (cf. Ps. 2:7). But the Pharisees, even though it was indisputable that Jesus had opened the eyes of the blind (cf. Isa. 42:7), refused to believe in Him and had even agreed that anyone who came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the Jewish synagogue. Because Jesus had made clay and healed this man on the sabbath, they said He was not of God and called Him a sinner.

Thus, a man born blind was given sight — both physical and spiritual — and came to know and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and his Savior from sin. The Pharisees, on the other hand, though they could see with their eyes and knew of Jesus’ mighty working, refused to see and believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world. Their own religious views and opinions blinded their eyes to the truth which was so clearly revealed to them. Thus, they forfeited the forgiveness and life Christ Jesus won for them.

But what about us? Do we let our own religious views and opinions keep us from coming to Christ Jesus in faith? Are we so convinced that God will accept us on the basis of our own religious works and righteousness that we do not see our utter sinfulness and the salvation Christ Jesus freely won for all when He fulfilled all righteousness for us and suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:15)? And if Jesus were to come to us today, would we reject Him if He did not observe our customs, or worship in the same way as we worship?

The clear and unmistakable truth revealed to us in the Bible is this: We are all sinners and have come short of what God requires of us; Jesus is the Christ, true God and true man; He fulfilled all righteousness for us; He suffered and died on the cross to pay for the sins of all and rose again; Through faith in Christ Jesus and for His sake, God is gracious and merciful to sinners and freely offers and gives them His pardon, forgiveness and life everlasting.

When God graciously opens our eyes and brings us to know and believe these truths and place our faith in Jesus, we have His pardon and forgiveness and everlasting life. When we shut our eyes to these truths and refuse to believe in Jesus, we die in our sins and will suffer the eternal torments of hell (cf. John 3:16,18,36; 8:24; Mark 16:15-16; 1 John 5:11-12).

Open my eyes, O Lord, and let me see Jesus for who He is and trust in Him for forgiveness, life and eternal salvation. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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While He was yet speaking, a crowd came. And he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48

“Do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” This is the question Jesus asked of Judas as he led Jesus’ enemies to Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and then kissed Jesus to point Him out to those who would arrest Him and lead Him away to crucify Him.

This was a fitting question for one who used a sign of friendship and affection to betray Jesus into the hands of those who would condemn Jesus to death and then turn Him over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified! But what about you and me? Are we also guilty of betraying Jesus with a kiss?

If asked today, “Do you love Jesus?” would not all of us say, “Yes, we love Jesus”? Indeed, we all profess our love and devotion to Jesus. But when it comes down to following Jesus in our daily lives, how often do we not betray Him with a kiss by saying that we love Him and then doing the opposite of what He would have us do?

We draw near to Jesus with our mouths and lips, but our hearts are far from Him, as Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 (cf. Isa. 29:13): “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”

Jesus also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). And we say that we love Jesus, but do we keep His commandments? Do we truly love Jesus and devote ourselves to Him? Do we continue in His Word as Jesus said in John 8:31-32: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you remain in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’”

And, do we follow Jesus wherever He leads? Do we profess His name and the truth of His Word in this present adulterous and sinful generation? Jesus said: “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His own glory and in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:23-26).

We can be thankful that the love of our Lord Jesus for us goes far deeper than any outward sign of affection and friendship! Our Lord Jesus “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). “While we were yet weak, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Rarely for a righteous man will one die. Yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).

Jesus did not betray us but, instead, went to the cross and paid in full the punishment due us for our sins and the sins of the whole world. “Jesus Christ the Righteous One … is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

Though we have oft betrayed Him, Jesus did not betray us! Rather, He gave Himself for us that we might have forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting through faith in Him!

Dear Jesus, forgive us for so often betraying you with a kiss — for saying we love You and then sinning against You. Thank you for so loving us that You gave Your life a ransom for us. Graciously keep us trusting in You alone for forgiveness and life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to him who works, wages are not given as a gift, but as a debt. But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 4:3-5

How was Abraham righteous in God’s eyes? Was it by his own works and devotion to God? Or was righteousness graciously credited to him by faith?

Many look at Old Testament saints like Abraham and draw the conclusion that they lived a righteous and holy life and, therefore, God loved and accepted them as His own. Yet, when we look at the life of Abraham, the Scriptures reveal flaws and mistrust.

He more than once called his wife Sarah his sister out of fear that he would be killed so that another might take her. He listened to Sarah when she gave him Hagar as a concubine to bear children rather than trust fully that God would do as he promised. Though Abraham was certainly a man of faith who sought to walk in the ways of the LORD, he was not perfect and without sin.

So, how was Abraham righteous before God? St. Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6: “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

The apostle Paul explains further: “Now to him who works, wages are not given as a gift, but as a debt. But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom. 4:4-5).

If Abraham were righteous by his own works, righteousness would not have been credited or imputed to him; it would have been earned by him and his own by right. But the Scriptures say that Abraham believed God’s promises and that righteousness was credited to him by God.

Notice, too, that David, in Psalm 32, speaks of the blessedness of the one who confesses his sins and receives in faith God’s mercy and forgiveness (Rom. 4:6-8). David, as well, speaks of God’s forgiveness and the imputation of righteousness as God’s gracious gift received through faith and not earned by our own works.

How then are we righteous and acceptable in God’s eyes? By our own works? Or, by faith?

Though many assume the way to be righteous before God is by our works and our obedience to God’s commandments, the Bible teaches us that we have all come short and that even our best righteousnesses are like defiled, unclean rags in God’s eyes (cf. Rom. 3:9ff.; Isa. 64:6).

The only way for sinners like you and me to be righteous before God is through faith in Christ Jesus. When we believe the Word of God which tells us that Christ fulfilled all righteousness for us and then was sacrificed for us to make full atonement for all our sins, God credits it to us for righteousness. He forgives all our sins for the sake of Jesus’ blood, shed upon the cross, and He imputes and credits to us the perfect righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 3:21-28; 1 John 1:7 — 2:2).

It is as the Bible says: “But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (v. 5); “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law” (Rom. 3:28; cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3:6ff.; 3:26-29; Phil. 3:8-9).

Grant that I cease attempting to be counted righteous in Your eyes by my own works, O LORD, and place my faith in Christ’s perfect righteousness and in His atoning sacrifice on the cross for my sins that I may be counted righteous and holy in Your sight through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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