Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 104:1-15—Psalm of Praise to the Glory of God who Provides Daily Bread—Everything that we need God provides. This is the fundamental teaching of the First Article of the Creed and the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. How often are we assaulted by the temptation NOT to trust in the Lord God who is the Creator and Provider of all things needful AND our Savior from sin. The first portion of psalm 104 begins as Psalm 103 began, the psalmists own prayer that his soul would bless the Lord because the Lord is great, clothed with honor and majesty, and as the One who orders both the temporal and the spiritual realm. He created the angels. He laid the foundation of the earth. The creation is ordered and sustained by His will. He provides the water to replenish the earth and sustain all of life. He is the One who sends springs of water, gives every beast of the field to drink, and sustains the birds of the air. Reliance, dependence, confidence, and joy in the Lord is the faith to which Psalm 104 calls us. We need this psalm more than ever as our world rejects the ongoing creative and sustaining work of God in His creation in favor of a godless, man-centered, naturalistic worldview. Let us not be afraid. God will provide us with daily bread. Let us pray that we would learn to believe this and to receive all of our daily bread with thanksgiving, for He brings “forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.”CP201227
Congregation at Prayer
Yearly Archives: 2020
December 20, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 103—A Prayer in Praise of the Lord’s Mercy—From the depths of his being, David calls upon his own soul and all that is within him to bless the Lord for the Lord’s mercy and for every benefit that he receives from the grace of God. The Lord forgives all iniquity. He heals all diseases. He redeems one’s life from destruction. He crowns the believer with loving kindness and tender mercies. He satisfies us with good things. He renews our life. All of this flows from the mercy of God in Christ our Redeemer. In Jesus God has executed righteousness and worked justice for all who were oppressed by sin and death. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy which He so freely and faithfully made known to Moses and the children of Israel. Though He afflicts us, He, nevertheless, lets go of His anger and does not punish us as we deserve. His mercy is as different from the world’s concept of mercy as the heavens are high above the earth. His forgiveness means that He has removed our transgressions from us, like a father who pities his children. The Lord knows that we are made from dust. We will flower but soon wither and fade. But His mercy endures forever, from everlasting to everlasting. All angelic ministers in heaven and earth bless the Lord and do His pleasure as they proclaim the excellencies of His love in the preaching of the Gospel.
December 13, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 102:12-28—A Prayer to Rely Upon the Goodness of the Lord Under Affliction—The Lord does not abandon or forsake the promises He has made to His children, even though He lays affliction on our backs. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sins and bad choices. Sometimes we suffer through no direct fault of our own, but simply because we are part of this fallen world. In every instance, we are called to see our afflictions as an instrument of the Lord through which He intends to draw us closer to Himself, or to teach us the mysteries of His grace that we cannot learn in any other way but through the things under which we suffer. So, a pastoral prayer gives voice to what should be the prayer of every Christian: “Comfort us, O God, with Your Holy Spirit that we may patiently endure our afflictions and acknowledge them as a manifestation of Your fatherly will. Preserve us from faintheartedness and despondency, and help us to seek You, the great physician of our souls.” The second half of Psalm 102 draws us into this understanding of the Christian life, by confessing that the Lord endures forever, and the remembrance of His mercy continues throughout the generations. He is the One who builds up Zion, the Church. All the nations shall see this. He regards the prayer of the destitute and afflicted. He looks down from the height of His sanctuary to give help to His children. When He weakens our strength or shortens our days upon the earth, He does so for His kind and loving purposes that will serve for our ultimate good. The Lord’s abiding faithfulness to those who belong to Him is expressed at the center of the psalm: “This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” and at the psalm’s conclusion, “You are the same, and your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.” CP201213
December 6, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 102:1-13—A Prayer for Those Weary of Sin — “The 102nd psalm is a psalm of prayer. In it the fathers of old—weary of laws, of sins, and of death—wholeheartedly yearn and call for the kingdom of grace promised in Christ. They ask that God yet again build up Zion and set in place her stones and dust, that He would yet again enter in and let His glory be seen in all kingdoms, that He would rescue His captives from sin and death so that they may come together and thank Him—that is, that they may worship Him in the true Zion—and the Old Testament come to an end.
“For without Christ there is indeed nothing but strength broken in the middle of life and days cut short, that is, a miserable, short, wretched life from which the psalmist is reluctantly removed. But in His kingdom is eternal life, and His time has no end. He is the one who was before He created heaven and earth, and will again change and renew them. Therefore, He is outside of and over all time. His year has no end and there is no dying there. This kingdom we will gladly receive. May such a kingdom, Your kingdom, come! Amen.” From Reading the Psalms with Luther, CPH
November 29, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 101—The King’s Coronation Psalm—Every psalm ultimately finds its fulfillment in Christ. Psalm 101 is a coronation psalm for the king. Verses 1-4 are the promises that the king makes. How fitting they are in the mouth of our Lord. He sings of mercy and justice. He behaves wisely. He walks with integrity and a perfect heart. He renounces all evil and does not set it before his eyes. He turns away from wickedness. Verses 5-8 are the King’s pledge of how He will govern His people. He will govern them with truth. All slander, falsehood, and arrogance will be put away. He will protect the faithful of the land who walk in integrity and uprightness. The liar shall not continue in the presence of the Lord. He will destroy the wicked of the land and every evil doer will be cut off from the city of the Lord. At the heart of such evil is the dishonesty of an impenitent heart. In the kingdom of Christ, truth is manifest in the honesty of a humble and contrite heart that confesses sin and confesses the truth of God’s Word in a salvation that we do not deserve but which is wholly provided for us by the King. To Him belongs everlasting allegiance and faithfulness, for there is salvation in no one else.
November 22, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 100—A Psalm of Thanksgiving to the Lord—Psalm 100 is a brief psalm of thanksgiving that calls upon all people to praise and give thanks to the Lord for He alone is God, we are the sheep of His pasture, He is good, and His mercy and truth is from everlasting. The familiar hymn, “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” is a devotional hymnic paraphrase of Psalm 100. It receives its hymn name from the psalm itself, “Old Hundredth.” Stanza 2 confesses the truth of our creation and salvation in Christ: “Know that the Lord is God indeed; / Without our aid He did us make. / We are His folk, He doth us feed, / And for His sheep He doth us take” and the final stanza adds a hymnic version of the Gloria Patri: “To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, / The God whom heav’n and earth adore, / From us and from the angel host / Be praise and glory evermore.”
November 15, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 99—A Prayer to Trust that the Lord Reigns in the Earth—It is difficult to believe that the Lord reigns over all the earth especially when the world in which we lives seems so chaotic and the rule of Law and civil justice are turned upside down. The psalmist declares what might appear contrary to human reason: “The Lord reigns; Let the peoples tremble!” God reigns in the civil realm, but not necessarily in the way that we might think is good. Civil authorities may use the power that God grants them for good or evil purposes. Why would He permit injustice and evil? Could it be that the nations of the earth are to suffer the consequences of their godlessness and rebellion against God? Could it be that when the kingdoms of this world oppress the truth, that God raises up His Church to give hope and comfort to the afflicted that the world cannot give? Could it be that when the Church suffers in this world that she is most like her Lord whose suffering and death procured the world’s salvation? Could it be that oppression, persecution, and suffering reveal who is faithful to the Lord and who is not? In the Old Testament, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were faithful in the face of hostility and opposition both from civil authorities and from false brethren within the Old Testament Church. Throughout their ministries the Lord dwelt between the Cherubim of the Tabernacle for the salvation of His people, and when they called upon Him, He kept His promises and delivered them. There was no civil realm that could overpower them, nor did He ever withhold salvation from them when they called upon Him in repentant faith. They also learned through what they suffered that He was for them the “God-Who-Forgives” and to respond to the evils of their age by worshipping at His holy hill.
November 8, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 98 — A Psalm of Rejoicing in Christ’s Salvation—Psalm 98 is a psalm that rejoices in Christ’s salvation. Jesus is the Father’s “right hand” and “holy arm”! He gained the victory over sin, death, and the power of Satan by His suffering and death upon the cross. In the preaching of the Gospel, “the Lord has made known His salvation” and the “righteousness” of Christ He proclaims to the nations for their salvation. By the death, resurrection, and preaching of the Gospel of Christ, the Lord openly shows His salvation to the nations and proclaims this salvation to the ends of the earth. Psalm 98 overflows with the expression of joy, singing, and joyful music in praise of the Lord whose salvation moves the earth. Even the creation is involved in the proclamation of the Gospel and in anticipation of the future coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who will “judge the earth” according to the “righteousness of His cross.”
October 25, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 96 —The New Song of the Gospel Calls to Faith and is Our Confession—Several psalms call us to “sing to the Lord a new song!” The substance of the “new song” is the Good News of salvation in Christ, anchored in the “New” Testament in His blood. It is the song of grace and mercy for sinners in Jesus. It is the sung confession of faith in Christ and the sung proclamation of that Gospel that calls us to faith in Him. We sing that song! That song goes out into all the earth! And we want the whole earth to sing that song as the nations come to repentance and faith in Christ for salvation. All the gods of mankind are idols, but the God who redeemed us with the blood of His Son is also the
Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has established the earth. He calls the nations to repentance and desires all to be saved and to sing this song. This salvation in Christ is the beauty of God’s holiness and what moves the heavens to rejoice. The song of the Gospel restores life to God’s creation and promises resurrection from the dead. On the last day Christ will return to judge the nations by the righteousness of His cross and the truth of His Word.
October 18, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Luther on Psalm 95 — A Song of Praise to the Rock of Our Salvation—The first seven verses of Psalm 95 has a very familiar place in the church’s regular prayer life in the Venite of the Matins service. Venite means, “Oh come…” and is the call to sing to the LORD who is the Rock of our salvation. In the Scriptures, singing, thanksgiving, a joyful noise, songs of praise, and worship are all actions that confess faith, trust, reliance, and dependence upon the Lord. In Psalm 95, like so many psalms, praising God as the Creator is also linked to confessing and praising Him as our Savior. Psalm 95 confesses Him to be the only God, the one who formed the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains, the sea, and the dry land. The children of Israel sang this song as the people of God’s pasture and the sheep of His hand. The fervent joy of the first portion of the psalm gives way to the warning against unbelief. We are not to harden our hearts against God as the children of Israel in the wilderness. They did not enter His rest because of the impenitence of unbelief. Therefore, let us heed the warning and continue to “sing to the Lord” for He is “the Rock of our salvation.”