266. Third Sunday after Trinity. I.

O God, teach us to know thy lovingkindness. Amen.

Gospel Lesson, Luke 15, 1-10. Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

When we consider how infinitely small we are in comparison with the almighty God, we wonder what possible difference it could make to him if he were to lose one of us. The wealth of a shepherd is reduced by a hundredth part, when he loses one sheep out of his flock of one hundred; but would God be made less rich by losing you or me? Consider, how infinitesimal a part we are of all his riches! Or could my absence cause any break in the circle of the saved around his throne? Would the heavenly chorus be incomplete without my voice? Certainly, God is as rich and blessed without us as with us: and yet he loves us so well, that he would not lose us for any price. To be sure, there is no sorrow in heaven when a man is lost; for there can be no sorrow there. But there is joy in heaven over every sinner who is saved. The reason for this is God’s infinite love for us in Christ. Infinitesimally small as we are in comparison with God, and wretched as we are become by reason of our deep fall, we never­theless are of great value in the sight of God, according to his mercy in creating, redeeming, and sanctifying us; for we are created in the image of God, and are the flower of all his creatures. We have been redeemed by the life and blood of the Son to be his own peculiar people; and God the Holy Ghost has made us his temple. It has pleased the holy triune God to love me, and to give me his heart from everlasting; therefore I also am formed to love, and to receive his life in my heart. It is, then, the most malicious delight of the devil to destroy us; while it is God’s highest delight to save us.

“Then drew near unto Jesus all the publicans and sinners for to hear him;” and he never cast one of them out. He never repulses any poor sinner. His enemies intend to speak ill of him; but in reality they glorify his office as the Savior: “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” He has left his blessed hosts of heaven, and is come to the earth to save us. He speaks of a shepherd who leaves the ninety and nine sheep, and goes into the wilderness after the one which is lost, until he find it, when he lays it on his shoulders, re­joicing, and carries it home; and of a woman who sweeps the house, and seeks diligently till she find her lost piece of silver; and then he adds: “Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that re- penteth.” He thereby proves to us that the greatest desire of his heart is our salvation. He diligently seeks him who has gone astray; he willingly receives the penitent sinner; he gladly saves each and all who let him find them. Let all hear this! Do you still live in sin ? — Jesus seeks you, and will bring you back; you need no longer wander homeless in the desert; stop, and hearken to the voice of your heav­enly Shepherd! If you are penitent, Jesus accepts you, rejoicing. Believe his love and mercy; it is a thousand times greater than your sin; greater than you are able to believe. — Shall he seek us with such ardent longing, and we still run from him into the arms of the devil? Should we not rather run to him like frightened sheep, pur­sued by death and the devil, and throw ourselves into his arms, which are stretched out to save us?

Lord Jesus, we are so blind and so wicked. Draw us to thee, and make us to see thy love. Do this, that thy ardent love may overcome, melt, and heal our hearts. Amen.

Thou hast promised to receive us,
Poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us,
Grace to cleanse and power to free.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
We will early turn to thee.

Early let us seek thy favor,
Early let us do thy will:
Blessed Lord and only Savior!
With thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast loved us — love us still.

267. Third Sunday after Trinity. II.

Teach us in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Amen.

Epistle Lesson, I Peter 5, 6-11. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

When God smites us, his purpose is to make us humble. Let us, then, humble ourselves under his mighty hand! None can escape this hand; but if we humble ourselves under it, it will lift us up, and save us. If you acknowledge his righteous­ness and your guilt, and receive without complaint correction from his hand as something which you have richly deserved; you shall surely receive grace to believe in his mercy toward you, and shall learn to cast all your care upon him. There is not one among us who would not become conceited and puffed up, did not the Lord discipline him with afflictions and temptation; his happiness as a child of God would intoxicate him, and then the devil would cause him to stumble, and plunge him into despair. It is a good thing that the Lord lays his heavy hand upon us, though it seem to bring sorrow rather than joy. Then pride and self-confi­dence die; the sober and humble spirit is preserved; faith increases; humility thrives, and the spirit’s holy trust in God; the bond of broth­erly love between you and all the saints is strengthened; Aaron and Hur support the hands of Moses while Joshua defeats Amalek. Un­derstand this, dear brethren; humble yourselves, and cast all your care upon him; for he cares for you. There is the closest connection between these two things, to “humble one’s self” and to “cast all one’s care upon the Lord.” — The apostle calls him “the God of all grace a name which is worth remembering. He, the God of all grace, called you to be partakers of the salvation which cost the life of his Son; and he will with equal diligence prepare and fashion you for this glory; stablish, strengthen, settle you. If you wish to watch and stand steadfast in the faith, his gracious discipline shall enable you to do it. Then shall the devil flee from you. But if you choose the other alter­ native, you shall be like helpless sheep in the power of the ravenous wolf. You who lack both wisdom and vigilance; what does your poor strength amount to against-the prince of hell and his army? If, how­ever, you have been humbled by the chastening grace of the Lord, and continue to put your trust in our strong God; then shall the devil be shamed, but the Lord have honor, and you have salvation, forever­ more.

God of all grace, keep us from pride and carnal self-confidence; give us vigilant, humble, and pious hearts, which trust in thee with childlike confidence. Strengthen us in suffering, and establish us, with all our brethren in the faith, in thy fellowship unto the end. Amen.

Still to the lowly soul
He doth himself impart,
And for his temple and his throne
Chooseth the pure in heart.

Lord, we thy presence seek,
May ours this blessing be:
Give us a pure and lowly heart,
A temple meet for thee!

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