Doubt is the unfortunate companion of faith. Wherever faith clings to the promises of God, doubt is always right there lingering in the back of our mind, constantly asking the serpent’s Garden question, “Did God really say?” How striking to think that we must have faith in God before we can doubt him! This week’s lessons show us believers who had faith in God and his abilities to save them, but yet doubted when his plans or purpose failed to match theirs. In each case, it is adversity that fights against faith and allows its unfortunate companion to rear its ugly head. And in each case, the true answer to doubt is not found in the great miracle that removes adversity, but in the still small voice of our Savior God whispering in his Word. This week, we hear our Savior God ask us, “Why did you doubt?”, and we see that the Christian answers doubt with faith.
Our Savior is a God of mercy and kindness. Our very existence is testimony to that fact. Daily he provides us with all that we need to keep our body and life. He also grants protection from all earthly dangers. In addition, our Savior provides us with spiritual blessings—food for the soul. In his Word we receive the good news of sins forgiven and free salvation.
How do you get people to join your church? There are lots of suggestions. Most people suggest something special for every age group. It seems that you need to provide people with all kinds of programs. You also need to tell people what they want to hear. You may get people to join your church that way, but chances are they won’t ever become a part of the Holy Christian Church. You only become a member of God’s kingdom one way: through the preaching of the gospel. But even the success of our gospel preaching doesn’t depend on us. Instead it depends entirely upon God’s power and blessing.
From the beginning of time, God provided rest for his creation. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart, that man might learn to find his rest in God alone. In Jesus, the Christian finds rest from his burdens, rest from his battles, and rest forever in heaven.
Being a Christian is painful. Being a Christian means that there will be crosses to bear. St. Peter once wrote that Christians are called to suffering, “because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pe 2:21). Jesus clearly states in the Gospel that anyone who is not willing to take up their cross and follow him cannot be his disciple. Are you ready to be his disciple? If you are, recognize that our life of discipleship depends on carrying crosses.
Christ promises courage for his witnesses to testify even in the face of pain or persecution. The Prayer of the Day for next Sunday is one of the most ancient in the Church’s use. It seems to have been suggested by the disasters of the dying Western Empire. As Rome crumbled, the Church prayed for God’s governance that she might worship in peace and joy. Today Christ reminds us that even when that peace and joy are absent, he will give us the courage to continue to testify in his name. The Prayer of the Day for next Sunday: “O Lord, our God, govern the nations on earth and direct the affairs of this world so that your Church may worship you in peace and joy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.“
The Holy Ministry is given by God out of compassion for his people. Over the next three weeks we hear Jesus’ Missionary Discourse (Matthew 10:5-42). Last week we saw the unworthiness of the servants God calls by mercy. This week the emphasis is still on the Ministry of the Word, but the focus shifts from the servants to the people they serve. We see the compassion and love of God for this world, love so great that he called ministers of the Word to share his grace and mercy and foretell of the coming kingdom of heaven. The prayer for the week emphasizes how God protects us, empowers us, and sanctifies us through the ministry of the Word that shows us mercy and forgiveness and leads us to the glory of heaven.
The Holy Ministry is filled with people who God called out of his boundless mercy. Nothing else could explain the choices for ministers that God made! He calls such sinful and weak men to fill this office. Only mercy can explain the men he chose in this week’s lessons: a despised tax collector, an exiled killer, a persecutor of Christians. How poignant these lessons are, when we remember that each lesson was penned by the unworthy minister called into service by God’s boundless mercy!
The Holy Ministry stands on the rock-solid truth of God’s Word. Not all who call themselves ministers do that, so watch out for false teachers! Many will come with wise sounding words and pious promises, but they are not what they seem. The Church’s only defense is to stand firmly on the rock-solid truth of God’s Word. The Season of Pentecost explicates the teachings of Christ and the application of faith in the life of the Christian. This week’s lessons lay the foundation for that teaching and life: the inspired Word of God.
We like to think that we can take care of ourselves. God has given us many talents and gifts so that we can provide for ourselves and our families. And yet we shouldn’t forget that God is the one who ultimately provides all things. Apart from him we can do nothing. If it weren’t for our Triune God—our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier—we would be absolutely helpless and hopeless in our lives. Yes, apart from him we wouldn’t even exist. Our entire being depends on the Holy Trinity.