Mark 14:32-38; 1 Kings 19:11-13
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Second, the doctrine of the adversaries leaves consciences in doubt. Because the law always accuses us, even in good works, consciences can never be pacified. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit” (Gal 5:17). Therefore, if a conscience believes that it must please God by the sake of its own work, instead of for Christ's sake, how will it have peace without faith? If hope springs from merits, what work will the conscience find that may firmly be relied upon as worthy of eternal life? Paul speaks against these doubts. “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). We ought to be firmly convinced that righteousness and eternal life are granted us for Christ's sake. Paul also says of Abraham that, “In hope he believed against hope” (Rom 4:18).
Pulling It Together: The spirit is compelled to have faith in God but the flesh is weak. It is hard to stay awake and watchful against the accusations of the law. It is easy enough, however, to fall asleep, dreaming that there must be some way that we might please God and avert his wrath. So, we must remain alert, listening carefully beneath the roar of the law’s accusations. The law thunders and quakes against the conscience. The fiery judgment of God leaves us unsettled and trembling. But listen; there is also the sound of a low whisper, calling us to stand before the Lord. It is the Spirit of the Lord coming to us through the gospel. Although he convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), he does so with the hope of forgiveness. He calls us to the exit of our cave of doubts, awakening us to the reality of God’s mercy and grace, through Jesus Christ the Lord.
Prayer: Lead me, Lord, by your Spirit so that I am not controlled by the flesh. Amen.
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The Great Search is a Christmas program that tells the story of those faithful travelers who made the journey to Bethlehem that very first Christmas. With the help of modern inventions, the magi, shepherds, and angels go on a Great Search to find the Christchild. This program can easily be adapted for large or smaller congregations. The congregation participates in the program through the singing of Christmas Carols.