Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn #268 Zion Mourns in Fear and Anguish
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 261 Lord Keep Us Steadfast - by Luther
The Whole Armor of God
The Communion Hymn #321 O Faithful God - by the Concordist Selnecker
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #259 Flung to the Heedless Winds - by Luther
KJV Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
KJV John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. 48 Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 49 The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. 52 Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
Twenty-First Sunday After Trinity
Almighty and everlasting God, who by Thy Son hast promised us the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and everlasting life: We beseech Thee, do Thou by Thy Holy Spirit so quicken our hearts that we in daily prayer may seek our help in Christ against all temptations, and, constantly believing His promise, obtain that for which we pray, and at last be saved, through Thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
The Whole Armor of God
KJV Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Paul warned the Ephesian (Acts) against the wolves that would prey upon them, from inside the flock and from the outside. The believers who take the Word seriously as a spiritual guide and the source of salvation realize they have a battle.
On the one hand is the Word that conveys Jesus to us. We know through the Word that Jesus is the Lord of Creation. But on the other hand, we realize our frailty and feel the attacks. The daily assault through the media is growing. Every Christian doctrine and value is questioned - in movies, cartoons, and news reports. We experience the power and fury of the attack while knowing we are weak by ourselves.
Thus this encouraging passage is designed to show us where our strength lies. As Luther said in one of his especially brilliant observations, Satan is furious that believers, so weak and frail, could be protected from his attacks by the weapons designed by God Himself.
Not just one weapon - but the whole armor of God is there to guard us against all attacks. If the devil has a thousand arts, then the Word has 100,000 arts - that is in the Book of Concord (for Mequon graduates) and I quote it all the time for my Biblical students. They love Luther's observations.
We are not strong, but we are strong in the Lord and the power of His might.
The weaknesses are easy to number, because we have seen them win instead of the armor of God. We have many carnal temptations, and research shows how embedded they become. Drugs, alcohol, and lust pull at many. Some studies argue that the problem comes from the addiction taking over the pleasure centers of the brain so that only that addiction is pleasing. Thus the obsession. When someone told me her boyfriend took the children's Christmas presents back for a refund (when they were gifts), my first thought was - an addict? The addiction serves itself.
God gives us many exhilarating moments in life that should not be squeezed out distracts provided so abundantly by Satan. I was growing two roses all summer. Both are slow growers. The orange one decided to give us seven blooms on one strong stem earlier. This time the entire plant was in full bloom. Nearby the dark red rose was in bloom and just as fragrant as the best known ones - both are bargain roses.
Yesterday we got big hugs from our grandson and the chance to hear all about the big Puppet conference in Oregon. Whenever those things happen I think back to playing on the Atari in the basement with Little Ichabod, first defeating him in some games, then being hopelessly outclassed after he practiced. Then we were putting together a few wires. Now it means putting together a global network of computers.
The apostates want people to forget the true and fulfilling pleasures of being a Christian so they can worship mammon together and seek after things which are not fulfilling and not the fruit of the Spirit.
One thing is so simple - If we continue to serve our roles faithful to the Word, great benefits develop in the long run, even if they seem to be altogether lacking in the short run.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
To find out if this is true, try challenging some church leader on the false doctrine being promoted at the moment. The response is often a patronizing flattery at first. "I am so glad you are interested in this. I wish everyone were as keen on this as you are." Later, persistence turns this into wrath and often excommunication and shunning. As Father Neuhaus said, "When they liberals excommunicate you, they excommunicate for life." He was never forgiven for turning away from Left-wing radicals, though he never become a genuine conservative, simply "less liberal" as he admitted.
There is a lot of power behind evil, more than most people want to know. My unfortunate knack for research led me into Chicago politics and the Mob when I was working on the novel. I abandoned it because the truth was too sickening to dwell upon. I read quite a few books that linked many of the best known people in society to support from organized crime, from national politicians to entertainers. And it was known by many of us in my hometown where the numbers racket built up the local "family restaurant" that was down the alley from my house.
"Spiritual wickedness in high places" can also be seen in church leadership. It is a paradox: the greater the scandal, the less people will believe it and the more the organization will cover it up. Once that is done, like Bengazi, the powers smile at their victory and get rewarded in many ways.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Notice how closely this relates to the ending of 1 Corinthians
Watch (my name - gregoreo) ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
There is a group of four, for completeness, here:
Stand - do not waver, do not run away. This is the most desired attitude of soldiers and often the reason why a battle fails. They panic in fear, and retreating leads to running away. "They fought without discipline and ran without shame." - Gibbon
Watch - or stay awake. This is the verb Jesus used three times during His temptation. He said to the disciples Watch and pray. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. When we watch with anticipation, we stay awake. When we take security for granted, we fall asleep spiritually.
Stand fast in the faith - that means never wavering in the Christian truths taught in the Scriptures. The history of doctrine is a catalogue of wavering and compromise, but God preserves a remnant.
Act like men - quit you like men was a phrase often used. This is simply the verb based on "man." Be men. Be manly. Show your strength.
Be strong. The opposite of faith is fear, and fear makes us weak. We all have special fears. I kid those who are afraid of spiders. But once I picked up a leaf in the house that moved - it was a roach - and I acted like it was an explosive device. In facing spiritual enemies and opponents, we can become afraid of what they will do. Often that fear is all they want because we react more than anything they could do realistically. Therefore fear accomplishes what their power could not do. So having faith means not imagining those retributions or counting them as really harmful.
The Ephesians passage is six-fold, in recognition of the Trinity:
- The breastplate of righteousness
- The protection of the Truth
- Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace
- The shield of The Christian Faith
- The helmet of salvation
- The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.