Text: Psalm 8
God is mindful of man because He is the God with the human face. He cares for man because He is the God-man. In the incarnation He crowned humanity with glory and honor and anointed our humanity with His divinity, thereby making us one with Him. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many were made righteous. Sure, the law came and man sinned, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. As sin once reigned in death, grace now reigns through the righteous man, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s name is majestic in all the earth. He has built himself a majestic name in the God with a human face. The Son of Man is mindful of men. They are redeemed and they are called to grow up into sanctity. With His human hands, He placed the moon and the stars and pulled Eve from the side of Adam. And with those same hands, God Himself climbed upon the tree of life and gave Himself as the eternal sacrifice. He is mindful of His people. He knows the name of every miscarried, stillborn, and aborted child—those martyred by death and the devil. Man is not meant for death. He is meant for life. We mourn for those unborn martyrs who knew not life, and all the more for those who, because of faithless parents, had no chance to know the Man who is the Life.
Let us pray: Blessed Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have made humanity in Your image, which you received from the blessed Virgin Mary, and every breath we have is of Your grace. Grant that as You have created us in Your image and redeemed us in Your death, that we would grow into a sanctity that is worthy of the glory and honor with which You have crowned us. Through you, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.
(Ian Kinney, Sem II)
Text: Psalm 6:6-10
“A man with no enemies is a man with no character.”
~Attributed to American entertainer and salad dressing persona, Paul Newman.
To be yourself you’ve got to ruffle feathers and blaze your own trail. Imagine a lifetime of “It’s my way or the highway!” That’s exhausting. If this is the case, everyone is a hothead! It might seem like “hotheads,” those who scream the loudest, are the ones getting attention and succeeding in getting a message across.
Christians could spend a lifetime confronting and creating “enemies” of those who believe differently. Yet such a strategy would do no good for advancing the Gospel. Instead, God desires you to live and love everyone with gentleness. Still, you feel weary, worn down, and defeated—like you’re getting nowhere and not changing anyone’s mind.
But God hasn’t asked you to make enemies or shout louder than the opposition. Rather, He desires you to love with confident humility everyone who He has ordered into your life. Our true enemies are not those with whom we disagree, though we certainly grieve over those who oppose God’s will. What a relief! God has defeated our true enemies for us by Jesus’ death on the cross. The joy you know in Jesus’ saving work is of far greater value to your character and identity than being a hothead. With boldness, confidence, and a gentle spirit, you steadfastly share God’s loving will for human life to everyone—though they may shout and rage. God will handle the rest.
Let us pray: Almighty God, You sent Your Son to befriend us sinners who were once your enemies. By His humble death and steadfast love, even among His enemies, we are at peace with you. Grant to us humble and steadfast hearts of service, though they seem as weak and powerless. Help us to continually witness Your saving love to those who see You as their enemy. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Joseph McCalley, Sem IV)
Text: Psalm 6:1-6
Trials and torments of despair crush those who search for answers. Why did this have to happen? What consequences are going to afflict me, O Lord? When anxiety and depression remain, a quick, “It’s going to be okay,” won’t suffice. Lives outside of us and life inside of us seem marked by evil works. And yes, this is the very weakness the enemy uses to craft opposites of love, mercy, hope, and healing.
The world tells you that your life and inward decisions are a matter of rights and freedom, yet such words end up driving our heart towards misery. In this cry, the psalmist’s prayer of realization displays our lives on the line, crying out for help. And in this cry the hands of our Creator Lord reach out for His troubled children. When our hands can no longer grip our own resolve, there is a Master Crafter who is the splint for our broken bones. Our high Deliverer, Christ Jesus, broke the bonds of death, unraveling the ropes of hell, to save those greatly troubled by sin, darkness, and death.
In your weakness His great mercy draws near, and it is here where He chose to redeem your soul from all shame and affliction. Faith that is greatly troubled, aware of our soul’s unmerited condition, clings to the merit of Christ alone who suffered God’s anger on the cross for our desperation.
Here, the greatly troubled receive the Great I AM’s rescue. Call upon Him and He will restore you. He reaches you from uncertainty and reveals mercy from the cross. For how long? Until He returns with sure life everlasting, uniting the grave-stricken with His steadfast promise: you are forgiven. Replacing your cries with blessed reunion.
Let us pray: Merciful Father, who comforts all the raging seas of life, bestow Your calming hand over all my regrets and strife, that I may hold fast to Your anchor which buries my sin, safe in the knowledge of the salvation and life everlasting which on the cross You dost win. Through Jesus Christ, my Healer, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.
(Dan Schuetz, Sem II)
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Day of the Holy Innocents
Text: Psalm 54
Focus Verse: “O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by Your might” (v. 1).
Afraid that he might lose his throne, King Herod sought to kill the King of kings. The tyrant missed his mark, but the baby boys of Bethlehem were caught in the crossfire. Still today unborn baby boys and girls continue to pay the price for our sin. We have come to see our own children as obstacles, intrusions, and inconveniences. The children might sing, “O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by Your might,” but children have no voice, and they have no choice. We must be their advocates, even as Christ is ours.
Remember what we’re up against. In every ultrasound, Satan sees a picture of the baby Jesus; in every birth, a little Christmas. But don’t lose hope. Christ, the Son of David, comes as our true King. He has the power to help us, to uphold our lives. He who delivers us from sin and death has triumphed over Satan. Therefore, repent, and pray for the children’s deliverance.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son to be our King. Have mercy upon the little ones. Forgive us for what we have done and left undone. Embolden us to speak for the little ones, even as Your Son has spoken for us. Amen.
(Dr. Peter Scaer, Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology)
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 1:1–2:2
The CTSFW Life Team has created a devotional series written by second- and fourth-year seminarian and deaconess students, covering life from beginning to end. They hope to help people think about and pray for all people who live with and deal with life—all of us. We believe in the sanctity of life because of what Christ has done for our lives: coming to be born as a baby and eventually giving His life for us so that our lives would be made new by Him through our baptism. Our Lord has made our lives holy by giving us His life through His birth, death, and resurrection.
The series will begin tomorrow, December 28th, the day we remember the Holy Innocents; the day many young children were martyred in Herod’s search to destroy our Lord. Many young children are still being martyred today in a parent’s hope to rid themselves of an inconvenient problem. But we also struggle with destruction of life at the other end too. The elderly and sick are increasingly being told that what is best for them is to end their lives because they are an inconvenience and so we mourn for these lives lost as well.
The series will end on January 26th, the day the Fort Wayne March for Life will occur. Many in Fort Wayne, including many from the Concordia Theological Seminary, will participate in walking the streets of downtown Fort Wayne in order to call attention to the importance of protecting life at all ages and stages.
Thank you for joining us in prayer for our society and these many lost lives! The peace of our Lord be with you!
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” And Stephen said:
“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
“But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.
“When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
“Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’
“This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
“‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
You took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’
“Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,
“‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
Did not my hand make all these things?’
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
This is the Christ, our God Most High,
Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free.
(LSB 358 st. 3)
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
When the shepherds of Bethlehem saw the angel of the Lord standing in the glory of the Lord before them, they were rightly terrified. They were terrified because they were sinners and inherently knew that to be in the presence of God’s glory meant certain death. Yet the angel told them not to fear, and while the glory of the Lord was shining around them, he told them of the good news and great joy that was wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. The angel told them of the true glory of the Lord that would have been unrecognizable without his preaching. He told them of the Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
What they would have never known by themselves or from themselves, the shepherds now knew by the words of the angel. Amid the terror of their sinful flesh they heard the comforting Word of God telling them of their Savior. Because of what this child would do one day on the cross for all people, the multitude of the heavenly host praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). May we rejoice today along with the heavenly hosts when we hear this Word preached to us, and by faith receive the forgiveness of sins because of Jesus Christ the Lord, who was born, lived, and died for us.
Let us pray: Almighty God, enliven our hearts by Your Word and Spirit so that we would rejoice in the proclamation of Your only-begotten Son being born in the flesh for our salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Garrett Buvinghausen, Sem IV)
To you this night is born a child
Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;
This little child of lowly birth
Shall be the joy of all the earth.
(LSB 358 st. 2)
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
Cursed by sin, the world separated into groups of predator and prey: wolves and lambs, leopards and goats, calves and lions. The very good creation became full of death.
Sin diseased all of us as well. Even in times of joy we experience strife, anger for one another, and a desire to attack in thought, word, and deed. Instead of gentle lambs, we are ravenous wolves. Instead of tame goats, we pounce like leopards. Creation is in shambles because of our sin, yet God determined to set things right.
Christ Jesus, this little child of lowly birth, entered into our cursed creation. He led the way of God’s righteousness and, bearing our sin, came into the thickness of the predator/prey curse to the cross.
To you this night is born a child, to die for our sin. Rising on the third day, he brings a life of joy. This little child is God himself leading, bleeding, dying, and rising to set creation straight. He is the joy of all the earth, forgiving our sins and leading us to the new creation.
Let us pray: God of all creation, we joyfully thank and praise You for the gift of your Son and His work that restores Your creation. Be with us in all trial and temptation, and lead us into Your everlasting joy; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Jeffrey Kyler, Sem IV)