Tuesday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-17 (NKJV)
12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
With this great cloud of witnesses to the faithfulness of the Triune God, the text for today encourages us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Indeed, in this world you and I face many sins, trials, and temptations which are trying to draw us away from the faith given us in our Baptism. As it has always been, Satan in one form or another still comes to us just as he did to Adam and Eve and says, “Did God really say…?” The devil, the world, and our old sinful nature are still trying to lead us away from eternal life in Christ. We see it all around us. The world is full of false teachers.
We too have the witness of the faithful Old Testament believers, we have the witness of the New Testament Apostles, and we have the witness of the faithful church fathers and the Lutheran Confessions. Through all of these faithful witnesses the Lord is calling us, guiding us, encouraging us, and keeping us in faithful service to Him, to our neighbor, and especially to those of the household of faith.
As we recognize that we live in a world that is trying to draw us away from the True God we see our need to pray that He would keep us in His Word and Sacraments. He does indeed keep us through this life unto eternal life with Him forever.
We pray: Lord, we beseech Thee, grant Thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds to follow Thee, the only God. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.