Thursday after Epiphany

4 There is a river whose streams make glad
the cit- | y of God,*
         the holy habitation of the | Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her;
she shall | not be moved;*
         God will help her when | morning dawns.

6 The nations rage, the kingdoms | totter;*
         he utters his voice, the | earth melts.

8 Come, behold the works | of the LORD,*
         how he has brought desolations | on
         the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the end | of
the earth;*
         he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots | with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that | I am God.*
         I will be exalted among the nations,
         I will be exalted | in the earth!”

11 The LORD of hosts is | with us;*
         the God of Jacob is our | fortress.

    —Psalm 46:4–6, 8–11

Additional Psalm: Psalm 45

Old Testament Reading:
Ezekiel 1:1–14, 22–28
Ezekiel in Babylon
1In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), 3the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar canal, and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.

The Glory of the LORD
4As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. 5And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, 6but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. 7Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. 8Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: 9their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. 10As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. 11Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 12And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 13As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.…

22Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads. 23And under the expanse their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another. And each creature had two wings covering its body. 24And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army. When they stood still, they let down their wings. 25And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down
         their wings.

26And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Additional Reading: Habakkuk 1:1–3:19

New Testament Reading: Romans 1:1–17
1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

7To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Longing to Go to Rome
8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

There remains, therefore, the doctrine of the Gospel, which instructs us concerning the twofold benefit of Christ, namely, recon-ciliation and sanctification or renewal. It contains the promise of the remission of sins, free reconciliation, adoption, and acceptance unto eternal life, for the sake of Christ the Mediator. It also contains the promise of the Spirit of renewal, who works in us both to will and to do, so that after we are justified we can also begin the new obedience. Therefore, because justifying faith seeks reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, adoption, and acceptance unto eternal life, it is manifest what the proper and principal object of faith is, namely, the promise of grace for the sake of the Mediator. In respect to this and by laying hold on it we are justified.

These things are confirmed by sure and clear passages of Scripture which establish that the object of justifying faith is not the Word of God in general, but the promise of the benefits of Christ the Mediator.…

Then how many blessings come to us along with this object of our faith: free recon-ciliation, remission of sins, imputation of the righteousness of Christ, free acceptance before God, adoption, freedom from the law of sin and the Law, liberation from the curse of the Law, propitiation for our sins, salvation, eternal life, communion with God, the inheritance of life and salvation, peace, joy, and hope of the glory of God! These are the words of Scripture. When in this way the object of justifying faith is unfolded before us, the entire matter becomes clearer.

There must be a continuous progression from Sinai to Zion, so that the object of jus-tifying faith does not become Epicureanism or, as Peter says, “a cloak for maliciousness” (1 Peter 2:16).

    —Martin Chemnitz

It is the pow’r of God to save

From sin and Satan and the grave;

It works the faith which firmly clings

To all the treasures which it brings.

    —The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace (LSB 580:4)

Prayer of the Day
Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (B69)

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Large Catechism II 34–46