Tuesday after Epiphany 1

3 Because your steadfast love
is bet- | ter than life,*
         my lips will | praise you.

4 So I will bless you as long | as I live;*
         in your name I will lift | up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied
as with fat and | rich food,*
         and my mouth will praise you
         with | joyful lips,

6 when I remember you up- | on my bed,*
         and meditate on you in the
         watches | of the night;

7 for you have | been my help,*
         and in the shadow of your wings
         I will | sing for joy.

8 My soul | clings to you;*
         your right hand up- | holds me.

9 But those who seek to de- | stroy my life*
         shall go down into the depths | of
         the earth;

10 they shall be given over
to the power | of the sword;*
         they shall be a portion for | jackals.

11 But the king shall re- | joice in God;*
         all who swear by him shall exult,
         for the mouths of liars | will be stopped.

    —Psalm 63:3–11

Additional Psalm: Psalm 59

Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 34:1–24
Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel
1The word of the LORD came to me: 2“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

7“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

The Lord GOD Will Seek Them Out
11“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. 16I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

17“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

20“Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.”

New Testament Reading:
Romans 3:19–31
[No One Is Righteous]
19Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith
21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

You desire to go to Confession and to the Holy Lord’s Supper and ask: “How should I begin? How might God look upon my works favorably so that I will be blessed? So that I will receive the body and blood of the Lord not to my judgment, but to my soul’s salvation?” Listen to the answer which the apostle Paul gives in 1 Cor. 11:28: “A man,” he says, “ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” But you ask, “How should I examine myself? What do I examine myself for?” The apostle holds the Law before your eyes and says to you: “From the Law comes recognition of sin!” Therefore look into the Law, in this mirror of the Law, and compare the purity of the Law with the purity—rather, the impurity—of your heart and changes so that you will receive the first grace, namely, recognition of your sins. But because the blind man can recognize neither what is beautiful nor what is ugly, he calls upon the Lord, “Have mercy upon me!” Because human beings according to their nature cannot correctly recognize their sins, you should turn to the Father of light, from whom all good and perfect gifts come from above, and to the Son, who is that Light, who enlightens all humans, and pray.…

Lord God, Holy Spirit, You are the true and constant support in every need, a Spirit of truth and promise, God’s finger, the water of life, a heavenly fire, which warms cold hearts and ignites them with true love for God. You have revealed Yourself to the apostles with wonderful gifts in a powerful wind and fiery tongues. We ask You now therefore to come into our hearts, to strengthen and gladden our ignorant consciences. Sanctify us with Your blessing and be unto us the holy assurance of our redemption and our salvation. Amen.

    —J. K. Wilhelm Loehe

The Lord, my God, be praised,

My trust, my life from heaven,

The Father’s own dear Son,

Whose life for me was given,

Who for my sin atoned

With His most precious blood

And gives to me by faith

The highest heav’nly good.

    —The Lord, My God, Be Praised (LSB 794:2)

Prayer of the Day
Almighty and most merciful God, the protector of all who trust in You, strengthen our faith and give us courage to believe that in Your love You will rescue us from all adversities; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (B70)

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Large Catechism III 14–24

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.