1 O LORD, you have searched me
and | known me!*
2 You know when I sit down
and when I rise up; you discern
my thoughts | from afar.
3 You search out my path
and my | lying down*
and are acquainted with | all my ways.
4 Even before a word is | on my tongue,*
behold, O LORD,
you know it alto- | gether.
5 You hem me in, behind | and before,*
and lay your hand up- | on me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonder- | ful for me;*
it is high; I cannot | attain it.
12 even the darkness is not | dark to you;*
the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as | light with you.
13 For you formed my | inward parts;*
you knitted me together
in my | mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully
and wonder- | fully made.*
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it | very well.
—Psalm 139:1–6, 12–14
Additional Psalm: Psalm 81
Old Testament Reading: Joel 2:18–32
The LORD Had Pity
18Then the LORD became jealous for his land
and had pity on his people.
19The LORD answered and said to his people,
“Behold, I am sending to you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a reproach among the nations.
20“I will remove the northerner far from you,
and drive him into a parched and desolate land,
his vanguard into the eastern sea,
and his rear guard into the western sea;
the stench and foul smell of him will rise,
for he has done great things.
21“Fear not, O land;
be glad and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things!
22Fear not, you beasts of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
23“Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.
24“The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.
26“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
The LORD Will Pour Out His Spirit
28“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.”
New Testament Reading:
The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation
25Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
28As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
33Oh, the depth of the riches and wis-
dom and knowledge of God! How unsearch-able are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
A Living Sacrifice
12:1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Gifts of Grace
3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7if ser-vice, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in gen-erosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Marks of the True Christian
9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Athanasius has correctly said that for salvation the correct faith is necessary not only regarding the divine nature in Christ but also regarding the human. And Hilary says that it is a matter of equal danger to deny either the deity or the flesh of our body in Christ Jesus. He goes on to add that the one gives no hope of salvation without the other. For he does not know his own life, he says, who does not know Christ as true God and also as true man. Augustine says that Christ did not die for him who does not know Christ as true man, because He died according to the humanity. Nor will he be justified through Christ, because we are justified by His blood. Leo, in Epistola 11, says: “One cannot glory in a head which one says does not possess his own nature.”
Of such importance it is to recognize rightly the human nature in Christ. For in the flesh of Christ God condemned sin (Rom. 8:3), and in the body of His flesh we are reconciled (Col. 1:20). We are justified in His blood (Rom. 5:9). He has laid down His life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28). The Son of God is born of a woman in order that we who were under the Law might be redeemed and receive adoption (Gal. 4:4–5). He does not blush to call us brothers, because He has been made a partaker of flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14–17). In short, every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God but is the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3). But he who eats the flesh of the Son of God and drinks His blood has eternal life, for His flesh is given for the life of the world. (John 6:54, 51)
Oh, the height of Jesus’ love,
Higher than the heav’ns above,
Deeper than the depths of sea,
Lasting as eternity!
Love that found me—wondrous thought!
Found me when I sought Him not.
—Chief of Sinners Though I Be (LSB 611:2)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, in Your mercy guide the course of this world so that Your Church may joyfully serve You in godly peace and quiet-ness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (B65)
Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Large Catechism IV 32–46