Wednesday after Invocabit (Ember Wednesday)

10How long, O God, is the | foe to scoff?*
         Is the enemy to revile your name
for- | ever?

11Why do you hold back your hand, your | right hand?*
         Take it from the fold of your garment and de- | stroy them!

12Yet God my King is | from of old,*
         working salvation in the midst | of
the earth.

13You divided the sea | by your might;*
         ou broke the heads of the sea monsters on the | waters.

14You crushed the heads of Le- | viathan;*
         you gave him as food for the creatures of the | wilderness.

15You split open | springs and brooks;*
         you dried up ever- | flowing streams.

16Yours is the day, yours al- | so the night;*
         you have established the heavenly
lights | and the sun.

17You have fixed all the boundaries | of the earth;you*
          have made summer and | winter.
         —Psalm 74:10–17

Additional Psalm: Psalm 126, Psalm 6

Old Testament Reading:
Genesis 8:13–9:17
[The Flood Subsides]

13In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. 14In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15Then God said to Noah, 16“Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.

God’s Covenant with Noah

20Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

9:1And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

6“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
         by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.

7And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.”

8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Additional Reading: Genesis 9:18–11:26

New Testament Reading: Mark 4:1–20
The Parable of the Sower

1Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3“Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables

10And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12so that

“they may indeed see but not perceive,
         and may indeed hear but not understand,

lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

13And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14The sower sows the word. 15And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

God’s Word testifies that the intellect, heart, and will of the natural, unregenerate person in divine things are not only turned entirely away from God, but also are turned and perverted against God to every evil. Also, a person is not only weak, incapable, unfit, and dead to good, but is also sadly perverted, infected, and corrupted by original sin so that he is entirely evil, perverse, and hostile to God by his disposition and nature. He is very strong, alive, and active in everything that is displeasing and contrary to God.

For the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. (Genesis 8:21)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

St. Paul explains this passage from Jeremiah, writing,

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God. (Romans 8:7)

… For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. (Romans 7:18)

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:22–23)

The natural or fleshly free will in St. Paul and in other regenerate people strives against God’s Law, even after regeneration. Was it not much more stubborn and hostile to God’s Law and will before regeneration? Therefore, this is clear (as it is further declared in the article about original sin, to which we now refer for the sake of brevity): (a) the free will, from its own natural powers, cannot work or agree to work anything for its own conversion, righteousness, and salvation, nor follow, believe, or agree with the Holy Spirit, who through the Gospel offers a person grace and salvation; (b) from its inborn, wicked, rebellious nature it resists God and His will with hostility, unless it is enlightened and controlled by God’s Spirit.
         —Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord II 17–18

So when the precious seed is sown,
Life-giving grace bestow
That all whose souls the truth receive
Its saving pow’r may know.
         —Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast (LSB 577:4)

Prayer of the Day
Almighty and merciful God, of Your bountiful goodness keep from us all things that may hurt us that we, being ready in both body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish whatever You would have us do; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (H79)

Lenten Catechesis:
The Fourth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother.

To the position of fatherhood and motherhood God has given special distinction above all positions that are beneath it: He does not simply command us to love our parents, but to honor them. … Honor includes not only love, but also modesty, humility, and submission to a majesty hidden in them. Honor requires not only that parents be addressed kindly and with reverence, but also that, both in the heart and with the body, we demonstrate that we value them very highly, and that, next to God, we regard them as the very highest.
         —Large Catechism I 105–107

In this commandment belongs a further statement about all kinds of obedience to persons in authority who have to command and to govern. For all authority flows and is born from the authority of parents. Where a father is unable alone to educate his ‹rebellious and irritable› child, he uses a schoolmaster to teach the child. If he is too weak, he gets the help of friends and neighbors. If he departs this life, he delegates and confers his authority and government upon others who are appointed for the purpose.
         —Large Catechism I 141

The same should also be said about obedience to civil government. … Here “father” is not one person from a single family, but it means the many people the father has as tenants, citizens, or subjects. Through them, as through our parents, God gives to us food, house and home, protection, and security. They bear such name and title with all honor as their highest dignity that it is our duty to honor them and to value them greatly as the dearest treasure and the most precious jewel upon earth.
         —Large Catechism I 150

Besides these there are still spiritual fathers. … The only ones called spiritual fathers are those who govern and guide us by God’s Word. In this sense, St. Paul boasts his fatherhood in 1 Corinthians 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Now, since they are fathers, they are entitled to their honor, even above all others.
         —Large Catechism I 158–160

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord I 33–42