Malagasy Lutheran Church Song and Gospel Sunday XII after the Trinity August 31 – September 05, 2020 « God makes his people rejoice » *

The message: The title here is a weighty and precious message. For « the seven-day festival » or « the Feast of Tabernacles » (Lev.23: 34; Jn.7: 2) has been celebrated since the time when Moses led the children of Israel. It was a feast of the meeting of the Lord in order to give Him praise and thanksgiving. This message has not changed, it is still relevant in today’s time of trial and testing for all nations of the world, especially given the spread of this deadly pandemic. In fact, the following prophetic words of the prophet Isaiah are unfortunately being fulfilled: « For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples » Isa 60:2a. Yet in such a context God makes His people rejoice by giving them the promise of salvation: « I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth » Rev 3:10b. Jesus rightly says: « I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep » Jn 10:11. For He is « an ever-present help in trouble » Ps 46:1, and He is near to those who call on His name, and « He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them » Ps 145:19. And He is « generous to all who call on him » Rom 10:12b, for « Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved » Rom 10:13. He truly fulfils that, especially for those who believe in Him. For the Lord said, « I will never leave you or forsake you » Heb 13:5. So when they are in trouble, Jesus says to them: « You will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy » Jn 16:20b. Because He is a loving God, He does not willingly bring affliction to His people (Lam.3:33). So then, He says: « Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete » Jn 16:24b. For He hears the prayers of His people and takes care of them, as He said: « He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? » Ps 94:9. Therefore, Paul said: « Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  » Phil 4:4.

Monday, 31st: God: reason to celebrate for the needy.
« The neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel » Isa 29:19b.
Reading 1: Jn 15:7-11. Reading 2: Isa 29:18-19. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 29:19.
Introduction: « Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord » Ps 33:12a, who rejoices in God, for God will also make it rejoice. Indeed, it is written: « Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart » Ps 37:4. For the heart of God is so close to the « poor in spirit » that He gives them a special and honorable portion, as Jesus said: « Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven » Mt 5:3.

Tuesday, 1st: God makes His people rejoice in serving Him.
« So that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit » Rom 7:6b.
Reading 1: Acts 5:29-42. Reading 2: Rom 7:1-6. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Rom 7:6.
Introduction: To do His work and do this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the service honorable and pleasing in God’ sight. For it is written: « Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts » Zech 4:6b. God sends His Holy Spirit, His mighty Spirit, to accompany those who do His will. The apostle Paul testified about this: « I can do all things through him who strengthens me » Phil 4:13.

Wednesday, 2nd: God makes His people rejoice in what is good for them.
« Either make the tree good, and its fruit good » Mt 12:33a.
Reading 1: Eph 2:1-10. Reading 2: Mt 12:33-37. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Mt 12:33.
Introduction: What is « good for man » is God’s building him up for his perfecting (Gen.1:26b). Jesus said, « I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit » Jn 15:1,2. In this respect, Paul said to Timothy: « Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth » 2 Tim 2:15. Therefore, He works for the good of His people in all things, so that they may be perfect (Ro.8:28).

Thursday, 3rd: God rejoices His people by opening their eyes.
« Receive your sight; your faith has saved you » Lk 18:42a.
Reading 1: Isa 42:14-19. Reading 2: Lk 18:35-43. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Lk 18:41-42.
Introduction: Blindness is the most difficult thing in anyone’s life, as it means staying in darkness all the time even when the sun is at its zenith. But the Word of God gives us great and wonderful promise: « The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined » Isa 9:2. To those who believe and ask Him, the following words of Jesus do not change: « Receive your sight » Lk 18:42.

Friday, 4th: God rejoices His people through His visitation.
« Today salvation has come to this house » Lk 19:9a.
Reading 1: Isa 44:21-23. Reading 2: Lk 19:1-10. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Lk 19:10.
Introduction: During His visitation God utters the word « Peace. » This greeting is based on forgiveness: God comes to man and reconciles Himself to him and dwells with him. This word announces the fullness of joy, as it is written: « Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit » Ps 32:1-2.

Saturday 05: God makes His people rejoice in the praise of His name.
« O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever » Ps 107:1.
Reading 1: Rev 4:8-11. Reading 2: Ps 107:1-9. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Ps 107:1.
Introduction: Praising and glorifying God involves a deep meaning. It means honoring Him and is, at the same time, a source of life and great strength for all believers, the Church. To praise Him is to acknowledge His supremacy; it is to exalt His Name above all other names (Phil 2:9). In response, He says, « For those who honor me I will honor » 1 Sam 2:30b. Actually, Jesus said: « Whoever serves me [which can be interpreted as accepting and honoring Him as Lord], the Father will honor » Jn 12:26b.

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