MALAGASY LUTHERAN CHURCH Song & Gospel XIII Sunday after Trinity, 29 August – 04 September 2021 “The Keeping of God’s Commandments leads to Life” *

The message: Why say that « Keeping the Commandments of God leads to life? » Because today is a time of apostasy and disobedience, as Paul indicated to his son Timothy, « You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive [blasphemers; see Matt.9,3], disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power » 2 Tim.3: 1-5a. Its root cause is the transgression of God’s law, the disobedience of His commandments, the disregard for His word. Simply put, it is a lack of love for God; thus, keeping His commandments is considered an « unreasonable yoke. » If there is true love for God, it should be as the Apostle John declared, « For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome » 1 John 5: 3. Those who love God are prompted by His Holy Spirit to come to Jesus so that He may give them life, as « Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life » Jn.3: 36a. This is why Jesus admonished the Jews, saying: « You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. […] But I know that you do not have a love of God in you » John 5: 39-40,42. As the disobedience to God’s commandments is indissociable from the nature of sinners, so Jesus said, « Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I came not to destroy, but to fulfill » Matt.5: 17. And he concludes this with the command: « If you love me, you will keep my commandments » John 14:15. So, love God and keep his commandments, for this is life!

Monday 30: Keeping the commandments of God leads to life.
« My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you shall keep, following them: I am the Lord your God. » Lev.18: 4.
Reading 1: 1 John 5: 10-12. Reading 2: Lev.18: 1-5. Preaching 1 (optional). Preaching 2: Lev.18: 4-5.
Introduction: Because the words that come from the mouth of God are life from God’s breath, hearing his words and keeping his commandments gives life, as it is written: « For they are life to those, who find them and healing to their flesh » Prov.4: 20-22. And Jesus confirms this by saying: « The Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life » Jn 12: 49b-50a.

Tuesday 31: Keeping the commandments of love leads to life.
« If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. » 1 Cor.13: 3.
Reading 1: Luke 6: 31-36. Reading 2: 1 Cor.13: 1-13. Preaching 1 (optional). Preaching 2: 1 Cor.13: 3.
Introduction: God is love, so love is the foundation of his commandments. God knows the hearts that love him: He draws them near to his heart, saves them when they cry out to him, blesses and exalts them, according to the scriptures: « Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. » Ps.91: 14. He is a jealous God, so He has made the love for Him a guarantee for his blessing and prosperity that extends to the descendants, according to His word: « For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments » Ex.20: 5-6.

Wednesday 01: He who loves God keeps his commandments.
« If you love me, you will keep my commandments » John 14:15.
Reading 1: Ps.37: 27-33. Reading 2: John 14: 12-21. Preaching 1 (optional). Preaching 2: John 14:15.
Introduction: For God, to “love Him » means to « listen to his words and live out His command to love. » He requires of us more than mere work; He wants our very hearts, as the Psalmist sang it, « I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you » Ps.119: 11. Martha took great trouble to show her love for Jesus when He came to their house, yet Jesus approved Mary who was seated at His feet, listening to His words; He said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her. » Luke 10: 41-42.

Thursday 02: It is by keeping God’s commandments that we are united with Him.
« If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  » John 15: 10a.
Reading 1: Rev.22:12-17. Reading 2: John 15: 9-12. Preaching 1 (optional). Preaching 2: John 15:10.
Introduction: Those who love God and obey His commandments are united with Him. God makes them partners in His cause, who share His life, according to the words of Jesus, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” John 14:23. Jesus also emphasizes, saying: « My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand » John 10: 27-28.

Friday 03: The obedience to God’s commandments, a source of blessing.
« The Lord will make you the head […], if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, by diligently observing them » Deut.28: 13.
Reading 1: Luke 10: 38-42. Reading 2: Deut.28: 1-14. Preaching 1 (optional). Preaching 2: Deut.28: 13.
Introduction: The obedience to God’s words and the keeping of His commandments are a pledge of His blessing, according to the words He spoke through the prophet Isaiah: « If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land » Isa.1: 19. It is the key to happiness, as Jesus said, « Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it » Luke 11:28.

Saturday 04: Keeping the command to love leads to eternal life.
« Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life » Jn.3: 36a.
Reading 1: Ezek.37: 26-28. Reading 2: John 3: 31-36. Preaching 1 (optional). Preaching 2: Jn.3: 36.
Introduction: It is not only earthly temporary happiness that results from loving God and loving one another, but also eternal life, that begins here and now. For God spoke through the Psalmist, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity […] For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore”Ps.133: 1,3b. Jesus’ statement emphasizes this: « Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death » John 8:51.

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