Malagasy Lutheran Church Music & Gospel XX Sunday following Trinity October, 17-23rd, 2021 « Draw near to God » *

The message: « Draw near to God »: this is at the same time a command and an exhortation that God extends to all people. In fact, many are distracted with the short-lived things of this world, and are still strangers to God and His kingdom; yet: « The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever » 1 Jn 2:17. But this is also a call from God especially to those who face trials and difficult struggles in these hard times we are living in. God truly is willing to be approached by all who seek Him with all their hearts, and He saves those who call upon Him and answers their prayers, as He promises: « Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me » Ps 50:15. In truth, those who are separated from their Creator because of sin remain in the darkness of death (Isa 61:1-2). Thus, God’s call for people to come to Him especially express His desire to reconcile sinners with Himself; He shows them the wideness of His heart as He has prepared a place for them in His glorious kingdom (Jn 14:3). He has already prepared a feast of salvation (Isa 25:6-8), calling everyone to receive His salvation. However, the reality is that humans cannot come to God, so He Himself sought and approached them. Thus, He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, who declared Himself in these terms: « The Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost » Lk 19:10. Jesus has come and He reconciles people with God by forgiving their sins through His atoning blood at Calvary (Eph 2:14). He calls all people to accept the reconciliation He offers, and assures: « All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away » Jn 6:37. So come to Him, to those who meet Him, He says: « Peace be with you » Jn 20:19.

Monday 18: God calls people to come to Him.
« I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name » Isa 65:1b.
Reading 1: Rom 9:14-26. Reading 2: Isa 65:1-2. Preaching 1 (free-choice). Preaching 2: Isa 65:1.
Introduction: God does not want people to perish, so He did not make it hard to find Him; He lets Himself be found even by those who do not seek Him. Because of His infinite love, He surrenders Himself, approaches people and calls them to receive His salvation, saying: « Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price » Isa 55:1.

Tuesday 19: Draw near to God in faith.
« Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith » Heb 10:22a.
Reading 1: 1 Jn 3:18-24. Reading 2: Heb 10:19-25. Preaching 1 (free-choice). Preaching 2: Heb 10:19,22.
Introduction: Because of the redemption that Jesus Christ made for sinners, we can approach the throne of God’s grace with confidence (Heb 4:16). And no matter what mistake may entangle our hearts, the God who forgives us is far greater than our hearts (1 Jn.3:20). So, as children approach their father, we can approach Him with boldness, expecting good from Him, as the word says, « whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him » Heb 11:6.

Wednesday 20: Draw near to God in repentance.
« Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe? » Mt 22:12a.
Reading 1: Heb 10:26-31. Reading 2: Mt 22:11-14. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Mt 22:12-14.
Introduction: Because of His unfathomable love, God invites sinners to come to Him, and invites them to partake of His banquet of salvation. But He is most holy, so we come to Him in humility. The psalmist sang: « A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise » Ps 51:17. Such a cleansed and repentant heart is the garment worthy to enter into His banquet. For those who have been renewed and know God’s salvation, playing with sin and not turning away from sin is a violation of the redemption Jesus accomplished on the Cross, resulting in His judgment.

Thursday 21: There is a limit to the time you can come to God.
« Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts » Heb 4:7.
Reading 1: Eph 5:14-17. Reading 2: Heb 4:1-7. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Heb 4:6-7.
Introduction: It is not up to human beings to determine their life span. God sets the time, and He has made sure that everything has its own time (Ecc 3:11). Therfore, there are times when we can approach God to be reconciled with Him, and there are times when we can no longer do so. Now is still a time for God’s mercy that He calls us to come to Him, as He says: « In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you » Isa 49:8a. Do not procrastinate; decide to draw near to God.

Friday 22: Come to Jesus Christ for He is the Savior.
« The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone » Mt 21:42a.
Reading 1: Acts 4:8-12. Reading 2: Mt 21:33-44. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Mt 21:42.
Introduction: Because of the wickedness of their hearts, the Jewish religious leaders did not accept Jesus as God’s Messiah: « He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him » Jn 1:11. So, even though they diligently searched the Scriptures, they refused to believe and come to Jesus for life and salvation (Jn 5:39-40). Yet, He is the Name chosen by the Father to be the Savior of the world (Mt 1:21), so no one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6d). Blessed are those who have faith in Him, for « to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God » Jn 1:12.

Saturday 23: Blessed are those who will partake of God’s banquet.
« Come to the wedding banquet » Mt 22:4d.
Reading 1: Isa 25:6-8. Reading 2: Mt 22:1-10. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Mt 22:4.
Introduction: God invites all people to come to Him and receive the forgiveness He offers. But only those who have responded to His calling and are reconciled with Him will be able to enter into God’s feast and inherit His kingdom. These are whom the word of God is talking about: « These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them » Rev 7:14b-15.

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