Malagasy Lutheran Church Song & Gospel Sunday VII before Easter, February 19th-25th 2023 « God strengthens His people » *

The message: « God strengthens His own », making them victorious in their battles. Encouraging them in their struggle is God’s way of taking care of His people, so as not to let them be ashamed nor confused (1 Pet 2:6). For their struggles are numerous: hardships of life and various difficulties, evil and injustice, the fight against the devil and his misdeeds, and above all, the fight against their own weaknesses and the
deceitfulness of their hearts as: « The heart is devious above all else » Jer 17:9a. Jesus’word to His disciples proved true: « In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world » Jn 16:33b. The truth is that the Lord agreed to make common cause with His people. Since ancient times He said to the children of Israel, « The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still » Ex 14:14; and as far as the future is concerned, Jesus says, « Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age » Mt 28:20. As God is a mighty Fighter and the Lord of all authority, those who believe in Him can testify, like the Apostle Paul, « If God is for us, who is against us? » Rom 8:31b. Because of the struggles that mean the endangerment of life, Jesus, the Master of life, testifies: « Because I live, and you also will live » Jn 14:19d. He gives us the victory, according to this word: « No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us » Rom 8:37.

Monday, 24th: God strengthens His people.
« Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God’ » Isa.35:4a.
Reading 1: Rom 2:1-7. Reading 2: Isa 35:3-7. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 35:3-4.
Introduction: God strengthens His people in his struggles. Indeed, « man’s life is constantly charged with struggles, » but God does not willingly afflict him (Lam 3:33), so He encourages him in all his fights and has him be told: « He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not
faint » Isa 40:29-31.

Tuesday, 25th: God’s love makes man victorious.
« Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her » Eph 5:25b.
Reading 1: Jn 15:11-15. Reading 2: Eph 5:25-27. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Eph 5:25.
Introduction: Jesus Christ is the guarantee of victory for man, and of his perfection. For it is through faith in Him that man overcomes the world (1 Jn 5:4-5), and it is in His Name that all God’s enemies will kneel before Him and be made his footstool (Ps 110:1). He is the « Pioneer and Perfecter of faith » (Heb 12:2). So, it is written, « And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body » Eph 1:22-23a.

Wednesday, 26th: God encourages those who seek Him.
« What do you want me to do for you? » Lk 18:41a.
Reading 1: Ps 50:7-16. Reading 2: Lk 18:31-43. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Lk 18:40-41.
Introduction: God lets himself to be found by those who truly seek Him, and He answers the prayers offered to Him (Mt.7:7). He Himself leads men to seek Him, for He has compassion on them, like abandoned sheep without a shepherd (Mt.9:36). So He calls upon them, saying, « Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near » Isa 55:6. In this regard, He says to those who hope in His salvation and who wait for Him, « When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them » Ps 91:15.

Thursday, 27th: God strengthens man and comforts him.
« Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid […] » Isa 40:2.
Reading 1: Mt 9:1-8. Reading 2: Isa 40:1-5. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 40:1-2.
Introduction: The root of man’s struggle is the power of sin that works in him. The Apostle Paul bitterly complained about this as he said, « Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? » Rom 7:24. Let us thank the Highest for: « God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us » Rom 5:8. Therefore, « 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.

Friday, 28th: God strengthens those who serve Him.
« Whoever serves me, the Father will honor » Jn 12:26b.
Reading 1: Phil 4:10-14. Reading 2: Jn 12:22-28. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Jn 12:26.
Introduction: It is not by human force that one achieves and accomplishes the work of God (Zech.4:6), but only by His grace, namely God’s power and His mercy, which made Jesus say to Paul: « My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness » 2 Cor 12:9. For, « God’s weakness is stronger than human strength » 1 Cor 1:25b.

Saturday, 29th: God encourages those who hope in Him.
« But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength » Isa 40:31a.
Reading 1: Rom 5:1-5. Reading 2: Isa 40:27-31. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 40:29-31.
Introduction: Hope is not only « the longing for God’s salvation and the fulfillment of His promise », but also « the confidence through faith that one will receive it and that what God says will come true », even when one cannot see it with one’s own eyes yet. In this respect, Abraham’s story is clear and constitutes a guarantee that should be taken as a lesson, as it is said of him, « No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness » Rom 4:20-22.

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