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The Institute of Lutheran theology not only provides programs to train pastors and teachers, but it also provides educational and devotional resources for individuals and congregations. These resources are provided free of charge and made available through our web page. Please subscribe to and use any of these resources.

The Institute of Lutheran theology not only provides programs to train pastors and teachers, but it also provides educational and devotional resources for individuals and congregations. These resources are provided free of charge and made available through our web page. Please subscribe to and use any of these resources.

The Third Sunday in Lent, March 3, 2024

The Third Sunday in Lent, March 3, 2024

Jesus removes neutrality.  You cannot claim a middle position between faith and no faith.  Among the crowd surrounding Jesus, each person is either for him or against him.  The authority of his words and actions leaves no room for the non-committed.  You are either “all in” or “not in.”  In today’s religious Christianity, faith is treated as a personal virtue, something like the theological virtues of “faith, hope, and love” given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13.  That faith, however, remains a virtue you possess.  You are in charge of it.  You desire to grow it… increase it… and avoid its diminishment.  Like those disciples of Luke 17 pleading, “Increase our faith,” Jesus exposes you in your lack of faith… no faith, not even faith as great as a mustard seed (Lk. 17:6).  The faith given by God as a gift… faith in Jesus Christ as worked by the Holy Spirit… this faith is not a faith you possess.  It is not a human virtue but rather a work of God.  As a work of God, it is given in its entirety, or it is not.  This faith possesses you; you do not possess it.  There is no middle ground:  you have it or you don’t.  In being possessed by this faith, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are totally and completely faithful and trustworthy.  And you?  You are exposed in the inconsistency and fallibility of your human virtues, even the virtue of faith.

Prayers from those confessing the need to be possessed by God-given faith in Jesus Christ . . .

Father in heaven, you have given your Son Jesus Christ for me.  Grant that he exchange his true faith for the fallible and fickle virtue of my human faith.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son Jesus Christ for me.  Grant that I live from your Word which comes to possess me in such faith.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son Jesus Christ for me.  Grant me the blessing of a preacher who is bound to speak your Word to me, that in hearing it, I would be possessed in faith.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son Jesus Christ for me.  Grant me the blessing of neighbors gathered into a congregation that calls such a bound preacher that together we would be possessed by such faith.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son Jesus Christ for me.  Grant that we, the gathered congregation, would be sent out into the world bearing the life that has come to possess us.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son Jesus Christ for me.  Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology would provide such preachers bound to God’s Word.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, you have given your Son Jesus Christ for me.  Grant that I am under the care of such a servant of the Word throughout these days of my baptism that I may enjoy the faith of Christ given to me through the preaching of Christ alone.  Amen

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