Crosses Strengthen Faith
Thursday of Pentecost 19
4 October 2018
New Christians often experience the confusion that they seem to suffer worse temptations and attacks from the world now that they have become Christians. This is an unsettling perception. They wonder if they really are converted when they are suffering such trials. They should not question if they are really in the faith. They should conclude, if the cross of suffering is being laid on their backs, that they are bearing the exact burden God wants them to bear. It is not a sign of a lack of faith, but a sign by which God strengthens our holy faith. The holy cross then tests our faith in the sense that it tempers and strengthens it. We should not flee the cross but accept the cross that the Lord sends. The burden of the holy cross builds the strength of our faith.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"When faith begins, God does not forsake it; He lays the holy cross on our backs to strengthen us and to make faith powerful in us. The holy Gospel is a powerful Word. Therefore, it cannot do its work without trials, and only he who tastes it is aware that it has such power. Where suffering and the cross are found, there the Gospel can show and exercise its power. It is a Word of life. Therefore, it must exercise all its power in death. In the absence of dying and death it can do nothing, and no one can become aware that it has such power and is stronger than sin and death. Therefore, the apostle says, 'to prove you'; that is, God inflicts no glowing fire or heat-cross and suffering, which make you burn-on you for any other purpose than 'to prove you,' whether you also cling to His Word (1Pt 4:12). Thus it is recorded in Wisdom of Solomon 10:12 of Jacob: 'God sent him an arduous contest, so that he might know that godliness is more powerful than anything.' God lays a cross on all believers in order that they may taste and prove the power of God-the power which they have taken hold of through faith."

Martin Luther, Sermons on 1 Peter, 4.12
John 6:44-51

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.  It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me- not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." (ESV)
Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all that He might bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we may not fear the power of any adversaries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Collect for Holy Cross Day)
For Pastoral Conferences everywhere, that the shepherds of the church would be granted knowledge and strength to lead the sheep out to the green pastures and still waters of the Word of God
For all doctors, nurses and other health professionals serving those who are suffering from illness, that they would be strengthened in their labors
For President Lawrence Rast and the faculty and staff of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that they would form servants in Jesus Christ
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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