Epaphras Prayer Letter

The Epaphras Prayer Letter encourages people to support the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) through their prayers. The Apostle Paul named Epaphras, saying of him, "He is always wrestling in prayer for you..." (Col.4:12). The letter comes out every week. ILT makes it available on its website and through email subscription. Each letter contains an inspirational thought and several prayer concerns for you to pray in support of ILT and its mission—to raise up faithful preachers and teachers of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Monday Morsels

Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of July 26, 2021 | Sunday, August 1, 2021

“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (vs. 33). This is a rather odd verse. Coupled with Jesus earlier pronouncement to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (Jn.3:13), Jesus is both the bread of God and the life of the world. The people who heard these words responded, “Give us this bread always” (vs. 34). The hearers have grasped it rightly, there is only Jesus. He is the only one who ascends into heaven. The mystic goal of the pilgrim’s via, the beatific vision, attained through pious activity isn’t available. Jesus denies the human quest of rising into heaven to catch God unaware as he engages the divine perichoreses where the Trinity dances together in love. There is only Jesus, ...

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of July 19, 2021 | Sunday, July 25, 2021

The gospel text tells us “… their hearts were hardened” (vs. 52). This verse strikes fear in sinner’s hearts. John Calvin, the Swiss Reformer, heard such words as these in scripture and concluded that God has chosen from before time the ones he will glorify with eternal life and the ones he will condemn to eternal punishment. There is no escape with this sort of double predestination: it is heaven or hell, and God has already decided who is going where. That decision is part of God’s secret counsel which no one knows. Luther and his fellow reformers understood God as revealing his will in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They had no doctrine of double predestination. Luther and the others held that the Word of God proclaimed as the Gospel of Jesus Christ wielded the power and authority of God. The Gospel “is God’s power unto salvation for all who believe” (Ro. 1:16). When Paul preaches to the Ephesians through the letter he wrote to them, Paul tells them—and consequently us—that “God has chosen you in Christ Jesus before the foundation . . . 

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of July 12, 2021 | Sunday, July 18, 2021

“…[T]hey were like sheep without a shepherd” (vs. 34). Jesus assesses the crowd that pursued him around the lake. He concludes that they had no shepherd, and he begins to teach them many things (vs. 34)—that is, he became their shepherd. The shepherd/sheep metaphor exists through scripture as a description of the Lord and his people. There were good shepherds, e.g., the Lord; there were bad shepherds, e.g., self-serving leaders; and the people could be without a shepherd, as Jesus concludes in this passage. Sheep without a shepherd are in the wild; they are chaotic and disorganized; and they are under constant threat. They have no protector. Sheep without a shepherd are today’s Christians without a preacher. They are in the wild and susceptible to “wild” thoughts about . . .

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Week of July 5, 2021 | Sunday, July 11, 2021

Herod and Herodia, husband and wife however illegitimate the marriage was, had a problem with the Law. The Law continued to accuse them. John the Baptist, even from prison, held that accusation of the Law before them. The Law not only accused them, but it also convicted them, and exposed their guilt. That is what the Law does: it reveals our guilt to ourselves and the others around us. The Law does even more than reveal our guilt. It shames us for who we are: we are sinners. The Law shames us because we are not—and have no capacity to be— . . . 

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Week of June 21, 2021 | Sunday, June 27, 2021

In this pericope, we receive an anecdotal version of Jesus’ admonition, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Mt. 22:24). The great crowd gathered around Jesus jostled and bumped into him inadvertently. Yet their touch of Jesus’ and his garments produced no outpouring of his power into them. All those touches made Jesus’ question, “Who touched my garments?” sound ridiculous in the ears of his disciples who said as much in their response, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mk. 5:31). . . .

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