"Come, celebrate, your banners high unfurling, Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling. To all the world go out and tell the story, Of Jesus' glory.
"Tell how the Father sent His Son to save us. Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us. Tell how the Spirit calls from ev'ry nation, His new creation."
After hearing various popular opinions concerning His identity, Jesus asked His disciples, "But who do you say that I am?" With an answer revealed by God the Father, Peter confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." That great confession was the rock-solid foundation on which Jesus would build His church and, He said, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (see Matthew 16:15-18).
Hell's prince, Satan, prowls around like a lion, seeking to devour us, and we are told to resist him. Yet this is not only a defensive war. We are the body of Christ on earth, members of the church militant, the fighting church. We are on the offensive, storming the gates of hell. Those gates cannot hold out against us, because we are armed by the Spirit of God—armed with a story.
Hurling our songs and prayers against the darkness, we wield the sharp, two-edged sword of the Word, the good news of all that Jesus Christ has done for our salvation. The story tells of the Father's love for the world He created, the love of His beloved Son, sent to save us. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, offered up His life as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Out of every nation, the Holy Spirit calls people to faith through the Gospel, making each a new creation through the water and Word of Baptism.
The story seems to be a simple one, summed up so profoundly in the familiar words: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Yet there is nothing simple about it. The Gospel is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16b). Its power is both hidden and revealed in the helpless Infant in a manger bed and in the weak, suffering Victim on a cross. This is the power of God that through our songs and prayers the Gospel story is hurled against the darkness. It is the darkness of sin and death, the darkness of the tomb. But our victory is assured because we are fighting a battle that has already been won—through an empty tomb—because our Lord Jesus passed through the death and darkness and overcame it all. The gates of hell cannot prevail against us, because He has conquered and "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37b).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You have conquered, and by faith Your victory is ours. Strengthen us for the fight, and arm us with the Spirit's sword. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Rise, Shine, You People," which is found on page 825 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Do you find it hard to be enthused about certain things—even though they're good things? Why?
2. Does knowing Jesus conquered Satan inspire you to tell others about it? Should it?
3. Sometimes praising and thanking God is tough to do. How do you do this when you don't feel like it?
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