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Higher Things Reflections

Gospel Reflections on Scripture, written by Lutheran Pastors affiliated with Higher Things - Dare to be Lutheran.

Last Build Date: Mon, 22 May 2017 19:43:18 -0400

Copyright: All Rights Reserved. Higher Things, Inc. Copyright 2017

Monday of the Sixth Week after Easter

Mon, 22 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Numbers 21:4-9

Daily Lectionary: Numbers 8:5-26; Luke 15:11-32

Moses made a bronze serpent and set it upon the pole, and so it was, if a serpent bit a man, and he was moved to look to the bronze serpent, then he lived. (Numbers 21:9)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The way of faith is God's way. There's nothing in you. It all comes from outside of you. Your salvation is a gift: Jesus died and rose for you. You're trust in Him is a gift: it was worked by the Spirit. Both Jesus' saving you and your trust in Him are delivered to you as a gift by the Spirit working in your Baptism, in Holy Absolution, and in the Supper of Jesus' Body and Blood.

Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone. It looks to Him and also to where He tells us to look. That's what we learn from the bronze serpent in Numbers 21.

The people of Israel rejected Yahweh. They wanted to go back to Egypt, but they also rejected the manna Yahweh had sent them and the water He had given from the rock. They wanted to live in the devil's kingdom and not Yahweh's church where He had placed them to be His people.

Then Yahweh sent snakes. By doing this, Yahweh moved them to repentance, but they weren't just sorry. No, repentance has two parts: being sorry for sin and having faith in Jesus and His promises.

The Lord moves us to repentance, too. He may bring upon us the consequences of our sins, but He will certainly use His Word, preached by your pastor, to bring you to repentance: to confess your sin and to receive in faith the forgiveness of that sin.

It's all outside of you. So it was for the Israelites, they were moved to look upon that serpent. They had faith in Yahweh's Word of promise--a faith that was worked in them by that very Word of promise. The promise was: "Look and live!" Moved by this Word of promise, they looked and lived!

That's you and me, too. Jesus has died and risen. He's delivered all His gifts and benefits. Your faith was created through these and it's sustained by them, too. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Salvation unto us has come By God's free grace and favor; Good works cannot avert our doom, They help and save us never. Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, Who did for all the world atone; He is our one Redeemer. (Salvation unto Us Has Come, LSB 555:1)

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The Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sun, 21 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: John 16:23-33

Daily Lectionary: Numbers 3:1-16,39-48; Luke 14:25-15:10

[Jesus said,] "In the world you have tribulation, but take heart, I Myself am conquering the world." (John 16:33)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There's nothing in the world that should get you down--not cancer, not terrorism, not being accepted by those around you, not making it into college. There's not one thing that should make you worry or doubt. Jesus has died and risen!

But we do worry, and we do doubt. Sometimes we really struggle with that. We need to repent of all that, turn from it. You can take this to heart, dear Christian: Jesus has died and risen!

Outside of Jesus, it's a cold, hard universe. But Jesus' death and resurrection has completely changed the universe, and it changes your world, too! Think about it: Jesus was dead--flatlined. Then He was alive again! He unites you to Himself and His universe-changing event.

There's nothing that can truly get you down. Yes, you may die, but Jesus will raise your body from the dead. You may struggle with those around you, but you never struggle with Jesus. He's alive right now, and He will never leave you or turn His back on you. That's what your Baptism says.

All the ups and downs of life can be received as a gift, because Jesus will turn them good. In the same way sports practice toughens you for the game, every hardship is used to make you more like Jesus.

Jesus suffered, died, and was buried. Yes, there's tribulation, hardship, struggle in this life, and then we'll die and be buried. But Jesus didn't stay dead, and neither will you.

The tribulation you have can't get you down--at least not forever. You'll live forever. In Jesus you already do. The Father knows the exact moment He'll bring life from death for you.

You're baptized. Nothing changes that. Jesus' tomb was empty. Yours will be, too. Your baptism says so. Somedays it seems like that promise all you've got, but it means Jesus has you forever. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O God our Father, from whom all good things do come, grant to us, Your humble servants, that by Your holy inspiration we may think those things that be right and by Your merciful guiding may perform them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Easter 6)

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Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Sat, 20 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 26:21-33,39-44; Luke 14:1-24

With a voice of singing, declare, proclaim this, utter it to the end of the earth. Alleluia. The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob! Alleluia. (Isaiah 48:20, from the Introit for Easter 6)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. That's what's going to happen tomorrow. In all the corners of the earth there will be congregations--big ones and little ones--that will gather for one reason. The people are going to get together not because they need purpose, motivation, and empowerment in their lives, not because they need rules for their life, and not because they like being around their friends and family. The only reason they're gathered is to "sing, declare, and proclaim this: Yahweh has redeemed His servant Jacob!" (Isaiah 48:20).

That's what He does! The son yet Lord of Jacob came and redeemed him. He saved His people from their slavery and captivity, not just to Egypt or Babylon but to sin, death, and the power of the devil. And so, He was born, lived, died, and lived again. In that great act of salvation Jesus fulfilled what He promised Abraham, Jacob's grandfather, "In you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:3).

Tomorrow we gather because of what Jesus has done. We gather to hear it again, to receive the gifts of His Word, His forgiveness, His Body and Blood. We gather to sing His praises and worship Him.

We'll sing that there is "on earth peace, goodwill toward men." We'll pray for us "to be gathered from the ends of the earth to celebrate with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end." We'll sing that the salvation that Jesus won in His death and delivers in His Body and Blood truly is "a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel."

In big churches and small churches the message and joy will be the same: The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob! Jesus did it. He did it for all. He did it for you. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

All the earth with joy is sounding; Christ has risen from the dead! He the greater Jonah, bounding From the grave, His three-day bed, Wins the prize: Death's demise--Songs of triumph fill the skies. (All the Earth with Joy Is Sounding, LSB 462:1)

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Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Fri, 19 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 26:1-20; Luke 13:18-35

I set My Tabernacle in your midst, and My soul will not abhor you. I walk around in Your midst and will be Your God, and you will be My people. (Leviticus 26:12)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Lord comes among His people. He always has. He walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. He walked with Enoch. He traveled with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He called Moses and told him to create the Tabernacle and all its furniture--the altars, table, and lamp stand. He would dwell there, between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat. He would His people around Himself, and He would surely dwell among them. He was their God, they His people.

Then the Lord changed locations: He was born! "The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us" (John 1:14). God Himself came. Yahweh took on body and soul, and He lived among His people. He lived their perfect lives in their place, He took their sins as His own, and then He bled and died for those sins.

The rejected Him. They didn't want Him as their God. No Yahweh in the flesh for them. They wanted something else: "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:43). They didn't want a King and God who'd come and would not abhor sinners, but rather love them, eat with them, forgive them. Even tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners--they were His people, and He their God.

But the Lord God Jesus has "other sheep not of this fold" (John 10:16). "I must bring them also," He says. He came for them, too. Died for them. Shed His blood for them. He's their Good Shepherd, too. They're His people, and He their God.

That's you. He brought you out of the Egypt of your sins, even though you weren't born into the right family tree. He's grafted you in. You're no longer a slave to the flesh, to your sins, to the world, to the devil. The Father has tied you into His Son in Holy Baptism. The Spirit calls, gathers, and enlightens you through the preaching of the Son. The Son feeds you with His own Body and Blood. He gathers you around Himself. Yahweh--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has saved you, set you free, and will raise you up on the Last Day. He's your God, you His people. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from being their slaves, and I have broken the bars for your toke and made you walk upright. (Leviticus 26:13)

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Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Thu, 18 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 24:1-23; Luke 12:54-13:17

He answer them, "Do you think they were worse sinners...because they suffered these things? I tell you, no. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 12:2-3)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is what we think, isn't it? When something bad happens to us, we think, "What did I do to deserve that?" If something bad happens to someone else, "Well, I feel bad, but they did this. That's just the consequences." Or maybe we just wonder, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

The real question is this, though: "Why do good things happen to bad people?" Why are evil people saved? Why are bad people forgiven? Why are they even offered forgiveness? Look at what they've done!"

That's all of us, though. Left to ourselves, we aren't just neutral towards God. We're not Switzerland. We're His enemies. We're sinners. In and of ourselves, we're evil--rotten to the core.

What's God going to do with such sinners? With His enemies? We'd like to think that if we were God, we would just fix everything, and then everything would be perfect. But what if, when trying to save people, they reject you, mock you, betray you, beat you, slap you, spit on you, and kill you? Then what? What will God do with people, with sinners, who do that?

"Father, forgive them." "It is finished." That's what God does. He dies for them. He sheds His blood for them. He saves them. He dies for everyone. Even the people we don't like, even the people about whom we think, "But they don't deserve it! Look at what they've done!" Yeah, well, you don't deserve it, either. What you deserve is the opposite from God. But Jesus doesn't give you that. He gives you forgiveness and eternal life.

So, what of towers falling on people, ruthless murders, people making bombs instead of medicine, tornadoes and hurricanes? This world is broken by sin. Bad things happen. But these aren't a punishment or a sign that you or anyone else is more evil than the rest. When tragedy happens, we turn to Jesus who died for all. He showers upon us His grace and mercy. He washes us at the font, binds up our wounds through our pastors, and delivers His Body and Blood.

Bad things may happen, but through His Word and Gifts, Jesus is making sure "that nothing will separate us from the love of God which is yours through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Romans 8). He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

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Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Wed, 17 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 23:23-44; Luke 12:35-53

You shall not commit adultery. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other. (Small Catechism: The Sixth Commandment)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Marriage is a gift from God. He created marriage when He fashioned woman from the rib that He took from Adam's side. She was created especially for Adam, and Adam was truly the only man for her.

The Lord's giving of husband to wife and wife to husband in marriage is all a wonderful picture. When the Lord creates art, He doesn't create a painting on a wall, or some lifeless statues. No, He makes living and breathing art: man and woman, in lifelong union, as a living picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

To the world marriage is just a contract that can be canceled whenever. It's a relationship that can be redefined to include whichever two or more individuals it wanted. Marriage can be ignored all together. The intimacy designed only for marriage can be stolen for a one-night thrill, or cheaply peddled on street corners and websites.

Our sinful nature wants to corrupt this gift in every way. The devil wants our lust to get the better of us, and he wants husbands and wives to not love and honor each other. And if things aren't going right, well, the world says, "Just end it," instead of receiving Jesus' forgiveness which heals all wounds.

All our sins against the Sixth Commandment, along with all our others sins against the other nine commandments, are the sins of the world--our sins--that were taken away by the Lamb of God. He bled for them, died for them. He rose from the dead to free us from them and set us right with God who gives the gifts.

Marriage is a wonderful gift. The Lord Jesus created it for an intimacy that can only be found there: "It is not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2). We cherish marriage as Jesus gave it, for He gave it as a picture of Himself and His Church where we are washed, absolved, and fed until the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The world against me rages, Its fury I disdain; Though bitter war it wages, Its work is all in vain. My heart from care is free, No trouble troubles me. Misfortune now is play, And night is bright as day. (Awake, My Heart, with Gladness, LSB 467:5)

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Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Tue, 16 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: James 1:16-21

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 23:1-22; Luke 12:13-34

He willed and brought us forth by the Word of Truth that we would be a sort of firstfruits of His creatures. (James 1:18)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus is the true firstfruits. He is the "firstborn from the dead" (Revelation 1:18), He's the "firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29). He's the "only begotten Son of the Father full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). He's the Word (John 1:14) who sends the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26).

He died. The One in whom there is no sin, deceit, or imperfection was killed for our sins and deceit and imperfection. Then He rose from the dead. He did it Himself, as promised. He, the Word, spoke the Truth--the very thing He is--and, through Him, we are made children of the Father of lights: "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).

He willed and everything was created. He willed and you were knit together in your mother's womb. In the same way, He willed that you would be His child. You really didn't have a say in the matter.

You were born at the font. In Holy Baptism you were born of water and the Spirit. You were placed into the Son, and were in this way made a son of the Father. You're kept safe in the holy family of God, His Holy Church where you hear His Word and are continually enlivened by Firstfruit Jesus, as you eat and drink of the fruits of His cross: His Body and Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

We'd like to think that we have something to do with our being sons or daughters of the Father of lights. On the contrary, it is God who has called us forth into the light of His Son. We've been enlightened by the Spirit, both to receive His Word in faith and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In Jesus' Holy Christian Church we receive His salvation, His Body and Blood, which truly are "a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel." He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

True God, He first From death has burst For into life, all subduing. His enemy Doth vanquished lie; His death has been death's undoing. "And yours shall be Like victory O'er death and grave," Saith He, who gave His life for us, life renewing. (With High Delight Let Us Unite, LSB 483:2)

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Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Mon, 15 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Isaiah 12:1-6

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 21:1-24; Luke 12:1-12

I will praise You, Yahweh. Though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away and You comfort me. (Isaiah 12:1)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We brought nothing to our salvation, nothing except sins. We're enemies of God. Adam and Eve hid, and we're their children. If we'd been there, we would've done the same exact thing.

"Where are you?" "I was afraid, so I hid." "Did you eat from tree?" "If you hadn't given me this woman, I wouldn't have!" "What have you done?" "The devil made me do it!"

He should be angry. He has every right to be. We dodge. We make excuses. We blame everyone but ourselves for our sins. We'll even blame God! Just like our first parents.

But in His Son, Yahweh is merciful. Yahweh comes in the flesh and saves us. Yahweh Himself bears His own anger to turn it away from you. Jesus is not passed over, so that you would be passed over forever.

Now, there's no anger for you, no wrath, no punishment. Jesus took care of all that. In His own body He bore the sins, He bore the curse, He bore the wrath. There's only comfort for you in Jesus. He comforts you and says, "You are mine" at the font. He comforts you and says, "I forgive you all your sins." He comforts you, "Take, eat; take, drink: My Body and Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."

Now, we thank and praise Him. We raise the song of salvation. We are saved out of Yahweh's loving, merciful kindness. His anger has been turned from you. In the cross and empty tomb, there's no more of that for you. Only Jesus given to you. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Here our true Paschal Lamb we see, Whom God so freely gave us; He died on the accursèd tree-- So strong His love-- to save us. See, His blood now marks our door; Faith points to it; death passes o'er, And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia! (Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands, LSB 458:5)

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The Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sun, 14 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: John 16:5-15

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 20:1-16,22-27; Luke 11:37-54

He will glorify Me, because He will take from Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:14)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Spirit comes. Christ promised He would. Christ also promised and said what the Spirit's job would be. The Spirit's job, according to Jesus Himself, is to deliver Jesus to you through Jesus' Word.

So often we think the Spirit's work is some sort of power, impulse, or urge. If we just open ourselves up enough, the Spirit will lead us and guide us. He'll help us make the right decisions for our life: which college to choose, which house to buy, whom we should marry. But that's not the Spirit's job at all!

The Spirit will glorify Jesus. He might even go unmentioned, but He'll still be at work doing His job: pointing to Jesus. He will take what is Jesus' and declare it and deliver it to you. This is how it was, even at Pentecost. The Spirit came upon the Apostles, they preached Jesus, and by the Spirit working through that preaching, the people believed Jesus and were baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

That's exactly how the Spirit works. He works through the Word. Whenever Jesus crucified and raised is preached, the Spirit is at work. Whenever the Scriptures are read, He's working. He didn't just inspire people to write the Scriptures, but He also works through them because all of Scripture declares Jesus. He's at work in the water and Word of Holy Baptism. Just like at creation, the Spirit enlivens the water and Word to create new life (Titus 3). He's at work in the Absolution the pastor speaks, as Jesus gave and promised (John 20). He's at work in the Supper of Jesus' Body and Blood to increase your faith in God and your love for those around you.

Yes, the Spirit leads and guides, but it's not just some feeling. The Spirit leads and guides through the Word that delivers Jesus, and in the delivering of Jesus, Jesus is glorified, and it's then and there that the Spirit is at work. That's His job, Jesus tells us. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Our merciful Father, the God who alone make minds of the faithful to be of one will, cause Your people to love what You command and to desire what You promise, that among the manifold changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Easter 5)

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Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Sat, 13 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 9:9-18, 26-37; Luke 11:14-36

His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. (Psalm 98:1, from the Introit for Easter 5)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. With a mighty arm, God saved His Old Testament people. Yahweh destroyed Egypt, their gods, their Pharaoh, and their army for how they treated His holy people, Israel. He won the victory for His people, and He delivered them through the Red Sea, brought them through the wilderness, and gave them the Promised Land.

God's people were in slavery. They were stuck. They couldn't get themselves out. And even though He brought them out, they wanted to return to their old and familiar ways. It was so much easier to live in the habits and culture of their surroundings. That's us!

We really can't get ourselves out of our troubles. When life gets stressful, we so often go back to our bad, sinful habits. It's the devil's trick to get us back in bondage to our sins, and our flesh so easily wants to go back to it. Like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11), or an addict back to the bottle. It's like we're addicts to our sins!

That's why the Lord Himself must save us, and He does. He comes, but not with a mighty hand. It's mysterious and wonderful, but it's not in a way that we would consider mighty. But, with 10 little fingers and toes, God Himself is born. He lives a hard life of casting out demons, bearing people's sins and diseases, being rejected by His family, and being betrayed and disowned by His closest followers--with nowhere to lay His head!

Then, with His right and left hands stretched out, His holy arms nailed to the cross, He wins the victory. All is finished. He cries out in victory and breathes His last. But He breathes again. He comes back to life.

His hand still delivers His victory. Your pastor's hands are Jesus' hands, and He baptizes you, absolves you, feeds you His own Body and Blood. The victory is yours. He's done it, and you've received it from Him. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Alleluia! Now we cry To our King immortal, Who, triumphant, burst the bars Of the tomb's dark portal. Come, you faithful, raise the strain Of triumphant gladness! God has brought His Israel Into joy from sadness! (Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain, LSB 487:5)

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Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Fri, 12 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 18:1-7, 20-19:8; Luke 11:1-13

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we are has not yet been reveals. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You are a baptized child of God. Oh, we can live as if it doesn't matter and not even give it a second thought. That's what we do daily and much. We live as if we're not God's children, as if we're made for this life only. We could walk away from our Baptism and forsake our birthright. But it's still there for us. Baptism always remains. We can always return to it.

We are God's children, but sometimes we don't feel like we are. We may hear the words, but we don't feel it. Maybe we don't feel it because when we look at our lives, it doesn't look like we're His children. We've got our past--all the skeletons in our closest, our baggage. What if people knew? So, we put on a front to everyone around us, but we know the truth. We also know this: God knows the truth as well.

But you are His child. He made you His child in Holy Baptism. You were united with His Son, Jesus. Jesus lived the perfect life and shed His blood to ransom you back to the Father. Your Baptism delivers that. Yes, we still live our life in the flesh, but we live it by faith in the Son of God who died and shed His blood for us. In our flesh, in ourselves, we see nothing good. We just can't see that we are perfect, holy, and sinless in Jesus.

We trust it, because we trust Him. He is true to His promises. He saves. He delivers. He died. He rose. We're in Him by Baptism, and on the Last Day, we'll see that it's been true all along. It will be revealed not only to eyes of faith, but we'll actually see it with our physical eyes. For "we know that when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).

He is perfect, holy, and sinless. That's you now, in Him. It really is! Your Baptism says so. On the Last Day and forever that will be you with Him. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

God's own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ! He, because I could not pay it, Gave my full redemption price. Do I need earth's treasures many? I have one worth more than any That brought me salvation free Lasting to eternity! (God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It, LSB 594:1)

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Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Thu, 11 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Lamentations 3:22-33

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 17:1-16; Luke 10:23-42

Yahweh's merciful, loving kindness is the reason that we are not consumed, because His compassions are not finished. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There's only one reason the Lord doesn't condemn you. There's only one reason His wrath doesn't consume you because of your sins. (It doesn't matter if you think they only small sins, either.) There's only one reason you won't be put into hell on the Last Day: Jesus.

Now, we'd probably say that Jesus gets us saved, but we so often think that then it's up to us. But even after you've become a Christian, even after you're baptized, the only reason you're saved is Jesus. Jesus doesn't just get the ball rolling. No, He carries the ball all the way into the end zone.

"It is finished," Jesus said, and now the Lord's merciful, lovingkindness has no end. His compassion never fails. His mercy and compassion "are new every morning" because we need them every morning. His compassion is not finished, but His wrath is.

Every day we mess up, we come up short, we sin daily and much. The Lord is faithful to His promises and to His salvation. He saved us, and so we're not consumed. Through daily reading of Scripture, we are filled up with His promises of salvation with His Word, His compassion, and His merciful, lovingkindness.

Your pastor is another gift. Be it morning, noon or night, your pastor is there to deliver that mercy, kindness, and compassion. He does it in three words or less: "I forgive you." And you're forgiven.

Maybe your church offers it more than once a week--what a gift--but even if it's only once a week (the morning of the week, Sunday), you're given the very means of salvation to eat and to drink: Jesus' body that was given into death, and His blood that was shed.

The Lord doesn't just save you at the start. He delivers His mercy, His compassion, His salvation, and forgiveness to you every day in the gifts He's given to you. He's true to His promises--every day, until the Last Day. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

All glory to the One Who lavishes such love; The triune God in love Assures our life above. His means of grace for us Are gifts He loves to give; All thanks and praise for His Great love by which we live! (The Gifts Christ Freely Gives, LSB 602:6)

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Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Wed, 10 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 16:1-24; Luke 10:1-22

You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need. (Small Catechism: The Fifth Commandment)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. All life is a gift. It's from the Father of lights, it's from the Son, who is Light from Light, and it's from the Holy Spirit, who is the Lord and giver of life. From the smallest spark that happens when an embryo is formed until the resurrection of the body on the Last Day--all stages of life truly are gift from the Triune God who created it, sustains it, and will raise it up on the Last Day.

The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, sent from the Father, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He grew up. He lived. He suffered. He died. By the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, Jesus raised Himself from the dead, and He is now ascended and seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. He did all of this for your salvation.

Because of Christ's life (zygote to resurrection) all life has been made precious. It's not only precious because God created it, but it's precious because God went through it. He lived it and lived it for you.

So, we cherish life. We defend the weak and the helpless--the unborn, the aged, the sick--because our God was at one point weak and helpless for us. He sustains us in our times of need, and we trust Him confident that He will raise us up on the Last Day just as He Himself did and promises to do for us.

He delivers that to us. He unites us to Himself and His life in the waters of Holy Baptism. He once again gives us the "breath of life" (Genesis 2) in the Word of Absolution (John 20). He sustains us body and soul by giving us of His own Body and Blood to eat and drink.

Your life is precious. Your neighbor's life is precious--from the smallest to the oldest--because Jesus lived, died, and rose again FOR YOU. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Now hell, its prince, the devil, Of all their pow'r are shorn; Now I am safe from evil, And sin I laugh to scorn. Grim death with all his might Cannot my soul affright; It is a pow'rless form, Howe'er it rave and storm. (Awake, My Heart, with Gladness, LSB 467:4)

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Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Tue, 09 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-20

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 10:1-20; Luke 9:37-60

I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. (1 Peter 2:11 NKJV)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This life isn't all there is. It's not all about pleasure now, and nothing when it's all over. Our life isn't "here today, gone tomorrow."

So often that's how we live though, isn't it? We're always looking at the next big thing: a new movie, a new car, a new house. There's prom, graduation, then college, marriage, work, kids, life! We don't do much planning at all. We're just along for the ride--going from one great thing to the next, one enjoyment to the next.

All this stuff is a delusion. It leads us away from Christ who has redeemed us from this world. Christ was focused neither on His own personal enjoyment, nor on what He could get out of life and others. No, He was clearly focused on you and your salvation. Even from the before the foundation of the world, you were chosen by the Father in Jesus Christ to be saved--to be redeemed from a fallen world.

He ransomed all the kingdoms of the world and their glory--that's you--to Himself. He died to do it. He rose back to life for our being right with God. He delivers His death and life to you in His water, in His Body and Blood, and in His Word.

Yes, the world has many things that we enjoy, that make us happy. But it all passes away: Phones break, cars break down, we grow out of prom dresses, move on from friendships. Jesus has called you out of all temporary things. He's ransomed you with His holy, precious blood, which is far more valuable than even gold or silver, and He feeds you with the very same things as He prepares you not for a temporary life, but a life of eternal paradise with Him that will never fade or never end. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Our hands and feet, Lord, strengthen; With joy our spirits bless Until we see the ending Of all our life's distress. And so throughout our lifetime Keep us within Your care And at our end then bring us To heav'n to praise You there. (Entrust Your Days and Burdens, LSB 754:6)

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Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Mon, 08 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Isaiah 40:25-31

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 9:1-24; Luke 9:18-36

He is delivering strength to the weary, and He increases might for those who have no strength. (Isaiah 40:29)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus is alive. He was weary, He had no strength, He was forsaken, weak, alone, and then He was dead. At exactly the right moment, when everything had been fulfilled, Jesus said, "It is finished," and He breathed His last. But that wasn't it. His Father restored His strength--He raised Him from the dead.

So what's got you down? We've got our struggles in life--the day-to-day grind. People get us down. The world gets us down. Our family isn't picture perfect. Our sins get us down, but no matter what we do we can't really solve all these problems. We're just powerless to fix our situation.

The Lord Jesus isn't powerless, though. He's the eternal Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. He saves us from what most hurts us: sin, death, and even the devil. He does what we couldn't and wouldn't do. He saves us. For you He became weary, for you He died, for you He rose. He went into the depths of sin and wrath to save you from the everlasting consequences of what you've done and haven't done.

You've got nothing, but even when you've got nothing, you have everything because Jesus has you. He enlivens you. He gives you strength. He's given you the new birth and life of the water and of the Spirit in Holy Baptism. He fills you up with His Word of forgiveness when it's read to you, preached, and delivered in the Absolution. He gives you to eat and drink His Body and Blood which strengthen and keep you unto everlasting life. And Jesus will strengthen you on the Last Day when your body will rise from death, and you'll live together with Jesus in body and soul forever.

No matter what's weakened you in your faith toward God and in your love toward one another, Jesus strengthens you with His forgiveness. He feds you with the medicine of immortality--His Body and Blood--and He will increase your strength when He raises you on the Last Day. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Now no more can death appall, Now no more the grave enthrall; You have opened paradise, And Your saints in You shall rise. Alleluia! (At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing, LSB 633:6)

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The Fourth Sunday of Easter

Sun, 07 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: John 16:16-22

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 8:1-13, 30-36; Luke 9:1-17

[Jesus said,] "In a little while and you won't see me any longer, and again, in a little while, you will see me." (John 16:16)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus was going to die at the hands of sinners. His disciples would see one of their own, Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus. They'd see the band of soldiers take Him away, bound and under guard. They'd run away. Peter would follow, at least, for a little while. By the fire he'd warm himself, waiting, watching until he was asked three times if he were a disciple of Jesus. The answer was the same each time: "No." Then, hearing the rooster, he left and wept bitterly. John hung tough, though. He followed Jesus until the end, standing with Mary. He saw Jesus die. Then all the 11 knew the truth: Jesus was gone; He was dead.

They wept and mourned over their teacher and friend who was gone, but it was only for a little while--three days, to be exact! Then they saw Him. He was alive. They were filled with joy! Then, no one could take their joy and hope and faith, as they continued to preach, teach, baptize, absolve, and deliver Jesus' Body and Blood until they all, except John, were killed for their faith. But that was not an ultimate loss, for they'd see Jesus again in the everlasting joys of Paradise.

We don't have troops of soldiers, or middle-of-the-night questionings, or the proposition of death for our faith, but how easily we flee from Jesus for other things. These things that are certainly not more important than Jesus: sports, work, vacation, life. For this Jesus lived, died, and came back to life. He gives His gifts: Baptism, Absolution, Body and Blood. You do see His face! In the face of your pastor, you see the face of Jesus. His voice is Jesus' voice. His hands are Jesus' hands. Nothing should take your joy from receiving the gifts he delivers. They really are for you. These deliver Jesus' forgiveness for the things we think are more important. Jesus' gifts deliver the true life we need in place of the things we think give us life.

One day you'll see Jesus. He'll see you. It will all be face to face. You'll be eye to eye, and on that day He will make good on the promises He made in His water, in His Absolution, in His Word, and in His Body and Blood. He will deliver then on what He delivers to you now. He continually fills you with His promises, and on the Last Day you will see Him forever in the eternal joys of Paradise. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

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Saturday of the Third Week of Easter

Sat, 06 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 40:17-38; Luke 8:40-56

Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men. (Psalm 66:8, from the Introit for Easter 4)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. That's what you'll see tomorrow! The Lord is awesome in what He's done for all people. He's amazing in how He deals with them. He's an awesome God who keeps your soul among the living and does not allow your feet to be moved.

It's not that God is just awesome because of who He is--it's also because of what He does and how He does it. What's really awesome about God is that even though He is holy and just and perfect, He deals with us according to His mercy, even though we don't deserve it one bit.

He loves those who hate Him. He comes to those who reject Him. He forgives those who sin against Him. He gives life to those who kill Him. He comes back to life for those who die and deserve to stay dead.

That's what the Lord does for all men. For this all creation praises Him, for this the angels bow down before Him, and for this we, too, join angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven in singing, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the Highest."

But He doesn't stop there. He delivers it, too! He doesn't just expect the lost and broken to find Him. So He continues His works that all may come, see, and receive them. His mercy and grace are that He delivers this in all the corners of the earth, within His Church, His sheepfold.

As His sheep, you receive it. You hear His voice and receive what He delivers. He delivers His mercy, love, and forgiveness in His Word and in His Body and Blood.

That's what tomorrow is all about. Tomorrow you'll see it. You'll see God's work. You'll do more than that! You'll receive it. You'll receive His death, His resurrection, and the new life He gives to all His sheep. In His Body and Blood of His Supper He does it. How awesome is that! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us; Th'altar recalls Christ's sacrifice And what His Supper here gives us. Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, And evermore, our Redeemer. (Built on the Rock, LSB 645:4)

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Friday of the Third Week of Easter

Fri, 05 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 39:32-40:16; Luke 8:22-39

When He came out on land, a certain man from the city who had demons, and for a long time he did not wear clothes and did not remain in a house but among the tombs. (Luke 8:26)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why did Jesus get in that boat? Why did Jesus travel through that storm? Why on earth did Jesus go to the land of the Gerasenes, where no one but pagan Gentiles who herded pigs lived? It's not a very great sounding vacation spot for a popular Jewish Rabbi. Doesn't He have better places to go, better things to do?

No, He doesn't.

Jesus has only one thing in mind--to save this man who had demons. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He goes after His sheep. There are other sheep not of His fold who aren't Israelites. This demon-possessed man fit the bill, and so Jesus travels across the sea of Galilee just for him.

He saves Him. He casts out the demon. The man is clothed, no longer naked. He's in his right mind, no longer possessed. He's sitting with Jesus and His Twelve and is sent back home, no longer living amongst the dead. That's what Jesus traveled all that way to do.

That's not just the sort of Jesus He is for that man. He's that way for you, too, dear Christian!

He gives up His life for each and every sheep. Each is as precious to Him as the next. He draws them all to Himself. He makes them each His sheep. Each is baptized. Each is forgiven. Each is fed with His Body and Blood. Each is set free from the devil's kingdom, rescued from sin, and each will be called back to life from the grave that holds him. That's the sort of Good Shepherd Jesus is.

He did it for that man. He has done it for you. He'll continue to do it. And He will do it on the Last Day. You may die, and your body will be buried. But that's nothing for your dear Shepherd. He went through all that for you. You don't need to fear. He doesn't have anything better to do than save. He doesn't have anything more important to do than raise you up on the Last Day and take you, body and soul, to be with Him in His Father's Kingdom forever. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

I am Jesus' little lamb, Ever glad at heart I am; For my Shepherd gently guides me, Knows my need and well provides me, Loves me ev'ry day the same, Even calls me by my name. (I Am Jesus' Little Lamb, LSB 740:1)

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Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

Thu, 04 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 38:21-39:8; Luke 8:1-21

The perishing [sheep] I will seek, the strayed I will bring back, the broken I will bind up, and the sick I will strengthen; but the fat and strong [sheep] I will destroy and feed it in judgment. (Ezekiel 36:16)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Where do you look for strength? What are you good at? We all know what makes us stronger, faster, smarter, prettier, and just all around better than others. This not only goes for our day-to-day life in the world, but we also apply this to who we are as Christians. "Yeah, I may not be perfect," we say, "but at least I don't do..." You name it. Each of us knows how we fill in that blank.

The Lord doesn't want anything to do with such sheep. Those sheep aren't His. "My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). They're not really sheep, at all! "He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left" (Matthew 25:33). Those goats knew exactly what they'd been doing and how: "Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?" (Matthew 25:44)

But if you've got nothing before the Lord, if all you have are sins, if you're wasting away and dying (either physically or just spiritually), if you're broken, beaten, weighed down, if you're weak--well then, in Jesus, you have the Merciful and Good Shepherd.

For all lost sheep, and only for lost sheep, He does all this. All sheep, who apparently only have sins and don't see anything good in themselves, have all their goodness in their Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.

He does all this for you, dear Christian. Repent of all goodness coming from you. Repent of all your best and good. If you are sheep, if you are to be kept a sheep, if you have anything at all, it all and only comes from the Good Shepherd Himself.

He sought you. He brought you back. He's bound your wounds. He strengthens you. He died and rose for you. He made you His sheep in Holy Baptism. He brings you back to Himself in Absolution. He binds your wounds with His consoling Word. He strengthens you, gives you life, and keeps you as His sheep with His Body and Blood given you to eat and to drink.

In this life you're perishing, but in Jesus you have life, life everlasting. That's what Good Shepherd gives to you, His beloved and cherished sheep. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

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Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

Wed, 03 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 34:29-35:21; Luke 7:36-50

Honor your father and your mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. (The Small Catechism: The Fourth Commandment)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The people in your life are gifts from God, even those who have authority over you. Yes, your parents are a gift that God chose especially for you, no matter how strange they are. Your government and your president are gifts from God, no matter how great you think they are or how terrible you think they are. All your teachers are gifts. The policemen, the fireman, the crossing guard are all gifts. Your pastor is a gift, too, no matter how weird or boring or cool you think he is.

God wants you to be taken care of in this life. Sure, He could zap food onto your plate for every meal. That's easy. If He can multiply five loaves of bread and two fish for 5,000 men, plus women and children, He can certainly send you food.

But that's not the Lord's way. He cares for you through other people. He gifts them to you, especially those over you. They give you clothing, they stop people from harming you, they teach you things, they baptize, absolve, and give you Jesus' Body and Blood. God blesses you with them for all these reasons: to care for you--body and soul. But that's not all!

The Lord's way is to not only gift people to you, but you're also gifted to them. You're a gift to all those around you. What joy! Even to those over you! What a gift! You love, honor, respect, and cherish them--to brighten their day, not despise or anger them.

The Lord Jesus gives you such wonderful gifts. He loves you. How could He not give good gifts? He died for you. He rose for you. He gives you the best gifts: His water, Word, Body and Blood. He gives you those around you to care for you, and He gives you to them. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

This is a sight that gladdens--What peace it doth impart! Now nothing ever saddens The joy within my heart. No gloom shall ever shake, No foe shall ever take The hope which God's own Son In love for me hath won. (Awake, My Heart, with Gladness, LSB 467:3)

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Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

Tue, 02 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 2:21-25

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 34:1-28; Luke 7:18-35

By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus left you an example. He did. He really did. Don't think that He didn't. Your Old Adam doesn't want it to be true. He'd rather be a party animal, do whatever he wants and just say, "I can do whatever I want because I can be forgiven." He'd rather be a self-righteous goody two-shoes: "I'm better than him because I didn't do that" or "I'm glad I'm not like her because she does this." Let's instead follow the example Jesus gives.

"When He was insulted, He didn't insult back; when He suffered, He didn't threaten but commended Himself to Him who judged justly" (1 Peter 2:23). That's the Christian life. Love your neighbor--even your enemies, those who wrong you. Treat them better than they treat you. That's not just what "good" Christians do and "bad" Christians don't do. No, that's what Christians do because they're Christians. Christians live and follow the example of Christ. They're little Christs. (That's what Christian means.)

This is why, dear Christian, that before Jesus can be your example, He must be your Savior, and He is! He's the Shepherd and Bishop of your soul. If He's not those things first, you're doomed. You'll be doomed to be a wandering sheep in this life and a lost sheep forever. Because, dear Christian, it's not that "good" Christians are saved because they're so much better than the "bad" Christians, nor are "bad" Christians saved because they're so much more sinful than those self-righteous "good" Christians.

Christians are saved because Jesus saves them. He saves you. That's why you are and will be saved. "He bore all our sins in His own body" (1 Peter 2:24). That includes the sins we do when we're not loving our neighbor more than ourselves, according to Jesus' own example. He died for all those sins, which we do daily and much, for which we surely deserve nothing but punishment, and He bore that punishment for you. Now, "the One who judges" judges you to be just and righteous in Jesus, His Son--only in Him.

Jesus really is your example. As Christians, we follow Him. But more importantly, dear Christian, Jesus is your Savior, and He enlivens you with His water, with His Word, and with His Body and Blood to live the example that He Himself gives. He lives in you to accomplish it. "By his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24) He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

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St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: John 14:1-14

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 33:1-23; Luke 7:1-17

Jesus said to Him, "Am I with you for so long, and you don't know me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Everyone wants to see God. He's their Father, after all, and they not only want to see Him but also experience Him. Maybe you want that, too. We all, at some point, really wish we could see God. You're not alone. Philip wanted that, too! He gets an answer he wasn't expecting. He'd already seen the Father! How had he seen the Father? Well, he saw the Father because He saw Jesus.

Now, is Jesus the Father? No. "The Father is God only, as is the Holy Spirit; but the Son is both true God and true man" (Christian Question 10). But the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. With the Holy Spirit, they are one God, now and forever. So, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another, but they are one God.

So, Philip, seeing Jesus preach, teach, and work, was seeing the Father preach, teach, and work. Jesus, the Son, is the face of the Father. He does the Father's business: dying and rising for the sins of the world. He gives out the Father's benefits: forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. He delivers the gifts that the Father wants delivered: Baptism, Absolution, and the Supper.

You have access to the Father, too, but not in the way you might want or expect. It's not in big thundering voices from heaven, in shining glory clouds, and it's not in our own experiences or emotions. We need to repent of all that sort of "seeing the Father."

In the face of Jesus, Philip saw the Father. Jesus sent out Philip and James, and He still sends out His men with the promise: "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16). In the face of your pastor, you see the face of Jesus. His hands are Jesus' hands. His voice is Jesus' voice. Not only do you see and hear your Jesus in your pastor, you also receive from Him Jesus' Gifts: His Baptism, His Absolution, His Body and Blood.

This is all just like the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit wanted. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, Your Son revealed himself to Philip and James and gave them the knowledge of everlasting life. Grant us perfectly to know Your Son Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth and the Life, and steadfastly to walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for St. Philip and St. James, Apostles)

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The Third Sunday of Easter

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: John 10:11-16

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 32:15-35; Luke 6:39-49

I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring even these, and they will hear My voice. There will then be one flock, one Shepherd." (John 10:16)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. How can He not be? He sent no angel or prophet or saint to do His job. This is God's job. He's the Good Shepherd who gives up His life for the sake of His sheep. He sheds His blood for them, dies for them, even rises from the dead for them.

He's taken on the whole pack of wolves. He bore the sins of His sheep. He took on the devil. He went through death. Every enemy that could destroy His flock, seize it, scatter it was taken care of by His holy life, death, and resurrection.

We can see that He's the Good Shepherd because He does all of this for His flock, His people. He's the Good Shepherd, the Good King after all. He's "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."

But what does that mean for you? You were born too late, weren't you? And most likely you've got the wrong ancestry, too! We're not Jews. We're not of the people of Israel. We're all descendants from pagan Gentiles. We're not sheep, just Gentile dog sinners (Matthew 15:26). What can we spiritual misfits do?

But take heart! Listen to what Jesus says again, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring even these, and they will hear My voice. There will then be one flock, one Shepherd." Jesus has other sheep that He will call and gather. He will be even their Good Shepherd.

In fact, He already is! That's right! He's your Good Shepherd, too. He gave up His life for you. He drowned you, the dog that you are, and He, being the Lord and Creator of all, brought forth from the water not a stinky wet dog, but a fluffy white sheep that gladly hears and follows his Good Shepherd.

It's God's job, but He gladly does it. He's the Good Shepherd giving up His life for you. He makes you His sheep. You're His; He is yours. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Merciful Father, who by the humiliation of Your Son raised up the fallen world, grant to Your faithful people perpetual gladness, and make those whom You have delivered from the danger of everlasting death to be partakers of eternal joys; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Easter 3)

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Saturday of the Second Week of Easter

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 32:1-14; Luke 6:20-38

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Alleluia! By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. Alleluia! (Psalm 33:5-6, from the Introit for Easter 3)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God created everything for you. All of creation is a gift. He filled the earth with His goodness, and He delivered it.

We mess it up. We fill up the earth with our "goodness." We fill our world and our own lives with what we think is good. This really amounts to filling our days, our lives, our browser history with things that make us feel good. Really our goodness is just our own selfishness and desires.

But the Word who made the heavens and who fills all things came into this world. "He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary." He fills our world with His goodness by coming into our world to redeem it and us. He came to deliver us from death--the death we deserved because of our sinful selfishness, which separates us from Him.

He brings you to Himself. He turns you away from you. He baptizes you, giving you newness of life in Him. He fills the whole earth with His goodness and glory as He delivers His Body and Blood on the many and various altars around the world "for us Christians to eat and to drink." He fills you with His goodness in your eating and drinking of His Body and Blood for there you receive forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Tomorrow you and your world are filled with the Lord's goodness. He, once again, delivers you out of your own goodness, which isn't really goodness at all. Instead of all that, He delivers His goodness, His Body and Blood, His forgiveness, and He delivers you from death as you await the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The body of God's Lamb we eat, A priestly food and priestly meat; On sin-parched lips the chalice pours His quenching blood that life restores. (The Infant Priest Was Holy Born, LSB 624:6)

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Friday of the Second Week of Easter

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 31:1-18; Luke 6:1-19

"The entire crowd was seeking to touch Him, because power would go out from Him and would heal everyone." (Luke 6:19)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the + Name of Jesus. Amen. Jesus went around healing. He'd speak the Word, and cast out demons. He'd speak the Word, and heal people raise them from the dead. But in an even more radical manner, people would be healed by merely touching Jesus.

Jesus' touch makes whole, Jesus' touch heals. Jesus' touch casts out evil spirits. That's what it was like for a woman who was ill for 12 years, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well," she said (Matthew 9:21). She touched, and she was healed, made well, saved! As Jesus Himself said (Matthew 9:22).

It's the same today. Jesus' hand reaches out and baptizes you, and it "works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare" (Small Catechism: Baptism). "From [His] own mouth comes forth a word; [His] shepherd speaks, but [He] is heard; Through him [His] hand now stretches out, Forgiving sin, destroying doubt" (LSB 616:4). In His hands He holds and delivers His Body and Blood for us to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of our sins.

So, does that mean the cancer will be healed? Does that mean the heart attack or car wreck won't happen? Does that mean my depression, my mental illness will go away?

The Lord Jesus can certainly do that. But the touch of Jesus, that He delivers in the water, His Keys, His Body and Blood, make sure that those things can't get you down forever. In His gifts, He lifts you up and carries you through the thick of it in this life until you're held in His embrace forever in eternal life.

Jesus grabs hold of you in this life. He'll never leave you or forsake you. He'll bring you to His eternal life. That's what He brings you into now, and He'll bring you to it forever, too. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

Who so happy as I am, Even now the Shepherd's lamb? And when my short life is ended, By His angel host attended, He shall fold me to His breast, There within His arms to rest. (I Am Jesus' Little Lamb, LSB 740:3)

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