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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, 21 Aug 2017 22:07:38 -0400

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

Monday of the Tenth Week after Trinity

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 8:4-12

Daily Lectionary: 1 Kings 1:1-4, 15-35; 1 Corinthians 12:14-31

" How can you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. (Jeremiah 8:8)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A great temptation for Christians is to think they are good Christians. The Israelites worshiped all kinds of false gods, yet they figured they were good to go as God's people since they had the Law and maybe kept it outwardly.

How about you? Do you do the things the Commandments forbid? Despising your parents? Giving in to your lust? Coveting what isn't yours? Hating and gossiping about others? And do you figure because you haven't gotten in trouble or pulled any whoppers involving the police that you're doing all right? Repent!

There is no being a "good" Christian when we clearly do what is against the Name of Christ. On the other hand, there is no being a "good" Christian if we merely have outwardly good behavior, either.

No, the only kind of Christian there is, is the one who knows his or her sins, down to their very core--the rotten, horrid nature of the sins that cut us off from others and from God. And such Christians don't put their hope in their ability to avoid sins or to work in some good habits. Such Christians put their hope and trust in Jesus who has dealt with the Law for us.

Jesus has kept the Law where you haven't. Every commandment you have broken, Jesus has kept. And that perfect life is credited to your account. And Jesus has died the death of the sinner, suffering what you deserved for trashing God's Law. And that sacrifice is also counted for you.

The "false scribes" Jeremiah mentions are alive and well in our day, thinking they've got the Law down. But Jesus' followers know better: They don't have the Law down at all, but Jesus does. And your Baptism into Him means that counts for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The Law is good; but since the fall Its holiness condemns us all; It dooms us for our sin to die And has no power to justify. (The Law of God Is Good and Wise, LSB 579:5)

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The Tenth Week after Trinity

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Luke 19:41-48

Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 12:1-25; 1 Corinthians 12:1-13

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it. (Luke 19:41)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. He cries over the city of David because it is where the Lord has made His home for a thousand years. And yet over and over, those who were kings and priests and people in Jerusalem rejected the Lord. One time, the Lord drove the people out, sending the Babylonians to take them away for a time. This time, just 40 years after Jesus' resurrection and ascension, the Romans would wipe Jerusalem off the map and destroy the temple once and for all. Today a Muslim mosque sits atop the hill where the Temple of the Lord once was.

Jesus weeps because He has come to save His people and to be their Lamb and sacrifice, to be the One who fulfills the Law for them and carries theirs sins. And they just want to get rid of Him. And they do: outside of Jerusalem, on the Hill of the Skull. But when Jesus went to the cross, He went there for Jerusalem and for all sinners who reject Him. He went there for us.

We reject Him, too. Every thought and word and action we do against the Commandments is a rejection of God. It is telling Him we don't want Him or His gifts. We want our own stuff and we don't need Him. Well, He went to the cross for that--for your being like Jerusalem.

Even though Jerusalem was destroyed, there were still some who were given repentance and faith in Jesus. Even where God's people reject Him, the Holy Spirit still turns the hearts of some to trust in the Savior. So we thank God that we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem for what it is: a call to repentance. And we thank the Lord that through Holy Baptism He has called us from being those who reject Him to those who fear, love and trust in Him in Christ. It is always sad when people reject Christ and want nothing to do with Him. It is always a joyous gift when He rescues us from such sin and calls us His own forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O God, as You declare Your almighty power above all in showing mercy and pity, mercifully grant unto us such a measure of Your grace that we may obtain Your gracious promises and be made partakers of Your heavenly treasures; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 10)

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Saturday of the Ninth Week after Trinity

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 11:1-27; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you. (Psalm 55:22 from the Introit for Trinity 10)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Let it out. Let it go. Unload. Take your sins, everything you've done this week that has made your conscience troubled, all your thoughts and words and deeds of which you are ashamed. Take it all and fling it on Jesus. Throw it at Him. Cover Him with it. That's why He came--to take your burden of sin from you.

Casting your burden on the Lord is what worship is really about when you go to church tomorrow. Well, that's your part. So many churches make it seem as if you have to be happy and joyful when you go to church. But we come with so many burdens. Things we regret. Words. Actions. Thoughts. We are sinful through and through.

But the Divine Service is where we hear exactly that Jesus is our burden bearer. All those sins that trouble you? They're His now. Let Him have them. Let Him deal with them. Let them be His for He hung upon the cross for them, to blot them out. Let them be His for He rose from the dead to leave those sins buried in the tomb.

And He will sustain you, keep you going, and lift you up. How? By the remembrance of your Baptism. By the Absolution. By the Word you hear. By the meal of His Body and Blood. By His Word and gifts the Lord will sustain you and protect you from your sins. By those holy gifts He removes those burdens from you and sets you free.

All your sins are the Lord's. His grace and peace and mercy are yours in Jesus Christ. When you sing these words in the Introit tomorrow, remember what they mean: your Savior is your burden-bearer and the One who sustains you your whole life long. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

I lay my sins on Jesus, The spotless Lamb of God; He bears them all and frees us From the accursed load. I bring my guilt to Jesus To wash my crimson stains Clean in His blood most precious Till not a spot remains. (I Lay My Sins on Jesus, LSB 606:1)

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Friday of the Ninth Week after Trinity

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 7:18-20; 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:16

 "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.  Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. St. Paul has just finished exhorting the Corinthian church to flee idolatry. While idolatry is something we battle against in many forms, this was the in-your-face kind of idolatry. Statues of gods and goddesses were sold on street corners. Meat was a common offering made to these idols and got sold in the market, where Christians shopped.

A Jew wouldn't have dared to eat such meat. Many Christians wouldn't have either. Yet in this passage St. Paul tells us that as Christians, such meat is permissible to eat. He appeals to Psalm 24:1 which says, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."

HOWEVER, St. Paul warns us that just because something is permissible, or lawful, does not mean we should disregard the needs of others around us as we live in Christian liberty, especially those in the body of Christ. In the Corinthian church, it was possible that a new believer (particularly one who came out of that Roman culture of false idols) might not know the freedom they have in Christ.

This is not about catering to a Pharisee--someone who tries to bind others' consciences with a lot of rules that aren't laid out the Scriptures. St. Paul is speaking of new believers with tender consciences who might not know what is permissible or about unbelievers who are carefully watching what we do. He reminds us: "Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved" (1 Corinthians 10:31-32).

We worship a God who is all about building up. That is why Divine Service is essential for us. Through water, Word, Body and Blood we hear and taste forgiveness. Not only is that a balm for our consciences, it also helps us to edify others--to live out our freedom in Christ with caring hearts toward our neighbors.

You probably won't have to face the choice of whether or not to eat meat offered to an idol, but you will have many other choices, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (v. 30), for in Christ, you are truly free. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.  

Lord help us walk Your servant way Wherever love may lead And, bending low, forgetting self, Each serve each other's need (Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way, LSB 857:1)

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Thursday of the Ninth Week after Trinity

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:6-13

Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 7:1-17; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:22

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It would be nice if every time we were confronted with the temptation to sin, we'd avoid it, do the right thing and make good choices. But sin is always right there, ready to trip us up. St. Paul gives us the Israelites as an example to warn us of what happens when we let sin rule: death.

But there was a way out for the people. When they sinned and the Lord sent vicious snakes to bite them, He also told Moses to lift up a bronze snake on a pole and whoever was bitten could look at it and not die.

Jesus speaks more than once about His being "lifted up" like the snake in the wilderness--lifted up on the cross, covered in our sins, sacrificed to take them away. It's this lifted up Jesus that St. Paul has in mind when He says the Lord always provides a "way of escape."

The way of escape from your sins is Jesus. Oh, sure, you should try and avoid falling into those sins. But when temptation and sin overwhelm you, there is Jesus to look at so that you may be saved. We bear temptation because Jesus bore temptation. We don't shoulder that load alone. He carries our sins for us. Therefore, when we fall into sin, we look to Jesus who has died and risen to take it away.

As long as you are in this life, you will sin. The way out, the way of escape is not to ignore the sin, or try harder to avoid it, or make a deal with God to be better next time. The way out, the way of escape, is Jesus. Lifted up for you. Lifted up and covered with your sin--taking the heat so you can escape and making sure by water, Word, Body and Blood that you get away and are safe. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

If my sins give me alarm And my conscience grieve me, Let Your cross my fear disarm; Peace of conscience give me. Help me see forgiveness won By Your holy passion. If for me He slays His Son, God must have compassion! (Jesus, I Will Ponder Now, LSB 440:5)

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Wednesday of the Ninth Week after Trinity

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 6:1-19; 1 Corinthians 9:1-23

But deliver us from evil. What does this mean? We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. (Small Catechism: The Lord's Prayer, Seventh Petition)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There is nothing we don't ask for in the Lord's Prayer. In it, Jesus teaches us that our heavenly Father knows and will give us everything we need. Praying teaches us to trust our heavenly Father for those good things.

Someday, perhaps soon, perhaps in many years, you will die. That's the cold reality of life in this fallen world. Perhaps you're already familiar with death because a friend or family member has died. You know how painful it can be to see death claim a loved one. And even if you don't dwell on death every day, it's there, stalking all of us.

So, knowing that death is real and is an enemy, we pray in the final petition of the Lord's prayer that the Lord would preserve us even through death unto eternal life. And how does He answer this petition?

Well first of all, Jesus comes to disarm death and rob it of its power. By taking away our sins--which are the reason death is in the world, and then rising from the dead--Jesus turns death from being the end of the road for us into a blessed nap in which we sleep and rest until He comes again to raise us from the dead.

Then, in Baptism, Jesus makes His death and resurrection yours so that you can be certain you have the victory over death that He won for you. By preaching and teaching His Word to you, Jesus delivers over and over that promise that He is your Savior from sin and death. With His Body and Blood, Jesus promises that He will raise you up on the Last Day. The Holy Spirit works through all these gifts to give us a faith in Jesus which trusts that, even when we die, God will indeed still be with us and will take us to Himself in everlasting life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ! When I die, I leave all sadness To inherit paradise! Though I lie in dust and ashes Faith's assurance brightly flashes: Baptism has the strength divine To make life immortal mine. (God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It, LSB 594:4)

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St. Mary, the Mother of Our Lord

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Luke 1:39-55

Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 5:1-25; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." (Luke 1:46-47)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What shall we say about St. Mary? She was not sinless as some suppose. After all, she declares in her song that God is her Savior. Why would she need a Savior if she had no sin?

On the other hand, she is a woman unlike any other woman who has ever lived because she is the mother of God. God Himself took on flesh in her womb. By grace, the Father chose Mary to be the mother of His only begotten Son. From Mary, the Son of God who is true God of one substance with the Father, became man, of the substance of her flesh.

Mary is a picture of the Church, for the Spirit overshadowed her and the Word dwelt in her. Just so, the same Spirit, who hovered over the waters of creation and hovered over the womb of Mary, hovers above the waters of the font in which you became a child of God by new birth from above in Holy Baptism.

Mary is also a picture of every believer. For it is by faith that Christ dwells in us. He dwelt bodily in Mary's womb but He dwells in us by faith. And He comes to live in us in the same way He came to live in Mary--by the speaking of God's Word. When Gabriel spoke the Word, the Lord was conceived in the flesh in Mary's womb. When the Word is spoken today into your ears, the Lord lives in you and you in Him.

We give thanks to God for St. Mary first because it was she who was used by the Lord to enter this fallen world--to take on flesh so that He could suffer and die and rise again. We also give thanks for St. Mary since she is an example of faith who responded with her "amen" to the Lord's Word. And we give thanks for Mary that she has taught us to sing her song as well, in which we, too, rejoice in God our Savior and praise the Lord for His raising us from the lowliness of sin to the heights of grace and mercy and salvation. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

We sing with joy of Mary, Whose heart with awe was stirred When, youthful and astonished, She heard the angel's word. Yet she her voice upraises To magnify God's name, As once for our salvation Your mother she became. (By All Your Saints in Warfare, LSB 518:22)

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Monday of the Ninth Week after Trinity

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 22:26-34

Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 1:1-27; 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. (2 Samuel 22:27)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Most people think God works like karma. If you do something nice, you'll get something nice back. If you are a jerk, well, that'll catch up with you, too. But we also see "good" people suffering and "bad" people getting away with things. It's almost like God isn't involved at all or else He's just playing nasty games with the world. But that is to think about God apart from Jesus.

In Jesus, the Lord shows Himself pure to the pure and shrewd to the shrewd. Is Jesus pure? Sinless? Yes. So His Father exalts Him to the highest place and Jesus is above all things. But is Jesus shrewd? With your sins, yes. So the Father gives Him back for that, too, when He suffers and dies on the cross of Calvary.

On the cross, in Jesus, "karma" has its end. The seeming capricious nature of God is done with. In Jesus, all that is good about Him is called yours and all that is rotten about you is called His. On the cross, the perfection and purity of Jesus is counted as yours and the filth and corruption of your sins is put on Him.

In your life now, through your Baptism into Jesus, because Jesus lives in you by His Body and Blood, you are pure in God's sight. Your impurities are covered up by Jesus. The Old Adam gets what he deserves--a daily drowning in your Baptism. The New Man gets what Christ has deserved and earned--eternal life and innocence and blessedness and holiness.

Because you are in Christ, you need never fear "karma" or anything of the sort. Away with superstitions and the notion of "payback." Instead, your Baptism and the Body and Blood of Jesus are proof that God has only one thing in mind for you: not to harm you or destroy you but to forgive you and give you eternal life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The sinless Son of God must die in sadness; The sinful child of man may live in gladness; Man forfeited his life and is acquitted; God is committed. (O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken, LSB 439:5)

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The Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Luke 16:1-13

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 31:1-13; 1 Corinthians 7:1-24

"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)

In the Name + of Jesus. Money got the steward into trouble. He was embezzling from his master. Money got him out of his problem. He altered the bills of the people who owed his master money and figured they would give him a place when he got kicked out. That's how the world works. Money can buy happiness--for a little while.

Jesus knows that money greases the wheels of this world. But He teaches us that Christians have something even better. We have the forgiveness of sins. Since Jesus died for us and rose again, our sins have been wiped out. Since you were baptized into Jesus, your absolution, the Supper, your sins are gone. But not only are your sins gone, you can forgive the sins of others.

The same Master who has forgiven you has given you the forgiveness which is a blessing and comfort to others. Consider the people in your life who have sinned against you. Do you forgive them? Treat them as if they didn't sin against you? What a comfort for them that they aren't dead to you because of what they've done!

Or do you hold their sins against them? Tell them they're fired-- out of your life for what they've done? It's easy and even feels good in a twisted way to think that we can hold a grudge. We can convince ourselves that being mad at someone is necessary to be happy! Crazy, isn't it?

But the Lord has put away your sins. He's done that so that you will have a place with the Father forever. And He gives you such forgiveness as you can pass on to others so that they may be comforted knowing they have a place, too. What joy that God does not hold your sins against you! What joy you don't hold someone else's sins against them! All because of Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Let Your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of Your humble servants; and that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 9)

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Saturday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 28:3-25; 1 Corinthians 6:1-20

He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth. (Psalm 54:5 from the Introit for Trinity 9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Go ahead, bring your enemies to church tomorrow. Bring sin and the fear of death and the devil to the Divine Service. And watch what Jesus does to them!

The Name! Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Right then in the Invocation the ambassador of Christ (your pastor) declares those enemies have no place at the Divine Service. Here are gathered those named by the Lord as His own!

Absolution! Here the enemies are told they have been defeated. Their accusations and disturbances will not be tolerated. You are free from your sins for Jesus' sake.

The Scriptures and the preaching of the sermon! Here the ambassador speaks, declaring to you what your Savior has done and accomplished, and how He has made your enemies His enemies, fought them and defeated them!

The Supper! Here the enemies must starve while you are fed with the Body and Blood that drive them away, make you a temple of the Holy Spirit and a lion to roar back and chase them off!

The liturgy and hymns and prayers! Here are the cries of God's people, lifting up their voices to the Savior who cuts off all their enemies in His Truth. That Truth is His Word. That Truth is Jesus. Here the enemies of the cross are repaid for their evil and you are paid with the precious blood of Jesus by which you are ransomed. No gold or silver here but the innocent sufferings and death of the Lamb of God are bestowed upon you, made yours, to send your enemies running away like cockroaches fleeing from the light!

Tomorrow in the Divine Service, the Word and gifts of Jesus will send your enemies fleeing. Your Lord fights for you and always wins. His gifts always triumph over your enemies. Life defeats death. Forgiveness overcomes sin. Jesus wins over all things. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle; Sing the ending of the fray. Now above the cross, the trophy, Sound the loud triumphant lay; Tell how Christ, the world's redeemer, As a victim won the day. (Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle, LSB 454:1)

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Friday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 26:1-25; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

But David said to Abishai, "Do not destroy [Saul]; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD's anointed, and be guiltless?" (1 Samuel 26:9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Saul hated David. Although David hadn't done anything, every chance he got, Saul tried to kill David. Now it was David's turn. He had the opportunity to run Saul through with his spear while he slept. He surely deserved it. Do it! But he didn't do it because Saul was still the king.

Every day you have opportunities to get even with people who do something to you. "I'll steal this music online since the music companies are just ripping us off anyway." "She said that about me but wait 'til I post on her wall!" "The company won't pay us overtime so it won't hurt them if I swipe a few items from them." "He started it. But I'm going to finish it!"

But consider this: Whatever you have against someone else for which you think you ought to collect, the Lord could have that much more on you for which HE ought to collect. But the judgment of God will not strike you down. After all, you are the Lord's anointed as Saul was. Sure, you're not the king of Israel, but you ARE anointed in your Baptism as a child of God--one whose sins have been wiped out for good.

That's because the Lord's anointed WAS struck. Who was more anointed above everyone than Jesus? He was the Messiah (Hebrew for "anointed") and the Christ (Greek for "anointed.") And He was struck down with every ounce of God's wrath as if He deserved it. For your sins. For your sake. For you, the Father struck His anointed Son on Calvary to blot out your sins. And then, at the holy font, God anointed you with water and the Word and called you His own.

Now, not sin, nor death, nor the devil, nor anyone had dare mess with you because you are the Lord's anointed. In Christ, you are sealed with the Spirit for everlasting life and even if death strikes you down, the Lord will raise you up by the power of the resurrection of Jesus, the Son of David and your Savior. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Hail to the Lord's anointed, Great David's greater Son! Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun! He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free, To take away transgression And rule in equity. (Hail to the Lord's Anointed, LSB 398:1)

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Thursday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Acts 20:27-38

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 25:23-44; 1 Corinthians 4:1-21

"Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. (Acts 20:30)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. St. Paul doesn't spare any punches when he warns the Church before he leaves that false prophets are going to arise. In our day and age, we are constantly bombarded with the notion that all religions and faiths and teachings are equal. What matters nowadays is what you believe and that's up to every individual person. St. Paul knows better and so he warns them and us. He knows that false preaching can kill you for exactly the reason he says: They will draw people away after themselves and that means away from Jesus.

Any preaching or teaching that isn't about Jesus is either about you or the preacher and that preaching and teaching won't save you. If it's about a man's opinions or thoughts or "visions," there is no hope there. True and faithful preaching and teaching is that which delivers Jesus, crucified for sinners, risen from the dead, and the giver of that forgiveness by water, Word, Body and Blood.

The "perverse" things a false preacher teaches aren't just "perverted" in the way we think of with that word today. They are a twisting of the truth into something that sounds biblical but really isn't. It sounds godly and religious but when you listen closely or examine it further, it's all fluff and trash. If you don't hear Jesus being preached as the crucified and risen Savior, if the delivery of that forgiveness isn't pointed to at the font and altar, then plug your ears and run away!

St. Paul warns the Church and you so that you will not be fooled. Trusting in that sort of preaching that these false preachers give means eternal death. Trusting in the preaching of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus' sake is eternal life. And the Lord won't leave you confused or doubtful. As He sent St. Paul to warn the churches, so He still warns you today and wants nothing else than you trust in and cling to Jesus for your forgiveness and life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

"What I on earth have done and taught Guide all your life and teaching; So shall the kingdom's work be wrought And honored in your preaching. But watch lest foes with base alloy The heav'nly treasure should destroy; This final word I leave you." (Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice, LSB 556:10)

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Wednesday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 25:1-22; 1 Corinthians 3:1-23 "And lead us not into temptation. What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair or other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory." (Small Catechism: The Lord's Prayer, Sixth Petition) In the Name of + Jesus. Amen. Martin Luther once said, "You can't prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building nests in your hair." If only fighting temptation were as easy as chasing off a flock of angry birds. But the devil launches his fiery darts of temptation at us from every angle: school, friends, television, internet, books--you name it; the devil wants to twist it into something that will bring you great shame and vice. Where do you turn for help? Not the world. It's no better off. So what do you do? Go live in a cave and cut yourself off from all the sin, greed and corruption? There's just one problem. You may be able to hide in a cave from the world for a while. But you can't hide from your old sinful nature. There is One person who has overcome temptation, though: Jesus. He has endured every temptation in the devil's playbook and has beaten them all. He did it for you in the wilderness after His baptism in the Jordan. And He did it again for you on the cross. The devil, the world and your sinful nature are no match for Jesus' perfect life, perfect obedience, perfect suffering and death. All of your temptation and sin is piled on Jesus' head. He lets your sin, temptation and death build a nest of thorns on his head so that you can pray for deliverance, "Lead us not into temptation." It's true, you can't fight temptation on your own. You are baptized. Satan's fiery arrows are doused in the font. That means you never fight alone. Jesus fights for you. In the Name of + Jesus. Amen. Lead not into temptation, Lord, Where our grim foe and all his horde Would vex our souls on ev'ry hand. Help us resist, help us to stand Firm in the faith, a mighty host, Through comfort of the Holy Ghost. (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above, LSB 766:7) This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it. [...]

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Tuesday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Romans 8:12-17

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 24:1-22; 1 Corinthians 1:26-2:16

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "Face your fears!" "Quit cold turkey." These are a couple of the ways that advice to change and improve gets boiled down to simple sayings. The world is all about changing yourself if you don't like what you are. St. Paul warns that living according to the flesh--denying God and living however we want--is going to get us killed! Sin brings everlasting death.

The solution? By the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body. So, a little self-help? Some motivational exercises? Some steps to change your behavior? Nope. You don't change the Old Adam. He has to die. That's why St. Paul says "by the Spirit." The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit kills off the Old Adam by burying him every day with Christ's death. Sin is finished off at the cross where the Son of God takes it and dies for it there.

Your Baptism into Jesus is a uniting with Him in His death. Therefore, when you drown the Old Adam every day in contrition and repentance, that's the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body. You see, sin grows when it can spread its roots into your conscience and desires. When it can plague you with the notion that you cannot live without, sin grows and is fed like a cancer.

But the forgiveness of sins, delivered at the font, by your pastor and in Christ's Body and Blood, cuts off sin's roots. It starves sin of its power over you. It destroys sin by taking away its power and preventing it from condemning you before God.

What you need is not a self-help program but continual repentance and faith in Jesus who has taken care of your sin by His death and resurrection. You need to be continually reminded of your Baptism and fed with Jesus' Body and Blood. And in those gifts, the Spirit puts to death those deeds of the body and you live. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Christ the shoot that springs triumphant From the stump of Jesse's tree; Christ, true vine, You nurture branches To bear fruit abundantly. Graft us into You, O Savior; Prune our hearts so we remain Fruitful branches in Your vineyard Till eternal life we gain. (Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, LSB 540:3)

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Monday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 23:16-29

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 20:24-42; 1 Corinthians 1:1-25

Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:16)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. False prophets speak from their own hearts, not from the mouth of the Lord. But how do you know if it's from the Lord? Well, does what is preached and taught match up with what's in the Scriptures? Does the sermon or devotion or teaching say what you learned from the Catechism, which is the summary of the Scriptures?

The heart and center of the whole Bible is Jesus. God and man, in the flesh. For you. Crucified for your sins. Risen from the dead to conquer death for you. What the prophets and apostles taught was written down so that the preachers to come would have something to preach. When a preacher preaches, he should be delivering the same Word that's in the Scriptures. Jesus gives you a pastor to teach you what God's Word says. And He gives you His Word in the Scriptures so that you can see what your pastor is supposed to be preaching.

When the Word of God is preached faithfully, sinners are called to repentance and brought to faith in Jesus who takes away our sins. His Word is the one that washes us, absolves us and feeds us. That's the word from the Lord's own mouth! Jesus says, "I came to call sinners to repentance."

When false prophets preach from their own hearts, they put people at the center. Either their good works or their feelings or the false prophet or something else are made most important. There is no true repentance and faith, no Jesus, no salvation.

But the Lord is faithful. He gives us His Word in the Scriptures and faithful pastors to teach them so that we can distinguish between what is true and what is false. And knowing Jesus who is the Truth, you have forgiveness and eternal life! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Abide, with heav'nly brightness Among us, precious Light; Your truth direct and keep us From error's gloomy night. (Abide, O Dearest Jesus, LSB 919:3)

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The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Matthew 7:15-23 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 20:1-23; Acts 28:16-31 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:23) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Who are these preachers who call out "Lord, Lord!" but whom Jesus does not know? They are those who practice "lawlessness." There are two kinds of such false prophets. One lawless type of preacher will tell you that what the Lord calls sins aren't truly sins--that homosexuality, living together, killing unborn children, and many other practices and sins are not identified as actions that bring God's wrath. When sin isn't called sin, people can't be called to repentance and see that their sins are forgiven in Jesus. The hearers of those false preachers are left in their sins with no one to rescue them! And the Lord will cast out those preachers. The other type of preacher who teaches apart from the Law of God is the one who preaches Jesus not as the fulfillment of the Law but as a new Moses, that is, just another teacher telling you what to do. Such preachers tell you it's possible to keep the Law and thereby please God and that if you don't do the commandments, you will perish. But again, such a preacher leaves out Jesus, the one in whom the law of God is fulfilled, leaving his hearers to take care of their own sins. The fruits of true preaching are those who know from the Law of God that they deserve everlasting death because of their sins. But they know and trust that in Christ, the Law has been fulfilled on their behalf and their sins forgiven. That's because Jesus has lived our life, keeping all the commandments and not sinning. And He has died our death, taking the punishment for our lawlessness and redeeming us by His blood. Faithful preachers will direct you to Jesus, crucified and risen, into whom you have been baptized, by whom you have been absolved, and whose Body and Blood is given you to eat and drink. Beware those false preachers who detach the Law from Jesus. But the true Savior, the real Jesus, has done all things for you so that in Him, you have kept the Law and have eternal life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Grant to us, Lord, we implore You, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may by You be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 8) This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it. [...]

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Saturday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 19:124; Acts 28:1-15

We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness, In the midst of Your temple. (Psalm 48:9 from the Introit for Trinity 8)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What do you think about when you're in church? Which restaurant to eat at for lunch? That test looming this week? That fight you had with your boyfriend or girlfriend? That whining baby three pews behind you? Lots of thoughts go through our heads to distract us from gladly hearing and learning Christ's Word!
Which is why, above all else, worship is about the lovingkindnesses of God. That's what we go to church to think about. And to receive for real! "Lovingkindness" is a bit of an older word but it means, well, what it says: loving and kindness together. God's lovingkindness is that He loves you and is kind to you. So, of course that means His lovingkindness is Jesus. For it is in Jesus that God loves you and forgives your sins. It is in Christ that the Lord is kind to you, not giving you what you deserve but forgiving you for the sake of Jesus, who died for your sins and rose again.

How else is God kind to you? By washing and naming you at the font. By absolving you and preaching to you His saving Word. By giving you Jesus' Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins. Those are the real, concrete and tangible ways that God is kind to you and gives you His love.

To be in the Lord's house, in the Divine Service, is to be all about the lovingkindness of God. Not us thinking about it so much as the Lord doing it, showing it, giving it. Yeah, your mind wanders repent and pay attention! But know that the lovingkindness of God is so great that not even your wandering mind can stop it from being bestowed upon you. After all, where Christ and His Word are present, there the lovingkindness of God is all yours. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

All praise to You, O Christ, For love whose depth and height, Whose length and breadth fill time and space With endless life and light! (How Wide the Love of Jesus, LSB 535:5)

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Friday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 18:10-30; Acts 27:27-44

Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved. (Acts 27:31)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It had been revealed to St. Paul, as their ship was about to wreck, that they would all be protected by the Lord and kept safe--provided no one left the ship. So, protected by the Lord's grace, the ship broke up and everyone made it safely to shore.

But there's something else pictured here. St. Paul is the one sent by God to preach the Gospel of Christ. The ship has, since the Church's earliest days, been a symbol of the Church. To stay in the ship and be safe is another way of saying, "Stay in the church and be safe." For it is in Christ's Church that He is present by His Word and Sacraments to sustain us in the faith and bring us to everlasting life. There, in the Church, where the preacher is, Christ keeps us safe through all disasters. (And unlike St. Paul's ship, the Church can't crash and sink!)

You've known them--the kids who get confirmed and then seem to vanish from church. Perhaps you run across them in school. Maybe you ARE one of them, having drifted away from Christ and His Word and Church. Young people have lots of reasons for quitting church but most are just excuses and miss the main point: Jesus is there and it's the only place where He keeps us safe from sin and death.

Out in the world, there is no forgiveness. Nothing out there can give you peace with God--the knowledge that He doesn't count your sins against you. Nothing out there can give you the hope of everlasting life because everything out there is just fading away.

But in the Church we hear of Jesus over and over. Jesus who came for you. To carry your sins. To die and take them away. To rise and give you life. To wash you. Absolve you. Feed you. There, in the "ark" or ship of Christ's Church, sin, death, devil, hell--nothing can truly harm you.

St. Paul's plea for the passengers to stay on board the ship is a reminder to us to stay on board the ship of Christ's Church. By His grace and Holy Spirit, you will! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us. The 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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Thursday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 17:48-18:9; Acts 27:9-26

Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. (1 Samuel 17:51)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It seems like they always leave off that part of the David and Goliath story. It wasn't the stone that killed Goliath. David used Goliath's own sword to kill him and cut off his head!

That's what Jesus, the Son of David, does to the devil, our enemy. He steps forth and takes the enemy down, using his own weapon: death! The devil brought sin into this world and sin brought death. So Jesus uses death to take down the devil, by dying for our sins and so wiping out their power. By forgiving your sins, Jesus has cut the head off death so that it cannot be your enemy anymore. On the Last Day, Jesus will raise you up to live forever.

David, to prepare for fighting Goliath, took five smooth stones and was ready to launch them at the giant. So Jesus, pierced in hands and feet and side--five wounds!--fended off sin, death, devil and hell by his suffering and death.

Now, Jesus gives to us five smooth stones with which to defeat our enemies: His holy gifts. The Holy Spirit. Water. Word. Body. Blood. These gifts drive away your enemies and keep them from defeating you. In fact, with those gifts, you can tell off sin, death, devil and hell the way that David mocked Goliath and put him down. After all, those gifts of Jesus are your proof and promise that the Lord fights for you and therefore there is no enemy that is stronger than you.

David took down Goliath. Jesus takes down your big, bad enemies. There is nothing that can defeat you when your Good Shepherd and King fights for you, because He always wins. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Down through the realm of darkness He strode in victory, And at the hour appointed He rose triumphantly. And now, to heav'n ascended, He sits upon the throne When He had ne'er departed, His Father's and His own. (Christ Is the World's Redeemer, LSB 539:3)

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Wednesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 17:20-47; Acts 26:24-27:8 "And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. What does this mean? We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us." (Small Catechism: The Lord's Prayer, Fifth Petition) In the Name of + Jesus. Amen. Trespassing is a serious offense. In its most severe punishment, trespassing warrants death: "No trespassing...violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again." This is the severity of God's Law: death. Mt. Sinai might as well have had big red "No Trespassing" signs posted all around her foothills. For when we attempt to scale the mountain on our own strength or merit we slip and fall time and time again. We have not loved the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind; we haven't even loved our neighbors as ourselves. There is only One who can scale Sinai's slopes without fear of the death sentence: "No Trespassing." There's only One who has gone without violation of the Law. Only One has no need to ask the Father for forgiveness. And yet for us men and our salvation this One, Jesus, does plead before the Father for you. Having no sin of his own, He prays for yours. Having trespassed no Law--indeed, having kept it perfectly--He bears your trespasses that you might forgive those who trespass against you. Jesus loves the Father with all His heart and soul and mind; and He loves His neighbor as Himself. Actually, it's better than Himself, for He loves you to death, literally. So great is Jesus' love for you that He daily drowns your trespasses in Baptism. He feeds you with His trespass-forgiving Body and Blood. He forgives your trespasses so that you are free to forgive those who trespass against you. In the Name of + Jesus. Amen. Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore, That they may trouble us no more; We, too, will gladly those forgive Who hurt us by the way they live. Help us in our community To serve each other willingly. (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above, LSB 766:6) This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it. [...]

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Tuesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Romans 6:19-23 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 17:1-19; Acts 26:1-23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Nothing better summarizes the situation of life, the universe and everything than these words from Romans. The wages of sin is death. Wages are something you earn. When you work, you get paid. When you sin, you get paid with death. That was the deal in the Garden of Eden and so the curse of death is inflicted on all of us since then. You sin. You die. Simple. But the Lord has a gift. Eternal life. Eternal life is the antidote for death. Death means life stops. Eternal life means your life will continue forever, even after you die because Jesus will raise you from the dead. And note that this eternal life stuff is a gift. You don't earn a gift. It's given whether you deserve it or not. Such is eternal life. It is given to you by God. You don't earn it. You don't deserve it. You can't buy it or do something to achieve it. You can't unlock it with a cheat code. No, it is a gift from God, who gives it to you freely because He wants to. Wages and sin are about us. Our sins are paid with death. But the gift of eternal life is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Again, nothing of you, all of God. And the interesting thing is that He gives us the gift of eternal life by taking our wages and cashing our paycheck and dying. He gets the wages of our sin, death. He dies for sinners and thereby gives eternal life. Jesus is the One who does it--who gives the gift. Of course, gifts should be wrapped up so they look like gifts. So this eternal life gift is given with the trimmings of water at the font, the Word preached and heard, and in bread and wine with the Body and Blood. In those holy gifts, Jesus is delivering that eternal life gift that He won and earned for us and gives to us with no strings attached. So there you go, the answer to life, the universe and everything isn't "42." It's Jesus and the eternal life He gives as a gift! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Praise be to Him who, Lord Most High, The fullness of the Godhead shares; And yet our human nature bears, Who came as man to bleed and die. And from His cross there flows our peace Who chose for us the path He trod, That so might sins and sorrows cease And all be reconciled to God. (Praise Be to Christ, LSB 538:3) This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it. [...]

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Monday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Genesis 2:7-17

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 16:1-23; Acts 25:13-27

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What's the best gift that God gave to Adam and Eve? They could eat from just about any tree in the garden. They lived in paradise. They had dominion over all the animals and were next to God in their position in the universe. But of all the things the Lord gave them, which one was best? His Word. His Word was best because it bestowed upon them their gifts. "Of every tree you may freely eat." And that same Word protected them from danger and evil. "But of the tree of shall not eat...for you shall surely die." The Lord's Word gave gifts and protected them from harm.

What is the greatest gift you have received? A new bike? A new car? A new laptop? A prayer for a sick friend or family member answered? What is most valuable to you? The answer is the Word of God. Above all the things the Lord gives you, His Word is the most important and most precious.

That's because the Word saves you. It takes on sin and death--the very things that would rob you of your life and all your gifts from God. The Word takes those enemies down. The Word was made flesh to be your Savior--to be born for you, die for you and rise again for you.

The Word was written to deliver that Savior to you. To bestow that forgiveness upon you. The Word is added to the water to wash you; spoken by the pastor to forgive you; spoken with bread and wine to give you Jesus' Body and Blood.

The Word teaches you the way of repentance and faith, that the Spirit might turn you from sin to life in Christ. It guides and directs you in how to live in the joy of the Lord's will. It bestows over and over the comfort of Christ's forgiveness when we don't live as we should.

The Word of God, preached and taught and written in the Bible, is your greatest treasure. No wonder it is considered to be better than gold and sweeter than honey! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

In these last days of great distress, Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness That we keep pure till life is spent Your holy Word and Sacrament. (Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide, LSB 585:2)

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The Seventh Sunday after Trinity

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

Today's Reading: Mark 8:1-9 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 15:10-35; Acts 24:24-25:12 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. (Mark 8:2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What does it take to get a little sympathy from Jesus? Not one day without anything to eat. Not two days. Not until three days does Jesus have compassion and make sure the crowds following have some food. And yet they still followed Him around as He taught them His Word. Sometimes it seems like Jesus is stretching out the unpleasant episodes of our lives just so He can see how far He can push us. But that's not true! Rather, Jesus is showing that when we need what we need, He will provide it. Consider His awful death at the hands of sinners. Betrayed. Tried. Mocked. Spit upon. Beaten. Crucified. Dead. And how much sorrow and anxiety did His disciples have? But after--that's right--three days, Our Lord was alive once again, victorious over sin and death. Jesus knows the people need to eat. He knows you need to eat. He knows you have trouble with your friends or bullies or families. He knows you worry. He knows all of it. And while you may wonder what He's going to do about it, He knows. He will provide for you and care for you. After all, He died for your sins before you had even known you needed a Savior or asked for one. He knew you needed saving and so He came to do just that by His death and resurrection. And He knew you needed those sins washed away, so He did that in your Baptism. He knows you need to eat--not just food for your body but for everlasting life, too. And just as the crowds had as much to eat that day as they wanted, so you can have as much Jesus to eat and drink as you want, for His Supper never runs out. He knows what you need and when you need it, even when you don't. And our Lord's compassion extends to you now and forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, whose never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth, we humbly implore You to put away from us all hurtful things and give to us those things that be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 7) This reflection is available as an mp3, click here to download and listen to it. [...]

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Saturday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

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

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 14:47-15:9; Acts 24:1-23

For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. (Psalm 47:2 from the Introit for Trinity 7)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Just who is in charge of this crazy world? There are presidents and kings and queens and dictators and mobs. But who is really in charge? The Bible says the Lord is the true King of all the earth. How can that be? Most people don't even believe in God and so many believe in some other god than Jesus Christ. How can Jesus claim to be King of this world?

Jesus is King of the world--not through an earthly, political kingdom, but because all things were made through Him and He gave His life for the world, for every sinner ever born. Jesus is King, crowned with thorns, whose hands and feet bear the marks that He has earned His title. Jesus is King because He has done what no earthly king could ever do: defeat death. No matter how rich or powerful the kings of this world are, they can't escape death. But Jesus triumphed over death and so the Father has given to Him all authority and dominion.

And you are a citizen in this kingdom. In the divine service tomorrow, There will be proclamations and proclamations made on the King's behalf. His herald, the pastor, will declare once again the King's amnesty: criminals and sinners are forgiven. There will be no death penalty, no dungeon imprisonment. Behold, the King declares you are set free.

And not only that, like any good king, He's providing for His people a great feast for them to enjoy. It's a feast of His Body and Blood. Tomorrow is the King's day for Him to take care of you, His subject. Here He promises protection against your enemies and life in His kingdom which never ends--His holy Church now and forever.

Indeed Jesus, who was crucified and is risen is the great King over all the earth! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Glory to the Father sing, Glory to the Son, our king, Glory to the Spirit be Now and through eternity. (Savior of the Nations, Come LSB 332:8)

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Friday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

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

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 13:1-18; Acts 23:12-35

And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you." (1 Samuel 13:13-14)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Clearly King Saul had blown it. Having reigned as Israel's first king for two years, he had successfully defeated the Philistines at Geba. In response, the Philistines regrouped and came against the Israelites in numbers "like sand on the seashore." The Hebrews panicked. They were to gather with Saul at Gilgal but instead they scattered. Then Saul panicked. You see, Samuel had specifically told Saul in 1 Samuel 10:8 to trust Yahweh and wait seven days for Samuel to return, who would offer a sacrifice and counsel the king as to his next move. Saul grew impatient. In offering the sacrifice himself he took the situation into his own hands and, as a consequence, he lost his kingdom.

Are we not the same way? Sure, we don't have a prophet giving us express commands, but we have the full counsel of God's Word (even better). We know what He asks of us. But, like Saul, we grow impatient and decide we are going to do it our way. Sometimes God works through the wisdom of your parents, who counsel you to wait on something. Surely, they don't understand what's really going on. It's not like they're older and wiser than you are. You can handle it yourself. More often than not, you discover how wrong you were, sometimes with painful consequences.

It's this way, too, when we, like the panicked Israelites, face the onslaught of sin, death and the devil. Any attempt to save ourselves is futile. Thanks be to God we don't have to! David, a man after God's own heart, was anointed by God to take Saul's place as king. In the same way Jesus, the ultimate Man after God's own heart, was anointed by God to take our take the punishment for our sin and to win the battle. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

If thou but trust in God to guide thee And hope in Him through all thy ways, He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee, And bear thee through the evil days. Who trusts in God's unchanging love Builds on the rock that naught can move. (If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee, LSB 750:1)

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