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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: Sat, 22 Jul 2017 05:02:04 -0400

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



St. Mary Magdalene

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: John 20:1-2, 10-18

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 5:1-6:3,10-16; Acts 18:1-11, 23-28

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her. (John 20:18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Mary was the first person to see Jesus alive after He had died. She had seen Him on the cross, bleeding, dying, dead. She had seen the tomb where He was laid. She had gone to give His body a proper anointing once the Sabbath was over. Can you imagine her grief? Her surprise? Her joy?

St. Mark records that after His resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary, out of whom He had driven seven demons. Mary had once been under the awful influence and control of Satan and Jesus had rescued her. By showing Himself to her on the day He rose from the dead, Mary learns that her rescue from the devil and death are really true!

Mary is the reminder that Jesus conquers all our enemies. She, like us, was in bondage to sin and death and Jesus set her free. He set her free, not only because He speaks His Word, but also because His is the Word of the One who died and rose, defeating the devil and conquering death. Mary Magdalene on Easter is the picture of Christ's promise and the example of our hope that Jesus truly has defeated all of our enemies.

Many silly legends and false stories have arisen about Mary Magdalene. But the truth is the Lord granted to her the wonderful gift of seeing Him alive after He had been dead. She was the first witness of the resurrection. That a woman should see such a detail would seem a preposterous idea in that day and culture and so her witness of Christ's being alive is all the more sure because it isn't the sort of detail you can make up. And Mary thus serves as a picture of all Christians, part of the church, the Bride of Christ who, by the witness and testimony of Mary and others who saw Jesus, believe that He lives and the victory is won.

Now Mary is to find Christ in the Church, just as we are. No hanging onto Jesus at the tomb but now, in His Church, we cling to Jesus in the waters of our baptism, His Word and Body and Blood. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from all infirmities, and call us to know You in the power of Your Son's unending life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Festival of St. Mary Magdalene)



Media Files:
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Friday of the Fifth Week after Trinity

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 4:1-22; Acts 16:23-40

 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. (Acts 16:25-26)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jail time was just part of the job description for St. Paul as a missionary to the Gentiles. While in Philippi, St. Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a fortune-telling slave girl, and ended the moneymaking prospects for her owners. These angry men brought the two missionaries before the magistrates, falsely accusing them of disturbing the peace. Fueled by the crowd, the magistrates ordered that St. Paul and Silas be flogged and thrown into jail.

So there they were, in jail--praying and singing hymns to God. We'd like to think if we were in their shoes (or sandals) we'd do the same. While we don't know what was in St. Paul and Silas' hearts we do know their actions showed that they trusted God was going to use their predicament for good--to further His kingdom--which He did. Following the earthquake and the loosing of the prisoners' chains, the Philippian jailer came to Christ through the words of the Gospel spoken by St. Paul. He and his entire household were baptized!

Isn't that just the way of the Lord? He can use a seemingly hopeless situation and redeem it, no matter what our level of fear or confidence might be. There is no clearer demonstration of this than the death of Christ on the cross. To those closest to Jesus it was a time of trembling and despair. They had seen Him perform miracles. Surely, they should have known better! But three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, setting free the captives of sin, while hurling sin, death and the devil into the very prison in which we were trapped.

And now, every time you are reminded of your Baptism, receive Absolution or partake in the Supper, you can be sure that Jesus has freed you from your sins. Your chains have been loosed. Like St. Paul and Silas, let us pray and sing hymns to God in gratitude and confidence, sharing the good news with our neighbors! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Praise the One who breaks the darkness With a liberating light; Praise the One who frees the pris'ners, Turning blindness into sight. Praise the One who preached the Gospel, Healing ev'ry dread disease, Calming storms, and feeding thousands With the very Bread of peace. (Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness, LSB 849:1)



Media Files:
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Thursday of the Fifth Week after Trinity

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 3:1-21; Acts 16:1-22

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Ever wonder why you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins but other people don't seem to care or get it? St. Paul says why. To the world, the cross is stupid. Foolish. Nonsense. Dumb. Lame. But to us, who have been turned from our sins by the Gospel, by the working of the Holy Spirit, this cross stuff is Good News. It's our life. It's our salvation.

The world can't understand how a guy getting nailed to a cross does anything. But the Word of that Guy who was nailed there tells us: It is to suffer and die for sinners. It's so that everything we've ever done against the God who made us is wiped out forever. Your sins, nailed there with Jesus, are forgotten by God forever.

People don't believe that Jesus is God and man. People don't believe in God at all. People don't think they're sinful or that their sins really are so bad they deserve eternal death. There are lots of reasons the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would turn their hearts from death and unbelief to faith and life in Christ, whose cross-worked salvation is for all people.

The message, the preaching of the cross for you, is hope, life, forgiveness, and salvation. The water that poured out of Jesus when He was on that cross was splashed upon you at the font. The blood that gushed out is given to you in the cup of His Supper. The preaching and teaching you hear are this Jesus crucified for you and risen from the dead. This cross stuff for you is God's very power, the power by which He saves you from your sins and gives you eternal life.

To those perishing the cross is foolish. To you who are saved it is the power of God unto salvation. And that is always a gift. It's not yours because you're smarter than others or figured something out for yourself. It's yours because the Holy Spirit has given it to you as a gift. And we pray He grants it to others, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph, Be for all the noblest tree; None in foliage, none in blossom, None in fruit thine equal be; Symbol of the world's redemption, For the weight that hung on thee! (Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle, LSB 454:4)



Media Files:
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Wednesday of the Fifth Week after Trinity

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 2:18-36; Acts 15:22-41

How is God's will done? God's will is done when he breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God's name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will. (Small Catechism: The Lord's Prayer, Third Petition)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Do you know God's will for your life? What does God want? What job should you work? What college should you go to? Whom should you ask to prom? Which classes are best for your future? Does God want you to spend your money on this or that? Many people when they talk about "God's will" assume that God is there to micro-manage their lives and they can't make a decision without wondering whether God approves or not.

You are in Christ! You are His child! All your sins are forgiven. Everything you do is sanctified and made holy by the blood of Jesus. You can't not do God's will! But the devil, the world, and your sinful nature will try to get you to go your own way. They don't want you to live like someone who bears the name of Christ. They don't want you to believe God's Word or live a holy life.

That's why we pray the Third Petition. We are asking that God's will be done. His will is that we are kept safe in Jesus. His will is that Jesus be your Savior. Jesus did His will! He never questioned what the Father wanted Him to do. He suffered as He was told and was obedient unto the cross and death to save sinners, to save you who are the target of the devil, the world, and your own sinful nature.

Because Christ kept the Father's will, and because you are baptized into Him, you keep God's will. And whenever you doubt that, cry out that God's will be done to know that He will protect you from such enemies.

And then, knowing that you are in Christ, go and take that job or date that girl or guy or pick those classes knowing that you are child of God and He loves you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Your gracious will on earth be done As it is done before Your throne, That patiently we may obey Throughout our lives all that You say. Curb flesh and blood and ev'ry ill That sets itself against Your will. (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above, LSB 766:4)



Media Files:
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Tuesday of the Fifth Week after Trinity

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 3:8-15

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 1:21-2:17; Galatians 6:1-18

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Peter says to be ready to give an apology for being a Christian. What? Say you're sorry for being a Christian? No way! No, not that kind of apology. The Greek word "apology" means "defense." It's the reason for the hope that is in us is that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead.

Notice Peter doesn't say to brag or be boastful or condescending or to look down on others as if you're smarter than they are because you're a Christian. In fact, that's the world's way of looking at you because it believes you are stupid for being a Christian and believing in Jesus when you've never seen Him.

What is your hope? That your sins are forgiven and that you will rise from the dead. Why do you have this hope? Because Jesus died and rose. You know this because it was testified to by His eyewitness apostles. It is logical and historically accurate, even aside from the Scriptural witness, to declare that His tomb was empty!

And having that hope that Jesus is risen from the dead as He said, your hope is certain because of His Word. Word and water in baptism. Word and Body and Blood in the Supper. Word preached and taught and declared in Holy Absolution.

Although the world likes to put on a brave face as if it has nothing to fear, it knows death is real and it fears death. But you, dear Christian, have a hope in Christ, a promise that is sure, that death has been defeated. You will rise again and live forever. Death is not the end. The world doesn't know this. But you do. And when the time comes to give those around you a reason for the hope that is in you, well, Jesus is it! Let them know in meekness and gentleness. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O Jesus Christ, my Lord, So meek in deed and word, You suffered death to save us Because Your love would have us Be heirs of heav'nly gladness When ends this life of sadness. (In God, My Faithful God, LSB 745:4)



Media Files:
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Monday of the Fifth Week after Trinity

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 19:11-21

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 1:1-20; Galatians 5:1-26

"Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." (1 Kings 19:18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes it can be discouraging to consider how few Christians there seem to be in the world. The world is filled with people who don't believe in Jesus or even those who outright hate Him. And even if it seems like there are a lot of Christians, they all believe different things, many the opposite of what you confess. It's pretty sad.

Elijah thought the same thing. In fact, he thought there were no people left who still believed in God's promises. The King was evil and his wicked wife, Jezebel, was hunting down the prophets of God. They supported false religion and Elijah was sure he was the last Christian around. But the Lord said that wasn't true. Not only were there 7,000 in Israel who had not forsaken the faith, the Lord was working things out so that His enemies were destroyed and His kingdom continued.

Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and rose again, defeating death. That was the promise that was made to Israel before He was born and it is the promise that we have believed since His resurrection and ascension. In every age and period of history, it has looked like the Church was done for, yet kingdoms have risen and fallen and still Christ's Church remains. Still the Lord causes the Good News of Jesus to be preached. Still people are baptized and rescued from sin and death. Still the Word is preached and sinners are comforted. There is always a church because the Lord won't let His people be wiped out. Ever.

It's impossible to believe that. That's why Jesus gives us "marks" or "signposts" to identify His Church: where Christ crucified and risen for sinners is preached; where Baptism washes away sins; where the Body and blood of Jesus are given to sinners to eat and drink. Where those gifts are given out, you can be certain that Jesus is there with His Church, promising that there is nothing in heaven or earth that can wipe out His people. And that includes you! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true; Preserve our faith our whole life through Your Word alone our heart's defense, The Church's glorious confidence. (Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide, LSB 585:6)



Media Files:
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The Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Luke 5:1-11

Daily Lectionary: Judges 16:4-30; Galatians 4:12-31

But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net." (Luke 5:5)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We want to think Peter is full of faith when he says they'll drop the nets because Jesus says so. More likely Peter is trying to be patient with the Lord since he's a fisherman and Jesus isn't and so why should He know anything about where to put the nets? This is born out by Peter's reaction when they caught all those fish as he drops to his knees and cries, "Lord, I am a sinful man!"

The Lord doesn't fool around with His Word. When He says something, He means it. When His Word declares something, it does it. When Jesus speaks, what He says is what happens. That's how God's Word works. Unbelief says, "No way. That can't be. That doesn't make sense. That's not how things work. You don't know anything, Jesus." Faith replies, "Yes, Lord, at your Word. If you say so. Because you say so."

How can Jesus be true God and man? Because He says so. How can a man nailed to a cross take away the sins of the world? How does that take away your sins? Because Jesus says so. How can Jesus be alive on Easter? Because He said He would. How can you rise from the dead? Because Jesus says you will.

How can water wash away your sins? Jesus institutes this gift with His Word. How can bread and wine be the Body and Blood of Jesus? Jesus says they are, and for the forgiveness of sins. How can your pastor say your sins are forgiven? Christ's Word commands Him to do so. Faith says, "Yes, Lord, at your Word, these things are true. And they're for me. Amen!" In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O God, who has prepared for those that love You such good things as pass man's understanding, pour into our hearts such love toward You that we, loving You above all things, may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; 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 5)



Media Files:
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Saturday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Judges 15:1-16:3; Galatians 3:23-4:11

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. (Psalm 27:14, from the Introit for Trinity 5)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There is one thing that even the most accomplished Christian has a tough time giving to the Holy Spirit: time. We are an impatient lot. When we want something, we want it five minutes ago. But all we need is just a little patience.

Patience is a virtue. That's not just a cliché; it's actually in the Bible. See Galatians 5:22 and Colossians 3:12, among others. Patience is not only expected, but required. But if you've ever tried to tell a small child to be patient for something that they're excited to do, you know that telling someone to be patient usually has the opposite effect. It makes them more restless.

The older you get, the more you start to get an understanding of time. When you're young, it takes for-ev-er for math class to end and recess to begin, but it's just a few minutes. When you get older, you start to see that a few months is a pretty short time to wait. And after you've lived a couple of decades, a few years isn't really that long. God is eternal, and so His perspective of time is quite different from ours.

So how can you develop patience? Only by taking Psalm 27:14 backward. First, God must act. In time. In His time. He will strengthen your heart when you most need it (not when you think you need it). When He works to take the mess you've made of your life and turn it into good, then He gives courage. If all the trials up to now have not destroyed you (and even if you die, death cannot destroy you, because Christ has destroyed the power of death), then you can take on just about anything, because you know that God will act. And that courage is courage to wait.

But even while you wait, God gives you little reminders of His action. The Invocation returns you to your Baptism and reminds you that Jesus is with you always, to the end of the age. The Supper is to remember and proclaim His death, which ends in life. So be patient--God will act. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
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Friday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Judges 14:1-20; Galatians 3:1-22

The righteous shall live by faith. (Galatians 3:11b)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The righteous shall live by faith. It's like the thesis statement of the Bible. But what does it mean to live by faith? How should you live in order to live by faith?

This question must be answered in two ways. First, before God, being righteous has nothing to do with your living and everything to do with your believing. To live by faith before God is to be entirely passive, entirely receptive. He is the Actor, the Giver, and the Doer. Faith is simply gift received. It is the same as our Father Abraham, who "believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).

Before God, righteousness has nothing to do with works. This means that you can do nothing to earn it. There is no special set of works, no sanctified worship, no characteristic you can develop that makes you right in God's eyes. The problem is that even your most stellar works, your best worship, and your most laudable characteristics are still dragged down by your sin. To claim righteousness by works is to declare yourself just, and then it becomes necessary to justify God for His displeasure over your good works.

The only righteousness that counts before God is a righteousness that is outside of yourself--the righteousness of God found in Jesus Christ. The righteous shall live by faith. It is only necessary to believe.

But before the world, the question is different. Faith matters nothing before the world. If your neighbor is hungry, your faith doesn't put food in his belly. Your righteousness before the world is all about how you live, it's all about works.

But the two kinds of righteousness are related in this way: the life of the faithful is derived from faith before God. The righteous shall live by faith. This means that when your relationship with God has been straightened out, your relationship with the world can't remain crooked. The righteous shall live by faith. Before God, entirely passive; before the world, active in love and all good works. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Faith clings to Jesus' cross alone And rests in Him unceasing; And by its fruits true faith is known, With love and joy increasing. For faith alone can justify; Works serve our neighbor and supply The proof that faith is living. (Salvation unto Us Has Come, LSB 555:9)



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Thursday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Romans 8:18-23

Daily Lectionary: Judges 13:1-25; Galatians 2:1-21

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Faith does not rescue you from suffering. To the contrary, faith comes through suffering, since our Lord reveals Himself most clearly in suffering and the cross. Just prior to this section of Romans 8, St. Paul writes, "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:17). We become heirs of God with Christ through suffering.

But that suffering has an end. It has a purpose. Suffering points us to glory. In this context, glory is the revelation of who we are in Christ. At the present time, all of the promises of the Gospel are hidden realities. Glory hidden under suffering, saint hidden under sinner. But soon what was hidden will be revealed.

"The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us." When you are in the midst of suffering, every pain, every wound is amplified. Time stretches so that you think your suffering will never end. But when it does end, you look back on it as a slight, momentary affliction--only a flash in your memory.

So it is with this present life in the world. It is a life of suffering. Faith doesn't rescue you from suffering. But faith in the promises of Christ sustain you in your suffering and propel you to its end.

What is the end, the goal of suffering? "We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Romans 8:23). "The redemption of our bodies" is Paul's way of saying the resurrection of the body. It is the new creation. Like a woman in labor, the sufferings of this life are the necessary pains of giving birth. But as a woman's labor ends in the appearance of a new life, so also the sufferings of this present time evaporate in the revelation of the resurrection. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Now in Christ, death cannot slay me, Though it might Day and night, Trouble and dismay me. Christ has made my death a portal From the strife Of this life To His joy immortal! (Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me, LSB 756:5)



Media Files:
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Wednesday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Judges 7:1-23; Galatians 1:1-24

God's kingdom comes when our heavenly Father give us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity. (Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Second Petition)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You can't find it on any map. It doesn't send a representative to the United Nations. There is no Olympic delegation in the Parade of Nations. Yet "the kingdom of God certainly comes without our prayer." God's kingdom is not a kingdom like the nations on earth. It is a spiritual kingdom

But to pray, "Thy kingdom come," implies that God's kingdom is not here by default. No matter what earthly kingdom or nation you are born in, you are born into the spiritual kingdom of the devil. By nature you are an enemy of God. This is the consequence of your sin.

But Satan's kingdom was rendered powerless when God Himself stormed the devil's kingdom in the flesh. He suffered every consequence of sin on the cross. He reconciled God and sinful man and put the enmity to death. God's kingdom does not come with majesty and fanfare because His kingdom is not of the world.

Because His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, it comes "when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit." Wherever the Spirit is being given out, there you can find God's kingdom. That means wherever His Word is preached and the Sacraments are distributed, there Jesus is reigning.

The coming of God's kingdom means two things. First, God's kingdom brings faith. Faith is citizenship in the heavenly city. Second, it produces a godly life--here in time, but also for eternity. God's kingdom is revealed here in time in the church, but when the King returns, His kingdom will be revealed for all to see. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Your kingdom come. Guard Your domain And Your eternal righteous reign. The Holy Ghost enrich our day With gifts attendant on our way.

Break Satan's pow'r, defeat his rage; Preserve Your Church from age to age. (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above, LSB 766:3)



Media Files:
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Tuesday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Romans 12:14-21

Daily Lectionary: Judges 6:25-40; Acts 15:6-21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The worst thing you can do to your enemy is love him. Sure, it feels good to get back at him, to trade blow for blow, to take your pound of flesh. But it doesn't accomplish much. Temporary satisfaction, at most.

The ethic of God's kingdom is so entirely different from the ethics of the world that it doesn't even deserve to be called an ethic. Is someone persecuting you? Bless them. Is someone rejoicing? Rejoice with them, and don't be jealous. Live peacefully, but don't think of yourself as too wise. Don't avenge yourself. Feed your enemy, and give him something to drink.

The ethics of the kingdom is utterly contrary to our nature and the world's expectations. In fact, it is impossible to achieve. We are wired only to answer good with good, and to try to overcome evil by evil. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours; you slap my face, I'll slap yours--and maybe add a punch to the gut. That's the way of the world.

But St. Paul teaches that such personal humility and non-aggression "will heap burning coals on his head" (Romans 12:20). Try it sometime. If you have an enemy, go out of your way to be kind and offer a sincere gift. Kindness and generosity are the worst poisons you can give to a toxic person.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good," writes St. Paul. "Take heart," Jesus says, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). There is no way achieve the ethic of God's kingdom other than for Jesus to have done it first. When He was insulted He didn't speak. When arguments were made against Him He didn't debate. When He was struck He did not fight back. He didn't take His pound of flesh, but gave it--and then some.

But by suffering insult and violence, He overcame the evil of the world. He did it so that you would not be overcome by evil, but that you would overcome evil with the greatest good--the cross of Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Lord, let me win my foes With kindly words and action, And let me find good friends For counsel and correction. Help me, as You have taught, To love both great and small And by Your Spirit's migh To live in peace with all. (O God, My Faithful God, LSB 696:4)



Media Files:
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Monday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

Daily Lectionary: Judges 6:1-24; Acts 14:19-15:4

But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:19-20)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Where does evil come from? If it comes from God, then God is not good. But if it does not, is He powerless to stop it? This question is why many people refuse to believe. It's a hard question.

In response to these questions, people come up with something known as a theodicy. A theodicy literally means, "a justification of God." They are attempts to explain evil and preserve God's goodness. But theodicies are never really sufficient in dealing with this problem, because they put us in the place of God as the ones who justify.

Joseph certainly saw evil in his life. His brothers despised him because he was the favored son. They conspired to murder him, but at the last moment they sold him into slavery. To cover their actions, they lied to their father that he was mauled by a wild beast. But in spite of this, Joseph rose to power in Egypt and prevented catastrophe by storing food in preparation for a famine.

Joseph had every opportunity to weave a theodicy. He could have said that God had to allow evil in order to cause something good. But Joseph is too good a theologian for that. He knows that a theodicy puts him in the place of God, and it makes God the cause of evil. But he says, "Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good."

The cause of evil is us. It is our sin. And the devil is behind it all. God allows evil to exist because He allows us to exist. But God causes only good. Even as we introduce evil, God works it for good. This is what St. Paul teaches so beautifully in Romans: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). This is the theology of the cross. It knows that what God does is always good, even when it comes through suffering and crosses. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

What God ordains is always good; His will is just and holy.As He directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly. My God indeed In ev'ry need Knows well how He will shield me; To Him, then, I will yield me. (What God Ordains Is Always Good, LSB 760:1)



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The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Luke 6:36-42

Daily Lectionary: Judges 4:1-24; Acts 14:1-18

Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38b)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Kolpos is a word that describes what you can do when you wear a long tunic with a belt around your waist. You can make a makeshift tote by blousing the skirts of the tunic over the belt or girdle to carry odds and ends. Presumably, one could carry more or less based on the size of his or her kolpos.

Now imagine a rich old lady in your neighborhood who develops a reputation for filling kids' Halloween sacks to the brim with candy, no matter how big or small. What kind of bag do you think the kids who wise up bring?

Jesus says, "Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your kolpos. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." If you only blouse a little of your tunic over your belt, you'll only be able to carry a few things. If you come to the rich old lady's house with a coin purse, you'll only get a few Tootsie Rolls. But once you wise up...

The picture Jesus paints for us is that you ought not to consider yourself a middling sinner with insignificant sins who only needs a small portion of forgiveness. Rather, boldly confess that there never has been, and probably will never be, a sinner worse than you. You need all the forgiveness you can get. Start with a good measure, press it down, shake it together, fill it to the top, and then fill it some more. That's the way of the Gospel.

In the Smalcald Articles, we confess, "We will now return to the Gospel, which does not give us counsel and aid against sin in only one way. God is superabundantly generous in His grace" (SA III.IV). The superabundant gifts of God are found in the Word, Baptism, Absolution, Supper, and mutual forgiveness. God gives and gives until He can't give any more, and then He gives some more. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O Lord, grant that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by Your governance that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Trinity 4)



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Saturday of the Third Week after Trinity

Sat, 08 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Judges 3:7-31; Acts 13:42-52

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; he shall set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:405 from the Introit for Trinity 4)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We are creatures of desire. Most of our day-to-day activities are carried out somewhat short of conscious decision making. Think about how you brushed your teeth this morning. You really didn't weigh the pros and cons of the activity, and you certainly didn't sit down to plan the best and most effective way to brush. It's a habit. You just did it without really thinking about it.

Habits are oriented and formed by our desires. In order to turn teeth-brushing into a habit, you have to desire clean and healthy teeth and a nice smile. Your habits move you toward a desired goal. The only problem is that sin has corrupted our desires, and disoriented them towards goals that are not good. Sin has oriented our desires toward destruction.

Even after coming to knowledge of Christ and the Gospel, the desires of the flesh still present a force to be reckoned with. This is St. Paul's concern when he writes, "So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (Romans 7:25). I know what I should be doing, but my desires are still disoriented by sin in the flesh.

So is it just a matter of practicing good habits? It is a matter of studying some virtues and willing yourself to do them? No, because it doesn't address the root of the desire problem.

"One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; he shall set me high upon a rock." This new desire expressed by the Psalmist is not a product of a new habit, or the will, or a set of virtues. It's the place where sins are forgiven. It's where the root of the desire problem is addressed. It's the place where you develop a baptismal habit--daily confession and forgiveness. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Grant me the strength to do With ready heart and willing Whatever You command, My calling here fulfilling; That I do what I should While trusting You to bless The outcome for my good, For You must give success. (O God, My Faithful God, LSB 696:2)



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Friday of the Third Week after Trinity

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Daily Lectionary: Judges 2:6-23; Acts 13:13-41

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Present tense. I am. Right now. I am the foremost of sinners. But didn't St. Paul just write that he was formerly a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent (v 13)? He had given up those vices by a miraculous conversion, and had become the opposite--a confessor, a missionary, and one of Christ's greatest allies. Yet he says immediately, "I am the foremost sinner."

Just because you've managed to overcome some vices doesn't mean that you've overcome your sin. This is St. Paul's point, and why he puts himself forth as an example (v 16). His biography reveals him to be one of the most notorious sinners to ever cross the path of the Christian Church. Certainly, Paul attributes his crimes to the ignorance of unbelief, but he doesn't use that as an excuse or a plea for innocence.

Rather, he admits that the same sin that gave rise to his blasphemy and persecution in the ignorance of his unbelief still resides in him. His conversion has tempered his civil actions, but it did not annihilate his sin. That only happens when the flesh is laid in the grave.

"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Paul's personal example shows that even the worst sinners have access to salvation, and that even after conversion we remain sinners in need of Christ Jesus and His salvation.

Because of this great mercy shown to sinners, all that's left to say is, "To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (v 17). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O my Savior, help afford By Your Spirit and Your Word! When my wayward heart would stray, Keep me in the narrow way; Grace in time of need supply While I live and when I die. (Chief of Sinners Though I Be, LSB 611:5)



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Thursday of the Third Week after Trinity

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Luke 15:11-32

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 24:1-31; Acts 13:1-12

"For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:24)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is a parable of two prodigals. The first is the younger son, who demands his inheritance and takes off to waste it in extravagant living. The second is the father, who before his rebellious son can even utter a word, has received him back into the family and plans an extravagant welcome-home feast.

Prodigal simply means extravagant. In a negative sense it can be wasteful or reckless, but in a positive sense it can be lavish or abundant. The difference is between being inwardly prodigal and outwardly prodigal. The son was extravagant toward himself; the father was extravagant toward his son.

But we get these two mixed up all the time. The parable presents a reckless younger son who squanders all his property living a hedonistic lifestyle to heighten the contrast. But if you turn down the volume just a bit, you end up with a typical American consumer. We're more like the younger son than we'd like to think.

But when confronted with the father's extravagance toward his son, we say, "Whoa! Hold it!" This guy deserves a lesson. Better to withhold all but the bare minimum. He can't be trusted. But the father has none of it. The son is received as a prince and set at the best feast the house has ever seen.

Similarly, when we see a notorious sinner received as a prince, we say "Whoa! Hold it!" Give him the bare minimum and let him live in the consequences of his sin. But the irony is that the sacrifice has already been made, the Lamb has been slain, and to refuse the feast in its full extravagance to a repentant son would turn the Father's prodigal grace into a prodigal waste.

So we look on with the third character, the faithful son who has always been in the Father's house. We, like him, are left at a point of decision. Is the Father's compassion and the sacrifice of Christ a reward for sin, or is it the restoration of sinners to the household of God? If it is the latter, then we also, who are part of the household, are invited to the same table as reckless sinners and feast on the Lamb who was slain for sinners. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for Your prodigal grace, and for receiving us sinners as sons; through Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain. Amen.



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Wednesday of the Third Week after Trinity

Wed, 05 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 23:1-16; Acts 12:1-25

God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! (Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, First Petition)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. That Name is holy by itself. Jesus doesn't need our prayers to make it holy. But that He provides this petition for us to pray implies that His Name can be profaned.

To be holy is to be set apart, unique. To be profane is to be common--not necessarily bad, just common. The Name of God is a holy Name because, unlike other names, God's Name is more than a mere identifier. God's Name is what stands behind God's Word. Anytime His Word is taught, His Name is on the line. And when that Word is taught rightly, His Name is kept holy.

God's Name also has a special place in life, too. It is the Name that turns Baptism from plain water to a lavish washing away of sin. The Name of God is in the water, and everyone washed with that water receives the Name. You are marked as His own. And so His Name also stands behind you. When you do or say something as a Christian, it's also Christ's Name on the line.

Left to our own devices, we would treat God's Name with more profanity than a drunken sailor. There is no power in us to do what God expects us to do in the Second Commandment, that is, to use His Name rightly. That's why He gives us this petition to pray.

The only way that God's Name can be used rightly, the only way it is kept holy, is if God is the One who accomplishes it. "Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven!" This is what is so unique, so holy about God's Name--whenever you call upon it, it accomplishes every promise attached to it! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Your name be hallowed. Help us, Lord, In purity to keep Your Word,

That to the glory of Your name We walk before You free from blame.

Let no false teaching us pervert; All poor deluded souls convert. (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above, LSB 766:2)



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Tuesday of the Third Week after Trinity

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 5:6-11

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 10:1-25; Acts 11:19-30

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When you're in the middle of suffering it seems like time grinds to a halt. A moment can turn into an eternity. But when the suffering has subsided, when you look back on it, you find it was really only a brief moment.

For this reason, when people suffer you'll often hear platitudes like, "This, too, shall pass," which sounds like it's from the Bible, but it's not. The idea is that you should ignore your suffering and look forward to the relief that's to come. But sometimes you wait for relief that never comes. Sure, suffering will nearly always diminish with time, but the big hurts never go away entirely. Ten years after surgery, you still feel pain--and probably will for the rest of your life. Emotional trauma from years ago sticks with you and keeps you awake at night as everyone else continues with their happy lives. This, too, may pass, but it shall not pass completely.

St. Peter writes that suffering is the work of the devil, who prowls around looking for someone to devour. But the answer to suffering isn't a platitude. "Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" (v 9). There is a spiritual component to suffering--it's one of the devil's tactics to drive you from the faith. "If God lets you suffer, He must not love you," suggests the devil.

But the entire history of the faith is a history of sufferers. Every brother and sister in the faith throughout time has suffered in life. Yet each hurt, each scar, each temptation only serves to point us to our big Brother, Jesus Christ, the One who suffered to the point of death on a cross. But on the third day from His suffering, He became the Firstborn of many brothers when He rose from His grave.

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." The promise of relief from suffering isn't that it will pass, but that it will drive you to the grave with Christ so that you can rise with Him. The promise you have is the promise of resurrection. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Heavenly Father, grant me endurance to suffer for this little while, and when Your Son returns, let me partake of His eternal glory. Amen.



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Monday of the Third Week after Trinity

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Micah 7:18-20

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 8:1-28; Acts 11:1-18

He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. (Micah 7:18b)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Doesn't it feel good to be mad? If someone wrongs you (even if it's a petty thing) there's nothing more satisfying than stewing on it and thinking about all the things you could have or should have done to get even. Maybe you actually did one of them. Best feeling in the world, right?

While in the midst of anger it feels so good to be mad, once it subsides you generally will realize how foolish it was to be angry. Rarely will it accomplish anything for you, and never will it accomplish something good for the one you're angry with.

So God forbids anger and everything that grows from it. Jesus teaches that anger is wrapped up in the Fifth Commandment, and that if you're angry, you've already committed murder (Matthew 5:21-22). Yet here the Prophet Micah says that God is angry. Does that mean that God sins?

The anger of God is entirely different than human anger. For one thing, our anger is always self-serving, while God's anger is just and serves another. Yet even His just anger is not proper to who He is, and His anger will give way to something better.

"He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love." This is simply a restatement of the summary of the Ten Commandments. "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:5-6).

God's wrath and anger are indeed severe--lasting to great-grandchildren. But the love of God is so much greater--a thousand generations! The world has not yet seen a thousand generations, which is to say that His love endures forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

All glory to our Lord and God For love so deep, so high, so broad;

The Trinity whom we adore Forever and forevermore. (O Love, How Deep, LSB 544:7)



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The Visitation

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Luke 1:39-56

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 7:1-26; Acts 10:34-48

And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:43)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The visitation of Mary is the visitation of the Lord. When Mary walks into the room, the first to notice it was the infant John, himself still in his mother's womb. And Elizabeth gives voice to the joy of the prenatal prophet: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:42-43)

There is a Christological homily embedded in Elizabeth's greeting. What Mary bears is no run-of-the-mill child. This is the mother of her Lord, which is to say Mary is the mother of God. In the ancient Church (and in the Lutheran Confessions), Mary is called Theotokos: "God-bearer" or "Mother of God." This name has a little to say about Mary, but it has everything to say about Jesus.

This is to say that even in the womb, indeed from the time of His conception, the fullness of the deity dwelt bodily in Jesus. And to call Him the fruit of Mary's womb is the equivalent of calling Him the Seed of the woman. The promise from the beginning is now fulfilled.

Mary is surely blessed among women to have this honor. She is the only mother of God, but she is not the only God-bearer. Another John, the one whom Jesus loved, writes, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God" (1 John 4:15). By Elizabeth's confession, she also became a bearer of God. By your confession, you become a bearer of God.

So Mary's song is also Elizabeth's song. "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46-47). And it is also your song. Every evening in prayer, the Church raises this song once again to remember the Mother of God, but, more importantly, to confess that the Son she bore is the Son of God. And by that confession, the Son of God also dwells in and among us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your Son and made known through her Your gracious regard for the poor and lowly and despised. Grant that we may receive Your Word in humility and faith, and so be made one with Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen. (Collect for The Visitation)



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Saturday of the Second Week after Trinity

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 6:6-27; Acts 10:18-33

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:16, 18 from the Introit for Trinity 3)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There's nothing much worse than when a friend turns her back on you. Someone you used to trust, someone who you could count on at one time now won't have anything to do with you. Maybe even quite literally turns around and goes the other way when she sees you coming down the hall.

If it stings when a friend turns her back on you, what about God? Even the first, great prophet Moses, the one who spoke directly to God, still was only privileged to see Him from the back. This isn't because God is the unfaithful One, but because we are unfaithful. He hides His face and His glory because, "Man shall not see me and live" (Ex. 33:20b).

This psalm collects the prayer of all who would see God: "Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me." I'm alone! I'm suffering! Look at my pain! But there's the distinct possibility that when God turns His face, it won't be a kind, compassionate smile, but a fierce, wrathful scowl.

"Turn Yourself to me...and forgive all my sins." God turns to us and faces us not in His glory, not in His wrath, but in Christ. He is the One who receives sinners and eats with them. He looks us in the face and we see the face of God--kind, gentle, forgiving. He sees our pain, joins us in our suffering, and will never leave us nor forsake us. He makes Himself a friend who will never turn His back on us.

In this way, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Benediction. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace." Every time the divine liturgy concludes, God turns to look upon us as forgiven sinners. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O God, the Protector of all that trust in You, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, increase and multiply upon us Your mercy that, You being our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal; 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 3)



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Friday of the Second Week after Trinity

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Ephesians 2:13-22

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 5:1-6:5; Acts 10:1-17

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "But now in Christ Jesus." It's the refrain of St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians. In Christ. In Him. This qualifier implies that it is possible to be not in Christ--to be outside of Him. In fact, that is the default position of humanity. Anyone who is now in Christ Jesus, Paul writes, was once far off.

But what does it mean to be far off? You could say that the remote control is far off if it's on the other side of the living room, but in reality you're probably just being lazy. You could say that someone sitting in the stands on the other side of a football stadium is far off, but at halftime you have a somewhat decent chance of bumping into him in the concession line. Far off would better describe a friend who moves from Chicago to San Diego; she lives far off. You have to be intentional about visiting her.

But the distance that separates God and man is nothing like these. The opposite ends of an infinitely long line would not adequately describe what it means to be "far off" with respect to God, because what separates God and man is not space or even time. It's a distance of existence. We are born and live in sin, in rebellion, in a completely different universe. Even if God stood right in front of our noses, we would not be close to Him.

There has to be serious intention to bridge this gap. Unfortunately, we do not possess the power to traverse universes. The intention has to be the other way. And God did it by blood. Christ Jesus, the Son of God, became flesh and blood in order to enter our existence, to bear our sin. And the blood He shed on account of that sin is what brings us nearer than any ruler can measure.

You have been brought near by the blood of Christ. It is your bath; it is your drink. He covers you with it like a robe. In Christ. You can get no closer to God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness My beauty are, my glorious dress; Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head. (Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness, LSB 563:1)



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St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Galatians 2:1-10

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 4:1-24; Acts 9:23-43

For he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentile. (Galatians 2:8)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Office of the Ministry is not the work of any one individual. It's not Peter's ministry, or Paul's ministry. Neither does the ministry belong to any one pastor today.

But human nature is always fighting against this notion. Every minister who's ever worked in the ministry is always looking for ways to put a personal touch or an individual touch on his work. And so ministries multiply like rabbits. Everything that even touches the Church or the Christian faith gets repackaged into a ministry. The idea is that, by diversifying "ministry," we can reach a more diverse crowd.

But notice that Peter does not conduct a "circumcised ministry," and Paul does not conduct a "Gentile ministry." No, the ministry is the same for both Peter and Paul. It's an apostolic ministry--Peter to the circumcised (the Jews), and Paul to the Gentiles.

To say that the ministry is apostolic means that both Peter and Paul were sent by another (apostle means "one who is sent"). And that's what Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians. The same person who sent Peter to the Jews also sent Paul to the Gentiles, and because of this, it's the same person who is doing the work, whether through Peter or Paul. That person is Jesus Christ. He is the one who ministers; the Office of the Ministry is Christ's Office. It is Christ's work. This doesn't mean that we should denigrate or avoid all the other "ministries" that Christians offer. Many of them provide good and beneficial services. But we must always distinguish those services from the Divine Service of Jesus Christ, which is offered through His called and sent ministers.

So, let us give thanks for Peter and Paul and for their respective ministries, and let us give thanks to Him who worked in Peter's ministry and in Paul's and still works in your pastor's ministry to deliver to you the forgiveness of sins. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles)



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Wednesday of the Second Week after Trinity

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Daily Lectionary: Joshua 3:1-17; Acts 9:1-22

With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father (Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Introduction).

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The First Commandment requires us to have no other gods. That means to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. But which god is God? One of the God problems is that He's God and we're not. He is inaccessible, ineffable, transcendent. Everything we are not, He is. And more. How can the finite approach the infinite?

Any attempts to grab hold of God by our own reason, our own language, our own preparations will ultimately spiral out of control into a big, fat question mark. Who is God? In order to know which God not to have any other gods before, we need God to come to us, to stoop down among us, to reveal Himself to us. The initiative is His. Any god that we try to approach will end up a false god. The only true God is the One who comes to us.

But a funny thing happens when God comes to us. He comes as a Son--the firstborn Son of Mary, and the only-begotten Son of God. God reveals Himself in His Son. But to be a Son implies there is a Father. It's interesting that in the Old Testament, God is rarely called "Father." But in the New Testament, it's all over the place.

The Son of God makes God known as a Father. He gives us access to the inaccessible, He names the ineffable, He domesticates the transcendent, all with one word: Father.

But it's not just His Father. His own prayer begins "Our Father" (Matthew 6:9). His Father, your Father, my Father. These words are a tender invitation not only to see God as our Father, but to see ourselves as His true children--and Christ as our true Brother. And in this way, He invites us to pester Him like a kid. So pray with boldness and confidence! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Our Father, who from heav'n above Bids all of us to live in love As members of one family And pray to You in unity, Teach us no thoughtless words to say But from our inmost hearts to pray. (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above, LSB 766:1)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-06-28.mp3