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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: Tue, 25 Apr 2017 22:29:43 -0400

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



St. Mark, Evangelist

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: 2 Timothy 4:5-18

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 23:14-33; Luke 4:31-44

Luke alone is with me. Bring Mark along with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If seeing isn't believing, but hearing is, then how are we going to hear, and what are we supposed to hear? Well, don't worry. Jesus takes care of all of that for you.

We already heard how Jesus sends your pastor, but way before that, He had His Twelve. He chose them, called them, and sent them with His gifts: Word, water, Body and Blood. These Twelve also appointed other men in various places. Sometimes they continued to work closely with Apostles. This was the case for Luke. He worked with Paul and wrote his Gospel and Acts. Mark also worked with Paul, and with Peter. All the while they continued with same gifts of Jesus: Word, water, Body and Blood.

Mark was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down this Word in the Gospel that bears his name. He wrote that Jesus truly died and really rose (Mark 15:45, 16:1-8). He wrote that Jesus delivers His Body and Blood in the Supper (Mark 14:22-24). He wrote that "whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16).

Mark wasn't just useful to Paul for ministry--he's useful to you, too! Jesus used Mark to write "the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). From his Gospel you hear how quickly Jesus went to Calvary for you, how He died for you, how He rose from the dead for you, and how He delivers His forgiveness, life, and salvation to you in His Body and Blood and in the waters of Holy Baptism. That's all Jesus for you, and we know that from the pen of Mark, the Evangelist of Jesus. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for St. Mark's Day)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-25.mp3




Monday of the Second Week of Easter

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 22:20-23:13; Luke 4:16-30

Thus says the Lord Yahweh, "Look, I am the Opener of your graves, and I will cause you to come up from your grave, O My people. Then I will bring you into the land of Israel." (Ezekiel 37:12)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Death won't win. It can't win. It must be destroyed. The grave isn't the end. It can't be. It won't be. Your body's last journey isn't funeral home, church, ground. It just won't be. It can't be. Not if Jesus has anything to say about it and don't worry, He does!

It's true. Someday you're going to die. Your heart will run out of beats. One day you will breathe your last. They'll have a funeral for you, and your body will be locked up in a casket and buried beneath six feet of cold, dark dirt. That's reality, that's the truth, but that's not the whole truth.

Yes, even though your body will breathe its last, even though it will be buried in a grave and turn to dust, the whole truth is that Jesus will reform your body from the dust, just as He did first with Adam. He will open your grave, He will breathe life--eternal life--into you, and He will bring you out of your grave to live forever.

That is your sure and certain future. You can trust that it will happen. Jesus will do it. He's already done it! He was dead--stone-cold dead--buried in a stone-sealed stone tomb. Then He was alive again, and an angel opened His grave to show He was already alive. Now He's alive forevermore.

He's already done the same for you. He's made you pass through His death and grave--His watery grave and resurrection of your Baptism into Him. In Jesus you've already died and risen. You'll die with Him, and you'll rise with Him on the Last Day, too. It's already happened. He's done it Himself and done and delivered it for you.

That's your story! Death won't win. Yes, you may die, but you won't stay dead. Your body will be raised up. Jesus rose, and it's His baptismal promise to you. He will keep it, and you'll be in His promised Paradise forever. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

And so to earth we now entrust What came from dust and turns to dust And from the dust shall rise that day In glorious triumph o'er decay. (The Body in the Grave We Lay, LSB 759:2)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-24.mp3




The Second Sunday of Easter

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Today's Reading: John 20:19-31

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 20:1-24; Luke 4:1-15

Jesus said, "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven...Blessed are those who did not see and yet believed." (John 20:23, 29)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When we look at unbelieving Thomas, we might begin to think that "seeing is believing." We think that if we only saw what He saw, we'd believe more strongly. But that's simply not the case. It's a lie of our Old Adam, who uses his eyes more than his ears. For our Old Adam only seeing is believing.

That's how it was in the Garden. Eve was deceived by her eyes, so her heart turned from Yahweh and His Word. Then she gave to Adam, and his ears and heart were turned, too.

The truth is lots of people saw Jesus' miracles. They couldn't be denied! He healed the sick. He fed thousands. He cast out demons. He raised the dead. He was doing things only God could do. The chief priests, the teachers of the Law, the Pharisees, and even Judas Iscariot himself saw these things. They didn't just not believe, they wanted Jesus dead, and Judas betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver.

Thomas didn't believe what He heard: "Jesus is alive!" Dead people stay dead. Thomas heard what Jesus said, "Be not unbelieving but believing!" Jesus' Word did what He said! Thomas believed! He went from unbelief to faith, from death to life, from "seeing is believing" to "hearing is believing."

So also you. If you want stronger faith, your eyes won't do the trick. Jesus even said so, "Blessed are those who did not see and yet believed." That's you. You believe what you hear from Jesus by listening to what you hear from your pastor. Your pastor is there to forgive your sins. You hear him say it: "By the command of our Lord Jesus, I forgive you all your sins." That Word does what it says, and your sins are forgiven. Then you, like Thomas, move from death to life, from sin to forgiveness, from guilt to peace, from unbelief to faith.

It's all from Jesus. He died. He rose. You hear His voice, and He sounds like your pastor. That's just the way Jesus wants it. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Almighty and merciful God, as You have brought us to celebrate the festival of the Lord's resurrection, cause us by Your grace to bring forth the fruits thereof in our life and conduct; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Quasimodo Geniti)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-23.mp3




Saturday of Easter

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

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 19:1-25; Hebrews 13:1-21

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. With honey from the rock I would have satisfied you. (Psalm 81:10,16, from the Introit for Easter 2)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Lord has brought you out of Egypt. Pharaoh can't touch you anymore. The Lord rescued you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. He made you pass through the Red Sea waters. He drowned Pharaoh's army, too. Slavery's in the rearview mirror. He gave you to drink from the Rock and to eat of Manna. He's brought you into a good land, flowing with milk and honey.

That's what tomorrow is all about. Israel's story is your story. Your story is theirs. The Israelite's faith is the same faith you have, and vice versa. It's all a matter of perspective. They had faith in the Christ who was to come, and you have faith in the Christ who has come and will come again.

That's Jesus. He gathers His people, all people, to Himself. He dies for them. He rises for them. His Good Friday and Easter saves them. He gathers them around Himself. He draws them to His gifts. He appears in their midst to give them His peace and salvation. That's what tomorrow is all about!

The Lord has brought you out of the domain of darkness. The devil can't accuse you anymore. The Lord rescued you with a not-so-mighty-looking hand--arms outstretched on the cross. He, the eternal First Born, died and rose, becoming the firstborn of all the living. He made you pass through the waters of Holy Baptism. He drowned your Old Adam, the devil, and death, too! Your eternal condemnation is in the rearview mirror. He's given you to eat and drink of the true Rock and Bread--Himself. Jesus feeds you with His Body and Blood to strengthen and keep you, body and soul, unto life everlasting. He will bring you to that life, which isn't a land flowing with milk and honey but the eternal place of God's presence, where you will live forever with Christ, your Savior and Redeemer. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Praise we Him whose love divine Gives His sacred blood for wine, Gives His body for the feast--Christ the victim, Christ the priest. Alleluia! (At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing, LSB 633:2)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-22.mp3




Friday of Easter Week

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

Today's Reading: Daniel 3:8-28

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 18:5-27; Hebrews 12:1-24

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "If this happens, our God whom we serve can deliver us from the burning furnace of fire, but He will deliver us from your hand." (Daniel 3:16a,17)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Will the Lord save you from a car wreck or from cancer? Will He save your youth group member from the drunk driver? Will He save your dad from a heart attack, your grandma from her COPD? He certainly can. He might even do that, or He might not--in this life. But He certainly will and already has taken care of all that for the life to come.

That's what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew about Yahweh. They were His. He'd made them part of His people, and He'd promised never to leave or forsake them. Sure, He could rescue them from the furnace or not. But they knew, that is, they believed and trusted, that no matter what happened they would be delivered from the King.

You can have the same faith, hope, and confidence in the face of certain death that those men had because "Yahweh who saves" (that's Jesus) already passed through death and left His grave empty.

No cancer, car accident, or heart attack can overcome Jesus' cross and empty tomb, and those things can't really overcome you, either, because you've been baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection. Death for you, whether it's from an accident or old age, is just a nap, and it's one the Lord Jesus will surely wake your body from on the Last Day.

When Jesus does that, and He certainly will, then it will be just like it was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. "The fire had no power on their bodies; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them" (Daniel 3:27 NKJV). Your body will be resurrected from the dead. Your body won't smell of death. You'll be raised to a life of eternal perfection.

That's the promise you have in Holy Baptism. Your Baptism "rescues you from death" (Small Catechism). And if that promise weren't enough, then Jesus also says, "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the Last Day" (John 6:54). Those are Jesus' promises, and besides, He's already died and risen for you. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! 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 594:3)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-21.mp3




Thursday of Easter Week

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

Today's Reading: Colossians 3:1-7

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 17:1-16; Hebrews 11:1-29

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You have died. You've been raised. That's who you are. You're baptized. That's how you were killed and made alive in Christ. "The water your Baptism day Restored again whatever Old Adam and his sin destroyed And all our sinful selves employed According to our nature." (LSB 596:3) You are 100% alive in Christ.

Yes, "you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Did you catch that? Your resurrected life is "hidden." It's hidden because, while you are 100% alive in Christ, that's only part of the story. Yes, your Old Adam was drowned in Baptism, but in this life he still hangs around your neck. He keeps coming back like a bad penny. You are 100% dead in Adam.

Adam works all sorts of things: "sexual immorality, uncleanness, passion, evil lust, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). We're surrounded by all this in the world. Our flesh, our old frat boy, Adam, loves to do all those things and more!

But he's been put to death. Why live in such things at all? You truly have died, and your life is in Christ. It is! How can it not be? He was dead. Now He lives forever and ever. So do you, in Him. You've died and have been raised in Holy Baptism. That's who you are before your heavenly Father: His baptized child.

In this life you are 100% saint in Christ, but still 100% sinner. You've died. You've been raised. One day, your Last Day, when you breathe your last, it will be the last breath for your Old Adam. He will die and never come back, but you will. Your body will be raised. Christ will do it. You'll be raised up 100% "to live before God in righteousness and purity forever, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity," and that's a story that goes on forever. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O fill us Lord, with dauntless love; Set heart and will on things above That we conquer through Your triumph; Grant grace sufficient for life's day That by our lives we truly say: "Christ has triumphed! He is living!" Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! (Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds, LSB 465:3)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-20.mp3




Wednesday of Easter Week

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

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 16:13-35; Hebrews 10:19-39

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. (Small Catechism: Second Commandment)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You have the Lord's Name. He gave it to you and saved you with it. You bear the Name of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) on your forehead. It was splashed over you when you were baptized into His Name.

He's given you His Name to use. We get to call upon Him in every trouble! What a gift! Whenever you're in need you have a heavenly Father who's waiting to hear you, you have a Brother, Jesus Christ your Lord, who's your Advocate (your Go-Between) with the Father, and you have the Holy Spirit who also prays for you and is within you.

His Name isn't yours to use as a profanity when you stub your toe, nor to damn your neighbor, or anything else for that matter! He's revealed His Name and given it to us so that we can praise Him for His saving us by His Name in Baptism. We can now give Him thanks for all His bountiful goodness.

His Name was denied. His Name was mocked. His Name was denounced and rejected. His Name was slandered. His Name became His own death sentence: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

All of this was for our misusing the gift of His Name. He willingly took that. He bled and died for it. He set us free from such useless name calling. His empty tomb is freedom from sin and death.

Into this you're baptized. You've been crucified and raised. This is what God's Name does for you. You're set free to use His Name: to "call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks." That's why He gave it to you, saved you with it. You bear the Name of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) on your forehead. It's yours now and forever. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Awake, my heart, with gladness, See what today is done; Now, after gloom and sadness, Comes forth the glorious sun. My Savior there was laid Where our bed must be made When to the realms of light Our spirit wings its flight. (Awake, My Heart, with Gladness, LSB 467:1)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-19.mp3




Tuesday of Easter

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

Today's Reading: Acts 13:26-33

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 15:19-16:12; Hebrews 10:1-18

We are certainly preaching the Gospel to you, the promise made to the Fathers, because God has fulfilled this promise for us their children, when He resurrected Jesus. (Acts 13:32-33)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Scriptures had to be fulfilled--not only because God's Word endures forever: always true, never wrong--but also more importantly, the Scriptures are fulfilled because the Lord made promises, and the Lord always keeps His promises. That's really what the Word is anyway--a record of the Lord's promises.

The promises were made to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to David--in fact, to all God's people. He promised to send a Seed who would crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15), a Seed in whom all peoples would be blessed (Genesis 12:3), a Seed who would always sit on the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:11).

Jesus is the "Yes" and "Amen" to all these promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). The Lord kept His promises, but it still catches us off guard. It's somewhat unexpected--the promised Seed dies. He dies to ransom us from sin, death, devil, and hell. God dies according to His Word and promise. He saves us, who make promises so quickly and break them so easily.

Not so the Lord! He keeps His promises, and we see this most clearly in the empty tomb. When the Father resurrected Jesus, it was the culmination of all His promises. He raised His Son from the dead. The only promise left is to raise you from the dead. It will happen--it's empty-tomb proven.

The Lord makes promises to save. Not only is the He quick to make these promises, but He always keeps them, too! He's saved you. Jesus died and rose. He delivers it--water, the Word, Body and Blood. You'll be resurrected, too! That's a promise. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad, The passover of gladness, The passover of God. From death to life eternal, From sin's dominion free, Our Christ has brought us over With hymns of victory. (The Day of Resurrection, LSB 478:1)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-18.mp3




Monday of Easter

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

Today's Reading: Job 19:23-27

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 15:1-18; Hebrew 9:1-28

I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. (Job 19:21-23 NKJV)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Job saw it. He rejoiced to see that day, the day of Jesus' resurrection. By faith Job trusted in His yet-to-arrive Redeemer, but he knew by faith that His day would come. But not just that day--he rejoiced to see the Last Day. Job trusted what would happen on that Day: he'd rise from the dead.

Job knew death and suffering. He didn't just have to deal with a cold like we all do. No, all his children died, all his wealth was taken away, and he had boils and was suffering. He had nothing--not even his health! His wife's only advice: "Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9)

He would die. He knew he would. You'll die, too. You know that, too, don't you? It could be from a storm, someone could kill you, there could be an accident, or maybe it'll be cancer, a heart attack, or just old age. But whatever the cause, the fact remains: one day you will breathe your last. What then? Are you just worm food, destined to rot away and become dust? Is that coffin in a truly your final resting place?

Far from it! What Job saw by faith distantly in the horizon, we see by faith in the rearview mirror: Jesus' death and resurrection. The Lord-who-saves isn't unacquainted with death. He died. He breathed His last. On that day, His heart ran out of beats. Then three days later, He came back to life. He was dead, and now He's not dead anymore! He will never die again.

You, too! Oh, your heart may stop beating one day, but you're in Jesus--baptized into Him. You've already died and risen! His death and resurrection are already yours, and so on the Last Day your dead body won't be dead anymore, your flesh won't be dust anymore, and you will, once again, be filled with breath and life--not just for a little bit but forever.

Job died. You will die. Jesus died and then came back to life. You will, too! Job will, too! Your Redeemer lives, and you'll live forever with Him. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen

I know that my Redeemer lives; What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives, my everliving head. (I Know that My Redeemer Lives, LSB 461:1)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-17.mp3




The Resurrection of our Lord

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

Today's Reading: Mark 16:1-8

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 14:10-31; Hebrews 7:23-8:13

He said to them, "Do not be amazed! You're seeking Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He was raised; He's not here. Look, the place where they laid Him!" (Mark 16:6)

He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. He was dead--stone-cold dead. They saw Him die. The Roman equivalent of a death certificate had been signed: "And when Pilate found out from the centurion, he gave the corpse to Joseph" (Mark 15:45). Both Marys saw exactly where Joseph laid their dear friend and teacher's body.

They weren't confused. They didn't land themselves, lost in grief, at the wrong grave. They knew precisely where they were going. They led Salome there. But what were they to do? "Who will roll away the stone for us?" (Mark 16:3) "It was really large" (Mark 16:4).

But the "sun was rising" (Mark 16:2) to reveal that the Son had already risen! The stone-cold tomb wasn't locked up tightly at all! The stone was rolled away (Mark 16:4). There was an angelic messenger, in white robes, who said, "He was raised. He's not here" (Mark 16:5-6).

The eyewitness testimony of that messenger and those women is the foundation of our Christian faith, and that message is the source of our joy and happiness today, and this joy, this Easter joy, is unending--lasting forever! The song of praise never dies because Christ is alive! We live, too! He's not dead anymore. One day we won't be, either! The angel pointed those women to the spot where Jesus was laid, and it was empty-no body! That'll be your grave, too!

Jesus doesn't want this message, this Gospel, to remain silent. He wanted those women to know, so He sent the angel. He wanted His disciples to know, so the women were to tell them. He wants you to know, too, and so He's sent you His messenger, your pastor, to tell you the same thing: "Jesus was dead but not anymore! He did it for you."

You've been baptized into His death and resurrection. Now you are clothed in white robes, too! You're clothed with Jesus--His payment for sins and His resurrection. You will die, but you'll live, soul and body, because you're clothed with Jesus, and He's alive now and forever. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

'Tis the spring of souls today: Christ hath burst His prison, And from three days' sleep in death As a sun has risen; All the winter of our sins, Long and dark, is flying From His light, to whom is giv'n Laud and praise undying. (Come,You Faithful, Raise the Strain, LSB 487:2)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-16.mp3




Holy Saturday

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

Today's Reading: Matthew 27:57-66

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 13:17-14:9; Hebrews 7:1-22

"The next day, which is after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, 'Sir, we remember how that deceiver while He was still alive, 'After three days.'" (Matthew 27:63)

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus said He would suffer and die. He said He would rise. Now, they will do anything to keep Jesus dead.

For if Jesus rises from the dead then everything that He ever said is true. If Jesus rises on the third day, then He is the Son of God. If Jesus rises from the dead, then God saves sinners. If Jesus rises from the dead, then God doesn't save by what we do and don't do but by His death and resurrection. The whole of the Gospel is proved true by the Jesus who was crucified being raised on Easter Morning!

So, the chief priest put the guards in front of the tomb. They roll out the big stone. They secure it as best they can, desperate to keep the God they killed on Good Friday good and dead.

On the third day Jesus did it! He rose again. The giant stone rolls away. The only dead in the tomb on Easter are the guards who become "like dead men" before the angel.

Jesus has conquered death. He has beaten hell. Sin died with Him and has been left in the tomb. We live forever by faith in Him!

The Pharisees' and scribes' evil schemes don't go down without a fight. They bribe the guards. They pay them to lie and say that the disciples stole the body. They'd do anything to cause doubt about the resurrection--to cause doubt in you.

God included their evil antics in the Scriptures so that you will not fall for it. You know what they did. You know it's all a lie. Jesus really did die for you. He really did rise for you on the third day. Eyewitnesses saw Him die. They also saw Him alive on the third day. Their testimony is in Holy Scriptures. Give up your doubts on this last day of Lent. Put your faith in God's Word.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-15.mp3




Good Friday

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

Today's Reading: John 18:1-19:42

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 12:29-32; 13:1-16; Hebrews 6:1-20

"And they answered and said to Him, "If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered Him over to you."(John 18:26)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. They are right. The chief priests and scribes slandered Jesus to get Him killed, but they can't help but be right. In their office as the Lord's priests, even as they were trying to do evil, God was working good out for you through them.

On the Cross, to save you, Jesus becomes the worst sinner of all time. Jesus takes on your evil to save you from your evil. He's an idolater, despiser of God's Word, Sabbath breaker. He's disobedient to His parents, a murderer, a hater, an adulterer, a homosexual, a child molester, thief, cheater, dishonest business man, tax cheat, movie stealer, gossip, slanderer, liar, coveter, and a backstabbing hypocrite to save you from your sins. He's the worst of all the lists of the Scriptures to save you from every list that you have broken in the Scriptures!

And if this horrifies you, you should be horrified. This is what the Son of the Most High God became to redeem you from what you have become. He who was without sin, who can't sin, has become the worst of all sins to save each of us. The Light of the World becomes darkness. He is snuffed out. The glory of the Father becomes the most hideous curse and sight in all of creation: "Cursed is anyone who hangs on a Tree." (Galatians 3:13)

He did this willingly, showing His Father's love for creation. Like a Lamb before the shearers is silent, He opened not His mouth. He knew what Caiaphas prophesied was true, "It is expedient that one man should die for the people." (John 11:50)

Mourn your sins. Die to them. Bury them. Get rid of them. Don't look at them ever again. Their effects have been catastrophic! God has died to save you from death.

But this isn't Black Friday, it's Good Friday. God works good from evil. He makes life from His Son's death. From the hell of the Cross flows from eternal life flowing from the pierced side of Christ. You are saved in that water. You are forgiven by His Blood at His Supper.

There's no hyperbole to describe how disgusting He became to save you from your filth. Your big sins did this. Your little sins did this. Your goodness caused this, too. Jesus took all the evil of all the world for all time to save us from our sins. Your sins are forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-14.mp3




Maundy Thursday

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

Today's Reading: John 13:1-15; 34-35

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 12:1-28; Hebrews 5:1-14

"And so if I, your teacher and your Lord, wash your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." (John 13:14)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus comes to serve. He comes to get down on His hands and knees and wash away the sins of how you have walked. He comes to clean you and to bathe you with the water flowing from His pierced side. He comes to feed you His Body to eat and His Blood to drink for the remission of all your sins.

The world's religions all begin with your doing something for God. You wash the idol's feet. You do the service. You do the liturgy in the world's religion. You work and then "God" in some way acts--maybe. This is the religion of the law that offers "God" your works.

But the way God wants to be worshiped is by faith, that is, by receiving what Jesus did for you. Faith is receiving! Jesus does the serving, and you are the one being served. He does the Commandments, and the Commandments are counted as done by you. He does the dying, and God's punishment due you is satisfied. He rises from the grave, and in Him you are raised and you are justified. He does the washing, and you are washed. He does the speaking, and you are spoken to--killed and made alive by His Word. He does the feeding, and you are fed His Body and Blood given for you to eat and drink for the forgiveness of your sins.

Watch it today in church! Listen to how much Jesus serves you during the Triduum services--the three-day celebration of our Lord's Passion. Take it all in. Rejoice in it. Hear how He, even though He is God Himself, served you by dying for you. He who knew no sin became your sins so that you would stand before God forever righteous.

All that is Jesus is given to you by faith in Him. Heaven is yours. Eternal life is your everyday life. Even the right hand of God is your seat for He has gone to prepare a place for you.

With everything now yours, you can serve others. You put their needs before your own. You forgive them where they have sinned against you. You give up being first and take the lowest place--the place of the one serving.

Jesus comes to serve. He comes to get down on His hands and knees and wash the sins of how you have walked away. He comes to clean you, to bathe you, with the water flowing from His pierced side. He comes to feed you His Body to eat and His Blood to drink for the remission of all your sins. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-13.mp3




Wednesday of Holy Week

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

Today's Reading: Luke 22:1-23:56

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 10:21-11:10; Hebrews 4:1-16

"And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' And they cast lots to take his clothes." (Luke 23:34)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No, Jesus. You can't pray that prayer! We all know that to forgive someone they must be sorry first! You have to show the person he or she is wrong. They have to be sorry--really sorry. If we see they're sorry enough, and only then, do we forgive them.

But God is so much more wonderfully gospelly than we can ever be! The Lord Jesus, as He is surrounded by people who mock Him, who say the most hurtful things, who tried to kill, and who are killing him hurl insults at him, upholds the Eighth Commandment and actually defends them. It's as if He says, "They just can't be doing this! They can't understand who I am! If they did, they wouldn't do this!"

Everything else shows that they--no we--did indeed know what we were doing to Jesus! We condemned Him for claiming to be God. We piously judged Him for giving forgiveness away to tax collectors and sinners whom everyone knows don't deserve it. Then, as He hung there, we judged Him some more, "You saved others, now save yourself! If you are the Christ, save yourself and we will believe in You!"

Here's how God is for you: He sits on the edge of the His seat ready to forgive you. He isn't stingy with forgiveness like we are, but He actually wants to forgive. He wants to save not just you but everyone around you, too! He's going to toss His forgiveness and rain His love for you in Christ, shower mercy, blurt out an Absolution, and joyfully fill your ears with the Gospel to save you. And faith that is born from those gifts grasps hold of the Calvary-won forgiveness, and you are saved.

Don't I have to repent? How could you not repent? God has given His Son for you to save you. You don't deserve His mercy. You don't merit His favor. You are--even if you think you're a pretty good person in the world--still a sinner. Sinners need a savior--the Savior.

Repent and look at Jesus' example! He's eager to forgive. He defends His neighbor, even as they crucify Him. He forgives even people who aren't sorry! He dies so that they would live! We, too, in Him, can die to ourselves and gladly love and forgive those who sin against us!

His forgiveness is first! Forgiveness achieved on the Cross by His holy keeping of the Law and His bitter sufferings and death. Forgiveness is given to us in His gifts. Forgiveness is passed from us to those who sin against us. It starts here: Your sins are forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-12.mp3




Tuesday of Holy Week

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

Today's Reading: Mark 14:1-15:47

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 9:29-10:20; Hebrews 3:1-19

"But [Peter] said with great emphasis, 'Even if it is necessary for me to die with you, I will never deny you.' And they all said likewise." (Mark 14:31)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I've made that promise. I won't let you down this time, Jesus. I won't deny you. I won't back down from your Gospel. I won't do that again. Jesus. I love you enough to stop.

Then, I sin again and again. I fall. I feel so guilty and so unworthy. I crawl back to forgiveness promising that this won't ever happen again. "I can stop. I'm not despising your grace. Really, I'm not. I'm not just asking you to forgive me so that I can sin again. Am I? That's not me! Is it?"

St. Peter made that promise with all the faithfulness of a child of God who had just received the Lord's Supper. He was Bodied. He was Blooded. He was forgiven. He was steadfast and immovable. They all were--promising to be in this with Jesus until the end.

Jesus didn't need their promises. He knew they would all fall away. He knew Peter would betray Him. Peter denied that he would deny Him. "The others might throw You under the bus, but not me. I would die for you."

You know how this ended. Before the rooster crowed twice, the Lord was denied three times. Shame. Guilt. Like every failed promise that I have made--that you have made--to God.

There's only One Man dying for anyone in Holy Week in the Scriptures and that's Jesus. He is headed for the Cross to die for Peter. He's going to die for me and you, too. "For we all like sheep have gone astray and each of us have run our own way, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

I don't have to tell you to give up your sins. I don't need to tell you to not be like Peter. You know you should. And you can't. You know you are powerless on your own. You already know the shame when the Lord looks at you in your sin. You've already wept bitterly.

Believe that in the suffering and death of Jesus your salvation has been won. Trust that in His resurrection you are holy before God. In your Baptism, receive salvation from the guilt of your evil. Take, eat, His body and take, drink, His blood and live forever free from your sins. Be absolved by the words of your Savior. Only in the Gospel will you find the mercy and goodness of God to be faithful to Jesus and the grace when you aren't. Today you are free from your sins. Live today faithfully forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-11.mp3




Monday of Holy Week

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

Today's Reading: John 12:1-43

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 9:1-28; Hebrews 2:1-18

"And Jesus answered saying to them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." (John 12:29)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The glory of God is seen not in the bright-shining light of the Father. It's not in the great show of power of God: miracles, burning bushes, and pillars of fire. It's not even in the afterglow on the face of Moses when He had seen God which was so otherworldly that the children of Israel made Him cover His face.

That was the glory of God people expected to see. That was the way the children of Israel saw the glory of God. They saw the pillar of cloud and fire that led them through the wilderness after Egypt. God was with them. His glory went before them and behind them!

But that power and might of God doesn't save sinners. Not because God isn't powerful or glorious enough to save us, but because His holiness consumes sinners and their sins. The glory of God is dangerous to sinners. It kills them. No one can stand before God on His own. No one can see God. Give that God up today, for if power and might is what you want from God, you'll be consumed on the Last Day.

The hour that has come for the Son of Man to be glorified is the Cross. The Cross is where Jesus shows the greatest glory, power, and majesty of Almighty God. Because of Jesus, God doesn't treat sinners as they deserve. He doesn't harbor the well-deserved anger against them. He takes all His anger and wrath out upon His Son.

The glory of God is the beaten, bruised, rejected Jesus hanging limp and dead on the Cross. The glory of God is the death of God on the Tree. The glory of God is the burial of death itself in a tomb.

God's might is seen in your weakness; you can't save yourself. God's majesty is delivered in water and Word that saves you. God's glory is shown in the mercy of the words, "In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins." God's incomprehensible glory is fed to you in the Body and Blood of the crucified and now-raised Jesus that is put into your mouth at His Supper.

Then, glory that you would never expect--in the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, in faith, gentleness, and self-control. Glory in the forgiveness of sins from Jesus to you and from you to every one! Glory in the daily living out of what He has given for us to do each day for those He has given us to love.

The hour is coming for Jesus to be glorified! Good Friday is soon! Our salvation is near! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-10.mp3




Palm Sunday and Sunday of the Passion

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

Today's Reading: Matthew 26:1-27:66

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 8:1-32; Hebrews 1:1-14

"And the crowds that went before Him and those following after shouted saying, 'Hosanna to the Son of the David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!" (Matthew 21:9)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. They called Him the "Son of David." They prayed to Him to save them, to "Hosanna" them! They gave Him the whole coats-on-the-road treatment.

The Son of David is the Son of King David. Son of the King would be the King of the Jews! The King is returning to His city to the joy of His people!

"See your King comes to you humble and riding on a colt!" promised the Prophet! Here is the King! Riding David's ride! All the other kings of the world rode horses and chariots. Christ rode a donkey.

Everything is set for the big show! The Son of David is on a donkey riding into Jerusalem to save His people! The people are ready. The King has come. Everything is about to change! They will be saved!

But Jesus is not riding in to conquer the Romans or to win freedom from bondage to Caesar. He's riding in to save His people from their sins. His conquest doesn't come by swords but by being betrayed. He doesn't win battles, but He is beaten to the point of death and then crucified like a criminal. This King is rejected by His people. They would have no king but Caesar. His coronation isn't even in His city, but instead it's outside of the walls on the garbage heap called Golgotha. No crown of gold, either, just one of thorns. No glory or celebration, just a sign above His head saying, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."

In His defeat, King Jesus wins your salvation. In His death, you have life. In His life on Easter morning, you have forgiveness for all your sins for all time.

Jesus is washed on you at the baptismal font. He is forgiven into you in His Word. He is Bodied and Blooded in the bread and wine for the remission of all your sins at His Supper. His Work saves, not your work. His defeat on the Cross is your victory over sin and death and damnation, now and forever.

Rejoice in Holy Week! Give up being only solemn this week. Put on some repentant joy. Take it into the week. Be joyful through it, for this is your salvation's achievement: King Jesus answers the Hosanna prayer by dying on the Cross for you. Each day is good because each day He moves closer to saving you, closer to the Cross, closer to the grave, and then comes out again, alive, on Easter morning. You will be saved. You must be saved in Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-09.mp3




Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 7:1-25; Mark 16:1-20

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me?" (Psalm 22:1 from the Introit for Holy Week)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Holy Week begins with the Introit for Palm Sunday and the terrible reminder of how awful the Cross is: God abandons Jesus.

This is what hell really is, dear child of God! Hell isn't just the scorching hot or bitter teeth-chattering cold. Hell is what existence is like if God truly turned His back on you. Hell is if God gave you what you deserve: a universe absent of His love and mercy toward you.

But we must want this existence! It's how we live every day! We act as if we would be a better god than God Himself. We live as if we matter most and those around us matter least, even God. We actually think that some of the things we do don't have eternal consequences! We need to give up the idea that we aren't just one Good Friday away from hell! Repent!

Good Friday. On Good Friday, Jesus takes on the abandonment of God which is due your sin. No, more than that, Jesus takes on the abandonment due all sin for all time. He endures all the hell for all the sin from all the people who have ever lived for all time and who will ever live for all time.

On the Cross, Jesus is alone--utterly alone. This is Good Friday. This is the abandonment of God. All the goodness of God in the universe is turned from Jesus. It's replaced with the wrath and punishment that God has had against all sin for all time.

He takes it all. He endures it all. It kills him. Hell and death die with Him. He rises from the dead and bursts the gates of hell itself!

You will never be abandoned by God in Christ. You will never be alone--truly alone. You will never ever be in hell--either here on earth or in eternity. Always, every day, every moment, in Holy Baptism there will be some Light, some hope, some joy even in the midst of the darkest times. God cannot abandon you anymore, not after Good Friday.

The fires of hell no longer burn for you. Your teeth will not chatter in the cold of the grave. Good Friday brought that to an end. Jesus has consumed all of the abandonment of God. You have life, love and care of the Son of God. You have eternal life now and forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-08.mp3




Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 7:1-25; Mark 16:1-20

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me?" (Psalm 22:1 from the Introit for Holy Week)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Holy Week begins with the Introit for Palm Sunday and the terrible reminder of how awful the Cross is: God abandons Jesus.

This is what hell really is, dear child of God! Hell isn't just the scorching hot or bitter teeth-chattering cold. Hell is what existence is like if God truly turned His back on you. Hell is if God gave you what you deserve: a universe absent of His love and mercy toward you.

But we must want this existence! It's how we live every day! We act as if we would be a better god than God Himself. We live as if we matter most and those around us matter least, even God. We actually think that some of the things we do don't have eternal consequences! We need to give up the idea that we aren't just one Good Friday away from hell! Repent!

Good Friday. On Good Friday, Jesus takes on the abandonment of God which is due your sin. No, more than that, Jesus takes on the abandonment due all sin for all time. He endures all the hell for all the sin from all the people who have ever lived for all time and who will ever live for all time.

On the Cross, Jesus is alone--utterly alone. This is Good Friday. This is the abandonment of God. All the goodness of God in the universe is turned from Jesus. It's replaced with the wrath and punishment that God has had against all sin for all time.

He takes it all. He endures it all. It kills him. Hell and death die with Him. He rises from the dead and bursts the gates of hell itself!

You will never be abandoned by God in Christ. You will never be alone--truly alone. You will never ever be in hell--either here on earth or in eternity. Always, every day, every moment, in Holy Baptism there will be some Light, some hope, some joy even in the midst of the darkest times. God cannot abandon you anymore, not after Good Friday.

The fires of hell no longer burn for you. Your teeth will not chatter in the cold of the grave. Good Friday brought that to an end. Jesus has consumed all of the abandonment of God. You have life, love and care of the Son of God. You have eternal life now and forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-07.mp3




Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 4:19-31; Mark 15:16-32

"Then you say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, 'Let my son go that he may serve Me.' If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'" (Exodus 4:23-24)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What kind of God is this? He threatens to kill the firstborn of Egypt. Then, because Moses is not circumcised, He goes after Moses, trying to kill him? He saves Israel, but then when they sin in the wilderness, He punishes them! Who is this awful God?

People think God is a big, cuddly, lovable, Santa-Claus-like God who wants us all to sit on His lap. They see Him as a God who sees us and our sins and says, "I can't get enough of them! Even though they sin! I just can't stop loving them!"

NO! This is how God is: He's an all-consuming fire. He hates sin. And He hates sinners. No one stands safe before Him. He doesn't do teams--you either obey Him or you die. Even Moses, the guy who speaks for Him, isn't safe if he doesn't obey.

Scared yet? You should be! Be scared of God. Fear Him. Don't just fear your sins. Be frightened of the God who will toss you into the eternal death of hell because of them.

Then comes Jesus, the first-born, only-begotten Son of God. He does an Israel-in-Egypt in the wilderness. He faithfully fears God the way He should be feared. He does all that this angry God commands.

On the Cross, Jesus takes on our sins, becomes our sins, to save us. He suffers all the anger, wrath, hatred, want-to-kill-sinners-ness of Almighty God. God finally gets hold of the worst sinner of all time and slays His Son.

We are saved by Jesus from God. Think about that. We needed saving from the God who created us. That's how much we couldn't save ourselves! Jesus must save you from God!

So, if your friends start saying that they don't like the God that you believe in because of some stuff He does like throw people into hell, you tell them you are afraid of that God, too. Jesus has saved you from that God. He only kills to make alive--to save you. You'll have to unpack that for them. That should be fun!

Today, give up the idea that you shouldn't be scared of God. You should! But also rejoice that in Jesus, you have been saved from your sins and from the wrath of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-06.mp3




Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 4:1-18; Mark 15:1-15

"We should fear, love, and trust in God in above all things." (The Small Catechism: The First Commandment)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Everything good comes from Jesus. Everything good that happens comes from your Lord Jesus Christ. Everything that is defined as good is because He is good. If He's doing it, it's good, because He does it.

When bad happens to you, He will make it good. When you do evil, He will make it right. No matter how catastrophic of a failure you become, He will make it all work out to save you. Even when you think He has failed you, He's just working good in a way that you can't see yet.

Yes, outside Christ, it looks like God took a day off. It looks like He doesn't care when evil befalls us or when we do evil to others. Outside of Christ, God seems absent and detached and uncaring.

But you are not outside of Christ. You know God isn't absent because you know that He gave up His Son to save you. Christ suffered God's abandonment so that you would never be abandoned by Your Father. He died so that you would live.

This isn't about God being powerful and the Lord of everything. He is, but that's not the good news yet. The Gospel is that because of the suffering and death of Christ, God must be good to you. Everything that befalls you in this life will turn out for your good. Notice that this isn't that things might be good, or when you finally get your stuff together, or just possibly be good. No! Because of Jesus, because of your Baptism, everything will and must turn out for your good because God is your good God who does only good for you.

You may not figure it all out. He's never promised that you would. You may not even believe me. But it will work out for good. And it won't just work out only for you, it'll be good for those around you, too!

Thank God that I didn't get that job. Thank God that guy broke up with me so that I would be free to find the love of my life. Thank God that I got sick so that I could appreciate the life that I have with my family. Thank God that I didn't get into this college because I'm so much happier where I am now. I don't know why this is a gift, God, but thank You that You are going to work it out despite me.

The First Commandment isn't only that you believe in God, but that you believe that God is good to you. He's only good in Jesus. He must be good because of Jesus' Cross--even to you and me. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-05.mp3




Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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

Today's Reading: Hebrews 9:11-15

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 2:23-3:22; Mark 14:53-72

"How much more will the Blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." (Hebrews 9:14)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I convince myself it's going to be okay. I tell myself it's not that bad or not as bad as I think. I lie to myself. It's not a sin at all, or not a sin if I got away with it. I bury it and deal with it later. I just try not think about it.

But when the lights go off and I am alone in my bed, I know better. It eats at my insides. If only I hadn't done that sin. I was so stupid. Why do I keep doing it? What am I thinking? Don't I love Jesus? I am just so awful. People got to hell for what I've done. They burn forever and ever. Other people do my sins, and I wince because I know that the only difference between them and me is that the they were lucky to be caught and so are freed from that particular sin. I try not to condemn them, but sometimes I do it just to cover my own filth.

It's not one commandment either, it's all of them--every last one. I've broken them all. I'm guilty...so guilty. Lord, save me!

People have been trying to find a clean conscience since Adam covered his sin with a fig leaf. You can't be different from me. You have the same thoughts tormenting you. Give them up today.

Jesus. He's the only clean conscience before God. In Him, your sins are forgiven. In Him, you have peace with God. In Him, in His mercy, in His Cross, in His resurrection, you have holiness that won't ever go away.

The Gospel isn't a crutch so that I can sleep at night! No, Jesus' blood shed on the Cross washes my conscience with clean baptismal water. My pastor's Absolution dissolves my guilt away. Jesus' promises in the Word cleanse my soul. His Body and Blood really do give me the Supper of the forgiveness of my sins.

And when you have repented and been forgiven by God, and the Law still tries to torment you with its accusations, say this to it: "Shut up, Law! You've already done your work on me! You drove me to Jesus. I'm going to ignore your condemnation now so that my conscience can rest trusting that Jesus really has forgiven and saved me!"

The only clean conscience is a Blood-red conscience. The only peace is found in the suffering and death of Jesus. The only righteousness is by faith in Him. Your sins are forgiven. Be at peace tonight. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-04.mp3




Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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

Today's Reading: Genesis 22:1-14

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 2:1-33; Mark 14:32-52

"Abraham said, 'God will provide for Himself the lamb for the offering, my son." So they both went together." (Genesis 22:8)

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Abraham believed the Lord and it was counted to Him as righteousness. God credited Abraham's faith as holiness before Him.

God didn't hold Abraham's sins against him. He didn't punish him for his past. He didn't hold a record of the sins of his youth. When he twisted the truth, it wasn't even mentioned.

For God took Abraham's faith and counted it, reckoned it, as righteousness. That faith was how God judged Abraham. His faith was in God's promise that He would provide a Lamb.

Abraham believed that, one way or another, the Lord was going to bring his son back down the mountain. He knew that he could sacrifice his son and God would raise him again, or stop him, or do something Lord-like to make everything good. Even if Isaac stayed dead, the Lord would still make it all good. Abraham believed God's promise to him.

That's faith! Faith isn't only that you believe in God. All sorts of people believe in a god. That doesn't save them. Christian faith trusts that God has reconciled the world to Himself in the suffering and death of Jesus. It knows only Jesus. It believes only in Jesus. It relies only on Him. True faith believes that it may not know what God is up to, it may not have it all figured out, but it trusts that, because of Jesus' suffering and death, God has to work everything out for our good.

This goes for you and me, too. We are children of Abraham by faith in Jesus. We are rescued from our sins by faith in Jesus. We are saved from hell itself by faith in Jesus. God doesn't hold our sins against us because of faith in Jesus.

This can't be a license to sin! It wasn't for Abraham. He took his son up the mountain, trusting that God would make it all work out for his good. You have been set free from your sins, too, to live for others as Christ lived for you. Living in your sins isn't an option for you. You are too free for that. You have eternal life in Christ.

God stopped Abraham and provided the Lamb. He provided Jesus! It all worked out for Abraham and his son. You and me, too! For God faith in the Lamb of God as righteousness. It will work for us, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

"Faith is the thing God declares to be righteousness," (Apology IV, 89).



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-03.mp3




The Fifth Sunday in Lent

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

Today's Reading: John 8:42-59

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 1:1-22; Mark 14:12-31

"Amen, Amen, I say to you, if anyone treasures My Words, He will not see death to all eternity." (John 8:51)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You will never see death. In Jesus' words, clinging to His promises, in your Baptism, eating the Body and Blood of Jesus you will never die!

There's no hedging these words. There are no loopholes and there isn't any fine print here. God doesn't back off from His promises. In Jesus' promises, you will not see death.

Your heart may stop beating. Cancer may ultimately beat you. The test results may be awful. You may fall asleep. But it will only be sleep! You will not die, not die-die anyway. You won't die forever. You won't see hell. You can't see hell in Jesus. He's saved you from that.

And this salvation doesn't rest on you at all, but on the Lord's words and promises, whether you are holding tight with all your might or only have the strength to hold up one finger. In fact, in those moments when you don't have anything together at all and His words are the only thing holding you up, that's when He is most your Savior!

You see, the Lord's words to you today are so strong, they will try to kill Jesus for them. They will pick up stones in order to stone Him, for the only person who can keep anyone from dying is God Himself. So they did what sinners do against God: They tried to silence Him.

The thing is, Jesus will let them, too - just not today, or with stones! On Good Friday, He will be crucified for you. He will suffer for your sins and the sins of the whole world. He will die. God will die.

God cannot stay dead. Jesus rises again. You will rise again with Him. Death can't hold Him to all eternity. And death can't hold you, either.

The Lord won't back down from His promises. He won't try to get out of them. Backing up His words is His suffering and death. He's Calvary-committed to saving you.

Give up your sins today. Don't live in them. You don't have to live in them any longer. You are free from death. You are baptized. You are completely forgiven. You've been rescued from all that could possibly harm you and freed from all the condemnation that your sins can muster before God. You are free to give up your favorite things - your sins.

Holding fast to the Lord's Words you will never see death. You cannot die - not really and not ever. Now you are truly free from your sins and death itself! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-02.mp3




Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

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

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 49:29-50:7,14-26; Mark 14:1-11

Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! (Psalm 43:12 from the Introit for Lent 5)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If anyone could be judged as right against the accusations of evil men, it's surely Jesus. He was betrayed by His own friend, denied by His own disciples, falsely accused by His own people, and wrongly condemned by the governor. And yet on Good Friday it seems as if this prayer is not answered. Christ does not appear to be vindicated or judged righteous. It seems the unjust men win. It "seems". When He says, "It is finished," the sins of the world have been paid for. And when Jesus rises on Easter, we can certainly say that His death worked. His work of saving us is really accomplished and true.

Now, the unjust man, the devil, will try to deceive and accuse you. He will try to convince you that you are guilty, unrighteous, and worthy of death. He will accuse you based on your sins and that would be correct, except for Jesus.

This weekend as we pray the words of the Introit, "Judica! Judge me, O God; Vindicate Me, O God," we are asking the Lord to speak on our behalf and not reply to these accusations of the devil. In the Divine Service, the sign of the cross made in remembrance of your Baptism is the vindication we pray for. The judgment that you are righteous is declared in the Absolution. The Gospel preached says the Lord counts you as "not guilty" for Jesus' sake. The Body and Blood of Jesus say that you are forgiven and holy in Him.

That's what it means to be "vindicated." It's not that you somehow showed God that you are good or worthy. Rather, it means you are in Christ who has taken your sins and shields you from all accusations. In Him, the judgment of God for you is all good and blessed. When the unjust man would accuse you, you can simply set before him the blessed gifts of Christ's Cross and empty tomb and His water, Word, and Supper. And so you are vindicated and set free. 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)



Media Files:
http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/reflections.higherthings.org/2017-04-01.mp3