Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mary Magdalene


Luke 8:8-13; 23:49, 55-56; 24:1-11


 Jesus and Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene was the most prominent and outstanding leader among the women, She is named more than any of the others, and usually first. She was the first to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection. That she was named among those who “minister of their substance” suggests that she was a woman of some wealth. That she and been healed of “seven demons” is no indication that she was unchaste. Demons caused sickness and diseased of various kinds but are nowhere connected with human immorality.

Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS 
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for Easter, Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday of Holy Week




Saturday, 30 March, 2013 – Holy Saturday, Easter Eve – 1 Peter 3:17-22 – The victory lap through Hell

The Antiphon: From the depths of the grace I called for help, and You listened to my cry. – Jonah 2:2b

Prayer for Easter EveO God, who didst enlighten this most holy night with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection, preserve in all Thy people the spirit of adoption which Thou hast given so that, renewed in body and soul, they may perform unto Thee a pure service.

Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with Your grace and goodness, with You holy Word and Sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us all the faithful through time and eternity. 

Priscillia


Acts 18; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19


Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth. (1 Corinthians 18:2, 3) They went with him as far as Ephesus (Ephesians 18:18, 19) There are inscriptions in the catacombs with a hint that Priscilla was of a distinguished family of high standing in Rome. She is usually mentioned first. In Ephesus, a church met in their home. (1 Corinthians 16:19) Later, in Rome, a church met in their house (Romans 16:3-5) Some years later, they were again in Ephesus. (2 Timothy 4:19)

As ordinary Christians God used them as they offered their talents and gifts for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. They were keenly aware that as the Lord had redeemed and saved them they could let their light shine before men. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is noted to say the following, “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” As the Lord has saved and redeemed you, serve Him with your life, talents, abilities and gifts.

God of grace and might, we praise you for your servants Aquila and Priscilla, to whom you gave gifts to make the good news known. Raise up, we pray, in every country, evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Abide with us, Lord for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your holy Word and Sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of all affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity. 

Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids, MI
Collect for Easter Saturday, Lutheran Worship, © 1980 Concordia Publishing House

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday of Holy Week



Friday, 29 March, 2013 – Good Friday – Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 – The suffering and glory of the servant Christ

The Antiphon: O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. – Psalm 22:19

Prayer for Good Friday
Almighty God, we beseech Thee, graciously to behold this Thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men and to suffer death upon the cross.

Pilate


Matthew 27:11-25



Jesus before Pilate

Pilate was the Roman governor of Judah from 26-37 AD He assumed office about the time Jesus began His public ministry.  His official residence was in Caesarea. He came to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover Fest to keep the peace.  He was merciless, cruel, noted for his habitual brutality. Like the Roman emperors of his day, he enjoyed the spectacle of the torture and death of a man. At one time, he had mingled the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices. (See Luke 13:1)

Jesus lived a life of suffering; He was officially crucified under the orders of Pilate. Jesus had predicted that he would be delivered to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged and crucified. (See Matthew 20:19) Now these words are being fulfilled. Also, the prediction that “the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of Men” (Matthew 17:22) is also being fulfilled.  Nothing is left to chance. Every prediction every prophecy, every forecast speaking about the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ finds its reality within the context of the words of the Old Testament Scriptures. The crucifixion of Christ was planned and predicted. It was fulfilled by those who carried it out in time and space.

Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family, for whom our Lord Jesus was willing to be betrayed, to be given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS 
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for Good Friday, Lutheran Worship, © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St Louis


Thursday, March 28, 2013

An Adulterous Woman

John 8:2-11


The woman caught in adultery
There are two other instances of Jesus dealing with women who had made a mistake, the sinful woman of Luke 7 and the Samaritan woman of John 4.

Jesus’ detractors bring before Him a woman. In disgrace she was brought before Him. She was accused of adultery. She was caught in the very act of adultery. This sin of course cannot be committed alone. So the question is obvious. Where is the other person? Why was he not brought before the Savior? This incident was staged as a trap. Provisions had been man for the man to escape. They wanted to humiliate her. She could have been kept in private custody while they spoke to Jesus. But they wanted this to be made public. They wanted to humiliate her.

The language of verse 7 may imply that Jesus knew that the men who were accusing the woman were themselves guilty of the very thing of which they accused her. If so, what Jesus wrote in the dirt may have been the names of the mistresses of each of this woman’s accusers.

Jesus’ words disarm them. Sure, the Law allows her to be stoned. But he who is without sin may cast the first stone. Because they were not “without sin”, they each walk away. Only Jesus   is left standing. His command breathes new life to this woman. Go now and leave your life of sin. Jesus does not condemn her nor does He make excuses for her life. He gives her a brand new life, the life He gives you as He offers you forgiveness, restoration, and a new birth. 

O Lord Jesus, since You have left us a memorial of Your Passion in a wonderful sacrament, grant us, we pray, that we may so use this sacrament of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redeeming work may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Collect for Maundy Thursday, Lutheran Worship, © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Thursday of Holy Week



Thursday, 28 March, 2013 – Maundy Thursday – 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 – A new covenant

The Antiphon: I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. – Psalm 116:13

Prayer for Maundy ThursdayO Lord God, who hast left unto us in a wonderful Sacrament a memorial of Thy Passion, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so use this Sacrament of Thy body and blood that the fruits of Thy redemption may continually be manifest in us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday of Holy Week



Wednesday, 27 March, 2013 – Wednesday of Holy Week – Isaiah 62:11; 63:1-7 – God’s day of vengeance and redemption

The Antiphon: Hasten, O God, to save me, O Lord, come quickly to help me. – Psalm 70:1

Prayer for WednesdayGrant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds are continually afflicted may mercifully be relieved by the Passion of Thine only – begotten Son.

Merciful and everlasting God the Father, who did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all that He might bear our sins on the cross, grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior that we may not fear the power of any adversaries; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Dorcus


Acts 9:36-42

In Joppa Peter raised Dorcus from the dead, which led many to believe.  According to Jewish tradition, in preparation for burial, the custom common for both Jews and pagans was to wash the body prior to burial. It was customary to lay the body in an upper room. In Jerusalem, the body had to be buried the day the person died, but outside Jerusalem up to three days might be allowed for burial. 

Jesus had promised in John 12:12-14, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Following the Savior’s command, Peter will address Aeneas by name and simply say, “Jesus Christ heals you.” (v.34) These words are the perfect brief interpretation of the nature of the mighty deed done by the apostles.  (see Romans 15:18-19)  As Jesus healed, the apostles will heal. As Jesus raised the dead, Peter will raise Dorcus from the dead. By these mighty acts, the words of the apostles match the message of Jesus.

Merciful and everlasting God the Father, who did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all that He might bear our sins on the cross, grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in our Savior that we may not fear the power of any adversaries; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Collect for Wednesday in Holy Week, Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday of Holy Week



Tuesday, 26 March, 2013 – Tuesday of Holy Week – Jeremiah 11:18-20 – The plot against the Lord’s anointed

The Antiphon: In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. – Psalm 71:1

Prayer for TuesdayAlmighty and everlasting God, grant us grace to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion that we may obtain the pardon of our sins.

Almighty and everlasting God, grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion that we may receive the pardon of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. 

A Crippled Woman


Luke 13:10-17

Jesus, moved with pity did not wait for the woman to ask to be healed.  He welcomed the opportunity to show compassion. For this act of compassion, the religious elites confront Jesus. What was Jesus’ crime? He dared to perform a miracle on the Sabbath.  These hypocrites were known to make Sabbath day exceptions for a donkey or ox that needed feed and water. But for Jesus, to perform acts of compassion and mercy on the Sabbath was greeted with indignation. 

Jesus addressed this act of mercy as a confrontation with the Devil. For eighteen long years the devil had keep this daughter of Abraham in bondage. Now she was set free on the Sabbath.   God had made His promise that the descendants of Abraham would be blessed. He had promised that the Sabbath day would be filled with blessings. She must be healed, because the mercy of God will not allow Satan to have control over this woman forever. Enough is enough! Now Jesus must act. And the end result of all this – Jesus opponents are humiliated, the people are delighted with the wonderful things Jesus was doing. 

Almighty and everlasting God, grant us grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s Passion that we may receive the pardon of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Tuesday in Holy Week, Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday of Holy Week



Monday, 25 March 2013 – Monday of Holy Week – Isaiah 50:5-10 - My sin and the Savior’s obedience

The Antiphon: Continue Your love to those who know you, Your righteousness to the upright in heart. – Psalm 36:10

Prayers for MondayGrant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who amid so many adversities do fail through our own infirmities, may be restored through the Passion and intercession of Thine only-begotten Son.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ chose to suffer pain before going up to joy, and crucifixion before entering into glory, mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find this path to be the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Sources

THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use

Solomon


1 Kings 9, 10



The era of David and Solomon was the Golden Age of Hebrew history. David was a warrior. Solomon was a builder. David made the Kingdom. Solomon built the Temple. In the outside world, this was the age of Homer, the beginning of Greek history. Egypt, Assyria and Babylon, at the time were weak. Israel was the most powerful kingdom in the entire world. Jerusalem was the most magnificent city and the Temple the most splendid building on earth. They came from the ends of the earth to hear Solomon’s wisdom and see his glory. The famous Queen of Sheba exclaimed, “The half was not told me.”

Solomon made a deal with the king of Tyre, to use his navy on the Mediterranean. He built his empire by peaceful commerce. This would be his downfall.  Through a series of negotiations, he would marry the daughters of neighboring kings, thus securing peace in the region. Yet these wives would bring into the palace foreign gods and forbidden altars. Over time, the worship of strange idols became common practice.    

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ chose to suffer pain before going up to joy, and crucifixion before entering into glory, mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find this path to be the way of life and peace, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for Monday in Holy Week, Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Samaritan Woman

John 4


 Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Samaritans were of an alien race but had accepted the first five books of Moses. They were expecting the Messiah however to make Samaria, and not Jerusalem, the seat of government.  Jacob’s well, measuring 100 feet deep and nine feet in diameter is one of the few places where and exact spot connected with the story of Jesus can be identified. This visit of Jesus laid the groundwork for the hearty reception of the Gospel by the Samaritans a few years later.  
When God pardons, He does not say He understands your weakness or make allowances for your errors. Rather, He disposes of, finishes with, the whole of your dead life and raises you up with a new one. He does not so much deal with your failures as does He drop them down the black hole of Jesus' death. He forgets your sins in the darkness of the tomb. He remembers your iniquities no more in the forgetfulness of Jesus' death. He finds you in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement. And in the power of Jesus' resurrection, He puts you on His shoulders, rejoicing, and brings you home! -Robert Farrar Capon, Parables of Grace, pg. 39

Almighty and everlasting God the Father, who sent Your Son to take our nature upon Him and to suffer death on the cross that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility, mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ in His patience and also have our portion in His resurrection; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for Palm Sunday, Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Saturday, March 23, 2013

David


1 Samuel 16-17; 2 Samuel 1-6










Because Saul had rejected God, God had rejected Saul from being king. Thus, David was secretly anointed to be king. It could have been done openly, but then Saul would have killed David. David was given the chance to train himself for office as God took David under His care. David was short of stature, ruddy, of beautiful countenance, handsome, of immense physical strength and great personal attractiveness, a man of war, prudent in speech, brave. His fame as a musician brought him to the notice of king Saul, who did not at the time know that he had been anointed to be his successor. He became Saul’s armor-bearer, which threw David into association with the king and his counselors.

Goliath was about nine feel tall his armor weighed about 150 pounds, and his spearhead weighed about twenty pounds. David’s offer, with only a staff and a sling, to take on Goliath, was an act of unheard of bravery and an amazing trust in God. His victory thrilled the nation. David became at once the king’s son-in-law, commander of armies, and the nation’s popular hero.

O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS  
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for humility, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Friday, March 22, 2013

Elizabeth


Luke 1:5-25, 57-66, 67-80

The Visitation
Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. Elizabeth’s hometown is not named, except that it was in the hill country of Judah.  Elizabeth was from the tribe of Levi, so, perhaps, she could have come from the town of Hebron, which was a Levitical city. Mary would stay with Elizabeth for a period of three months until the time of John’s birth, and then she returned to Nazareth. Her song of Thanksgiving, called the “Magnificat” is similar to Hannah’s song, which was sung at the birth of Samuel.  No doubt, Mary had sung Hannah’s song many times before. Now her song becomes a prayer of thanksgiving, recalling what God would do not only for His chosen people but also for the people of the world.

Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you among women…” God uses a simple, plain girl to bring His Son into the world. Of all women in the world, God chose Mary to be the mother of the Son of God. How is she blessed? She is blessed because Mary was chose as the mother of the Lord. She is blessed because Mary’s child is the Lord. She is blessed because Mary believed in the word of God. Elizabeth’s greeting brings true joy because of who is being born, it is Christ the Lord. Her greeting brings true joy because of what He is going to accomplish. He is the Savior, who is Christ, the Lord. 

O God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS 
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for aid against temptation, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gideon


Judges 5-8; Hebrews 11:32

Gideon defeats the Midianites
Midianites and Amalekites had swarmed into the land, in such numbers for seven years that the Israelites sought refuge in caves and made hidden pits in grain. Gideon, with an army of three hundred men, armed with torches hidden in pitchers, at Moreh, with the direct help from God, gave them a terrific victory that they came no more.

Gideon’s original army was made up of the fearful, the foolish, and the faithful. God sent the fearful and the foolish home and did His work through the faithful. God can give the victory if we will trust entirely in Him. Gideon fully followed the plan of God, even when it meant doing some things that any observer would think crazy. Gideon was asked to cut his force to less than 1% of his original size. Gideon may have feared the battle but he did not shirk from his call.

The Psalmist reminds us - “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” “The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:1, 2, 4, and 8.  Today thank the Lord, for always being with you. Ask Him to help you trust His plan for your life for He is the one who wins our victories for us.

God of love, through Your Son You have commanded us to love one another. By the guidance of Your Word and Spirit, deliver us from impenitence and teach us the truth that we might confess our sins, receive Your forgiveness, and be reconciled to one another; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS   
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for reconciliation, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mary and Martha


Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44, 12:1-8

Jesus, Mary and Martha
Mary and Martha lived at Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem. It was in their home that Mary sat at the feet of the Savior, listening to His word. It was at this home that Jesus would raise their brother Lazarus to life. This miracle brought the Sanhedrin to a final decision to put Jesus to death. In this same house, the day before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem Mary anoints Jesus’ head and feet with expensive perfume and wiped them with her hair. What she had done would be told of her wherever her name would be mentioned.   

“That money could have been spent serving the poor!” “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages!” Spices and ointments were quite costly because they had to be imported. Frequently they were used as an investment because they occupied a small space, were portable, and were easily negotiable in the open market. Mary’s offering was valued at three hundred denarii (v. 5) approximately a year’s wages for an ordinary workingman. Perhaps it represented her life savings. Wiping his feet with her hair was a gesture of utmost devotion and reverence. The penetrative fragrance of the ointment that filled the house told all present of her sacrificial gift

With whom can you identify more? What can you learn about the progression of sin from Judas who “helped himself” to the communal money and “was later to betray” Jesus? What is the fundamental difference between Mary and Judas as revealed by his objection to what she did? What is the only thing that can explain Mary’s outpouring of this expensive perfume? Why is this appropriate in light of what Jesus was about to do (Vv. 23-24)? How might things have changed for Judas if he had been honest about what was going on in his heart at this point?

Almighty God, You gave Your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon Himself. Grant that we, Your adopted children by grace, may daily be renewed by Your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS  
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for spiritual renewal, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Joshua


Exodus 17, 24, 32, 33; Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:7-9

 Joshua succeeds Moses
Joshua, Moses’ successor would lead the Israelites into battle but the Lord gave the victory.  God gave Joshua the assurance that He had a plan and knew what He was doing in leading Joshua.  Every place Joshua set his foot on would be his.  No one would be able to stand up against him all the days of his life.  God would be with Joshua just as He was with Moses.

 This promise was God’s invitation for Joshua to stop focusing on himself, stop worrying about his abilities, competence, future, and success. Joshua was asked to depend on God. Joshua was asked to trust in God nothing more, nothing less. Is God able to see you through, whether it be at work, school, or at home?  Faith takes God at His word. Faith is the confidence that God is able. He is able, more than able; to accomplish what concerns me today. He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes my way. He is able, more than able, to do much more than I could ever dream. He is able, more than able, to make me what He wants me to be.

Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, that following his steps we may steadfastly walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS 
Collect for a right knowledge of Christ, Lutheran Service Book © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mary of Nazareth


Luke 1:26-56; 2; 4:16-30; 8:19-21

The Annunciation of Mary

The promise had been given; the Savior would be born from David’s family. Yet it had been a thousand years since David, and there were thousands of families of David’s descendants. Yet one of David’s descendants had been chosen to be the one through whom God’s Son would enter the world. Passed up were the ruling families in Jerusalem. Instead, a humble woman, from a lowly home in an obscure village is the district of Galilee was chosen to be the mother of God. Her name, of course, was Mary.

Many within the story of redemption are filled with fear and doubt. Mary is a rare exception. She does not doubt. Her only question is when this will take place. She leaves all into the hands of God and trust the message that nothing is impossible with God. Here is an example of a great and daring faith. She does not question, she does not doubt, she is not apprehensive. She knows she is the Lord’s vessel and is content to be used by Him. Faith calls for us to be of a similar mind. Faith trusts the promises of God confidently. Faith clings to God’s guarantees as they are spoken. To trust means nothing more than to take God seriously, to take Him at His Word, to trust His word boldly.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS  
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for a steadfast faith, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Caleb


Numbers 13

The Twelve Israelite Spies

Moses had planned to go directly from Sinai to Canaan. He intended to enter the promised land at once. But the spies brought a discouraging report. The people refused to go forward. They would have stoned Moses except for the miraculous intervention of God. This was the crucial point of the journey. Within sight of the promised land, they turned back. For them, the opportunity never returned. Caleb and Joshua, the two spies who wanted to go forward, were the only ones of the 600,000 men over the age of twenty who lived to enter Canaan.

The sending of the spies was the desire of the people, not the commandment of the Lord. The report of the ten was filled with pessimism, fear and doubt.  Unbelief always sees the obstacles; faith always sees the opportunities. The people succumbed to fear. The ten spies were masters at using emotional scare tactics to arouse the people (Numbers 14:1-2). Their evil report sparked terror in the hearts of thousands. Caleb and Joshua responded with optimism and faith. The had a keen reliance upon God. Because the people responded in fear, a generation was lost and the nation was forced to wander in the wilderness. They were not permitted to enter the land. What is fear? Fear is false evidence appearing real. Only a trust in God’s promises will eliminate fear.   

Almighty and eternal God, because it was Your will that Your Son should bear the pains of the cross for us and thus remove from us the power of the adversary, help us so to remember and give thanks for our Lord’s Passion that we may receive remission of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for Lent 5 Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

St Patrick




Almighty God, who in Thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, that the light of the Gospel might shine in their midst: Grant that they and we may so walk in that light that we may come at last to the glory of Thy presence. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

http://www.stpatrickchurch-heb.com/collectforstpatrick.html

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jael


Judges 4 -5

Jael kills Sisera

Jael’s story is similar to the one told about David and Goliath. A seemingly, weak person, Jael, triumphs over a terrifying and apparently invincible warrior, Sisera. The story celebrates the defeat of Israel’s enemies and the power of Israel’s God. Jael called Sisera into her tent, hid him and fed him. After he fell asleep, Jael killed him by driving a tent peg through the side of his head. She was hailed as a national heroine by the pursuing Israelite forces, led by Deborah and Barak.

The story is terrifying. A general is killed by a gruesome act. The grim reality is that we live in a fallen world. Terror and brutality still exist. Terrible acts of violence happen. Israel had been held hostage by a conquering king. Israel had been cruelly oppressed for two decades. The people’s cry for deliverance had gone up to the Lord. Barak had acted in fear. Jael acted in faith. By her act of bravery, Israel is delivered.  Jael’s daring act of courage translated into freedom. With Sisera dead, there was no longer a threat to Israel. The land had been saved and the people spared.  A greater good is served, but it is filled with violence. 

The crucifixion and death of Jesus is also by no means a pretty sight. Crucifixion was a cruel form of tourer. Only the vilest of offenders found themselves on the cross. But this was the means by which the world’s salvation was delivered. Christ the innocent person is handed over to a violent death to win for the world forgiveness and life.      

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon ourselves the armor of light now in the time of this mortal life in which Your Son Jesus Christ, came to visit us in great humility, that in the Last Day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS  
Collect for Newness of life in Christ, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Friday, March 15, 2013

Balaam


Numbers 22


Balaam’s donkey

Balaam the diviner is called to curse the people of God. This was a routine business arrangement for the prophets in a day when everyone believed in the power of words to influence events. Instead of cursing however, Balaam blesses to the anger of king Balak.  

When Balaam arrived in Moab, King Balak greeted him.  Together, they offered sacrifices of bulls and rams in order to secure backing from the spirit world for the curse of Israel.  However, the Lord intervened and each time Balaam prophesied, he pronounced a blessing on Israel instead of a curse.  After three attempts from three different locations, Balaam was able only to pronounce blessing on Israel and not a curse.  Balaam, listening to human temptation and is willing to push God to change his mind.

How often have we been tempted to bargain with God for things we knew weren’t in His will?    How often has the will of God been clearly stated in Scripture only to be tempted to look for a loophole? Yet, God does not go back on his Word.  Balaam’s donkey proves this point. Lent is a season of seeking after God. Where do we find Him, His will, His ways? They are clearly marked in Scripture. Our challenge is not only to discern the will of God but also to follow it after it has been made know to us in the clear teachings of His Word.

Almighty God, all that we possess is from Your loving hand. Give us grace that we may honor You with all we own, always remembering the account we must one day give to Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS   
Collect for the proper use of wealth, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis