Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday of Lent 4


Christ, the Life of All the Living – Lutheran Service Book #420
Matthew 27:33-46; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24


Christ the Life of all the living,
Christ the death of death, our foe,
Who thyself for me once giving
To the darkest depths of woe;
Through Thy suff’rings, death and merit
I eternal life inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be;
Dearest Jesus unto Thee.

The Father gives eternal life. In the Old Testament wilderness, anyone who looked at the brass serpent was saved. They were given the invitation to be saved. No one forced them to look. Those who did look were saved from the fiery venom.

Jesus promises that those who believe in Him have everlasting life. This is a gracious invitation to know who Jesus is, give assent to His grace, and trust Him to do what He promises. No strings attached!

Believers have life now. Believers have in their hearts right now the assurance that they are saved through Jesus’ merit. God loves us so much that He give us eternal life.

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.[1]



[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for aid against temptation; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Time in the Word - Lent 5


Time in the Word
Life out of Death
A Study for Lent 5
March  31-April 5, 2014





The theme “life out of death” appears in all three lessons. In the Gospel, Jesus raises Lazarus and teaches that he is the Resurrection and the life. Paul in the Epistle lesson teaches that the Spirit will raise our mortal bodies. It is the Word, which carries the Spirit, that brings new life to the dead. Through Ezekiel’s preaching of the Word, Israel’s dead bones came to life. Jesus raises Lazarus by a word of command, “Lazarus, come out!” The cross is getting very close. This experience with the raising of Lazarus was the immediate cause of the Passion. Caiaphas claims that it is expedient for one man to die for the people rather than for the nation to perish, and that one man should be Jesus. The result was a concerted effort to bring Jesus to death – premeditated murder.

Fasting in the season of Lent – Fasting as a means of spiritual discipline was a part of past Lenten observance. Form the time of the Apostles, Friday, the day of Jesus’ death, was a day of fasting. During Holy Week, Good Friday and Holy Saturday were days of fasting. In the 4th Century, fasting was extended to the entire period of Lent. The purpose of fasting is twofold. It was for personal discipline and for participation in the sufferings of Christ who in this season was on His way to Jerusalem to suffer and die. The second purpose of fasting was to render some service through fasting. There was a positive side to fasting: it was not only for personal benefit. Said one author, “What we forego by fasting is to be given as alms to the poor.” 

Prayer for Lent 5Almighty God, by Your great goodness mercifully look upon Your people that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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. Amen


Monday, March 31, 2014 – Psalm 116 - The Antiphon for this coming week’s Introit is taken from Psalm 43:1, Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. This is a prayer of an appeal for God to hear the petitions of the soul in prayer and to vindicate him according to his grace. This is our prayer when spoken in faith.   

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 – Ezekiel 37:1-14 - In the Old Testament lesson God’s Spirit through the Word raises a dead people – National death. The dry bones of Israel come to life through the preaching of the prophet.  While the outer person is living, he may be dead inside. Israel consisted by dry, dead bones. They were “dead” because they lost hope during their captivity in Babylon. A lifeless people, a dead church, can be revived with hope and love through the preaching of God’s Word.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – Romans 8:1-11 - In our Epistle lesson the Spirit raises us from death of the flesh to life as sons of God – Spiritual death. The Spirit makes us children of God. We can have both death and life in us. Though dead, we can live, and though living we can be dead. There is one type of life – existence, the physical, natural, earthly life. It is the life of the flesh lived in faith. This life is a product of the Spirit received at Baptism. Through 

Baptism a person is born again in the Spirit, adopted as a child of god, and now lives in the Spirit of righteousness. The new person knows he is related to God, because the Spirit witnesses to our spirits that we are God’s offspring.   

Thursday, April 3, 2014 – John 11:7-27, 38-53 – In the Gospel lesson Christ raises Lazarus from death – Physical death. Christ raises Lazarus from the dead.    In this passage, illness and death are considered means by which God is glorified. When we are ill, God’s healing reveals His glory. When we are dead, God’s raising us, like Lazarus is for the glory of God. In the Resurrection, the glory of God’s power is manifest. This offers hope to the afflicted, for they are assured of God’s help.

Eternal life is a present possession. It is not life after death, not life after life, but life during life. Jesus emphasized the present life – “I am the resurrection and the life.”  The quality of life begins at the moment of faith in Christ. It is not a natural endowment but a gift to those in Christ. We do not wait until death to go to heaven for life. We are given eternal life before death. If we do not have it before death, we will not have it after death.

Friday, April 4, 2014 – Psalm 130 The Psalm appointed for this coming Sunday is a testimony of trust in the Lord by one who knows that even though he is a sinner the Lord hears his cry out of the depths.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014 – John 11:16 – This verse is the inspiration for the hymn, “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” {LSB #685} The Hebrew word from which we get “Thomas” and the Greek word Didymus both mean ‘twin.”  We usually remember Thomas for his doubting, but he was also capable to devotion and courage. Our sermon hymn for tomorrow speaks of both aspects.

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
LECTIONARY PREACHING WORKBOOK A – John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH 


Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use

4th Sunday in Lent


God Loved the World So that He Gave – Lutheran Service Book #571
John 3:1-18

God loved the world so that He gave
His only Son the lost to save,
That all who would in Him believe
Should everlasting life receive.

God so loved the world. The Father sent His Son to be lifted up. By our very nature we are in grave danger. We aren’t plagued by snakes as the children of Israel were. But we are plagued by sin, which causes death. Christ came into the middle of our world, the snake pit, if you will. The Father lifted Jesus us on a cross, “and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) John 3:16 captures God’s plan. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to be lifted up for us.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies and new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[1]



[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for 4th Sunday in Lent; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lent 4




Lent 4
30 March 2014
John 9:1-41
Whom is this man going to the cross?

God of all mercy, by your prayer to heal and to forgive, graciously cleanse us from all sin and makes us strong.

We are now half was through the season of Lent. The second half of Lent begins in a lighter mood in preparation for the depth of sorrow coming in the Passion. Today’s three Lessons harmonize on the theme of light, vision, and insight. Samuel is given the insight to see that of all the sons of Jesse, David was the one to be king. Paul exhorts Christians as children of light to walk in the light of goodness. Jesus brought spiritual vision to the man healed by blindness. We pray in the Prayer that we may be cleansed from the darkness of sin that we may be children of the light, which is Christ. From the light of spiritual vision, for the cure of our spiritual blindness.

In Jesus’ day and in many respects, even today - the popular view was that sin caused suffering. It was held that sufferings were the direct result of a specific sin. In the case of the man born blind, the disciples asked, “whose sin” caused the handicap. Was it nature or nurture? Was the poor man the product of his environment? Or, was a person to be blamed for his condition?  Was it his parents’ sin or was it his own?

Jesus’ response is telling. He answered that no one sinned in this case. Some suffering is caused by sin, but in this situation, the Savior asks us to understand a new concept - we should see suffering as an opportunity for God’s healing.

Jesus comes to the rescue when a person is rejected. Because of his defense of Jesus, the healed man was excommunicated, ostracized, and cast out, a penalty next to death. From henceforth no one was to have any dealings with this man. When man comes to his extremity, Christ comes with compassion and support. Here is an insight into Jesus’ love for the downtrodden and oppressed.

Debby Boone’s 1977 hit song “You Light up My Life” refers to the boy or girl who lights up the other’s life. The lyric appeals to people’s basic needs.  We want someone to light up our lives that we may have love and happiness. If a lover can light up a life, how much more can Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, bring light, love, joy, and truth to a person! In the Gospel for this day, Jesus becomes the light of a blind beggar. 

In the Gospel lesson for this morning Jesus has an encounter with a man born blind. We are given insight by the power of the Spirit to give us vision.

Today we see how Jesus can light up your life.

1.  Light up your darkness — V. 40. “Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”  We may be blind and not know it.”

A.            Before we can come to the light, we must be aware of our need of light. There is the dualism of light and darkness. Christ is the light and the world is darkness. Darkness may at times overcome the light. Jesus sees his upcoming death as the hour of darkness. Thus, he must work now while there is light. The light shall ultimately conquer the darkness of evil. The book of Revelation portrays heaven as a place where there is no night.
 
B.            Jesus Christ is the very source of that light. This we confess in the words of the Nicene Creed.  Jesus Christ is “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, god of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (made of the same stuff as)  with the Father…”

Transition:  Jesus lights up your darkness – He also gives light to see.

2. Give light for you to see — V. 5. “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

A.            Light to see who you are — V. 2. “His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Only Christ who is “the cloudless Sun of joy”  is the only one capable who can disperse the darkness of sin and error with the true light of truth. God our Lord and Master is not some monster, enthroned in the heavens heaving lightning bolts at naughty children and all the “dirties” of this world –arresting and convicting those who get out of line or misbehave badly.

He is not content with merely punishing those who commit sin. His desire is to destroy sin completely.  He’s more serious about your sin then you could ever be!  He has devised a plan by which our sin has been dealt with for the last time. He bore our sin in His own body on the tree and then buried them forever in His tomb. Your sins will never see the light of day for they are forgiven and gone forever.  To receive the Savior’s gracious favor and to see the Father’s face has been accomplished by Jesus Christ the righteous One. There is but one word for us to ponder – Repent!

B.            Light to see the meaning of life — V. 25. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees could not accept Jesus as a man from God. In their view, a man of God does not break God’s laws. Was this Sabbath law the law of man or of God? For Jesus, human values were higher and of more importance than legal matters.
Man has a priority next to God, and laws are to serve the needs of man.  In contrast to the light of the healed man, the Pharisees are in the darkness of sin and unbelief. They are divided. Some claim He comes from God. Others reject Him because He dare to heal on the Sabbath.

C.            Light to see Jesus is the Savior — Vv. 35-37.  Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.
               
This man born blind receives physical and spiritual sight. It takes a whole chapter to tell the story of how Jesus brings spiritual light to a man born blind. The actual miracle is told in a few verses, but the healing gives an occasion for Jesus to bring a man from ignorance to truth, from being an agnostic at best to becoming a person of faith. We see the formation of faith: from “the man called Jesus,” to “a prophet,” to “a man from God” to “the Son of Man.”

Blindness is a terrible condition — life full of darkness. Close your eyes and imagine living with this handicap the rest of your life. I can remember a number of years ago we took the children to tour Mammoth Cave. We entered into a huge room and the tour guide explained to us that he would turn out the lights in the cave for us to get a sense of total darkness. Although the lights were off for just a few seconds the experience still lingers – the experience of total darkness, a “darkness that could be felt.” (Exodus 10:21) A darkness that suggests for us of God’s wrath and judgment.   God is light and gives the light of vision to His children.  While physical blindness may not be a problem, other forms of blindness spiritual are worse.

People need to know how Jesus Christ can give them perfect vision that they do not stumble nor fall in life’s journey. This is the message the Savior has given to you – not to get people to behave, not to get people to live purpose driven or successful lives, but for them to meet Jesus – the light of the world.  

1,444 –Words
12% - Passive Sentences
81.5 - Flesch Reading Ease

5.4 - Flesch-Kincaid Grade level

Saturday of Lent 3

All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night – Lutheran Service Book #833
Psalm 92:1-2; Psalm 4:8; Psalm 91



Teach me to live that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die that so I may
Rise glorious at the awe-ful day.

These are provocative lines, and those rarely expressed in song any more.  On the one hand, hymn’s author pleads with the Lord to teach him to live in such a way as to be cognizant and fearful of dying.  As the Psalmist puts it, “Teach me to number my days, oh Lord, that I may present unto Thee a heart of wisdom.”  On the other hand, we are called to die.   This is the paradoxical disposition of the Christian life that going to sleep reminds us of the eternal rest we have in Christ.

Eternal God, the hours of both the day and night are Yours, and to You the darkness is no threat. Be present, we pray, with those who labor in these hours of the night, especially those who watch and work on behalf of others. Grant them diligence in their watching, faithfulness in their service, courage in times of danger, competence in emergencies. Help them to meet the needs of others with confidence and compassion.[1]


[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect at the close of the day © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Friday, March 28, 2014

IN MEMORIAM

Richard Buuck 
Born into this world - September 1, 1912 
Baptized into Christ - September 8, 1912 
Confirmed in the Faith - March 28, 1926 
With Christ in Peace - March 26, 2014 
Committal - March 31, 2014 

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life - Revelation 2:10b

Friday of Lent 3


Jesus, Lead Thou On – Lutheran Service Book #718
Luke 12:32; 1 Peter 2:20b-21; 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:12


Jesus Lead thou on till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless,
Guide us by Thy hand
To our father-land.

Life sometimes is not fair. Sometimes the deck is stacked against you. Sometimes easy breaks don’t come your way. Yet your Lord knows all too well your needs. He has the sufficiency to supply them. He looks beyond the circumstances of your life to offer the peace no one else can offer.

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 sin, receive Your forgiveness, and be reconciled to one another; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. [1]



[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for reconciliation; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday of Lent 3

When Peace, like a River – Lutheran Service Book #763
Isaiah 26:3; Luke 2:29; Romans 5:1; Colossians 3:15

When peace like a river, attend-eth my way;
When sorrows, like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou last taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul

There are many challenges the Christian will face in life. There are many obstacles in our way. Yet the Lord has promised to direct our life. He orders your days He directs your life all is well when Jesus leads us. Circumstances as they are cause some to question, “is God with me?” There is suffering. There are persecutions. There is violence in this world. Jesus is the one who brok the darkness of our world to enter time and space. He came into this world to take on flesh, to bear your sin, to take on your pains, and sorrows, to bear your sin in His own body. He is the Savior that you need. You need not look for another. He came to be your Savior, friend and brother.

It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my soul.[1]


[1] Lutheran Service Book, When Peace, like a River refrain; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Psalm 23,4

Psalm 23:4
The Good Shepherd prepares us for a Happy Death
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (KJV)
26 March, 2014

We are now half way through our pilgrimage of Lent. The Good Shepherd shares His life with us. He also prepares us for a happy death. David now directs our attention to the tomb. The Scriptures remind us: “It is appointed for men once to die and after that comes judgment.” {Hebrews 9:27} How can we be assured of a happy death? David reminds us the assurance we have as we look at verse 4 of our Psalm for tonight. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4 (KJV)

1.      Death brings about parting and separation – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

There are numerous definitions of death. Some may suggest that death is the absence of specific functions of the body; such as no pulse, or that the person isn’t breathing, or that there isn’t any heart beat. Still other may say that the definition of death is the absence of brain waves.

Yet the Scriptures give us a concise definition of death. In the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 12 reminds us that the definition of death for the believer is the separation of the soul from the body.  “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7 NAS)  

When the body and soul are separated the Christian can safely assume that death has occurred. Parting is also a part of the entire dying process. It has been observed that especially when an elderly person, who had been married for some fifty, fifty-five, or sixty years looses a spouse often they quite frankly loose the will to live. The Lord commenting on the marriage union tells us in Genesis 2:24: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (NAS)  The bond of marriage grows stronger over the years. When death occurs after a half century of memories are made there is a parting that brings immense sorrow. 

David is correct, when death draws near, though it be a shadow, it casts a long silhouette and we walk through a deep valley filled with loneliness and sorrow. Even we Christians grieve at death. St. Paul says in 1Thessalonians 4:13-14: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” (NAS) Paul acknowledges that we grieve and sorrow at the point of death. We face separation and parting yet we grieve differently then those who have no Christian hope. We mourn our dead differently. We have a hope in the resurrection.

2.      Yet, there is peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – David reminds us: “I fear no evil”

The evil which men experience as death draws near is the prospect of facing God. It is amazing what men have said as they realized the certainty of their own demise. Consider what men have said on their deathbed.

Ø      Francis Voltaire, A French unbeliever said to his doctor: "I am abandoned by God and men! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months' life. Then I will go to Hell; and you will go with me. O Christ! O Jesus Christ!"

Ø      Thomas Paine, An American author and unbeliever: "I would give worlds, if I had them, that 'The Age Of Reason' had never been published. O God, what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Stay with me, for God's sake! Send even a child to stay with me, for it is Hell to be alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one."

Ø      Edward Gibbon, author of "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire": "All is dark and doubtful!"

Ø      Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist said: "Earth is receding, Heaven opens before me. God is calling...”

Ø      Paul the Apostle. -- AD 66: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." (II Timothy 4:7,8).

Ø      John A. Lyth: "Can this be death? "Why, it is better than living! "Tell them I die happy in Jesus!"[1]

3.      David reminds us. We are protected, even in death – “For Thou art with me

We do not walk alone. We walk through the valley of death with the Good Shepherd who took on death at the cross and defeated death and the grave once and for all. Jesus has promised: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20) We are never alone. The Good Shepherd has promised us “I will never, no never leave thee, nor ever forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) Here are no fewer then five negatives heaped together. They confirm a great promise. The believer in Christ shall have the gracious presence of God with him in life, at death, and forever!

4.      Life is but a pilgrimage. In death we take a walk from one end of the kingdom to the other; from the kingdom of grace to the kingdom of glory – As we take this walk we are comforted by our Good Shepherd: “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”



[1]  Quotations from "Knight's Master Book of New Illustrations" © 1956  Wm. B. Eardmens  Company

Wednesday of Lent 3

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds - Lutheran Service Book #524
Acts 4:12; John 14:13; Acts 2:21

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It sooths our sorrows, heals our wounds,
And drives away our fear.

"There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved." Acts 4:12

You can't help but notice the passion and exuberance of the Apostles in the weeks following the resurrection. Their lives had been changed by a man named Jesus! They wanted to share how we too could be saved.  This season of Lent is an excellent opportunity for us to tell others of the hope that is within us. As the early Christians’ lives were changed by experiencing Jesus’ death and resurrection we ask the Lord Jesus, allow me to know Your great love for me and help me to share Your love with those I encounter. The very name of Jesus gives us peace, comfort and assurance. How sweet is the name of the Savior in the ear of the believer.


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.[1]



[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for spiritual renewal; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday of Lent 3

Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer – Lutheran Service Book #918
Exodus 15:13; John 4:14; 6:32-35;


Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. Psalm 25:8-10

What else might we ask of God? We follow the example of the Psalmist and pray that God would also guide us all our days. Sadly ,we don't always keep our promises. We say we will, we intend to, but we don't follow through. We fail.

The Lord, is always upright and good. He is faithful and true. He always keeps His promises. We can always come to Him confidently. He encourages us to call upon Him in the day of trouble (Psalm 50:15). He promises that He will hear and answer. We will have reason to glorify Him as a result.

Almighty and ever-living God, You make us both to will and to do those things that are good and acceptable in Your sight. Let Your fatherly hand ever guide us and You Holy Spirit ever be with us to direct us in the knowledge and obedience of Your Word that we may obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. [1]


[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for divine guidance © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday of Lent 3

Glorious Things of You are Spoken- Lutheran Service Book #648
Psalm 87:1-14; 132:13-18; Isaiah 33:20-21; Exodus 13:21-22


Glorious thins of you are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
He whose word cannot be broken
Formed you for His own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake your sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
You may smile at all your foes

Picture springs of grace and mercy that flow down from heaven to God’s people along with springs of joyful praise that flow up to the presence of God. From God flow streams of blessing that supply abundant life along with our every need. Jesus spoke of rivers of living water that would flow to His people (John 7:37-39). James reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James. 1:17).

Lord God, Your Son wept over ancient Jerusalem, and He established the New Jerusalem firmly upon the rock and made it the mother of the faithful. Make us rejoice in Your Church, and grant that all people may be reborn into the freedom of Your Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord. [1]


[1] For All the Saints, Collect for Psalm 87; © 1994 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Time in the Word - Lent 4



Light to See

The Fourth Sunday In Lent was formerly known as Laetare Sunday, taken from the first Latin word of the Introit, Laetare, meaning to “rejoice.” It was also known as “Refreshment Sunday” because of the Gospel lesson of the feeding of the 5,000. 

The second half of Lent begins in a lighter mood in preparation for the depth of sorrow coming in the Passion. Today’s three Lessons harmonize on the theme of light, vision, and insight. Samuel is given the insight to see that of all the sons of Jesse, David was the one to be king. Jesus brought spiritual vision to the man healed by blindness. Paul exhorts Christians as children of light to walk in the light of goodness. Since David was called to be the shepherd of Israel, Psalm 23 is appropriate. We pray in the Prayer that we may be cleansed from the darkness of sin that we may be children of the light, which is Christ. From the light of spiritual vision, for the cure of our spiritual blindness, we can rejoice — Laetare!

Collects for Lent 4: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children, and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and  reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Father Creator, You give the world new life by Your sacraments. May we, Your Church, grow in Your life and continue to receive Your help on earth. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

God of all mercy, by your prayer to heal and to forgive, graciously cleanse us from all sin and makes us strong.

Collect for Psalm 142: Lord Jesus, hanging on the cross and left alone by Your disciples, You called on Your Father with a mighty cry as You gave up Your spirit. Deliver us from the prison of affliction, and by Yourself our inheritance in the land of the living, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit You are blessed now and forever. 

Monday, 24 March 2014—Psalm 84:1-4; antiphon, Psalm 84:5—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. Those who have come to know the Lord as their deliverer and the sustainer of their lives place their confidence in Him. This is the definition of faith. In this Lenten season, the cross looms closer. Place your confidence in Him and Him alone.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014—Psalm 142—key verse, verse 5, I cry to You, O Lord; I say You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. This is David’s prayer for rescue. The Lord is the sustainer and preserver of David’s life. We place our confidence in Him for He is the one who preserves us. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014—1 Samuel 16:1-13—God gives light to see character—Samuel anoints David to succeed Saul as king. Here is a story of a shepherd boy who is made a king. Because God was sorry he ever chose Saul to be the first king of Israel, he instructed Samuel to secretly anoint a successor to Saul. He is sent to the home of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint a replacement for Saul. Which one of the eight sons of Jesse did God want as king? All seven sons were interviewed but none satisfied God’s choice. The youngest, David, was in the fields caring for his father’s sheep. Samuel ordered him brought to him. Seeing the handsome youth, Samuel at once recognized him as God’s choice, anointed him king, and then departed. The Spirit that enlightened Samuel now rested mightily upon David.

Thursday, 27 March 2014—Ephesians 5:8-14—Christians live in the light of Christ. Christians are the children of light. Paul writes to people who have become Christians. He refers to their former lives of sin as “darkness.” Now they are children of light and are to live as lights in terms of what is good, right, and true.

There is a contrast between before and after Christ, between God and Satan, light and darkness, good and evil. Christians are to have no part in the works of darkness but rather they are to expose evil to the light. In his closing words, Paul calls for the dead (“asleep”) in sin to rise in the light of Christ.

Friday, 28 March 2014—John 9:1-41—In the Gospel lesson Jesus, the Light, gives spiritual vision.  A man born blind receives physical and spiritual sight. It takes a whole chapter to tell the story of how Jesus brings spiritual light to a man born blind. The actual miracle is told in a few verses, but the healing gives an occasion for Jesus to bring a man from agnosticism to faith. We see the formation of faith: from “the man called Jesus,” to “prophet,” to “a man from God” to “Son of Man.” In contrast to the light of the healed man, the Pharisees are in the darkness of sin and unbelief.

In Jesus’ day the popular view was that sin caused suffering. In the case of the man born blind, the disciples asked whose sin caused the handicap. Jesus answered that no one sinned in this case. Some suffering is caused by sin, but we should see suffering as an opportunity for God’s healing.

Saturday, 29 March 2014—Romans 8:29; 2 Peter 1:4; Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:18—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is On My Heart Imprint Your Image (LSB #422).  The knowledge of God is not an abstract concept but is couched in love and mixed with purpose. God not only knew us before we had any knowledge of Him, but He also knew us in the sense of choosing us by His grace before the foundation of the world. The reason God foreknew, predestined and conformed believers to Christ’s likeness is that the Son might hold the position of highest honor in the great family of God.


Sources:

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Sunday of Lent 3

May God Bestow on us His Grace – Lutheran Service Book #823
Psalm 67:1-2; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 55:1011; 62:1-2


May God bestow on us His grace,
With blessings rich provide us;
And may the brightness of His face
To life eternal guide us,
That we His saving health may know,
His gracious will and pleasure,
And also to the nations show
Christ’s riches without measure
And unto God convert them.

The goal of the Christian life is the appreciation of the Savior’s amazing grace and then sharing the Savior’s story with others. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting their sins against them and has given us this message of reconciliation. Today, celebrate your salvation in Christ. Thank the Lord for His mercy and grace. Then live your life as a redeemed child of God and share His story with others.

Almighty and everlasting God, You desire not the death of a sinner but that all would repent and live. Hear our prayers for those outside the Church. Take away their iniquity, and turn them from their false gods to You, the living and true God. Gather them into Your holy Church to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.[1]


[1] Lutheran Service Book, Collect for the mission of the Church; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lent 3

Lent 3 
John 4:5-26 
23 March 2014 

Isn’t it interesting how Jesus deals with this woman? He desires to bring her to faith. His desire is to change her life. The power of life-giving water is given to a Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at a well. As Jesus has an encounter with this woman, He offers to her a changed life as she exchanges her life for His. 

This is your story too. Experiencing that great exchange – God‘s mercy and forgiveness purchased at the cost of His own Son. From last Sunday’s gospel, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 

Today we witness and hear the dialogue between Jesus and a woman at the well. 

1. What Jesus might have done — He could have had a monologue. 

Jesus could very well have refused to speak to this Samaritan woman. Such was the custom of the day. Samaritans and Jews had nothing to do with each other. Each viewed the other as having compromised the faith. 

Jesus could have condemned her for her immoral life and nationalism. He chooses however to deal differently. He breaks through the moral problem by accepting a woman of doubtful character. He does not isolate Himself from a sinner. He addresses her sin and calls her to repentance. 

Jesus in dealing with this woman illustrates how He chooses to deal with each of us. May we each be thankful for the forgiveness of sins, life, salvation, which each of us receive as a gift. 

2. Notice how Jesus guides the conversation. 

Jesus begins on common ground, water. Vv. 7-9 

We see Jesus’ humanity. He is tired from walking. Thirsty from the noonday heat. Like any of us, He asks for a drink of water. We see His divinity. He offers living water of eternal life. He teaches about true worship of God, and admits that He is the Messiah. 

A transition to spiritual water Vv. 10-15

The woman’s respect for her traditions prevented her from seeing the great opportunity of the present. She asks, “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” Yet, the Savior offers her a greatest gift – the Father’s grace. Jesus gave His life. He gave it freely. That any who comes to Him He will certainly not cast out.

 Next, the morals question. Vv. 16-19.

 We cannot hide or equivocate. We can’t quibble or fudge. We are dead to rights. Our own sin condemns us. Especially when Jesus shows us our sin. “Sir, the woman said, “I can see that You are a prophet.” What is wrong in our life must be made right if we are to have satisfaction.

 Jesus inspires in us a desire. A desire for the gift of God. “But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst.

 Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (V. 14)

 Religious questions Vv. 20-24.

 Jesus shows us where to find the Father’s gift. We may be perplexed. As to which church is right. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

 Both Samaritans and Jews claimed to know the perfect will of God. Yet, they argued. As to where God was to be found.

 The true church is present where God’s Word is taught purely. The sacraments are administered according to Christ’s command. And forgiveness is applied in the lives of people. There we find the gift of God – salvation.

 True worshipers are not bound to any particular place or ritual. Jesus declares, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.’ (V. 21) The worship of God is in spirit and in truth. He is not bound to any outward group or building. Church organizations can cease to exist. What a wonderful promise. True worshipers, who make up the church, will continue throughout time.

 Jesus reveals Himself - The Messiah Vv. 25-26.

 Jesus reveals Himself to us in the Word. “I who speak to you am He!” We can have Him now, as we are, in our emptiness and thirst, for He is the gift that satisfies. John reminds us, “Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

 Our meditation begins with the woman’s question. “Could this Jesus be the Christ? Do you know the gift of God? As He spoke to the woman, so He speaks to you this day. “I who speak to you am He.”

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