Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday of Lent 4



Tuesday of Lent 4, March 28, 20167 Psalm 36:9
                                 

Psalm 36:9 English Standard Version (ESV)

9 For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

God and His Word are compared to as refreshing waters. (See Proverbs 18:4; Isaiah 55:1) God give life in both the temporal and eternal realms. Ultimately, for sinners, God provides the water of life through Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, we are in darkness. Knowing Him brings enlightenment and joy.   1

Christ gives us the eyes of faith. So we can see God. Because of our fallen nature, because we live in a broken world, we cannot always see clearly. St. Paul reminds us, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;” - 1 Corinthians 13:12 During this Lenten season, ask the Father to give you the eyes of faith to see not only the beauty in this world but the heart to make your community better. 

O God, with you is the well of life, and in your light, we see light: Quench our thirst with living water, and flood our darkened minds with heavenly light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. 2

[1] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Collect  for Tuesday of Lent 4,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday of Lent 4

                                


Monday of Lent 4, March 27, 2017 Psalm 27:4-6
                             

Psalm 27:4-6 English Standard Version (ESV)

4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
    and to enquire[a] in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all round me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

David is not asking to be a priest. He wants to enjoy God’s presence all his life. As sinners, we cannot see God in worship. But we recognizes God’s goodness and charter. God’s children who come in faith do not find a wrathful, terrifying God. God is beautiful to those who receive the Gospel.  1

It is the Gospel, which has changed us. God the Holy Spirit earnestly wants to convert all people and bring them to salvation through the Gospel. The Holy Spirit turns us through the new birth of Holy Baptism. The Gospel is that means by which the Spirit offers us all the blessings of Christ and creates faith in us. 

O Lord our God, in your Holy Sacraments you have given us a foretaste of the good things of your kingdom: Direct us, we pray, in the way that leads to eternal life, that we may come to appear before you in that place of light where you dwell forever with your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen 2







[1] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lent 4 outline and questions


Lent 4
John 9:1–41


Prayer of the Day: 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. Amen.

By His Word of the Gospel, Jesus Calls Us Out of the Darkness into His Marvelous Light

1. The disciples ask, “Who sinned…this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This question is still asked today. We don’t deserve bad. 

2. Faith hears the promise not the explanation. It is not that this many had sinned but that the Father’s work might be revealed.

3. The real miracle is seeing Jesus. The man is born blind only that he might receive faith. The man is able to see Jesus as the God who goes to die. 

4. This blind man first responds to Jesus' voice. Jesus tells him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam," which the blind man does. He hears Jesus before he sees Jesus. The story also narrates his gradual sight, from seeing Jesus as "the man called Jesus" (9:11) to addressing him as "Lord" and worshipping him (9:38). In fact, in 9:37 Jesus himself reveals the importance of both sight and hearing when it comes to belief, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is that one."

Points to ponder

1. People ask the question, “Why does she deserve this?” How might you respond? Why?

2. What is Jesus’ purpose in this miracle? Is there deeper meaning to merely receiving the gift of sight? 

3. Is it possible to see Jesus without first hearing His word? How? Why?

Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use

Images: http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/jesus-blind-man-pharisees/

Sunday of Lent 4



Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 26, 2017 Psalm 142:5
                            


Psalm 142:5 English Standard Version (ESV)

5 I cry to you, O LORD;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Here, the earthly inheritance is spiritualized to encompass “the land of the living” i.e. life itself in which God is our true inheritance.  1

Georg Pfefferkorn writes the following, ‘What is the world to  me! My Jesus is my Treasurer. My Life, my Health, my Wealth, My Friend, my Love, my Pleasure, My Joy my Crown my All, My Bliss eternally. Once more, then I declare: What is the world to me!” 2

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread, which gives life to the world: Evermore give me this bread, that he may live in me, and I in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen 3

[1] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis
[2] “What is the World to Me”, Stanza eight, The Lutheran Hymnal © 1943 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm



Time in the Word ~ Lent 5


Time in the Word
Life out of Death
A Study for Lent 5
March 27 –April 1, 2017



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 5 Almighty 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 27, 2017 – 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, March 28, 2017 – 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, March 29, 2017 – 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, March 30, 2017 – 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, March 31, 2017 – 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 1, 2017 – 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 SEVICE 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


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lent 4



Lent 4
March 26, 2017
John 9:1–41

By His Word of the Gospel, Jesus Calls Us Out of the Darkness into His Marvelous Light


Prayer of the Day: 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. Amen.




The words and actions of Jesus appear - at times - to be – Absurd. Puzzling. Strange. The poor and filled with good things. The rich are sent empty away. The righteous are declared to be sinners. Sinners are made righteous. To those who laugh He brings weeping. He gives laughter to those who mourn. The last He puts first. The first are last. The wise He shows to be foolish. To the foolish. He grants wisdom. He is the world’s Savior. But today He declares, “For judgment I came into this world.” (v.39)

1. The disciples ask, “Who sinned…this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This question is still asked today. I don’t deserve this pain. I did all the right things. I followed the rules. I made the right choices. What we’d like to hear is, “You don’t deserve bad. You deserve to be happy. You deserve somebody who doesn’t complicate your life. You deserve…better.”  Or, do you? Today we address the issue of pain, grief, loss…

We live in a world compromised by sin. And suffering is the consequence. Sorrow is the result and by-product. Enter a children’s hospital, a burn unit. Are these suffering for some specific misdeed? No.  Yet they certainly are the casualties of this broken world.

Jesus answers. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  Faith hears the promise. Not the explanation. It is not that this man had sinned but that the Father’s work might be revealed. The Father’s work is found in the sending of His Son Jesus - 

Every single Sunday we confess, “…who for us men and our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” (Nicene Creed)  Jesus, the Word who was made flesh, - your Lord and Savior, - remains with you at every juncture of life. Yes, there is a person who knows and understands you. His name is Jesus Christ. We need to remember, the Son of God inserted Himself in the grittiness of human flesh. He was a person who knew pain and anger. He became angry Himself on occasions, and ultimately became the victim of anger. This life that you live. Your struggles.  Your weakness.  Your woes.  Your sorrows. - Your Lord knows all. Because He became a man. 

The incarnation changes everything. You do not have a God who was too proud to know His people. Or, a God content to rule from a great distance. Or, a God whose majesty was too awesome for us to behold. Jesus is just the opposite. Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph, experienced the very same humanity, the very same problems, and the very same challenges that you do. No, you do not walk this road alone. Jesus is the God who came down from heaven. He was that man. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” –Isaiah 53:3

When we confess that we are, ''poor, miserable sinners,'' we aren't saying how terrible we feel. As in, ''It's so hot … I'm miserable.'' Miserable comes from the Latin word for mercy. We are saying, ''I am poor. I have nothing to offer. I am miserable. That is, I stand in need of your mercy.'' To be a miserable sinner is to be in need of Christ's mercy. To be miserable is to be exactly the kind of person in whom the Lord delights, for He delights in nothing more than showing mercy. That is the story of Christmas. And Good Friday. And Easter. That’s your story. It’s the story of Christ.  

2. The real miracle is seeing Jesus. The man is born blind only that he might receive…faith. The man is able to see Jesus as the God who goes to die. The author of the Hebrews reminds us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” – Hebrews 12:1-3

3. This blind man. First responds to Jesus' voice. Jesus tells him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." Which the blind man does. He hears Jesus before he sees Jesus. The story also narrates his gradual sight, from seeing Jesus as "the man called Jesus" -John 9:11 to addressing him as "Lord" and finally worshipping Him. -John 9:38. In fact, Jesus Himself reveals the importance of both sight and hearing when it comes to belief, "You have seen Him, and the one speaking with you is that one." –John 9:37

So, how do we make sense of all this? Recall Jesus words "For judgment I came into this world.” (v.39)   Jesus did not come to condemn but to save. It all boils down to what your stance is concerning the person and work of Jesus. In this broken world, you might consider yourself like this blind man. Total other. An outsider. Condemned. Misunderstood. Convicted. You might feel more like a criminal than a citizen might. Yet we always have hope. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”  - 2 Corinthians 4:7-11


But lo, there breaks
A yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant
Rise in bright array;
The King of Glory
Passes on His way
Alleluia!  

Points to ponder…

1. People ask the question, “Why does she deserve this?” How might you respond? Why
2. What is Jesus’ purpose in this miracle? Is there deeper meaning to merely receiving the gift of sight? 
3. Is it possible to see Jesus without first hearing His word? How? Why?
_________________________
Words-1,245
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –80.7%
Reading level –4.2
Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use
Images: http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/jesus-blind-man-pharisees/
Sources/Notes: http://www.chadbird.com/blog/2017/3/22/how-can-a-blind-man-thank-god-for-his-eyes via @birdchadlouis
For All The Saints stanza 7 Lutheran Service Book  ©2006  Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Saturday of Lent 3



Saturday of Lent 3, March 25, 2017 Psalm 25:20                
 

Psalm 25:20 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
    Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

God promises to answer prayer. But we may be impatient or tempted to question His answers. Even when our faithfulness fails, God is faithful. He hears our prayers and truly acts for our good. In faith, we patiently wait for Him. Almighty God, give us the trust and patience to wait for You and the faith to believe Your promises. 1

We only have the perspective of time. We know the past and are aware of the present. Yet often we might not know all of the details or all of the circumstances which have brought us to a certain moment in time. God is eternal. He knows and sees everything. Faith trusts in Christ who is all in all. With the Psalmist we pray, “My times are in Your hand, rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!” –Psalm 31:15

O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  2

[1] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Collect for Saturday of Lent 3,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday of Lent 3



Friday of Lent 3, March 24, 2017 Psalm 25:15-16



Psalm 25:15-16 English Standard Version (ESV)

15 My eyes are ever towards the LORD,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.

David depicts himself as a helpless animal, trapped in a net. A poetic description of David’s affliction by his enemies. 1

To whom shall we go? We run headlong into the waiting arms of our Lord. In the common confession of our sin we pray the following, “Almighty God, our maker and redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto You that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against You by thought, word, and deed. Wherefore we flee for refuge to Your infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Your grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2  This prayer reminds us that we take solace in the mercies of Christ. 

Charles Wesley penned the following hymn verse, “Other refuge have I none; Hangs my helpless soul on Thee. Leave, ah, leave me not alone. Still support and comfort me! All my trust on Thee is stayed, All my help from Thee I bring, Cover my defenseless head With the shadow of Thy wing.3  May this be your constant prayer.  

Grant us, O Lord our Strength, to have a True Love of your Holy Name; so that, trusting in your grace, we may fear no earthly evil, nor fix our hearts on earthly goods, but may rejoice in your full salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. 4

[1] Concordia Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis
[2] The Confession of Sins, Divine Service Setting Three, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Jesus, Lover of My Soul, Stanza Two, The Lutheran Hymnal, © 1943 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[4] Collect for Friday of Lent 3,   http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday of Lent 3



Thursday of Lent 3, March 23, 2017   Psalm 4:8
               

Psalm 4:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

David complains that his enemies are speaking ill of him as king in an attempt to shame him. He reminds them that God sets apart the godly from those who behave in such a manner. How often do we find ourselves speaking ill of people in authority of colleagues and peers? God’s Word condemns unjust complaints. Through David, God encourages us to turn from our sinful ways and “trust in the Lord.” Such trust brings peace of mind and eternal peace. You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Teach me to judge rightly and dwell in peace. 1

David will say in Psalm 3:5, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” It is the Lord who sustains us through life. The hymn verse reinforces this with the words, “Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; His grace has brought me safe thus far, His grace will lead me home.” 2

Keep watch over you church, O Lord, with your unfailing love; and, since it is grounded in human weakness and cannot maintain itself without your aid, protect it from all danger, and keep it in the way of salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen 3

[1] Concordia Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis
[2] Amazing Grace stanza 3, The Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Collect for Thursday of Lent 3, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I AM the Vine



Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
Friedheim
Celebrating our 179th Year
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
260.547.4248
www.zionfriedheim.org

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Chartered 25 February 1838
Mid-week 4
March 22 2017
Jesus said, “I am the Vine”
John 15:1-17

One of Indiana’s best-kept secrets is its winery’s scattered across the Hoosier heartland. There are no less then thirty-five wineries located in the state of Indiana. The Indiana State Fair International wine competition has grown to be the second largest in the nation with over 6,000 amateur and professional vintners offering their selections to be judged each July. One vine carefully pruned and treated can produce a crop of grapes, which can make some of the choicest wines. The Indiana Wine Grape Council has become a lucrative business. 

In our text for tonight Jesus explains to us, “I am the vine.” By these words, what would He have us know concerning His person?

I. Jesus is the vine who gives life.

A. We are the branches.

1. The Father, the gardener, prunes every branch that does bear fruit so that it will be clean and bear more fruit.  

2. His message – “Remain united to Me and I will remain united to you.” (v.4)

B. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself.

1. It can do so only if it remains in the vine. (v.4b)

2. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” (4c) Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.

II. We are the branches.

A. We are connected to Jesus the true-life source.

1. Whoever remains in Me and I in him, will bear much fruit.” (v.5) This is a guarantee that the good works of faith will be evident.

2. You can do noting without Me.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  It is He working in you to do His (the Father’s) good pleasure.

B. His desire is to keep us connected to Him.

1. You have been made clean already by the message I have spoken to you.” (v.3)
a. It is the Gospel message, which converts and saves.
b. Sharing with others the story of the bloody cross and empty tomb will make them Easter people.

2. His plea, “remain united to Me and I will remain united to You” (v.4) The Father may cut and prune to help us produce better fruit but He will never cut us off so long as there is faith. He will only sever those who refuse to bear fruit.

Transition: Christ is the vine, we are the branches. It is fruit, which the Father desires.

III. The Father as gardener comes seeking fruit.

A. If we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit.

1. He prunes the branch so that lush fruit is produced. Discipline when we endure it does not seem pleasant. We gain often through pain. As we reach out to Him seeking His aid and comfort we grow in our faith.

2. Discipline is not punishment! God is working in us to will and to do His good pleasure.

B. If not, we’ll surely die.

1. He breaks off every branch in Me that does not bear fruit.”
a. Faith without works is dead according to James.
b. Works are not the basis for but the result of faith.

2. Whoever does not remain in Me is thrown out, like a branch and dries up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire where they are burned.” (v.6)
a. It is not our duty to do the cutting and pruning.
b. Only the Father will do this.
1. On the Last Great Day.
2. At the close of the Age.

Two words apply to the Christian – “You have been made clean already by the message I have spoken to you.” (v.3) – “Remain united to Me and I will remain united to you.” (V.4)
________________
Words – 636
Passive Sentences – 6%
Readability – 81.4
Reading Level – 4.5


Wednesday of Lent 3



Wednesday of Lent 3, March 22, 2017 Psalm 136:26    
           

Psalm 136:26 English Standard Version (ESV)

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

God is constantly at work transcending everything mundane. The comprehensive listing of God’s works and mercies culminates with His rule of heaven, where all His saints will enjoy His steadfast love forever.  1

The premise of the whole psalm is “His steadfast love endures forever.” What does it mean that God’s love is steadfast to His redeemed people? It means His love is always present, unending, and loyal.

Christ’s love is always present. In your deepest fear, failures and rebellion He is always near to give you grace. This affects your relationship with Him –The love of God saves you from despondency and isolation. Christ’s love is unending. As your deepest fear, failures, and rebellion continues and persists, Christ still meets you with more grace. Because His grace always outlasts your sin. God doesn’t love you more when you obey Him more. Grace saves you from the guilt brought on by your own performance.

Give ear to our prayers, O Lord, and direct the way of your servants in safety under your protection, that, amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage, we may be guarded by your mighty aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. 2

[1] Concordia Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Collect for Wednesday of Lent 3,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday of Lent 3



Tuesday of Lent 3, March 21, 2017   Psalm 84:5


Psalm 84:5 English Standard Version (ESV)

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.[a]

We are on a Lenten pilgrimage traveling to Zion, the city of God. Our strength is in the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. In what ways do you draw strength from God? In what manner does He speak to you? How can you position yourself to be receptive to Jesus’ call in your life? Meditate on these things today.  

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom you have given a fervent desire to pray, may, by your mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. 1

[1] Collect for Tuesday of Lent 3, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday of Lent 3



Monday of Lent 3, March 20 Psalm 84:1-4  
   

Psalm 84:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)

My Soul Longs for the Courts of the LORD

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith.[a] A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
84 How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
    my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
    ever singing your praise! Selah

This is a prayer of someone separated from the sanctuary, longing to stand within the precincts in God’s presence. The unknown reason for the separation makes this psalm more universal, aptly prayed by shut-ins, prisoners, travelers, Sunday workers, and all who have been temporarily separated from congregational worship. 1

Lent is a time for us to reconnect with God. Lent is a great time to meet Jesus again. We can rediscover His timeless message in the Scriptures. We can re-live Jesus’ passion and death as we read the Scriptures. We can renew ourselves through Jesus’ constant presence in His Supper. In the midst of our crazy lives, busy schedules, and the constant noise of our everyday world, Lent is a perfect opportunity to slow down and reconnect - with God, with the poor, with the church, and with ourselves.  As you ponder this thought today, consider how you might restart that journey now. What would make sense to you today? 

Look upon the heart-felt desires of your humble servants, Almighty God, and stretch forth the right hand of your majesty to be our defense against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen 2

[1] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Collect  for Monday of Lent 3, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lent 3 outline & notes

Lent 3
19 March 2017
John 4:5–26

Jesus leads us to know the gift of God
1. Jesus makes us aware of our need for God’s gift.
A. He reminds us that earthly wells cannot quench spiritual thirst. V. 13
B. Jesus puts His finger the cause of our thirst. V. 16

Transition: Jesus leads us to know the gift of God by first bringing us to an awareness of our need for that gift. Then He shows us where to find it.

2 Jesus shows us where to find God’s gift.
A. We find it in the true church.
B. We find it among true worshipers.
C. We find it in the Savior Himself.

Do you know the gifts of God? Jesus says to you, “I who speak to you am He.”

Points to ponder

What do you do when you’re thirsty, you have no bucket, and the well is deep?

Any time we label someone as “other”, for whatever reason be it social, political, racial, religious, sexual, we dehumanize them. That’s a slippery slope. With the label “other”, it becomes easier to call someone a name. It becomes easier to limit rights and create a second-class citizen. It becomes easier to do things that are so cruel and inhuman that we are left wondering how did this happen? Have you ever had such an experience?  Where do you see this happening today?

In what way can you identify with the woman at the well? 

What is the one question you would ask Jesus if you could? 

What token of your difficult life would you leave behind?  Why? 

Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use

Third Sunday in Lent



Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017 Psalm 95: 6


Psalm 95:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

Do these words sound familiar? They should. We sing them as part of the liturgy. The Venite which translates “O Come, Let Us Sing” is a direct quotation of Psalm 95:1-7 It can be found on pg. 220 in the Lutheran Service Book in the Order of Matins and on pg. 235 in Morning Prayer

Hebrews 4:7 attributes this Psalm to King David. This portion of Scripture is recited on Wednesday at the end of the daily Jewish morning prayer services. These verses are recited in both Christian and Jewish congregations because of their inspiring message. When we sing these verses, we are singing the same Scripture that God’s people have been singing for thousands of years. Our worship is timeless. These words connect us to countless generations of the past. It is the bond we have to each other. It links us to a life with Jesus, which will have no end. The next time you find yourself singing these verses either in Matins or in Morning Prayer consider how these words of Scripture have inspired literally millions of people as the journey from grace to glory.  

Almighty God, you know that I have no power in myself to help myself: Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ the Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen 1

[1] Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Time in the Word ~ Lent 4


Time in the Word
20-25 March 2017
Preparation for next week, 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, 20 March 2017Psalm 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, 21 March 2017Psalm 142key 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, 22 March 20171 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, 23 March 2017Ephesians 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, 24 March 2017John 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, 25 March 2017Romans 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. 


Collect for the Annunciation of our Lord (March 25): O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son, Jesus Christ, by the message of the angel to the virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.


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.