Sunday, January 21, 2018

Time in the Word - Epiphany 4



Prayers for the Epiphany SeasonO God, you know that we cannot withstand the dangers, which surround us. Strengthen us in body and spirit so that with your help, we may be able to overcome the weakness that our sins has brought upon us.

Almighty God, you sent your Son to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with the power of your Spirit that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind upon the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives.

O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

For citizenship – Lord keep this nation under Your care. Bless our nation with faithful leaders that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Grant that he may make wise decisions for the general welfare and serve You faithfully in this generation; through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.

A prayer before we study the WordAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith

There is no one in the whole world who can withstand death. All men flee from it and quake in terror before it. Nevertheless, they are overtaken by death. But faith remains firm and stands up against death. Faith conquers death and devours this ravenous glutton. Likewise, the whole world cannot constrain or suppress the flesh. But faith takes hold of the flesh and subdues it. Faith bridles the flesh into obedience. Similarly, no man can endure the raging, persecution, blasphemy, reproach, hatred and jealousy of the world. It makes a mockery of faith and treads it under foot, and even finds joy and pleasure in all this. Yet faith alone is the victory that overcomes the world.  (Martin Luther)


Time in the Word
January 22-27, 2018
Preparation for next week, Epiphany 4

The theme for the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany can be summarized by the word authority. Jesus teaches and heals with authority. A prophet like Moses is to be obeyed because he speaks the words of God. This is an authority of God’s Word. In the Epistle lesson authority is implied: Knowledge of God gives authority to be free from idols. A review of Luther’s great teaching hymn, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice,” (LSB #556) would be an excellent devotional guide as you read the propers for this coming week.

Collect for Epiphany 4—Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, January 22, 2018Psalm 32:1-2, 5-7 –- The Antiphon is taken from Psalm 32:10, “Many are the woes of the wicked but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him.”Appealing to God’s unfailing love, kindness, and mercy is frequent in the Old Testament since it summarizes all that the Lord covenanted to show to His people. This is an excellent Psalm which gives testimony to the joy the sinner has having experienced the Father’s forgiveness in Christ.

Tuesday, January 23. 2018Psalm 111—The key verse of this psalm is verse 3,”Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.” The Psalmist praises the Lord for His unfailing righteousness. The psalm combines hymns of praise with instruction in wisdom. Truly, an excellent Psalm.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018—Deuteronomy 18:15-20— The authority of reception – who gave it to you. God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses. The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ last address to the people before entering the Promised Land. Sunday’s Old Testament lesson is a part of a section dealing with prophecy. A prophet like Moses is promised to replace the false prophets. This true Moses will mediate between the Lord and the people. The passage explains how through Moses God provided for the institution of prophecy. True prophecy demands obedience on the part of the people and loyalty by the prophets. 

Thursday, January 25 20181 Corinthians 8:1-13—The authority of revelation – what you know. Knowledge of God gives freedom to eat meat offered to idols. Paul discusses a specific situation in Corinth, which caused a problem for Christians. Pagans participated in offering animal sacrifices to their gods. Part of the meat was burned on an altar and the rest was sold for food at the markets. Some Christians had no qualms of buying such meat for home consumption while others were conscience-stricken at the idea, for it seemed to them that they were participating in a pagan practice. Paul says no one should object to meats offered to idols because idols have no existence. God is the one and only true God. However, if some weaker brothers still feel it is wrong, those who have the knowledge that God alone is God should not each such meat to prevent offense and the destruction of their faith.

Luther speaking of “Christian liberty” once said the Christian is the freest of all men but the servant of all. Our knowledge of God frees us from superstition, legalism, and a bad conscience, but love enslaves us for the welfare of our brother who might not yet have such knowledge. How many Christians today are willing to sacrifice their freedom of life-style to prevent offending a narrow Christian?

Friday, January 26, 2018Mark 1:21-28The authority of identity – who you are. With authority Jesus teaches and drives out an unclean spirit. After calling four disciples, Jesus begins his ministry by teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. The people are impressed by His authoritative teaching compared with the teaching of the scribes. A man in the congregation has an evil spirit, which addresses Jesus and knows Him to be the Messiah. With authority, Jesus commands the demon to leave the man. At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus comes into contact with evil powers. As God’s Son, He conquers the evil spirit. He does it by exercising His authority as God’s Son.

The word “immediately” (Vv. 21, 23) is a word Mark will often use. It has theological significance. It denotes a sense of urgency and importance. The Kingdom cannot wait. There is no place for laxity or procrastination. One must work while it is day before the night comes. The fields are white unto harvest. Jesus has a world to save in three years! He has the whole truth of God to reveal. He needs to set up a movement to carry on His work when He leaves. The church today needs to imitate Christ in this matter to overcome lethargy. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018John 6:37—The hymn of the day is, “Just as I Am, Without One Plea,” (LSB #570). God’s action, not man’s, is primary in salvation and Christ’s mercy is unfailing. See John 6:44, 10:29, 17:6, 18:9. This hymn has become a treasured hymn of many people.

Sources:

LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES B © 1981 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH

Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition.55 volumes. (Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

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







Saturday, January 20, 2018

Epiphany 3



Epiphany 3 – 21 January 2018
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
A lesson in Repentance


All three lessons for today deal with the issue of repentance. Each says individually and collectively “it’s time to repent!” In our Old Testament reading we have a three-fold act of repentance: Jonah, Nineveh and God. – Here we see true repentance - demonstrated by God, by others and self. What is repentance? It is more than mere sorrow over sin. It is a complete turn-around. It is a change of mind. It is the beginning of a new life.

Who needs to repent?

1. You do – like Nineveh – Vv. 1-2 “A message came to Jonah from the Lord a second time. He said, ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce to its people the message I give you. Repent!’” 

Remember the 5 “R’s” of repentance…

1. Responsibility – I own up to my sin. I name it. And call it my own.
2. Remorse – I am heart sorry.
3. Repair – I attempt to fix what we’ve broken. - Inasmuch as I are able. Some things can not so easily be repaired; a life, one’s good name, a reputation. These might not be able to be replaced. Or take a lifetime to rebuild.
4. Repeat not! – I don’t have permission. To return to visit!

Note: These four steps; leading to repentance, come from Dr. Laura Schlesinger, she’s an author and nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. She suggests; quite convincingly, that this is all we need to right a wrong. Yet, one component is missing. A 5th step is necessary; the final step, which separates Christians from the rest of the world; a step, which turns from following rules to establishing a connection with God Himself. The 5th step necessary: 

5. Reconciliation - through Christ alone! This we find in the message of the cross. St. Paul would remind us, “I determine to know nothing among you except for Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”(2 Corinthians 5:19)

Transition: Who needs to repent?

2. Others – like Nineveh – Vs. 5 The people of Nineveh believed God's warning. “The people of Nineveh believed God.”  They decided not to eat any food for a while. All of them put on black clothes. That's what everyone from the least important of them to the most important did

They don’t hesitate like Jonah did. They respond immediately. The people of Nineveh, like the sailors, who pleaded with Jonah, before throwing him overboard; they too repent. 

As Christians we are called to be in the world but not of it- that means we are called to be living in America, but not to live by the current American mindset especially if and when that mindset often will run contrary to God's Word. 

This coming week, we remember the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v Wade. Will abortion on demand be overturned? As I see it, not in the near future. But we as individuals can do our part in standing for life issues and in defense of those who cannot speak, for themselves. [Namely the unborn], And especially to support those who are advocates. [The hope clinic] For to be a witness we must start in our own community becoming advocates for the entire spectrum of life including those whose quality of life is in jeopardy or whose life is in danger because of neglect, or abuse. 

Daily we must be a people of prayer, asking the Lord to spare us from peril, praying for Him to direct us, to give order to our days. And it starts with our attitude.

The problem with Jonah is the fact that He knew the character of God. He knew God would relent. That if Nineveh were to repent God would forgive. And that upset him! So he went the opposite direction. And then, when Nineveh did repent, he became angry with God. Hating His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness. 

Who wants God to change God’s mind, especially when it means not destroying those whom we despise? Jonah becomes angry after preaching because, as he says, “O LORD! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and great to relent from punishing?” (Jonah 4:2). 

And Jonah sees God changing God’s mind as “greatly” displeasing. But changing God’s mind when people or nations repent also is a part of the Divine character. (See Jeremiah 18:7-8 “If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it,  and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.”). 

This is why God has to call Jonah “a second time.” Because when he ran, Jonah did not want to see Nineveh repent. He didn’t want that abounding grace to extend beyond his people, even though he KNEW, he just KNEW, it would happen. And the people do repent.

Transition: Who needs to repent?

3. God – Yes, God repented - as He changed His mind from judgment to mercy. - Vs. 10 “God saw what they did. They stopped doing what was evil. So he took pity on them. He didn't destroy them as he had said he would.” This is the heart of the Gospel. God didn’t destroy the city of Nineveh. He had pity on them. He extended mercy. 

God has had compassion. He has taken pity on you. Christ bore your sins in His own body that you might die to sin and now live unto righteousness. He has taken your sin and in His suffering death and passion He gives you a new life.

Each of us stands in the need of mercy. Jonah was given that second chance. In this we see we have a gracious God. As God gives you yet another chance to do better, it is incumbent upon you give others when they sin against you another chance to make good and to do better.

Words-1,075
Passive Sentences –4%
Readability –75%
Reading Level –5.4
Icon https://www.pinterest.com/pin/295126581811493942/


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Time in the Word - Epiphany 3


Time in the Word
January 15-20, 2018
Preparation for next week, Epiphany 3

The theme for the third Sunday after the Epiphany is the concept of time. The word time is mentioned in each of the lessons. It was time for Jesus to begin His ministry and to call disciples, time for Jonah to preach to the people, and time for them to repent. It was time for Christians to live in the light of the end of time. As we seize the time to serve God in this generation, we have security in the knowledge of God’s nature. The Hymn for the Day has its focus on Christ our true and only light.

Collect for Epiphany 3Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Monday, January 15, 2018Psalm 113:1-2, 4, 7-8—The Antiphon, is taken from Psalm 113:3, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! These words are taken from a hymn to the Lord celebrating His high majesty and his mercies to the lowly. It was probably composed originally for the temple liturgy. As the Lord is enthroned on high, He is exalted over all creation.

Tuesday, January 16. 2018Psalm 62—The key verse of this psalm is verse 8, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well
 The Psalmist commits himself to God when threatened by the assaults of conspirators who wish to dethrone him. Verse three suggests a time of weakness and may indicate advanced age. Implicitly the psalm is an appeal to God to uphold him. No psalm surpasses it in its expression of simple trust in God. The little Hebrew word אַךְ (’ak) begins six of the twelve verses; it is short, but significant, having the meaning “only.” “My soul finds rest only in God.” “He only is my rock and my salvation.” “Find rest, O my soul, only in God.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018Jonah 3:1-5, 10—Jonah obeys God’s command to preach to Nineveh; the people and God repent. Jonah refuses to obey God’s command to preach to Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrians. After Jonah repents and is vomited out of a large fish, Jonah obeys and preaches judgment to Nineveh. The coming disaster causes the government and people to repent. Thereupon God decides not to condemn the city. Jonah reflects the nationalistic concept of God. The Lord is not the God only of Israel but of any who would repent and trust the Lord. Judgment motivates repentance and God’s mercy is extended to any people who repent, regardless of nationality or race. God’s salvation depends on repentance and not on national origin. 

Thursday, January 18, 20181 Corinthians 7:29-31—Live in the light of Christ’s imminent return. This reading comes from the chapter dealing with marriage. The Lesson begins with life— lives in relation to the end of the world and Christ’s return.  Paul teaches that the status quo in one’s life should be maintained, for soon the whole song will be over. A Christian is not to get involved with the world or to change his vocation. He is to continue doing what he has been doing, for the end of life on earth is near. Today’s life is to be viewed in relation to eternity.

When this is done, the present issues of earthly life become insignificant. Paul is not teaching withdrawal from the world [such as the Amish community] but to tolerating and persevering in what we are now doing.

In verses 29-31 Paul uses “as though” five times. He urges us to live as though conditions did not exist. It is a kind of “make believe” style of life. Since the end of the world is at hand, we are to live as though the world no longer existed. It is a manner of living that does not take seriously the things of this passing world. Our interests and values are set upon Christ’s values.

Friday, January 19, 2018Mark 1:14-20—Jesus begins His ministry and calls four disciples. Jesus has been ordained in His ministry at His baptism. He struggles with Satan in deciding upon the method of His ministry. With John the Baptist arrested, He feels the urge to begin His public ministry. He begins to preach in Galilee.

The content of His preaching is the gospel of God, the good news that the King is here. In the light of this, people are believing and repenting. Faith and repentance are not necessarily conditions of bringing or entering the Kingdom, but the response to the fact that the Kingdom is here in Jesus. Then, Jesus begins to choose His leaders by calling four men whose future will be catching men.

Jesus immediately called certain ones to be disciples. He knew whom he wanted and needed. He did not have to weigh the matter. There was no problem of making up His mind. In like manner, the Disciples accepted the call. To be a Christian one does not need neither to weight doctrinal matters nor to consider theological alternatives. There is the certainty of responding to the challenge of the call to follow the Master. There is no hesitation, no need to think it over. In an instant one knows it is the right thing to do. 

Philip Melanchthon one of the co-writers of our Lutheran Confessions relied on this passage to show the proper Scriptural teaching that repentance always has two parts – contrition and faith.

Saturday, January 20, 2018Luke 1:79—The hymn of the day is “O Christ, Our True and Only Light” (LSB 839).Those who are lost, separated from God are found only in Jesus Christ. In the season of Epiphany, we see more clearly who Jesus really is. By His words and actions, we come to the conclusion that He can only be God made flesh. See also Isaiah 9:1-2 and Malachi 4:2.   

Prayers for the Epiphany Season–Almighty God, you sent your Son to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with the power of your Spirit, that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind upon the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives.


O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Most merciful God, You gave Your eternal Word to become incarnate of the pure Virgin. Grant Your people grace to put away fleshly lusts that they may be ready for Your visitation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Gospel is a good report, discourse and proclamation of Christ, announcing that He is nothing else but pure goodness, love and grace. Such a report could not possibly be made concerning any other human being, or any of the saints. For, although the other saints were men of quite good repute, a report on them does not constitute the Gospel as such. It is Gospel only when the goodness and grace of Christ are proclaimed. Even though mention is made of famous saints and their doings, this does not make the report the Gospel. The Gospel bases Christian faith and confidence solely on the rock, Jesus Christ.  (Martin Luther)

Sources
LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES B © 1981 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes.(Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts  © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Epiphany 2


Epiphany 2 – 14 January 2018
Mark John 1:43-51

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael


Lord God, You showed Your glory and led many to faith by the works of Your Son. As He brought gladness and healing to His people, grant us these same gifts and lead us also to perfect faith in Him.

How do you related to Jesus? That’s what our text calls to us to consider. What is the proper relationship of Jesus? Some have not any. They haven’t any connection or association to Him. How does such a relationship start? It is inaugurated by the Savior’s simple invitation, “Follow Me”

We need to examine today our relationship to Jesus Christ to be motivated to a relationship of true discipleship. You can go three directions with respect to your relationship with Jesus Christ. You can go before Him, you can go beside Him, or you can go behind Him. 

1. You can go before Him. In such a case, You are out in front, living your own life, making your own decisions, following your own plans, strategies and agendas. Jesus is placed second. Certain persons from the Scriptures took a similar journey. Such would be found in men such as Pilate who simply didn’t want to be bothered by Jesus. Although Pilate found Jesus innocent of any crimes, nothing close to handing Him a death sentence, Pilate had the Savior scourged hoping this would satisfy the crowd. But it wasn’t enough. Pilate condemned Him to quiet the crowd. Jesus was expendable. For Pilate the goal was to win no matter what the cost. 

Caiaphas saw Jesus as a threat to his power base. Jesus had the potential to steal away everything he had worked for which, was the support and the backing of the people. Therefore, Jesus had to be eliminated. It was expedient for on man to die for the sake of people, he would explain to his peers.

Peter feared what others might say. He desired a good reputation. What would people think if they knew he was a friend of Jesus? He was willing to compromise clear Biblical principles in order to fit in. In his own mind, he really wasn’t denying his Lord. He was merely saving face. It was a limb he was willing to climb. A line he was willing to cross. He said to these in the courtyard “you’re talking to the wrong person.” What price will you pay to acquire acceptance, approval, acquiescence? Which is harder to be liked or to be respected? In the case of Judas, it led to betrayal. Jesus was the price he was willing to pay to receive financial independence. 

Transition: Of course, there are other paths to walk with Jesus.

2. There is the path of walking besides Jesus. In this case, Jesus is your brother, a fellow-human, a friend. True. Very true. Jesus is your friend – your closest friend. But let me be clear. He is more than a friend. Much more. You have nothing. Absolutely nothing to do with your salvation. God is completely responsible for your salvation from front to back! We don’t one day decide to follow Jesus – Rather, He plants the seed of faith in our heart. He then nourishes that faith by giving us His eternal Word, which is able to make us wise unto salvation. This is what St. Paul reminds us when he tells us “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Martin Luther explains in the 3rd Article of the Apostles Creed. I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church, He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

Transition: You can walk before Jesus, you can walk beside Him, or you can be a Christ follower.

3. You can walk behind Jesus – “Follow Me” Jesus said. Jesus is the Master, you are His servant. Christ is you leader you are followers. Jesus is the Good Shepherd you are a sheep of His fold a lamb of His flock a sinner of His own redeeming. Yet notice what our Gospel lesson tells us. Philip then found Nathanael, and told him, “We have found the one whom Moses and the prophets wrote about in the Bible. His name is Jesus. (V45) Being a Christ follower means, we lead others to Jesus with three simple words “Come and See.” 

Being a Christ follower means we heed the voice of the Savior when He says, “follow me.” Being a Christ follower means we invite others saying we have found the Christ.

With the hymn writer may this be our prayer, “Christ be my leader by night as by day. Safe through the darkness, for He is the way. Gladly I follow, my future His care, Darkness is daylight when Jesus is there.” [LSB 861 stanza 1]

Words – 938
Passive Sentences – 5%
Readability – 80%
Reading Level – 5.0
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Time in the Word - Epiphany 2

Prayers for the Epiphany SeasonO God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Most merciful God, You gave Your eternal Word to become incarnate of the pure Virgin. Grant Your people grace to put away fleshly lusts that they may be ready for Your visitation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lord God, You showed Your glory and led many to faith by the works of Your Son. As He brought gladness and healing to His people, grant us these same gifts and lead us also to perfect faith in Him.

For blessing on the Word – Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

A prayer before we study the WordAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

God and men proceed in contrary ways. People settle first on whatever is best, and afterward they deal with what is worse. God first gives the cross and affliction, then honor and blessedness. He does this is because we seek to preserve the sinful flesh, which urges us to keep the Law by works and offer promises great and sweet. But the result has a stale taste. And although the flesh is intoxicated with great promises, it does not feel its wretchedness. Yet when the wine is digested and the false promises gone, the wretchedness appears. God, however, terrifies the conscience, sets on miserable wine, in fact nothing but water. Then He consoles us with the promises of the Gospel which endure forever. (Martin Luther)


Time in the Word
January 8-13, 2018
Preparation for next week, Epiphany 2

The theme for the second Sunday after the Epiphany is quite clear –the call of God. Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael to discipleship in the Gospel. God calls Samuel to be his prophet in the Old Testament lesson. Through Paul and the church, God calls us to glorify Him in our bodies. When we respond to God’s call, we appreciate His goodness and thus we break forth in praise.

How many today feel that they are carrying out a call of God? Probably, very few. For most, life is a matter of making a living as best they can and getting some enjoyment out of doing it. Under this philosophy, the one thing they look forward to is retirement – no work and all play! Christians are different. Their lives are a fulfillment of God’s call to a specific task.

God the Father calls you to a holy vocation – 1 Samuel 3:1-10
God the Son calls you to discipleship – John 1:43-51
God the Spirit calls you to glorify God – 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Collect for Epiphany 2Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Monday, January 8, 2018Psalm 40:1-5—The Antiphon, is taken from Psalm 40:10, “I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of Your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal Your love and Your truth from the great assembly.” When speaking of the Lord, we must center our conversation on His faithfulness and salvation, which flows from righteousness. The word Epiphany literally means, I see, I understand, I see the light, I get it! In Epiphany we “get it!” This Jesus whom we have worshipped at Christmas truly is the Son of God. By grace, through faith, by the Spirit’s aid we are brought to a right understanding of spiritual things; finally we “get it!”
Tuesday, January 9. 2018Psalm 139:1-10—The key verse of this psalm is verse 14, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” The Psalmist is saying literally, “Lord you know me as one who formed me yet I cannot begin to comprehend this creature you have fashioned. I can only look upon him with awe and wonder.” Miracles happen all around us. Some might wonder if the Lord will support them in the New Year. The antiphon affirms He will. He acts in our lives so we can see that the plan He has for us and the path he has determined for us will be the best for us. Fare-thee-well child of God; His sure hand shall guide you.    
Wednesday, January 10, 20181 Samuel 3:1-10—The child Samuel hears God’s call to be a prophet. In the temple at Shiloh, the boy Samuel is serving the priest Eli. He sleeps near the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of God’s presence. One night Samuel is called. Twice he mistakes the voice of God for Eli’s. Then Eli instructs the boy to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” Samuel obeys and God speaks to him of future happenings in Israel.
Thursday, January 11, 20181 Corinthians 6:12-20—The human body is to glorify God. People in the Corinthian church were sexually immoral for religious reasons. They accepted the truth that Christ’s death on the cross fulfilled the law for them. Since they were saved by grace alone, they felt free to do what they pleased. Some of them participated in sexual perversion. Paul counters this thinking by giving a theology of the body. These words of Paul give us a divine perspective. We are not free to do as we please. The grace of God is not a license to sin.
Friday, January 12, 2018John 1:43-51Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael. When Jesus is in the area of John the Baptist, He calls Andrew and Peter as disciples. Then He goes to Galilee and calls Philip of Bethsaida. Philip asks Nathanael to come and see one, who he claims, is the Messiah.
At first Nathanael is skeptical and asks if anything good can come from an insignificant village of Nazareth. When Jesus tells Nathanael that he saw him under a fig tree at the time when Philip invited him, Nathanael changes his mind and calls Jesus the Son of God and King. Jesus did not want him to base his opinion on a miracle and promises that Nathanael will see greater things in the future.
Notice the word of Jesus’ call to Philip denotes a relationship between Christ and the Christian. To follow Jesus means we acknowledge and accept Him as shepherd, leader, and master. It is not an association of peers. There is no democratic relationship of equality. The word also indicates our position in the relationship. To follow Him does not mean we walk with Him (beside Him), nor before Him, but behind Him. He is first and we are second; He is leader and we are followers; He is master and we are servants.
Saturday, January 13, 2018Matthew 16:24—The hymn of the day is, “Come Follow Me, the Savior Spake” (LSB 688).  Nathanael is asked to follow as the Savior has directed him.  Some decisions we make are life altering. Where do we go for direction in life? We seek the Lord. As He has promised to guide us, we too must follow. It would do us little good if we decide to head in the opposite direction from whence we should go. This much loved hymn speaks of the Lord guiding His own.
Sources

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES B © 1981 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH

Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition.55 volumes. (Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

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





Epiphany 1 - The Baptism of our Lord

Epiphany 1 – 7 January 2018
Mark 1:4-11
The Baptism of our Lord



Almighty God, You have poured into our hearts the true Light of Your incarnate Word. Grant that this Light may shine forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

There are many great days in your life. What might they be? Could it be a wedding, or a graduation ceremony from high school or college? How about the birth of a child? You’ve heard the one that says, “The happiest day in a man’s life is the day he bought his boat…and the second…is the day he sold it!” There are many great and wonderful days the Lord has given us. In this New Year I pray there will be many happy and wonderful great days the Lord will allow you to experience.

Yet, as Christians there are three great days in our life; the day we are born into this world, the day we are born again, that is, when we are born spiritually in Baptism and finally, the day we are born into glory. This morning, on this, the Baptism of our Lord, we focus on these  three great days of your life.

The three great days of your life –

1. The first important day of your life is the day of your birth. Mark reminds us, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth” (Vs.9) Life is a great privilege. It is an adventure. It’s not to be measured in how many breaths you take but rather in how many breaths you take away.

The education of our youth is very important. It’s a time for discovery; finding out not only what you can do but what you can do well. It’s the occasion for you to develop those skills and put them to use. This all started on the day of your birth. It all began on your birthday.

The Lord has given you talents, abilities, gifts. Each is to be used for the Lord to honor Him. We do this as we love God and serve our neighbor. Mike Davis, the former coach at IU, when being interviewed, would often begin with the statement, “I’d like to that God for giving me this opportunity…” Unfortunately, he would more often then not say this only when his team had won. He wouldn’t use the statement when they lost.

Do we honor God, or give Him credit only when we are successful? What is the measuring stick by which we determine success? Every circumstance is an opportunity for you to love God and serve your neighbor. Consider your station [of life] according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, a man-servant or maid-servant.[1] Whatever you do with faith in your heart and done to the glory of God your heavenly Father sees this as something that is good. By definition a “good work” is everything that a child of God does, speaks, or things in faith according to the Ten Commandments for the glory of God, and for the benefit of his neighbor. [2] St. Paul would remind us, “Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” [1 Corinthians 10:31] Life is a gift. Life is a treasure. Each birthday affirms that the Lord can and will use you for His purposes.

There is the day of your birth into this world. There is also the day you were born into the family of God.

2. Then there is the day of your second birth – the day of your re-birth – Baptism. Why is this so? In Holy Baptism you are given a new life. In baptism you are adopted into God’s family. 

The Father spoke saying, “This is My beloved Son”. (Vs.11) The Father declares that Jesus is His Son. Here Jesus receives the knowledge of His identity, His self-understanding, and of His mission in life to be your savior. From now until Easter Sunday we will focus on those specific steps Jesus took proving that He really is God’s Son and your savior. He will prove Himself faithful. He will prove Himself worthy to carry your sin and meet all of the requirements the Father has placed upon Him to be your substitute. It is important to remember that you will only know who we are and what we are to do in relation to the Father. That relationship began in your baptism.

In Jesus’ baptism, God the Father proclaimed Jesus as His Son, whom He loves. In His baptism, our sins are washed into Jesus. The baptismal waters are sanctified, that they might wash our sins off of us.


We, too, are beloved of God. The day of our Baptism is one of the greatest days in our lives, when our old man was drowned in those sacred waters, and our new selves, righteous and holy, were brought forth to “live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”[3]

St. Paul reminds us, When we were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him by our Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. [4] In baptism we die to sin and a raised to a new life in Christ.

A tradition in many homes, one which we have adopted as our own, is to have the baptismal certificates framed and hung on the wall in a prominent room in the house. Every time you pass those certificates you are reminded not only of who you are but also whose you are.

When we know whose we are, we know who we are. Baptism for us is the time of adoption as children of God. By His grace we are accepted as children of His kingdom. Baptism is the initiation and incorporation into the body of Christ.

3. Of course the third great day of your life is the day you are born into glory. That birthday comes when you talk a walk, from one end of God’s Kingdom to the other - from the Kingdom of grace into the kingdom of glory. It happens when you close your eyes to this world only to behold the Father’s face. Yet this day cannot happen nor will it happen unless the second birth happens first. The Savior reminds us, “You must be born again.”[5] You are a redeemed child of God. Live and experience in your life the benefits of your baptism namely, the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. And then live in that hope and faith each and every day of your life. May that be a reality in your life. We say this in Jesus’ name.

[1] Luther’s Small Catechism, the Office of the Keys & Confession, - what is confession?
[2] Luther’s Small Catechism, the Apostles Creed - what is a god work in the sight of God.
[3] Luther’s Small Catechism, The Sacrament of Baptism, - the significance of baptizing with water.
[4] Romans 6: 3-5
[5] John 3: 7

Image Ed Riajos  Higher Things




Monday, January 1, 2018

January



Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone. What an excellent way to start a New Year!  As we celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we reviewed the four key terms to our Christian faith.     At the center of this Christian faith is the understanding that a sinner is justified by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) for the sake of Christ alone (solus Christus), a truth revealed to us in Scripture alone (sola Scriptura).

This month we review a fifth and final key term – to the glory of God alone! Glory belongs to God. Alone! God’s glory is the central motivation for salvation, not improving the lives of people—though that is a wonderful by product. Jesus is not a means to an end—He is the means and our glorious end.

The goal of all of life is to give glory to God alone: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). A new year starts before us.  God only knows what we will meet in the next 365 days. But of this we can be certain the God who created this earth will continue to sustain it. What the Father did not create He could not save. And save us He has done. He sent forth Jesus our dear redeemer to pay our random and set us free. This story, this message, this proclamation is what has changed us. With the Lord begin your task in this New Year. And in all things – to God be the glory!