Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Advent 2 mid-week


Advent 2 mid-week 2018
12 December 2018
Characters of the Nativity-Shepherds


Out in the fields a group of shepherds stood guard over their flock that night. Such flocks were always needed for the sacrifices of the Temple at Jerusalem, a mere six miles away. Informed of the birth by an angel, the shepherds went to Bethlehem, found the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger, and excitedly repeated the message they had received. For others, the shepherds’ words were a passing wonder, “but Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

By faith we journey with them to Bethlehem. For this good news of Jesus’ birth was given by the angel to shepherds who went to see the new born king.

  1. With the shepherds we visit the new born king. The shepherds were keeping watch to guard the flock against thieves and marauders. Into the night of the world Jesus came as the true Light. A symbol of this truth was the heavenly light.
A question. Why is it that so few experience the true joy of Christmas? The answer quite frankly is that they have not heard the good news told by the angel to these shepherds. It is told to us this night. The source of our joy is found in verse 11 of our text: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:11

Who is born? “To you is born this day a Savior” This is good news to those in need of a Savior. And when is He born? “This day” Christmas is a contemporary experience, not an historical observance of an ancient event. Today is the day of salvation. This is the day the Lord has made. Now He is making all things new.

Transition: “To you is born a Savior”. We now tell His story with joy.

  1. Like the shepherds we share His story with others. The shepherds were afraid in the face of the divine glory and holiness but they had no need to fear because the angel’s message was not of judgment but of salvation, not only to the shepherds but to all people.
To whom is He born? He is born “to you”. “To you is born this day a Savior.” It is not Christmas for you unless Christ is re-born in you. Thus we can say with the hymn writer: “Cans out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”

 The Christmas story is for real. It was to real live humans that the story of the Christ child was delivered. The first announcement of this birth came to a despised people. It came not to the rulers, the educated, the scribes or the pious Pharisees. This news came not to aristocratic elite but to shepherds – the despised, unlearned, crude, rough people listed with publicans and sinners. For He is a real Savior who has come to save real sinners and in His birth, suffering, passion, death and resurrection there is forgiveness, salvation and life. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Morning Prayer Reading 64


King Hezekiah  
Isaiah 38 
(selective verses)

Hezekiah's Sickness and Recovery

38 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.[a] 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.[b] 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.

7 “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he has promised: 8 Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.[c]

Footnotes:
Isaiah 38:1 Or live; also verses 9, 21
Isaiah 38:5 Hebrew to your days
Isaiah 38:8 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Image © Higher Things

Monday, December 10, 2018

Morning Prayer Reading 63


Naaman  
2 Kings 5 
(selective verses)

Naaman Healed of Leprosy

5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Footnotes:
2 Kings 5:1 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
2 Kings 5:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
2 Kings 5:12 Or Amana

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Image: ©  Higher Things 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Advent 3 Series C

3rd Sunday in Advent


Zephaniah 3:14–20
Philippians 4:4–7
Luke 7:18–28 (29–35)

The Coming of Jesus enables us to rejoice 

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

The Third Sunday in Advent has traditionally been called by the Latin word, ‘Gaudete,’ meaning “Rejoice!” For as you are called to repentance, so also are you urged to rejoice in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. By His own Cross, He has accomplished salvation for you; “He has cleared away your enemies,” “taken away the judgments against you,” and has come to reign in your midst. Indeed, He rejoices over you with gladness and song! (Zephaniah 3:15–17). Therefore, even from prison St. Paul encourages us to “rejoice in the Lord always,” knowing that the peace of God will guard and keep us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4, 7). 

We find an example and encouragement in the case of John the Baptist. As he languishes in prison, he calls upon Jesus and is strengthened by the Word of the Gospel that he receives. The same good news is preached to you, by which all things are made new and even “the dead are raised up” (Luke 7:22). Do not be offended by the cross, therefore, but let your life be one of prayer and thanksgiving (Luke 7:23; Philippians 4:6).

Luke 7:18–28
Messengers from John the Baptist

Luke 7:18
 Καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάννῃ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ περὶ πάντων τούτων. καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος δύο τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ὁ Ἰωάννης 
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John,

Luke 7:19
 ἔπεμψεν πρὸς τὸν [a]κύριον λέγων• Σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ [b]ἄλλον προσδοκῶμεν;
calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Vv. 18-19 is John doubting or doing what he has always been doing? The question invokes Jesus' response. His entire ministry is pointing to Jesus...these two receive confirmation. Or are John's disciples doubting themselves?  The same outcome occurs regardless. If doubting why? Is it a theology of the cross or glory.

These two, are they the same as in John 1, Andrew?  

But clearly someone is struggling trying to understand the ministry/ identity of Jesus...does he come in wrath or mercy? "The one coming into the world"(v. 19) is technical term for the Messiah.

Luke 7:20 
παραγενόμενοι δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἄνδρες εἶπαν• Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς [c]ἀπέστειλεν ἡμᾶς πρὸς σὲ λέγων• Σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἄλλον προσδοκῶμεν;
And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”

The overarching question; “are you the Christ?” 

1. Who in the scriptures doesn't struggle with the cross? John who is in chains, not set free, but in prison. What does bound/set free mean? In his misery he needs to hear the gospel. 

2. The message of the cross - this is your cross  highlighted in John, the disciples, the sufferer is content, those closest to him suffer, struggle, question.

Luke 7:21 
ἐν [d]ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐθεράπευσεν πολλοὺς ἀπὸ νόσων καὶ μαστίγων καὶ πνευμάτων πονηρῶν, καὶ τυφλοῖς πολλοῖς [e]ἐχαρίσατο βλέπειν.
In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.

- He healed many of many afflictions right after the question. They report back what they have seen/heard.

1. They question
2. The confirmation

Those only looking for a miracle are asking with the wrong intentions...they need what they see and hear.

Luke 7:22
καὶ [f]ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς• Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάννῃ ἃ εἴδετε καὶ ἠκούσατε• [g]τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν, χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται, [h]κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται, πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται•
And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.

-Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13

- answering he said, relay back to John what you have heard/seen...the poor have the good news preached...there's the good news. 

Luke 7:23
καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί. 
And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

- blessed is whoever is not scandalized on behalf of Jesus. The scandal is the cross. (do not forget the cross of the Christian life)  

Luke 7:24 
Ἀπελθόντων δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων Ἰωάννου ἤρξατο λέγειν [i]πρὸς τοὺς ὄχλους περὶ Ἰωάννου• Τί [j]ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;
When John's messengers had gone, Jesus[b] began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

- Concerning John - one not shaken

Luke 7:25
ἀλλὰ τί [k]ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἱματίοις ἠμφιεσμένον; ἰδοὺ οἱ ἐν ἱματισμῷ ἐνδόξῳ καὶ τρυφῇ ὑπάρχοντες ἐν τοῖς βασιλείοις εἰσίν.
What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings' courts. 

Luke 7:26
ἀλλὰ τί [l]ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; προφήτην; ναί, λέγω ὑμῖν, καὶ περισσότερον προφήτου.
What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

Luke 7:27
οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται• [m]Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου.
This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

Luke 7:28
λέγω ὑμῖν, μείζων ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν [o]Ἰωάννου οὐδείς ἐστιν• ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν. 
I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

Time in the Word Advent 3



This Week’s Morning Prayer Readings
Read and review the following Bible stories for each day…


Monday,  December 10- Naaman & Gahazi – 2 Kings 5 selective verses

Tuesday, December 11 King Hezekiah – Isaiah 38 - selective verses

Wednesday,  December 12– Chapel Day

Thursday, December 13- Jonah Part 1 – Jonah 1selective verses

Friday, December 14- Jonah Part 2 –Jonah 2-3 selective verses

From the Catechism 6th & 7th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer

Collect for the Third Sunday in AdventLord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


A prayer of praise and supplication: Lord God, creator of heaven and earth, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we praise You for the abundant mercy that You this day so richly have provided for us, blessing us not only with daily bread for our bodies but also with heavenly food for our souls. Grant that Your living and powerful Word may abide in our hearts, working mightily in us to Your glory and for our salvation. We commit ourselves to Your divine protection and fatherly care. Let Your holy angels be with us that the evil foe may have no power over us. Look in mercy on Your Church and deliver it from all danger and adversities. By Your Holy Spirit comfort and strengthen all who are in affliction or distress, and grant Your abiding peace to us all; through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

A prayer for blessing of a creche: Almighty and everlasting God, You caused Your only-begotten Son to be born of the blessed virgin Mary for our salvation. Bless this creche, which shows the wonders of that sacred birth, that all who behold it may ponder and adore the mystery of His holy incarnation and may joyfully partake in His divine grace unto life eternal; 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.

The Coming of Jesus Enables Us to Rejoice
The Third Sunday in Advent has traditionally been called by the Latin word, Gaudete, meaning ‘Rejoice!’ For as you are called to repentance, so also are you urged to rejoice in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. By His own Cross, He has accomplished salvation for you; He has cleared away your enemies, taken away the judgments against you, and has come to reign in your midst. Indeed, He rejoices over you with gladness! (Zeph. 3:15–17). Therefore, even from prison St. Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always, knowing that the peace of God will guard and keep us in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:4, 7). We find an example and encouragement in the case of John the Baptizer. As he languishes in prison, he calls upon Jesus and is strengthened by the Word of the Gospel that he receives. The same good news is preached to you, by which all things are made new and even the dead are raised up (Luke 7:22). Do not be offended by the cross, therefore, but let your life be one of prayer and thanksgiving (Luke 7:23; Phil 4:6).


Time in the Word
10–15 December 2018
Preparation for next week, the Third Sunday in Advent
Monday, 10 December 2018Psalm 146:5–8; Antiphon, Philippians 4:4—On this Gaudete (‘Rejoice’) Sunday, the antiphon urges us to Rejoice in the Lord always! We rejoice because the Lord has set the prisoners free, even we who are in bondage to the lusts of our fallen flesh. We rejoice because He opens the eyes of the blind, even we who are blinded by sin. We rejoice because He lifts up those who are bowed down, even we who are bowed down by our guilt. We rejoice because the Lord loves the righteous, even we who are righteous, not by our deeds, but by our faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018Psalm 85—The antiphon, v. 2, proclaims You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. This is the reason that we sinners can rejoice; in Christ, God has forgiven all our sin. The psalm reflects the fact that, even after we are forgiven, we again fall into sin must seek forgiveness. Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, He indeed revives us again, that we may rejoice in Him.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018Zephaniah 3:14–20—The people of Israel—the people of God—are summoned to rejoice and exult because the Lord has taken away all judgments. He has done this for us—the people of God—by the Lord God who is in our midst: Christ, who came to earth as a man, and lived, died, and rose again for us. He still is in our midst, coming to us in His means of grace, Word and Sacrament, the mighty one who saves us.

Thursday, 13 December 2018Philippians 4:4–7Rejoice in the Lord always, says St Paul. Why? Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, has taken away the reproach of God for sin.
We are now at peace with God, peace that surpasses all our understanding, for we can never fully understand the mystery of God assuming flesh, becoming sin for us, and dying to redeem us from the curse of our sin. We can only rejoice in the Lord that He has done so because of His grace and mercy.

Friday, 14 December 2018Luke 7:18–28—‘Is Jesus the long-expected Messiah and Savior?’ ask John’s disciples. What do you see? The blind see, the lame walk…the dead are raised, and so on. Only God can do this, foreshadowing the restoration of fallen creation, which will be completed at the Second Coming of Christ. In the meantime, we who are spiritually poor have the Good News of the forgiveness of sins preached to us. Jesus Christ is the promised One, who by His death has healed us of the disease of iniquity and has raised us to life, who were dead in our trespasses and sins.

Saturday, 15 December 2018The hymn of the day, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (LSB 357), is an ancient hymn based upon seven even more ancient antiphons (called the ‘O’ Antiphons) which were used in the Office at Vespers (the evening office) during the last seven days of Advent. Each antiphon and each hymn stanza refers to a different title for Christ: Wisdom, Adonai (‘Lord’), Root (or Branch) of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of Nations, Emmanuel (‘God with Us’). Zion Friedheim will sing them on Sunday 9 December 2012.


Prayers from Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.



Saturday, December 8, 2018

Advent 2



Advent 2 - Series C
December 9, 2018
Luke 3:1-14
Advent 2
No John – no Jesus


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. To that end may the words which come from these lips and the meditations which take place in these hearts be acceptable to You our strength and our redeemer. Amen

John the Baptist stands as the forerunner of Christ. In fact, if you would look at the life and ministry of John - you would see that Jesus does everything that John had done previously. We should not be surprised then when we learn that some folks were even confused - thinking Jesus and John were the same person. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” - Matthew 16:13-14 The life of Jesus mirrors and complements that of John - on so many levels. 

John preaches.  Soon after, Jesus begins His preaching ministry. John confronts the local leadership - Jesus also stands before rulers and authorities. In rapid succession; John is arrested, tried, and killed - Jesus experiences a similar outcome. In fact, an interesting statement is made by Matthew in his gospel as he observes the crucifixion scene of Jesus.  And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” - Matthew 27:50-53     

Considering the approximate closeness between John and Jesus we should not be surprised if John were one of these persons Matthew mentions – a person who rose from the dead and took a walk to Jerusalem, appearing to many people. It would certainly fit the pattern. Scripture does not signal out John specifically as one of these saints spoken of in Matthew’s gospel; yet Scripture offers at least the possibility of John being one of these afore mentioned holy people resurrected from the dead.

Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate in just a few weeks, is the one who suffers and dies for the sins of the world. Ironic, isn’t it; that we celebrate a baby born only to die a criminal’s death - a baby born in a stable will be executed by the state as an adult, and such a cruel and vicious death at that!  

How do you know that His death is sufficient to offer atonement, and absolution for your many sins? As soon as Jesus dies – death dies. As soon as Jesus gives up His life – life is restored to persons who had previously died; whose bodies were sealed in their graves. As Jesus comes out of the tomb and appears to countless witnesses– they too will enter the holy city appearing to many people. 

In every respect, John is a foreshadowing to Jesus. John leads the way to Jesus. John is the forerunner.  John comes to prepare the way for Christ. He prepares the way for Christ by preaching a simple yet profound message; a message of repentance and a message of faith. Before Jesus we first must have John.

John’s preaching is necessary to make us aware of sin.
If there is no sense of sin, we continue in a lost condition.  If there is no sense of our shortcomings, of our brokenness, and of our separation from God we can never be restored back to the Father and the 
relationship He would have for us.   

There is no need for a Savior – without a sense of sin. A Savior is needed - to break the bonds of sin. A Savior is needed - to take your place under the Law. A Savior is necessary - to restore you back to the Father.

Transition:  The preaching of John makes us aware of sin. This is necessary – without a sense of sin there is no need for a Savior. John’s preaching leads us to repentance. Again, this is necessary for if there is no repentance there can be no forgiveness.

John’s preaching is necessary to lead us to repentance
If there is no repentance we continue to be lost.  Repentance is what leads to forgiveness. Repentance is a process; where we own up to our sin taking responsibility. Next comes remorse; where we are heart sorry for our sin. {We must ask the question, are we truly sorry for the pain we have caused or are we “sorry” we got caught?}  Taking responsibility and expressing remorse leads to repairing what we have broken which finally leads to a break from our past, where we repeat not!

There can be no forgiveness however if we allow our repentance to go thus far. Reconciliation is what is necessary. St. Paul put it this way; “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” -2 Corinthians 5:18-19  

Forgiveness means God chooses to look at us differently. He looks at us through the cross of His own dear Son. Do you look at people differently? As one who has been redeemed by Christ. – Or do you view your neighbor as the same old person? Repentance which leads to reconciliation translates that we look at people differently – as not merely people who have changed their spots. But people who have become reconciled to God, which allows you to be reconciled to your neighbor.  

Transition: The preaching of John leads to an awareness of sin, it leads to repentance. John’s preaching guides us to Jesus for forgiveness and life, for without a death to self there cannot be a new life which only Jesus can offer.

John’s preaching is necessary to guide us to Jesus who offers us His forgiveness and life.
If there is no death to self there can never be a new life, which comes only through Jesus Christ crucified. Pr. Todd Wilken, in an excellent article, drives home the point that in many respects we have reduced Christianity to a program of self-improvement techniques, where people are urged to follow - ten scriptural steps, to use the seven spiritual principles, or start living the five biblical purposes. The Christian life is thus reduced to an extremely long to-do list. But this has nothing to do with the Christian life at all. Says, Wilken, “These are about American middle-class anxiety. “I’m not becoming, overcoming, transforming, or experiencing whatever I’m supposed to become, overcome, transform or experience.” “Suburban stress in many pockets of Christianity (has replaced) sin as the Christian’s real problem![1]  

There can be no new life unless there is a death to self. That is why this season of Advent is a season of repentance and self reflection. Only by dying to self can we be brought to real life.

The life you live is a changed life. It is a life of repentance from sin, to a new life lived in Christ. That is why we first must listen to John if we are to truly understand our Savior Jesus.   

John is rightly called the greatest of all the prophets. He is the one the Father used to prepare us for Christ’s coming. With repentant hearts we long for Jesus’ appearing. With the awareness of sin we are drawn to repentance which leads to forgiveness; a death to self and new life to God in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria 
___________
Words-1,340
Passive Sentences –16%
Readability-70.3
Reading Level – 6.8


[1] Issues, Etc, Vol. 5, No 3 © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO pp. 7-8

Friday, December 7, 2018

Morning Prayer Reading 62



Naaman and Elisha   
2 Kings 5 
(selective verses)
Naaman Healed of Leprosy

5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.


Footnotes:
2 Kings 5:1 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
2 Kings 5:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
2 Kings 5:12 Or Amana

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Luther's Seal. © Higher Things used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Morning Prayer Reading 61



Elijah’s Ascension 
2 Kings 2 
(selective verses)


 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 

8 Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.

9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.

Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Advent 1 mid-week


Advent 1 mid-week
December 5, 2018
Characters of the Nativity-Joseph
Matthew 1:18-25


INTRODUCTIONJoseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The gospels of Matthew and Luke assert that Jesus was born to Mary at a time when she was betrothed to Joseph, before their marriage was consummated (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27, 35).

Joseph was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55), and was known as a “just” man (Matthew 1:19). When he learned that Mary was bearing a child, he was understandably disturbed. When he learned that she was to become the mother of Israel’s Messiah through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, he proceeded with his plans which brought him, with Mary, to Bethlehem where the child Jesus was born.

Through circumstances and influences beyond his control Joseph was given his place in history. What lessons can be gleaned from his life’s story? Our text answers these questions this evening.

1.        Joseph is a man of profound conviction tempered with compassion. He knew of two realities. First, Mary to whom he was engaged was expecting a child. He also knows he is not the Father. Our text reminds us “…Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” (v.18)

Joseph, being a just man, tried to conform his life to the Jewish law. “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (v.19) Here we see Joseph’s dilemma. Whose reputation, he pondered, should be tarnished Mary’s or his own? 

That was the issue with which he was wrestling. Joseph felt betrayed, he loved Mary, yet he didn’t want to “expose her to public disgrace.”

If he were to continue in the relationship most people would simply conclude that after they were engaged but before they were married - she was expecting their first child. There would be some embarrassment. It would be awkward. But hopefully, in time the humiliation would subside.  But could he trust her? What guarantee would he have that she would disappoint him again?

If unfaithfulness was a part of her character what would be the consequences in the future? If word got out that he had married her, knowing full well that the child was not his, what sort of aspersions would be cast in his direction!
What he planned to do was to use the most private form of a legal divorce, handing a letter to Mary in the presence of only two witnesses to whom he needed not give his reasons.

When we must choose – choose wisely. Often we are forced to make decisions in life in which the outcome will not necessarily be pleasant.  When we have to choose “the lesser of two evils” as Joseph, we need to wrestle and pray. Actions do have their consequences. Joseph did not act rashly. Decisions reached hastily are often ill advised. Patience is needed when the situation is serious.

2.        Joseph also learned that we are placed in these challenging circumstances for God to do His best work. Divine intervention was necessary in Joseph’s situation. “But after he had considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” - Matthew 1:20

The angel reminded Joseph of the greatness of his ancestry to assure him that his resolution was right insofar as Joseph knew the circumstances. Joseph knew of only outward circumstances. The Lord sees beyond these things. It is His responsibility to act.

It was Joseph would name this child. He would be given the name “Jesus” which means literally - ‘God saves!’ - For this Jesus is the Christ and He will save His people from their sins. The salvation from sin through this child Jesus is what Joseph and his family had hoped for so many generations. God was about to act and Joseph would see it. Not only would this child be called ‘Jesus’ but also “Emmanuel” – ‘God who is with us’ – the manifestation of God who is in our midst.

3.        We see that Joseph is a man of profound faith.  Joseph’s faith is seen and demonstrated in his immediate obedience to the commands the angel gives him. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Matthew 1:24 

Joseph came to know a profound truth. God is with us. So often we may live our lives with little awareness of how close God really is to us. The reality of our Christian existence is this: God is with us. It took a life changing moment in Joseph’s life to come to this conclusion.

CONCLUSION: Tonight God is saying to you - in all of life’s circumstances and in all of life’s decisions “I am with you” for this Jesus whose birth we celebrate this season is ‘Emmanuel’ – “the God who is with us” –He is ‘Jesus’ - “the God who saves”

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Morning Prayer Reading 60


Naboth’s Vineyard 
1 Kings 21 
(selective verses)


21 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” 4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” 6 And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7 And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. 9 And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10 And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursedGod and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” 11 And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19 And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord.23 And of Jezebel the Lord also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ 

27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Morning Prayer Reading 59


 Elijah & Baal Pt. 2 
1 Kings 18 
(selective verses)
31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Advent 2 Series C


2nd Sunday in Advent - Series C

Malachi 3:1–7b
Philippians 1:2–11
Luke 3:1–14 (15–20)

The Preaching of Repentance Prepares Us for the Coming of the Lord

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only –begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

The preaching and baptism “of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3) prepare us for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The historic work of John the Baptist was completed with the first Advent of our Lord Jesus in the flesh, but the ministry of the Forerunner continues in the preaching of Law and Gospel and in Holy Baptism. Through His messengers, the Lord calls people of all nations to “see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6). Our haughtiness is removed, and our mountains of pride are brought low, but the Lord humbles us in order to exalt us in His mercy. As the Lord has begun this good work of repentance in us, so also does He perfect it by His Word and Holy Spirit, and He “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). He purifies us to be His priestly people, precious in His sight, abounding in faith and love, so that we offer our very lives in righteousness to the Lord (Malachi 3:3–4).

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος, ἡγεμονεύοντος Ποντίου Πιλάτου τῆς Ἰουδαίας, καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,
V.1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 

ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Ἅννα καὶ Καϊάφα, ἐγένετο ῥῆμα θεοῦ ἐπὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν Ζαχαρίου υἱὸν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ.
V.2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς [a]πᾶσαν περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν,
V.3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

ὡς γέγραπται ἐν βίβλῳ λόγων Ἠσαΐου τοῦ [b]προφήτου• Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ• Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.
V.4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[a] make his paths straight.

a. or “crying, Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord.”

πᾶσα φάραγξ πληρωθήσεται καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ βουνὸς ταπεινωθήσεται, καὶ ἔσται τὰ σκολιὰ εἰς [c]εὐθείαν καὶ αἱ τραχεῖαι εἰς ὁδοὺς λείας•
V.5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways,

καὶ ὄψεται πᾶσα σὰρξ τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ θεοῦ.
 V.6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Ἔλεγεν οὖν τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ὄχλοις βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ• Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς;
V.7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας• καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς• Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ, λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ
V.8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 

 ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται• πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.
V.9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Καὶ ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν οἱ ὄχλοι λέγοντες• Τί οὖν [d]ποιήσωμεν;
V.10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ [e]ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς• Ὁ ἔχων δύο χιτῶνας μεταδότω τῷ μὴ ἔχοντι, καὶ ὁ ἔχων βρώματα ὁμοίως ποιείτω.
V.11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics[b] is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

b. χιτῶνας “chiton,”  a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

ἦλθον δὲ καὶ τελῶναι βαπτισθῆναι καὶ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν• Διδάσκαλε, τί [f]ποιήσωμεν; 
V.12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς• Μηδὲν πλέον παρὰ τὸ διατεταγμένον ὑμῖν πράσσετε.
V.13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”

ἐπηρώτων δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ στρατευόμενοι λέγοντες• [g]Τί ποιήσωμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς; καὶ εἶπεν [h]αὐτοῖς• Μηδένα διασείσητε μηδὲ συκοφαντήσητε, καὶ ἀρκεῖσθε τοῖς ὀψωνίοις ὑμῶν.
V.14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

The Father sent John to prepare people for the acceptance of Jesus Christ. If there is no sense of sin can there be a need for a Savior?  If there is no repentance there can be no forgiveness. If there is no death to self there can be no new life. Because John is the prophet who prepares for the Savior's coming Jesus calls him the greatest of all of the prophets. John gives us a good dose of reality.
1. To make us aware of sin.
2. To lead us to repentance.
Jesus came to earth to take unto Himself our flesh. He came to be your substitute. He came to suffer and die for the sins of the world. He came offer you forgiveness and life. That is why we can say that in Jesus Christ, all sin is forgiven - period!

Are you ready for Christmas?  If you see your sin, repent, and turn to Christ for life you are ready. Lord, by your Advent may we be, fit and ready to worship Thee.  

ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software