Friday, December 13, 2019

Morning Prayer Reading 66: Jonah Part 2


 –Jonah 2-3 selective verses

Jonah's Prayer

2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away
    from your sight;
yet I shall again look
    upon your holy temple.’

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Jonah Goes to Nineveh

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,[a] three days' journey in breadth.[b] 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The People of Nineveh Repent

6 The word reached [c] the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

Footnotes:
Jonah 3:3 Hebrew a great city to God
Jonah 3:3 Or a visit was a three days' journey
Jonah 3:6 Or had reached

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: Luther's Seal © Higher Things

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Morning Prayer Reading 65: Jonah Part 1


 Jonah 1 
(selective verses)



Jonah Flees the Presence of the Lord

1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil[a] has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard[b] to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

Footnotes:
Jonah 1:2 The same Hebrew word can mean evil or disaster, depending on the context; so throughout Jonah
Jonah 1:13 Hebrew the men dug in [their oars]
Jonah 1:17 Ch 2:1 in Hebrew
Jonah 1:17 Or had appointed

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mid-week Advent 2



Advent 2 Mid-week
11 December 2019
Romans 15:4-13
The basis for hope: the coming of Christ











We live at a time in which hope is in short supply. Many in this country seem disillusioned disappointed and doubtful. We once hoped education would solve our problems. We no longer hope that one war will end all wars. 

Some hopes were raised when a new administration took over in Washington. But many have grown dissatisfied and impeachment is looming. It seems now our country is divided. And in many ways - out of sorts.  

Can a person hope in anything anymore? Now we are in the Advent season. A season of hope for a new age through a coming Deliverer. Will this be an empty hope too? One thing is sure. There is no good reason to hope in man. But we can hope confidently in Christ. 

Tonight we consider the roots of our hope –

1.    The roots of our hope are found in the Scripture – V. 4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

We can hope in the promises of Scripture for God is faithful. Here Paul defends his application to Christ. “Zeal for Your house consumes Me…” - Psalm 69:9 

In so doing, Paul states a great truth concerning the purpose of Scripture. It was written for our instruction. So that as we patiently endure we might be encouraged to hold fast our hope in Christ. 

These things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did…These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” -  1 Corinthians 10:6, 11

2.    The roots of our hope center in the coming of the Son of David – V. 12 “And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him.

We can hope because Christ is coming again to set things right. Jesse was the father of David. And the Messiah was the “Son of David”.  The Gentile mission of the early church was a fulfillment of this prophecy. As is the continuing evangelization of the nations.

3.    The roots of our hope center in the God of hope – V. 13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

If we have Christ. We can hope. For HE is the God of hope.  Any hope the Christian has comes from the Spirit of Jesus. Paul will say in Romans 5:5 “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.” 

Your hope is not to be equated with unfounded optimism. To the contrary. It is the blessed assurance of our future destiny. It is based on the Father’s love, which is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

It has been objectively demonstrated to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit the Father has poured out His love in our hearts and His love for us continues to dwell in each believer. 

The Spirit of Christ dwells in you.  Hope cannot be conjured up by man’s effort; it is the Father’s gift of the Spirit.  Paul will say in Romans 8:24-25 – “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” 

True, we are saved by faith, not hope. But hope accompanies salvation. Hope is our destiny.  Hope is our future in Christ. Hope is the anchor of our faith. Hope is our assurance that a mansion glorious awaits us.

We hold fast our hope in Christ. We can hope because Christ is coming again to set things right. If we have Christ, we can hope. For He is a God of hope.  Any hope the Christian has comes from the One in whom we trust. 
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Words-745
Passive Sentences-17%
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Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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: 5 “Go 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 9, 2019

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 8, 2019

Time in the Word - Advent 3




09-14 December 2019

When Messiah Comes

Advent three deals with the identity of the Messiah. The Gospel lesson (Matthew 11:2-11) assures us that Jesus is the Messiah promised of old and that John the Baptizer is the greatest of the prophets because he prepared the way for the Messiah. The Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 35:1-10) shows what kind of world we will have when the Lord comes to save us; utopia, paradise, healing and joy. The Epistle lesson (James 5:7-10) takes us to the post-Easter experience when followers of the Messiah are urged to patiently wait for his Second Coming. At this Second Coming, the promised paradise in the Old Testament lesson will become a reality. Since Jesus is the Coming One, He is worth waiting for with patience. In the Prayer for the Day we ask for “the wisdom to see Your purpose” the purpose of Christ is seen in the works of Jesus.

In the Gospel we come to the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah. In the Old Testament we are given a description of the conditions resulting from the messiah’s coming to earth. Here we see the fulfillment of these conditions in Jesus’ ministry. 

But, the question may be asked, “Why do these conditions not exist on earth since Jesus came about 2000 years ago?” 

The answer is given by James in the Epistle lesson who exhorts us to patiently wait for the Messiah’s Second Coming when these conditions will become a reality for all of God’s people.

Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent: 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.

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming, give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world.

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share His wisdom and become one with Him when He comes in glory, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Lord, free us from our sins and make us whole. Hear our prayer, and prepare us to celebrate the incarnation of Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Psalm 85: God of love and faithfulness, You so loved the world that You gave Your only Son to be our Savior. Help us to receive Him as both Lord and brother and freely celebrate Him as our gracious Redeemer now and forever.

Collect for Psalm 146: God of glory and power, happy indeed are those who have put their trust in You. shine the brightness of Your light upon us that w may love You always with a pure heart and praise Your forever. Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Morning Prayer Readings for this week

December 09 Monday Naaman & Gahazi      2 Kings 5
December 10 Tuesday King Hezekiah      Isaiah 38
December 11 Wednesday Chapel
December 12 Thursday Jonah Part 1              Jonah 1
December 13 Friday Jonah Part 2              Jonah 2-3

Catechism Review: 6th & 7th Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer

Monday, 09 December  2019Psalm 85 - The Antiphon for this coming week’s Introit comes from verse 7, "Show us Your unfailing love, O Lord; and grant us Your salvation." God’s sure mercies to His people spring from His covenant of live, to which in His faithfulness and righteousness He remains true, and that assures His people will receive His abiding peace.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019Psalm 146, key verse, 1b – “Praise the lord, O my soul!” The Psalm appointed for this coming Sunday is an exhortation to trust in the Lord and is the first of five Hallelujah psalms with which the Psalter closes. This, and the remaining four psalms, are all framed with Hallelujahs.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019Isaiah 35:1-10 – When God comes to save His people, they will enjoy paradise.  The Old Testament lesson speaks of the conditions resulting from God’s coming to His people. When God comes to save His people, they will enjoy paradise. Advent 3 deals with the identity of the Messiah. At the second coming, the promised paradise will become a reality. Our lesson shows us what kind of world we will have when the Lord comes to save us:  paradise, healing and joy.

Thursday, 12 December 2019James 5:7-11 – Be patient in waiting for the Lord’s return. In our Epistle lesson, James expresses patience in waiting for the Lord’s return.

He exhorts us to patiently wait for the Messiah’s Second Coming. Since Jesus is the Messiah, He is worth waiting for with patience.

Friday, 13 December 2019- Matthew 11:2-15 – John the Baptizer sends a delegation to learn if Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus says John is the greatest of the prophets.  In the Gospel lesson, we are given evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. John the Baptist sends a delegation to learn if Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus says John is the greatest of the prophets. We come to the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah.

The ultimate confession to be a Christian is to say Jesus is Lord, or the Messiah (Christ). How does one come to such a conclusion? We dare not take anybody’s word.  Rather, we find out for ourselves by studying the evidence. This is what Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptizer to do and then to go back and let John know what has been said and done. We do not take our faith on hearsay. Rather, we base our faith grounded in fact.

Saturday, 14 December 2019Romans 13:11 – This verse is the inspiration for the hymn, “Hark, a Thrilling Voice is Sounding”. Paul reminds us that the certain coming of the end of this present age is used to provide motivation for godly living. {See Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 13:33-37; 2 Peter 3:11-14} The time of salvation, the closing period of the present age, before the consummation of the kingdom remind us that now is the hour. The time for action is now. The full realization of salvation at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is nearer now then it was before. Every day brings us closer to the second advent of Christ. Our prayer is simple, “Come; come Lord Jesus, come even today!”
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Sources: 
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 24 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY 
The Story of 50 Hymns © 1934 By General Mills, Inc Minneapolis, MN

Advent 3 Series A

Advent 3 Series A
(15 December 2019) 

Isaiah 35:1–10
James 5:7–11
Matthew 11:2–15

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayer and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation;  

The Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Brings True Rejoicing, Even Under the Cross

Sometimes life requires the astonishing patience of Job. Like him, we are to rejoice in the midst of affliction, be grounded in repentance under the cross of Christ and hope relentlessly in His resurrection, that we might see “the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). Therefore, in the promise of the Gospel, “be patient” and “establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8). Like John the Baptist, whatever your own kind of prison or suffering may be, call upon Jesus and receive the strength of His Word from those He sends to you. For as “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up” (Matthew 11:5), so is the Good News of Jesus preached to you also. He comes and restores the fortunes of Zion, His holy Church, so that “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).

Mathew 11:2-15
Messengers sent from John ~ 

Matthew 11:2 
Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάννης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ χριστοῦ πέμψας [a]διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ 
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples

Matthew 11:3 
 εἶπεν αὐτῷ• Σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν; 
and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, (technical term for the Messiah, 'the Advent one'...) or shall we look (expect)  for another?"

Release from the prison (see Isaiah's prophecy) has not happened yet...

This is the Devil's temptation, "did God say?"

John's "best life now" is not very wonderful.  Yet he sends his hearers to Christ.  

Circumstances do not dictate strength of faith. 

The question is asked in faith. Thus it is a good question.  

Matthew 11:4
καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς• Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάννῃ ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ βλέπετε• 
And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:

Matthew 11:5 
τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, [b]καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται•
the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Literally "are evangelized")

The blind "look up" they see from above. 
The expected Messiah is here.

Pay attention to the verbs, because of Jesus, we are “raised up,” “cleansed,” “healed,” “have good news preached.”

Matthew 11:6 
καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς [c]ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί.
And blessed is the one who is not offended (scandalized on behalf of) by me." 

See the beatitudes of Jesus, "on account of Me"

The scandal is whom He will associate the poor, lowly, sick, imprisoned, weak, etc. 

How does God come to us? 

Matthew 11:7
Τούτων δὲ πορευομένων ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάννου• Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;  
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: 

Matthew 11:8 
ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν [d]μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον; ἰδοὺ οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν [e]βασιλέων [f]εἰσίν. 
What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

Jesus will ask three questions."What did you go out to see?"  Defending John and speaks of the scandals that come in following Jesus.

"What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” A reed shaken by the wind?
John is an enemy of the king...thrown into prison, who will die a martyr's death.

Matthew 11:9
 ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε[g]; προφήτην ἰδεῖν; 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.

Matthew 11:10
[h]οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται• Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ 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.' 

 “Behold" Ἰδοὺ right here and now, before your face, in present existence, in time and space, “I send you my messenger –“  

"More than a prophet," is explained in v.11

Matthew 11:11
 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐκ ἐγήγερται ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν μείζων Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ• ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν. 
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he

This is a reference to Christ, ('let him who is great among you be the servant') and to the apostles ('one untimely born') 

Remember in Matthew's gospel less is great. 

Matthew 11:12
 ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται, καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν. 
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

Pharisees by the law, Zealots by terrorism, pagans by slaughter, e.g. Pilot mixing the blood of the sacrifice with worshipers.

The "days of John Baptist" are defined in vs. 13. John has a foot in both Testaments... He is the embodiment of all the Old Testament prophets and clearly proclaims Christ. 

Matthew 11:13
πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάννου ἐπροφήτευσαν• 
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,

Matthew 11:14
 καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι, αὐτός ἐστιν Ἠλίας ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι. 15 ὁ ἔχων [i]ὦτα ἀκουέτω. 
and if you are willing to accept it, (willing to receive it) he is Elijah who is to come. He points to Christ, I will send you the prophet See the last verses of Malachi 

Matthew 11:15
ὁ ἔχων [i]ὦτα ἀκουέτω.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  

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

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Advent 2


Advent 2 Series A
08 December 2019
Matthew 3:1-12
Prepare by repenting




Is repentance only for the so-called “sinners” of our day? John the Baptist reminds us that religious people need repentance also. He called to the religious leaders of his day – Pharisees and Sadducees – to repent. John called those within the covenant to repent. Likewise we too need repentant hearts and lives.

Why do church people need repentance? They need repentance… IF they come as spectators of repentance. IF they fail to produce the fruit of repentance.  IF they fail to produce the fruit of repentance.  IF they trust only in church membership.  THEN they face judgment.   

1. Even church people need repentance - IF they come as spectators of repentance – v 7 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brook of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?’” 

The Pharisees, where  a legalistic and separatist group who strictly, but often hypocritically, kept the laws of Moses and the unwritten “tradition of the elders” In Matthew 15:1-3 we read,  Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked,  “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”  Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 

The Sadducees, were worldlier and politically minded, and were theologically unorthodox – among other things denying the resurrection, angels, and spirits. In Acts 23:8 explains for us, The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.

These words of John are hard for some to hear. For he is calling us back into repentance. He is calling us to repent of our sins and receive spiritual cleansing. Is the church today not also in need for a call to repentance? Consider the sins of the church today – pride, gossip, apathy, selfishness, materialism, moral laxity, strife. Even within the church there is a need to afflict the comfortable in the church today. 

Transition: Is there a need for repentance within the church today? There is a need for repentance if people merely come as spectators of repentance. There is a need for repentance if people fail to produce the fruit of repentance.

2. Even church people need repentance - IF they fail to produce the fruit of repentance – v. 8 “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” What is the meaning of repentance? How important is it in our salvation from sin? Is it the same as godly sorrow? Must we admit or acknowledge our sins to be forgiven? What other conditions must we meet to be saved?  

What about faith and baptism? Should Christians ever repent or is it just for alien sinners? What are the fruits of repentance?

The gospel emphasizes repentance because repentance is essential to changing our attitudes and our life. Until we are willing to change our lives, God is not willing to forgive our sins!

If you have sinned, you must admit the sin and be sorry. Then you must make up your mind to change. Have you done so, or are you just expecting everything to be forgotten because you said you were sorry? Forgiveness comes only after a decision to change!  Remember, repentance is a decision to do what God's word says. When a person sees what God's word says but will not do it, that person is not showing true fruits of repentance.

There is a difference between repentance and the fruits of repentance. Sometimes people go through the motions of baptism (or of public confession), but do not truly repent. These people will never truly be forgiven until they first truly repent.

Other people really did repent and intended to change their lives, but never followed through. These people may have been forgiven the first time but now are back in sin. They need to repent again and this time produce the fruits of repentance.

The fruits of repentance require more than just deciding to do right "next time" or to "never do that again." To the extent possible we must attempt to go back and correct the harmful effects of our sins on other people.  This can be a difficult principle to apply because sometimes the effect of a sin cannot be undone (for example, murder). But it is a Bible principle and must be accomplished to the extent possible.

Transition: Is there a need for repentance within the church today?  There is a need for repentance if people trust only in church membership.

3. Even church people need repentance - IF they trust only in church membership – v. 9 “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”

Faith involves more than just mere assent to certain historical facts. Even the devil has that kind of faith. You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:19-20). Faith that saves is a faith that works. If it doesn’t work in your life, then it doesn’t work in your salvation, either.

Does that mean you work your way into God’s good graces or that you someone earn or merit salvation? Not at all. It is God who saves.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Your salvation comes through faith. It does not come as a result of your works. No one will ever be able to boast about their contribution to the work of their salvation. But that verse goes on to point out that your salvation is not an end unto itself. You were not saved BY good works, but you were saved FOR good works.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

You are God’s workmanship. He has does the work of creating in you a new life. The result of being saved is that you will walk in those good works for which you were created.

Transition: Why do church people need repentance? They need repentance… IF they come as spectators of repentance. IF they fail to produce the fruit of repentance.  IF they fail to produce the fruit of repentance.  IF they trust only in church membership.  THEN they face judgment.  

4. If people will not repent - THEN they face judgment – v. 10 “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” {See Malachi 4:1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them.”

Forgiveness of sins is a dominant concept both the Old and New Testament. The word, “forgiveness,” comes from a Greek word, “let go.” God lets go of our sins; we are also to let go of our own sins and the sins of others around us.

There is the story of a zoo that was trapping monkeys. The zoo trappers placed coconuts underneath a coconut tree, and these coconuts had holes drilled in them. The holes were about the size of a tightly-squeezed-fist of a monkey. The monkey would squeeze its hand through the hole and grab the white coconut inside. The monkeys would find more coconuts and would do the same thing with their other hand and then their two feet. By doing so, their hands and feet became larger and they could not withdraw their hands and feet through the coconut holes.

The only way to become free was to “let go.” To let go of the white coconut inside the coconut shell.

Likewise with us. The only way to emotional freedom in life is to “let go.” To “let go” of what our mothers or fathers did to us in childhood.

To “let go” of all the mistakes that we have made in our lives. To “let go” of the accidents or tragedies that have happened to us or that we have caused. We never become free until we “let go.

We, as human beings, do not “let go;” but the Presence of Christ in us shapes our daily lives and heals us. The Spirit of Christ inside of us heals us, and therefore we gradually “let go.”

In this Advent season we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth through repentance. John, the Elijah of his day became the forerunner sent by God to prepare the way of the Messiah. We prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas with not merely the words but the fruits of repentance.
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Words – 1,580
Passive Sentences – 7%
Readability – 74.7% 
Reading Level – 6.0
Advent Image copyright © Higher Things

Friday, December 6, 2019

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 5, 2019

Morning Prayer Reading 61: Elijah’s Ascension


2 Kings 2 
(selective verses)


2 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 4, 2019

Advent 1 mid-week



Advent 1 Mid-week
04 December 2019
Romans 13:11-14
The day of salvation is at hand


In our text this evening St. Paul speaks of the “Hour” as an opportunity. Paul considers Jesus’ return as the chance to share Christ and this occasion is just round the corner. The time is at hand. The return of Christ will happen quickly – in an instant – in the blink of an eye – in a flash!  In this passage Paul looks at the return of Christ as an opportunity. The hour of Jesus’ return is an opportunity for us to awake form sleep, to live in the light of day, to cloth ourselves with Christ. 

What St. Paul would say to us this night – size the opportunity -

1. Seize the opportunity to awake from sleep v. 11 “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” 

The time of salvation, the closing period of the present age, before the consummation of the kingdom - is this “present time.”  Now is the time for action, now is “the hour.” The full realization of our salvation will come at the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is not a new concept. Scripture speaks of this in many places.

•       Romans 8:23; “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

•        Hebrews 9:28; “Christ was sacrifices ones to take away the sins of may people; and He will appear a second time not to bear sin, but to bring salvation, to those who are waiting for Him.”

•       1 Peter 1:4-5; “[we] have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

The time is “nearer now” then it was before.  Every day brings us closer to the second advent of Jesus Christ. Every day that passes brings us closer to that glorious day when we shall take a walk – from one end of the kingdom to the other. We walk - from the kingdom of grace - to the kingdom of glory.  We step over from earth which is fixed and limited - to heaven - which is beyond time and space.  

Transition: Seize the opportunity to wake form sleep. Seize the opportunity to live for the day.

2. Seize the opportunity to live as in the day – v. 13 “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.”

Shopping, lively Christmas parties, getting the family together, a lovely tree, good food, and fun - Is that all there is to Christmas? You don’t have to be a Christian to have that kind of Christmas.

What is the real significance of Christmas? St Paul would remind us in his letter to the Galatians that at just the right time God sent His Son that we might becomes sons and daughters of God. {Galatians 4:4-7}  The Father sent Christ to the world at the right time – “When the time had fully come.”  At just the right time this same Jesus will return as Judge and King. Now is the time of preparation – here is the key – if we are prepared to welcome Him when we commemorate His birth we will be ready when He returns to judge the earth. In all of our preparations for the season keep your eyes heavenward.  

Transition: Seize the opportunity to wake form sleep, to live for the day, to put on Christ.

3. Seize the opportunity to put on Christ – v.14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about who to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

St. Paul would remind us in Galatians 3:27; “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Paul exhorts believers to display outwardly what has already taken place inwardly – including practicing all the virtues associated with Christ. In our daily lives we shine forth the light of Christ by our works. By our words and actions we prove that our religion is “for real”.

There is perhaps no greater deception than this: that being in Christ is a benefit to us. Do you want to partake in the new creation? Leave YOU behind. Is this not the true message of Christmas? God became flesh and inhabited this world, walking among us. Love and Faith demonstrated Holiness and Healing.

Then Jesus, the Christ, lifted Himself up as a sacrifice for us, so that through His death might come new life for every man and woman; be it boy and girl, or those about to leave this world for the next. Jesus died so that we might live. He killed sin and the darkness so that we may walk in liberty within the light.

God’s Christmas tree was the cross, and the Gifts were those which came out of Christ’s crucifixion. Salvation. Sanctification. Confession. Repentance. Restoration. Resurrection. So Christmas is not about receiving. It is not about food and drink and festivity and caroler in front of the door or gift-giving behind the door. Christmas is about Death. And Resurrection. And Hope. And Faith. And Love.

We work while it is day. When you cut wood you heat twice. We prepare for the season and for our entrance into glory. Believer in Christ – now is your opportunity. Make the best of your time now while it is day - for night will come when no one will work.  

Words-965
Passive Sentences - 1%
Readability - 75%
Reading Level - 5.8
Advent image copyright © Higher Things

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

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, 18 “Arise, 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, 29 “Have 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 2, 2019

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 1, 2019

Forget - Me - Not Memorial Service


Forget – Me-Not Memorial Service
Lutheran Hospital of Ft. Wayne
First Sunday in Advent
01 December 2019


We have come here this day to show our love and support for parents, grandparents, family members and friends to surround them with our love, our prayers, and our faith.

We are not here today because we are wise enough to understand this loss. But we are here today because we are human enough to share in their sense of disappointment and hurt.  The love of God that has been shed abroad in our heart compels us to reach out to them and touch them in some meaningful way.



This day we ask for the comfort of the Holy Spirit. And for the promise of our Lord Jesus. That He will never leave us or forsake us. Beyond the sorrows and disappointments of life, we have hope and confidence because of the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness.

Today we look beyond the limitations and the heart-aches of this temporal life to see the glories and the wonders of God’s eternal promises and His everlasting kingdom.

We are not here today to become philosophical about things we don’t understand.  Yet we are here to find comfort and strength in the eternal truth and certainty of God’s Word.

In the midst of natural disappointment and sorrow, we can take great comfort in knowing this that Jesus understands the heartache that occurs with this kind of disappointment, and whenever you find yourself hurting; you can take shelter in Him.

The Lord is indeed touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Jesus has said, "Blessed are they which mourn, for they shall be comforted." The Scriptures also remind us that our God is "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort" that He is the one "who comforts us in all our tribulation."

There are circumstances that happen in life that we do not like – things that we would change if we could.  When we encounter these types of situations, we recognize our humanity and our limitations. 

In the midst of our natural sorrow, we thank God for His supernatural grace.

In facing death, we look the promise of life everlasting. And in the face of separation, we look for the assurance of eternal reunion.

We look forward to that day, when we can all rejoice together, and we ask the Lord for mercy, we rely on our Lord’s amazing grace - that we are not without hope or comfort at this time.

Words-420
Passive Sentences –4% 
Readability –79% 
Reading Level – 7.9
Advent Image copyright © Higher Things

Advent 2 Series A



Advent 2 Series A

Isaiah 11:1–10
Romans 15:4–13
Matthew 3:1–12

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

By the Preaching of Repentance, We Are Prepared for the Coming of the Lord

John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent’” (Matthew 3:1–2). His preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins prepared people for the coming of Christ into the world. John’s work was historically complete with the incarnate advent of Jesus, but his vital ministry continues in preaching Law and Gospel. The Son of God has come in the flesh, “a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots” (Isaiah 11:1), and continues to bear the fruits of righteousness. His good tree of the cross is “a signal for the peoples” (Isaiah 11:10), by which He calls the nations to repentance. “With the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips” (Isaiah 11:4), He slays the wicked and brings the dead to life, making sons of Abraham out of lifeless stones. So also the “root of Jesse” comes to us, “even he who arises to rule the Gentiles” (Romans 15:12), that “we might have hope” and be filled “with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:4, 13).

The Baptism Preparer – Second Sunday in Advent,
December 8, 2019
(Matthew 3:1-12)
Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Brege

Some have accused Lutherans (and other Christians) of over-emphasizing the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  As a preliminary defense, nearly every book of the New Testament speaks about Baptism. Even more so consider that when God introduced the Christ with His greatest prophet, He decisively chose to magnify a holy washing—a baptism.

It is obvious that John the Baptist was the way preparer for the Christ.  This fact was not only prophesied by Isaiah and Malachi, but it was attested by John as well: …for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel (John 1:31).  However John the Baptizer not only prepared the way of the Christ, he also prepared the way for Christian Baptism.  When the Savior instituted the wondrous sacrament of Holy Baptism, He did not do it “out of the blue”, for in John the Baptist’s God-ordained work there was a holy preliminary and precedent for Holy Baptism. By John’s Baptism of the multitudes in the Jordan River the Apostles were readied for Christ to institute His Church’s water-Sacrament at His ascension.  Though the Old Testament sacred washings as well as traditional Jewish washings magnified the concept of sacred washings, nothing prepared the Jews for Christian Baptism more than the baptism performed by John the Baptist.

It must be realized that Christian Baptism is not the same as John’s baptism.  Nonetheless as one observes the following differences between John’s baptism and Christian Baptism, one can also see that such differences have points of comparison demonstrating that John’s “lesser” baptism was preparing the way for the ultimate rite of baptism—the Sacrament of Holy Baptism:  John’s baptism at the Jordan was commissioned only to be done by John, the Son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and it was only done in the Jordan River; Christian Baptism was instituted and commissioned for Christ’s Church, especially to be done by pastors, using any available water.  John’s baptism was to manifest Christ only to Israel; Christian baptism is for the nations, beyond the Jordan.  John’s baptism did not unite a person with Christ’s death and resurrection, partly because these salvific works had not been accomplished, however in Christian baptism people are expressly buried and raised with Christ.  John’s baptism had no power to endow with the Holy Spirit, but Christian Baptism is the foundational means whereby people receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism more or less ceased after John was beheaded (Other related baptisms, perhaps almost cultish in nature, seem to be referenced in the Acts of the Apostles.); Christian Baptism will continue as long as nations need to hear the Gospel.  When John baptized people they were considered followers of John who—verbally along with his appointed baptism—purposely pointed to the Christ; Christian baptism makes disciples not of John but only of Jesus Christ.

So what were the marks of John’s baptism that were nearly identical to Christian Baptism?  Both were/are baptisms linked to repentance, and both imparted/impart forgiveness of sins.  Both John’s baptism and Christian Baptism pointed to the Christ; granted, one pointed ahead and the other points mostly back in time.  Both were commanded by God.  Finally, both utilized water, as is the nature of sacred washings.

Indeed John the Baptist prepared the way for the Christ.  But we should also realize that John’s God-ordained baptism of penitents in the Jordan prepared the way for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism which Christ’s Church rightly treasures.

Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist Prepares the Way ~

Matthew 3:1
Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,

Matthew 3:2
καὶ λέγων• Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 3:3
οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος• Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ• Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ
For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" 

Matthew 3:4
αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ Ἰωάννης εἶχεν τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τριχῶν καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, ἡ δὲ τροφὴ [c]ἦν αὐτοῦ ἀκρίδες καὶ μέλι ἄγριον
Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Matthew 3:5
τότε ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία καὶ πᾶσα ἡ περίχωρος τοῦ Ἰορδάνου,  
Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him,

Matthew 3:6
καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν
and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Matthew 3:7 
δὼν δὲ πολλοὺς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς• Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς;
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Matthew 3:8
ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας  
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Matthew 3:9
καὶ μὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς• Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ, λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ
And do not presume 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.

Matthew 3:10
ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται• πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται
Even now the ax 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. 

Matthew 3:11
Ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν• ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι• αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ [h]καὶ πυρί•  
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Matthew 3:12
οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ διακαθαριεῖ τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ καὶ συνάξει τὸν σῖτον αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν [i]ἀποθήκην, τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." – 

Why do church people need repentance? They need repentance…
1. IF they come as spectators of repentance. 
2. IF they fail to produce the fruit of repentance.  
3. IF they fail to produce the fruit of repentance.  
4. IF they trust only in church membership. 
THEN they face judgment.  

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