Saturday, October 31, 2020

All Saints

 

November 1, 2020
Matthew 5:1-12

 Gracious Savior, keep my eyes ever focused on You and Your blessings, which are mine by grace alone. To that end, Lord Jesus, bless Your Word, that we might trust in You.

Life for the Christian is a life that is lived by faith. – On this All Saints Day - Jesus the greatest teacher who has ever lived gives a description of the child of God who has been incorporated into the family of faith.

This is exactly what John teaches in our Epistle lesson for today. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. – 1 John 3:1-3

Four powerful words. “And so we are.”


What the world sees as tragic or empty, Jesus sees as blessed. However, His descriptions might sound strange to human ears. Humility. Mourning. Gentleness. Peacefulness. Does not sound like a blessed life.

Jesus lived by these descriptions Himself. We take notice of them in His words and His actions. He Himself lived them all.  

We dare not recite these ‘blessed’ words as some sort of mantra. To the contrary, our national creed is one of optimism. Not hunger or thirst of any kind. 

Blessed are the peacemakers” says Jesus. V 9 But in our American culture those who pursue peace risk having their patriotism called into question. 

We live in a nation which says: Blessed are the well-educated, for they will get the good jobs.

Blessed are the well-connected, for their aspirations will not go unnoticed.

Blessed are you when you know what you want, and go after it with everything you’ve got. For God helps those who help themselves.

If we are honest, we must admit that the world Jesus asserts as fact is not the world we have made for ourselves. [1]

These statements are description, not prescription.[2]

Those who are blessed receive the gifts the Savior has given. And what has the Savior given?

1. There is comfort for those who mourn now – Vs. 4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

"Mourning" describes a person who becomes aware of his personal offense to God and the pain that he has brought to others by his sinful behavior. The believer who mourns sees beyond the consequences of his wrongdoing. Into the real offenses done to others.

For the poor in spirit who know their sin. They grieve over their guilt. They seek the grace of forgiveness. And for those who mourn. They understand. What sin and death have done to all people. And to our broken world.

Notice the Savior’s words. You will mourn. But you will be comforted.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. Yet worldly sorrow brings death.  -2 Corinthians 7:10

Mourning. Specifically over the sins we have committed against God. - Sorrow for the fact that our sins brought God’s Son to the cross.

Yet, through that agent of execution, brings life. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. -1 Peter 2:24

2. Then there is the fulfillment of the desire for goodness – Vs. 6 - Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

To Hunger and thirst for righteousness; describes a man's relentless pursuit of God's righteous standards, which he can only gain from Christ.

He looks beyond himself for new standards of conduct and embraces God’s strength to obtain what he so desperately desires. Genuine humility, godly sorrow for one’s sin, and meekness leads to the desire to be right with God. 

And this righteousness; to be right with God, is attained only through faith in Jesus Christ.

Your blessedness comes from the Blessed One; Jesus, your Savior, the One who blesses.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21;

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. - 1 Corinthians 1:30

To gain the righteousness found in Christ, one must have confidence in His gospel and continue to obey the truth or practice righteousness. Thus John can write in our Epistle for today:  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous.-1 John 3:7

Because of His love, The Father not only calls us His children, He actually makes us His children. Saints, in contrast to the world, are supposed to do more than simply ''feel'' love. We act on it, as well. True spiritual fulfillment is given to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

3. There is mercy for those who are merciful now – Vs. 7 - Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Notice, the merciful receive mercy. Mercy is only for the undeserving. You show mercy as you have been shown mercy.  To be merciful is that compassion expressed to those around them.  Seized by his own unworthiness, the believer in Christ reaches out to others with compassion. Because he too has been forgiven, he cares for the special needs of those around him.

Mercy is demonstrated, in part, by our willingness to forgive others. Because of this forgiveness in Christ. The saints of God forgive. Not merely when it’s the noble thing to do. Not when it’s convenient. And there are eyes upon you.

Not merely seven times. But 70 times 7! This is what Paul teaches when he says, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:31-32  

The merciful show compassion and forgive as Christ has loved and forgiven them. We ask for a pure heart. That we may seek the Lord. And serve His holy purposes.  We seek peace through the blood of Christ; the Prince of peace.

The mercy of God is the source of motivation to show mercy toward others. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. -Luke 6:36

Only the merciful will receive mercy. Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Yet mercy triumphs over judgment!  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.-James 2:13

4. There is a vision of God for the pure in heart – Vs.8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  This is the only way in which you can see God.   

Pure in heart speaks not of a person's old heart but his new heart. God has given the ability to seek the welfare of others above the desires for self. Refusing to focus on themselves, true saints, sincerely open their heart to what God and others desire.

Pure in Heart means clean, pure of sin, sincere, earnest devotion to God. It is a pure longing for God. Serving Him only.

A pure heart is achieved by the help of God. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. -Acts 15:9

Christians are to be committed to cleansing their hearts (and lives) of sin.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness -1 John 1:9

To see God or maintain fellowship with Him requires purity of heart. As James teaches, Come near to God and he will come near to you -James 4:8

These statements. Of those who are blessed. These proclamations. These declarations.  Are not some new kind of new Law given to us.

They are not rules for the righteous. They are rather a description of those who are in Christ.

Saints of God - The reign of the heavens is yours.  These assertions describe both who Jesus is and what He gives to all who, by faith, have been incorporated into His family the Church.

You, child, are blessed. The Kingdom of the Heavens is yours! You shall see God. For you are called the sons of God - You belong to Christ.

Words-1,425
Passive Sentences – 9%
Readability – 79.7%
Reading Level – 4.7
For All the Saints copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things


[2] The list we find here is in the indicative mood, not the imperative.


November

 

On November 3 our nation will head for the polls during a national election. Millions have already cast their vote either through the mail or by early voting. Following are a few pastoral thoughts as we approach the election.  

Christ was active and present in the work of creation. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…’”-Genesis 1:26   He entered this world to live a perfect life for you. He bore your sin as His own all the way to the blessed cross to die in your place and then victoriously rise from the dead on the third day to give you eternal life. Because of His work you are free – to help and serve your neighbor in love.

Christ is still in charge of this world. He rules in two camps; through the State (God’s Left Hand Kingdom) and through the Church (God’s Right Hand Kingdom).  The aim and goal of Christ’s rule through the State is justice. The aim and goal of Christ’s work through His Church is mercy.

The State’s primary source of rule and authority is through the Law found in the conscience. The State establishes laws based on what is right motivated by the guiding principle to “do no harm.”   The State must only punish those who have broken the law. The Church’s only source of rule and authority is the Gospel.  Our guiding principle, “love covers a multitude of sins.”  

In our representative republic elected individuals represent the citizen body and exercise power according to the rule of law under the constitution. We elect people to serve in office and through their work they establish laws, and work on our behalf.

As citizens, we have the privilege to exercise our right to vote every two years. If we are in favor of the work our representatives are doing we re-elect them. If we believe they have failed we vote them out of office.  We follow the laws for a good conscience and for fear of the consequences of breaking the law. For this reason we are obligated to give respect, honor and pay our taxes. (This is all spelled out in Romans 13) 

As Christians we also pray for our leaders so that we can live in peace and be about the business of gossiping the Gospel; serving God and our neighbor in love. This is what Paul spells out in his letter to Timothy – “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone — for kings and all those in authority—so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.”-1Timothy 2:1-2

The State has no business ruling the Church and the Church has no business running the State.  Asking the government to help your church is like asking Caesar for really good seats at the Coliseum – and we know how that went. For this reason; as an example, we do not receive State vouchers at Wyneken. It is the Church’s school so we pay our own way.  This is why we sing the hymn, “Praise to the Almighty my soul adore Him” at least once a month as we enter an election cycle. Stanza two simply reads:

Trust not in rulers; they are but mortal;
Earth-born they are and soon decay.
Vain are their counsels at life's last portal,
When the dark grave engulfs its prey.
Since mortals can no help afford,
Place all your trust in Christ, our Lord.
Allelujah, allelujah!

All this said, I cannot nor will I tell you how to vote. My only encouragement is for you to be as informed concerning the issues as possible and to vote your conscience. Do not be afraid to speak your mind.

The societal issues we are facing are numerous. I’m old enough to have lived through the turbulent 1960’s. These issues have not fully been resolved so they still linger.

 As Christians we are given to pray. I’ve include some below. 

 A prayer for our nation: Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and [1]constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action.

Grant that we, who came from many nations with many different languages, may become a united people. Support us in defending our liberties, and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in you fail.

For Good Government: Eternal Lord, Ruler of all, graciously regard those who have been set in positions of authority among us that they may be guided by your Spirit, be high in purpose, wise in counsel, firm in good resolution, and unwavering in duty, that under them we may be governed quietly and peaceably; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

For Responsible Citizenship: Lord, keep this nation under your care. Bless the leaders of our land that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Help us provide trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve you faithfully in our generation to the honor of your holy name;; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

And least we forget, 26 November, we will celebrate yet another National Thanksgiving.

Collect for Thanksgiving–Almighty God, Your mercies are new every morning and Your generously provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy spirit that we may acknowledge Your goodness, give thanks for Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience all our days.

Collect for the Harvest – Almighty God, Your crown the fields with Your blessing and permit us to gather in the fruits of the earth. As stewards of Your creation, may we receive Your gifts in humble thankfulness and share Your bounty with those in need; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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

 


Friday, October 30, 2020

October 31, 2020— Saturday prior to All Saints



 


Sunday’s hymn of the day, For All the Saints (LSB 677) is a song of high praise, not to the saints, but by us saints, for the grace of God shown to the saints who have gone before. As they now enjoy eternity with their Lord and Redeemer, so we, too, look forward to that more glorious day, when saints triumphant rise in bright array, and sing Alleluias to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Prayer for joy in life and hope of the resurrection: O Lord, the refuge of every generation, we fade like withered grass as You sweep us away in the sleep of death. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, be gracious to us for Jesus' sake, and awaken us in the joy of the resurrection to eternal life with Him who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for the Feast of All SaintAlmighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for a blessed death: Almighty God, grant Your unworthy servants Your grace, that in the hour of our death the adversary may not prevail against us but that we may be found worthy of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for blessedness of heaven: Almighty, everlasting God, You gave Your only Son to be a High Priest of good things to come. Grant unto us, Your unworthy servants, to have our share in the company of the blessed for all eternity; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for hope of eternal life in Christ: Almighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ may increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raised in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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


Morning Prayer Reading 42 - Job Part 2


Job Part 2 
(Selective Verses)


Satan Takes Job's Property and Children

13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants [c] with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Footnotes:

Job 1:15 Hebrew the young men; also verses 16, 17

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. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

October 30, 2020— Friday prior to All Saints

 




Matthew 5:1–12—The Beatitudes are not some new kind of Law given by a new Lawgiver, Jesus. Rather, they are a description of those who are in Christ. The Beatitudes describe both who Jesus is and what He gives to all who, by faith, have been incorporated into Him. You, dearly baptized, are blessed: the Kingdom of Heaven is yours, you shall see God, you are called sons of God, for you belong to Christ.

Life for the Christian is a life that is lived by faith – On this All Saints Day Jesus the greatest teacher who has ever lived gives a description of the child of God who has been incorporated into the family of faith. These Beatitudes are the gifts the Savior has given to you.

These Beatitudes are not some new kind of new Law given to us. They are not rules for the righteous. They are rather a description of those who are in Christ. The Beatitudes describe both who Jesus is and what He gives to all who, by faith, have been incorporated into Him. You, dear friend are blessed. The Kingdom of Heaven is yours! You shall see God for you are called the sons of God - for you belong to Christ.

In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure and the persecuted are all blessed, and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus introduces His Sermon on the Mount with nine beatitudes that detail the future blessedness of His disciples. These promised blessings are God's gracious gifts to those who repent of their sins and trust Christ for righteousness. Only after Jesus has assured His disciples of God's goodness to them does He call on them,, in the rest of His sermon, to be good and do good. When we recognize our own spiritual poverty when the Lord leads us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, when He makes us pure in heart so that we seek to worship only the true God, then we are blessed now and forever.

Gracious Savior, keep my eyes ever focused on You and Your blessings, which are mine by grace alone. Amen

 

 

 


Gone!




 

Morning Prayer Reading 41 - Job Part 1



Job Part 1 
(Selective Verses)

Job's Character and Wealth

1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed [a] God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Satan Allowed to Test Job

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan [b] also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Footnotes:
Job 1:5 The Hebrew word bless is used euphemistically for curse in 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9
Job 1:6 Hebrew the Accuser or the Adversary; so throughout chapters 1–2
Job 1:15 Hebrew the young men; also verses 16, 17

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

October 29, 2020— Thursday prior to All Saints



 

1 John 3:1–3—What an amazing thing it is to be able to pray the Lord’s Prayer, where we address the Holy and Almighty God as Our Father! This we can do because we are the children of God, as St John tells us in the Epistle reading for Sunday. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! We are His children because, being baptized into Christ, we are Christ’s, and heirs with Him. By the redemption we have by the blood of Jesus, God has made us His children.

Despite all our iniquity, our selfishness and sinfulness, He has called us His own children through the waters of Baptism. The love God has lavished on us is unique because it is not what our corrupted sinful nature deserves; it is not what our thoughts, words and deeds have earned.

Believers are not just “named” children of God but are actually reborn as His children, are actually “fathered” by God. This is no metaphor, for a new being is created (2 Corinthians 5:17) God promises that he has made us His children. Despite the lies, deceptions and partial truths of the world, God has never lied to us, and He has never failed to do what He has promised. You can count on Him.[1]

Prayer for blessedness of heaven: Almighty, everlasting God, You gave Your only Son to be a High Priest of good things to come. Grant unto us, Your unworthy servants, to have our share in the company of the blessed for all eternity; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.[2]



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

[2] Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

October 28, 2020— Wednesday prior to All Saints

 




Revelation 7:9–17—This is the vision whence the antiphon for the Introit is drawn. These are the saints who never cease praising God and the Lamb for the salvation which has been accomplished by the Lamb of God having shed His blood for the remission of all our sins and for our salvation.

In the Lord’s Supper, we join with those saints who have gone before, with palm branches in their hands, in singing the Sanctus: ‘Holy Holy, Holy…Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord!’ With those saints, we also partake of the marriage feast of the Lamb which has no end.

The multitude is clad in white, it is waving palm branches, and it is crying hymns of praise in a loud voice. While much of this imagery parallels the Triumphal Entry scene as depicted in the gospels, it should be noted that this multitude certifiably pledges itself to the Lamb. Unlike the multitude in the Triumphal Entry scene that later turns its back on the Messiah, this multitude will remain faithful to the Lamb “forever and ever

On the Feast Day of All Saints, we Christians around the world gather to celebrate the lives of those saints who have gone on before us. We give thanks for those saints living still today. And, we ponder how all of us -- you and me -- are called to live lives of sanctity. This passage reminds us that being a faithful witness -- like the great multitude -- is the baptismal vocation of us all. It also reminds us that when we live out our Christian vocation, we find freedom in the Lamb of God who sustains all of us.[1]

A prayer for joy in the promise of bodily resurrection: Merciful Father and Lord of life, with whom live the spirits of those who depart in the faith, we thank You for the blessings of body and soul that You granted this departed loved one, whose earthly remains we now lay to rest. Above all, we rejoice at Your gracious promise to all Your servants, both living and departed, that we shall be raised from death at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen[2]



[2] Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Morning Prayer - Reading 40 - Ruth




Ruth


1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.  

7 So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.



22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.  So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz,8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

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, October 26, 2020

October 27, 2020— Tuesday prior to All Saints

 



Psalm 149A psalm of high praise unto the Lord to be offered up in the assembly of the godly. He has taken pleasure in his people and adorned the humble with salvation. For this, we His saints do not cease to give Him the glory and praise due His name.

This Hymn of Praise divides into two surprising parts that may be seen in this way:

(Vv 1–4) Let us praise God with song

(Vv 5–9) Let us praise God with a sword

The first half invites God’s people to “Sing to the LORD a new song!” because he is both our Maker and our King. This should lead to exuberant worship in which each worshiper plays a part in giving honor to God. In this exhilarating exercise even dance has a place (this is practiced among Orthodox Jews; the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” is a good example of this kind of praise).

The church is given a similar missionary charge, to extend the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth (Matthew 28.18–20). While our power is not military, it is by means of the same Word of God that we engage in this work. Military metaphors are used throughout the New Testament to picture this work:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10.3-6; see also Ephesians 6.13–17).

It is important for us to remember that when Jesus announced his public ministry in Nazareth, he read in the synagogue meeting from the Isaiah scroll:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” (Isaiah 61.1–2a).

He ended his reading in the middle of verse 2, not reading the remainder of the verse:”…and the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61.2b).

He didn’t finish the sentence not because vengeance is not a part of his commission as the Messiah-King, but because that is part of his second appearance, not his first. He came in humility the first time to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19.10); he will appear a second time “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1.8).

It is an honor for all God’s people to be a part of extending his gracious rule into the lives of people all over the world (Psalm 149.9). We do this as our righteous lives and words shine the light of the gospel to both reveal the disfiguring effects of sin in people’s lives and to show them the way to God.[1]

Collect for Psalm 149: Lord, let Israel rejoice in you and acknowledge you as creator and redeemer. In your loving-kindness embrace us now, that we may proclaim the wonderful truths of salvation with your saints in glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. [2]

 

 



[2] Collect for Psalm 149, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY


Morning Prayer - Reading 39 - Sampson Part 2




Sampson Part 2
Judges 15-16 
(Selective Verses)



9 Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah and made a raid on Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” They said, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us.”14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. 

4 After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.”


17 And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands.20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.


23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 25 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.


28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. 

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, October 25, 2020

26 October 2020— Monday prior to All Saints

 



Psalm 31:1, 3, 5; Antiphon, Rev 7:14b—The antiphon is the description of a portion of the vision which the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John received from our Lord Jesus. In it, he sees those saints who have received the beatific vision of God by virtue of their having been baptized, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, that is, Jesus Christ our Savior. This is the blessed existence that awaits all the elect, for which we yearn even while we groan in this vale of tears.

The hymn writer assures us that we are but pilgrims and strangers on this earth. Heaven is our home. St. Paul explains, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” -2 Corinthians 4:8-11

The Psalmist concludes, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.” These are the last words the Savior spoke when He died on the cruel cross of Calvary. Jesus committed His life into the safe hands of the Father. He fulfilled the Law for you by living a perfect life. Then, He took your sins as His own and died the death which you deserve. Now, by faith you entrust your life to Him.

The psalmist’s expression of trust death was not in his thought.  It was in life. Amidst all its troubles and dangers, he trusted.  The Hebrew translation says literally, he deposited as a trust his spirit. Such is the life of the faithful child of God. We commend ourselves into the hands of God. Thus, in the Morning and Evening we simply pray, “Into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things. May your Holy Angel (Spirit) watch over me that the evil foe may have no power over me.” Such a bold and powerful prayer is the prayer of faith.

Prayer for Psalm 31: God of kindness and truth, you saved your chosen one, Jesus Christ, and you give your martyrs strength. Watch over your people who come to you now, and strengthen the hearts of those who hope in you, that they may proclaim your saving acts of kindness in the eternal city; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.[1]

 


[1] Collect for Psalm 31, For All the Saints A Prayer Book For and By the Church © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY


All Saints Observed



All Saints (Observed)
Revelation 7:(2–8) 9–17
1 John 3:1–3
Matthew 5:1–12

Saints Are Blessed in the Eternal Presence of Christ All Saints

A great multitude … from all tribes and peoples and languages” cry out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne” (Revelation 7:9–10). Faith-filled saints from every place and time with unified voices eternally magnify the Lamb of God. As His beloved children, we, too, “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Joined with the throng of angels and a myriad of saints, we shall “serve him day and night in his temple” (Revelation 7:15). In our earthly tension vacillating between saint and sinner, faith and doubt, sacred and profane, we earnestly seek Jesus to calm our fears, comfort our spirits and forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit, through faith in Christ propels us forward, fortifying us in Word and Sacrament, to our eternal home. In the midst of our constant struggle as believers, we need to be blessed. And so we are. The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure and the persecuted are all blessed, and we will most certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:1–12).


O Almighty God, by whom we are graciously knit together as one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, our Lord, grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those unspeakable joys which You had prepared for those who love You; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Gracious Savior, keep my eyes ever focused on You and Your blessings, which are mine by grace alone. Amen

Jesus introduces His Sermon on the Mount with nine beatitudes that detail the future blessedness of His disciples. These promised blessings are God's gracious gifts to those who repent of their sins and trust Christ for righteousness. Only after Jesus has assured His disciples of God's goodness to them does He call on them,, in the rest of His sermon, to be good and do good. When we recognize our own spiritual poverty when the Lord leads us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, when He makes us pure in heart so that we seek to worship only the true God, then we are blessed now and forever.

Observe both future and present tenses...

Life for the Christian is a life that is lived by faith - On this All Saints Day Jesus the greatest teacher who has ever lived gives a description of the child of God who has been incorporated into the family of faith. These Beatitudes are the gifts the Savior has given to you.

It is yours now and soon to come. Blessed now are present the rewards future…now and not yet.


They Shall See God
 Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)                                                                        
On this All Saints’ Day briefly consider the promise of Jesus that the pure in heart get to see God!

Everyone wants to see God; even unbelievers want to see Him so they can “prove” to themselves He exists.  This longing to see God is part of our being, and we will not be satisfied until this happens.  To thus behold God in His unveiled splendor is referred to as the Beatific Vision.  It is the most blessed, beautiful, wondrous sight ever.  Until now we have only beheld the creation, which even in its fallen state has a high degree of splendor, and through it we obtain a veiled picture of God.  We have seen nothing beyond this creation, and consequently no one can imagine beholding the Creator!  Moses expressed this longing when he asked to behold God’s glory [Ex 33:18].  Though God spoke to Moses as a man speaks to a friend [33:11], yet shortly after this high praise God explained to Moses,…no man can see me and live [33:20]. God was applying this to Moses; not even God’s “friend” could see Him and live.   

Why can no man—not even Moses—see God and live?  Because no man has a pure heart.  Impurity cannot remain in the presence of the Pure and Holy One, thus no one can see God and live. The Scripture associates “the heart” with man’s thinking and his attitude.  Every human since the fall of Adam is born with polluted thinking and a rebellious attitude toward God. The prophet Jeremiah bemoans this condition of man:  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? [17:9].  All I need do is look into my heart—especially in light of God’s law—and I realize the truth of Jeremiah’s statement; my heart is not pure, it is desperately sick. I cannot see God.

However in this life God allows His people to see Him, but only in a veiled way.  God allowed this veiled view of Himself for Moses:  So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen [33:22,23].  God allowed another veiled vision of Himself for Moses and the elders at the foot of Mt. Sinai: …and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. …So they saw God, and they ate and drank [Ex 24:10,11].  As they ate of the peace offering sacrifice, these chosen few “saw God”.  So too when we in this life eat of the body and blood of THE peace offering, we in an even greater way “behold God” while we thus commune.  But this is not yet the Beatific Vision.

Holy Scripture describes a time when His people will somehow literally behold Him.  Saint John wrote: Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is [1 Jn 3:2].  God’s people will thus see Him as He is, not because they have been extra good but because God has made them into saints.  A saint is a holy person.  There was only one saint who was holy because of His works.  This saint, the Holy One of Israel, went to the cross to bear our sins and thus bestow sainthood upon us.  Saint Paul marks the point of the bestowal of sainthood: But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God [1 Co 6:11].  This holy washing is none other than Holy Baptism, in which God made each of us saints: sanctified and justified children.  God thus gave unto each of us pure hearts.  In this life we strive to live as saints; as we behold Christ by faith we strive to love and live for others in the name of Christ.  Into eternity we shall enjoy the unfathomable Beatific Vision, for Jesus has promised, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Because of Christ’s cross and empty tomb, we will get to see God in His unveiled glory!


Matthew 5:1

Ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος· καὶ καθίσαντος αὐτοῦ προσῆλθαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ·
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

Matthew 5:2 
καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς λέγων·
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

Having sat down, the posture of prophet, posture of learning. Another Moses, Jesus is THE prophet. He came to preach and to die. Works of mercy are out of His compassion. He opens His mouth like that of creation.

Matthew 5:3
Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. To be poor is to rely on the mercy of God. These are indicative and the rewards are all passive.

Not blessed are the growing churches. The only command is "rejoice and be glad"

Matthew 5:4
μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are those who mourn, you are a Christian. You will mourn, but you will be comforted.  What do we mourn? As Jesus grieved over Lazarus.

Preach theology of grace as opposed to theology of glory.

Matthew 5:5
μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσι τὴν γῆν.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

  Meek inherit the earth. Meek are powerless, a picture of the cross. Inherit for free from those who would try to take by force. This is anti world. This is completely out of the realm of measurement and feeling

Matthew 5:6
μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσονται. 
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

 They will be engorged/enlarged. Their cup will run over for those who hunger after righteousness.

Your blessedness comes from the blessed one who blesses.

Matthew 5:7
μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται 
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

The merciful receive mercy. Mercy to the deserving is justice. Mercy is only to the undeserving. Show mercy as you have been shown mercy.

The unmerciful serving misrepresented the king who had shown mercy. He acts as if the king still had the debt hanging over them.

Matthew 5:8
μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ, ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται.  
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

 Blessed are the clean in heart because they themselves will see God. The only way in which you see God.

Matthew 5:9
 μακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί, ὅτι αὐτοὶ υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθήσονται.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

 Blessed are the ones making peace they will be called God's sons.

Matthew 5:10
μακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.  
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 The ones who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heavens.

Matthew 5:11
μακάριοί ἐστε ὅταν ὀνειδίσωσιν ὑμᾶς καὶ διώξωσιν καὶ εἴπωσιν πᾶν [a]πονηρὸν καθ’ ὑμῶν ψευδόμενοι ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ.  
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

 Blessed whenever they reproach you and say all evil against you on account of me.

Matthew 5:12

χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὅτι ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολὺς ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· οὕτως γὰρ ἐδίωξαν τοὺς προφήτας τοὺς πρὸ ὑμῶν.  
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Rejoice be glad, your reward is in heaven. In this sameness the prophets were persecuted.




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