Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Morning Prayer Reading 85: Peter's Catch of Fish




Luke 5:1-11


5 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” [a] 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Footnotes:
Luke 5:10 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women

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 permission granted for personal and congregational use

Monday, January 25, 2021

Tuesday prior to Epiphany 4


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

Psalm 111 along with Psalm 112 is an ‘acrostic’ poem, that is, each line of the psalm starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. After the initial “Praise the LORD” (Hallelujah!), there are twenty-two lines following the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This stylistic device is somewhat limiting to the author (after all, only so many words begin with the letter ‘Q’), but tends to aid the memorization of the psalm. 

Other acrostic psalms are 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145. Not all of them are ‘perfect’—some of them skip or transpose the order of letters. Psalms 111 and 112, however, are ‘perfect’ in sequence.

The psalm stresses the works of the LORD, using words that mean ‘work’ or ‘works’ five times in the ten verses of the psalm.[1]

One of the greatest responsibilities of the Church that is you and me, the people of God is to proclaim, praise and acknowledge the works of the LORD.

The Church needs to proclaim with heavy doses of humility, compassion and love how the LORD has worked in the past, how it sees Him working now and prophetically speak of His work in the future.

The psalmist writes, “Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.” These works are his righteous acts or providential works by which he maintains his creation with justice.

The LORD performs his ‘works’ on behalf of his people—by providing a place for us in his creation, by sustaining the creation, by making us his people through the work of redemption, and by giving us his word to guide us and sustain our lives.

As you pray this psalm, are ask the LORD to make us the people who fear him to experience his wisdom to guide us in life in his world.

Collect for Psalm 111: Merciful and gentle Lord, the crowning glory of all the saints, give us, your children, the gift of obedience, which is the beginning of wisdom, so that we may be filled with your mercy and that what you command we may do by the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. [2]

 



[1] http://psalmreflections.blogspot.com/
 
[2] Collect for Psalm 111, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and By the Church, Vol. III © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

Morning Prayer Reading 84: The Wedding at Cana



John 2:1-11


2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Footnotes:
John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters

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.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Epiphany 4 Series B



Epiphany 4 Series B
31 January 2021 
  
Deuteronomy 18:15–20
1 Corinthians 8:1–13
Mark 1:21–28

Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord

Our Lord Jesus Christ, True God in the Flesh, Cleanses Our Consciences from Sin

As He promised, the Lord our God has raised up “a prophet” like Moses, namely Jesus, our brother in the flesh. “To him you shall listen,” because the Word of the Lord is “in his mouth” (Deuteronomy 18:15–18). Indeed, He is more than a prophet and more than a scribe of the Scriptures; He is the incarnate Word, and He speaks “a new teaching with authority” (Mark 1:22, 27). He enters “the synagogue” of His Church and provides true Sabbath rest, using His authority to silence and cast out “even the unclean spirits” (Mark 1:21–27). By His Word of the cross, He removes the accusations of the Law and of the devil, and He cleanses our consciences before God the Father, “from whom are all things and for whom we exist.” Hence, we are now set free from bondage and commended to God by the one Lord, Jesus Christ, “through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Therefore, use your freedom to care for your brothers and sisters, neither causing them to stumble nor wounding their consciences (1 Corinthians 8:9–12), but cleansing and strengthening them with the Gospel.

Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Spirit

Mark 1:21 
Καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ. καὶ [a]εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν ἐδίδασκεν εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching.

Mark 1:22 
καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ, ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς
And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Mark 1:23 
καὶ εὐθὺς ἦν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ αὐτῶν ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ καὶ ἀνέκραξεν 
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,

Mark 1:24 
λέγων• Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 

Mark 1:25 
καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων• Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

Mark 1:26 
καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ
 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 

Mark 1:27 
καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ἅπαντες, ὥστε συζητεῖν πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς λέγοντας• Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινή• κατ’ ἐξουσίαν καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ
And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

Mark 1:28 
καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς πανταχοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας.
And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

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
LCMS Lectionary Summary © 2016
Luther’s Seal © Higher Things
Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Time in the Word - Epiphany 4


Time in the Word
January 25-31, 2021
Preparation for next week, Epiphany 4


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 25, 2021Psalm 32:1-2, 5-7 –- The Antiphon is taken from Psalm 32:10, “Many are the woes of the wicked but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him.”Appealing to God’s unfailing love, kindness, and mercy is frequent in the Old Testament since it summarizes all that the Lord covenanted to show to His people. This is an excellent Psalm which gives testimony to the joy the sinner has having experienced the Father’s forgiveness in Christ. 

Tuesday, January 26. 2021Psalm 111—The key verse of this psalm is verse 3,”Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.” The Psalmist praises the Lord for His unfailing righteousness. The psalm combines hymns of praise with instruction in wisdom. Truly, an excellent Psalm.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021Deuteronomy 18:15-20— The authority of reception – who gave it to you. God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses. The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ last address to the people before entering the Promised Land. Sunday’s Old Testament lesson is a part of a section dealing with prophecy. A prophet like Moses is promised to replace the false prophets. This true Moses will mediate between the Lord and the people. The passage explains how through Moses God provided for the institution of prophecy. True prophecy demands obedience on the part of the people and loyalty by the prophets.  

Thursday, January 28 20211 Corinthians 8:1-13—The authority of revelation – what you know. Knowledge of God gives freedom to eat meat offered to idols. Paul discusses a specific situation in Corinth, which caused a problem for Christians. Pagans participated in offering animal sacrifices to their gods. Part of the meat was burned on an altar and the rest was sold for food at the markets. Some Christians had no qualms of buying such meat for home consumption while others were conscience-stricken at the idea, for it seemed to them that they were participating in a pagan practice. 

Paul says no one should object to meats offered to idols because idols have no existence. God is the one and only true God. However, if some weaker brothers still feel it is wrong, those who have the knowledge that God alone is God should not each such meat to prevent offense and the destruction of their faith. 

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

Friday, January 29, 2021Mark 1:21-28—The authority of identity – who you are. With authority Jesus teaches and drives out an unclean spirit. After calling four disciples, Jesus begins his ministry by teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. The people are impressed by His authoritative teaching compared with the teaching of the scribes. A man in the congregation has an evil spirit, which addresses Jesus and knows Him to be the Messiah. With authority, Jesus commands the demon to leave the man. At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus comes into contact with evil powers. As God’s Son, He conquers the evil spirit. He does it by exercising His authority as God’s Son. 

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

Saturday, January 30, 2021John 6:37—The hymn of the day is, “Just as I Am, Without One Plea,” (LSB #570). God’s action, not man’s, is primary in salvation and Christ’s mercy is unfailing. 

See John 6:44, 10:29, 17:6, 18:9. This hymn has become a treasured hymn of many people. 

Morning Prayer Readings for the Coming Week:

January 26 84 Wedding at Cana
January 27 85 Peter’s Catch of fish
January 28 Chapel Day
January 29 86 Jesus calms a storm
January 20 87 Jesus heals a paralytic

Catechism Review: What is confession & What sins should we confess?

Sources:

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

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Epiphany 3

 

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
The God of 2nd Chances


Because of sin, we need another chance to obey God. Jonah was given this second opportunity. Who has not failed God like Jonah? In this second chance given to Jonah to proclaim the word of the Lord to a lost people we see we have a gracious God. As God gives us another chance to do better, it is incumbent upon us to give others who sin against us another chance to make good and to do better. A 2nd chance

I.        Reveals a God of mercy – Vs. 1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time

A.     Jonah didn’t necessarily have to be given a second chance.

1.      In most cases, the prophets were given only one chance and if they did not fulfill their duty there were harsh penalties. Abraham pleaded with God to save the city of Sodom. If the Lord could find just ten righteous persons the city would be spared.

Lot, Abraham’s nephew and his family were led out of danger and spared yet Lot’s wife turned back and in so doing was turned into a pillar of salt.

2.      The Lord wasn’t simply taking it out on His people the prophets – He wanted to drive home a specific point – namely that His Word meant something – that He was serious about dealing with His people – for this was the very reason why He sent the prophets to them in the first place.

B.     The fact that God dealt patiently with Jonah shows His mercy and compassion.

1.      It was His desire that these people would be saved. It was His desire that they would turn in repentance and live. It was His desire that they would turn from their wicked ways and acknowledge Him.

2.   To this day this is the desire of God. He desires that all men be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth – yet they must come under His terms and conditions.

The LORD will have mercy but there is one stipulation – men must acknowledge Him as Lord – at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.

C.     When the Lord deals with us – it may seem at the time to be punishment – but it is never to punish – His desire is that we turn to Him and live. His desire is to draw us to Himself –to have a deeper walk with us – to comfort us in our weaknesses.

The writer to the Hebrews put it this way - You see, this High Priest of ours isn’t a person who can’t feel any sympathy for us in our weakness because He has been tried and tested in every way, just as we are. But He never sinned!

Therefore we can come joyfully to the throne of our God whose heart is filled with love for those who don’t deserve it and there we will be given the mercy and love we don’t deserve to help us when we really need it.” –Julian Anderson translation Hebrews 4:15-18

Transition: The LORD desires to reveal His mercy. He also desires to restore people back into God’s favor.

II.     He restores a person in God’s favor – Vs. 2 Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

A.     In the case of the inhabitants of Nineveh it was to bring them to faith.

1.      The Lord did not destroy them but rather restored them.

2.      He sent His message to repent and in contrition and faith then turned from their evil ways and acknowledged Him alone.

B.    His mercies are new to us each day – “Today Thy mercy calls us to wash away our sin. However great our trespass whatever we have been. However long from mercy our hearts have turned away. Thy precious blood can cleans us and make us white today.

Transition: God desires to reveal His mercy. He desires to restore people back to Himself. This desire is for all people.

III.   Results in salvation for all – Vs. 5 The Ninevties believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth

A.     Notice what God’s Word did – It worked a miracle. Unbelievers were turned into faithful followers. A city set on destruction was spared. A people bent on total annihilation were given life – new life.

B.     This is your story for God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting our sins against us and He has given us this ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

Our sins stand up to accuse us. Our deeds are deserving of punishment but God in Christ has taken our sins to the blood cross and absorbed them into His own body.

No wonder Isaiah looking into the future could only predict, "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

The story of Jonah is a story of the LORD’s mercy and grace. It’s a story of God desires to revel His mercy, His desires to restore people back to Himself. This desire is for all people.

Words-930
Passive Sentences – 20%
Readability – 74.5%
Reading Level – 7.1
Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas Higher Things

Friday, January 22, 2021

Saturday prior to Epiphany 3


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

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

This prayer echoes a line from a famous hymn that is found in our hymnal. You may well know it: “O Christ, Our True and Only Light” (LSB #314). The hymn was written by Johann Heermann, a prolific German Lutheran hymn writer of the century following Martin Luther. The hymn calls upon that true Light to shine on those estranged from God, who are lost in error’s maze and who sit in darkness. What is not so well known is that Heermann did not come up with the central idea of the hymn. He read it in a poem written by someone else. He did not know the author of the poem. It was an Austrian Jesuit named Peter Brillmacher who had lived decades before Heermann and had been on the front line of the Roman Catholic response to the Lutheran movement in southern Germany.

When Brillmacher wrote those words, he thought the Lutherans were the folks who had been estranged from God and were lost in error’s maze! Heerman heard these words and thought of other people. We find this hymn in the “Missions” section of our hymnals. But this prayer, if it is to be prayed needs to start with us. We all have been enlightened by that true Light because we needed it. We have done our fair share of wandering in error’s maze and have sat destitute and helpless in utter darkness. This is a prayer about us before it can ever be a prayer about someone else. Pray this prayer for yourself and then pray it for someone else too. [1]



[1]  Lenten Devotions from Living Savior Lutheran Church Tualatin, OR 97062   https://living-savior.org/daily-devotionals/
The Trinity copyright (c) Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Morning Prayer Reading 83: Jesus Calls His First Disciples





John 1
(Selective Verses)


35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. [j] 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus[k] was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter [l]).

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,[m] you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Footnotes:
John 1:39 That is, about 4 p.m.
John 1:40 Greek him

John 1:42 Cephas and Peter are from the word for rock in Aramaic and Greek, respectively
John 1:51 The Greek for you is plural; twice in this verse

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.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Friday prior to Epiphany 3—

 


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

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

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

The Gospel is a good report, discourse and proclamation of Christ, announcing that He is nothing else but pure goodness, love and grace. Such a report could not possibly be made concerning any other human being, or any of the saints. For, although the other saints were men of quite good repute, a report on them does not constitute the Gospel as such. It is Gospel only when the goodness and grace of Christ are proclaimed. Even though mention is made of famous saints and their doings, this does not make the report the Gospel. The Gospel bases Christian faith and confidence solely on the rock, Jesus Christ.  (Martin Luther) [1]

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities and stretch forth the hand of Your majesty to heal and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen[2]

 



[1] Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes.(Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)
[2] Collect for Epiphany 3, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts  © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

 


Morning Prayer Reading 82: The Temptation of Jesus



Matthew 4:1-11



4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”


5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 


9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

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.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
The Temptation © Google Image 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Thursday prior to Epiphany 3


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

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

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

Paul is literally saying, "Let your every contact with the world be as light as possible."  Keep a light touch on worldly things. Don't let them get a grip on your life.  Don't let them begin to rule and control you.

Paul gives the reason for such living, "For the fashion of this world is passing away." We place our values on eternal things. David in the psalms wrote, "If riches increase, set not your heart on them." – Psalm 62:10

Note how quickly the fashions of the world change, this is designed by the men of the world to keep your Visa Card at it's limits. Paul declared that his purpose was to free them from the cares of this world. The more you have of the world, the more you are burdened with the cares of the world.

Jesus said that the cares of this life were one of the things that would cause you to be unprepared for His return. Luke 21:34. He also said that the cares and pleasures of this life would choke out your fruitfulness for Him. A wise man will have a greater care and concern for the thing that are eternal, than for the things that are of this world.

O most loving Father, You want us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing except loving You and to lay all our cares on You, knowing that You care for us. Strengthen us and grant that the fears and anxieties of this mortal life may not separate us from Your love shown to us in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[1]


[1] A Collect in anxious times, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Wednesday prior to Epiphany 3


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

In confession and absolution, Jesus Christ, who poured out his life-blood as the perfect and complete sacrifice for all sin, pours into our ears the life-giving promise of absolution, “My son, my daughter, go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” Trusting that promise, we say, “Amen. Yes, Lord, it is true.” Thanks be to God!

It is hard to say, “I was wrong. I am sorry. Forgive me.” God’s Word makes it clear that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). In confession and absolution, God’s Word is having its way with us, moving us to confess the truth about ourselves and our need for His forgiveness.

Because of Jesus Christ, confession and absolution is a blessed, joyful, happy exchange! “For our sake He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When Jesus hung on the cross, He became sin—for us. He was the ransom for sin. God poured out His just wrath on Christ. Christ won peace between God and man. In confession, Christ takes the burden of our sin and gives us in exchange His complete forgiveness and love.

Rejoicing in the forgiveness of sins, we pray that God gives us the strength to resist temptation, and to live lives that glorify Him, seeking to please Him by what we do, in accordance with His holy and perfect will. And as we do, we always are aware of our sin and so we flee for refuge to His boundless mercy, seeking and imploring His forgiveness for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God for the gift of confession and absolution!

The absolution at the beginning of the Divine Service is a public declaration of God’s forgiveness, a precious announcement of the good news of reconciliation with God in Christ.

Today is Inauguration Day. The 59th Presidential Inauguration will be held on January 20th, 2021 in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Swearing-In ceremony will take place on the west front of the United States Capitol and will be followed by the Inaugural Address. Today we pray for our country, those who have sworn to defend our liberties and for responsible citizenship. 

Almighty God, you sent your Son to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with the power of your Spirit, that we, too, may bring good news to the afflicted, bind upon the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives.[1]

Lord keep this nation under Your care. Bless our nation with faithful leaders that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Grant that he may make wise decisions for the general welfare and serve You faithfully in this generation; through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen. [2]




[1] Prayers for the Epiphany Season, and Prayer for Responsible Citizenshi, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Image of Psalm 32:5 copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things


Morning Prayer Reading 81: The Baptism of Jesus



Matthew 3 
(Selective Verses)


13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, [c] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[d] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes:
Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him
Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

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.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Monday, January 18, 2021

Tuesday prior to Epiphany 3

 


Psalm 62—The key verse of this psalm is verse 8, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well

The Psalmist commits himself to God when threatened by the assaults of conspirators who wish to dethrone him. Verse three suggests a time of weakness and may indicate advanced age. Implicitly the psalm is an appeal to God to uphold him. No psalm surpasses it in its expression of simple trust in God. The little Hebrew word אַךְ (’ak) begins six of the twelve verses; it is short, but significant, having the meaning “only.” “My soul finds rest only in God.” “He only is my rock and my salvation.” “Find rest, O my soul, only in God.”

The hymn writer expressed these thoughts in the following verse

Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me!
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.[1]

Collect for Psalm 62: Lord God, in a constantly changing world we look to you as our rock and hope. Hear us as we pour out our hearts to you and give us your grace and secure protection; through Jesus Christ our Lord.[2]



[1] Jesus, Love of My Soul, The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Collect for Psalm 62, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church, © 1995The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

 


Morning Prayer Reading 80: John the Baptist Prepares the Way




Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3; John 1 
(Selective Verses)



3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [a] 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare [b] the way of the Lord;
    make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[c] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”[d]

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

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.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Monday prior to Epiphany 3

 


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

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

Often it may appear that the negativity of this world overwhelms and crowds out the positive; that evil trumps virtue. After all, we’re living in a fallen world, outside of Eden. Troubling news makes its way to the front page of the newspaper. Often times television news rooms add one happy feature at the end of their broadcast just to keep you watching and to close out the day on a positive note. The Psalmist reminds us that the Lord of heaven orders all things. He is exalted on high. He reaches down to care for us offering us His salvation. In this Epiphany season, we see that this infant born to us at Christmas is none other than Jesus; the Savior of our world.   

Collect for Psalm 113: Lord Jesus, surrendering the brightness of your glory, you became mortal so that we might be raised from the dust to share your very being. May the children of God always bless your name from the rising of the sun to its going down, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.[1]

We praise You, O Lord because You came down to save us in Christ. Hallelujah! Amen[2]



[1] Collect for Psalm 113, For All the Saints, a Prayer Book for and by the Church Vol.III © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. Delhi, NY
[2] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
“Go into all the world” copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things