Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Son gives life

Genesis 41:14-45
Romans 6:3-14
February 28, 2010

Jesus gave them this answer: I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. - John 5:19-24

The Father sets the example. The elder sets the example for the son. Whatever the Father does, the Son does also. The Son can not do anything by Himself. He only does what the Father has commanded the Son to do. Younger people count on their elders to show them what to do, just as the Son depends on the Father. The younger has been trusted to make the right decisions in their life. We as Christians have an advantage. God will help us make the right choices and to follow the right people. He will be with us to help is all of our life.

Anna Franke

O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength, By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen[1]

[1] Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lent 2 - Facing Life with Jesus – Facing the Enemy

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.

As Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem we see that He is confronted by His followers who want to distract Him from going up to the city. The reason that they do not want Him to go is that wicked King Herod has given a threat. He will have Jesus arrested and possibly killed if Jesus sets foot in that great city.

The Savior withstands the temptation to flee from the presence of King Herod as a result is able to stand up to an enemy. As we continue our Lenten theme “Facing Life With Jesus” today we focus on the matter of facing an enemy. By the example of Jesus we will learn how to stand.

1. Is there any existence of a “Herod” in our world today? Are there not anti-Christian ideas or behaviors and practices around us? Are we living in an ideal society, a utopia or are we surrounded by forces that would keep our eyes off of Christ. Of course there are. They are all around us. As we learn how to face life with Jesus as we face the enemy we must first remember that we are living in a fallen world an there are those evil forces around us that are opposed to the message of Christ and the cross. To face the enemy we must first realize that enemies do exist and that they are opposed to the way of the cross.

2. But have you ever wondered why such opposition exists? Could it possibly be that it exists in our midst because there is no opposition to it? There has been an increasing thought that we should be able to coexist in a fallen world without any problems. This type of thinking has often lead to the decline of morals and principles in stead of the strengthening of them., True, you and I live in the world but we are not to be become apart of the world. Good and evil can not stand together. One will win out. When there is tolerance of evil, evil will find room to grow. In facing the enemy we must be brave enough to speak out against it when it happens.

3. The enemy is also able to take a stronghold when we fail to speak out against the evil that we see or when we fail to take a stand. Some often fear that in taking a stand or speaking the truth that their true colors will be shown. Fear is a motivating factor for many. In fear that they might be shunned or turned down for a promotion, or over looked or passed by some feel quit comfortable to remain silent. But silence can often bring about a compromise with evil. By remaining silent some might get the mistaken notion that we tolerate that which is wrong. By remaining silent we might go so far as to give a mixed signal that we see nothing wrong in what is happening today.

4. Should we seek opposition? Should we seek the enemy? Let us examine the example of Jesus as He faced the enemy for us. Why was Jesus opposed/ He was opposed for He spoke the truth in love. He was opposed for He said to the people that if we fail in only one area of the law we have violated it completely. He was opposed for He showed where people had failed to live up to the demands of the Law. He was opposed fro He opposed the hypocrisy of so many who believed that what was done in secret God would somehow overlook. He was opposed for He exposed the lie that so many were living a life which said that God could accept them for the good that they did.

He was opposed for He chose to associate with sinners. This proved the hypocrisy and the two-facedness of the Pharisees of His day. They failed to se their own sin but were quick to point it our in everyone else. They failed to see their own sinfulness while all the while they were quick to condemn the sins of others. They openly thanked God they were not like other people all the while forgetting the sinner’s prayer which simply says, “Lord, have mercy on me for I am a sinner!”

It was for their sins and ours that Jesus Christ, the Son of God came into this world to suffer and die. He willingly went to the cross to suffer and die for our sins which we have committed against God and our neighbor. He suffered and died for our sins of tolerance and evil and compromise in our own lives and in our world around us. And as he suffered and died for these sins He forgave us and gave us a better way to live. It is His death and resurrection which has saved us. For by His stripes we have been healed.

Conclusion: As long as we live in this fallen world we will have to live with the reality that there will be sin in it. No amount of wishing and hoping for a better way will not make sin disappear. The only way to deal with sin is to have the Savior personally address it. And address it He has. In examining the way in which Jesus confronted the opposition of the enemy may you and I be strengthened to also so speak the truth in love. May we stand up for the truth of the gospel and the morals which the Scriptures have plainly taught us but in the same breath may we also speak the Savior’s word of pardon. For Jesus did not give into temptation but rather He addressed the evil of this world. When we take for ourselves the example of Jesus then with Him we will be able to face the enemy. May He so direct us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, a nineteenth-century German artist known especially for his book Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (‘The Book of Books in Pictures’), ©WELS.

Lord of the Sabbath

Genesis 41:1-13
1 Corinthians 4:1-7
February 27, 2010

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the cornfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some ears of corn. The Pharisees said to him, Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath? He answered, Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions. Then he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, Stand up in front of everyone. Then Jesus asked them, Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill? But they remained silent. He looked round at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, Stretch out your hand. He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. -Mark 2:23-3:6

Jesus defends His disciples for breaking the Sabbath law by plucking grain as they walk through a field on the Sabbath. Here we have a Christian interpretation of the proper use of the Sabbath. The starts a controversy with the Pharisees on the proper observance of the Sabbath. They ask Jesus why His disciples break the Sabbath law by plucking grain and eating it while passing through a field. He justifies their action on the basis of need in terms of hunger just as David and his men ate holy bread (1 Samuel 21:1-6) Further, their action could be defended on the basis of priorities. People are more important than a law. In addition, Jesus said it was OK because He is the Lord of the Sabbath.

In Hebrew the word, “Sabbath,” means “rest.” For the Jews it fell on the seventh day of the week because God rested after six days of creation. Because Christ rose on the first day of the week, Christians preferred to rest and worship on that day to commemorate the Resurrection. Sunday, since the fourth century, became for Christians, “the Lord’s day.” Since the principle behind the Sabbath is to take a day of rest each week, it does not matter on what day the rest is taken. Biblical literalists, however, have difficulty seeing this and continue to observe the seventh day as the Sabbath.

The Law is not an end in itself but is given for a person’s benefit. The law is not intended to be a burden but a boost. The Sabbath is good for a human because its observance brings him/her rest. It gives him/her time to worship and to feed his/her soul. A law that goes against one’s welfare is not usually obeyed nor can it endure indefinitely. A law that discriminates and causes injustice is doomed to perish. It is a matter of values and priorities: it is a person for the law or the law for a person? [1]

O God, from whom all good proceeds, grant to us, Your humble servants, that by Your holy inspiration we may think the things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[2]

[1] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[2] Collect for the Second Sunday after Pentecost Lutheran Book of Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Calling of Levi - Jesus Questioned About Fasting

Genesis 40:1-23
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
February 26, 2010

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. Follow me, Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'? On hearing this, Jesus said to them, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not? Jesus answered, How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. No-one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins
. -Mark 2:13-22

Jesus explains why His disciples do not fast – they belong to a new era. Jesus justifies the lack of fasting by His disciples by His presence as the bridegroom. He is the Messiah. When He is no longer present, fasting will be resumed. Early Christians fasted on Fridays in commemoration of Good Friday while the Jews fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. The old must give way to the new. Jesus brings a new covenant, a new era, a new way of life based not on the Law but on the Spirit. Old Judaistic customs must yield to the new era. The new patch of Christ cannot be dewed on the old garment of Judaism. The new wine of Christ calls for new wineskins.

Jesus speaks of a new patch and new wine. Of course, He is referring to Himself and His Gospel. The Greek word used here is “Kairos” meaning new in quality and not necessarily in time. The new of quality cannot be forced into the old which is inferior. The new cannot be contained nor restricted by old forms and customs. The new has an inherent power that bursts out of old ideas, forms, and customs. [1]

O Lord, mercifully heart our prayers, and having set us free from the bonds of our sins, defend us from all evil; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.[2]

[1] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[2] Collect for the Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany Lutheran Book of Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

Genesis 39:1-23
1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15
February 25, 2010

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
- Mark 2:1-12

Faith, the paralytic’s friends had amazing faith. The friends believe that if they could get their paralytic friend close to Jesus, that Jesus would heal their friend.

The room where Jesus is preaching was so crowded that the four friends carried their paralytic friends to the roof top and cut a hold in the roof to lower their paralytic friend close to Jesus. These four friends cut through a stranger’s roof! When Jesus saw the four friends’ faith He told the paralytic that their sins were forgiven.

The most amazing part of this miracle is that the scribes of the religious leaders were questioning who Jesus was and why He thought He could forgive someone in their hearts. Jesus felt the scribes questions and addresses the scribes doubts. Jess tells the paralytic to rise and go home, when the paralytic does the scribes and the crowd is amazed and glorify God.

The four friends had faith that Jesus would heal their friend, there never questioned Jesus. Jesus healed with His words. In our busy lives it is easy to forget God and the truths of His Word. Today take time. God’s Word has amazing healing words.

Wava Lichtle

O Lord, keep Your family and Church continually in the true faith that they who lean on the hope of Your heavenly grace may ever be defended by Your mighty power; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen[1]

[1] Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jesus Heals Many - Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place

Genesis 37:25-36
1 Corinthians 2:1-13
February 24, 2010

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
- Mark 1:29-39

Jesus makes known who He is by demonstrating His authority. He showed that He has authority over the unclean spirits, He demonstrates His authority also over sickness and disease. He does His proper work, delivering people from the effects of sin. By healing diseases and casting out demons, He foreshadows His eventual defeat of the power of sin and the devil by His death at Calvary.

Jesus overpowered evil. Everyone searches for Jesus because He heals all kinds of diseases. Jesus begins His public ministry with healing both mental and physical illnesses. Only God can heal! By restoring people to health Jesus shakes Satan’s kingdom and arrives to offer the people new life.

The Good News is that His kingdom is at hand. Jesus broke into time and space at Christmas. He began His work at His Baptism and fulfilled it on Easter morning when He broke from the tomb. In repentance and faith we experience His power in our lives. The same power He demonstrated to the people in all the areas of Galilee is what we experience every time He comes to us in His Word and Sacraments – to give us His strength, His peace, His purpose, His power!

We put our hope in His mercy and unfailing love and receive power to endure sin and the trials in our lives. David put it this way in (Psalm 147:10-11) “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

As we live in a world of sin and sickness we do not always understand WHY the righteous suffer. But we trust that Christ is in control and His will is best. He remains in control. He promises us the final victory in Christ.

Jesus lifts us up by His almighty power. Here we have not only compassion but also the power of Jesus to heal. The love and compassion of Christ always gives us a lift; a lift from sickness to health, from despair to hope, from sin to holiness, from death to life.

O God, our loving Father, through the grace of Your Holy Spirit You plant the gifts of Your love into the hearts of Your faithful people. Grant to Your servants soundness of mind and body, so that they may love You with their whole strength and with their whole heart do these things that are pleasing in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.[1]

Collect from the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany Lutheran Book of Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis

1st Word - "The word of Intercession”

INTRODUCTION: As He began His passion knowing all that was going to take place; knowing all that would be required of Him Jesus took the time to pray. It is a simple prayer yet a profound petition. It gives us an overall picture of what this Jesus is all about. Jesus - on the cross suspended between earth and heaven prays: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"
1. The reason for this prayer is obvious.
A. It tells why He was dying. He is dying for man is blind to his sin. In ignorance man falls to the wayside and follows a different road.
B. This prayer reveals Jesus' character. The ruthless world says: " Don't get mad - get even!" The attitude of this present age says, "divide and conquer" "to the victor comes the spoils" "An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth." Jesus responds by saying: "Father forgive them"
C. This prayer becomes a perfect example for Jesus' followers - His disciples. As the Savior has forgiven so we too forgive. A student is under his master and taught by Him. As the Savior has so taught us to forgive what else can we do but forgive?
D. Jesus prays this pray to fulfill prophecy. As He prays for and asks for His accusers' pardon the events once predicted of old are beginning to take shape. God is acting - God is moving.
2. Who are the objects of this first prayer from the cross?
A. First there are the soldiers who nailed Him there. Do they recognize Jesus to be the Savior, the world's redeemer? Or do they see Him as one of many upstarts among the Jews? Do they simply see Him as one who is worthless? It does not matter what they thing of Him. He prays for them - regardless - regardless of whom they were, regardless of where they had been, regardless of what they had done.
B. Then there are the Jews who condemned Him to be nailed there. "It is necessary that one man die for the sake of the country". That's how the High Priest and the leadership sized things up. Little did they know they were speaking prophetically. His death is sufficient for all.
C. The Savior prays for all who have in any way contributed to the sin load, which brought Him to the cross. The Savior, as He prays offers up this request to the Father for you and for me. All who are in need of the Savior's mercy are included in this petition. How good it was of the Savior to pray for you and me.
Transition: Thus the Savior offered up a prayer as the first word from the cross. How was that prayer answered?
3. Jesus prayer was answered in three specific ways.
A. First, the soldiers and the Jews were spared then and there. The Lord's visitation was curtailed and halted. Jesus had told Peter in the garden "are not 10,000 legion of angels at My disposal? Yet all this must be done that the Scriptures may be fulfilled".
B. The Jewish nation was give 40 years of grace to receive the great message of the cross and empty tomb. When Jesus rose from the dead appeared to His disciples and ascended the early disciples didn't run off to Athens or Rome. They went right back to the very city where Jesus was crucified. Until Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70 AD the inhabitants of that city had the very eyewitnesses of the resurrection living in their neighborhoods.
C. This prayer was answered as all people have been forgiven - God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son - Now, people must simply receive the forgiveness, which has already been provided. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. "Whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life."
CONCLUSION: On the cross, suspended between earth and heaven the Savior prayed for you - Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Calling of the First Disciples

Genesis 37:12-24
1 Corinthians 1:20-31
February 23, 2010

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. - Mark 1:14-28

Have you ever asked someone how they are doing and gotten that response? My first thought is, “what are you busy with?”
Are you busy with ;
- long days at work,
- a house full of children?
- Taking care of a family member that is ill?
- Volunteer hours in the community?
- A serious hobby?
- The list goes on.
What do you think Simon and Andrew thought when Jesus walked up and said “come follow Me” ?

What I mean is, they had just thrown their nets out into the water! Or, as we might think of it ;
- they had just filled the planter and pulled out into the field
- they had just put the car up on the rack for an overhaul
- they had just put their patient into the chair
- they had just gotten a load of lumber delivered to start building
- they had just walked into the office and turned on their computer

And what was their response? Did they check their calendar to see what they had coming up, or did they make some calls to see if they could get a couple part-time net pullers to come in for them? No. Mark tells us that when Jesus commanded them to follow Him, they AT ONCE left their nets and followed Him.

Were they suckers for volunteering for one more thing to take up their time? I don’t think so. I think that they recognized Jesus as the Savior of the world and were excited and eager to participate in God’s plan of salvation. The disciples knew that fishing for men was more important than fishing for fish.
God called them and used them in a new and different way. They still got out to fish once in a while, but their whole purpose was now to serve their Lord and Savior and answer His call. They gave their lives to Him and all that they did was for the purpose of serving God and bringing people to Him. God wants us to be busy – busy for Him.

Stan Stoppenhagen

O Lord God Almighty, because You have always supplied Your servants with the several gifts which come from Your Holy Spirit alone, leave also us not destitute of Your manifold gifts nor of grace to use them always to Your honor and glory and the good of others; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.[1]

[1] Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany Lutheran Book of Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

Genesis 27:1-11
1 Corinthians 1:1- 19
February 22, 2010

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. - Mark 1:1-13

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

Yet, as Christians there are three great days in our life; the day we are born into this world, the day we are born again, that is, when we are born spiritually in Baptism and finally, the day we are born into glory.

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

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

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

Father in heaven, as at the baptism in the Jordan river You once proclaimed Jesus Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit, grant that all who are baptized in His name may faithfully keep the covenant into which they have been called, boldly confess their Savior, and with Him be heirs of life eternal; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen[1]

[1] Collect from the Baptism of our Lord the First Sunday after the Epiphany Lutheran Book of Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Time in the Word - Lent 2

Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent: O God You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 22 February 2010Psalm 74:1–3; Antiphon, Psalm 69:9—Psalm 74 is a lament by the people of God over the (apparent) triumph of the ungodly. Sometimes, it may seem as though God has deserted us, that He has withdrawn His Presence from us. But the antiphon shows us that God has not forsaken us. These words are to be applied to Jesus, to show that He has interceded for us. The reproach which should fall upon us on account of sin has fallen upon Him.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010Psalm 4—This psalm of David is a plea for help. We can apply it to ourselves when we feel that we are in a hopeless situation, when all we see around us seem bleak or evil, when we wonder what is the use of being Christian. In the psalm, David first appeals to God for relief; then he warns his enemies of the foolishness and futility of opposing God; next, he encourages the faithful to remain patient, trust in the Lord, and await His deliverance. Finally, in the key verse, verse 8, he expresses his confidence in the Lord, and shows the peace of mind which results from that confidence: In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010Jeremiah 26:8–15—The prophet Jeremiah had spoken what the Lord had told him to speak: that, unless they repented, they would be destroyed (Jer 26:1–6). The wicked citizens and leaders of Judah, however, failed to heed the Lord’s message. More than that, they threatened Jeremiah with death. In the face of persecution and death, Jeremiah remained resolute: in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears. What can we learn from faithful Jeremiah? Be faithful to God in spite of your enemies.

Thursday, 25 February 2010Philippians 3:17—4:1—St Paul encourages the believers at Philippi—and us—to stand firm in the Lord. As for, the people who love the world—those who are enemies of the cross of Christ—their end is destruction. Therefore, we are to not to behave as citizens of the world, but as citizens of heaven. We are to live contrary to the enemies of the cross.

Friday, 26 February 2010Luke 13:31–35—Herod Antipas, who had killed John the Baptist because John had reproved him for his sin with Herodias, now finds an even greater enemy in Jesus Christ. But Jesus is resolute: God, not Herod will determine the time and place of His death. Jesus will give His life in Jerusalem, the site of the temple, where God dwelt with His people and desired their true worship, though few of them rendered it. The Gospel tells of Jesus’ great love for His people, as He laments over Jerusalem, and also teaches us to refuse to flee from your enemies.

Saturday, 27 February 2010—The Scripture lessons for Sunday teach us to show our love for God by being faithful to Him, even in the face of resistance and persecution by our enemies—by the enemies of God. Sunday’s hymn of the day, Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart (LSB 708), expresses the love that we have for God for all that He has done for us, especially that Thy precious blood my soul has bought (stanza 1). It is also a plea to God to help us remain firm in our faithful devotion to Him, until the end when at last Thine angels come, to Abr’ham’s bosom bear me home. Let this beautiful hymn ever be our prayer!

Prayer in times of affliction and distress (1): Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer in times of affliction and distress (2): Almighty and everlasting God, the consolation of the sorrowful and the strength of the weak, may the prayers of those who in any tribulation or distress cry to You graciously come before You, so that in every situation they may recognize and receive Your gracious help, comfort, and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 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 of praise and supplication: Lord God, creator of heaven and earth, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we praise You for the abundant mercy that You this day so richly have provided for us, blessing us not only with daily bread for our bodies but also with heavenly food for our souls. Grant that Your living and powerful Word may abide in our hearts, working mightily in us to Your glory and for our salvation. We commit ourselves to Your divine protection and fatherly care. Let Your holy angels be with us that the evil foe may have no power over us. Look in mercy on Your Church and deliver it from all danger and adversities. By Your Holy Spirit comfort and strengthen all who are in affliction or distress, and grant Your abiding peace to us all; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves Zion, Cacey and St. John, Dexter, IA

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Jews Continue in Their Unbelief

Daniel 9:3-10
Hebrews 2:10-18
February 21, 2010

Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” - John 12:37, 44-50

Disturbing isn’t it? “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous sings in their presence they still would not believe.” Miracles in and of themselves will not produce faith. Works and wonders as spectacular as they may be will not produce trust and confidence. Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle - he returned Jesus back to Pilate to have the Savior executed. What convincing proof is necessary to create faith? The person who listens to the voice of the Savior and keeps His word is found in Him. Jesus equated belief in Him with belief in God (cf. John 14:1; 1Jn 2:23). The Father and the Son are inseparable; though they are two personalities, they work as one being. Jesus spoke of the Father as the one who had sent Him. Jesus is the light that illumines the darkness of those who are missing from the Father’s table.

O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [1]
[1] Collect for the First Sunday in Lent Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lent 1 -Facing Life with Jesus – Facing temptation

O Almighty and eternal God, we implore You to direct, sanctify, and govern our hearts and bodies in the ways of Your laws and the works of Your commandments that through Your mighty protection, both now and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

In this season of Lent we are on a forty day spiritual journey where we will walk with Jesus as we face the issues of life. Each of us need to face life as it is with Jesus for without Him we can not stand, but with Him, we will be able take life as it comes to us. Today, as we face life with Jesus- we face temptation.

When the Devil was defeated in the wilderness, he did not give up. He waited for another opportunity. Jesus was never free from temptations. It is true with Christians as well. The closer you get to Christ the more you are going to be tempted. The Devil never quits unless you surrender or you die. This calls for you and me to be constantly on the watch, ever to be prepared. Let us consider several things we need to know about the Devil.

1. The first thing we learn about the Devil is that He is real. Listen to verses 1-2 of our text for today: “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil.” Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose 0 to be tempted by a specific person. That person was the devil. The problem with temptation, for certain people, is that they do not come to realize that temptation comes from a specific source. Temptation comes from a certain person and that person is the devil.

The devil is not someone made up in the minds and the imagination of people. He is a real person with real motives and real causes. He has a plan of attack. He has a certain procedure in which he operates.

Created good he opposed the Lord and fell. In the book of Revelation we are told: ‘And there was a war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9) The devil is a real person. A fallen angel who opposes all that is good. He has lost his home in heaven and now prowls upon this earth.

Transition: Not only is the Devil a real person we also see from our text the source of temptation.

2. The source of temptation. Jesus was tempted by the Devil. Not only is the Devil a real person he is one who has come to seduce, entice and lure us away from God as he tempts us. This is his strategy. He plan is to wage war on Christians. Having lost the war in heaven and having lost his place in heaven the Devil now lives upon this earth choosing to pick on God’s children. Quite clearly we can see that the Devil is nothing but a big bully. What do we say about such people? They prey upon the weal. They can not defeat someone their own size so they lie in wait for one weaker and more vulnerable.

Transition: This is a picture of the Devil. He is real. He is a real person. His strategy is the dilution and the destruction of Christians and all others that fall victim to his prey. But how does he operate. He attacks with half truths.

3. He attacks with half truths. On three different occasions the devil tempted Jesus by saying two little worlds if and you. “If you are the Son of God command this tome to be bread…” To you I will give all this authority and their glory - it has been delivered to me and I give it to whom I will if you, then, will worship me, it shall be yours.” If you are the Son of God throw yourself down from here…” What the devil has to say was true. Jesus was the Son of God. The devil put that truth into his temptations but he used the truth with a smattering of lies so as to make any of the truth which he spoke a half truth. This is the tactic of the evil ho puts a little truth in every lie to make it sound like truth. And with that half truth he deceives and leads astray all who would listen to him.

The only way for us to confound and defeat the devil is to gird ourselves with God’s truth. Every time Jesus was tempted by the devil the only weapon that He used with the Scriptures – the Word of God. Without being armed the Scriptures we are lost and we will not be able to stand up to the devil. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Arm yourself with God’s Word. It is the only tool we have to fight off the temptations of the devil. This is what Jesus used to fight temptation. If that was the only weapon that Jesus used can we try any other?

Transition: Our own efforts can not work against temptation. Only God’s Word will work in defeating Satan and his cunning ways.

4. From our text for today we also see that the Devil never quits. He is persistent. On three different occasions Jesus was tempted. Each time there was a different approach. The Devil came to Jesus again and again with one temptation after the other to wear Him down and draw Him out. The Devil came when Jesus was weak after having fasted for 40 days. So also when we are weak and vulnerable that is the time we are most susceptible to be lead astray by the Devil’s lies. And after Jesus stood the testing this time we are told that the Devil left Him but only until another opportune time. Again and again, and again Jesus was tempted. So likewise the Devil will be persistent in his temptations seeking to entrap us and lead us astray in any way that he can,

Conclusion: We battle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and rulers in spiritual places. The devil is someone that we should take seriously. Jesus took him seriously by defeating him in the desert and at the cross. As we live our life facing temptation may we look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who has resisted the Devil and promised to give us His Word and his grace to face temptation. This is how you and I face life with Jesus. This is how we face temptation when it happens and when it comes. Look to Him to fight the Devil for us. In Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, a nineteenth-century German artist known especially for his book Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (‘The Book of Books in Pictures’), ©WELS.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

Ezekiel 39:21-29
Philippians 4:10-20
February 20, 2010

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” - John 17:20-26

Jesus said to pray – for believers and non-believers. He wants everyone to know that He is your Savior and that God sent Him to die on the cross to take away your sins. Jesus loves everyone and wants everyone to love Him and everyone else. He forgives all sins and died for us. God loved everyone before the world was even creat3ed or thought of. Good knew what was going to happen on the earth before it was made. He knows what will happen in ten years from now and what you are thinking about as you read this. He loves you and me and wants us to know that He died for us. God wants us to savor ever second of our lives because each second is a gift from God.

Kayla Johnson

O God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do, mercifully grant that by Thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.[1]

[1] Collect for Sexagesima Sunday The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Friday, February 19, 2010

Baroque Festival this Weekend

Saturday 20 February 8 pm - Early Instruments/Organ Recital
Zion Lutheran Church 2313 S. Hanna St. Ft. Wayne, IN

An informal recital that introduces and demonstrates used at the time of Bach isi open to all music enthusiasts. Come and learn about pitch, temperament and style.

Instruments: J. S. Bach Suite No. 1 in C Major (BWV 1066)
Organ: J. S. Bach O Lamm Gottes unschuldig (BWV 656)

Sunday 21 February 4 pm - Vocal Concert
Zion Lutheran Church 2313 S. Hanna St. Ft. Wayne, IN

G.F. Handel Brockes Passion

Come and hear the Collegium's extraordinary blend of beautiful singing and fine instrumental playing. You will be uplifted, inspired, and moved, and will always heart the joy!

photo found at The Bach Colegium - Ft. Wayne

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

Ezekiel 18:1-4; 25-32
Philippians 4:1-9
February 19, 2010

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. - John 17:9-19

Jesus our Savior speaks to us when He says that we should pray for everybody and not just ourselves because He is our one and only God. Therefore we can come to Him as true children ask their true Father. We should not pray for the things of this world but we should pray for everyone including our neighbors and elders. He gave us His word, He will keep us forever, He will forgive us from all our sins.

He will keep us from the evil one for we are not from this world we are from God’s kingdom. Our sins have been forgiven by Christ Jesus who died on the cross and rose again on the third day. Jesus says, “sanctify them by your truth your word is the truth.” The truth is powerful. It has the power to make us children of God and to keep us from sin.

Kaitlyn Jenkins

O Lord, we beseech Thee favorably to hear the prayers of Thy people that we, who are justly punished for our offenses, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness for the glory of Thy name; through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Savior.[1]

[1] Collect for Septuagesima Sunday The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jesus prays for Himself and His disciples

Habakkuk 3:1-18
Philippians 3:12-21
February 18, 2010

After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed: Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. - John 17:1-8
Have you noticed that the Bible is packed full of prayers? Today’s scripture is Jesus’ prayer to the Father for Himself and for His disciples before He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are to follow Jesus’ example and know that we can pray to our Lord for all things and at all times. God will always answer our prayers; however, it’s not always the answer we are looking for. God knows our needs and what is best for us. We need to pray and then watch and wait for God’s answer and glorify Him at all times.

As I sit here day by day,
Be ever in my mind I pray.,
Make me joyful, make me sure
Of Your promises that endure.
God, You’re awesome! And You’re wise!
Make me see life through Your eyes.
Thank You, Father, God above.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your love
Thank You, Spirit, for Your power
And the pace You send this hour.

Alex Miller

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of Your people who call upon You, and grant that they may know and understand the things they ought to do and also may have grace and strength to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen[1]

[1] Collect for Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent is a time of reflection

As you examine your life in following Christ it is time as we enter into the season of Lent that we examine our conscience, our lives and our faith.

In regard to yourselves
Have you through mediocrity, excused yourself from guilt because a sin is habitual, or caused by social pressure. Acted because of whims and feeling. Used time ineffectively. Organized myself so intensely that I am no longer capable of spontaneous generosity.

Through Disorder and Lack of Planning
Used material possessions improperly. Been weak in making and hold to decisions. Lacked perseverance and logic in carrying things out. Left work half-done, without serious reason. Been discouraged by difficulties or setbacks. Failed to take time for being alone for reflection and study of God’s Word.

Through Pride and Vanity
Been Vain, praise-loving, proud, smug. Indulged in allowing my feelings to be hurt. Acted out of ambition or the desire to be noticed. Failed to recognize my limits and accept them. Make snap judgments and comments to give the impression I know all about a subject.

In regard to others have we against charity
Loved other selfishly; wanted to monopolize other’s affections, been jealous. Considered no one but myself. Never felt real anguish for the misery of others. Passed by indifferent to others troubles. Had habitual contempt for others; less educated people, by people of different racial, national, or economic groups. In any way stifled the personal development of another. Sought to be respected without respecting others. Often kept others waiting. Not paid entire attention to a person speaking to me. Talked too much of myself, and not given others a chance to express themselves. Failed to try to understand others. Out of selfishness or pride expected to be served. Failed to help a person in distress. Seen only those who friendship might prove profitable. Abandoned my friends in their difficulties. Said hurtful things. Done harm, by remarks (false or true) that blackened others’ charter. Betrayed a trust; violated a confidence. Given scandal by the split between the life I lead and the principles I advertise as mine.

In regard to my family, have you in family matters
Made my family and its affairs my sole occupation. Failed to be a full partner and source of strength to my spouse. Taken for my own use an unfair share of what our family has (Clothes, car, and free time.) Failed to respect the individuality of another even a child. Expected more of a child than I have courage to do myself. Talked idly and indiscreetly about the faults of those close to me.

In regard to church have you by thoughts
Thought of the church as a sect or party rather than as the mystical body of Christ. Never read or reflected on the Holy Scriptures. Not held myself responsible for my part in the inadequacy of Christians.

In regard to the church, have you by words
Criticized irresponsibly the leadership of the church both clerical and lay. Ignored the teaching authority of the church, replacing it with my own authority.

In regard to the church, have you by acts
Used church organizations to justify my own personal hang-ups. Rand away from trying to solve the church’s internal problems. Acted to support the church only when it met my approval.

In regard to the church, have you by omission
Not tried to make the church more vital. Failed to contribute sacrificially for the material needs of the church. Neglected to pray for those in authority.

Toward God have you
Waited for God to manifest himself instead of looking for him in the realities of life. Not relies on God to do the rest, after I’ve don all I can. Not see and loved God in other persons. Not loved others in God. Not thought of Jesus Christ as my close bold-brother; giving up trying to make him my model. Centered the cross on my walls but not in my life. Talked about Christ, without really truing to live out the Gospel. Not found time to pray. Prayed only to ask never to adore, never to thank, never to act as a member of the body of Christ never to love. Thought of spiritual life as something to do only after everything else has been taken care of.
O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world. Grant us Thy peace.

From Zion Lutheran Church, Decatur, IN
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use

Ash Wednesday

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Jesus – our true treasure

Lord, protect us in our struggle against evil. As we begin the disciple of Lent, make this season holy by our self-denial. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

We sometimes associate Lent with giving up certain things that may be sinful or that may easily lead to sin. This negative approach to the Lenten season frustrates a proper Gospel emphasis and promotes a self-righteous attitude. The Gospel for this Ash Wednesday is a section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus warns us not to practice certain piety only to secure the praise of others. He was speaking of the self-righteousness that can dominate our thinking about repentance.

He warns us not to practice our righteousness for the primary purpose of being seen and honored by others. He warns us not to concentrate on all the good we are doing by keeping a detailed account of how we have provided for the needs of others. We are not to make a display of our prayer life but to pray naturally and quietly. Fasting is not to be done for display but privately before God as a genuine expression of what we are experiencing in our spiritual life.

You are gathering treasures in heaven not on earth. Your heart is already in heaven with God and Christ, in whom alone true treasures are to be found. With Jesus as your heavenly treasure you are able to serve Him with a piety that flows naturally and joyously from faith in Him.

It is easy to become so earth-oriented that we forget that Jesus and heaven are our highest treasures. Lent again reminds us that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. In this section of His Sermon on the Mount from which the Gospel is taken, Jesus says that by focusing on Him as a treasure, we maintain a balance in our Christian life between the earthly and the heavenly.

1. We can be more keenly aware of the distinction between the earthly and the heavenly.
A. Christ embodies all the spiritual values that are not of the earth.
1. In Him are found basic truths conveying assurance that God is our gracious Father, who has opened heaven’s doors to us because of what Christ accomplished at the cross and at the empty tomb.
2. In Him we find real peace in all the changes of this life and also joy in death.
B. What we have in Christ cannot be taken away from us by thieves or by rust or any earthly corruption.
1. All our earthly treasures – our health, too are temporal.
2. But what we have in Christ provides a basis for enjoying all these earthly treasures, because Christ has secured for us an anchor that hold in all the changes of life.
Transition: We receive Christ and His treasures of forgiveness and peace with God fully and freely at our baptism. Yet we continue to gather for ourselves heavenly treasures as we cling to Jesus as our highest treasure.

2. We can gather for ourselves treasures in heaven.
A. We gather for ourselves heavenly treasure when we do not need to publicize the good we are going for others.
1. We do good to others so naturally that we are hardly aware of doing it.
2. When our primary concern is not to get the praise of others but simply to meet their needs in response to what Jesus has done in meeting our needs, our Father will reward us. His ways of rewarding go far beyond what we can imagine here on earth or in heaven Men may praise us, but it far more significant to gather heavenly treasure by having God’s blessing.
B. We gather heavenly treasure when we don’t need to show others how beautiful our prayers are.
1. God does not look at the form, length, or pithiness of our prayers. Since prayer is an expression of our faith, what matters is that we are praying from the heart and without fear or doubting.
2. By so praying we gather treasures in heaven. When we pray in response to God’s promise that He will answer our prayers, His answers to prayer are a far higher reward that any human recognition for our praying.
C. We gather treasure in heaven when no pious activity on our part is carried out for ostentatious display.
1. Fasting, for example, has its place in the Christian life, but we don’t fast to call attention of others to how pious we are.
2. There is reward in such recognition, of course, but what is that human recognition in comparison to the heavenly recognition god gives us who are fasting as a genuine expression of our relationship to Christ?

How good it is to have as our highest treasure! From Him we gain insight into the distinction between the earthly and the heavenly. From Him we gain power to keep on gathering treasures in heaven.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use

The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

Amos 5:6-15 Ash Wednesday
Hebrews 12:1-14 February 17, 2010

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men— robbers, evildoers, adulterers— or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. - Luke 18:9-14

Lost to our time and culture but painfully obvious to the hearers of Jesus’ day was the context into which Jesus places the parable, “two men went up to the temple to pray…” It was unheard of for any man to pray standing by himself. A minyan (which literally means to count, number; pl. minyanim) in Judaism refers to the quorum required for certain religious obligations, which is ten men.[1] The fact that these men were at the temple praying outside of the sacred assembly meant only one thing. There had been scandal. They had been placed under a ban.The fact that they could only pray individually tells us there had been humiliation, dishonor and shame. They had been excluded because of some public sin. The contrast between the two men and their prayer is evident. One trusted in himself and felt justified to focus on his own merits. The other, by contrast, pleads for mercy. The old song sings, “faith looks to Jesus Christ alone who did for all the world atone, He is our one redeemer.[2]
Today we begin the Holy season of Lent as we walk with the Savior observing His passion suffering and death. For our offenses the Son of Man was willing to suffer in our stead. As we contemplate our need and the Savior’s sacrifice for us may we like this simple man pray the prayer of faith, “God have mercy upon me, a sinner.”

Almighty and everlasting God, who hates nothing that Thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of Thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.[3]

[1] The source for the requirement of minyan is recorded in the Talmud.
[2] Salvation Unto Us Has Come from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Collect for Ash Wednesday 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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Time in the Word - Lent 1

The theme for the First Sunday in Lent is “A Good Confession.” In the Old Testament lesson, Moses shows that by our giving back to God, we confess all the good He has done for us. St Paul speaks of the confession which we make with our mouths, that Jesus is Lord. The Gospel has Jesus Himself rightly confessing the Word of God to overcome temptation and defeat the devil’s false confession of that Word.

Collect for the First Sunday in Lent: O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 8 February 2010Psalm 91:9–13; Antiphon, Psalm 91:15–16—Both the Introit and the psalm of the day are drawn from the same psalm. The antiphon has the Lord speaking words of reassurance to us, that He shall be with us in trouble, and shall rescue us and show to us salvation. This is how the Lord treats those that love Him, those that make Him their Dwelling Place.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010Psalm 91:1–13—The key verse is v. 1: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Many dangers, both physical and spiritual, face us every day. Nevertheless, the composer of this psalm has no fear or anxiety, because he knows that the Lord is His Refuge and his Fortress.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010Deuteronomy 26:1–11—People give to the Lord for different reasons: some, grudgingly, out of a sense of obligation; some, only when there is a specific need which must be met; some, because they believe that giving to the Lord will bring some sort of earthly reward, monetary or otherwise. These directions to the Children of Israel from the Lord through His prophet Moses show that giving back to the Lord is a privilege, when we realize that all we have comes from Him. It should be a pleasure for us to give generously to the Lord; for doing so reminds us of all the blessings He continually showers upon us and gives us reason to rejoice.

Thursday, 11 February 2010Romans 10:8b–13—We confess in the meaning to the Third Article of the Creed, ‘I believe that I cannot, by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him. But the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith…’ When we make confession of our faith, whether it be a simple Jesus is Lord or a fuller confession, such as one of the Creeds, or even one of our Lutheran Confessions, we are simply saying back to God what He has first said to us.

Friday, 12 February 2010Luke 4:1–13—What chutzpah! The devil tries to tempt the Son of God! As in the Garden of Eden, when he tempted the first humans into following him in sinning against God, he quotes the Word of God. But the One whom he tries to deceive this time is not just a man; He is also God Almighty Himself, the Word made flesh. Jesus knows how the devil likes to twist God’s Word for his own nefarious purposes, and overcomes all the devils schemes and cunning. Jesus does what we are unable to do, on our behalf. He defeats the devil in the test in the wilderness, and will later defeat him completely at the cross.

Saturday, 13 February 2010—Sunday’s hymn of the day is the ‘Battle Hymn of the Reformation,’ Luther’s great hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB 656). Luther based the hymn on Psalm 46, but the Introit and Psalm of the Day, Psalm 91, also expresses the same idea, that the Lord is a great Fortress and Refuge. We can take rest in Him when we are assaulted by the slings and arrows of the Evil One, for Christ has defeated the devil. He still seems powerful to us, but he is merely in his death throes until the Last Day, when Christ will cast him into the abyss for all eternity.

Collect for Ash Wednesday: Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and contrite hearts that lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for aid against temptation: O God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer in times of temptation: Almighty and everlasting God, through Your Son You have promised us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that in our daily need, and especially in all time of temptation, we may seek Your help and, by a true and lively faith in Your Word, obtain all that You have promised; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for patience: O God, by the patient endurance of Your only-begotten Son You beat down the pride of the old enemy. Help us to treasure rightly in our hearts what our Lord has borne for our sakes that, after His example, we may bear with patience those things that are adverse to us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for steadfast faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of 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
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, a nineteenth-century German artist known especially for his book Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (‘The Book of Books in Pictures’), ©WELS.

This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves Zion, Casey and St. John, Dexter, IA

Saturday, February 13, 2010


O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your only-begotten Son You once confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of the ancient fathers, and in the voice that came from the bright cloud You wondrously foreshowed our adoption by grace. Therefore mercifully make us coheirs with our King of His glory, and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Transfiguration Sunday – the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany is transition Sunday as we move from Epiphany to Lent. While the climax of Epiphany is Transfiguration, the climax of Lent is Good Friday. Both involve mountains: Mt. Hermon and Mt. Calvary. What happened on Mt. Calvary was decided on Mt. Hermon. Between the two peaks is the valley of lent. Jesus comes down the mountain of Transfiguration and begins His journey “up to Jerusalem” to Mt. Calvary. We examine today the twin peaks of Jesus’ life and ours today.

1. The place – a mountain top. Transfiguration and Calvary – glory and shame.

A. Transfiguration – went up with His three best friends, Peter, James, and John. Before the cross, Resurrection, and Ascension, we get a glimpse of the inner, true nature of the Son of God. Until this time we saw God’s glory manifested in Jesus as the Wise Men saw in him a king, in John the Baptist’s confession of Jesus as Messiah, and in the miracles of Jesus.
Now we see directly the divine nature of Jesus. This brings us to the uniqueness of Jesus — “They saw no one but Jesus only.” In the light of Jesus’ being the only Son of God, then, we must confront the pluralism of our day. In the movie O God! John Denver asks George Burns (who plays the part of God), whether Jesus was his son. “God” answers, “Jesus is my son, Mohammed is my son, Buddha is my son, and Confucius is my son.”

B. Calvary – went up alone. Christ will suffer alone for you. There, at the cross, suspended between earth and heaven the Son of God dies. He cries from the cross, “My God, why?” The Father turns His back on His own Son so that you will never experience separation from God. People have the mistaken notion of referring to a place as “God forsaken.” There is only one place that is truly God forsaken. We see the Son of God hanging there, alone, forsaken by God and by men.

Transition: We know of the place – a mountain. What is the response of those that were there?

2. The Reaction – men did not understand the experience.

A. Transfiguration – “Not knowing what He said” – Vs.33 The Transfiguration is an experience that blows the mind. Many questions go unanswered. How could the holy presence of God come into a human frame? How do you explain the exceeding brightness of the physical Jesus? How could Moses and Elijah appear in bodily form? Does God come in a cloud and does God have a real voice? Perhaps our only reaction and answer is worship. Like Peter, we do not know what to say. Like the disciples, we are overcome with awe and adoration. Jesus and his three disciples go up to pray and worship and the experience results in worship of Christ.

B. Calvary – “For they know not what they do” – Luke 23:34. Someone once quipped, “If ignorance is bliss…this must be paradise!” Man, driven mad by his sin kills the Lord of life.

Man, possessed by his passions and desires destroys an innocent man. Sinful humans obsessed and reckless by their refusal to listen to the clear words that offer salvation and life are content to live in their lack of knowledge. Man wants it his way and the Father allows it – at the expense of His own dear Son.

Transition: We go to the mountain. We hear the responses. But why have we come?

3. The Reason – why go up to the mountain?

A. Transfiguration – To get God’s approval to die. The Transfiguration was Jesus’ experience with God, not the first - nor the last, but it was an experience so intense that the glory of God transfigured him into the brightness of the sun.

B. Calvary – to die in obedience to God. Since Jesus has come to the full possession of God’s glory, he is prepared to fulfill his mission as Messiah by going to Jerusalem to the cross.
Because of this, the Transfiguration is a preparation for our Lenten pilgrimage to suffer and die with Jesus.

Conclusion: Walking down from the mountain Jesus commands His disciples not to tell anyone until the Son of Man rises from the dead. As we enter the season of Lent we observe the Savior’s passion setting our sights on a hill called Calvary. But we always are and always will be Easter people. In that context continue to gossip the gospel as we fix our eyes upon Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

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

Monday, February 8, 2010

Time in the Word - Transfiguration

Collect for the transfiguration of Our Lord: O God, in the glorious Transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud You wonderfully foreshowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King of His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

“Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant,” but Christ Jesus “has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (Heb. 3:3, 5). A beloved and well-pleasing Son, faithful even to the point of death, Jesus’ own body was raised up on the third day as the house of God, and He has brought us into that house through the waters of Holy Baptism (Heb. 3:6). Thus, it was not Moses the lawgiver, but his successor, Joshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus), who led the people into the promised land (Deut. 34:1–4, 9). Now, on the Mount of Transfiguration, the New Testament Joshua appears in the glory that He is about to manifest by His “departure” (exodus) in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). Having entered the waters of the Jordan in His Baptism, He passed through those waters and entered into glory by His Cross and Passion. What He thereby accomplished in His own flesh and blood, crucified and risen, He reveals and gives to His Body, the Church, by the means of His Word. Therefore, the Father declares from heaven, “Listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35).

Monday, 8 February 2010Psalm 84:1–2, 9, 11; Antiphon, Psalm 84:4—The Introit sings of the great joy of being in God’s house. What better place to be, than in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day, when He is bringing His good gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation to us through Word and Sacrament! What better place to be than at the Lord ’s Table, where we receive the body and blood of Christ, crucified for us for the forgiveness of sins! Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010Psalm 99—The key verse is v. 9: Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy! This psalm is a hymn of praise, which focuses attention on God’s gracious dealings with His people. His holiness is extolled, a holiness which makes sinners fear and tremble to be in His presence, but then the psalm proclaims that we can approach Him, for He has made a way for us to do so: He is a forgiving God. In the past, he gave priests such as Moses and Aaron and Samuel to mediate between God and man, but now He has give His Son, Jesus Christ, as the perfect priest for all of us who believe on His name. We can approach Him and Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy mountain.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010Deuteronomy 34:1–12—This last chapter of Deuteronomy recounts the death of Moses. Because of his disobedience, he was not allowed by God to go into the Promised Land, but he was allowed to see it. When Moses died, the Lord buried him where no one man knows, but later the archangel Michael would dispute with the devil over the bones of Moses (Jude 9). Moses would then later appear on the mount of transfiguration with Elijah and Jesus. He enjoys a far better Promised Land than the physical land of Canaan; he enjoys the beatific vision in heaven, which reward awaits all believers in the promise and fulfillment of God for the forgiveness of sins in Christ.

Thursday, 11 February 2010Hebrews 3:1–6—Moses was the greatest of the prophets, but there is a still-greater prophet: Jesus Christ. Jesus is also extolled here as a great apostle and high priest. Prophets and apostles deliver the Word of God to mankind. Jesus is the Word made flesh who dwelt among us (John 1:14). Priests intercede between God and man, and the high priest offered up sacrifices to God on the Day of Atonement. Jesus, the great High Priest, offered up Himself as the greatest sacrifice, a one-time sacrifice that atoned for the sins of the whole world for all time.

Friday, 12 February 2010Luke 9:28–36—This is a rare glimpse of the divinity of Jesus, which was cloaked in His humanity. Before Peter, James, and John, Jesus is transfigured, that is, His divine nature shows forth. With Him stand Moses and Elijah: Moses who was buried by God, and Elijah, who was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). The topic of their conversation is Jesus impending death, resurrection, and ascension, the fulfillment of all that these great Old Testament prophets had proclaimed to the people, the long-promised Messiah who delivers His people from their sins.

Saturday, 13 February 2010—Sunday’s hymn of the day is a liturgical hymn, O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair (LSB 413), which recounts the Transfiguration of Our Lord in the first two stanzas, proclaims that we shall share in this splendor in eternity in the next two stanzas, and ends with a doxological stanza, that is, a hymn of high praise to the Holy Trinity.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, a nineteenth-century German artist known especially for his book Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (‘The Book of Books in Pictures’), ©WELS.

This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeff Keuning who serves St. John Dexter and Zion Casey IA