Sunday, November 30, 2014

Time in the Word - Advent 2

The dominant theme of this coming Sunday is preparation for Christ’s coming. John the Baptist is sent to prepare the people for Christ’s first coming by preaching a Baptism of repentance. In the Old Testament lesson, the Lord calls for a way to be prepared for His coming. The Epistle lesson deals with the Second Coming and the end of the world. Christians are to prepare by living blameless lives. The suggested Psalm of the day indicates that righteousness shall precede God’s coming. As we focus on John the Baptist’s words, he calls on us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming. On Advent 1 we were assured that Jesus is coming again. This Sunday we prepare for His coming. As the Gospel suggests He may be coming to some for the first time; for all He will be coming a second time at the end of time.

Monday, 1 December 2014Psalm 80:1, 8a, 9b, 7; Antiphon, Psalm 80:3 Restore us, O God; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” The whole purpose of Jesus coming into this world was to save us. In these weeks counting down to Christmas, we remember that Jesus entered time and space to be our Savior. As He came at just the right time to redeem us, He will appear at the right time to receive us into glory. His timing is impeccable; His ways are perfect. 

The psalmist prays for the restoration of God’s people, remembering the deliverance God wrought through Joseph. In Advent, we, too, pray for restoration—restoration from the bondage of sin. The vine out of Egypt of verse 8 recalls the flight of the Christ-child into Egypt to avoid Herod’s persecution. That Vine has taken deep root and filled the land and it is through Christ, who is the Vine, that we have been restored.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014Psalm 85—Another psalm asking God for restoration, Psalm 85 recounts the forgiveness of the Lord in the past, and prays that He might once again make known His steadfast love, or mercy.

With confidence, the psalmist can say, ‘Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.’ For the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord do meet in the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; there, righteousness and peace kiss each other (verse 10).

Wednesday, 3 December 2014Isaiah 40:1–11—‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ the Lord instructs Isaiah. Release from the bondage of sin is at hand. The voice crying in the wilderness shall prepare the way for the glory of the Lord to be revealed. The Word of God, which stands forever, shall assume flesh in order to bring comfort to the people by removing the blot of iniquity. Then He shall ‘tend his flock like a shepherd.’

Thursday, 4 December 20142 Peter 3:8–14—Isaiah wrote his prophecy of the coming of Christ seven hundred years before He came. It must have seemed an interminable amount of time for those who lived during those years, wondering when God would fulfill His promises. But the Apostle Peter reminds us that the Lord has His own timetable, and a good purpose for accomplishing things in His own time. He further admonishes us to be ready for the Lord’s Second Coming at any time, and to live lives of holiness and godliness waiting for that day.

Friday, 5  December 2014Mark 1:1–8—In fulfillment of the words of the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, John the Baptist comes to prepare the people for the coming of the promised One. The coming of Jesus Christ is Good News (Gospel), Mark proclaims boldly at the outset of his Gospel, but we must be prepared for His coming. John the Baptist prepared the world in his day, and continues to do so in our day, by calling people to repentance, urging them to confess their sins, be baptized.

Saturday, 6 December 2014—The hymn of the day, On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry (LSB 344), recounts the Old Testament and Gospel readings of the work of John the Baptist. It closes with a doxological stanza which proclaims the Good News that Jesus’ ‘advent sets Thy people free.’ This is Good News, indeed!

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

Collect for Advent 2Stir up our Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.

Some thoughts concerning our worship life together

The Lord’s Prayer is the chief prayer of the Christian Church and it is prayed here at the chief event of the Divine Service.  As children of God, we call upon “Our Father” as we prepare to encounter Jesus in His Supper, acknowledging that in the Sacrament He will answer our petitions. The congregation prays, “Thy kingdom come,” then receives the kingdom of God in the coming of Christ in His body and blood. We pray, “Thy will be done,” then witness salvation being distributed. We pray for forgiveness of sins and hear Christ’s own Word proclaiming that in His death He has accomplished everything needed to “forgive us our trespasses.”

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.
Worshiping with Angels and Archangels – An Introduction to the Divine Service by Scot Kinnaaman © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis p. 35

Friday, November 28, 2014

Advent 1

Advent 1
30 November 2014
Mark 13:33-37
Stay alert!

Stir up we implore You, Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sin and be saved by Your mighty deliverance; 

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of a new Church year. As we prepare for the celebration of the Savior’s first Advent, we prepare for His Second Advent – His sure and certain return on the Last Great Day. You and I as 21st Century Christians have no better way to live our lives now then from the perspective of eternity. As we prepare for the observance of our Lord’s first coming, we must remember that the entire Christian life is oriented towards the last advent of Christ with its glorious eternal salvation.
God requires of us alertness.

1.            The Lord wants us to be spiritually alert at all times.

A.            Jesus’ inevitable return in power and glory will be sudden, and unexpected. Verse 35 refers to the four watches of the night - making the point that the Lord’s coming can come at any time. "So keep watch! You do not know when the owner of the house will come back. It may be in the evening or at midnight. It may be when the rooster crows or at dawn.    

B.            While we wait, there can be many things that cause us to neglect our responsibilities of watching and waiting for the Lord sure and certain return.
1              This can happen by overlooking the threatening dangers of our own sinfulness. This is what we pray for in the prayer of the day that we might be rescued from the threatening perils of our sin and then be saved by the Savior’s might deliverance.  Isaiah makes mention of this in the Old Testament lesson for today when he says, All of us have become like someone who is "unclean." All of the good things we do are like polluted rags to you. All of us are like leaves that have dried up. Our sins sweep us away like the wind. [Isaiah 64:6]
2              Then there is the temptation to confirm to the world’s view of the supreme importance of material things. Thinking that have the latest thing will cause us true happiness.
Says the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount, Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. [Matthew 6:31-34;]       
3              Then of course, there is the very weakness of our own flesh. We are by nature sinful and unclean. We need, especially in this Advent season to pray to the Lord, “Kyrie Elysian.”

C.            The result of yielding to temptation is misbelieve, despair, and prodigal living all of which call forth the wrath of the Lord. Although it is correct to conclude that our neglect of God-given responsibilities calls for God’s wrath and punishment it is not correct to give the impression that we can somehow earn God’s favor by changing our lives and carrying out our responsibilities. In other words, the answer to the Law is not more Law. We can’t get right with God by simply  saying, “We’ll work harder at it!”The solution to our issues with sin is found in the sweet and comforting message of the Gospel. The returning Lord has already come to endure in our place the punishment for our sinful disobedience and failings: in Him, we have the grace of God and so you do not lack any gift; God has called you into fellowship with His Son, who will confirm us to the end. This Paul announces to us in the Epistle lesson for this day!

Transition: God requires alertness and He works it in you.

2.            God Himself effects spiritual alertness in us.

A.            Mark’s Gospel proclaims the works of our Savior Jesus. In this new church year, we will hear 37 selections from the Gospel of Mark. Mark's Gospel has also been called a story of the death of Jesus with a long introduction.  Mark's Gospel is   about the period leading up to and just after the death of Jesus.

B.      The retuning Lord has already come once to accept the punishment for our failings. This is the story of the cross. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting our sins against us and He has now given us this message of reconciliation. This is what causes us to say with joy “Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth!”

C.        By bringing us to faith in Jesus, God now motivates and enables us to seek and do His will. The Holy Spirit instructs believers by answering the question that arises from faith-filled hearts “what is my Savior’s will for my Life?”  The Holy Spirit helps us realize the importance of spiritual alertness.

And in His Supper, the Lord provides the nourishment that enables us to remain alert. In providing for us this “food for the soul”, we are enabled to remain alert waiting for the Lord’s coming.

Only by God’s grace in Christ can we eagerly and alertly look forward to the Lord’s return.  No better preparation can be found, either for Christmas or for Judgment Day, than the spiritual alertness that God wills and works. 

Words –958
Passive Sentences –2%
Reading Ease –71%

Reading Level -7.3

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day
27 November 2014
Luke 17:1-19
Give Thanks in all Things

In the celebration of Thanksgiving we recall the story of the Pilgrims…after a harsh winter they returned thanks for the blessings they had received. They had survived. For that gift – the gift of life - they were thankful.  They remembered both the gifts they received and the Giver. True gratitude always does. The story of ten lepers cleansed draws this lesson home in a tangible way.


1         Counts his blessings

A.      What a blessing to be cured of leprosy.

1.       Release from a death sentence; leprosy was at the time incurable.

2.       Chance to return to society, to family and friends.

3.       No wonder the one came back to give thanks. Jesus had given him his life back. He was restored.

B.      But only one came back; ingratitude is quick to forget.

1.       The nine, they moved on with their lives - forgetting the one who had healed them. Their ingratitude was evident.

2.       Too many today forget; they spend their time complaining or getting if not heart attacks possibly ulcers trying to get more. Remember, {from the Old Testament}

a.       King Ahab; who wanted the vineyard of Naboth for a vegetable garden. He would stop at nothing to get it - even if it meant shedding innocent blood.

b.      The children of Israel in the wilderness; they grumbled even when the Lord provided for them. They complained about the manna, even though for 40 years not even their clothing wore out!

c.       The man who complained that he had no shoes until he saw a cripple who had no feet.

Application: Count your blessings; both material and spiritual. What an incentive to live with a grateful heart.

  1. Remember the Giver.

A.      This one did. How could he forget!

1.       There is no physician like Jesus.

2.       He was a man of faith. A Samaritan at that!

B.      Nine forgot.

1.       They were quick to pray and quick to forget.

2.       People are like that even today.

3.       There are no atheists in foxholes; but men still forgets God as soon as the crisis is over and doom is averted.

4.       Even on the human level it is easy to forget our most cherished blessings - children and parents, husbands and wives.

5.       Much more…we think we have a dog in this fight.

a.       The Protestant ethic; hard work brings results. Just try harder.

b.      The American ideal; the self made man – summed up in the song “I did it my way!”

c.       And still God is forgotten.

C.      But faith remembers that God is the Giver God.

1.       He supplies our physical needs.

2.       Behind the loaf is the field of grain; behind the field is God.

3.       Shakespeare: “If we have any ill escaped or good attained, still Heaven chalked the course that brought us thither.”  In short, God alone supplies all our needs – He is the one who orders our days.

D.      God supplies our spiritual needs.

1.       God loves us, the unlovely – when we were considered dead in our trespasses and sins.

2.       God gave His Son as a sacrifice on the cruel cross of Calvary.

3.       Christ gave Himself an offering for sin and sinners – that great exchange – our sin for His righteousness.

4.       For Jesus’ sake God gives life and salvation – freely as a gift.

5.       How rich God has made us all – we are a blessed people in ways we cannot count.

 Remember the Giver. Give thanks at meals, at the end of the day, in success and failure, too. And show how grateful you are by giving cups of water in His name. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve
26 November 2014
Matthew 6:24-34
Four Timely Admonitions

God’s Word indeed teaches and instructs us. In this materialistic, worrying world, we need four timely admonitions for direction and guidance. As we approach yet another national Thanksgiving let us take heed to what God would say to us this night.

I.                    It is impossible to serve God and money. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the others, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Vs. 24)

A.      Ananias and Sapphira tried…and died!

B.      The rich young ruler went away…sorrowful.

C.      Christians need to heed God’s clear word. ”But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that…

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction…

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love endurance and gentleness…

Command these who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment…

Command them to do good, to be right in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” {1 Timothy 6:6-11; 17-19}

II.                  Minimum faith produces maximum anxiety. “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow…

They do not labor or spin? Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow in thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Vv.25-30)

A.      Does God provide for birds? Our heavenly Father feeds them!

B.      Does God provide for flowers?  Solomon in all his splendor was not dressed like one of these!

C.      Won’t He provide for you? Of course, He will! He can do no other!

D.      Learn to trust God. “We do not want you to be uniformed brothers, about the hardships we endured in Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.

‘But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and He will deliver us. Upon Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.” {1 Corinthians 1:8-10}

III.                Worry is worldly. “So do not worry, saying ‘What will we eat?’ or “What shall we drink” or “what shall we wear?’’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Vv.31, 32)

A.      “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God” {Philippians 4:6}

B.      “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong” {Psalm 37:1}

IV.                Put God first and He will take care of your needs. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (V.33)

A.      God’s promises are sure and true. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this, says the Lord Almighty and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessings that you will not have room enough for it.” {Malachi 3:10}

B.      “I was young and now I am old yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” {Psalm 37:25}

Truly, these are timeless truths by which to live. May the Lord so lead us to be thankful throughout our lives.
Words – 839
Passive Sentences –
Reading Ease – 83.7%

Reading Level – 4.8 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Time in the Word - Advent 1

Time in the Word
Advent 1
November 24-29, 2014

The new church year begins with the Second Coming. It is the one Sunday of the year which features the return of Christ as the main subject. In light of the interest in the Second Coming, the church would do well to consider this doctrine of the church and teaching of the New Testament. The Gospel calls upon us to be on the alert for the sudden, unannounced coming of Christ. The world’s cry for God to come to His people is heard in the Old Testament lesson. Paul refers to the Second Coming in the Epistle by assuring His people that they have every spiritual gift as they wait for Christ’s return. The Psalmist calls upon the Lord’s return to help and save His people.

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

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

Collect for Advent 1 -Stir up Your power O Lord and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

For blessing on the Word – Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

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.
Monday, November 24, 2014 - Psalm 25:1-3
The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Zechariah 9:9b, “Behold Your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.”  This passage of Scripture will be quoted on Palm Sunday as Jesus rides triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem. Our king comes not in triumph as a military hero by rather in humility and meekness. David and his sons did not ride horses but rather mules (see 2 Samuel 18:9; 1 Kings 1:33).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 Isaiah 64:1-9 -An appeal for the Lord to return to save His people. This lesson comes from the third section of Isaiah (chapters 56-66).  It was written in the period of 540-500 BC. The Jews returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. The exiles find a pathetic situation: Jerusalem is desolate and the temple has been burned to the ground. The people are despondent and impatient for God to come and do something about their condition. They feel that God is angry and has hidden His face from them. He is accused of causing them to sin. The people confess their sins and feel confident that God will not reject them for He is the potter and they are the clay.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 -By grace Christians lack no spiritual gift as they wait for Christ’s return. This section of Scripture was chosen for this “Second Coming” Sunday because Paul refers to the return as the day of Christ. As the Christian waits for that final event, the promise is given that we are sustained by Christ’s grace and will be guiltless for Christ’s appearance. God is faithful in His gifts and promises.

Thursday, November 27, 2014 Mark 11:1-10 -Watch for Jesus’ unexpected coming. Because the time of Christ’s return is unknown, we must watch for Him. In this brief lesson the word “watch” is used four times. Twice Jesus says, “You do not know when the time will come.” This fact is the reason for being on the alert. The emphasis is laid on Jesus’ return as sudden and unexpected.

There is no place here for speculation when the time of the return will be. It is an exhortation to be ready whenever He comes. Since no one knows the time, it is necessary for the faithful to look for Him every day. The mood of Advent is not speculation but joyful anticipation of the Lord’s return.

Friday, November 28, 2014 – Psalm 80:1-7 This Psalm is the appointed psalm for this coming Sunday.  Verse 7 is the key verse, “Restore us and we shall be saved”.

Saturday, November 29, 2014 Matthew 21:1-16 Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn, “O Bride of Christ, Rejoice.”  How does the Savior choose to make Himself known? Not in pomp and circumstance, not with a grand fanfare and a floury of light and sound. Instead He chooses to be placed in a manger, the feeding trough of the animals. He is born in a stable where beasts are kept. Not the place you would go looking for the savior of the world.

But this is the amazing thing about our Savior, He chooses to be found in those places the world would least expect. He chooses to reveal Himself in those places the world considers unimportant. He chooses to exert His power in what an unbelieving world considers weak and of little consequence.

The cruel cross of Calvary looks ahead of us even in Advent. Does the death of a condemned man seem compelling enough to offer atonement? Could His life and sacrifice really save you? The surroundings and the circumstances of His birth predict His death. They are the means by which we find peace with God and absolution for our sin.

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO


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