Saturday, February 29, 2020

Lent 1

Lent 1
01 March 2020
Matthew 4:1-11
Who is this man going to the cross?
I am the Son of God

The power to overcome temptation as Jesus has an Encounter with Satan: victory

Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of Your Son’s death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Today we find ourselves in a 40 day time - period - called the season of Lent. For the next four Sundays we will be asking the question, “Who is this man going to the cross?”  Jesus will answer this question Himself with convincing proof as we see that He is the Son of God. 

As we come to know Him we will receive power to overcome temptation as Jesus has an encounter with Satan. What does He offer? He offers victory over temptation. 

Few people today stop to think about temptation. Some may not recognize temptation when it comes to them. People today are in need of knowledge and understanding about this whole issue concerning temptation. Our Gospel lesson for this morning tells us all we need to know about the whole topic of temptation.  The point of our text is clear. If we know about temptation, we will be equipped to confront it. As we examine Jesus’ confrontation with the Devil and His dealing with temptation we will know all we need to know about the subject of temptation.

What you need to know about temptation.

I.        Who tempts you? — “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”  (V.1)

A.    It is the Devil himself who tempts you. He is known as the father of lies.

1. He puts a little truth in every lie. Consider the temptations he offered the Savior. He tempted the Savior, “After all, you are the Son of God! Turn these stones into bread.”  The temptations continue. “Jump from the summit of the temple” – The final temptation – “fall down and worship me.”
2.      He puts many lies in every truth. On the surface they appear to satisfy. Notice how his lies are deceiving. His promises ring hollow. Jesus could have lived for the moment. He could have taken His kingdom by force and enjoy instant success. He could have exchanged His soul. Yet in so doing the hope of every man and every woman every boy and every girl would be lost eternally.  

B.    His desire is to trip you up and lead you astray.  His methods are numerous.

1. In the beginning he tempts you to think, “This is nothing…” He tempts us to think that our sins are but a trifle. For example, we’re all heard that little phrase, “find a penny pick it up all day long you’ll have good luck”  Is that true? That penny which you found. Is it yours? Did you earn it? No, you picked it up. You took it. It wasn’t yours. You took possession of it – at the expense of your neighbor. But some might argue. “It’s just a penny!” and besides, “finders keepers…losers weepers” But should you take advantage of your neighbor? At what cost? At what price? Even if it is “just a penny”, or “just an e-mail”, or “just an off handed comment”, or “just a little white lie”, or “just an innocent kiss”.  See how he is so good at minimizing sin.

2.      Satan will go at great lengths to minimize and diminish our sin. In the end he tries to convince you, “the Father won’t forgive!” Judas Iscariot is the prime example. He confessed his faults. He returned the thirty pieces of silver, and vowed in his heart never to act in such a matter. Yet the Devil had convinced him that he could never be forgiven. How sad! How terribly sad! He was so close only to lose everything.  He lost his soul. What burdens, what pains, what afflictions, are people today carrying by themselves thinking that the Father could not or will not forgive them? In this world in which “anything goes” seems to be the common phrase we need to hear the severity of the Law. Yet, at the same time, we need to hear the clear message of the Gospel that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting our sins against us and has given us this message of reconciliation.”

II.     What tempts you?

A. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (V.3)  Jesus is the Son of God, so why not take the easy way out – forget the spiritual struggle – focus on temporal needs, live for the moment.

B. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ (5-6) Take Your kingdom by force Jesus. They will be impressed and applaud such a feat. Then nothing will be beyond Your capability.  You’ll have instant success. 

C. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (8-9) Buy into the Devil’s tricks and illusions. Give him his due – what’s to loose – after all, you still are the Son of God – nothing’s changed, or has it?

III.   How you can overcome it? —

A. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (V.4) The only thing the Savior has at His disposal is the Word. The only thing He can used to defeat the Devil are the promises the Father has spoken clearly through His Word.

B Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ (V.7)  As the Son of God Jesus can speak to the Devil with much authority.  We are not looking at two equal forces at work against each other. As the Son of God Jesus speaks with authority – authority He received from His Father. As He addresses His enemy the Devil must submit to the Savior. 

C. Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ (V.10)  If Jesus were to give homage to the Devil your salvation would be lost. His work would be in vein and you would still be lost in sin. Jesus will not buy into the Devil’s lies.

IV. Why are you tempted — God our heavenly Father allows temptation as a test of our faith and love for Him.

A. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”  (V.1)  The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert to be tempted. As He is confronted the Savior enters the fray and the war begins.

So likewise when you are tempted you are engaging in this same battle. How will you fare? By yourself you cannot win. You will but fail. That is why we look to Christ and Christ alone to give us the strength in the midst of temptation to resist the Devil.

This is why we pray, “And lead us not into temptation.” “God indeed tempts no one. But we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory!” [Explanation to the 6th   Petition of the Lord’s Prayer from Luther’s Small Catechism]

B. Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’  (V.10)  By your own reason or strength you cannot overcome the Devil. So we pray “But deliver us [Lord] from evil. We pray, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. [Explanation to the 7th and final petition of the Lord’s Prayer from Luther’s Small Catechism]

Our victory over temptation leaves us stronger with angels ministering to us. There is only one tool left for us to use – the Word of the Lord. Use it well for we struggle not against flesh and blood but against principalities… Put on the full armor of God that you might be able to fight against the Devil and his agents.
Words – 1,495
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –79.3%
Reading Level – 5.2
The Crucifixion Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Saturday after Ash Wednesday – February 29, 2020 –Psalm 130
Though great our sins, yet greater still
    Is God’s abundant favor;
His hand of mercy never will
    Abandon us, nor waver.
Our shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free
    From all their sin and sorrow. [2]

Our Psalm for today is Psalm 130. This Psalm is a cry for mercy. It is a request. In which we call out to God. Asking for His mercy and grace. Quite a fitting prayer.  In these verses we are taught, whatever condition you are in, though ever so deplorable, continue calling upon God.

David is confident of a sure forgiveness: “But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.”(v.4) The clear message of the gospel. Which you need to hear, especially during this season of Lent is that in Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven period! There is forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

At the cross, the Son of God paid for all sin. There is forgiveness in Jesus Christ. This is why we fear, love and trust in Him above all things. Here we have a sure and certain hope. That God will act. He will bring to pass all that He has promised. All He asks is to wait upon Him and He will bring everything to pass.

Rejoice, O Lord, the countenance of Thy servants; and deliver our souls from the lowest hell, that protected by Thy mercy, we may with spiritual strength tread fleshly desires under foot; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen. [3] 

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth Your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen [4]

God of might and compassion, You sent Your Word into the world as a watchman to announce the dawn of salvation. Do not leave us in the depths of our sins, but listen to Your Church pleading for the fullness of Your redeeming grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [5]

1. Image: The Psalmist David (Repentance), Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for personal and congregational use
2. From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
3. A Lenten Prayer © 2005 Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood
4. Collect for Saturday after Ash Wednesday,
5. For All the Saints A Prayer book For and By the Church; The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau © 1995 Delhi, NY Vol. II Year 1 The Season After Pentecost p. 741

Friday, February 28, 2020

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Friday after Ash Wednesday – February 28, 2020 – Job 42:6
By Thine hour of dire despair,
By Thine agony of prayer,
    By the cross, the nail, the thorn,
    Piercing spear, and torturing scorn,
By the gloom that veiled the skies
O’er the dreadful sacrifice,
    Listen to our humble sigh;
    Hear our penitential cry! [2] 

Once confronted with his sin, Job is reduced to two simple words, “I repent.” Job makes a true confession as he comes clean before God. “I am deeply distressed on account of the imaginations of my heart, the words of my tongue, and the acts of my life. I roll myself in the dust, and sprinkle ashes upon my head.” Job is now sufficiently humbled.

In Lent, we’re confronted with the enormity of our sin. We consider the consequence of our life. It caused Jesus to pay the ultimate price for our transgressions. Yet beyond Jesus’ agony and suffering a greater good has come. The Lord considered Jesus innocent pain and death. The Father took notice of Jesus torment and affliction. In exchange for our transgressions the Lord grants us forgiveness and life.

God speaks to man: by His word and through suffering. Suffering is not punishment for our sin rather its aim is that our faith might be refined. The Lord can use suffering as a means to refine and strengthen us. Peter explains,  “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6–7)     

We beseech Thee, O Lord God, to turn Thy face from our sins, and to blot out all our transgressions; and as the publican, who stood afar off, was heard in his humility, so hear us not for our own merits, but for the merits of Him who, being co-equal with Thee, His Father, yet for our sakes took upon Him the form of a servant, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen [3] 

Support us, O Lord, with Your gracious favor through the fast we have begun; that as we observe it by bodily self-denial, so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. [4] 

1 Image:  Job is tested, Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for personal and congregational use
 2 Savior when in dust to Thee, Lutheran Service Book (c0 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
 3 A Lenten Prayer, © 2005 Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood
 4 Collect for Friday after Ash Wednesday,

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Thursday after Ash Wednesday – February 27, 2020 – Luke 18:13
1 Savior, when in dust to Thee
Low we bow the adoring knee;
    When, repentant, to the skies
    Scarce we lift our weeping eyes;
O, by all Thy pains and woe
Suffered once for us below,
    Bending from Thy throne on high,
    Hear our penitential cry! [2]

Two men went up to the temple to pray. One is a smug Pharisee, the other a despised tax collector. One boasted in himself. The other pleaded for mercy.  “The tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” 

Here is the heart of the Gospel. It is defined by mercy and grace. Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve while mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. Both are rooted at the cross. One of the most profound prayers the people of God can utter is found in the words of the Kyrie, “Lord, Have mercy, Christ, Have mercy, Lord, Have mercy.”

In Matthew 15:22: the Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David." while in Matthew 17:15 a distraught father pleads, “Lord, have mercy on my son!" From this perspective, our focus should not be on how far we have become rather how great our need. The Lord has promised to come to our rescue. In faith we cry out to Him. Bringing to Him our burdens and our cares. 

Throughout the days of Lent may this simple yet profound prayer be on our lips and our hearts.      

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with Your most gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help; that in all our works begun continued, and ended in You, we may glorify Your holy Name, and, finally, by Your mercy, obtain everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. [3]

Lord Jesus, Holy One of God, You showed that the kingdom of God had come by Your healing the sick and casting out demons. Heal us in both body and soul by the medicine of immortality of Your body and blood that we may truly be Your disciples; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [4]

 1 Image:  The Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for personal and congregational use
2  Savior when in dust to Thee, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
3 Collect for Thursday after Ash Wednesday,
 4 Collect for Thursday after Ash Wednesday Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday February 26, 2020

The Imposition of Ashes
Prior to the service those who wish to receive ashes to mark the start of the Lenten season may do so. Quietly come forward on each aisle and then return back to your seat. 

Silence for personal reflection

The Ringing of the Church Bell

The Opening Hymn LSB#440, v. 1
“Jesus I will Ponder Now”
The Sentences

P: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the words of the preacher, O Lord, spoken as the final comment on life.


P: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” Lowly Adam, formed from dust, yet blessed by You with Your image, O Lord.


P: Yet, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” for we have sinned against You, Lord God, and we deserve the curse of the dust:  “Cursed is the ground because of you, in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”



P: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Him, because the Lord has anointed Him to bring good tidings to the afflicted, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.


P: For surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows:


P: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our 


P: All, like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way;


P: He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth:


P: And like a sheep that before his shearers is dumb.


P: By oppression and judgment, He was taken away; and for His generation who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living.


P: And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man is His death;


P: That is why Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with ashes of repentance.


P: With the Lord Jesus in His suffering, humiliation, agony, and bloody sweat;


The Choir “Just as I am Lord”

The Passion Reading

The Sermon Hymn & Homily LSB #440 vs.5

Luke 18:31-34
If my sins give me alarm
            And my conscience grieve me,
Let Your cross my fear disarm;
     Peace of conscience give me.
Help me see forgiveness won
     By Your holy passion.
If for me He slays His Son,
      God must have compassion!
The Gathering of the Lenten Offering

The Confession and Absolution

The Ash Wednesday Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus’ Words of Institution

The Distribution

The Distribution Hymns

“Love Divine All Loves Excelling” LSB #700
“Jesus Sinners Doth Receive” LSB #609
“A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” LSB #438

The Post-Communion Collect

Luther’s Evening Prayer

The Benediction

The Closing Hymn LSB #878, vv. 1, 2, 8
“Abide with Me!  Fast Falls the Eventide”


As we remember Ash Wednesday today, think about two important points, which this ceremony teaches us—first, our need of a Savior, and, second, the cross on which Jesus died to take away our sins.  

Images copyright © Google images,  Ed Riojas Higher Things 

Ash Wednesday

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Celebrating our 182nd Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

Jesus I will Ponder Now
A Lenten series based on six Chorales written by Sigismund v. Birken & Johan Sebastian Bach

Ash Wednesday 26 February 2020
Luke 18:31-34

Introduction: Today we begin a six week process of observing our Savior’s Passion, suffering and death during the discipline of Lent. Under the theme: “Jesus I will Ponder Now” we will focus on six aspects of the Savior’s Passion as rendered and presented in six beautiful Chorales – four of which were penned by Johan Sebastian Bach. It is my prayer that as we focus on Jesus’ suffering through Scripture and song we will grow in a deeper appreciation of what Jesus has won for us on the bloody and cruel cross of Calvary.

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, Jesus explains to His disciples, “Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.” {V.31}

As we consider Jesus’ Passion we observe His work in terms of sin and grace.

I.          If my sins give me alarm and My conscience grieve me.
A.        It is sin which causes us to be alarmed
1.         Sin of commission –committed and  done by
a.         Thoughts
b.         Words
c.         Actions           
2.         Sins of omission
a.         When we had opportunity to do good but failed.
b.         When we could have prevented sin but failed to act or didn’t want to get involved, or the time was not convenient.
B.        Our conscience is troubled when we consider past wrongs, failures, and the nagging question, “What will God do to me at the end of my days?”

Transition: How do we receive a clean conscience and peace of mind? Our hymn verse gives us a clear answer.

II.        Let Your cross, my fear disarm peace of conscience give me.
A.        The cross of Christ disarms our fears.
1.         At The cross the wrath of an offended God was poured out on Jesus Christ God’s own Son.
2.         Paul puts it this way; “God was in Christ reconciling us to the Father not counting our sins against us…               2 Corinthians 5:19
3.         As Christ has taken our sin there is nothing for us to fear.
B.        Peace of conscience is what Christ alone can give.
1.         He gives us His peace – “Peace I leave thee, My peace I give thee…      -John 14:27
2.         This is the only peace, which will sustain us – all other forms or attempts at peace - pale in comparison.

Transition: Christ suffered for us once for all. Yet the Devil will attempt to trip us up reminding us again and again of past failings. He will quote for us chapter and verse where we have sinned. That’s why we need a continued reminder of Christ’s work.

III.       Help me see forgiveness won By Your  holy passion.

A.        All Jesus asks of us is to trust Him.
1.         Trust is nothing more than another word for faith.
2.         Faith is nothing more than taking God at His word.
B.        We trust that what Christ accomplished at the cross is all that is needed to win for us salvation.
1.         Jesus’ words: “It is finished!” says it all!
a.         There is nothing left to be done. Jesus did it all at the cross.
b.         Trusting in Jesus’ work and merit is what our faith must focus.

Transition: As we focus on what Jesus has done we learn an eternal truth – the love and compassion of Christ.  

IV.       If  for me He slays His Son, God must have compassion.

A.        Smile - God loves you! Best summed up by Christ Himself in John 3:16-18

B.        He has had compassion. The Passion of the Christ is motivated by the Father’s compassion for a fallen world. When He gave up His own Son He did the very best. The Father shows that;

1.         He cares for us
2.         He loves us
3.         He sent us His own Son who redeemed this world to save us.

Conclusion: As we begin the discipline of Lent we focus on Jesus’ Passion. He has redeemed us lost and condemned creatures and has purchased and won us from sin, from death and from the power of the devil. A great and mighty wonder is to unfold during this Lenten season we watch in awe and wonderment.

Artwork by Ed Rojas © Higher Things
Words - 777
Passive Sentences - 10%
Readability - 79.4%
Reading Level - 5.9

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Family Life Center update

Today, 2.25.2020 - the 182nd Anniversary of the signing of our congregation's charter steel construction continues...

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday – February 25, 2020 –Revelation 19:1-8

Therefore in our hymns we pray Thee,
    Grant us, blessèd Trinity,
At the last to keep Thine Easter
    With Thy faithful saints on high;
There to Thee forever singing
    Alleluia joyfully. [1]

Today marks the 182nd Anniversary of the signing of Friedheim’s charter. Through the years, the Lord has richly blessed us.  Shrove Tuesday is the day before we begin the solemn season of Lent. 

Church anniversaries are a cause for much celebration. Truly, the Lord has blessed our congregation tremendously all these years. Today we remember the Lord has placed us here to be a House of Peace, a Haven of Hope for those who suffer and a Harbor of Light in this sin-darkened world. As followers of Jesus, we are Christ’s ambassadors – commissioned by Him who has reconciled the world to Himself to be salt and light. May we continue to be one in the Lord Jesus Christ - Experiencing true joy in Christ - Living at peace with each other and enjoying one another. May we continue to upholding one another in prayer; taking our needs burdens joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace. Being thankful as the Savior answers each petition.

The word “shrove” is a form of the English word “shrive,” which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of Confession. Thus, Shrove Tuesday was named after the custom of Christians to be "shriven" before the start of Lent. Daily we come to our Lord in repentance and faith, confessing our sin and relying on the Savior’s promise to renew, restore and forgive. 

It has been a tradition at our school to serve pretzels on the before Ash Wednesday. Starchy food is often eliminated for one's diet during Lent. But the pretzel by its shape reminds us of the cross of Christ and the arms of Jesus wrapped around us by His love.

God of infinite mercy, grant that we who know Your compassion may rejoice in Your forgiveness and gladly forgive others for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior who is alive with You and the Holy Spirit,one God now and forever. [2]

Almighty God, You have promised to be with Your Church forever. We praise You for Your presence in this place of worship and ask Your ongoing blessing upon those who gather here. Dwell continually among us with Your holy Word and Sacraments, strengthen our fellowship in the bonds of love and peace, and increase our faithful witness to Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [3]

1  Alleluia, songs of gladness, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
2 Collect for Shrove Tuesday Web
3  Collect for Anniversary of a congregation Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Monday after the Transfiguration

Monday after the Transfiguration –February 24, 2020 –Psalm 137:1-6


Alleluia, song of gladness,
    Voice of joy that cannot die;
Alleluia is the anthem
    Ever raised by choirs on high;
In the house of God abiding
    Thus they sing eternally. [2]

It has been a tradition during Lent to withhold the singing of Alleluias in the public worship service. We will resume our Alleluias in the Easter season as a reminder that in glory our praises will never end. We place our praises on pause so we may reflect on Jesus’ Passion, suffering and death. 

Our hymn verse for today reminds us that our Alleluias will be sung eternally in glory. When we behold Jesus face to face ours shall be a song of gladness; a voice of joy that cannot die. It will be an eternal anthem; a hymn which has no end. Yet, for now, we bid farewell to our hosannas. 

The hymn "Alleluia, songs of gladness" contains a translation of an 11th century Latin text that compares an alleluia-less Lent to the exile of the Israelites in Babylon. The text then anticipates the joy of Easter when glad alleluias will return in all their heavenly splendor. Of course, the Babylonian captivity lasted only a season as Lent is a time for reflection. As the Lord remained faithful to His people, even in the midst of their captivity, your Lord has promised to sustain you throughout your earthly pilgrimage. For now, as we journey we are living in a strange land. Soon and very soon, we shall see the King. 

In every stage of life, the Lord remains faithful to His people. From infancy to old age. In times of glorious celebration through times of challenge, the Lord sustains His own. No matter what difficulties or trials you might face the Lord will sustain you throughout your journey. In Lent, we are on a pilgrimage. Jesus guides each step along the way.      

Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever [3]

1  The Creation Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
  2 Alleluia, songs of gladness, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
 3 Collect for the Second Sunday after Epiphany, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Lent 1 Series A

Series A 
1 March 2020

Genesis 3:1–21
Romans 5:12–19
Matthew 4:1–11

O Lord Jesus Christ, You lead Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the Promised Land. Guide the people of Your church that following our Savior we might walk through the wilderness of this world toward the world that is to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  

The Lord Jesus Christ Is Our Champion against Satan

Following His Baptism, Jesus is “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1). As He takes upon Himself the curse of our sin and sets Himself against our enemy, He trusts His Father’s voice and waits upon His Father’s hand for all things. The devil questions His sonship, but the beloved and well-pleasing Son remains faithful and lives “by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Jesus patiently suffers hunger in His mortal flesh and returns to the dust whence man was taken, and by His pain He brings forth food for all the children of men (Gen. 3:18–19). By the sweat of His brow, we eat the fruit of His cross, even as our nakedness is covered by His righteousness. Although all people live in bondage to death through the trespass of the first man, Adam, all the more “have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Rom. 5:15). His righteous obedience “leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom. 5:18).

A Mission in Humility
Rev. Dr. Daniel J Brege
D Min. M Div

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews informs us, He was tempted in all things as we are, and yet was without sin (Heb. 4:14). Though such temptations happened throughout Jesus’ life, they were especially apparent at the beginning of His ministry and at the end.  The beginning was marked by an outward effort of Satan, as recorded in today’s Gospel. The temptation at the end of His ministry was marked by His crucifixion.

The only way the Son of God could be tempted as we are tempted is by becoming man, but that would not be sufficient. He also had to humble himself so He could and would feel and carry the attacks of our misery, pain, trials and ultimately our death. Such attacks tempted Christ to deny His Father—as they tempt us to deny God.

Unlike our temptations, Christ was tempted by Satan to deny His salvation-work of humbling Himself.  Jesus was thus tempted to use His powers as the Son of God to escape painful attacks and temptations.  Thus when Christ humbled himself and really and truly felt the gnawing pain of hunger, in His humiliation He must not use His divine powers to turn a rock into bread.  At the temptations recorded in our Gospel, Satan knew full well that if Jesus even momentarily exited His state of humiliation, His work for our salvation would come unraveled.  If anything stopped or hampered His work of humiliation Jesus would have been proven to be a fake, a phony.  His self-humbling uniquely consisted of not using His divine powers to personally help Himself when facing trying situations; He had to deny Himself, even to the point of death.

There are several counterfeit versions of the Christian faith that maintain that Jesus never really died, or that He did not feel pain while He was tortured to death.  If He did not remain in His state of humiliation this would be reasonable.  If Jesus had turned the rock into bread why then wouldn’t He remove all pain from His crucifixion?  If the Son of God overrode His humiliation, if He made any effort to miraculously deliver Himself, His work for our salvation would rightly be seen as a sham.  But He remained in His state of humiliation, feeling and absorbing our misery and death.

Christ was also tempted by Satan to deny His Sonship.  Satan introduced His temptations by stating, If you are the Son of God, then…  Did Jesus really believe His Father who just days before had avowed at His baptism, This is my beloved Son?  Christ would trust His Father’s word no matter what evil befell Him. We too in our Baptism are told that we are sons of God (e.g. Gal. 3:26,27).  The devil will likewise tempt us to deny that we have been brought into God’s family and that we are each children of God.  But in Christ we confess, God’s own child, I gladly say it, I am baptized into Christ (LSB 594).

Finally as the Son of God hung upon the cross, deserted by God and man, the tempter again spoke (through godless men):  …save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross…let Him now come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him (Mt. 27:40b, 42b).  Humbling himself to a selfless death was the only way to carry our misery, pain, trials and death, and then reverse them in resurrection; it was the only way to reverse these horrible results of sin, as well as sin itself.

Now Satan does no less with us.  When things go bad we are tempted to think God doesn’t care.  We are tempted to doubt whether we really are God’s sons.  But even though we falter, we are already victorious.  We are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. Our victory has been won.

Matthew 4:1–11
The Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness

Matthew 4:1
Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνήχθη εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, πειρασθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 

Matthew 4:2
καὶ νηστεύσας ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα καὶ νύκτας τεσσεράκοντα ὕστερον ἐπείνασεν
And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Matthew 4:3
καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ πειράζων εἶπεν αὐτῷ• Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ ἵνα οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι ἄρτοι γένωνται.
And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

Matthew 4:4
 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν• Γέγραπται• Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται [b]ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ στόματος θεοῦ.
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:5
Τότε παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν, καὶ ἔστησεν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ,
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 

Matthew 4:6
καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ• Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν κάτω• γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε, μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου.
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Matthew 4:7
ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Πάλιν γέγραπται• Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου.
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Matthew 4:8
Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν 
gain, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 

Matthew 4:9
καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω, ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι.
And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 

Matthew 4:10
τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Ὕπαγε, Σατανᾶ• γέγραπται γάρ• Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις.
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Matthew 4:11
τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελοι προσῆλθον καὶ διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Matthew, portrays Jesus as fasting as a righteous Jew should. He also has a different ordering of the Tempter's trials, placing the temptation to worship Satan as the culminating episode in the scene, one that calls for Jesus not just to reject the specific temptation, but the Tempter himself.

Satan's temptations get immediately to the core question of Jesus' identity, calling into question his relationship with God by beginning with the provocative, "If you are the Son of God."

Individually, each temptation invites Jesus to turn away from trust in God in a different way.

In the first, the devil invites Jesus to prove his sonship through a display of power; that is, by establishing his validity and worth through his own abilities. 

In the second, the temptation is to test God's fidelity.

In the third -- more an out-and-out bribe than temptation -- Jesus is promised all the power and glory the earth can offer if he will give his allegiance and devotion to the Tempter. In each case, Jesus rejects the temptation and lodges his identity, future, and fortunes on God's character and trustworthiness.

Identity is again the focus of the Tempter in the scene of Jesus' temptation. "If you are the Son of God," Satan begins. In other words, "How do you know you are God's Son?" Hence the core of the temptation: "Wouldn't it be better to know for certain? Turn stone to bread, jump from the Temple, worship me...and you will never know doubt again. You will know. You will be sufficient on your own." The temptation is the same, but Jesus responds by refusing to establish his own worth and identity on his own terms but instead remains dependent on God. Jesus knows who he is, that is, by remembering whose he is.

Perhaps faith, that is, doesn't do away with the hardships that are part and parcel of this life, but rather gives us the courage to stand amid them, not simply surviving but actually flourishing in and through Jesus, the one who was tempted as we are and thereby knows our struggles first hand. This same Jesus now invites us to find both hope and courage in the God who named not only him, but all of us, beloved children so that we, also, might discover who we are be recalling whose we are.

Throughout the scriptures, the wilderness represents a place of preparation, a place of waiting for God's next move, a place of learning to trust in God's mercy. For forty days and nights Jesus remains in the wilderness, without food, getting ready for what comes next.

Forty: the days and nights that Noah and his family endured the deluge on board the ark, after which God made a covenant never again to destroy the earth with a flood (Gen 7:4, 12; 8:6; 9:8-17);

Forty: the days and nights Moses fasted on Mount Sinai as he inscribed the words of God's covenant for the Israelites (Exodus 24:18; 34:27-28; Deut. 9:9);

Forty: the days and nights Elijah fasted in the desert before receiving a new commission from God (1 Kings 19:8);

Forty: the years the Israelites wandered the wilderness in preparation for their arrival in the Promised Land (e.g., Exodus 16:35; Deut. 2:7);

Forty: the days of the season of Lent as Christians participate in Jesus' ministry and follow his way toward the cross. 

How might we make ourselves ready for the way of the Lord in the places we are called to be? 

To what mission is God calling the church? What is needed for your congregation, corporately and individually, to be prepared. 

What happens in the wilderness does not stay in the wilderness; rather, it plays again in the life and ministry of God's beloved son (Matt 3:17). The answers are different on different occasions, but the choices are very much the same:

Jesus refuses in the desert to turn stones into bread to assuage his own hunger, but before long he will feed thousands in the wilderness with just a few loaves and some fish (Matt 14:17-21; 15:33-38), and he will teach his disciples to pray to God for their "daily bread" (Matt 6:11).

He refuses to take advantage of his relationship to God by hurling himself down from the heights of the Temple, but at the end of his earthly ministry he endures the taunts of others (Matt 27:38-44) while trusting God's power to the end upon the heights of a Roman cross (Matt 27:46).

He turns down the devil's offer of political leadership over the kingdoms of the world, and instead offers the kingdom of the heavens to all those who follow him in the way of righteousness.

Focus Questions

1. Billy Graham said, "It is unnatural for Christianity to be popular." Do you agree?

2. What setting helps you notice "how small and perishable you are"?

3. How often, and how, do you make room for God in your life?

4. Do you think all suffering should be relieved as soon as possible? Why or why not?

5. Is there a difference between being "nice" and being "holy"?
The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘Satan tempts Jesus’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
LCMS Lectionary notes © 2016
Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Time in the Word - Lent 1

Morning Prayer readings for this week;

February 24 Peter confesses Jesus      Matthew 16:13-23
February 25 Transfiguration              Matthew 17:1-13
February 26 Ash Wednesday Chapel
February 27 Jesus heals a boy              Matthew 17:14-21
February 28 Rich man and Lazarus      Luke 16:19-3`

Catechism Review: Psalm 23

The theme of Lent 1 deals with sin: origin, continuation, and conquest. In our Old Testament lesson, we have the account of the first original sin through the yielding to temptation. In the Gospel Jesus succeeded in overcoming temptation. In the Epistle, we are told that sin is conquered through Christ. The theme is carried out in the Prayer of the Day by reference to “the wilderness of this world,” a wilderness of temptation. The refrain in verse 4a of Psalm 130 refers to the solution of sin as in the Epistle – “forgiveness.”  The Hymn of the Day is appropriate in that Luther refers to “though devils all the world should fill…one little word can fell him.”

Is the Devil real? He is very much alive. The evidence of temptation and wickedness confirms his existence. For Jesus, the devil was a reality in the wilderness experience. The origin of Satan is not the question. Our problem is overcoming Satan’s temptation lest we sin.  

Collects for Lent 1: 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.

Collects for Monday before Ash Wednesday: Father, Your love never fails. Hear our call. Keep us from danger and provide for all our needs. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Monday, 24 February 2020Psalm 91:9-13; antiphon, Psalm 91:15-16—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

Collect for Tuesday before Ash Wednesday: God our Father, teach us to cherish the gifts that surround us. Increase our faith in You and bring our trust to its promised fulfillment in the joy of Your kingdom. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Tuesday, 25, 2020Psalm 32:1-7—key verse 7a—The Psalm appointed for this coming Sunday is an exuberant proclamation of the happy and blessed state of those who experience God’s forgiveness. Blessed…Blessed. Repetition underscores—are forgiven…are covered…does not count against him. Repetition with variation emphasizes and illumines. Paul will pick up on this theme in Romans 4:6-8.

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.

Wednesday, 26, February 2020Genesis 3:1-21— In the Old Testament lesson we learn that yielding to temptation is a sin as Adam and Eve yield to temptation. Before temptation, the human person was good, in fact – perfect. He said, felt, and did no wrong. This is God’s intention for the human family. In God’s sight, this is what it means to be human. Since the fall of humanity, he constantly yields to temptation and sins to the point of total depravity – sin permeates his whole being. Because of this, he needs to be redeemed and reconciled to God that he may live as he was originally created.

Thursday, 27 February 2020Romans 5:12-19—In our Epistle lesson, sin’s solution is the one man Jesus Christ. Through one man came sin; through another man came righteousness.  The solution to sin is death. The solution is Jesus, the one man who lived perfectly, whose death is redemptive.  

Through this one man, grace came to humanity, and with grace came life. Through Jesus, humanity has the restoration of its original state; righteousness and innocence in the perfect accord with God.

Friday, 28 February 2020Matthew 4:1-11—In the Gospel lesson temptation to sin can be conquered as Jesus overcomes temptation in the wilderness.  Jesus was “tempted by the devil.”  If Satan is the author of temptation, why do we pray, “Lead us not into temptation”? In this petition, we pray for strength to withstand temptation.

Saturday, 01 March 2020Psalm 46– Tomorrow’s hymn of the week is LSB #656 “A Mighty Fortress” This Psalm is a triumphant confession of fearless trust in God, though the continents break up and sink beneath the resurging waters of the seas – though the creation itself may seem to become uncreated and all may appear to be going down before the onslaught of the primeval deep.  In verses 4-6, we have a description of blessed Zion – a comforting declaration of God’s mighty, sustaining presence in His city.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima, OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts, The Forbidden Fruit and Satan tempts Jesus © WELS for personal and congregational use