Friday, April 30, 2021

Saturday prior to Easter 5

 

Psalm 98:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Romans 3:28 -The hymn of the Day, Dear Christians One and All, Rejoice – {LSB 556}   When Luther translated the phrase “by faith” in Romans 3:28 he added the word “alone” which though not in the Greek, accurately reflect the meaning of the passage. The Hymn is one of Luther’s classic hymns which explain to us the heart of the gospel found in Jesus Christ.

Luther wrote this hymn in 1523, and it was the first hymn he ever wrote for congregational singing. While “A Mighty Fortress” might be the most popular of Luther’s hymns in our day, “Dear Christians One and All Rejoice” might be Luther’s most important hymn in addition to being his first. It tells the powerful story of man’s wretched state, the Father’s plan to send his Son to die for the sins of the world, and Jesus’ faithful execution of his Father’s will. Salvation was not easy. Indeed, it was the most bitter of all struggles, but because of our Lord Jesus’ work, we are blest forever. The hymn concludes with Jesus promise to send the Holy Spirit and the blessed encouragement that we follow in our Lord’s teaching.[1]

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, our Lord. Amen.[2] -01 May 2021



The Risen Christ, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[1] https://www.redeemerwv.org/blog/2019/5/28/dear-christians-one-and-all-rejoice

[2] Collect for the blessing on the Word, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Friday prior to Easter 5

John 15:1-8—Jesus is the vine and we are the branches who are expected to bear fruit.  Sunday’s Gospel lesson is a part of Jesus’ final discourse (chapters 13-17) with His disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday.

 Jesus uses allegory: He is the vine; God is the vinedresser; the branches are the believers; the fruit constitutes good works. The vine is the source of life. To be connected with the Source is to have life and produce fruit. To be separated from the Vine is to die and be destroyed. People in the Vine have their prayers answered. Bearing fruit glorifies God and proves discipleship.

John referred to adult Christians as “little children.” Is this talking down to adults? Is it an insult to even add “little” to children?  Jesus referred to His disciples as “these little ones.”  It is no insult because if God is our Father, we are His true children. Since when? We were adopted as His children at Baptism, and we live in Christ as branches in the vine. And we are “little” too. We are often little in faith, in love and in our words. How little we are when compared with the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.

In these lessons we hear repeatedly the word “abide.” A fruitful Christian is one who produces good works because that person abides in Christ. How do we know we abide in Christ? One answer may be that our fruits prove it. This verse gives another answer. We are in Christ when we have the Spirit. If we have the Holy Spirit, it is the same as being in Christ. The Holy Spirit is at the same time the spirit of Christ.

Collect for Easter 5: O God, you make the minds of your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what you have commanded and desire what you promise that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found; through Jesus Christ our Lord.[1]  -30 April2021

 



[1] Collect for Easter 5, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

The Risen Christ, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Thursday prior to Easter 5


1 John 4:1-11—The word “Love” in its various forms is used 43 times in John’s letter. The word is used 32 times from 4:7-5:3 In His essential nature and in all His actions, God is loving. John similarly affirms that God is spirit (John 4:24) and light (John 1:5), as well as holy, powerful, faithful, true, and just. If we love in deed, we know we have the truth.

To know God is to love and God and each other. This reading has two sections; discerning spirits (Vv. 1-6) and the love of the brothers and sisters. Apparently John is dealing with some that deny the humanity of Christ and who are lacking in love for the people. Not every spirit in a person is of God. The true spirit is the spirit of love for God and others. God first loves us and the proof of that love is the death of Christ on the cross. Our love for each other is based on God’s love of us.

It’s more than God loves. God is love. If God is love, is love also God? In today’s world love is adored and prized as a god. Love aw god is idolatry. We are not to worship love. God is love. But he is also more than love. God is also justice, holiness, and truth.[1]

Prayer for the 4th Sunday of Easter – Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who loves and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[2] -29 April 2021



The Risen Christ, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[1] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing, Lima OH

[2] Collect for Easter 4, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Wednesday prior to Easter 5

 

Acts 8:26-40—Philip is sent to bring an Ethiopian eunuch to faith in Christ.  The treasures of an Ethiopian queen were on their way home after worshiping in Jerusalem. His chariot was on a main road from Jerusalem to Egypt. The Spirit directed Philip, one of the seven deacons (See Acts 6:1-5), to meet the chariot at Gaza. The eunuch was probably a proselyte or God-fearer of Judaism. Philip found him reading Isaiah 53 but not understanding it. After Philip’s explanation, the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. He accepted Christ and according to tradition he introduced Christianity into Ethiopia.

It should be noted that verse 37 (“If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”)is omitted in the older manuscripts and some modern versions will place the verse only in the margin.[1]

When the eunuch learned about Christ as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, he requested baptism. Why was his request so important? Why wasn’t knowing about Jesus, the washing away of sin, and the understanding that he was the Messiah enough? The eunuch wanted to be baptized because baptism is the means of being born again of the Spirit means of being incorporated into the body of Christ, the church. Baptism connects us to Christ and to His body the church.

A Prayer for humility: O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord [2].-28 April, 2021



Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures. copyright © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.

[1] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff © 1980  CSS Publishing, Lima, OH

[2] Collect for Humility, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis


Morning Prayer Reading 129 Stephen



Acts 6-7
 (Selective Verses)

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 

And Stephen said, 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[b] at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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

Monday, April 26, 2021

Tuesday prior to Easter 5

 

Psalm 150; key verse v.6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Who should praise the Lord? All who come to Him in faith. We celebrate the Savior’s great and mighty acts.

This final Hymn of Praise closes out the Psalter. The book ends with a final call to all of creation to give exuberant, ceaseless, loud, and submissive praise to the living God. Here, not only God’s people but “everything that has breath” (v 6) is called to praise God with every means imaginable.

As the Psalter closes, we are called to praise the LORD in a way that has not yet happened in its fullness. The call is still appropriate (we could sing this every day!) but it looks forward to a reality that will only occur when the final chapter of God’s story has been fulfilled. That will be when what God predicted through the prophet Isaiah has finally come to pass: “By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance’” (Isaiah 45.23).

And the apostle Paul, we of the New Testament church, confess today that we, too, look forward to that day when, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.10–11).

Even so, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22.20).

Collect for Psalm 150: Lord God, unite our voices with the praise of all creation, that we may worthily magnify your excellent greatness; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[1] Amen -27 April 2021



Easter image copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[1] Collect for Psalm 150, For All the Saints, A Prayer book for and by the church, © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY


Morning Prayer Reading 128: The Lame Beggar Healed



Acts 3:1-10
3 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. [a] 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Footnotes:
Acts 3:1 That is, 3 p.m.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Monday prior to Easter 5


 The theme for the Fifth Sunday of Easter is Life in Christ.  In the Gospel, Jesus described Himself as the Vine and the believers as the branches which bring forth fruit. How one becomes a person in Christ is demonstrated by the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in the first lesson. To be in Christ means to obey the commandments of God, to love not only in word but in deed.

God is love,” and He has manifested Himself to us by sending “his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9, 16). By the ministry of the Gospel, “he has given us of his Spirit,” so that we also believe and confess “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” In this way, we “abide in him and he in us,” and we “love one another” (1 John 4:2, 7, 13). Such divine love is exemplified in Philip’s preaching of “the good news about Jesus” to the Ethiopian eunuch. And when “they came to some water,” the eunuch was baptized into the very Gospel that Philip had preached (Acts 8:35–38). That Ethiopian was thereby grafted into “the true vine,” Jesus Christ (John 15:1), just as we are. Already we are clean because of the Word that Christ has spoken to us and by the washing of water with His Word. We now abide in Him by faith in His forgiveness. As He abides in us, both body and soul, with His own body and His blood, He “bears much fruit” in us (John 15:3–5).[1]

Psalm 145:1-2, 8, 10, 21; antiphon, John 16:16—The antiphon is taken from the Lord’s promise to His followers, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” Few doubt that the first phrase refers to the interval before the crucifixion. But interpretations differ as to whether the second refers to the interval preceding the resurrection or the coming of the Spirit, or the return of Christ on the Last Great Day. It seems that the language here best fits the resurrection.

Collect for Psalm 145: Loving Father, you are faithful in your promises and tender in your compassion. Listen to our hymn of joy, and continue to satisfy the needs of all your creatures, that all flesh may bless your name in your everlasting kingdom, where with your Son and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and forever.[2] -26 April 2021



The Risen Christ copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
[1] Lectionary summary Esater 5 Series B © LCMS commission on worship
[2] Collect for Collect 145, For all the Saints, A Prayer book for any by the church  © 1980 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY  


Easter 5 Series B


Easter 5  Series B

2 May 2021
Series B 

Acts 8:26–40
1 John 4:1–11 (12–21)
John 15:1–8

Jesus Christ Is the True Vine Who Bears Much Fruit in Us

God is love,” and He has manifested Himself to us by sending “his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9, 16). By the ministry of the Gospel, “he has given us of his Spirit,” so that we also believe and confess “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” In this way, we “abide in him and he in us,” and we “love one another” (1 John 4:2, 7, 13). Such divine love is exemplified in Philip’s preaching of “the good news about Jesus” to the Ethiopian eunuch. And when “they came to some water,” the eunuch was baptized into the very Gospel that Philip had preached (Acts 8:35–38). That Ethiopian was thereby grafted into “the true vine,” Jesus Christ (John 15:1), just as we are. Already we are clean because of the Word that Christ has spoken to us and by the washing of water with His Word. We now abide in Him by faith in His forgiveness. As He abides in us, both body and soul, with His own body and His blood, He “bears much fruit” in us (John 15:3–5). 

O God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found;

Summary:  This passage has some great beauty, but presents a great preaching challenge.  First, we have some nastiness to the image: branches plucked and pruned.  The Greek can soften the blow here:  the words for pluck and prune also mean "lift up" and "clean."  Yet, I think a real law and Gospel challenge remains:  You can find all sorts of traditional discipleship tasks that connect us to God:  prayer, the Word, even the community.  Yet we can no more force ourselves upon Jesus than a branch can for themselves on the vine.  To say to people, "You cannot abide in Jesus, so don't even try" makes a liar out of Jesus.  To tell people "You just need to pray and read your Bibles" isn't totally faithful to the image here!  Somehow we must invite people into abiding in Jesus while retaining the force of the image:  Jesus is the root of connection, not us.

See Luther's sermon on this text. Vol. 24 On suffering of the Christian. 

Your suffering is refining. You can only grow when it is difficult and taken away from you. The things you fear love and trust in He removes. 

Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινή, καὶ ὁ Πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν.
John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

:1 "true vine" as opposed to unbelieving Israel, the false vine

Key words:
αμπελος ("vine"; 15.1)  Like many metaphors in John's Gospel, a person new to the Bible can grasp its meaning, but a knowledge of the OT amplifies its significance.  

The OT (Hosea 14; Jeremiah 2; perhaps also Ezekiel 19, but who understands Ezekiel...) makes the claim that Israel is the vine of the Lord.  Jesus here is saying "I am Israel."  All the promises, all the hopes (if not the judgment) of Israel in the Bible have been transferred to Jesus.

:2 πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μὴ φέρον καρπὸν, αἴρει αὐτό, καὶ πᾶν τὸ καρπὸν φέρον, καθαίρει αὐτὸ ἵνα καρπὸν πλείονα φέρῃ.

John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

αιρεω ("take away" or "take up"; 15:2).  I thought I had a unique insight here and then I realized the NET Bible already explained in a footnote.  In their words:  

The Greek verb ai;rw (airoÒ) can mean "lift up" as well as "take away," and it is sometimes argued that here it is a reference to the gardener "lifting up" (i.e., propping up) a weak branch so that it bears fruit again. In Johannine usage the word occurs in the sense of "lift up" in 8:59 and 5:8-12, but in the sense of "remove" it is found in 11:39, 11:48, 16:22, and 17:15. In context (theological presuppositions aside for the moment) the meaning "remove" does seem more natural and less forced.

:3 ἤδη ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε διὰ τὸν λόγον ὃν λελάληκα ὑμῖν

John 15:3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

:2-3 "fruit"  Not just holy deeds, but love and witness leading to new disciples. "prunes" lit "cleanses" Christians have already been cleansed by God's forgiveness, they are daily in need of repentance and daily spiritual growth "clean because of the word" The means through which the cleansing takes place since the Word's content is Christ. 

When reading these verses in English, there seems to be a break at verse 3 in the flow of thought: Jesus is talking about trees and fruit,  when suddenly he digresses for a moment to point out to his disciples that they are “clean” before continuing with his gardening metaphor.

:4 μείνατε ἐν ἐμοί, κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν. καθὼς τὸ κλῆμα οὐ δύναται καρπὸν φέρειν ἀφ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἐὰν μὴ μένῃ ἐν τῇ ἀμπέλῳ, οὕτως οὐδὲ ὑμεῖς ἐὰν μὴ ἐν ἐμοὶ μένητε.

John 15:4 "Abide continue remain in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides/remains  in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide/remain in Me.

You do not possess God you receive Him in faith. He is the medicine of eternal life. There is no benefit without the reception. 

:5 γώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος, ὑμεῖς τὰ κλήματα. ὁ μένων ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος φέρει καρπὸν πολύν, ὅτι χωρὶς ἐμοῦ οὐ δύνασθε ποιεῖν οὐδέ

John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who remains/abides in Me and I in him, this one bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

:5 "We cannot keep the Law without Christ's aid...So before we keep the Law, our hearts must be born again through faith [Ap V 194]]

"Without faith human nature does not call upon God, nor expect anything from Him, nor bear the cross (Matthew 16:24) Instead, human nature seeks and trusts in human help. So when there is no faith and trust in God. all kinds of lusts and human intentions rule in the heart." (Genesis 6:5) [AC XX 37-38]

:6 ἐὰν μή τις μένῃ ἐν ἐμοί, ἐβλήθη ἔξω ὡς τὸ κλῆμα καὶ ἐξηράνθη, καὶ συνάγουσιν αὐτὰ καὶ εἰς τὸ πῦρ βάλλουσιν, καὶ καίεται.

John 15:6 "If anyone does not remain/abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

:6 fire  Symbol of judgment and destruction see Ezk. 15:1-8

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw- each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. - 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

:7 ἐὰν μείνητε ἐν ἐμοὶ καὶ τὰ ῥήματά μου ἐν ὑμῖν μείνῃ, ὃ ἐὰν θέλητε αἰτήσασθε καὶ γενήσεται ὑμῖν.

John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

:8  ἐν τούτῳ ἐδοξάσθη ὁ Πατήρ μου, ἵνα καρπὸν πολὺν φέρητε καὶ γενήσεσθε ἐμοὶ μαθηταί.

John 15:8 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

:8 As Christ glorified the Father through His obedience, believers glorify God through their lives - and show that they are real disciples, attached to the vine.


-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, ‘The Resurrection of our Lord’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
-LCMS Lectionary notes © 2018 concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
-Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Time in the Word - Easter 5

Time in the Word
26 April – May 01, 2031
Preparation for next week, 5th Sunday of Easter



The theme for the Fifth Sunday of Easter is Life in Christ.  In the Gospel, Jesus described Himself as the Vine and the believers as the branches which bring forth fruit. How one becomes a person in Christ is demonstrated by the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in the first lesson. To be in Christ means to obey the commandments of God, to love not only in word but in deed. 

Collect for the Fifth Sunday in EasterO God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed with what true joys are found through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

A Prayer for humility: O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord

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, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 26 April 2021Psalm 145:1-2, 8, 10, 21; antiphon, John 16:16—The antiphon is taken from the Lord’s promise to His followers,  “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” Few doubt that the first phrase refers to the interval before the crucifixion. But interpretations differ as to whether the second refers to the interval preceding the resurrection or the coming of the Spirit, or the return of Christ on the Last Great Day. It seems that the language here best fits the resurrection. 

Tuesday, 27 April 2021Psalm 150 key verse v.6Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Who should praise the Lord? All who come to Him in faith. We celebrate the Savior’s great and mighty acts.  

Wednesday, 28 April 2021Acts 8:26-40—Philip is sent to bring an Ethiopian eunuch to faith in Christ.  The treasures of an Ethiopian queen were on their way home after worshiping in Jerusalem. His chariot was on a main road from Jerusalem to Egypt. The Spirit directed Philip, one of the seven deacons (See Acts 6:1-5), to meet the chariot at Gaza. The eunuch was probably a proselyte or God-fearer of Judaism. Philip found him reading Isaiah 53 but not understanding it. After Philip’s explanation, the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. He accepted Christ and according to tradition he introduced Christianity into Ethiopia. It should be noted that verse 37 (“If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”)is omitted in the older manuscripts and some modern versions will place the verse only in the margin. 

Thursday, 29 April 20211 John 4:1-11—The word “Love” in its various forms is used 43 times in John’s letter. The word is used 32 times from 4:7-5:3 In His essential nature and in all His actions, God is loving. John similarly affirms that God is spirit (John 4:24) and light (John 1:5), as well as holy, powerful, faithful, true, and just. If we love in deed, we know we have the truth. 

Friday, 30 April 2021John 15:1-8—Jesus is the vine and we are the branches who are expected to bear fruit.  Sunday’s Gospel lesson is a part of Jesus’ final discourse (chapters 13-17) with His disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. 

Jesus uses allegory: He is the vine; God is the vinedresser; the branches are the believers; the fruit constitutes good works. The vine is the source of life. To be connected with the Source is to have life and produce fruit. To be separated from the Vine is to die and be destroyed. People in the Vine have their prayers answered. Bearing fruit glorifies God and proves discipleship.

John referred to adult Christians as “little children.” Is this talking down to adults? Is it an insult to even add “little” to children?  Jesus referred to His disciples as “these little ones.”  It is no insult because if God is our Father, we are His true children. Since when? We were adopted as His children at Baptism, and we live in Christ as branches in the vine. And we are “little” too. We are often little in faith, in love and in our words. How little we are when compared with the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.  

In these lessons we hear repeatedly the word “abide.” A fruitful Christian is one who produces good works because that person abides in Christ. How do we know we abide in Christ? One answer may be that our fruits prove it. This verse gives another answer. We are in Christ when we have the Spirit. If we have the Holy Spirit, it is the same as being in Christ. The Holy Spirit is at the same time the spirit of Christ. 

Saturday, 02 May 2021Psalm 98:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Romans 3:28 -The hymn of the Day, Dear Christians One and All, Rejoice – {LSB 556}   When Luther translated the phrase “by faith” in Romans 3:28 he added the word “alone” which though not in the Greek, accurately reflect the meaning of the passage. The Hymn is one of Luther’s classic hymns which explain to us the heart of the gospel found in Jesus Christ. 

Morning Prayer Schedule for this coming week

April   26 Monday 128 The Lame Beggar Healed
April   27 Tuesday 129 Stephen
April  28 Wednesday Chapel
April  29 Thursday 130 Conversion of Saul
April  30 Friday 130  Conversion of Saul

Catechism Review: Psalm 23 - 6th Commandment

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing Lima, OH
The Risen Christ copyright © Ed Riojas Higher Things
https://www.lcms.org/pages/print.asp?print=1&NavID=3777&path=%2Fpages%2Finternal.asp





Friday, April 23, 2021

Saturday prior to Easter 4

 


 [1]

The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want (LSB710 436) – Sunday’s hymn is simply – and appropriately – the twenty-third psalm in metrical form, set to a pretty tune. Note that The Lutheran Hymnal also has the same psalm used as a canticle, set to a beautiful chant tone (probably Anglican), Hymn 662.

Scripture References:
Stanza 1 = Psalm 23:1-2
Stanza 2 = Psalm 23:3
Stanza 3 = Psalm 23:4
Stanza 4 = Psalm 23:5
Stanza 5 = Psalm 23:6

Of all metrical versions of the psalms, this versification of Psalm 23 from the 1650 Scottish Psalter is probably the best known. Though one of the best examples of a Scottish psalm in meter, the grammatical structure of the text is twisted for the sake of rhyme – the mismatch of textual and musical phrases is especially problematic in stanza 1. But the rugged strength of the verse and the powerful imagery of this psalm have endeared this Scottish versification to many believers through the centuries.

Francis Rous was born at Halton, Cornwall, England in 1579, and educated at Oxford. He adopted the legal profession, and way M.P. for Truro during the reigns of James and of Charles I. He also represented Truro in the Long Parliament, and took part against the King and the Bishops. He was appointed a member of the Westminster Assembly; of the High Commission; and of the Triers for examining and licensing candidates for the ministry. He also held other appointments under Cromwell, including that of Provost of Eton College. He died at Acton, January 7, 1659, and was buried in the Chapel of Eton College. Wood, in his Athenae Oxmienses, gives a list of his numerous works. --Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary[2]

Collect for Easter 4 Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit, that we may know the voice of our Shepherd and follow Him, that sin and death may never pluck us out of Your hand; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.[3] -24 April, 2021



[1] Icon of the Good Shepherd copyright © Google images
[2] https://hymnary.org/text/the_lords_my_shepherd_ill_not_want_rous
[3] Collect for Easter, Lutheran Service Book 4© 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Morning Prayer Reading 127: The Coming of the Holy Spirit



Acts 2 
(Selective Verses)

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested [a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, [c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it."

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

The Fellowship of the Believers
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Friday prior to Easter 4

 

John 10:11-18 – Sunday’s Gospel is the “Good Shepherd” passage from St John’s Gospel. Jesus calls Himself the “good,” or “noble,” Shepherd. He has made us the sheep of His flock by giving His life for us, and He continues to protect us from all who would do us evil or harm. So long as we remain in His fold, nothing, not even the devil, can harm us.

Recall the words of A Mighty Fortress: “And take they our life / Goods, fame, child, and wife / Let these all be gone / They yet have nothing won / The Kingdom ours remaineth.”

Jesus will refer to himself as the good shepherd. Who then are we who believe in him? Are we sheep or shepherds? If we are shepherds, where arte the sheep to be led, fed, and protected? Some congregations indicate on their Sunday bulletins that all members of the church are “ministers”. Who then are the clergy? It seems we may have too many chiefs and not enough braves in the church. A shepherd is one who leads; the sheep follow. Jesus is the chief shepherd (pastor) and his leaders are ordained to be under-shepherds. The rest of us are sheep.

Jesus' death and resurrection are not the work of humans. He is no victim of injustice. He is not a martyr to a good cause. He is in control of his destiny. In this passage of Scripture we are reminded that he has the power to die and to return to life. This is God’s work. A work of salvation. The cross is a victory over sin and the resurrection confirms the victory.

Jesus has other sheep. There is nothing sectarian about Jesus. He does not intend to be limited to Israel. He is for the whole world. He died for all humankind. He commissions His disciples to preach the gospel to all nations. He is a universal Savior. He envisions the whole world to be one flock under one shepherd. Because Jesus has “other sheep” the church needs its program of evangelism and missions to gather the other sheep into His fold, the church.

Lord God, our shepherd, You gather the lambs of Your flock into the arms of Your mercy and bring them home. Comfort us with the certain hope of the resurrection to everlasting life and a joyful reunion with those we love who have died in the faith; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[1] -23 April, 2021



[1] A collect for Easter 4, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

The Good Shepherd Window which adorns the North entrance of Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church, Decatur, IN


Morning Prayer Reading 126: The Ascension


Acts 1:1-11
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying [a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with [b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Footnotes:
Acts 1:4 Or eating
Acts 1:5 Or in

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Thursday prior to Easter 4

 



1 John 3:16-24 – The readings from St John’s first epistle continue with this short passage. In it, John contrasts those in the world, who do not know the Father because they have rejected the Son, with believers, who put their trust in Christ, and, thus, have been made the children of God.

See what love says St. John v.1 It is a common cliché, “God loves you.” How do you know for sure? What proof do you have? John says we see the love of God in the fact tht God calls us his children. Behind God’s considering us his children is the price paid on the cross to make us his children. In Christ God paid for our sins and thus we are acceptable to him. On the basis of the cross God has adopted us as his children. What would God do this? Are we worthy of his sacrifice? IT was a matter of pure, undeserved grace.

We Christians know that we are the children of God if so, then why are we so feverishly occupied in these days with the question of identity? Who are3 we? Do we, understand ourselves? John removes all questions and doubts about our identity when he claims that we are the children of God. Yes, we are sinners, but now God’s redeemed sinners are made into God’s children. Yes, we are humans, but more than that – children of the King. How do we know we are God’s children? We know it because of the cross and resurrection, because of God’s Word. Because of faith, because the Spirit witnesses to our spirits that we are his children.[1]   

An afternoon prayer: Heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being, we humbly pray You so to guide and govern us by Your Word and Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget You but remember that we are ever walking in Your sight.[2] -22 April, 2021



[1] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B © 1981 John Brokhoff, CSS Publishing, Lima OH

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

The Good Shepherd Window which adorns the North entrance of Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church, Decatur, IN


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Wednesday prior to Easter 4


  Acts 4:1-12 – After their release by the Sanhedrin, before whom they were taken because of their preaching of Jesus and His resurrection, Peter and John return to the band of believers. As they had before the Jewish leaders, Peter and John show how the Old Testament must be interpreted with Jesus in mind. They quote Psalm 2, a coronation psalm, in their prayer, and show how King Jesus fulfilled it.

There is salvation in “no one else.” In a pluralistic culture, who will buy this? The mood of our day is to let each have his/her own religion because one will be saved in and by it. Peter would have no part of this kind of thinking. He proclaimed under the influence of the Holy Spirit that there is on salvation apart from Christ. This position is a logical conclusion to the fact that Jesus is the only Son of God who died for the sins of the whole world. No one else died on the cross as the Son of God. No one else ever rose from the dead. To accept other religions as equally true is to deny the truth of the Gospel.

Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit; He did not only have the Spirit but was filled with the Spirit. This explains what he said. The Spirit gave him courage as an unlearned fisherman to address the rulers of Jerusalem. He was not only bold but he was certain and positive. There was no question, no suggestion, no doubt, no hesitation. Openly and frankly Peter explained that he cripple was healed by the power of Jesus’ name. He was unafraid to blame them for the crucifixion and he was certain that Jesus rose from the dead. How can one explain such boldness and certainty? The answer – he was filled with the Holy Spirit.[1]  

Lord God, our shepherd, You gather the lambs of Your flock into the arms of Your mercy and bring them home. Comfort us with the certain hope of the resurrection to everlasting life and a joyful reunion with those we love who have died in the faith; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[2] - 21 April, 2021



[1] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima OH

[2] Collect for Easter 4, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

The Good Shepherd Window which adorns the North entrance of Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church, Decatur, IN