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Reflections

Wednesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 29, 2020 • Pastor Joel Shaltanis

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 14:47-15:9; Acts 24:1-23 "Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them…" (1 Samuel 15:3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today's reading (1 Samuel 15) is a hard text. Samuel commands King Saul to destroy the Amalekites, to kill "both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." There are other places, too, in which God commands the Israelites to do the same to the Canaanites. How are we to make sense of this? Atheists and critics wonder about these things, too, and use these passages as attacks, claiming the God of the Bible commanded genocide or ethnic cleansing. It's easy to just turn the page when you read something like this, and I think a lot of people do. But while we cannot possibly comprehend the mind of God, there are some things that can help us think this through. These commands are limited to a specific time and place. They are not open-ended directions to destroy people of certain tribes or races. In fact, when the Israelites tried to act out against their enemies without God's blessing, they were defeated (1 Samuel 4). Only God can sanction this kind of action and only He can understand why it is necessary. We know that God curbs evil. The Lord even sent other nations to attack and destroy the people of Israel when their wickedness rose to a certain level. We are talking true wickedness—even child sacrifice! In other words, had you lived in the midst of such evil, you would have prayed for God to stop it. That doesn't answer every question, but perhaps it helps answer some. Some things in Scripture which we cannot understand, but there are many things we cannot misunderstand Chief among them is God's love for us in Christ. God is a God of justice who metes out punishment on the wicked, but He also takes punishment on Himself even though He doesn't deserve it. That, too, is a great mystery. He loves us that much. Incredible! Who can understand the mind of God? In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence - Faith sees a smiling face. Blind unbelief is sure to err - And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain. ("God Moves in a Mysterious Way" LSB 765. st.2, 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Friday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

July 30, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Acts 20:27-38 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 15:10-35; Acts 24:24-25:12 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul writes to pastors, overseers of the flock, about the dark days to come. Wolves will come and will not spare the flock. Some pastors will speak twisted things. Paul was leaving and wouldn't see them again on earth. Paul was martyred. Even to the faithful, he has to insist that he did not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God to them. That's because there are parts of it that folks didn't want to hear. He may not speak with happiness, but he speaks with confidence. The Church on earth wasn't promised a cheery existence. Despite what people tell you about how much better things used to be, there were no glory days. There really never have been. The generations of Christians just had different dresses to put on the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. That's the reason Paul's so confident. Those three enemies that always seem like they're on the verge of defeating us were already vanquished on the Cross. This isn't about Paul. This isn't about those pastors. This isn't about you. It isn't our job to keep the Church going. This is about the Word, which is able to build up and give the inheritance of the holy ones. Confidence comes from the promise of Christ, not from today's circumstances. Paul lists all sorts of things that will assault Christians. In the face of them, the Word is still able to give that inheritance to them. Nothing else can do that, so nothing else can stand. The Church has already been obtained by the blood of God. If She has the Word, She need not be afraid. That's why it's so important to be steadfast in the Word. Paul insists that he declares the whole counsel of God, not just the parts people want to hear. The whole counsel, even the scary truths about the world, even the Law that condemns each sinner. The whole counsel calls us not to seek help and hope in that which cannot stand, but in that which gives the inheritance, and so gives true comfort. Yes, you are a sinner. Yes, Christ died for you. You will be near the Cross. It will hurt, but it will save. It has already defeated the enemies who scare you. These might be dark and latter days, but the Word that still builds you up gives you the inheritance that cannot be taken from you. In the Name T of Jesus. Amen. May glorious truths that we have heard, The bright sword of Your mighty Word, Spurn Satan that Your Church be strong, Bold, unified in act and song. ("Lord Jesus Christ, With us Abide" LSB 585, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

July 29, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 14:47-15:9; Acts 24:1-23 "Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (1 Samuel 15:3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Context matters, especially in the Old Testament. The Israelites weren't meant to have a king. They insisted on having one anyway, to be like all the cool nations. God warned them. If all the other nations jumped off a bridge. . . Nevertheless, they persisted. God gave King Saul as punishment to Israel. It probably doesn't feel great to be the human embodiment of punishment to an entire nation. He's in over his head. He usually tries to do the right thing, but he does it the wrong way. It's the same for us with the Law. We want good intentions to count, even though we make a mess of everything. The Amalekites had a history with Israel. They picked off the weakest of the people as they left Egypt, nipping at their heels, taking the ones who couldn't defend themselves. They were a plague upon the people of Israel that God promised Moses He would blot out. And scene: Samuel speaks to Saul. "Thus says the Lord, kill them all." And not just the men, but the women and the children, too. Also the animals. Devote everything of the Amalekites to destruction. Saul shows mercy to the Kenites. He doesn't spare the women and children, but he keeps their stuff. He kept Agag their king alive, and kept all the best animals. He wanted to use those animals as a sacrifice to the Lord. While their king watched, humiliation style. The prophet Samuel is furious. This is not what was called for. Because God doesn't glory in destruction, even of the wicked. He will not take sacrifice from the blood we spill upon each other. He doesn't want anyone devoted to destruction. He sends His Son for that, for you, for all. That is to be the sacrifice. There can be no salvation in any other place. As terrible as these things are, recognize the picture they paint. There is destruction apart from the Lord. The Amalekites insisted on not only being apart from God, but on preying upon His children. If they lived, wealthy, until age 100, what would still happen? We are given a physical picture of the spiritual condemnation apart from Jesus. He warns even as He protects His people. Don't be apart from Jesus. No sacrifice but Jesus can cover your sin, but that sacrifice has already been made for you. It is enough to save and protect you. Recognize what happens here as horrible. Being apart from Christ is horrible, but being under Him is salvation. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Not all the blood of beasts On Jewish altars slain Could give the guilty conscience peace Or wash away the stain. ("Not All the Blood of Beasts" LSB 431, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Wednesday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

July 28, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Sixth Petition Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 13:1-18; Acts 23:12-35 Lead us not into temptation. (Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Sixth Petition) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. After "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," God teaches us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation." I wonder if it's to remind us that Christian life isn't linear. You can take the Fifth Petition and run in a straight line one of two ways. The first is the idea of onward and upward. "I'm forgiven and now I build and that only goes one way. Constant improvement until perfection. Until I basically don't sin. Christian life is only measured in progress." The second is continuing straight on in what we were doing in the first place. "Since I'm forgiven, might as well keep sinning. Shall we sin that grace may abound. . . " then quick, stop reading before it says, "BY NO MEANS." Since I know I'm forgiven I'll just do whatever I want. "Don't worry about who your sins hurt, don't worry about the God who calls you to strive against those desires. Christian life is measured only in freedom to do whatever I want while yelling stuff about grace." Both are wrong. You're given this petition so you remember not just that you're forgiven, but that you're still in a bad spot. There's temptation there. So we pray, "Lead us not into temptation." It's not onward and upward or right on in sin. It's death and resurrection. Over and over. We are constantly in need of the Cross' forgiveness, and constantly strive to live in the resurrection's freedom from sin. We constantly beg to be free from temptation because we're constantly falling into it. It's war against old Adam, but it's fought in Christ, not in you. So even while we pray, we find comfort that He already won the victory. There is no comfort in beating the drum of the Law or in claiming that your actions should have no consequences while everything else falls apart because you keep doing dumb stuff. There is comfort in the Lord who tempts no one. 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. We pray that we would see the victory we already have in Christ and cling to Him until we see it face to face. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lead not into temptation, Lord, Where our grim foe and all his horde Would vex our souls on ev'ry hand. Help us resist, help us to stand Firm in the faith, a mighty host, Through comfort of the Holy Ghost. (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above" LSB 766, st.7) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch