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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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Thursday of the Sixteenth Week after Trinity • October 1, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 2:16-37; Matthew 6:16-34 Who receives this sacrament worthily? . . . But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words "for you" require all hearts to believe. (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, pt. 5) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If someone sketchy were to give you a sandwich, you might not want to eat it. "It's fine," they say, "I didn't spit on it or anything." If you don't believe them, you won't eat the sandwich. If Jesus says that the bread and wine are His Body and Blood, "given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," then faith's reply is to eat that bread and drink from that cup. In other words, to believe Jesus' words means we would obviously eat and drink His Gift. If we didn't believe, why would we bother? If we don't believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, why would we pretend we want a gift we don't believe in? We often hear Jesus' Supper described in a way that makes it sound like His Body and Blood are not really there. It's just a "representation" some might say, "a symbol." While that is incorrect, there's more to unbelief than simply misunderstanding Jesus' words. Unbelief means to deny who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Worthiness for the Supper does not rely on our understanding of "how" it can be His Body and Blood." If it did, no one would receive it! Rather, to deny Jesus' forgiveness is what makes us unworthy to receive His Supper. You see, Jesus doesn't want us to worry about it, be confused, or question it. The bread and wine are not His Body and Blood because we believe it. They are the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Lord and He gives them to you so that you can be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt, that His Gift is for you. The purpose of His Gift is to make sure you know and believe and never doubt that your sins are forgiven. Once again, we see that our "worthiness" isn't in what we do, but in what Jesus has already done for us. He died and rose and He gives His Supper for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free! I do believe That I receive His very body and His blood. O taste and see—the Lord is good. ("What Is This Bread" LSB 629, st. 5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture • September 30, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:37-2:15; Matthew 6:1-15 "For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing." (Deuteronomy 2:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Bible is the story of God's promise, made to a fallen world: the promise of a Savior. It tells the story of God's people through whom His only-begotten Son took on flesh in the earthly family of Abraham, Isaac, David, Judah, David, and that whole line of chosen people. The eyewitness testimony of the Gospels and the instruction and teaching of Christ delivered by the apostles means the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is about Jesus. St. Jerome was one of the early Church fathers whose great gift to the Church was the translation of the Old and New Testaments into Latin, from the Hebrew and Greek. This version of the Bible is known as the Vulgate, because it was in the "common tongue" of Latin at the time. Today the Bible is available in just about any language you can think of and if not, translators are working on it! For those who speak and read English, there are many, many translations and versions. While they differ in being more or less literal, every faithful translation will always deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ in the language in which it's written. This is a heritage and gift of Jerome. As Moses recorded the works of God among His people in the desert, looking ahead to Christ, so the prophets and apostles wrote and pointed forward or back to Jesus. So there, in the Holy Scriptures, we have the sure and certain record of God's promises to His people. We have the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus for all people of whatever language they know. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Weedon, William. Celebrating the Saints . Concordia Publishing House.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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St. Michael and All Angels • September 29, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Luke 10:17-20 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:19-36; Matthew 5:21-48 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When did Satan fall like lightning from heaven? Was it early on when he first rebelled against God and was cast down? Was it when Jesus died and cried out, "It is finished!"? Was Jesus talking about all the preaching done by the seventy men He sent out? The answer is "yes!" "Satan" means "accuser." He's the guy who tells God you don't belong with God because you're a sinner. But Jesus' death takes away our sins, so now the devil has nothing on you. No accusations. No evidence. But he still tries to slither up to heaven and tell God you can't be there. So whenever the preaching of the Gospel happens, boom! Satan is cast down like lightning. When someone is baptized, Satan gets the boot. When a Christian is absolved of her sins, the devil is sent packing. When a pastor proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus, the evil one runs away with his tail between his legs. There are angels and then there are angels. We usually think of angels as just heavenly beings we can't see who do battle with the forces of evil and protect us without our thinking about it. But the word "angel" means "messenger," so in a very real sense, your pastor is an angel. He's a messenger. And when your pastor proclaims the goodness of Jesus to you or anyone else, it's like flipping on the light in a room full of cockroaches: They scatter! So does Satan, running back to the cracks and darkness. The devil can't accuse you. Your sins and their guilt have been laid upon Jesus and paid for by Him. When Satan stands before God to tattle on you, the Lord just says, "Get out of here, liar!" And out he goes. He'll keep trying until the Last Day, but he'll never succeed, because Jesus ended those accusation with His great "It is finished!" from Calvary. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ! Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed. Now that to the font I've traveled, All your might has come unraveled, And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me. ("God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It" LSB 594, st. 3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero