Thursday of Septuagesima

February 4, 2021 • Pastor Jacob Ehrhard

Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5 Daily Lectionary: Job 1:1-22; John 1:1-18 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God's work is all wet. In the beginning, God's Spirit was over the waters and through the water He made the earth (2 Peter 3:5). Water flooded the earth's wickedness away and delivered faithful Noah. Water marked the beginning and end of Israel's forty years of wandering and a pillar of it, in the form of a cloud, led them in the desert. God quenched their thirst with water from a rock. The sea and the cloud were a kind of baptism for Israel. Their baptism, though, was a baptism into Moses. Shortly after passing through the water, God passed His Law on to His people through His prophet Moses. The Law distinguished this people as those who had no other gods, who did not misuse His Name, who kept the Sabbath Day holy, who loved their neighbors as themselves. But a Moses-baptism isn't enough. This is not because God's water is ineffective, or even, God forbid, because His Word is powerless. It's just. . . incomplete. God's people rebelled, they turned away. They dried out, like a seed planted in rocky soil. To the Law must be added the promise. Israel had a promise of a new life in a new land, but they kept looking over their shoulders with nostalgia, and they tried to make their new lives like their old lives. As a solution, God does one final thing with water. He gives a new Baptism, not just with water, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). The Baptism of Jesus is a Baptism of death for the purpose of resurrection. No more looking over your shoulder. Instead, look ahead and see the pierced hand of Jesus pulling you out of the water to a new life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Baptismal waters cover me; Christ's wounded hand has set me free. Held in my Father's strong embrace, With joy I praise Him for His grace. ("Baptismal Waters Cover Me" LSB 616, st. 5)

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: The Apostles Creed, Second Article, pt.1 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 10:11-36; Luke 16:19-31 And [I believe] in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our LORD, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. (Small Catechism: Apostles Creed, Second Article) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What does this mean? "I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my LORD," the explanation says. It is properly said that justification, God's declaring us righteous in His sight on account of Christ, is the central article or teaching of the Christian faith. It's true. It is incredibly important, but if someone does not know the person of Christ, WHO He is, then even the teaching on justification will be off. This first part of the Second Article of the Creed is super-duper important. We must believe, teach, and confess, and trust and rely upon in our hearts and souls, the fact that Jesus is true 100% God and true 100% man. Everything of the Christian faith rests on this truth. Fourth-century Church father Gregory of Nazianzus wonderfully and accurately taught: "Whatever Christ did not become [or take onto Himself], He did not redeem." In other words, Jesus had to be as human as you are, taking your place, in order to save you. He had to wrap Himself in real human flesh with a real human brain and a real human soul. And because He was really human like you He was able to be your substitute in the eyes of God. There is no negotiating here. Jesus is either completely a human being like us or He is not. Thank God that He was, and still is, but there's more. If He is merely fully human, and not fully God then our justification would still be in trouble. Thank God that He is also 100% God. As a result, He had the divine right and authority not only to take our place so that His life, suffering, death, and resurrection could be counted as ours, but also to forgive the sins of all people of all time. He can because He is truly God. Our Christology confesses that Jesus is true God and true man! Praise Him! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, You are the strength of all who trust in You, and without Your aid we can do no good thing. Grant us the help of Your grace that we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Friedrich Wyneken, Pastor and Missionary

May 6, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 23:1-22; Luke 12:13-34 And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. . . Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:22, 32) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Rev. Friedich Wyneken was driven to spread the saving Gospel of the LORD Jesus Christ. He is a tremendous example to us of someone who lived out the Great Commission of our LORD. He arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, from Germany in 1838 and then went westward to expand the Kingdom. He labored intensely and realized he needed help, so he returned to Germany to ask for it. He came back to America with more pastors to not only reach the many Germans coming to America, but also to reach Native Americans. As the need for pastors increased, he became a co-founder of a practical seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and later returned to the East Coast to serve as a congregational pastor. The LORD, however, increased his service as he became the second president of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. It is hard to imagine all the challenges that Pastor Wyneken faced during his lifetime, especially as the country was headed towards civil war, but today's lectionary from Luke's Gospel gives us a good indication of what energizes such servants. When we know Christ as our Savior, then we also know that He is almighty and all compassionate. We can trust Him when He bids us not to be anxious. He really will provide for all our needs as we walk faithfully in our God-given vocations. Furthermore, we can continually take stock that no matter the hardships, the LORD has told us why we never need fear: "for it is the Father's good pleasure to give [us, we who are baptized into Jesus] the kingdom." And with the kingdom of God granted to us, we will also have all that we need in order to accomplish what God has put before us to do. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. LORD Jesus Christ, You want all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. We give You thanks for sending Friedrich Wyneken as missionary and pastor in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan to evangelize the Native Americans in these states, to be a founder of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, and to serve as second president of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Protect and encourage all missionaries who confess the true faith among the nations by proclaiming Christ crucified; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 11, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: James 1:22-27 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 9:1-23; Luke 16:1-18 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Our LORD Jesus Christ did not come into the world to save ideas and beliefs. He did not come into the world to save audio presentations and visual images. "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15). I always recommend inserting ourselves at the end of this verse. We can't reduce Christ's saving work to the saving of ideas, thoughts, and words, but of sinners, and sinners are real people with real lives--they live and move and have their being (Acts 17:28). They do things, they act, they impact the lives of others and the world. Jesus came to save these real people with real lives who do real things. So what happens when such people are saved? Their real lives are impacted, not just their beliefs. James is warning us, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word [only] and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like" (James 1:24-25). When the Christian faith is only a "belief" for someone, it is only a passing thought. But this faith that God creates in us through the Word holds to a strong and mighty Christ, and Christ is so strong and mighty that He affects our very lives. How does Christ do this in us? It isn't by looking into a dumb mirror, but by looking into what James calls "the perfect law, the law of liberty" (James 1:25). This is a place in the Holy Bible where "law" does not mean strict convicting law, as in "Law" vs. Gospel. Here the word "law" refers to the WORD, and especially the Gospel! What is the only thing that gives you liberation from the bonds of your sin? The powerful Gospel of Christ! When the Gospel is yours, and your sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus, then watch out: Your faith isn't just thoughts and words, but real actions. You live for Jesus and you love those around you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O LORD, keep Your Church in Your perpetual mercy; and because without You we cannot but fall, preserve us from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now