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Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

April 29, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-20 Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 17:1-16; Luke 10:23-42 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The forgiveness of sins is not permission to sin. The Holy Spirit teaches us through Peter that we are not to go along with sin. Christians easily get confused. "But if we are daily to return to our Baptisms by confessing our sin, how can we not sin?" In other words, it sounds like God's Word is saying, "Don't sin!" AND "Confess your sins every day because you do sin!" God's Word is not contradicting itself. We sin out of the weakness of our sinful nature. No matter how hard you try, you will feel the weakness of your flesh, because sin is always there and that means that you sin every day. This, however, is not the same as following sin and treating it as your master, because you have a new Master: Jesus! He has forgiven your sins. In other words, there is a vast difference between feeling, confessing, resisting, and battling sin on the one hand versus going along with sin, deliberately living in it, and permitting it to control your life. These two could not be more different. If sin controls us, we excuse it and go along with it, saying, "That's just the way I am." If Christ controls us, then we hate sin, are in pain over it, and fight it, so that when we do sin, we never excuse it, but confess it. The difference is night and day. Thus, as Christians we listen to Peter and "abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul." But how? Return to Christ who took your sin. Return to your Holy Baptism, when you died in Christ, so that when sin comes knocking on your door to tempt you, you can answer by saying, "That sinner doesn't live here anymore because He died with Jesus!" Then go forth following in Jesus, and when you do sin, don't laugh it off, but come running back to Jesus who on the Cross heaped it on Himself to cover it with His blood. Rejoice! You are a sojourner and exile as you travel through this world of sin. You don't belong to sin, you belong to Jesus and His Kingdom, so when you're tempted to sin, get back to your real Master! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. LORD Jesus Christ, in Your deep compassion You rescue us from whatever may hurt us. Teach us to love You above all things and to love our neighbors as ourselves; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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The Third Sunday after Trinity

June 20, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

Today's Reading: Luke 15: 1-10 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 22:22-23:12; John 18:15-20 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." (Luke 15:1,2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There are two groups of people drawing near to Jesus. Jesus loves them both. The tax collectors and sinners (TC&S) have been alienated from God because of their sin but Jesus has called them. He has forgiven their sins and they rejoice in His grace. The Pharisees and scribes (P&S) are also there. They love the Old Testament. They know that Jesus is a great teacher, but they don't understand that He is the Son of God, the Messiah promised in the Law and the prophets. The P&S see Jesus eating with the TC&S. They fear that Jesus is condoning their sins. This fear makes them angry at Jesus. But Jesus isn't condoning their actions. He's forgiving their sins. He will pay for them by dying on the Cross. Their sins will be cleansed by His blood--and so will the sins of the P&S. The death of Christ is the only source of forgiveness in the whole world, but thankfully, it's available to all! Jesus wants the TC&S and the P&S to live together as one flock, one family in God. In these parables, He teaches them (and us) how to be one Church. The TC&S are the lost sheep and the lost coin. Jesus is the One who searches for them. If He doesn't find them, they will perish. The driving force of each of these parables is the great desire of the person searching for the lost thing. After the One who searches finds the missing treasure, He calls His friends and neighbors together. They're invited to rejoice with Him. But do they rejoice? The text doesn't give their response. Will the P&S join to celebrate with Jesus that He has found the people who were lost? Or will they stand in stony silence? Dear friend, remember two things. One: Jesus rejoices that He has found you, and you are His through repentance and faith. Two: Jesus also rejoices over the other people whom He rescues. Join Him in His joy, no matter what sins you or they have done. What Christ washes away is cleansed in truth. Christ makes you all one holy Church! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus sinners doth receive; Oh, may all this saying ponder Who in sin's delusions live and from God and heaven wander! Here is hope for all who grieve: Jesus sinners doth receive. ("Jesus Sinners Doth Receive" LSB 609, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Saturday of the Second Week after Trinity

June 19, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Ware

Today's Reading: Introit for the Third Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 25:1-2a, 5b, 15, 20: antiphon: vs. 16, 18) Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 22:1-21; John 18:1-14 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (From the Introit for the Third Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday (Luke 15:1-10), we hear about how the tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to hear Jesus. These were people who had done things that were truly wrong. They'd harmed people in their families, their community, and their congregations. They could not fix the hurt they had caused. People looked down on them because of the pain they'd caused. But Jesus welcomed them. He forgave their sins and healed their shame. They had sinned, but Jesus had taken those sins away. They could trust Christ to be their strength and their comfort. Our Introit for this coming Sunday is from Psalm 25. It describes faith in God from the perspective of one who depends on God to forgive his sins and heal his shame. It gives words so the heart can understand the kind of love that God alone can give. God gives this welcoming love to you. This psalm is given to you so you can pray it back to God. Your heart cries out to Him, "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins" (Psalm 25:1,2a). Christ Jesus is the kind of Savior who hears you and turns to you in grace. Jesus finds you lonely and afflicted and comforts you. He comes to you in your isolation when you've let down the people you love and let yourself down. He comes to you in the desolate place where your own thoughts about yourself are even more harsh than the things your worst enemies could say about you. He speaks another Word in that maelstrom of guilt and shame. Jesus speaks peace. He speaks forgiveness. He speaks love. And what He speaks is truly yours. Christ alone has the power to give this to you. He is God Almighty. His love isn't yours on condition of doing better. It's not yours because you will try harder to be good. No. He just plain forgives you. He loves you. He brings peace to you. And no one else can. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Perverse and foolish oft I strayed But yet in love He sought me And on His shoulder gently laid And home rejoicing brought me. ("The King of Love My Shepherd Is" LSB 709, st.3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the Second Week after Trinity

June 18, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Ware

Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 20:5-25; John 17:1-26 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:10) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.The world can be a confusing place for people of any age. You're introduced to opinions and ideas all the time. How can you evaluate them and embrace what is wise and reject what's wrong? How do you apply the wisdom of God to real life? The book of Proverbs is an ideal help--full of practical statements about how to live in a godly way. The more you ponder and remember them, the more the Holy Spirit uses them to guide you. Look at our reading for today. There are 15 verses. They're short and to the point. Some speak to the same topic, like verses 10, 17, and 23. They teach you that God values honesty. He notices even small business transactions to make sure they are just, and because God values justice, you can look to Him when you're wronged. Verses 18 and 25 teach you to contemplate what you should say so you don't speak rashly. Verse 13 teaches you to be diligent and work hard. Verse 19 warns you to watch out for people who repeat things that are told to them in confidence. If they tell you the secrets of others, they will tell other people your confidences, too. Verse 20 tells you how much God pays attention to the Fourth Commandment. Honor your father and mother, that it may be well with you. Then it flips the coin to show you the other side. Those who curse their mother and father will have their lights snuffed out and be in darkness. Verse 7 is related to that. A righteous man who walks in integrity passes a blessing on to his children. Give thanks to God for righteous parents who love God's Word. Strive to be a blessing to others as they have been to you. But remember verse 9! No one can say that they have made their heart pure. No one can say they are clean from sin by their own deeds. Not you. Not your parents. Not your pastor or teacher. The most important wisdom is that Jesus forgives your sins by grace. We repent daily of our sins, daily He cleanses us, and daily He leads us in wisdom and love. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate our study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch