Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week after Trinity

October 21, 2020 • Pastor Gaven Mize

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Table of Duties, Civil Government Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 20:1-20; Matthew 15:21-39 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong-doer. (Romans 13:1–4) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Christians are duty-bound to submit to the authorities placed over us. In the civil realm and the Church, our authorities are a protection and guide for us. Yes, we may look around today and wonder what in the world is going on with our political system and what is happening to our countries. "I mean, can't we all just get along?" This is where the Christian is to be wise and discerning. With our eyes we see a world that seems upside down, but that doesn't mean it has stopped being God's world. God still rules this fallen world, and we are to obey those placed over us. However, we also need to pay attention to our consciences and trust the Lord when the authorities ask us to do something contrary to God's Word. There are times we must let Scripture bind us regardless of the outcome to our bodies and freedoms. As Christ says, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17). Still we are assured that regardless of what happens to us in this world, our Baptism has sealed us to God through Christ, and He will be with us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down, Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown; O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine! Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine. ("O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" LSB 449, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

December 1, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 23:5-8 Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 7:10-8:8; 1 Peter 3:1-22 And this is the name by which he will be called: "The Lord is our righteousness." (Jeremiah 23:6) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "He certainly made a name for himself." When we say that about someone, it usually means they have made a reputation for themselves by something they have done. Well, what sort of name have you made for yourself? When others think of you, what comes to mind? Smart and intelligent? Or, not so smart and intelligent? Cool, or not cool? Friend, or foe? Good looking? Or something less flattering? Trust me, not everyone thinks of you the way you fear they do. It's just that our fears sometimes get the better of us. That happens every time we foolishly magnify, in the thinking of others, what we don't like about ourselves. Imagine my surprise when, later in life, I learned only a few thought of me the way I feared most did. I just figured I never lived up to the name or reputation I wanted for myself. Well, guess what? When it comes to the name and reputation we desire before God, you and I have something better, far more superior than ourselves going for us. We've got Jesus going for us. What's His is ours, now. That's the promise of His death for us upon the Cross. His faith. His love. His life. His righteousness. Ours, now. It's the promise God makes to us in Baptism--clothed with Christ. It's the language of the preaching of the Gospel--Jesus Christ and Him crucified for us. It's the gift given at Holy Communion, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." Luther calls the Gospel "The Blessed Exchange." Jesus gets our sin, we get His righteousness. Jesus gets our death, we get His life. So the next time the devil, the world, or even your own conscience wants to trouble you about your righteousness before God, tell them to take it up with Jesus--because Jesus, not you, is your righteousness now with God. Imagine that. The reputation we earn for ourselves, "much and daily" with our sin, forever exchanged before God with the reputation Jesus has earned for us. Perfect faith. Perfect love. Perfect life. Perfect righteousness. Don't just imagine it. Trust it. For this is the promise of the Gospel. Maybe you heard it like this last Sunday: "In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness'" (Jeremiah 23:6). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Hark the glad sound! The Savior comes, the Savior promised long; Let every heart prepare a throne, And every voice a song. ("Hark the Glad Sound" LSB 349, st. 1)

St. Andrew, Apostle

November 30, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: John 1:35-42a Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 6:1-7:9; 1 Peter 2:13-25 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah." (John 1:40-41a) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You can tell Andrew and Peter are brothers. Peter always seems to speak first and think later. True to family form, Andrew blurts out, "We have found the Messiah!" Oh, really? Andrew did not find Jesus. The Gospel is this: Jesus found Andrew. Jesus travelled where Andrew travelled. Jesus walked where Andrew walked. He breathed where Andrew breathed, He lived where Andrew lived. Anything less, and Andrew never would have "found the Messiah." He found Jesus only when Jesus came to where he was and gave Himself to Andrew. It's no different for us. In Baptism, Jesus finds us right where we are-- where we walk, breathe, and live--and gives Himself to us, placing His Name on us, His righteousness on us, washing all our sin away. In the Gospel that is spoken to us in Absolution and sermons, Jesus is still walking where we walk, is still living and breathing where we do--speaking all our sin out of existence by the power of the Word by which He once called everything into existence. And at His Supper Jesus still travels right where we travel, still eats where we eat, putting into our mouths the promise of His sacrifice for us upon the Cross, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." The blind do not see, the lost do not find, and the sinner does not find or choose for himself a Savior. That's just not the Gospel. The Gospel is this: Jesus seeks; Jesus finds; Jesus chooses; Jesus saves. That is the promise of the Gospel, the faith St. Andrew would eventually grow into. St. Andrew's Feast is always the first feast in the Church's new year, which begins every First Sunday in Advent. Fitting, for Andrew was the first apostle Jesus called. Fitting, also, for Andrew would taste death himself by way of a cross. In fact, as the cross on which he would be martyred for the Gospel came into view, Andrew cried out, "Hail, precious cross, you who were dedicated by the body of Christ; may He receive me through you, who redeemed me through you." In that cry, Andrew teaches us the promise of the Gospel: By His arrival and by His Cross, Jesus has found even us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, by Your grace the Apostle Andrew obeyed the call of Your Son to be a disciple. Grant us also to follow the same Lord Jesus Christ in heart and life, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Feast of St. Andrew)

The First Sunday in Advent

November 29, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: Matthew 21:1-9 Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 5:1-25; 1 Peter 2:1-12 Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey. (Matthew 21:4) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. He is coming! That's what the word Advent means. But, who is coming? Our God and King, of course. Is that necessarily good news? After all, why is He coming? Fear not. In fact, all such fear over His arrival and His mission among us will be silenced at His birth when the angel announces, "Do not be afraid." But even now our fears begin to wane as He arrives every First Sunday in Advent "humble, and mounted on a donkey…a beast of burden." Yes, Jesus is our God and King. Why so "humble"? That's the Good News. Jesus arrives "humble" because He is arriving for us, for every one of us, to bear our sin and be our Savior. Jesus arrives lowly because He is coming for all who have been laid low by sin. He arrives "humble" because, in fulfillment of God's Word, He is coming for all who have been humbled by sin. No sinner excluded. The burden of your guilt, the beast of your judgment, will all be upon Jesus now as He suffers and dies for you on the Cross. It's why the Father has prepared a body for His Son (Hebrews 10:5), soon to be born for you and me of the Virgin Mary. By the death of our own God and King upon the Cross, we will all be declared holy in God's sight--His children, forgiven of all our sins, heirs now to eternal life. It's such an amazing promise; who would dare believe in it? God knows this fear of ours. It's why He is always speaking to it by how He sends us Jesus. In the past, to accomplish our salvation, God sent Him "humble, and mounted on a donkey." In the present, to deliver our salvation, God sends Jesus to us in plain words spoken to us by plain pastors who deliver the promise of His Cross in every Absolution and sermon we hear from them. He sends Jesus to us in simple water that promises the same now, and also in ordinary bread and wine that promise the same now: "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." So humble. As if to say, "I got this. And I got you. Do not be afraid." That makes the children's song to our God and King ours now to sing to Jesus every Sunday: "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!" In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for the First Sunday in Advent)