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ASL Reflections

Thursday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 30, 2020 • Pastor Joel Shaltanis

Today's Reading: The Small Catechism: Baptism Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 15:10-35; Acts 24:24-25:12 [Baptism] works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe. . . (The Small Catechism: Baptism, pt. 2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You probably have Christian friends who belong to a church that doesn't baptize infants. While these fellow Christians have much in common with us, like a high regard for Scripture and the belief that we are saved by grace, they are very far from us and from the historic teaching of the Church, and indeed, from Scripture itself on the matter of the Sacraments. What's more, these differences can get pretty heated. Those who deny God's gift of Baptism to little children may question whether your Baptism really counts, if you were baptized as a child. They may even try and tell you that you need to be baptized for real. It comes down to a question of what Baptism is and does. Is Baptism my promise to God, or God's promise to me? If Baptism is some kind of law, or something I must do for God, then we should wait until a child is old enough to understand what he or she is doing. But if Holy Baptism is of the Gospel, then it is a gift from God and we dare not withhold it from children. Lutherans understand that Baptism is pure Gospel. It is God's gift and promise to us. As Luther states in the catechism, "It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare." This is not merely Martin Luther's opinion, it is what the Bible teaches. Baptism forgives sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16). It clothes us with Christ's righteousness (Galatians 3:27). It unites us to Christ and to His death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:11-12). Baptism sanctifies, making us holy (1 Peter 3:21, Titus 3:5-8, Ephesians 5:26). The action is all from God to us. He is active and we are passive. There is no reason at all to question whether your Baptism counts. You have received from God a wonderful blessing. Through Holy Baptism you have been rescued from death and the devil and united to Christ and His resurrection. Don't question, but rather, rejoice in your Baptism and trust the One who gave it to you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. All Christians who have been baptized, Who know the God of heaven, And in whose daily life is prized – The name of Christ once given: Consider now what God has done, The gifts He gives to everyone – Baptized into Christ Jesus! ("All Christians Who Have Been Baptized" LSB 596, st.1)

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday in Lent (Psalm 25: 1-2a, 7-8, 11; antiphon: v. 6, 2b, 22) Daily Lectionary: Genesis 15:1-21; Mark 5:21-43 "Remember Your mercy, O Lord, and Your steadfast love. . . Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions." (Psalm 25:6, 2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God knows everything. Everything. Absolutely everything. About you. He is omniscient. His omniscience includes each and every single thing you've ever done, ever said, ever thought. He knows all the deep dark reasons for why you do what you do, why you did what you did. Oh, yeah. And His omniscience includes every thought, word, and action you will do! What does He remember? Everything. What can He forget? Nothing. What does He forget? Everything! That's the Good News of Jesus. In Jesus, your sins aren't overlooked, they aren't swept under the rug, and they aren't just forgotten. They're better than all that. They're forgiven. They're blood-shed for. They're died for. They're risen for. There's no reason for you to be afraid of what you've thought, said, or done. There's no reason to try and cover up by doing more good. It doesn't matter how you've let people down, let your family down, let God down, let yourself down. You don't have to make up for it to your God. There might be some worldly consequences, but not eternal ones. God's mercy and steadfast love are eternal--the blood of Jesus on the cross "securing eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12). Now, the God who knows everything in Jesus doesn't know your sins! You are only in Jesus, only washed in His blood, only Absolved by His blood, only fed with His Body and Blood. Outside of Jesus and His blood, you're left with your sins. Making up for them, a debt never to be repaid. But in Jesus your sins are forgiven. Jesus died for them, shed His blood for them, and only in His blood, by faith in His blood, are you redeemed, bought back, saved. Only in Jesus does an omniscient God not know something because Jesus, eternal Son of the Father, is the all-knowing God who doesn't know everything. Not just the day or the hour of His return, but also, thanks be to God, your sins! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If my sins give me alarm And my conscience grieve me, Let Your cross my fear disarm; Peace of conscience give me. Help me see forgiveness won By Your holy passion. If for me He slays His Son, God must have compassion! ("Jesus, I Will Ponder Now" LSB 440, st.5)

Friday of the First Week of Lent

February 26, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 13:1-18; Mark 5:1-2 Abram called on the name of Yahweh there. . . He built an altar there to Yahweh. (Genesis 13:4, 18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Abraham cherished the Third Commandment. He rejoiced in what the Lord had done to save him from believing in the fake gods of Ur. Though Abraham believed in Yahweh, he also had other gods. Better to be on the safe side. But the LORD had promised Abraham. Eventually the LORD brought Abraham out of Ur, out of his mixed-up faith, and brought him into Canaan. The Lord would keep His promise, one He didn't just make to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob after him. No, the Lord would keep His promise that He made to Adam and Eve: "Her Seed will crush [the serpent's] head" (Genesis 3:15). It's because of that promise that Yahweh saved Noah from the flood, promised Abraham, "in you all families of the earth shall be blessed," and it's because of that first Gospel promise that Yahweh renamed him from Abram to Abraham! Adam preached to Seth, Noah preached to Shem, Abraham preached to Isaac, and everyone in between and since! That's what the Third Commandment is all about! Rejoicing and receiving the Lord's promises and salvation. It's not about checking a box off in your to-do list, though you should add going to church to that list. Calling on the Name of the Lord, the altar, is all about Jesus for you. For there we see that Jesus and His Father rule the universe so that we have a place to hear His Word, to listen to sermons, to eat and drink the Supper of His Body and Blood. Someone built the church you worship at. Someone constructed the altar and pulpit and lectern. There's a guy there to preach to you. The Lord worked that all out for you, down to what's delivered there! Jesus died and risen--right time, right generation after Abraham. Just like Abraham built that altar to rejoice in the Lord who saved him, so also was your church built. Hearing about Jesus, Yahweh saves, is just what Abraham preached and rejoiced in. For Abraham, that Jesus was some 2,000 years later, for you, that Jesus was some 2,000 years ago. But wherever the Lord's altar is, wherever there's calling on His Name, there He is with you, ust as He was with Abraham. In fact, Abraham's rejoicing right there with you! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us. Th'altar recalls Christ's sacrifice And what His Supper here gives us. Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, And evermore, our Redeemer. ("Built on the Rock" LSB 645, st.4)

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

February 25, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: The Fifth Commandment Daily Lectionary: Genesis 11:27-12:20; Mark 4:21-41 You shall not murder. (Small Catechism: The Fifth Commandment) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Love creates life. We know this because God is love and created life. He created us in order to bless us, to give us gifts, and to save us. That's God's eternal plan. To love, to create, to save. That's how God is toward you, me, and all people. We like life, too, especially our own. Others? Not so much. Sure, we don't like murderers running around. We're against abortion and mercy killings. Letter of the Law. But we're also against bullying and abuse. Spirit of the Law. And our anger and bitterness towards those around us? Let's not talk about that. Doesn't our being against abortion make up for our grudges? Besides that, we're more concerned about the Fifth Commandment when it comes to us. We don't want people to kill us. But our neighbor in physical need--hungry, naked, thirsty, homeless, poor--well, we turn a blind eye. Serves them right for their choices. Ouch. We sometimes think that, don't we? The Lord created life to give gifts. And He's given you as a gift to your neighbor to care for them, protect them, love them, defend them, preserve their life. They are more important than you are. Them first. No saving your own neck first. Jesus comes for all the ways we put ourselves first. For all our anger, bitterness, lack of forgiveness--murder in our hearts! For all the ways we do protect life--good gifts--but only to balance out our other sins, Jesus comes. Jesus trades places with murders. The Author of Life is murdered by sinners in order to save them. Love itself suffers insults. He puts His life on the line for you, so that you would receive His unending life--life into your mouth (forgiveness of sins) with His lifeblood and life-body. You are saved, not because you defend the life of others, but because Jesus gave His life for you. This life He gives to you in His Word and Gifts so that you'd spend it on others. And when you mess up? Take heart. Look at Barabbas. Jesus swapped places with him--murderer! He's swapped places with you, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. They rise and needs will have My dear Lord made away; A murderer they save, The Prince of Life they slay. Yet cheerful He To suff’ring goes That He His foes From thence might free. ("My Song is Love Unknown" LSB 430, st.5)