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Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

July 29, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

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, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (1 Samuel 15:3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Context matters, especially in the Old Testament. The Israelites weren't meant to have a king. They insisted on having one anyway, to be like all the cool nations. God warned them. If all the other nations jumped off a bridge. . . Nevertheless, they persisted. God gave King Saul as punishment to Israel. It probably doesn't feel great to be the human embodiment of punishment to an entire nation. He's in over his head. He usually tries to do the right thing, but he does it the wrong way. It's the same for us with the Law. We want good intentions to count, even though we make a mess of everything. The Amalekites had a history with Israel. They picked off the weakest of the people as they left Egypt, nipping at their heels, taking the ones who couldn't defend themselves. They were a plague upon the people of Israel that God promised Moses He would blot out. And scene: Samuel speaks to Saul. "Thus says the Lord, kill them all." And not just the men, but the women and the children, too. Also the animals. Devote everything of the Amalekites to destruction. Saul shows mercy to the Kenites. He doesn't spare the women and children, but he keeps their stuff. He kept Agag their king alive, and kept all the best animals. He wanted to use those animals as a sacrifice to the Lord. While their king watched, humiliation style. The prophet Samuel is furious. This is not what was called for. Because God doesn't glory in destruction, even of the wicked. He will not take sacrifice from the blood we spill upon each other. He doesn't want anyone devoted to destruction. He sends His Son for that, for you, for all. That is to be the sacrifice. There can be no salvation in any other place. As terrible as these things are, recognize the picture they paint. There is destruction apart from the Lord. The Amalekites insisted on not only being apart from God, but on preying upon His children. If they lived, wealthy, until age 100, what would still happen? We are given a physical picture of the spiritual condemnation apart from Jesus. He warns even as He protects His people. Don't be apart from Jesus. No sacrifice but Jesus can cover your sin, but that sacrifice has already been made for you. It is enough to save and protect you. Recognize what happens here as horrible. Being apart from Christ is horrible, but being under Him is salvation. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Not all the blood of beasts On Jewish altars slain Could give the guilty conscience peace Or wash away the stain. ("Not All the Blood of Beasts" LSB 431, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

More from Reflections

Thursday of the 16th Week after Trinity

September 23, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Ephesians 3:13-21 Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 9:1-21; 1 Timothy 5:17-6:2 [Give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 3:20) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Well, that's a pretty big request, isn't it? We're really supposed to give thanks always and for everything? There's nothing that we shouldn't be giving thanks for? This is hard to believe, and perhaps even harder to practice. Think about all the awful things in the world! Are we really supposed to give thanks for suffering and hardship? It is easy to give thanks for money and nice stuff. But what about the difficult things? St. Polycarp, as he was being burned at the stake in the year 155, blessed the Lord and thanked Him that he was found worthy to share in the cup of Christ. He did not pray for immediate deliverance from his afflictions, but gave thanks that the Lord had already provided the escape. Quite simply, nothing can harm you if you are in Christ, not even persecution. You can give thanks for everything all the time in the Name of Jesus Christ. The key here is to give thanks in the Name of Jesus. Apart from Jesus, life is meaningless and full of suffering. Without Jesus, your life ends in death and that is that. But your life is lived in the Name of Jesus Christ. This Name was placed upon you in Holy Baptism, and Jesus goes where His Name is placed. Think about the life of Christ. His family rejected Him. He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. He was betrayed by His friend and abandoned by His disciples. He was put to death in His early 30s in the worst way possible. If that were all, it would have been a meaningless waste. But Jesus did not stay on a Cross or in a grave. He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father! So yes, you can give thanks for everything all the time, no matter what. Try it. You cannot die and you cannot be harmed. The Cross of Jesus has been given to you, and with His Cross comes resurrection. This is a difficult teaching, but so is the Cross. Yet, this is all we've been given. Give thanks. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, by the patient endurance of Your only-begotten Son You beat down the pride of the old enemy. Help us to treasure rightly in our hearts what our Lord has borne for our sakes that, after His example, we may bear with patience those things that are adverse to us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Wednesday of the 16th Week after Trinity

September 22, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Office of the Keys Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 7:1-4; 8:1-18; 1 Timothy 5:1-16 Confession has two parts. (Small Catechism: Office of the Keys) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The entirety of the Christian life, and life in general, is summed up in this little phrase: Confession has two parts. That's it! I bring my sins to Jesus and Jesus forgives me. I contribute nothing to my salvation except my sins, which are forgiven in the Name of Jesus. I bring death and Jesus brings life. We often make the mistake of thinking that our life should be lived perfectly, when really it is meant to be lived in forgiveness. I am not perfect, but Jesus Christ is, and His perfection is given to me. The Church practiced confession in a very different way prior to the Reformation. There used to be three parts to confession: contrition, confession, and penance. It was believed that you had to feel really bad about your sins, and then do something in order to earn the Absolution. Most often you would just have to say a bunch of prayers or go to church. It is even taught in some places today that you can earn Absolution simply by walking through a particular door at a particular time. We humans are very good at inventing ways to get rid of our sins, but these methods look past and away from Jesus. If my forgiveness depends on my level of feeling bad about my sins or how many prayers I can say in order to earn Absolution, I'll never feel bad enough or say enough prayers. My sins are much worse than I think they are, and the mercy of Christ is much more than I will ever truly know it to be. Make no mistake, your sins are taken away from you by Jesus. He forgives you all your sins. This is why you have a pastor. Jesus Christ wants you, personally, to know and to receive the gifts that were won on the Cross. And so He has sent you a pastor to speak for Him. When you hear your pastor pronounce forgiveness, it is as if Jesus Christ is speaking to you. Pastors aren't God, they just speak for Him. What Jesus says goes, and He says that you are forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Though great our sins, yet greater still is God's abundant favor; His hand of mercy never will abandon us, nor waver. Our shepherd good and true is He, Who will at last His Israel free from all their sin and sorrow. ("From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee" LSB 607, st.5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

September 21, 2021 • Pastor Kyle Mietzner

Today's Reading: Matthew 9:9-13 Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 5:1-16; 6:1-9, 15-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-16 "Follow me." (Matthew 9:9) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "Follow me." Two words. That's all Jesus said to Matthew. There's no complicated plan. There aren't twelve steps or even six chief parts. I've seen some schemes for salvation that seem very difficult to even interpret, what with all of the steps, stairs, and degrees. I'm fascinated by the fact that Jesus just says these two words. He doesn't explain much. The same sort of thing happened with the other disciples, too. Jesus just called them. He did tell Peter that he will be fishing for men, but even that did not reveal very much. I don't think they knew what they were getting into when Jesus called them. He just called them, and they followed. Did you know what you were getting into when Jesus called you to follow Him? Who could have known, when the water was splashed upon you and the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit placed upon your head, where this would all lead? Following Jesus might lead to persecution, trials, tribulations, and all sorts of seemingly nasty things. Following Jesus also might lead to an incredibly satisfying life lived with faithful people and family surrounding you. Or both. You really can't know. All you can know for sure is that if you follow Jesus, you will go where He has gone, and He will not leave you behind. Ultimately this means that you will follow Jesus into death and resurrection, for this is where He has already gone. You cannot be defeated. You have been called to live. Matthew got up from his tax collection booth and began to live, following Jesus. You have been called to truly live and follow Jesus, too. Who knows where it will take you? Matthew could not have known then what we know now; that he would follow Jesus, compose the first account of the life of Christ, and that millions of people would come to salvation through these words. Wherever your life in Christ takes you, it is all lived in Christ, so it will be good. Let the adventure begin! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we may also follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Son, one God now and forever. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch