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Friday of the Second Week after the Epiphany

January 22, 2021 • Pastor William K. Stottlemyer

Today's Reading: Romans 12:6-16 Daily Lectionary: Joel 2:1-17; Romans 11:1-24 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. With this simple verse, the apostle Paul is telling us how we are to live as Christians in this world. They are three straightforward phrases, yet there is a depth to them that requires us to work hard every day. Rejoice in hope is to rejoice in the things to come. Our world is falling apart. Chaos, destruction, death, decay, and sin are everywhere. We cannot escape the ravages of evil as the days draw nearer to the final day. Our human nature wants to hope in itself as we try to go our own ways. However, the truth is if we rely on ourselves, all hope is lost. The only hope we have is in the Lord Jesus Christ and the work that He did for us by His death on the Cross and by His resurrection from the grave. It is Christ's sacrifice for our sins that enables us to have hope in the days to come. It is only with this hope that we are able to be patient in all tribulation. Your life will be filled with pain, suffering, and the Cross. All who believe in Christ will suffer in this life, but the suffering we face will end. So we are to be patient, rejoicing in Christ with a sure and certain knowledge that the day will come when we will be in heaven. Being constant in prayer is the only way that we can rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation. We take everything to the Lord, speaking to God in psalms, hymns, and cries of anguish. Calling on the Lord in every trouble, we pray, praise, and give thanks to Him for His continued care, protection, and the hope that is ours by faith. Praying to God is a difficult thing, as our lives are often filled with distractions that crowd out the time we need to set aside for prayer. A Christian disciplines his body and mind, setting aside time every day to be in prayer so that the Holy Spirit might continue to direct and lead our thoughts and words into prayers that are pleasing to God. And through our prayers God reassures us of His protection and salvation. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, who by the meek endurance of Thine only-begotten Son didst beat down the pride of the old Enemy, help us we beseech Thee, rightly to treasure in our hearts what our Lord hath of His goodness born for our sakes, that after His example we may bear with patience whatsoever things are adverse to us: Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen. (The Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, The Lutheran Liturgy [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House], 246.)

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)

Saturday of the Second Week after Trinity

June 19, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

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)

Friday of the Second Week after Trinity

June 18, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn

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.