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Saturday of the Last Week

November 28, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Introit for the First Sunday in Advent (Psalm 25:4-5, 21-22; antiphon: v.1-3a) Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 2:1-22; 1 Peter 1:13-25 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. (From the Introit for the First Sunday in Advent) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You need the Lord to do this for you. You can't do it on your own. You can't know His ways, unless He makes them known. You can't get to Him unless He shows you the way. You can't have life unless He enlivens you. You can't escape the lie unless He shows you the truth. This is what the Triune God does for you. Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6) for "no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27). "No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). "No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3). We don't like that. We like to be our own people, do things our way. We're always trying to put something back on us, some little thing we have to do. That's just the original sin, where we try to be like God. WE have to do something, even something really small, right? No. He saves us. Jesus is your Savior, sent from His Father to redeem you. The Spirit creates faith within you so that you would believe it. He creates this faith through the preaching of the Gospel and the delivery of the Sacraments. He makes you alive, even when you were dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2; Colossians 2). This happened through Holy Baptism. Jesus strengthens His new life within you through the forgiveness of sins in the Supper, for there He remains in you and you in Him. You will then bear much fruit and He will raise you up on the Last Day (John 6; John 15:54, 56). Through the preaching of His Word--Law and Gospel--the Spirit does this. In this way Jesus' Father is your vinedresser, in that "every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:2). We ask God to show us His paths, teach us His Law, work within us the cherishing and doing of His commandments because if He doesn't, we won't. But He does do it. He will do it. Repent of your trying to do it for Him. He will do it for you. You're baptized. Tomorrow you will receive all the more His working FOR YOU in the Absolution, the Word, the preaching, and the Supper of Jesus' Body and Blood, and then He will do all the more doing through you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The Second Sunday in Lent

February 28, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Matthew 15:21-28 Daily Lectionary: Genesis 16:1-9, 15-17:22; Mark 6:1-13 "I wasn't sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Brutal words from Jesus. After giving this poor woman the silent treatment, this is what He says. Well, do you believe Jesus' Word or not? Who did He come for? Who does He come to save? This silent treatment from Jesus seems to suggest it was not for her. What about you? Did He come for you? Does He want to come to save you? What if something bad happens to someone you love? Where's Jesus then? At those times Jesus probably couldn't have spoken truer words than, "I wasn't sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." We think we're excluded by Jesus at those times. Because, after all, you and I aren't Israelites, and neither was that woman. She was a Syro-Phoenician, from the region of Tyre and Sidon. Who does Jesus come to and for? Does it include this Gentile dog woman? What about you? Oh, most certainly yes. After all, "not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" (Romans 9:6).This woman's faith is in Jesus, fully, solely, only in Him. He of course came FOR her, TO her, otherwise, why else would He come TO the region of Tyre and Sidon. Faith says, whenever and wherever Jesus shows up, He's showing up for me, to save me. And faith always confesses and says, "Yes" and "Amen," to whatever the Lord says. "It's not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs get crumbs." Great faith! Great Jesus! Master Jesus. Lord Jesus. Savior Jesus. "Her daughter was healed that very hour." Jesus comes, faith gathers. Jesus is silent, faith prays. Jesus speaks, faith says, "Yes, Amen." You're a dog. Yes, Lord. You're a sinner. Yes, Lord. I baptize you. Amen. I forgive you. Amen. Eat and drink this my Body and Blood for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Yes, Lord. Amen. There's no reason to think that Jesus is not there for you. That's not the Jesus you have. You're part of Israel by trusting Jesus. Faith gathers to Jesus, receives all from Him as gift. There's no other reason for Him to show up except to save YOU. You can ask that woman--and her daughter!--all about that in the resurrection. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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)