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Thursday of the First Week of Advent

December 3, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: Romans 13:11-14 Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 9:8-10:11; 1 Peter 5:1-14 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. (Romans 13:11) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "Besides this," writes Paul. Besides what? Paul had just written, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (13:10). "Besides this…the hour has come for you to wake from sleep." The old Adam within always thinks the Law is about himself, his own goodness and righteousness, making his own way to God, who is so undecided about any of us. Such sleepiness! No, the Law is about our neighbor. And "Don't hurt him!" is its fulfilling. Paul knows what we are really like on the inside. Earlier he wrote our "feet are swift to shed blood," "ruin and misery" are "in their paths," that no one knows "the way of peace" (Romans 5:15-17). Guilty as charged. I don't want to give, I want to take. I don't want to sacrifice, I want others to sacrifice. I don't want to yield, I want to control. I'd rather you serve me than I serve you. Everyone's that way (Romans 3:19-20). See yourself on the Cross, then, because having been born for you, that is what Jesus became when He suffered and died for you on the Cross. He became you. Every one of you. No sinner, no sin left out. And by Jesus' death for you on the Cross, God has forever redeemed you, has forever declared you holy in His sight. You carry that promise with you now every day in your Baptism. In fact, Baptism promises that as the Last Day approaches, the fulfillment of our salvation also approaches. For we have a heavenly Father now who spends every day with us, calling us His own, loading us with benefits (Psalm 68:19). Why, He even has us engraved on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:10). What more do we need? So, instead of seeing yourself, see your neighbor as the subject of the Law. Learn to love him according to the works that are given you to do for him. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14) is simply to say, live every day now in the power and promise of your Baptism. You don't need to take, be in control, or be served all the time. You have Jesus serving you all the time, now, which means your salvation is even a little closer to you now than when this devotion first began. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The night will soon be ending; The dawn cannot be far. Let songs of praise ascending Now greet the Morning Star! All you whom darkness frightens With guilt or grief or pain, God's Radiant Star brightens and bids you sing again. ("The Night Will Soon Be Ending" LSB 337, st.1)

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Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 15, 2021 • Pasto Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter Daily Lectionary: Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33; Luke 18:1-17 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me. Alleluia. (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. One of the mysteries of the faith is that the LORD is a God who hides Himself. Isaiah 45:15 teaches, "Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior." He does it because people seek Him out of selfish motives. Jesus told people not to tell others that He was the Messiah. After Peter correctly confessed that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus "strictly charged [the disciples] to tell no one about him" (Mark 8:30). Jesus said this because so many people wanted to turn Him into an earthly king. So once again: God hides Himself when people seek Him for all the wrong reasons. The psalmist in Psalm 27 is not seeking God for the wrong reasons, but for the right reasons. He is in distress, so He cries aloud (vs.7a). He does not come to God in pride, but in humility; He does not come to tell God what to do, but comes seeking God's help (vs.8b). He seeks God's face for salvation (vs.1), and He seeks God's way to be his way (vs.11a). Again, he sought God out for all the right reasons. For these reasons, the psalmist is bold and right to pray to God to break out of His way of hiding Himself. The psalmist has strong faith in God's love and mercy in Christ to pray, "Your face, LORD, do I seek; hide not your face from me" (vs.8b-9a). We should have the same faith and attitude towards God. Why? Because Jesus has made it plain to us that He came for sinners who know they need Him, for people who seek Him for all the right reasons. For those given faith, like YOU, Jesus reveals God as the merciful God, as the God of love. For you, God does not hide Himself, but has sent His Son so that you will know how to find Him every time--through His Son! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Teach me your way, O LORD. . . Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen." (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday after Easter) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 14, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

Today's Reading: Acts 1:1-11 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:24-29; 12:1-16; Luke 17:20-37 [Jesus] said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No one knows when Jesus will come again in glory on the Last Day. Only God knows. Over the centuries many so-called "Christian" teachers have claimed to know when the Last Day would be. But the LORD Jesus said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons [regarding the Last Day]." So whenever we hear someone going on about knowing when the Last Day will be, we must instantly conclude that they are a false teacher and not listen to their teaching. This is consistent with other things our LORD taught. For example, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34). If any wisdom will keep us safe about Last Day predictions, then Matthew 6:34 is it. We have enough to focus on for today,especially since today is all we know we have on this earth! Luke in Acts 1 continues to teach us. The LORD Jesus before He ascended, led His disciples to anticipate the coming and pouring out of the Holy Spirit which happened at Pentecost for them and at your Baptism for you. Once we have received the Holy Spirit and His gift of faith worked in us through Holy Baptism, then what? Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8b). So get back to when you were given the Holy Spirit at your Holy Baptism. Return to your Baptism every day. You have died with Christ and now you live with Him. And do whatever He has put in front of you to do. Befriend those around you. Get to know them and love them, and don't worry about when the Last Day will be. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. LORD Jesus, Your kingdom continues to be in our midst as You come to us now through holy water, holy words, and holy food. Help us to see that Your kingdom is a kingdom of suffering, but that through suffering, we will be prepared to enter into glory when You return on that final day; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

The Ascension of Our Lord

May 13, 2021

Today's Reading: Luke 24:44-53 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:1-23, 31-35; Luke 17:1-19 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him. (Luke 24:51-52a) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. People easily get the wrong idea about the ascension of our LORD, which occurred 40 days after the resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost. The popular and wrong understanding is that Jesus was putting distance between Himself and us. With this false idea, then, Pentecost becomes a kind of "replacement theology" in which the Holy Spirit replaces Jesus on earth. In fact, just the opposite is the case. The ascension was a glorious event demonstrating Jesus' unlimited power. The ascension showed that nothing could ever interfere with Jesus' ability to be closer to us than ever before. But the disciples did see Him ascend, right? Yes, they did, but Jesus did not permit this to imply that He would be limited, but rather to demonstrate power and authority, to show that the One ascending to heaven is unlimited. In other words, Jesus "sitting at the right hand of God the Father" in heaven is not a restricted physical location. Rather, it means that Jesus reigns everywhere, fully present with His people at all times and in all places. The ascension proves the LORD has power to be closer to you than ever. Jesus knew the amazing gift that would result after the ascension. He once said to His disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). The ascension means that Jesus has kept this promise, and has the ability to make His home with those baptized into His life, death, and resurrection. One more thing: Notice what the disciples did when Jesus ascended. The Word says, "And they worshipped him" (Luke 24:52a). To say that Christ is with us isn't just something we tell ourselves to feel religious. The disciples experienced the ascended LORD's reign as they worshipped Him. As we worship Him we, too, receive His Word and Sacrament. In this way we also experience His ascension power: He's right there with us, putting His Word into our ears, and putting His Body and Blood into our mouths. Ascension means that Christ has kept His Word to never leave us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our LORD Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Ascension of Our Lord) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch