Today's Reading: Small Catechism: The Apostles Creed, First Article, pt.3 Daily Lectionary: Leviticus 23:23-44; Luke 12:35-53 All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true. (Small Catechism: The Apostles' Creed, First Article) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes Lutheran Christians can get bashful when it comes to talking about the new life we have in our Risen Savior and the resultant good works which follow. Luther wasn't bashful as he discussed faith and what must come from faith: "Faith, however, is a divine work in us that changes us and makes us to be born anew of God. . . It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them." It is therefore not surprising that when Luther wrote the explanation to the Creed, he expressed what should come from us in response to the grace of God: "It is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him." Did Luther actually say, "serve and obey [God]?" Yes, He did! The amazing free grace of God in Christ which is responsible for all our First Article gifts: iPhone, clothes, games, bed, the transportation that gets us from point A to point B, and the food we eat (we could go on all day) comes from our heavenly Father's good and merciful heart toward us in Christ. The Father's wonderful grace, by the Holy Spirit's urging and enabling us through the powerful Word and Sacraments of Christ, leads us to serve and obey God. It's that simple. But don't we still battle the sinful nature? Of-course we do, but that battle does not cancel the new movements of the Holy Spirit in us responding to our Father's outpouring of His goodness and mercy. In fact, the new life is more prominent than the old precisely on account of God's goodness and mercy for us. So, the apostle John recorded, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). But why do we want to? We do so in response to God's "divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me." In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Merciful LORD, cleanse and defend Your Church by the sacrifice of Christ. United with Him in Holy Baptism, give us grace to receive with thanksgiving the fruits of His redeeming work and daily follow in His way; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
May 5, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa
The Second Sunday after Trinity
June 13, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn
Today's Reading: Luke 14:15-24 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 13:1-25; John 14:18-31 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" (Luke 14:15) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The LORD is our God who has created us. He provides all that we need to support this body and life--in the Lord's Prayer, we call this "our daily bread." The LORD our God redeemed us from sin and death. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). We need our daily bread in order to survive physically in this world. We need Christ, the Living Bread, to have peace with God in this world and eternal life in the next. In the Lord's Supper, our daily bread and the Living Bread come to us at the same moment. Jesus gave us the Sacrament so that we eat and drink His Body and Blood under the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins. This feast lasts forever. Christ gives it to His Church, and by His grace we will partake with Him at the marriage feast of the Lamb, which will never end (Revelation 19:9). Who could possibly number the blessings God gives us in the Lord's Supper? A person at the table in our reading today said, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" But Jesus responded with a warning we all need to hear. Most people in this world will reject the invitation to eat bread in the kingdom of God because they are too concerned about their lives in this world. People give excuses why they won't come to church or partake of the Supper. The things that distract them aren't bad, but they have made them more important than God, and that is bad. They forfeit a relationship with God, the giver of all good things. They don't care about the Giver, but they only want the gifts. So many people leave the best gift God gives on the table. Lord, keep us in your grace and call back to your feast those who have wandered. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, since You never fail to help and govern those whom You nurture in Your steadfast fear and love, work in us a perpetual fear and love of Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Saturday of the First Week after Trinity
June 12, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn
Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 18:1-2a, 27, 30a, 49; antiphon: vs. 18b-19) Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 10:1-23; John 14:1-17 The Lord was my support in the day of my calamity. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. (From the Introit for the Second Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Our Introit for the Second Sunday after Trinity comes from Psalm 18. It is a long psalm, so the Introit makes it accessible for the worship service, but do yourself a favor and read the psalm in its entirety. David wrote most of the psalms. This psalm was so important to him that it is also found in 2 Samuel 22. David celebrates here that God rescued him from the hand of Saul and from all his enemies. Over the years David had many enemies. Think about it this way: How many people in the world do you know who have been attacked by a bear? How about a lion? How about a 9-foot-tall highly trained, magnificently equipped, enraged warrior? How about an army of thousands of his friends? How about a king who is consumed with jealousy? And his whole army? But David was safe through all these attacks and more. He says,"The Lord was my support in the day of my calamity. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:18b-19). This psalm is a beautiful one to read well and often because it gives you words to express thankfulness to God. You probably have never been attacked by a lion, a giant, or a king and his army. But this psalm still applies to you because it also speaks about Christ Jesus, and you are baptized into Him. David was the King of Israel, but so is Jesus. Christ came as the descendant of David, and He is enthroned forever. He is the King of the Jews who was falsely accused by powerful enemies and then hung upon the Cross. He defeated one who is greater than Goliath, when He crushed the serpent's head upon the Cross. He burst out of the tomb on Easter, never to die again. And He brings us with Him from death to life. In this psalm you join with David in praising the LORD as you thank Jesus for His victory that saves you. And you also thank Jesus, your Good Shepherd, that He protects you on the way through this hard world. Thanks be to God! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In God, my faithful God, I trust when dark my road; Great woes may overtake me, yet He will not forsake me. My troubles He can alter; His hand lets nothing falter. ("In God, My Faithful God" LSB 745, st.1)
St. Barnabas, Apostle
June 11, 2021 • Pastor Jeffrey Horn
Today's Reading: Mark 6:7-13 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 9:1-18; John 13:21-28 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyrus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 4:36-37) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today we thank God for redeeming Barnabas by grace through faith in Christ! We praise God for all that He worked through Barnabas for the good of the Church. Barnabas teaches us to be strong in the Gospel and active in charity. Barnabas trusted in Christ. The apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement." He was generous with his gifts and used them to encourage others, as he did here, selling his field and giving the money to the apostles to support the work of the Gospel. Barnabas was bold. After Saul (also known as St. Paul) was converted to Christ, he came to Jerusalem to see the apostles. They refused to see him because they thought it might be a trap. But Barnabas brought Saul to them. and they learned they could trust Saul. When the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles in Antioch, the Church chose to send Barnabas to build up the new believers in Christ. Barnabas was known to all as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith." He exhorted the new believers to be faithful to the Lord Jesus and not to abandon their faith when things got hard. Barnabas went to Tarsus so that he could bring Paul to Antioch, where they continued preaching and preparing for their missionary journeys (Acts 11:23-26). Think of how important it has been for the Church through the ages that Barnabas sought out Paul and supported him! May God bless the Church today with believers like Barnabas who encourage others in Christ, love the Word of God, and give charity to support the work of the Gospel! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Almighty God, Your faithful servant Barnabas sought not his own renown but gave generously of his life and substance for the encouragement of the apostles and their ministry. Grant that we may follow his example in lives given to charity and the proclamation of the Gospel; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.