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Reflections

Thursday of the Fourth Week after Trinity

July 9, 2020 • Pastor Alexander Lange

Daily Lectionary: Judges 4:1-24; Acts 14:1-18 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Bible tells us that God reveals Himself to all humans through nature. For example, God testifies to His existence and power through the existence of the universe and the complexity of all things. God testifies to His goodness by giving people rain and good harvests. This natural revelation is good, but sinful hearts are not. Natural revelation makes us inclined to acknowledge something transcendent and to worship. What do sinners do with such revelation? They worship idols. God testifies to His goodness through His temporal gifts, but Adam's sin brought sickness, natural disasters, and death into the world. Sinful hearts are always skeptical about God. Sinners conclude that God is good to some people, but cruel to others. You'd better get on God's good side. Natural revelation doesn't only produce idolatry, but works-righteousness as well. Paul freely appealed to God's revelation in nature, but his main message was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only God's self-disclosure in His incarnate Son can produce true fear of God and trust in His grace. In the crucified Christ we see the Father's face and come to know Him. All who honor the Son honor the Father. At the Cross we come to know the height, depth, and breadth of God's love. Since we know that our Lord laid down His life for us that we might live, we can give up all attempts to get on God's good side. When you talk to your unbelieving friends, feel free to appeal to God's revelation in nature. That can be helpful. However, don't forget to share the Good News about Jesus. Only the Gospel can reconcile sinners to God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is your health and salvation! Let all who hear Now to His temple draw near, Joining in glad adoration! ("Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" LSB 790, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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Thursday of the Sixteenth Week after Trinity • October 1, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 2:16-37; Matthew 6:16-34 Who receives this sacrament worthily? . . . But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words "for you" require all hearts to believe. (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, pt. 5) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If someone sketchy were to give you a sandwich, you might not want to eat it. "It's fine," they say, "I didn't spit on it or anything." If you don't believe them, you won't eat the sandwich. If Jesus says that the bread and wine are His Body and Blood, "given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," then faith's reply is to eat that bread and drink from that cup. In other words, to believe Jesus' words means we would obviously eat and drink His Gift. If we didn't believe, why would we bother? If we don't believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, why would we pretend we want a gift we don't believe in? We often hear Jesus' Supper described in a way that makes it sound like His Body and Blood are not really there. It's just a "representation" some might say, "a symbol." While that is incorrect, there's more to unbelief than simply misunderstanding Jesus' words. Unbelief means to deny who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Worthiness for the Supper does not rely on our understanding of "how" it can be His Body and Blood." If it did, no one would receive it! Rather, to deny Jesus' forgiveness is what makes us unworthy to receive His Supper. You see, Jesus doesn't want us to worry about it, be confused, or question it. The bread and wine are not His Body and Blood because we believe it. They are the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Lord and He gives them to you so that you can be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt, that His Gift is for you. The purpose of His Gift is to make sure you know and believe and never doubt that your sins are forgiven. Once again, we see that our "worthiness" isn't in what we do, but in what Jesus has already done for us. He died and rose and He gives His Supper for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free! I do believe That I receive His very body and His blood. O taste and see—the Lord is good. ("What Is This Bread" LSB 629, st. 5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture • September 30, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:37-2:15; Matthew 6:1-15 "For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing." (Deuteronomy 2:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Bible is the story of God's promise, made to a fallen world: the promise of a Savior. It tells the story of God's people through whom His only-begotten Son took on flesh in the earthly family of Abraham, Isaac, David, Judah, David, and that whole line of chosen people. The eyewitness testimony of the Gospels and the instruction and teaching of Christ delivered by the apostles means the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is about Jesus. St. Jerome was one of the early Church fathers whose great gift to the Church was the translation of the Old and New Testaments into Latin, from the Hebrew and Greek. This version of the Bible is known as the Vulgate, because it was in the "common tongue" of Latin at the time. Today the Bible is available in just about any language you can think of and if not, translators are working on it! For those who speak and read English, there are many, many translations and versions. While they differ in being more or less literal, every faithful translation will always deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ in the language in which it's written. This is a heritage and gift of Jerome. As Moses recorded the works of God among His people in the desert, looking ahead to Christ, so the prophets and apostles wrote and pointed forward or back to Jesus. So there, in the Holy Scriptures, we have the sure and certain record of God's promises to His people. We have the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus for all people of whatever language they know. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Weedon, William. Celebrating the Saints . Concordia Publishing House.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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St. Michael and All Angels • September 29, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Luke 10:17-20 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:19-36; Matthew 5:21-48 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When did Satan fall like lightning from heaven? Was it early on when he first rebelled against God and was cast down? Was it when Jesus died and cried out, "It is finished!"? Was Jesus talking about all the preaching done by the seventy men He sent out? The answer is "yes!" "Satan" means "accuser." He's the guy who tells God you don't belong with God because you're a sinner. But Jesus' death takes away our sins, so now the devil has nothing on you. No accusations. No evidence. But he still tries to slither up to heaven and tell God you can't be there. So whenever the preaching of the Gospel happens, boom! Satan is cast down like lightning. When someone is baptized, Satan gets the boot. When a Christian is absolved of her sins, the devil is sent packing. When a pastor proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus, the evil one runs away with his tail between his legs. There are angels and then there are angels. We usually think of angels as just heavenly beings we can't see who do battle with the forces of evil and protect us without our thinking about it. But the word "angel" means "messenger," so in a very real sense, your pastor is an angel. He's a messenger. And when your pastor proclaims the goodness of Jesus to you or anyone else, it's like flipping on the light in a room full of cockroaches: They scatter! So does Satan, running back to the cracks and darkness. The devil can't accuse you. Your sins and their guilt have been laid upon Jesus and paid for by Him. When Satan stands before God to tattle on you, the Lord just says, "Get out of here, liar!" And out he goes. He'll keep trying until the Last Day, but he'll never succeed, because Jesus ended those accusation with His great "It is finished!" from Calvary. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ! Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed. Now that to the font I've traveled, All your might has come unraveled, And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me. ("God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It" LSB 594, st. 3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero