Today's Reading: Small Catechism: The Apostles Creed, Second Article, pt.1 Daily Lectionary: Numbers 10:11-36; Luke 16:19-31 And [I believe] in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our LORD, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. (Small Catechism: Apostles Creed, Second Article) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What does this mean? "I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my LORD," the explanation says. It is properly said that justification, God's declaring us righteous in His sight on account of Christ, is the central article or teaching of the Christian faith. It's true. It is incredibly important, but if someone does not know the person of Christ, WHO He is, then even the teaching on justification will be off. This first part of the Second Article of the Creed is super-duper important. We must believe, teach, and confess, and trust and rely upon in our hearts and souls, the fact that Jesus is true 100% God and true 100% man. Everything of the Christian faith rests on this truth. Fourth-century Church father Gregory of Nazianzus wonderfully and accurately taught: "Whatever Christ did not become [or take onto Himself], He did not redeem." In other words, Jesus had to be as human as you are, taking your place, in order to save you. He had to wrap Himself in real human flesh with a real human brain and a real human soul. And because He was really human like you He was able to be your substitute in the eyes of God. There is no negotiating here. Jesus is either completely a human being like us or He is not. Thank God that He was, and still is, but there's more. If He is merely fully human, and not fully God then our justification would still be in trouble. Thank God that He is also 100% God. As a result, He had the divine right and authority not only to take our place so that His life, suffering, death, and resurrection could be counted as ours, but also to forgive the sins of all people of all time. He can because He is truly God. Our Christology confesses that Jesus is true God and true man! Praise Him! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, You are the strength of all who trust in You, and without Your aid we can do no good thing. Grant us the help of Your grace that we may please You in both will and deed; through 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 Sixth Week of Easter
Pastor Alfonso Espinosa
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.