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Reflections

Monday of the Twenty-First Week after Trinity

November 2, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:3 Daily Lectionary: Jeremiah 23:1-20; Matthew 25:14-30 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why did God make the Tree of Knowledge if He knew Adam and Eve would disobey Him and eat of its fruit? Why did God put that tree there at all? To test them? To trick them? Why? The answer lies in the Word that Jesus threw at the devil during His temptation in the wilderness: "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Even before there was a fall into sin, Adam and Eve were given the gift of God's Word and were taught that it was their highest treasure. That Word would keep them from death and be life and be a blessing to them. If, however, they let go of God's Word and abandoned the hearing of it, they would perish in death. The Word of God saves you. It keeps you from death. When you are born with the curse of sin upon you, His Word declares you forgiven and a child of God. That Word that Adam and Eve ignored at the Tree of Knowledge is made flesh to hang on a tree in the place of sinners. When Adam and Eve brought death into the Garden, Jesus took on death and died and rose, conquering death in a tomb in a garden. You see, even when man refused the Lord's gift of His life-saving Word, the Lord still brought that Word to man and still brings it now. It is the Word of grace, mercy, forgiveness--all for the sake of the Word, that is, Jesus, born, died, and risen for sinners. The same God whose Word Adam and Eve despised, spoke His Word of the promise of a Savior. It is the same Word and promise that declares Jesus' death and resurrection are for you. It is the same Word and promise spoken with the water of the font and the bread and wine of the Supper--the Word and promise of life for those who were dead in sin. The Word and promise for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true; Preserve our faith our whole life through-- Your Word alone our heart's defense, The Church's glorious confidence. ("Lord Jesus, Christ, with Us Abide" LSB 585, st. 6) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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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

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 12, 2021 • Pastor Alfonso Espinosa

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. Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch