Tuesday of the First Week after Trinity

June 16, 2020 • Pastor Alexander Lange

Today’s Reading: 1 John 4:16-21 Daily Lectionary: Proverbs 16:1-24; John 16:1-16 There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. As a father, I am trying to teach my children to not fear policemen. "They are here to help you," I say. I want them to run to the police if they are in danger. Still, I must admit, even we as adults sometimes fear policemen, especially if we know that we are doing something illegal. We fear the police because they can punish us. And most police officers don’t know me, and so they don’t love me. If they were to arrest me or give me a ticket, they would lose no sleep over it. The same is true of judges. When you go to court, the judge is pretty intimidating. He doesn’t know you or love you. And he has the authority to punish you. Do you think of God as a policeman or a judge? Are you afraid of Him? Are you afraid that He is going to punish you? Then go and speak to your pastor privately and confess your sins to him. Be ready to hear some incredible good news. Your pastor will show you that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). He is going to tell you that God won’t punish you, because Jesus took away the punishment that your sins have merited. He is going to absolve you, right then and there, as the official representative of God. I think that you will find that the perfect love of God casts out fear. The idea that God is with you always won’t cause you to shudder, but will provide you comfort. You will even find yourself praying that Jesus will come again quickly and bring Judgment Day. After all, you have no reason to fear His return. You might even find that God’s perfect love changes the way you live. Often we sin out of fear. However, when God removes your fear, then you are free in Christ to take a big risk and show your neighbor some love. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O love, how deep, how broad, how high, Beyond all thought and fantasy, That God, the Son of God, should take, Our mortal form for mortals’ sake! ("O Love, How Deep" LSB 544, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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The First Sunday in Advent

November 29, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Today's Reading: Matthew 21:1-9 Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 5:1-25; 1 Peter 2:1-12 Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey. (Matthew 21:4) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. He is coming! That's what the word Advent means. But, who is coming? Our God and King, of course. Is that necessarily good news? After all, why is He coming? Fear not. In fact, all such fear over His arrival and His mission among us will be silenced at His birth when the angel announces, "Do not be afraid." But even now our fears begin to wane as He arrives every First Sunday in Advent "humble, and mounted on a donkey…a beast of burden." Yes, Jesus is our God and King. Why so "humble"? That's the Good News. Jesus arrives "humble" because He is arriving for us, for every one of us, to bear our sin and be our Savior. Jesus arrives lowly because He is coming for all who have been laid low by sin. He arrives "humble" because, in fulfillment of God's Word, He is coming for all who have been humbled by sin. No sinner excluded. The burden of your guilt, the beast of your judgment, will all be upon Jesus now as He suffers and dies for you on the Cross. It's why the Father has prepared a body for His Son (Hebrews 10:5), soon to be born for you and me of the Virgin Mary. By the death of our own God and King upon the Cross, we will all be declared holy in God's sight--His children, forgiven of all our sins, heirs now to eternal life. It's such an amazing promise; who would dare believe in it? God knows this fear of ours. It's why He is always speaking to it by how He sends us Jesus. In the past, to accomplish our salvation, God sent Him "humble, and mounted on a donkey." In the present, to deliver our salvation, God sends Jesus to us in plain words spoken to us by plain pastors who deliver the promise of His Cross in every Absolution and sermon we hear from them. He sends Jesus to us in simple water that promises the same now, and also in ordinary bread and wine that promise the same now: "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." So humble. As if to say, "I got this. And I got you. Do not be afraid." That makes the children's song to our God and King ours now to sing to Jesus every Sunday: "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!" In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for the First Sunday in Advent)


Saturday of the Last Week • November 28, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Introit for the First Sunday in Advent (Psalm 25:4-5, 21-22; antiphon: v.1-3a) Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 2:1-22; 1 Peter 1:13-25 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. (From the Introit for the First Sunday in Advent) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You need the Lord to do this for you. You can't do it on your own. You can't know His ways, unless He makes them known. You can't get to Him unless He shows you the way. You can't have life unless He enlivens you. You can't escape the lie unless He shows you the truth. This is what the Triune God does for you. Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6) for "no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27). "No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). "No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3). We don't like that. We like to be our own people, do things our way. We're always trying to put something back on us, some little thing we have to do. That's just the original sin, where we try to be like God. WE have to do something, even something really small, right? No. He saves us. Jesus is your Savior, sent from His Father to redeem you. The Spirit creates faith within you so that you would believe it. He creates this faith through the preaching of the Gospel and the delivery of the Sacraments. He makes you alive, even when you were dead in your trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2; Colossians 2). This happened through Holy Baptism. Jesus strengthens His new life within you through the forgiveness of sins in the Supper, for there He remains in you and you in Him. You will then bear much fruit and He will raise you up on the Last Day (John 6; John 15:54, 56). Through the preaching of His Word--Law and Gospel--the Spirit does this. In this way Jesus' Father is your vinedresser, in that "every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:2). We ask God to show us His paths, teach us His Law, work within us the cherishing and doing of His commandments because if He doesn't, we won't. But He does do it. He will do it. Repent of your trying to do it for Him. He will do it for you. You're baptized. Tomorrow you will receive all the more His working FOR YOU in the Absolution, the Word, the preaching, and the Supper of Jesus' Body and Blood, and then He will do all the more doing through you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Advent 1 Supplement- Ad Te Levavi

Dean's List • November 27, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Well it’s time for Advent. Advent means, “He comes.” Adventus (it’s from the Latin). Lots of Latin these next few weeks in Advent. This week’s is “Ad Te Levavi,” that is, “Unto You I lift up my soul.” So Jesus comes. We remember this at the end of the church year, but also in Advent -- that He has come and will come again. But why does Jesus come? Well, He’s coming...to get you. That sounds pretty scary. That’s often how we think of Judgement Day and Jesus’ second coming. Fear...afraid of what He will do. He’s coming to get us. In that way, we fall into the same fears of Adam and Eve, when they hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the cool of the day, in the wind of the day. They hear the wind and think God is coming. Well, they know God is coming. They know what He sounds like. And He’s obviously coming...to get them. But He is coming to get you. But not in that way. The Lord would never want to do that to you. He has not destined us for wrath. As 1 Thessalonians puts it, He destines us for salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ. And so, Jesus comes to get you...that is, to save you. To bring you out of where you’re stuck. In your sins, in your death, and under the power of the devil. That’s how Jesus comes. And that’s why Jesus comes. Jesus comes to get you, to save you. And so it is, we can call out to Him, then. He is the one who will listen to our prayers. “Ad Te Levavi” Unto You I lift up my soul. We can bear our heart to Jesus because He knows our heart. He’s redeemed it. Yes, in ourselves, we see our sins. We see death coming. We see the influence of the devil and the world upon us. But Jesus comes to get us, to bring us out of that! So I hope that you enjoy this Sunday’s Reflection. Pastor Drew dives into this comfort, this joy, this Advent joy, much more than I’m able to here in this short video. So Advent, Jesus comes. Because He advents for you, to save you. “Ad Te Levavi.” Unto You I lift up my soul. Advent. “Ad Te Levavi” It’s all together. It’s all about Jesus coming to get you...to save you! To get you out of your lost estate so that you would come, you would come into His kingdom, forever and ever. ---------- Catch “The Dean” on Fridays in Advent for a special devotional supplement to the Higher Things daily Reflections. Subscribe to the free Reflections email listor download the printable PDF booklet at http://higherthings.org/reflections Listen to audio Reflections on the Higher Things app,or on your favorite podcast app (ASL Reflections are also available using the above link).