Monday of the Nineteenth Week after Trinity

October 19, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Genesis 28:10-17 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 18:1-22; Matthew 14:22-36 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you." (Genesis 28:15) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Most people operate with the idea that God is full of demands. Do this. Don't do that. Rules. Regulations. Watch your behavior. But if you read the Bible, you'll see that God is all about making promises to people who haven't really earned or deserved what He has to give them. Jacob was a liar and deceiver. He stole his brother's birthright and blessing. But Yahweh came to him, showed him Jesus (the ladder between heaven and earth) and promised to bless him with land and descendants and the future Savior from his family line. Jesus does the same thing. He makes promises, one after the other. "Come to me, you who are weary." "My Father will give you whatever you ask in my Name." "I will give my life for many." "I am with you always." Promises. Jesus gives us His Word, and His Word is full of forgiveness, life and salvation. His death on the Cross is a promise. It's a promise that thieves and sinners will be with Him in paradise. His resurrection is a promise that He has overcome sin and death. Baptism is a promise that your sins are forgiven and you are a child of God. Absolution is a promise that your sins are forgiven and there is a "not guilty" judgment entered for you. The preaching of Jesus is a promise that all that He has done is done for you. The Lord's Supper is a promise that Jesus will live in you and you in Him and He will raise you on the Last Day. We make and break promises, and experience promises made and broken by others. But God is all about making promises and keeping them, and not horrible, deadly, bad promises, but good, loving, merciful, and forgiving promises of putting away your sins and giving you life beyond this life—an everlasting life with Him. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Who trusts in God A strong abode In heav'n and earth possesses; Who looks in love To Christ above, No fear that heart oppresses. In You alone, Dear Lord, we own Sweet hope and consolation, Our shield from foes, Our balm for woes, Our great and sure salvation. ("Who Trusts in God a Strong Abode" LSB 714, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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Saturday of the First Week of Advent

December 5, 2020

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday in Advent (Psalm 80:1, 3, 14, 17; antiphon: Isaiah 62:11b, 30:30, 29) Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 11:1-12:6; 2 Peter 2:1-22 Say to the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your salvation comes." (Isaiah 62:11b) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Tomorrow's Introit points the way: Jesus. He is our salvation. His works, not our works. His promises, not ours. He is our faith, our trust, before God. Jesus. That's the way. Tomorrow you and I will hear the glad promise: "Behold, your salvation comes." That's because, when it comes to our salvation, God runs all the verbs for us. He washes and speaks and feeds Jesus to us. That is our salvation. Behold, His is all the giving, ours is all the receiving. Your salvation first came to you in Holy Baptism, when God turned and looked down from heaven upon you and claimed you as His own. Clothed with Christ. Tomorrow, "The LORD will cause His majestic voice to be heard," in the Absolution and in the preaching of the Gospel, Jesus Christ and Him crucified--and again we "will have gladness of heart." All our sin spoken away. And like a shepherd leading His flock, Jesus will "look down from heaven and see" the little lambs, you and me, whom He has led to His Table again to be made strong for us with His Body and His Blood, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." God does the giving, and we the receiving. God runs, we don't run. God wills, we don't will. We don't go and get our salvation. Our salvation comes and gets us. That's how our salvation works, because that's how our Jesus works. That's the promise of the Gospel. Jesus comes to you in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. Jesus comes to you under the Law, keeping the Law for you, fulfilling every commandment in your place. Jesus comes to you by giving Himself on the Cross for you, a holy sacrifice to God that causes God's face to shine on you, now, the lawbreaker. Jesus rises from the dead for you. Jesus comes to you, right where you are, every day with the promise of His Cross in Holy Baptism. Jesus comes to you every Sunday in His Word with the promise of His Cross. And Jesus comes to you with His Body and His Blood at His Supper. That's your salvation right there. Jesus. Jesus only. Jesus always. Like the Introit tomorrow says, that's the way. Jesus. 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 travelled, 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)

Advent 2 Supplement - Populus Zion

Dean's List • December 4, 2020 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Where do you belong? It’s a...well, it’s a question that you are probably asking yourself a lot. Where do you belong? Where are you gonna belong. In school? In the future? And that question, you try to answer for yourself all the time. Who are you? Where are you going? Where are you gonna be? And how am I gonna get there? The reality is, in the wild and crazy world that we have right now, who you are and where you’re going are certain. You know them for certain, you really do. It all comes down to this coming Sunday -- Advent 2 lets you know. In the historic Latin, it’s called "Populus Zion." Populus Zion, People of Zion, People of God. That’s who you are. You’re one of God’s people. You’re His child, baptized into His son. And throughout this life, things cause us to question this reality. The trials and tribulations, our worries and concerns make us doubt this. But it really is true. The trials we face, as a sign of who we are, make us think that it’s not so. But the true sign that you are one of the people of God is not what you experience in your day to day life. The true sign of who you are and, well, Whose you are, People of God, Person of God, Child of God is Christ Jesus crucified, and your baptism into that. And so, that’s what we always need to keep in mind this Advent season. And, well, every day! That the Lord comes to us, to make us His people. There’s nothing special in us for Him to choose us as His child, as His people...but yet He does it. Out of His mercy and love, He does that for us. While we were still sinners, He sent His Son to die for us. And that’s the true sign of who we are. Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, King of Zion. That Jesus is our King. He became our King when He brought us out of the domain of darkness into his own kingdom in the waters of Holy Baptism. And so now as you look forward to this Sunday, receiving the Lord's gifts anew, rejoice in the gift that is this Sunday’s Reflection, written by Pastor Drew. Great joy there, of answering this question...of who you are, where you are going, and how do you get there. And in your life there’s all sorts of things that we look at as signs, as direction signs. But really the only direction sign you need is Jesus on the cross. There is who you are. You are redeemed. And into that death, and even into His resurrection. You are baptized. So no matter what, in your day to day life you can have this peace: You are Populus Zion, people of God, Child of God. And Jesus is your brother. I hope you enjoy the Reflection. ---------- 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).

Friday of the First Week of Advent

December 4, 2020 • Pastor Bradley Drew

Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 10:12-27, 33-34; 2 Peter 1:1-21 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. While we were playing in our basement during a thunderstorm one night, the lights flickered and went out. The darkness paralyzed me with fear. I couldn't see anything. All I could hear was that fiery furnace where, as a little child, I knew the boogey man lived. I cried out. Help soon arrived as Mom came racing down the stairs, flashlight in hand. I could see her face, her smile. How sweet that rescue. Like that basement, our hearts can be dark and scary places, too. We are quick to believe God is kind and good when things go our way, but not so sure when they don't. We are quick to think, "God has done everything He can to save us, but the rest is up to us now. The ball is back in our court, and we must return serve somehow and win salvation by showing God a righteousness of our own doing." Dark and scary, right? Dark and scary is all there would be if all we had to follow were "cunningly devised myths" like these. But, we have more. So much more. Along with James and John, Peter had the Father's voice at Jesus' Transfiguration saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to Him!" (Luke 9:35). Peter says you and I have something even more solid than that--"the prophetic Word." The Word of God. The written down Word. And what does it say? It tells of Jesus' birth to bear our sin and be our Savior. It tells of His life for us, His death for us, His rising for us. This Word says that, baptized into Christ, sunny skies or stormy, you and I are clothed with Christ now. Always a joy, then, to our heavenly Father. This Word says God has done it all for our salvation by Jesus' death for us on the Cross. A promise spoken in every Absolution and sermon we hear. This Word says no matter how things go, Jesus is always there for us at His Supper with His Body and Blood, "for you, for the forgiveness of sins." And there I am, again, a little child, alone in that basement, dark and scary. Then, as if racing down the stairs with flashlight in hand, I can see Jesus, God's face, God's smile, God's love--all because of the Word. Thank God for His Word! How sweet the rescue. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous; Bright with Thine own holiness, Glorious now, we press toward glory, And our lives our hopes confess. Alleluia, alleluia! Praise to Thee who light dost send! Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia without end!" ("Thy Strong Word" LSB #578, st.3)