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ASL Reflections

Monday of the Tenth Week after Trinity

August 17, 2020 • Pastor David Magruder

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 8:4-12 Daily Lectionary: 2 Samuel 7:1-17; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:22 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the Lord. (Jeremiah 8:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A bird has more sense than you do! That is the message God used to invite His people to return to Him. We call that the preaching of repentance. The people rejected the invitation and yet Jeremiah kept up the call. The meaning of Jeremiah's preaching is clear: even the birds, irrational creatures, know their appointed time and return to their homes, which they have left. Instinctively, they follow the pattern fixed for them by their Creator: they travel hundreds of miles, because that's what they've been created to do. Unbelieving Jerusalem had sunk below the common sense of a bird! What is sadder than the people's refusal to hear the Word and return to the Lord their God is that they had forgotten how much God loved them. "My people know not the rules of the LORD." That is a tricky translation. The Hebrew word is mishpat which means righteous judgment. It's not just rules to be followed but also a declaration of innocence. The people were so caught up in themselves that they pushed aside the mercy and promises of God: His just decrees and the justice He had done and would do for them. That is a picture of us, too. Sad to say, but we know it is true. Thankfully, God still sends Jeremiah to stick His Word into our ears and call us to repentance and faith. God the Father would fulfill all His righteous promises in Christ. Instead of pouring out the punishment for sin upon the world, the Father pours it on His Son. At the Cross the righteous judgment of the Law is proclaimed. Jesus is overthrown in death, but only for a time. Jesus, the perfect One, rises from the grave and brings you along with Him. Jesus took your place in death on a cross and in a stone-cold tomb so that you would know God's righteous judgment: You are free from sin and death in Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Now my conscience is at peace; from the Law I stand acquitted. Christ hath purchased my release and my ev'ry sin remitted. Naught remains my soul to grieve: Jesus sinners doth receive. ("Jesus Sinners Doth Receive" LSB 609, st.7)

The Second Sunday in Lent

February 28, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Matthew 15:21-28 Daily Lectionary: Genesis 16:1-9, 15-17:22; Mark 6:1-13 "I wasn't sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Brutal words from Jesus. After giving this poor woman the silent treatment, this is what He says. Well, do you believe Jesus' Word or not? Who did He come for? Who does He come to save? This silent treatment from Jesus seems to suggest it was not for her. What about you? Did He come for you? Does He want to come to save you? What if something bad happens to someone you love? Where's Jesus then? At those times Jesus probably couldn't have spoken truer words than, "I wasn't sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." We think we're excluded by Jesus at those times. Because, after all, you and I aren't Israelites, and neither was that woman. She was a Syro-Phoenician, from the region of Tyre and Sidon. Who does Jesus come to and for? Does it include this Gentile dog woman? What about you? Oh, most certainly yes. After all, "not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" (Romans 9:6).This woman's faith is in Jesus, fully, solely, only in Him. He of course came FOR her, TO her, otherwise, why else would He come TO the region of Tyre and Sidon. Faith says, whenever and wherever Jesus shows up, He's showing up for me, to save me. And faith always confesses and says, "Yes" and "Amen," to whatever the Lord says. "It's not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs get crumbs." Great faith! Great Jesus! Master Jesus. Lord Jesus. Savior Jesus. "Her daughter was healed that very hour." Jesus comes, faith gathers. Jesus is silent, faith prays. Jesus speaks, faith says, "Yes, Amen." You're a dog. Yes, Lord. You're a sinner. Yes, Lord. I baptize you. Amen. I forgive you. Amen. Eat and drink this my Body and Blood for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Yes, Lord. Amen. There's no reason to think that Jesus is not there for you. That's not the Jesus you have. You're part of Israel by trusting Jesus. Faith gathers to Jesus, receives all from Him as gift. There's no other reason for Him to show up except to save YOU. You can ask that woman--and her daughter!--all about that in the resurrection. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Pastor Aaron Fenker

Today's Reading: Introit for the Second Sunday in Lent (Psalm 25: 1-2a, 7-8, 11; antiphon: v. 6, 2b, 22) Daily Lectionary: Genesis 15:1-21; Mark 5:21-43 "Remember Your mercy, O Lord, and Your steadfast love. . . Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions." (Psalm 25:6, 2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God knows everything. Everything. Absolutely everything. About you. He is omniscient. His omniscience includes each and every single thing you've ever done, ever said, ever thought. He knows all the deep dark reasons for why you do what you do, why you did what you did. Oh, yeah. And His omniscience includes every thought, word, and action you will do! What does He remember? Everything. What can He forget? Nothing. What does He forget? Everything! That's the Good News of Jesus. In Jesus, your sins aren't overlooked, they aren't swept under the rug, and they aren't just forgotten. They're better than all that. They're forgiven. They're blood-shed for. They're died for. They're risen for. There's no reason for you to be afraid of what you've thought, said, or done. There's no reason to try and cover up by doing more good. It doesn't matter how you've let people down, let your family down, let God down, let yourself down. You don't have to make up for it to your God. There might be some worldly consequences, but not eternal ones. God's mercy and steadfast love are eternal--the blood of Jesus on the cross "securing eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12). Now, the God who knows everything in Jesus doesn't know your sins! You are only in Jesus, only washed in His blood, only Absolved by His blood, only fed with His Body and Blood. Outside of Jesus and His blood, you're left with your sins. Making up for them, a debt never to be repaid. But in Jesus your sins are forgiven. Jesus died for them, shed His blood for them, and only in His blood, by faith in His blood, are you redeemed, bought back, saved. Only in Jesus does an omniscient God not know something because Jesus, eternal Son of the Father, is the all-knowing God who doesn't know everything. Not just the day or the hour of His return, but also, thanks be to God, your sins! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If my sins give me alarm And my conscience grieve me, Let Your cross my fear disarm; Peace of conscience give me. Help me see forgiveness won By Your holy passion. If for me He slays His Son, God must have compassion! ("Jesus, I Will Ponder Now" LSB 440, st.5)

Friday of the First Week of Lent

February 26, 2021 • Pastor Aaron Fenker

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 13:1-18; Mark 5:1-2 Abram called on the name of Yahweh there. . . He built an altar there to Yahweh. (Genesis 13:4, 18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Abraham cherished the Third Commandment. He rejoiced in what the Lord had done to save him from believing in the fake gods of Ur. Though Abraham believed in Yahweh, he also had other gods. Better to be on the safe side. But the LORD had promised Abraham. Eventually the LORD brought Abraham out of Ur, out of his mixed-up faith, and brought him into Canaan. The Lord would keep His promise, one He didn't just make to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob after him. No, the Lord would keep His promise that He made to Adam and Eve: "Her Seed will crush [the serpent's] head" (Genesis 3:15). It's because of that promise that Yahweh saved Noah from the flood, promised Abraham, "in you all families of the earth shall be blessed," and it's because of that first Gospel promise that Yahweh renamed him from Abram to Abraham! Adam preached to Seth, Noah preached to Shem, Abraham preached to Isaac, and everyone in between and since! That's what the Third Commandment is all about! Rejoicing and receiving the Lord's promises and salvation. It's not about checking a box off in your to-do list, though you should add going to church to that list. Calling on the Name of the Lord, the altar, is all about Jesus for you. For there we see that Jesus and His Father rule the universe so that we have a place to hear His Word, to listen to sermons, to eat and drink the Supper of His Body and Blood. Someone built the church you worship at. Someone constructed the altar and pulpit and lectern. There's a guy there to preach to you. The Lord worked that all out for you, down to what's delivered there! Jesus died and risen--right time, right generation after Abraham. Just like Abraham built that altar to rejoice in the Lord who saved him, so also was your church built. Hearing about Jesus, Yahweh saves, is just what Abraham preached and rejoiced in. For Abraham, that Jesus was some 2,000 years later, for you, that Jesus was some 2,000 years ago. But wherever the Lord's altar is, wherever there's calling on His Name, there He is with you, ust as He was with Abraham. In fact, Abraham's rejoicing right there with you! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us. Th'altar recalls Christ's sacrifice And what His Supper here gives us. Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, And evermore, our Redeemer. ("Built on the Rock" LSB 645, st.4)