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ASL Reflections

Wednesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 29, 2020 • Pastor Joel Shaltanis

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 14:47-15:9; Acts 24:1-23 "Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them…" (1 Samuel 15:3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today's reading (1 Samuel 15) is a hard text. Samuel commands King Saul to destroy the Amalekites, to kill "both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." There are other places, too, in which God commands the Israelites to do the same to the Canaanites. How are we to make sense of this? Atheists and critics wonder about these things, too, and use these passages as attacks, claiming the God of the Bible commanded genocide or ethnic cleansing. It's easy to just turn the page when you read something like this, and I think a lot of people do. But while we cannot possibly comprehend the mind of God, there are some things that can help us think this through. These commands are limited to a specific time and place. They are not open-ended directions to destroy people of certain tribes or races. In fact, when the Israelites tried to act out against their enemies without God's blessing, they were defeated (1 Samuel 4). Only God can sanction this kind of action and only He can understand why it is necessary. We know that God curbs evil. The Lord even sent other nations to attack and destroy the people of Israel when their wickedness rose to a certain level. We are talking true wickedness—even child sacrifice! In other words, had you lived in the midst of such evil, you would have prayed for God to stop it. That doesn't answer every question, but perhaps it helps answer some. Some things in Scripture which we cannot understand, but there are many things we cannot misunderstand Chief among them is God's love for us in Christ. God is a God of justice who metes out punishment on the wicked, but He also takes punishment on Himself even though He doesn't deserve it. That, too, is a great mystery. He loves us that much. Incredible! Who can understand the mind of God? In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence - Faith sees a smiling face. Blind unbelief is sure to err - And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain. ("God Moves in a Mysterious Way" LSB 765. st.2, 4)

ASL Reflections

Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture • September 30, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:37-2:15; Matthew 6:1-15 "For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing." (Deuteronomy 2:7) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Bible is the story of God's promise, made to a fallen world: the promise of a Savior. It tells the story of God's people through whom His only-begotten Son took on flesh in the earthly family of Abraham, Isaac, David, Judah, David, and that whole line of chosen people. The eyewitness testimony of the Gospels and the instruction and teaching of Christ delivered by the apostles means the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is about Jesus. St. Jerome was one of the early Church fathers whose great gift to the Church was the translation of the Old and New Testaments into Latin, from the Hebrew and Greek. This version of the Bible is known as the Vulgate, because it was in the "common tongue" of Latin at the time. Today the Bible is available in just about any language you can think of and if not, translators are working on it! For those who speak and read English, there are many, many translations and versions. While they differ in being more or less literal, every faithful translation will always deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ in the language in which it's written. This is a heritage and gift of Jerome. As Moses recorded the works of God among His people in the desert, looking ahead to Christ, so the prophets and apostles wrote and pointed forward or back to Jesus. So there, in the Holy Scriptures, we have the sure and certain record of God's promises to His people. We have the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus for all people of whatever language they know. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Weedon, William. Celebrating the Saints . Concordia Publishing House.)

ASL Reflections

St. Michael and All Angels • September 29, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Luke 10:17-20 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:19-36; Matthew 5:21-48 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When did Satan fall like lightning from heaven? Was it early on when he first rebelled against God and was cast down? Was it when Jesus died and cried out, "It is finished!"? Was Jesus talking about all the preaching done by the seventy men He sent out? The answer is "yes!" "Satan" means "accuser." He's the guy who tells God you don't belong with God because you're a sinner. But Jesus' death takes away our sins, so now the devil has nothing on you. No accusations. No evidence. But he still tries to slither up to heaven and tell God you can't be there. So whenever the preaching of the Gospel happens, boom! Satan is cast down like lightning. When someone is baptized, Satan gets the boot. When a Christian is absolved of her sins, the devil is sent packing. When a pastor proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus, the evil one runs away with his tail between his legs. There are angels and then there are angels. We usually think of angels as just heavenly beings we can't see who do battle with the forces of evil and protect us without our thinking about it. But the word "angel" means "messenger," so in a very real sense, your pastor is an angel. He's a messenger. And when your pastor proclaims the goodness of Jesus to you or anyone else, it's like flipping on the light in a room full of cockroaches: They scatter! So does Satan, running back to the cracks and darkness. The devil can't accuse you. Your sins and their guilt have been laid upon Jesus and paid for by Him. When Satan stands before God to tattle on you, the Lord just says, "Get out of here, liar!" And out he goes. He'll keep trying until the Last Day, but he'll never succeed, because Jesus ended those accusations with His great "It is finished!" from Calvary. 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 traveled, 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)

ASL Reflections

Monday of the Sixteenth Week after Trinity • September 28, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 17:17-24 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:1-18; Matthew 5:1-20 So she said to Elijah, "What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?" (1 Kings 17:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Yep. A tragedy. The widow's son died. God must be mad at her. That's what she thinks. That's what we think. If something bad happens, we wonder, "What did I do?" That's how we think God works. That's pretty much how the world thinks God works, too, which is why most people say they don't believe in Him. The Lord allows the woman's son to die so that Elijah can raise him from the dead. What seems a tragedy is for this woman an example of God's mercy and love in restoring her son. It's also a reminder that God will give His own Son into death for the purpose of raising you from the dead. Death is guaranteed. Nobody gets out of it. It's going to catch you some day. Could be tomorrow. Could be years from now. One way or another, though, it will come. As we look around and those whom we love die, we wonder if God is angry. Did we do something to make Him mad? That's the thing about death: We know it happens. We can't do anything about it. But Jesus dies so that He can rise. His death is the triumph over death. Without His resurrection, our own death would indeed just be an empty and sad event. But with Jesus' tomb being empty, we have the promise that our graves will be empty, too. In other words, Jesus rose so that you will rise. If He rose, you will rise. Death really isn't the last word. This is the promise of your Baptism, in which you die with Christ the first time. That's right, you've already died, at the font. And you've already been raised from the dead, at the font. That way, when you fall asleep in Jesus someday, you will rise to new life forever. It has to happen that way because that's what Jesus accomplished. Death does remind us of our sin because sin brought death. But Jesus' death and resurrection and our Baptism into Him are a greater truth and promise: that death is not the end, and it's not forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Death you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ! When I die I leave all sadness To inherit paradise! Though I lie in dust and ashes, Faith's assurance brightly flashes: Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine! ("God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It" LSB 594, st. 4)