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Reflections

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity

September 17, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Galatians 5:16-24 Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 36:1-23; Colossians 4:1-18 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:25-26) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul's lists of the works of the flesh is not exhaustive. I'm sure you could have a lot more sins listed there. But the works of the flesh all have one thing in common: They are selfish. They are all about pleasing ourselves. They are about putting ourselves first and ahead of everyone else. Lust, coveting, anger, and all the rest are all about giving me what I want no matter who gets hurt. Those desires, along with the idol we make of ourselves, need to be crucified with Christ and drowned by the Spirit in Baptism. The gifts of the Spirit, on the other hand, are self-LESS. They put God and others first, ahead of ourselves. That's why there are fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit grows in us those fruits, those gifts and qualities which are from Jesus. By His life and death and resurrection, Jesus never once put Himself first. His first thought was always to glorify the Father and to save us. That selflessness that saves is the very heart of the gifts the Spirit gives to you so that, by the Spirit living in you, your selfishness is crucified and your selflessness cultivated. The Christian life is one of putting others first. That means putting our Old Adam down every day. Our world is pretty much built on the idea of making ourselves number one. Christ came to put others ahead of Himself. To put you first. You're first in Jesus' way of doing things. And His living in you, means that others are first in your way of doing things. This is our baptismal life: Each day we acknowledge the idolatry of self and remember that it is drowned in our Baptism. Each day the Spirit raises up our new creation to glorify God and love others. That's growing fruit in you for the blessing and benefit of those around you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Grant that Your Spirit's help To me be always given Lest I should fall again And lose the way to heaven. Grant that He give me strength In my infirmity; May He renew my heart To serve You willingly. ("How Can I Thank You, Lord" LSB 703, st. 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles • October 28, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: John 15:12-21 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Matthew 19:1-15 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why do we have a special day to remember St. Simon and St. Jude? Why do we set aside days to remember any of the apostles? Weren't they just men? Are they any better than any other Christian? The apostles do hold a special place in the Church. They are the men who were eyewitnesses of Jesus' words and deeds and saw Him alive again after His resurrection. He called and ordained them to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the ends of the earth. And that's what they did, not even shrinking in the face of persecution and death. They gladly gave up their lives because they knew that if Jesus rose, they would rise, too. We don't commemorate apostles for their own sake but to be reminded that Jesus called real men into the holy ministry to carry out the task of being His voice on the earth. Jesus is one man, but the apostles were twelve. After His Ascension there were twelve mouths to preach Jesus. And the apostles ordained pastors wherever they went, so the number of mouths grew. Because of those preachers, the Good News that the sins of the world and death have been overcome by Jesus' death and resurrection is carried everywhere. The washing of regeneration takes place in Baptism; sinners are absolved; the Lord's Supper is given out. The apostolic ministry (the apostles and those after them who preach what they preached) ensures that Jesus will always be giving His Good News to the world and saving sinners just like you—even two thousand years later! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Praise, Lord, for Your apostles, Saint Simon and Saint Jude. One love, one hope impelled them To tread the way, renewed. May we with zeal as earnest The faith of Christ maintain, Be bound in love together, And life eternal gain. ("By All Your Saints in Warfare" LSB 518, st. 28) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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Tuesday of the Twentieth Week after Trinity • October 27, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 29:1-29; Matthew 18:21-35 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Have you ever heard someone say, "Do you know what the Lord's will is for your life?" Maybe that comes up in discussions about what job to get or what classes to take or what college to attend. Should I date this person? What career do I want to shoot for? Well, what is the Lord's will in all of those things? The Lord's will is this: that you be saved from your sins through faith in Christ Jesus, be raised from the dead and have eternal life. That's the Lord's will. He's accomplished that will for you in Jesus, who died for you and rose for you. He's brought that will to bear in your life by baptizing you and making you a part of His Church, feeding you with the Lord's Supper and putting His Word into your ears. His will is done when you hear and believe His Word. The "unwise" part that Paul warns us about is living as if that will of God is something other than what it is. Maybe it's living as if God's will is that you "be happy" and therefore you should just do whatever you want, whatever makes you feel good. Maybe it's that God's will is to micromanage your every single decision, making you wonder and worry about whether or not you are doing the "right" thing by picking one choice of college or classes over another. Watch out! That sort of talk about God's will isn't really about Him. It's about you! Christ has set you free! His will is that you live freely in Him. You might choose one college or another, drive a new or a used car, have an iPhone or an Android phone. But either way, you're a forgiven sinner in Christ. He didn't save you so that you are burdened by the guilt of trying to "discern God's will for your life." He is loud and clear about what His will is: that you be saved. And more than that, He is dedicated to making that will happen for you, so that you are indeed saved, forgiven, and have everlasting life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The will of God is always best And shall be done forever; And they who trust in Him are blest; He will forsake them never. He helps indeed In time of need; He chastens with forbearing. They who depend On God, their friend, Shall not be left despairing. ("The Will of God is Always Best" LSB 758, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

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Monday of the Twentieth Week after Trinity • October 26, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 28:1-22; Matthew 18:1-20 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. These words of Isaiah are often quoted when something disastrous happens that we were not expecting. As if We would never cause an earthquake or a baby to die, but things like this happen, so we often think God has something else up His sleeve. But these words of the prophet mean much more than just "God does stuff we don't understand." They mean that His whole way of dealing with us is just unthinkable and unfathomable because He doesn't give us what we deserve. When bad things happen, the Old Adam can only conclude that God is out to get us. Pay us back. Punish us. What the Old Adam doesn't understand is that everything that happens is given by God to drive us to Christ, who saves us without any of our own effort or merit or worthiness. God's ways are not our ways because He brings us into His kingdom without our deserving it or working for it. God's ways are not our ways because He gives up His own Son into suffering and death to save us while we are still sinners. God's ways are not our ways because He gives us what is Christ's and gives Jesus what is ours. God's ways are not our ways because He raised Jesus from the dead. His ways are not our ways because He gives us life when we think we only have death in store for us. His ways are not our ways because He uses water and words and bread and wine to save and forgive us. Indeed, the Lord's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Our ways and thoughts turn to how we can impress God or avoid Him. But His ways and thoughts are all about saving you and giving you everlasting life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Jesus Christ, my Lord, So meek in deed and word, You suffered death to save us Because Your love would have us Be heirs of heav'nly gladness When ends this life of sadness. ("In God, my Faithful God" LSB 745, st. 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch