A Higher Things Daily Devotion

St. James the Elder, Apostle

July 26, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Mark 10:35-45 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 10:1-27; Acts 22:17-29 "But to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." (Mark 10:40) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Sons of Thunder don't know what they're asking for. "Let us sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left, in your glory." I guess their nickname makes sense. It sounds like they want to be tag team champions of the world. They want the glory to be revealed in terms of power, not mercy. But the Son of Man is glorified on a Cross for sinners. To be at His right hand and His left in His glory is to be crucified with Him. That was an honor bestowed to thieves. It was prepared for them. Sounds terrible, until you consider what it means. It was prepared for them that they would hear mercy right from the Lord's mouth. It was prepared that they would hear a sermon at the right hand of God. Paradise was prepared for at least one of them, too. They deserved to die because of their sins, but God prepared it so that they would receive mercy, even if He had to die between them to give it. The Sons of Thunder would have hard lives that looked like Christ's. That was prepared, too. Eventually, they would drink from the cup of suffering. But it was prepared that Jesus die for them first. That way they're not alone in it. They were already brought through it. They were baptized, not just into Jesus' pain, but His death, and so also His resurrection. You were, too. Do you not know that in Baptism, we are united with Him in His death? We will certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His, too. The Sons of Thunder went to death in boldness, not because they were the greatest tag team duo to grace the squared circle, but because they first received the gift of life. It was prepared for them. And it was prepared for you. You drank from it, too. In Baptism, you died with Jesus. In Baptism, you rise with Jesus. You might suffer more yet, but you are already raised with Him. Focus on the mercy, and know He'll bring you through that, because He already died to accomplish it. It is prepared. That shapes authority, too. Authority is a burden to the Christian. It's not about power, but mercy. It's not to be served but to serve. Authority is a gift. These are the places God has prepared to serve you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.  He brings me to the portal That leads to bliss untold, Whereon this rhyme immortal Is found in script of gold: "Who there My cross has shared Finds here a crown prepared; Who there with Me has died Shall here be glorified." ("Awake, My Heart, with Gladness" LSB 467, st.7) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

July 25, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Matthew 7:15-23 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 9:1-27; Acts 21:37-22:16 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:18) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. So I know we're the grumpy church. It's what others say about us. It's what our own members say about us. We're too picky. Unloving. We can't get along with anyone. We can't even compromise. Why does it matter? Because it would be easier if we would just relax. Major in the majors, get along. Believe it or not, I don't have fun being the grumpy pastor. I'm not entertained by having folks mad at me. I'm not encouraged by my own members' grumbling. I hate it. The thing is, if someone says 2+2 is 4 and someone else says 2+2 is 5, they can't both be right. If someone speaks visions of their own minds and not of the Lord, they are wrong. Here's the thing: They're not harmless. Wolves are in sheep's clothing, not other sheep. Wolves devour the sheep. "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but He who does the will of My Father in heaven." It's not about how much you can accomplish. Prophesying, casting out demons, even doing great wonders is not enough. The will of our Father in heaven is that we believe. That's it. Hear the true Word and cling to it. It really saves. If it's going to be good, virtuous, if it's going to have any chance of helping us in this mess of a world with the mess of our problems, it has to be true. We can't expect to be saved based on a lie, not even a soothing one. And there are false prophets out there, dressed in sheep's clothing, telling soothing lies, who inwardly are ravenous wolves. Their lies do not save. Good trees make good fruit, and bad trees make bad fruit. even if it's done in the Name of Jesus. You don't expect grapes from thorn bushes. You don't expect good fruit from a bad tree. You don't expect salvation from a false preacher. The bad trees are cut down and burned. The only tree that matters is the Cross. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13). The good fruit of the Cross is forgiveness. All other trees will be cut down and thrown into the fire. There is no other Name by which men will be saved. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Holy Spirit, our delight And source of consolation, Protect us from the devil's might Through Jesus, our salvation, Who by His death upon a tree Has rescued us from misery: To this we hold forever. ("All Glory Be to God on High" LSB 947, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Saturday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 24, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Introit for the Eight Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 48:1, 3, 11, 14; antiphon: vs.9-10) Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 8:1-22; Acts 21:15-36 Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments! (From the Introit for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We recoil at a God who sits in judgment of our actions. It's so hard to reflect on those vulnerable moments of our past without explanations to go along with our mistakes. Those excuses are called self-justification. We want to add something to our actions to make them seem less wrong. An excuse. A blame directed at someone else. A reason why. We try so hard to justify ourselves that the idea of being judged skips right over terrifying and leaves us either despairing or furious. But it's not a question of if we will be judged. We confess it in the creed. On the Last Day, the Son will come again to judge the living and the dead. I didn't read anything about Jesus' taking into account our excuses, either. Still, we can't help it. We self-justify like we breathe. We dive into every awful day and insist that our explanations for what happened change what actually did happen. We're chasing after a favorable judgment. We're trying to find a way to hear the word "judgment" without cringing. That won't come from excuses. That will only come from the Gospel. Only within Mount Zion, within God's temple, do God's judgments become something other than a need to justify your sins. They become a source of joy. Within Mount Zion, we hear that the Lord's judgments were rendered against the Son upon the Cross. He has judged Him guilty of all your sin. He has judged you innocent, righteous, and holy. Your self-justifications are laid down, and your cross is taken up. Your excuses are cast aside for forgiveness. Let Mount Zion be glad! This is why we preach and sing in the temple. It isn't a chance to earn points with God that we can cash in for heaven. It's to tell, over and over, of the Cross where the judgment happened. Of what it looked like. Of whom it's for: you. You have been judged innocent. We think on that steadfast love. We praise His righteousness for us, and not our own. The Cross silences our excuses and leaves judgment as a hope and not a fear. This is our God, forever and ever. Never will you be judged. Always, Jesus is your justification. Let the daughters of Judah rejoice! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. He blotted out with His own blood The judgment that against us stood; For us He full atonement made, And all our debt He fully paid. ("The Death of Jesus Christ, Our Lord" LSB 634, st.2) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 23, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 6:19-7:17; Acts 19:1-22 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." (Acts 19:2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Church needs constant teaching. Woe to those who think they've learned it all in confirmation! Imagine if the disciples who Paul met by Ephesus responded as we do today. "What do you mean Holy Spirit? I've been in this synagogue all my life and never heard of that." Also, woe to those who think theology is about winning arguments rather than teaching. Imagine if Paul replied the way stubborn clergy do: "I went to seminary. You didn't. I know better than you. We're doing it this way now." Instead, Paul taught. He catechized. For months. Then years. Miracles happened. Not just the healings from afflictions. Even greater. People believed. They were baptized in the name of the Triune God. They taught others. Even unbelievers were given hope. The doctrine of the apostolic faith is unchanging, but the visible Church on earth is always in the process of learning it. If you look around and see nothing but ignorance, rejoice, because that is daily being overcome by the patient teaching of God's Word. Also, relax, because this teaching is done by the Holy Spirit, whose job it is to create and strengthen faith. It's His to accomplish in His time. If you look around and find something you haven't learned yet, compare it to God's Word. Go back to your catechism. You might be a part of something wonderful, the spreading of the true Word of God and the strengthening of His kingdom. It happens slowly, sometimes over generations, but the Holy Spirit is at work wherever the Word is taught in its truth and purity. If you can't find these new teachings in God's Word and your catechism, reject them. The visible Church will have ignorance and schism until the Last Day. It will also have the Holy Spirit daily destroying those things with the light of the true Gospel of Christ. When things look bleak, don't look for miracles or an overnight growth in understanding. Just return to the Word, where the Body of Christ is always being built up. Rejoice that God has promised to accomplish this work, and that none given to Him will be lost. This is why God blessed you with a catechism, that you would return to the same teachings over and over. Don't put the book down after confirmation. Reread it, and year after year, God's Word will correct, reprove, and give hope. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Help us Your holy Law to learn, To mourn our sin and from it turn In faith to You and to Your Son And Holy Spirit, Three in One. ("Lord, Help Us Ever to Retain" LSB 865, st.2) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

St. Mary Magdalene

July 22, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: John 20:1-2, 10-18 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 5:1-6:3, 10-16; Acts 18:1-11, 23-28 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Part of me wants to focus on Mary's announcement. She gets to tell the disciples the good news. Christ is risen! It feels like a redemption story. From the often-assumed belief that she was the prostitute who worshipped at Jesus' feet (that woman isn't named in the Bible), to fiction about her marital status (not in the Bible at all), to her confusion of the risen Lord with a gardener (that one's in there), Mary Magdalene gets a lot of the focus, but rarely in a good way. We want her to turn her life around, and then share the good news. The truth is, we don't know the name of the prostitute who worshipped at Jesus' feet. A pope named Gregory the Great decided that it was this Mary. We know Jesus wasn't married. Fiction writers have decided otherwise. So much of what we want to believe about Mary Magdalene has to do with what people assume she did. Most of it is wrong. All of it misses the point. Jesus doesn't know her by her deeds or her past, but by her faith. He says something to her. "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." She has the same Father as the Son of God does. If you want to know who Mary Magdalene was, set aside myth and hold to the Word of God. She is a daughter of the Father. She is a saint by faith in Christ. It's true for you, too. You are not known by what people say about you, true or not. You are not known by your past. You are known by the same thing Mary is known by: your identity is a child of God. You have the same Father as Jesus and Mary. You are baptized. In this water, you are united with Christ just like Mary. You are an heir to the kingdom of heaven. You are so precious to the Son that He who redeemed you from sin and death only talks about you as His brother or sister. People talk. Most of them get it wrong. Christ is still risen. You are still baptized. You have a Father in heaven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We sing Your praise for Mary, Who came at Easter dawn To look for Jesus' body And found her Lord was gone. But, as with joy she saw Him In resurrection light, May we by faith behold Him, The Day who ends our night! ("For All the Faithful Women" LSB 855, st.11) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Wednesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 21, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Fifth Petition Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 4:1-22; Acts 16:23-40 Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. (Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Fifth Petition) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is one sentence we wish could be divided into two separate things. Having my forgiveness and my willingness to forgive others linked together is a damning thing. Still, Jesus is clear. In Matthew 6:14–15 He says, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." It sounds like my grudge from the sixth grade is enough to undo my Baptism. It sounds like my heart is enough to undo the Cross. That's because looking in my heart for forgiveness never goes particularly well. Ask the kid I still don't like from middle school even though I can't remember his last name anymore. Forgiveness doesn't come from your heart. It comes from the Cross. Always. The forgiveness for your sins comes from the Cross, not from your asking for it. Jesus died 2,000 years before you could ask Him to forgive you. Faith clings to this forgiveness and finds comfort there. Forgiveness from the Cross addresses your heart. It works that way for your neighbor, too. Forgiveness for their sins comes from the Cross to address your heart. When we stop looking at the Cross for forgiveness, there's a problem. We pray in this petition that we would see our enemies the same way Jesus sees them. Died for. Either there's forgiveness for sinners or there's not. Saying there's no forgiveness for sinners isn't going to work well for you. Taking your grudges to the Cross and seeing that your neighbor's sins against you were so vile that He had to bleed to cover them is a gift. That is where your neighbor's sins are punished. That is where wrath is abated. Seeing that justice was done lets you see your neighbor as someone who doesn't owe you anything anymore. Jesus paid it. Forgiveness isn't about what we deserve. It's about what was given. You don't earn your forgiveness by forgiving others. Instead, you get to see the God who forgives whether you're angry or not and you can say, "Amen." This is true. I'm angry, but they're still forgiven. Lord, address my heart with comfort so that I can find peace in your Cross, forgiveness for my sins, and forgiveness for my neighbors', too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore, That they may trouble us no more; We, too, will gladly those forgive Who hurt us by the way they live. Help us in our community To serve each other willingly. ("Our Father, Who from Heaven Above" 766, st.6) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Tuesday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 20, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Romans 6:19-23 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 3:1-21; Acts 16:1-22 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Only someone who has spent all their life under slavery can be set free and ask, "What do I do now?" If you don't know what freedom really looks like, how would you know what to do when you're free? Only someone born under the threats and coercion of the Law can imagine that "freedom" looks like Netflix and a whole tub of ice cream just because serving your neighbor can be hard sometimes. What do you really gain from the bottom of the ice cream tub? What hope is found in ignoring your problems to binge-watch junk? I am speaking to you in human terms, because of your natural limitations. You are free from the Law's demands. It cannot condemn you in Christ Jesus your Lord. You have the free gift of God, eternal life, purchased by His death upon the Cross. When you return to pet sins, Jesus still died for you, your sins are still bled for and forgiven. That's not the question. The question is "Do those things actually help?" When we get stressed or angry, scared or just bored, we go looking for hope in something familiar, and we return to the things that held us captive. Real hope is never found there, though. Christianity is not asking the question, "Can you do whatever you want?" Instead, the question is "Where is hope which endures?" Christ endured death and rose again. Hope in something that leads to holiness and eternal life. Hope in something that isn't just numb. Everyone's owned by something. Either we're owned by our passions and our sins and we're not free to rise above them and build something that's more than comfortably numb, or we're owned by the God who purchased us with His own life so that He can keep us and shelter us now and to eternal life. One leads to death. The other to life. The free gift of God, eternal life, is given only to sinners. It's given to you. You don't have to earn it. You're free from sin. Free from death. Allowed to ask, "What do I do now?" It's answered by the God who simply says, "Live." Live in the things that produce hope. Live in the Law of God, free from its curse, because you were made alive in the Gospel, which promises that hope is a gift, not an escape. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No son of man could conquer death, Such ruin sin had wrought us. No innocence was found on earth, And therefore death had brought us Into bondage from of old And ever grew more strong and bold And held us as its captive. Alleluia! ("Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" LSB 458, st.2) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Monday of the Seventh Week after Trinity

July 19, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Genesis 2:7-17 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 2:18-36; Acts 15:22-41 "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:17) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God made everything and it was good. He made Adam of the dust of the ground. Eve would be there soon. Very good. He put them in the Garden, full of every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. Awesome. The Tree of Life was there. Dope! Also the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: If you ate from it you died. Good? God calls it good. The issue is we're pretty sure it's not. We consider the tree, at best, a test from the all-knowing God who would have seen this coming. When we don't like something God is doing, we figure He either messed up or is trying to test us. Because we know good and evil now, we just get the two mixed up, so our motives seem purer than the God we call holy. The tree was never a test. It was where God instituted His Church. This was for worship. It was the one place Adam could see God as bigger, and could worship the mystery of God. It wasn't there to hurt him and Eve, but to help them. To ward off the idea that they know more than God. To remind them to fear, love, and trust, and to give them a chance to practice it. The tree was good. The problem started when we decided it wasn't. Because if the tree isn't good, what do you think of the God who put it there? God knows more than we do. . . but what if we can't trust Him? Eve grew afraid of the tree and wouldn't even touch it. She explains it to the devil. Not "Don't eat it," but "Don't touch it. Don't even go near it." Except "it" is church. God knew it would happen. Adam's sins. Eve's. Yours, too. The Tree of Knowledge showed the problem, but not how to fix it and live. But that was never the job of that tree. Salvation was never a test. We fell by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but God saved us by the tree of the Cross. His intent was always to save and to love. This was never His backup plan. The Tree of Life was always a Cross. It just took a few thousand years to see the Son hanging on it. But it was always intended for Adam, Eve, and you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Now from that tree of Jesus' shame Flows life eternal in His name; For all who trust and will believe, Salvation's living fruit receive. And of this fruit so pure and sweet The Lord invites the world to eat, To find within this cross of wood The tree of life with ev'ry good. ("The Tree of Life" LSB 561, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity

July 18, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Mark 8:1-9 Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 1:21-2:17; Galatians 6:1-18 "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat." (Mark 8:2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There's a difference between a father who spends time with his kids and one who avoids them by being at work. There's a difference between kids who get As and kids who get detention. There's a difference between the doctor saying there's a cure or telling you that you have only weeks left to live. All the world measures. It's how things work. Literally everywhere. And it's exhausting. It's depressing. Because I know which father I am. . . maybe better than a few, but still not great. You know which kid you are. We know because there are standards. We call it the Law. A picture of good. Anything less. . . just isn't. Everywhere else in the world we live and die by laws. Do enough. Be enough. Have enough. We see the shortcomings here just fine. Laws measure. They point out where things aren't enough, and so we do, too. So any miracle that defies the word "enough" catches our attention, like when Jesus feeds 4,000. It's so easy to miss the greatest part of it. Get lost in the details. In the numbers. In the crowd. In the miracle. It all flows from one thing. He had compassion on them. For all we measure here, we miss the point. We want to measure. How much do we need? Is there enough? You measure it on the Cross, where the word "enough" sounded like "It is finished." He shed His blood for the forgiveness of all your sins. Not portioned, but poured out for forgiveness. For you. The Law measures. The Gospel just gives. All your sins. You can interject that you don't need it because you just got that in Absolution. You're already baptized. Shut up. Here's more mercy for you. The Law says, "Do this." The Gospel says, "It is finished." Over and over again. It covers all sin. All shortcomings. All failure. There is no measuring here. We will be a Gospel church. Without His compassion we will faint along the way, but know that it is yours, it is boundless, and it accomplishes all that is needed. Gather up all your failure and sin and dump it at the Cross. For everywhere that you don't measure up, for every place you're insecure, for every place you compensate or bargain or cheat, there is mercy for you. Your sins are forgiven. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O God, whose never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth, we humbly implore You to put away from us all hurtful things and to give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Saturday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

July 17, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Introit for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 47:3, 6-8; antiphon: vs.1-2) Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 1:1-20; Galatians 5:1-26 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. (From the Introit for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It's hard to sing praises to our King who puts all nations under our feet when we're not even happy with our own country. It would be a gift to the Church if we cared about false doctrine the way we care about the faults of the other political party. It would be a gift to your conscience, if you considered what it looked like when all things were put under Christ's feet, especially if you've been unhappy with the leaders God has given you at one time or another. "He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:20-23). Christ rose from the dead and Pilate still ruled Jerusalem. Christ was risen when the Church hid in catacombs. Christ is risen when the president you'd never vote for is in office. All things are under His feet. If you can only imagine God being able to reign over nations you approve of, you'll have to discount most of Scripture, where even evil kings are used for God's purposes, not to build a utopia on earth, but to save sinners from the last great enemy, death. His kingdom is not of this world. Please. Stop responding with, "But what if we build it" and start saying, "Amen." If you want to see your God upon His throne, look to the ascension, not the 24-hour news. You can't find a country on earth where God isn't capable of forgiving sins. You can't find a leader on earth who can keep you in the tomb when God says "rise." Even where the Church faces persecution, the Word cannot be bound. Our prayers are not just for peaceful times, but for comfort in the knowledge that even if we've been unhappy with politics in the last few years, our God is still working forgiveness, life, and salvation. Christ is risen from the dead. All things were put under His feet. You are united with Him in this resurrection, so in the same way, all the nations are put under yours. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. And when in pow'r He comes, Oh, may our native land From all its rending tombs Send forth a glorious band, A countless throng, With joy to sing To heav'n's high King ("Before You, Lord, We Bow" LSB 966, st.5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

July 16, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Daily Lectionary: Judges 16:4-30; Galatians 4:12-31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. (Galatians 4:31) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Abraham had two sons: Ishmael of the flesh, by Hagar, his wife Sarah's slave, and Isaac of the promise, by Sarah. Full stop. Think about how humiliated Sarah had to feel giving her husband to her servant. She trusted God. He promised Abraham a child. She believed Him. She just figured she had to help. Ishmael, born of people trying their best. Your little league trophy lied to you. Trying your best isn't good enough. The flesh is humiliating. To stand before God based on what you can do is to live according to the Law. It is to live in slavery to what you cannot do, what you cannot be, what you cannot achieve. It is to exist in slavery to sin and death. Sinai is not a mountain of hope. It is not a promise of salvation. It is a bargain over earthly trinkets, and the inability to hope for something that outlasts them. But Jerusalem above is free. She is our mother. You are free from the Law. You are free from slavery to the best you can do, to the strings attached. You are not a child of God based on what you can do or how you can help. You are a child according to the promise. You are a child of the Gospel. God has promised you adoption. A place of honor. A place not earned but given. A place for you. After all, you are baptized. This isn't about your contributing, but about God's delivering a promise.The forgiveness of sins. Rescue from death. Salvation. The hope of something that endures where everything else in this world fails. An identity apart from the humiliation of the Law, but in the glory God gives His beloved. This isn't a someday promise to finally receive when you leave this world. It's a now promise. It's a here promise. It's a for you promise. It's a Baptism. It isn't just heaven that's clothed in white robes. The Church militant wears them, too. The saints on earth are children of God. You have already been purchased from slavery, not with gold or silver, but with the holy and precious blood, the innocent suffering and death of Christ. Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery under the Law. Do not submit to the yoke of doing your best and the humiliation and death it brings. Live in the promise of freedom, given through your Mother Jerusalem, the Church, where God sustains you according to the promise. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In the water, in the Word, In His promise, be assured: Those who are baptized and believe Shall be born again. Father welcomes all His children To His fam'ly through His Son. Father giving His salvation, Life forever has been won. ("Father Welcomes" LSB 605, st.2) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

July 15, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Daily Lectionary: Judges 15:1-16:3; Galatians 3:23-4:11 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4–5) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Law was our guardian. The lLw's job is not to love you, but to hold you captive. The Law can't make you hate sin, just punishment. The heart is still full of lust and evil and envy and hate. The Law can't make you love what God commands, only fear what happens if you don't. The Law can't give you a good conscience. The Law can't give you righteousness. The Law can't give you freedom. The Law can't give you anything. It can only demand. The Law is one thing. The Gospel is another. The Gospel cannot demand. It can only give. Christ gives you His righteousness, His holiness, even His identity. Now, you are no longer under a guardian, but sons of God, through faith, and heirs according to the promise. You are baptized. The Law doesn't own you or hold you anymore. It cannot speak to your conscience. That is the job of the Gospel. You have put on Christ, who is your righteousness. The Law doesn't cease to exist. It is still a reflection of the Law giver. The Law reflects the character of God. It shows how things are supposed to be. So for you, it shows what you are not. Christ was not born into the world to eliminate how things are supposed to be, but to set aright what sin broke. So He was not born apart from the Law, but under the Law. He allows the Law to hold Him captive. He suffers the wages of sin. He dies to forgive you all your sins. He redeems you from the Law that held you captive, and adopts you into His own family. This isn't so that you would hate the Law, but so that you would be free from it. We love the Law because we wear Jesus in our Baptism. He fulfills all the Law demands. Where the Lord is, there is freedom from the captivity of the Law. You are free from the curses of the Law. You are free from sin, free from death, free from terror. You are in Christ. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In Baptism we now put on Christ—Our shame is fully covered With all that He once sacrificed And freely for us suffered. For here the flood of His own blood Now makes us holy, right, and good Before our heav'nly Father. ("All Christians Who Have Been Baptized" LSB 596, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Wednesday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

July 14, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Fourth Petition Daily Lectionary: Judges 14:1-20; Galatians 3:1-22 Give us this day our daily bread. (Small Catechism: Lord's Prayer, Fourth Petition) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This petition, probably more than any others, drives us to prayer. We have daily needs we see going unmet. We somehow figure this petition is supposed to fix that if we just do it right. God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. If you don't pray, God still gives you daily bread. If you're evil, daily bread is for you. Prayer isn't currency. It's comfort. God doesn't give everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body only to the well behaved or the ones who pray enough. He gives it to sinners, even unbelieving ones. Because Jesus loves sinners. He loves you. He even loves the sinners who don't believe yet. He loves them enough to die for them. A grilled cheese falls under the same banner of grace as forgiveness of sins. God won't deal with you according to what you deserve, but according to His love for you. He would give good gifts for your good. All of it is an undeserved gift. And in this petition, He reminds us that it's okay to look in normal places for it. He gives daily bread through means. He could float said grilled cheese in front of you and make it glow in the dark. Instead, He gives you a grocery store. It's a freeing thing. Prayer isn't a way to make God work apart from means, but a reminder that He works through them, even fallen means. If God has promised to work through fallen sinners to provide daily bread to you, you can see and know that God is caring for you here. God doesn't need a sinless farmer to grow crops. He doesn't need sinless families to care for you. Yet this is exactly how God has promised to take care of you. He doesn't just do it for this life, but to drive you to the next. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Give us this day our daily bread, And let us all be clothed and fed. Save us from hardship, war, and strife; In plague and famine, spare our life, That we in honest peace may live, To care and greed no entrance give. ("Our Father, Who From Heaven Above" LSB 766:5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Tuesday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

July 13, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Romans 6:3-11 Daily Lectionary: Judges 13:1-25; Galatians 2:1-21 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Guilt is potent stuff. We drag it around behind us. We attach it to others. We let a singular event define us. The accident, the mistake, the divorce, the incident. The sin. Everywhere we go it follows us. It's on our minds. It's on everyone else's. We can't seem to go anywhere without being known as that guy. Or we might be her. . . you know the one. It's like that one little moment owns us. More people understand what it's like to be a slave to sin than you'd think. As hard as you struggle against it, as much as you want to put it behind you, it owns you, it holds you captive. It's like we come to church to set it down. Hear about the love of God, about forgiveness. Lay that sin on Jesus. Hear Absolution. Then, when church is over, pick it up again on our way out the door. How many times does someone have to confess the same sin over and over before they're finally forgiven? How many times before you can look at yourself in the mirror? How many times before you can look at your neighbor as anything other than undeserving of any good thing for their sin? The singular event that defines you is not your sin. It is your Baptism. You are baptized. Tied to a real Cross where Jesus suffered and died to forgive the sins that have such power over you. Tied to a real resurrection where you are free from those sins. Today, you are baptized. You have this identity today. That means there is actual salvation, not IF you manage to accomplish something yourself, but BECAUSE Christ has given you this gift. Your identity is not "sinner." You are a child of God. Be free from your past. That past was crucified with Christ. You really are forgiven. He bled and died for you. You're baptized and united to forgiveness. He is risen from the dead, and you are united to that freedom from the sin that's really gone. You are baptized. Reckon yourselves forgiven. Dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. When you can't forget your sin, remember your Baptism. Remember who you really are. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In Baptism we now put on Christ—Our shame is fully covered With all that He once sacrificed And freely for us suffered. For here the flood of His own blood Now makes us holy, right, and good Before our heav'nly Father. ("All Christians Who Have Been Baptized" LSB 596, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Monday of the Sixth Week after Trinity

July 12, 2021 • Pastor Harrison Goodman

Today's Reading: Exodus 20:1-17 Daily Lectionary: Judges 7:1-23; Galatians 1:1-24 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Exodus 20:2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is who your God is. Not just the first couple verses, but the whole thing. The Law is a reflection of the Law maker. In my car, there are 11 commandments. God gets His 10. I add one more. Thou shalt not listen to country music. It's a reflection of who I am: someone with taste. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. This is who your God is. The Lord who absolutely insists on being your God. There's no room for any others. He wants to be the One to care for you. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Your God has a name so powerful it has to be used with care, and He wants you to have it, to call upon Him, pray, praise, and give thanks. Your God wants to spend time with you, so He rests with you and gives you gifts on the Sabbath. Your God wants to work through sinners to love you, so He gives you parents worthy of the same honor due to Him. They sometimes fail to earn it. That never stops God from working through them for your good. He loves you so much that He wants you to have people to represent that love. Honor your father and your mother as gifts from Him. Life goes better that way. Sin breaks stuff. Your God loves life, and insists that you live. Nobody's allowed to kill you. Your God wants you to have a healthy marriage. He walls it off and demands it be defended. He wants you to have and keep your stuff. He values your name and gives it all the protection He gives His own. He even cares about your heart, and knows what will pollute it. He calls us out of sin because sin breaks stuff. He calls us toward that which builds up because He loves us. We don't listen. The Law shows us our sin. It shows us we're not God. We don't need to be. He is, and He brought Israel out slavery to Egypt and us out of slavery to sin and death. The Law paints a picture of God. The Gospel paints a picture of you. You are the one He saves. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Law of God is good and wise And sets His will before our eyes, Shows us the way of righteousness, And dooms to death when we transgress. ("The Law of God is Good and Wise" LSB 571, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch