A Higher Things Daily Devotion

Wednesday of the 21st Week after Trinity

October 27, 2021 • Pastor David Magruder

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, part 5 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 29:1-29; Matthew 18:21-35 But that person is worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In his teaching on worthy reception of the Sacrament of the Altar in the Large Catechism, Luther writes: "Whoever now accepts these words and believes that what they declare is true has forgiveness. But whoever does not believe it has nothing, since he allows it to be offered to him in vain and refuses to enjoy such a saving good. The treasure, indeed, is opened and placed at everyone's door, yes, upon his table. But it is necessary that you also claim it and confidently view it as the words tell you. This is the entire Christian preparation for receiving this Sacrament worthily." Faith receives what Jesus gives. It is as simple as that. Unbelief blocks the path of those gifts. Who in the world would refuse such a gift as Jesus' Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins? Well, your old Adam would. He would rather nurse and nurture his sin. He would prefer to withhold forgiveness from all those losers who have sinned against him. Along with the Pharisee in Jesus' parable in Luke 18, the old Adam says, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector." Yet the "treasure indeed, is opened and placed at everyone's door." Jesus died for the Pharisee and the tax collector alike. His desire is for the life, not the death, of sinners. So, Jesus comes for the broken and repentant sinners to rescue them. He feeds you with His precious Body and Blood and fills you with faith to receive that gift as the words tell you. To receive the Sacrament worthily is to trust the words of Jesus. Mistrusting the words of our Lord or trusting in our own righteousness makes us truly unworthy. God be praised that He sends the Word of the Law to bring us to repentance and the Word of forgiveness that brings us life. And best of all, thanks be to God that such forgiveness is placed in our mouths in the Holy Supper of our Lord! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord Jesus Christ, life-giving bread, May I in grace possess You. Let me with holy food be fed, Your wounded hand now feed me. Though weary, sinful, sick, and weak, Refuge in You alone I seek, Give me Your grace and mercy. ("Lord Jesus Christ, Life-Giving Bread" LSB 625, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Tuesday of the 21st Week after Trinity

October 26, 2021 • Pastor David Magruder

Today's Reading: Ephesians 6:10-17 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 28:1-22; Matthew 18:1-20 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I spent eight months in the country of Afghanistan as a United States Navy chaplain. Nearly every day for those eight months I had to put on a 17-pound protective armored vest and a three-pound Kevlar helmet. Many times, I wondered if I could just dispense with wearing that cumbersome gear and lighten my load. But soon enough, the sound of enemy fire or the thought of my wife and three young children at home motivated me to hoist on that armor for another day. It would have been foolish to cast aside the protection that had been issued to me. I was given the armor to protect me from danger in a dangerous combat zone. So it is for you. Whether you recognize it or not, you are fighting on a great and terrible battlefield. The enemy is mostly unseen but nonetheless real. The spiritual forces of evil and Satan are constantly scheming to find a way to separate you from the Lord your God. You even must battle your old sinful self with its deadly desires. The great news is that you are not alone in this fight. Christ, the victor over death and the devil, fights for you. He lords His Cross, death, and empty grave over the evil one and He provides you with the armor to ensure your survival in body and soul. The armor comes from Him. You have the belt of truth, the Word of God. You wear the breastplate of righteousness: the righteousness of Christ that covers your sinful self. You have been given the Gospel of peace, that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).You have received the shield of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), the helmet of salvation, and the Word of God which is the sword of the Spirit. All these gifts are from God and are bestowed on you by God's grace in Christ. You are united to Jesus. You are baptized! His strength and might are yours (Romans 6:3-4)! It is pure gift. You are safe and sound in Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. So wield well your blade, Rejoice in its pow'rs, Fight on undismayed For Jesus is ours! Then in Him victorious Your armor lay down, To praise, ever glorious, His cross and His crown. ("Be Strong in the Lord" LSB 665, st.5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Monday of the 21st Week after Trinity

October 25, 2021 • Pastor David Magruder

Today's Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:3 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 27:1-26; Matthew 17:14-27 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Everything that is, was created by God. You must take this personally. You are not an accidental being. The God who by His Word spoke creation itself into existence and marked times and seasons, created you. Every part of your being is the creative work of God. Your mind, your emotions, your physical self, are all a gracious gift from God the Father. He says of you as He did of the created order, "very good." However, our experience in this life is not always "very good." The rebellious sin brought into the world by the man and the woman has altered our reality. Our "very good" bodies betray us. We endure depression and anxiety. Cancers and viruses take away our loved ones in death. We sin daily in thought, word and deed, abusing others made in the image of God. Something must be done to reverse the downward slide into death that dogs all of humanity. The Son of God, through whom all things were made (John 1:3), the One who is God of God and Light of Light, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man (Nicene Creed). The eternal Son of God suffered on the Cross and was buried in death. On the Third Day He rose again to bring resurrection life to all who believe in Him. You must take this personally, too. You have been joined to the death and life of Jesus in your Baptism. The God who created the heavens and the earth has given you a new creation in His Son, Jesus. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again (re-created) he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). You have been re-created by the water and the Word. Your sins have been died for by Jesus and the way to a never-ending life has been opened for you. In Jesus, God the Father once again speaks over you these amazing words, "Very good." Yes, you are! In Jesus you are very good indeed. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We all believe in one true God, Who created earth and heaven, The Father who to us in love Has the right of children given. He in soul and body feeds us; All we need His hand provides us; Through all snares and perils leads us, Watching that no harm betide us. He cares for us by day and night; All things governed by His might. Amen. ("We All Believe in One True God" LSB 954, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

The 21st Sunday after Trinity

October 24, 2021 • Pastor David

Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. (John 4:50) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Two miracles occur in the reading for today. The first is obvious: The son of an official is brought from the point of death by the Word of Jesus. The second miracle is seen by faith: A fearful father is rescued from his faithlessness. I'm sure the father of the dying boy didn't think much about his wobbly faith as he approached Jesus that day in Capernaum. He had faith enough to come to Jesus, yet he believed that Jesus could not heal his son without being physically present for him. Jesus sets him straight with a promise that only He can make: "Go; your son will live." With that promise echoing in his ears, the anxious and faithful father heads for home. On the journey home he hears the great news that his son is recovering. His trust in Jesus was confirmed and he and his whole household believed. The connection for us is clear. Jesus receives us gladly, even with our wobbly faith. We come to Him asking for humanly impossible things with the confidence that the One who can change water into wine and bring a young man back from the brink of death can rescue us. We have God's promise. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). We feast on Jesus by faith. We trust His Word when He says, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26). We feast on the Bread of Life each time we come to the altar and receive the very Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Supper. In the Supper Jesus grants us the forgiveness that delivers us from death. With His Body and Blood He says to you, "Go: You, son or daughter, will live." In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, keep your household, the Church, in continual godliness that through your protection she may be free from all adversities and devoutly given to serve You in good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the 21st Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr

October 23, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Acts 15:12-22 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10; Matthew 16:13-28 After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name." (Acts: 15:13-14) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. James of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord: What a turn around this guy did! If you read the Gospels you will come upon the occasional instances when Jesus is milling around His home country and His brothers try to stop by for a chat. Now this is not in order to catch up on times gone past, but it is because they think their older brother, Jesus, has gone crazy. And who can blame them? They grew up with this man who is now claiming to be the Messiah. I wouldn't believe my weirdo brother either. But at some point after the resurrection, James comes to faith. Paul mentions that Jesus appeared to James just like He did to Paul. And miraculously, James, just like Paul, was converted. Then God used James, this old doubter of His Son, to testify to the truth of His Son in the city of Jerusalem. James is given to be the head of the church in Jerusalem: We might call him a bishop. His most important point of business is to distinguish between the Gospel unto salvation and those pushing the works of the Law unto salvation. The Circumcision Party had been going around Judea and Galilee and all the known world pushing the works of the Law instead of proclaiming Christ. Their gospel was a gospel of "Make yourself worthy through the works of your hands and then you might be deserving of the things of Jesus." But James knew this to be rubbish, for how had he ever made himself worthy of Jesus? James had rejected Jesus throughout his whole earthly life and needed a special post-resurrection appearance in order to believe. There was no way that he was going to ever allow those pushing works-righteousness to obscure the Holy Gospel of Christ crucified. And so James hears Paul's testimony and the whole council agrees with him and Barnabas: Salvation is open, free and clear to the Gentiles, just as much as it is to the Jews. It is for James' stand for the Gospel that we give thanks this day. Christ Jesus is for all and there is no work of the Law needed to make oneself worthy. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. May God bestow on us His grace, With blessings rich provide us; And may the brightness of His face To life eternal guide us. That we His saving health may know, His gracious will and pleasure, And also to the nations show Christ's riches without measure And unto God convert them. ("May God Bestow on Us His Grace" LSB 823, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the 20th Week after Trinity

October 22, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 21:1-23; Matthew 16:1-12 And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23c) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This seems to be a bit of a throw-away line. It doesn't make much sense in the context of the rest of Deuteronomy 21, other than the fact that it is indeed another law heaped out for the masses to fulfill. There is no real connection between unsolved murders and marrying the women whom you have made captive. And as for the direct tie to inheritance rights and how to treat a rebellious son, your guess is as good as mine. But if you read the Old Testament in the light of the New, if you have the lens of Jesus to peer through as you trudging your way through Moses and his first five books of the Bible, then throw-away verses like this tend to have a little more meaning to them. Paul seemed to figure this out. Or better said, the Holy Spirit apparently enlightened Paul in this matter and so he has gone ahead and enlightened us as well. In the third chapter to his letter to the Galatians, Paul is arguing against the works of the Law. For truly everyone is cursed by the demands of the Law. It lays out for us an impossibly difficult task: Just read all of Deuteronomy and tell me if you can pull it off. But Christ has freed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. That is what Paul says in Galatians 3:13. But he isn't just making up some new sort of theology. He is harkening back to Moses, to our text in Deuteronomy. Jesus is that dead guy who is hanging on the tree. And yes, He is the One who is cursed by God. Cursed by God because your sin and my sin is upon Him. Cursed by God because Jesus has become sin. And in this, we have faith and are saved. For faith is of the Gospel, not of the Law. Works are of the Law, but we are saved by the Gospel, by faith in the Gospel, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus hanging on the Cross for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Upon the cross extended See, world, your Lord suspended.Your Savior yields His breath. The Prince of Life from heaven Himself has freely given To shame and blows and bitter death. Your soul in griefs unbounded, Your head with thorns surrounded, You died to ransom me. The cross for me enduring, The crown for me securing, You healed my wounds and set me free. ("Upon the Cross Extended" LSB 453, st.1, 5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the 20th Week after Trinity

October 21, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Ephesians 5:15-21 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 20:1-20; Matthew 15:21-39 Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-21) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul lays out how it is we are to serve our neighbor, how we are to love them as ourselves. There are a lot of specifics at the end of Ephesians. Paul doesn't shy away from how the Christian, the New Man in Christ, is to act. As has been said many times before, the Law shows you what love looks like. You don't have to guess. You don't have to wonder how you are to love your neighbor. The Law will tell you. And one of the most foundational ways that we are to love our neighbor is by submitting or subjecting ourselves to them. Now, we don't like that word because it comes with the connotation of "less than vs. greater than," but that is not our Lord's intention. We submit to each other as the situation calls for it. God is the God of order and that means we all hold different vocations. That is good. That is exactly how it should be. Within a family there is a father and a mother, children and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and each member of the family fits under or over someone else. The same thing is true for your place of work or school, your sports teams or social clubs, or society in general. We are all given different vocations and we fulfill them accordingly. The one in subjection recognizes the authority that God has given to the one who is over him. And so we do not fight against that or despise it. We thank the Lord that He has created for us a life of order and not one of chaos. The one in authority also recognizes something; he has been given that authority, not so that he can be served, but so that he can serve those under him. The one with authority takes his cue from the One with all authority, Christ Jesus. He came as a servant to all, even being willing to lay down his life. So, too, do we serve our neighbor selflessly and lovingly. All of this is a good gift from above. And we always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He gives for our good and we receive His gifts with joy. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Penitent sinners, for mercy crying, Pardon and peace from Him obtain; Ever the wants of the poor supplying, Their faithful God He will remain. He helps His children in distress, The widows and the fatherless. Alleluia, alleluia! ("Praise the Almighty" LSB 797, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Wednesday of the 20th Week after Trinity

October 20, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, part 4 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 19:1-20; Matthew 15:1-20 How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: "forgiveness of sins." (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is no parlor trick. Nor is it a simple meal of remembrance, as we would think about the word "remembrance." For when God remembers His salvation, it is not just that He thinks back in time to the day of the Red Sea crossing or deliverance from Babylon or Good Friday. He is outside of time, so to Him such an idea of "remembering" doesn't even exist. When God remembers, or when He calls us to remember, it is an incorporation into the actual event of salvation. In the same way that the people were incorporated in the daily sacrifices of the temple (receiving the slaughtered animal's flesh, taking it home, cooking it, and eating it) so, too, are we incorporated into the sacrifice of the Cross. We don't just remember with our mind, but we remember with our mouths. We take and eat the Body of our Lord. We take and drink His Blood poured out for us. This is the way of our Lord. He gives with real blessing, real life, real Jesus, real forgiveness in and with real things. There is no remembering the Cross at communion that doesn't also include receiving the Cross. And therefore there is no remembering Jesus and His sacrifice in the Sacrament without receiving Jesus, His sacrifice, and all that He won on the Cross. And so, in receiving the Sacrament you receive the forgiveness of sins. With the forgiveness of sins you receive life and salvation as well, because with all sins forgiven, eternal life and eternal salvation are yours forever. How is this all possible? Christ your Lord said it is. And His Word is not just descriptive, it is prescriptive, it is creative. His Word gives exactly what His Word says. And so yes, when you participate in the Sacrament you receive the forgiveness of sins, and you receive Jesus, because He said so. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, we praise Thee, bless Thee and adore Thee, In thanksgiving bow before Thee. Thou with Thy body and Thy blood didst nourish Our weak souls that they may flourish: O Lord, have mercy! May Thy body, Lord, born of Mary, That our sins and sorrows did carry, And Thy blood for us plead In all trial, fear, and need: O Lord, have mercy! ("O Lord, We Praise Thee" LSB 617, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Tuesday of the 20th Week after Trinity

October 19, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Isaiah 55:1-9 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 18:1-22; Matthew 14:22-36 "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." (Isaiah 55:1-2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.The ways of the Lord are not our ways. His thoughts are not like ours. They are far above us: As the heavens are high from the earth, so, too, are God's thoughts and ways far above ours. And this is a good thing. Often we think about this lofty fact in the light of God's being so much bigger, so much smarter than us. We think of it in regard to His omniscience, the fact that He knows all things and can see the game play out, whereas we are stuck in the game and can't see more than two moves in front of us. While this is all true, of course, I don't think this is what Isaiah means. Isaiah tells us to come and buy wine and milk, come and purchase them both so that we can be content. And so we come, with money in hand; money that looks like our works, money that looks like our self-assured pride, money that looks like our lineage or our ancestry or anything else that pertains to the Law. We come prepared to purchase that which we need, for this is the way of our lowly thoughts. But what we buy looks nothing like wine, nor does it taste anything like milk. We don't seem to mind, for we are quite assured that what we have purchased for ourselves is--we think--far, far better than what God has in store for us. But our Lord's ways are so much different, so much higher. He tells us to buy, but without money, which means, of course, that we aren't buying anything. Instead, it is all a gift given. For when I don't bring anything to the table, but get the most exquisite meal anyway, that means the Lord is going about His higher work once again. Gifts for everyone! Free and clear! Bellies all full, sins all forgiven, death all dead. Come, buy the things of your Lord! You won't believe how great the deal is. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus, Thy boundless love to me No thought can reach, no tongue declare; Unite my thankful heart to Thee, And reign without a rival there! Thine wholly, Thine alone I am; Be Thou alone my constant flame. ("Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me" LSB 683, st.1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

St. Luke, Evangelist

October 18, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Luke 10:1-9 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 17:1-20; Matthew 14:1-21 And [Jesus] said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves." (Luke 10:2-3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus sends out the 72. It's kind of like a dry-run for Pentecost. The disciples are to go out and preach the message of peace to all they come upon. Peace for the sinner. Peace for the unrighteous. Peace for the enemy, the filthy, the unclean, the unworthy. Jesus sends His disciples out to do a job of peace-proclamation, for God's enemy needs to hear this peace, which means I do, too. Jesus sends out the 72 to every village and city that He is about to go into. Kind of like John the Baptist preparing the road, making the path straight. But this, too, should show us something: Jesus always follows the proclamation of the Gospel. If the peace of the Lord is proclaimed to the people, that means that Jesus is there. For it is Jesus who is the Author of our peace. And here, too, we should make sure we understand the severity of this peace. For the peace from our Lord is not some hippy-dippy peace found in flowers and puppy dogs. It isn't some fake peace of unity, which is not a real unity because the two sides are still in opposition to each other. No, the peace of our Lord is a true and lasting peace that quells the war between God and sinners. Today, right here and right now, you have that peace. It is a peace proclaimed into your ears by simple little men who look so similar to the 72 in our text for today. These men are your pastors and they have been sent to proclaim peace to you. And peace sounds like forgiveness. Peace sounds like the Cross. Peace sounds like an empty tomb. Peace sounds like sin atoned for and death vanquished and the serpent's head crushed. Peace sounds like Jesus. And so, wouldn't you know it? Wherever God sends His pastors to proclaim His peace, Jesus is soon to follow. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Then raise to Christ a mighty song, And shout His name, His mercies tell! Sing, heav'nly host, your praise prolong, And all on earth, your anthems swell! All hail, O Lamb for sinners slain! Forever let the song ascend! Worthy the Lamb, enthroned to reign, All glory, pow'r! Amen, amen. ("O God of God, O Light of Light" LSB 810, st.4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

The 20th Sunday after Trinity

October 17, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Matthew 22:1-14 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 15:19-16:22; Matthew 13:44-58 "Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find." And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, "Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?" And he was speechless. (Matthew 22:9-12) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What makes you worthy to attend the wedding feast? You'd better not think it has something to do with you. If you think that you've earned a place at the wedding feast then you will also think that the wedding feast is optional. Then it is no longer a gift; it is no longer a feast to enjoy, but a tedious chore that you can do without. But that is not what the feast is, and that is certainly not who the feast is for. Take a look at the guests who are in attendance. They were found among the main roads and out in the streets. They weren't looking for a feast to attend, but were probably expecting to go home and open up a can of Spaghettios. But there they are, both good and bad. Not a single one worthy, but all of them there. And a garment is given to the guests. Probably a soaking wet one, a white one, a Jesusy one, a baptismal one. This is what is given to the guests and this is what is given to you. What makes them worthy, what makes you worthy, is Christ. The wedding feast is free. It is a party open for all. The invitation is to come and eat to your heart's delight the good and rich food of the King which has been prepared for you. There is no good reason for unbelief, no good reason to not be at the wedding feast clothed in Christ. If you think there is, when confronted by the King, you will realize that all of your excuses are pointless and you will have nothing to say. But know for certain that this feast is for you. Know for certain that Jesus is for you. Know for certain that He is the One who makes you worthy. Know all of this for certain, and come and enjoy the wedding feast! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, grant to Your faithful people pardon and peace that they may be cleansed from all their sins and serve You with a quiet mind; 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 20th Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Saturday of the 19th Week after Trinity

October 16, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Introit for the 20th Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 48:1, 9-11; antiphon: Liturgical Text) Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 14:1-2, 22-23, 28-15:15; Matthew 13:24-43 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, his holy mountain. We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. (From the Introit for the 20th Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Let us pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of our praise. You have made Your goodness known to Your Church, Your salvation is proclaimed among us, and we are to be seen as Your great and mighty city. Upon Your mountain the joy of all the earth is to be found. This mountain is known as Calvary and upon it can be found the Cross of Your Son. Upon this Cross You have established Your Church. And because of this Cross You have given to us a fortress that cannot be shaken. All the kings of the earth can rise against You. They can assemble their troops and ready their forces, but nothing can defeat Your Cross, and so nothing can defeat Your Church. Not even the gates of hell will prevail against Her. Your promise is that all Your enemies have been defeated in Christ. They may shout and shake their fists, but they will not be victorious. Soon they will all flee in terror, shriek at the coming of the Holy One who has defeated them. Within the confines of your Church may we dwell in safety, knowing that our enemies have no power over us. May Your steadfast love for Your people abound in Christ. Let us rejoice in Your salvation that You have won for us, that You give to us daily in the Gifts given here within the walls of Your Church. And may this Word of salvation reach out to the ends of the earth. May the Word of the Cross be spoken into the ears of our enemies. May those who are at enmity with You be brought to repentance and know that Jesus is for them. May this be the Church's prayer and may this be our cry of joy: That salvation is ours, but not ours alone. It is for all. You seek not the death of the sinner, but that all would come to the knowledge of the Truth. Let us live our lives within the safety of Your Church. May we know that She will not fall, that She will last forever and ever, that our children and our children's children will receive the same Christ as we receive! Guide us in the ways of your Son, O Lord, that our confidence may never be shaken. Amen. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O, then, draw away your hearts From all pleasures base and hollow; Strive to share what He imparts While you hear His footsteps follow. As you now still wait to rise, Fix your hearts beyond the skies! ("Jesus Christ, My Sure Defense" LSB 741, st.8) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Friday of the 19th Week after Trinity

October 15, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 13:1-18; Matthew 13:1-23 "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. … But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." (Matthew 13:13, 16) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The parable of the sower is often one of our favorites. We love to hear about the reckless sowing of the seed and how the sower scatters indiscriminately to the wind, letting the seed fall where it may. On the path, the rocks, the thorns, the good soil, the seed goes everywhere. What a wonderful example of how our Lord preaches His Word: He preaches it to all, no matter what. But perhaps the sinner in us loves this parable so much because we love to be able to look around and figure out what type of soil everyone else is. We, of course, are the good soil. Just look at us and our life. Isn't that obvious? But certainly not Matty, He must be the path where the birds have scavenged up all the seed. He's never stepped foot inside a church. And Sara, she has to be the soil with all of the rocks. She has no root. Her faith falters all the time, even at the smallest bit of suffering. And Tim? His is a thorny soil, for he would rather engage in the things of the world instead of the things of God. They are all the poor soil. But me? Well, just look at me. . . But look at me! I don't have the faith that I always claim to have. I like my sin and I'm scared of trials and tribulations and sometimes the devil snatches away God's Gospelly words of promise before I can ever even hear them. So where is my comfort amidst all of this? How can I be sure that I am the good soil when it is so obvious that I am the bad? Perhaps my comfort shouldn't come from deciphering which type of soil I am. Maybe, instead, the comfort should come from the fact that the Sower sows His seed to me no matter my soil. Maybe my assurance is in Him and in His Word. Maybe, just maybe, His Word will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it and He will make me to be the good soil for no other reason than for the sake of Himself. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Preach you the Word and plant it home To men who like or like it not, The Word that shall endure and stand When flow'rs and men shall be forgot. The sower sows; his reckless love Scatters abroad the goodly seed, Intent alone that all may have The wholesome loaves that all men need. ("Preach You the Word" LSB 586, st.1, 3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Thursday of the 19th Week after Trinity

October 14, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 12:13-32; Matthew 12:38-50 But [Jesus] answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:39-40) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What is the will of the Father? That He would break and hinder every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh that does not want His Word to be taught in truth and purity and does not want that Word to be believed in faith. The sinner wants to see signs and wonders. The sinner tells God that he will believe in Him as long as God shows him a sign. But the signs that we want are always the wrong type of sign. We want to dictate to God the ways in which He should do things, the ways in which He should work and save and forgive. In telling God how He should be God, we are really just making ourselves god. It is the fruit in the Garden all over again. Sinners never come up with anything new; we always revert back to the original sin of wanting to be like God. But God has already done it all for us in Christ Jesus, through a bloody Cross and an empty tomb. Believe in that, believe in Him, believe that God has already done the work of salvation and He gives that salvation to you in His Word and through His Sacraments. A Jesus risen from the dead is all that you need. The problem is that the sinner who is confident in his own ways won't even believe in the words of a once-dead Jesus, come back from the grave. And so the sinner needs Jesus. He needs Jesus for it all: for life, for forgiveness, even for faith. For the sinner on his own can't believe in the things of an empty tomb and all that that means. So we pray that His Word is taught among us in truth and purity: free Gospel given to us without any merit or worthiness on our part. And we pray that His Spirit would bring us to, and keep us in, the faith as we hear this Word taught among us, so that we might hear Christ say to us, "You are My brother and sister." In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Christ Jesus, God's own Son, came down, His people to deliver; Destroying sin, He took the crown From death's pale brow forever: Stripped of pow'r, no more it reigns; An empty form alone remains; Its sting is lost forever. Alleluia! ("Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" LSB 458, st.3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch

Wednesday of the 19th Week after Trinity

October 13, 2021 • Pastor Eli Lietzau

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, part 3 Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 11:26-12:12; Matthew 12:22-37 What is the benefit of this eating and drinking? These words, "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," shows us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. (Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar, pt. 3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Why do we eat and drink the Supper of our Lord? Well, first, because Christ has commanded it. But this command is not to be seen as law to be heaped upon us and to burden our conscience. It is a command of love from our gracious Savior who gives what He has promised to give, in the very way that He has promised to give it. On the Cross was where all sins found their end. Christ took them into His body and crucified them to that tree. His blood poured out upon all sins to cover them in a sacrifice that atones for them and washes them away. And so, the victory has been won on the Cross. It is finished! But the victory is not given to us at the Cross. We are temporal creatures who live in a temporal world with the things of time and space. Because 2000 years separate you from that Good Friday, you can't go back to the Cross to receive what Christ has won for you there. But Christ doesn't ask you to go back to the Cross. He doesn't ask you to go to Him. Instead, He comes to you. He places on your tongue the gifts of the Cross: His Body broken there for you, given to you here in time and space. And He pours down your throat the gifts of the Cross: His Blood poured out for you there, given to you here in time and space. How can you be sure that you have the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation? Because Jesus is in you. And not just, "in you" in some sort of mystical way, but in a real and tangible way, a touchy and feely way, a tasty and certain way. Take eat, His Body given for you! Take and drink, His Blood poured out for you! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Thy holy body into death was given, Life to win for us in heaven. No greater love than this to Thee could bind us; May this feast thereof remind us! O Lord, have mercy! Lord, Thy kindness did so constrain Thee That Thy blood should bless and sustain me. All our debt Thou has paid; Peace with God once more is made: O Lord, have mercy! ("O Lord, We Praise Thee" LSB 617, st.2) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch