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Reflections

A Higher Things® Daily Devotion

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.) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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 accusation 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) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity • September 27, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Luke 7:11-17 Daily Lectionary: Malachi 3:6-4:6; Matthew 4:12-25 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." (Luke 7:13) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Wait a minute. How is it "compassionate" to tell a woman who has lost her son not to weep? Really, Jesus? She's a widow, which means she's already lost her husband. Now she's lost her only son. And you tell her not to cry? It's like Jesus thinks He has power over death or something. Maybe that's because He knows He will suffer and die, and on the Third Day rise again. He knows that when He is raised from the dead, death has no more dominion over Him. And if death has no dominion over Jesus, it has no power over you, who are baptized into His death and resurrection. We fear death. We don't like to think about death. We don't like to deal with death. But it's here. All around us. What Jesus teaches us is that rather than accept death as a "natural part of life," we are to treat it like an enemy who has been defeated and is worth nothing more than ridicule! Remember when Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead? He told everyone she wasn't dead but sleeping. When He raised Lazarus, the Lord told His disciples he had been sleeping, too. When the New Testament refers to death, it speaks of "falling asleep." Why? Because sleep is harmless. You fall asleep and then you wake up. Death is falling asleep. You die and then you wake up and rise from the dead. That is because Jesus triumphed over death and made a spectacle of it. When you stand in a funeral line and greet the loved ones of the person who died, what do you tell them? "I'm so sorry. My condolences." I'm sure you don't tell them not to cry! Try this: Next time you're at a funeral, tell them, "Christ is risen!" That's the great Easter greeting that we say to one another in celebration of the fact that Jesus' grave is empty, He is alive, and now death for you is nothing more than falling asleep for a bit and awakening to the glory of paradise and life everlasting. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, we pray that Your grace may always go before and follow after us, that we may be continually given to all good works; 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 16th Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week after Trinity • September 26, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Introit for the 16th Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 86:1, 7, 12-13; antiphon: v. 3, 5) Daily Lectionary: Malachi 2:1-3:5; Matthew 4:1-11 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore. For great is Your mercy toward me, And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (From the Introit for the 16th Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We go to birthday parties because we are celebrating a person's life. We go to graduations because we are celebrating someone's academic accomplishments. We go to events most often because we are remembering something that happened and celebrating that event: Think of 4th of July fireworks or a Memorial Day parade. Tomorrow we'll go to church to celebrate something. We'll go to remember and to be gathered together with others who are remembering and celebrating. What exactly? We're celebrating that Jesus died and rose and delivered us from sin and death! The psalmist reminds us in the words we hear tomorrow that we praise God because of what He's done for us. We're excited! We're glad! We're happy! Another week has passed during which He's fed the birds and you. He's made the flowers grow and clothed you. He's borne your burdens and helped you help others. He's taken whatever sins you have and buried them forever with Jesus. He's raised up the new you in your Baptism and has forgiven you each and every day. So we'll be in church tomorrow, praising God with all our hearts and glorifying Him for deliver us from the depths of hell. Left to ourselves, that's where we would be. Jesus has saved us from all that by His own death and His triumphant resurrection on Easter. Tomorrow, that's what we're celebrating. That's what we're remembering. That's what we're giving thanks for. That's what we're getting all excited about and rejoicing over. The Divine Service is a celebration! A party! A foretaste of the Feast to come! It's a joyous event because we have a gracious Savior who loves us and gave Himself for us. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your great mercy! Bring us to your house to celebrate with all your saints! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O bless the Lord, my soul! Let all within me join And aid my tongue to bless His name Whose favors are divine. ("O Bless the Lord, My Soul" LSB 814, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflection

Friday of the Fifteenth Week after Trinity • September 25, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Daily Lectionary: Malachi 1:1-14; Matthew 3:1-17 "I have loved you," says the Lord. "Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the Lord. "Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness." (Malachi 1:2-3). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Whoa! Why is the Lord talking about hating someone? He is responding to Israel, who said, "God doesn't love us!" Really? Have you ever thought that God doesn't love you? He's got it in for you? What did you ever do to make God mad at you so that He's making your life so hard? That's not how the Lord operates. He tells His people that though Esau and Jacob were twin brothers, He chose Jacob to be the one to carry the promises of the Savior through His line. Later on, when Esau's descendant, the nation of Edom, picked on Israel, the Lord saved them. He rescued Israel so that someday from that chosen people, the Savior would be born. When you think God is against you, stop and remember how He loves you. He loves you by not sparing His own Son but by sending Him to suffering and death. That's to save you! That sounds awful! Why would the Lord do that? It's not a macho display of His love. It's a love that pays the price for our sins. On Calvary, the Father abandons His Son so that His hatred of sins is taken care of. God the Father chose you over His own Son in that moment. On Good Friday, God the Father makes His Son into sin, into the curse, so that you would be set free. Your Baptism into Jesus is the Lord's own promise that He loves you. The pronouncement of Absolution is a promise God loves you. The Body and Blood of Jesus are His pledge and promise that God can never hate you but loves you without measure. If you're ever not sure of God's love, look to those gifts of Jesus which deliver His Cross and resurrection to you. Look to those promises by which He says, "Here is how I have loved and always will love you. I'm never against you. I'm always for you to save you and give you eternal life." In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Lord my life arranges; Who can His work destroy? In His good time He changes All sorrow into joy. So let me then be still: My body, soul, and spirit His tender care inherit According to His will. ("From God Can Nothing Move Me" LSB 713, st.3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week after Trinity • September 24, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Galatians 5:25-6:10 Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 9:22-38; 1 Timothy 6:3-21 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Bear one another's burdens. Carry their load. What Paul is getting at with those words is all about the forgiveness of sins. People mess up. They drag their sins around. They all have baggage. We all do. The Lord Jesus came to bear our burdens by bearing our sins. On Calvary, our sins were His sins. Our transgressions were His transgressions. Our iniquities were His iniquities. Our burdens were His to bear and leave behind in the grave when He rose on Easter. When Jesus rose from the dead, He didn't tell His disciples to go lay more burdens on people. He didn't tell them to straighten up and fix themselves. He didn't tell them to let people know they had better get right with God. Jesus sent His preachers to proclaim Good News, that sins are forgiven. Debts are cancelled. Burdens have been lifted and set aside. There is nothing for you to carry that is bad. No need to lift up a heavy load of guilt or shame. No need to struggle under the load of hate and anger toward others. No rack of condemnation is laid upon you. You are free. In that freedom, because you can leap and skip with no hindrance, you now can lighten the load of those around you. Don't let them be weighed down with guilt and shame and the burden of their sins. Help them. Bear with them. Help them drop that heavy heap at the foot of the Cross so it can be Jesus' burden. Don't press down on them to make their lives harder. Help them see that Jesus has set them free as He has set you free. Washed, absolved, and fed, your burdens have been carried by Jesus. So have theirs. So don't pile on more, but lift and help them let go. Everyone has burdens. Jesus came to take our burdens from us, so that we could be set free and rejoice in being saved out from under those troubles once and for all. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Lord, let me win my foes With kindly words and actions, And let me find good friends For counsel and correction. Help me, as You have taught, To love both great and small And by Your Spirit's might To live in peace with all. ("O God, My Faithful God" LSB 696, st. 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week after Trinity • September 23, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 9:1-21; 1 Timothy 5:17-6:2 Who receives this sacrament worthily? Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly 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, pt.4) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What makes you ready to receive Communion? Being a Lutheran? Memorizing the catechism? Many generations of young people have gone through the grueling experience of memorizing every last word of Luther's Small Catechism. Many have had to stand in church and have questions hurled at them to see whether they've learned it all. Is that what makes you finally "worthy" enough to get Jesus' Body and Blood? Learning the catechism is certainly fine training. It's good to know what God's Word says. It's good to memorize the Bible and catechism and hide God's Word in our hearts. It's good to be trained in theology and understand that the Bible is all about Jesus. But that's not why you get to receive Communion. Jesus says, "This is my Body and my Blood. It's given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." He has a gift for you. You are worthy to receive that gift, but not because you are a good person. You are worthy to receive that gift, but not because you studied hard and got an "A" on your catechism tests. You're worthy, but not because you can say every last word of the catechism. You're worthy because Jesus says you are. He as much says, "You are a sinner. I am your Savior. I gave Myself into death for your sins. I give you My Body and Blood so you know that forgiveness is truly yours. Eat. Drink. Know that you are forgiven and have eternal life." You are truly worthy and well prepared, not because you think you are but because Jesus says you are. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I do not merit favor, Lord, My weight of sin would break me; In all my guilty heart's discord, O Lord, do not forsake me. In my distress this comforts me That You receive me graciously, O Christ, my Lord of mercy! ("Lord Jesus Christ, Life-Giving Bread" LSB 625, st. 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week after Trinity • September 22, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 17:8-16 Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 7:1-4; 8:1-18; 1 Timothy 5:1-16 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son." (1 Kings 17:13) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. How rude! Elijah the prophet met a widow and asked for a little something to eat. She had very little left and it was just enough for a last meal with her son. But Elijah insists she make him food first! How rude! Surprisingly, he is not being selfish. He's teaching her that God promises to take care of her. She prepared food for him and her little jars of oil and flour never ran out until the famine was over! Do you give an offering at your church? An offering is a sacrifice on our part so that the pastor who takes care of us can be paid and the needs of the church be met: heat, air, electric, and so on. Our offerings make sure our pastor can take care of his family and the church can take care of those in need. So do you give something for an offering? We don't give offerings because the Lord needs the money! We give offerings because others do: our pastor, the secretary, people in need, and so on. Giving an offering confesses what we believe about the Lord taking care of us. It says, "If I give up this bit of money, I am trusting the Lord will still take care of me and provide for me." After all, He gave you His Son. Sent Him to die for you. Sent Jesus to strip away all those idols we have and think we have to pay for. By rescuing us from the idolatry of worshiping ourselves, Jesus is freeing us up to be good stewards of the gifts He gives us so we can take care of others. Never give money at church because you think God needs it! Give because your neighbor needs it. The widow in this story first sought the kingdom of God: She wanted to make sure the prophet was taken care of so he could preach. In doing so, she trusted that the Lord would take care of her. And He did! He always will take care of you, too, because you are His baptized, Body- and Blood-fed people. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Hence, all earthly treasure! Jesus is my pleasure; Jesus is my choice. Hence, all empty glory! Naught to me thy story Told with tempting voice. Pain or loss, Or shame or cross, Shall not from my Savior move me Since He deigns to love me. ("Jesus, Priceless Treasure" LSB 743, st. 4) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist • September 21, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Matthew 9:9-13 Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 5:1-16; 6:1-9, 15-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-16 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Matthew was a tax collector. He worked for the hated Romans to make sure the Jewish people paid their taxes to the pagan emperor. His job was to tell people what they owed. His job was to collect what was due. Then Jesus shows up. He calls Matthew from being a tax collector to being an apostle, a witness to His life and death and resurrection, and a preacher of that Good News. Jesus turns Matthew from a guy who tells people what they owe into a herald proclaiming that they no longer owe anything to God. Matthew has gone from being a debt-collector to a debt releaser! The Greek word "evangelion" is translated "Gospel" and it literally means "Good News." Not bad news. Not scary news. Good News that cheers our hearts and proclaims something surprising and happy: God has forgiven your debts. They have been paid in full by the blood of Jesus! You owe God nothing. You have been set free. This was such Good News that Matthew is not only an apostle, a preacher of this Good News to the world, he was also an evangelist, one of the four who wrote it down in the book of the Bible that bears his name. Matthew's life changed that day when Jesus called Him. He learned that life is not about collecting but about letting go. The evangelist recorded Jesus' words that His Supper is given "for the forgiveness of sins" and that disciples would be made by baptizing sinners. That is taking the debts of sinners and stamping them with the great big stamp of "Paid in full" in the ink of Jesus' blood. Your account is cleared. You owe God nothing. Now you can go and cancel the debts of those around you. They don't owe the Lord or you. Debts have been cancelled! Sins are forgiven! Thank you, Matthew, for the Good News! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Praise, Lord, for him whose Gospel Your human life declared, Who, worldly gain forsaking, Your path of suff'ring shared. From all unrighteous mammon, O raise our eyes anew That we in our vocation May rise and follow You. ("By All Your Saints in Warfare" LSB 518, st. 25) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity • September 20, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Matthew 6:24-34 Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 4:7-23; 1 Timothy 3:1-16 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. How do you know that God will take care of you? Look at your car windshield. See? He's feeding the birds! They've got food! So He'll take care of you, too. Birds have food. Lilies look like they're dressed beautifully. They are just birds and flowers! You are worth way more to your heavenly Father than those things! That's because the Son of God didn't become a bird or a lily. He became man. A human being. One of us. Like you. He did that so He could take your sin and death and make them His own to rescue you from those things forever. If God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up to the death of the Cross, don't you think He'll make sure you have enough to eat and something to wear? Of course He will. In fact, Jesus is the in-the-flesh proof of the Father's promise to do what you need Him to: save you from sin and death but also to give you your daily bread and take care of you in this life. Our Old Adam likes to take the things that God gives us and turn them into the most important. You have to get more food! Get more clothes! Get more stuff! As if the Lord is going to let you starve or run around naked! We trust so much in our stuff that we forget it is the Lord who gives us the things that we need. There's our repentance: Repent of worry and of trusting in our stuff more than the Lord. Jesus died for that false and misplaced trust. He died to bring us back from trusting in the stuff to trusting in the One who gives us all that we need. Water. Word. Body. Blood. Food. Clothing. Everlasting life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. O Lord, we implore You, let Your continual pity cleanse and defend Your Church, and because she cannot continue in safety without Your help, preserve her evermore by Your help and goodness; 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 15th Sunday after Trinity) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

Saturday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity • September 19, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Introit for the 15th Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 86:4, 6, 15a, 16; antiphon: v. 1a, 2b, 3) Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 2:11-20; 4:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:1-15 Be merciful to me, O Lord, For I cry to You all day long. (From the Introit for the 15th Sunday after Trinity) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Do you really cry out to God all day long? Do you even give the Lord a second thought? Ever gone from waking up all the way through the end of the day without evening thinking of the Lord? Without remembering that God created you and gives you what you have every day? Forgetting that you live as one redeemed by Christ the crucified? Without even thinking that you might need the Holy Spirit for your day? Sure we do! That's why this psalm calls us back in repentance to faith in Jesus and trust in His promises. Tomorrow we have worship at church. We set aside at least one day a week to go and hear God's Word and be reminded that we need to cry to Him all the day long. We need to remember that we so easily forget Him, and to be reminded that He's always around. More than that, we cry out to God because He's a God who hears us. When you worship and pray, it never crosses the Lord's mind to think, "Oh, well, there you are this time! Where have you been?" Nope. Every time you open your mouth in prayer and praise, whether it's been five minutes or five years, your heavenly Father, who made you His child through the blood of His Son and the water of the holy font, has a smile on His face! God doesn't forget us the way we forget Him. He doesn't ignore us the way we ignore Him. He won't! He can't! Not since Jesus died and rose again. That sacrifice of the Lamb of God is your promise that the Lord will never forget you. It's something we should never forget but the promise is in His remembering us. As long as He remembers us, we'll be okay. Forgiven. Children of God. Destined for everlasting life. Be merciful to us? God has done exactly that in His Son Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today our Father calls us; His Holy Spirit waits; His blessed angels gather Around the heav'nly gates. No question will be asked us How often we have come; Although we oft have wandered, It is our Father's home. ("Today Your Mercy Calls Us" LSB 915, st. 3) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

Reflections

Friday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity • September 18, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Daily Lectionary: Nehemiah 1:1-2:10; 1 Timothy 1:1-20 And they said to me, "The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire." (Nehemiah 1:3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Nehemiah was a faithful follower of God who lived his life in exile. He was the cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. Nehemiah knew his people were in captivity because they had turned away from the Lord. But even while they were in exile the Lord was gracious to them. The King permitted Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, including the temple where God Himself dwelt. Jesus once told the Jews to tear down the temple and it would be rebuilt in three days. At that time, the temple was the one King Herod had built. But Jesus meant the Temple of His body, which would be killed and then rise again on the Third Day. From the days of Moses, the tabernacle (tent of meeting), followed by the temple in Jerusalem, was the place where you knew God was. When the Israelites went into exile, it was if God was saying, "I'm not hanging out with you anymore. You don't want me, so go live where I don't!" Ouch! But the coming of Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, is the reminder that the Lord might appear to be gone for a time but is always among His people. If He wasn't there in the temple when they were in exile, He was still there among them in His Word. The Church is where God is today. The Church is where Jesus is. People seem to think of "God" as someone or something "out there" but Christians know better. God is a person. A human being. Jesus Christ. He is present among us by water, Word, Body and Blood. He is present in His Body, the holy Christian Church. The thing about the true God is that He's always been a "somewhere you can find Him" Lord. He doesn't hide in some other dimension. He's right here with us. As a man who can be crucified and died and rise again. As one who comes to us with real, physical gifts. There can be no doubt where Jesus is, and where He is, there we have all we need of God: the Savior who never abandons us but is here to forgive and give life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God Himself is present: Let us now adore Him And with awe appear before Him. God is in His temple; All within keep silence; Humbly kneel in deepest reverence. He alone On His throne Is Our God and Savior; Praise His Name forever. ("God Himself is Present" LSB 907, st. 1) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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

Reflections

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week after Trinity • September 16, 2020 • Pastor Mark Buetow

Today's Reading: Small Catechism: Sacrament of the Altar Daily Lectionary: 2 Chronicles 35:1-7, 16-25; Colossians 3:1-25 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, pt.3) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The promise of the Sacrament of the Altar not just that it's Jesus' Body and Blood. His Word also tells us why it works and what it does: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." Those words are full of the very promises of the Son of God who made all things. It was the Word of God, after all, which said, "Let there be plants according to their kind: including wheat, and grapes." When the Lord spoke that Word, those things came to be. It was the Word of God which told Mary, "You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son." Sure enough, Mary conceived the Son in her womb. It was the Word which Jesus spoke, "This is my Body; this is my Blood," which gives to us His flesh and blood under the bread and wine. So it is His Body and Blood. And it is His Word that says it's for your forgiveness. You don't receive forgiveness just because you eat and drink, but because Jesus promises that forgiveness to you. Of course, you believe that, because you eat and drink it! But it's not our doing it that makes it so. It's true and real because Jesus' words say so. As God's people, marked by the Cross of our Savior who died and rose, and washed by the water and the Spirit, we believe things are what Jesus says they are because He's Jesus. He's the divine, eternal, Son of God in the flesh and His Word always does what it says. And what He says about His Supper is that it is for you, for your forgiveness, for you to have eternal life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. We dare not ask how this can be, But simply hold the mystery And trust this word where life begins: "Given and shed for all your sins." ("The Death of Jesus Christ Our Lord" LSB 634, st. 5) Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor René Castillero

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