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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Two Weeks' Notice

Two times in the Bible, and no more, we are given the account of a week.  The first is found in Genesis and presents the six days of creation and the seventh day on which God rested.  The second is found in the Holy Gospel and records the events of the first Holy Week.  God means for us to consider these two weeks together.

As God made the world in six days and then rested, so on Palm Sunday He entered Jerusalem to redeem the world.  He "finished" (John 19:30) that work by day's end Friday and then used Saturday to rest.

We know from Genesis that man was created on the sixth day (Gen. 1:26-31), that is, Friday.  No coincidence then that Jesus died for man also on a Friday.

The Bible's two weeks and the parallels between them must not go unnoticed.  The One who made the world without sin in the course of a week, in the course of a week saved it from sin.  More personally, He who made you head to toe has redeemed you body and soul to be, again, His own.

To you and yours a very blessed Holy Week!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

13

Wash your hands.

Fold your hands.

And, as Holy Week approaches, remember HIS hands, His feet, His side, and His love for you!

Amen.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Strength for Today

"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11).

God gives us what we need one day at a time.  He is determined to teach us trust.  He calls us to trust that He will provide again tomorrow as He did today.

In the Old Testament He instructed the Israelites to gather just enough manna for the day.  He sent it again the next morning.  In the New Testament, in which we live, He teaches us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."  In other words, just enough strength for today.  He will supply it again tomorrow.

All of this leads to two definitions:

Anxiety = looking at tomorrow's challenges without tomorrow's strength.

Trust = knowing that tomorrow's strength will be a match for tomorrow's challenges.

You are not yet in possession of tomorrow's strength.  It will be yours tomorrow morning, but not before.  You are given strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow, and the most blessed of all things: trust in your heavenly Father.

With love,

Pastor Matt

Saturday, March 28, 2020

12

Jesus says to you:

"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

John 14:27

Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Annunciation

March 25 should be considered a great holy and happy day!  Called "Annunciation" for the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary, it comes nine months to the day before Christmas.  If on Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Savior, on Annunciation we celebrate His conception.  "Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary" (Apostles' Creed).

Let's go for a moment to Nazareth as it stands today.  We enter the Basilica of the Annunciation, built over the Grotto of the Annunciation, held by tradition to be the place where the angel came to Mary.  Inside the grotto, or cave, is an altar bearing five Latin words: "Verbum caro hic factum est."  They belong to John 1:14.  One word, however, is added: hic (in English, "here").  And so it reads: "Here the Word became flesh."

While there is no way to confirm that this was the exact location, the words should be understood more deeply as pointing to the Virgin's womb.  Of that location we can be certain!

Sadly, many Christians miss the significance of March 25 as an opportunity to remember, ponder, and celebrate the Incarnation: God's Son putting on our flesh.  But you needn't miss it at all!

Take time to read Luke 1:26-38, say the Creed, and sing perhaps this ancient hymn:

Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh -
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.

Here a maid was found with child,
Yet remained a virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown:
God was there upon His throne.

And celebrate the day with your family and Christian friends!  Forget your Lenten fasting for a day and prepare a feast instead!  Give thanks with greatest joy for the love of God shown to us in the incarnation of His dear Son!

Pray the Holy Spirit to come upon you.  See your faith as the womb in which Christ is conceived and grows.  Then give birth to Him through words and works of love so that He may touch the lives of others.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

11

A prayer before bed:

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (Ps. 4:8).

Amen.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

10

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).

Amen.

Friday, March 6, 2020

9

If you give up something for Lent, use it to remember the Father who gave up His Son, the Son who gave up His life, and the Holy Spirit who gives up on no one.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

8

Trouble getting up in the morning?  Put these words of Jesus near your bed:

"Rise, and have no fear" (Matt. 17:7).

Amen.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

7

Phone Blessing

Father in heaven, bless this phone.  Help me to use it in a way that pleases You, benefits me, and encourages others.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Right Eyes

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away" (Matt. 5:29).

These words of Jesus move us to avoid temptations to sexual sin, many of which enter through the eye.  Remove and resist visual stimuli that would appeal to a sinful heart.

But the eleventh-century Archbishop of Bulgaria, Theophylact, explained, "When you hear 'eye' and 'hand,' do not imagine that the Lord is speaking of parts of the body, for He would not in that case have specified 'right eye' and 'right hand.'  He is speaking instead of those who appear to be friends, but who are in fact harming us.  Take, for example, a young man who has friends living in debauchery, and who is harmed by their bad influence.  Cut these off from you, the Lord says, and perhaps you will also save them, when they come to their senses.  And if you cannot save them, you will at least save yourself.  But if you continue in your affection for them, both you and they will be destroyed."

We are reminded in the Small Catechism that God has given us our eyes (First Article).  It would not be right or thankful to throw away a divine gift.  Far better to see that He has also redeemed our eyes (Second Article) and makes them holy for new use (Third Article).

See your eyes as precious, think of what they are able to do, and resolve not to set before them "anything that is worthless" (Ps. 101:3).  Use them to "look at the birds of the air," as He instructs later in the same sermon (Matt. 6:26).  Lift up your eyes to the Hill and to the Crucified, from whence come both forgiveness and then help, much help, in the fight against temptation (Ps. 121).

Remember that lust is never satisfied (Prov. 27:20), but that love always finds fulfillment.

If you (or someone you know) seem trapped in sexual sin, seriously consider talking with your pastor.  He will hold the matter in strict confidence, offer a listening ear, and share with you God's Word of forgiveness, hope, and help.

Friday, February 14, 2020

6

If we think about it, Jesus preached a second "Sermon on the Mount."  The first, of course, is found in Matthew 5, 6, and 7.  And the second?

Mount Calvary.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

5

You receive the body and blood of Christ.

Then, using the words of Simeon, the pastor says, "Depart in peace."  This means: Have no fear of death!

Amen.

Friday, January 31, 2020

4

Happiness eventually runs out.

Joy in the risen Christ lasts forever!

Amen.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

3

John sees Jesus coming toward him and says, "Behold, the Lamb of God...!"

Which is why we sing "Lamb of God" when we see Jesus coming toward us in Communion.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2

Faith sees the cross of Christ.

Hope sees His resurrection.

And love sees one another, our neighbors, and even our enemies.

Amen.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

1

The wise men gave three precious gifts to Christ at His birth.

And God gave three priceless gifts to you at your Baptism: faith, hope, and love.

Amen.