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By His Blood and in His Name

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The text for today, the Circumcision and Name of Our Lord, is our Gospel, Luke 2:21:  “And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Those of you growing up with brothers or sisters can probably relate to this scene.It’s one of the days following Christmas.As you shower, get dressed, and then eat breakfast, you plan out your entire day.It’s going to be a great day!You’re going to spend all your time playing with that favorite gift. But when you go to play with it, it’s gone!Immediately, you know where to start looking.You’ve seen that look in your brother’s eyes.You know he’s been coveting it ever since you first unwrapped it.Barging through his bedroom door, you catch him red-handed.“Give it to me!” you yell.“That’s mine!” And even though he knows full well it was your Christmas present, he replies, “I don’…

Commending Your Children to God in Prayer

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When my children were growing up I made it a point to pray for each of them regularly and asked the Lord to fill in for my parental shortcomings. Sad to say, now that they have grown up, I don't pray for them as often as I ought. I should do much better. And, as I think about it, when I do pray for them I don’t always pray for the right things. This is one element of my daily devotional discipline I wish to improve.
Toward that end, I recently purchased a copy of the revised Concordia edition of Starck’s Prayer Book. Originally written in German during the 18thcentury and first translated into English in 1921, this wonderful little book stands up quite well to the test of time. It contains prayer for many occasions and situations, but the one that really caught my eye is entitled “Believing Parents Commend Their Children to God in Prayer.”
The prayer includes a number of things you would normally expect to hear in such a prayer: thanksgiving to God for the gift of children; as well…

The Lord Humbles the Proud and Exalts the Lowly

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The text for today is our Old Testament reading, the Song of Hannah, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, which has already been read.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The theme of our midweek Advent services is “My pride, my defeat.God’s pride my deliverance.”We’ve been talking about the dangerous sin of pride.Pride tricks us into believing that we are self-sufficient and self-made, that we don’t need anybody or anything to make our own way—not even God.But such an attitude keeps us from realizing our great need: Before God we are beggars; we must rely on His grace and mercy to save us.
Pride is a dangerous sin that separates us from God, and in order to rid us of its grip God will go to extreme lengths.As when King Nebuchadnezzar boasted of his mighty power and was driven out to live with the beasts of the field, his hair as long as eagle’s feathers and nails like bird claws.Or when King Saul thought he could order the worship of God in his own way, …

Thankful Even for the Detours of Life

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Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It’s not good for a pastor to talk about himself too much in a sermon.The sermon can easily degenerate into a speech like those essays from elementary school: “What I Did During Summer Vacation” or given the holiday we are observing today, “What I Am Thankful For.” Or it can easily turn into a Joel Osteen pep talk on how to have your best life now if you just follow my example.A proper sermon should be focused on Christ, and Him crucified.”No, it’s not good for a pastor to talk about himself too much in a sermon.But this time, for the sake of illustration, I’m going to risk it for a little bit.I pray that it will help you view your own life’s detours from a Scriptural perspective.
This is the second Thanksgiving in a row that I have had the privilege and pleasure of preaching at ChristLutheranChurch.Certainly, two years ago, I would not have expected to be standing here today.I was the pastor of one…

Come, You Who Are Blessed by My Father

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Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Are you ready for a pop quiz?I’m going to read a quote and I want you to determine whether it is a statement of sound doctrine or false teaching.Don’t worry.I’m not taking grades.I’m not even going to ask you to raise your hands.Just listen and answer in your own mind.Give yourself bonus points if you can identify the source.“At His coming all people will rise again with their bodies and give an account concerning their own deeds.And those who have done good will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil into eternal fire.This is the catholic faith; whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved.”
So, is it sound doctrine or false teaching?It’s sound doctrine.In fact, it’s part of one of the three ecumenical creeds confessed by the Church. If you turn to page 320 in Lutheran Service Book, beginning at verse 38, you’ll see that they are the closing words of the Athanasi…