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Showing posts from November, 2015

As Jesus Was Drawing Near

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“As [Jesus] was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:37-38) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! After the service last year on the first Sunday in Advent, a couple of you commented that the Gospel reading was more of what one might expect to hear on Palm Sunday rather than in Advent. Such a comment reveals three things about you and this congregation, all of which are reassuring and encouraging to me. First, you listen to what is being read during the Divine Service. Second, you have an understanding and expectation regarding the seasons of the Church Year. And third, we need to continue to preach and teach on how the life of Christ is revealed throughou…

Thanksgiving, with Humble Penitence for Our National Perverseness and Disobedience

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“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! If Abraham Lincoln released his 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation today, it would be met with derision by all sides from the Huffington Post to the Drudge Report, from Fox News to MSNBC. In the statement that is considered to be the beginning of the annual tradition of presidential proclamations, Lincoln wrote: The year that is drawing towards it close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come… the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude an…

Build Yourself Up; Snatch Others Out of the Fire

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“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 20-23). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! St. Augustine said: “In the Old Testament the New Testament is concealed; in the New Testament the Old Testament is revealed.” It’s another way of saying, “If you want to have a better understanding of what an Old Testament passage is teaching, look for a parallel New Testament passage; if you want clarity and depth on a New Testament passage, look for its parallel in the Old Testament.” The book of Jude contains many references which at first might seem dark or obscure, but gain clarity when examined in l…

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet! (3.0)

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“And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Mark 13:7-8). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Even his critics knew President Ronald Reagan as “The Great Communicator.” I think much of that ability to communicate was due to the consistency of his message. No matter what the forum or audience, he always spoke of the greatness of America’s heritage, the productivity of its citizens, and the potential for even greater success. Frequently, he would close his message with these words: “America’s best days lie ahead. You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Though certainly not grammatically correct, it did get his point across and it captured the imagination of millions of supporters for …

Giving Out of Poverty

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“[Jesus] called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on’” (Mark 12:43-44). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! When I started out as a pastor, the congregation I served published a list of giving, breaking it down into the number of anonymous family units giving at various levels: those who gave nothing during the year, those who gave 1 to 100 dollars, 101 to 200 dollars, 201 to 300 dollars, and so on. Because they had been doing this for many years, the list came out before I had a chance to offer any input. During the next year, I had a number of opportunities to discuss with the church’s leadership some of the stewardship implications of such a list. On the positive side, I found…