Lessons and Hymns for Lent 2 B

These are the Scripture readings you will hear this coming Sunday:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Romans 5:1-11
Mark 8:27-38

Click here to read the above lessons and the propers for the day.

By the Cross of Our Lord Jesus, We Inherit Life Everlasting with God

In His covenant with Abraham, the Lord promised to be with him, to bless him and to make him “the father of a multitude of nations.” It is “an everlasting covenant” in Christ Jesus, the seed of Abraham who is blameless before God Almighty. All who believe in this Lord Jesus are the offspring of Abraham and are blessed ” throughout their generations” (Gen. 17:1-7), because the Christ has suffered many things. He was rejected and killed, and after three days He rose again (Mark 8:31). To comprehend this theology of the cross, we must set our minds “on the things of God,” and not “on the things of man” (Mark 8:33). “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Therefore, having been “reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” much more “shall we be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). Baptized into His cross and resurrection, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and by faith we rejoice in the hope of His glory (Rom. 5:1-2).

These are the hymns we will sing:

Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed (LSB 437)
Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart (LSB 708)
Christ, the Life of All the Living (LSB 420)
Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me (LSB 722)

“Nothing”

Our weekly devotion from the sainted Rev. Earl Feddersen:

Genesis 22:1-18
Romans 8:31-39
Mark 1:12-15

The lesson from Romans has one of my all-time favorite passages: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Harry Houdini, the trickster, was once tricked by a very clever police department. He agreed to be placed into a locked jail cell. Before entering, he was searched, and a device suitable for picking locks was found and confiscated. Then the jailer put the key into the lock and shut the door with an ominous click. The famous escape artist had another pick which he immediately began to use as soon as he was alone.

His profound knowledge of locks enabled him to know exactly what to do–how to trigger the device, and which way it should turn. But he tried and tried in vain. Eventually, he gave up–foiled for the first time in his life. The jailer returned, reached for the door and pulled it open. There was another “click,” the sound of a simple latch which held the door in place when it was not in use. The door had never been locked.

Many people try in vain to pick the lock on the gate of heaven. Mankind has devised countless religions which place us, like Houdini, on the other side of the door trying like mad to unlock what has already been unlocked. But we cannot unlock what God’s grace in Christ has already opened to us.

The message of Christianity is that we have been made right with God by His grace, through our faith in Christ, and that even our faith is His gift to us. Whether we are missionaries in countries far from home or right in our own backyards, the most difficult opposition to the Gospel comes from religious attempts to pick the lock. In other words, we want to imagine that we can–we must–do something ourselves. Some think faith is what we must do, but faith isn’t something we do to deserve God’s love. Faith is something we have as a free gift from His undeserved love.

At this time of the year, a sly temptation creeps up in some circles. This is Lent and the theme of repentance is clear. Beware of trying to turn repentance into your personal pearly gate lock-pick. Jesus warned against making a show of penitence. Repentance is neither a performance for other people nor a method of gaining God’s favor. As a matter of fact, any attempt to gain God’s favor should be at the top of our list of things to repent!

When Jesus said, “Repent and believe the Gospel, He was not commending repentance as the latest and greatest in lock-picks! God already loves you more than you could possibly imagine. Repent your sins and throw away your lock-picks–the door is open. Sin says, “There must be something we have to do.” Sin insists that God does not love us, and it sets out to prove it by attacking God to force His hand.

Jesus passed that test. During Lent we remember that both His hands were forced … and secured with nails. We have a message to get out to the world, including our own backyards. Only one thing stands between us and the love of God in Christ–nothing!

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

Taking Control of your Money

Our Heavenly Father gives us money, and, through His Word, imparts truths on how we are to manage it.  Of all the gifts God entrusts to us, money is probably the one that we have the most difficulty in managing according to God’s purposes.  As His stewards, we are called to be wise in the handling of money and faithful in its use.  Money is such an integral part of our lives that we need to spend sufficient time to comprehend how it affects both our material and spiritual lives.

Jesus knows that money and material possessions are very necessary for our lives.  He also knows that money and material things are more likely than anything else to replace God at the center of our hearts.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters … You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).  In order to live lives that bring glory to God, we must control our money—lest our money control us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank You for all my blessings especially Your love and goodness to me.  Help me to share Your love within me to those around me.  Help me to manage faithfully all that You entrust to me.  In Jesus’ precious and holy name I pray.  Amen.

 

Blessings on your journey as a steward!

Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day

Some of the stuff I’ve read about people being in a quandary over Ash Wednesday falling on February 14 this year blows my mind. Some pastors are telling their congregation that the usual giving of candy, flowers, and other signs of affection to loved ones ought to be cut out! Ash Wednesday begins a season of penitence and self-denial, they reason. Therefore, the giving of gifts on that day is wrong.

I’d like to hear how that explanation flies with their spouses! Here is a supporting article to my thought that both of these events fit very well together.

In case you want to know, I ordered some chocolate covered strawberries for my dear wife plus I have a card for her and we’re heading to church for our Ash Wednesday service the afternoon of the 14th (retired folks don’t care to drive after dark around here). We’ll have our ashes on our foreheads, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and begin a journey through the Lenten season. After we have a dinner at church, we’ll come home and have a berry (or two). A mighty fine way to commemorate and celebrate.

Lessons and Hymns for Lent 1 B

These are the Scripture readings you will hear this coming Sunday:

Genesis 22:1-18
James 1:12-18
Mark 1:9-15

Click here to read the above readings and the propers for the day.

Christ Jesus Defeats Our Temptation and Saves Us by His Faithfulness

In faith and the fear of God, Abraham prepared to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. At the Word of the Lord, he “took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son.” And “when they came to the place of which God had told him,” Abraham bound Isaac “and laid him on the altar” (Gen. 22:6, 9). Then God stayed Abraham’s hand and provided “for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8). That Lamb is God’s own beloved Son, Jesus, in whom “all the nations of the earth” are blessed (Gen. 22:18). As the Substitute for all the sons of men, Jesus is driven by the Spirit “into the wilderness” to be “tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:12-13) in order to endure and defeat all temptation. We are tempted by our own desire, which conceives and “gives birth to sin” (James 1:14-15). But this blessed Man, Christ Jesus, remained “steadfast under trial,” and He has received “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). His faithfulness, His victory and His life are now given to us by His grace in the Gospel.

These are the hymns we will sing:

God Himself Is Present (LSB 907)
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB 657)
Great Is Thy Faithfulness (LSB 809)
Jesus, Lead Thou On (LSB 718)
Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways (LSB 707)

PLEASE NOTE: Our order of service for Lent will be Divine Service, Setting Four.

“A glory that transfigures you and me”

Our weekly devotion from the sainted Rev. Earl Feddersen:

2 Kings 2:1-12
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Mark 9:2-9

We tend to remember the things that shock and surprise us–the unusual and extraordinary. For example, Jeff and Angie Pautz, volunteer missionaries in Thailand, wrote that Bangkok is similar to most American cities: “We just saw Independence Day, ate at Kentucky Fried Chicken and can get around by bus. On the other hand, we also just watched a man cross four lanes of congested city traffic riding on the head of his elephant!”

The most famous pilot in WWI is remembered in history for downing four enemy balloons and 24 planes. In 1942, a year after America entered the next war, Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker was asked by Secretary of War Henry Stimson to make an inspection trip. Mechanical failure of the airplane took the famous ace and seven passengers down into the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles north of Samoa. They were rescued 24 days later–after the world had already despaired their loss.

Later, addressing a large group of veterans, Rickenbacker said one sentence which should be remembered far more than all his exploits: “Men, if you have not had an experience of God in your life, my advice is to get busy and get yourself one. It is the one thing that will save you.”

Peter, James and John had more than one experience of God in their lives, but the Transfiguration had to be a standout moment. It is no wonder that Peter wanted to set up camp and savor the moment for a while. Jesus reminded him that we cannot stay on the mountain we must return to where life goes on. Rickenbacker reminded us that we carry such experiences of God with us. When the valleys are very deep, it is through our mountaintop experiences that God carries us.

In the long run, it was not the Transfiguration of Jesus that maintained and empowered Peter’s life–it was the Holy Spirit’s transfiguration of Peter!

The Greek word for transfiguration appears in the Second Lesson where Paul says that we are being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory. Unlike the spectacular external change of Jesus, however, our change is internal and it is not all at once.

Julia Ward Howe noted that the glory in Christ’s bosom–spectacular as it may be–is most brilliant when it “transfigures you and me.” It is a glory, not of eye-blinding light and earth- shaking power, but of inescapable grace, unheard of love and unflinching mercy.

Jesus’ words to Peter after the Transfiguration remind me of the old saying, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Even with that mountaintop experience, Peter could not imagine a God who loves His people more than Himself, who forgives even His own torture and murder and who chooses to conquer death rather than dish it out on those who deserve it. It is the mountaintop experience of Golgotha that ultimately transfigures you and me.

The most memorable of our experiences of God may take place on the mountaintops and elephant heads, but the best of our work in His mission takes place in the hubbub of everyday life. If you have had the Golgotha experience, He has made you His missionary.

Where does He want you to serve … and how?

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

God Makes Us His Stewards

The first words of the Bible are “In the beginning God…” That’s how everything begins – with God.  That’s how everything continues – with God.  God gives meaning, and purpose, and fulfillment to every dimension of creation and life.  And, of course, God is the completion and end of all things as well.  God, therefore, is also the beginning of Christian stewardship.  Just as God is the author and perfecter of faith, so God is the author and perfecter of the faithful life – that is, the stewardship of all we are and all we have from God’s hand and heart.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I belong to You.  All that I am and have comes from You; family and friends, health, possessions and energy, leisure and abilities.  Forgive me for letting the world shape me instead of being shaped by Your Word.  Direct me to share what I have been given and to receive Your blessings with joy.  I ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son, and my Lord.  Amen.

Blessings on your journey as a steward!