Lessons and Hymns for The Transfiguration of Our Lord B

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

2 Kings 2:1-12
2 Corinthians 3:12-13; 4:1-6
Mark 9:2-9

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

The Face of Jesus Christ Manifests the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God

It was “a hard thing” that Elisha asked, but by his persistence he was able to see the prophet Elijah being taken “by a whirlwind into heaven.” Although “chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them,” Elisha received Elijah’s cloak and a “double portion” of his spirit for preaching the Lord’s Word (2 Kings 2:9–11). It was a hard thing, too, for Israel to see Moses and come near to him, when “the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (Ex. 34:29–30). Therefore, after “he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai,” Moses “put a veil over his face” (Ex. 34:32–33). Only the Word of the Gospel lifts the veil, and “only through Christ is it taken away” (2 Cor. 3:14). Thus are we able to behold “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” who is “the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4–6). For the Law and the prophets are all fulfilled in Him. Therefore, “listen to him,” and fix your sights on “Jesus only” (Mark 9:7–8).

These are the hymns we will sing:

‘Tis Good, Lord, to Be Here (LSB 414)
O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair (LSB 413)
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (LSB 700)
Alleluia! Let Praises Ring (LSB 822)
Alleluia, Song of Gladness (LSB 417)

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

Adoring Him with Our Gifts

In the Christmas story, we are told of the Wise Men and the shepherds who both play an important part in the story.  We are told that the Wise Men came in search of the newborn King that they might worship Him.  Matthew 2:11 records, “And going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him.”  And they offered to the Christ Child the gifts they had brought for Him, “gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

The shepherds adored Him, too.  They heard about Jesus from the angels as they sat watching their sheep and ran to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child.  They didn’t have tangible gifts to bring as the Magi did, but they, too, responded in adoration.  Luke writes, “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this Child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” (Luke 2:17-18).

God gives gifts to each of us and uses us to tell the Good News of the birth of His Son Who came to bring us forgiveness of sins and life eternal.  Some of us, like the Wise Men, are blessed with monetary gifts to be used to support mission and ministry.  Others of us are more like the shepherds, able to “[make] known the saying that [has] been told [us].”

By God’s grace, all of us can respond in faithful obedience to God’s Word.  In these ways, we adore our Savior.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your willingness to come and live among us and to suffer and die so that we can live as forgiven and redeemed people who will spend eternity with You.  Amen.

Blessings on your journey as a steward!

Lessons and Hymns for Epiphany 5 B

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

Isaiah 40:21-31
1 Corinthians 9:16-27
Mark 1:29-39

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

The Son of God, Christ Jesus, Makes Us a New Creation

The Lord alone “is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Is. 40:28). He “sits above the circle of the earth” and “stretches out the heavens like a curtain” (Is. 40:22). Yet, His almighty power is demonstrated chiefly by His mercy and compassion. “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Is. 40:29). The only begotten Son of the Father, the very Word by whom all things were made, becomes flesh and takes all the poverty and weakness of our sin and death upon Himself, bearing it in His body to the cross. As He dies for us there, He also raises us up, a new creation, in His resurrection from the dead. Thus, by the preaching of this Word, He heals “many who were sick with various diseases,” and He casts out “many demons” (Mark 1:34, 39). And His preaching continues through those whom He has sent, who are “entrusted with a stewardship” to “preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16–17). Thus, we are set free by the Word of Christ, and we exercise our freedom in loving service to others.

These are the hymns we will sing:

Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun (LSB 868)
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed (LSB 398)
Fight the Good Fight (LSB 664)
Come Unto Me, Ye Weary (LSB 684)
Rise! To Arms! With Prayer Employ You (LSB 668)

“Let no attractions or distractions become subtractions”

Our weekly devotion from the sainted Rev. Earl Feddersen:

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

The first lesson contains the great big miracle in the Book of Jonah. Many people get sidetracked with little stuff, such as the size, oxygen content and digestive processes of the fish. I have no trouble imagining God manipulating any of that. When, however, I read that the preaching of one man causes the repentance of a huge city–without any manipulation from God–I am truly impressed!

Without the benefit of any form of mass media, and without so much as a megaphone, let alone P.A system, Jonah pronounces a word of Judgment from God and everyone–“from the greatest to the least”–fasts and puts on sackcloth. Can this fellow preach or what? Jonah tells them that they have forty days to make up their minds, but they repent immediately! Actually, the power here is not the profundity of the preacher, but the Word itself and the One behind it, but it is still quite amazing.

The Gospel Lesson is the only one of the three that uses the word “repent.” The story of Jonah contains some major repentance, but the word does not appear in the lesson. Repentance leads to a change for the better. God calls us away from distractions and attractions that are subtractions from our faith in Him, but He always calls us to something as well–to faith, to commitment, to service, to something.

In the Gospel Lesson, Jesus calls four people to follow Him so that He can make them “fishers of men.” All four are commercial fishermen. All four drop everything to follow the Lord. They left everything and didn’t look back, no pillars of salt these four.

When God called Jonah to his prophetic post in Ninevah, he responded by sailing to Tarshish. There are many attractions and distractions in life that lead us to sail away in our own directions. Jonah’s attraction was his own nationality and piety. He believed that one or the other or both earned a special place with God. He did not want to warn the Ninevites because God would forgive them when they repented. Jonah didn’t want them forgiven, he wanted them punished!

If we hate someone and want them anihilated, most of us could never imagine God forgiving them. We tend to think that God is like us–if we hate them and want them dead, so will He. Jonah imagined God’s forgiveness, even anticipated it, but he resented it! Jonah thought that he and the rest of Israel somehow deserved God’s love and blessing, not that God gave them freely in forgiveness, mercy and grace.

We have seen God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Don’t ever be distracted by your own obedience and piety into thinking that these have earned a place which someone less obedient and pious could never have. If it isn’t a place of grace, don’t go there! If you could pick the lock on the gate of heaven, why did God give us the key of forgiveness? If you could live the Christian life and defeat death on your own, why did He come here for you, live for you and die for you?

Could Jesus be calling you to quit fishin’ and get in His mission?

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

We are God’s Stewards

In an attempt to have better understanding of our role as stewards, we can compare our positions as stewards to the function and responsibility assumed by the trustee of a trust.  In the same manner as a trustee, a steward is a manager who has the latitude to make decisions in the best interest of the owner.  As the trustee is a servant to the trust, the steward is a servant to God as the owner of all that the steward manages.  Both trustee and steward positions are full-time vocations.  Being a steward is a whole life commitment, involving all we are, all we possess, and all we do.  As God’s stewards, we are accountable to Him (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank You for the privilege and the opportunity to be Your steward.  Grant me faith to be an effective and faithful steward of all that You entrust to me.  Help me to be worthy of Your trust in me.  May all that I do give You honor and glory.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Blessings on your journey as a steward!

Lessons and Hymns for Epiphany 4 B

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

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28

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

Our Lord Jesus Christ, True God in the Flesh, Cleanses Our Consciences from Sin

As He promised, the Lord our God has raised up “a prophet” like Moses, namely Jesus, our brother in the flesh. “To him you shall listen,” because the Word of the Lord is “in his mouth” (Deut. 18:15–18). Indeed, He is more than a prophet and more than a scribe of the Scriptures; He is the incarnate Word, and He speaks “a new teaching with authority” (Mark 1:22, 27). He enters “the synagogue” of His Church and provides true Sabbath rest, using His authority to silence and cast out “even the unclean spirits” (Mark 1:21–27). By His Word of the cross, He removes the accusations of the Law and of the devil, and He cleanses our consciences before God the Father, “from whom are all things and for whom we exist.” Hence, we are now set free from bondage and commended to God by the one Lord, Jesus Christ, “through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6). Therefore, use your freedom to care for your brothers and sisters, neither causing them to stumble nor wounding their consciences (1 Cor. 8:9–12), but cleansing and strengthening them with the Gospel.

These are the hymns we will sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy (LSB 507)
Take My Life and Let It Be (LSB 783)
We Give Thee But Thine Own (LSB 781)
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (LSB 803)
Son of God, Eternal Savior (LSB 842)
As With Gladness Men of Old (LSB 397)

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”

Our weekly devotion from the sainted Rev. Earl Feddersen:

1 Samuel 3:1-10
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

In Lutheran and other liturgical churches all over the world, when the Gospel Lesson is announced at worship, the people say or sing, “Glory to You, O Lord.” I suggest that the words Eli recommended to Samuel would be even more appropriate: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”

The Bible tells us that Samuel, the answer to his mother’s most fervent prayer, “did not yet know the Lord,” and “The Word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” It is no surprise, then, that the young boy assumed Eli was calling him in the middle of the night. After all, there were only the two of them there.

Eli, on the other hand, was the priest of God. It should not have taken three times for the old priest to catch on that, if there were only two people in that temple, then You-Know-Who must be calling the boy! Before we get too critical of old Eli, however, we ought to at least consider the possibility that God has called us and we didn’t mistake it for anything–we just ignored it.

In the Gospel Lesson for the Second Sunday After the Epiphany, Nathanael dismisses the possibility that his friend Philip could have found, “the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote” for no other reason than his own prejudice. When Philip said that Jesus came from Nazareth, Nathanael’s prejudice jumped right into his mouth: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Fortunately for Nathanael, Philip was his friend–a good friend. Philip invited his friend to “Come and see.”

Missionaries (all God’s people) are sent by God to be good friends to those who do not yet know the Lord. We need to give those people the good advice that Eli gave to Samuel or that Philip gave to Nathanael.

Yet, as important as it is to be good friends, the most important thing for all of us is to have the Friend that Philip and Nathanael had, the Friend who sends us on our mission to His world, the Friend who said, “Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends,” the Friend who laid down His life for us. The gracious patience of God with Samuel is not a big surprise. He was just a boy and he did not yet know the Lord.

The gracious patience of God with Eli is another story. But then the Bible does say, “In those days the Word of the Lord was rare.” The gracious patience of God with me–well, that’s the real shocker!

And how about you?