Our Father’s Justice

January 15, 2018

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” This is what God the Lord says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” – Isaiah 42:1-7

React to this statement: “The Lord will bring justice to the nations; he will establish justice on earth.”

If you are focused on all the evil and atrocities in the world and society, you are probably cheering, “Finally, the wicked will receive their ‘just deserts.’ Finally, some fairness.”

I get your applause. I can’t stand the evil either. But be careful of sounding and acting like a Pharisee. Because, if you are focused on the real evil and atrocities in life, you’d search your own heart. With an honest search, I don’t imagine you are as excited about justice coming. Justice strikes grave fear because we know the evil of our heart deserves the grave. Justice coming to others is one thing. But justice coming to us is the scariest thing.

But when you read about “justice” in Isaiah 42:1-7, do you read anything about destruction? Do you read anything about fire and brimstone? Do you read anything about hell? No. Rather you read about a Servant, chosen by God, to bring a different justice than you would expect.

This servant doesn’t bully you into a corner, start yelling at you, and beat you up, like you might expect. He doesn’t make you feel worse than you already feel. If you are broken because of your sin, he doesn’t break you more. If you feel like your faith is dying out, he doesn’t extinguish it for you. Instead he treats you with gentleness and care.

  • He opens your eyes to his sacrificing love on a cross where he received your “just deserts.”
  • He frees you from your prison sentence of hell by having been sentenced himself.
  • He brightens your life with the promise of paradise.

This servant has a name. His name is Jesus. His name is his message to you: “The Lord saves.” That’s his promise.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, thank you for choosing Jesus to be my Savior. Amen.

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Second Sunday after the Epiphany

January 14, 2018

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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Absolutely Objective

January 8, 2018

Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. – 1 Peter 1:17

Are you a “Christian-By-Association”? In other words, do you consider yourself a Christian because you can point to your familiarity with the trappings of Christianity? Perhaps you can rattle off happy memories of going to Sunday School or a Christian Day School. Perhaps you can recall what it was like to be in a children’s Christmas program on Christmas Eve. Perhaps your parents and grandparents were active in church life and you’ve inherited some family connections with various pastors and teachers.

If that’s all you’ve gotten out of your exposure to Christianity, however, you’ve got nothing.

God is objective. It does not matter to God how active your parents or grandparents were at church. It does not matter to God how many songs you sang in Christmas Eve services of your childhood. It does not matter to God how many Christian pastors and teachers you know by name. If you or I think God will accept us because we’re familiar with some trappings of Christianity, then we are not hearing him. And a moment is coming when we’ll be in for a real shock.

What matters to God is our relationship with Jesus. What matters to God is our trust in Christ as our Savior from sin. What matters to God is the forgiveness we possess through faith in Jesus’ perfect life and death in our place. What matters to God is that my personal eyes of faith are fixed upon his Son.

No more pretending. Only Jesus. He alone makes all the difference in the world. Your world too.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for all the times I have not focused on your Son. Wash me in his blood. Renew my zeal for the good news of salvation through Jesus. Amen.


The Baptism of Our Lord

January 7, 2018

First Sunday after the Epiphany

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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May Your New Year be the Year of Our Lord, Jesus Christ

January 1, 2018

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 1:1-4

The New Year. A blessed 2018 to all. New Year’s Day is also on the church calendar to celebrate the naming of Jesus. 2018 AD means the Year of Our Lord. We still are celebrating Christ’s birth. Who is Jesus Christ? That’s a fair question to ask this time of year, isn’t it? After all, Christmas is the most popular holiday of the year. People from all over the world celebrate it, and, whether they recognize it or not, Jesus Christ is the very reason for and cause of the celebration! So who is this world-famous baby lying so meekly and mildly in the manger of Bethlehem? Who is Jesus Christ?

Depending on whom you ask, you might hear a few different answers to that question. “Jesus Christ was a great prophet, the greatest to ever live!” “Jesus Christ was a great pioneer, a visionary who started one of the most popular religions in the world!” “Jesus Christ was a great hero who gave up his life for a noble cause!”

But all those descriptions fall short, because none of them give Jesus Christ credit for who he truly is. The apostle Paul’s description of Jesus Christ, however, does not fall short. His description here in Romans chapter one is both true and beautiful. Jesus Christ is true man, “a descendant of David,” Paul says. But Paul also confesses the truth that Jesus Christ is the very “Son of God”. It was this Jesus, the one true God made flesh, who willingly gave up his life in order to pay for the sins of the world with his blood.

But how do we know this for certain? How do we know that this man who died on a cross just thirty-three years after his birth wasn’t just some great prophet, some great pioneer, some great hero who gave up his life for a noble cause? How do we know that this man was also the one true God whose death truly forgave all of our sins?

Paul’s answer is simple. We know because this man who died did not stay dead. Rather, he “was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.”

So who is this world-famous baby lying so meekly and mildly in the manger of Bethlehem? Who is Jesus Christ? The complete answer does not lie in his manger, for his manger was only the beginning. The answer truly lies in his empty tomb. Jesus Christ is the one true God who willingly became true man and then lived, died, and rose to save us from our sins.

May this beautiful truth resound throughout your Christmas celebration this year!

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, by your resurrection from death, you have proven yourself to be the one true God who has forgiven all our sins. As we celebrate your birth this Christmas season, may the beautiful truth of your resurrection remain in our hearts and minds as well. Amen.


New Year’s Day

January 1, 2018

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2017

First Sunday after Christmas

Divine Service, Page 6, Hymnal Supplement 98

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