Would You Just Listen!

January 27, 2014

O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old—what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. – Psalm 78:1-4

“Are you listening to me?” This is a common question asked by a mother trying to make sure her instructions are actually penetrating the brain of her videogame-playing son. This question may also be asked by a young wife who just finished telling her husband about her day while he was watching the big game. Even though that son or husband hear words – even give a nod here or there – the words just did not sink in.

It often happens to us, doesn’t it? Just because we hear something does not mean we are actually listening or understanding what it means. Sometimes sounds just fade into the background because we are focused on something else, or we have just decided that they are not important.

What could be more important than God’s Word? It contains a message we certainly want to hear. When we hear it (or read it) we want to make sure that we listen – that the message actually registers in our minds and hearts.

The devil doesn’t want you to hear God’s Word. When you do hear it, he creates all sorts of distractions to try and make sure that the message does not sink in. He loves to draw your focus to what is happening right now in your life and whisper in your ear, “This message is ancient. It does not have anything to do with your life in 2013. You have more important and pressing things to occupy your mind.”

The message of the Bible is “from of old” and it is a consistent message from beginning to end. Within its pages sin is uncovered and its terrifying consequences made plain. God’s amazing love for you and all people is also made crystal clear. He refused to let that sin destroy you forever but instead crushed his own Son with the weight of your sin and its punishment.

Take time to hear God’s Word. Open your ears and welcome that message of love. There is no more wonderful or important message in the world.

Prayer: O God, open my ears that I may hear your Word. Open my heart that I may truly listen and believe it. Amen.

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Third Sunday after the Epiphany

January 26, 2014

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Hope for the Broken Hearted

January 20, 2014

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. – Isaiah 61:1-6

Feeling poor and brokenhearted? Mourning or grieving? Then hear what Jesus says. He has come to preach good news to you, to proclaim freedom from the guilt of sin and the power of the devil, and to comfort you. And he has some presents for you: a crown of beauty, the oil of gladness, and a garment of praise.

He also gives you a job description. Now that you look good in his eyes, he gives you lives to rebuild and restore. As you minister to others, he will take care of your physical and spiritual needs, providing you with far more than you need.

At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit anointed him to carry out his job description. At your baptism, the Spirit anointed you to carry out your job description.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for being there for me when my heart is broken. Let me be a blessing to others, and keep me in baptismal grace forever. Amen.


Second Sunday after the Epiphany

January 19, 2014

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Going the Distance – Endurance

January 13, 2014

He [the king] will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more. – Psalm 72:5-7

If you do a search for the greatest kings or rulers of all time, you will come upon names like Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon. Each of these rulers was great in his own time and in his own way. Maybe you agree with this list; maybe you don’t. Maybe you think these individuals are deserving of “top ten” status; maybe not. Maybe you have other names you would list among the greatest rulers of all time. The point, however, is the same; none of these rulers is your eternal King.

Psalm 72 speaks of the Messiah. It speaks of your Savior King.  It speaks of Jesus. And it says he will reign as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. In other words, his rule will never end. Your King will endure.

As Jesus your Savior King reigns, he also rains. He rains on you like rain on a mown field.  He rains on you like showers watering the earth. He rains blessing after blessing upon you: the righteous life he lived in your place, the forgiveness he won with his innocent suffering and death, the glory he has prepared for you in heaven. All these blessings and more are yours because Jesus reigns. And because Jesus reigns as your Savior King, you flourish. You flourish with confidence in his righteousness. You flourish with peace in his forgiveness. You flourish with hope and joy because of the glory that awaits you!

Alexander the Great ruled from 336-323 BC and died at the age of 32. Caesar Augustus ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD and died at the age of 75. Charlemagne ruled from 768-814 AD and died at the age of 71. Genghis Khan ruled from 1206-1227 AD and died at the age of 65. Napoleon ruled from 1804-1815 AD and died at the age of 51. Jesus, your Savior King, reigns today.  Jesus, your Savior King, will reign tomorrow.  Jesus, your Savior King, will reign to the very end of the age. Jesus, your Savior King, lives and reigns forever.

How wonderful to know! Today. Tomorrow. Every day. Until the end of time and beyond: Your King Will Endure!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, through your gracious rule in my heart you shower me with many blessings. Praise and glory to you, my eternal King! Preserve me by the power of your Word. Amen.


The Baptism of Our Lord

January 12, 2014

First Sunday after the Epiphany

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Hey Get Up! Arise and Shine

January 6, 2014

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD. – Isaiah 60:1-6

“Rise and shine!” These words would echo throughout the house and rouse my brother, sisters and me from our sleep. In the same way that the sun was dawning on a new day and bringing light to the world, my mom was calling us to action. She didn’t want us to miss all that the new day had to offer. It was time to “rise and shine.”

As the prophet Isaiah wrote these words to the Jewish people, he was calling them to wake up spiritually. He wrote, “Darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples.” The prophets often used pictures of darkness and sleep to describe the sinful condition and situations in which the people were living. They had shut out God, the Light, from their lives. They chose to live apart from God which brought hurt and heartache… and darkness. These people needed help.

And God did help. Now the light was dawning. Jesus Christ was coming into the world. And just like the dawning of a new day rouses people from sleep, the coming of Jesus would bring about a spiritual awakening for his people. A new relationship, based on forgiveness and trust, would be established. God’s people would live by faith.

The Lord had more information for his Old Testament people. The light and promises that Christ was bringing was not only for them.  His promise of light and salvation were for all people. The whole world would see what God had done and be drawn by his wonderful love to share in his amazing blessings. One fulfillment of this prophecy was the coming of the Magi from the East to worship Jesus. They followed a star to Bethlehem and brought gifts to worship the Christ Child (Matthew 2:1-12).

This prophecy is also fulfilled today as you hear these words of your God to arise and shine. Let your heart throb and swell with joy. The light of Christ drives the darkness of sin from your heart and life. God’s promises in Christ are for you. Give thanks and praise to the LORD for his glory that rises upon you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be honest with you about my sin and my great need for your help. Shine the light of your Word in my heart and lead me to put my trust in you.   Open my eyes to see your great glory through Jesus who is my Light and Salvation. Amen.