Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

January 28, 2018

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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L.I.F.E. – Living in Faith Everyday … by living sexually pure and decent lives

January 22, 2018

Lord God, our heavenly Father, who has been faithful to us through Jesus Christ, enable us by the power of your Holy Spirit to trust in Your faithfulness and walk in faith every day, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. – Titus 2:11-12

Where to Start – Living our faith with sexual purity does not begin with the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” It begins with the Second Article and the grace of God in Jesus Christ. He brings us salvation and puri es us to be His own (Titus 2:14). Purity of living does not begin with what we should strive to be but with what God has made us to be in Baptism—pure in Christ.

Grace Training – Law training says, “Don’t do these things because they are bad.” Grace training says, “You don’t have to do these things because God is good and He revealed His goodness in Jesus.” Our Trainer does not see us as sexual beings but as human beings created by Him, puri ed in Christ, and gifted with sexuality. Puri ed people who live in Baptismal grace can choose purity! We can be trained!

Trained for What?

“To renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.”

  • Uphold the God-given sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24).
  • Rejoice in our differing vocations as male and female and renounce behavior that distorts, belittles, or denies this truth (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18-23; Ephesians 5:3-11).“To live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.”
  • Honor our marriages and our spouses (1 Corinthians 7:4; Ephesians 5:21-25; Hebrews 13:4).
  • Live in sexual purity of thought, word, and deed.
    (1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Ephesians 5:3-4; Philippians 4:8).Where to Finish – When we fail to obey our Trainer, we fall before Him on penitent knees for He remains our Savior. He forgives, cleanses, and puri es anew (1 John 1:9). We press on toward our goal of sexual purity to make it our own, “because Jesus has made [us] his own” (Philippians 3:12).

Prayer: Lord God, our heavenly Father, who has been faithful to us through Jesus Christ, enable us by the power of your Holy Spirit to trust in Your faithfulness and walk in faith every day, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Life Sunday

January 21, 2018

Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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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.


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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