TRUTHS TO PONDER

Divine Peace versus worldly peace

Text:           Gospel Reading:  Luke 12: 49 – 56       

Title:          Divine Peace versus worldly peace

 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord and our God continues to teach us there is a stark contrast between the peaceful fellowship the holy God has with His children and the fleshly fellowship unrepentant mankind has with one another.  Jesus speaks to you and me this day, further illuminating the irreconcilable conflict between: the kingdom of God against the kingdom of the evil one;  God’s divine light versus sin’s obscene darkness; God’s pure and loving peace in opposition to the flesh’s profane and conditional peace.  The Prince of Peace testifies to the truth that the peace He gives to us, His brothers and sisters, is priceless, steadfast and trustworthy while fallen mankind’s peace is conditional, transient and suspect.  Our risen Lord’s words are both comforting and jarring.  Comforting for He speaks of the peace He has won with God with His bloody work, His fiery baptism upon the cross is the peace He gives to the children of God, His disciples, His brothers and sisters, you and me.  Jarring for the King of kings speaks of: fleshly conflict among members of temporal blood relationships that must give way to the everlasting spiritual familial relationship; a carnal peace within members of a family that must give way to the divine peace within the members of His body.  His peace was secured with His steadfast faithfulness to God and is this day sheltered in our heavenly Father’s steadfast love and faithfulness to His Christ.  The Lamb of God’s peace was tempered and proven true in the fiery baptism of God’s holy and righteous wrath for man’s rejection and rebellion and His payment for the wages of our sindeath upon the cross.  The Good Shepherd’s peace is vouchsafed by His reign at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

 

Jesus tells us that this spiritual and deadly division with mankind is the result of Adam’s rebellion and lawless behavior in the Garden of Eden and has since been perpetuated ever since by every descendant of Adam, including you and me.  Sin has so totally fouled our nature that we are neither able to see our sin, comprehend its offensiveness to God, overcome its complete defilement of our thoughts, our words and our deeds, nor combat and defeat its consequences.  It leads mankind into blasphemous notions that we arrive at a point of foolishness in this life where we believe “we have made peace with God,” living our lives as best we can while at peace with our fellow man.  The Lord warns us that the old Adam seeks not only to be God but to stand in judgment of God’s justice and holiness while overlooking or minimizing His perfect and steadfast love and mercy.  The world of lost sinners are under the bewitchment of the evil one who leads his people to self-righteously proclaim peace for all because they embrace and promote his lie that “God accepts everyone, welcomes all mankind into heaven, and would never cast anyone into hell.”  These and other heretical beliefs and blasphemous philosophies keep unrepentant mankind in insurrection and fighting against the almighty and merciful God.

 

Thankfully, Christ continues to reveal and teach us the truth of the stark and unfathomable division between God’s peace and man’s peace.  He again teaches us that this division is so deep, so vast, so insurmountable and so impassable by human reason or strength that only He, true God/true Man, correctly and completely understands and has spanned this split between heaven and earth, God and mankind. 

 

Therefore, He once more speaks of safeguarding God’s holy ones by dividing, separating, and distinguishing that which is conceived from above by the power of the Holy Spirit and that which is born of the flesh.  Jesus has recently spoken to us about the foolishness of accumulating temporal wealth as a means to peace in this life while ignoring the eternal wealth He brings to His church through His means of grace.  He spoke to us last week about the significance of keeping our hearts focused on God for He is our true, loving and priceless treasure that is eternal, non-negotiable and indestructible.  This morning He speaks clearly, concisely and forcefully that He has won for us true peace, divine peace, eternal peace, indestructible peace with God by His fiery baptism on the cross.  On that day He was constrained to walk the path of peace through the dark valleys of hostile sinners, ordained to endure the angry taunts and mocking insults of evil men and fallen angels, committed to confess the truth and reality of God’s salvation before unbelieving and unrepentant religious and civic rules, prepared to receive onto Himself the savage and unjust punishment for sins He did not commit by the hands of those He came to in peace with the gift of salvation that they would believe in Him and not perish in their own sins, and committed to be lifted high upon the cross as the most vile and profane sinner before the holy and righteous God, that His bloody baptism was the good, the complete, and the only acceptable payment for mankind’s sin, your sins and my sins.  Jesus achieved perfect and eternal peace between God and man by meeting every demand of the Law with His holy and righteous life and atoning death upon the cross.  God willingly and willfully exchanged the reward earned by His only begotten Son’s innocence and righteousness life to you and me and laid upon Him the punishment due our sin-filled and rebellious lives on the cross as divinely ordained before creation.  Jesus did all this in complete trust and unwavering faithfulness, confident that He would be the one, the only, and the perfect peace offering satisfactory and pleasing to God.  God confirmed and rewarded His faithfulness on the third day when He arose again, announced peace to His fearful, hopeful and faithful disciples, was received into the glory of God, and is now seated at His right hand.  Jesus is the living security that God is at peace with His people, you and me, this day and every day until He comes again in glory when He will judge the living and the dead.

 

My brothers and sisters, Christ has mightily exerted Himself and victoriously achieved peace between God and mankind through His bloody baptism.  Yet, unbelieving and unrepentant mankind continues to rebel against God and remain hostile to His children.  Jesus speaks to you and me this morning that we would hear and believe that we have peace with God for His sake.  Yet we are not to be hypocrites, expecting true and meaningful peace with rebellious and unrepentant relatives, friends and neighbors that are bound in unbelief, ensnared in unrepentance, and confident in the fleshly peace with which they embrace others. 

 

Christ calls us not to tire or lose hope but to persevere in prayer for their salvation.  The Prince of Peace exhorts us to focus our eyes on Him even as we experience religious conflict and hostility with those we love and desire to have true peace.  He assures you and me God faithfully and lovingly inclines His ear to receive our prayers for loved ones bound in unbelief.  His heart compassionately receives our cries for those lost in error’s maze.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit emboldens us to cast our burdens and cares upon Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith even as He warns us against the hypocrisy of claiming astuteness in worldly understanding while remaining indifferent in spiritual wisdom. 

 

Jesus is the faithful and true Prince of Peace who will never leave us nor forsake us but abide with us through the fiery and blustery trials and afflictions with which the Holy Spirit sanctifies us as He leads us upward on the Path of Life to the perfect and eternal peace with our heavenly Father and all His holy ones.  Rejoice, Jesus is the very divine peace through whom our heavenly Father gives His peace to us and with each other during our exodus from this fallen world of conflict and hostility.  Rejoice, Jesus will on the last day completely and eternally divide God’s holy ones from the profane ones, casting all who have refused to believe in Him as their Savior into eternal darkness, anguish, and hopelessness and reclining all who believe in His name, our brothers and sisters, you and me, at His table in our heavenly Father’s lodging where we will enjoy perfect fellowship with Him and each other in eternal peace.

 

Amen and Amen!!!

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How Much More?

Luke 11: 1 – 13
Genesis 18: 20 – 33
Colossians 2: 6 – 15
 

How Much More?

 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord gathers us together offering much more than we dare ask or expect.  Each Sunday He calls us to sit at His feet, encouraging us to rejoice that our names are written in the Book of Life that is in heaven, exhorting us, heirs of eternal life, to go and give His unmerited mercy, His steadfast love, His dearly paid for forgiveness to those fallen upon by the evil one, beaten and stripped and left half dead, and to receive Him into both our hearts and homes where He gives us the one thing needful – Himself – the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

 

Today, He calls us to boldly ask, to unhesitatingly seek and to faithfully knock where justice and mercy are found.  Abraham was an imprudent friend who beat on the heart of God, shamelessly petitioned God to be true to His Name and not destroy the holy ones with the profane ones, boldly negotiated for the better deal by confessing God’s nature is just and merciful, unhesitatingly reminded God of the holiness of His name that must be kept holy, and faithfully acknowledged and praised God’s steadfast love and unmerited mercies.  Abraham’s shameless petitions for justice and mercy were successful for God promised not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there were fifty, then forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, ten righteous among the wicked.  God mercifully spared Lot and his family from the divine justice that fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah – His holy ones were not destroyed with the wicked.  Do you and I grasp how much more God did than what Abraham petitioned?

 

Now Jesus shows us “how much more” God gives than we are inclined or able to ask of Him.  At that moment Jesus was moving steadfastly and intentionally toward His death in Jerusalem, faithfully praying to His Father, steadfastly doing His Father’s will, and tirelessly preaching, teaching and healing those imprisoned in the darkness of sin, death and the power of the devil.  On that day a disciple came and asked Jesus to teach them to pray like John taught His disciples.  Like the seventy-two that returned exuberant over their work of healing and casting out demons and the scribe who sought to test Jesus with the question of inherit eternal life” this disciple asks a question that also falls short of the mark, seeking to put the disciples on a level with John’s and completely oblivious to the fact that He knocked on He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Up to this point they have thought of God as the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68: 5), and the Father of the Messiah (Psalm 89: 26).  Jesus responds with much more – just as God’s response to Abraham’s petition so Jesus’ to the disciple’s request.  Jesus reveals that God the Father calls all mankind into an intimate, a familial, and a Baptismal relationship to Himself through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The God of creation beckons His holy ones to call Him – Abba – Father – for He owns you and me as His own children for Jesus’ sake.  The Teacher does not allow any ambiguity to enter His prayer but clearly identifies our heavenly Father as He who reigns over all creation.  From whose hand every living creature receives its sustenance, strength, protection, contentment, and salvation.  The Messiah further drives home the fact that our heavenly Father is the Holy One whose name the Jews dared not speak but now Jesus boldly instructs us to call our heavenly Father, raising us up as His brothers and sisters.  Yet, much more it is also the name of Jesus.  It is also the name of the Holy Spirit.  It is the name with which you and I were baptized.  It was the name God has placed on all His children, you and me.  Jesus unites heaven and earth in Himself for He, the exact radiance of God, knows and accomplished the will of God by taking upon Himself your sins and my sins and the sins of every man, woman and child that has lived, is living today, and will live until He comes again as He hung upon the cross and paid for them once and for all – completely and fully.  Our heavenly Father’s will was to validate Jesus’ salvific death by raising Him on the third day and seating Him at His right Hand, both guaranteeing us that He completely and eternally cancelled the record of our debt AND that having joined us to Jesus in a death like His He will surely raise us up to eternal life just as He did for Christ Jesus.  Jesus, true God and true man, ensures we believe, teach and confess we are both mortal and immortal creatures with our cry to our heavenly Father for our daily bread for both the body and the spirit, richly providing our food that we eat at our tables for physical strength and health and the true manna from heaven and His life-giving blood at this altar that gives us true and eternal life, salvation, forgiveness of our sins, and freedom from the power of sin, death and the devil.  The Lamb of God calls us to exercise our forgiveness from our sinful thoughts, words, and deeds by humbly, joyfully, and immediately extending our forgiveness to anyone who has sinned against us in thought, word and deed.  The Suffering Servant then reminds us that our faith and the new creature in Christ must be strengthened and safeguarded through daily testing as He leads us on the upward Path of Life to our heavenly Father’s home even as the evil one schemes and plots to tempt us to question God’s steadfast love, unfailing truthfulness, unmerited mercy and unwavering faithfulness as revealed in Holy Scriptures,  to seek paths that gratify the flesh and lead through the many deceptive entrances into unrepentant sin, death and the slavery of the devil.  How much more is His prayer over John the Baptizer’ or any other person’s.

 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, God has heard our cries this week and answered our prayers according to His will and with His means.  He has seen our struggles against the many dark and profane forces that sought to enshroud and blind us and shined the light of His justice and mercy into our hearts that we would see clearly with the eyes of faith.  He who teaches us to pray calls us to see, believe and embrace how much more God gives above and beyond our requests or expectation.  He does not teach us to pray as John’s disciples to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but as His brothers and sisters to our heavenly Father.  He does not teach us distant prayers to the Holy God but boldly, confidently and unashamedly brings us into the very throne room of God.  He does not give us old and tired formulas and matrixes as “helps” to pray but gives us the Holy Spirit who “helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8: 26)  If we, who are evil, know how to pray for good things, how much more God the Son knows how to teach us to pray to God the Father, giving you and me His prayer that by the power of the Holy Spirit we would pray for every good thing for body and spirit. 

 

Amen and Amen


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Ponder The Genesis

Ponder The Genesis

     Have you ever thought three things that appear to contradict each other could be true?  Human reason and logic tells us that truth is relative and what is true for me is not true for you. 

 

     Yet God’s wisdom does what is not possible with human wisdom or logic.  God calls us to do something and then to do something that appears to be in direct conflict with the first thing:  Love God with your whole heart, mind, and strength.  To do this means all your love is directed and given to God.  Then God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  What?  God, you have told me to love you with my entire being and there is nothing left with which to love my neighbor.  God the Holy Spirit affirms this impossible with man but possible with God.[1]  Therefore, we can only do this with an alien or external love that is not our own: the love of Christ.

 

     For the next few minutes let us ponder the Genesis.  There are three?   Which Genesis are we to ponder?

  • The Genesis of Creation: God the Father created all things through the Word. The Word created everything and if it does not exist it is because the Word did not create it.  All creation was good and man was created very good.  Yet, Adam rejected God’s love and all creation was dealt a fatal wound that it struggles with even to this day.
  • The Genesis of the New Creation:
    • God would not accept the death of His creation nor His beloved humanity. God had extended mercy upon mercy to His rebellious people and they continued to languish in sin. God the Father did something so radical and costly and sent His Son, His only Son, the One in whom He is well pleased to be our Savior.  Our heavenly Father declared at our Lord’s Baptism: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!”[2]  Our heavenly Father later declared at Jesus’ Transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.”[3]  How costly was our heavenly Father’s love for us:

 

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.[4]

 

  • Jesus suffered and died on the cross for your sins and mine and for all humanity that we would not suffer the wages of our sin. Even more, Jesus arose on the third day to validate that His sacrifice was fully acceptable payment to God. Now true and eternal life is available to all who believe in His name as their Savior.  Yet, even today God lavishes us with the treasures of His Kingdom:  Holy Scripture and the Lord’s Table to feed you and me, the new creation in Christ.[5]
  • The Genesis of the Eternal Creation. Even now the faithful departed enjoy eternal rest with our heavenly Father, Our Lord and God, and the Holy Spirit in the Father’s house and at the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb. We will join them and the angels and archangels when we complete the last good work our heavenly Father gives us.  God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit will greet us as we depart this Time of Grace on the earth and enter into the Time of Glory in heaven.  God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and every sorrow from our heart and we will only know perfect and eternal peace, love and joy.

 

     While we may ponder those things that are irreconcilable between us and a friend, we can rejoice this day that God never contradicts Himself.  The babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, helpless and defenseless, IS the Genesis of the New Creation.  God desires us to rejoice and savor Jesus’ birth two thousand years ago AND celebrate it.  Yet as we ponder the Word of God made flesh it is good, right and salutary to ponder the Genesis of the Eternal Creation that even today awaits our arrival with joy and anticipation.

 

Amen and Amen

[1] Mark 10: 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,[2] Matthew 3: 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[3] Matthew 17: He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[4] How deep the Father’s love – Stuart Townend
 

[5] 2 Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.Read more...


Known by name

     Let us for a few moments let us consider our need to have clear and undistorted vision as we live, move and breathe in this life that we would correctly see and understand what is in a name. 

     

In our daily lives we often meet someone new and ask, “What is your name?”  It establishes a personal contact as well as offers us the opportunity to share the importance of their name in our lives. 

     

     Our heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit know us be name, never call us by the wrong name, and call us individually and personally by name.  God reveals His name to us:

  • in Holy Scripture;
  • is the only name in which humanity will find salvation, refuge, strength and peace;
  • that we would know who to thank and praise for every good thing in our lives, every mercy we receive, and the provision of work for our hands and minds.

     

     God’s name is holy and reveals His person: love and righteousness.  God’s name is holy in and of itself yet Jesus encourages us to cry out to our heavenly Father as His beloved children in prayer and praise without the constrain of time, space and location.  God knows when we:

  • ponder His name;
  • form our prayers in Jesus’ name;
  • when we give voice to our needs and wants;
  • when we give voice to the needs and wants of others;
  • hear the prayers to God offered by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

     

     It is good that we remember we are never out of the presence of our loving and righteous God.  He stands with us and our brothers and sisters in Christ:

  • knowing our thoughts, motivations and intentions;
  • supporting our every need of body and spirit;
  • hearing our words of
    • comfort and condemnation,
    • thankfulness and thanklessness,
    • praise and profanity;
    • and honor, love and trust as well as distain, hatred and unbelief
    • uttered in His name.

     

     God freely absolves us for the sake of Jesus when we confess our sins and He cleanses us from all unrighteousness, proving His name is trustworthy and true.  He is grieved when we refuse to call upon His name for strength, wisdom and love when we find it difficult or impossible to forgive our neighbor.  He is offended when we cloak our bad intentions and actions with His name, wearing it like we wear a sports jersey of a famous or our favorite athlete.  God longs to hear our voices lift up His name as our only hope for true, abundant and eternal love, forgiveness, peace, comfort, joy and fellowship.  God rejoices when we forgive others in His name and receive forgiveness of others in Jesus name.  God’s peace rests on you and me, His dear children, when we seek peace and unity in His name.  God is glorified when we live our lives according to His word and refuse and rebuke fleshly interpretations and teachings of God.

     

     By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we this day and every day until Jesus comes again:

  • remember God placed His holy name on us in our baptism.
  • live every second of the day lovingly, humbly and selflessly bearing His name as we love our neighbor through our vocations.
  • Joyfully acknowledge God has placed His holy name upon our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Willfully and willingly proclaim the Gospel to those who sit in the darkness of sin and the shadow of death that God would place His life-giving name upon them in Holy Baptism.

     

Amen and Amen.


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The Wedding Feast Of The Lamb

     Jesus lovingly and expectantly calls us to this divine celebration of true and eternal life that He has paid for and prepared.  His table is richly prepared with the holy food and drink.  He reclines us at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, all God’s children gathered around the world, and the blessed holy ones assembled in His presence.  Jesus faithfully and steadfastly blesses the bread and wine with His words and presence, presenting His true body and true blood to His disciples to give to His brothers and sisters.  It is the true manna from heaven and life-giving blood we and all God’s children need to sustain, strengthen, safeguard and comfort us in the one true faith here in this world.  Jesus compassionately sees our spiritual poverty and compassionately ensures we all have a full portion.  Jesus gently comforts us with reassurance that it is powerful enough to feed us as He leads us into green pastures, to still waters, and through the valley of the shadow of death.  Jesus fills us with His Spirit that we would deal with others in His love and with true mercy.  Jesus feeds gives is strength that, having peace with God, we would staunchly and meekly work to establish and maintain peace and unity within God’s family and offer His radical peace to those still enslaved in sin.

     

     God the Father joyfully and faithfully sends His heralds forth into the highways and byways of the nations of the world with His invitation.  The Father desires that His kingdom is filled with sons and daughters on the Last Day and all the places at the table would be occupied.  Our heavenly Father commands His holy angels to both minister to His children and restrain the evil ones that seek to overwhelm us, allowing us safe and uninhibited access to His Son’s feast.  God the Father assures us that those who proved unworthy will not be allowed a place at the celebration.

     

     God the Holy Spirit works ceaselessly to cloth God’s children with the wedding clothes that cover us with dazzling holiness and righteousness as we are gathered before God to receive the means of grace.  The Spirit gives us both the will and means to contritely confess our sin and gratefully receive Christ’s words of forgiveness in receiving this most holy food at His table.  The Spirit provides mutual comfort and consolation for God’s children as He calls us to from the work of our daily vocations, gathering us with our brothers and sisters to receive the priceless food. 

     

     My brothers and sisters in Christ, God has not withheld one good thing from us at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in 2021.  He will do no less in 2022 and beyond.  May we would neither grow weary of His work nor indifferent to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. 

     

     And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus to the Last Day.  Amen


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Our Father’s House

     This month let us meditate on our heavenly Father’s mansion in eternity even as He gathers us within His earthly tent here in this Time of Grace. 

     

     Our Lord and Savior assured His disciples on the night when He was betrayed that He was about to depart to go to the Father, prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and return to take them there with Him  (John 14: 2 – 3).  Jesus spoke to them on that night and speaks to you and me this day who abide in His tent – the Church Militant.  He advances the Kingdom of God through His Church into the darkness of the kingdom of the evil one, snatching souls from the liar and murderer (John 8: 44). She is His bride.  She is the Ark of Salvation for His brothers and sisters that navigates within the Kingdom of Power (physical governance) and the Kingdom of Grace (spiritual governance). 

     

     The ChurchThe Church is both more and less than it appears to mankind in this Time of Grace. 

  • The True Church. It is more than mankind comprehends and values for it contains the True Church – God’s inerrant Word, God’s holy Sacraments, and God’s holy ones – precious and holy to God.  It is His beloved whom His only begotten Son redeemed from sin, death and the power of the devil with His innocent suffering and most holy and precious blood poured out on the cross on that horrible, terrifying Good Friday.  She is the Church Militant for her numbers continue increase as He brings in more children into our heavenly Father’s family through the powerful and blessed water of Holy Baptism even as others pass from it into their eternal rest in the Church Triumphant (John 8: 35b). 
  • The Visible Church. Yet, the visible church is less than it appears to mankind for contains both the True Church as well as the unbelievers, the blasphemers, the heretics, and the apostates that gather within the physical buildings of brick and wood that are called “church.”  These children of the devil ritualistically and faithlessly confess sin, hear the Word of God, receive His holy Sacraments, and fellowship with each other and God’s holy ones.  They spiritually desecrate the visible church with their refusal to receive, worship, thank and praise the one true God in the one true faith.  Rather, they take His most holy name in vain for they willingly receive, worship, thank and praise a god of their choosing that gratifies their flesh (John 8: 35a).  

     

     Christ’s bride labors valiantly throughout the ages by the power of the Holy Spirit to remain true to Him and serve our neighbor in love even as goats and wolves in sheep’s clothing embrace and promote heresies, profane social agendas, false religions, and world philosophies behind the visible façade of Christian denominations and cults. 

     

     Thankfully, on the Last Day Jesus will come in all His glory with His holy angels.  He will gather His militant bride to Himself, removing the temporal tent that covered her in this Time of Grace, revealing her true beauty and character.  Jesus’ glory will shine forth from her as He gathers God’s children, the faithful departed and the faithful living – you and me, to Himself. Our heavenly Father, who has watched over and commanded His holy angels to minister and protect us (Matthew 18: 10), will see His only begotten Son and triumphant Bride approaching from a far.  He will run unashamedly to, fall lovingly upon, and affectionately kiss His Christ and Bride, calling for His house to be thrown wide open, receive us, and eternally reclining us at the wedding feast of the Lamb (John 8: 35 – 36).

 

Amen and Amen


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The Cost

   This month let us meditate on the cost bore by the one true God who has adopted us as His children.  Jesus spoke to Nicodemus during that night of Holy Week about the necessity of being conceived from above (John 3: 3 – 6).  We, like Nicodemus, struggle at times to grasp the magnitude of our reconciled paternal relationship which God has brought us into in Baptism.  Jesus spoke of a divine action by which God Himself gives us true and eternal life, placing His name upon you and me, claiming us as His children, giving us power to be called children of God, and the faith to both grasp and embrace this priceless present and eternal familial relationship. 

     

     Both our heavenly Father and His only begotten Son agreed and accepted the price of our adoption before the foundation of the world.  God had created man in His image, formed Adam with His hands, breathed into him the breath of life, and claimed him as a son.  Yet, the sadistic, fraudulent father of lies sought to enlarge his family beyond the unclean spirits that were cast with him out of God’s presence.  He desired to desecrate man by deforming us into his image.  Tragically, Satan’s deadly temptation was acted upon by Adam and Eve.  In that instant, mankind was bound under the evil one’s profane power and became his illegitimate children as Adam’s sin was transmitted from one generation to the next.  God promised Adam and Eve that His true Son would save mankind through a fierce and spiritual contest upon another tree, the cursed tree – the cross, where true and eternal life for mankind would be purchased and eternally secured.

     

     God accepted the price of our adoption with Jesus’ sacrificial suffering and death upon the cross and guaranteed our adoption with Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus reinforced our adoption with His words to Mary Magdalene in the garden on the morning of His resurrection (John 20: 16 – 18).  Then He sent her will the Gospel to His disciples, calling them His brothers while speaking of their familial relationship with God the Father.  He did not call them half-brothers, stepbrothers, or in any other status than His siblings, a perfect, complete, and accepted child of God.

     

     Let us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, daily remember our adoption by our heavenly Father.  Let us daily arise from a night’s rest invoking the name of the Triune God as given to us a His legitimate children, siblings of Christ Jesus, heirs of His kingdom, and stewards of the gifts He has given us to do His work in His kingdom in our baptism.  Praise God for He has chosen you and me to be His children.  Praise God for He has conceived us by the power of His Holy Spirit in Baptism.  His adoption is perfect, complete and eternal.

     

     Next, let us meditate upon the spiritual storm that Adam’s rebellion unleashed upon both mankind and creation.  Adam mutinied and all mankind was cast out of pure and perfect health, fellowship and peace into disease, pain, anxiety, want, and conflict.  Creation suffers with weather that destroys life and materials with extreme heat and cold, floods and drought, and man’s excesses and indifference (Romans 8: 22).

     

     God created everything in good and perfect order and harmony.  His glory shined brightly within and among all the creation on the Seventh Day.  God came to Adam in the cool of the day and there was perfect fellowship between God and man in the Garden of Eden.  Then an unclean influence was allowed to enter the Garden of Eden, testing Adam and Eve’s love for God and one another.  The evil one lusted for the opportunity to expose their weaknesses in trust, wisdom and innocence.  Thus, evil approached them disguised as a wise serpent (Matthew 10: 16; 2 Corinthians 11: 14).  He attacked their faith that God had given them everything needful for the work He had given them in the Garden of Eden.  He suggested God’s love and provision was lacking, their reason and strength was equal to God’s, and knowledge of evil was more desirable than innocent submission to the will of God.  He struck at the image of God in order that it would be desecrated and deformed into his image:  holiness and love for profanity and enmity and perfect peace to stormy conflict.  God then came to those He loved.  He called to them in friendship.  He sought those that did not seek Him.  He extended justice and mercy to those who falsely judged and accused Him of evil.  He promised salvation to those who were unable to save themselves.

     

     Today, the spiritual tempest that erupted upon creation through Adam’s rebellion and lawlessness continuously swirls around us.  Chaos and mayhem wreak havoc on mankind and nature alike.  Sickness and death devour man and creatures without regard for fame, fortune, intelligence, physical abilities, age, or gender.  Adam, Eve and you and me did not gain what the serpent offered:  the knowledge of good and evil or the likeness of God.  Adam and Eve already possessed both of these divine gifts for they knew they had access and use of every tree EXCEPT ONE in the garden for their good.  They knew that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was not given to them and to eat of it would result in evil – death.  God’s hands and breath had created them in His image, not a flawed likeness of God. 

     

     Mankind remains blind to the evil that beckons to and ensnares them, indulging in self-gratification and idolatries.  Sin, death and the power of the evil one are wrongly recognized as the normal and natural expression of man’s self-destructive and self-consuming nature.  Humans are conditioned to view their losses of opportunity, health, or fortune as a cruel gift of fate.  Unbelieving mankind, in their own reason or strength, cannot see the truth that fortune and misfortune allow them know good and evil.  God uses both for good – to train up His children to look to Him, focus on Him, trust in Him, submit to His will, humbly and obey Him.  Thereby He comforts us as He conforms us more and more into the image of His only begotten Son by the power of the Holy Spirit and keeps us steadfast in the one true faith.  He gives us eyes of faith to see the good He gives and the evil that defiles, enslaves, and destroys unrepentant sinners.  However, our old Adam and the evil ones use both for evil – to enslave us in our own self-sufficiency, focus our attention inward, primarily trust our reason and strength, and submit first and foremost to our wants and desire.  Thereby they maintain the profane and obscene image of a rebel and anarchist who lusts after every false god.

     

     Let us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, daily remember that while fallen men mean it for evil, God means it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Genesis 50: 20).  Therefore, “Let us ever walk with Jesus” (Lutheran Worship Book – hymn 685) and never wander into the spiritual tempest that seeks to damage and destroy.

Amen and Amen.


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God calls us His children for Jesus’ sake

     This month let us meditate on the one true God who has called us by name to be His children for His glory and our good.

     

     Before the foundation of the world God desired to create and have fellowship with man.  God foresaw and foreknew all that could and all that would happen, to include the rebellion of both angels and Adam and Eve, and ordained that His only begotten Son would redeem the elect and “purify for Himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2: 14).

     

     From the very beginning of creation God worked faithfully and steadfastly to deliver mankind from the wages of their sin and the power of the evil one.  In the fullness of time God the Son was born of a virgin, under the Law (Galatians 4: 4), paid for all mankind’s sin by His bitter suffering and death on the cross, was gloriously raised on the third day that mankind would be reconciled with God through Him (Romans 5: 10), and ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty, uniting all things in heaven and earth to Himself (Ephesians 1: 10).

     

     Jesus speaks clearly and concisely that “all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1: 12 – 13).  What is impossible for man is not impossible for God (Mark 10: 27) who through Holy Baptism joins you, me, and all His children to Jesus in His death and resurrection that we would be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6: 11).  The risen Lord commanded Mary “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 17)

     

     Jesus tells us – His brothers and sisters currently in the Kingdoms of Power and Grace – we must work with Him in advancing the Kingdom of God against the kingdom of the evil one.  God advances His kingdom not with the physical weapons of war (Ephesians 6: 12) but the full armor of God (Ephesians 6: 13 – 20).  He assures us the Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, and gives us both the will and means by which we daily refuse to gratify the flesh and walk in the Spirit (Romans 8: 4).  The Lord and Giver of Life gives us ears that hear the whole counsel of God (John10: 25 – 30), mouths that eat and drink Christ’s Holy body and blood that we have true and abundant life in us (John 6: 53 – 58), hearts that believe and voices that confess Jesus alone is the Lamb of God (Romans 10: 10), and clean hearts and right spirits that we humbly and obediently do the will of our Father (Psalm 51: 7 – 10).  The Spirit of Truth daily conforms us more and more into the image of God’ only begotten Son through fiery trials and testing afflictions while keeping us steadfast in the one, true faith within the one, true Church.  He keeps our eyes focused on Christ, the exact radiance of God that our hearts would cease being seats of judgment and become mercy seats upon which our risen Lord reigns in grace and truth.  God gives us the gifts of His Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; [Galatians 5: 22 – 23]) that we do His good work alongside our brothers and sisters in a dark and dying world that desperately needs to hear and receive the Gospel, become His disciples, be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and be taught everything He commanded.  In all this God sustains, strengthens, safeguards and comforts us as Jesus leads us upward upon the path of righteousness into the Kingdom of Glory.

     

     Rejoice! Jesus abides with us this very minute, hour, day and to the last day (Matthew 28: 20b).

 

Amen and Amen.


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God continues to give us good work today

     Let us first pray.  Heavenly Father, from Your hand comes every good thing needed to sustain us in body and spirit, strengthen us in faith, safeguard us from the schemes and plots of the evil one, and comfort us as Your Holy Spirit conform us more and more into the image of Your Son and keep us in the one, true faith.  Give us ears that hear and recognize Your voice, hearts that humbly and obediently lovingly serve others in the vocations You have given us, voices that confess Christ and sing Your praise, and hands and feet with which our labors advance Your kingdom and provide for our families.  Pour Your Spirit upon us that we would always humbly and obediently answer Your call by which You provide for all the needs of Your children at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, expand Your kingdom, care for our families, and snatch lost and dying souls out of the bondage of the evil one for Your glory and our good.  Amen and Amen.

 

     God works through flesh and blood – His Son, His children – you and I.  Holy Scripture testifies that He calls those He desires to lead His people:  Abraham, Moses, Samuel and the Old Testament prophets, the Apostles to include Matthias and St Paul.  I submit He works through prayer by which His Spirit moves each of us to submit names of brothers and sisters in Christ we believe are best qualified for the elected positions on the Church Council and our various boards and committees.  He plans to work through the Nomination Committee to call forward His children to be on the ballot and those that are nominated from the floor of the Voters’ Meeting.  He then will work through your, my, and our brothers and sisters’ votes to lead us to identify His chosen servant-leaders.  There is plenty of work for all His children at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.  He will allow some to catch their breath and gather their strength for future challenges while He will train up others during the term for leadership at a future date.  In all this He calls us to work for the eternal treasure and reward that moth cannot destroy and thief cannot steal.

 

  I know you have worked selflessly over the past two years and are willing to continue to work.  I ask you to continue to pray for His wisdom and strength and that He use you without restriction according to His will, for His glory and the good of His family at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

 

  Let us close in prayer.  Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for this day, Your gracious provision, Your mercies that are anew even this morning, and the good work You have given us.  Forgive us where we have erred or fallen short and comfort us that You rule in love and righteousness, abiding with us through sunlight or shadow.  May all our thoughts, words and deeds be acceptable in Your sight.  Let Your holy angel be with us that the evil foe have no power over us.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen and Amen.


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True Fellowship

     This month let us meditate on the one true God who desires a deep, abiding and constant fellowship with His creation: you, me and mankind.  God’s love and fellowship was betrayed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but He promised them He would provide a savior who would defeat the evil one, restoring man into a deep, abiding and eternal fellowship with Himself (Genesis 3:14 – 15).  God’s promise manifested itself in the incarnation of His only begotten Son two thousand years ago: Jesus the Christ. 

      

     The Lord stands in stark contrast with the gods that are the creations of man’s imagination and promoted by the evil one.  Let us look at the Lord’s abiding with His people during the exodus and their demand for a king.  Then let us look at His abiding with His people during the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ.

With a mighty arm and outstretched hand God delivered His people from the slavery and tyranny of Pharaoh and his slave masters (Exodus 5 – 14).  Jehovah displayed wonderous and mighty works in their presence (Exodus 12: 29 – 14: 31) and yet they bristled, complained and rebelled in His presence (Exodus 15: 22 – 17: 7; 32).  God abided with His ungrateful His people throughout the 40 years of wilderness wandering during which time He raised up and brought forth a new Israel led by Joshua.  He led His children into the land He promised to their fathers, fought and gave them victory over their foes, and settled them within their assigned lands. Yet, they soon despised, discounted and discarded God’s kingship, demanding to be ruled like all the other nations (1 Samuel 8).  God never abandoned His chosen people while they repeatedly sought any god but Him.
      

     In the fullness of time, a thousand years later, the promised Savior arrived, dwelt among His people and embarked on His ministry of preaching, teaching and healing.  God delivered His people from the slavery and tyranny of sin, death and the power of the devil with a mighty arm and an outstretched hand: Jesus the Christ.  The rabbi from Nazareth spoke many wonderous words and did many mighty works in the presence of the religious leaders and the people.  Jewish leaders and people bristled, complained, and rebelled against Him as they denied His fellowship because He ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners while claiming to be God (Matthew 9: 11; Luke 15:2; Matthew 26: 63; John 19:7).  Yet, the Good Shepherd fellowshipped, instructed, and healed both those who believed in Him and those who refused to believe in Him for three years, raising up true sons and daughters of God while exposing children of the devil.  Then, He opened wide the kingdom of God with His innocent suffering and death upon the cross (Matthew 8: 11; Romans 5: 10) and God validated it with His resurrection and glorious ascension to the right hand of God the Father Almighty (Romans 8: 34; Hebrews 1: 3).  

     

     Immanuel, the Son of God and Son of Man, promises He will abide both with us and all God’s children here on earth unto the Last Day (Matthew 28: 20) and with all the faithfully departed there in heaven for eternity (Revelation 7: 9 – 12).  This is the present reality for us here at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and all God’s holy ones in the church militant as it is for His holy ones in the church triumphant.  He holds us firmly and lovingly in His nail-scarred hand, assuring you and me that no one is able to snatch us out of either His or the Father’s hand (John 10: 28 – 30).  Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit may we faithfully embrace and hold fast to God’s fellowship as we pass through the tribulation of this world (John 16: 33) and into our heavenly Father’s house where we will feast at His table forever.

 

Amen and Amen.


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