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deathbedWe don’t spend enough time talking about death. It’s the subject that everyone is thinking about, everyone will experience, and very few bring up in polite conversation. Even when they are terminally ill, or have a loved one who is near death, people tend to avoid saying anything about what is uppermost in their minds. Death may be staring them right in the face, but they make small talk about everything from the weather to the Dallas Cowboys.

Let’s change that. And let’s start by talking about your deathbed. Most of us will know, or at least have a good idea, that our death is near. Picture yourself there. As you near the end of this earthly life, what would you like to look back on? What kind of legacy would you like to leave your family and friends? I have my list. It may seem strange to you, but…

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The Appointed Psalm from the Daily Lectionary is Psalm 138.  The last two verses are:

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

 “The outcome of salvation is a life of trust and prayer. Life with all its uncertainties and dangers goes on for the redeemed;  God’s salvation gives them reason to hope that what God has begun with them He will surely bring to completion. “I am sure that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1: 6) from Prof. James Luther May’s commentary, Interpretation:  Psalms.

Notice in these verses who drives the verbs for David: “You preserve my life”, “You stretch out Your hand”, “Your steadfast love…”.  Salvation is of the Lord. It is not David who drives the verbs of salvation!  David knew when he himself purposed what he wanted and the results as in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba.   David’s purpose is the Lord’s purpose, His good work.  The Lord’s good work would finally and fully be David’s Son according the flesh,  Jesus Christ, gratis, for the thanks because of His grace in forgiving you.  Jesus Christ is the good work of salvation.  The work of His hands is our creation, our redemption and our sanctification.  

And because of (God)you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Cor. 1: 30)

The Lord’s steadfast love alone steadies us.

 

Meme of the Day

We moved Concordia Lutheran Mission from Lexington to Buena Vista because we were led to find a great rental property.  We have now worshipped in our new location three Sundays, including today.  One of our members told me about going to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Sale store in Buena Vista and some of his finds for the Mission, but he also told me something else. Our brother was talking with the clerk and he told the clerk that he was looking for stuff for our new mission.  The  clerk responded by saying that you are the new mission which is against gays and women and won’t let them serve in church.  Our brother responded by saying, we’re not against homosexuals but homosexuality is against the Bible. The clerk responded by saying that he would not be able to help him.

In a small town, our reputation has preceded us without preaching against homosexuality or stating anything about  the Scriptures in the public square.  Yet, the reputation of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod precedes and I am glad for that.  I asked our brother this morning to tell the congregation what happened, all 8 of us.  A fearful army indeed!  I then talked with the congregation after our brother told his story and we all had a chance to say something.    You can not be for the marriage of man and woman, or a pastorate of called men, without incurring the mistrust and even wrath and being labeled “homophobic” or “sexist” these days.  Then I thought of this passage and said we should all memorize this and take this Scripture to heart:

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians  6)

The Law of God is plain in verses 9-11 and the Gospel begins with the word “And such were some of you.” Baptism is our washing and regeneration in Christ, made holy, justified.  My wife reminded me that the Lord came not to justify ungodliness but the ungodly.  It is the Word of Law and Promise that the world and the devil does not want to be heard because the Lord changes and saves us by His grace alone: And such were some of you. 

As I was about to leave the parking lot with our VMI ‘rat’ to go home, retired Pastor, Art Henne, came over to the car.  I opened the car door (the window doesn’t work!), and Art said to me, “You know, Mark, maybe this is the reason we are here.”

A blessed Lord’s Day to you and your pastor and your congregation!

 

Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lessons for the Day:

Psalm 147:1-7
Isaiah 35:5-8
2 Timothy 4:5-15
Luke 10:1-9

Biblical Bio:   

St. Luke, the beloved physician referred to by St. Paul (Colossians4:14), presents us with Jesus, whose blood provides the medicine of immortality. As his traveling companion, Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls (Eusebius). Luke traveled with Paul during the second missionary journey, joining him after Paul received his Macedonian call to bring the Gospel to Europe (Acts16:10-17).  Luke most likely stayed behind in Philippi for seven years, rejoining Paul at the end of the third missionary journey inMacedonia. He traveled with Paul to Troas, Jerusalem, and Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 20:5-21:18). While in Caesarea, Luke may have researched material that he used in his Gospel. Afterward, Luke accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16). Especially beloved in Luke’s Gospel are:

  • the stories of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 16:29-37),
  • the prodigal son (Luke15:11-32),
  • the rich man and Lazarus  (Luke16:19-31),
  • and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).
  • Only Luke provides a detailed account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20)
  • and the canticles of Mary (Luke1:46-55),
  • of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79),
  • and, Simeon (Luke2:29-32).

To show how Christ continued His work in the Early Church through the apostles, Luke also penned the Acts of the Apostles. More than one-third of the New Testament comes from the hand of the evangelist Luke.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:

St. Luke, the beloved physician (see Colossians 4: 14) traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys (see Acts 16: 10-17;  20: 5—21:18; Acts 27: 1—28: 16).  The early church historian, Eusebius (born AD 263) said that Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls.  Luke wrote both the Gospel that bears his name and Acts of the Apostles.  This means that St. Luke wrote over a third of the New Testament!  It is only from him that we read of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.  And both have the theme of  travel.  In fact, Luke/Acts is like one extended travelogue.  In Luke 9: 51 we are told, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…”(New King James) And the phrase “it came to pass” means a solemn change in the direction of the narrative.   From that verse the travelogue begins with an intense focus:  Jerusalem and Holy Week.  All the Gospel readings this summer have been from this section of the Gospel 9: 51 to the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, beginning at 19: 29.  It is a meandering journey with many incidences and people and places and confrontations and comforts. 

We Americans love to travel and most of our forebears traveled great distances to arrive to these good shores.  We still love to travel:  get in the car and “hit the road”.  “The road ever leads onward” (JRR Tolkien) applies to us. Getting on the interstate or the secondary roads and the scenic routes  and all of them are markedwith signs. 

 We all have known dead ends.  Funny thing: so many dead ends we keep on pursuing: drugs, money, fame, sex, power, pornography etc, ad nauseum.  We keep on going down dead ends.  St. Paul knew this very well: “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.   Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.   I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.   For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.   But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  (Romans 7: 19ff)  Think St. Paul knew about going down dead ends, even after his conversion and baptism? 

Paul needed to turn back. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans  7: 24-25)  He was going the wrong way.  But there is only One that kept him on the road:   Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word.

By grace alone Paul made a:   

 

Repentance is a u-turn.  Going the right way.  His Law shows us the wrong way and His Gospel His Way of repentance and forgiveness.  And truly, this is when the saying is applicable: “But by the grace of God, go I”. In the Lord’s Word of grace and the Sacraments, the means of grace is kind of like this sign:

St. Luke saw many people re-directed from death, sin and the power of the devil because of Jesus Christ. Luke was told the Lord’s travel itinerary for the Church: 

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1)

This is about the Lord leading us to His kingdom and the fulfillment of the new creation in Christ Jesus. Now there is much I could both write and say about this theme of the travelogue.  But one more:  ever heard this saying:  “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive”? What a bunch of baloney!  Whoever said that did not have children in the back seat of the car or carriage.  What is the number 1 question kids ask on a trip?  Yes:  “Are we there yet?”  Imagine quoting that saying at them?!  Children know here:  it is about the destination and the One who is leading us there and others, who are lost, found  by Lord upon His Way (see Luke 15!). 

 

There is a distinct difference and a specific teaching as to one’s obligation to God and to Caesar. But the world is so evil that all this is turned topsy-turvy. Today no one wants to be obedient to the government. Moreover, if a few devout Christians want to be obedient, the government is not satisfied to limit itself to its realm, but interferes in the realm which is God’s and uses its power against Christ and His Gospel, overtly vaunting itself to hold and to rule over the kingdom of God and Christ.

From Dr. Martin Luther’s Sermon on St. Matthew 22: 15-22, 23rd Sunday after Trinity, 1529,  Luther’s House Postils

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