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  • For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” Genesis 7:4

  • After Moses slew the Egyptian:  “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. Acts 7:30

  • The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. Exodus 16:35

  • So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. Exodus 34:28

  • Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Deuteronomy 8:4

  • And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 1 Kings 2:11

  • And (Elijah) arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. 1 Kings 19:8

  • Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown! Jonah 3:4

  • And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Mark 1:13

  • He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3

“It may be seen quite readily that the period here denotes a time of testing.  One might say God suspends his wrath, that he exercises patience to give man a chance by which he might profit or which he might reject, but which carries the risk of bringing down on him God’s wrath.  The striking thing about this series of texts however, is that the delay in God’s wrath and judgment always has a favorable outcome.  Noah is saved, Moses becomes the leader of God’s people, Israel enters Palestine, Elijah returns when he learns there are seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal, Jesus overcomes temptation and angels minister to him.  We know of no instance where forty days or years do not lead to salvation.”  (The Judgement of Jonah by Jacque Ellul)

“And account that the longsuffering (patience) of our Lord is salvation…”

(2 Peter 3: 15, KJV)


I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Hymn # 172 from Lutheran Worship

Let us pray… God of grace and might, we praise You for your servant Patrick, to whom You gave gifts to make the good news known to the people of Ireland. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of Your kingdom, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lessons: Isaiah 62: 1-7; Psalm 48; Romans 10: 11-17; St. Luke 24: 44-53

Bio:  Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389, he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confession, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today. Patrick died around the year 466.  Read more about St. Patrick’s biography here, citing quotes from his Confession.

Reflection: The Church’s mission is Baptism.  St. Patrick, missionary Bishop, knew that. From his Confession:

In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptised in the Lord—so many thousands of people.

The Lord did not send Patrick to the land of Eire to establish Irish national identity, drink green beer (itself a heresy!), get drunk in a pub and have another reason for “hooking-up”.  He came to preach the Christ who sets us free from all of that and all sin and death.

He wrote a majestic poem that became a hymn on Holy Baptism (see above). Ireland had been evangelized prior to Patrick but it was through this servant of the Lord that the Faith was rooted.  Bishop Patrick’s preaching of Jesus Christ was to the baptized who had wandered down false paths and dead ends to return to the waters. Patrick’s preaching of Christ was for the baptized to walk in the newness of life in Christ as a baptized son or daughter. Bishop Patrick’s preaching of Jesus Christ was for the pagan to come to the waters, to bind unto themselves the strong Name of the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ commanded His Church to baptize in the Name of the Holy Trinity, not in the Church’s name,nor Patrick’s nor Luther’s, for that matter.  The baptism mission of the Church is obviously not fads and fashions, techniques and clever tactics to “get people into Church”.  The Baptism is always into Jesus Christ and His Cross (see Romans 6: 1ff). From St. Patrick’s Confession:

Patrick did not water down Holy Baptism!  He did not water down the doctrine and practice of the Church to “reach people”.  His goal was not ‘outreach’ to people but preach the Word so that people call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved, and that means:  Holy Baptism.   Patrick knew that he was a “jar of clay” (see 2 Corinthians 4:7), as he knew that the surpassing power was the Lord’s, the One who baptized him:

Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, who does not know how to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone Lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity—benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise.

The Church wears the “green” day in and day out, in the bloom of summer, in the dead of winter:  greening in the watering of His forgiveness by His grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8). When we forget our baptismal sojourn in the Holy Spirit and in His Word the Holy Scriptures, then we are lost. Patrick had a strong faith in the strong Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He was no debater of the age, but proclaimer of the age to come. Yes, wear the green today but do not forget to pray and make the sign of the Cross giving thanks to Lord our God, for the missionary bishop who baptized many. The Lord’s Cross points us home to the Holy Trinity.  

(More on St. Patrick here and here)

Quote of the Day

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“There is no such thing in God as a diluted grace, a partial grace. If grace is not the free and round and whole and undivided love of God, the same to all, pure gold in every hand that holds it, then it is not grace.  Where God’s grace works, there simply is no room for works of men, for human merit and acquired reward.”

(Romans: A Commentary by Rev. Prof. Martin Franzmann; published by Concordia Publishing House)

Hymn of the Week

“Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ”
by Horatius Bonar, 1808-1899

1. Thy works, not mine, O Christ,
Speak gladness to this heart;
They tell me all is done,
They bid my fear depart.
To whom save Thee, who canst alone
For sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

2. Thy wounds, not mine, O Christ,
Can heal my bruised soul;
Thy stripes, not mine, contain
The balm that makes me whole.
To whom save Thee, who canst alone
For sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

3. Thy cross, not mine, O Christ,
Has borne the awe-full load
Of sins that none could bear
But the incarnate God.
To whom save Thee, who canst alone
For sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

4. Thy death, not mine, O Christ,
Has paid the ransom due;
Ten thousand deaths like mine
Would have been all too few.
To whom save Thee, who canst alone
For sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

5. Thy righteousness, O Christ,
Alone can cover me;
No righteousness avails
Save that which is of Thee.
To whom save Thee, who canst alone
For sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

Hymn #380 
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Phil. 3:9
Author: Horatius Bonar, 1857
1st Published in: The Parish Choir, 1851
Tune: “St. John”

In the 13th century,  when St Bonaventure was in great repute, teaching theology in Paris, and attracting a general esteem and admiration by his works, St Thomas Aquinas went one day to see him, and requested him to show him what books he used for his studies.

Then Bonaventure, conducting him to his little chamber, showed him some very common books that were on his table. But Thomas gave him to understand that he desired to see the other books from which he derived so many marvelous things. Bonaventure  then showed him a small prayer chapel, with nothing in it but a crucifix: “There, Father,” said he, “is all my other books; this is the principal one from which I draw all I teach, and all I write.”

 If my tongue does not teach and preach according to Christ and His Cross, and the Law of God, then the tongue is like rudder steering the ship in the wrong direction, like a bit that does not guide the horse, like a spark that simply inflames with fire, all heat and no light.  No human being can control the tongue, James wrote. James knew Who controls the tongue to teach,

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things “(Philippians 4:8) 

Way too much of denominational preaching and teaching, then practice,  only  points to ourselves, instead of the Lord and His Sacrifice, His redemption, creation and sanctification. Jesus, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit are only in the background, left behind,

Jesus Christ does not “lead from behind”!  Cf. Hebrews 12:1-3. The actual painting by Cranach which I redid above is this:

This is the actual painting by Lucas Cranach:  for us and for our salvation He came down from heaven (Nicene Creed). Only His redemption can harvest souls to be taught His Word.  If in Lent, or any time, your church  rarely teaches Christ, crucified and risen, seek a congregation which does.  Evangelism is not a one shot deal.  We need to be evangelized every week, even every day.  The Cross of Jesus Christ is the sign post pointing the Way as a faithful preacher, like Martin Luther is painted as pointing us to the Lord every Sunday.

Quote of the Day

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“For the Church does not live by morals, by the knowledge and observance of God’s law. Nor does it live by religion, by lofty experiences of the divine and an awareness of the mysteries of God. It lives solely by the forgiveness of sins.”

(Hermann Sasse, Lutheran Professor, Pastor and theologian,  1895-1976).

New York City is a great city…with many challenges.  One of them is driving into the city and attempting to park on the street.  The challenge is not only lack of parking spaces, but also reading the parking signs:  

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There are confusing sign supposedly to help us. Sometimes they begin with, “Research has shown…” Or “The poles indicate that…”  It especially becomes confusing when various sages, gurus, thinkers, best seller authors, rattle on and on about their programs for healing and salvation.  They all, though, are very clear: you better do something, follow their program and they ever lead you to yourself, giving sop at times even to God. It’s the same: be your own savior.    “Oh, grant us  help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!”-Psalm 60

Wrong signs such as follow your heart, or recently, Oprah has intoned to follow your heart song.  “Every one of us has an internal guidance, a GPS, an intuition, a heart print, a heartsong that speaks to us.”  My internal GPS at this fork in the road sure speaks to me and is pretty clear: I would like to smack people who so teach.  The Lord’s GPS is very clear also in me following my heart in His ten signs that such desire to smack is wrong. 

As it is written in Jeremiah:

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? 

It certainly ain’t Oprah. Next verse in Jeremiah:

 “I the LORD search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Israel followed their heartsong:   we’re sick and tired of all this manna and they became fiery in their bitterness and so bitterly complained.  The Lord gave to every one of them according to the fruit of their deeds.  He gave them a taste of their own medicine.  The Lord appointed those fiery serpents to enter into the camp and they bit many of the freed slaves and many died.  Then, the  people of Israel prayed out of their sin and death most earnestly, We have sinned against You O Lord and against Your servant. AS sin is clear here, so is the Lord’s remedy: a sign, as in a sign from God Himself.  A fiery bronze serpent on a pole and the Lord’s promise:  whoever looks on will live.  Not because this thing was magic, but according to the Lord’s Word.  His Word of Law and Promise is His clear sign.

Much later in Israel, in the days of the divided kingdom, one of the good kings of Judah, Hezekiah tore down the idols, such as the Asherah, “…And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).”  When we seek our salvation in the sign, any sign,  apart from God’s Word, then idolatry and false worship and doctrine are present. 

The sign of the bronze serpent certainly and clearly caught Israel’s dying eyes and faith seized the promise in the grace of God’s mercy.  Freed, the people of Israel was lost again and found again by the Lord.  Men follow wrong signs.  In today’s Psalm we chanted:

 Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.

They were lost in the wilderness of the world.  Maybe you have been lost in the wilderness of this world and it’s vain promises of fame and fortune, permanence and promise, the allure of unbridled sexuality which results in diseases of the body and sickness unto death of the  soul.  You took a wrong turn, followed a bad sign, did not heed the warnings: wrong way.  Or just got up on the wrong side of the bed.. Lost, then,

… they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love

We are not told what changed that they finally cried out to the Lord.  I’ll hazard a guess:  For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth, God intercedeth. The cross points the way to the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We did not pray these verses of Psalm 107 and a second group:

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

Can you see the pattern of Psalm 107?  Then a third group, which sounds like the people of Israel in today’s Old Testament reading:

Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

And there is a fourth group in this psalm: lost at sea, in the storms of this world.  These verses about being lost at sea are the basis of the navy hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save.  They cried out as well.  Iniquity and the storms of life, the results  and then prayer  and the basis of prayer and it’s answer is not me, but the Lord’s “steadfast love”, hesed. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love Maybe the bronze serpent on the pole reminded the people of Israel of their bitterness of their sin and they were lost even as freed men and women, and the Cross of Christ reminds us ever of the hesed, the steadfast love of the Lord. The clear and saving sign, forever, of our crucified and risen Savior.  The sign of the cross is not one shot deal to make our decision for Christ but the sign of His decision to redeem us so we repent and return to the Lord our God.  We need the Lord’s sign of his hesed, everyday, every moment of our lives  So Jesus took the sign of the nehushstan and it is changed by His risen body and soul, bearing the wounds of the Cross, so His grace of the Holy Spirit flows into our lives by His blood shed. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love

Jesus now repeats in a burst of Gospel-preaching which is without equal in the world’s literature, which, in fact, summarizes the entire Gospel in one short sentence. With the full emphasis of adoring wonder Jesus exclaims: For so God loved the world, so much, so greatly, so beyond all human understanding. The greatness of God’s love is such as to call forth this cry of astonishment even from the Son of God, the Savior Himself,

God is the Author of salvation, Hebrews 5  He is sure of his salvation, because it is based upon the work of Jesus the Savior. …as Paul says Rom. 8, 32: 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”  … as St. Paul again says, 1 Cor. 3, 22. 23: All things are yours; and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love

He loved the world, all the people living in the world, all that make up the human element in the world; there is none excepted. He proved this love with a deed so wonderful, so surpassingly beautiful, that it cannot be brought out strongly enough in words of human speech…What a contrast: the holy, eternal God and His equally holy and eternal Son giving the highest and best for the world, for the fallen, corrupt humanity, for the bitter enemy of God! Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love

The death of the Son of God is the punishment for the sins of the world; the Son of God dies that the world, all the people in the world, might live in all eternity. God’s death, God’s blood, was thrown into the scales in payment for the sins of the world. And there is nothing to be done on the part of sinners but to accept this atonement in faith; for faith accepts and appropriates the redemption of Christ. And the believer has eternal life even now, even here in time. The mission of Jesus as the gift of God to the world was not to condemn the world, though the latter had richly deserved such condemnation. Though He Himself is the Holy One of God, yet He would not, in His capacity as Savior of sinners, judge and condemn them; The sole purpose of His coming was the salvation of the world. We wear the sign of the cross, not because we are stupid, but sinners, baptized into the Lord. Here is your sign! Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love

IN Him, in His hesed, by His grace alone we are saved, not through our works, but His Work to work in us the good works the Lord has prepared beforehand to be our way of life that we should walk in them.  In His light, our works are carried out in God for our neighbors, as the Savior taught us in John’s Gospel.  This loveless generation, walking in the dark of their nehushstans, need the light of Jesus’ pure love, maybe more than ever.  Here is your sign, as clear as the light of heaven, flowing with God’s blood shed for us for our work in the world.  Our cry is the Lord’s cry:  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!

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