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Archive for September, 2017

It is a high vocation to be a Translator of Scripture. This is a good day to pray for all translators, missionaries, seminarians and Biblical professors.

Concordia and Koinonia

“To be a Christian is a great thing, not merely to seem one. And somehow or other those please the world most…please Christ least…. Christians are made, not born.”-St. Jerome

St. Jerome’s Vulgate Translation:  St. John 1: 1

In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum
            In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.

In ipso vita erat et vita erat lux hominum
            In him was life: and the life was the light of men. 

Prayer of the Day

O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of…

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Quote by St. Jerome

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Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

About St. Michael and All Angels:   The name of the archangel St. Michael means “Who is like God?” Michael is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v. 9) and Revelation (12:7). Daniel portrays Michael as the angelic helper of Israel who leads the battle against the forces of evil. In Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against and defeat Satan and the evil angels, driving them from heaven. Their victory is made possible by Christ’s own victory over Satan in His death and resurrection, a victory announced by the voice in heaven: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come” (Revelation 12:10). Michael is often associated with Gabriel and Raphael, the other chief angels or archangels who surround the throne of God. Tradition names Michael as the patron and protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Lessons: Daniel 10: 10-14  Psalm 91   Revelation 12: 7-12  St. Matthew 18: 1-11 or St. Luke 10: 17-20

Reflection:  Living in St. Louis, Missouri, one of my favorite names for a church was Holy Guardian Angels.  

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”  St. Matthew 18: 10

There is no Scripture reference to the Lord’s direct assignation of a guardian angel for His baptized little ones but His Christians have, “…their angels”.  They are in service to every Christian. 
When we grow older and go our own way, that is, walk in the ways of our calling, God also  commands His angels concerning us:

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone. (Ps.91)

When we die they carry us to the bosom of Abraham:

22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.The rich man also died and was buried (Luke 16: 22).

Again, the Lord’s angels serve us:

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Heb. 1: 14)

The angels behold the face of God, who is pure and holy love,  (1 John 4: 8).  So we can see that every time in the Bible an angel appears to a son of Adam or a daughter of Eve there is fear.  God’s judgment is terrible and His pure and holy love is ever more awesome, pure and clean, reflected in his messengers, his angels.  No wonder when Isaiah saw the sight of the cherubim, he cried out, Alas, I am man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6: 1ff). No sinner can look upon an angel for long and the Son came to redeem our fallen love; and since the Son is superior to the angels  (Heb.  1: 4), together with us serve the Lord and so serve us here on earth to do, “angels work  below” (“We Give Thee But Thine Own”, LSB #781).  John knew the pure beauty of an angel and so fell in worship:  

Revelation 19:   The angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

We do not worship, including invoke the angels in prayer, since they worship the Lord with us, “…with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven”(Divine Service, Proper Preface). The angel said to John, I am your fellow servant with you and the whole church. 

A mistaken notion is that angels are people who have ‘earned their wings’.   This is not Biblical as the angels are created by the Lord as we are.  We do say of someone who is special, you are an angel.  This is a warm sentiment, but Revelation 19 passage points to something else about our being “angels” with the angelic host serving with us.  The word “angel” literally means  “messenger”.  The angel said to John that with him and the Church we “hold to the testimony of Jesus”.  We confess with the angels the true faith and doctrine of Christ and witness together.  We can tell of Christ and thus be a messenger of the Most High, an angel to and with someone else needing the Gospel, the testimony of Jesus.  The Lord grant that His Church be angels of Christ, with his holy guardian angels serving with us in these dark days!

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Romans 13: 7:

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

NFL’s Colin Kaepernick ‘takes a knee’ at the playing of the National Anthem because he has said that USA equals racism. Does our nation have racists?  Yes.  Mr. Kaepernick states that our country oppresses black people, except we elected a black man, twice, as President of the United States, the Civil Rights movement ended Jim Crow laws, affirmative action has helped many African-American students to go to the college of their choice and I personally I know it is wrong to use ethnic slander even in private. Many of us cheered the end of apartheid in South Africa.  Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted as the nation’s “promissory” note the Constitution and it is accused of being written by racists. These are not signs of oppression.  Is there room for improvement when some white cops kill black men and women?  Of course and when it is crucial to speak against any kind of oppression against each other.  

Mr. Kaepernick seems to be saying that when the USA is perfect then he will honor our nation again…or not?  If I had to wait for my Father and Mother to become perfect, I would never have honored them, nor my wife, nor my wife me!  We honor someone or something because of the office(s) they hold according to their callings. St. Paul makes it clear in Romans 13 that civil authorities have the office to punish evil doers and maintain order, therefore, besides taxes and revenue (I call this the “April 15 Biblical codicil”),“…we are to render respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”  Our nation is owed this as our nation in our relatively short history, and at many times bitter and bloody history fought a war to end slavery and many other wars to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States which includes the Bill of Rights to insure a critique of our actions.

In a different way I do not like “taking a knee”as an act of dishonoring. If the a NFL player is a Christian, this is clearly not against civil law but evangelical encouragement and conviction in Romans 13. Two points about ‘taking a knee’ from a Christian perspective:

1.  At the beginning of a sporting event, the stadium announcer may say, “We now honor America”.  Playing the National Anthem at the beginning of a sporting event is a way of doing just that at a game and at other times, e.g. Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day. Granted that honoring America at a a sporting event is not necessary but it is helpful.  I personally love singing The National Anthem and to remember all those who stood and fought for America: from the soldiers of the American Revolutionary War to the civil rights marchers of the ’60s. Our flag still waves.  I wonder:  did Martin Luther King, Jr. sing the National Anthem, quote  and say the Pledge of Allegiance?  I know he quoted the Constitution and the Declaration, those supposed ‘racist’ documents, with full approval and so here is another picture of honoring America:

 

Do Mr. Kaepernick, and others, want to dishonor America?  Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems so. Yes, it is their 1st Amendment Right to do so.  It is also a First Amendment right  for for an American to speak his mind that marriage is only between a man and a woman. It is also a First Amendment right for example a neo-Nazi to say racist and anti-Semitic speech.  These two examples are being placed in positions of moral equivalency by some.  There are plainly not the same.

I abhor  racist and anti-Semitic speech. Yet, “I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it.” (attribute to Voltaire but written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her biography of Voltaire).  Many have defended the right to  hate speech even to their death:   in the wars our nation, under her flag, have fought.  Thank a veteran for defending our first amendment rights. Denial of any American’s first amendment rights is dishonoring the United States. And given an opportunity to “honor America” and not doing so by a Christian is not giving honor to whom honor is due, respect to whom respect is due.

2.  Then there is the use of the gesture of “taking the knee” itself.  Not so long ago, we were all in an uproar over “Tebowing”, when Christian NFL player, Tim Tebow, would “take a knee” and pray during a game.  I do not like the co-opting of a Christian posture, that is, genuflecting and kneeling, a prayer position, to be used as something wholly negative.  I do not think the NFL players who so kneel during the singing of the National Anthem are  praying.  “Forgive us our trespasses…”

An idea for action:  It is  a physical impossibility  to kneel in a stadium.   After the National Anthem and “taking a knee”, instead of applauding, all Christians bow their heads and pray the Lord’s Prayer for our nation, that is, each other. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

 

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An Overlooked Doctrinal Point

The versicle and response (1) for daily prayer at this time in the Church year is:

“God is glorious with his angels and saints/Come, let us worship him”

 Deuteronomy 6: 4:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

God is one but God is not alone and I think this is an overlooked doctrinal point. The versicle sums up the overlooked point of the doctrine of God:  the word “monotheism”, the doctrine of God which  sums up the Lord’s substantial being as one, in three Persons, yet the Lord is not by Himself as his angels and saints are ever with him.  Jesus made this clear three times, recorded in Luke 15, the parables of the lost sheep, coin and son and here is the shortest of the three:

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”(emphasis added)

In all three parables when the lost object or person is found, there is a gathering of friends and townspeople for the shepherd, the householder and the father to share in the rejoicing of the lost being found. The Lord himself rejoices with the angels and saints (those asleep in Christ awaiting the general resurrection) in festal gathering when the wayward are on their way home.  The Lord, with his angels rejoiced in chorus when his Son was born.  Even the one angel announcing the Birth could not be alone.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest,    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2)

The Lord is not alone.

Joy is meant to be shared with someone else we love. Joy is not complete until you say to a loved one, “Isn’t this great!”  When there is no one to share the joy, it is very lonely.  We live in a lonely time where there seems to be little joy as we isolate ourselves in our cyber bubbles. We were made and redeemed to be with brothers and sisters in Christ in the joy of heaven.  This is another reason that a “lone Christian is no Christian”, or better not the way we are called to be the Lord’s with all his saints and angels.

 We may be happy but “happiness” is akin to the word “happens” and so happiness goes up and down depending on what happens.  Joy is the surprise of being found and belonging.  The Lord calls us to increase his joy, and the joy of many whom we know, over the lost being found and belonging to the Lord with his angels and saints. Joy is true worship and we can not be manufacture rejoicing by pumping up worship ‘experiences’ but only by His Word which seeks the lost to find them and claims us in joyful repentance as the Lord’s own, indeed: Surprised by joy.

With his angels, the Lord rejoices as he loves them whom he made. With his saints, the Lord rejoices as he loves us whom he made and for us alone, he died to redeem us. “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham (Hebrews 2: 16). The Lord is love (1 John 4:8) and his love overflows in his beloved Son (Matthew 3:17;     John 3:16;  Romans 5:5). Joy flows out of his love and mercy, as it is written, “…and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy… (Gal.5: 22) as the Lord is the very tree of paradise in the garden of his angels and saints, and so indeed, God is one and he is not alone: 

“God is glorious with his angels and saints/Come, let us worship him”

 

(1) Ecclesiastical. a short verse, usually from the Psalms, said or sung by the officiant,  after which the congregation gives a response.

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In this picture, St. Matthew is NOT saying, Look, at what I have written, but look to Jesus who has written me into the Book of Life and learn from Christ Jesus day by day in all He said and did for the life of the world. This book is not written about me or about thee, but about the Christ for thee.

 

Prayer of the Day:

O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About St. Matthew: 

St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord’s twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired record of the Gospel was granted first place in the ordering of the New Testament. Among the four Gospels, Matthew’s portrays Christ especially as the new and greater Moses, who graciously fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) and establishes a new covenant of salvation in and with His own blood (26: 27-28).  Matthew’s Gospel is also well-known for the following:

  • The Visit of the Magi (2: 1-12)

  • The Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 5-7)

  • The Institution of Holy Baptism and the most explicit revelation of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28: 16-20). 

Tradition is uncertain where his final field of labor was and whether Matthew died naturally or a martyr’s death. In celebrating this festival, we therefore give thanks to God that He has mightily governed and protected His Holy church through this man who was called and sent by Christ to serve the sheep of His pastures with the Holy Gospel.

St. Matthew was an excellent, noble man–not only one of the 12 fountains of consolation, the apostle of Jesus Christ of paradise, a holy evangelist, whose  words flowed from the great fountain in paradise, Jesus Christ.  He not only praised the Lord in his heart and with his tongue but also put his quill to paper and wrote his account as a memorial…pay attention so that everything in and about you is directed toward the glory of the Lord, according to David’s example in Psalm 103:2. In the kingdom of God it is said…”Strive with every skill and word, to please your Savior, Christ the Lord.”   None of the other evangelists described the history of  the Lord Jesus to such an extent as Matthew. He also has many beautiful passages that cannot be found in the others.

  • Here the Lord Jesus says (Matthew 11:27-29), Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

  • And again (Matthew 18:19-21), “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”

  • And in Matthew 28:19-20“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These three passages, which should cause the legs of all devout Christians to run quickly to the Church, were written only by Matthew.

—Valerius Herberger

(Quotes above from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

 Reflection:  One word that can not be found in the other three Gospels is “church”.  The two times the word “Church” is spoken is by the Lord:

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 

Matthew 18:17

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

The context of the first passage is Peter’s Confession of Jesus as “Christ, the Son of the living God”.  The second is our Lord’s preaching on the forgiveness of sins.  The two passages are intimately related.  At the heart of the Church is the confession of Faith:  You are Christ, the Son of the living God”and it is upon this Word that Christ builds His Church.  Flowing forth from Christ, the true Temple (John 2:21) are the rivers of God’s forgiveness (John 7:38) which forms the Church day by day in His Presence and by His grace.  Faith and forgiveness are tied together in the unity of the Holy Spirit, the communion of saints in Christ’s Church.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—  13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

 16 Do you not know that YOU are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in YOU17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and YOU are that temple. (1 Corinthians 2; emphasis added)

Dr. Gregory Lockwood from his commentary on 1 Corinthians:

“ In addition (and this is most important in the context), these three more valuable items are noncombustible, whereas the materials in the second group are all combustible. The OT refers to gold, silver, and precious stones as building materials used in the tabernacle and the temple. Thus Paul anticipates the temple imagery of 3:16-17.7

The precious, noncombustible materials represent preaching, teaching, and pastoral care that rest upon the Gospel. The combustible items signify teaching and methods motivated by human “wisdom” (1:17-22; 2:1-5, 13; 3:19) and therefore at odds with God’s “wisdom” (1:24, 30; 2:6-7)—the doctrine of Christ.

St. Matthew knew what the Lord said to Peter when Peter confessed Christ:  Upon THIS ROCK, the confession of the identity of Jesus, I will build my Church.  He heard Jesus say to go out and baptize all nations and teaching them.  

Well-meaning Christians have put forth so many new blue prints for a new and improved Church as reflected in church buildings from basilicas to auditoriums, from social justice centers to spiritual cafeterias to Christian ashrams.  Worse than suspect church architecture is  using sub-standard building materials which won’t build us up as living stones (1 Peter 2: 5).   St. Matthew and all the inspired writers of the Scripture proclaim God’s Word of Law and Promise to us all fulfilled in the Word made flesh.

One reason to use easier materials is that the “job gets done” and many a weekend carpenter has worked with wood and that’s fine for finishing a basement.  Using the inferior “plans of mice and men”, of human wisdom and that work will not last when building the church, that is, you.  Building the Church by using substandard materials and they tend to collapse and people die.    Yet, it makes pastors feel useful and the job is done quickly and like the old saying, haste makes waste.

“Gold, silver and precious stones” not only are more costly, but harder to work with than wood, hay and straw.  Gold and silver take time to smelt and burn the dross. Pearls were not cultivated then, but one had to dive into the depths of the ocean to find them. In fact finding one, one sells all he has to buy it.  This triumvirate lasts as this is the Word of the Lord and it endures forever.

It is  significant that in all four Gospels that St. Matthew’s  begins and ends in Baptism:   the Lord’s Baptism in the river Jordan and the Lord’s command and promise to baptize in God’s Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   Holy Baptism formally ends the written Gospel of St. Matthew but by no means does the Gospel end!  As the Lord said recorded in the last chapter of Matthew that His Baptism goes to the ends of the earth! We have brothers and sisters in Christ in the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Siberia, Germany etc, etc.  Gospel (written, preached, taught and administered in the Sacraments) and Church and Baptism are all one Christ as He builds His Church.  These are the means, the living tools of the Holy Spirit to build us up in His Church. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture and so St. Matthew:

St. Matthew was an excellent, noble man–not only one of the 12 fountains of consolation, the apostles of Jesus Christ, but also one of the four great spiritual streams of paradise, a holy evangelist, whose  words flowed from the great fountain in paradise, Jesus Christ.  (Valerius Herberger)

1 By all Your saints in warfare,
For all Your saints at rest,
Your holy name, O Jesus,
Forevermore be blest!
For You have won the battle
That they might wear the crown;
And now they shine in glory
Reflected from Your throne.

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist:

25 Praise, Lord, for him whose Gospel
Your human life declared,
Who, worldly gain forsaking,
Your path of suff’ring shared.
From all unrighteous mammon,
O raise our eyes anew
That we in our vocation
May rise and follow You.

3 Then let us praise the Father
And worship God the Son
And sing to God the Spirit,
Eternal Three in One,
Till all the ransomed number
Fall down before the throne,
Ascribing pow’r and glory
And praise to God alone.

(“By All Your Saints in Warfare”, Hymn #517, The Lutheran Service Book)

 

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Quote of the Day

The man who doesn’t believe in original sin believes in the immaculate conception of everybody.– GK Chesterton

Quoted by John Warwick Montgomery and heard on Issues, Etc.

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