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Archive for January 25th, 2018

A strong witness to the Scripture  was given in  the secular news magazine,  The Week (The Week) January 28, 2011: 

It Wasn’t All Bad

Sixth-grade teacher Debra Court of the St. Paul Lutheran School in Bonduel, Wis., was searching an old safe for baptism records to show her students when she came across an aged Bible.  No one at the church realized just how old it was until the church pastor sent pictures of it to the Concordia Seminary Library in St. Louis, where a cataloger concluded it had been printed 340 years ago. ‘To hold something that tells us, in 1670, the same message of God’s grace and Christ that we tell each other today, ‘ said Pastor Timothy Shoup, ‘that helps me to be even more thankful.’

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Acts 9:1-22  Galatians 1:11-24 Matthew 19:27-30

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You turned the heart of him who persecuted the Church and by his preaching caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant us ever to rejoice in the saving light of Your Gospel and, following the example of the apostle Paul, to spread it to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About the Day:  St. Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascus is related three times in the Book of Acts (9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18). As an archenemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus set out for Damascus to arrest and bring believers to Jerusalem for trial. While on the way, he saw a blinding light and heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Damascus, where Saul was brought after being blinded, a disciple named Ananias was directed by the Lord in a vision to go to Saul to restore his sight: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). After receiving his sight, Saul was baptized and went on to become known as Paul, the great apostle.

(Source for the above: The Treasury of Daily Prayer)

Reflection:  I would guess that if you ask a  fellow Lutheran and Christian, “When was Paul converted?”, the answer would be, ‘On the road to Damascus”  But based upon the Text ,  Saul’s conversion did not take place on  the road to Damascus but in the Word and the Font, prayed and administered by the pastor, Ananias, as Martin Luther preached on this holy day:

Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (vs. 6)

Although he speaks with Paul directly from heaven above, God does not intend to put away the pastoral office or establish something extraordinary for him. Indeed, he might have spoken to him directly and revealed what he wanted him to do, but instead he directs him to go to the parish pastor in the city where he would hear and learn what he was supposed to do. Our Lord God does not purpose some special thing for each individual person, but gives to the whole world—one person like the next—his baptism and gospel. Through these means we are to learn how to be saved, and have no need to wait for God to reveal some new thing from heaven, or send angel.  For it is his will that we go to hear the Gospel preached by the pastor;  there we will find him, and in no other way… (emphasis added)

What happened to Saul on the road was not his conversion but the apocalypse by the Lord to Saul, noting that  our word “apocalypse” is from the New Testament Greek, “reveal”. This is  the word the Apostle Paul used himself about the Road to Damascus, in his letter to the Galatians: Galatians 1:16.  Similarly, when Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Lord said the Father revealed, literally, “apocalypsed” this to Peter.  I think this day should be called the Apocalypse to Saul.

Saul is blinded for 3 days (vs. 9) as in the Lord in the tomb for 3 days. Saul was blinded by his own sin and the Lord’s judgment of his sin in consenting to the arrest and murder of Christians, such as the first martyr, Stephen, see Acts 7: 60-8:1.  Only by the Word of the Gospel that Ananias administered in prayer was Paul able to see and in Baptism be saved, receiving Christ Jesus’ forgiveness in His death and resurrection (see Romans 6: 1-11!). This is when Saul of Tarsus is converted.

Note:  there is no “decision of Christ” at all.  As Paul well knew this when he wrote:  “The letter (of the Law) kills, and the Spirit gives life.” (see 2 Corinthians 3:6).  The self can choose but can not accomplish apart from the Lord:  see Romans 7. It is all the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! Receive the Holy Ghost, says the Pastor on the street called straight. Paul had no choice for the Lord because Jesus chose him, one “untimely born”(see 1 Corinthians 15:7-9).  

We look for God in all the wrong places.  We think salvation should be glorious, in our obedience, spiritual feelings, values, etc, but it is not, it is the Cross. Jesus does not give Saul any instruction but to go to the means of grace He Himself has appointed for Saul to be washed and saved:  Water and the Word (cf. St. Matthew 28: 18)

Those so  wanting a revelation apart from the Holy Trinity will be disappointed, deluded and demonized. We have all sorts of people who consider themselves “spiritual” and even think the Lord has revealed Himself to them apart from His Word and Sacrament and then go on to  deny His means of grace and His Law.   “The ‘spirit’ told me that it was okay to______”, and sometimes it may be of the Holy Spirit because the word or deed agrees with the Bible.  Many times, it actually might be immorality and false doctrine…too often.  The Lord directed Saul to the Font, not to himself and his feelings and thoughts, but to where His Word is preached and administered. Likewise, the Apostle Paul would also direct the Lord’s people,  and as a  saint in your life also pointed the way to the Lord in His forgiveness for you:  not in the sky, but in the laver of regeneration!   

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:/ I am baptized into Christ!/I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice./Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me/In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood” (“God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It”)

When we walk in the Holy Spirit, we live our baptism (See Romans 6: 1 and following).

1 Corinthians 6:

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.(emphasis my own)

Recently a woman in a nursing home just had a shower.  She was tired from it but refreshed. I asked her if she would like to listen Scripture. Yes.  I talked about the lesson, afterwards, she smiled greatly and said, “That was more refreshing than my shower!”   Thank Him for His amazing grace which causes the blind to see His love in the washing unto eternal life.

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