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Archive for March, 2019

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Collect of the Day:Almighty God, You have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of Your servant Joseph, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at last we may with him attain to Your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Bio: Joseph was the son of the patriarch Jacob (February 5) and Rachel. The favorite son of his father, he incurred the jealousy of his older brothers, who sold him into slavery in Egypt and told their father he was dead (Genesis 37). In Egypt he became the chief servant in the home of Potiphar, a military official.  Because Joseph refused to commit adultery with his master’s wife, he was unjustly accused of attempted rape and thrown into jail (Genesis 39). Years later, he interpreted dreams for Pharoah, who then freed him from prison and placed him in charge of the entire country. When his brothers came from Canaan to Egypt in search of food, they did not recognize him. He eventually revealed his identity to them, forgave them, and invited both them and his father to live in Egypt. He is especially remembered and honored for his moral uprightness (Genesis 39) and for his willingness to forgive his brothers (Genesis 45 and 50).

In this time of the church year, the Old Testament lessons are the narrative of Joseph.  The Joseph narrative continues till the end of Genesis, chapter 50. Joseph is crucial in the narration of salvation history.

Joseph’s tale begins when he was 17 years of age.  Joseph is the beloved son of Jacob.  Jacob had 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel and of the 12 sons Joseph is Jacob’s beloved son, his favorite.  Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah and two concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah and they were the mothers of the 12 (cf. Genesis 35:  22b-26).  Of the 4 mothers, Jacob’s favorite wife was Rachel.

From the get-go in chapter 37, Joseph had dreams and his dreams signified that his mother and father, and pointedly, his 11 brothers would bow down to Joseph.  Joseph was already the favorite and Jacob gave him a “coat of many colors” and so Joseph’s brothers, “…hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.” (vs.4).

The brothers 11 wanted to kill Joseph but the oldest said no.  They eventually sold Joseph into slavery for 20 shekels of silver (vs. 28) and he went into a foreign land, Egypt, as a slave…a slave who would eventually free his brothers some 20 years later.  The brothers 11 told their father Jacob that Jacob was killed by a “fierce animal” and they dipped Joseph’s robe in goat’s blood to ‘prove’ Joseph’s death.  The brothers 11 also killed their Father’s heart with grief.

There are comparisons between Joseph and Jesus:

Joseph began ruling Egypt under Pharoah at the age of 30. Jesus began His public ministry around the age of 30.

Joseph’s brothers hated Joseph because he said he would one day rule over them. Many of Jesus’ brothers hated Him because He is the ruler of all men.

Joseph was tempted to sin by Potiphar’s wife and was led out of temptation. Jesus was tempted every way we are, yet was without sin so that He can lead us out of temptation.

Joseph was a free man and became a slave and one day would serve his brothers in a most unexpected way. Jesus was utterly free and became a slave and would serve His brothers in a most unexpected way. Joseph did not freely do this. It was against his will and yet, it was the Lord’s will. Jesus did so freely as it was the Lord’s will.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers into a type of death: separation from his family and his land. Jesus was betrayed by His brothers into death itself.

Joseph was spared execution by his brothers, Jesus was not. Joseph was embalmed, “…and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (the last verse of Genesis), and Jesus was put into a tomb but the tomb could not hold Him: The Word Made Flesh lives, He is risen!

There are probably more comparisons which you can make. In the comparisons above the theme of brothers stands out.

At the beginning of Genesis chapter 37, when Joseph’s brothers were out in the fields pasturing the flocks, Jacob sends  Joseph out to see how they are doing.  As Joseph goes into the wide expanse of Palestine, a man comes and speaks with Joseph.

15 And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

Reasoning that out in the Valley of Hebron there might have not been many people walking about. Some of the rabbis thought the man was an angel, no less than Gabriel because in Daniel 8:16, Gabriel is called a man. Nevertheless, the man does have an aura of mystery about him, because he comes out of nowhere, knows Joseph, though Joseph does not seem to know him and  by sending Joseph to his brothers begins the whole story of Joseph being sold into slavery. “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers…”  Then as it turns out, Joseph years later, in a wholly different fashion, in Egypt,  or as he was known by the Egyptian name,  Zaphenath-paneah,as Pharoah’s second in command,Joseph would still seek his brothers.

Joseph, as a lord in Egypt, freed his brothers. Joseph knew it was right to do so. His brothers repented:

“And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[b] should be kept alive, as they are today. (chapter 50)

Jesus came as God incarnate to be our brother, and evil, greater than done to Joseph, was done to the only begotten Son of God, the Beloved, to keep a people alive to this day. God meant it for good.  The Lord still seeks His brothers and sisters. 

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”13 And again,“I will put my trust in him.”And again,“Behold, I and the children God has given me.” (Hebrews 2)

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Tiny Luther

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Tiny Luther Says: “Here I stand, I can do no other! That’s true as this guy put me here and took my picture! But at the Diet of Wurms, no man put me there in front of the Emperor and Empire. God did. I did not even have the Bible in my hand but it was there, the Word of God as the Lord saved me and you by His grace alone received through faith alone. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

I thought the ignorance and ignoring of Scripture was bad in my day and it was! But look at what you are doing to the Scriptures! I think your Bibles are printed with perforated pages to make taking out the Words of God you don’t like out of the Bible even easier: like the commandments about adultery and murder and greed and especially idolatry. Words of God you don’t like, like, Jesus is the only way to the Father and the words about His blood shed for you. You even have churches that proclaim Allah and the goddess. Good God, what wretchedness I behold! I met fellow catholics in my day who didn’t know squat about the Holy Writ and so do you! Where are your pastors?! Cicero said there is a book that will spend the night with you. There is! The Bible. Learn what the Bible says and the Lord will form you in His Word. Some people read to fall asleep at night, here’s the Book that will keep you through the night and wake you up in the day.”

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Pieta | FOR YOU | image tagged in virgin | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

The Prayer of the Day

O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Old Testament Reading for the Day: Isaiah 7:10-14   Psalm 45: 7-17   The Epistle Reading:  Hebrews 10: 4-10 The Gospel Reading for the Day: Luke 1:26-38

The Annunciation of Our Lord:  The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that God has shown her favor and will use her as the means for the Messiah’s birth. So Mary conceives Jesus when the angel says: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). This same Spirit who hovered over the waters and brought forth creation (Genesis 1:2) will now “hover over” the waters of Mary’s womb to conceive the creation’s Redeemer. As the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, she conceives Jesus “through her ear” (as Martin Luther says). The one who is conceived is called Holy, the Son of God. This is the moment of the incarnation of our Lord. The date of the Annunciation falls on March 25, because the Ancient Church believed the crucifixion occurred on that date. In antiquity, people linked the day of a person’s conception with the day of his or her death. Thus, in the Annunciation, the Church joined together both the incarnation of Jesus and the atonement He accomplished. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

There have been two excellent dramas on television as of late:  The Crown, about the life of Queen Elizabeth II and Victoria, about the life of Queen Victoria.  They were both young women who were unlikely to become Queen and rose to their vocation with nobility. Even more unlikely that a virgin  bore the Son of God and she did rise to her divine vocation with nobility as well.  All three of these women are not “shop till you drop” consumers, nor feminist distortions of womanhood as anti-womb and anti-man:  just the opposite.  They were  strong women not women aping men.  They knew their vocations took precedent over their personal feelings on the matter. Let it be to me according to Thy Word.  

I probably should not  like encouragement from the culture, but despite the times we are in, someone has discovered in Elizabeth and Victoria  as womanhood as it actually is: both were mothers, ruled their nation and at the same time, obeyed their husbands.  Mary is the model bar none of womanhood.  Only a woman can bear a child and have the strength to do so and so nurture a child.   She was faithful. We need to hear more of Mary than we do Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.–We’ve been inundated with reports about Cortez’s anti-life political policies. She does not shy away from the glaring spot light of our decadent and immoral culture. Mary did not want the spot-light. Mary stood in the light of the Lord. The world’s spot-light is for idolatry alone. The Lord’s light is to show us the darkness of sin and evil and idolatries, and then the pure light of His atonement. His atonement is for our forgiveness. If we look at this blog a few years down the line, we hope it will be with a sigh, “remember Cortez”, but we will still be thanking the Lord for His Mother. And if dear reader, you don’t know who Cortez is, be glad!  If you do know who she is, a thought: Be ever more glad, though, that Mary heard the Gloria of the Annunciation so we can as well.

In exactly nine months from today, March 25th, will be Christmas.  On this day the Church rejoices that the angel Gabriel gave the announcement (and so, annunciation) to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and bear a Child:  the Son of God.  When Gabriel announced this, Mary responded, Let it be according to your word.  So the Annunciation is the Incarnation: The Word became flesh.  The Feast of the Annunciation is always in Lent.  His birth is our death, our death to sin.  His resurrection is our life, our life in Him. There is more than one annunciation. We will hear the annunciation from the Cross, from the Lord’s mouth:  It is finished.   We will hear again the glad announcement, even more wondrous than the first to Mary:  He is risen!  We need to hear the Annunciation of the Promises of God fulfilled in His Son Jesus daily!  As Mary we need to hear the announcement of our forgiveness and His mercy toward poor sinners.  We need to hear the “for you” of  His Word especially in the Holy Communion, Absolution reminding us of our Baptism.  Others need to hear this Annunciation as well, dying to hear it. We will  hear the last Annunciation:  He comes again! In the midst of death, there is life (Luther).  

“Mary laid in a manger Him who sits above the cherubim and is praised by myriads of angels. In the manger set apart for irrational animals, the Word of God lay, in order that He might impart to men, who are really irrational by free choice, the true reason and understanding. In the manger from which cattle eat was laid the heavenly Bread, in order that He might provide men who live like the beasts of the earth with spiritual food.”St. Gregory Thaumaturgus  (died circa A.D. 270-275)

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I read this quote on Facebook. It is by Dr. Peter Scaer, Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary-Ft. Wayne, IN.–Pr. Mark Schroeder

We’re heading into some dangerous waters. It’s no longer about the freedom to do what it is wrong and harmful; it’s about Christians no longer having the freedom to do what is right and helpful. We all know that Christians must bake the cake – – or else. So also the florist and photographer. The list of casualties grows ever longer. Live and let live, I don’t think so; conform or else. And yet who says a word against it? We know Christian adoption agencies have been forced to close, and yet you tell me to stick to the life issue. Christian counselors are silenced, and we are silent voluntarily, perhaps to further our social advancement. And still they say to the pro-life movement, focus. Stay in your lane. A Brownsburg teacher is fired for not using the mandatory pronouns, and yet we hear we are not loving or welcoming. Or at least welcoming those who welcome the new ideology.

And now it’s parental rights. Well, that makes sense. We stand and smile, offering our blessing upon that which God frowns. But there are real consequences. If the state can redefine marriage, then parents have no natural rights. If children do not belong to the mother and father, then there is no family, only power. Perhaps, in the next election, the campaign slogan can be “If you like your children, you can keep your children. ( maybe)” And you might fall for it again. And yet, as parental rights are stripped, do you still tell me to focus on the life issue?

Hardly anyone says a word. Groups like the Log Cabin Republicans push the revolution, and we smile. And the unwelcome guest is the one who stands up to defend the truth. The LGBT revolutionaries are taking children from parents who will not play along. You know, the parents who will not give their children puberty blockers, hormones, soon to be followed by disfiguring surgery. You may be the parent, but the state knows better. And the court will take your children. This has long been a matter of logically seeing how this plays out, but now it’s just observing what’s already happening. Do well to remember, the “T” is for totalitarianism. And if we marginalize, ostracize, fine, fire and silence Christians, well, there goes your life movement, too. So much for staying in your lane.

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The narrative of the birth of Jesus features two earthly fathers: Joseph, the step-father of Jesus and King Herod the Great and the contrast between these two fathers is great.
The Lord told Joseph to flee because King Herod the Great, outsmarted by the magi, set out to kill all Bethlehem’s male children under the age of two in order to kill a threat to his throne. Herod the ‘Great’ obeyed himself. Joseph obeyed the Lord.

Concordia and Koinonia

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Scripture Readings
2 Samuel 7:4-16
Romans 4:13-18
Matthew 2:13-152:19-23

Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, from the house of Your servant David You raised up Joseph to be the guardian of Your incarnate Son and the husband of His mother, Mary. Grant us grace to follow the example of this faithful workman in heeding Your counsel and obeying Your commands; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

This is a good feast day to read and recite the Small Catechism, and in particular, the 4th Commandment:

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.

Intro:  St. Joseph has…

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TEXTBrothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (Philippians 4: 1)

St. Paul encourages the Christians in Philippi to imitate him and  walk according to the example you have in us.  The Lutheran Confessions state we are to hold a three-fold honor to the saints of old:

“The first is thanksgiving. For we ought to give thanks to God because He has shown examples of mercy; because He has shown that He wishes to save men; because He has given teachers or other gifts to the Church. And these gifts, as they are the greatest, should be amplified, and the saints themselves should be praised, who have faithfully used these gifts, just as Christ praises faithful businessmen, 5] Matt. 25:2123.

“The second service is the strengthening of our faith; when we see Peter forgiven after his denial, we also are encouraged to believe the more that grace truly superabounds over sin, Rom. 5:20.

“The third honor is the imitation, first, of faith, then of the other virtues, which every one should imitate according to his calling. 

It is clear this is from the Bible as seen in our Sermon Text. Patrick is an example of faith and virtue, always in that order  as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the fount of the Holy Spirit forming in us virtue to the glory of the Father. The Lord forms His people in this world, through His Church. Bishop Patrick did not write in his Confession, I am so holy and look at all the good works which saved me,but  began by stating:  “I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many.” Bishop Patrick pointed to the Lord’s good work in Patrick.

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 and the power of the devil. His evangelism ‘campaign’ was Baptism:

“…one should, in fact, fish well and diligently, just as the Lord foretells and teaches, saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men[Matthew 4:19],” and again through the prophets: “Behold, I am sending forth many fishers and hunters, says the Lord [Jeremiah 16:16],” et cetera. So it behooved us to spread our nets, that a vast multitude and throng might be caught for God, and so there might be clergy everywhere who baptized and exhorted a needy and desirous people. Just as the Lord says in the Gospel, admonishing and instructing: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of time [Matthew 28:19].”

He wrote a majestic poem that became a hymn on Holy Baptism as we sang this holy evening. 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.  The baptism mission of the Church is obviously not fads and fashions, techniques and clever tactics to “get people into Church”.  Only the Lord ‘gets’ people into His Church. The Baptism is always into Jesus Christ and His Cross (see Romans 6: 1ff) and it is accomplished through those the Lord has called to preach, teach, baptize and preside at His Holy Table.

Patrick did not water down Holy Baptism!  He did not water down the doctrine and practice of the Church to “reach people”.  The land of Eire was pagan.  In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul teaches that the gods and goddesses are demons.   Pagan means the thralldom of the powers of darkness, the demonic.  The Gospel saves us from wickedness around and about.  Way after Patrick, when there has been a mass murder as in the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, or someone wanting to cut off in their bodies their sexuality, or someone is beside herself with rage, we now say, They’re nuts, crazy, “have a problem”…in other words note how many times we all use psychological and therapeutic terms to describe evil. “He’s a narcissist.”  “She’s OCD”. “He is just insane.” “It’s not rational, that’s absurd.” Or irrational, yet the demonic is quite rational in it’s thinking in accordance with his falsehood and lies.   Some people do need the help of a trained  therapist, a counselor, but some need an exorcist.  Patrick was accompanied by exorcists.  The Church and the pagans had this in common:  they both knew there were wicked demonic powers at work but the Church did not BELIEVE in them for the One Lord in three  Persons conquered them and still does. Mr. Bury, his biography on St. Patrick (still in print) wrote in it, in 1905:

“…if Christianity had offered to men only its new theological doctrine with the hope of immortal life and its new ethical ideals, if it had come simple and unadorned, without an armory of mysteries, miracles, and rites, if it had risen to the height of rejecting magic not because it was wicked but because it was absurd, it could never have won half the world.

We can not accept the world’s philosophies and terms.  There is wickedness unleashed.  Pandemonium is unleashed. The word “pan-demonium”, means “all demons”. The power of the devil in men’s lives cannot be healed by therapeutic talk-therapies, but only cast out by the power of Christ.

Patrick’s God-given goal was not ‘outreach’ to people but preach the Word and out preach the devil,  so that people call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved, and the Lord’s means of grace:  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.

One of my favorite legends about Pr. Patrick was he was witnessing to a  powerful, pagan tribal chieftain who was stymied over the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  They were standing outside and Patrick bent over and plucked a shamrock and said, “The Trinity is like this shamrock:  3 leaves, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one stem, one plant, one life”.  The color green is very closely associated with Patrick.

“Wearing of the green” and Everyone’s Irish are saying s on St. Patrick’s Day. “Wearing of the Green” was a protest song in an 18th century Irish rebellion. The Church must be in rebellion against the powers and principalities. “Wearing of the Green” can remind us of the color of the paraments  (altar cloths) for most of the Church year, that is, green during the many Sundays after Pentecost, which is during summer in the northern hemisphere.   Along with Patrick, we only come to life in the Lord, in Holy Baptism, in the Name of the Blessed and Holy Trinity.  Faith is the Lord’s utterly gracious gift.  It is evident in his Confession, Patrick knew his high calling despite his lowly station.  We are green and growing in Christ alone in the unity of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father (see Ephesians 4:12-14), baptized into His Name alone:   “…salvation is of Christ the Lord!” (St. Patrick’s Breastplate, “I Bind Unto Myself Today”, Lutheran Service Book, #604).   We are Irish in so far as a Christian is baptized into Christ Jesus along with our brother in the Lord, Pastor and Bishop Patrick.  Remember that Patrick was not even born in what we call Ireland!  We wear not the green of Ireland, but of our only Homeland coming into the world now by faith, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and when He comes again, then by sight.  Green is possible only because of the purple, the Lent of His sufferings and death, the Seed planted in the ground, see John 12:24and Mark 4:8.

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.  

“But our citizenship is from heaven…” St. Paul knew a thing or two about citizenship. Twice in Acts, Luke reports that either Paul was beaten or about to be flogged, and he reminded the Roman soldiers, he was a Roman citizen.  The second time, the soldiers are aghast and they apologized to Paul and his apostolic company:  all Roman citizens.  With Roman citizenship came privileges, such as no torture or beatings.  Roman citizenship was obtained one of two ways:  born into it because of one’s parents or paying a hefty price for citizenship. Paul was born into it.  We can not purchase the price of citizenship of heaven by any financial means on earth.  The Lord freely paid for our citizenship by finishing His course for us by His blood shed upon the Cross and in Holy Baptism we are not born, but born from above into His rule, citizens of the Kingdom of God. The Lord does not willingly grieve or afflict His children; but they, as the apostles and martyrs can tell us, thi is a disputed citizenship.  We have no papers to prove our citizenship, except for the witness of Baptism, Bible and belief pointing us ever, as a compass, to our true homeland by His grace through the Holy Spirit. 

Friends of the Cross, the Lord by His resurrection has prepared our citizenship as we await Him from heaven.  Our salvation is fulfilled and on the Day will be completed.  Our bodies transformed to be like His glorious body. We ain’t seen nothing yet. When the Apostle wrote this to the Philippian Christians he used the full title and Name of the Lord:  the Lord Jesus Christ, the true ruler of our citizenry. His Name is the stamp and seal our citizenship.  Friends of the Cross, He is our strength for the journey by His love and mercy to finish our course.  “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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