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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

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)

It was Marshal McLuhan, a professor and one of the first to study the impact of television and media on human society and our minds, who said, The medium is the massage.  Media, television, radio, print, and now social media, are massaging educating us and forming us in ways that are opposite of the Lord’s instruction, but now in cyber-speed. The “powers and principalities” rule in the media and we are taught atheism, materialism, “the dictatorship of relativism”, all  under the lure of hedonism and narcissism, that the old Adam craves.  We live in a selfie age.  St. Luke wrote the Gospel to one “most excellent Theophilus”.  He no doubt was taught well in the ways of the Roman empire and society which is so like ours,  but now, out of the Lord’s Word and Work in and through Israel in the Old Testament the flower and fruit of Israel had been born of the Virgin Mary:  Jesus Christ.

In his introduction to the Gospel, St. Luke uses the word “catechized”.  The Gospels are history and as the history of our lives, there is meaning.  Theophilus was catechized, taught in the Way, as a “follower of the Way”, the meaning of the Word and Work of Jesus Christ.  Theophilus was taught God’s Word and  many were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.  The fruit of faith is shown in works of love.  “Theophilus” means “love of God”.  Many have asked, Who was Theophilus?  One answer:  all of us, the love of God.  We are all Theophilus. Luke writes, most excellent Theophilus.  “Excellent” was term of respect for a high, noble official.  God’s Word is for the poorest of the poor and the most elite of the elite!  God’s love in Christ had taught Theophilus and now Luke connects the dots for him and us. This history of Jesus is the good news, the Gospel which not only informs but forms us in His Word, sinners who are simultaneously saints by faith, given through grace.

“Paul says that in the Christian assembly, he prefers rational words, “five words of knowledge” than a thousand in tongues, so that he may “catechize” those present (1 Cor 14:19)…” (Dr. Just)

This faith comes through the gospel’s  catechesis  that assures of certainty of the facts narrated regarding Jesus. “Catecheo”  (“to catechize, instruct, inform”) occurs four times in Luke-Acts (Lk 1:4; Acts 18:25; 21:21, 24) and three times in Paul (Rom 2:18; 1 Cor 14:19; Gal 6:6). Acts 18:25 has the same meaning as here: Apollos “had been catechized in the way of the Lord.” We can know the facts of the way a bike works, which is important, but the way we learn a bike is to learn to ride it, catechized in the way of the Lord and His heart towards us, for us, with us. St. Luke followed Jesus Christ Who called him to follow him.  St. Luke not only followed the Lord but also, 

“…followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (St. Luke 1)

In his commentary on Luke’s Gospel, Dr. Art Just makes the strong case that Luke’s Gospel is a catechism, as the Word of God and of His Christ, forms us as we are taught and are baptized followers of Jesus.  The Lord’s way is different from the world and it’s media. The way of the world is death.  The way of Christ Jesus is everlasting life.  As Luke joined Paul in his missionary journeys, we are part of that journey as well.   

The Gospel of Luke and Acts is most notably  in the literary structure of a travelogue. He bids us join Him everyday.  If lost, He will find you and the Church will welcome you.  Jesus caught up with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, so does the Lord for you in the paths of life through this world. And the Lord taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we learn after the risen Lord revealed Himself to them, Luke reports:

32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (St. Luke 24)

May the Lord open to us the Scriptures to ever point out our sin and point us to our Lord who bore our sin to be our Savior as we journey through this wilderness, inviting others to the Way that leads us ever onward to the Lord.

Guide me ever, great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but you are mighty;
Hold me with your pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore:
Feed me now and evermore.

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“Glorious is God with His saints and angels: Oh, come let us worship Him.

About Ignatius: He was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century A.D. and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (98–117), Ignatius was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, and also to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatius warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatius was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the Church.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

The Apostle Paul was probably martyred between A.D. 64-67. Ignatius became the 2nd Bishop of Antioch in A.D. 69.   Antioch was the city from which Paul and Barnabas began their great missionary journey as recorded in Acts 13-14.  Ignatius is a direct link to the apostles and the apostolic doctrine.  (information from The Apostolic Fathers, edited by Jack Sparks)

Some have written that Christian doctrine evolved from the original sayings of Jesus  into the Christianity we have today. But given the chronological proximity of Ignatius to the Apostolic era, this can not be so and especially when we read his letters.  In them,  it is clear that Ignatius and the earlier Church were continuing the apostolic doctrine as taught verbatim by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, as the continuation and fulfillment of the Old Testament. Ignatius was the first to use the word, “catholic”, literally, cata holos, that is, according to the whole.  The whole of apostolic doctrine written in the Scriptures. The catholic doctrine, the Word of God, makes for the catholic Church. Note that Ignatius does NOT call the Church, the Roman Catholic Church.  The Roman church is a denomination.  The catholic, or universal church is confessed in The Book of Concord:  the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Smalcald Articles:

For, thank God, [to-day] a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I believe in one holy [catholic or] Christian Church

One of first great crises of the earlier Church was when the last of the 12 Apostles died.  Who could ever replace them?  Already the Lord provided the answer: bishops.   When I hear the word “bishop”, visions of church finery come to mind:  croziers, mitres, elaborate vestments and the like.  Not in the 1st  century nor for next 2-3 centuries!  Bishop is the word used  to translate  the New Testament Greek:  episcopos which means “overseer”, one who provides oversight to the doctrine and faith of the congregation.  An “episcopos” preached and administered the Sacraments which means a bishop is  a pastor.  He presided at the Table of the Lord…and he was a target when persecution arose.

In the Roman Empire, there were many gods and goddesses and their temples and shrines were massive and impressive and they held elaborate and overwhelming services in them. A Christian episcopos presided over a simple meal of  bread and wine, announcing this is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  He preached the Word of Law and Gospel to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.  Nothing outwardly impressive, yet by such the Lord spread His Word as He had promised He would “to the ends of the earth”.   The Word of Jesus Christ was so spread against overwhelming odds without gimmicks, strategies, mission models, massive denominational budgets, etc.  (insight courtesy of Rev. Prof. Hermann Sasse)

For Ignatius the central  aspect of the Church was unity with the bishop, the pastor in the preaching and teaching of the Scripture and administration of the Sacraments, according to the Apostolic Doctrine set forth in the Holy Scriptures.:

“…it is fitting for you  run your race together with the bishop’s purpose–as you do.  For your presbytery–worthy of fame, worthy of God–is attuned to the bishop  like strings to a lyre.  Therefore by your unity and harmonious love Jesus Christ is sung.”

The episcopos was to give oversight to the true saving doctrine of justification but not to overlook false doctrine. Case in point:   Ignatius warns the Church in Smyrna about  the docetists. ‘Docetist’  means ‘appearance’ and they said that Jesus only appeared to be a man but was only God  and so they changed the clear meaning of Scripture and they denied the Body and the Blood. And so Ignatius warns the Smyrnaens about them and their teaching on Holy Communion:

“They abstain from Eucharist and prayer because they do not acknowledge that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins, which the Father raised by his goodness. Those who deny God’s gift are dying in their squabbles; it would be better for them to love so that they may rise. It is fitting to keep away from such men and not to speak about them either privately or publicly, but to pay attention to the prophets and especially to the Gospel, in which the passion has been explained to us and the resurrection has been accomplished. Flee from divisions as the beginning of evils.”

What is the Biblical and evangelical understanding of the Lord’s Supper in relation to our lives and souls in His Church?

“Be eager, therefore, to use one Eucharist–for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup for union with the blood (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 16), one sanctuary, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow slaves–so that whatever you do, you do in relation to God (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 31;  Col. 3: 17)

Furthermore, the docetists believed Jesus was purely “spiritual” and He could not give us His Body and Blood.  Using an oft-used phrase in our day, they were not religious but ‘spiritual’. Sound familiar? Maybe Ignatius was too negative?  Maybe he should have ‘dialogued’ with them and formed a Bishop’s Study Task Force of Ecumenical Dialogue with Docetism?  Of course not.  Ignatius did a pastor’s work.   The heretics are actually the ones who want Christian doctrine to ‘evolve’: actually devolve into something totally different and more to their liking and their flesh and so it is no longer saving doctrine. Heresy is dividing;  orthodoxy is uniting.  It is as old as Israel finding more suitable deities in the Baals.   This is the devil’s work.   The only conversation is to warn and  call to repentance in the true Faith, clinging to Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father in His Church. As Ignatius wrote to the  Magnesians:

As, then, the Lord did nothing apart from the Father [cf. John 5:19; 8:28], either by himself or through the apostles, since he was united with him [cf. John 10:30; 17:11,21,22], so you must do nothing apart from the bishop and the presbyters. Do not try to make anything appear praiseworthy by yourselves, but let there be in common one prayer, one petition, one mind, one hope in love, in blameless joy—which is Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is better [cf. John 10:16; Eph. 4:3-6]. 2. All of you must run together as to one temple of God, as to one sanctuary, to one Jesus Christ, who proceeded from the one Father and is with the one and departed to the one [cf. John 8:42;14:12,28; 16:10,17

Let us pray…

Almighty God, we praise Your Name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr.  He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept the willing tribute of all that we are and all that we have, and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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“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”

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Text: St. Mark 10: 17-22

We can see that the rich young man was quite eager to talk with Jesus because the young man ran, actually ran, and knelt before Him. We should want more and more to run to Jesus!  But why did he run to Jesus?  The young man had a question: What must I do to inherit eternal life? He wanted eternal life.

The young man wanted to talk Torah, the Law of God, what must I do?   So, Jesus answered with the Law.    He begins with the 2nd Table of the Law, runs through those commandments, which the Lord summed up on another occasion:   “Love your neighbor as yourself.” These I have done since I was a youth.  As if the second table of the law is a snap.  It is when it is only external actions. I am sure the young man had not murdered, stolen, committed adultery, and he did what Father and Mother told him to do.  However, internally, in heart, soul, and mind, I can barely make it through an hour without sinning.  Anger, covetousness, lust come to mind very easy.  You joyously do as Mother and Father command?  No wandering eye?  No anger?

Jesus responded to the young man with the 1st Table of the Law:  Leave behind everything, sell all that you have which is all that has you, come follow Me. The rich young man went away disheartened.  A man usually is sorrowful when someone one loves dies. …let go of all that you have…but also, let go of all that has you. He received more than he expected but not what he wanted. We can’t do that, especially in our will, that is, our heart.  Only the One who has you, baptized you, died and rose for you, can free us from all that has us.

What is the largest church in the world? The Roman Catholic Church?  Lutheran Church?  Pentecostalism?  The largest church in the world encompasses all 6 billion people on earth.  This church calls for no conversion, no repentance. This god’s faith feels so natural. This church can do famously well and is quite powerful and influential. People die for it, or short of that, spending their whole lives in gaining this church’s god and this god’s altar is willingly erected in the heart.  I would guess that each one of us has yearned for the god of this church. 

What is this church?  Answer:  The church of mammon, or money.  It does not love, care, die and rise for us and our salvation. This god is as cold as gold.  This god does not make for love, but only loves what it makes. This god makes envy and jealousy.  This god does not come from heaven, but comes from the lusts of the heart. There are no atheists in corporate boardrooms, or banks or for that matter, the human heart.  In fact, in this church, there are no atheists, no non-believers, as those who follow mammon are true believers and boast of their wealth and power.  In fact, there are no atheists, for,

“…a god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need.  To have a god is nothing else that to trust and believe in him with our whole heart.”  (The Large Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther)

Everyone has a god, as we were made for faith and love.  True Faith and God go together.  False gods are dead ends, the true and living God and His Christ is eternal life.  No one ever on his death bed asked to hold his wallet one more time.  People save money, but money cannot save. 

Maybe Jesus had the road map to eternal life that the young man could follow? Some new teaching that the young man could do, accomplish some extra commandments in order to obtain the biggest goal of all: eternal life. As eager as trying to find the holy grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Can you imagine a son coming up to his father and ask, what must I do to get your inheritance? What must I do to be put into your last will and testament?  How many good works do I do to get you Father to leave me your living, your estate?  Do you think that Dad would detect a brownnose? Gets down to it: Either Dad puts you into his will or not.  Jesus loved the young man.  The young man saw something in Jesus as his question indicated and the Lord saw in the young man a unique soul to save, as each of us. The rich man’s question was definitely sincere and it was sincerely wrong.  When the Evangelist tells us the sterling fact that Jesus looked at the man and  loved him. There is a saying, “If looks could kill.”  If looks could kill, then everyone would be dead. The gaze of the Lord God does kill, kill sin dead. The gaze of the Lord God, Jesus, gives life.

Money is most common idol, Luther observed.  Money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money which is a root of all kinds of evil as it is written in the Scripture. You cannot serve God and mammon.  He went away sorrowful because he finally knew he could not keep the Law of God to gain eternal life. None of us can.  The only way is Jesus Christ.  Jesus loved the young man so that he might die and live by faith alone in His grace alone. He would die…for sinners, like him, like me, like thee, like Paul, like Peter, like Moses, like David, like James.

Ayn Rand, a Russian immigrant who came  to these blessed shores. She was a champion for capitalism, not Christ. She was against the totalitarian state which is good.  She wrote novels about capitalism.  When she died her floral tributes were in the shape of dollar signs. Too many Christians these days are more concerned with dollar signs rather than the sign of the cross.  Dollars are for saving but they are not saving.  I have never seen a woman wearing a dollar sign necklace around her neck given by her husband. There is no love portrayed by a dollar sign, but upon the Cross…The young man and us all would know Jesus said tough things and did the toughest thing of all: crucified.  He died for sinners including the nice young man. The sign of His cross is traced upon our bodies and was sunk deep into the soil of His earth, like a treasure hidden in a field.

Jesus put the full spiritual weight of God’s Law on the kneeling rich young man and the crush of the debt overwhelmed him. Jesus responded with the 1st Table of the Law. He loved him to do that. He did not choose the easy part, the part that won Him a popularity contest and votes. Many run to Jesus and quickly turn tail and walk away, even run away. We are told He looked at the man, all the focus of heaven upon the young man. He loved him to do that.  Jesus knew the burden the young man had on his heart with his wealth.  Martin Luther: 

“He who has money and property feels secure, happy, fearless, as if he were sitting in the midst of paradise.  On the other hand, he who has nothing doubts and despairs as if he never heard of God.” 

The Lord killed the young man so that the young man might live, so he leave behind the desire of his heart, his possessions, and cling to the One who loved him, who left  behind everything and took upon Himself everyone and everyone’s sin, and the sin of the entire world.  Jesus loved him and would love him and you to death, His death upon the cross.  Jesus had no pockets on the Cross.  He loved the rich young man to do that for him, for us all. 

“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. This is the sharp retort by Jesus to the rich young man. At first it can take the Christian aback: I thought Jesus is God.  He is 100% God and 100% man.  When Jesus asks him if he has kept the law, in the young man next response, he began, “Teacher…” He learned quickly but probably did not understand.  Jesus gave it all up.

“… he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2)

And in a few more verses, at 10: 34, Jesus will prophesy for a third time:  And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him.  Only by bearing the full weight of the Law and our sin, He has reconciled the crushing debt of the sin of the world, stamped it forgiven, all of us so that by faith we daily die and rise in Him, in His love by which He has loved us even when we have loved Him not.

The only way to inherit anything is for the testator to put you into the will and then die.  Beloved in the Lord!  He has written you into His will and testament, His last will and testament, not because we deserved, but we need it, no, more:  Him. Eventually all earthly inheritances run out.  Not the Lord’s:   He is risen, so, “…that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” Eternal life is not a good, a thing to be had, eternal life is a Person, as in “I am the resurrection and life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11: 25)   Eternal life has a Name:  Jesus Christ, as He is risen, we too shall rise.

It is written Hebrews says that we are to encourage one another…so that we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Sin’s deceits are our flesh’s conceits to look to man-made gods, like Mammon or money to save, and so retreat from Him who alone has saved us.  And hardening here means absolutely everything that makes it difficult to believe (Martin Luther).  The church of mammon is unrelenting in it’s pursuit of money to lure the Christian with its siren song to the rocky shoals for a shipwreck. When the dollar sign lures and the signs of these dark times attract, only the sign of His Cross reminds us of His unconquerable love, we are more than conquerors in Him who loved us.

From today’s Epistle Reading: “…exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 1 4 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 

  • Exhort and Encourage each other to serve our neighbor in live and we soon discover in serving our neighbor that it is not a snap!  And I find out that I am not eminently lovable!  We will learn the truth of Jesus’ Word: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches, without Me you can do nothing.”

  • Encourage each other in our prayers and to pray, as in Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  Hold on to Him who has taken hold of you.

  • Encourage each other and others to come and hear the Word of God and receive His body and blood.

  • Encourage each other so our hearts are not hardened, sclerosis of the heart, turned into you self in desires that are never satisfied by the goods of this world, but opened up by His Word to us all.

  • Encourage each other to true repentance. We are to encourage each other daily every time we pray at table together.

Good encouragement is read in the prophet Amos. Seek good, not evil. The rich young man knew Jesus was actually good, so good Jesus did not hold onto it for our sake.  Seek the immeasurable good of God and His will for you always in Jesus Christ.  Seek good, do not seek goods…seek the Kingdom of God and as Jesus said regarding food, shelter and clothing, all these things will be yours as well.  But they perish but the Word of God endures forever. He is risen. One of my hospice patients I try see at 11:00am (usually Tuesdays) because we watch the game show, “The Price is Right”.  One day it hit:  The price is right in Jesus.  The price He paid for our sins was right and just and more priceless.  In next chapter in Mark’s Gospel is the Lord’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem to pay redemption’s price once and for you all.

The Word says:  Love good, hate evil… not love goods and so court with evil, and love and desire it.   We need a full-hearted and full throated love of the Gospel, as He first loved us,  in these dark days by the only sign by which we are all saved and will be, In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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Quotes for Today

Image result for the riches of Christ

COLLECT OF THE DAY:

Lord Jesus Christ, whose grace always precedes and follows us, help us to forsake all trust in earthly gain and to find in You our heavenly treasure;  for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

“What then…made (the rich young man) depart from the Master, from the entreaty, the hope, the life, previously pursued with ardor? ‘Sell your possessions’. And what is this? He does not, as some conceive offhand, bid him throw away the substance he possessed and abandon his property; but bids him banish from his soul his notions about wealth, his excitement and morbid feeling about it, the anxieties, which are the thorns of existence, which choke the seed of life.”—St. Clement of Alexandria

 

“He who has money and property feels secure, happy, fearless, as if he were sitting in the midst of paradise.  On the other hand, he who has nothing doubts and despairs as if he never heard of God.” (From The Large Catechism by Martin Luther)

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank You for Your servant Philip the Deacon, whom You called to proclaim the Gospel to the peoples of Samaria and Ethiopia. Raise up in this and every land heralds and evangelists of Your kingdom, that your Church may make known the immeasurable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About Philip the Deacon: 

Philip, also called the evangelist (Acts 21:8), was one of the seven men appointed to assist in the work of the twelve apostles and of the rapidly growing early Church by overseeing the distribution of food to the poor (Acts 6:1-6). Following the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip proclaimed the Gospel in Samaria and led Simon the sorcerer to become a believer in Christ (Acts 8:4-13). He was also instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), through whom Philip became indirectly responsible for bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people on the continent of Africa. In the town of Caesarea, he was host for several days to the apostle Paul, who stopped there on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-15). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, cph.org)

Biblical Reflection Points on Philip in Acts 8: 26-40:

  1. Like Stephen, Philip was called to be a Deacon to serve the widows and like Stephen also preached and served the Gospel.  Philip administered the measurable riches of man for the widows and the poor and also the “immeasurable riches” of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:7) and both are crucial stewardship.

  2. There are two Biblical Greek words for time: kairos and chronos. The latter is measurable time.  The former is immeasurable time, the time of fulfillment, the eternal moment of God’s “today”.  Philip preached to the Ethiopian Eunuch but Philip did not button-hole the court official so he could give his “witness”.  It was the kairos, God’s time.  True preaching of the Word is according to God’s time. He knows best and we need to be ready for it (1 Peter 3:15).

  3. The court official is reading Isaiah 53, prophesied some 500 years before Christ.  The chapter is almost a biography of His Passion.  I read a conservative rabbi’s understanding of Isaiah 53.  Basically, it made no Scriptural sense to him, because a veil was over his heart and eyes.  It won’t be removed  until the Gospel is preached and he so comes to faith in Christ Jesus.  It was removed for the eunuch by the called deacon preaching the Gospel. Isaiah 53 is preaching Christ and Him crucified. 

  4. Philip knew the Scriptures. He would not have been carrying a scroll with him!  The eunuch did because he was serving a Queen.  On that day, Philip had the written Scripture before him on account of  the eunuch, but we may not have that always.  It is good to have Bible passages memorized in preparation for the possibility of a witness.

  5. Some people wrongly think that the Old Testament=Law and New Testament=Gospel.  This lesson, among thousands of passages, disproves those false equations, such as, Isaiah 53.

  6. The Ethiopian did not understand the Scripture.  This is a perfect illustration of Romans 10:   14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  

  7. Please note the sequence:  Word, then Sacrament, specifically the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The court official asks what is to prevent Baptism. Indeed!  The Greek verb for “prevent”  or “hinder”. This  is the same one Jesus used when he rebuked the disciples  for hindering parents when they brought their children  to the Lord  for a blessing, (Mark 10:14).  This high court official of Queen Candace received the kingdom, freely given, in Baptism as a child.  Indeed, all baptisms are baptisms of children and infants, even for an adult. The man went away “rejoicing”. This old song illustrates the eunuch’s rejoicing:   “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak and He is strong. Yes!  Jesus loves me. Yes! Jesus loves me! Yes!  Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.

  8. Queen Candace and her court probably heard of Jesus Christ from the eunuch.  From then till now, Christianity has been strong in Ethiopia, beginning with the Ethiopian Coptic Church.  One of the largest Lutheran Church bodies in the word is the Ethiopian

    An Ethiopian Coptic icon

    Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (Place of Jesus) with 5.3 million members. Note:  our nation’s entire Lutheran membership is about the same, and we are larger in population! Further note:   Mekane Yesus severed ties with the liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has been in discussions with the LCMS.  From one Ethiopian eunuch the Gospel spread to Africa.  We do not know in our lifetimes the impact will be of preaching Jesus Christ.  If the “numbers are not there”, the Lord’s Word will go forth according to His purposes, not ours (Isaiah 55:11).  He guides our paths.  Let us pray…

Almighty God, to know You is to have eternal life. Grant us to know Your Son as the way,the truth, and the life,and guide our footsteps along the way of Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives  and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen

 

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 About Abraham:  Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At age seventy-five and in obedience to God’s command, he, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. When Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety, they were blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man’s life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham died at age 175 and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a burial site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament patriarchs—and for his righteousness before God through faith (Romans 4:1-12). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, cph.org)

Reflection Mountains are places of revelation in  the Bible, from Sinai to Golgotha.  In Genesis, in the narrative of Abraham, there is likewise a mountain of revelation, an unnamed mountain in the land of Moriah (Gen. 22: 2).  There the Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord. Genesis 22:2

We must remember that the whole narrative up until chapter 22 has been God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of a great people and so be a blessing to many in spite of the fact that Abraham and his wife Sarah were of great age.  Abraham thought it so absurd, flying in the face of reality, that when the Lord reissued the promise, Abraham fell down laughing. Genesis 17:17   In Genesis 18, at the Oaks of Mamre, when the Lord tells Abraham that soon Sarah would be pregnant, she laughed.    They named him Isaac, which means laughter!  And now the Lord tells him to offer up his son, his only son.

We must also remember that the Lord promised other blessings to Abraham, such as He would be Abraham’s “shield”.  Genesis 15:1  He saved Abraham’s kin from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  He guided Abraham in his battle against the five kings.  He blessed Abraham and Sarah will great flocks.  The Lord was faithful to His promise.  In fact, it is the Lord’s promise alone that made Abraham righteous as Abraham believed and had faith in the Lord’s promises, not Abraham’s works of holiness and spirituality. His faith received the holiness of God’s righteousness.

“But when God commands that Abraham’s son should be taken away, He leaves no hope but simply confronts Abraham with a contradiction.  And God, who formerly seemed to be his best friend, now appears to have become an enemy and a tyrant.”(Luther’s Commentary on Genesis, chapter 22).

Now the Lord appeared to be unholy. When everything in sight runs contrary to our expectations regarding the Lord God because of sickness, poverty, war and famine, He appears to be a tyrant and we are tempted with despair. Most of the time, it does not take much to be tempted to look away from His promises.  A pastor looks at himself and his congregation, falling asleep, sneezing, contentious, small, and the like.  He then thinks of a Bible verse,  such as,

“…but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”,  (1 Peter 2: 9)

And I think, ‘This is a holy nation, a royal priesthood?! Doesn’t look that way to me!’  Is this some sort of joke?! But men look on appearances but God upon the heart.  Abraham also looked on the appearance of things, such as his aged body, but he clung in faith and love to God’s promises and His commands, even though he thought it quite humorous.  And maybe that’s why, against all appearances, Abraham did what he did when the Lord commanded him to take his son, his only son and offer him up on a mountain in Moriah. He trusted the Lord at His Word that he knew by faith, against all appearances, He would be true to His promise, that Isaac would live.  If he had wavered, even disobeying the Lord, Abraham could have been hailed as a post-modernist hero who rebelled against God.  Abraham did not and so he is the father of faith. He believed in the Lord who brought him and his family through so many journeys.  He told Isaac, the Lord will provide. And so,  through His only-begotten Son, Abraham’s seed, whom the Father did not spare, and was killed for our atonement, like that ram in substitution for Isaac, we believe, on account of Christ, not works.   It was no ram offered for the sin of the world.  It was and is the Lord’s Son, His only Son:  and His only Son rose again from the dead for our justification: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2: 8). As the Apostle Paul wrote centuries later about the faithfulness of the Lord:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering,bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;if we deny him, he also will deny us;13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

 (2 Timothy 2: 8-13)

Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, You led him to the land of Canaan, and You sealed Your covenant with him by the shedding of blood. May we see in Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, the promise of the new covenant of Your Holy Church, sealed with Jesus’ blood on the cross and given to us now in the cup of the new testament; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever

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