Monthly Archives: March 2019

Tue. March 19

Tuesday March 19, 2019

Today’s Focus                      The Sacrament of Holy Baptism                

Today’s Scripture Reading                         Acts 8:26-40

As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south[b] down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
33 He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[c]

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?”[d] 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.

 Daily Reflection                     Luther’s “The Sacrament of Holy Baptism”

What is Baptism?

  • Baptism is not simply plain water. Instead, it is water used according to God’s command and connect with God’s word.

What then is this word of God?

  • Where our Lord Jesus Christ says in Matthew 28 “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.”

What gifts or benefits does baptism Grant?

  • It brings about forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promise of God declare.

What are these words and promises of God?

  • Where our Lord Christ says in Mark 16, “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

How can water do such great things?

Clearly the water does not do it, but the word of God, which is with and alongside the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water.  For without the word of God the water is plain water and not a baptism, but with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a grace-filled water of life and a “Bath of the new birth in the Holy Spirit,” as St. Paul say to Titus in chapter 3, “through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  This Spirit He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  The saying is sure.”

What then is the significance of such a baptism with water?

            It signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written?

            St. Paul says in Romans 6, “We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Some questions for reflection

  • Do you suppose the fact that the person baptized in this Scripture based on where he is from and what he does is significant to your understanding of baptism?
  • Luther describes a “rebirth” occurring through baptism; how does your own understanding of baptism work when it comes to “rebirth?”
  • Do you believe there has to be any “foreknowledge” before a person is baptized?

Today’s discipleship challenge

Have a discussion with someone you care about on the topic of baptism.  Share with this person in your own words; what baptism means for you personally and why you think it is important/or not important.

 Today’s prayer

            Gracious Lord, we give You thanks that through water and the Holy Spirit You give us new birth, cleanse us from sin, and raise us to eternal life.  Sustain us with the gift of Your Holy Spirit; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in Your presence, both now and forever.  Amen.

Mon. March 18

Monday March 18, 2019

 Today’s Focus                                  The Third Section of the Lord’s prayer

 Today’s Scripture Reading                         Mark 3: 20-35

One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.
22 But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan,[e] the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”
23 Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. 24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. 26 And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. 27 Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
28 “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, 29 but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” 30 He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers[f] are outside asking for you.”
33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Daily Reflection         Luther’s explanation on the 7th petition and the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer

 The Seventh Petition

            And deliver us from evil..

What does this mean?

We ask in this prayer, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven may deliver us from all kinds of evil – affecting body or soul, property or reputation – and at last, when our final hour comes, may grant us a blessed end and take us by grace from this valley of tears to Himself in heaven.

Conclusion

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.  Amen

When does this mean?

That I should be certain that such petitions are acceptable to and heard by our Father in heaven, for God Himself commanded us to pray like this and has promised to hear us.  “Amen, amen” means “Yes, yes, it is going to come about just like this.”

Some questions for reflection

  • Many scholars believe “the strong man” that Jesus is talking about is in fact, Satan. If this is true, in your own mind, prior to Jesus death and resurrection, how did Jesus “bind” the strong man?”
  • Why do you suppose it is so important in this story shared by Mark that immediately following this episode Jesus redefines family?

Today’s discipleship challenge

  • Share with your group or someone you really trust, how it is that you “face temptation” and find ways that “deliver you from evil.”

 Today’s prayer

            Eternal God, we give You thanks for the day, especially for the good we were permitted to give and to receive; the day is now past and we commit it to You.  We entrust to You the night; we rest securely, for You are our help, and You neither slumber nor sleep; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Sun. March 17

Sunday March 17, 2019

 

Today’s Focus                      Reader’s choice

 Today’s Scripture                 Please select any of the passages shared in Worship today, read the chapter in its entirety.

  • Psalm 27
    In the day of trouble, God will give me shelter. (Ps. 27:5)
  • Luke 13:31-35
    I have desired to gather Jerusalem as a hen gathers her brood

 Some Questions for Reflection

  • Why did you choose the passage that you choose?
  • What was the major teaching of this particular passage for you?

Today’s discipleship challenge

  • Do something that you really enjoy doing today, perhaps it’s going for a walk, going to a movie, spending time with loved ones. After you do this, stop and think about how much God must love you to allow you to enjoy this activity.  Share your thoughts with your group or with someone you trust.

Today’s Prayer

O Lord God, You led Your people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide us now, so that, following Your Son, we may walk safely through the wilderness of this world toward the life You alone can give, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Amen.

Sat. March 16

Saturday March 16, 2019

Today’s Focus                      The Second section of the Lord’s prayer

Today’s Scripture Reading                         Matthew 6:19-34

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Daily Reflection         Luther’s explanation on the 2nd of three petitions of the Lord’s prayer

 The Fourth Petition
            Give us today our daily bread.

What does this mean?
            In fact, God gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all evil people, but we ask in this prayer that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving.

When then does “Daily bread mean?”
            Everything included in the  necessities and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, and upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

The Fifth Petition
            Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

What does this mean?
            We ask in this prayer that our heavenly Father would not regard our sins nor deny these petitions on their account, for we are worthy of nothing for which we ask, nor have we earned it.  Instead we ask that God would give us all things by grace, for we sin daily and indeed deserve only punishment.  So, on the other hand, we, too, truly want to forgive heartily and to do good gladly to those who sin against us.

The Sixth Petition
            Save us from the time of trial.

What does this mean?
            It is true that God tempts no one, but we ask in this prayer that God would preserve and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins, and that, although we may be attacked by them, we may finally prevail and gain the victory.

Some questions for reflection

  • What are some of your “daily breads” that you might take for granted?
  • If we truly believe that all our sins find forgiveness in the cross of Jesus Christ, why does it seem so difficult for us to allow ourselves to actually feel forgiven?
  • In your own life, what makes it so difficult to forgive people who have sinned against you?

Today’s discipleship challenge

  • Talk within your group or with someone you trust about the challenges of feeling forgiven by God and sharing forgiveness with others. Be as honest as you can be knowing that our God knows our hearts, feels our pains, and loves us all!

 Today’s prayer

Gracious God, have mercy on me.  I confess that I have turned from You and given myself into the power of sin at various times on this day.  I am truly sorry and humbly repent.  In Your compassion forgive my sins, those I know about and those that are unknown.  Turn my heart again to You and uphold me by Your loving Spirit, so that I may live and serve You in newness of life through Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Fri. March 15

Friday March 15, 2019

 Today’s Focus          The First section of the Lord’s Prayer

Scripture Reading for the Day Matthew 6:5-18

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,[a]
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,[b]
but rescue us from the evil one.[c]

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair[d] and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Daily Reflection         Luther’s explanation on the 1st of three petitions of the Lord’s prayer

Introduction
            Our Father in heaven.

What does this mean?
            With these words God wants to attract us, so that we come to believe He is truly our Father and we are truly His children, in order that we may ask Him boldly and with complete confidence, just as loving children ask their loving Father.

The First Petition
            Hallowed be Your name.

What does this mean?
            It is true that God’s name is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that it may also become holy in and among us.

How does this come about?
           Whenever the word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as God’s children, also live holy lives according to it.  To this end help us, dear Father in heaven!  However, whoever teaches and lives otherwise than the word of God teaches, dishonors the name of God among us.  Preserve us from the heavenly Father!

The Second Petition
            Your kingdom come.

What does this mean?
            In fact, God’s kingdom comes on its own without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come to us.

How does this come about?
            Whenever our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that through the Holy Spirit’s grace we believe God’s holy word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.

The Third Petition
            Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

What does this mean?
            In fact, God’s good and gracious will comes about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about in and among us.

How does this come about?
            Whenever God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will-as are present in the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh-that would not allow us to hallow God’s name and would prevent the coming of His kingdom, and instead whenever God strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in His word and in faith until the end of our lives.  This is God’s gracious and good will.

Some questions for reflection

  • In your own words, think about how it is YOU define prayer.
  • If you have a regular prayer routine, think about how you pray, where you pray, and when you pray. How did you learn these things.

 Today’s Pilgrimage challenge

  • Share with your group, what prayer means for you. How you pray and if and how you feel prayer benefits your relationship with God and with others.

Today’s Prayer

Gracious and loving God, we thank You for the gift of prayer!  We thank You for providing us faithful teachers and people who have modeled prayer for our lives.  When we come to You in thought and prayer, allow us to feel Your presence.  May this gift You have freely shared with us all always be treasured in our sight.  Amen.

Thur. March 14

Thursday March 14, 2019

Today’s Focus        More about the Spirit, the One making us holy

Scripture Reading for the Day                John 16: 1-15

“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.

“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate[a] won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.

12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’

Daily Reflection                     Luther’s Explanation on the
Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed: On Being Made Holy

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

What does this mean?

I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith.  Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins- mine and those of all believers.  On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life.  This is most certainly true.

Some Questions for Reflection

  • John calls the Spirit “the Advocate”. What words might you use to describe the Spirit?
  • For you, what is “the truth?”

Today’s Pilgrimage Challenge

  • Yesterday, you were in worship. Share with the group a time within this worship celebration in which you “felt” the Spirit at work.
  • Share a time in your own life when you may have felt the Spirit “calling, gathering, or enlightening” you or someone you love and share with the group.

 Today’s Prayer

Gracious and holy God, give us diligence to seek You, wisdom to perceive You , and patience to wait for You.  Grant us, O God, a mind to meditate on You; eyes to behold You; ears to listen for Your word; a heart to love You; and a life to proclaim You; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen

Wed. March 13

Wednesday March 13, 2019

Today’s Focus        More about God’s Son, the Redeemer

Scripture Reading for the Day    1 Corinthians 15

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters,[a] of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.[b]

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter[c] and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers[d] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.

10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.

12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.”[e] (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) 28 Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

29 If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?

30 And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? 31 For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. 32 And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus[f]—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”[g] 33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.

35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.”[h] But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like[i] the heavenly man.

50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[j] this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.[k]
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?[l]

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Daily Reflection                     Luther’s explanation of the Second Article
of Apostles’ Creed:  On redemption

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to the dead.  On the third day He rose again; He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean?

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the father in eternity, and also a true human being, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.  He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being.  He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.  He has done all this in order that I may belong to Him, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is rise from the dead and lives and rules eternally.  This is most certainly true.

Some questions for reflection

  • What if anything “strikes” you about Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ “function?”
  • What words does Paul use to describe “how our faith should be” if we believe in Jesus? What words would you use to describe “how our faith should be” if we believe in Jesus?
  • What do you suppose the greatest “enemy” to humanity was/is according to Paul? Has Christ defeated this enemy?

Today’s Pilgrimage Challenge

  • Forgiveness, both receiving and sharing, is a very powerful aspect of our faith. Today, we would like to either offer forgiveness to someone who has “wronged” you, or ask for forgiveness from someone you have wronged. Again… don’t overthink this… you don’t necessarily need to think of something deep and dark, any kind of forgiveness will suffice.  Share with a person how you and the other person felt in either offering or asking for forgiveness.

Today’s Prayer

Most holy God, the earth is filled with Your glory, and before You angels and saints stand in awe. Enlarge our vision to see Your power at work in the world, and by Your grace make us heralds of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Amen.

Tue. March 12

Tuesday March 12, 2019

 Today’s Focus          More about God, the Father, the Creator

Scripture Reading for the Day        Psalm 89: 1-37

I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.
Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.

The Lord said, “I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant.
I have sworn this oath to him:
‘I will establish your descendants as kings forever;
they will sit on your throne from now until eternity.’” Interlude
All heaven will praise your great wonders, Lord;
myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness.
For who in all of heaven can compare with the Lord?
What mightiest angel is anything like the Lord?
The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God.
He is far more awesome than all who surround his throne.
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies!
Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord?
You are entirely faithful.

You rule the oceans.
You subdue their storm-tossed waves.
10 You crushed the great sea monster.[b]
You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours;
everything in the world is yours—you created it all.
12 You created north and south.
Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon praise your name.
13 Powerful is your arm!
Strong is your hand!
Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.
15 Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
16 They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.
They exult in your righteousness.
17 You are their glorious strength.
It pleases you to make us strong.
18 Yes, our protection comes from the Lord,
and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.

19 Long ago you spoke in a vision to your faithful people.
You said, “I have raised up a warrior.
I have selected him from the common people to be king.
20 I have found my servant David.
I have anointed him with my holy oil.
21 I will steady him with my hand;
with my powerful arm I will make him strong.
22 His enemies will not defeat him,
nor will the wicked overpower him.
23 I will beat down his adversaries before him
and destroy those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and unfailing love will be with him,
and by my authority he will grow in power.
25 I will extend his rule over the sea,
his dominion over the rivers.
26 And he will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
27 I will make him my firstborn son,
the mightiest king on earth.
28 I will love him and be kind to him forever;
my covenant with him will never end.
29 I will preserve an heir for him;
his throne will be as endless as the days of heaven.
30 But if his descendants forsake my instructions
and fail to obey my regulations,
31 if they do not obey my decrees
and fail to keep my commands,
32 then I will punish their sin with the rod,
and their disobedience with beating.
33 But I will never stop loving him
nor fail to keep my promise to him.
34 No, I will not break my covenant;
I will not take back a single word I said.
35 I have sworn an oath to David,
and in my holiness I cannot lie:
36 His dynasty will go on forever;
his kingdom will endure as the sun.
37 It will be as eternal as the moon,
my faithful witness in the sky!”

 

Daily Reflection         Luther’s Explanation on the First Article
of the Apostles’ Creed: On Creation

 I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

 What does this mean?
I believe that God has created me together with all that exist.  God has given me and still preserves my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties.

In addition, God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock and all property-along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life.  God protects me against all danger and shields and preserves me from all evil.  And all this is done out of pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all!  For all of this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.  This is most certainly true.

Some questions for reflection

  • How does the psalmist see God’s “reason” for all that God shares with humanity based on this Scripture reading?
  • What verses touched you in hearing about God and creation? Were there any phrases that were used that helped you better understand the power of God in nature?
  • The psalmist begins this psalm by declaring that he will “Sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever.” How do you “sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever?”

Today’s Pilgrimage Challenge

  • Tell someone today how you see God at work in their actions or in their life. Don’t overthink this…. It could be as easy as telling someone that you are happy that you saw them open the door for somebody.
  • Share your challenge with someone, share how it made you feel to do this, and how you believe it made the person you did this with feel.

 Today’s Prayer

O God, you direct our lives by your grace, and your words of justice and mercy reshape the world. Mold us into a people who welcome Your word and serve one another, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

Mon. March 11

Monday March, 11, 2019

Today’s Focus        The “Second Table” of the Ten Commandments

Scripture Reading for the Day                Mark 12:28-34

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[g] 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[h] No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

 Daily Reflection         Luther’s Explanation to commandment four through ten

(excerpted from “Luther’s Small Catechism, Study Edition,
Augsburg Fortress, 2016)

The Fourth Commandment
           Honor your father and your mother.

What does this mean?
           We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise no anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

The Fifth Commandment
            You shall not murder.

What does this mean?
            We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.

The Sixth Commandment
            You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean?
            We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.

The Seventh Commandment
            You shall not steal.

What does this mean?
            We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.

The Eighth Commandment
            You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What does this mean?
           We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations.  Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

The Ninth Commandment
            You shall not covet your neighbor’s house

What does this mean?
            We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors out of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and service to them in keeping what is theirs.

The Tenth Commandment
            You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What does this mean?
            We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, household workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and fulfill their responsibility to our neighbors.

 Some Questions for reflection

  • The “Second Table” of the ten commandments deals with our relationship with our neighbors. Who truly are “our neighbor?”  Who do we normally treat like “neighbors?”
  • In what tangible ways can be begin loving our “neighbors” in deeper and more profound ways?

Today’s pilgrimage challenge

  • Find a “neighbor” who most people wouldn’t necessarily consider a “neighbor” and perform a random act of kindness for them. Perhaps you could purchase a cup of coffee for them, help them put groceries in their car, help them across a street.  Think about how this action made you feel, how you hope it made the person feel, then share with your group.

 Today’s prayer

Almighty God, You sent Your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to Yourself.  We praise and bless You for those whom You have sent in the power of the Spirit to bear witness to Your light to all the nations.  We thank You that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place Your servants call upon Your name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are Yours forever.  Amen.

Sun. March 10

Sunday March 10, 2019

Today’s Focus        Readers Choice

Scripture Reading for the Day

Please select any of the passages shared in Worship today, read the chapter in its entirety. Click the reference to read online.

  • Psalm 91
    God will give the angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways. (Ps. 91:11)
  • Romans 10
    If you confess that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved
  • Luke 4
    The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness for forty days

 Some Questions for Reflection

  • Why did you choose the passage that you choose?
  • What was the major teaching of this particular passage for you?

Today’s Pilgrimage Challenge

  • Share with your group, or with a friend, what you are doing in this Lenten devotion. What do you like about this?  What are you comfortable with?  What challenges are you experiencing.
  • If you are in a “Pilgrimage group (option 1) please plan a time anytime over the course of the next week when you can all get together for coffee or food to talk about your experience.

 Today’s Prayer

O Lord God, You led Your people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide us now, so that, following Your Son, we may walk safely through the wilderness of this world toward the life You alone can give, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Amen.