“A Gift for God”

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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
“A Gift for God”

January 12, 2018

Psalm 51 (excerpts) – Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy … Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your sight … Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. … O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

There is a story which comes from the Middle Ages.

It speaks about an angel who wanted to give God the gift which the divine Lord valued the most. The angel traveled to earth and began his search. It took a few hundred years, but the angel eventually returned to heaven with a glass vial. In the vial was sand which had been stained red by drops of blood taken from a martyr who had died in his Savior’s service.

It was a magnificent gift, a moving present, but the bloodied sand was not the gift the Lord most desired.

The angel returned to earth and, once again, began his wanderings. He stopped and was touched to see a poor widow offer up a few coins to people who had even less than she. Yes, the angel was moved by the dear lady’s actions, but he knew those coins would not be the gift the Lord loved the most.

The search continued. Occasionally, the angel found something which had possibilities. He came upon a cross which had been used by a great preacher; there were the shoes of a missionary who had shared the Gospel in a heathen land, and he was delighted by the laughter of a child who was loved by Christian parents.

“These are all wonderful gifts,” the angel said to himself, “but they are not the gift which God values most.” Once more the angel began his search on earth.

There the angel saw two men sitting by a fountain. One of the men bent down to drink and in the water saw his sin-ravaged face. Overcome by all he had done wrong — and who he had become — the man wept.

The angel, ever so quietly, moved up and collected a tear of repentance.

But the angel did not return immediately to heaven. The angel listened as the second man spoke of the Savior and the hope which comes from sins forgiven. Once again, the first man cried. But this time he cried with joy at the good news of the Gospel.

He had been given faith in Jesus as his Savior. His sins were gone. He was forgiven. He had eternal life.

The angel captured one of those tears as well. The angel brought the tear of repentance and the tear of faith to heaven. Those two tears, mixed together, were presented to God, and God smiled. Tears of repentance, tears of Gospel joy. According to the story, that was the gift which God loved the most.

Tears of repentance, tears of Gospel joy. I know they are what we need the most.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I always give thanks for Jesus who is Your gift to me. May my praise be sincere and unceasing. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen

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The EPIPHANY of Our LORD, 6 January, anno Domini 2,018

Concordia and Koinonia

O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through the same  Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Old Testament: Is. 60:1–6
The Psalm: Psalm 24
The Epistle: Eph. 3:1–12
The Gospel: Matt. 2:1–12

Intro:  The feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord commemorates no event but presents an idea that assumes concrete form only through the facts of our Lord’s life. The idea of Epiphany is that the Christ who was born in Bethlehem is recognized by the world as God. At Christmas, God appears as man, and at Epiphany, this man appears before the world as God. That Christ became man needed no proof. But that this man, this…

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Quote of the Day, from Dr. Martin Luther’s 1531 Sermon, The First Sunday after Christmas

Dr. Luther explains this so clearly.

Concordia and Koinonia

Text:  St. Luke 2:  33-40, in particular for this quote:

34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

“If you wish to be a Christian, know for a certainty that your Lord Jesus Christ, you, your teaching, and all your activity will not be pleasing to the world.  For here you hear that the Lord Jesus Christ himself is a stone of contention and hateful stumbling block for those chosen people of God, and for all those who consider themselves great, mighty, intelligent and righteous.  They find Christ’s teaching offensive, then stumble and fall over it.  If you to be considered a fool, a heretic, a deceiver…

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O Holy Night

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Christmas2017“O Holy Night…” **

How I see Christmas:
The secular Christmas takes Christ out but emphasizes good works and sharing. The world takes that as the central theme of Christmas. Yet the Bible clearly says that all of our good works are like filthy rags.
(Isaiah 64:6English Standard Version (ESV)
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.)

 

Non-Christians also see “peace” as a theme. Yet, Jesus said he came to bring a ‘sword’.
(Matthew 10:34English Standard Version (ESV)
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.)

Christians see Christmas as Emmanuel, meaning God with us. With this in mind, Jesus’ birth is simple and a miraculous gift from God. His birth makes us humble and we fall on our knees.

We repent of our sins and receive His forgiveness. We partake of the Eucharist and receive life. Only then can we share and pass on His gifts of love, joy, and celebrate in Jesus as a result of the Holy Spirit within us.

**
“O Holy Night…” **

How I see Christmas:

The secular Christmas takes Christ out but emphasizes good works and sharing. The world takes that as the central theme of Christmas. Yet the Bible clearly says that all of our good works are like filthy rags.
(Isaiah 64:6English Standard Version (ESV)
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.)

 

Non-Christians also see “peace” as a theme. Yet, Jesus said he came to bring a ‘sword’.
(Matthew 10:34English Standard Version (ESV)
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.)

Christians see Christmas as Emmanuel, meaning God with us. With this in mind, Jesus’ birth is simple and a miraculous gift from God. His birth makes us humble and we fall on our knees.

We repent of our sins and receive His forgiveness. We partake of the Eucharist and receive life. Only then can we share and pass on His gifts of love, joy, and celebrate in Jesus as a result of the Holy Spirit within us.

**
“O Holy Night
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine”

(Picture above From SELC -Siberian Ev. Lutheran Church)

 

 

The Large Catechism Teaches about Sexual Abuse

People forget that all things pertinent to life are in the Bible already. As Dr. Martin Luther explains the meaning of the 6th Commandment shows, God addressed this long ago!

Concordia and Koinonia

At one time, not so long ago, there was a battle over “sex and violence” in movies and the way movies should be rated for movie goers.  This battle almost seems antiquated these days but it is still here as we read the revelations of Hollywood and Washington and the current sexual abuse of women.

I work as a hospice chaplain for a non-profit hospice which is secular. The hospice employees are required to go on line to watch videos on all sorts of topics relevant to the post-modern workplace, and topics specific to hospice in terms of medical practice, e.g “bloodborne pathogens”.  As in probably most workplaces the number one training is in “Preventing, Recognizing, and Reporting Abuse”, especially sexual abuse.  I think this is necessary and good.

I realized today two missing aspects of this training to stop sexual abuse. 

First, the sexual abuser and those abused are…

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The Four Luther Tracts

Concordia and Koinonia

Today I had the privilege of viewing and holding in my hands the 4 Luther tracts in the possession of Washington and Lee’s Leyburn Library, Special Collections.  I have never had a selfie with a piece of Reformation history! I got my geek on today and I have goosebumps. You can read about these tracts, discovered in W and L’s Special Collections only four years ago(!) here. 

This tract is entitled “An Order of Worship for the Community” (1523) and it’s artwork has been authenticated as executed by Lucas Cranach the Elder.  The blog’s header is a close-up of this tract:

IMG_0114Here are all four of the tracts:

Luther tract

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The Commemoration of Martin Chemnitz, Pastor and Confessor, November 9, 1522 – April 8, 1586

Concordia and Koinonia

Aside from Martin Luther, Martin Chemnitz(1522-86) is regarded as the most important theologian in the history of the Lutheran Church. Chemnitz combined a penetrating intellect and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and the Church Fathers with a genuine love for the Church. When various doctrinal disagreements broke out after Luther’s death in 1546, Chemnitz determined to give himself fully to the restoration of unity in the Lutheran Church. He became the leading spirit and principal author of the 1577 Formula of Concord, which settled the doctrinal disputes on the basis of Scripture and largely succeeded in restoring unity among Lutherans. Chemnitz also authored the four-volume Examination of the Council of Trent (1565-73), in which he rigorously subjected the teachings of this Roman Catholic Council to the judgment of Scripture and the ancient Church Fathers. The Examination became the definitive Lutheran answer to the Council of…

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Encouragement for Today: Getting More than We Can Ask

Concordia and Koinonia

Today’s Daily Lectionary New Testament reading is St.Matthew 8: 1-17 which includes the narrative of the healing of the centurion’s servant.  The Lord exclaims that he had never seen such faith in all of Israel.  St. John Chrysostom has this faithful commentary on this reading:

“…though (the centurion) has such great faith, he still accounted himself to be unworthy.  Christ, however, signifying that the centurion was worthy to have Him enter into his house, did much greater things, marveling at him and acclaiming him and given him more than he had asked.  For he came indeed seeking for his servant bodily healing, but went away, having received a kingdom…and not by this alone did He honor him, but also by indicating upon whose casting out he is brought in.  For now from this time forth, Christ proceeds to make known that salvation is by faith, not by works of…

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