“Higher Things” Reflection for July 17


What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Romans 6:1

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Here’s some twisted logic for you: God’s grace is that He died for our sins. So if we sin more, He’ll forgive us more. The more we sin, the more grace God has, so let’s sin some more! Is that it? St. Paul says, “No way! No how!” But that’s what happens when the Old Adam fools around with the forgiveness of sins.

How do we shut him up from asking such stupid questions? St. Paul directs us to Holy Baptism. If you are baptized into Christ, the Old Adam has died and the New Man daily arises. The Catechism reminds us that our Baptism means every day we die with Jesus and rise with Him. Every day, because of our baptism into Christ, Old Adam gets a good drowning and the New Man lives for Jesus and for others.

The key to this is Christ’s death and resurrection. In Baptism, they become YOUR death and resurrection. In Baptism, your Old Adam gets the wrath of God and the nails of the cross to put him down. In Baptism, Jesus bursting from the tomb is your New Man’s victory over sin and death and the promise of life everlasting.

Covered in Christ by your Baptism, the Lord pays no attention to the antics of your Old Adam who wants to sin so that grace may abound. Instead, He gives life to your New Man in Christ, life that is lived to the praise of God’s glory and the benefit and service of those around you.

To live as a Christian is to live in your baptism every day. To daily repent of your sins, knowing that for Christ’s sake in your baptism you are indeed forgiven. To arise and live for the welfare and service of those around you. Each morning and evening the Catechism reminds us to make the sign of the cross because then we learn over and over that our whole life is not about our own efforts but about what Jesus has done for us on Calvary and how He gives us those gifts by water and the Word. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

So use it well! You are made new — In Christ a new creation! As faithful Christians live and do Within your own vocation, Until that day when you possess His glorious robe of righteousness Bestowed on you forever! LSB 596:6

Source: Higher Things : July 17, 2012 – Tuesday of the Sixth Week after Trinity.



“Higher Things” Reflection for July 16

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Exodus 20:2

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. “If you love God, you’ll keep His commandments.” “Jesus is hurt when you do that.” “Jesus doesn’t like that, so stop it.” It would be nice if we could just stop sinning. But then if we could do that, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

The Ten Commandments teach us how God wants us to love Him and others. But it becomes clear pretty quickly that we don’t love either God or others. The Ten Commandments are like a list of all the wonderful gifts God gives us: His Name and Word, parents, our lives, and so on. Yet, realistically, we always want other things than our heavenly Father has given us.

So why does the Lord lay out the Ten Commandments for us if He knows we can’t keep them? If they are just going to show us our sin? He does it because He’s our God. He does it to show that He will keep them. All of Jesus’ whole life is the keeping of the commandments. Always loving His Father. Always loving you. And most especially on the cross. There He loves His Father and obeys Him even unto death. There He loves you by taking your sin and taking your place.

So if Jesus keeps the Ten Commandments, does that mean we don’t need to bother with them? Of course not. Baptized into Christ, by His body and blood living in you, Jesus lives and keeps those commandments through you by forgiving you your sins and by making holy all the works you do in God’s sight. As St. Augustine once said, “All the commandments are kept when what is not kept is forgiven.” That means whatever of the Law you’ve broken you’ve actually kept in Jesus for He not only keeps it but has forgiven you for breaking it.

Therefore as new people in Christ, we delight in the commandments and want to learn them. We want to see God’s gifts to us and learn to thank Him. We want to order our lives so that they glorify God and serve our neighbor. And all that is what Jesus does as He keeps the Law for us and in us and through us. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

The Law of God is good and wise And sets His will before our eyes, Shows us the way of righteousness And dooms to death when we transgress. LSB 579:1

Source: Higher Things : July 16, 2012 – Monday of the Sixth Week after Trinity.

“Higher Things” Reflection for July 15

“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The hardest thing to get about the Ten Commandments is that they all apply to everyone. Everyone has broken all of them. You are a murderer. How’s that? You haven’t killed anyone? Oh, really? You haven’t been angry at someone? Your brother or sister or parents or friends? Called them names. Cussed at them. Wished they were dead. Told them they’re stupid. Wanted to never speak with them again. Jesus says when you get angry like that, you’re a murderer even if you didn’t pull a trigger.

That’s our problem with the Law of God. It always shows that we’re worse than we think we are. It always exposes, deep down, inside and out, the fact that we’re sinners who deserve nothing but punishment. Oh, you had a good reason to be angry? So does the Lord! And if He treated you in His anger the way you want to treat others when you’re mad at them, you’d be doomed.

But here’s what Jesus teaches us. God is not angry at you. He’s angry at His Son. Why? What did Jesus do? He did what you did. You’re not a murderer. Jesus is! After all, didn’t He take the place of a murderer when they sent Him to the cross? He took your place there, too—murderer and every other kind of sinner that you are.

According to the Law, the Fifth Commandment, you are a murderer. According to Jesus, you are a child of God because He took your murdering and made it His own and washed away all your sins when you were baptized. The Law says you’re a murderer. Jesus says, “No, you’re not! I will be the murderer. Condemn Me.” So He dies for your sin and rises again. No more murdering for you. Jesus has kept the Law for you and paid the price for your breaking it. Every dotted “i” and crossed “t” of the Law has been taken care of for you by Him. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Lord of all power and might, the Author and Giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of Your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Collect for Trinity 6

Source: Higher Things : July 15, 2012 – The Sixth Sunday after Trinity.

“God Will Send Stupid Asses” – Luther

Wise words from Martin Luther:

I have exhorted so often, and still exhort, that all who wish to be saved pray diligently, as Christ Himself commands us to pray (Matt. 9:38), that God may grant us faithful laborers and pastors who are sincere and adhere to the Word. Then if God be willing, there will be no danger. For the pulpit can and must alone preserve Baptism, Sacrament, doctrine, articles of faith, and all estates in their purity. However, if we neglect to pray and if we anger God with our security, weariness, and ingratitude, He will send us, instead of St. Paul and all upright pastors, stupid asses who will snatch away both Sacrament and Word, and we lose everything, both in the doctrine and the office.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 7:40 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

Source: Daily Luther: God Will Send Stupid Asses | CyberBrethren – A Lutheran Blog.