“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.

 

Advertisements

“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 12

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Ever wonder why you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins but other people don’t seem to care or get it? St. Paul says why. To the world, the cross is stupid. Foolish. Nonsense. Dumb. Lame. But to us, who have been turned from our sins by the Gospel, by the working of the Holy Spirit, this cross stuff is Good News. It’s our life. It’s our salvation.

The world can’t understand how a guy getting nailed to a cross does anything. But the Word of that Guy who was nailed there tells us: It is to suffer and die for sinners. It’s so that everything we’ve ever done against the God who made us is wiped out forever.

Your sins, nailed there with Jesus are forgotten by God forever.People don’t believe that Jesus is God and man. People don’t believe in God at all. People don’t think they’re sinful or that their sins really are so bad they deserve eternal death. There are lots of reasons the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would turn their hearts from death and unbelief to faith and life in Christ, whose cross-worked salvation is for all people.

The message, the preaching of the cross for you is hope. Life. Forgiveness. Salvation. The water that poured out of Jesus when He was on that cross was splashed upon you at the font. The blood that gushed out is given to you in the cup of His Supper. The preaching and teaching you hear are this Jesus crucified for you and risen from the dead. This cross stuff for you is God’s very power, the power by which He saves you from your sins and gives you eternal life.

To those perishing the cross is foolish. To you who are saved it is the power of God unto salvation. And that is always a gift. It’s not yours because you’re smarter than others or figured something out for yourself. It’s yours because the Holy Spirit has given it to you as a gift. And we pray He grants it to others, too. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph, Be for all the noblest tree; None in foliage, none in blossom, None in fruit thine equal be; Symbol of the world’s redemption, For the weight that hung on thee! LSB 454:4

Source: Higher Things : July 12, 2012 – Thursday of the Fifth Week after Trinity.

“Higher Things” Reflection for July 9

“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Sometimes it can be discouraging to consider how few Christians there seem to be in the world. The world is filled with people who don’t believe in Jesus or even those who outright hate Him. And even if it seems like there are a lot of Christians, they all believe different things, many the opposite of what you confess. It’s pretty sad.

Elijah thought the same thing. In fact, he though there were no people left who still believed in God’s promises. The King was evil and his wicked wife, Jezebel, was hunting down the prophets of God. They supported false religion and Elijah was sure he was the last Christian around. But the Lord said that wasn’t true. Not only were there 7,000 in Israel who had not forsaken the faith, the Lord was working things out so that His enemies were destroyed and His kingdom continued.

Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and rose again, defeating death. That was the promise that was made to Israel before He was born and it is the promise that we have believed since His resurrection and ascension. In every age and period of history, it has looked like the church was done for. Yet kingdoms have risen and fallen and still Christ’s church remains. Still the Lord causes the Good News of Jesus to be preached. Still people are baptized and rescued from sin and death. Still the Word is preached and sinners are comforted. There is always a church because the Lord won’t let His people be wiped out. Ever.

It’s impossible to believe that. That’s why Jesus gives us “marks” or “signposts” to identify His church: where Christ crucified and risen for sinners is preached; where Baptism washes away sins; where the body and blood of Jesus are given to sinners to eat and drink. Where those gifts are given out, you can be certain that Jesus is there with His church, promising that there is nothing in heaven or earth that can wipe out His people. And that includes you! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true; Preserve our faith our whole life through Your Word alone our heart’s defense, The Church’s glorious confidence. LSB 585:6

Source: Higher Things : July 9, 2012 – Monday of the Fifth Week after Trinity.