“Higher Things” Reflection for July 21

 

For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2 from the Introit for Trinity 7

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Just who is in charge of this crazy world? There are presidents and kings and queens and dictators and mobs. But who is really in charge? The Bible says the Lord is the true King of all the earth. How can that be? Most people don’t even believe in God and so many believe in some other god than Jesus Christ. How can Jesus claim to be King of this world?

Jesus is King of the world — not through an earthly, political kingdom, but because all things were made through Him and He gave His life for the world, for every sinner ever born. Jesus is King, crowned with thorns and whose hands and feet bear the marks that He has earned His title. Jesus is King because He has done what no earthly king could ever do: defeat death. No matter how rich or powerful the kings of this world are, they can’t escape death. But Jesus triumphed over death and so the Father has given to Him all authority and dominion.

And you are a citizen in this kingdom. In the divine service tomorrow, There will be proclamations and proclamations made on the King’s behalf. His herald, the pastor, will declare once again the King’s amnesty: criminals and sinners are forgiven. There will be no death penalty, no dungeon imprisonment. Behold, the King declares you are set free.

And not only that, like any good king, He’s providing for His people a great feast for them to enjoy. It’s a feast of His body and blood. Tomorrow is the King’s day for Him to take care of you, His subject. Here He promises protection against your enemies and life in His kingdom which never ends — His holy church now and forever.

Indeed Jesus, who was crucified and is risen is the great King over all the earth! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Glory to the Father sing, Glory to the Son, our king, Glory to the Spirit be Now and through eternity. LSB 332:8

Source: Higher Things : July 21, 2012 – Saturday of the Sixth Week after Trinity.

 

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“Higher Things” Reflection for July 19

 

Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. 1 Samuel 2:35

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It’s bad enough that the people kept breaking God’s commandments, but so did the priests! Hophni and Phineas, the sons of Eli, corrupted the worship and worshipers in Israel.

What they needed was to be put down by the Lord, which He did. And He raised up a replacement, a faithful priest. It took awhile but the Lord kept His promise. That faithful priest is Jesus. As true God and true man He both comes to us as God and He stands before the Father as one of us. He is the perfect “go between” for the Creator and the creatures.

On the God side, He stills the Lord’s wrath against our sins by His sacrificial death on the cross. On the man side, He rescues our human nature from the poison and stain of sin by being perfect and sinless.

Some people like to say we don’t need pastors or priests because now we can go straight to God. That misses the point. Our pastors aren’t there to come between us and God. They are there to remind us that our Great High Priest is Jesus. Our pastors preach that Jesus’ death is what saves us from our sins and His resurrection is what guarantees our being raised on the Last Day.

But the pastors Christ calls do stand before us as the hands and mouth of Jesus: His voice to speak forgiveness for our sins;.His hands to wash us and to give us His body and blood. We need pastors, not to get to God but because it is through them that Jesus comes to us with His gifts. And those gifts are certain so that we know all of our wickedness has been dealt with by our Savior. And you, being in Christ, are a part of the house the Father has built for this ever-faithful and eternal priest, Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Since we have a priest who suffered, Knowing weakness, tears, and pain, Who like us was tried and tempted, Unlike us, without a stain — Since He shared our lowly place, Let us boldly seek His grace. LSB 529:2

Source: Higher Things : July 19, 2012 – Thursday 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.