January 2019
 
    This year I am going to provide the Pastor’s Messenger message oriented on the reality that we now enjoy “Heaven On Earth.” If we look only with our physical eyes and reason it seems more like “Hades On Earth.” It is by the power of the Holy Spirit we look anew with the eyes of faith and see both the spiritual and the physical reality. It surrounds and envelops us as we live, breath and move through the Valley of the Shadow of Death as God leads us on His Path of Righteousness. Each month we will consider and meditate on a specific theme.
 
February:                       In the Garden. Every good thing from the hand of God.
March:                            The Call. God’s fellowship with you and me.
April:                               Unintended Consequences. God’s will be done.
May:                               God’s Faithfulness. Promises kept and promises broken.
June:                              Immanuel. God with us and Man with God.
July:                               The Family. Our heavenly Father, Jesus and our brothers and sisters.
August/September:        Adoption. Choice and conception.
                                       The Storm.  Sin, death and the power of the devil.
October:                         The Eye Of The Storm. Salvation, sanctuary and strength.
November:                     The Father’s Mansion. From temporal tent to the eternal Temple.
December:                     The Wedding Feast. The Victory Celebration.
 
The theme for Lent Mid Week Divine Services is: In the world but not of the world (Romans 12: 2).
 
God’s peace be upon you, your family and the work of your hands.  Amen and Amen.
February 2019
     This month let us meditate on God’s good work done in various gardens from which His glory shines and through which He extends us every good thing for our body and spirit.
 
     The Garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 7 – 25). It is where “the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2: 8) It was good and God tells us that He “made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2: 9) It was in this good garden God tested Adam and Eve’s faith in and love for Him through the devil’s deadly and unholy temptation. Adam had walked with God, had received God’s command and single prohibition, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2: 16 – 17) Adam and Eve failed the test of their faith by: providing for themselves; testing God; and worshipping Satan (Matthew 4: 1 – 11). The first Adam plunged all mankind into sin, death and the power of the devil. Yet, God promised Adam, Eve and all mankind a second Adam that would defeat these enemies and reconcile God to man. God graciously covered their shame with innocent life and removed them from that garden so that they would look with eyes of faith for the promised Messiah.
 
     The Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36 – 46, Mark 14: 32 – 42, Luke 22: 39 – 46, John 18: 1). The God/Man came into this garden with His disciples on the night when God tested Him to the extreme and the devil sought a more advantageous time to tempt Christ (Luke 4: 12). Jesus prayed His Father’s will be done for He had come into the world not to judge it (the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – John 3: 18 – 21) but to save it (the Tree of Life – John 3: 17). Christ is the fruit of the Tree of Life that hung on the cursed tree. He is the fruit that is pleasing in God’s sight and desirable for the salvation of mankind: “…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53: 2b – 3). Unbelief, fear, darkness and chaos blinded men that night to the salvation with which God is reconciled with man and we are raised up as children of God.
 
     The garden in which our risen Lord arose again on the third day (Matthew 28: 1 – 10 , Mark 16: 1 – 10, Luke 24: 1 – 12, John 20: 1 – 18). In this garden God tested Mary, Peter and John’s faith while Satan tempted them with an empty tomb. The Prince of Peace would not allow Mary to be overcome by the temptation to grieve but spoke to her, calling her by name (John 20: 16). While the first Adam kept silent the second Adam spoke clearly and personally to her. He proclaimed the reconciliation of God with man, commanding her to “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 17). From this garden our Lord and God points us to our future and final home.
 
     As we live, move and breath in this veil of tears God will test us, proving Himself trustworthy and true as He sustains, strengthens and safeguards our faith, comforting us as He conforms us more and more into the image of His Son by the power of His Holy Spirit. These three gardens are historical and on which we should marvel and meditate upon God’s good and gracious provision. Yet, God gives us eyes of faith that look – not for a return to a garden of testing and temptation but to the entrance into our heavenly Father’s home where He will have us recline us at His eternal wedding feast that will never end.
 
God’s peace be upon you, your family and your work. Pastor Bob
March 2019
 
     This month let us meditate on God’s call. His call to Adam, Moses, you and me. He knows His own and His own know Him, recognizing His voice and listening to Him (John 10: 27). In His intimate call His glory shines and through which He extends us every good thing for our body and spirit, now and forever. It is a call that is dismissed, discounted, and despised at great and eternal risk.
 
     God’s call to Adam.  God was perfectly content and at peace within the Godhead before creation. Yet He chose to create the heavens and earth, calling man into a fellowship that was personal, intimate and eternal (Genesis 1: 26 – 28). His call was not extended to any other creature: angel; bird of the air, creature that moved on the land; or fish that swam in the waters (Genesis 2: 15 – 17). It was to man that He formed with His hands and breathed His breath into. God gathered them to Himself for fellowship with Him: enjoy and acknowledge His love and provision with thanks and praise; account for the day spent in His work of caring for the Garden of Eden; and grow in His wisdom and favor. Tragically, Adam and Eve heard to voice of a stranger – a liar, a murderer, a rebel – who tempted them with the one thing God reserved for Himself. They heeded the call of this wretch and plunged all of us into suffering and anguish (Genesis 3:6, 16 – 18). Yet, in the cool of that day, God again called them (Genesis 3: 8 – 9). The King came to those He loves and revealed they had abandoned the perfect fellowship and entered into an adulterous relationship, a bondage relationship, a dead relationship with a murderous spirit (Genesis 3: 11 – 13). However, His love provided for their sustainment (Genesis 3: 16 – 19a) and protection (Genesis 3:22 – 25) while promising deliverance from that tyrant and reconciliation with Himself (Genesis 3: 14 – 15).
 
Heavenly Father, by the power of Your Spirit keep our ears open to the voice of our Savior that the Word of Life may enter in and continually abide with us. Close them to the voice of the stranger – a sin-filled world and the devils – that they would find no place in our thoughts, words and deeds. We ask for these and all necessary things in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our LORD. Amen.
 
     God’s call to Moses.  God called Moses, a son of Abraham (who had been a prince, then a murderer, then a fugitive, and then a shepherd), to shepherd His chosen people who suffered under the tyranny of Egyptian slavery. The Angel of the LORD appeared to him veiled in the flame that did not consume the bush. The pre-incarnate Christ called Him by name, repeating his name, to indicate the affection and importance His call had for Moses and His people. Moses recognized the voice of the Lord yet requested to know the name by which He was to be called (Exodus 3: 13 – 15). Moses heeded and obeyed the LORD’s call, picked up his cross, and walked the path of righteousness with God Who led him in opposition and conflict with both Pharaoh and the Israelites. God sustained, strengthened, protected, and comforted Moses and His chosen people during: the plagues; the Passover; the passage through the Red Sea; their unbelief at Mount Sinai; wandering in the wilderness; and movement to enter the land promised to Abraham. God then called Moses, informing him his lawless behavior at Meribah (Numbers 20: 10) resulted in his only seeing but not entering the promise land with the Israelites (Deuteronomy 34: 1 – 4). God buried Moses in the valley in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34: 6). Yet, God lovingly and faithfully brought Moses to His heavenly mansion and, at the appointed time, had him appear and converse with Jesus when He was transfigured before Peter, James and John (Matthew 17: 1 – 3; Mark 9: 1 – 4; Luke 9: 28 – 31).
 
     Heavenly Father, thank You for opening our ears to hear Your call to us. By the power of Your Spirit give us faith, strength, and patience this day to again pick up our cross, bear it in the face of all opposition, and follow our LORD as He leads us on Your path of righteousness through this veil of tears to Your heavenly mansion. We thank and praise you that You have called us by name, placed Your holy name on us in Holy Baptism, fed us with the most holy body and blood of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and given us work to do in Your kingdom. Fill us with the Holy Spirit that we would faithfully, humbly, obediently, and joyfully proclaim the Gospel with our thoughts, words and deeds in the vocations You have given us. We ask You draw all those to Yourself whom You have given us to love and care for that they would not perish in unbelief and rebellion but would believe in and follow Your Son, our LORD, for their salvation. We ask for these and all necessary things in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our LORD. Amen.
 
God’s peace be upon you, your family and your work. Pastor Bob
April 2019
This month let us meditate on unintended consequences as we journey to Jerusalem and, ultimately, to our heavenly Father’s house. God calls us to consider the unintended consequences that have brought us here, we are now engaging in, and those that will confront us until the Last Day. Adam and Eve lived in freedom in the Garden of Eden. They were free to:
 work without pain or injury.
 live and move without the searing heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter.
 live and move among the animals, insects, and plants without fear of attack or pestilence.
 rest and sleep without fear of injury or death.
 come into the presence of the Lord without terror or shame.
 commune with God without deceit and slander.
Unfortunately, when they entertained the tempter, gave thought to his deceptive and deadly challenge, and acted upon the temptation they went from freedom in God to bondage in sin, death and the power of the devil.
 
     They did not intend:
 that an innocent animal that Adam named and they cared for would forfeit its life to cover their sin.
 to forsake God’s fellowship and favor for that with a liar and murderer.
 that all creation would groan under the weight of their rebellion and lawlessness, resulting in painful childbirth and exhausting work.
 to suffer the consequences of aging and infirmity that would weaken them physically and psychologically.
 to enter into a situation that would demand their deliverance through the suffering and death of God who would take on flesh and blood and be born of a woman.
Satan did not intent that their rebellion would be graciously and lovingly dealt with by the holy and righteous God.
 
     Unfortunately, today we live with Adam and Eve’s unintended consequences: suffering and anguish, disease and death, betrayal and heartbreak. Even more, we go through our days, weeks, months and years not intending to:
 provoke and grieve our God with our lawless and rebellious thoughts, words and deeds towards Him and our neighbor.
 neglect God’s mercies or the good work given us this day.
 allow the old Adam to grow stronger and the new creation in Christ weaker by the delay of our spiritual growth through: reading and meditating on God’s Word; individual, family and corporate worship; Christian Education classes; stewardship – fellowship – evangelism opportunities; and prayer.
 forsake God and become separated from His bride through ritualism and absenteeism.
Satan does not intent all that distracts, ensnares, and binds mankind to give way to God’s salvation in this Time of Grace.
 
     Rejoice, God willingly and willfully calls us by name, reminds us that He has put His name upon us in Holy Baptism, and feeds us with His Holy Word and the holy and precious body and blood of His only begotten Son as He leads us upon His path of righteousness to our heavenly home. He does not intend that any would be lost but that all – you and me, our loved ones and neighbors – would repent and receive salvation in Christ. Therefore, He calls those still lost in the darkness of unbelief and rebellion through His children, you and me, to Himself through His means of grace that He freely and abundantly gives us. He intends that all the time, gifts and talents He generously provides us for the advance of His kingdom for His glory and our good. He intends on the Last Day to destroy all the unintended consequences of sin, death and the power of the devil. He intends to recline us at His table where we and all His saints will celebrate the Wedding Feast of the Lamb forever.
May 2019
 
Alleluia, He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
 
     This month let us meditate on God’s faithfulness as we journey to our heavenly Father’s house according to His chosen will, means and path. God calls us to consider His promises that have all been fulfilled in Israelite’s exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, Christ Jesus during His exodus, and our broken promises on our exodus from this veil of sorrows to His home. Rejoice, God’s faithfulness is unchanging and His promises remain steadfast and true forever regardless of our faltering faith and ability to keep our promises to Him and others.
 
     God blessed Egypt with Joseph’s faithful and wise stewardship of food during both the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine. Yet, Pharaoh, a self-proclaimed god, later came to power who neither acknowledged God’s providence nor provision through His chosen people. Therefore, Pharaoh abused God’s children with tyranny and slavery. However, God watched over and heard the cries of His people, selecting Moses to lead them out from under Pharaoh’s slavery and oppression and into the freedom and worship of the one true God. This false god would relinquish neither his hold nor claim on God’s people even after His first born was struck down by God. God remained committed even when His people were unfaithful to Him and slandered His chosen leader, leading them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, through forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and giving them the land He promised Abraham.
 
     God blesses mankind with Jesus’ faithful and true redemptive work during both His ministry of preaching, teaching and healing and then His passion, death and resurrection. Yet, the prince of this world, who had illegitimately seized authority and power in the Garden of Eden, consistently and cunningly tempted Jesus to seek glory apart from that of the Father’s and what the Father had promised Him. God watched over His only begotten Son and heard His cries from the wilderness, the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross as our LORD struggled under the weight of your, my, and all mankind’s sin. Jesus brought all mankind out from under the slavery and tyranny of sin, death and the devil with His innocent suffering, death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father Almighty so that we would be free and worship the one true God in spirit and truth. God remained faithful to His chosen One, raising Jesus from death and seating His Son at His right hand in power and glory. Christ continues to faithfully lead all God’s people to our heavenly Father’s mansion until the Last Day when He will come to judge the living and the dead.
 
     Our exodus through suffering, affliction and temptation in this veil of sorrow is a present reality. It will become a historic fact when we breath our last, commend our spirits into God’s hands, and are welcomed into our promised eternal peace and rest. Until then, God promises to sustain, strengthen, safeguard, and comfort us with His means of grace He provides within His one holy, Christian, and apostolic Church while the spiritual battle rages for our souls. His promises remain steadfast and trustworthy even as we struggle with the doubts and fears as the Holy Spirit conforms us more and more into the Christ’s image. His promises remain unchanging and immoveable even when we fail to remember or keep our promises to Him in the heat of our struggle against our flesh, the fallen world and the attacks of the evil one
 
     My brothers and sisters, the Israelite exodus from slavery and bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land is history, proving God fulfilled His promises even when His chosen people broke their promises under the strain of God’s trial and afflictions and Satan’s temptations. Jesus’ exodus through suffering, affliction, temptation, and death to His resurrection and ascension is history, proving God fulfills all His redemptive promises in Christ. Our exodus is a present reality played out upon His path of righteousness that leads us through this veil of tears, through trials and afflictions, through the evil one’s plots and schemes, proving God’s promises are immutable and personal for His children.
 
     Rejoice, Jesus is the solid rock upon which all God’s promises to you and me rest. Rejoice, your, my, and the salvation of mankind rests upon neither the shifting sands of human reason or strength nor our faulty and failing human promises.
 
Alleluia, He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
June 2019

 

     This month let us meditate on the one true God who desires a deep, abiding and constant fellowship with His creation: you, me and mankind.  God’s love and fellowship was betrayed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but He promised them He would provide a savior who would defeat the evil one, restoring man into a deep, abiding and eternal fellowship with Himself (Genesis 3:14 – 15).  God’s promise manifested itself in the incarnation of His only begotten Son two thousand years ago: Jesus the Christ.

     The Lord stands in stark contrast with the gods that are the creations of man’s imagination and promoted by the evil one.  Let us look at the Lord’s abiding with His people during the exodus and their demand for a king.  Then let us look at His abiding with His people during the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ.

     With a mighty arm and outstretched hand God delivered His people from the slavery and tyranny of Pharaoh and his slave masters (Exodus 5 – 14).  Jehovah displayed wonderous and mighty works in their presence (Exodus 12: 29 – 14: 31) and yet they bristled, complained and rebelled in His presence (Exodus 15: 22 – 17: 7; 32).  God abided with His ungrateful His people throughout the 40 years of wilderness wandering during which time He raised up and brought forth a new Israel led by Joshua.  He led His children into the land He promised to their fathers, fought and gave them victory over their foes, and settled them within their assigned lands. Yet, they soon despised, discounted and discarded God’s kingship, demanding to be ruled like all the other nations (1 Samuel 8).  God never abandoned His chosen people while they repeatedly sought any god but Him.

     In the fullness of time, a thousand years later, the promised Savior arrived, dwelt among His people and embarked on His ministry of preaching, teaching and healing.  God delivered His people from the slavery and tyranny of sin, death and the power of the devil with a mighty arm and an outstretched hand: Jesus the Christ.  The rabbi from Nazareth spoke many wonderous words and did many mighty works in the presence of the religious leaders and the people.  Jewish leaders and people bristled, complained, and rebelled against Him as they denied His fellowship because He ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners while claiming to be God (Matthew 9: 11; Luke 15:2; Matthew 26: 63; John 19:7).  Yet, the Good Shepherd fellowshipped, instructed, and healed both those who believed in Him and those who refused to believe in Him for three years, raising up true sons and daughters of God while exposing children of the devil.  Then, He opened wide the kingdom of God with His innocent suffering and death upon the cross (Matthew 8: 11; Romans 5: 10) and God validated it with His resurrection and glorious ascension to the right hand of God the Father Almighty (Romans 8: 34; Hebrews 1: 3).

     Immanuel, the Son of God and Son of Man, promises He will abide both with us and all God’s children here on earth unto the Last Day (Matthew 28: 20) and with all the faithfully departed there in heaven for eternity (Revelation 7: 9 – 12).  This is the present reality for us here at Martin Luther Chapel and all God’s holy ones in the church militant as it is for His holy ones in the church triumphant.  He holds us firmly and lovingly in His nail-scarred hand, assuring you and me that no one is able to snatch us out of either His or the Father’s hand (John 10: 28 – 30).  Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit may we faithfully embrace and hold fast to God’s fellowship as we pass through the tribulation of this world (John 16: 33) and into our heavenly Father’s house where we will feast at His table forever.

 

Amen and Amen.

July 2019
 
     This month let us meditate on the one true God who has called us by name to be His children for His glory and our good.
 
     Before the foundation of the world God desired to create and have fellowship with man.  God foresaw and foreknew all that could and all that would happen, to include the rebellion of both angels and Adam and Eve, and ordained that His only begotten Son would redeem the elect and “purify for Himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2: 14).
 
     From the very beginning of creation God worked faithfully and steadfastly to deliver mankind from the wages of their sin and the power of the evil one.  In the fullness of time God the Son was born of a virgin, under the Law (Galatians 4: 4), paid for all mankind’s sin by His bitter suffering and death on the cross, was gloriously raised on the third day that mankind would be reconciled with God through Him (Romans 5: 10), and ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty, uniting all things in heaven and earth to Himself (Ephesians 1: 10).
 
     Jesus speaks clearly and concisely that “all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1: 12 – 13).  What is impossible for man is not impossible for God (Mark 10: 27) who through Holy Baptism joins you, me, and all His children to Jesus in His death and resurrection that we would be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6: 11).  The risen Lord commanded Mary “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 17).
 
     Jesus tells us – His brothers and sisters currently in the Kingdoms of Power and Grace – we must work with Him in advancing the Kingdom of God against the kingdom of the evil one.  God advances His kingdom not with the physical weapons of war (Ephesians 6: 12) but the full armor of God (Ephesians 6: 13 – 20).  He assures us the Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, and gives us both the will and means by which we daily refuse to gratify the flesh while giving us the will and the means to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8: 4).  The Lord and Giver of Life gives us ears that hear the whole counsel of God (John10: 25 – 30), mouths that eat and drink Christ’s Holy body and blood that we have true and abundant life in us (John 6: 53 – 58), hearts that believe and voices that confess Jesus alone is the Lamb of God (Romans 10: 10), and clean hearts and right spirits that we humbly and obediently do the will of our Father (Psalm 51: 7 – 10).  The Spirit of Truth daily conforms us more and more into the image of God’s only begotten Son through fiery trials and testing afflictions while keeping us steadfast in the one, true faith within the one, true Church.  He gives us the desire to keep our eyes always focused on Christ, the exact radiance of God that our hearts would cease being seats of judgment and become mercy seats upon which our risen Lord reigns in grace and truth.  God gives us the gifts of His Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; [Galatians 5: 22 – 23]) that we do His good work alongside our brothers and sisters in this dark and dying world that desperately needs to hear and receive the Gospel, become His disciples, be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and be taught everything He commanded.  In all this God sustains, strengthens, safeguards and comforts us as Jesus leads us upward upon the path of righteousness into the Kingdom of Glory.
 
     Rejoice! Jesus abides with us – His brothers and sisters who are children of God – this very minute, hour, day and to the last day (Matthew 28: 20b).
 
Amen and Amen.
August 2019

     This month let us meditate on the one true God who has adopted us as His children.  Jesus spoke to Nicodemus during that night of Holy Week about the necessity of being conceived from above (John 3: 3 – 6).  We, like Nicodemus, struggle at times to grasp the magnitude of our reconciled paternal relationship which God has brought us into in Baptism.  Jesus spoke of a divine action by which God Himself gives us true and eternal life, placing His name upon you and me, claiming us as His children, giving us power to be called children of God, and the faith to both grasp and embrace this priceless present and eternal familial relationship.

     Both our heavenly Father and His only begotten Son agreed and accepted the price of our adoption before the foundation of the world.  God had created man in His image, formed Adam with His hands, breathed into him the breath of life, and claimed him as a son.  Yet, the sadistic, fraudulent father of lies sought to enlarge his family beyond the unclean spirits that were cast with him out of God’s presence.  He desired to desecrate man by deforming us into his image.  Tragically, Satan’s deadly temptation was acted upon by Adam and Eve.  In that instant, mankind was bound under the evil one’s profane power and became his illegitimate children as Adam’s sin was transmitted from one generation to the next.  God promised Adam and Eve that His true Son would save mankind through a fierce and spiritual contest upon another tree, the cursed tree – the cross, where true and eternal life for mankind would be purchased and eternally secured.

     God accepted the price of our adoption with Jesus’ sacrificial suffering and death upon the cross and guaranteed our adoption with Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus reinforced our adoption with His words to Mary Magdalene in the garden on the morning of His resurrection (John 20: 16 – 18).  Then He sent her with the Gospel to His disciples, calling them His brothers while speaking of their familial relationship with God the Father.  He did not call them half-brothers, step brothers, or in any other status than His siblings, a perfect, complete, and accepted child of God.
 
     Let us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, daily remember our adoption by our heavenly Father.  Let us daily arise from a night’s rest invoking the name of the Triune God as given to us as His legitimate children: siblings of Jesus Christ;.heirs of His kingdom; and stewards of the gifts He has give us to do His work in His kingdom in our baptism.  Praise God for He has chosen you and me to be His children.  Praise God for He has conceived us by the power of Holy Spirit in Baptism.  His adoption is perfect, complete, and eternal.
 
Amen and Amen.
September 2019
 

     Next, let us meditate upon the spiritual storm that Adam’s rebellion unleashed upon both mankind and creation.  Adam mutinied and all mankind was cast out of pure and perfect health, fellowship and peace into disease, pain, anxiety, want, and conflict.  Creation suffers with weather that destroys life and materials with extreme heat and cold, floods and drought, and man’s excesses and indifference (Romans 8: 22).

     God created everything in good and perfect order and harmony.  His glory shined brightly within and among all the creation on the Seventh Day.  God came to Adam in the cool of the day and there was perfect fellowship between God and man in the Garden of Eden.  Then an unclean influence was allowed to enter the Garden of Eden, testing Adam and Eve’s love for God and one another.  The evil one lusted for the opportunity to expose their weaknesses in trust, wisdom and innocence.  Thus, evil approached them disguised as a wise serpent (Matthew 10: 16; 2 Corinthians 11: 14).  He attacked their faith that God had given them everything needful for the work He had given them in the Garden of Eden.  He suggested God’s love and provision was lacking, their reason and strength was equal to God’s, and knowledge of evil was more desirable than innocent submission to the will of God.  He struck at the image of God in order that it would be desecrated and deformed into his image:  holiness and love for profanity and enmity and perfect peace to stormy conflict.  God then came to those He loved.  He called to them in friendship.  He sought those that did not seek Him.  He extended justice and mercy to those who falsely judged and accused Him of evil.  He promised salvation to those who were unable to save themselves.

     Today, the spiritual tempest that erupted upon creation through Adam’s rebellion and lawlessness continuously swirls around us.  Chaos and mayhem wreak havoc on mankind and nature alike.  Sickness and death devour man and creatures without regard for fame, fortune, intelligence, physical abilities, age, or gender.  Adam, Eve and you and me did not gain what the serpent offered:  the knowledge of good and evil or the likeness of God.  Adam and Eve already possessed both of these divine gifts for they knew they had access and use of every tree EXCEPT ONE in the garden for their good.  They knew that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was not given to them and to eat of it would result in evil – death.  God’s hands and breath had created them in His image, not a flawed likeness of God.

     Mankind remains blind to the evil that beckons to and ensnares them, indulging in self-gratification and idolatries.  Sin, death and the power of the evil one are wrongly recognized as the normal and natural expression of man’s self-destructive and self-consuming nature.  Humans are conditioned to view their losses of opportunity, health, or fortune as a cruel gift of fate.  Unbelieving mankind, in their own reason or strength, cannot see the truth that fortune and misfortune allow them know good and evil.  God uses both for good – to train up His children to look to Him, focus on Him, trust in Him, submit to His will humbly, and love and obey Him.  Thereby He comforts us as He conforms us more and more into the image of His only begotten Son by the power of the Holy Spirit and keeps us steadfast in the one true faith.  He gives us eyes of faith to see the good He gives and the evil that defiles, enslaves, and destroys unrepentant sinners.  However, our old Adam and the evil ones use both for evil – to enslave us in our own self-sufficiency, focus our attention inward, primarily trust our reason and strength, and submit first and foremost to our wants and desire.  Thereby they maintain the profane and obscene image of a rebel and anarchist who lusts after every false god.

     Let us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, daily remember that while fallen men mean it for evil, God means it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Genesis 50: 20).  Therefore, “Let us ever walk with Jesus” (Lutheran Service Book – Hymn 685) and never wander into the spiritual tempest that seeks to damage and destroy.
 
Amen and Amen.
October 2019

     This month let us meditate on the peace the passes all human understanding: Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  He, the Incarnate Word – true God / true Man – comes to His Father’s creation so that we will only know peace through Him. 

     You and I live, move and breath in the time of grace where physical sickness, natural catastrophes, and man-made disasters are a consequence and a payment for the rebellion and lawlessness of unholy spirits and fallen mankind.  Every sickness, no matter slight, is a messenger of death, heralding physical death’s approach regardless of our full or partial return to physical health.  Nature groans under the curse of sin, generating floods, tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and other forms of natural catastrophes.  Mankind struggles against itself to maintain relationships, vocations and financial health.  All of these things manifest the spiritual chaos and conflict swirling around us every second, minute, day and year of our exodus from time in this world into eternity at our heavenly Father’s house.

     God did not abandon His creation that was engulfed in the dark tempest and chaos of sin, death and the power of the evil one.  He promised His peace through which He would make right all that sin had broken, desecrated, and twisted.  He sent His Son as His emissary of peace in the fullness of time who struggled and exerted Himself as the true man, the righteous man, and the sinless man against rebellion and lawlessness to reconcile God with mankind.  Jesus’ ministry of peace and truth was surrounded and contested by a whirlwind of enmity and falsehoods that poured forth from the hearts of evil men, unbelieving men, and unrepentant men.  The Christ sought out and came to sinners lost in spiritual darkness, illuminating God’s love as He cast out sickness and death, despair and terror, demons and idolatry.  The King of kings very presence was acknowledged by unclean spirits about to be exorcised out of defenseless men and children.  The Incarnate Word rebuked storms, commanding them and His disciples to be at peace.  On the night when He was betrayed, He provided table fellowship, instituted a new covenant in His blood, prayed for them in the Garden, and provided them escape even as He was seized by the band of soldiers.  The Lamb of God was the mighty fortress that promised and provided refuge for the repentant criminal crucified next to Him with the words” Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 43).  On the evening of the first day of the week our risen Lord stood in the midst of His disciples, greeting them with the peace He had won for them and all mankind on the cross.  The Prince of Peace is always and in all ways the trustworthy and powerful sanctuary for His disciples as waves of hostility, slander, and unbelief crashed down upon Him. 

     My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus is the true and divine calm, peace, strength and refuge for His people who He leads through the physical and spiritual tempest of this lost and dying world.  The Alpha and Omega is “The Eye of the storm” around whom is the dark, disorienting, dangerous, and deadly wilderness within which sin, death, and the evil one rage and howl, posture and scowl, and prowl and ensnare unbelieving and unrepentant souls.  Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we always look to Him, listen to Him, walk with Him, eat at His table, sit at His feet, and point each other and others to He who is the peace of God that passes all human understanding.

 

Amen and Amen

November 2019

To all the Saints of the Martin Luther Chapel Lutheran Church,

     This month let us meditate on our heavenly Father’s mansion in eternity even as He gathers us within His earthly tent here in this Time of Grace. 

 

     Our Lord and Savior assured His disciples on the night when He was betrayed that He was about to depart to go to the Father, prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and return to take them there with Him  (John 14: 2 – 3).  Jesus spoke to them on that night and speaks to you and me this day who abide in His tent – the Church Militant.  He advances the Kingdom of God through His Church into the darkness of the kingdom of the evil one, snatching souls from the liar and murderer (John 8: 44). She is His bride.  She is the Ark of Salvation for His brothers and sisters that navigates within the Kingdom of Power (physical governance) and the Kingdom of Grace (spiritual governance). 

 

The Church.

     The Church is both more and less than it appears to mankind in this Time of Grace. 
          • The True Church. It is more than mankind comprehends and values for it contains – God’s inerrant Word, God’s holy Sacraments, and God’s holy ones – precious and holy to God.  It is His beloved whom His only begotten Son redeemed from sin, death and the power of the devil with His innocent suffering and most holy and precious blood poured out on the cross on that horrible, terrifying Good Friday.  She is the Church Militant for her numbers continue increase as He brings in more children into our heavenly Father’s family through the powerful and blessed water of Holy Baptism even as others pass from it into their eternal rest in the Church Triumphant (John 8: 35b). 
          • The Visible Church. Yet, the visible church is less than it appears to mankind for contains both the True Church as well as the unbelievers, the blasphemers, the heretics, and the apostates that gather within the physical buildings of brick and wood that are called “church.”  These children of the devil ritualistically and faithlessly confess sin, hear the Word of God, receive His holy Sacraments, and fellowship with each other and God’s holy ones.  They spiritually desecrate the visible church with their refusal to receive, worship, thank and praise the one true God in the one true faith.  Rather, they take His most holy name in vain for they willingly receive, worship, thank and praise a god of their choosing that gratifies their flesh (John 8: 35a).    

     Christ’s bride labors valiantly throughout the ages by the power of the Holy Spirit to remain true to Him and serve our neighbor in love even as goats and wolves in sheep’s clothing embrace and promote heresies, profane social agendas, false religions, and world philosophies behind the visible façade of Christian denominations and cults. 

 

     Thankfully, on the Last Day Jesus will come in all His glory with His holy angels.  He will gather His militant bride to Himself, removing the temporal tent that covered her in this Time of Grace, revealing her true beauty and character.  Jesus’ glory will shine forth from her as He gathers God’s children, the faithful departed and the faithful living – you and me, to Himself. Our heavenly Father, who has watched over and commanded His holy angels to minister and protect us (Matthew 18: 10), will see His only begotten Son and triumphant Bride approaching from a far.  He will run unashamedly to, fall lovingly upon, and affectionately kiss His Christ and Bride, calling for His house to be thrown wide open, receive us, and eternally reclining us at the wedding feast of the Lamb (John 8: 35 – 36).

 

Amen and Amen

December 2019