Devotion and Readings for January 21, 22, and 23

Bible Readings and Devotion for January 21, 22, and 23, 2021

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

January 21

Matthew 7:13-20

Hebrews 9:23-28

Psalms 52-55

Genesis 21

January 22

Matthew 7:21-29

Hebrews 11:17-29

Psalms 56-58, 60

Genesis 22

January 23

Matthew 8:1-4

Hebrews 11:30-40

Psalms 59, 63-64 

Genesis 23

Devotion for January 21, 22, and 23, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

I have heard a statement such as this hundreds of times in my life.  When discussing the ministry of Jesus and a connection with time, a person will say something such as, “In months after Jesus died,” or, “About 20 years after Jesus died.”  These statements always bother me. I will tell you why these do.

It may seem a small issue, maybe a pet peeve of sorts.  For me, these statements miss a major and central point to everything that we do as followers of Jesus.  When we just say, “When Jesus died,” we are skipping over the event which make everything which Jesus did matter.  We are missing that Jesus was raised from the dead.  We are missing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.  We are missing that he is still alive.  I prefer to make note of this event in time by stating something such as, “When Jesus died and was raised again,” or, “(so many days/weeks/years) after the resurrection of Jesus.”

When we note only, “When Jesus died on the cross,” we are potentially leaving him in the tomb.  We could be going through life with the assumption that he is still dead.  We could be reinforcing the misunderstanding about what happened after Jesus died and rose again.  Sometimes I get the impression from people, even some professing Christians, that they live and believe in a way that pretty much assumes Jesus is still dead.

Central to our faith is that the Jesus who died on the cross and was placed in the tomb is now alive again, never to die again.  On that third day he was raised to life again.  Then on the 40th day following that, Jesus ascended out of our sight.  He did not die again when he ascended.  We understand that he is alive and present for us in the throne room of God as well as through the various spiritual connections we have with him in life.

Our reading from Hebrews works from the faith assumption that Jesus continues to live for all eternity.  We read in Hebrews 7:15-17, “(referring to Jesus) It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of him, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.””

The risen Jesus is the one with the indestructible life.  Jesus is the one who is priest forever.  It is not just some warm feeling or vague memory.  Jesus is truly alive, and we can know him, serve him, delight in him, and follow him both now and forever.

Prayer

Almighty God, by our baptism into the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, you turn us from the old life of sin. Grant that we who are reborn to new life in him may live in righteousness and holiness all our days, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for January 13

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Bible Readings and Devotion for January 13, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Matthew 5:13-20

Hebrews 6:1-12

Psalms 34-35

Genesis 13

Devotion for January 13, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Ephesians 2:8-10, which read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

This passage reminds us of the proper role of good works in our lives of faith. Being good and doing good and right things is not to bring about our salvation from the power of sin, death and evil.  There is nothing we can do to overcome sin on our own.  Instead, we rely upon the grace of God brought to us by the work of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  We do not and cannot look to our own power, for it is both insufficient and it is not how God works things for our life and hope and salvation.  We simply rely upon what God has done for us in Jesus.

Verse 10 of that passage from Ephesians does tell us to do good things.  These are good works and right actions are the holy and good results of God’s work for us.  Restoring us to fellowship with God and a life of good works is the plan and purpose for what Jesus has done.  Good works are good, but these do not save us.  Good works are the fruit of God’s work to save us.

Here are two good reasons for doing good in response to God’s grace.

Martin Luther is said to have noted something like this:  “God does not need our good works, but our neighbors do.”  In other words, we are saved by God’s power. The good things we do are to build up and benefit the lives of the people we encounter in this life.

The second reason is noted in our reading today.  In Matthew 5:16 we read the words of Jesus:  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Jesus teaches us to serve and love our neighbors so they will see God’s love for them.  As they see God’s love, they will respond by giving glory and praise to God.

There are two responses to God’s love.  One is to glorify and worship the Lord.  The second is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, but always to your glory and the welfare of your people, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for January 12

David M Tinker grave

The grave stone for the great uncle of Pastor David Tinker.  This is located in Norwich Bridge Cemetery in Huntington, Massachusetts.

Bible Readings and Devotion for January 12, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Matthew 5:1-12

Hebrews 5:1-14

Psalms 29-30, 33

Genesis 12

Devotion for January 12, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

As I have gone through decades of being an adult, I have had increased exposure to the death of loved ones and friends.  When someone close to our heart dies it is often more painful than we expect.

Our reading from Matthew today is one of the most familiar passages of God’s Word for many people.  It is what is often referred to as the, “Beatitudes.”  A beatitude is an announcement of supreme blessedness from God.  Our Lord Jesus is announcing a blessing or a special gifting to his followers in the various situations noted.  In times of loss we have greater comfort from the words of Jesus here.  He says in verse 4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  He is saying that he blesses us with mourning and with comfort.

The blessing of mourning makes sense to me in this way.  To mourn the death of a person one usually needs to have had a loving connection with the now deceased.  With no connection, we would not have much reason to grieve.  God loves us, and this enabled us to love and connect with others.  We are blessed with the ability to love one another, and therefore, we experience grief when one of our circle of care dies.

The deeper meaning of the word comfort is often misunderstood in modern culture.  We often associate it with a soft, easy chair.  Historically it is about being strengthened and supported.  God’s blessing to us is that he will support us as we experience grief.  God’s promise is that we are not alone without support in seasons of grief.  The Holy Spirit is always present for us.  Our prayers can always cast the burden of grief on our Lord who cares for us.  The community of faith and the love of God give us strength in times of loss.

We are blessed with love, with morning, and with God’s help when we mourn.

Prayer

Eternal God, your love is stronger than death, and your passion more fierce than the grave. We rejoice in the lives of those whom you have drawn into your eternal embrace. Keep us in joyful communion with them until we join the saints of every people and nation gathered before your throne in your ceaseless praise, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Advent 3 – December 13, 2020

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Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Third Sunday in Advent, December 13, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

We continue to offer in-person and Facebook Live services following the normal Sunday schedule for both MLLC and Waldeck.  The Facebook Live services will be offered on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. from Waldeck, and at 10:00 a.m. from MLLC.  The Saturday 6:00 p.m. service at MLLC is in-person only.

Below are the readings, prayers, and Sunday sermon.

Remember Your Regular Offerings

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For both of our congregations, Waldeck and MLLC, please remember that our expenses continue even when we are unable to meet as usual.  Please make a point to give your offerings as you would on a typical week.  Here are some ideas of what to do:

For Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ledbetter:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church; 6915 Waldeck Church Lane; Ledbetter, TX 78946

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

For MLLC in Carmine:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – MLLC, P O BOX 362, Carmine, TX 78932-0362

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

– give offerings through the church web site:  mllccarmine.com/online-giving  This page has a link to our secure giving page.  Offerings can be made by bank draft, debit card, or credit card through this special web site.

The Third Sunday in Advent

December 13, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The first reading is from the 61st chapter of Isaiah.

Though the people had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they continued to face hardship and oppression. In the language of the jubilee year described in Leviticus 25, the prophet, moved by the spirit of the Lord, announces deliverance for those who are oppressed and comfort for those who mourn.

And now the reading.

1The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

8For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Here ends the reading.

Psalm: Psalm 126

Psalm 126 prayed responsively.

1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses of the Negeb.
5Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The second reading is from the 5th chapter of First Thessalonians.

Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians by encouraging them to live lives of continual joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. The closing blessing is grounded in the hope of Christ’s coming.

And now the reading.

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.
23May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Here ends the reading.

Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

P:  The Holy Gospel reading is from the 1st chapter of John.

John’s gospel describes Jesus as the “light of the world.” John the Baptist is presented as a witness to Jesus, one who directs attention away from himself to Christ, the true light.

And now the reading.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Here ends the readings.

“Post Script for Life”

By Pastor David Tinker

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is something I don’t see as much anymore.  It is a, “P.S.” at the end of a note or letter.  P.S. is the abbreviation for, “Post Script.”  This is something you remember to write at the end of the main body of a message or letter.  It started long before computers and typewriters.  When all letters were handwritten it was a way to add that late thought or message without altering what was already there.

With the various new forms of communication, do we us the Post Script – P S – much any more?  There are so few letters written by hand these days.  I see it occasionally in emails.  In text messages it is less frequent. I found about 4-5 text messages which used a P.S. among my hundreds of saved messages.

At the end of St. Paul’s letters, we get the impression that they’re all kinds of little things he wants to say.  It seems he did not find place or occasion to note these in the main body of the letter. To get these short messages across, Paul uses postscripts. They’re almost like the mother giving instruction to her young daughter before going to camp: brush your teeth, wash her hair, use your manners, and so forth. For Paul, it is little notes inserted at the end in PS fashion: “Rejoice, pray, give thanks.’

In our reading today we have the PS from Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica. Paul spent the letter assuring the people that Christ promised to return.  Now he gives the people a final note on life in the meantime. He gives a short list of God’s will for his people while they wait for his return.

Verses 16 through 18 offer the core of this message: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is the core message of Paul’s final instructions to this church before the letter ends. Each of these give instructions which would give the people strengthen times of struggle.

The first is rejoice always. This is a call to Christian joy throughout life. Joy springs from the assurance of God’s action in our lives.  Joy springs from knowing that God has great love for us. It is knowing that God sent his son Jesus into the world to teach us, to love us, and eventually to die for us. Joy springs for the fact that God offers us the forgiveness of our sins which we have done against God and others. Jesus came to receive the eternal consequences of our offenses.  He destroyed the same consequences through his being raised from the dead just a few days after his death on the cross. Death was ended, and joy springs from God’s victory.

Our joy is founded in the hope we have in Jesus.  As followers of Jesus, we can have joy in the midst of death.  It does not mean that we take the death of loved ones lightly.  Rather, we can rejoice in the midst of hard things because we look back in thanksgiving for what God has done, and we look forward to the fulfillment of promises.

Earlier in the 4th chapter of 1st Thessalonians, Paul notes, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”

So, when we face grief regarding the death of a fellow child of God, we have a mix of loss and joy.  Loss, because we had a strong connection with the person.  Joy, because we know what the Lord has done and will be doing for that fellow believer.

Paul’s second instruction is to pray without ceasing. This is hyperbole and that we are not instructed to shut down our lives to pray. Rather we are to have our lives filled with prayer. Our prayer lives get to move beyond a mealtime or bedtime prayers. Throughout our days we get to come to God with our celebrations, concerns, and prayers for the well-being of others.

Paul’s third instruction is to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  It is easy to get thanks when everything is wonderful, our children our whole, our food shelves are full, our bodies are healthy, and our jobs are secure. But does Paul really mean for us to give thanks in all circumstances?  I believe the answer is yes.

Matthew Henry, the old Bible scholar, was mugged one day. His wallet was stolen. That night in his journal, he wrote these words: “Lord, I am thankful first because I was never robbed before. Second, I’m thankful that although they took my wallet, they did not take my life. Third, I am thankful it was I who is robbed, not I who was robbing. “

What a beautiful example of Paul’s call for thankfulness in all circumstances.

I believe that Paul gave the church instruction on these matters because the people needed to have a deeper relationship with God in order to be strong with all that they would face in their lives. We all need a deeper relationship with the Lord to face all which comes our way in our lives, our church, and our society. God provides us with instruction so that we can be strong until Christ returns, whether it be in our lifetimes or beyond. Our blessed help is from the Lord.  He is the one who carries us through the struggles of life. For this we can rejoice.

As a Post Script, a P. S.:  remember the teaching of Paul:  Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks.

Let us pray – Loving God, help us to seek you first in all we say and do.  Guide us to lives which are a fulfillment of your teaching to rejoice, give thanks, and pray.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Prayers for December 13, 2020

A      Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

A brief silence.

Most High God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you grant us all we need for life and faith.  During this Advent Season prepare us to receive Jesus more fully in our lives.          Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

By your Spirit direct our lives toward following your most excellent way. Help us to strive to rejoice, give thanks, and pray.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Enliven us as we care for others.  We pray for all who face difficulty, illness, or troubles of any kind, including… and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…     Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

Guide us into lives of mercy for our neighbors.  As we encounter others throughout our days, enliven our care and compassion for people in need.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for the music and worship leadership ministry of this congregation.  Guide all who lead us in prayer and song.  By your Holy Spirit draw us closer to you.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

We lift in prayer those who struggle with grief at this time (especially the family and friends of…).  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

P       Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

C      Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Devotion and Readings for December 11, 12, 13, and 14

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Bible Readings and Devotion for December 11, 12, 13, and 14, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

The primary reading for this devotion is Luke 22:47-71.  At least read this passage to get the foundation for the devotion.

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December 11

Luke 22:47-53

Revelation 14:14-20

Psalm 105

Isaiah 46

December 12

Luke 22:54-62   

Revelation 15:1-8

Psalm 106

Isaiah 47

December 13

Luke 22:63-71

Revelation 16:1-11

Psalm 107

Isaiah 48

December 14

Luke 23:1-12

Revelation 16:12-21

Psalm 108-110

Isaiah 49

Devotion for December 11, 12, 13, and 14, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

In our daily readings we have been working through the Passion account from the Gospel of Luke.  In the section for the days which we have in this devotion we see the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, arrest, mocking, denial by Simon Peter, and trail of Jesus.  I want to make special note of the denial by Simon Peter.

Earlier in the Passion account Jesus predicts that Peter will deny knowing Jesus.  Peter fiercely rejected this idea.  He and the others assured Jesus that they would remain loyal unto death.   This prediction by Jesus came true just as predicted.  We read in verse 59-62, “Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”

There is good news about this situation, even though most any person would be ashamed to have done this.  The good news is that God the Son, Jesus Christ seeks us out and forgives us, even when we falter in our faith.  We look to the account of a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus with his Apostles.  We look to John 21:1-19, and especially verses 15-19.  Jesus has met with some of the Apostles on the beach.  They had breakfast together and then they talk.  Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  Peter replies three times that he does love Jesus.  Then Jesus three times calls upon Peter to live out his mission to, “Feed my (Jesus’) sheep.”   Here, the Lord has restored Peter to his role in the company of Apostles.  By God’s grace, Peter is one of us again.

So, when we stray from God’s way in life, remember, God keeps seeking us out.   The Lord wants us to be his faithful people now and forever more.

Prayer

O God of mercy and might, in the mystery of the passion of your Son you offer your infinite life to the world. Gather us around the cross of Christ, and preserve us until the resurrection, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for December 10

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Bible Readings and Devotion for December 10, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Luke 22:39-46

Revelation 14:1-13

Psalms 103-104

Isaiah 45

Devotion for December 10, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Oftentimes, but not universally, numbers have significance in the Bible.  Our reading from Revelation chapter 14 tells of a special saving work for 144,000 people.  Often the use of numbers points to something about God or about our relationship with God.  Sometimes the use of numbers tells of something being sinful or less than good. It is helpful to gain some understanding of the use of numbers in the Bible to then gain understanding of the message of various parts of scripture.

Here are some key numbers and combinations of numbers which point to truths about God and our connection with God.

3 – the number of things of God.  For example, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

4 – the number of things of the earth.  For example, the compass directions

3 + 4 = 7 – something joining heaven and earth.  For example, God and people forgiving 7 and 70 times.

3 x 4 = 12 – something joining heaven and earth.  For example, the 12 Apostles of Jesus.

Multiplying 12 or 7 by itself – 49, 144, serving to intensify the connection

Multiplying 12 or 7 or 49 or 144 by 10, 100, or more – serving to intensify the connection

Repetition of any Biblical number – intensifying.  77, 70 times 7

40 Days or 40 Years – A long time on earth.  40 days is more than a month.  40 years is a generation or so.

6 – something less than the perfection of 7 – something not good or something sinful.  The use of 666 in Revelation was to note it being extra bad.  Some interpret this to be the number of the Roman Emperor Nero.  He was a cruel persecutor of Christians in the 60s AD.  St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred under his actions of persecution of Christians.

13 – something imperfect compared to the perfection of 12 – something not good or something sinful.  11 could possibly be used this way.  This may be why there was a new 12th Apostle appointed in Acts chapter 1 following the death of Judas Iscariot.  Interestingly, there were no more Apostles appointed after this, even though they all eventually died.  In part, the qualifications of an Apostle required that the man be one who was with Jesus and the others from the beginning.  After a while there would be nobody left.  St. Paul was an apostle in the sense that he was a missionary and proclaimer of the Gospel.  Since he was not a follower of Jesus since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Paul would not qualify to be part of the 12 Apostles.

The most important use of numbers in the Bible and in our study of the Bible is that we are drawn into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and that we grow to love God and neighbor more.  If we use numbers to put down others, to get obsessed with odd theories, or generally get distracted from our core calling as Christians, then this is a misuse of the numbers.

Prayer

Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for December 9

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Bible Readings and Devotion for December 9, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Luke 22:35-38  

Revelation 13:11-18

Psalms 99-102

Isaiah 44

Devotion for December 9, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Remember, a god is the one or the thing in which we place ultimate trust.  As followers of Jesus we look to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as witnessed to in Holy Scripture, as our greatest good.  We understand that there is nothing and no one above or greater in all the universe than our God. We believe and teach that there is no true god except this one God.

Throughout time people have placed their trust in many and various things besides the one true God.  This could include a specific other god as worshipped in their culture.  Other people put their trust in things, wealth, and power.  Others trust their own personal philosophy of life, even a godless philosophy.  Our minds and spiritual hearts put all sorts of things in the place of the one true God which are not worthy of ultimate trust.

In our reading today from Isaiah 44 we hear about one of the problems with false idols.  Inspired by the Lord, the prophet presented a reflection about the absurdity of the idols which people of his day were creating.  We see this presented in verses 9-20 of chapter 44.  His argument is that it is ridiculous that people are carving a god out of the same tree wood which they would use as firewood for cooking a meal.

The problem of false idols and how these idols lead one astray is noted by St. Paul in Romans 1:22-25.  Of special note is verse 25, “…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”  Over time, people have chosen to worship created, living things.  They have even sometimes worshipped themselves in a sense.  They put their ideas ahead of God’s ideas.  They push the Lord out of their decision-making process, and thus trust in themselves rather than the one true God.

Ponder this: What are some ways you have looked to something other than God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as that in which you place your greatest trust?  What are some things, animals, or philosophies which have become idols for you? Today, with God’s help, we can reset our lives and put our ultimate trust in our God who created all that is and who loves us beyond measure.

Prayer

A Prayer of Martin Luther

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you. In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have. I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor. I am a sinner; you are upright. With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness. Therefore I will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for December 8

Offering

Bible Readings and Devotion for December 8, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Luke 22:31-34 

Revelation 13:1-10

Psalms 95-98

Isaiah 43

Devotion for December 8, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Due to the COVID19 Pandemic we have had to make various changes.  We do these actions for the sake of the community, both the congregation and the neighborhood.  All of us look forward to a day when these changes are no longer necessary.

One of the changes we have made is in regard to how we present our offerings.  Instead of passing the offering plates down each row to receive the offering, we have simply placed the plates on tables.  This greatly reduces the number of people who touch the plates on any given day.  Fewer hands touching the plates means reduced chances of passing contagion to one another.

In our reading from Psalm 96:7-8, we read the following; “Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.”

These verses are informative to how and why we give offerings at worship.  In worship we announce the greatness of our Lord.  We do it together as the family of the Lord.  And finally, we give offerings at our worship gatherings.

These patterns of worship are why we have a time at worship when we give our offerings to honor the Lord and to support the mission of the congregation. As we come together we make the choice to give offerings.  The passage reminds us, “…bring an offering, and come into his courts.”  One of the options for doing things God’s way is to pass the plates to receive the offerings which people have intended to make.  We can also do as we have been doing most of this year.  We can put offering plates near entrances where people may place their offerings as we, “come into his courts.”  The original verse is about gathering at the Temple of Jerusalem.  We can easily apply this to when we enter the worship space of our congregation.

A friendly reminder:  As we come to the end of 2020, please consider an extra gift to your church.  Or, if you have gotten behind in giving, take the coming weeks to make us for some of what has been forgotten.  We give from what God provides, and our offerings are a thanksgiving to the Lord for all he has done for us.

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Prayer

Merciful Father, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us—our selves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for December 6 and 7

CommunionBreadWine

Bible Readings and Devotion for December 6 and 7, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

December 6

Luke 22:14-23   

Revelation 12:1-12

Psalms 90-91

Isaiah 41

December 7

Luke 22:24-30   

Revelation 12:13-17

Psalms 92-94

Isaiah 42

Devotion for December 6 and 7, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Holy Communion is one of the two Sacraments of our Lutheran Christian tradition.  The other is Holy Baptism.  In our reading from Luke 22 we have Luke’s account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  There are actually 4 presentation of this event in the New Testament.  These are in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and 1 Corinthians.

This account in Luke is unique in that it gives us a slightly larger glimpse into the context in which Jesus gave us this meal.  It was presented as part of the Passover Meal of the Jewish people.  One of the glimpses we get in Luke is that we see mention of 2 cups of wine.  This doesn’t mean that we are to drink 2 cups of wine for the Sacrament.  The most universal presentation of the wine in Communion is 1 drink or serving per person. The extra cup simply gives us that Passover context.  From what I have read there are actually four cups of wine in a traditional Passover meal.

Here is a link to an article about the four cups of wine used in the Passover.  Click link.

One of the benefits of understanding this context of the Jewish Passover is that it informs our decision making regarding faithful planning for celebrating Holy Communion.  Some people have mistakenly thought that Jesus just took the common snacks and drinks of his day and gave it a meaning.  This has led to people having communion with pretzels and coke or beer and pizza or orange juice and crackers, etc.  The Passover wasn’t just a common snack, and we have no reason to treat this holy Sacrament as such a snack either.  The bread is part of the Passover just as the wine is part of the Passover.  It is good and right that we make the deliberate choice to use the fruit of the vine (grape wine) and bread for this Holy Meal which Jesus taught us to receive often.

Holy Communion is a beautiful and joyful part of how we connect with God and one another, how we are assured of God’s forgiveness of our sin, and how we give thanks as a community.  We look to God’s Holy Word and the wisdom of nearly 2000 years of church history to seek faithful understandings of what the Lord teaches us about the proper use of this Sacrament.

Here is a document which presents the four, Bible passages about communion.  It also includes the, “Words of Institution,” which is a faithful combining of the Word of God found in these four passages.   Click Link Here.

Prayer

Merciful God, we do not presume to come to your table trusting in our own righteousness, but in your abundant mercy. Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat and drink the body and blood of your dear Son, Jesus Christ, that we may live in him and he in us, now and forever. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Advent 2 – December 6, 2020

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Second Sunday in Advent, December 6, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

We continue to offer in-person and Facebook Live services following the normal Sunday schedule for both MLLC and Waldeck.  The Facebook Live services will be offered on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. from Waldeck, and at 10:00 a.m. from MLLC.  The Saturday 6:00 p.m. service at MLLC is in-person only.

Below are the readings, prayers, and Sunday sermon.

Remember Your Regular Offerings

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For both of our congregations, Waldeck and MLLC, please remember that our expenses continue even when we are unable to meet as usual.  Please make a point to give your offerings as you would on a typical week.  Here are some ideas of what to do:

For Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ledbetter:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church; 6915 Waldeck Church Lane; Ledbetter, TX 78946

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

For MLLC in Carmine:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – MLLC, P O BOX 362, Carmine, TX 78932-0362

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

– give offerings through the church web site:  mllccarmine.com/online-giving  This page has a link to our secure giving page.  Offerings can be made by bank draft, debit card, or credit card through this special web site.

The Second Sunday in Advent

December 5 and 6, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11

The first reading is from the 40th chapter of Isaiah.

In grand, flowing, poetic lines, the prophet announces that the exile of God’s people in Babylon is over. The Lord will deliver Israel and will care for her as a shepherd cares for his sheep. This word can be trusted, because the only enduring reality in life is the word of the Lord.

And now the reading.

1Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.

3A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever.
9Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.

Here ends the reading.

Psalm: Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

Psalm 85 read responsively.

1You have been gracious to your land, O Lord;
you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2You have forgiven the iniquity of your people
and blotted out all their sins.
8I will listen to what the Lord God is saying;
for you speak peace to your faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to you.
9Truly, your salvation is very near to those who fear you,
that your glory may dwell  in our land.
10Steadfast love and faithfulness have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11Faithfulness shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12The Lord will indeed grant prosperity,
and our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness shall go before the Lord
and shall prepare for God a pathway.

 

 

Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

The second reading is from the 3rd chapter of 2nd Peter.

This short letter deals with pressing concerns regarding the final advent of Jesus, especially concerns that could arise over its apparent delay. The author of the letter calls on Christians to anticipate the promised coming of the Lord through conduct dedicated to God. And now the reading.

8Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
11Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15aand regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Here ends the reading.

 

 

*Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

The holy gospel according to St. Mark, the 1st chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a story of Jesus’ birth but with the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.

And now the reading.

1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, O Christ.

“One Step at a Time”

By Pastor David Tinker

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

People talk about the Patience of Job.  This Old Testament character was known for his patience as he endured the various trials of his life.  On the other hand, we today don’t seem to have much patience.  We know that time is very important to us.  Businesses know we value time, and that we have little patience.  Internet service providers promote their latest high-speed system.  Grocery stores nearly always have express lines to get us on our way quickly.  Our modern society tries to provide all sorts of means to “save time”.

During Advent we look at time and waiting.  We remember that the children of Israel waited centuries for the promised one, the Messiah or Christ of God, to come into the world.  As Christians we celebrate that, at the fullness of time, the right time for the world, Jesus came to give himself on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin.  In Advent we also look to his promises of his final appearing or Second Coming.  Jesus’ promise of his final appearing was given nearly 2000 years ago and we are continuing to wait.  In Advent we spent a great amount of time dealing with waiting, and waiting is something which we in our culture do not like to do.

Today we look to the 2nd letter of Peter for some discussion of time.  This reading challenges us to rethink issues of time, including who is being patient with whom.  The Apostle Peter talks about time, waiting and patience when he writes:  “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.”  We learn that Time, for God, seems to pass without consequence.  The Lord is not bound by time as we feel we are.  We see the days pass every 24 hours.  Each day seems to go faster the older we get.  But for God, everything is different, for time passing is of less concern.  God is present in every moment of time all at the same time. Instead, God is more concerned about restoring us to fellowship with him.

Peter’s letter shows us how our loving and patient God gives us time.  Let’s look at verse 9, where Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”  Here God provides an answer as to why we continue to wait for Jesus’ return.  God is delaying because humanity keeps avoiding and resisting his call to turn from sin.  He has blessed us with a second chance at life with him.  This is all founded in the heavenly call of Christ our Lord.  God’s call to us is to turn around, to resist sin, evil and destruction.  God is waiting patiently for us to respond, even if it takes a couple thousand years.  Whatever limits there are to God’s patience are up to the Lord.  What I do know is that the best time for turning back to God is now, for that is the best for us.

The Lord wants the best for us, and he gave us his best through the work of his own Son, Jesus Christ.  Now, during Advent, is the time to receive God’s love, to turn from our evil and sinful ways, and to turn toward living God’s most excellent way.  We are reminded of God’s way, of God’s love and God’s patience in Psalm 103, verses 8-12: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.”

God does all of this forgiving and removing of the power of sin and evil for at least two reasons:

1)      Because he loves us and wants good things for us.  Remember what St. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient.”  God is love.  God loves.  God is patient with us.

2)      Because he knows the benefit of turning from our sin.

This turning, what we talk about as Repentance, is a big part of the Christian life.  Along with waiting and hope, repentance is also always part of Advent.  You see, forgiveness is not about accepting or endorsing bad behavior.  It is not about letting us settle with keeping on living a life of sin.  Sinful behavior and attitudes include both doing wrong and neglecting or avoiding doing the right thing.  Also, remember what Jesus said after forgiving the woman caught in adultery in John, chapter 8: “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Many of you likely remember the classic Christmas special, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”.  That is the stop motion, animated special with Fred Astaire doing the voice of the mailman, and Mickey Rooney doing the voice of Santa Claus.  Well, in this story Santa Claus has been working to soften the hard, frozen heart of the Winter Warlock, a somewhat mean character.  Santa gives the Winter Warlock a Christmas toy, and things start to change for the Winter Warlock.  Then Santa Claus sings a song about taking a step in the right direction to change one’s ways.  For the Winter Warlock, he is invited to stop being mean, to start being good, and to use his magic for good.  Here are some of the lyrics:

If you want to change your direction

If your time of life is at hand

Well don’t be the rule be the exception

A good way to start is to stand

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor

Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you’ll be walking out the door

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Here is a video link of the entire song.  Click this link.

Message continues in next paragraph.

Think about it:  God has offered forgiveness to us.  As we receive it in faith, he then invites us to get up, to turn from sin, evil and neglect, and to start taking steps in the right direction.  In this time of Hope, Waiting and Repentance, we are invited to take steps of any form — baby, regular, or giant — toward living God’s better way.  One foot in front of the other.  Through time we will begin to see how being connected to God and his way is the most excellent thing.

Advent is a time to Wait, to Hope, and it is also a time to receive God’s forgiveness and to heed his call to Repent.  God is waiting for us, and calling us to respond to his loving forgiveness.  God has greater patience than Job, but the time is now to receive his loving forgiveness, and take those steps in the right direction toward living God’s most excellent way in our lives today.

Let us pray – Merciful God, it is only through your grace that we can be forgiven.  It is only through your guidance that we might live to your glory.  During this season of waiting, we pray that your Holy Spirit would transform our hearts and wills to conform to the model of your Son.  This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

A brief silence.

Most High God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the ruler of all.  Receive our prayers, praise and thanks.  Lord, in your mercy,    Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer your Church.  We especially pray for our brothers and sisters who are refugees because of persecution.  Help them to remain steadfast in the midst of their great difficulty.  Lord, in your mercy,    Hear our prayer.

Grant to us faithful leaders for our congregation.  We pray for faithful discernment for our nominating committee and church council as they prepare for the coming year.

Lord, in your mercy,    Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

We give thanks for recent rains our area. Help us to be good stewards of your generous provision of water resources.  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

You are the source of healing and strength for all who suffer in any way.  We especially lift in prayer…  and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…  Lord, in your mercy,       Hear our prayer.

You are the great comforter for your people in the midst of loss.  We lift in prayer those who experience grief at this time (especially the family and friends of…).  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer those who maintain our church facilities.  Grant them joy in their service.  Help us all to be faithful stewards of the buildings and grounds.  Lord, in your mercy,       Hear our prayer.

Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen

Lord’s Prayer