Devotion and Readings for July 11

Barnabas and Saul

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for July 11, 2020

 

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

 

Mark 7:31-37 

Acts 13:1-12

Psalm 26, 28, 31

2 Samuel 9

 

Devotion for July 11, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

Christianity is not a solo sport.  It is not something we must do on our own.  Yes, there are extreme situations in which a person must live out his or her faith alone, but that is the very rare exception.  In general, life as a follower of Jesus is about doing life and ministry together.

In our reading from Acts we have a scene in which a ministry partnership is set up.  It is to be, as we see, a working mission partnership with both Saul (later known as Paul) and Barnabas.  After a time of prayer and fasting, Barnabas was chosen among four faithful servants of the church.  The church commissioned them for ministry, and to be sent on their way.

It was a stroke of Godly wisdom that this action was taken.  God knows that we need community and partnership to do his work in the world.  God created us to be with other people.  The community, even one other person, provides friendship, accountability, encouragement, safety, and opportunities for reflection.

One of the things I have observed over the decades has been that working along-side others builds up life.  Working side by side on a project or in service to others helps us grow closer to God and to one another.  It builds up our faith.  It builds stronger bonds between people.  It builds a set of common experiences.  It spreads joy in serving God.  Saul and Barnabas would have these good things as they traveled to spread the Gospel of Jesus.  We can grow these good things in our lives as we serve God, neighbor and church, side by side.  These good things come through Christianity being a team sport, not a solo sport.

 

Prayer

Draw your church together, O God, into one great company of disciples, together following our teacher Jesus Christ into every walk of life, together serving in Christ’s mission to the world, and together witnessing to your love wherever you will send us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Devotion and Readings for July 10

Joseph of Arimathea Icon cross

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for July 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:

 

John 19:38-42

Acts 4:13-22

Psalms 99-102

2 Samuel 8

 

Devotion for July 10, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

Everybody is at a different place in their faith life. Some are firm and confident.  Others are working through doubts.  A number are in what is often called a, “dry spell,” in their faith, for they do not feel much at all about their faith.  Several are gaining renewed joy in Christ.  Many are moving along slow and steady, staying faithful every day.  Some feel they are at a point of atheism (no belief in a god) or agnosticism (unsure whether or not there is a god) in their connection with the faith.  Some are bold in proclaiming their trust in Jesus.  Some are afraid to let anybody know they are interested in knowing Jesus.  The list can go on and on.

Our reading today from John 19 shows us what happened just after Jesus has died on the cross.  There are two, prominent, Jewish men who are moving into a new zone of their faith.  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were on the edges of the company of followers of Jesus.  Joseph was afraid of how his fellow Jews would treat him, so he was a secret disciple.  Nicodemus would visit with Jesus by the darkness of night, so as to avoid being seen. We have record of one of these visits in John 3:1-17.  These two had been on the edges, but at this point, having seen Jesus die for the sin of the world, they were moved to a new expression of faith.  Joseph was given the boldness to ask Pilate for the dead body of Jesus.  Nicodemus was moved to help by providing the spices and supplies for preparing Jesus’ body for entombment.

As we look ahead in John and also in Matthew, remember that even the Apostles had doubts about Jesus.  The famous scene in John 20:24-29 shows, “Doubting Thomas,” who asked for greater proof of Jesus’ resurrection.  In Matthew 28:16-20, we read that some doubted what was happening.

Today we are in all sorts of places with our faith.  Remember that there is always God’s love for you.  There is always a place for you in the community of faith.  If you have been away, yet feel a calling to regather, know you are not along, and know you are loved.  If you are struggling with your faith, know you are not alone, and that you are loved.  If you are bold and joyful in your faith, know you are not alone, and that you are loved.  God loves each and every one of us right where we are.  God’s love draws us to him and it helps us to love others.  Wherever you are in relationship with God and his people, know that you are not alone, and that you are loved.

 

Prayer

Almighty God, by the love of Jesus Christ you draw people to yourself and welcome them into the household of faith. May we show your joy by embracing new brothers and sisters as we bear your creative and redeeming word to all the world. Keep us close together in your Spirit, in the breaking of bread and the prayers, and in service to others, following the example of Jesus Christ, our servant and Lord. Amen

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Devotion and Readings July 9

Good Shepherd Jesus

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for July 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:

 

Mark 7:14-23 

Acts 12:12-19

Psalm 22-24

2 Samuel 7

 

Devotion for July 9, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

Today we have the 23rd Psalm as one of our readings.  It has been meaningful for Jews and Christians for many centuries.

I shared this story several years ago, and I may share it again someday, for it is a good story.

I met Jim in 1994 at the first congregation I served.  This was in the town of Otterbein, Indiana.  As a youth Jim Morgan had grown up in the Lutheran Church in that community. As part of his faith development he memorized parts of the Bible for personal devotion and spiritual growth.

He knew various things well, but he especially appreciated the 23rd Psalm from the King James Version of the Holy Bible:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me

in the presence of mine enemies:

thou anointest my head with oil;

my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy

shall follow me all the days of my life:

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Good Shepherd Icon

 

As a young man, Jim Morgan was called upon to be a soldier in World War Two.  He was a paratrooper in the D-Day invasion in 1944. His plane went down before their target for jumping, and he was the only survivor.  Jim was behind enemy lines for many weeks, alone, hiding in barns, haystacks, and anywhere else he could stay.  He often saw Nazi German soldiers, but, thankfully, they didn’t see him.

His parents were told he was missing in action. I saw the actual telegram which stated this. His survival training as a soldier was important. He was able to stay hidden, find food, and the like.  What Jim noted to me was that it was God’s Word and God’s strength which carried him through this time.  This is where the 23rd Psalm comes in to the story.

As a youth he would recite this psalm quietly each night as he went to sleep, and he kept it through the rest of his life.  This scripture was a core piece of God’s Word of comfort and help while he was in hiding from the Nazi soldiers.  He was in the Valley of the Shadow of death, and God carried him through.  When Jim was able to get some food or water, he, in a sense, had a table prepared before him in the presence of his enemies.  As Jim hid on farms, in haystacks, in the woods, or wherever he could keep cover in those green pastures and was near the still waters.   By the goodness and mercy of God in Jesus Christ, Jim had his soul restored through this challenging situation.

Around 1996 I led the funeral service for Jim Morgan.  In the years and then weeks leading up to his death he could point to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, as the core of his life.  He gave thanks to God for the saving work of Jesus Christ.  We give thanks, that by God’s grace, Jim will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.  We get to live by this same grace and word of God now and for ever.

 

Prayer

Good Shepherd of the Church, you guide us through all of life’s mountains and valleys.  Meet us this day through your Word, your Spirit and the Sacraments.  Continue to join with us through your death and resurrection.  This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Devotion and Readings for July 8

David music Saul

Young David, before he was king, playing music for King Saul.

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for July 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:

 

Mark 7:1-13

Acts 12:5-11

Psalms 19-21

2 Samuel 6

 

Devotion for July 8, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

Many preachers have used this as a prayer as they begin their sermon:  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. It is an appropriate prayer for this context, for sure, but it is not the only context for it.

This is quite appropriate for all people of faith in Christ.  Our words, aloud, to ourselves, written, typed, etc. matter.  Our words in any context can build up or cause harm.  Sure, there are a few people who can brush off everything which others say and they truly receive no harm or edification.  That is the exception.

Our word in prayer, conversation, teaching, online, joking, work, commerce, in our minds, etc. are all in the realm of God’s care.  These are all contexts which can also affect us individually and affect those with whom we interact.  The teaching of King David, by the Spirit, in this psalm is that we are better off when we seek God’s help and guidance in our use and expression of words.  This prayer can be a daily prayer for our internal ponderings and our expressed communication.

St. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, and brother of our Lord, taught about this James 3:1-12.  His core message is that our words, our tongue as he notes, are out of control.  We need God’s help to control our tongues.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians 5:22-23b, notes the fruit of the Spirit.  Among this is self-control. As we are drawn closer to the Lord the Holy Spirit fills our lives and brings forth good things from our lives.  One of these is self-control.  Self-control leads us to have words which build up rather than tear down.  Self-control leads us to have the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts to be acceptable to our Lord.

 

Here is a song which I have loved since it was first released almost 30 years ago, 1991.  It is performed by Kim Hill.  It is about the effect of words on one another.  The song seems to be out of print, and not on music services such as iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music.  Some used CDs of the album, Brave Heart, are available used on Amazon and eBay.

 

Here is a Video Link to listen to the song.

 

Lyrics for your reading:

Words

Lyrics by Kim Hill, Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick

 

Careful what you’re saying
Someone could get burned
There’s a fatal fire in words
Careful when you’re talking
Think before you’re heard
There’s a deadly poison in words

‘Cause once you say it
You can never change it
And you can’t really take it back, oh, no

Like a shooting arrow
Hurling through the dark
Words are piercing when they hit their mark
Sticks and stones will break you
But the bruise can heal
While those words are cutting deeper still

‘Cause once you say it
You can never change it
And you can’t really take it back
(Ooh-ooh…)

Once the heart is stung
The pain can be eternal
Oh, to curb the tongue
You know, weapons can be verbal

Careful what you’re saying
Someone could get burned
There’s a fatal fire in words

‘Cause once you say it
You can never change it
And you can’t really take it back

Once the heart is stung
The pain can be eternal
Oh, to curb the tongue
You know, weapons can be verbal

Once the heart is stung
The pain can be eternal
Oh, to curb the tongue
You know, weapons can be verbal

Oh…

 

 

 

Prayer

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

Devotion and Readings for July 7

Lutherhill-Logo

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for July 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:

 

Mark 6:53-56 

Acts 11:27 – 12:4

Psalm 18:1-52

2 Samuel 5

 

Devotion for July 7, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

Christian camping ministry is wonderful blessing to many.  We are thankful every day that we have an excellent Lutheran Christian camp in our county, Fayette County, Texas.  Lutherhill is a wonderful place for all ages.  The core of their ministry is the Summer Camp weeks.  Sadly these had to be cancelled this year due to COVID19 pandemic concerns.

One of the fun and worshipful aspects of Christian Camping Ministries are the songs.  A few are simply fun songs for the moment.  Most are songs which gather the campers together around the praise of God.  From my days as a camp counsellor (summer 1991 at Lutheran Memorial Camp in Ohio), to my years bridging youth to camp, to these days when my son attends camp with other youth from our churches, there is one song which always brings back all my that time and place.  It is this song:  I Will Call Upon the Lord

 

I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised
So shall I be saved from my enemies

The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock
And may the God of my salvation be exalted
The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock
And may the God of my salvation be exalted

Here is a video on YouTube which presents this song as I frequently hear it at camps.

 

The message of this song is simple, yet profound.  We get to call on the Lord in the midst of life’s struggles and joys.  He is the one thing or person or being who is always consistent throughout our lives.  Our God is alive forever.  Our God is strong.  Our God is to be given worship, to be exalted.  That means to be lifted up, at least figuratively.  In worship we are recognizing that God is greater than we are.  God is God, and we are not.  In worship we give thanks that the God who is high and lifted up is also the one who has humbled himself.  He humbled himself by taking on human form. He humbled himself, who knew no sin, by becoming sin for us.  He humbled himself by taking on death, even death on a cross.  His death and resurrection breaks the power of our final enemies, sin, death and the devil.

Our response to his great humiliation is to exalt him in worship.  To celebrate his goodness and mercy.  Because he cares for us, we can call upon him in prayer.  We will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.

 

Prayer

God of grace, you have given us minds to know you, hearts to love you, and voices to sing your praise. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may celebrate your glory and worship you in spirit and truth, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Devotion and Readings July 5 & 6

Peter acts animals

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for July 5 & 6, 2020

 

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

 

July 5

Mark 6:30-44 

Acts 10:34-48

Psalms 8, 11, 15, 16

2 Samuel 3

 

July 6

Mark 6:45-52 

Acts 11:1-18

Psalm 12-14, 17

2 Samuel 4

 

Devotion for July 5 & 6, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

As long as I can remember I have had Jewish friends and relatives.  Here are a few examples:

*As a little boy our neighbors across the street were Jewish.

*For many years now one of my best friends in the world has been married to a Jewish man.

*I had a number of friends and acquaintances in college who were Jewish.

*One of my closest workmates at KUHT, channel 8 in Houston, was a Jewish woman about my age.

*Most prominent among my Jewish associates has been my Aunt Karen and Uncle Jerry, and their family.

 

We never made a big deal about our close relatives being Jewish.  My parents taught me to respect them and to love them.  One small thing I would note was at mealtimes.  Whenever my aunt and uncle were visiting my mother would make sure there were appropriate choices with respect to a moderate version of a Kosher diet for our relatives at meals.  Sometime this would simply include two kinds of meat for a large family dinner.  I remember one Christmas dinner when they were at our home.  The meal would typically have ham.  My mother also prepared a turkey.  I gently observed my uncle quietly pass on helping himself to the ham.  Had I not been watching at that moment I would not have seen it happen at all.  Everybody had plenty to eat, so it was not an issue.  My aunt and uncle have always been gentle and courteous in all interactions, and we treated them likewise. These various interactions with my beloved aunt and uncle and cousins gave me an introduction to the dietary rules of Judaism.

In our readings from Acts on both days for this devotion we have a discussion among the church leaders regarding allowing non-Jews, or Gentiles, into the body of believers.  The conclusion is that yes, Gentiles can become Christians.  In the overall view of the New Testament it is concluded that Gentiles do not have to become Jews first, and then become Christians.  This is a prominent part of the teachings in the book of Galatians.

In our readings God uses a vision given to St. Peter regarding Kosher and non-Kosher food to make this point.  Here is how St. Peter explained the vision:  ““I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. 6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.” Acts 11:5-12.

The point here is not just about Kosher food and non-Kosher food.  This revelation does allow Christians to eat a non-Kosher died.  In this context, though, it is also about God’s abundant grace and his will to include people of all backgrounds in the Body of Christ.  The Lord tells St. Peter, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”  This is a powerful statement about what God does for us in Jesus. By God’s merciful goodness and the forgiveness of our sin, people are made and announced as clean.  God’s Word is powerful and good. It supersedes our opinions and prejudices. All people are invited to be followers of Jesus, no matter what we humans say about it.

This was a change for many in the church.  This started as a group of Jewish people who followed a Jewish teacher.  His life and ministry were all about fulfilling the prophetic Word in the Hebrew Bible of the Jews.  For those who paid attention to what Jesus said, this was not a new idea, for he said his message both for the Jews and the world.  For those who had diligently studied the Old Testament, this was not new idea, for the prophets told of God’s will to include the Gentiles, or the “Nations,” in his saving work.  Ultimately, we understand this vision given to St. Peter to be the continuation of God’s plan for bringing the Good News to the whole of humanity.  This Good News is for you as well, no matter what your background may be, Jew or Gentile.

Prayer

A prayer of Catherine of Siena

Power of the eternal Father, help me. Wisdom of the Son, enlighten the eye of my understanding. Tender mercy of the Holy Spirit, unite my heart to yourself. Eternal God, restore health to the sick and life to the dead. Give us a voice, your own voice, to cry out to you for mercy for the world. You, light, give us light. You, wisdom, give us wisdom. You, supreme strength, strengthen us.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

jesus-christ-crucifixion-395

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, July 5, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

Please note that we have had some issues with the mllccarmine.com web site.  Things are working better now.  We are sorry for any delays and changes in typical patterns with the devotions and sharing of information.

We resumed in-person services on the weekend of June 6-7, following the normal 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.

Below are the readings, prayers, and various announcements for this Sunday and this week.  The Sunday devotion is at the end of the readings.

 

Remember Your Regular Offerings

D09AB349-5597-49D3-A89C-247C239329E1_1_201_a

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.

 

July 5, 2020

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

 

First Reading: Zechariah 9:9-12

R:  A reading from Zechariah, the 9th chapter.

The coming messianic king will inaugurate an era of disarmament and prosperity. Because of God’s covenant with Israel, the people are designated as “prisoners of hope.” And now the reading.

9Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
11As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.

 

Psalm: Psalm 145:8-14

R:  Psalm 145, portions read responsively by verse.

8The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9Lord, you are good to all,
and your compassion is over all your works. 
10All your works shall praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful ones shall bless you.
11They shall tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your power,
12that all people may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages.
You, Lord, are faithful in all your words, and loving in all your works.
14The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up those who are bowed down. 

 

Second Reading: Romans 7:15-25a

R:  A reading from Romans, the 7th chapter.

Life captive to sin is a catch-22 existence in which we know good but do not do it and do things we know to be wrong. Through Jesus Christ, God has set us free from such a futile existence. And now the reading.

15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25aThanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

*Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

P:  The holy gospel according to St. Matthew, the 11th chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus chides people who find fault with both his ministry and that of John the Baptist. He thanks God that wisdom and intelligence are not needed to receive what God has to offer. And now the reading.

[Jesus spoke to the crowd saying:] 16“To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
25At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Devotion

“Release, by Victor Hugo”

By Pastor David Tinker

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

In the Victor Hugo’s book, Les Misérables, we meet the lead character, Jean Valjean.  Jean was on parole from prison.  He was soon arrested on suspicion of stealing silver candlesticks from the local Roman Catholic bishop.  Jean had stolen the items when he stayed at the bishop’s house the night before.  Rather than pressing charges, the Bishop tells the police that the items were gifts from the bishop. The bishop forgives Jean Valjean, gives him more silver items and sends him on his way.  Through this interaction the bishop offers Jean a new relationship with God.  The bishop helps Jean understand forgiveness of sin.  Jean Valjean carries this truth and goodness with him as he goes his way.  With this new start he hopes to live a good life and to follow God’s ways.  There is one problem, along the way, Jean needs some more money.  So, as he is traveling through the countryside he robs a young chimney sweep.

For many years following this, Jean struggles with his inner debate. Should he do God’s will or sin against God and others.  In many ways he does do the right thing.  He uses his skills and wealth to help many people by providing jobs and assistance.  He also struggles with sin, wrong actions, and that he is always under suspicion as a convicted felon.  Who will rescue him from this struggle?  Who alone, but God.

Looking at our lives we know the right thing to do, but we don’t always do it.  We are hypocrites and are inconsistent in how we live our faith. Even St. Paul had struggled with knowing the right, but not always doing the right.   We want to follow the way of Jesus, yet we struggle each day to do so.  We see in today’s reading that Paul needed rescuing just as much as we do today.  Thankfully Jesus Christ does rescue us.  He does this by pulling alongside us in faith, taking on our burden of sin, forgiving our sin, and showing us the way to go.

The struggle of saying one thing and doing another creates a great burden in our lives.  We try to be good.  We want others to see God’s goodness.  In our reality of sin we are often inconsistent at best.  Luther spoke of this reality in this way: “Simul Iustus et Peccator”. In English, this means:  We are at the same time Saint and Sinner.  We are forgiven of our sin by God, yet we sometimes do the very things we know are wrong.  There is a struggle inside of us.  Even though we struggle between the two, God provides both faith and hope.

We are blessed with faith in the work of Jesus Christ. He is the one who suffered on the cross for the forgiveness of our Sin.  By God’s grace and the Holy Spirit, we trust in that work of God for our future in this life.

There is hope for us as well.  Two sources of hope include:  the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and the sure promises of Jesus for our future with him.  Together these provide hope that God will lead us into the future as loved and forgiven people.  We have hope that our life now and tomorrow is in God’s care.  In sure and certain hope we look to Jesus Christ, God the Son, to rescue us from our sinful struggle.

The solution to our struggle is resting in the saving power of God in Jesus Christ.  We see this as St. Paul notes in our reading from Romans.  “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  The Lord knows we are powerless to solve this problem.  It takes daily power and goodness from the Lord for us to work through this struggle in our lives.  We give thanks that God has stepped in with his power for us.  God has granted us faith in him, and has sent his Holy Spirit into our lives so we can trust in him.   We get to strive to live faithfully because of what God has first done for us.  We move forward seeking to know God, and to follow in the way of Jesus.

When Jesus rescues us, helps us, and guides us, we are no longer separated from God.  This is true even when we struggle with wanting to do God’s will, while turning back and doing the very opposite. God knows that we struggle to do the right thing, yet we all too often do the wrong.  To address this and to assure us, St. Paul makes the following statement just after our reading from Romans ends.  In the first verse of chapter 8 Paul writes, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Who will rescue us?  Who in heaven or on earth will pull us out of the rubbish pile of life?  Who will call us to himself when we have turned against God, even though we say we are his followers?

Who else but Jesus Christ himself?  He calls us out of our inconsistent, burdensome and broken ways and into a new relationship with himself.  Each and every day he is there for us, guiding us, assuring us of his forgiveness, and stirring us toward his most excellent way.  Luther talks about this in the Small Catechism when he teaches us about baptism.  He writes, “(Baptism) signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily sorrow for sin and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

All this is to bring us more fully “into Christ”.  All of us who are “In Christ”, are in a friendship with Jesus where we know him as our rescuer, Lord and friend.  He says again and again, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Let us pray – Loving God, you are full of patience and understanding.  We pray that your Holy Spirit will enable us to understand all that you have done for us.  We give thanks that, no matter what our struggles and burdens may be, you are there to take the full brunt of these things for us.  This we pray in the holy 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.

Eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the founder of our faith and the giver of all good gifts.  We come before you with thankful hearts and worshipful spirits.  Draw us to yourself and receive our praise.  Lord, in your mercy,            Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who suffer in mind, body or spirit, and for those facing difficult decisions, especially…  and also those whom we name before you…  Bring comfort and healing, strength and hope, and faithful discernment to all for whom we pray.  Lord, in your mercy,           Hear our prayer.

Grant our president and governor wisdom in their leadership.  Guide them to seek the benefit of those they serve over benefits for themselves.  Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for the blessings of this nation.  Help us to strive together as one people toward liberty and justice for all in this land.  We give thanks for those who have risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for our freedom.  Lord, in your mercy,         Hear our prayer.

We entrust to you all who have entered their rest in you, (especially…  ) .  Help us to care for those who are bereaved.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

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

 

Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27061.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Announcements:

 

Vacation Bible School at MLLC for 2020 has been cancelled.  This is due to concerns regarding the COVID19 pandemic.

Devotion and Readings for July 1

JesusCalmingStorm150dpi

Jesus calming the storm, from the Jesus film of 1979.

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for July 1, 2020

Thank you for your patience with the delays and web page issues.  Things are getting back to normal.

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

 

Mark 4:35-41 

Acts 9:32-43

Psalms 148-150

1 Samuel 30

 

Devotion for July 1, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

Being one of the Twelve Disciples must have been amazing, insightful, scary and overwhelming.  Likely it was each of these at the same time.  In today’s reading from Mark 4:35-41 we have Mark’s account of Jesus calming the storm.

Early church history indicates that this is likely the remembrances of St. Peter.  It was said early on by church leaders that the Gospel of Mark was the written remembrances of the Apostle Peter.  He shared the stories and teachings, and Mark, known also as John Mark, put them in an orderly account which we now know as the Gospel of Mark.

So, in this remembrance of Peter we are pointed to the actions of Jesus which tell the world who he truly is.  Jesus is one who has the power to calm a wild storm on the Sea of Galilee.  This, and other powerful things he does, all point to Jesus being God with us (Emmanuel) and to Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the New and Final King in the line of David.

There are four kinds of deeds of power and mercy which point to Jesus being God and the Messiah.  These are:

  1. Power over nature, such as in the calming of the storm.

 

  1. Power to heal. We see this discussed in Luke 7:18-23, “18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples 19 and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 20 When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ ” 21 Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. 23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.””

 

  1. Power over evil and evil spirits. There are frequent scenes of Jesus casting out demons. Early in his ministry, Jesus is able to withstand the temptations of Satan.

 

  1. Power over death itself. Several times he brings dead people back to life. The centerpiece of the Christian Faith is that Jesus, who died on the cross, has now been raised from the dead. St. Paul teaches about the centrality of the true, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.  Of special note are verses 12-19, which read, “12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”Our faith in Jesus rises and falls on this truth of the life and ministry of Jesus.

 

Each of these tell us about who Jesus is and what he has done.  Each of these show that he is unique among all of humanity.  Each of these is used to bring life and hope and salvation in some way to those whom he serves.

It matters supremely that we seek to understand, to know, to treasure, to celebrate, and to teach these core truths of who Jesus is and what he has done.  We must revisit the accounts of and teachings about who he is and what he has done.

In doing so, we will be connected to the events which were amazing, insightful, scary and overwhelming.  In doing so, we will be able to respond faithfully through words, worship, service, and witness for Jesus and for others.

 

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 © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Devotions and Readings for June 29-30

seafarers-2016-packing-1

Image: The Lutheran Men in Mission preparing the Christmas Boxes for the Port of Houston Seafarers.  This is an annual act of mercy and kindness for these working visitors to our state.

Bible Readings and Devotion for June 29-30, 2020

 

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

 

June 29

Matthew 16:13-20

Acts 9:10-22

Psalms 144-145

1 Samuel 28

 

June 30

Mark 4:30-34

Acts 9:23-31

Psalm 146-147

1 Samuel 29

 

 

Devotion for June 29-30, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

It is so easy to talk about others.  It is also easy to talk about ideas and concepts that may or may not have any bearing on one’s life.  These things really don’t cause any change or improvement on our lives.  These are just thoughts and words about other things.

Jesus knows this, and that is part of what is happening in today’s reading from Matthew chapter 16.  Jesus is working to get the disciples thinking about faith and the role of Jesus in the world.  So, he asks them a general question.  Their answer, on its own, would not matter in the life of the disciples.  He asks, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  He doesn’t even speak about himself directly. He uses a title for the Messiah which comes, at least in part, from a statement in Daniel 7:13, which reads, ““I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.” (English Standard Version).  This is important to understanding the Messiah, but it is putting the reference away from Jesus himself in the conversation.

He lets them answer, as we see in the text.  They tell what the public is saying.  Then he quickly makes it very personal.  He asks them to make a direct statement about what they believe about him.  His questions is, “Who do you say that I am?” He is calling on them to take put themselves fully into following him.

There are various points in our lives of faith, both formal and informal which put this question to us in some way.  Although these don’t necessarily use the same exact words, these contexts call up on each of us to affirm our faith commitment to Jesus.

Some formal expressions include the following:

*At our own baptism or the baptism of one of our children or special relations.

*At our own Confirmation day.  Another term for this is, “Affirmation of Baptism.”  It is a time to give a strong yes to the faith which the Lord has brought into our lives by the Holy Spirit.

*Each time when we receive the Lord’s Supper.  As St. Paul teaches us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26.

*When we take on a position of leadership in our congregation.

*Whenever we gather for worship with our fellow Christians.

 

Some informal expressions include the following:

*When we have opportunity to talk in a casual manner about our faith.

*When it comes up on conversation about whether or not we are Christians.

*When we find opportunity to show kindness and charity to another person.

*When we come upon a situation to stand up for someone or a group of people who are beaten down, harmed, ridiculed or oppressed by others.

 

The situations can be many, but the same core idea is there:  we get to respond to the Son of Man, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, by stating openly by word and deed that we know who he is and that we are standing up with him and for him.

 

Prayer

Almighty God, grant that your holy word which has been proclaimed this day may enter into our hearts through your grace, that it may produce in us the fruit of the Spirit for witness and service in the world and to the praise and honor of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 

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

 

 

 

4th Sunday after Pentecost

Baptism Banner alt

 

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, June 28, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

Please note that we have had some issues with the mllccarmine.com web site.  Things are working better now.  We are sorry for any delays and changes in typical patterns with the devotions and sharing of information.

We resumed in-person services on the weekend of June 6-7, following the normal 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.

Below are the readings, prayers, and various announcements for this Sunday and this week.  The Sunday devotion is at the end of the readings.

 

Remember Your Regular Offerings

D09AB349-5597-49D3-A89C-247C239329E1_1_201_a

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.

 

JUNE 28, 2020

FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

 

First Reading: Jeremiah 28:5-9

R:  A reading from Jeremiah, the 28th chapter.

Through a symbolic action Jeremiah insisted that Judah and all the surrounding nations should submit to the king of Babylon (Jer. 27). Hananiah contradicted the word of Jeremiah, who in reply insisted that Hananiah’s rosy prediction should not be believed until it came true. God confirmed the word of Jeremiah and sentenced the false prophet Hananiah to death (vv. 16-17).  And now the reading.

5The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

 

Psalm: Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

R:  Psalm 89, portions read responsively by verse.

1Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing;
from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2For I am persuaded that your steadfast love is established forever;
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3“I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4‘I will establish your line forever,
and preserve your throne for all generations.’ ” 
15Happy are the people who know the festal shout!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence.
16They rejoice daily in your name;
they are jubilant in your righteousness.
17For you are the glory of their strength,
and by your favor our might is exalted.
18Truly, our shield belongs to the Lord;
our king to the Holy One of Israel. 

 

Second Reading: Romans 6:12-23

R:  A reading from Romans, the 6th chapter.

Sin is an enslaving power which motivates us to live self-serving, disobedient lives. Sin’s final payoff is death. We, however, have been set free from sin’s slavery to live obediently under God’s grace, whose end is the free gift of eternal life. And now the reading.

12Do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

 

*Gospel: Matthew 10:40-42

P:  The holy gospel according to St. Matthew, the 10th chapter.  Glory to you, O Lord.

When Jesus sends his disciples out as missionaries, he warns them of persecution and hardships they will face. He also promises to reward any who aid his followers and support their ministry. And now the reading.

[Jesus said to the twelve:] 40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes

me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

 

Devotion

“Trash and Treasure”

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

Over the decades on PBS there has been the program called Antiques Roadshow. On this program people bring items to staff antique appraisers to determine if what they have is of interest or value.  Sometimes there are amazing finds which surprise the owner.  One time in 2014 there was a painting brought in for appraisal.  It was an oil painting by Joseph Kleitsch was dated around 1925.  Joseph Kleitsch was part of what art historians call the California School of Impressionism. He died in 1931.

The owner of this painting had originally purchased it for approximately $100.  The Antiques Roadshow fine art appraiser Debra Force gave the owner quite the surprise when she offered an estimated gallery price of $500,000.  What was not much for one person became something of high value for another.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, chapter 6, verse 13, says, ” No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.” Paul is telling us that as God encounters us with his love and grace, we get to live a new way.  We no longer have to be living as sinners. Life is no longer the same because of what God is done for us in Jesus Christ. We know that humanity had turned from God’s ways. This rejection of the Lord had broken the special relationship we have with God. As a race we were no longer living in union with our Creator. The original intent for our lives was lost, and our perceived value was nothing. Death ruled the lives of humanity.

God chose to so value us that Jesus Christ went to the cross to die for us. Our value in God’s eyes grew from us being sinners to being those for whom his son had died. This is an astronomical change. God the Father saw his Son as so valuable that he gives up what was most valuable to himself for our sake.

Paul presents God’s call for us to turn from our old slave master and now to serve with a loving Savior who has bought us with his own precious body and blood. We are so valuable to God, and we cannot even imagine the full nature of the price he paid for our life and freedom.

There are two events in history that I look back at to remind me I have precious I am to God. The first is the saving work of Jesus Christ. I look back to his death on the cross. It’s where God bought me, it is where God bought you, it is where God bought humanity back from the power of sin and death and evil. The Lord has taken what was broken and dead and worthless, and he has made it precious and eternal. For this, I am most thankful.

The other is my baptism. Baptism is, as St. Paul teaches earlier in Romans chapter 6, the work of God which unites the person being baptized with the saving work of Jesus Christ.  At that point 54 years ago, I was claimed by Christ as one of his own. It was my special moment where I was set apart as a child of God and as an inheritor or eternal life with Christ. Throughout my days I remember God’s gift of life and direction granted by this sacred act. Because of my baptism I am a servant of for God just as all the baptized are. My hope and prayer for all of us is that we will see that our baptism is the entry point for our ministry as Christians.

Think about that $100 piece of art.  It was a simple item someone likely bought to put on her wall.  Over time she may not have thought about it very much at all.  Over time, the painting and other works by the same artist became treasured and respected by those who collect and display art.  Someone greater than the painting saw that it was special.  Someone delighted in the painting and treated it as something of great and precious value.

For us, we are a bit like that painting.  We were once lost in sin and death.  By the work of Jesus and the love of God, we are declared precious and valuable.  We are loved.  By this and by God’s guidance we move from the realm of sin and into the realm of God’s abundant love.  With this new environment we get to live the new life which God has prepared for us.

Prayer

Loving God, thank you for seeking us out and treating us as your beloved treasure.  By you Spirit help us to live as your faithful followers this day and forevermore.  We pray this in the holy name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 

*Prayers of Intercession

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

A brief silence.

Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: you alone are worthy of our praise.  You alone are the Holy One.  Receive our prayers and songs of worship.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for the blessings of this nation.  Help us to strive together as one people toward liberty and justice for all in this land.  We give thanks for those who have risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for our freedom.  Lord, in your mercy,   Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who manage the finances of this congregation.  Help them to continue to be faithful to their task, and help us to grow in our generosity toward you and your church.  Lord, in your mercy,        Hear our prayer.

We pray that your Holy Spirit will stir in the lives of your people.  Help us, by your Spirit, to discern individuals who are called to serve as pastors and deacons in your church.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer. 

Other petitions may be added here.

You comfort all who struggle in body, mind or spirit.  Bring healing, strength and hope to all for whom we pray, including…   and those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

You comfort us as we mourn.  Bring encouragement and support to all who grieve following the death of a loved one or friend. (We especially remember…).

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.

Amen

Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27061.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.