Devotion and Readings for November 4

good_king_wenceslas_2

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 4, 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 16:19-31

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

Psalm 8, 11, 15-16

Isaiah 9

 

Devotion for November 4, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

Looking at Psalm 16:11 we read, “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  This reminds us to follow God’s ways throughout our days. 

Related to this is that I like Christmas music. I listen to some of it year-round.  One of my favorite songs is, “Good King Wenceslas.”  There are two things which are unique about this song. 

1 – it tells a story of faith.

2 – it is not overtly about the birth of Jesus

The setting is on December 26 in central Europe.  This is a cold and difficult time.  The King is going out to check on the people.  With him is a young man, page, likely in his teen years.  While out on that cold, winter day, they run across a poor man who is gathering wood.  Seeing the man’s difficult situation, the king and page gather up supplies of food and firewood to help him. 

Something which has long caught my attention is that the king is teaching the teen boy about following God’s way in life.  He does this by instructing the boy to follow in the king’s footsteps. In doing so there are two benefits.  One, the boy will be better able to walk through the snow, and two, the boy will be learning from a prominent mentor how to live out the Christian life of loving one’s neighbors. 

We are invited to find joy and pleasure in following the way of Jesus.  Ever since the earliest day of the church people have referred to the reality of being a Christian as following, “the Way.”  We see an early reference in Acts 9:1-2 when we hear a description of Saul’s (Paul’s) activities of persecution against Christians:  “Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

Jesus calls us to, “Follow him.”  When he called the first disciples he said, “Come and follow me…” (Mark 1:17).  Discipleship itself is learning how to follow Jesus.  As we grow to follow in his foot steps we find joy and pleasures forever more.

 

Her are the lyrics to, “Good King Wenceslas.”

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shown the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gathering winter fuel

Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know it telling:
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?
Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes fountain

Then bring me flesh, and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear them thither
Page and monarch, forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how
I can go no longer
Mark my footsteps my good page
Tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dented
Heat was in the very sod
Which the saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

  

 

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

Devotion and Readings for November 1, 2 and 3

Isaiah 6 calling

Bible Readings and Devotion for November 1 through 3, 2020

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

November 1

Matthew 5:1-12

Revelation 4:1-11

Psalms 1, 15, 34

Isaiah 6

November 2

Luke 16:1-13 

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Psalms 6, 7, 110-111

Isaiah 7

November 3

Luke 16:14-18

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Psalm 9-10

Isaiah 8

Devotion for November 1 through 3, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

In my life of faith I keep being drawn back to our reading from Isaiah 6.  This is the scene when the Lord issues the call to Isaiah to preach God’s message to the people.  There are various aspects of the chapter which catch my attention.  I want to share with you one aspect which has been significant to me.

“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.”  This vision of the Lord in the Temple shows us that God is above all and is glorious and wonderful.  The authority of the Lord is immense, which is expressed by the description of his robe filling the Temple.

Years ago, I was visiting with the praise music team at a church I served previously.  They were practicing the song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart.”  They liked the song, but didn’t have a context for it.  We got to talking and I grabbed my Bible to show them more.  We looked at this passage and it opened their eyes to the joy of this song.  We talked about how when we sing this song we are entering a spiritual joy of our connection with the Lord.  We are connecting with that vision of Isaiah of the Temple.

As we reflect on this passage and that song, we get to see our place in God’s glorious house.  We are the people of today whom the Lord is calling to tell the world of God’s love.  We are the people of today who look up to our God with reverence, joy, love, respect, and honor.  We are the people who continue the song, Holy, Holy, Holy, with the angelic beings in heavenly glory. We are the people who are invited to know and serve the Lord today.

Here is a video which includes that song and lyrics:  https://youtu.be/idQ1n3cdgfo

You may need to skip an ad or two to get to the main video.

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 October 30 and 31

Dollar Coin

Bible Readings and Devotion for October 30 and 31, 2020

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

October 30

Luke 15:8-10

James 5:1-6

Psalm 148-150

Isaiah 4

.

October 31

Luke 15:11-32

James 5:7-10

Psalms 2-5

Isaiah 5

Devotion for October 30 and 31, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., have accounts promoting just about anything.  These are created by individuals from across the world with varying interests and ideas.

One such type of account on the Instagram platform I have discovered is that of people showing the coins or paper money they have found in various places.  For the most part these show coins found on the ground or the floor as the person goes through one’s daily life.  An account of particular interest is a joke account made by a college student.  He notes that he is trying to get money any way he can, so he has collected coins off the ground.  After a period of months, he noted that he had found $11.40.  This was clearly not the way to make money to cover college expenses.  Thus, the joke aspect of it.

Our reading today from Luke 15 shows Jesus telling the parable of the lost coin. Jesus uses this short parable to give us some insight into God’s love for us.  We need some context to help us understand the depth of God’s love which is shown to us in this parable.

In our modern culture we think of coins as a very small amount.  In the USA we have coins for 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, and 1 dollar.  Due of inflation, even that $1 coin is somewhat small to us.  Even at absolute minimum wage, we would receive about 8 of those $1 coins as pay for one hour.  For a full day we would receive 64-100 of these coins for our work.  The coin which the woman in the parable seeks to find could seem like a waste of time.  Maybe it is just a lost nickel or penny?

In reality, the coin for which she seeks is worth much more than our coins of today.  It was the standard, daily wage for a typical worker.  A more proper comparison would be to insert the current value into the sentence of the parable: “Or what woman having ten $100 bills, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the $100 bill that I had lost.’” She was seeking something quite valuable.

This parable uses the principal of, “From the lesser to the greater,” to describe God’s attitude and love.  The lesser:  the woman’s passionate search for the $100 bill which she lost. The greater:  God’s and the angels’ great joy upon leading a person out of sin and into life with the Lord.  Jesus said, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Each person, including you and including me, is a great treasure to the Lord.  Each person is dramatically more valuable to God than we can imagine.  On this day, remember this.  Remember that you are a beloved treasure to the Lord.  Remember this truth, and take time this day to repent and get back on track with the Lord who loves you beyond measure.

Prayer

Gracious and holy God, give us diligence to seek you, wisdom to perceive you, and patience to wait for you. Grant us, O God, a mind to meditate on you; eyes to behold you; ears to listen for your word; a heart to love you; and a life to proclaim you; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for October 29

Thanksgiving Thanks Banner

Bible Readings and Devotion for October 29, 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 15:1-7

James 4:7-17

Psalm 146, 147

Isaiah 3

Devotion for October 29, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

In Psalm 147:7 we read, “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre.”  Giving thanks to God is an essential part of our relationship with the Lord.  It is our entry point and our daily way of living.  It is how we remember who provides all we truly need.  Giving thanks to God is how we make it through each day, especially when all else seems lost.

There is a great hymn of the church called, “Now Thank We All Our God.”  It was written by a pastor named Martin Rinkart.  Here is the story of this hymn and Pastor Rinkart’s ministry:

“German pastor Martin Rinkhart served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area. The fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkart officiated at the funerals of the other two.

As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day–some 4,480 in all. In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.

Yet, while living in a world dominated by death, Rinkart wrote this timeless prayer of thanksgiving for his children.”

(Adapted from an account written by Deacon Greg Kandra)

Prayer

As a way of giving thanks today, and any day, here is this powerfully hymn.  Ponder these words as these relate to Pastor Rinkhart and to your own life with Christ.

Now thank we all our God,

with heart and hands and voices,

who wondrous things hath done,

in whom his world rejoices;

who from our mother’s arms

hath blessed us on our way

with countless gifts of love,

and still is ours today.

.

O may this bounteous God

through all our life be near us,

with ever-joyful hearts

and blessed peace to cheer us;

and keep us in his grace,

and guide us when perplexed,

and free us from all ills

in this world and the next.

.

All praise and thanks to God

the Father now be given,

the Son, and Holy Ghost,

supreme in highest heaven,

the one eternal God,

whom earth and heaven adore;

for thus it was, is now,

and shall be evermore.

Amen

Special notes on this hymn:

  • First stanza – a general expression of gratitude to God for His “countless gifts of Love.”
  • Second stanza – a petition for Rinkart’s own personal hardships, “Guide us when perplexed, and free us from all ills…”
  • Third stanza – a grand doxology of praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – “the one eternal God.”

Devotion and Readings for October 28

Covet Game

Bible Readings and Devotion for October 28, 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 14:25-35

James 3:13 – 4:6

Psalms 144, 145

Isaiah 2

Devotion for October 28, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

While using an app on my iPhone recently I saw an advertisement for a new smartphone based game.  It was called, “Covet Fashion.”  It seems to be a game in which a player seeks to create and manipulate images of clothing models.  The main thing which caught my attention was that name, “Covet.”  This has not been a word which comes across as positive. This is especially in regard to our faith.

Today in our 2nd reading we read some warnings and strong words from James about how we live.  He is concerned about the conflicts between the people in the church.  James asks, “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?  Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?”  James saw that people in the church were killing others to get their money or things.  Some others had stirred up conflict in the church and community because they refused to be content with God’s provision.  In this passage James teaches them, and us, that God will provide what you need.

Coveting, which is forbidden in the Ten Commandments, is the unwise or unhealthy desire for that which belongs to another.  Coveting is founded in not trusting in the one true God.  It leads to the breaking of other commandments. It also breaks the positive connections in the community of believers and can lead us away from living out God’s purposes for our lives.  When we covet, we are telling God that we don’t appreciate what he has provided, and that we don’t trust him to provide what we truly need.

Here is what Martin Luther notes in the Small Catechism about coveting the possessions of others:

The Ninth Commandment:  You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

What is this?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors out of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and service to them in keeping what is theirs.

Use this to ponder in what ways you can address your attitudes and actions related to that which belongs to others.

Prayer

God Almighty, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Grant us, we pray, to be grounded and settled in your truth by the coming of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. That which we know not, reveal; that which is wanting in us, fill up; that which we know, confirm; and keep us blameless in your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for October 27

Bible with bookmark

Bible Readings and Devotion for October 27, 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 14:15-24

James 3:1-12

Psalms 140, 143

Isaiah 1

Devotion for October 27, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Our reading from James 3 tells of the difficulty of controlling our words in a godly way.  In all this we remember that the only way we can truly do things God’s way is with the forgiveness of God through Jesus and the enlightening of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  In response to God’s work of reaching out to us with love, forgiveness and power for us, we get to live according to his calling.

We have a calling to live God’s new and right way.  In Martin Luther’s Small Catechism he teaches about God’s way of guiding our words, or “taming our tongue.”

Luther wrote this:

The Eighth Commandment

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What is this?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

In light of what Martin Luther teaches here, try to consider how others are affected by your words. Consider how you can build up rather than tear down the people you encounter in this life.  Each day, plan to work on one or more of the following:

1) Speak the best of every person you encounter.

2) Refuse to listen to or repeat anything remotely resembling gossip.

3) Offer compliments to employees at stores and restaurants.

4) Verbally express love and affection to your family.

5) Reduce or eliminate your use of obscenities.  Avoid listening to and repeating foul words or jokes. Eliminate the use of racial slurs and degrading terms toward or about your fellow humans.

6) Share with others the good things God has been doing in your life.  Celebrate the good things in life, rather than grumble about those things which are giving you trouble.

7)         Offer prayers and songs of praise to God.

The tongue is difficult or impossible to tame.  The good news is that the Word of God, the power of God and the forgiveness of God are all much more powerful than the tongue.  With what God provides we have the opportunity to reap the blessings and share the blessings of the New Obedience in how we speak to one another.

Prayer

As our prayer today, use this brief prayer from Psalm 19:14:

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 October 25 and 26

scales

Bible Readings and Devotion for October 25 and 26, 2020

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

October 25

Luke 14:1-6

James 2:1-13

Psalms 136-138

Nehemiah 12

October 26

Luke 14:7-14

James 2:14-26

Psalms 139, 141, 142 

Nehemiah 13

Devotion for October 25 & 26, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Some people mistakenly treat our faith as a tenuous, balancing act. They go through life worried if they have done enough good or have avoided enough wrong and sinful things.  They may be worried that if the balance tilts in favor of too much sinfulness that they will be beyond God’s promises.  More than a few times I have heard people note something like this, “I am too far gone for God to care about me,” or, “For too long I have messed things up, so I have given up trying to be good.”

Some others look to their own efforts as more than sufficient to earn God’s favor.  Some will say, “I’m basically a good person.”  This is expressed to show that they are above some line of goodness which God wants for us.

If they are talking about the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, then they are truly confused.  We are not in some heavenly scales, where, if we do enough good deeds, theses will outweigh our sins.  We are not stuck in some situation in which from day to day we can never be sure of where we stand with the Lord.

Rather, we are sinners in need of God’s grace.  Some of us do more sinful things than another, but all of us are sinners.  In our reading from James 2:10-11 we read, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”  Any one sin, and we are a sinner.  We face God’s righteous judgment for even that one thing.

In Psalm 51:5, King David notes, “Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.”  It is part of our human reality since the fall of our race.  St. Paul tells about this in Romans 3:23b-24 where he wrote, “For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

The solution to this is not trying to be good or outweighing good over bad.  The solution is to place ourselves at the powerful and loving mercy of the Lord.  As Luther wrote in his final days, “We are beggars, this is true.”  Christianity is full dependence upon the Lord for life, hope, salvation, and daily bread.

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.

Reformation Sunday Devotion, Readings and Prayers

martin-luther painting

Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for Reformation Sunday, October 25, 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

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.

Reformation Sunday

October 24 & 25, 2020

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

R:  A reading from Jeremiah, the 31st chapter.

The renewed covenant will not be breakable, but like the old covenant it will expect the people to live upright lives. To know the LORD means that one will defend the cause of the poor and needy (Jer. 22:16). The renewed covenant is possible only because the LORD will forgive iniquity and not remember sin. Our hope lies in a God who forgets.  And now the reading.

31The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Here ends the reading.

PSALM: Psalm 46

R: Psalm 46, read responsively by verse.

1God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved,

  and though the mountains shake in the depths of the sea;

3though its waters rage and foam,

and though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

  the holy habitation of the Most High.

5God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be shaken;

God shall help it at the break of day.

 6The nations rage, and the kingdoms shake;

  God speaks, and the earth melts away.

7The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

 8Come now, regard the works of the Lord,

  what desolations God has brought upon the earth;

9behold the one who makes war to cease in all the world;

who breaks the bow, and shatters the spear,

and burns the shields with fire.

 10“Be still, then, and know that I am God;

  I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth.”

11The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

 

SECOND READING: Romans 3:19-28

R: A reading from Romans, the 3rd chapter.

Paul’s words stand at the heart of the preaching of Martin Luther and other Reformation leaders. No human beings make themselves right with God through works of the law. We are brought into a right relationship with God through the divine activity centered in Christ’s death. This act is a gift of grace that liberates us from sin and empowers our faith in Jesus Christ. And now the reading.                                                                                          

19Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

Here ends the reading.

 

*GOSPEL: John 8:31-36

P:  The holy gospel reading is from the 8th chapter of John.

Jesus speaks of truth and freedom as spiritual realities known through his word. He reveals the truth that sets people free from sin. And now the reading.

31Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

Here ends the reading.

Devotion: “Free”

By Pastor David Tinker

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

Author Ruth Walton tells a story about a beggar who lived near a king’s palace.  One day the king announced a great banquet, and the beggar thought about how much he would like to go.  Unfortunately, he wore only rags and could not dress in royal garments like the other guests.  So, the beggar went to the palace and asked to borrow some clothes for the royal banquet.  Amazingly the king summoned him to his royal throne and heard the request.  The king smiled and called his son, the prince, and told him to give the beggar some clothes.  The prince did as he was told, and soon the beggar was standing before a mirror, clothed in garments he never dreamed he might some day wear.  The prince told him, “You may now attend the banquet.  Furthermore, you will never need another set of clothes.  These garments will last forever.”

The beggar dropped to his knees in profound gratitude.  But as he started to leave the room, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor.  He hesitated.  What if the prince were wrong?  What if some day he might need his old clothes again?  Quickly he gathered them up and tucked them under his arm.

The banquet was a fabulous event.  But the beggar had trouble enjoying it as he should.  His small bundle of rags kept falling off his lap as he sat at the table.  Some of the finest delicacies passed by him, and he missed out on them, because he was continually struggling with his bundle of rags.

As the years passed, time proved that the prince was right.  The clothes lasted forever, staying just as fresh and beautiful as they were in the beginning.  But people seemed not to notice the royal robes the beggar wore, but only the little bund of filthy rags he clung to wherever he went.  Whenever they spoke of him, they always referred to him as the old man with the bundle of rags.

At the last when the beggar lay dying, the king came to visit him.  The beggar noticed the sad look on the king’s face when he saw the small bundle of rags by the bed.  Suddenly the beggar remembered the prince’s words, and he realized that clinging to his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty.  He wept bitterly at his foolishness.  And the king wept with him.

This day we give thanks that our God has granted us freedom.  He has granted us abundant forgiveness of our sinfulness. He has invited us to live in freedom the final powers of sin, death and evil.  God has opened the way for each of us to know God and to love God.  By this we receive the call to live in joyful service to God and to neighbor.  This goodness of God which leads to true freedom is the centerpiece of our Lutheran Christian understanding of the faith.  On this Reformation weekend we look back at what God has done, and we delight in our new life in Jesus Christ.

On this weekend we give thanks to God for the gift of the Reformation.  We observe this day in remembrance of the ministry of Martin Luther and the Reformers, and to remember the events of October 31, 1517.  That is when Martin Luther, a monk, priest, and university professor, took the risk of challenging the misguided teachings of his day.  On that great day Dr. Luther posted his 95 Theses, or points of argument, on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  In that document, and in the years to come, he challenged the premise that we must pay, through cash and/or good deeds, for God’s forgiveness.  In turn Luther reminded the Church of the great teachings of the Bible which proclaim that God generously offers forgiveness through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  He renewed the teaching that through that gift we can receive freedom from sin, death and evil, and that we can receive the wonderful new life of knowing God now and forever.  He helped the world know the truth that humanity struggles with sin.  Our race is under the destructive power of being away from God’s will.  This power enslaves us to living away from God and his ways.  The great news is that God has overcome all this power through Jesus.  Jesus willingly succumbed to this power in his death on the cross.  He also overpowered sin by his rising from the tomb on that first Easter Sunday morning.  Death and sin no longer had power over him.  Through the gift of faith and baptism, humanity gets to be freed from this power as well.  We get to live the new life promised by Jesus.  Luther and the Reformers were ecstatic with joy when they rediscovered the freedom God grants through faith in Jesus.

We read in today’s Gospel lesson the following words of Jesus: “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  This freedom is a wonderful gift.  It brings life to our dead spirits.  When we come to faith in Jesus, we get to live as God’s children now. As God’s children, we get to find true freedom.

Even with all this wonderful grace of God, we sometimes struggle.  Our struggle is that we often try to hold on to our old human frailty.  Like the beggar in the story I shared with you, we often make choices which prevent us from living the freedom we have been granted.  We all too often try to hold on to our sin, our memories of sin, or our way of living under the bondage to sin. Thankfully, God reminds us that he has granted us freedom from the bondage to sin and the junky rags which hold us back.

Through God’s mercy we are given the ability to put these rags of our bondage to sin on the cross with Jesus.  We get to throw these away, and God gives us what we need so that we can receive, utilize and share his love, mercy, and more excellent way.  When we discover new struggles, new rags of sorts, we get to toss these away.

We don’t need those rags of our old life of sin anymore.  God has clothed us with the new garments of forgiveness and mercy.  This is all founded in the truth of his love which leads us to freedom in Christ.

When we have faith in Jesus and are joined with him in baptism, we get to be God’s royal children, his royal priesthood.  We get to be free indeed.  A symbol of this freedom and of God’s grace is a baptismal robe or garment.

Prince Louis Baptism 2018Baptismal Garment are common in families – In the British Royal Family they use the same baptismal robe for the baptism of royal children for many years.  There was one which was used 62 times between 1841 and 2008. A new one, a replica of the previous one, was made in 2008.  It was used for the baptisms of Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Prince Archie. Other families today often still wear such garments for baptism.  It reminds us of the new spiritual garments which replace the rags of our sin.

One of the many places we read about this is in Ephesians 4:22-24, where Paul writes:  “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Another place is in Galatians 3:27, where Paul connects this new clothing with Baptism: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  With new clothes we get rid of the old.  The old is sin, the new is the forgiveness and love of Jesus for each of us.

As we gather at the Lord’s Table this day or any time we have the sacrament, you are invited to release those rags of sin. Lay these rags of our old sin on the cross.   Let Jesus take those old rags, and don’t hold on to them any longer.  Then let him continue to give you the assurance of his love in the bread and wine, the body and blood.  Be assured of what God has done for you in Jesus which brings true freedom now and for eternity.

Let us pray – Gracious God, you have granted us far more than we ask or deserve.  Help us to receive your forgiveness and to rejoice in all that provide.  Enable each of us to live in the freedom we get to have as your followers.  We pray this in Jesus’ holy name.  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.

Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, your mercy endures forever.  We pray that you would stir us to faith, worship and action.  Receive our offerings for the praise of your glory and for the spread of the Gospel. Lord, in your mercy,  Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for your Holy Scriptures which guide us in this life.  Grant that we may hear, read, respect, learn, and make them our own in such a way that the enduring benefit and comfort of the Word will help us grasp and hold the blessed hope of everlasting life, given us through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for leaders in the Church who are stirred to lead your people back to God’s Word.  We give thanks for your servant Martin Luther and for all who have been faithful leaders of the Reformation of your Church throughout the centuries.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

We pray for all who suffer in mind, body or spirit.  We lift up in prayer…  and also those whom we now name aloud or in quiet prayer… Bring renewed hope, strength and healing in the lives of all for whom we pray.  Lord, in your mercy,         Hear our prayer.

Your compassion for humanity leads us to care for one another, especially those who mourn.  We pray for all who are bereaved (especially the family and friends of …).  By your Holy Spirit stir us to faithfulness in care for all who mourn the death of a relative or friend.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Help us to be ambassadors for Christ in this community.  Guide us back to your Word, so that we will understand the hope we share.  We pray that your Holy Spirit will renew our faith and send us out for the sake of the world which you love.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

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

 

*Lord’s Prayer

Devotion and Readings for October 23 and 24

James of Jerusalem Icon

An icon of James the Just, brother of our Lord, James of Jerusalem, author of the Epistle of James.

.

Bible Readings and Devotion for October 23 & 24, 2020

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

October 23

Luke 13:22-30

James 1:12-20

Psalm 127-131

Nehemiah 10

October 24

Luke 13:31-35

James 1:21-27

Psalms 132-135

Nehemiah 11

Devotion for October 23 & 24, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

This passage begins by reminding us of what God has first done for us.  James writes to us, “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  The actor in this passage is God himself.  God is the one who gives to humanity what is good, generous and necessary.

Our God gives us all we need for this life.  Most importantly, he gives us love, forgiveness of our sin, and reconciliation with him.  This is granted through Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Jesus takes to the cross all which separates us from God:  All of our disobedience of God, all of our disregard of the Lord’s will, and all our apathy toward our neighbors.  All of our sin dies with Jesus on that cross.  In exchange, we are given God’s love and forgiveness.  With these, and a call to live according to God’s purposes, we are invited to live a new life.

What does this new life look like?  It is filled with actions which honor the Lord.  It is expressed with good works for our neighbors here and around the world.  We see in our passage today from James a perspective on this new creation life.

There are two sides to this.

One is to stop living wrong and destructive ways and then to begin living for God and in relationship with God.  This is Repentance.

The second part is what James refers to as being a “Doer of the Word”.

This being a doer of the word is our calling and our purpose in life.  It is God’s answer to that human question, “Why are we here?”  When we are doers of the Word of the Lord we live honorably and live to God’s glory.  We are people making a positive difference in the lives of those around us. Simple acts of service, ongoing prayer and worship, avoiding evil and doing what is right, are all significant both to God and to those who receive the good which we do.

Doers of the Word incorporate God’s Word into how they live and work.  They look into scripture with the anticipation of learning God’s will for how they are to live.  It is not some random act of flopping open the Bible.  Rather, it is a prayerful reading of things such as the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles and the Prophets.  It is considering teachings of scripture such as Colossians 3:17, which reads: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Being a Doer of the Word includes a regular review of the 10 Commandments.  One resource for reviewing these commandments is Martin Luther’s teachings on the Ten Commandments.  Luther was very much about being a doer of the Word.  We see that he shows that the commandments are not just about avoiding the wrong.  Luther shows us also how to do the right.

Here is one example of Luther’s work on this:

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not steal.

What is this? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbors’ money or property nor acquire them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income.

.

Video Link for further consideration

Here is video Click Here for Link which plays a song from 1984 by Dan Peek.  It is called, “Doer of the Word.”  Whenever I read this passage from James I think of this song.

Prayer

Almighty God, you are worthy of our praise and adoration.  Your will and word to us show us how to live.  Your holy and powerful presence work to inspire our purpose.  You love urges us on to joyful obedience.  Help each of us to live as your people and to be doers of your word.  We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Devotion and Readings for October 22

Jesus Healing a blind man

Bible Readings and Devotion for October 22, 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 13:18-21

James 1:1-11

Psalms 122-126

Nehemiah 9

Devotion for October 22, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Psalm 123 is a passionate prayer for God’s mercy.  Verses 3 and 4 note the following, “Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.”  The community of faith is praying that God show mercy on the people.

Grace and Mercy are prominent words in our faith.  These are words we talk about a great deal in Christian circles, but what do these mean?  Do these mean the same thing?  What is the difference between Grace and Mercy?

Mercy is not getting what you deserve to get.  For example, in the case that I have broken the law and I stand before the judge for the crime I have committed.  The judge speaks to me and says, “The sentence for this crime is five years in prison, but I will not convict you.  You are free to go.”  What has just happened is that I have just received mercy.  Mercy is not getting what you deserve.

Grace is getting what you do not deserve.  I do not deserve eternal life in the presence of God.  Nothing I, or any of us, could ever do for God would be enough.   The 10 Commandments are not meant as a means to earn God’s favor.  These are simply a framework for a faithful response to the mercy and grace of God.  Even if the Ten Commandments were designed as a way to earn God’s favor, no one has lived these out perfectly all the days of one’s life.  We simply can not earn eternal life.  I have life with God by his grace.  So remember, Mercy is not getting what we do deserve for a wrong.  Grace is getting the good thing which we do not deserve.

When the Lord does everything to seek us out, it is for our benefit.  On one side, we receive mercy in that he does not leave us to our own devices.  God bring us Christ Jesus, and with Christ we get to live with God, and we do not pay the eternal consequences of our sin and wrongdoing.  Rather, God seeks us out and intervenes through Jesus’ death on the cross and his glorious resurrection from the dead.  God redirects the results of sin, and we do not have to live without him for eternity.

God’s grace is that we are offered eternal fellowship with our creator God, and that we have not done anything to deserve it.  God’s grace is that we get to know of his awe-inspiring love.  We can not earn it, nor do we deserve it.  God’s grace and mercy come at the right time and for us when we need it the most.  We are reminded in another of Paul’s writings when he says in Romans chapter 5, verse 6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”

Prayer

As our prayer we have the words of the hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.”

1    There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,

like the wideness of the sea;

there’s a kindness in God’s justice

which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows

are more felt than up in heav’n.

There is no place where earth’s failings

have such kindly judgment giv’n.

2    There is welcome for the sinner,

and a promised grace made good;

there is mercy with the Savior;

there is healing in his blood.

There is grace enough for thousands

of new worlds as great as this;

there is room for fresh creations

in that upper home of bliss.

3    For the love of God is broader

than the measures of our mind;

and the heart of the Eternal

is most wonderfully kind.

But we make this love too narrow

by false limits of our own;

and we magnify its strictness

with a zeal God will not own.

4    ‘Tis not all we owe to Jesus;

it is something more than all:

greater good because of evil,

larger mercy through the fall.

Make our love, O God, more faithful;

let us take you at your word,

and our lives will be thanksgiving

for the goodness of the Lord.

Amen.

Hymn Text: Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863, alt.