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Epiphany 4, January 31, 2021

Prophet and Savior (which is why we LISTEN)  Deuteronomy 18:15–20

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet (Asyndeton) like me from among you, from your brothers-- it is to him (Asyndeton) you shall listen--

21They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath [Jesus] entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

To whom should we listen? These days it seems everybody’s putting something in our ear—politicians, pastors, teachers, bosses or foremen or team leaders. Half of it we don’t believe, and the other half, well, we’re a little wary. Chances are we ought to be.

Problem is, most people are just telling us what they think we ought to hear.

  • Two aspects of the Lord’s gift of a prophet:
  • The divine initiative over against the human initiatives 
  • The way of the Canaanites and the way of Israel is characteristic of the Book of Deuteronomy and its emphasis on the divine Word.

V 15: 

  • Gospel Handle - This is the pre-figure-ment of Jesus Christ
  • Canaanite practices of divination and various forms of seeking “insider information” from the gods and spirits. 
  • Such practices were accompanied by child sacrifice, because these were intended to secure the favor of those same deities.
  • The Prophet God would raise up: 
  • Was the one, the only one, to whom Israel should listen; he would tell them all they needed to know. 
  • He would be from among their brothers, as Moses was, meant he would not have to be placated with the pagans’ horrific sacrifices; he would already be favorably disposed toward them.
  • Weekend of Feb 14th: On the holy mountain of the Transfiguration, his Father’s voice repeated Moses by saying “Listen to him” (Mk 9:7). 
  • Jesus of Nazareth will be the final messianic prophet. Christ is the fulfillment of God’s word of promise.
  • Idolatry (as depicted in Deut 18:9–14) attempts to escape from the living voice of the living God.
  • Moses warns the people that false prophets would speak words that God did not command.

V 16: 

  • When God spoke at Sinai, Israel was terrified to hear from God directly (Ex 20:18–21). As Moses has now been the mediator, so Christ will bring God’s word in a way we sinful people can bear to hear.

V 17: 

  • Jesus not only prays for us, he steps into our place (2 Cor 5:21) and rises again for our vindication (Rom 4:25).

V 18: 

Vv 19–20: 

  • This law crucified Christ!!!!!  This was the share of blasphemy!!

How do we know if something is really a false prophecy, or someone is a false prophet or false teacher? That is why it is so important for the laity to know God’s word as well, especially as summarized in (AT LEAST!!) Luther’s Small and Large Catechism

  • Martin Luther’s classic hymn “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” emphasizes how essential this Word is to Christ’s ongoing work. What he has accomplished in his death and resurrection benefits us only when we hear of it and believe. 
  • “Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word; Curb those who by deceit or sword Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son And bring to naught all He has done” (LSB 655:1).


In the Creed, we are admitting that the Holy Spirit brings us into faith with Jesus and that he keeps us in that faith. 

So we proclaim as we speak the Apostles Creed: 

01-31-21 Video


Worship materials for this weekend:




Epiphany 3, January 24, 2021

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Love’s Fairer Than War Jonah 3:1–4:3

  • Today is the Third Sunday after the Epiphany, when we are reminded of the Church’s responsibility to share the message of what God has done in Jesus.
  • Have you ever been reluctant to tell others? Maybe you’re not sure how they’re going to react, or maybe you know exactly how they’ll react—and that’s the problem! 
  • Today is also the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. 
  • It is really hard to talk in church about things such as abortion or assisted suicide. But let’s pause for a minute and lay aside all the political baggage that goes with these issues and think of the message we have to share. 
  • We have a positive message of life! It is a powerful message of life! We know what God has done to give value and dignity to human life. 
  • What is the motivation of our, of your reluctance to proclaim God’s spoken word to your family &* friends and the people with whom you work and play?
  • A New Testament text I would like to bring in at this point is Ephesians 4:11-16 11 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV)
  • Think of someone who really deserves to get what’s coming to him, a poor excuse for a human being who really makes your skin crawl, who causes good Christian people to rightly recoil in horror. 
  • Fill an ancient metropolis with one hundred and twenty thousand (4:11) makes-your-skin-crawl and causes-you-to-recoil-in-horror people like that, give or take a serial killer, a pedophile, and a rapist or two, and what you have is a shamelessly idolatrous Nineveh, reveling, insatiably rejoicing in its wanton capacity to invent ever new ways of sinking into an ever more deplorable depravity, making itself all the more deserving of descent into the depths of Sheol. 
  • What you have is historic Nineveh. 
  • But look who ends up later being hurled into the depths, not the Ninevites, but the prophet of Almighty God (1:15).
  • The name Jonah means “dove.” But he did not act like one!!
  • Most people know the story of Jonah. He was a reluctant messenger with a powerful message. We can learn from him that

We Do Not Have to Be Reluctant Messengers of Life,
When We Have Such a Powerful and Positive Message of Life.

  • Jonah learned that. Reluctant though he may have been, he knew this was God’s message. “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you” (3:2, emphasis added). Reluctant though he may have been, Jonah went to Nineveh with God’s message. 
  • “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” (3:4).
  • Jonah only went 1/3 of the way into the city (suburbs) with ONLY those 5 Hebrew words.
  • But there was power in this message because it was God’s message. Notice it wasn’t Jonah whom the people believed: “The Ninevites believed God” (3:5). 
  • They humbled themselves before God with fasting and putting on sackcloth. The power of God working through the message of God brought about godly results.
  • The power of God seen here is in what he did not do. He did not punish as he had a right to do. He did not give the Ninevites what they rightly deserved. God’s great love restrained him from carrying out his great judgment.
  • It is not only a message that says “Do this” and “Don’t do that,” but it is more importantly a message that says, “Look what God has done!!” 
  • Others of us may find we have the attitude of Jonah. The “bad guys” should get what they deserve because of their wrong decisions. 
  • Nahum reports the response to Nineveh’s fall in 612 B. C. (perhaps 150–200 years after Jonah): “Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?” (3:19).
  • However, the reality is that we are all “bad guys.” 
  • All have sinned. 
  • It is not the magnitude of our sin that puts us under God’s judgment. Sin itself puts us there. 
  • Like the Ninevites, we deserve God’s wrath. 
  • Like the Ninevites, we do not get what we deserve. 
  • The holiness of Jesus is applied to us. 
  • We must declare with Jonah, “You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love” (4:2). 
  • Why should we be so reluctant to share such a powerful and positive message of life?
  • Believe it or not, it is Christians who have over 70 percent of abortions,
  • You might be feeling guilt-ridden and uncomfortable right now. 
  • So let me have a word just with you. And it really is a single word: Welcome! 
  • Welcome here with the rest of us sinners. 
  • It is not the sin of abortion that separates us from God. Sin does that. 
  • “The embryo in the petri dish, the baby in the womb, the child on the playground, the child with Down syndrome playing with him, the professional athlete, the paraplegic in the wheelchair, the energetic young businesswoman, the young woman with MS, grandpa on the golf course, grandma in the nursing home—all are people created by God. All of these are people for whom Jesus died. Therefore, they all have value and dignity and purpose.”
  • In this season of Epiphany, we are reminded that it is the Church’s responsibility to share the message of what God has done in Jesus.
  • On this 48th anniversary of the legalization of abortion, we are reminded that it is the Church’s responsibility to apply the message of what God has done in Jesus to the life issues of our time. 
  • It is a message that calls people to listen to God and what he has to say about these issues. 
  • It is a message that calls all people to repentance. 
  • It is a message that reveals God’s love and compassion. 
  • If we are going to change things out there in society regarding the God-given value of human life, then we need to change things in here first, in our own hearts. 
  • We need to repent of our indifference, of our failure to acknowledge things  spiritual, of our failure to defend the weak and helpless, and our failure to show compassion to those facing crisis and dealing with past mistakes.
  • When God relented of that wrath, everyone was covered, regardless of their sin. 
  • The “size” of the sin does not influence God’s action.
  • His relenting flows from his boundless mercy in Christ Jesus to all repentant sinners.
  • Lutherans For Life can help with that. They produce materials that help make that connection between God’s Word of life and the life issues. 
  • “If his love is for some, his love is for all, the appalling, the abhorrent, all. Thanks be to God, for it matters not who the sinner is, God’s way has had its day.”
  • Our motivation and means to overcome our reluctance is LOVE never  Hate or Conflict BECAUSE in Christ Love is Fairer Than War!


Epiphany 2, January 17, 2021

Called by the Word of the Gospel 1 Samuel 3:1–10

  • Epiphany 1 dealt with God’s eternal predestination and choosing of both Christ and us, manifested in baptism, which guaranteed Christ’s success as Savior and which is the guarantee of our salvation. “And those he predestined, he also called” (Rom 8:30). 
  • Epiphany 2 emphasizes calling (Hebrew kara; Greek kaleo), the method God uses at specific times and places to carry out the choice he made in eternity.
  • God’s call comes through the Word. Samuel and the other prophets received a special call into the office directly from God in person (1 Sam 3:10). The call to all God’s people also comes through the Word, but the gospel is mediated to them through the called prophets, apostles, pastors, and teachers (2 Thess 2:14). All those called respond by calling on God. 

Doctrines in the Text as they apply to today’s Ordination of Mark

We should avoid the common mistake of applying the calls of Samuel or Philip and Nathanael in today’s Gospel to all believers. The divinely ordained offices of prophet, priest, apostle, and pastor are distinct from and not derived from the priesthood of all believers. God has ordained the pastoral office for the edification and nourishment of all God’s saints, who are called into the priesthood of all believers (1 Cor 1:2). All Christians should imitate the attitude of Samuel by listening obediently to God’s Word and regularly partaking of the sacramental Word. This Word equips them for service in the royal priesthood of all believers. Calvinistic doctrine connects vocation to predestination: success in secular endeavors provides assurance that one is among the elect, as does living and working according to certain Biblical principles (“God’s plan for your life”), which is law, not gospel. The Lutheran view is just the opposite: we work not to prove our election but in response to our election of grace. We are called to service, and God’s call in Word and Sacrament frees and empowers us to serve. For Luther the primary reason why God gives a Christian a vocation in the world is to encourage a life of loving service, whereas for Calvin the reason seems to be the proper ordering of human life, lest everything be thrown into confusion. . . . while Calvin sees vocation as a means of giving glory to God, Luther sees it primarily as a means whereby God can bestow his good gifts upon humankind.

  • Samuel was one of God’s great ones. Four hundred years after Moses led God’s people to the Promised Land, the Lord called Samuel to christen Saul and then David, the first of Israel’s kings. Samuel was God’s power behind their throne. Already with his birth story, we learn that Samuel was a gift straight from God. When he was only age 3, his grateful mother, Hannah, gave Samuel back to God. He grew up with the Lord’s priest Eli, serving at the Lord’s tabernacle.
  • The context just before this chapter describes the wickedness of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who, though they were priests in the tabernacle, did evil in the sight of the Lord. While Eli’s sons are wicked and disobedient, Samuel attends to the bodily needs of Eli.

V 3: 

  • Samuel sleeps in the temple in order to attend to the lamp. 
  • The temple is the site where the ark of the covenant, God’s chosen place of location, resides. 
  • That is to say, Samuel is resting before the central place of God’s presence for the children of Israel.

V 4: 

  • After beginning by stating that there was no word from the Lord and visions were rare in those days, the text now describes the Lord calling to Samuel. 
  • Given the rarity of such occurrences, Samuel is not aware of what, precisely, is happening; he thinks Eli is the one calling to him. 
  • Even Eli thinks it is “business as usual,” in that nothing special is happening—just a young boy hearing things. 
  • The verb kara, “to call,” dominates our OT text, occurring 11 times in the 10 verses. Of these, 5 occur in connection with Samuel’s mistaken assumption that Eli had called to him, while 6 are in reference to Yahweh who is the true source of the call.

V 7: 

  • Samuel was “Pre-Ordination” in that he knew about God as through teaching and the Word BUT he was not yet a called prophet/Pastor
  • The “intimate/very personal and yet corporate nature of the YaDa “know the Lord” and the call into public ministry

V 10: 

  • The fourth time, the Lord comes and stands before him (1 Sam 3:10). There is great significance to the visible presence of God as the preincarnate Second Person of the Trinity. 
  • “This was no mere dream . . . When Samuel responded as Eli told him to, God addressed him with the articulate words in a physically audible voice.


1.    The Place God Calls

God chooses the places where he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth. 

The Divine Service is the place where our risen Lord speaks to us regularly. It is the location of his real, incarnate, sacramental presence.

2.    The Way God Calls

God calls through the Word. “The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel” (Luther’s explanation of the Third Article). 

In the words of Joseph Gelineau, “in Christian worship the art of music is distinguished by the function it fulfills; its primary task is to be the handmaid of the words of the rite.”

3.    The Purpose of God’s Call.

That we might enjoy restored fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, both now and in eternity (1 Cor 1:9). 

Fellowship with God puts us immediately in fellowship with the entire communion of saints (1 Cor 1:21). 

Our entire lives are directed by our call from God to serve. 

“Will you please tell me in a word,” said a Christian, “what your idea of Called by the Word of the Gospel is?” 

Holding out a blank sheet of paper he replied, “It is to sign your name at the bottom of this blank sheet, and to let God fill it in as he will.” 

Like Samuel, will we answer with humble, heartfelt faith? “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears!”



The Baptism of Our Lord, January 10, 2021

Chaos Reigns—Chaos Broken Text: Genesis 1:1–5

  • While we and the world around us put away the Christmas Lights – the church of Jesus is called to put the true light up for the whole world to see!!
  • The celebration of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus on January 1 reminded us of how Jesus placed himself under the Law for sinners with the shedding of his blood. 
  • The Baptism of Our Lord once again demonstrates how Jesus stands with sinful human beings by submitting to a sinner’s Baptism in the Jordan River. 
  • When we encounter Genesis, we may first think of the Garden of Eden, of paradise or perfection, but here at the very beginning—at the time when there is God and only God—we find chaos. And one thing is very clear—life cannot exist in the midst of chaos. Life cannot take place in the void of nothingness, and right now, as the Spirit of Yahweh hovers over the waters, chaos reigns.
  • Creation pictures a beautiful cosmos that would soon become unraveled through sin.
  • This text is to address the chaos and tumult in our lives. 
  • Genesis 1 presents us with God bringing order to the primeval chaos (tohu wabohu) by the power of his Word. 
  • Chaos continues to seek to run roughshod over the hearts and lives of people. 
  • The powerful Word of God then comes to bestow the peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:7) and to raise us to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4). 

V 1: 

bere’shith bara’ ’elohim, “In the beginning, God created.” 

  • From the very beginning, the Scriptures proclaim the grace of God.
  • We affirm that God created the heavens and the earth “ex-nihilo.”
  • God was not compelled to create out of necessity, but from a love beyond understanding that would culminate in the saving work of Jesus Christ.


V 2: 

tohu wabohu, “without form and void.” 

  • Before the Word of God is spoken, there is only void and darkness where life cannot exist. (See also Jer 4:23.)
  • It’s not evil; there’s no sin yet. 
  • Life cannot exist where chaos reigns. 
  • There is nothing solid on which to build. Life cannot exist here. 
  • For life to take place, chaos must be subdued and defeated.

weruakh ’elohim, “the Spirit of God.” 

  • Over the formless, watery void, God’s active Spirit of creation hovers. 
  • This is the same Spirit that descends on Jesus at his Baptism (Mk 1:10) 
  • and descends on us in our Baptism when the name of the triune God is poured on us with water.

V 3: 

wayyo’mer ’elohim, “And God said.” 

  • The powerful Word of God brings order to chaos. 
  • God’s Word is always a word of life, hope, and resurrection. 
  • God’s voice speaks and points us to his Son (Mk 1:11). 

V 4: 

ha’or ki-tov “the light was good.” 

  • The creation of light conforms to the will of God. 
  • All that he created in Genesis is judged to be “very good” (Gen 1:31). 
  • The beginning of John’s Gospel picks up on the theme of light (Jn 1:4–5), and Jesus identified himself as “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). 
  • We also find a similar pronouncement of “good” by the Father at the Baptism of Jesus (Mk 1:11).

V 5: 

wayyiqera’ ’elohim la’or yom, “God called the light Day.” 

  • God created and named the fundamental aspects of creation, day and night—thus establishing the basis for human life. 
  • The Word of God creates and gives order to reality. 
  • Thus, God’s word speaking to us in the Sacraments creates the reality of the forgiveness of sins.
  • Some of these chaotic effects we bring on ourselves by our own evil living. Some are indeed done to us by others’ sin. No, it’s not that every time the computer locks up or the washing machine goes on the blink or, more seriously, we lose a job or suffer a terrible accident it’s because of some particular sin we’ve committed. But in every case, the root problem is that sin—Adam’s sin, Eve’s sin, my sin, your sin, the world’s sin—has separated us from God, and thus thoroughly corrupted his perfect creation. Chaos!
  • For life to exist, the chaos in the world and in our lives must be subdued. The enemies of sin, Satan, and death must be broken for us, for we have no strength of our own and this cosmic job is just too big.

God hasn’t abandoned you. He hasn’t forgotten the pains you have. He has called you to be new people in him. And you are. You are new. You are forgiven. You are now alive, even though you were dead. In Christ, you will live even though you will die. The devil has tried so hard to destroy God’s creation, but he has failed. He has failed because God has not abandoned you. God has not left you. And God never will.

Beloved in Christ, the void is not your fate. The chaos of sin, death, and devil has no power over you. God has created us and re-created us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Spirit of God hovered over the waters at the moment of creation. The Spirit of God descended upon Jesus at the Jordan River. The Spirit of God washed you and re-created you at your Baptism. Today, we thank God that Our Baptized, Crucified, and Resurrected Lord JesusHas Broken the Power of Chaos and death and brings us into his kingdom. Amen.


01-10-21 Video


Worship materials for the weekend of January 10th


01-03-21 Video