Lutheran Worship and Resources



Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM CDT.


Midweek Lenten - 7 PM Central Daylight.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday





Palm Sunday, The Sixth Sunday in Lent


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Daylight Savings Time


The Hymn #160 All Glory, Laud 4:49
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 162 Ride On 4:80

Let This Mind Be in You

The Communion Hymn # 42 O Thou Love 4:93
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 388 Just As I Am 4:91

KJV Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

KJV Matthew 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Palm Sunday
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast caused Thy beloved Son to take our nature upon Himself, that He might give all mankind the example of humility and suffer death upon the cross for our sins: Mercifully grant us a believing knowledge of this, and that, following the example of His patience, we may be made partakers of the benefits of His sacred passion and death, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Let This Mind Be in You

There is only one message in the Bible, and that is the forgiveness of sin. The Scriptures have only one answer for that problem – that is faith in Jesus Christ.

Drawing upon his enormous knowledge of past theologians, Martin Chemnitz wrote his Two Natures of Christ. In this passage, Paul proclaims the Two Natures and teaches what they mean to us as believers.

The structure of this passage is clearly poetical, so it is often described as an early creed or catechism, or hymn. It could easily be both a catechism and a hymn.
Paul is also calling upon their memory of what they have been taught. We can find many examples of that method in the New Testament. The letters called on the believers to remember their Gospel lessons and the sermons preached to them in the past.

Here is the structure of Philippians 2.

The introduction deals with strife in the congregation, a setting for this Christ-hymn.

KJV Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels [tenderness or sympathy] and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

In this introduction, Paul is drawing all readers into the concept of having the same mind as Christ. They should be “of one mind” – and “let this mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus taught His followers to be meek, to follow His example:

KJV Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

KJV Matthew 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

KJV 2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

KJV Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Paul indicated that the current problems were caused by vainglory and strife, selfishness, and pride. I was at an LCA conference where every single person mentioned was preached into heaven for all his virtue, and great thankfulness was expressed. Finally an elderly pastor I knew took the microphone and said, “Why are we praising each other? We should be praising God?” That cut down on the vainglory for a time, and doubtless most people resented his introduction of Scriptural thoughts!

Today, many different denominations are aping the newest trend in claiming to “transform lives.” They realize that their statistical claims work against them, because they have reduced so many congregations and denominations in size by emphasizing numbers. So now they will “transform lives.” They engage in that activity by praising themselves for transforming lives through the Law, and naturally they cannot do that.

In contrast, this Gospel proclamation transforms lives. The Gospel itself has the power to accomplish more than man can imagine. Notice that all the therapies advanced by man are based upon law – you must do this and that. Of course, the experts demand a lot of money because they know how to make those law demands.

However, the Gospel transforms us by showing us what Christ has done for us and why He has done this. This particular poem teaches us the Two Natures of Christ – His human nature and His divine nature.

Here is the structure of the hymn/creed/catechism:

Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7 But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven,
and things in earth,
and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Prelude:
Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Jesus is not simply godlike, or better than all humans, or just a very nice man. He is God. This is an important introduction to what He accomplished, so we realize He did this as God-man, not simply as one or the other (the basis for much of the false doctrine throughout history).

First Stanza:
7 But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.

Verse 7 indicates the Virgin Birth, which did not have to be argued, since it was well known and taught, not disputed at that time. Centuries later certain false doctrines arose, exalting Mary, leading to the Assumption of Mary. People claim that Paul did not teach the Virgin Birth. However, this verse is a transition from Jesus being equal to God and being “made in the likeness of man,” without an explanation. How this could be true apart from the Virgin Birth is a mystery.

This teaching is being recalled so people think of the attitude of Christ in His public ministry, as an adult. They should be like Him, even though He was equal with God. They are exalting themselves and creating strife, while He humbled Himself.

This section is extremely important because Christ appeared to be an ordinary man most of the time. He taught with authority and performed miracles that no one (until recently) would try to claim. Raising the dead was the ultimate miracle, especially because the most notable case, Lazarus, was known to the entire area, was prominent, and was a living witness to the divine power of Christ.

Nevertheless, Christ did not show off His power and allowed Himself to be treated as an ordinary man during His trial. Roman soldiers collapsed from His statement of “I AM” and Jesus destroyed the fig tree with one curse, but He did not struggle or fight off the arresting soldiers.

Jesus was the example of winning when appearing to lose, just as the victors of the moment lost by appearing to win. The martyrs who followed spread the Gospel upward by accepting their fate in front of angry mobs and cheering coliseum hordes.

The ultimate obedience of Christ was shown in His death on the cross, which He had the power to avoid completely. If we doubt His human nature, we only need to read His prayer that “this cup be taken from Me.”

The great humility of Christ is shown in His death, which He accepted while being innocent and also able to avoid. No human being can imitate that humility completely, but it remains our example to follow.

It was this painful and humble death which earned the forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel Promises.

Second Stanza:
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven,
and things in earth,
and things under the earth;

The second stanza explains why the entire Bible focuses on Christ and glorifies Christ. Although the Holy Trinity is clearly taught from the beginning, the greatest emphasis is upon Christ, from Genesis 3 onwards.

The humility of Christ is the reason for His exaltation.

Man is always exalting himself, and that never works well. There are so many who have gloried in their accomplishments and power, only to find themselves reduced to nothingness because of it.

No matter what happens and how we are treated because of the cross, every knee will eventually bow before Christ. Everyone will acknowledge Christ, but for many it will be far too late.

Conclusion:
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

No matter how much people deny Christ now, they will eventually confess Christ as Lord. At the end of time, that will exalt all believers and torture all those who denied and betrayed Him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Donkey Poem




The Donkey -

a poem by G.K. Chesterton

WHEN fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will,
Starve, scourge, deride me I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools, for I also had my hour,
One far fierce hour and sweet,
There was a shout about my ears
And palms before my feet.

Kelmed from Norman Teigen


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mid-Week Lenten Service, Because We Are Not an Emerging Church, 7 PM Central


By Norma Boeckler


Mid-Week Lenten Vespers


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 6 PM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #268 Zion Mourns 4:98
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 23 p. 128
The Lection The Passion History

The Sermon Hymn #40 The God of Abram Praise 4:94

The Sermon – The Humanity of Christ

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45

The Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior 4:24

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Judica, The Fifth Sunday in Lent


By Norma Boeckler



Judica Sunday, The Fifth Sunday in Lent


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Daylight Savings Time


The Hymn #268 Zion Mourns 4:98
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #40 The God of Abram Praise 4:94

The I AM

The Communion Hymn #657 Beautiful Savior 4:24
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 45 Now the Hour 2:95

KJV Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

KJV John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Prayer
O Lord Jesus Christ, we thank Thee, that of Thine infinite mercy Thou hast instituted this Thy sacrament, in which we eat Thy body and drink Thy blood: Grant us, we beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not receive this gift unworthily, but that we may confess our sins, remember Thine agony and death, believe the forgiveness of sin, and day by day grow in faith and love, until we obtain eternal salvation through Thee, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The I AM of John’s Gospel

John 8:48 Before Abraham was, I am.

For a long time, the modernists raged against John’s Gospel because the divinity of Christ is so clearly taught. So is the pre-existence of Christ.

Those aspects of Christian doctrine are not lacking in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but they are especially clear in John.

The following characteristics of John’s Gospel were found to be true, and they all point to the apostolic authorship of the Fourth Gospel. The original manuscripts did not have a title, but they had traditional authors.

Characteristics:
1. The language of Jesus’ sermons is easily translated into Hebrew or Aramaic. They were not spoken by a Greek philosopher, as skeptics argued, but by Jewish rabbi addressing the largest group of people possible – the Greek-speaking population of the area.
2. The geography of John shows knowledge of the area, more in evidence than the other Gospels. Knowing the territory can only come from someone who was there. Imagine trying to get little details right about your area without ever living there.
3. The earliest scrap of a Gospel ever found is from the Gospel of John. That means it existed several centuries before the skeptics thought it was written.
4. The Gospel assumes people know the other Gospels, but it also fills in many details and spoken passages, without contradicting anything in those Gospels.

I could list more. This is writer’s intuition – the Gospel has the feel of a first-hand account. John’s claim is clearly made, since the “disciple Jesus loved” is his reference to who is the author. But the language of the Gospel itself reveals an eye-witness knowledge of the events no one can fake.

John’s Gospel is especially devoted to showing a harmony with the Old Testament. That begins with the first chapter starting in the same words as Genesis 1:1. References to Moses and the Exodus call up details from the holiest books of the Old Testament – the Five Books of Moses (Pentateuch). The Torah scrolls are the Books of Moses. When they march through the synagogue today, the Torah scrolls are carried. They are the holiest books of the Old Testament, according to Jewish practice.

This particular lesson features Christ identifying with the appearance of Moses before the burning bush.

Too many translations and books try to make “I AM” seem to be the same as Jesus saying, “It’s me.” When someone phones and asks for a given name, we say, “That’s me.” It may be bad English, but that is what we say. “It is I” seems a bit formal.

“I AM” is God’s name and it was used that way in Greek at that time. That is especially true of this particular use.

“Before Abraham was, I AM” – that makes no sense in any language, unless Jesus is God. The “I AM” transcends any sense of tense. English demands “I was” because both should be past tense. “When Sam was in the Army, I was in school.” No one would say, “When Sam was in the Army, I am in school.”

“I AM” means that the Son of God has always existed.

Secondly, Jesus called to Moses out of the burning bush.

KJV Exodus 3:4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. 7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. 11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. 13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

The orthodox Lutherans also identified the nature of the burning bush with the Two Natures of Christ. The bush burned but was not consumed, so it had two natures – the flame and the bush. In the same way, Christ has two natures, human and divine. Just as there is one burning bush, there is one Christ.

For Jewish people, faith in Christ meant seeing that all their religious observances of the Passover were pointing them to Christ. For those who were outside of Judaism, learning the Old Testament was essential.

JUSTIFYING FAITH
"But when we are speaking of the subject itself, it is certain that the doctrine of gracious reconciliation, of the remission of sins, of righteousness, salvation, and eternal life through faith for the sake of the Mediator is one and the same in the Old and in the New Testament. This is a useful rule which we must retain at all costs: The doctrine, wherever we read it, in either the Old or New Testament, which deals with the gracious reconciliation and the remission of sins through faith for the sake of God's mercy in Christ, is the Gospel."
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989, II, p. 459.
"Therefore God, 'who is rich in mercy' [Ephesians 2:4], has had mercy upon us and has set forth a propitiation through faith in the blood of Christ, and those who flee as suppliants to this throne of grace He absolves from the comprehensive sentence of condemnation, and by the imputation of the righteousness of His Son, which they grasp in faith, He pronounces them righteous, receives them into grace, and adjudges them to be heirs of eternal life. This is certainly the judicial meaning of the word 'justification,' in almost the same way that a guilty man who has been sentenced before the bar of justice is acquitted."
Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 1989, II, p. 482.
"Yet these exercises of faith always presuppose, as their foundation, that God is reconciled by faith, and to this they are always led back, so that faith may be certain and the promise sure in regard to these other objects. This explanation is confirmed by the brilliant statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:20: 'All the promises of God in Christ are yea and amen, to the glory of God through us,' that is, the promises concerning other objects of faith have only then been ratified for us when by faith in Christ we are reconciled with God. The promises have been made valid on the condition that they must give glory to God through us."
Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 1989, II, p. 495.
"Therefore this apprehension or acceptance or application of the promise of grace is the formal cause or principle of justifying faith, according to the language of Scripture."
Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 502.
"We must note the foundations. For we are justified by faith, not because it is so firm, robust, and perfect a virtue, but because of the object on which it lays hold, namely Christ, who is the Mediator in the promise of grace. Therefore when faith does not err in its object, but lays hold on that true object, although with a weak faith, or at least tries and wants to lay hold on Christ, then there is true faith, and it justifies. The reason for this is demonstrated in those lovely statements in Philippians 3:12: 'I apprehend, or rather I am apprehended by Christ' and Galatians 4:9: 'You have known God, or rather have been known by God.' Scripture shows a beautiful example of this in Mark 9:24: 'I believe; help my unbelief.'"
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 503. Philippians 3:12; Galatians 4:9; Mark 9:24.
"For we are not justified because of our faith (propter fidem), in the sense of faith being a virtue or good work on our part. Thus we pray, as did the man in Mark 9:24: 'I believe, Lord; help my unbelief'; and with the apostles: 'Lord, increase our faith,' Luke 17:5."
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 506. Mark 9:24; Luke 17:5.
"But because not doubt but faith justifies, and not he who doubts but he who believes has eternal life, therefore faith teaches the free promise, which relies on the mercy of God for the sake of the sacrifice of the Son, the Mediator, and not on our works, as Paul says in Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, that the promise might be sure according to grace.'"
Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 2 vols., II, p. 507. Romans 4:16
"Thus when we say that we are justified by faith, we are saying nothing else than that for the sake of the Son of God we receive remission of sins and are accounted as righteous. And because it is necessary that this benefit be taken hold of, this is said to be done 'by faith,' that is, by trust in the mercy promised us for the sake of Christ. Thus we must also understand the correlative expression, 'We are righteous by faith,' that is, through the mercy of God for the sake of His Son we are righteous or accepted."
Melanchthon, Loci Communes, “The Word Faith.” Cited in Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, II, p. p. 489.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mid-Week Lenten Service, Because We Are Not an Emerging Church, 7 PM Central Daylight Time


The Lost Sheep, by Norma Boeckler



Mid-Week Lenten Vespers


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Daylight Time

The Hymn #167 O Darkest Woe 3:66
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 23 p. 128
The Lection The Passion History

The Sermon Hymn #387 Dear Christians 3:41

The Sermon – Bearing the Sins of the World

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45

The Hymn #36 Now Thank We 3:40

Bearing the Sins of the World

The reading for tonight has a great contrast in it, the three-fold denial of Peter and the steadfastness of Jesus during His trial. In a sense it was a dual trial. Peter was accused outside of being a follower of Jesus. He denied it three times, as Jesus had predicted.

Jesus’ trial was a farce because He committed no sin and was no threat against the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, there was a constant effort to make sure He was guilty of something, even when He answered quietly.

During the time that Jesus was on trial for His life, Peter was disassociating himself from Jesus.

Peter’s real trial was an emotional one. He was afraid and he answered out of fear. Even though he clearly marked himself as a Galilean by his accent, he was not arrested or hurt in any way. Not at that time.

Jesus trial was emotional and physical, because the attacks were directly against Him and it included a slug in the face.

When people complain about bearing the cross, as we all do, we should remember that it includes being slugged in the face, as Luther said. He meant, I am sure, there is nothing too low to use against an individual for adhering to the pure Word.

That is the contrast we have to live with. On the one hand, wolf-preaching is rewarded in every possible way. The more someone slays the souls of his followers—with false doctrine and various forms of predation—the more that person is praised, supported, honored by society.

One minister reported how his children offered to give him money from their piggy-banks when he was short. He mentioned that to a church member and the story became one where he was stealing money from his children’s piggy banks. That is being slugged in the mouth.

In the book and movie, One Foot in Heaven, people wanted to get rid of the minister, so they told people that a girl left town after the minister’s son got her in a family way, as they said in those days. That was a slug in the mouth. The minister tracked down the rumor-mongers and straightened them out. Next someone gave large donation to a church college so they would hire the minister away. What seemed like an honor turned out to be an insult, so the happiness first created was turned into a very bitter feeling. Unlike many clergy, the minister was against using money to dissolve his conscience.

The examples are given because our first reaction to that sort of effort, by seeming members of the church, is shock. Why should a believer get slugged in the mouth by another believer? The answer is – bearing the cross means that and more, because Jesus Himself accepted humiliation, torture, and death on our behalf.

Whenever we share a tiny bit of Jesus’ experience of the cross, we understand a little more about the Passion of Christ. And we have a little more empathy for those who are being persecuted, tortured and killed for their Christian faith – all across the world right now.

The extensive Passion narrative tells us that Jesus suffered every single horrible, human experience – the silence, fear, and escape of His disciples, the physical pain of His beating and crucifixion, the humiliating taunts of the soldiers and the crowd. He was taunted to prove His power, which we would have used ourselves. But He withheld that power, to fulfill the Scriptures and take away our sins.

Nothing we experience is alien to what Jesus already has done for us, and He suffered without being a sinner. This contrast has always been the strength of Christian martyrs, who knew that anything they did paled in comparison with what Christ suffered, including death.

The Christian experience of the cross helps us understand the Atoning death of Christ and trust in its power.

Redemption means that Christ has already paid the price for our sins with His innocent blood. That knowledge, revealed by the Holy Spirit through the Word, fills us trust in the love and mercy of God.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Laetare - The Fourth Sunday in Lent


By Norma Boeckler



Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday in Lent


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Daylight Savings Time



The Hymn # 151 Christ the Life 2:78
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #429 Lord Thee I Love 2:54

Three Responses to a Crisis

The Communion Hymn #508 Thou Whose 2:72
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 45 Now the Hour 2:95

KJV Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Fourth Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who by Thy Son didst feed five thousand men in the desert with five loaves and two fishes: We beseech Thee to abide graciously also with us in the fullness of Thy blessing. Preserve us from avarice and the cares of this life, that we may seek first Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness, and in all things perceive Thy fatherly goodness, through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God world without end. Amen.

Three Responses to a Crisis
This miracle story teaches us about how God provides and also about the Real Presence in Holy Communion.

First we need to recognize that Jesus was already answering the needs of the multitude before they arrived. He looked at them as they arrived and was answering their needs before they thought to ask. In fact, who would even ask for what Jesus provided?

In many cases, Jesus asked questions and performed acts so that people could see the power of God and remember the lessons being taught. The Gospel of John is careful to connect the miracles with the Word. Jesus performed miracles to authenticate the power of His teaching. No one else could perform such miracles and His divine status could not be denied.

Some people think the power revealed should have converted everyone. Even with such examples as a Grade Point Average, the assumed result is often the opposite of the actual result. I have many students who begin by declaring they want to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, an A in every single class. That is almost impossible, as I point out, but it is also annoying to everyone with less than a perfect average. By definition, going around bragging about that would irritate about 99% of all graduates (including me).

When Jesus performed miracles, He impressed everyone. Some followed Him to hear the Word. Others followed to see even more miracles. Still others were jealous and resentful, their hatred fired by His basic teaching – true righteousness comes from faith in Him, not from inside of them.

This lesson alone should teach us that the Word of God has the power to consecrate the elements and provide an infinite supply, but this very teaching of God’s grace and forgiveness, the Visible Word, annoys and irritates people so they write vast numbers of books and essays trying to disprove it.

First Response
Jesus asked questions of His disciples so they would remember and teach others how they misunderstood the Savior at many level. As the multitude approached, He asked them about getting them food.

He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Jesus asked, already knowing what He would do.

Philip was expressing the kind of response that comes from experience and human reason. Even if they had enough money, it would not be enough to provide for so vast a group. Of course, where would one find a supply so great in a dessert area.
Most people have had the experience of being on a highway where basic facilities were few and far between. Route 66 in Arizona can seem like a B movie where the passengers despair of finding a gas station or the humblest food place. We rejoiced on one stretch when we finally reached Oatman and found the burros on the road, begging for food. On another trip we watched the needle at E as we approached a town, hoping that E was an exaggeration.

Feeding a multitude in the desert is impossible. Everyone knows that.

Churches always agree – there is not enough money. One look at Third World churches will show that they get by on a lot less. One congregation refused to believe that a photo of a church was a church. It looked like a bad chicken house. For a tiny amount of money they built a decent but modest building – in India.

No one would know from church meetings that “God will provide,” and that He Himself knew what He would do.

Second Response

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

Andrew responded, using human reason again. They had a tiny amount of food, but it was not enough. Anyone could see that. No one thought to ask what Jesus would do.

Jesus’ Answer

Jesus had the men sit down in the grassy area. That had to be an oasis, since grass would not grow in the baking desert heat with no little rain falling.

Jesus blessed the bread and fish and had them distributed. Every single person had all he could eat, and there were more leftovers than they began with. This was the clearest possible sign that Jesus provided far more than anyone could have imagined, and He was planning this before He questioned His disciples.

Real Presence

This miracle reminds us of how God provides for our material needs.

But it also teaches us about consecration and the Real Presence. This miracle happened because of the Word. When God speaks, God’s will is accomplished. This has been true since the Word created at the beginning of time. Strangely, Lutherans will state their faith in Creation by the Word but ignore the obvious applications in all areas of the Christian faith.
When Jesus said, “This is My Body,” did He not mean those exact words? Why do people want to say, “This is only a symbol of My Body” and “This will be My Body when you receive it”?

Only a symbol – that is the Calvinistic revolt against the Real Presence, against the efficacy of the Word.

When you receive it – that is the Receptionist view, very similar to the Calvinistic view above, because it separates the work of the Holy Spirit from the Word. In the Receptionist view, a human act is required (receiving it) in order to make it the Body and Blood of Christ.

Understanding God’s Word as belonging to God alone, we can see that this weekly miracle is exactly what Jesus teaches us in the Last Supper. It is the Body and Blood of Christ and it does take away our sin.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mid-Week Lenten Service, Because We Are Not an Emerging Church, 7 PM Central


By Norma Boeckler



Mid-Week Lenten Vespers


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central

The Hymn # 436 The Lord’s My Shepherd 1.3
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 23 p. 128
The Lection The Passion History

The Sermon Hymn #149 Come to Calvary’s 1.5

The Sermon – Confession and Betrayal

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45

The Hymn #161 Hosanna 1.8



Confession and Betrayal

In the lesson for tonight, from The Lutheran Hymnal’s Passion Harmony, we have the contrast of confession and betrayal.

Overall the disciples display their human weakness in being afraid, timid, silent, and ready to run. That should not be alien to us, because we all go through the same experiences in various ways, especially in relationship to the faith.

The disciples were not lost to Jesus. They were strengthened and sent out after His resurrection and ascension. There is a difference between them and Judas.

Judas lost his faith altogether. Various motivations are offered for Judas, including his desire to force a Messianic battle between Jesus and the Romans. His secondary name “Iscariot” may be a clue. There was also a “Simon the Zealot.” A lot is made of those associations with the future revolt against Rome.

Such ideas make for interesting books, but no enough is known to say the disciples included potential members of the Zealot revolt. We do know the Jews clobbered the Romans in one battle, and that made them think they could drive Rome out of Israel. The final result, about 40 years after the resurrection, was the destruction of Jerusalem, followed by another revolt and destruction many decades later (Bar Kochba Revolt).

The key spiritual issue is the loss of faith by Judas. He became an unbeliever and betrayed Christ for some silver coins. Ever since the name of Judas has been associated with betrayal of a friend. Everyone knows a Judas is a someone who will betray his own friend for money.

A Judas goat is the animal trained to lead sheep up to the conveyance that will take them to the slaughterhouse. The Judas goat walks up the ramp and down again. The sheep walk up and wonder what happened to their friend the goat.

The disciples were weak in their faith, but that is true of us all. Weak in faith does not mean lacking in virtue, lacking in merit. It means not trusting God in all things. Jesus said, more than once, “O you of little faith!” And yet, even a weak faith receives the blessings of the Gospel.

Someone who is weak in faith may be strengthened by many different trials.

The worst are those when a supposed friend is willing to be a Judas for a better position in the church. Or that person may gain the approval of others for behaving that way. There is a reason we are compared to sheep so many times in the Scriptures. “All we like sheep have gone astray, each to his own way.”

If we give up on the Gospel because of the weakness of man, we are even weaker than those who seem to be belly-servers (Romans 16:25) at the time. The Gospel has such a powerful effect that the moment it takes root and provides a blessing to people, Satan rushes in to exterminate it and drive the flock away.

Wolves from the outside and the inside scatter and devour the flock. But there are remedies.

Church leaders are often wolves rather than shepherds. Their job is to drive the predators away from the flock and feed the flock with the Word. The Gospel Promises are the green pastures (Psalm 23) but the Word is also a sword and shield, protection against the evil foe.

Lupine leaders do not do their jobs. Oddly enough, the big, old, mainline churches call their leaders “bishop,” a good title, and fit them with a shepherd’s crook, a perfectly good symbol of the office. They parade as overseers (bishop in Greek) and shepherds (pastor in Latin) but they betray Christ in their daily conduct.

The ELCA and Episcopal bishops are busy suing their own brothers in the ministry, although some Episcopal bishops are willing to risk everything and leave their apostate group. No serving ELCA bishop has done this, so far.

The betrayal of those people over there should be no comfort to us over here. The same tendencies are found everywhere.

When people trust in gimmicks rather than the Gospel, is that not also a betrayal like that of Judas? When they silence anyone who questions their betrayal, is that any different from the leaders who shouted “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”?

There is an enormous gap between being weak in faith and showing our sinful timidity and being bold in denial of the truth. Those who deny the Gospel even while they claim the Gospel, are always bold, proud, stubborn, and unwilling to bend.

The weak in faith “tremble at God’s Word” instead of the bishop’s crook. They know their shortcomings and confess them. They ask for guidance. They seek and find comfort in the Word of God and His promise of forgiveness in Christ.

Jesus came to seek the lost, to heal the wounded, to lead His flock, those who hear His voice and rejoice at its sound. He knows His own and they know Him. He leads them to the paths of righteousness, through faith in Him.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oculi, The Third Sunday in Lent



Cover by Norma Boeckler


Oculi Sunday, The Third Sunday in Lent


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 477 Lord Jesus 3:90
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #354 In the Cross of Christ 3:84

No One Takes Away Our Joy

The Communion Hymn #307 Draw Nigh 3:72
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 50 Lord Dismiss Us 3:86

KJV Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

KJV Luke 11:14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. 21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. 27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Third Sunday In Lent
Lord God, heavenly Father, who hast sent Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh, that He might overcome the devil, and defend us poor sinners against the adversary: We give thanks unto Thee for Thy merciful help, and we beseech Thee to attend us with Thy grace in all temptations, to preserve us from carnal security, and by Thy Holy Spirit to keep us in Thy word and Thy fear, that unto the end we may be delivered from the enemy, and obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

No One Takes Away Our Joy

John 16: 22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. 23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

We have to wonder how the disciples faced the Roman Empire, after the crucifixion, without their Teacher being visibly present. The hostility was building up so much as they traveled toward Jerusalem that the disciples thought they would die there.

The Gospel of John is full of paradoxes, seeming contradictions. One is that the words and phrases are so simple that any first year language student can read John in a new language, almost from the start. On the other hand, John’s Gospel contains so much spiritual wisdom in those simple phrases.

Another apparent contradiction involves love and hate. The world hates God and everyone who believes in Christ, but God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

The paradox in this passage is sorrow and joy. Jesus is predicting His death on the cross, when they will be consumed with sorrow. However, their sorrow will be turned to joy.

The illustration for this teaching is one which no one can forget. Even today, people try to lessen the impact of labor. Mrs. Duggar, who has delivered 19 children, said, “Every one has been difficult.” More than one mother has said, “There is a reason it is called labor.”

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

When a child is born, people do not dwell on the labor pain and the uncertainties, but on the joy of having a new baby. The memories are not exactly erased but they are overwhelmed by the happiness of new life.

That has been trained out of our society – that children are a great blessing and a gift from God. As long as people see children as a cost rather than an asset, they will rob themselves of the joy God freely offers in children. The more childbirth is qualified, the more this joy is lessened. If it must happen at the right time, with the right gender born, with perfect health and every possible benefit, then the parents should be joyful – that is unlikely. It is like waiting to have enough money to get married.

The paradox taught by Jesus is that the disciples would be crushed by sorrow at His death, but it would be a brief time. So we think that the disciples should have known at the time, because they were taught so carefully. Nevertheless, they were a tiny band united by one thing, the mighty Roman Empire carried out a death sentence against their Teacher, and the religious authorities gladly went along with it, even encouraged it. They were isolated and alone, both through the powers of the State and the influence of their religion.

There is a reason why Lent means spring. A short time ago, we thought winter would last forever. That is especially difficult where people are used to warm weather coming in February. December here was so warm that I washed and waxed the car and noticed the bulb flowers emerge from the soil. After that we had our worst snow-storm, which meant people did not even try to escape the ravines and winding hilly roads of this Ozark area. An icy drive down a steep road would make it more like Bon Voyage than Bella Vista. Suddenly it was warm, the crocus were up, and winter was almost forgotten.

The disciples were strengthened by their knowledge, and Jesus remained their Shepherd during the dark days before the Resurrection. But they knew fear, sorrow, and desolation. They shared the experience of the cross and knew their own guilt in being afraid, in denying Jesus, in doubting. Rejoicing came from what God did, how He raised Jesus from the dead, and showed them the meaning of the cross and empty grave.

These labor pains of the disciples strengthened them and deepened their trust in Christ. The Holy Spirit brought to their remembrance all the things taught to them by Jesus. The more they saw how correct He was in everything, the more they trusted in all He taught them. That gave them the courage to face the Roman Empire and the hostile religious authorities.

The disciples were not saints who were far and above what we are today. They were ordinary men who were purified by the Word and taught by the Savior, refined in a refiner’s fire so that the dross was burned away. What shines brightly in the pages of the New Testament are the results of this divine activity of the Word and the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in them.

We have similar sorrows, although not as dramatic. Even without the current drama of the economy, we have losses and difficulties and conflicts. Most Lutherans today have detailed stories about being misled, deceived, slandered, and shunned.

1. Some say, “I am disillusioned.” That is a good thing, because we should not live on illusions.

2. Many are disappointed in their religious leaders. That is even better. Five centuries ago, Luther said it was good to be disappointed in religious leaders, because that makes us trust in the Word alone. There has been too much trust in people rather than the Word, choosing personalities over Scriptural doctrine, deciding against the Confessions in favor of a false unity and fake peace.

3. We are often disappointed in various events, from injustice and harm done to us, especially because of the Word. If it were not painful, it would not be the cross.

When Jesus was beaten, He was probably too weak to carry the cross. Another man carried the cross. He probably became a follower, since he is named along with his sons in Mark.

KJV Mark 15:21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

KJV Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

KJV Matthew 27:32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

We also bear the cross because the Word of God generates hatred in all those who believe in their own righteousness.

Someone complained in my class that America tolerates every religion except Christianity. I responded, “We are the Roman Empire all over again. Every god is tolerated except the one true God – the Savior Jesus.”

No one can take this joy from us, although they might try very hard at times. The harder they try, the more God turns it into joy. I was smiling over the job interview I had in Phoenix. I knew I would not be hired to teach world religion because the job went to atheists alone. It would have meant total security and benefits, but it also would have tied me to Phoenix for years to come. Thanks to atheists, I was able to move near our grandchildren.

The Biblical meaning of joy goes far beyond getting what we wish. It also means appreciating what we have at the moment, being thankful to God for those blessings.

Luther did not think our lives should be so wonderful that we would cling to this world. He thought it was better to long for the next life. His trust in the Word was complete, so he taught justification by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law. He prayed in trust, because the Promises of God never deceived.

This is what Jesus taught in the midst of revealing the sorrows and joys of being His followers:

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mid-Week Lenten Service, Because We Are Not an Emerging Church, 7 PM Central




Mid-Week Lenten Vespers


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bethany-lutheran-worship

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Standard Time

The Hymn # 558 All Praise 4:44
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 2 p. 123
The Lection The Passion History

The Sermon Hymn # 657 Beautiful Savior 4:2

The Sermon – Abba, Father

The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45

The Hymn #538 Now the Shades 4:53


Abba, Father

KJV Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

KJV Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

KJV Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

This is a remarkable passage because it unites the universally known Lord’s Prayer with the suffering of Christ. Our two references in Romans and Galatians are equally significant. Paul is also uniting the Lord’s Prayer with the suffering of Christ.

The harmony we find in these passages comes from the work of Christ. He became our brother so that we would be adopted into the family, into the Kingdom of God.

That is spelled out in John’s Gospel, which is so much like a running commentary on the first three Gospels.

KJV John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.


The Synodical Conference MDivs want to lecture everyone on the shortcomings of faith, but John’s Gospel teaches the opposite of their opinion. There is an interesting verse here, because two verbs are used in parallel, which is common in Hebrew. One verb explains the other.

“as many as received Him”
and
“even to them that believe on His Name.”

The Word of God is consistently monergistic, that is, it always glorifies God in divine activity. The Gospel Promises convert people to faith and sustain people in their faith, both through the Word and the Sacraments.

The Holy Spirit opens the heart to receive Christ. Receiving Christ is the concept parallel to believing. God acts through the Word and the individual receives what God offers so freely. And God continues to patiently offer His grace to all people. Nevertheless, some obstinately oppose the Word while others believe for a time and turn away for various bad reasons (Matthew 13 and Mark 4, Parable of the Sower).

Those who believe in Christ, according to John, have the right to become children of God. John 1:7 makes it abundantly clear that receiving equals believing.

KJV John 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

This means that we are included in God’s family, as brothers of Christ, when we pray that prayer which He taught His disciples as the example all should follow.

As many have heard, the term “Abba” is a term of endearment never found in Hebrew for addressing God.

Because Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God, He addresses God the Father as “Abba” – dear Father. Every language and dialect has a similar term, and many families use their own favorite term, whether papa, father dear, or daddy, or pops. Ethnic groups have their own favorite terms of endearment, too. All of them are different from solemn usage, so this never translates very well.

In Galatians and Romans are two examples of Paul calling upon that very term Abba. In other words, when we pray to God at any time, we are praying just like Jesus, addressing Him as Abba – Dear Father.

One reminds us of being adopted (monergism). The other teaches us about the Spirit helping us to pray. As I have mentioned before, Paul’s admonitions to pray are always accompanied by Gospel Promises, something we also find in the Gospels themselves.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

In this prayer from Mark 14, Jesus prayed to have the cup pass from Him, to escape the terrible torture, abandonment, and death that awaited Him. Here we see His human nature, because the fear alone of such death scattered the disciples. Jesus is an example of prayer, because He did not equate prayer with a demand, but said – Not my will, but yours.

All these passages uniting the word Abba with prayer teach the same thing – that we are children of God and brothers of Christ through faith in Him. God listens to us as He does to His only-begotten Son. He knows us by name and listens to each one of us, giving us the standing of His Son. And we listen to His wisdom through the teaching of the Scriptures, saying, “Not my will, but yours.”