Advent 111.29.20

  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.
  • The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
    1. Gracious Father, we confess that we have sinned against You and have withheld the fear You deserve. Forgive us, we pray, for Jesus’ sake, and keep us as Your holy people. Amen.
  • Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
  • In Japan, there’s a centuries-old ceramic art called kintsugi (pronounced kin-SUE-gee).
    1. At its simplest, it’s the art of mending and remaking broken pottery.
    2. The technique is to take a lacquer or epoxy and mix it with the dust of a precious metal, usually gold, silver, or platinum.
    3. The mixture is then applied with extravagant care along the edges of the broken shards to glue the object back together.
    4. The resulting artwork is thus veined in elaborate webs of precious shine.
    5. The idea behind the technique is to work with and transform the brokenness of an object, rather than to try to hide its scars.
    6. The genius of the art is that it often makes the artwork more beautiful—and more valuable—than the object was originally.
  • Taking the art of kinsugi into the realm of looking at our sermon text for this morning, there are moments in the text where we might think of the following words: Oops, Ugh, Aha, Wow, and finally, a simple but powerful Yeah.
  • Let’s take a walk through the text from Isaiah 64 and stop and observe each of these “moments” of brokenness and repair.
  • It’s easy to pray in the midst of a storm.
    1. The tornado sirens go off, and we head to our safe place.
    2. Even the little children among us will almost instinctively fold their hands, and the words just spill out. “Dear God, please save us.”
      1. Driving back from Michigan in 2013.
    3. But what if God is the one bringing the storm, tearing open the heavens, making the mountains quake in fear?
    4. Or, even worse, what if God is the storm?
  • On the one hand, we know these kinds of prayers too.
    1. We pray them all the time, in not so many words.
    2. We pray God to rain down terror upon our enemies.
    3. Or even if we are not that blatant about it, we at least take a bit of satisfaction in seeing bad things happen to them.
    4. We even have a high-sounding German label for it:
      1. It’s called Schadenfreude, that is, taking pleasure or laughing at another person’s pain.
  • Realizing how that plays out in our own lives is a guilt trip in and of itself.
    1. It never ends well.
    2. But that’s not the kind of prayer the prophet Isaiah is praying here.
    3. As a matter of fact, it is much worse than that.
      1. When Isaiah prays, “O God, that you would tear open the heavens and come down,” he’s praying that the storm of God would come down upon the whole sorry lot of us, enemies and allies alike.
      2. The whole scene that pits:
        1.  nation against nation,
        2. neighbor against neighbor,
        3. family against family.
  • Because, as it turns out, the moment God takes himself out of the picture, we all literally go to hell in a handbasket.
    1. “We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Is 64:6).
    2. At times in our lives, we cry out, “Where were You, O God?”:
      1. Where were You, O God, when my parents died too young?
      2. Where were You, O God, when during the financial crisis of 2008 we were forced to foreclose on our house?
      3. Where were You, O God, when the pandemic hit and has not lessened one bit?
    3. The Lord’s answer?:
      1. Do not fear, for I am with you always, even in the midst of the storm!
  • Whether you were aware of it or not, we prayed a prayer almost identical to Isaiah’s prayer just a few moments ago.
    1. We were much more polite in our praying of it.
    2. But it was just as powerful.
    3. We prayed it in that great prayer that we pray every year at the beginning of Advent, the prayer that expresses the need for Advent in a nutshell.
    4. Hear again what we prayed just a few moments ago:
      1. Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
  • And that could just as easily be the end of the story; we pray to God to deliver us and wait for God to deliver.
    1. Except that it isn’t.
    2. The Bible gives us a whole host of accounts of God rescuing lives in the midst of the storm:
      1. Job is one example.
    3. God even rescues lives through the storm:
      1.  Jonah is an example
      2. But that’s never been the end of the story.
  • All this brings me to something that I’ve been wondering about.
    1. Maybe you’ve wondered this too.
    2. Does anybody else know why, here a few weeks shy of Christmas, we’re reading about the grown-up Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem, just a week away from his death?
    3. We weren’t there when, centuries ago, they drew up the Bible readings for this particular Sunday in the Church Year, but it does seem like we have things a little out of order, doesn’t it?
  • Except for this:
    1. The God who is both hidden and revealed in this man named Jesus—born in a little town called Bethlehem, raised in an even littler town called Nazareth—never comes in the way we expect.
  • If nothing else, the Gospel of Mark, from which we’re going to hear a whole lot over the coming year, is a roller-coaster ride in how this God of Isaiah reverses our expectations of who God is and what God should be doing in this person named Jesus.
    1. When we think God is near, Jesus is far away.
    2. When we think God is far away, Jesus is as near as a whisper in our ear.
    3. When we expect Jesus to arrive with the pomp and circumstance of a king, he comes barefoot and half-naked.
    4. When we expect Jesus to be meek and mild, he thunders with the roar of a lion, just like the prophets of old.
    5. And vice versa.
  • Jesus Comes to Overturn All Our Expectations about Who God Is and What God Will Do.
  • And even then, just when we think we got this whole God thing nailed down, shouting our “Hosannas,” we’ll find we nailed Jesus to a beam of wood, like a common criminal.
    1. Except that he is hanging there for crimes he did not commit.
  • We can thank God for that, even when we don’t get what we want.
    1. Because it means we won’t get what we deserve.
    2. And when we finally get to the point when we realize that, we can see God as God truly is.
    3. And Isaiah’s prayer becomes our prayer.
  • “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (verse 8).
    1. There is such a beautiful simplicity to this image.
      1. The very hand of God molding and shaping our lives into a life we could never have on our own.
    2. But this image is doubly beautiful.
      1. Think of the pitcher your grandmother used to pour lemonade on a hot summer day.
      2. Or the clay pot your father used to plant his garden.
      3. Look at our beautiful stained glass!
  • All these things are beautiful on its own.
    1. But it then becomes a treasure in how it is used by loving hands to pour out blessings to others.
  • God isn’t simply molding and shaping us into beautiful lives on their own.
    1. God is molding and shaping us into vessels that will pour out his very grace and blessing into the lives of others.
  • In theological terms, the implications are obvious.
    1. In the context of Isaiah 64, kintsugi points to the ways that the handiwork of God is not simply to create us in his image.
    2. God’s ongoing creative activity in the world involves both redemption and sanctification too.
    3. The triune God mends our brokenness and failures—the scars of sin done both by us and to us—into an ever-greater whole that is always more than the sum of parts.
    4. Amen.
  • Let us pray:
    1. Lord Jesus Christ, You are with us always, even to the end of the world, yet we do not always know Your presence. Free us from whatever hinders us from receiving what He desire to give us. Take us from the moment of Oops through the point of finally getting what You are trying to tell and show us  in the moment when we say “Yeah, Lord, I finally got it.” May we receive what You give by the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives and reigns with You and the Father, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
  • The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.

Advent 3 12.13.20

  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.
  • The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
    1. O God of all that is good, you sent John the Baptist to announce the Good News of Christ’s coming. Send us to live lives illumined by the Gospel, that we too may be a source of joy in Your promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
  • Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
  • On this Third Sunday in Advent, the Church encourages us to rejoice in the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    1. The theme for this Sunday is Gaudete (Latin for “Rejoice”)
    2. But when we look around ourselves and in ourselves, we often find little for which to rejoice.
    3. Yes, we look forward to celebrating the coming of the Son of God at Christmas.
    4. But when we look inside ourselves, this joy can be dry, even  snuffed out.
      1. We have not been the consistently faithful servants God calls us to be.
      2. We have faltered in our prayers.
      3. We have neglected to give thanks as we ought.
    5. Our sin can cause us to fail to know the joy of God’s salvation.
    6. Nevertheless, in the Epistle for today, Paul would bid you once again to Rejoice!
    7. For God Is Faithful to Make and Keep You Holy in Christ!
  • Daily, we are unfaithful in living out the Christian lives God wills for us.
  • Even in good times, we’re sporadic at best in rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks.
  • We don’t rejoice, pray, or give thanks continually as God wills (verses 16–18).
  • God says we are to do this always, without ceasing, in all circumstances.
  • Sometimes we rejoice when the unexpected happens.
    1. Getting a bonus in addition to our regular paycheck.
    2. Or when we were kids: getting a day off from school because of the snow!
  • Mostly we only pray when things are going very wrong.
    1. My car broke down…again!
    2. My relatives are sick and near death.
    3. People I once thought were my friends don’t talk to me anymore.
  • And we often forget to give thanks to God for all his benefits.
    1. Salvation
    2. Forgiveness of sins
    3. Eternal life
  • We often despise God’s Word that tells us what to do and what not to do (verse 19).
  • Excuse: I don’t have the time.
  • Excuse: The Word of God is too hard to read and understand.
  • Excuse: I’ll just go to church and Pastor will tell me what it means.
  • We plug our ears to God’s commands and prohibitions.
    1. God does not want me to have any fun!
    2. Those laws do not apply to me! They were written for the people back then, not now.
    3. Who is God anyway that He tell me what to do and what not to do?
  • “God is not the boss of me”, we say!
    1. We want to do what we want to do when we want to do it.
  • We don’t hold fast the good or test everything but instead embrace evil (verses 21–22).
  • Paul says,
    1. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
  • We readily listen uncritically to voices that sound appealing:
    1. Theology that sacrifices Scripture for the spirit of our times.
    2. Trying out the latest self-help fad that makes me, rather than my Lord, my true helper.
  • We buy into all kinds of evil that our world advertises:
    1. “If You’ve Got The Time, We’ve Got The Beer” (Miller Beer).
    2. “Because you’re worth it” (L’oreal Cosmetics).
    3. “Breakfast of champions” (Wheaties cereal).
  • Rarer still is our joy, prayer, and thanksgiving in times of troubles or evil.
  • Note this very well:
    1. Joy is different from happiness.
    2. Just as happiness is different from contentment.
  • We don’t need to be happy in order to survive.
    1. But it certainly helps!
    2. The basic necessities of life:
      1. Air
      2. Water
      3. Food
      4. Shelter
  • But we should still be joyful in Christ in spite of our circumstances.
  • But we too easily give in to despair and give up hope.
    1. Don’t know what to pray for.
    2. Don’t know how to pray.
    3. Praying is something only to be “done” in church.
  • We can’t imagine giving thanks during such evil times.
  • It just does not seem right.
  • And we want to feel a bit sorry for ourselves and wallow in our despair.
  • And when we willfully sin, we risk quenching the work of the Spirit in our lives.
    1. The Spirit continually works in our lives to move us to do just what Paul says here.
  • When we intentionally refuse to do these things, we thwart the Spirit’s work in us.
  • But God is ever faithful to make you holy in Christ Jesus (verse 23a).
  • First, Christ comes into the world as the Prince of Peace, and in his spirit, soul, and body, he works holiness for you.
  • He lived the holy life in the body, fulfilling all that God here commands you.
  • “sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin” (LSB, p 269).
  • After giving thanks on the night when he was betrayed, knowing what was coming, he gave to us the very sustenance of that sacrifice.
  • For the joy set before him and holding fast to the good result, Christ shed his holy, precious blood on the cross to make peace between God and all people.
  • Then, Christ sends the Holy Spirit to make you holy by his Gospel.
  • “The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.”
  • He makes you holy through Holy Baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • In Holy Absolution, he forgives you (as Christ prayed even from his cross).
    1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
  • He prophesies to you the holiness that is yours in Christ through the preaching of the Gospel.
  • He will surely keep you “blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v 23).
  • The Holy Spirit will remain faithful to the end to perfect you in holiness.
  • As Luther states in the very last portion of his explanation of the Third Article:
    1. “On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.”
  • And even now, you have a foretaste of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    1. The blameless and faithful Lamb of God comes and gives you his holy body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
      1. Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins!
  • In this way, Christ gives into your body his very own holiness to assure you of your holiness in him.
  • I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (John 17:14-18)
  • In our Epistle for today, St. Paul enjoins us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
    1. But what is that like, exactly?
    2. We may think of it in terms of a “round.”
    3. You know, the songs or hymns that begin as usual, but then at the proper musical point, a second group starts the song again, singing the melody and words from the top while the first group continues.
    4. Sometimes, there may even be three groups or four.
    5. One such round uses the words of Phil 4:4—used in other years as the antiphon of the Introit for this Third Sunday in Advent:
      1. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
      2. Once it gets started and the second, third, and fourth groups are added, it seems like there’s no real stopping point to the song.
      3. There’s always a new place to start up.
  • Our rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving should be like that.
    1. Once we finish with one moment of rejoicing over God’s goodness to us, there is always another right on its heels.
    2. There’s always another prayer needed.
    3. Always something new or something more for which to give thanks to God.
    4. Because of God’s steadfast love toward us, we have good reason to rejoice, pray, and give thanks—always!
  • Though you are not continuously faithful in this life, due to the weakness of your body, you may indeed rejoice that he who came in the flesh is not only blameless but also perfectly faithful to sanctify and keep you blameless in spirit and soul and body at his glorious and final advent. Amen.
  • Let us pray:
    1. O God, who see how Your people faithfully await the arrival of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing. All of this is possible through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever . Amen.
  • The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.

Advent 2 12.6.20

  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.
  • The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
  • Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
  • So many of our favorite stories start with a dramatic technique called (from the classical Latin) in medias res, meaning simply “into the middle of things.”
    1. We are dropped into the middle of the story, and the roller coaster ride begins.
    2. As a matter of fact, one of the most beloved stories that we read and watch and hear over and over again this time of year begins exactly like this, in medias res.
    3. It begins with three little words: “Marley was dead.”
    4. And with that, Charles Dickens plunges us into the life of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and what it means to “keep Christmas well.”
  • Or perhaps even more famously, in medias res is the opening scene of the black-and-white montage of sights from a town named Bedford Falls where all we hear are the prayers of “a lot of people asking for help for a man named George Bailey.”
    1. The rest of the movie tells us the story of his “wonderful life” and of how he got to this one present moment on a bridge on Christmas Eve.
    2. And then everything that happens afterward.
  • That’s how we make sense of our world and our place in it.
    1. All these stories that start “in the middle of things” play with our sense of how any story should go.
      1. This is what piques our interest.
      2. Or it drives us crazy.
  • For the story to work, it often uses flashbacks and interruptions from the past to fill in the blanks of the present and move it forward into the future.
    1. Scrooge never took Marley’s name off the sign of his office.
    2. George Bailey can’t hear in his left ear because he saved his brother out of a frozen lake when he was a boy.
  • The Gospel of Mark begins in the middle of the story.
    1. For one thing, it starts with a sentence fragment, almost as if we came in somewhere in the middle of a conversation.
  • Second, Mark doesn’t have any of our favorite stories for this time of year.
    1. No nativity (that’s in the Gospel of Luke).
    2. No Wise Men (that’s found in Matthew’s Gospel).
    3. No big speech about the Word made flesh (John talks about that in his Gospel).
  • Mark simply begins in the middle of a sentence, and then immediately flashes back hundreds of years to a prophet named Isaiah.
    1. Only to flash forward again to land us in the wilderness with this other prophet named John.
      1. Preaching repentance.
      2. Wearing camel skins and eating locusts.
      3. Preparing the way for the mightier one who will come after him.
  • And then, fade to black.
    1. Mark leaves us in suspense until the next scene opens.
    2. Maybe next week.
    3. Or maybe the week after that.
      1. Who knows?
  • Part of it, is perhaps to pique our interest.
    1. Mark wants us to be so filled with eager anticipation that we can’t help but read it all the way through to the end.
    2. And then, like any great story, to turn back to the beginning to see what we missed the first time around.
    3. As a matter of fact, the Gospel of Mark moves so fast that you could do exactly that this afternoon—read all sixteen chapters—with time to spare before dinner.
  • But the real point is that this is exactly how Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world.
    1. In medias res.
    2. In the middle of things.
    3. Into the middle of human history.
  • The way Mark tells the story, this Jesus seems to come to us from out of nowhere, out of a nowhere town called Nazareth, from a nowhere place called Galilee.
  • The way Mark tells the story, it is almost as if we never would have noticed him, except that there is this prophet named John, prophesied by another prophet named Isaiah, preparing the way.
  • Jesus comes in medias res, in the middle of things.
    1. Into the hustle and bustle of a holiday season that often doesn’t even remember the “reason for the season.”
      1. Into the messiness of our everyday lives.
      2. The stressful job.
      3. Our frantic home life.
      4. The days that turn to weeks that turn to years before we can even blink an eye.
  • Into all the brokenness and failure
    1. all those things “we have done . . . and left undone”
    2. that we want to gloss over with a red-and-green sweater and a smile.
  • Jesus Comes into the Middle of Our Lives to Stir Up Our Hearts to the Life That Only He Can Give.
  • To repent simply means “to turn” from one thing to another.
  • John is calling us to turn from whatever it is that is distracting us from the life that really matters in the middle of this hustle and bustle that will never slow down.
  • John is calling us to turn to the One whose shoes we are not worthy to tie, but who nonetheless came to stoop down to wash our feet.
  • The One who says:
    1. Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
  • The One who also says to us:
    1. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
  • The One who would eventually give his all, his life into death on the cross, so that we might have eternal life.
    1. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
    2. But that’s jumping ahead, now isn’t it?
  • Into the middle of things (In Medias Res), the Lord comes to us.
  • What about at the end of things?
  • What about the end of our lives?
  • What are we to be about?
  • C.S. Lewis, from his book Mere Christianity,  sheds some light on this:
    1. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.
    2. God is going to invade, all right.
    3. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else—something it never entered your head to conceive—comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?
    4. For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.
    5. It will be too late then to choose your side.
    6. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.
    7. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not.
    8. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose [with the Spirit’s help] the right side.
    9. God is holding back to give us that chance.
    10. It will not last for ever.
    11. We must [through the power of the Holy Spirit} take it or leave it. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity [New York: HarperCollins, 2011], 65)
  • The next scene in the “beginning of the gospel” according to Mark is about to start.
    1. And I’m not just talking about Christmas morning.
    2. When it does come, we will finally see this one—Jesus Christ, the Son of God—face-to-face.
    3. Our Advent expectations hinge on the certain hope that just as Jesus Christ came into the world, he will come again.
    4. And he will come then just as he came two thousand years ago and just as he comes to us now: in medias res, into the middle of things.
    5. We don’t know when.
    6. We don’t know how.
    7. But he will come into the messiness of this world, into the messiness of our own lives.
    8. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise.” And he will come again to bring forth “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:9, 13).
    9. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait to see what happens next.
    10. Amen.
  • Let us pray:
  • The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.

Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve 2020

  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.
  • The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this evening.
  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:

Psalm 105:1-6

(1)  Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

(2)  Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!

(3)  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

(4)  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!

(5)  Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

(6)  O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

  • Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
  • Dear family of God, imagine the scene Luke records for us.
    1. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, passing along between Samaria and Galilee.
    2. “And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us’” (verses 12–13).
  • The lepers had great reason, in Christ, to give thanks.
  • In those two verses, we can see the gravity in their situation.
  • First of all, having leprosy wasn’t cured by just taking a Tylenol and getting some rest.
  • As the disease would progress, attacking the nerve endings, pain would turn into numbness, and the skin would lose its original color, becoming thick, glossy, and scaly.
  • Sores and ulcers would develop, especially around the eyes and ears, and the skin would bunch up with deep furrows between the swelling so that one’s face would look similar to that of a lion—not to mention, one’s voice would become hoarse and grating.
  • If you had the signs of this disease and were declared “unclean,” you could no longer live in your community, but were basically left homeless without the support of family and friends.
  • You were considered to be cursed by God, profoundly impure.
  • If anyone came near, you had to tear your clothes, cover your upper lip, and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.”
  • So, when Jesus told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests” (verse 14), that specific, biblical procedure was necessary in order for them to be declared clean, and as they started on their way, they were cleansed.
  • Yes, they were healed of that awful disease.
  • And maybe it’s even appropriate to say they were healed and freed from a death sentence.
  • That’s why Luke describes in his account how they all turned back, praising God, with a loud voice, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
  • Oh, wait a minute.
  • That’s not correct?
  • Luke doesn’t describe it that way?
  • Well, obviously, he doesn’t.
  • In fact, only one of the former lepers turned back to praise God and thank Jesus, and that person was a foreigner, a Samaritan, one who was regarded as outside the bounds of the covenant people of Israel.
  • But all ten were cleansed.
  • Their flesh was restored, to be like that of a youth—all of them.
  • They could once again participate in their community, having a house and home and being surrounded by their family and friends—all of them.
  • Basically, they could live again—all of them.
  • And yet, only this one turned back to say thank you for his physical healing and also to praise God.
  • Yes, the one who turned back even worshiped Jesus as he fell facedown at his feet, giving him thanks.
  • We have yet more reasons, in Christ, to give thanks.
  • Dear family of God , on this day before Thanks­giving, during this time of the pandemic, our living Lord through our brother Luke also asks us today, “Where is the rest of your congregation, your Christian family?
  • Were not all cleansed by my death and resurrection?
  • Why are not all giving thanks?”
  • And he even says to you who are here,
    1. “Has your heart always been filled with thanksgiving, love, and praise toward me?”
  • He says,
  • “Didn’t I make you and all creatures?
  • Didn’t I give you your body and soul, eyes, ears, and all your members, your reason and all your senses?
  • Don’t I still take care of them?
  • Haven’t I given you clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, animals, and all you have?
  • Don’t I richly and daily provide you with all you need to support your body and life?
  • Don’t I also defend you against all danger, guard and protect you from all evil?
  • “And haven’t I redeemed you, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won you from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with my holy, precious blood and with my innocent suffering and death, that you may be my own and live under me in my kingdom and serve me in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as I’m risen from the dead, living and reigning to all eternity?
  • “And haven’t I called you by the Gospel, enlightened you with my gifts, sanctified and kept you in the true faith; just as I call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify the whole Christian Church on earth and keep it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith?
  • In this Christian Church, won’t I daily and richly forgive all your sins and the sins of all believers and raise you and all the dead, giving eternal life to you and all believers in Christ on the Last Day?” (cf Luther’s Small Catechism, The Creed).
  • All of this is why we can truly relate to those lepers of Jesus’ day with the same words,
  • “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (verse 13).
  • And he does.
  • Thanks be to God that he does!
  • Thanks be to God that he is merciful, patient, and loving toward us—even though we forget at times how much he truly gives us and what he has accomplished for us.
  • Thanks be to God that Jesus willingly went to that cursed tree, dying and rising for us, so that sin, death, and Satan would have no power over us.
  • Thanks be to God that he continues to prepare our hearts through Word and Sacrament ministry so that angels, archangels, and the whole company of heaven will be a reality to us and for us.
  • And yes, thanks be to God that Jesus also had you and me in mind when he said, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well” (verse 19).
  • Yes, salvation is truly ours because of Jesus!
  • See the Many Reasons to Give Thanks, All in Christ, to say, “Thank you, thank you.”
    1. To be just like the one leper who turned back to praise Jesus;
    2. just like Abraham Lincoln when he solidified a day of thanksgiving as a federal holiday during the Civil War in 1863;
    3. just as your parents taught you to say as a child when you received something.
    4. We say, “Thank you.”
    5. Yet, the ultimate reason we Christians give thanks and praise our living God is that he has accomplished our salvation—enabling us now and forevermore to confess personally, “Jesus is also Lord of my life.”
    6. Now, dear family of God, that’s truly a happy Thanksgiving.
    7. In the life-saving name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
  • Let us pray:

Psalm 106:47-48

(47)  Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.

(48)  Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!


  • The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
  • The Lord bless you with a blessed Thanksgiving.
  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.

Sermon for the Last Sunday of the Church 11.22.20

  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.
  • The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
  • Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
    1. Lord Jesus Christ, you reign for ever. Rule over all the world in peace, and fill our hearts and households with the power of your love, for you live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
  • Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
  • There are so many people and organizations who need our help.
  • Here is a short list of people and organizations in search of help:
  • The man and woman at the corner of the street you are turning onto from the highway.
  • The Salvation Army and the Red Kettle campaign.
  • The Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Union Rescue Mission
  • The Arkansas Food Bank
  • And the list goes on…
  •  Many of the people in need are also fellow believers in Jesus.
  • If you pay attention even a little, you’ll find that the needs greatly outweigh our ability to provide.
  • This can be very overwhelming.
  • Here is a situation that may sound a bit familiar to you:
  • A man comes home from work and sits down to open the mail.
  • Most of the envelopes are bills.
  • One after another, they add up.
  • After four or five, he is overwhelmed with the mounting debt.
  • Then he opens a letter from his church asking him to support a mission effort.
  • Genuinely sorry, he concludes that he cannot give again this year.
  • He puts his head in his hands in despair.
  • Christians want to help other Christians.
  • This sincere desire is part of our sanctified nature.
  • But so often our own needs overshadow the needs of others.
  • As a result, we may be unwilling or even unable to help those in need.
  • Our own needs take on many forms.
  • So also do our excuses.
    1. Too little time or too little money.
    2. Perhaps we have health restrictions, or we feel as if we have nothing to offer.
  • Some of these limitations are legitimate.
  • Some are not.
  • We listen to Jesus describe those who, without their knowing it, served him, and we see more clearly our neglect of others.
  • Are you really among the sheep?
  • How can you tell?
  • Even though we may be secure in the fact that we are the Lord’s sheep through our Baptism, we are also convicted of our selfishness and lack of care of others.
  • Are you ready for some Good News?!
  • Here is part 2 of the story about the man with the pile of bills:
  • There remains one more letter on the coffee table that has not been opened yet.
  • In the letter, an attorney announces that an unexpected inheritance from a distant relative has been given to the man.
    1. Imagine the difference this inheritance would make in the man’s life.
      1. He might be able to pay all his bills on time for years to come and he might also be able to help his church out too.
      2. This inheritance enables him to give generously here and now.
  • The full reception of the inheritance did not immediately take effect.
  • The person in the illustration would have to wait several years for the estate to be settled and the inheritance received.
  • In a similar way, the fullness of our inheritance in Christ will not be realized until Jesus returns.
  • In our text for this morning, the foundational difference between the sheep and the goats is not their behavior.
  • It is the inheritance prepared for the sheep.
  • This inheritance has been prepared for God’s people from the foundation of the world.
  • Notice that God’s grace goes all the way back to creation.
  • Revelation tells us that our names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world,
  • “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Rev 13:8, emphasis added).
  • God secured our inheritance by sending Jesus to become the sacrificial lamb on the cross.
  • Our inheritance is in the precious blood of Christ.
  • The guarantee of this inheritance for us Chris­tians is found in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
  • There are at least two references to this guarantee in Scripture:
    1. (1 Corinthians 15:20–28)
  • (1 Peter 1:3–5)
  • This promise of eternal life is for all who believe in Christ.
  • Therefore, we are enabled to live as heirs, loving those in need.
  • This text gives us a glimpse of what will happen when Jesus returns.
  • It is a description, a preview.
  • Notice that there are almost no commands in this text.
  • When Jesus describes the behavior of the sheep and the goats, he is describing the difference made by the inheritance.
  • The good works done by the sheep are necessarily the result of living as heirs.
  • With our focus on what God has done for us in Christ, giving his own Son into death on the cross, we simply do what comes naturally by serving “the least of these” brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • God’s promise of inheritance turns those who were previously worried about themselves to look toward and think about their brothers and sisters who need their help.
  • Jesus is the difference maker by making us heirs.
  • By Making Us His Heirs, Jesus Makes Us Glad to Help Our Brothers and Sisters in Need.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer described how Christians treat one another by saying that Christians practice “the self-forgetfulness of love” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Communion of Saints [New York: Harper and Row: 1963], 123).
  • This is the impact of our inheritance.
  • Knowing that God has given us such a magnificently rich and eternal inheritance lets us forget about ourselves, because there’s nothing we can gain for ourselves that adds to what God has already given us in Christ Jesus.
  • In Jesus’ picture of the Last Day (Matthew 25:34), he speaks to his sheep as those who have received an inheritance.
  • Their kind actions toward “the least of these” flow from the promise of their eternal inheritance.
  • Likewise, all Christians, made heirs in Baptism, are enabled to show kindness to their brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Remember the illustration of the man who received word of the inheritance.
  • News of his inheritance made all the difference.
  • It enabled him toward self-forgetful endurance and generosity.
  • Jesus embodied such self-forgetful love toward us by dying and rising to provide an inheritance from the foundation of the world.
  • This good news enables us to exercise self-forgetful generosity toward others. Amen.
  • Let us pray:
    1. O Lord, grant us a faith that perseveres until the end. Move us by Your Spirit, that our good works continually bring glory to You and benefits to our neighbor. Amen.
  • The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
  • In the Name of the Father…Amen.


All Saint’s Day 2020 Sermon

In the Name of the Father…Amen.

The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:

O Christ, our King, we praise You in the Church! When we worship and when we are alone, we adore You. Give us courage to engage in spiritual warfare–against the world, our flesh, and the devil–with the two-edged sword of Your Word, and grant us the victory. Amen.

Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

This festive day in the Church Year we pray will bring great comfort to you who have lost loved ones to death. 

Comfort comes through the promise that what to the world appears to be a loss becomes a win for the Christian. 

John reminded his readers that the world will bring trouble, but those who are children of God have received the promised hope that death has already been emptied of its power. 

Yes, we do have hope! 

And we have it in the one who did what it took to make us God’s children:

Our Hope as God’s Children Is in Jesus.

Many apostles had been martyred by this time.

We in the United States have seen only nominal threats.

But it appears the future could bring greater hostility toward the church and, with it, an eroding of our hope.

such as the virgin birth, 

miraculous healings, 


Jesus’ resurrection, 

life after death, 

and divine creation.

Some of us have lost loved ones this year. 

It can all cause a continual degeneration of the hope that we have toward the world—and sometimes even toward the promises of God.

Our hope is attacked by our own sinful condition.

No matter how hard we try to cling to the promises of God and the hope such promises bring, we may continue to find ourselves questioning whether such promises could really be for us.

We recognize our sin, and we question, 

“Can God really forgive what I’ve thought, said, or done.

Our hope is constantly under attack by the devil and his demons.

The devil is the accuser who will not let our sin go unchallenged and he will not stop until he has accomplished his mission (Revelation 12:10).

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

The devil seeks to separate us from the promises of God and lead us to despair. 

The question he put to Eve in the garden still haunts us: “Did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1).

But the truth is, we are children of God; yes, in Jesus, so we are!

All Christians face spiritual weaknesses.

It is important to recognize this. 

Too often, Christians fail to share their weaknesses with one another, leading to self-doubt: 

“Why do I struggle so much while other Christians seem to be doing so well? 

Am I really a child of God?”

We are called to carry one another’s burdens as we support and encourage one another in faith.

Instead of looking internally for our hope, we must look to the truth of who we are in Jesus.

Hope that is self-applied will always fail us. 

Real hope can never be found inside ourselves or in the conditions or circumstances we observe in our lives.

The only hope that’s guaranteed is the hope that sees what’s been done completely outside ourselves, completely for us:

that is, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Only in Jesus, through the eyes of faith, will we really retain the hope that sustains us.

And here’s what the eyes of faith see:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (verse 1a).

The “eyes of faith” are really ears of faith that simply hear and believe what God says: “children of God; and so we are.”

What love the Father has given!:

not deserved or earned, 

but lavished upon us without any merit or worthiness in us. 

It is a love we’ve received, a pure gift from our Father in heaven.

Not a gift we can accept now and toss it away later if we don’t like it.

We are children of God! 

God the Father has called us through his Son, Jesus Christ.

We have been incorporated into the family of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, through the Word and the water of Holy Baptism.

True, though “the world does not know us” (verse 1b).

When things go badly, enemies attack us, we may think that means we’re not children of God.

I must have done something bad that God would let attacks happen.

But John reminds how the world treated Jesus: 




If the world has treated Jesus in such a way, the children of God should not expect any better. 

And amid such suffering, John reminds us to look to Jesus’ resurrection.

And therefore, in Jesus, here is our hope! (verse 2).

We have the hope that, beyond this life, we shall be like Jesus.

One of these days, Jesus is going to appear again, in glory, coming back from heaven for all to see.

We don’t know everything about that day or what life will be like afterward.

And that’s okay!

But we do know that our bodies will be raised, our own real, human bodies, and that our bodies and the bodies of all the saints—our loved ones who’ve died in Christ—will be glorified, like his glorious body, to live together with him forever.

This is certain, because our hope is founded on the reality of Jesus’ incarnation and divinity and on the fact that he completed everything that was incomplete within us.

He entered our stead, became a sinner for us.

He carried our sin to the cross and to death, so that in his resurrection the sin, death, and devil that cling to us would be removed and purified.

Our purity is based in Jesus’ righteousness, not on our righteousness.

All sin is washed away through Jesus’ blood.

While we continue to sin in this life, Jesus continues to cover our sin with his death and resurrection.

Jesus’ has completed the work of our salvation through his ministry. 

Yet ours is not only a historical promise. 

Through the Divine Service, Jesus continues to deliver the forgiveness of sins. 

Such forgiveness empties us of the lies from the devil, the world, and our doubts.

John will not let us forget who we are. 

If you need to remind yourself of what John says in our text for this morning, read it every day and memorize it!

Jesus’ forgiveness is perfect apart from anything within us.

This is the hope we have received as children of God. 

It is a hope that sustains because of Jesus’ righteousness.

“That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” 

A famous line, of course, spoken by Juliet to Romeo during their balcony scene. 

Ever stop to think what that means? 

She’s speaking an obvious truth: what you call something

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October 2020 Message

My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.
(Proverbs 7:1-5)

Proverbs 7:1-5

Greetings to you in the Name of our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

When Johannes Gutenberg combined the printing press with moveable type in 1450, he ushered in the era of mass communications in the West, spreading learning into new social realms. Literacy increased across the globe and new ideas produced rapid transformations in social and religious contexts. Gutenberg produced the first-ever printed version of the Bible. Prior to this, Bibles were painstakingly hand-copied, taking scribes up to a year to produce.

For centuries since, the printing press has provided people like you and me the privilege of direct access to Scripture. While we also have electronic versions available to us, many of us often hold a physical Bible in our hands because of his invention. What was once inaccessible given the sheer cost and time to have a Bible copied is readily at our fingertips today. Having access to God’s truth is an amazing privilege. The writer of Proverbs indicates we should treat His instructions to us in the Scriptures as something to be cherished, as “the apple of [our] eye” (Proverbs 7:2) and to write His words of wisdom on “the tablet of [our] heart” (v. 3). As we seek to understand the Bible and live according to its wisdom, we, like scribes, are drawing God’s truth from our “fingers” down into our hearts, to be taken with us wherever we go.

First Lutheran Church
Little Rock

Questions to reflect on:

  1. How has having Scripture stored in your heart benefitted you?
  2. How can you begin to internalize more of God’s wisdom?

Prayer for the month: Loving God, help me to know Your Word intimately that I might live in the way
You desire. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Your servant and fellow brother in Christ,
Pastor Bacic

  • Article adapted from the devotional “Printed on our hearts” by Kirsten Holmberg, published in the September-November 2020 issue
    of Our Daily Bread.
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September 2020 Message

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  

(41)  He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).  (42)  He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).  (43)  The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”  (44)  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  (45)  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  (46)  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

John 1:40-46

Greetings to you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We tend to think of well-established, successful movements and organizations as beginning in that same fashion. That is rarely the case. Because of the explosive growth of the Christian movement in the first century and to the present day, we naturally read the stories of its origins in the light of its later success. We celebrate those early disciples and outright champion the Twelve. It is so easy to retrospectively romanticize the early days of a smashing success.

Did you catch this phrase from today’s text?

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  

Wait! One of the two? The great John the Baptist, the phenom forerunner of the Son of God, the one who first identified him to the world, only managed to come up with two followers for Jesus?

Think about it. By any standards, we would file an outcome of two responses on day one (or day two) in the Epic Fail folder. We might console ourselves to remember that one of those two brought his brother and the other one produced a sarcastic, cynical colleague (a.k.a. Nathanial).

Why are we so seduced by the shallow metrics of numbers when it comes to our churches and kingdom efforts? Three joiners and a tepid fourth does not seem like anything we would even have the guts to report. Even twelve would be considered an embarrassment we would desperately want to somehow explain away.

As ego-inflating (or deflating) as the case may be, when it comes to the kingdom of God, numbers are at best an unreliable source and at worst a deceptive measure of success.

Of all those droves of people listening to John, only two raised their hands. It just so happens that one of them turned out to be the apostle to Europe and the other the apostle to Africa—both of which were founding fathers of what is today a 2000-year-and-counting global movement of more than two billion people.

This is how God starts a movement. This is how Jesus saves the world. It should cause all of us to pause and reconsider what success might look like in the eyes of God—to remember the mustard seed and the loaves and fishes and a band of twelve that started with two. And, yes, to never, ever despise the days of small beginnings.

Questions to reflect on:

  1. Have you ever thought of Jesus’ beginnings as being weak and unimpressive?
  2. What is it about numbers that so seduces us?
  3. What will it take to shift our mind-set on what  constitutes true success?
  4. How do we live in the midst of a world (even the church) that remains in the old and broken way of seeing and thinking?

A final thought: Never despise the days of small beginnings. Small beginnings are, in fact, the true nature of how the kingdom of God spreads and grows.

Prayer:  Abba Father, thank you for teaching us the secret of the seed. Cultivate in us the audacity of faith to trust the small starts and humble origins. Come, Holy Spirit, and retrain our vision, remake our mind, and retool our expectations that we might be freed from the ways of the world and fit with the wisdom of the kingdom. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your servant and fellow brother in Christ,

                      Pastor Bacic

*Adapted from the article “Remembering the days of small beginnings” (08/10/20) from To subscribe to the Seedbed Daily Text, go to and click on the “Daily Text” tab and select “Subscribe.”

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August 2020 Message

6“You are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 7:6-8

We make a lot of choices every day. We choose what to eat for breakfast. We choose what to wear. We choose what we are going that day. Here is something God chose. These verses from Deuteronomy 7 show that God’s most treasured possessions are His people. He loves and cherishes us above everything else. As baptized children of God, we are His treasures. We are more special to Him than anything.

To explain why God chose us, here is a little story: Once a mother dog had eight pup¬pies. Of all the puppies, one was very small. He was nervous around people. He was frightened of loud noises. He huddled in the corner of the pen away from the other puppies. As the weeks went by, the owner noticed the little, scared puppy and worried no one would want to adopt him.

Finally, the big adoption day came. Families came and looked at the dogs to take home to their new surroundings. A few families were introduced to the puppies. Kids got excited about the happy, playful puppies as they ran around the yard with them. But the littlest puppy cowered in the corner. One family arrived with a little girl named Clara. Clara had some developmental delays, but she was quick to make a decision that day! She pointed right at the little puppy and said she wanted him. The puppy and Clara soon became best friends. The puppy helped Clara express herself, and with Clara’s gentle care, the puppy became confident and happy.

This story may be a little bit like how God chooses us. He chooses us who are weak and sinful. We are His most precious treasured possession. In fact, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of each one of us. He counted us even above His own Son! Jesus died for our sins so that we could be brought close to God again. The Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, loves us!!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for choosing us to be your own dear children. Thank you for making us your most treasured possessions. Help us to trust that you always will care for us, your dear children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Your servant and fellow brother in Christ,
Pastor Bacic

*Adapted from the children’s message “God chose you” in the issue of Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 30, Part 3, Series A, June 7-September 6, 2020.

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July 2020 Message

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

(Psalm 91:2-4)

Greetings to you in Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen.

We know the familiar story of the three little pigs. Two lazy little pigs build houses out of straw and sticks. When the wolf comes along with his threat to huff and puff and blow the houses down, that is exactly what happens. The poorly crafted homes comes crashing down. Only the third home, constructed of sturdy bricks by the more industrious third pig is able to withstand the huffing and puffing of the wolf. In line with the wisdom demonstrated by at least one little pig, many great castles and fortresses were built out of stone. Constructed centuries ago, many such strongholds are still standing, having withstood long years of struggle and bombardment far more deadly than a wolf’s huffing and puffing.

Psalm 91 celebrates a fortress of immense and enduring strength, a refuge for us in every time of need. Nothing can bring it down. This stronghold is not built of brick or stone, or even of straw and sticks. We live in a fortress of feathers. To human reason, such a fortress does not appear to be very substantial. But our sturdy shelter is the God in whom we trust. He covers us “with His pinions” and hides us “under His wings.” He is a place to hide when fears and doubts threaten to overcome us, when we are threatened by “the snare of the fowler,” “deadly pestilence,” and every other trick and trap of the devil.

God is our fortress, a stronghold that no foe can conquer. We are safe because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for a time, stepped purposefully into the snares of His enemies. For the sake of our salvation, Jesus allowed Himself to be overcome by the powers of darkness. In helpless weakness He was nailed to a cross, where He suffered the penalty of death that we deserved for our sins. His body was sealed in a tomb, a stronghold of stone guarded by soldiers. Then, on the first Easter morning, the stone door of that fortress of death was rolled back to reveal an empty tomb. Jesus had risen from the dead! His victory over sin, death, and Satan is our victory, and when our Lord returns, the stronghold of death will not be able to hold us in. We will be raised from death as our Savior was raised!

Until that great day, we have an unfailing shelter. The world may not think that our God is a strong refuge. They consider us foolish to trust in Him to shelter us. But we know better, and we rejoice within the sure and certain safety of our feathered fortress:

“You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy”

Psalm 63:7b

Prayer: Heavenly Father, shelter us with Your love. Be our refuge in every time of trouble and keep us safe from the snares of the devil. Hear our prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Your servant and fellow brother in Christ,
Pastor Bacic
*Adapted from the devotion by Lutheran Hour Ministries for June 15, 2020 “A Refuge and Fortress”. Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int’l LLL (LHM).