Friday, January 15, 2010

not TDP - on the Why question

Prof. John Pless has just contributed this article to the Lutheran Witness online edition concerning Haiti and recent human-caused tragedies. I would assume it will appear in an upcoming print edition.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 12 - How does this apply?

Certainly, if you are a brother in the office, then you have probably felt Ezekiel 34's words cut you to the heart as I have. Or if not in the office, but you are a brother in Christ, perhaps you feel the sting of v. 17-22. For I have shepherded for my own gain, and I have consumed the Lord's goodness while trampling down His blessings for others.
Certainly that is a true and valid application. But maybe we should find joy in this passage by recognizing the Lord's gracious goodness in it. For we could also validly see ourselves as the ones saved in this passage. Other false shepherds and sheep before us would have ruined and cut us off from the Lord's blessings - yet He would not have us be scattered forever. And so the Lord Himself comes as the Son of David to gather us as His sheep into His salvation. Yes, we have been victimized by others, but the Shepherd binds up our wounds.
Getting back to the first part, our own failures to be the shepherd and/or sheep highlight all the more that we cannot boast, but have been justified by His grace as His gift (Romans 3).
(Not that we should try to highlight the goodness of God's gift with more evil from us, but then that was yesterday's reading - Romans 3:5-8).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 9 - Ezekiel 3

This passage can bring about a lot of guilt, as one thinks of whom one has not warned against their sin and how our love has been cold to them. Certainly, "On God rests my salvation and my glory" as the Psalmist says today, for it cannot rest upon my works. Yet Paul notes that we must not use this salvation as authorizing us to go back to sinning after forgiveness, for that would be to "presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience" (Romans 2:4).

But before chapter 3 ends, God says that Ezekiel must go shut himself within the house, and that God will make his tongue mute - which makes it pretty hard to warn the wicked and the righteous. The Lutheran Study Bible notes provide a resolution for what seemed like a contradiction to me - Ezekiel is to be God's watchman, not a morality cop. "As the following instructions will amplify, Ezekiel is to do nothing without God's explicit command, esp in public" (v 24 note). His muteness "is lifted whenever God speaks to him" (v 26).

Keep me from saying words that later need recalling;
Guard me lest idle speech may from my lips be falling;
But when within my place I must and ought to speak,
Then to my words give grace lest I offend the weak.
Lord, let me win my foes with kindly words and actions,
And let me find good friends for counsel and correction.
Help me, as You have taught, to love both great and small
And by Your Spirit's might to live in peace with all.
(LSB 696.3-4)

Monday, January 4, 2010

January 4

In truth, we cannot say the words of Psalm 40:9-10 on our own. Yet we are not on our own - we are in Christ. For despite our withholding the Good News of great joy from people in many and various ways, God's Son delivers it to us.

As for the Gospel text, Rev. Aaron Koch once wrote this (find the rest of the sermon here):

Because Jesus is without sin, He is all the more easily neglected and taken for granted by sinful parents, who travel for an entire day utterly unconcerned about a Boy who has never demanded anything of them or been a problem for them. What Jesus is doing during this three day separation is His Father's business in His Father's house. His Father's business is saving Mary and Joseph and people like you and me. And so when His mother asks Him, "Why have you done this to us?" meaning the worry and the suffering she and Joseph have endured, the 12-year old Jesus replies with words that basically mean, "Because I love you." His Father's business is not to torment Mary and Joseph, but to redeem them. But caught up in their own self-focused perception of things, they didn't understand it. They forgot who Jesus was, even who His Father was, and therefore who they were.

Don't we also sometimes do that? We get so used to Jesus that we forget who He is. We whittle Him down to someone who fits manageably into our plans. And then when He behaves as the Lord of our lives, we get all upset at having to fit into His plans. But Jesus again reveals the truth of who He is to Joseph and Mary and to us that they and we might be called back to repentance and faith in Him who has come to save us. That is His Father's business.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

January 2

Now I know where that nagging feeling that I needed to read devotions in TDP was coming from (thanks God.) What a glorious reminder to speak to the Lord's bride tomorrow with His love. And Loehe's description of the Divine Service is not to be missed as we enter a Sunday not just as an island in between the waters of two weeks, but also between the oceans of two years. (Weedon has the first bit of the Writing here.)