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Sunday Thoughts for March 10

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday (March 10) is the “First Sunday in Lent.” In our tradition we say “in” Lent, not “of” Lent. This is to distinguish the days of Lent, which are Mondays through Saturdays, from Sundays. This gives us the count of forty days for Lent. So Sundays are in the Lenten Season, but they are not actually part of Lent. Many recognize this be by breaking their fast on Sundays. If you do so, and doing so is completely within the tradition, be sure to thank Jesus for the break.

This Sunday is known by the Latin word “Invocabit.” It is the third-person, singular, future active indicative of “invocō.” It means “he/she/it will call by name, invoke.” It comes from the first word of the Introit of the day, which begins in English “When he calls to me”

A special concern this Sunday is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. Be sure to set your clocks and watches forward one hour before going to bed Saturday night. The actual time change happens at 2:00 AM, but I doubt you want to get up and change your clocks then.

As this Sunday is in the Lent Season, you will notice some changes in our morning service. The biggest change is the omission of the Hymn of Praise. We also will not be using the “Alleluia” verse before the Gospel lesson. We will use the Lenten Verse instead. The Hymn of Praise and Alleluia Verse will return Easter Sunday.

Our appointed lessons for Sunday are Deuteronomy 26:1–11; Psalm 91:1-13 (1); Romans 10:8–13; and Luke 4:1–13. We will also use these lessons for Wednesday, March 13. On Wednesday the Psalm will service as the foundation for the message. For this coming Sunday, the text for the sermon is Luke 4:1-2. The sermon is titled, “Tempted For Us”. Our worship service will be configured as a service of the word.

Our opening hymn is “Once He Came in Blessing” (LSB 333). Our sermon hymn is O Lord, throughout These forty Days” (LSB 418). Our closing hymn is “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” (LSB 655). The tunes are all known by the congregation

What follows are the readings with my initial thoughts. Because the same readings will be use for our Wednesday service next week, this post is doing double duty.

Deuteronomy 26:1–11
26:1 “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, 2you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. 3And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’ 4Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.
5 “And you shall make response before the LORD your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. 7Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. 9And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. 11And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

Initial Thoughts: This is a fun passage to pay attention to the pronouns. The people come to the priests and say, “The Lord your God.” Then the priest speaks and says to the person bringing the offering, “The Lord your God.” God is a personal God. Notice also the story about the Israelites time in Egypt. The Egyptians treated “us” harshly, the Lord heard “our” voice, the Lord brought “us” out of bondage, just as surely as he brought “us” into the Promised Land. What God has done, even done in the past long before we were born, is part of our common life as believers. So the cross is a constant present reality. We see the faithfulness of God as he delivers on his promises. He continues to do so to this day, delivering on his promises through word and sacrament. Something to be careful about is attributing to God promises that he never made. Many have made shipwreck their faith through such empty words. They believe God has promised this or that and then, when this or that doesn’t happen, it is believed God didn’t keep his promise. Always check out the promise and see if it is the real deal. For example, Jesus healed a man born blind (John 9). Does this constitute a promise that Jesus will cure all who are born blind? No it doesn’t. It is a descriptive passage, not a promise passage. We learn that Christ is merciful and powerful. We do not receive a promise about miracles. Do you want to see a miracle? Go to the Lord’s Table. Watch a baptism. The first fruits of this passage also remind us that Christ is the “first born” of Mary, and the Father’s Only Begotten (and therefore first born). The Father gives his very best for our salvation. The oppression of the Hebrews in Egypt reminds us of the oppression we experience from sin, death and the devil, from which we are delivered.

Psalm 91:1-13 (1)
91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Initial Thoughts: This is a well known Psalm, in part because it was the inspiration for Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress.” It is also referred to by Satan in our Gospel lesson as he tempts Jesus (Luke 4:10-11). The Psalms are poetry and the rules for understanding poetry are to be used. To put this another way, they employ imagery and symbolism. So, in verse 4, we should not think literally about “the snare of the fowler.” In verse 5 we should not think that God literally has wings. In verse 2 we do not think that God is literally a fortress. Taking things literally was the mistake Satan was urging on Jesus during the temptations. Satan, though, correctly understood the Psalm to be speaking of Jesus, he just offered an inappropriate understanding of how it should be applied to Jesus. As the message for Wednesday, March 13, will be based on this Psalm, I’ll write no more today.

Romans 10:8-13
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Initial Thoughts: Ah, Paul gets it. He refers to actual promises made by God in the Scriptures. Still, this passage reminds me of the importance of correct understanding of Scripture. Many years ago (before I was married) I attended a Bible study of sorts led by a fringe Christian group. Based on the phrase “and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” they locked the doors of the house and would not let anyone out until everyone said “Jesus is Lord.” Their thought was that this would mean the people were converted. Paul is not teaching that simply making the correct sounds automatically saves us. That is salvation by good works. That leaves out the believing aspect in the first half of the verse and the verse that follows. What Paul is saying is that real faith produces real fruit, including confessing with our mouth our faith. This group also liked the final phrase, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Based on the context, this is a calling on the name of the Lord in faith. Paul uses the words “justified” and “saved.” While speaking of the same miracle, the words actually explore different aspects of the work of Jesus. “Justified” is a courtroom metaphor. “Saved” is a rescue metaphor. A judge declares one justified. A lifeguard saves someone.

Luke 4:1-13
4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

Traditional location on Temple where Jesus was tempted

9And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

11and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Initial Thoughts: While in Israel, we were shown the traditional temple location where the third temptation took place. I guess, by a miracle, the Romans didn’t destroy it in 70 AD. The chance this was the place is remote, at best. Still, it was cool. However, such sites are again a caution about looking for miracles where none are promised. Notice that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he was tempted. Temptation does not mean we have lost our faith or that the Holy Spirit has abandoned us. Notice also that Jesus resists the devil’s wiles with Scripture. Also notice that the Devil uses Scripture to temps Jesus. This accents the importance of knowing Scripture so that you can defend yourself (and others) from false ideas imported into the Bible by our sinful nature, the world and even the devil. We will be using this lesson Sunday so I’ll end here.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor

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