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Tales from a Mother: God's Mercy - Jonah 4:6-7 | Prophet jonah, Book of  jonah, Jonah bible

Collect of the Day:

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

About Jonah:

A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour’s walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria(Jonah 1:2). His reluctance to respond and God’s insistence that His call be heeded is the story of the book that bears Jonah’s name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (Jonah1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners. Jonah’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew12:39-41). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:

Notice that in chapters 1-3, we are not told why Jonah runs away when the Lord called him to preach to the great capital of the Assyrian Empire, Ninevah.  Oh, Jonah was reluctant prophet. Yes, he was, but  reluctance is the result, not the cause. 

When Ninevah, from the King down, repents, the Lord forgives and changes His mind about His judgment towards them.  The Lord takes no pleasure in  the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from their evil to the Lord and live (see Ezekiel 33:11). It seems that Jonah wanted to take pleasure in the death of the unrepentant wicked in Ninevah. There are many movies and TV shows when someone is so wicked, I want to see him die a horrible death, yet satisfying death to me. If you know the movie, just think of the last scene of “Diehard”.  If the evil man in that movie repented, would I be joyful? No, sadly, disappointed.

We live in an age of rage and anger.  Contempt is the stuff of 24/7  news and especially news commentary.  We live in a grievance culture. Our anger does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1: 20).  It will only produce self-righteousness, and yet we must decry the evils round about us.  The Lord’s will in Jonah chapter 4 is turn Jonah from his anger to the Lord’s grace for Ninevah…and Jonah, a sinner as well and you and I.

Jonah, after Ninevah’s repentance unto life in the Lord’s grace, parks himself outside of the great city and we are told he is angry. Dr. Reed Lessing (professor OT, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in his commentary Jonah), points out that  the 4 times the word anger appears (really: the Hebrew is more  “infuriate”), it is in the last chapter and it’s subject is Jonah!  Why was he angry?  Finally, after all the action in the first 3 chapters we find out that his anger is coupled with the reason why he fled to Tarshish and away from  the Lord’s call, from Dr. Reed’s translation:  “For this reason I previously fled toward Tarshish because I knew you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in loyal love, and changing your verdict about evil.”  Jonah fled because of God’s grace! After all, like Jonah, we want to see the bad guys get it in the end!  So Jonah fled because  Jonah really not want to destroy the Gentile Assyrians!  Jonah’s true confession of the Faith (“…you are a gracious and merciful God, etc.) becomes in Jonah’s heart and mouth his accusation against the Lord! Jonah wanted the Lord to wring their necks dead.  The Lord does not want anyone to die, but repent and live….again, including Ninevah, Jonah and you and I.

Ask any congregation, ‘do you want to grow?’ and the answer is yes.  But I would maintain we may  not want this to happen  to the point of those people joining who don’t deserve it like we who have “…borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat”  (Matthew 20: 12) and they receive the same, even the most wicked and at the 11th hour:  the Lord’s free gift of grace to all who hunger and thirst, and repent and turn to the Lord (see Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20: 1-16).  From Dr. Lessing’s commentary:

We simply stand under God’s overflowing grace like rain, allowing its cool refreshment to fill our dry cracks. Then we pick up the bucket and dump it on someone else. Grace flows from Yahweh not on those who attempt to earn it, but on those who confess their need for it. The Spirit-empowered response is then to share it. But Jonah is like the angry older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:28-30): he views God’s lavish welcome for undeserving sinners who repent as an insult to his “deserving” self. The prophet has yet to embrace the Law and Gospel character of God expressed in James 2:13: “For judgment is without mercy to one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Gospel of Matthew Quotes from the Bible - AllGreatQuotes

Prayer of the Day:

O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About St. Matthew: 

St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord’s twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired record of the Gospel was granted first place in the ordering of the New Testament. Among the four Gospels, Matthew’s portrays Christ especially as the new and greater Moses, who graciously fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) and establishes a new covenant of salvation in and with His own blood (26: 27-28).  Matthew’s Gospel is also well-known for the following:

The Visit of the Magi (2: 1-12)

The Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 5-7)

The Institution of Holy Baptism and the most explicit revelation of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28: 16-20). 

Tradition is uncertain where his final field of labor was and whether Matthew died naturally or a martyr’s death. In celebrating this festival, we therefore give thanks to God that He has mightily governed and protected His Holy church through this man who was called and sent by Christ to serve the sheep of His pastures with the Holy Gospel.

St. Matthew was an excellent, noble man–not only one of the 12 fountains of consolation, the apostle of Jesus Christ of paradise, a holy evangelist, whose  words flowed from the great fountain in paradise, Jesus Christ.  He not only praised the Lord in his heart and with his tongue but also put his quill to paper and wrote his account as a memorial…pay attention so that everything in and about you is directed toward the glory of the Lord, according to David’s example in Psalm 103:2. In the kingdom of God it is said…”Strive with every skill and word, to please your Savior, Christ the Lord.”   None of the other evangelists described the history of  the Lord Jesus to such an extent as Matthew. He also has many beautiful passages that cannot be found in the others.

Here the Lord Jesus says (Matthew 11:27-29), “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

And again (Matthew 18:19-21), “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”

Andin Matthew 28:19-20“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These three passages, which should cause the legs of all devout Christians to run quickly to the Church, were written only by Matthew.

—Valerius Herberger

(Quotes above from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  One word that can not be found in the other three Gospels is “church”.  The two times the word “Church” is spoken is by the Lord and both are in the first Gospel, St. Matthew:

Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

The Apostle Peter wrote in his second Epistle:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

WE have been granted “precious and very great promises”. His divine power grants all thing that pertain to “life and godliness”.  To be joined in Christ Jesus, Immanuel, comes by His precious and very great promises, not by the Law.  The Law shows us the pattern of our life together, and the Lord’s promises alone is the divine power for faith in the teaching of the Holy Spirit so we, “…may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” Here in these two verses from St. Matthew we have two of the Lord’s precious and very great promises:  He builds His Church and in His Church He forgives us of our wrong in joyful repentance.  In His Church we have escaped worldly corruption on account of sinful desire, not because we are good on our own (when we do that we become self-righteous as a Pharisee or a social justice warrior) but by God by His goodness in Beloved Son, alone,  we are redeemed to be partaker of the divine nature.

Don’t go to a church where the corruption of the world is allowed in denying basic Christian doctrines as the need for the Law of God, the Atonement, the sanctity of life and of marriage between a man and woman alone and the inerrancy of Scripture. For all such churches are the communities of the self-righteous for once you deny  what God has shown is sin, there is no forgiveness, just cheap grace. If the Church is corrupted, as the Lord says of the corrupted salt of the earth in St. Matthew alone, “It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.’ (St. Matthew 5: 13).

Why is the Church only mentioned twice in all the Gospels?  Answer:  Christ Jesus had not been crucified, died, rose again, ascended to send the Holy Spirit.  Christ builds His Church by His Word of His crucifixion and resurrection.  As Matthew was careful in collecting taxes, he was ever more careful in teaching us the One who bought us for a price no tax collector could ever get. Only St. Matthew begins the Gospel with Baptism: Jesus’ Baptism (Mt. 3: 13-17) and the command and the promise to baptize, “…in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28: 19).  Christ builds up His Body, the Church beginning in Baptism in His great and precious promises.  When the Lord called Matthew from being a tax collector, he began writing of  Immanuel, God with us and for you.  It is in the Church we partake of very great and precious promises of His Word and His Sacraments.  Go to Church!

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Bible Verses about Nehemiah 4

Meme of the Day

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Constitution Day, is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is normally observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia. 

Years ago, I heard a Marine officer at the swearing in ceremony of new officers at the Virginia Military Institute tell the cadets to be sworn in that their final authority is not a man but “a bunch of words on the page”: The United States Constitution. Sadly, like the Holy Scriptures, so many want to put the Constitution through a paper shredder and reassemble to their own liking on the other end. All Americans, from the President to new commissioned officer make this oath in these or similar words:

I ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Many Americans from the farms of the Midwest to the cities of Los Angeles and New York have died to preserve the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The Taliban is clear to see as a danger (I hope!) but what about certain community organizers and socialist/communists who want to bring about a utopian society? From the Constitution’s Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” Note: a MORE perfect union, not a perfect union as this opens us up the greatest tyrannies: see the results of the French and Communist revolutions which had as their aim a perfect union. I maintain that those who are circumventing the Constitution are utopian terrorists.

As a Lutheran Pastor, in this blog, this may seem to be odd I recognize Constitution Day. I do so for three reasons:

1) The Constitution is the basis of our ordered and lawful republic and it is the best thing going for government to restrain a government’s monarchal aspirations and totalitarian aims. Remember the Lord Himself did not like the idea of a king in Israel, see 1 Samuel 8. The Constitution is God’s left hand to rule here.

2. The Founders knew human nature and it’s craving for idolatrous dictatorship and so wrote this document with three branches of government, plus the People and the States, to curb those aims and provide for freedom. One of my favorite lines from “Fiddler on the Roof”, a musical about 19th century Jews in the oppressive anti-Semitic czarist Russia: The students at the yeshiva ask the Rabbi is there a prayer for the czar? “A prayer for the Czar? Yes! God bless the czar and keep the czar far away from us!”. I think this sums up a lot of the Constitution.

3) As indicated, this constitutional republic is under assault as in no other time from not providing for the general welfare in cities by defunding the police, police standing down during the riots in the summer of 2020 to mask mandates, to teaching a myopic view of those who wrote Constitution were only slave owners with one purpose: so we can rule and impose our perfect society. I think the Founding Fathers knew human nature and it’s fallenness ala Jesus teaching:

“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  (St. Mark 7)

The founders knew explicitly or implicitly original sin. We are not the people to form a perfect union but given the severe limitation, yes, a MORE perfect union to stop our lust to want an absolute ruler. We are not the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Never before in the history of mankind has political freedom been the charter of a nation. We must fight all enemies, foreign and domestic forthrightly as Christians, without violence and malice and with charity for all.

TOP 25 QUOTES BY JAMES MADISON (of 548) | A-Z Quotes
Happy Birthday, James Madison! March 16, 1751 – Federalist Papers 51 & 53:  How The American People Hold Congress Accountable – Constituting America

Cyprian (A.D. ca. 200–258), was acclaimed bishop of the north African city in Carthage around 248.During the persecution of the roman Emperor Decius, Cyprian fled Carthage but returned two years later. He was then forced to deal with the problem of Christians who had lapsed from their faith under persecution and now wanted to return to the Church. It was decided that these lapsed Christians could be restored but that their restoration could take place only after a period of penance that demonstrated their faithfulness. During the persecution under Emperor Valerian, Cyprian at first went into hiding but later gave himself up to the authorities. He was beheaded for the faith in Carthage in the year 258. (From the LCMS website)

Regarding his martyrdom, from The Penguin Dictionary of Saints: 

“When persecution began again in 258, under Emperor Valerian, St Cyprian was one of the first victims. There is an account of what happened compiled directly from contemporary documents. Cyprian was first examined by the proconsul, and on affirming his adherence to the one true God, and refusing to divulge the names of his priests, he was exiled to Curubis. When a new proconsul came into office, Cyprian was brought up for trial in Carthage. He again refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, and was sentenced to death. Accompanied by a tumultuous crowd, he was led to the field of Sextus; there he knelt in prayer. He gave a generous gift to the executioner, blindfolded himself, and his head was struck off.”

Reflection:  The time frame of St. Cyprian is that he lived before the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 312 which made Christianity a legal religion of the Empire.  From the time of our Lord’s Ascension to that time the Church went through persecution from social ridicule to martyrdom.  In 250, under Emperor Decius, with the threat of death, many Christians denied the faith, gave-up fellow Christians to the authorities or when told to burn incense to Caesar bought letters called,  libelli, or certificates, that they had done so. Based upon 1 Timothy 2: 1-4, the Church prayed for Caesar, but did not pray to Caesar (see the 1st Commandment).  Will we have to prove our loyalty as citizens by worshipping the false gods of the State and their apostate teachings and/or by giving up the names of fellow believers and then by not doing so risk friends, family, employment and even life? “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it? I do, by the grace of God.” (One of the questions in the Lutheran rite of Confirmation (Lutheran Service Book, page 273) Cyprian was martyred for true worship.

 When the persecution ended, many wanted to return to the Church. Needless to say and to say the least, there were hard feelings.  One party wanted them to be re-baptized or one Novatus said they committed apostasy and were not saved.  He denied absolution to the repentant.  Novatus’ heresy, Novationism, was also condemned in The Augsburg Confession because he denied absolution/forgiveness.   The Bishop of Rome , Pope Stephen I said that once baptized, still baptized.  Others in North Africa disagreed but what was agreed upon that a time of penitence, that is, repentance would return one to the flock.  The Biblical understanding is  absolution for the penitent restores one to the Church.   This crucial understanding of repentance and absolution seems to be the basis of the true Reformation understanding: “Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism, that we repeat and practice what we began before, but abandoned.” (The Large Catechism).

“…having received the Holy Spirit, we are living holy and spiritually; if we have raised our eyes from earth to heaven; if we have lifted our hearts, filled with God and Christ, to things above and divine, let us do nothing but what is worthy of God and Christ, even as the apostle arouses and exhorts us, saying: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” [Colossians 3:1-4]. Let us, then, who in Baptism have both died and been buried in respect to the carnal sins of the old man, who have risen again with Christ in the heavenly regeneration, both think upon and do the things that are Christ’s.”  –Cyprian of Carthage

Remove the pow’r of sin from me/And cleanse all my impurity/That I may have the strength and will/ Temptations of the flesh to still.

—Renew Me, 0 Eternal Light (LSB 704:2)

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, You gave Your servant Cyprian boldness to confess the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, before the rulers of this world and courage to die for the faith he proclaimed. Give us strength always to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Quote/s of the Day – 16 September – The Memorial of Sts Cornelius & Cyprian  – AnaStpaul

This audio is an interview of Dr. Veith by Pastor Todd Wilken Issues, Etc. This is not an interview regarding our emotions at 9/11, and after, but what we have learned from 9/11. I think this is a good overview, not only on 9/11 but the cultural decline and malaise from 20 years ago which helped me to gain more perspective on the question that as a Pastor I have heard myself and others query: How did we get in the mess we’re in? Here is the link to the interview.

9/11: A Time to Remember

In the ruins of the World Trade Center, these twisted steel beams were found in the shape of a cross. This cross was put up right in the ruins and Mayor Guiliani had pedestal built for it. Eventually the cross, or the Ground Zero Cross was put into the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Excerpt  from President George W.  Bush’s Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, at the National Cathedral, September 14th,  2001:

Our purpose as a nation is firm. Yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed, and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there is a searching, and an honesty. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Tuesday, a woman said, “I prayed to God to give us a sign that He is still here.” Others have prayed for the same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those still missing.

God’s signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own. Yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral, are known and heard, and understood.

There are prayers that help us last through the day, or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers, that give us strength for the journey. And there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.

This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who mourn. 

God’s signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own. Yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral, are known and heard, and understood.

Meme of the Day

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