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Posts Tagged ‘Repentance’

 Amos 7:7-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line
    in the midst of my people Israel;
    I will never again pass by them;
the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
    and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
    and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said, “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
    and Israel must go into exile
    away from his land.’”12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

Comments

This is the time of the divided Kingdoms, the Southern Kingdom, Judah and the Northern Kingdom, Israel.  The Lord sent the prophets to preach His Word of judgment and promise.  Amos was a prophet in the northern Kingdom.  The Lord uses the image of a plumb line.  As seen in the photo above, a plumb line is a builder’s tool to determine a straight, vertical line in building such as a home, temple or government edifice.   He is quite clear:   Israel is not growing straight, according to the Word of God.

Israel is not plumb. Why? Answer:  Israel was more concerned about their  houses and mansions, in this time of material prosperity than the House of the Lord and His Word ,Amos 5:11 

Israel was worshiping the almighty dollar and caring not for the poor and spurning God’s Word.  The national shrine at Bethel was established by the first Jeroboam as a counter to the Temple established by the Lord Himself in Jerusalem.  Bethel was the very site that Jacob had his dream and he declared it “Beth-El”, House of God and it had become in the 8th century BC a kind of a mega-church.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:  How is the Church plumb or not plumb?  Our Nation?  Your life?

Amaziah, priest at Bethel, wanted Amos to go into exile.  First: Amaziah did not tell the truth in reporting Amos’ sermon as Amos did not say the king would die by the sword, but the Lord will be against “the house of Jeroboam”.  False news reports are nothing new, especially when it comes for the worldly to report the Word of God as preached and taught in the Church.  For instance, the Church is for life, so it is regularly reported the Church is against women, while actually being for life which means the Lord is for women and men and children, from conception to death.   Second:  Amaziah calls Bethel “the king’s sanctuary”, and he did not mean the King of Israel!  In other words, Bethel devolved into a nationalist shrine, utterly confusing nation and Temple (church).  The great political/religious struggle of our day is who will be the chaplains of the United States:  conservative or liberal Christianity.  Conservative Christianity once held sway but now it is liberal Christianity.  Conservative Christianity rightly supports morality but at the expense of the purpose of the Law:  to point us to Jesus Christ.  Liberal Christianity now supports  the immorality of abortion and false marriage and so can not point to Jesus Christ.  Both uncritically supports doctrines and practices contrary to Biblical faith. Both are essentially Christ-less, so God-less and make “Providence” bend to their political platforms.   We do not need them  support the Church!  

 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
    or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
    and Bethel shall come to nothing.”

Amos 5: 4-6

Neither did the Lord need Bethel!

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:  As Christ’s Church, what do we need from the government? Does government and culture ever tell us to flee, go somewhere else? If so, in what ways?  What does it mean for the Church to be “Bethel”, the House of God?

Amos was a humble man of God, as were all the prophets.  His call was so matter of fact sounding.  His job was a humble one as, “a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs”.  As he went about with his herds he also took care of sycamore figs.  The way to hasten their ripening is to pinch them or scrape them. Amos’ preaching of the Word of God certainly pinched many people and scraped their fine religious and spiritual sensibilities!  In their religion they were looking very much inward, but not out to the Lord and His Word and their poor neighbors.  

Questions for Reflection and DiscussionWhere does the Church need to be pinched and scraped in order to ripen?  You?  How does Christ’s Crucifixion ripen faith in us? How does Christ’s death and resurrection strengthen us for living and for the good fight of faith?

Let us pray…

O Lord, You granted Your prophets strength to resist the temptations of the devil and courage to proclaim repentance. Give us pure hearts and minds to follow Your Son faithfully even into suffering and death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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“…(King Herod Antipas feigns) an interest in John’s preaching, readily admitting: This man really preaches well. For he was afraid of John, knowing that he was godly man and that the whole country stood in awe of him and considered him to be a holy man.  But beware, lords are lords, and always seek their own interests above those of other people.  As they say, It is not good to eat cherries with lords; they eat the cherries and shower you with the pits; and the favor of lords is as capricious as the weather in April.  No lord takes kindly to rebukes, except those of an extraordinarily pious nature who could take it.  David, Josiah, and Jehoshapat did suffer the reprimands of the prophets; but the other kings refused it, and had such prophets and preachers beheaded.”

“…when the pastor rebukes others, you say, What a preacher he is, what  telling message, he really gets across! But when he finds fault with you, you say, Those clerics, don’t they ever talk about anyone else but me?  Their you have not heard it in the proper spirit. Even the devil and the malicious gossips love to hear other people put on the butcher’s block; but when their own lying and wickedness are rebuked, they can’t stand it. But if I want to hear the truth, even where it touches my person and I must accept rebuke and amend myself, as David, Josiah, and Jehoshaphat did, that is the right way to hear. But those who are willing to hear the truth, even when it is against themselves, are rare birds upon the earth. At least sparrows and ravens are not so common as the sort who love to have themselves patted on the back and praised.”

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In 1924, Paul E. Kretzmann, Ph. D., D. D., confessional Lutheran pastor and professor published his 4 volume, 3,000 page, commentary on the Bible.  The Gospel reading for 12 July A.D. 2015, 7th Sunday after Pentecost is the narrative of the beheading of John the Baptist: St. Mark 6: 14-29. The circumstances that led to John’s decapitation was at a banquet that King Herod (Antipas) held.   The quote from Dr. Kretzmann’s commentary is his two quotes on verses verses 26-29:  the first from  Dr.Stoeckhardt, Biblische Geschichte des Neuen Testaments  and the second  from Martin Luther.  There is a powerful and mournful timeliness to both quotes which is at the same encouraging for us in these dark days:

 “What here is related of the court and court life of King Herod is a faithful picture of the world, of the life of the world, and of the lust of the world. The smooth, pliant children of the world are for the most part, even when they pretend to be honorable, what Herod and Herodias were, harlots and adulterers, and if not murderers, yet thieves, deceivers, perjurers, etc, But the chief sin of the world is this, that she will not listen to admonition, that she spurns the Word of God, and is angry against those that warn her against destruction and perdition. Wherever the world, even the apparently decent, cultured, fashionable world, celebrates her festivals, there the delights of feasting, of reveling and drunkenness, are indulged in, there one finds swearing, blaspheming, cursing, there gambling and dancing and rioting are the order of the day, and wine and passion inflame heart and mind. There a dissolute, godless conduct is in evidence, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life. And the end of the wild delight and joy is often murder, the shedding of blood, and other great shame and vice.”

On the other hand, there is a lesson for the faithful believers in this story. “Therefore let no one have a terror concerning suffering and cross. Let no one envy the persecutors of the Gospel that they are enjoying honors, are great and mighty. For cross and suffering is the only way by which thou shalt come to the heritage and the kingdom of Christ; and all saints, and Christ Himself, have gone this way. Who, then, would be terrorized and complain about it? And it will be seen how quickly the change will come for the tyrants, that their suffering will come upon them in due time and finally last in eternity. From this may God mercifully keep us, and rather let us, with the sainted John the Baptist, suffer all manner of ignominy and disgrace, that we may but come to the kingdom of God; as our Lord Christ says that it is appointed to us, as to Him, cross and suffering.”

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Appointed Scripture Readings:  Acts 15: 1-21   Psalm 46   Galatians 2: 1-10   St. Matthew 16: 13-19

Prayer of the Day

Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

The festival of St. Peter and St. Paul is probably the oldest of the saints’ observances (dating from about the middle of the third century). An early tradition held that these two pillars of the New Testament Church were martyred on the same day in Rome during the persecution under Nero. In addition to this joint commemoration of their deaths, both apostles are commemorated separately: Peter on January 18 for his confession of Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:13-16) and Paul on January 25 for his conversion (Acts 9:1-19).

The confession of St. Peter did not arise in the imagination of Peter’s heart but was revealed to him by the Father. The reason this confession is important is seen in Jesus’ response: “You are Peter [Greek Petros], and on this rock [Greek petra] I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). As the people of God in the Old Testament began with the person of Abraham, the rock from which God’s people were hewn (Isaiah 51:1-2), so the people of God in the New Testament would begin with the person of Peter, whose confession is the rock on which Christ would build His Church. But Peter was not alone (the “keys” given to him in Matthew 16:19 were given to all the disciples in Matthew 18:18 and John 20:21-23). As St. Paul tells us, Peter and the other apostles take their place with the prophets as the foundation of the Church, with Christ Himself as the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The confession of Peter, therefore, is the witness of the entire apostolic band and is foundational in the building of Christ’s Church. Thus the Church gives thanks to God for St. Peter and the other apostles who have instructed Christ’s Holy Church in His divine and saving truth. 

St. Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascusis related three times in the Book of Acts (9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18). As an archenemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus set out forDamascus to arrest and bring believers toJerusalemfor trial. While on the way, he saw a blinding light and heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Damascus, where Saul was brought after being blinded, a disciple named Ananias was directed by the Lord in a vision to go to Saul to restore his sight: “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts9:15). After receiving his sight, Saul was baptized and went on to become known as Paul, the great apostle.

Those who would remake the Church into what they want and desire, will eventually have Christ Jesus remade into their own image, that is, an idol.  Too many build the Church upon men’s opinions of Jesus Christ.  Our Lord’s question to the disciples, Who do men say that I am? was never intended by the Lord to be an eternal discussion question for so-called Bible studies in too many congregations. Every year, before Christmas and Easter, come the articles debunking some portion or portions of the Bible about Jesus, like clockwork.  The Lord’s question to Peter surfaced the rumors about Him and they were just that rumors, conjecture, innuendo. Peter and Paul knew that Christ  is the only Cornerstone of His Church and that all who were being baptized, were being built onto the Cornerstone,not the cornerstone upon them! See Acts 4:11,Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2: 5-7.  The Holy Spirit conforms us to the Lord’s specs in the blueprint of His Church,  by His mercy for sinners, not according to our specs and schemes for His Church.

Peter and Paul had differences between them and much in common.  Both Peter and Paul were Jews.  Peter was an uneducated fisherman, while Paul was a highly educated Pharisee who was taught at the feet of the great rabbi, Gamaliel. Peter was with Jesus from the beginning, the first of the Apostles.  Paul, as he said, was the last of the apostles.  Both were zealous for the Law. Yet, Peter denied Christ.  Paul persecuted the Church and consented to the murder of Stephen, the first martyr of “followers of the Way”.  Both knew they were sinners whom the Law could not save and that Christ alone does atone.  Peter,
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him,“Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”62 And he went out and wept bitterly.” 
“Behold of a sudden the lover is a liar. (Peter) finds out what he is; he who had thought too highly of himself” (St. Augustine).  Peter’s tears were of godly sorrow that leads to repentance.  Paul wrote to Timothy, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.   Paul was blinded by his sin in the glory of crucified Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Paul finds out what he is and like Peter, Paul also thought so highly of  himself and Christ taught him well:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12: 3)
Paul’s confession of sin was also of the godly sorrow. Called by Christ Jesus, Peter and Paul both knew by faith His forgiveness of them and each and everyone of us. Both confessed Jesus is Lord. Both were martyred, tradition says on this day, in Rome, remembering that Peter and Paul, and all Christian martyrs, unlike the Islamic variety, do not try to take people with them in death, but ever preached and taught, the Way to heaven, in faith, not to kill the infidel, but that the infidel come to faith and  live eternally in Jesus Christ.  

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“If God is not upset with the morals of America, then He will need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Rev. Billy Graham

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I know this is not Jeremiah, but the question from Nehemiah is certainly prophetic and in keeping with all the prophets–Pr. Schroeder

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jeremiah, 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.

Biography:

The prophet Jeremiah was active as God’s prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah ca. 627 to 582 B.C. As a prophet he predicted, witnessed, and lived through the Babylonian siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. In his preaching he often used symbols, such as an almond rod (Jer. 1:11-14), wine jars (13:12-14), and a potter at work (18:1-17). His entire prophetic ministry was a sermon, communicating through word and deed God’s anger toward his rebellious people. He suffered repeated rejection and persecution by his countrymen. As far as can be known, he died in Egypt, having been taken there forcibly. He is remembered and honored for fearlessly calling God’s people to repentance. (LCMS Commemoration Biographies)

Jeremiah 5:  When I fed them to the full,
    they committed adultery
    and trooped to the houses of whores.
They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
    and shall I not avenge myself
    on a nation such as this?

Jeremiah 2:  Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Our nation, and many denominations, like Israel, have “hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water”, such as abortion on demand, now marriage between same sexes as a “right”, trying hard not to keep and ignore God’s Law.  When God’s people, and I do not mean all Americans, but Jews and Christians forsake the Lord, then the Lord is appalled.  The Lord told Jeremiah when He called him:

 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

In other words, the preaching would not be received, but he had to preach for the Lord wanted to save His people from themselves.  Jeremiah would on more than one occasion feel very much alone and sorry for himself to the point he was sad he was even born (Jeremiah 20:14).  “When you have the truth, you are a majority of one.”  I think that statement is correct, but like Jeremiah it can be a lonely way for us as well, as Christ’s Church, when the spirit of the age is so spiteful and hateful.  Yet, the Church is called to preach Christ for the life of this world dead in it’s sin. Even when the majority of a Supreme Court, or the electorate or a Church denomination vote against God and His Word, they can not change His Word.  Jeremiah was a majority of one (and by the way, he others helping him) because finally and fully:

Jeremiah 1:

 “…for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

More on Jeremiah can be found here.

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Men can change the civil law a million times but they can not change God’s Law any time. Marriage is still and only between a man and a woman.

Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpower us.
This world’s prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none,
He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

God’s Word forever shall abide, no thanks to foes, who fear it; for God himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit. Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse, though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day. The kingdom’s ours forever!

From “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” by Martin Luther

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