Easter has arrived! What a joyous day of celebration. This week we'll hear Peter preach the good news about Jesus to a Roman soldier. Paul writes about the new life that we live in Christ because of his resurrection. Finally, we'll hear Matthew's account of Jesus' resurrection.
First Reading: Acts 10:34--43
Epistle Reading: Colossians 3:1--4
Gospel Reading: Matthew 28:1--10
This week we continue unwrapping our Christmas gift, Jesus Christ, in our readings. We see the second servant song from Isaiah, Paul's greetings to the Church in Corinth and John the Baptist pointing out the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Oh, and Simon gets a new name too!
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Psalm 85:1-7 which reads:
“Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.”
How many times do you forgive someone who has done something wrong against you? If it is a family member who sins, it might be easier to forgive time and time again, but if it is a stranger or even an enemy who sins against you it is much more difficult to even consider forgiving them. Forgiving doesn’t come naturally for us, it has to be taught. It is much easier and more natural to hold a grudge and seek revenge. We want to get back at someone for how they have wronged us.
Imagine having a son or daughter who frequently disobeyed you and did the opposite of what you had instructed them to do. You may have experienced this or might be currently experiencing it with your own children. Your instructions that you gave them were for their own good and even though they occasionally appear strict, they were meant to keep them safe and happy. Could you forgive them every time that they sinned against you? Is there ever a point where you stopped forgiving them or would consider not forgiving them anymore?
This is the situation that we see taking place in the Old Testament and referenced in our Psalm for today. God has created the world and has chosen his people Israel. They are his sons and daughters and he gives them instructions on how they are to live in the world. These instructions are for their own good and yet they continually disobey them and turn away from their heavenly father. The Psalmist recalls how God forgave his people from these sins and implores him to continue doing that and not to be angry with them forever.
Now before we get too proud and think that the Israelites were ignorant because they continued to sin against God, we must remember that we too sin against God. Our sin makes us enemies with him, cut off from his love and salvation. But Paul tells us in Romans that God demonstrates his extreme love in this way, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. God forgives all of our sins. He forgives us each time that we sin and he puts no limits on the amount of forgiveness that he’ll give to us. Now we can forgive others for their wrongs against us because we have been forgiven and loved so greatly by our heavenly Father.
Let us pray:
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for loving us so much that you sent your Son Jesus into the world to die on the cross to forgive our sins. Help us to always remember this great gift of love and forgiveness that you have given to us so that we too can share it with others. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Psalm 19 which reads:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Man it has been cold lately! The news has been calling this cold weather system that we’re experiencing a “polar vortex”. This bitterly cold weather has made it painful to be outside and left us longing for those warmer spring and summer days.
Do you know what is funny about the weather? We never seem to be satisfied with it. Right now it is too cold and we long for the warmer days. When the summer comes we’ll find it to be too hot and we’ll wish for the cooler fall days.
One thing that is easy to overlook in bad weather, when we’re complaining about the cold or the heat, is the beauty of God’s creation. We hear about that in our scripture reading for today. King David tells us that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” God has given us this beautiful world that he created for our enjoyment. If we stop to look around we will find that it really is beautiful. Whether it is the freshly fallen snow on the ground or a beautiful summer sunset, God has given us a beautiful world in which to live.
It is this gift of a beautiful creation that is a daily reminder of God’s power and might. It is also our assurance in the times of trial and challenges. We can be reminded that God, the supreme creator and ruler of the Universe, loves us and cares for us. He cares for us so much that he became man and restored our relationship with him. Now we can be assured that whether we are hot or cold, rich or poor, sick or healthy, God is our refuge and strength and our hope for eternity.
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for creating the world and everything in it. Thank you for the sunsets and the snow, the trees and the mountains, the rivers and the plains and everything else around us. Help us to always remember that you love us and care for us and that we can always trust in you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Matthew 2:9-11 which reads:
9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Happy Epiphany! Today is the day in the church that we celebrate Jesus being revealed to the gentile magi who had come to visit him. He had already been revealed to the Israelite shepherds on the nigh of his birth and now the savior of the world was being revealed to the gentiles too.
In our reading today we hear about the first Christmas presents ever given. The magi open their treasure and give Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were gifts fit for a king, and that was exactly to whom they were given. Jesus, the king of the entire world.
Did you get any gifts for Christmas? Were they exactly what you had hoped to receive? Maybe you had to take them back to the store to exchange them for a better size or color. Giving and receiving gifts is fun. I enjoy picking out something special for a friend or family member and then watching their excitement when they open it up. As much fun as it is to give and receive gifts, eventually the gifts that we give wear out or are used up. We throw them away, lose them, or give them to someone else. Mary and Joseph surely used up the gold, frankincense and myrrh that they were given.
The good news is that there was a different, a perfect gift that was also given at that first Christmas and revealed to the magi at Epiphany; the gift of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, come to save us from sin, death and the power of the devil. It is a gift that we will continue to unwrap throughout this season of Epiphany, which lasts until Ash Wednesday on March 6th.
Through your baptism God delivered this gift of salvation directly to you. This is an unshakable promise that you can always hold on to no matter what happens in your life. Whether you are hurt by the sinful actions of yourself and others or if sickness and age have weakened your body, you can be assured that you have the forgiveness of your sins and the promise of everlasting life. This is a gift that won’t wear out, break, or be stolen!
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us the gift of your Son Jesus. Help us to always remember that we received this gift through our baptism and that we can be sure of the hope that we have in him. We ask this all in Jesus name, Amen
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Proverbs 3:5-6 which reads:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Trust is an important thing. We want others to trust us when we tell them things. We want to be trusted enough to be given responsibilities. When trust is lost it is often times hard to regain. If we get hurt by someone it is hard to trust them again because what they did to you is always in the back of your mind.
Who do you trust? You might trust your spouse or children. You may trust your best friend or your parents. You may even trust the local newscasters on TV. But what do all of these people have in common? At some point they will all probably do something to break your trust. Your spouse or children may lie to you causing you to doubt them the next time they tell you something. Your friend may fail to follow through on something that they promised to do for you. In all of these instances our trust fails because the people we put our trust in fail.
In our text today we hear about where we should always be putting our trust – the Lord our God. God is the only thing in which we can trust that will not fail. God has made promises to his people throughout all times and he has always followed through. He promised Adam and Eve that he would send a savior. We just finished celebrating the fulfillment of this promise in the Christmas Story where we remember the birth of Jesus. When all other fail, sometimes we turn to just trusting in ourselves. The verse from Proverbs directs us not to do this either. Keep your trust in the Lord, he will be with you always and will never fail!
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for always fulfilling your promises and being the one in which we can always put our trust. Help us to always put our trust in you and not to rely on things that fail. In Jesus name, Amen
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from Hebrews 13:7-9 which reads:
7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
The first day of 2014 has come and gone. Is the new year off to a good start for you? Maybe you’ve had the chance to spend some time with family to celebrate the beginning of this new year. Sometimes, though, it seems like there is nothing new about the new year. Waking up this morning didn’t seem much different than waking up yesterday morning or the day before that. The days seem to be the same. There’s not very much excitement in things that stay the same is there? We get bored when things are the same over and over again.
It seems like in our culture today it is even easier to get bored. How is this possible? There are so many things that occupy our time. There are TV programs, newspapers, books, games, the internet, and social activities that fill our calendar that it seems silly to say that it is easy for us to get bored. But it is true, all of these activities have made it so that we always need to have something different occupying our attention and if we focus on one thing for too long then we get bored with it and want to move on. This is unfortunate sometimes because we miss out on things because we move on too fast.
There are some things that we want to stay the same. Life would be difficult to live if our laws changed every day. If the speed limit was different each day you went out to drive the chances of you getting pulled over would be a lot higher because you wouldn’t be sure what the speed limit was. It is good that our laws stay the same.
In our text for today we hear about something else that stays the same. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is good news to have a God and savior that doesn’t change. He loves you and cares about you and has won for you forgiveness of your sins and eternal life through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. He’s promised to bring you to be with him at the end of your life or the end of the world, whichever comes first. It is good that he doesn’t change because you can trust that this promise is true no matter what other things change in your life or in the world around you. What great news!
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for being our unchangeable God and for sending your son Jesus into the world to redeem us and to restore us to a right relationship with you. Help us to remember that you never change and that we can trust in you always. In Jesus name, Amen
One devotional opportunity that my vicarage congregation provides is called "Dial-a-Devotion". Each day you can call in and listen to a new devotion. These brief devotions last 3-4 minutes and include a prayer. Many of our older members and shut-ins especially enjoy this devotional opportunity.
January is my month to record these devotions. I thought I'd provide the transcripts here.
Here's the one from January 1:
In the name of Jesus our Savior, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church welcomes you to ‘Dial-a-Devotion’, this is Vicar Tom Schlund. Our text for today is from 1 Peter 1:22-25 which reads:
2 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you."
Happy New Year! 2013 is done and 2014 is here. The beginning of a new year can be exciting. There is much to look forward to. We may look forward to our new resolutions that we make to kick a bad habit or live in a more healthy way. We may look forward to new opportunities at work or within our families. Weddings or new babies may be on the horizon in 2014. These are all very exciting things and things that we can look forward to and be happy about.
However, the beginning of the New Year can be sad and cause us to be anxious. There are friends and family members who were with us at the beginning of 2013 who are no longer with us either because of death or because of broken relationships. 2013 may have seen health or financial problems sneak into your life. Maybe your legs don’t carry you like they once did or your lungs don’t breathe as deeply as they used to. Will there be healing and improvement in 2014 or will things just get worse.
We get anxious because we don’t know what is going to happen. Will the economy get better? Will there be more violence in schools? Will we find ourselves in times of war or times of peace? We just don’t know what is going to happen this year.
In our text today we hear that our flesh is like grass – it withers and falls – but there is one thing that we have that doesn’t fail – God’s word. Our text says that the word of the Lord endures forever. It is in this word that we hear about sinful condition and our need for a savior. In this word we hear God’s promise to send a savior to redeem us from our sins. In this word we hear about Jesus being born in Bethlehem and growing up to die on the cross and rise from the tomb and in this word we hear about Jesus’ promise to return on the last day and take all believers to be with him. We can trust God’s word because it never fails. No matter what happens during 2014 we can be assured that God will be with us. He will guard us and keep us and will take us to be with him when we die. We can count on it!
My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.