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Why Do the Nations Conspire and the Peoples Plot in Vain?

3rd Wednesday in Lent

Text:  Psalm 2

Unless your head has been buried in Entertainment or US Weekly, or your eyes glued to ESPN for March madness coverage, you have probably heard about the latest controversy with President Obama and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  These and other leaders of our government are pushing to pass into law that all insurance companies, even those of religious institutions, include coverage for contraceptives, medical procedures, and abortive drugs that are contrary to our beliefs and Scripture.  This would mean that even if no one in our church or church body makes use of them, the money we pay in for insurance would make such drugs or procedures possible for others.

Clearly this is something we are against for many reasons.  Christians around the country have been rallying to prevent this from passing.  Even Missouri Synod president Pastor Matt Harrison was asked to speak before Congress about the topic.  Christians are feeling the pressure on their faith, their beliefs, and their daily practices.

Recently, things may have gotten worse.  The latest consideration is that religious institutions may opt out of this potential law, but they will be fined $100 per insured employee per day.  If that were the case, our Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church Body would be fined around a quarter million dollars per day if it held fast to the truth of Scripture.  When asked by a local pastor what he thought about the situation in the last few days, WELS President Mark Schroeder quipped, “I hope they have air conditioning in my cell.”

We don’t need to become all flustered and frazzled quite yet.  We still don’t know exactly where this is going.  This might be really, really bad for us.  Or, this might just blow over as other things have.  Read the rest of this entry

The Anointed One is Reigning!

Sermon from Compline: Prayer at the Close of Day on January 18, 2012

The Anointed One is Reigning

Text: Psalm 2

February 2nd 1989 is a day my parents will never forget. My dad a young pastor in Helena, Montana shot out of bed to the sound of an explosion. He looked out the window and saw five electrical transformers explode, his first two thoughts, the world was ending or Helena was under attack. In the wee hours of the morning an explosion rocked the small city of Helena. A runaway train engine had slammed into a parked 48 car freight train carrying isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide causing an explosion that threw debris for blocks and shattered windows up to three miles away. Electricity was cut for much of the city. A short time later a police officer knocked on our door in Helena, much of the city was being evacuated because they did not know what chemicals had been released. The temperature at the time of the accident was about 28 degrees below zero with a wind chill factor of minus 75… When firefighters tried to put out the fire the water froze in their hoses.

A train running out of control created a memory that those who lived in Helena will never forget. A train running out of control is a scary and dangerous thing.

Trains were created for a purpose. Trains were made to carry massive cargo along a specific route at a specific time and speed. When a train deviates from what its owner and operator planned chaos results. Imagine that night in Helena. Picture what happens when a train leaves its tracks. Trains were created to work in a certain way and when they stray from the plan, wrecks occur…

Contrary to popular opinion, human existence is not a random cosmic mistake. Much like trains we were created for a specific purpose. Our lives are not the product of chance or luck. Our daily activities are not independent choices that have no objective guidance or effect on the world around us. We were made for a purpose. We were created to fulfill certain roles. We were fashioned to follow certain tracks or guidelines and much like a train out of control, when we deviate from the blueprint our creator gave us wrecks happen. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Devotion on Psalm 2

Devotion Text: Psalm 2

We all have some sort of treasured possession.

Some of us treasure mementos–gifts from loved ones, objects with sentimental value from our children or relatives who have passed on, objects of real value that we hope will be a nest egg or trinkets that connect us to a cherished memory from long ago.

Others of us treasure utilitarianism–that gadget that makes your job or life so much easier, that piece of furniture that doesn’t look very nice but feels great to sink into after a long day, that vehicle that “gets you there” and looks great doing it.

In Psalm 2, God tells us about his treasured possession and foretells a time when he would set that possession apart to do great things for God’s people. At Christ’s baptism, God the Father let everyone know who Christ was when he said, “This is my son, whom I love, with him I am well-pleased.” In Psalm 2, the inspired writer let’s us know exactly how important that son would be, trampling the Lord’s enemies and blessing his people.

For the Hebrew people, this image of pouring the waters of baptism over Jesus’ head to set him apart would be common as anointing special people and objects was part of their culture and heritage. The words Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean, “the anointed one.” This baptism, setting Christ apart for the redeeming work he was about to do, was the most glorious anointing this world would ever see.

Most importantly, God certainly cherished Jesus because of who he was (his son), but God also cherished Jesus because of what he was able to do–save God’s people from their sins.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, my anointed Savior, thank you for coming to earth to live a perfect life and to die for my sins. At your baptism, God set you apart for that work and was not ashamed to call you his son. Give me the strength to never be ashamed of you in my life, to proclaim your cross in my words and actions and to be well-pleased with every gift you have graciously given me. Amen.