Lifting Up the Serpent — Part 5: May 10, 2024

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                    Lifting Up the Serpent - Part 5
                            Numbers 21:8-9
                              05/11/2024


        8    And the LORD said to Moses, ``Make a fiery serpent
             and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten,
             when he sees it, shall live.''
        9    So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a
             pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look
             at the bronze serpent and live.  (ESV)

        The children of Israel had sinned against God and Moses by
   faithless grumbling about God's rich gifts of food and
   protection.  When confronted with their sin, they repented.
        And the LORD said to Moses, ``Make a fiery serpent and
        set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he
        sees it, shall live.''  So Moses made a bronze serpent
        and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he
        would look at the bronze serpent and live.


        Jesus told Nicodemus:
        And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
        so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever
        believes in him may have eternal life.[2]


        Like the children of Israel, we have sinned against God and
   neighbor.  We deserve God's eternal wrath and punishment.  Yet,
   in the same way the children of Israel looked in faith at the
   bronze serpent, we look in faith to Jesus Christ, who was lifted
   on the cross for our salvation from sin and death.

        Faith is knowledge of God's love and grace, even though we
   do not deserve His mercy.  Faith is agreement that the Word of
   God is true, that Jesus was crucified to pay the price of our
   sin.  Faith is trust that Jesus truly bore our sins and
   reconciled us to the Father.

        Please join us on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. at Trinity
   Lutheran Church to learn more of God's rich grace and mercy.  May
   our Lord bless you with faith that looks to Jesus Christ alone.
   Amen.
   ____________________

   2. John 3:14-15 (ESV)

Lifting Up the Serpent — Part 4: May 9, 2024

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                    Lifting Up the Serpent - Part 4
                            Numbers 21:8-9
                              05/09/2024


        8    And the LORD said to Moses, ``Make a fiery serpent
             and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten,
             when he sees it, shall live.''
        9    So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a
             pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look
             at the bronze serpent and live.  (ESV)

        The children of Israel had grumbled about the food and the
   problems of their nomadic life.  Because they did not trust God,
   they were plagued by many venomous serpents.  Finally, they
   repented and called upon Moses to intercede for them.

        Moses prayed, and God gave him explicit instructions.
        And the LORD said to Moses, ``Make a fiery serpent and
        set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he
        sees it, shall live.''  So Moses made a bronze serpent
        and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he
        would look at the bronze serpent and live.


        God's instructions to Moses were clear.  When the people
   bitten by the snakes looked at the bronze serpent on the pole,
   they believed God's promise that they would not die.  They
   trusted that this unusual way of dealing with a snake bite would
   remove the pain and death caused by the venom.  Looking at the
   bronze serpent required faith in God's Word and promise.  The
   very promises that the children of Israel had rejected earlier
   were again made by God, with the visible proof that His Word is
   true.  There was no power in the bronze serpent, the power was in
   God's promise of life and redemption.

        This becomes a promise for all people, when God speaks in
   His Holy Word, we can believe and trust in Him.  When God says,
   ``Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,''[1] we
   know that our only hope for redemption from sin, death, and the
   power of the devil is through the Son of God.  May our Lord grant
   us faith to believe in Jesus as our Savior.  Amen.
 ____________________

   1. Acts 15:11

Lifting Up the Serpent — Part 3: May 8, 2024

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                    Lifting Up the Serpent - Part 3
                             Numbers 21:7
                              05/08/2024


        7    And the people came to Moses and said, ``We have
             sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and
             against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away
             the serpents from us.'' So Moses prayed for the
             people.  (ESV)

        Discipline and punishment may look the same to the one being
   trained.  Were the serpents sent by God a punishment as the
   children of Israel grumbled against Him, or were they a call to
   trust in Him at all times?  In the liturgy for God's help in time
   of a local or national tragedy, the readings are as much a call
   for repentance as they are for God to ease the burden of all
   people.

        It is fitting, as we know that we have sinned against God
   and neighbor, that times of personal and national distress are
   also a call to trust in God rather than our own abilities.

        And the people came to Moses and said, ``We have
        sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against
        you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents
        from us.'' So Moses prayed for the people.


        If the serpents were a punishment, then God's actions had
   the desired result, show the people their sin.  If the serpents
   were a form of discipline, a form of teaching, they also had the
   proper effect, trust in God and His goodness rather than trusting
   our own desires.  Look to the blessings God gives, knowing that
   He willingly gives us that which we need to sustain this body and
   life.

        No matter if the serpents were punishment or discipline, the
   result was the people calling on God, praying for forgiveness and
   His almighty help in time of need.

        May our Lord give to us the eyes of faith to trust in Him,
   to call upon Him in the day of trouble, and to believe that He
   desires to give us His eternal love and grace.  Amen.

Lifting Up the Serpent — Part 2: May 7, 2024

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                    Lifting Up the Serpent - Part 2
                             Numbers 21:6
                              05/07/2024


        6    Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the
             people, and they bit the people, so that many
             people of Israel died.  (ESV)

        The children of Israel were tired of their nomadic life in
   the wilderness.  When their travels took them once again away
   from the land once promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they
   began to grumble and complain about God and Moses.  ``Then the
   LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the
   people, so that many people of Israel died.''

        How does God call us to account for our sins?  In this case,
   the children of Israel saw a direct link between their discontent
   and the venomous snakes.  More often, however, the call to
   repentance is not as readily apparent.  Yes, when tragedy
   strikes, we are swift to call upon the name of the Lord, to
   implore the help and mercy of the almighty God.  But even in
   normal times, the law accuses us of sin.

        Throughout the Bible we learn that we are to love the Lord
   our God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves.  This
   was written by Moses, and spoken again by Jesus, Himself.  Yet we
   turn our back on God, and we ignore the needs of our neighbors as
   we focus on our own selfish desires.

        That wake up call to repent may come in the form of a
   personal tragedy, or through the proclamation of God's Word.  No
   matter, we confess that we deserve God's temporal and eternal
   punishment, for we have sinned against God and neighbor by our
   thoughts, words, and deeds.  Jesus, in talking with Nicodemus as
   recorded in the third chapter of John's Gospel, compares the
   salvation of the world to the forgiveness offered to the children
   of Israel as they endured the serpents.  May our hearts ever be
   turned to the love of God, that we repent of our sin and receive
   the gift of forgiveness.  Amen.

Lifting Up the Serpent — Part 1: May 6, 2024

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                    Lifting Up the Serpent - Part 1
                            Numbers 21:4-5
                              05/06/2024


        4    From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red
             Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people
             became impatient on the way.
        5    And the people spoke against God and against
             Moses, ``Why have you brought us up out of Egypt
             to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and
             no water, and we loathe this worthless food.''
             (ESV)

        The story of the Exodus, of the children of Israel leaving
   Egypt and wandering in the wilderness for forty years, is the
   story of sin, repentance, restoration and service.  Time and
   again, they grumbled against God, received the punishment due for
   their unbelief, repented, and returned to trusting in God to
   sustain and deliver them.

        Near the end of their forty year trek, when the children of
   Israel turned once again from the promised land towards the
   wilderness, they began to grumble against God and Moses.  They
   were tired of the miraculous manna which God provided, and
   desired something different.
        From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea,
        to go around the land of Edom. And the people became
        impatient on the way.  And the people spoke against God
        and against Moses, ``Why have you brought us up out of
        Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food
        and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.''


        God eventually disciplined the children of Israel for their
   unbelief and their unfaithfulness.  More importantly, this event
   during the wilderness years pointed directly to the sacrifice of
   Jesus Christ for the sins of all people.  This week we will look
   at the sin, discipline, and forgiveness given by God even to
   those who lack trust in His promises.

        May our Lord grant you the peace of knowing His love.  Amen.

O Sing Unto the Lord — Part 5: May 03, 2024

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                     O Sing Unto the Lord - Part 5
                             Isaiah 12:1-6
                              05/03/2024


        1    You will say in that day: ``I will give thanks to
             you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me,
             your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
        2    Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and
             will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my
             strength and my song, and he has become my
             salvation.''
        3    With joy you will draw water from the wells of
             salvation.
        4    And you will say in that day: ``Give thanks to the
             LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds
             among the peoples, proclaim that his name is
             exalted.
        5    Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done
             gloriously; let this be made known in all the
             earth.
        6    Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for
             great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.''
             (ESV)

        The Psalmist wrote: ``O sing to the LORD a new song, for He
   has done marvelous things.''  This week we have looked the joy
   expressed by the prophet Isaiah as he called for the faithful of
   God to rejoice in His love.

        You will say in that day: ``I will give thanks to you,
        O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger
        turned away, that you might comfort me.  Behold, God is
        my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for
        the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has
        become my salvation.''

        With joy you will draw water from the wells of
        salvation.  And you will say in that day: ``Give thanks
        to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds
        among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.
        Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
        let this be made known in all the earth.  Shout, and
        sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your
        midst is the Holy One of Israel.''


        Please join us at Trinity Lutheran Church on Sunday morning
   to learn more of God's rich love, grace, and mercy as found in
   Jesus Christ.  Amen.

O Sing Unto the Lord — Part 4: May 02, 2024

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                     O Sing Unto the Lord - Part 4
                             Isaiah 12:5-6
                              05/02/2024


        5    ``Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done
             gloriously; let this be made known in all the
             earth.
        6    Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for
             great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.''
             (ESV)

        The Psalmist wrote: ``O sing to the LORD a new song, for He
   has done marvelous things.''  This past Sunday we used this
   ancient song as we entered into God's presence at His invitation
   to receive the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  In his
   first song of praise, Isaiah wrote of the songs which the
   faithful children of God sing in response to His mercy.

        ``Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
        let this be made known in all the earth.  Shout, and
        sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your
        midst is the Holy One of Israel.''


        Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven, His followers have
   gone into all the world to proclaim the goodness and love of God.
   By the end of the first century, the Gospel had spread through
   the known world.  Christians could not help but bring the good
   news of salvation by grace through faith for the sake of Christ
   to those oppressed by sin.

        The need to tell of God's love, of our salvation from sin
   and death for the sake of Jesus, is every bit as great today.  As
   the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh attack the goodness of
   God, we bring to you the good news that Jesus has defeated death.
   In Him you have the forgiveness of sins.

        The ``Holy One of Israel,'' the Triune God, is not some
   abstract thought who sits on a throne somewhere, ignoring His
   creation.  He is here with us in every joy and sorrow, in His
   Word and Sacraments.

        May you come to know the reason that Isaiah rejoiced in the
   love of God, and knowing of that love, find the peace which
   passes all understanding.  Amen.

O Sing Unto the Lord — Part 3: May 01, 2024

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                     O Sing Unto the Lord - Part 3
                             Isaiah 12:3-4
                              05/01/2024


        3    With joy you will draw water from the wells of
             salvation.
        4    And you will say in that day: ``Give thanks to the
             LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds
             among the peoples, proclaim that his name is
             exalted.''  (ESV)

        This last Sunday, which is known as ``Cantate Sunday,'' was
   named for the first verse of Psalm 98, which we used to enter
   into God's presence at His invitation.  ``O sing to the LORD a
   new song, for He has done marvelous things.''  The prophet Isaiah
   told us of the reason for this song, the marvelous things the
   LORD has done for His people.
        With joy you will draw water from the wells of
        salvation.  And you will say in that day: ``Give thanks
        to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds
        among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.''


        Directly after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea,
   God provided them fresh water in the wilderness.  Later, as
   recorded by Saint John, Jesus offers us the water of life.
   Christians daily remember their baptism, where the Holy Spirit
   joined us to Jesus' death and resurrection through the water of
   baptism.

        As ones redeemed from sin and condemnation by the life,
   death, and resurrection of Jesus, we respond by joyfully sharing
   the news of God's love to others.  Knowing the free gift of
   salvation, we tell of His grace and mercy.

        What a comfort to know that our redemption from sin and
   death does not depend on our own efforts, but is offered to us
   because of God's love.  What a comfort to know that the God who
   created all things loves each of us so much as to send His Son to
   take our punishment and give us His holiness.

        May our Lord continue to give us this reason to sing, that
   He is our salvation, that He is our hope and our comfort.  Amen.

O Sing Unto the Lord — Part 2: April 30, 2024

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                     O Sing Unto the Lord - Part 2
                              Isaiah 12:2
                              04/30/2024


        2    ``Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and
             will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my
             strength and my song, and he has become my
             salvation.''  (ESV)

        This last Sunday, which is known as ``Cantate Sunday,'' was
   named for the first verse of Psalm 98, which we used to enter
   into God's presence at His invitation.  ``O sing to the LORD a
   new song, for He has done marvelous things.''  The prophet Isaiah
   told us of the reason for this song, the marvelous things the
   LORD has done for His people.
        ``Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will
        not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my
        song, and he has become my salvation.''


        Certainly for the children of Israel, part of the salvation
   in which they would rejoice is the restoration of Jerusalem and
   the Temple.  After seventy years, they returned from Babylon and
   rebuilt their homeland.

        For the Christina, we rejoice in Jesus, whose name means
   ``God is my salvation.''  What greater song can we sing than of
   the grace of God, than of the love of Jesus Christ who willingly
   took upon Himself our sin?  He indeed is our strength against the
   assaults of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh.  We
   believe, teach, and confess that our redemption from sin and
   death is a gift from God, freely given to us for the sake of the
   bitter suffering and death of Jesus Christ.  In this Easter
   season, we rejoice and sing God's praise that Jesus burst forth
   from the tomb, thus assuring us that we, too, shall rise again.
   There is no better reason to sing, to give glory to God, that by
   His undeserved love we are given the hope of the resurrection and
   everlasting life.

        May our Lord bless you with the comfort which comes from
   knowing His love as found in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

O Sing Unto the Lord — Part 1: April 29, 2024

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                     O Sing Unto the Lord - Part 1
                              Isaiah 12:1
                              04/29/2024


        1    You will say in that day: I will give thanks to
             you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me,
             your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
             (ESV)

        The Sundays following Easter are named for the first word of
   the Introit, the Psalm sung by the faithful entering the church.
   Last Sunday was named ``Cantate,'' ``Sing,'' from Psalm 98.  ``O
   sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things.''

        What is this song of the faithful, the song of praise and
   thanksgiving?  What are the marvelous things accomplished by the
   LORD our God?  For the answer to these questions, we turn to the
   prophet Isaiah and his first song of praise.
        You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O
        LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger
        turned away, that you might comfort me.


        As you remember, Isaiah was the prophet who called the
   children of Israel to repent, showing them their sins.  He also
   told them of God's wrath, of the seventy years they would spend
   as exiles in Babylon.  Yet, in spite of being torn from their
   land, removed from Jerusalem, God would restore them to this land
   of promise.

        This song of praise also is fitting for those who have
   sinned against God and neighbor, but have received the comfort of
   the forgiveness of their sins.  This ultimate comfort comes not
   from possessing a particular plot of ground, but from receiving
   the redemption from sin and death earned for us by the suffering,
   death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

        We give thanks to the LORD for His anger has turned to
   comfort.  This week we will rejoice with Isaiah, and all of God's
   redeemed people for the freedom given to us for the sake of the
   Son of God.

        May our Lord richly bless and keep you as you give Him
   thanks for all His blessings.  Amen.