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He Lives!

He Lives!

The Pastor's Windshield for April 23, 2023
Sometimes, a person’s name just seems to match their calling in life. Samuel Medley is one example. We know Medley as a Christian hymn-writer (more on that in a minute), but as a young adult, Medley rejected his faithful upbringing. 
Samuel Medley was an Englishman who lived from 1738-1799. As a teenager, he enlisted in the Royal Navy. In a battle with the French in 1759, Medley was severely wounded. The prospect of having his leg amputated drove Medley back to the Lord in repentance. After a night spent in prayer, the doctor re-examined him the next morning and announced that the condition of his wounded leg had greatly improved. 
Not only was Medley’s leg spared, but also his soul. He returned home to recuperate, and through his grandfather’s encouragement, joined a Baptist church. Medley also married and devoted himself to studying sacred and classical literature. Several years later, he began preparing for a career in ministry. He served congregations in Watford (near London) and in Liverpool.
Medley put his literary abilities to work in composing hymns. His first hymnbook was published in 1789. One of his compositions is the Easter hymn, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” This beloved hymn is an English paraphrase of a similar hymn by the German Lutheran hymnwriter, Paul Gerhardt. Gerhardt’s hymn also used the phrase “He lives!” multiple times, as does Medley’s hymn. The primary basis for the hymn is a passage in Job 19:25-27: 
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”
Despite his horrendous suffering, Job looked forward by faith to the day when he would see his living Lord face-to-face in the flesh. Job’s hope is also ours. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we too can sing, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives!” and look forward to our resurrection on the Last Day.
Both Gerhardt’s German hymn and Medley’s English hymn included nine stanzas, as shown below. (The fifth stanza is not included in the Lutheran Service Book hymnal.) I encourage you to take some time to read and reflect on the words of this beloved hymn. Over and over, it declares to you the Good News that your Jesus lives! He lives to save you from your sins, and He lives to do so much more. Each line of the hymn provides a different example of Christ’s work as your personal Redeemer. Use the hymn’s words to shape your prayers of thanksgiving and supplication to your Lord …
1     I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever-living head.
2     He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives all-glorious in the sky;
He lives exalted there on high.
3     He lives to bless me with His love;
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.
4     He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with His eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
Original 5th Stanza: 
He lives to crush the Pow’rs of Hell, He lives that He may in me dwell,
He lives to heal, and make me whole, He lives to guard my feeble Soul.
6     He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.
7     He lives, my kind, wise, heav’nly friend;
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
8     He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.
9     He lives, all glory to His name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same;
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives:
I know that my Redeemer lives!
Is there a particular line that stands out to you at this time? Perhaps dwell on that one and let it inspire your prayers. At some point in the future, or perhaps when you sing this hymn again next Easter season, another verse or phrase might connect with you as you continue to reflect on all that you Jesus lives to do for your as your Savior!
I look forward to hearing this beautiful medley and singing the powerful words of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” with you this Sunday, April 23, 2023.
Peace in Christ,
                        Pastor Kory Janneke

Jesus in Focus

“Jesus in Focus”

Palm Sunday 2023
As we enter Holy Week, have you thought about what you will personally focus on over these coming days? As a fitting passage to focus on, I’d suggest the words of Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
Isaiah’s words in this text prophesy about Jesus as the Lord’s “Suffering Servant.” The Spirit of God inspired Isaiah’s words 700 years before Christ, and we read His descriptions of Christ’s suffering now nearly 2,000 years after the events Isaiah described, yet Isaiah’s voice is as relevant for us as ever.
Isaiah tells us that Jesus’ suffering would not only be physical, but spiritual and  relational.  “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)
Another powerful aspect of this passage is how we are featured in it! Isaiah says that “we esteemed Him not” and “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” and “He was pierced for our transgressions.” These ancient words not only speak of the great suffering of God’s Chosen One, but they tell us why He went through such suffering: for you.
A helpful devotional practice as you approach Holy Week is to select a Bible verse to focus on as you remember Jesus’ final days and hours. Looking at Isaiah’s words I gravitated toward Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”
Jesus fulfills these words in His trial at the hands of the Jewish high priests along with King Herod and Governor Pilate. Caiaphas, the high priest, relied on multiple false witnesses to bring charges against Jesus, but Jesus remained silent (Matthew 26:62-63).  Pilate asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus quietly says, “You have said so.” (Luke 23:3).  Before Herod, who hopes to see Him put on a miraculous performance, Jesus makes no reply (Luke 23:9).
Jesus did speak a few times during His trial, but here’s what stands out to me: Jesus didn’t speak in His own defense. Jesus didn’t try to dodge what He was about to suffer. He didn’t blame anyone else – even when the whole sinful world was to blame. He didn’t change the subject or call out for witnesses to come to His defense – even though legions of angels were at His beck and call!
We see how different Jesus is from the ones He came to save. We begin honing our defensive techniques at an early age. “She started it!” “I’m telling mom!” “He made me do it!” But are things so different with adults?
We defend ourselves in our marriages, even when it harms the bond that God has established between husband and wife. We defend our workplace performance, even when we need to step it up or listen more to our supervisors. We fight tooth and nail to defend our individual opinions, both online and in-person. 
The focus of our defensiveness is ourselves. We want to come away looking like the better spouse, the better employee, or the better commentator. But Jesus didn’t take the defensive route. He wasn’t focused on Himself, but on you and your everlasting salvation.
Isaiah’s words about Jesus’ silence bring His love into focus. Out of love, Jesus took the false accusations. He bit His lip during the sham trial. He did this so He could finish what He started. Like the Lamb of God that He is, He took your sins, your guilt, and your shame, and even experienced hell in your place as He was forsaken by His Father-God on the cross.
When Jesus spoke, it was for you. When Jesus was silent, it was for you. When Jesus suffered like a despised Servant, it was for you. And when Jesus walked out of His tomb on Sunday morning, it was for you!
As you focus on Jesus this Holy Week, you might pick a verse from Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53 or from the accounts of Jesus’ suffering in the Gospel readings. Let this verse, with whatever detail it uses to describe Jesus, remind you that He did it all for you.
I look forward to sharing this Holy Week with you.  
Peace in Christ,
                        Pastor Kory Janneke

Lord, Teach us to Pray

The Pastor's Windshield - February 2023

This Lent, we are focusing on God’s gift of prayer and especially the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer both so that we can pray it precisely as He taught it and to use as a springboard for our prayers. What followers are some prayers inspired by the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (from the 2017 edition of Luther’s Small Catechism). Additionally, some suggestions for prayer topics are offered according to each petition. This Lent, you might consider using the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for daily prayer, focusing on one petition each day of the week. If you try using the petitions for daily prayer, you don’t have to fit in all the suggested prayer topics all the time. Chose some of them that are the most pertinent or add some topics of your own.

Introduction: Our Father who art in heaven.

Heavenly Father, Your words give us boldness and confidence to acknowledge You as our true Father and ourselves as Your true children. May Your Holy Spirit lead us to trust in Your fatherly goodness, call upon Your name in every need, and glorify You as the author and giver of every good and perfect gift; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 
Suggestions: Talk to your heavenly Father daily about your family, church, community, and nation. Pray for the Holy Spirit. Pray about your plans and commitments for the day. Pray about whatever concerns you currently.

The First Petition: Hallowed be Thy name.

Holy Father, Your name is holy in itself. We pray that through the words we speak about You and through the lives we live as those marked by Your sacred name in Baptism, we may never profane Your name but honor it in all that we say and do; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Suggestions: Give thanks for your Baptism into God’s holy name. Pray for your godchildren, and for catechism students and Christian youth. Pray for Christian parents. Pray for the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word.

The Second Petition: Thy kingdom come.

Father in heaven, give us Your Holy Spirit so that we believe Your Holy Word and live as members of Your gracious kingdom here in time and finally, by Your mercy, be brought to live as partakers of Your everlasting reign; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 
Suggestions: Pray for the pastors and leaders of your congregation, district, and synod. Pray for seminary students and missionaries. Pray about specific ministry initiatives or for Christian organizations. Pray for the witness of the church and for those not yet in Christ’s kingdom.

The Third Petition: Thy will be done …

Merciful Father, ruler of all things in heaven and on earth, we acknowledge that Your good and gracious will is done without our prayer. We pray that You would defeat all that opposes Your will: the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature. In Your mercy, we implore You to strengthen and keep us firm in Your Word and faith all the days of our lives and bring us at last the inheritance You have prepared for us in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Suggestions: Pray about any projects, goals, or deadlines you have. Pray for those who are enduring persecution or suffering. Pray for those who’ve received a recent medical diagnosis and for their care. Pray for those who are facing difficult decisions (including yourself).

The Fourth Petition: Give us our daily bread.

Gracious Father, You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living creature. Teach us to acknowledge You as the Lord who provides for all of our needs in body and soul and so give thanks to You for all of Your bountiful gifts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 
Suggestions: Pray for godliness in societal vocations. Pray for both national and local leaders in government. Pray for those serving in the armed forces. Pray for favorable weather. Pray for those who are hungry, homeless, unemployed/underemployed or facing other hardships.

The Fifth Petition: Forgive us our trespasses ...

Most merciful Father, our sins make us unworthy to ask anything of You. For the sake of Your dear Son, do not condemn us for our sins, but hear our cries for mercy and forgive us our trespasses. Enlivened by Your forgiveness, we, too, pledge to sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Suggestions: Pray for your neighbors (those next door or nearby). Pray for your enemies or those with whom you are having conflict. Pray for forgiveness wherever you have failed in your vocations or in living according to the Ten Commandments.

The Sixth Petition: Lead us not into temptation.

Heavenly Father, guard and keep us from the assaults of the devil, the deception of the world, and the desires of our sinful nature. Protect us that we may not be deceived or misled by lies about You, be overcome by despair of Your mercy, or be seduced into a way of life that leads only to death. Shield us by Your grace and strengthen us by Your Word and Spirit that we may withstand every attack and finally win the victory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Suggestions: Pray for those in spiritual distress. Pray for specific unbelievers whom you know, that they would be led to repentance and faith. Pray that the Lord would help you overcome the temptations that are troubling you.

The Seventh Petition: Deliver us from evil.

Father in heaven, look on our neediness with the eyes of Your mercy and compassion. Rescue us from everything that would cause harm and destruction to us both physically and spiritually. Keep us in the true faith and finally bring us through the disappointments and sorrows of this life to live with You forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 
Suggestions: Pray for those who are elderly, homebound, chronically ill, receiving hospice care, or near death. Pray for those who are grieving. Pray for those who are in danger. Pray for Christ’s return and for faithfulness and endurance as Christians.

“There is no nobler prayer to be found upon earth than the Lord’s Prayer. We pray it daily, because it has this excellent testimony, that God loves to hear it. We ought not to surrender this for all the riches of the world.”  – Martin Luther’s Large Catechism

God bless you as you speak with Him in prayer this Lent and beyond.  
Peace in Christ,
            Pastor Kory Janneke