29 episodes

Higher Things® is pleased to provide free daily devotions, called “Reflections,” for youth and their families. These Reflections are centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are based upon each day’s texts from the weekly readings in the one year lectionary and from Luther’s Small Catechism. Higher Things Reflections are free, like the Gospel! They may be reproduced for congregational, personal and other non-commercial use. Please use the following attribution: Daily Reflections are provided by Higher Things. www.higherthings.org. Used with permission.

Higher Things Daily Reflections Higher Things

    • Christianity
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Higher Things® is pleased to provide free daily devotions, called “Reflections,” for youth and their families. These Reflections are centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are based upon each day’s texts from the weekly readings in the one year lectionary and from Luther’s Small Catechism. Higher Things Reflections are free, like the Gospel! They may be reproduced for congregational, personal and other non-commercial use. Please use the following attribution: Daily Reflections are provided by Higher Things. www.higherthings.org. Used with permission.

    Pentecost

    Pentecost

    Today’s Reading: John 14:23-31

    Daily Lectionary: Numbers 21:10-35; Luke 21:20-38

     

    Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

    In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The one who loves Jesus is one who “keeps” His words. Kudos to the English Standard Version for not translating this particular Greek word as “obey.” It can mean “obey” in some contexts, but here it means “keep” in the sense of “guard, cling to, treasure.”

    The one who loves Jesus isn’t defined by obedience to His commandments. The one who loves Jesus is one who treasures the Gospel, clings to Christ’s promises, and guards the true doctrine lest the devil take it from him.

    The Church cannot exist apart from the words of Jesus. That’s why God sent the Holy Spirit to earth. The Spirit comes to “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance” everything Jesus said (John 14:26). The Spirit teaches the Word to the Church.

    First, the Spirit helped the apostles remember everything Jesus had taught them, so that they could record His teachings, thereby forming the New Testament. Now, the Spirit helps us recall the teachings of Jesus by speaking to us through those apostolic scriptures.

    Do you love Jesus? If you love Jesus, then you treasure His words and cling to His promises. Where do you hear His words? You will hear the voice of Jesus in the Divine Service. You will hear His voice when inspired Scripture is read aloud and when the Spirit leads your pastor to proclaim the Good News.

    When you walk away from the Divine Service, you will, to quote the Nunc Dimittis, “depart in peace.” Jesus gives you objective peace by satisfying the wrath of God as He hung on the Cross, and He gives you subjective peace by giving you confidence through the preached Gospel. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. –Rev. Alexander Lange

    O God, on this day You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit. Grant us in our day by the same Spirit to have a right understanding in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy consolation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Pentecost)

    Eve of Pentecost 

    Eve of Pentecost 

    Today’s Reading: John 14:15-21

    Daily Lectionary: Numbers 20:22-21:9; Luke 20:45-21:19

     

    “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16–17)

    In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. One would think that Jesus wouldn’t need to say that He was sending the Holy Spirit so many times. You would think that the disciples would get it, that they would take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit was with them. In the same vein, you might think you don’t need to hear these words from Jesus so many times either. “I hear ya, Jesus. I get it, okay?” But do you, really? Or do you need to be reassured that the Lord is with you, that His Holy Spirit has come to you to be with you forever? Yeah, that’s the right answer—you need to be reassured of His constant presence with you.

    And that’s okay, because it is far too easy to forget. When the world assails you, when even your friends get angry with you, when Sunday morning just doesn’t make any sense to you, you need to hear these words of Jesus for you.    In the very next verse, Jesus promises that He will not leave you as an orphan. You are not alone in this world, even if there are days when it seems like you are the only person in existence. This Holy Spirit is your very life, for He has brought you saving faith through God’s Holy Word, through your Baptism, and in leading you to the altar to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus.

    Tomorrow, when you gather with your fellow believers at church, you will hear again how God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to the first believers on Pentecost. It’ll sound extraordinary and different from your experience, but it is the same Holy Spirit who has come to you to dwell with you, to comfort you, and to keep you in the saving faith Jesus won for you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. –Rev. Duane Bamsch

    Almighty and ever-living God, You fulfilled Your promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to unite disciples of all nations in the cross and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the Gospel spread this gift to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Eve of Pentecost)

    Friday of the Seventh Week after Easter

    Friday of the Seventh Week after Easter

    Daily Lectionary: Numbers 20:1-21; Luke 20:19-44

     

    And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. (Numbers 20:11)

    In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Oops. Have you ever messed something up so badly that almighty God Himself banned you from ever going home again? I would bet that you haven’t, but Moses certainly did. God specifically told Moses to “tell the rock” to bring forth water for the people of Israel. But that’s not what Moses did. He assembled the crowd and basically said, “Hey, y’all, watch this!” before striking the rock with his staff.

    Why didn’t God embarrass Moses right then and there by refusing to let the water gush forth since Moses had acted so selfishly? Because He was thinking in much broader terms than Moses was. He had His whole assembled people to care for, so He allowed the water to flow, even if Moses had openly rebelled against His command. Of course, this is the sin that keeps Moses from ever entering the Promised Land. His only glimpse is from Mount Nebo much later, right before he dies.

    Even with Moses’s open rebellion against Him, God the Father still has mercy on His people. He always works to care for His people, even when His people do exactly what He tells them not to do. Our God is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of grace. Even when you sin and mess up so badly that you wonder why He doesn’t just blast you into atoms with a lightning bolt, your God loves you. He may not be happy with you, and you may suffer the consequences of rebelling against Him, but he still loves you, just like your parents do even when they ground you.

    Ultimately, God punished Moses’s sin through Jesus, just as He punishes your sin through Jesus, too, because He knew that there was no way you could ever satisfy on your own His demands for perfection or for salvation. Thanks be to God that He is a God of mercy, pity, and grace for you! Thanks be to God that Jesus has borne your failures so that you may live with Him for all eternity where the River of Life freely flows from His throne! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. –Rev. Duane Bamsch

    Living God, Your almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity. Grant us the fullness of Your grace to lay hold of Your promises and live forever in Your presence; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter)

    Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

    Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

    Daily Lectionary:  Numbers 16:41-17:13; Luke 20:1-18

     

    Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. (Luke 20:13–15)

    In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Selfishness. That’s what Jesus calls out. The religious ruling class did not like that Jesus had drawn such a crowd to Himself. They feared that He would eclipse them and become more important, more favored, better remembered. Wow, were they ever right! Control. That’s what they wanted. Complete and total control over the people and over the message broadcast to everyone in Jerusalem and Judea. But Jesus was having none of it. So He prophesies to them a parable about the very near future.

    They weren’t playing around, though. They decided that it would be best if Jesus were…eliminated. Removed. Taken out of the equation. And He knows that’s what they were thinking, so He speaks these words, knowing full well that they would become true very soon. As painful as it would be, Jesus knew this was the only way to break their grip on religion. The only way to destroy their control and selfishness. He does the same to you. You cast Jesus out of the vineyard when you choose your own ideas over His Word or when you decide that you know better how to live than He does. Even when you turn your back on His preaching and go your own way. But He doesn’t leave you there.

    He always confronts you with His truth, the truth of His Law and Gospel. He crushes you with His Law and shows you how you have failed Him and His Word. Then He gives you His Gospel. He hears your pleas for mercy, your cry of confession. He covers you with His Absolution and washes you in the blood of His forgiveness. He reassures you of the salvation that He won for you when He was cast out of the vineyard of Jerusalem to be killed outside the city walls. Remember that Jesus did all of this for you. His blood covers all your sin, even your selfishness and control. He destroyed death and its grip on you so that you would be able to rest in His peace. Forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. –Rev. Duane Bamsch

    Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ, our head and cornerstone, Chosen of the Lord and precious, Binding all the Church in one; Holy Zion’s help forever And our confidence alone. (Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation, LSB 909:1)

    Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

    Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

    Daily Lectionary: Numbers 16:23-40; Luke 19:29-48

     

    God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. (The Small Catechism: The Lord’s Prayer, First Petition)

    In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Trying to keep God’s Name holy is a strange concept. It is His Name, after all. How can you do anything to it? How can you damage the Name of the Most High God when He is the all-powerful one? Pretty easily, actually. Have you ever broken something that belonged to someone else, especially by misusing it? You didn’t mean to do it, it just happened. If only you had been more careful!

    Grandma’s special crystal vase should be handled more carefully than the plastic cup you can also use to put fresh flowers in. So it is with the Name of God. You keep His Name holy when you treat it properly, when you read, hear, and learn the Word of God as He intends you to receive it. When it is taught in truth and purity. It isn’t that you have damaged God’s Name itself. It is holy in and of itself. Rather, it is that you have caused others to see His Name in a poor light. In a sense, it brings shame upon God’s Name when His Christians behave in a way contrary to God’s Word. It brings God’s status down a notch or two when His name is used flippantly or poorly, using it to curse others.

    Instead of being terrified of the possibility of misusing God’s Name, take the positive route. Gather with your fellow Christians to hear His Word preached. Go to the communion rail in humble repentance and joyfully receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, given for you for the forgiveness of sins. When you don’t understand something your pastor says, ask him directly if you misheard him. He will appreciate the opportunity to clarify something he might have misspoken.

    Your Lord and God wants you to hallow His Name and use it properly for your devotion and your salvation. He gives you that opportunity every time your congregation gathers for worship. Gladly gather with your fellow Christians and hear the Lord speak to you by His holy Name and you will! In the Name of Jesus. Amen. –Rev. Duane Bamsch

    “Your name be hallowed. Help us Lord, In purity to keep Your Word, That to the glory of Your name We walk before You free from blame. Let no false teaching us pervert; All poor deluded souls convert.” (Our Father, Who from Heaven Above, LSB 766:2)

    Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

    Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

    Today’s Reading: 1 Peter 4:7-14

    Daily Lectionary: Numbers 16:1-22; Luke 19:11-28

     

    Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12–13)

    In the Name of Jesus. Amen. There are any number of accounts of God’s people being persecuted in the early years of the Church. It was almost expected that some sort of pain would come your way if you were a Christian. Don’t be surprised about it, Peter says. Paul tells the Galatians about the “marks of Jesus” he bears on his body. You see in the news today (if you know where to look) that faithful Christians around the world are suffering trials for confessing the faith.

    Don’t be surprised. The world hates Christians. So does the devil, and even your own sinful flesh hates your faithfulness. The common thread among the early Christians, though, was that they rejoiced that the Lord God found them worthy to bear these trials and sufferings, and to suffer as their Lord Jesus had.

    In the context of our American lifestyle, we have no clue what that means. We avoid suffering as much as we can, through therapy, pills, and more. Anything to avoid whatever looks like suffering. We don’t even consider the idea of suffering for the faith! But God’s Word says something different. There may well be a day when you are targeted by Satan for your faith, and he directs someone you might even consider a friend to cause you grief because of your belief in Christ.

    Rejoice in that day, Peter says. But how? How can you rejoice that you are about to suffer? You can because of the eternity Jesus has prepared for you. What is 100 years or even a day compared to forever?

    Your Lord God knows you. He never leaves you alone, and He will not abandon you. If He considers you worthy to go through a trial that you think is beyond you, rest in His hands. Call on Him to give you strength, because He will. He has found you worthy, He will never abandon you, and He will save you, all for Christ’s sake. In the Name of Jesus. Amen. –Rev. Duane Bamsch

    Lord God, heavenly Father, as we struggle here below with divisions among us, searching for peace among men, remind us daily of the peace of heaven purchased through the bloody death and triumphant resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit is one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter)

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