Pastor's Pen for 11/07/2017Seeing the crowds, (Jesus) went up on the mountain, and his disciples came to him. He opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5)

In the Name + of  Jesus.  Amen. Jesus  is  giving  out  His  Blessings. Who does Jesus bless? SINNERS. Poor miserable  sinners.

Poor in spirit has nothing to do with how much or little money you have. Poor in spirit means you have nothing to offer to God. Not your "good" lives. Not your "good works". Nothing that you do will merit for you a right standing before God. Only IN JESUS are you justified before the Holy God. How does Jesus bless sinners? Jesus takes your curse. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles. (Gal. 3)

Jesus takes the wrath of God for you on the Cross. All our sins placed on the Lamb of God for your    salvation. Jesus crucified and risen is your greatest blessing. Jesus, who is risen and reigning on His throne, is giving out the blessing of salvation through His Word and Sacraments. You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6)

In Holy Baptism Jesus is giving out His blessings to sinners. Through water and the Word God gives you His blessings. Disciples of Jesus live in and from their Baptismal blessings. At the rail at Zion, those who are not yet confirmed are brought up by parents to have their children receive the Lord's Blessings. They flow from Jesus’ finished work on the Cross – Christ’s blessings flow forever more.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5) Disciples of Jesus are gifted humility through the Word and  Spirit. I  urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling...with  all humility  and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5) Disciples of Jesus hunger for Christ’s Word of blessings. The righteous live by faith. The faithful seek the Lord and hold on to God's promises.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Matthew 5) Disciples have received God's mercy. Getting what you do not deserve – is God's mercy. Sinners deserve, rather, the wrath of God – but in God's mercy He has given you His Son. Living in faith toward God we are merciful to our neighbor. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5)  Sinners  have  nothing  good  in  their hearts. (Matthew 15 – the heart is the source of all kinds evil.) BUT – IN JESUS – the Lord gives you a new and clean heart. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51) After hearing God's Word preached, we sing this in the Offertory. By the Spirit-filled Word of God your hearts are made clean. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36)

Disciples still gather around Jesus to RECEIVE the Lord's blessings. Christ’s blessings bring pleasure forever more. God's Word does what the Lord sends it to do.

At the close of the Divine Service, the Lord sends you forth with His Blessing. The Benediction. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Lance D. Berndt is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church ( www.zionwest.org) in Omaha, NE.