Sunday, October 23, 2016

Time in the Word - Reformation

Time in the Word
Reformation (Observed)
October 24-29, 2016

Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace

Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matt. 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus the incarnate Son, justifies us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, that we might eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). For He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death. By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Rom. 3:21), “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). And by hearing the Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

Prayers for defending the Church from errorO Christ, our defender, protect us from all those whose plans would subvert Your truth through heresy and schism that, as You are acknowledged in heaven and on earth as one and the same Lord, so Your people, gathered from all nations, may serve You in unity of faith; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, You would have all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. By Your almighty power and unsearchable wisdom break and hinder all the counsels of those who hate Your Word and who, by corrupt teaching, would destroy it. Enlighten them with the knowledge of Your glory that they may know the riches of Your heavenly grace and, in peace and righteousness, serve You, the only true God; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for unity of faith: O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for spiritual renewalAlmighty God, grant that we, who have been redeemed from the old life of sin by our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, may be renewed by Your Holy Spirit to live in righteousness and true holiness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Collect for the Feast of St James of Jerusalem, Bishop and Martyr (23 October)Heavenly Father, shepherd of Your people, You raised up James the Just, brother of our Lord, to lead and guide Your Church. Grant that we may follow his example of prayer and reconciliation and be strengthened by the witness of his death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Monday, 24 October 2016Psalm 34:1–2, 11, 22; Antiphon, Psalm 119:46—The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit proclaims, I will speak of Your statutes before Kings O Lord, and shall not be put to shame. This verse also serves as the inscription for the Augsburg Confession, one of the documents in the Lutheran Book of Concord. We need fear no earthly kings or powers when we make confession of our faith, for we have been set free from fear by the Gospel. Let us make bold our proclamation of confidence in the Lord, who redeems the life of His servants. For this, we bless the LORD at all times.

Tuesday, 25 September 2016Psalm 46—This psalm of David expresses complete confidence in God, no matter the circumstance. It depicts scenes of turmoil: natural disasters (vv. 2, 3), political persecution (v. 6a), and even the end of days (v. 6b). The one who trusts in God can withstand such troubles, and be still and quiet, for God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016Revelation 14:6–7—This first angel of John’s vision has often been interpreted by Lutheran commentators as Martin Luther, because of his clear proclamation of the eternal gospel to . . . those who dwell on earth. Certainly God worked through this man, as He works through others, to bring His message of freedom in Christ to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Thursday, 27 October 2016Romans 3:19–28—Theologians use a Latin phrase that describes our relationship with God’s Holy Law: “Lex semper accusat,” that is, ‘the Law always accuses’. This is because none of us sinful humans can obey God’s Law perfectly. Both our original sin and our actual sin condemn us.

But there is a righteousness before God apart from the Law and apart from ourselves and anything we do. This righteousness is the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to us through faith in the propitiating death of Christ on our behalf. Because of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law, and His blood which He shed for us, God declares us ‘not guilty’.

Friday, 28 October 2016John 8:31–36—Sunday’s Gospel speaks of the freedom we find in the Truth of Jesus Christ. All of us were born into slavery—the slavery of sin. But Christ has set us free from our bondage by His atoning sacrifice. The One who declares, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life tells us here that the Truth shall set us free. The Truth has set us free: the Truth which embodied in Christ Jesus and the Truth which He declares to us in His Word. We are free, indeed!

Saturday, 29 October 2016—Sunday’s hymn of the day, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB #656) is Luther’s great battle hymn of the Reformation. Based on the Psalm of the day, Psalm 46, it reflects complete confidence in God, even when faced by a host of devils and the earthly adversities they bring. They can harm us none, for they have been felled—defeated—by one little Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Savior.

Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Time in the Word - Pentecost 23 - Proper 25

 Time in the Word
Pentecost 23 - Proper 25
October 17-22, 2016

In Humble Repentance, Faith Lives by Grace and Mercy and Is Exalted by God in Christ.

Collect for the Twenty-third Sunday after PentecostAlmighty and everlasting God, You are always more ready to hear than we to pray and always ready to give more than we either desire or deserve. Pour down on us the abundance of Your mercy; forgive us those things of which our conscience is afraid; and give us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask except by the merits and mediation of 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 Feast of St Luke, the holy Evangelist (18 October)Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for humility: O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the blessedness of heaven: Almighty, everlasting God, You gave Your only Son to be a High Priest of good things to come. Grant unto us, Your unworthy servants, to have our share in the company of the blessed for all eternity; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

Prayer for Proper 25 Almighty and everlasting Good, You are always more ready to hear than we are to pray and always read to give more than we either desire or deserve. Pour down on us the abundance of Your mercy; forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid; and give us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask except by the merits of Jesus Christ Your Lord. 

Jesus tells a parable “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (Luke 18:9). In this parable the Pharisee unjustly boasted before God on the basis of his own merits, whereas the tax collector intently prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). That poor miserable sinner trusted Christ, and he went “down to his house justified, rather than the other” (Luke 18:14). So do little children, “even infants,” come to Jesus with their need, and they “receive the kingdom of God” through faith (Luke 18:15–17). For “the one who humbles himself will be exalted,” but “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” (Luke 18:14). That is why “the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering He had no regard” (Gen 4:3–4). St. Paul’s life, “poured out as a drink offering,” was another sacrifice like Abel’s (2 Tim 4:6). The Lord stood by Paul and strengthened him, that “the message might be fully proclaimed” (2 Tim 4:17). It is by that Gospel message of Christ that we “have loved His appearing” and as repentant sinners pray to “the Lord, the righteous judge” by faith (2 Tim 6:8).

Monday, 17 October 2016Psalm 56:10–13; antiphon, Psalm 56:3—In whom shall we place our trust? The Introit tells us, in God . . . in the LORD. The word ‘LORD’ is in all capitals in your Bible because it reflects the covenant name of God, Yahweh. The LORD is the One who keeps His covenants, keeps His promises. After man sinned, He promised to send a Savior (Gen 3:15), and kept that promise by sending His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, into the world to atone for sin. He has delivered my soul from death . . . that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016Psalm 5—Psalm 5 may also be from the time of Absalom’s rebellion when David’s enemies spread vicious lies to discredit him. The first half of the psalm declares that the godly have access to the LORD in prayer, but the wicked are excluded from his presence. How is it that we are reckoned godly in the sight of the Lord? By trusting in His promises, especially the promise of redemption through Christ Jesus. The second half of the psalm contrasts the lying tongues of the wicked with the praising tongues of God’s people.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016Genesis 4:1–15—The Lord accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but rejected Cain’s. Why? Was it because Abel offered up an animal sacrifice, whilst Cain offered grain? No, for that would indicate salvation by some sort of law of good works. Rather, God saw the intent and condition of each man’s heart. Hebrews 11: 4 tells us, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.” God accepts us solely on the basis of faith, not our works.

Thursday, 20 October 20162 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18—The reading from St Paul’s second letter to Timothy fits in well with the other readings. Paul confidently asserts that he will receive the crown of righteousness on the Day of Judgement. Why? Because of his great works in laboring for the cause of the Gospel? By no means! Paul asserts, I have kept the faith. But even this is not of his own doing, for he goes on to say, the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.

We who have faith in the Lord’s promises can also say, with Paul, the Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever.

Friday, 21 October 2016Luke 18:9–17—The Pharisee placed the hope of his salvation in himself and his good works, confidently declaring to the Lord, the righteous Judge of the universe, God, I thank you that I am not like other men, an extortionist, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get. But our works can never save us. They fall far short of God’s standard of perfect holiness (Lev 19:2; James 2:10). We must humble ourselves before the Lord, as did the publican, and cry out, God, be merciful to me, a sinner, as we do in the Kyrie. The Lord hears the prayers of those who trust in Him and humble themselves before Him. Like the tax collector, we go home from the Divine Service justified, having received the full forgiveness of all our sins.

Saturday, 22 October 2016—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is In God, My Faithful God (LSB #745). Where shall we turn, where shall we place our trust in the face of adversity, whether physical or spiritual? In God, my faithful God. Because we know that God has redeemed us from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil by the blessed death of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, we can confidently face all adversity, and proclaim, Dear Lord, we all adore You, we sing for joy before You.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

Woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der B├╝cher in Bilden [The Book of Books in Pictures]) ©WELS.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pentecost 22 ~Proper 24

Proper 24
October 16, 2016

Luke 18:1-8
Persistence in Blessing – Persistence in Prayer

The Gospel for today and next Sunday. Both deal with prayer. The Savior will use short stories. About earthly life. To teach spiritual truths.  These stories. Contain casts of only a few characters. Next week it will be the Pharisee and the tax collector. This week, it is the persistent widow and the unjust judge. Jesus will teach us about Persistence in Blessing. And Persistence in Prayer.

1. What the widow in Christ’s parable teaches us.

A.      About ourselves.

1.            Like the widow. We also experience injustice. And evil. At the hands of others. In her case. We don’t know specifically what was involved. Likewise. We often don’t always know beforehand what people will do to us. They might malign us.  Impugn our motives. Pilfer our homes and businesses. And persecute us.  In overt or subtle ways.

2.            But we do know. That our sin. Makes us deserve nothing but punishment from God. Not only do others sin against us. But we too sin against them. Thinking. Speaking.  And doing evil. Continually. Over and over again. Each of our sins against others is also a sin against God. It is a striving against Him. That deprives us of our rights as children.  This brings death. For which all sin brings.

3.            In the face of the evil. Done against us. And the evil that we do. We are tempted to despair. We are virtually unable to help ourselves. And any help from God. Appears to be delayed. Or denied.

4.            But God our heavenly Father.  Invites us to seek His help. And blesses us for Christ’s sake. You are not unknown to God. Not as the widow was to the judge. You are His elect. That is, He has chosen you in Christ before the foundation of the world. He has adopted you as his beloved child. Because of the work of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

B.      About God.

1.            As the widow persisted in her plea and request for mercy. So did our lord persist in His work of winning for you His Father’s good pleasure. He endured as your Substitute. He experienced human injustice and wickedness. Drinking the bitter dregs. The cup of suffering. That the Father administered to Him. As the result of your transgressions and sins. Never did He falter in carrying out His mission of salvation. He persisted. Declaring, ”It is finished!” But also promising, “I am with you always!”

2.            For the sake of His crucified and risen Son. The Father now persists in hearing your prayers. His desire is to bless you. Through Christ, you have access to the throne of grace. What a blessing it is to uphold one another in our Friedheim family. - Taking our needs burdens joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace. Being thankful as the Savior answers each petition.

2. What the judge in Christ’s parable teaches us.

A.      About ourselves.

1.            In stressing that the judge’s decision was a selfish one. The parable reminds us that we also decide to do many things for a selfish desire to benefit ourselves, rather than a pure desire to praise the Father and benefit others. For example, our obedience to civil laws is sometimes motivated more by our fear of punishment than by a concern for the common good. Or a celebration of the Reformation can tend more toward worship of the self then toward proclaiming with thankfulness and patience the glorious message that the Father has entrusted to us the salvation of others.

2.            Such selfishness is unrighteousness. Such selfishness is contrary to God’s will. Such selfishness deserves condemnation. Yet, it so thoroughly pervades all human thinking, that the parable is not at all absurd or unbelievable. The judge is a picture of how we by nature deal with each other!

B.      About God.

1.            How different in this regard is God from sinful human nature. We can contrast the judge’s forced and selfish decision with God’s willing and selfish promises. God loved the world so much that He freely and selflessly gave His only Son into death to save all sinners from everlasting death. Jesus did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped. Rather, He humbled Himself. And became obedient even to death. The Holy Spirit designs to enter even our frail and mortal bodies and build us into a holy temple in the Lord.

2.            Unlike the judge. Who in selfishness. Was erratic and suspect. The Father is altogether trustworthy. He wants us to hold Him to His promises and blessings. Demand them! You are His child. His answers to prayer do not always come according to our timetable. But He does answer. – And always at the right time.

The Father wants you always to pray and not despair. Realize His faithfulness toward you. Be constant in prayer. The Father’s persistence in blessing leads to persistence in prayer.

Words – 850
Passive Sentences – 2%
Reading Ease –73.9
Reading Level -4.7

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Time in the Word - Pentecost 22- Proper 24

Time in the Word:
 Preparation for next week, the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost

O Lord, Almighty and everlasting God, You have commanded us to pray and have promised to hear us. Mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may direct and govern our hearts in all things that we may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of Your Holy Name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Almighty God, our creator and guide, may we serve You with all our heart and know Your forgiveness in our lives. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One god, forever and ever. Amen

Lord Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd, without whom noting is secure. Rescue and preserve us that we may not be lost forever but follow You rejoicing in the way that leads to eternal life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

 Lord, You are just and Your commandments are eternal. Teach us to love You with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves, for the sake of Jesus our Lord.

Prayer for likeness to Christ: O God, by the patient suffering of Your only-begotten Son You have beaten down the pride of the old enemy. Now help us, we humbly pray, rightly to treasure in our hearts all that our Lord has of His goodness borne for our sake that following His blessed example we may bear with all patience all that is adverse to us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for spiritual renewalAlmighty God, grant that we, who have been redeemed from the old life of sin by our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, may be renewed by Your Holy Spirit to live in righteousness and true holiness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for hope of eternal life in Christ: Almighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ may increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raised in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Faith Clings to the Word and Promises of God and Perseveres in Prayer

Left alone,” Jacob wrestled through the night with the Lord, “until the breaking of the day” (Gen. 32:24). Though “Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him” (Gen. 32:25), he would not let go until the Lord blessed him. At times we, too, strive with God; He strives with us and blesses us by grace. So Jesus teaches us “always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Jesus speaks of “a judge who neither feared God nor respected man” and of a widow “who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary’ ” (Luke 18:2–3). Because of her persistence, the judge agreed to “give her justice” (Luke 18:5).

Our Lord dispenses justice generously and swiftly, giving “justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night” (Luke 18:7). He does so according to the Gospel. Therefore, His ministers are to persevere faithfully in their vocation, in what they “have learned and have firmly believed” (2 Tim. 3:14). On the basis of “the sacred writings” (2 Tim. 3:15), they are to “preach the word” at all times and not lose heart (2 Tim. 4:2).

God answering prayer is a theme for this coming Sunday. From the Introduction to the Lord’s prayer Luther reminds us, “With these words, “Our Father, who art in heaven,” God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear Father.”
Monday, 10 October 2016 Psalm 74:18-19, 21; antiphon ,Psalm 74:2a —In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, Remember your congregation, which You have purchased of old, which You have redeemed to be the tribe of Your heritage. David prays for God to come to the aid of His people and defend His cause in the face of mocking enemies. When we cry out to God, He promises to hear and answer according to our need.

Tuesday, 11 September 2016 Psalm 121 — This psalm is a dialogue of confession and assurance. Its use as a pilgrimage song provides the key to its understanding. Key terms are “the Lord” and “watch over” each occurring five times in this psalm

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 Genesis 32:22-30— In these verses Jacob wrestles with God. He will not let go until God blesses him. Often we struggle; asking God to bless us, to strengthen and increase our faith. Jacob is given a new name. It will no longer be “Jacob”. Now Jacob has acknowledged God as the source of blessing and was about to reenter the Promised Land. The Lord acknowledges Jacob as His servant by changing his name.

Thursday, 13 October 20162 Timothy 3:14-4:5— In Palestine, people thought that a time of moral decay would precede the end of the world. The Apostle Paul, the author of this book sees the decadence resulting from false teaching as contributing to this (3:1-9).

Timothy has Paul’s example to follow, particularly the “persecutions” (3:11) he endured. Suffering for Christ is part of being Christian (3:12). While true Christians will be shown to be godly, false teachers “will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived” (3:13) by the devil.

In 4:6-8, Paul sees his death as being close, so he hands on his ministry to Timothy and other future leaders. The ministry is now Timothy’s (“your”, 4:5). May he, like Paul, remain steadfast (“sober”) as he evangelizes, visiting various cities – even enduring “suffering”.

Friday, 14 October 2016Luke 18:1-8 — Some Pharisees have asked Jesus when the kingdom of God will come; he has answered: it is already “among you”. Using examples from the Old Testament, He has warned His disciples that its full coming will be sudden and unexpected; many people will miss it, being preoccupied with worldly affairs.
In Jewish society, a “widow” (v. 3) had no legal status; she was powerless. The story tells us twice that the judge is a rogue: he neither respects God nor cares about other people (vv. 24). So why would Jesus tell an absurd story? Because such stories are easily remembered and are likely to be retold. The point, never give up when searching God’s grace and favor.

Saturday, 15 October 2016Psalm 31:1-5- The Hymn of the Day is I trust, O Lord, Your Holy Name, (LSB #734). We trust God’s promises, which are found in the clear promises of God’s Word. We trust only in which God has promises. When searching for God’s promises - go to the source - where His truth is found – the clear Word of our Lord.

Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pentecost 21 - Proper 23

Proper 23
9 October 2016
Luke 18:11-19

Who Bothers to Thank God?

Today’s Gospel reports the miracle of the healing of ten lepers. Ten men, afflicted with a disease that excluded them from normal society (see Leviticus 13:45-59) and inevitably brought death, sought help from Jesus. All ten were told to show themselves to the priest. (Leviticus 14:2-20). All ten were healed. But the fact that only one of the ten returned to give thanks to Jesus raises some interesting questions, among them: What happened to the nine? Who bothers to return thanks to God?

1. Not those whose only concern is to enjoy what has been given them.

A. Ten met Jesus, Ten called Him “Master”. Ten were healed and undoubtedly rejoiced. Only one looked beyond the healing to the Healer. Giving thanks had greater priority for him than being certified as clean.

B. Like the nine, we also often display a selfishness that is enamored of things that benefit us and that cares not at all for the God who supplies our every need.

C. Beware! Such selfish myopia stifles thanksgiving. It sees no cause for gratitude unless we receive what we think is best, at the time we prefer, in the way we desire. When this attitude prevails, who bothers to thank God?

2. Not those who believe that God’s good treatment is something they have earned for themselves.

A. The text strongly emphasizes that the only man who returned to give thanks to Jesus was a Samaritan, a foreigner. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, a symbolic act of complete subjection. He realized that his healing was an act of pure mercy, not a payment that he deserved.

B. How much his views differed from those of the majority of people, both at Christ’s time and still today! How easy it is, even for us, to pin our hope for God’s favor on what we are, think, say, or do. We desire and sometimes demand that God be kind to us and help us as a reward for our good church attendance or our righteous living or our delightful personalities.

C. Beware! Such self-righteous pride will not fall at Jesus feet and give thanks to Him. It gives no glory to God for His marvelous works of mercy, for it sees God only as a paymaster who distributes benefits to those who have earned them. When this attitude prevails, who bothers to thank God?

3. Only those whom God has rescued from the dominion of sin and Satan by giving them faith in the saving work of Christ.

A. The event reported in the Gospel happened while Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to lay down His life as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. The guilt of our selfishness and pride rested on His shoulders. The hands that in other cases healed with a touch were soon to be nailed to the cross in payment for our ingratitude and lovelessness. The voice that told the lepers to show themselves to the priest would soon cry out in pain and agony, “I thirst”, and “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” as Jesus endured the full punishment of body and soul that we all deserve. But that same voice would sound forth again after His resurrection, announcing that forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to Jews and Samaritans and all the nations of the earth.

B. Only the power of the resurrected Christ, received by us through faith, can purge our hearts of the spiritual maladies of selfishness and pride and ingratitude and sin. Only in the strength that He supplies are we able to overcome our natural inclination toward evil, truly give thanks, and glory to God. Through faith in Christ, the Samaritan leper received healing in his body. Motivated by that faith; he returned to give thanks. For such as that leper, it is not at all a bother to thank God. The expression of heartfelt thanks to God with our lips and our lives is a joyous privilege that God provides for us here in time and hereafter in eternity.

Words –715
Passive Sentences –15%
Reading Ease –70.4%
Reading Level –7.5

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Time in the Word - Pentecost 21 - Proper 23

Time in the Word
Preparation for
Pentecost 21 – Proper 23
October 3 – 8, 2016

Faith Returns Thanks to God and Worships Him in the Person of Christ Jesus

Jesus comes in mercy, and by His Word heals you in body and soul. “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” for you are cleansed (Luke 17:14), and you are granted access to the Lord’s Temple. It is “at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks” (Luke 17:16), that you worship God, for Christ Jesus is your great High Priest; His Body is the true Temple. In Him you “find rest, each of you in the house of her husband” (Ruth 1:9), for the Lord has “visited His people and given them food” (Ruth 1:6). The person of Jesus Christ lodges Himself in holy food—bread and wine for believers to eat and drink. You lodge where Jesus lodges; His Father is your God, His people are your people. Death cannot part you from Him, because His death and resurrection are eternally yours through Holy Baptism. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Tim. 2:8–9). As surely as death could not hold Him, so surely “the Word of God is not bound” (2 Tim. 2:9). His Gospel is entrusted “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2), so that you “may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:10). Such is the confession of faith for all the saints, who believe, teach, and confess the one Lord and Savior—Jesus Christ.

Collect for the Twenty-first Sunday after PentecostAlmighty God, You show mercy to Your people in all their troubles. Grant us always to recognize Your goodness, give thanks for Your compassion, and praise Your holy name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for the sickO Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need, look with favor upon Your servant. Assure him/her of Your mercy, deliver him/her from the temptations of the evil one, and give him/her patience and comfort in his/her illness. If it please You, restore him/her to health, or give him/her grace to accept this tribulation with courage and hope; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for deliverance from sinWe implore You, O Lord, in Your kindness to show us Your great mercy that we may be set free from our sins and rescued from the punishments that we rightfully deserve; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for agricultureAlmighty God, You bless the earth to make it fruitful, bringing forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper the work of farmers and all those who labor to bring food to our table. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruits of the earth in abundance and proclaim Your goodness with thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Monday, 3 October 2016Psalm 34:2–4, 17; antiphon, Psalm 48:1—The Introit calls upon us to praise the Lord for His deliverance of His righteous ones out of all their troubles. Who are the righteous? We learned in the Old Testament reading from last week that those who place their trust in the Lord are the ones who are righteous—by their faith.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016Psalm 111—Psalm 111 is a song of high praise to the LORD for His many and continued blessings upon His people—physical and spiritual blessings. The LORD’s great works and His provision of food are recounted before the His greatest blessing is extolled: He sent redemption to his people. In the face of the mighty deeds, awesome power, and goodness of the Lord, the psalmist concludes, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016Ruth 1:1–19a—Sunday’s Old Testament reading is the opening portion of the book of Ruth. Ruth was not an Israelite, but a Moabite woman, whose husband had died. During a famine, Ruth’s husband died, as did his brother. When Naomi, the brothers’ mother, planned to go to Bethlehem, because she had heard there was food there, she urged her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab where, as still-young women, they might find husbands. Orpah did, but Ruth remained with Naomi, resolutely declaring, “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” This strong foreign woman, who took the Lord GOD of Israel—the true God—as her own God, would become an ancestress to the Christ, the incarnate Son of the only true God (Matthew 1:5

Thursday, 6 October 20162 Timothy 2:1–13—Our reading through Paul’s second letter to Timothy continues with encouragement to remain a good soldier of Christ Jesus, even in the face of suffering. But, this is no advice to Timothy simply to look deep inside himself for strength, or keep a stiff upper lip. No, the Christian’s source of strength in the midst of adversity always comes from the fact that we are strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (v. 1). Paul then quotes what he had written in his epistle to the Romans, in connection with Holy Baptism: If we have died with him, we will also live with him. Our Baptism into Christ gives us strength daily to face whatever hardships we may face in this life.

Friday, 7 October 2016Luke 17:11–19—There was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans. Had they been healthy, the nine Jewish lepers would have had had nothing to do with this person whom they considered a half-breed, little better than a heathen. But leprosy had made them all outcasts from society, depending on the kindness of strangers in for daily sustenance.

On the way to Jerusalem, on the road that would ultimately lead to His death, Jesus encountered these ten pitiable men. He had mercy on them, and, foreshadowing the restoration of all creation at the Last Day, healed them of their dread disease. Only one returned to Jesus to give thanks—a foreigner, the Samaritan.

Christ came into the world to save all people, regardless of ethnicity, skin color, or other outward characteristics. We Gentiles, too, ought to fall at Jesus’ feet and give thanks for having rescued us from the far more dread disease of sin and its consequences of eternal, and not just temporal, death. This Descendant of a foreign, Moabite woman has made us clean. He Himself is the High Priest who declares us clean to His Father, and gives us a place in His kingdom. This Gospel lesson will be read on Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday, 8 October 2016—Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old (LSB #846). It also makes the connection between Christ healing disease and infirmities of the body when he walked the earth and His redemptive work in cleansing us from our sins. The last stanza asks that we, too, may be delivered from the sickness of sin, that we might offer up our praise and thanksgiving, as the Samaritan did in the Gospel reading.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

Luther’s Seal © Ed  Riojas Higher Things

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pentecost 20 - Proper 22

Proper 22
October 2, 2016
Luke 17:1-10 
What your faith can do for you

The apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. The Savior responds.  Reminding us. Even a little faith is a lot. This might catch some off guard. Like the disciples, many are eager for a larger portion of faith – the faith to guide people aright. Faith to forgive. Faith to serve just for the privilege. As we face the tough issues of life, we cry out for more faith. No one can honestly say, ‘I have all the faith in the world.” If we really have faith. Do we need more? Jesus corrects the disciple’s desire for more faith. He says the quantity or degree of faith does not matter. It is sufficient just to have faith. The parable of the mustard seed emphasizes that the smallest amount of faith can do wonders.

Faith is a practical thing in a Christian’s daily life. Does the common man know this? Is faith for him only a creed? Could faith be something for preachers only? Faith is meaningful in the day-to-day life of a Christian. Note that this gospel lesson on faith is addressed to the disciples, men of faith in Christ. Jesus is teaching them about the implications or responsibilities of that faith.

What faith can do for you.

1. Keep you from leading others astray – Vv. 1-2 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”
We are unworthy servants.
Have we not sometimes caused offense?
A.             We have at times lived selfishly. Without regard for the needs of those around us. Like selfish children. Always looking out for what is mine.
B.            We have lived “immoderately” always wanting more – But it is always just beyond our reach. And so, we are impatient. Never satisfied. Never content. Never at peace.
Little ones. (Those who struggle. Or who are weak in the faith.) May thereby have been led astray – A serious matter. (See vs. 2) To cause offense is to be an unworthy servant.

Lord, increase my faith! That I may not cause offense!

2. Cause you to forgive – Vv. 3-4 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
A.            Have we not sometimes refused to deal lovingly with sinning brothers and sister?
B.            Have we failed to rebuke them personally for a sin we see them committing.
1. Rebuking a brother is difficult.
2. We can come off as a busy body
3. In our “live and let live” world, most people’s reaction is “whatever”.

C.            We have failed to forgive them as often as they repent
1. Forgiving can be difficult too!
2. After a rebuke. We might feel as if we have the power and the upper hand.
3. If we refuse to forgive. We break the bond of peace, which the Savior has given us.
4. There should be no limit to our forgiveness.
a. If he sins against you 7 times in a day. And 7 times comes back to you and said “I repent” ~ you must forgive him.
b. There is to be no limit to our forgiveness.
c. Forgiveness needs to be complete.

Lord, increase my faith when I’m called upon to forgive!

3. Perform wonders – Vv. 5-6 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

Faith makes it possible for us to do our duty.
A.            We need only to exercise the faith we have.
1. What matters is not the amount of faith. Or ever faith itself. As though we were now obligated to get faith to do our duty. Rather, faith is instrumental.
2. Faith joins us to Christ. So that through faith we receive His power. Thus, even a little faith can do great things.
3. Wherever there is faith in Christ. Christians will deal lovingly with each other.
B.            We should not expect praise for doing our duty.
1. Jesus alone gives faith and then increases it.
2. He does not owe us a thing. It is by His grace alone that we have faith. And are able to do our duty.

Lord, increase my faith when I’m called to render service to my neighbor!

4. Motivate you to serve with no desire for reward – Vv. 7-10 “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

We have been called into Christian service.

A.            In such service there are certain expectations. The servant is called to perform specific
1. To plow. Look after sheep. Etc. when the Master calls.
2. To render service – To cook supper. And wait on the Master.
B.            The expectation is service rendered.
1. No need to say thanks. “Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?” Apply this lesson to school or your first job – boot camp for life!
a. Show up on time.
b. Do what you’re told.
c. Don’t have an attitude!
2. The final reward of the child of God is to be ushered into mansions glorious.
a. We enter glory not due to any merit on our part. All we have is a gift.
b. Rather, we are unworthy servants. We are only doing our duty as the Master has pressed us into His service.

Lydia’s violin instructor in high school would often say, “We are all students” – Rightly applied to our Christian walk – we are all servants. We are to each humbly walk before God and our neighbor, forgiving and restoring our brother gently for in the final analysis we are to remind ourselves – we are only servants – simply doing our duty.

Words – 1,145
Passive Sentences –5%
Reading Ease –82.4
Reading Level – 4.1