Sunday, February 19, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Transfiguration


An Experience with God


The Transfiguration was Jesus’ experience with God. Not the first. Not the last. But it was an experience so intense that the glory of God transfigured Him into the brightness of the sun. In the Epistle lesson, Peter gives the testimony of the disciples concerning the reality of that experience. Moses had a similar experience with God on Mt. Sinai. But it was related to the Law, not the gospel of the Son. In the Psalm for the day, there is reference to God’s voice; “This is my beloved son.”

The Transfiguration marks the apex of the Epiphany season. Through the season, we have witnessed the glory of God manifested in Jesus. At the Transfiguration God’s full glory is reflected in Jesus. Jesus’ glory is shown by the brightness of His physical appearance, the appearance of Moses and Elijah and the presence of the Father evidenced by cloud and voice. Since Jesus has come to the full possession of God’s glory, he is prepared to fulfill his mission as the Messiah by going to Jerusalem to the cross. Because of this, the Transfiguration is a preparation for our Lenten pilgrimage to suffer and died with Jesus.

The importance of this Transfiguration experience led the church the make the Transfiguration a festival of the church. The liturgical color changes to white to express the joy and celebration of the event.

Monday, 20 February 2017Psalm 99:1-5; antiphon, Psalm 99:5— The Psalm for the Introit is a hymn celebrating the Lord as the great and holy King in Zion. Seven times the psalmist will speak of the Lord. We are called to worship our Lord as the antiphon suggests, “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; he is holy.” At the mountain of the Transfiguration, the disciples see the Lord Jesus in all of His holiness, glory and splendor. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017Psalm 2:6-12; antiphon v.6 — In Christ you are the Lord’s. To rebel against the Lord’s Anointed is also to revel against the One who anointed him. The psalm refers to the Davidic king, and is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. The English word ‘Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed one” and the English word, “Christ” from the Greek word for “anointed one.” On the mountain of Transfiguration Moses and Elijah will speak to the Lord’s anointed one and His glory at the cross and empty tomb.  

Wednesday, 22 February 2017Exodus 24:8-18—God appears to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It was an experience with God revealing His glory. What is the significance of the mountain? A mountain is generally the site of a religious experience. It was, at least, for Moses, Elijah, Abraham and Jesus. There is symbolism to a mountain. It is high. Above the valley of the mundane. It is s solitary place away from people. It is a silent site where God’s voice can be heard without the distractions and confusion of human voices. A mountain also speaks of stability, permanence and strength.

Thursday, 23 February 20172 Peter 1:16-21The disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration. Peter will testify to the reality of Jesus’ experience with God. People may ask, is the Transfiguration a legend of the early church or an historical reality? The account in 2 Peter assures us that it can be accepted as fact. The witness of eyewitnesses. The problem lies in this, do we believe this testimony? Do we trust in Peter’s words? The authority of the church today is the authority of the Apostles. Do we trust the witness of the Apostles? Were you there at the Transfiguration as you were at the cross?
Peter reminds us that the Transfiguration needs to be an historical event but also an experience of faith today for the believer.

Friday, 24 February 2017Matthew 17:1-9— Jesus on the mountain is transfigured before three of His disciples. This experience with God is transforming. Before the cross, Resurrection and Ascension, we get a glimpse of the inner, true nature of the Son of God, Until this time, we saw God’s glory manifested in Jesus as the wise Men saw in Him a king, In John the Baptist’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah, and in the miracles of Jesus. Now we see directly the divine nature of Jesus. This brings us to the uniqueness of Jesus _they saw no one but Jesus only.” In the light of Jesus’ being the only Son of God, then, we must confront the pluralism of our day. In many circles Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius are all “sons of God.” The voice from heaven makes Jesus unique. He is God’s one and only Son.  

In the Transfiguration, many questions go unanswered. How could the holy presence of God come into a human frame? How do you explain the exceeding brightness of the physical Jesus? How could Moses and Elijah appear in bodily form? Does God come in a cloud and does god have a real voice?  Perhaps our only reaction and answer is worship. Like Peter, we do not know what to say. Like the disciples, we are overcome with awe and adoration. Jesus and His three disciples go up to pray and worship. The experience results in the worship of Christ.
Saturday, 25 February 2017Luke 9:28-36; John 1:14– Tomorrow’s hymn of the week is LSB #413 “O Wondrous Type! O Vision FairThrough this season of Epiphany, we have witnessed the glory of God manifested in Jesus, but today God’s full glory is reflected in Jesus. Jesus’ glory is shown by the brightness of His physical appearance, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and the presence of the Father evidenced by a cloud and a voice.


Since Jesus has come to the full possession of God’s glory, He is prepared to fulfill His mission as the Messiah by going to Jerusalem to the cross.  

Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.

Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. 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.

Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. 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.


Collects for Transfiguration: O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud, You wonderfully fore showed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heave; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, DelhiNY
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS
     


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Epiphany 7


Epiphany 7 notes
February 19, 2017
Matthew 5:38–48
 No limits to love

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in You, mercifully grant that by Your power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Did you hear Jesus’ words? “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Vs.48) This word, “perfect” [τέλειος,’] often means “totality,” or “full-grown.” The disciples of Jesus should be “all grown up… Matured. And now ready to reach a full and perfect end.” Just as a fruit tree. When it is matured. Produces a bumper crop.  

Christ’s followers are to be “total” in their love. Including their enemies. Such perfection is also functional. A disciple is “perfect.” To the extent that he reproduces in his life the forgiving, sacrificial love of God, which has made him a son. The pattern and power of this lived sonship is Jesus Himself. The Gospel makes people the children of God and enables them so to live lives, which are different.

Jesus’ message does not appeal to those in power. Especially, those with the ability to strike with no fear of retaliation. Jesus’ audience was fully aware of this. They knew the heavy taxation of Rome. They experienced the evils of political oppression. Yet, Jesus does not rally them to overthrow the government. God’s kingdom is bigger than Roman rule. God’s power is greater than Roman oppression. Yet God’s justice will prevail. Jesus will indeed prove His kingship in this Gospel. But only, with a crown of thorns. And a Roman cross.

Indeed, turning the other cheek and returning hatred with love is no way to get ahead in this world.  The rules of this kingdom are well known. - It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Where only the strong survive. But that’s just the point. Jesus isn’t trying to modify the rules of the world. He’s not, inviting you to figure out how to make the most of this world. Or, how to have your best life now. 

And He’s not even inviting you to find a safe port amid the storms of this world. Rather, He’s starting a revolution. By calling the rules of this world into question. And, at the very same time, redeeming this world that He loves. He redeems a world. That will, in due time, put Him to death.

No limits in love

1. Jesus won’t let us limit our love.

A. We want to limit it. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
1. By nature, we have an inclination for vengeance.  Jesus reminds us, “If you love your lovers...certainly the tax collectors do this! Correct? Yet what reward do you have?” This is simple justice. Jesus continues, “And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” 

2. God restrains and regulates this impulse through civil courts. “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” (v. 40) Remember, Christ was stripped of tunic and cloak...they cast lots for it. (Matthew 27:35 John 19:23-24)  “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Vs. 41) “If anyone wants to take you to the Judge,” says, Jesus, “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” – V. 42) 

3. Everyone has a vocation. Be generous to the one given to you. It is ordered. CS Lewis reminds us, this is where we are to be inappropriate. “Give until it pinches. Be charitable to the enemy who is your neighbor.”  “We are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (such as tipping, and showing hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.” 1 

B. Jesus’ words remove every limitation form love.
1. His admonition, “Love your enemies” removes every limit. They are to love their enemies.

2. Rather than vengeance, we are to seek their highest good. “Pray for those who persecute you.” So that they may be “children of your Father who is in heaven” (5:45). This God allows the sun to shine on the evil and the good. And He sends a life-giving rain to fall on the just and the unjust. (5:46). God, who has power over life and death, provides life-sustaining conditions even for those who are diametrically opposed to God’s goodness. 

3. Anyone can love the lovely. (5:46-47). Jesus demands love for those who are incapable of showing love in return. “’An eye for an eye’ makes all people blind.2 “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 3

2. This is because God’s love, which made us His children, knows no limit.

A. God’s love knows no limit.
1. Strength eventually fails. Power corrupts. And survival of the fittest leaves so many bodies on the ground. Love alone transforms. Redeems. And creates new life.

2. We see it in the sending of His Son. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. “ (Romans 5:8) This is why Christ entered your world. He came to bear your sin. To die your death. And raise you up a new person. He then gives you His Spirit. To be witnesses of His mercy and grace. 

B. This love has made you God’s child.
1. He has adopted you.  In Baptism. Christ made you a member of His family.

2. He wants us to be “perfect” children by demonstrating His love in your life. Sanctification is the art of getting used to Justification.  It is suffering God's act. The law is fulfilled in Baptism. It's the new man daily rising.

3. Recall the explanation to the 2nd Article, I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, delivered me and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with silver and gold but with his holy and precious blood and with his innocent sufferings and death, in order that I may be his, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, even as he is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity. 4  Otherwise, every good work simply becomes self-serving. It's the difference between "you shall" (Moses and the Law) and "you are." (Jesus and the Gospel)

3. Therefore, as our heavenly Father’s “perfect” children we show love without limit. 

A. We bear insults and personal abuse without resentment or retaliation. Thus, Jesus reminds us, “turn to him the other cheek also.” Those who bear the name of Christ love their enemies and pray for their persecutors so that they may be “children of your Father who is in heaven” (5:45).

B. We do not insist on our rights. Instead, Jesus simply says, “Let him have you cloak as well.”

C. We put ourselves out for the other person. “Go with him two miles.”

D. We are willing to be put upon. “Do not refuse him,” encourages the Savior. 

The kingdom of heaven does not operate like the kingdoms of this world. How will we know when we see God’s kingdom? When anger results in reconciliation rather than retaliation. God must be at work. When enemies are overcome by love. Rather than violence. Then God’s reign is present. And His kingdom is present among us. 

Words – 1,320
Passive Sentences –3%
Readability–77%
Reading level – 4.5








[1]  –Mere Christianity  Social Morality Part 3
[2] -Gandhi
[3] -Martin Luther King Jr.
[4] Explanation to the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed, Luther’s Small Catechism, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Epiphany 7


Be What God Is

This theme seems to focus upon the nature of God and our responsibility to match His nature in our lives. Because God is perfect, according to the Gospel lesson, we too are to be perfect. Be perfect as God is perfect. Because God is holy, according to our Old Testament lesson, we are tp be the same. Because God’s temple is holy according to the Epistle lesson we are holy for we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Psalm mentions God as one of  compassion and mercy. Because God is what He is, we are to reflect the same nature.

Monday, 17 February, 2014Psalm 103:1-8; antiphon, Psalm 103:2-3— The Psalmist reminds us, Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits who forgives all your iniquities who heals all your diseases. He addresses himself in the early verses of the psalm. He finds himself blessed as he has received not only the spiritual benefits from the Lord but also temporal blessings.
Whenever we recover from hardship, sickness, or setback it is the Lord who has done this. We remember all of the Lord’s dealings with us as we praise His holy name.

Tuesday, 13 February 2017Psalm 119:33-40 — This section of the psalms is based on the Hebrew letter “He” The key verse for the appointed Psalm for this coming week is verses 35, “Direct me in the paths of Your commands, for there I find delight.” As the child of God is directed by the law of the Lord, we find contentment, delight and peace.  

Wednesday, 14 February 2017Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 The Lord commands His people to be holy and to love one’s neighbor. In chapters 18-20 of the book of Leviticus, the phrase, “I am the Lord” appears twenty times! It occurs twice in this reading. It is the basis for obeying the commands of the Lord. It is God who commands. Because He is God, He has the authority to command., To disobey is to be faithless to God. Sin is unbelief. Moreover, God Himself is the absolute standard for human conduct. Morality is not based on permissiveness or upon consensus. The absolute is the very nature of God. Because He is holy, so must we be. Because He loves, we, too, are expected to love one another. A good person is a godly person. “Good” and “God” come from the same word.

Today the emphasis is “love yourself.” The text is not a command to love self. Rather, love of self is taken for granted as a normal and natural phenomenon. The command is to love neighbor as much as you love yourself. To love oneself is normal. It is abnormal to hate oneself or to love oneself excessively. We can go to both extremes – either into depression or into pride and arrogance. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, we would put the neighbor first and would desire for the neighbor only the best things in life.

Thursday, 15 February 20171 Corinthians3:10-11, 16-23—As God’s temple, Christians are holy people belonging to Christ. If a Christian or a church is compared to a building, Paul says Christ is the foundation. Since there can be no building without a foundation, it teaches us that Christ is essential, indispensable. Any other foundation for life or a church is inadequate and is trustworthy. To have a foundation of Christ is to look at the Christian and the church as a building project or a process. No Christian or church is ready-made. It is constantly in the making, in the building. Therefore, no one can claim to have arrived, or to be finished, or perfect.

Friday, 16 February 2017Matthew 5:38-48—Christians are expected to do more than the Law requires. Jesus teaches, ‘Do not resist one who is evil.’ This raises a lot of questions. Don’t resist one who attacks you? Who steals from you? Who demands involuntary service/ He calls for passive resistance. It reminds us of Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Not to resist means not to hate, not to fight back but take whatever is given with patience. It is using moral persuasion, and in the cases of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, it seemed to work. Is there a theological basis for passive resistance? They key to the passage is the nature of God. He does not resist evil, even to the point of the cross. Humanity is to follow His example.

Who can be perfect? The word does not mean moral perfection. Since Jesus was the only one who could say, “Which of you convinces me of sin?” there is no way to reach that goal in this life. “Perfect” means wholeness, maturity, holiness, and fulfillment. In the Biblical sense, a perfect person is one who has completed or fulfilled his life’s purpose. We are to be perfect because God is perfect.


Saturday, 18 February 2017Psalm 103;  Isaiah 40:6-8– Tomorrow’s hymn of the week is “My Soul, Now Praise Your Maker” The Lord has had compassion on His people. Thus we sing the fame and might of what the Lord has done. As we close out the season of Epiphany we remember the blessings the Lord has showered down upon us and we praise Him with our life and conduct in acts of mercy toward our neighbor.  


Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.

Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. 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.

Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. 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.

Collects for Epiphany 7: O God, the strength of all who put their trust in You, mercifully grant that by Your power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Father. Keep before us the wisdom and love You have revealed in Your Son. Help us to be like Him in word and deed, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord, keep Your family and Church continually in the true faith that they who lean on the hope of Your heavenly grace may ever be defended by Your mighty power; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who live and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Epiphany 6



Epiphany 6
12 February 2017
Matthew 5:27-37
“The Heart of the Matter”

In two days, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day.  The day we commemorate matters of the heart. As we continue will Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we see Jesus’ instruction concerning the attitude of the Christian’s heart.

Last month, many witnessed the inauguration of our president. In subsequent days, we have witnessed the swearing in of various members of his cabinet.  What do we make of it when we are called upon to speak, when we ourselves might be put “under oath?” For the follower of Christ, whose heart is pure, some might suggest, there is no need for an oath.[1]

In civil life, because of the untruth in the world, the State, which has to deal with all man, must require an oath. As we look at Jesus’ instruction, He gives us this assurance. In the areas of Christian morality, He makes clear, the heart of the matter. And, the heart of the matter, is a holy heart, only intent on performing the Father’s will as an act in love.

1.       Jesus made us His disciples.
2.       Jesus calls for a holy heart.
3.       Jesus calls for a heart totally intent on doing the Father’s will.
4.       Jesus desires a heart that does the Father’s will.  

1.       Jesus made us His disciples.
A.      Jesus came to seek and claim you to be His own.
1.       Discipleship then is a gift of His grace.
2.       Discipleship places Christ’s claim of grace on you. You are His. Because of His amazing grace.  
B.      Jesus has the authority to make disciples.
1         He lived a life of wholehearted commitment to the Father’s will for your life.
2         He gave His perfect life in exchange and payment for your sin.
3         His Holy Spirit gives you a new heart. A heart intent on doing the will of the Father.

2         Jesus calls for a holy heart. The source of a life in keeping with our discipleship.
A.      Jesus condemns the Scribes. Who interpreted the Law. Only to avoid and sidestep its full intent. They externalized the law. They looked for forms and specifics. They had a rule. For every circumstance. Given any situation. They had the perfect response. They had rules to live by. Yet their interpretation fell short. With respect to the 5th and 6th Commandments. True. They kept the commandments. But only as a matter of an outward act of obedience. Not a matter of the heart.
1.       They would argue. They had NOT committed murder. They had NOT committed adultery.
2.       But inward, they were guilty of hatred and lust. They supported the temple. With lavish gifts. Yet they shamelessly cheated widows out of their property. They purposely defrauded their parents. (Mark 7:11) Yet, for a pretense, they made elaborate prayers. (Mark 12:40)   They criticized those caught in adultery. Yet each had a mistress. (John 8:9) They rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released. They killed the Author of life. Yet God raised Him up.  (Acts 3:15)
3.       This passive aggressive behavior condemned them.   
B.      Thus, Jesus teaches an important lesson. Outward piety is not enough. Our hearts must be pure. No matter how outwardly pious we might appear to others. The Father sees and judges the heart.
C.      We continually need to have the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts that we may live properly. Following not only the letter of the law but also more importantly, the spirit of the law.  

3         Jesus calls for a heart totally intent on doing the Father’s will.
A.      Jesus condemns the Scribes who interpreted the law so as to evade its full intent. They had regulations and prescriptions for every condition of life.
B.      The reason their ways for conducting their live and judgment what was moral failed the test of the Savior. Our condition of original sin clouds our judgment. Human rationalizing is no substitute for the divine requirement. Situation ethics in which “love” determines “right or wrong” won’t work. Our sin makes it impossible for us to love, as we ought. “Doing your best” is not good enough. No matter how acceptable it may be to the world. Our sin condemns us before God.
C.      It is because Jesus was “wholly intent on doing the Father’s will” that we are His today. “You did not choose Me, but I have chosen you…” Says Jesus, “…and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…”  (John 15:16)

4      Jesus calls today for a heart that does the Father’s will in every aspect of living.                
A.      Jesus condemns the scribes who sought to exclude the Father’s claim over every aspect of their lives. “Does it matter what oath I take?” They asked. Jesus is not concerned on whether an oath was taken. But whether the heart is pure.
B.      What Jesus teaches is that we cannot compartmentalize our lives. We cannot exclude God from any area of our speaking or doing.  What we say and do on Saturday night and Monday morning are as much under the claim and judgment of God as what we say and do on Sunday. We must order all of what we do and say under the watchful eye of the Savior who has promised to order our days.
C.      For us He died. That we might live for Him. As you serve Him. You do so in Jesus’ Name. “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” –

Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We have this righteousness in Jesus Christ. In Him, we live to His glory.

Words – 1,065
Passive Sentences – 5%
Reading Ease – 77%
Reading Level – 4.5





[1] The argument of the Amish community as well as some Quakers.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Epiphany 6


Living the Law


The interpretation, understanding, and obedience of the law of God come forth from this week’s lections. The overall theme appears to be life in the light of the Law. The Gospel gives several examples of Jesus’ interpretation of the law of Moses. His view goes behind the letter to the spirit of the Law. In his last address, Moses appeals to his people to obey the Law and to live. To make the right interpretation there must be wisdom Paul in the epistle lesson teaches that the wisdom of God is revealed only to those of the Spirit. This explains how Jesus was able to rightly understand the Law. He had the Spirit of God and was taught by the Spirit. During this season our prayers must embrace both the understanding of God’s Law (Epistle lesson) and obedience (Old Testament lesson). We must pray to see and understand the things we ought to do with the grace and power to do them.

The Epiphany theme of the manifestation of God’s glory in Jesus continues in Epiphany 6/ In the Gospel, the glory of God in Jesus is seen in His interpretation of the law and in His authority as God’s Son, a greater than Moses – “And I say to you.” God’s glory is seen also in the Old Testament lesson where God in mercy makes a covenant with His people and promises them life if they accept and obey the terms of the covenant. Paul refers to Jesus as “the Lord of Glory” (v.8). Jesus is the true and able interpreter of God’s laws because He possessed the Spirit of God resulting in wisdom and understanding. The readings from Psalm 119 deal with the Law which for the Hebrews was God’s revelation of Himself to man. In other words, today we see the glory of God in Jesus in His understanding and interpretation of God’s law.


Monday, 06 February, 2017Psalm 119:1-8; antiphon, Psalm 119:1—In the Introit for Sunday, the key verses remind us as is explained in verse 2, “happy are those who observe His decrees.” Coupled with the Old Testament lesson for this week we are reminded of the face that the Law is good and obedience makes one happy.

Tuesday, 07 February 2017Psalm 119:9-16 — As an acrostic psalm this section is focused on the Hebrew letter Beth. The Psalmist would have reason to praise the Lord for blessings received and deliverances granted because  the Lord does not forsake His own.

Wednesday, 08 February 2017—Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Moses gives his people a choice of life and death. We live by obeying the Law. 

The two-letter words “if” has theological implications. Our life depends on it. “If” people love and obey, they shall have life. “If” they are rebellious, they will experience death. This implies that life and death are results of meeting certain conditions. This means that we have free will to do one or the other. We are not an automation, not a victim of circumstances. We cannot blame God for our fate. Ultimately our condition depends upon the type of ‘if” we choose.

Thursday, 09 February 20171 Corinthians3:1-9—Those who have the spirit possess the wisdom of God, understand His gifts, and interpret spiritual truths. Live by interpreting the Law through the Spirit.

To be mature, Paul shares the wisdom of God. Last week, in Epiphany 5 we dealt with the wisdom of man. Then we learned that the gospel is not built on man’s wisdom. There is a greater wisdom, which Paul shares with the mature.  When he preached, he gave the facts of the gospel. Facts dealing with the basics of Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection. Now comes the understanding of those facts, the doctrine, or the teaching. Mature Christians receive the teaching; the interpretation, understanding, and meaning of the facts. This maturity is not the modern “man come of age: in the sense of outgrowing God, but it is a growth into the wisdom of God.  

Friday, 10 February 2017Matthew 5:21-37—Jesus places a new interpretation on the law of Moses. Live by the spirit of the Law.


Jesus begins this section with these words, “And I say to you…” Who is this “I”? Who is presumptuous to go beyond what Moses said? Who does the “I” think he is – one greater than Moses, the might prophet of God? Here we confront Christological considerations. Jesus is speaking. Here we find a greater than Moses. In the words, “I say”. Jesus is placing Himself above all other religious teachers and prophets. How can he rightfully do this? Jesus speaks as God’s Son, the Word made flesh. He has the mind, the Spirit, and the essence of God the Father. As the Word of God, Jesus’ word is truth excelling all other teachers. Thus, the Scriptures testify of Him and we interpret them in the light of Christ.

Saturday, 11 February 2017Isaiah 61:1-3; 1 Peter 1:20; Matthew 11:4-5; Revelation 19:1-16 - The Hymn for next week is they hymn 394 “Songs of thankfulness and praise.” As we are now mostly through the season of Epiphany we come to a clearer picture of who Jesus really is. Through His words and by His miracles we see Him as He is, our coming Savior, the one who has come to save us. 

We are now in Epiphany. A season of revelation. A season of new understanding. A season where we begin to see Jesus as He is. By His words and deeds, He reveals Himself. He is your Savior who did not find it beneath Him to humble Himself and stoop to your level.  He speaks in words you can understand. He displays His love for you in acts of mercy and care.



Of course, we don’t always get it. Sometimes we can’t always perceive what the Lord is doing in our life. But He is there. Always has. Always will. And for that we can be glad that He has promised to support, direct and order your life.         

Collects for Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.

Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. 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.

Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. 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.

Collects for Epiphany 6 : O God graciously hear the prayers of Your people that we who justly suffer the consequences of our sin may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness to the glory of Your name for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in You. Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without You, give us the help of your grace that in keeping Your commandments we may please You both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Epiphany 5

Epiphany 5 – series A
5 February 2017
Matthew 5:13–20
Hymn of the Day, 578 “Thy Strong Word”

O Lord, keep Your family the Church continually in the true faith that relying on the hope of Your heavenly grace we may ever be defended by Your mighty power; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

We continue to hear Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last week we reviewed the Beatitudes. Today the sermon continues. And again. We are faced with the temptation to hear Jesus' words as requirement rather than blessing. As command. Rather than commissioning. But take note. Jesus doesn't say, "If you want to become salt and light, do this..." Or, "before I'll call you salt and light, I'll need to see this from you..." Rather, He says both simply and directly, "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world."

A friend of mine took a poll on facebook the other day. The question: “What does peace look like to you?” My reply was this: “It looks like Jesus! Faith. Looks like Jesus. Hope. Looks like Jesus. Love. Looks like Jesus. Whenever you see faith, hope, love, in action, you see Jesus, and discover peace!

God has never promised that the life of faith would be easy. Its difficulty is often increased by the ethical and attitudinal conditions of the world in which we live. But this should not be of any surprise to us. The way of Christ has always been counter-cultural. This should not shock us. We live in the world. But we are not of the world. We are pilgrims and strangers. We are only visiting this planet. This world is not your home. “I’m but a stranger here heaven is my home.”  However, we find courage to live an active life in the knowledge of what Christ has already done for us and in what He still promises to do through us. The Christian life must always be a grateful response to what the Father has done for us in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus.  Christ in His word gives us a new dimension of faith.

A new dimension of the Faith

1.      The seasoning of society.
  
Christ’s followers are described as “the salt of the earth.” His responsibility toward the world are to be understood in terms of the various qualities of salt, such as strengthening, flavoring, preserving, purifying, etc. 

Jesus saw His followers as levelling agents in an impure world. Their example would keep the fire of faith alive even under stress.

Their example would spread faith to those mired in the cultural waste of this world. But, if their example rang empty. Or, hollow. When Christians live too close to the world, they lose their power to help and to heal.   
This world needs Christians for its betterment. The word “salary” comes from the word salt. The Romans would pay their soldiers not in gold but in salt. A faithful worker was literally “worth his salt.”

Christ says of you, “You are the salt of the world.” That is, a preservative in this corrupt and sinful world. God preserves the world, so that Christians may serve Him here. 

Yet, the Christian has a responsibility to retain the saltiness of his own faith and commitment by the use of Christ’s Word and the Sacraments.  Use them we must. Otherwise, we run the risk of spoiling. Without a connection to Christ and His Word, the Christian will soon lose his usefulness to the world in which he lives. 

Transition: Jesus teaches His disciples that they are to be the salt of the earth. You. And you alone. You. And none other. You are salt. You are light. This is what you were meant to be. You give light in the midst of darkness. You can’t help but do otherwise. You are in Christ.  

2.  The light of the world.

Christ followers are described as “the light of the world.”  Only the Word of God, as communicated by Christians, can dissipate the darkness of sin and the satanic world. Christ is the true light, which enlightens everyone. (John 1:9), Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. Christians reflect the light of the Son of God into a world dark with sin, wickedness, ignorance, and unbelief. Your highest form of service is being a light in this world. Bringing the light of the Gospel of salvation into a sin-darkened world.

Not only does the world need to hear the verbal message of Christ It also needs to see the embodiment of that message in human life and action. No. You do not earn your salvation. But as you have been redeemed by Christ. Your aim. Your purpose. Your goal in life is to influence the lives of others. As Christ uses you to be His ambassador in this world.  

The reason Christians don’t have a bucket-list is that we don’t kick the bucket. Rather, we have a to-do list of the Father’s purposes and His gifts. And we never check them off. We just keep sharing them. All the way home.

There are so many faithful believers, living Godly lives, that very few others will ever consider unique, different, or special. Jesus never asked us to be unique. He told us to be faithful. And that alone. Makes you different. You are salt. You are light. Be a witness. An ambassador for Christ in this world.

Words – 936
Passive Sentences – 7%
Readability – 83.0%

Reading Level -3.9