Saturday, October 18, 2014

Luke




Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of souls. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of the soul that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Proper 24



Proper 24
19 October 2014
Matthew 22:15-22



O God, the protector of all who trust in you. Have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal;

These words of Jesus were spoken at the temple in Jerusalem. It's Wednesday of Holy Week -



The Pharisees took counsel on how to trip Jesus up. Jesus had been destroying them. Now there is a time of grace. But not for long. The end will come.

There was no inconsistency in Jesus' words. They wanted to find fault with Him.

Pharisees began to plot against Jesus in response to His actions in healing on the Sabbath day, and drew the Herodians into their conspiracy.

These Pharisees.  They send their disciples along with the Herodians to confront Jesus. Yes!  Pharisees and Herodians in bed together. These Herodians were considered unclean. Pharisees and Herodians were mortal enemies. They  did not like each other. These Herodians.  Were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great, and to his dynasty. They would refer to Herod as, "The King of the Jews!"

They begin by complementing Him. Be aware when they serve desert before dinner.

They flattered Jesus for His honesty and impartiality, then questioning Him politically in relation to His attitude to paying Roman taxes. Jesus did appear to have impressed the Herodians with his reply: "... they marveled (εθαυμασαν) at Him".

What do you think? We know you teach the way of God and truth. It doesn't matter to you nor does it concern you. You do not look into the face of men. Is it lawful to pay tribute, to participate in the census    to Caesar? (And what were His parents doing?) Is it permissible to participate in government?

Jesus knowing their evil asks them, "Why do you tempt me?" Remember the warning of the apostle James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations." (James 1:2)

"Show me the tribute'" Jesus responds. They displayed  a denarius.

"Whose image portrait is on it?"
"Caesar," they reply.
"Give to CAESAR what belongs to Caesar. And to GOD what belongs to God."

Jesus has no desire to get into a political debate. Especially when He knows their heart and their intent.

There are more pressing matters. Its Holy Week! It's Wednesday! In 48 hours Jesus will be dead. The cross is coming into view. It can't be avoided. It compels Him.

Jesus is content for His followers to render loyalty to Caesar , who is an earthly King. Render to Caesar what he is due;  taxes, revenue, respect. But to Christ, the King of Kings, we owe Him our lives.

“When they heard it they left Him.”  Literally, they let it go. Is this not the definition of forgiveness? Your sin, it's gone. It's been nailed to Jesus' cross. He bore your sin in His own body on the bloody cross of Calvary. That you might die to sin. And live to Him.

There at the cross we fund a great exchange. Your flaws and failures. Given in exchange for Christ's perfection. He renders you to God...offering His own body as the payment for your sin. 

As a Christian, a follower of Jesus; the Christ, the King of Kings, you owe Him everything. For Caesar there is an obligation. Try to evade paying taxes. You won't go far. Run afoul of law, and you must pay the consequences. For King Jesus, the debt you owe for your sin, the bill is marked, "paid in full!"

Jesus gives you NOT religion. Religion says, "If you change first, you may join us." Jesus invites you. He simply says, "Come, join and follow Me, and you'll be changed."

So, what's your obligation to Jesus?

"For all which it is my duty to thank and praise and serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true!
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Words – 679
Passive Sentences – 5%
Readability – 79%

Reading Level – 4.0

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Proper 23

October 12
Proper 23
Matthew 22:1-14


Enlighten our minds, we pray, O God, by the Spirit who proceeds from You that, as Your Son has promised, we may be led into all through truth;

Yet another parable of Jesus –

God in His mercy desires all to be saved. He wants all to be included into the family. Yet each guest must have the proper clothes. The King Himself provides everything. Even the necessary garments.

To refuse to wear it is to show contempt to the host. To insult the king. Refusing to sit at the banquet on the king’s terms is to become self-righteous. Discarding, Eliminating. Denying. Refusing. Rejecting the righteousness God offers through Jesus Christ.


Anyone who thinks he does not need the garment of righteousness Jesus secured for him must suffer the consequences. Everyone is welcome at the wedding feast. All have been invited. Yet you can be a guest only on the King’s terms. So take seriously the Father’s offer of grace. No excuses allowed. Your King not only invites all to come. He provides them with the necessary garments.

The Father calls, “Come…for all things are now ready!” The Father has prepared a dinner – salvation, forgiveness, life. That’s quite an offer. This invitation has been ready for a long time.

1.       The Father sends His invitation.

He doesn’t command people to come. He simply invites. He presupposed they would be there. This is salvation’s history. It was given to them. When the King invites, you to come - you go! It’s crazy to say no.

He doesn’t demand that we first make ourselves worthy. He simply invites. He won’t force us to eat.  He offers without cost. Yet many refuse the invitation. They allow activities acceptable in themselves to become more important than the Father’s invitation. We need to watch that we do not put off accepting this invitation. The consequences of such procrastination can be drastic.


2.       The Father invites all.

He sends His messengers out again.  He sent others. Everything has been made ready. Come to the feast! He keeps sending servants. His single desire is for them to be with Him. He won’t let the rejection by some prevent the banquet from taking place. He wants the food to be eaten. Now He advertises the menu. He’s giving them His best.

God shows no partiality or prejudice. When the respectable people refuse, He invites the lowly and the despised. He sends His servants to the off ramps and overpasses inviting all to come. There’s still room in the banquet hall!


3.       The Father invites on His own terms.
He provides for each guest the needed wedding garment. Not only has He prepared salvation, but He also makes it possible for all to partake of salvation. The wedding garment is the righteousness Christ earned for you. Which alone make you acceptable to God. This alone qualifies you to be a guest at the wedding feast.

You receive this garment by faith in Jesus. It was given to you personally when you were baptized. St. Paul puts it this way; “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6:3-6)

Without Christ’s righteousness, you are doomed. For your unrighteousness condemns you. While Christ’s righteousness cover our sins. We must be on guard lest we continue to love and practice sin. That would be as if I were to say, “Tammy is as fantastic chef. She’s the best cook in northeast Indiana. Her cooking skills are so good that I will prove to her by eating nothing but garbage and fast food for the next two months. And, if she tries to cook me something, I’ll throw it in the trash.  I choose to act this way so that come Thanksgiving, I’ll have a greater appreciation for her.”  Not a good plan! That would make no sense!   We come to Christ neither on our own terms nor by living a life of hypocrisy. The price of salvation came at a tremendous price. The price of Christ’s life. There are no other options.   

That would amount to playing games with the grace of God. That would mean that we are e no better off than the blatant unbeliever.  The hypocrite insists on making it on his own terms. Doing this his own way. Playing by his own rules. Refusing to trust in the merits of Christ.

The Father Himself has prepared a wedding dinner. What joy to hear “All things are ready!” To hear Him invite us and to receive from Him the beautiful garment of Christ’s righteousness is the mystery of His mercy and grace.

Words – 851
Passive Sentences – 8%
Reading Ease – 77.8%
Reading Level – 4.5

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Abraham

Lord God. heavenly Father, Your promised Abraham that he would be the Father of many nations. You lead him to the land of Canaan, and You sealed Your covenant with him the the shedding of blood. May we see in Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, the promise of the new covenant of Your holy Church, sealed with Jesus' blood on the cross and given to us now in the cup of the new testament; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Proper 22



Proper 22
Matthew 21:33-46
“This is the heir” – This is not fair!

Still another parable of Jesus –

There was a landowner, who planted a vineyard.
Put a fence around it.
Dug a wine press.
And built a watchtower.

Then He leased it to tenants. And went to another country.
When the harvest time had come.
He sent His slaves to the tenants to collect His produce.

"A certain owner" happens to be the holder of everything. He built the fence. Dug the press. And built the tower. He lent it out to "earth workers." They were hired. To work the ground. It is His fruit after all.

Owners do not pay rent. Who are you? Do you act as though you are the owner of your world and the master of your life? You are “tenants.” You do not own this place. You are not a permanent resident. You are a renter. Obliged to pay rent for the privilege of being on this earth. You are tenants. Expected to share the harvest with the Owner. You have a responsibility. To return to God His just desserts - as owner of the vineyard.

But the tenants seized His slaves; beat one,
Killed another, and stoned another.
Again, He sent other slaves, more than the first;
and they treated them in the same way.

They flogged. They violently and maliciously killed. Notice the progressive acts of violence. Sin compounds sin. It gets worse and WORSE. They are asserting a dominion they do not have. They are not behaving in a manner recognizing the King as the owner.

When a prophet was killed, He kept on sending other prophets and servants. What a remarkable contrast to what most would have done under similar circumstances.

Finally, He sent His Son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my Son.’
But when the tenants saw the Son, they said to themselves,
‘This is the heir; come, let us kill Him and get His inheritance;”
So they seized Him, threw Him out of the vineyard, and killed Him.

This owner. By earthly standards is reckless. And way too patient and lenient.  He sent, at last, His Son...”they will have regard for Him my beloved...they will be shamed by the Son.

The incomprehensible patience and love of the Father produces an unexpected, odd response.

So what do you do when you run across a problem with a troublesome renter? In most cases, you demonstrate, patience – but ultimately and finally, patience has a limit. So also, with God.

Time after time, He came for His due until finally He makes the ultimate appeal in His Son. These earth workers kill Him. And possess the inheritance. This inheritance. It is a gift. This is NOT fair! It makes no sense. You killed My Son. So now, I'll write you into the will, so you receive the inheritance. This is the foolishness of the cross. Your sin kills Jesus! And you receive the inheritance...forgiveness, life, salvation...It's not fair! But it’s grace.

The Lord continues to demonstrate His patience. He is still giving you time - to bring forth the fruit of faith. He continues to love and seek your love. He continues to provide those means which you need to receive His mercy and care.

True, they received Him.  Took Him out of the vineyard. And killed Him. Rebellious tenants kill the Son in the hope of taking over the vineyard by force. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will He do to those tenants?”

They said to Him, “He will put these wretches to a wretched death and give the vineyard to other workers. And lease the vineyard to other tenants. Who will give Him the produce at the harvest time?”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?
Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces;
and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

The Church has, always used these words. The point is, the kingdom will be given to others. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, reminds the crowd, “you killed Him...repent...and your sin will be blotted out...He will be faithful and just and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. This is unfair, unexpected, and Good News.

God brings repentance. He brings contrition.  He brings faith. God brings them all to repentance. This is how the gospel works. The Son dies. And the murders receive the inheritance!


When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables,
they realized that he was speaking about them.
They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds,
because they had Him out to be a prophet.

The patience of God also has its limits. Eventually this world will end. Then there will be a final judgment. In these last times. If people reject the Gospel, it will be taken from one and handed to others.

History has demonstrated this reality. The Gospel message began in Jerusalem. It spilled into Judea, Samaria. Finally, the continent of Africa became the epicenter of the Christian movement. Over time, it found its prominence in Europe, then the Americas, and now Africa has become the hub of world Christianity. Luther reminds us that the Gospel is like a cloud. If it is not embraced in one place, it moves on, to nourish another people - somewhere else.
  
Spurn not His mercy. Receive the tokens of His grace, His compassion, His leniency, His grace.
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Words –974
Passive Sentences - 7%
Readability – 81.0
Reading Level -3.5


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jerome, translator of the Scriptures

O God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the good of salvation and the foundation of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

St. Michael and All Angels

Everlasting God, You have ordered and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen