Sunday, August 13, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 11 - Proper 15



Time in the Word:
Proper 15
14-19 August 2017
"The Church Lives Under the Cross of Christ  and Prays in the Hope of His Mercy"

By her persistent prayer that Jesus would have mercy and help her (Matthew 15:22, 24), and even in the face of His initial silence and apparent rejection (Matthew 15:23–26), the Canaanite woman boldly confessed her faith in Him (Matthew 15:28). Her beautiful example encourages us to cling to the words and promises of the Gospel, even in the face of the Law that accuses and condemns us. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 10:29), and His Law “has consigned all to disobedience” for the very purpose “that He may have mercy on all” (Romans 10:32). Hence, the woman’s faith and hope were not disappointed, but her prayers were answered in the mercy of Christ. Not only does He grant us the crumbs from His Table, but He also feeds us with “the children’s bread” in the house of His Father (Matthew 15:26–27). He has brought us to His “holy mountain,” and He makes us joyful in His house, where He hears our prayers and accepts our sacrifice of praise upon the altar of His cross (Isaiah 56:7).

Almighty and everlasting Father, You give Your children many blessings even though we are undeserving. In every trial and temptation grant us steadfast confidence in Your loving-kindness and mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for the mission of the Church: Almighty God, You have called Your Church to witness that in Christ You have reconciled us to Yourself. Grant that by Your Holy Spirit we may proclaim the good news of Your salvation so that all who hear it may receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer for the mission of the Church and her missionaries: Almighty and gracious God, You want all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Magnify the power of the Gospel in the hearts of Your faithful people that Your Church may spread the good news of salvation. Protect, encourage, and bless all missionaries who proclaim the saving cross that Christ, being lifted up, may draw all people to Himself, who lives and reigns…

Prayer for those outside the Church: Almighty and everlasting God, You desire not the death of a sinner but that all would repent and live. Hear our prayers for those outside the Church. Take away their iniquity, and turn them from their false gods to You, the living and true God. Gather them into Your holy Church to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

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, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Monday, 14 August 2017Psalm 28:1–2, 6–7; Antiphon, Psalm 28:8—This psalm of David was probably written during the rebellion of his son, Absalom. Recognizing that he is unable to protect and redeem himself, David cries to the Lord, his Rock, to hear the voice of his pleas for mercy, and then gives thanks to the Lord for having heard and delivered him. Verse 8, used as the antiphon, shows that God’s blessings extend to all His people.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017Psalm 67—All of the Propers of the day express the fact that God’s salvation is for all people.The psalmist begins with the familiar Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24–26), a blessing originally applied to the children of Israel, but then extends it to all people: that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017Isaiah 56:1, 6–8—Writing about 700 years before Christ, Isaiah prophesies of the LORD: Soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance will be revealed. The LORD’s salvation and righteousness have been revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for all, regardless of race, the LORD is pleased to gather to Himself people of all nations and races, and accepts their offerings and sacrifices: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Thursday, 17 August 2017Romans 11:1–2a, 13–15, 28–32—St Paul recounts how salvation is from the Jews (for Jesus was a Jew), but that it extends to all peoples, even to the Gentiles. Indeed, he laments over the fact that his people have now been disobedient by rejecting the Savior, but hopes that they may yet be saved.

Friday, 18 August 2017Matthew 15:21–28—In Sunday’s Gospel account, Jesus heals the daughter of one who was despised by the Jews of His day—a Cannanite woman. Jesus shows that His ministry is not limited to the Jews; it extends to all people. Like the woman, we are all poor beggars before the Lord, and are privileged to receive His crumbs of mercy, for even His crumbs are more than sufficient for us.

Get this woman off my back!

The disciples show great compassion…Not! They say concerning this Canaanite woman, “Send her away! She keeps crying out after us!” How did Jesus feel about her? At first he ignores her, Then He insults her by calling her a dog!

No one likes someone who nags. Yet, she uses her nagging to get a cure for her daughter! Could we learn something from her today?

This woman had no right to nag.
1. She was a woman with no rights Vv. 21-22
2. She was a gentile with no claim on the Jews. Vs.26
3. She was a pagan, a devotee of a false religion. Vs.22
This woman had reason to nag. 
1. She had a serious need. Vs. 22
2. She had humility. Vv. 25-26
3. She had faith. Vs. 28

Saturday, 19 August 2017—The hymn of the day, In Christ There Is No East or West (LSB #653), reflects the theme of the readings: that, according to the order of salvation in Christ, there is no difference between any of the people of His Church. All man-made distinctions are gone as regards His forgiveness: Jew/Gentile, black/white, male/female, Anglo/Hispanic, etc. The Body of Christ, the Church, comes from all nations. Indeed, even our liturgy reflects this, as it is drawn from Jewish, African, and European sources. Likewise, our hymns come from many cultures across many ages.

Almighty and everlasting Father, You give Your children many blessings even though we are undeserving. In every trial and temptation grant us steadfast confidence in Your loving-kindness and mercy through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen


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


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Time in the Word Pentecost 10, Proper 14


Time in the Word
7-12 August 2017
Preparation for next week, Proper 14

Christ the Crucified Comes to Save Us by the Word of Faith
The Lord who “laid the foundation of the earth” (Job 38:4) is the Author and Giver of life who governs all things by His Word. His wisdom and power are beyond our understanding, except as He reveals Himself in the incarnate Word, Christ Jesus. He has “entered into the springs of the sea” and “walked in the recesses of the deep” (Job 38:16), and He draws near to us in mercy. We have been “a long way from the land, beaten by the waves,” and tossed about by hostile winds (Matthew 14:24). In our mortality and sinful unbelief, we do not always recognize the Lord Jesus. But as we cry out in fear, He speaks tenderly to us: “Do not be afraid,” and He reaches out His hand to save us (Matthew 14:27, 31). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13), and now we call upon Him in faith, because we have heard “through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Romans 10:8).

Collect for Proper 14: Almighty and most merciful God, preserve us from all harm and danger that we, being ready in both body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish what You want done; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for steadfast faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer in time of spiritual doubt and affliction: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You have given to all who believe exceedingly great and precious promises. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may without all doubt trust in Your Son, Jesus Christ, so that our faith in Your sight may never be found wanting; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer for agriculture: Almighty 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, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…


Monday, 7 August 2017Psalm 34:4–8; Antiphon, Psalm 34:1—1 Samuel 21:10–15 provides the background story to this psalm. David, the one chosen by God to be king, lost his faith in a moment of weakness when pursued by King Saul and his armies, and sought refuge with the Philistines, the enemy of Israel. David realized his mistake and the truth of what he declares in verse 8:Blessed is the man who takes refuge in the LORD! When we are tempted to look elsewhere than to the LORD for rescue, let us also remember this psalm of David, and then bless the LORD at all times.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017Psalm 18:1–6—It is likely that King David wrote this psalm near the end of his life, as it is very similar to the psalm recorded in 2 Samuel 22, just before his last words. Here he recounts many of the terrible situation in which he found himself over the course of his life, and tells how the LORD delivered him. He says, In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. When we find ourselves in bad situations, we ought to remember that the LORD has already delivered us from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation, and that He stands ready to defend us throughout our lives.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017Job 38:4–18—Job had questioned God, as to why He would let such great calamities befall him. In response, the Lord answers Job by recounting His creation of all things, His ongoing involvement and dominion over that creation. God is not subject to nature; nature is subject to God. We weak humans, created beings that we are, have no right to question our benevolent Creator, but simply to trust that what He does, he does for our benefit.

Thursday, 10 August 2017Romans 10:5–17—How are we saved? By grace alone (sola gratia) by faith alone (sola fide).in the merits of Christ alone (solus Christus). This salvation extends to Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) alike. But how are we to receive such saving faith? By Scripture alone (sola scriptura).Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

That is why Paul quotes Isaiah: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! For the preaching of the Good News of the Gospel engenders saving faith.


Friday, 11 August 2017Matthew 14:22–33—We can see ourselves in Peter. Jesus asks him to do the impossible, and Peter, full of bravado, believes he can. However, when he takes his eyes off of Jesus, he falters, and is at risk of perishing. Likewise, when we avert our eyes from Jesus, we lose faith and confidence, and put ourselves in spiritual jeopardy. When we cry out, Lord, save me, Jesus rescues us, lest we drown in our sin and unbelief and are lost forever.



Saturday, 12 August 2017—Sunday’s hymn of the day is Eternal Father, Strong to Save (LSB #717). The first stanza, from the original Navy Hymn, proclaims the supremacy of our heavenly Father over the sea. The next two stanzas declare the authority of the Son and the Holy Spirit over the land and the air, respectively. Finally, the fourth stanza affirms the sovereignty of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, over all our foes. Let us put our trust in God alone for protection from all our enemies, whether physical or spiritual.

Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Grant us, Lord, the Spirit to think and do always, such things as are pleasing in Your sight that we, who without You cannot do anything that is good, may be You be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy spirit, one God, now and forever.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” – Psalm 119:105

sources:
Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS
Luther’s Seal ©Ed Riojas Higher Things Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006Concordia Publishing House and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Proper 13




Romans and the Reformation
A sermon series based the book of Romans in anticipation of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
6 August – Proper 13 – Romans 9:1-5


I’d go to Hell for You – Romans 9:1-5

Almighty God, You invite us to trust in You for our salvation. Deal with us not in the severity of Your judgment but by the greatness of Your mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Paul is so concerned about his fellow citizens the Jews not accepting Christ that he says he would be glad to be cut off from Christ to get them to come to Christ. George Whitefield had a similar passion for winning people to Christ. Once he even told a non-Christians that he was willing to go with him to jail or even to hell, but he was unwilling to go to heaven without him. How would such a statement stand today?  

So, what about you? Who do you worry about? Whose walk with God are you anguished over? Hoping for them. That they find the hope you have found? Can you name them? Do you include them in your daily prayers? And if not, why?

This concern for the lost. This love for those missing. This passion for the non-Christian. Are the taproots of evangelism. In a time when Christians are prone not to seek Christian converts, this passage of Paul’s concern may be, to some, embarrassing.

Why I’d go to hell for you

1. To keep you from going to hell.  Accursed: V. 3 ἀνάθεμα – Paul is deeply concerned about his fellow countrymen– who have not yet accepted the Gospel. He is so concerned that he would be willing to be excluded from the Kingdom if it were the price of getting into the Kingdom. 

Paul is willing to go to hell. If his going would keep others from going there. In this age of pluralism. Some may argue it to be presumptuous and in bad taste to even consider witnessing to non-Christians on behalf of Christ. Would Paul agree?


Paul’s had “great sorrow (λύπη) and unceasing anguish (ὀδύνη)” in his heart because his fellow countrymen, though they were very religious, were lost. So great was his anguish, he was willing to be cut-off from God; if it meant his fellow Jews would be saved. (10:1) – 

2. To persuade you that Christ is the Savior. Paul says he is telling the truth. V. 1 - A recent researcher claims the average person tells one hundred lies daily. Was it the same in Paul’s day?  

Apparently, telling lies was a practice. Paul felt it necessary to assure the Roman Christians that he was not lying but telling the truth in Christ. It is not merely telling the truth. But the truth in Christ. It is the truth in relation to Christ – spiritual truth, divine truth.

It would be easy to think, “I’ll go to hell…so you can go to heaven!” But it isn’t that simple. You cannot enter heaven on another person’s merits. You can’t avoid condemnation. By allowing someone else to take your place. For it is Christ alone who became your substitute. 



Hence the question. “Did the Father also die for you?” He did not. The Father is God only as is the Holy Spirit; but the Son is both true God and true man. He died for me and shed His blood for me.  1

The Lord demands perfection and rightness. He has said, ‘You shall be holy as I the Lord am holy.” To keep us from being separated Christ entered time and space. 

He was abandoned by God and by men for your salvation. As Isaiah predicted, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7-9)

3 To enable you by faith to have a life in Christ. – Paul says his conscience   confirms that he is telling the truth. 


Paul’s heartache leads him to do two things. 

First, pray for them. 

Second, he would teach them whenever and wherever he could.2  Paul’s first course of action whenever he came to a new town was to find the local synagogue and teach the Jews why Jesus was the Christ.  3

There is no doubt; Paul had a heart for the lost. His constant plea was for others to follow his example.4 With that in mind, how then can you follow Paul’s example and have a heart for the lost?

How might we imitate Paul’s heart for the lost? 
Be grounded in your faith.

Paul was definitely a man who knew what he believed. (ref. 2 Timothy 1:12). He was “rooted and built up… and established” in his faith. (Colossians 2:7). A well-grounded faith is necessary if you are to have a heart for the lost. Otherwise, what will you share with them if you don’t really believe it yourself.

Have a sense of urgency.

Why did Paul constantly travel from city to city teach others? Because he had a sense of urgency. He knew the eternal punishment that awaited the lost.5  Time and time again, he alerted people to the destruction that awaited those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:19). If you are to have a heart for the lost then you must live with a sense of urgency because of the destruction that awaits the lost.

The Church is literally a hospital and a hospice for sinners. If we are going to speak of salvation in medical terms… Here the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments, “the medicine of immortality" 6  is dispensed, as the Great Physician prescribes them. Christ is your Divine Healer. 

Man is sick and dying with sin and the grace-filled Word and Sacraments give him life and healing. Sure, there are those who seem to think the Church is nothing but a sort of "museum of the saved" or the "collection of the already sanctified brethren" as the unwashed dare not enter. 
But you’ll never find a “No Vacancy” sign outside the church door.  May the Lord give us a passion for those who are missing. There is still room - in the Father’s house. 

  1. Christian Questions with Their Answers, Luther’s Small Catechism © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
2.   (Acts 9:20, 28; 13:14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:2, 10; 18:4; 19:10; 28:17)
3.   (ref. Acts 9:20; 17:1-3)
4.   (ref. 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:9)
5.    (ref. Colossians 1:28-29; 2 Timothy 4:1-2)
 6.   As St. Ignatius of Antioch called them.

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
_____________
Words – 1,200
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability – 81.3
Reading Level – 4.5






Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August



We continue with our review of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.  The Righteousness of God which is offered us through the Gospel is what frees us. There is a tendency for us to follow only the external content of the law. “Don’t curse, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor authority, worship God…” That is, to regard or to be concerned only with the outward form of the law. How often do we follow the commandment but disregard the meaning? The rich young man attempting to justify himself argued with Jesus, “These I have kept since my youth.” (Matthew 19:20) Yet the Lord demands of us perfection. “You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.” That’s a requirement. That’s an ultimatum!

True, none of us are murderers. But we all have the capacity for anger. None of us has committed adultery. But we all have the capacity for lustful thoughts. The Savior does not look for rightness. He seeks humility, repentance and faith. 

Christ Jesus. The Incarnate Word.  Opens our ears to hear.  Opens our minds to understand. And penetrates our cold broken hearts. To believe His Word.  Lest the evil one come. And snatch it away. He transforms our rocky hearts into good soil. Which, clings to the Gospel. And, “indeed bears fruit.” (Matthew 13:23).

God never tires of hearing us repent. He doesn’t disregard it, treat it lightly, disparage the person repenting, or, throw them away. He mends. He heals. He forgives. He strengthens. And while we should always strive, as athletes do, not to fall, we do, and even if we should fall thousands of times, we stand back up, we repent, and God grants us forgiveness—for we are all the work of His hand.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 9 - Proper 13


Time in the Word
God Provides our Needs
Proper 13
 July 31 – August 5 2017


The day emphasizes God’s love in providing for all our needs. Our physical needs are met by Christ in the feeding of five thousand. In the Old Testament lesson we are invited to come to God for spiritual food. God also provides us with love form which we cannot be separated by the world. (Epistle lesson) Compassion motivates Jesus to feed the five thousand. Love causes God to invite us to come and enter into a covenant with Him. God, moreover, will not allow the world to separate us from His love.  In the Collect for the day we acknowledge that God has given us all we have and we ask that our material wealth might be a blessing rather than a curse. 

Collect for Proper 13Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, July 31, 2017Psalm 105:39-43 - This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 1, “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”  The psalmist encourages us to give thanks. We give thanks to God through our praises. We call upon Him in prayer. These two commands – to call upon the name of the Lord and to praise Him – highlight the rest of the psalm in which the author gives ten imperatives or exhortations. Praise and prayer are expressions of devotion to the Lord. The Psalmist throughout the Psalm will encourage the reader to celebrate the Lord’s past saving acts and to trust Him for future deliverance and blessing. 

Notice at the end of verse 1 we are to tell of the Lord’s mighty deeds among the peoples (among the nations).  Missions cannot be separated from the work we do. We reach out to others as we praise the name of our Lord. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017Isaiah 55:1-5 – God offers food for our souls (spiritual needs). God calls thee hungry and thirsty to come to Him for spiritual food and drink.  Can we buy without money or credit cards? There are some things that cannot be bought at any price. Can we buy love, friendship, happiness, or peace? Can we buy friendship with God? The best things in life are not for sale. They come as gifts from God.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017Romans 9:1-5 – God blesses us with inseparable love (emotional needs). Paul is desperately concerned for non-Christian Jews. Christ deals with the anxiety for non-Christians especially Jews who had accepted the Gospel. He is so concerned that he would be willing to be excluded from the Kingdom if it were the price of getting the Jews into the Kingdom.

Thursday, August 3, 2017Matthew 14:13-21 – God through Christ provides food for our bodies. Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. 

Here is the heartbeat of the miracle. It is a greater factor than the power to bring food for 5,000 out of five loaves of bread. Because of His love for the hurting and the hungry, Jesus is moved to help and heal. 

The people are not in a position to help themselves; it is at the end of the day; they are far from civilization; they are out of supplies.  To get food at that time and in that place demanded a miracle. This account teaches that Jesus is not only able but willing to help. Contrast this with many contemporary instances when people in trouble are ignored when they cry for help.

The power of the miracle is Christ. The 5,000 are fed with five loaves. He asks that the loaves and fish be brought to Him. He takes the food, gives thanks and breaks the bread until all are fed. The tremendous truth in this act is that man is little and Christ can do great things. This reminds us also that a common meal in the home or out in a field can be a sacramental act of love when the bread is blessed and shared.

Friday, August 4, 2017Psalm 136:1-9 – This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. The theme of thanksgiving continues in the suggested Psalm for this coming week. It is a liturgy of praise to the Lord as Creator and as Israel’s redeemer. Verses 7 to 9 echo Genesis 1:16.

Saturday, August 5, 2017Luke 1:68-79 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn “Jesus Has Come and Brings Pleasure.” {LSB 53}. They are the words of Zachariah as he prophesied concerning Christ at the circumcision of his son John. The words of the prophet are clear. Jesus, the Messiah from the house of David has the power to save and heal. 

Sources
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES A © 1980 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts Jesus feeds the 5,000 © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use. 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pentecost 8 - Proper 12


Romans and the Reformation
A sermon series commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
30 July – Proper 12 – Romans 8:28-39


Some of you are engineers. While some of you are draftsmen and accountants and bookkeepers. A lot of you are farmers. While some of you are machinists or work in the medical field. Some of you may be students with many of your teachers sitting in this very room. In your world mathematical formulas are extremely important. Facts and figures make sense to you!

There is symmetry to the Scriptures…

The heart of Psalm 23 is the phrase, "For Thou art with me." There are exactly 26 Hebrew words before that phrase. And 26 words after it.

What's more, the numerical value of the letters in the divine name, “Yahweh,” equals 26. His name is the first Hebrew word in the psalm, and He is the "Thou" who is "with me."

The abiding presence of the Good Shepherd with us--when we're in the valley of the shadow of death, or surrounded by enemies--is the beating heart of this psalm. 1

We have now come to the crown jewel of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. By these words you know the Father’s continual goodness…

Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope and love, that, receiving what You have promised, we may love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” Amen  2


God’s continual goodness
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ

Forever in God’s Love
These words. Are usually read at funerals. For the comfort of the bereaved. These words. Are a comfort. At all times. Not only at the time of death. Probably the one thing that gives Christians a sense of security. Your peace. Is the assurance of the Father’s love and care. Lose the Lord’s love. And all is lost. To be separated from God’s concern is to be apart from His mercy, acceptance and of life itself. 

You are forever in God’s love and care because –

1. Christ conquered our enemies at the cross. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come…”  V. 38

No sin. No attempt of the enemy. Can steal the loving care of God from your life. That makes you more than conquerors through Christ who loves you. The Christian life is not a playground. But a battleground. Some want to live on easy street. They want to kick back. And just count their blessings. That isn’t the way it works. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." —Ephesians 6:12 But for you fights the valiant one. Whom God Himself elected!

A. Not even tribulation. Nothing in your present experience. Nor anything to come. Can separate you from the Father's love in Christ. Nothing in all of time. Present or future. Can separate you from God's love.

B. According to Paul, death is the final enemy.  Nothing in this life. And nothing in death can separate a believer from God's love. The two things we fear most; dying and living, are not threats to your eternal life. Whether we live or die. We are in His love. Jesus won't ever let us go. We have security that is a matter of life and death.

C. Evil powers. They surround you. On every side. But you are in Christ. Nothing will befall you without His knowledge or consent. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” – Matthew 10:29 “Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns--and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26   

Transition: Dankness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that. The light of Christ.   

2. Faith in Christ gives us the victory. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” V. 37 We are conquerors only “through [Christ] who loved us.” At another time Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Christians do conquer. But not on their own power. It is Christ who gives the strength to overcome all enemies. “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

A. That great exchange. God’s mercy in place of and replacing your misery and sin.

B. Purchased and won for you at the bloody cross. That was the purpose of Christ’s suffering and death. That you might be His own. And live under Him in His kingdom. And serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Just as He is risen from the dead. Lives and reigns to all eternity.3   “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:28

Transition: The problems of this world are here and now. They are all around us. We do not war against flesh and blood. You do not war against people. They are merely being used. You war in order to set them free. How do we war? Through Jesus Christ. Because He already defeated those evil powers on His cross.  Expressing the Father’s love.  

3. The Father’s love will not let you go.  “…no powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” V. 39 Nothing in the universe can separate us from the love of God. It is impossible. Because on the cross Christ defeated all evil powers. In Christ you conquer. What does it mean to be separated from the love of God? Sin is separation from God. To be apart from God is to be deprived of God’s light, life, and love. Separation is the worst possible experience. This, then, constitutes good news. No suffering or evil power can separate you from the love of God.

Satan lacks the power to steal your eternal destiny. He cannot separate you from the love of God. Nothing you face worries God in the least. If you are His children through faith in His Son, then you have His pledge of love and protection. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." - John 10:27–29

A. You are loved. “This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” - 1 John 4:8-10

B. You are forever in Christ’s care. In baptism, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. In baptism, the Father claims you as His own children. And tells you that you are loved.  You are joined with the family of faith, the Church, the Body of Christ. As you are incorporated into the life and the mission of Christ’s work in the world. 

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Words – 1,075
Passive Words – 7%
Readability – 85%
Reading Level –3.5

1.   Blog post from Chad Bird posted July 26, 2017
2.   Collect for Proper 12, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis.
3.  Explanation to the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed, Luther’s Small Catechism © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 8 - Proper 12


Time in the Word 
Proper 12
July 24-29, 2017

Three parables of the nature of the kingdom of God are told by the Savior in the Gospel for this coming week. Three parables are directed to the disciples concerning the kingdom. The first two deal with the kingdom as being of top value worthy of any sacrifice to gain it. The third parable concerns are similar to wheat and the weeds parable, the separation of the good and the wicked on Judgment Day. Jesus asks the disciples if they understand these parables. They claimed that they understood. Consequently, they were to be scribes trained for the kingdom who bring out of the treasure the old and the new. 

The old truths are to be applied to the new conditions in the world. These are addressed in our Epistle and Old Testament lessons for the coming week.

Collect for Proper 12Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope, and love that, receiving what You have promised, we may love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, July 24, 2017Psalm 105:2-6 –This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 1, “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” The psalmist exhorts us to worship the Lord. Thus, we are called upon to give thanks to God through our worship and praise. When we call upon God and as we give thanks, our worship shall be blessed. Praise and prayer are the two expressions of our worship. As we recall the many acts of kindness the Lord has given to us, we will trust in Him and share with others what He has done. We will make known among the people His many deeds.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017Deuteronomy 7:6-9 - The Lord is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love. We are loved and blessed because the Lord first loved us. Yet this love must be reciprocated by His people to others. Thus in the New Testament we are reminded, “We love because He first loved us” {1 John 4:19}.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017Romans 8: 28-39 -The Father spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us all. These words are read at many Christian funerals. They have comforted many troubled hearts. They have soothed and given encouragement to many who are troubled. St. Paul’s words are sure. No charge can be brought against the Christian because the Father has already pronounced a verdict! Not guilty! How so? No one can condemn God’s elect. Christ has died for you. He is alive at the right hand of God. He is interceding for you.

Thursday, July 27, 2017Matthew 13:44-52 – Christ treasures the world, and so He redeems it. Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a treasure, something of supreme worth. 

It is a treasure of infinite worth because it is the kingdom of God. This includes Jesus, the priceless treasure, the riches of grace, and the wealth of God’s love. This treasure is discovered by accident. It is always found where no one expected it. 

The kingdom of God can be a surprise. It may come in unexpected ways and places. Must we ask whether the average Christian considers Christianity the top treasure? Both the farmer and the merchant sold all their goods to get the treasure.

This implies that the two men considered all their possessions to be inferior to the treasure or the pearl. It was a matter of establishing priorities. Because the treasure and pearl were evaluated as the best, the price of total sell-out, or exchanging all other possessions, was considered worth the price.

When a person finds a treasure, how can he help but be overjoyed? If a merchant has been looking for the perfect pearl for years and then finds it, is there any wonder that he would be as happy as can be? Many church members lack the joy of being Christians. They are not happy about their religion. Could this be the reason? They have not found the treasure or the pearl of Christ.

Friday, July 28, 2017Psalm 125 -This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. This psalm speaks of Israel’s peace in testimony, prayer, and benediction. Bible scholars believe it was written after the exile when those held in Babylonian captivity were allowed to return to the Jewish homeland. This psalm was most likely prayed as part of the liturgy in the Jewish worship service. Thus, the Psalms we pray in worship reach back into the Old Testament. Through the centuries, our prayers have remained constant. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017Joshua 24:16 –This passage is the inspiration for the hymn, “From God can nothing move me” {LSB 524}. The people react to Joshua’s commitment to serve the Lord. The people respond, “We will not serve other gods.” If we say of the Lord, “He is our God,” we cannot serve any other. 

Sources:
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES A © 1980 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things