Sunday, September 25, 2016

Time in the Word - Pentecost 20 - Proper 22


Collect for the Twentieth Sunday of PentecostO God, the Strength of all who put their trust in Your, mercifully accept our prayer, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Your aid, grant us the help of Your grace that, keeping Your commandments, we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Father, Your love for us surpasses all our hopes and desires. Forgive our failings, keep us in Your peace and lead us in the way of salvation. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Proper Twenty-twoO God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, by Your grace hear the prayers of Your Church. Grant that those things which we ask in faith we may receive through Your bountiful mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Collect for Psalm 62Lord God, in a constantly changing world we look to You as our rock of hope. Hear us as we pour out our hearts to You, and give us Your grace and secure protection; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord.

Prayer for a 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, our Lord.


The Faith of a Christian




This coming week’s theme “The Faith of a Christian” can be found in all three lessons. In the Gospel lesson Minimal faith produces maximum results. In the Old Testament lesson faith waits for God to vindicate His own. In the Epistle lesson we find the sincere faith of the faithful. The famous phrase of the Reformation comes from the Old Testament lesson – ‘The just shall live by faith.” The Epistle deals with the “sincere faith” of Timothy, the faith of his mother and grandmother, and Paul’s faith. The heart of the Gospel lesson deals with faith: the disciples’ request for more faith and the faith the size of a mustard seed. The verses preceding and following the passage on faith (Vv. 5, 6) may give us difficulty in seeing faith in the entire gospel. These verses can be reconciled if we see them as the behavior of those with faith. Thus the hymn of the day will bear out this theme in the words, “I Know My founded on Jesus Christ my God and Lord.” The focus of faith is always directed at the Savior.

Monday, 26 September 2016Psalm 119:162, 164-165, 167 antiphon, Psalm 119:166—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, I hope for Your salvation, O lord, and I do your commandments. Faith is another word for trust. Trust is another word for taking God at His Word. The Psalmist has trust because He follows after the Lord and does His will. This is not something the natural man can do be himself. It is something we do as we walk by faith. Thus we are forced to look to Christ where the hope of our salvation finds its root. We trust in Him to bring all of this to pass.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016Psalm 62 — Psalm 62 is a psalm of longing and trust. Humbly, trustingly, the psalmist commits his cause to God. Man is bent on destruction (vv.3-4) but what is he (vv.9-10)? Power belongs to God alone, who wields it with love and justice (vv.11-12).

Wednesday, 28 September 2016Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4— In a world of adversity a righteous one lives by faith. Our Old Testament lessons brings up the perennial problem: Why? Why does God permit evil to thrive in the world? When a Christian cries for help in distress, why does he not get an immediate answer? Why doesn’t God do something about what Habakkuk experienced? – “violence,” “wrongs,” “trouble,” “destruction,” “strife and contention.” The answer received: Wait for the lord and He shall bring it to pass. The righteous waits for God to make things right, to come to the rescue because He has faith in God’s character. The world seems to be waiting for God who never comes. Christians by faith know God is coming eventually to save. We need faith to wait for God. 

Thursday, 29 September 20162 Timothy 1:1-14— Paul remembers the faith of Timothy and confesses his faith in Christ. We face challenging times. The loss of faith is seen in a decline in church membership, a fall-off of church attendance, in the popularity of radical sects, and the secularization of society. Some have a view of the church today with faith becoming traditional and zeal burning low. Hence the encouraging words of St. Paul to a young Christian pastor whose church was facing considerable challenges. As we go through life and as the years pass we need to be exhorted to keep the faith vibrant. We do this as we continue in the faith of the fathers – vs. 5 and as we hold fast to the faith even in times of suffering – vs. 8.

Friday, 30 September 2016Luke 17:1-10 —The apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. The Savior responds in reminding us that even a little faith is a lot. This might catch some off guard. Like the disciples, many of us are eager for a larger portion of faith – the faith to guide people aright, faith to forgive, faith to serve just for the privilege. As we face the tough issues of life, we cry out for more faith. No one can honestly say, ‘I have all the faith in the world.” If we really have faith do we need more? Jesus corrects the disciple’s desire for more faith. He says the quantity or degree of faith does not matter. It is sufficient just to have faith. The parable of the mustard seed emphasizes that the smallest amount of faith can do wonders.

Saturday, 01 October 20162 Timothy 1:12 - Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is I know My Faith is Founded, (LSB #587). Faith finds its focus in Jesus Christ. This is the message of our hymn for the week. As we focus on Christ our faith will be sustained and grow as the Lord directs us. The next three months will be extremely busy for most. Some may feel overwhelmed. Can your faith take all that life has to offer? Our faith is sufficient when it finds its focus in Christ.

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Collect for Pentecost 17 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House

Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 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, N


Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pentecost 19 - Proper 21

Luke 16:19-31
Concern about the Unconcerned

The root of the problem in our parable is how to get people like the rich man to be concerned about the hungry, the sick, the poor. The facts are all there. Some have more than they need. Others have only poverty. How can we get the rich to share with the poor? It does little good to describe the rich man’s wealth and poor man’s plight. It is all clear to us. The question asked of us is this where is your compassion? Are you even concerned? 

1. Fear the consequences of not caring – Vv. 22-24 - The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 

 From Amos 6:7 the prophet warns, “Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.” 

America has never had it so good. Compared with the rest of the world. We are the envy of the world. Eight words sum up this nation’s blessings, “America, America, God shed His grace of thee…” 

Even the poorest Americans have it better than most third-world countries. People from almost every conceivable country are trying to get into our nation legally and illegally. America remains the land of plenty. How do we react to our wealth? Are we grateful? Do we return in kind? Do we bless others as we have been blessed? 

Bringing it closer to home, this will be the eighth year we have sponsored Pack Away Hunger. 80,000 meals will be assembled the weekend of March 30 and April 1. We host this event annually the weekend before the start of Holy Week. It is our way of reaching out to our community in a way that is both significant and tangible. Why so? Over half of the students of North Adams qualify for free and reduced lunch. The Heroes Back Pack program feeds students from our community every weekend. Hunger still exists. Even in our own back yard. 

2. Love for brothers and sisters – V. 28 “for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” 

Consider all as brothers and sisters. Especially those in need. In the world’s family, three are overfed. And five are hungry. There is a spiritual aspect to the vocation of farming. We mention this in our prayers. “May we see by this noble vocation our farmers feed the world.” This is true. Where would this world be without the American farmer? 

Do you see the result of all of your labors? Once you sell your grain what happens to it? It is used to feed another portion of the world. This is why we end our petition with the phrase, “…and cause all people who give thanks over their food to treat those who produce it with honor and respect.” 

3. Have a father-son/daughter relationship – Vv. 24-25 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” The rich man refers to Abraham as his father. And Abraham calls the rich man “son.” If God is our Father. We are His children. We care for the other members of His family. This is the Father’s will. This refers to the relationships we have within our own families, within our Friedheim family as well as those relationships we have with others at work, at school, and in the world. We are compelled to reach out to others with the love and compassion of Christ. 

4. Hear the Word –“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ V. 31 

The Word of God, the Bible – Law and Prophets – and the Incarnate Word in Jesus teach us to love one another by caring and sharing. But especially do we heed the Incarnate Word –the words of Jesus Christ. This is the only message we have. The world has no other. If our lives are to be changed. If we are to influence the lives of others. There is no other source. There is no other tool. We have only the inspired, infallible, inerrant, Word of our Lord. 

Lord, teach us to love one another by caring and sharing. Use me to be an instrument of Your love in the life of someone this week. 

Face of Christ - http://spiritlessons.com/Documnets/Jesus_Pictures/Jesus_Christ_Pictures.htm
Words – 870
Passive Sentences –2%
Reading Ease –78.9%
Reading Level – 5.2

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Time in the Word - Pentecost 19 - Proper 21


Concerned Christians



The lessons give us a picture of people in luxury, affluence, and leisure but without concern for the less fortunate. In the Gospel, the rich man (known to many as “Dives”) has no concern for the hungry man at his palace gates; the dogs have more compassion for Lazarus than he does. The Old Testament lesson shows us a people enjoying the height of prosperity but who have no concern for the future of the nation. In the Epistle lesson we are admonished not to be concerned about worldly possessions but about the attainment of spiritual values. This is driven home in the words of the hymn to the day “Lord, Thee I love with all my heart.” The theme of this day speaks to our American culture a people with more wealth comforts and leisure than any other nation in world history. Yet are many in our country still looking for contentment?

Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday of PentecostKeep, we pray You, O Lord, Your Church with Your perpetual mercy; and because without You we cannot but fall, keep us ever by Your help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Father, You show Your almighty power in Your mercy and forgiveness. Continue to fill us with Your gifts of love. Help us to hurry toward the eternal life Your promise and come to share in the joy of Your kingdom. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen

Collect for Proper Twenty-oneO God, You are the strength of all who trust in You, and without Your aid we can do no good thing. Grant us the help of Your grace that we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.

Collect for Psalm 146God of glory and power, happy indeed are those who have put their trust in You. Shine the brightness of Your light upon us, that we may love You always with a pure heart and praise Your forever; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer against the love of moneyAlmighty God, heavenly Father, You have called us to be Your children and heirs of Your gracious promises in Christ Jesus. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may forsake all covetous desires and the inordinate love of riches. Deliver us from the pursuit of passing things that we may seek the kingdom of Your Son and trust in His righteousness and so find blessedness and peace; through Jesus Christ, or Lord.


Monday, 19 September 2016Psalm 119: 73-75 antiphon, Psalm 119:76—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promises to Your servant. Christ will comfort us even in the midst of great testing and affliction. The Hebrew term for unfailing or steadfast love denotes befriending. It is an appeal to God’s unfailing love, His kindness and mercy which was demonstrated by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016Psalm 146 — The focus is on God, the hope and help of His people, utterly dependable, caring for all in need. God reigns. While I live I will praise God. I will sing praise to God while I have any being. The grand outburst of Hallelujahs, with which the book of Psalms comes to a climatic close, is carried over to the end of the Bible itself, and is echoed in the heavenly choirs of the redeemed (Revelation 19:1, 2, 4, 6).

Wednesday, 21 September 2016Amos 6:1-7— Woe to the affluent who have no concern for the nation. Our Old Testament speaks of the American condition today in many respects. Like Israel of the 8th Century BC, American is a people of ease, comfort, luxury and affluence. It is a law of life that like causes produce like effects. American is in danger of the same fate as Israel: judgment, decline, and destruction. Who will sound the alarm as a watchman in the night? Will America take heed?

Thursday, 22 September 20161 Timothy 6:6-19— Timothy is charged to seek spiritual values. There are countless people who have no aim in life, no purpose, no reason for living. Others have low aim, such as the massing of world possessions. Some aim only to make as much money as possible, own at least one home, get a higher education, or climb the ladder of success.

What is the aim of a Christian? Paul would suggest the Christian’s aim in life is to seek the highest values – vs. 11 and to fight for the faith vs. 12 while we keep the Lord’s commandments –vs.14.

Friday, 23 September 2016Luke 16:9-31 — The parable of the rich man and Lazarus. It the parable we have a description of wealth and total depravity. This is a description of today’s world. On the one hand is America’s wealth giving us the highest standard of living in the history of the world. On the other hand, we have a third world of poverty and hunger. It could be that the so-called wealth, either nation or individual, is really the poor man as was the case in the parable. Americans may be the richest on earth, but they can be suffering from the poverty of abundance.

Saturday, 24 September 20161 John 4:19 - Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart, (LSB #708). The Christian’s only focus is upon Christ. When we fear, love and trust in Him above all things then we are content. Read the words of stanza three. This is a powerful evening prayer one which has been prayed with many a Christian on their death bed. When we pray these words confidently we truly are at peace with God and with ourselves. “Lord, Let at last Thine angels come, To Abr’han’s bosom bear me home, That I may die un-fearing; And in its narrow chamber keep My body safe in peaceful sleep Until Thy reappearing. And then from death awaken me, That these mine eyes with joy may see, O Son of God, Thy glorious face, My Savior and my fount of grace. Lord Jesus Christ, my prayer attend, my prayer attend, And I will praise thee without end.


Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 17 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 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
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pentecost 18 - Proper 20



Proper 20 Series C
September 18 2016
Luke 16:1-15

O Lord, Keep your Church in Your perpetual mercy; and because without You we cannot be fail, preserve us from all things hurtful and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation.

The Lord Is Rich in His Grace and Mercy
So, what’s a parable? Most would say a parable is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” Well, that’s a start. But the parables of Jesus are more. Much more! Jesus spoke in parables. He gave us these stories. But these stories. Are more than lessons with “a heavenly meaning.”

The parables of Jesus always tell us something about Himself. And about the Kingdom. When you hear one of Jesus’ parables, He is always telling you something you should know about His love, His grace, His mercy, His kindness, His character. And, when Jesus teaches a parable there is always a surprise. Something you did not expect!

Today’s parable is often referred to as “the parable of the Dishonest Manager.” Jesus said, “There was a rich man who had a manager. When we hear of the term “Manager” think, Chief Executive officer – the man who is placed in command when the landowner is not present. He has been given powers, privileges, and perks, to act on behalf of his commanding officer. Especially when he is away.  

Notice the problem. “Charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.  And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’  The manager is brought up on charges that he has wasted his Master’s possessions.  He’s forced to turn over the books and face an audit. He’s told, “You can no longer be my manger.” Did you notice the surprise?  The manager is accused. Not good. He’s told, “You can no longer be my manager.” Even worse! However he isn’t fired. He keeps his job!

Here is the first surprise! Mercy is unjust. The manager is busted for his wastefulness. He is told, “You can no longer be my manager.”  The Master expects obedience. He is just. But he does not throw his manager into prison. This does not make sense in man’s economy. It makes perfect sense in God’s.  

It has become common practice in business, that on your last day of employment, security will personally escort you out of the building. Even if you’ve been a faithful employee! When my chaplaincy class at Lutheran Hospital ended this past May, I turned in my badge. My user name and password were erased from the hospital computer. It was, as if, I never existed!      

Immediately the manager hatches a planAnd the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures[a] of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures[b] of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8

The manager latches on to the owner’s character. He gambles everything because of his Master’s mercy. And the farmers go along with it. Remember the manager acts on behalf of his owner. When he cuts the bill in half the people rejoice.  Because, they too, expect the Master to be merciful.

We expect the rich man to be outraged. Instead, he commends the man for stealing. These parables of Jesus tell us that God is not like us – the surprise - God does not act as we do. The Father wants to give His Kingdom away to the very people who would steal from Him and killed His own Son.  He bestows His Kingdom on rebels who sought to kill His Son. What is the    greatest injustice?  God forgives our debts and wants to give the Kingdom away. This makes no sense! God is wasteful in showering this upon us. He is unjust in forsaking His Son and declaring us righteous.  – It makes no sense in the economy of men. It makes perfect sense in God’s economy.

 What wealth can you use to bribe God –stolen wealth, that which belongs to another, that is not yours, that which you cannot buy or earn, wealth that which is stolen. That is all a part of God’s economy.

The innocent dies for guilty – that injustice is the foundation of the Kingdom. It is the shocking character of grace – the Master gives the Kingdom away. The Father forsakes the Son to have you. He accepts payment from the Son as payment for your sin.  More than you stole. He adds to your account. He adds a credit. And you end up with more than you attempted to steal. 

 Jesus shows us the character of the Master –who does not fire the steward and the steward banks on the character and the generosity of the Master. There are not Masters in this world like that. He goes too far. A Master we can never imagine. He is pleased with the steward because of what the steward has done is give the Master’s things away. For free. This is the parable of the Merciful Master who gives away the Kingdom for free –         

Jesus concludes with these words, And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth,[d] so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Who can receive you into eternal dwellings? Only God. Thus, Jesus concludes with this thought - You cannot serve God and money. The steward teaches us a valuable lesson.  Money must never to be seen an end in itself. It is only a means to an end.
Employment does not last forever. Retirement does not last forever.  No matter the level of security anyone has amassed; all of us, sooner, or later, will end up in a plot of earth. Given eternity, how can any thing of a material nature have any lasting consequence?

So where do you place your trust? Trust not in princes they are but mortal. Trust not in yourself. You will fail. Trust not in anything except the mercy of God. Who loves you more than you could ever imagine. Who is content to give you His Kingdom at the price of His own Son. Deserving has nothing to do with it. It all depends on the Father’s character, His good will, His clemency, His mercy, His grace.

Words- 1,175
Passive Sentences – 8%
Reading East – 78.6%

Reading Level – 4.5

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Time in Word - Pentecost 18 - Proper 20





The Right Use of Money

We now turn to the money chapter from Luke’s Gospel. In dealing with today’s theme, we must consider next Sunday’s lessons. Both deal with our material possessions. For this coming week’s Gospel the parable of the unjust steward is put in the framework of the following verses, 1-13.

Alone the parable does not deal with the above over-all theme, but interpreted in the light of the following verses, the Gospel deals with the proper use of money. The Old Testament lesson deals more with how we get our money rather than how we use it. On the surface, the Epistle does not seem to deal with money at all, but a closer study shows that the implication is, if we pray for secular authorities, we shall have a society in which there can be economic justice and this the conditions described by Amos in the Old Testament would be prohibited.

Collect for the Eighteenth Sunday of PentecostO God without whose blessing we are not able to please You, mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and govern our hearts; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Collect for Proper TwentyO Lord, keep Your church in Your perpetual mercy; and because without You we cannot but fail, preserve us from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Collect for Psalm 113Lord Jesus, surrendering the brightness of Your glory, You became mortal so that we might be raise from the dust to share Your very being. May the children of God, always bless Your name from the rising of the sun to its going down, for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Prayer for steadfast faithAlmighty 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, our Lord.

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

Monday, 12 September 2016Psalm 119:137-140, 142; antiphon, Psalm 119:144—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live. The Lord and His law is righteous. As we cling to God’s Word and follow it we then shall live before God in righteousness, innocence and blessedness.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016Psalm 113 — Psalms 113 – 118 are a group of psalms linked traditionally with the Jewish feasts of Tabernacles [Harvest] and Passover. In Jewish homes Psalm 113 and 114 are sung before the Passover meal. In the psalm for the week we encounter God. He is above and beyond His creation, yet closely concerned for the humblest of His people. This is an apt description of God. This first song of praise begins and ends with the word “Hallelujah”, which means praise. Praise God forever.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016Amos 8:4-7— God promises never to forget the rich persons’ oppression of the poor. Does it matter how we get our money? Should a Christian be glad for his money and not ask questions how it was made/ Can a Christian in good conscience accept money derived from pornography, prostitution, or trafficked drugs? Should the church have investments in countries where civil rights are denied? In Amos’ day the people are rich but for all the wrong reasons. We still live in a world where the rich get richer and the get poorer. What is the answer to all this? The word of the Lord through Amos is the answer. The kind of wealth God condemns consists of 1. Greed – vs. 5a - They cannot wait for the holy days to be over that they can make more money. Compare today’s commercialization of holy days: Sunday, Christmas, Easter. 2. Dishonesty – vs.6a – Short weights: today’s false advertising. 3. Enslaving people – vs.6a – Today we are making people slaves to debt by over-purchasing. 4. Inferior products – vs. 6b – “Refuse of the wheat;” compare today’s scandal of overseas’ shipment of dirty wheat.

Thursday, 15 September 20161 Timothy 2:1-5— Paul urges prayer for all people, especially rulers, that we may live in peace. Paul talks about the hands of prayer. In recent years, there is a growing practice in some churches for people to raise their hands while praying, or some pastors hold out their hands with upraised palms when leading the people in prayer.

In our Epistle Paul urges us to pray for all people, especially those in high positions, that we may have that kind of world in which the gospel can flourish. Your hands in prayer are lifted hands – lifted up to the Source of our help, our Lord and Savior Jesus. Your hands in prayer are open hands – opened by faith to receive what we pray for. Your hands in prayer are holy hands – free from hatred and anger; filled with forgiving love.

Friday, 16 September 2016Luke 16:1-15— The parable of the unjust steward. People need guidance on how to handle their money. Is it a virtue to be poor and a sin to be rich? Should a Christian despise money? Isn’t the love of money the root of all evil? In our Gospel lesson for Sunday Jesus has advice about money. He says that money can be your god. For a disciple this is an impossible situation, for no one can serve two gods. Trying to love two is impossible to do! Should a Christian then not strive to accumulate possessions? Where do you draw the line that money will not be in reality your god? John Wesley suggests a Christian should 1. Get all the money you can. 2. Save all the money you can. 3. Give all the money you can.

Saturday, 17 September 20161 John 3:16-18 - Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is We Give Thee But Thine Own, (LSB #781). Here is the definition of love. It is found in a person. It is found in an action. Jesus laid down His life for us. We in turn love and serve our neighbor. Actions speak louder then words. Thus John can say “If anyone has material possession and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? The faith is taught and it is caught. May we in love befriend and serve our neighbor.

Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 17 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 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

The etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Luke 16:1-9 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England. © Wikimedia Commons afreely licensed media file repository http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pentecost 17 - Proper 19


Proper 19
September 11, 2016
Luke 15:1–10

Jesus - the Good Shepherd of His Sheep


The factors of forgiveness are simple. There is simply our need. We stand in need of forgiveness. There is, of course, means, which lead toward forgiveness. There must also be a response.

The response to forgiveness; is repentance.  Mark the Scripture well. “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents then over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent…I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.”

1. Jesus seeks the lost.
A.            The lost are sought in the parable. A poor woman loses a coin. It’s something precious to her. The loss of a single coin is serious. It’s all she has. Without it, she has nothing!

A sheep goes missing. In that condition, it becomes the prey of wild animals. Yet 99 are safe. Isn’t that one solitary sheep expendable? Why the anxiety? After all, isn’t this fuss and bother rather superfluous? Is it all necessary? Why not simply cut your losses?

That is the point of the parable! All are necessary! All are important! Let no one think you are beyond the reach of Jesus’ love. Let no one think you are unnecessary, helpless, or hopeless. How good it is that Jesus has found you!

The Pharisees, they too were lost. But they couldn’t accept it. Their sin was pride. Evidenced in their smugness and disdain for sinners and for Jesus. “Two men went up to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed this prayer, “O God, I thank You that I’m not like everyone else. I’m not greedy, dishonest, or living in sexual sin, like this tax collector. I always fast twice a week. I always give You a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector stood some distance away, and wouldn’t even look into heaven. He pounded his chest and said, God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this tax collector went home justified but the Pharisee was not.”[1] ~ Luke 18:10-13 These Pharisees and all the self-righteous find themselves in the same lost condition because of boastful, selfish, pride and arrogance.

B.            Jesus continues to seek the ones missing from the Father’s table. He could have left us to wallow in our filth. He could have left this world of sinners to their doom. He could have left us to flounder after we had stumbled, fumbled, flopped and fell. He could have said, “Depart from me, cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” - Matthew 25:41

Instead, He determined to redeem and save us. He demonstrated the Father’s mercy and love when He came into this world to fulfill God’s law for us and to pay the world’s debt of sin. “For 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; “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” -Galatians 4:4-5

2. What is repentance? It has been boiled down to four simple steps.
A. I take responsibility for my actions.
B. I feel remorse. I experience Godly sorrow for what I have done. I am truly heart sorry.
C. I attempt to repair what I have broken to the best of my ability. The serenity prayer helps in this respect, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I can the ability to know the difference.”
D. I repeat not! I do not have license to go back and visit sin.

Note: These four steps; leading to repentance, come from Dr. Laura Schlesinger. She’s a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. She suggests; quite convincingly, that this is all we need to right a wrong. Yet, one component is still missing. A 5th step is necessary; the final step, which separates Christians from the rest of the world; a step, which turns us from following rules to establishing a bond with the Father Himself.

E. The 5th step necessary: I receive redemption or reconciliation through Jesus Christ my Savior.

Inside of me -
          Where exactly, I do not know -
Live three voices.

The first voice roars:
          Produce. Do. Achieve.
          You need to attend this meeting.
          Policies and procedures need to be revised.
          There are deadlines to meet and
               reports that need to be completed.
          Budget variances should be corrected.
          Goals for the new fiscal year are due.
          Job descriptions should be re-written.
          Performance evaluations need to take place.
          All is of ultimate importance so
               Don’t forget anything.
          Your worth as a person depends on this.
          Don't make any mistakes.
          Produce more. Do more. Achieve more.

The middle voice sneers and mocks:
          You fraud.
          You know you will be found out -
                    Then what?
          You cannot do this work.
          You are a sham, an impostor.
          Shame on you;
                    You always make mistakes.
          What do you think you are?

The lower voice just whispers:
          You are forgiven.
          There is mercy.
          All shall be well.[2]

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the loss of the twin towers in New York City. We face the twin dangers of going astray by toying with sin or by wicked pride. We need to live in daily repentance over both. Learn from Jesus. The friend of sinners. Join the angels praising God. Both, for your own salvation. And, for the progress of the Gospel in the world.

Words – 1,000
Passive Sentences –4%
Reading Ease –79.1
Reading Level – 4.2




[1] A New Accurate Translation of the Greek New Testament into simple Everyday American English © Julian Anderson Naples, FL
[2] Three Voices  by Logan C Jones

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Time in the Word - Pentecost 17 - Proper 19



Forgiveness is the theme running through the lessons for this coming week. God’s attitude toward sinners is shown in Jesus’ association with sinners and in His joy when sinners repent. If God did not forgive sinners would be destroyed by God’s wrath. In the Old Testament lesson the Lord promises to send a true shepherd who will not only tend to them but search them out and rescue them. Of course, our true shepherd is the good shepherd our savior Jesus Christ. God forgives and accepts His own people. In the Epistle Paul tells of the mercy of forgiveness he received by his faith in Christ even though he called himself the chief sinner. The basic factors of forgiveness are found in all our lessons. Forgiveness discloses the nature of God – a God of mercy. On the other hand, forgiveness reveals the nature of humans as sinners standing in need of forgiveness. God’s act is forgiveness. Our part is repentance.

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

Collect for Psalm 119Lord, You are just and Your commandments are eternal. Teach us to love You with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves, for the sake of Jesus our Lord.

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

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


Monday, 05 September 2016—Psalm 30:2-5; antiphon, Psalm 30:11a, 12b—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” God answers and the psalmist David vows to prolong his praise forever. Dancing and joy replace wailing and sackcloth so that songs of praise not silence may attend the acts of God.

Tuesday, 06 September 2016Psalm 119:169-176 —In the psalm for the day, David uses the Hebrew letter “Taw” to explain that it is the Lord who will direct and save His people. No one else can defend or save. As Psalm 119 is drawing to a close, prayers for deliverance now become dominant. Drawing the analogy of a shepherd rescuing the flock the Psalmist directs us to repent “I have strayed like a lost sheep Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten Your commands.” (v. 176)

Wednesday, 07 September 2016Ezekiel 34:11-24— The Lord makes a bold statement. He commits Himself to shepherd the flock. He promises to restore His people as He Himself will bring them out. This is all fulfilled in the person and work of our Savior Jesus as the Lord predicts that His servant David will be prince among them. This prophecy was written well after David had died. Thus a ruler like David and from his line, great David’s greater Son would shepherd the people. This prophecy can only be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Under His rule and authority there would be one flock and one shepherd who would feed them with the bread from heaven. See John 6:32-40; 10:16 as Jesus fulfilled these words.

Thursday, 08 September 20161 Timothy 1:12-17— Paul witnesses to God’s mercy in forgiving him as chief of sinners. Here is a statement that everyone can and should accept. It sums up the whole mission and nature of Christ. We usually avoid general statements because investigation often shows that there are exceptions. Here there are no exceptions.
This statement is most certainly true and should be accepted as the truth.

No one can deny theses three statements; 1. “Christ came into the world” God became human. 2. “Sinners” the truth about every man, woman, boy and girl. 3. “Save” Christ came not to judge, condemn but to reconcile sinners back to God.

Friday, 09 September 2016Luke 15:1-10— Twice in the Gospel for Sunday tells us of the joy in heaven when a sinner repents. We can see the smile on the Father’s face. The choirs of angels are singing. The archangel’s trumpets are blaring. How much joy is indicated when sinners repent in the average church today? Is there a party spirit of great joy when a person is baptized or confirmed or renews his faith? Evangelism is the happy time of the church because it is an echo of what goes on in heaven. So we ask why God is happen when we repent. God’s will is fulfilled. He desires everyone to return to Him for He loves each person. Repentance means a wayward child has come back. This makes God happy, for His will is done. God’s portion is His people. God is happy for the sinner’s sake. Prior to repentance the sinner was going down the road leading to death. Now he has avoided destruction and is coming to life, love and light. This is God’s desire for every person because He loves each.

Saturday, 10 September 2016— Acts 4:11-12 - Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, (LSB #575). The defense of the faith from the first Century to this 21st Century is the fact that Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. What the prophets of old foretold all find their completion in Jesus Christ. Therefore there is salvation in no one else. Jesus is not one of several options. There is no other name given among men by which we can be saved.

Next week calls for contemplation as it marks the fifteenth anniversary when the war on terror came to American soil.  For our children– never in their lives have they not known of a time when Americans were not fighting a war on terror. Vigilance is still need. We pray for peace at the same time we pray for those who stand in harms way defending our liberties. Serious sacrifices have been called for by so many. Today reflect on the sacrifices others have made for you in the cause for freedom as we recall the ultimate sacrifice made by the Savior that we may be freed from sin and guilt.



Sources:
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 16 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
The image of Christ the Good Shepherd by Wm Dyce is found here: 
http://www.biblicalart.com/biblicalsubject.asp?id_biblicalsubject=789&pagenum1