Saturday, August 23, 2014

Proper 16


Matthew 16:13-20
The question of faith

Finally! The disciples get it! At least for this Sunday! It came at a crucial time in our Lord’s public ministry.  His focus was set on Jerusalem. Where He would complete His work of redemption. He was set to suffer many things. For your salvation.

Our Lord is at a critical location in His ministry. Caesarea Philippi was a Gentile city. Built by Herod’s son, Philip. In honor of Caesar. Jesus stood in a pagan region. Where false deities and their supporters abound. Critical also were His companions. The disciples were personally selected and taught by Jesus. They had witnessed every aspect of His public ministry.

The Lord asked two important questions. At this moment. In this location.  Of His disciples. The answers to the questions were important. For them. And for His followers today. There can be no doubt that Jesus was aware of the gravity of the question. Today consider the two important questions of faith.

I.        The first question was addressed to the disciples, “who do men say the Son of Man is?” (V.13)

A.      The response was varied. No consensus existed among the answers. John the Baptist was considered so great a contemporary figure. Some felt he would rise from the dead. Elijah, the great prophet of old, was looked upon as the peak of the prophetic line. His return would signal the coming of the Messiah. Jeremiah was considered another signal of the Messiah’s impending return.

B.        Our Lord heard the verdict of the people. He was named among the great company of the prophets of the Old Testament.   These were extraordinary men. But, these were “flesh and blood” interpretations. A shadow of the Son of Man. Each was built on a false and imperfect premise. This strived to understand men and events from a perspective of human logic.  A contrast to God’s revelation in the Scriptures.

C.       Today, the world’s responses differ little from those found in the text. At the basis of these opinions is human reason riddled with sin. People choose a classification of Jesus that fits their needs. It serves their desires at the moment. To them Jesus is just another spiritual guide seeking loyalty.  Fickle people. Then and now. Find no comfort in the claim that Jesus is more than greatest among great men. He is superior to them all.

II.     The second question was addressed once again to the disciples. “But you, who do you, say I am?” (V.15)

A.      Jesus asked for a confession of the lips. That stems from a conviction of the heart. Peter, ever the spokesman for the Twelve, responded with the words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16). Jesus, the long-expected Messiah.  The one God had promised. Since the fall of mankind into sin. He was the Savior of the world. Whose mission was the defeat and destruction of sin, death, and the power of the devil.
This was no mere human. Elevated to the highest category of honor. This was God Himself. He defied simple human descriptions.

B.      God revealed Jesus to Peter. Such understanding was not transmitted from one person to the other. As secondhand information. One who is infinitely greater than flesh and blood revealed the identity of Jesus to Peter.

C.       Today, the faithful of God continue to confess, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” Through Word and Sacrament, Christ, the Son of the Living God, is ever revealed to humankind. Not be human means. But by the Spirit of God. He calls. Enlightens. Sanctifies. And keeps you. He calls you by the Gospel. He enlightens you with His gifts. He sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth. And keeps you with Jesus Christ, in the true faith. 

III.   And now, the critical question is addressed to each of us, “You, who do you, say that I am?

A.      We can answer the question only through the intervention of the Holy Spirit in your life. The Spirit’s means are Word and Sacrament.  They come to the troubled heart of the sinner. The saving faith freely given by God leads each one of us to confess: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

B.       The source of our confession and our actions is the faith the Spirit gives us.  Because Jesus is the Christ. Your sins are forgiven. Because Jesus is the Christ. You are empowered to live a new life. Because Jesus is the Christ. You have the sure certainty of eternal life.

So.  What do you think of Jesus? Who is He? The answer to this question defines your identity. It determines your destiny.
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Words –800
Passive sentences -15%
Reading Ease –74.9
Reading level – 4.7

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Time in the Word - Proper 16

There Is No Other God than Jesus Christ

In Jesus’ day, people had many ideas about who this Jesus was. Simon Peter made the bold and true confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matt 16:17) Likewise, in our day, people wonder about Jesus. Was He merely a rabble-rousing Jew. A revolutionary? A great teacher? Did He exist at all? With Peter, we must be bold and proclaim the truth: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The eternal second Person of the Trinity came down from heaven, assumed flesh and was born of a virgin, lived, died, and rose again for the remission of the sins of all people. He is the One of whom the psalmist tells us in the Introit God declared, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” (Psalm 2:6) No one could have imagined that this would be the way which the Lord would send One to deliver the world. This is why St Paul writes in the epistle reading, Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33) The illustration above carries the title of our Lord: the Anointed One, or, in Greek, ὁ Χριστός, the Christ.

Collect for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us to know Your Son, Jesus, to be the way, the truth, and the life that we may boldly confess Him to be the Christ and steadfastly walk in the way that leads to life eternal; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for the Church: Almighty God, grant to Your Church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for the Holy Ministry: O almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, gave to His holy apostles many excellent gifts and commanded them earnestly to feed His flock. Make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Work and the people obedient to follow it that together they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for Church musicians and artists: God of majesty, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven, be with Your servants who make art and music for Your people that with joy we on earth may glimpse Your beauty. Bring us to the fulfillment of that hope of perfection that will be ours as we stand before Your unveiled glory; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for those who hold special offices in the Church: Lord of the Church, in whose name all who oversee and serve Your flock have been called, grant Your servants all the gifts necessary for the godly administration of their duties for the upbuilding of Your Church that they may bring glory to Your name; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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

Monday, 18 August 2014Psalm 2:6–7; Psalm 117; Antiphon, Psalm 115:18—Next Sunday’s Introit comes is take from three psalms. Psalm 2 is one of the most important messianic psalms, pointing directly to Christ. Psalm 117, the shortest psalm, is Hallelujah song that calls upon all nations to praise the Lord for His steadfast love and faithfulness in keeping His promise to send a Savior to redeem us from sin. The antiphon expands the call to praise the Lord to all time. Thus, all people everywhere and of all times, Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014Psalm 138—The beginning three verses and ending two verses of this psalm of David are David’s vow to praise the Lord for His deliverance and protection. The middle three verses, like the Introit call upon all the kings of the earth to give thanks and sing of the ways and the glory of the Lord. His love and mercy extend to all peoples of all time. Christ is the Redeemer of the entire world.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014Isaiah 51:1–6—In chapter 40, the Lord said, “Comfort, comfort My people.” The comfort would be provided by a Savior, one who would deliver His people out of exile in Babylon, out of exile in a land of idolaters. Chapter 42 begins telling us of this great Savior, who is portrayed as a Suffering Servant. The portion of Isaiah 51 used for next Sunday’s Old Testament reading once again assures God’s people of the comfort which He will provide them: joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. From where would such comfort be provided? He would be a Descendant of Abraham and Sarah (v. 2), but would bring His light to the peoples, that is, all peoples, not just other descendants of Abraham and Sarah, but for us Gentiles, as well.

Thursday, 21 August 2014Romans 11:33—12:8—St Paul’s splendid hymn of praise at the end of chapter 11 follows several chapters of his teaching about the salvation of all people—Jews and Gentiles alike—and extols the wisdom and knowledge of the one true God who conceived of, and brought about His plan of Salvation.

He then gives practical advice as to what shape our response to God’s love and mercy in Christ ought to take: in leading lives that are acceptable to God, who, by His Word, transforms our minds, that we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Friday, 22 August 2014Matthew 16:13–20—The Holy Christian Church is founded upon the confession of Peter—that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This Church, the Body of Christ, is not distinguished by race or origin, but by those who despair of their own works and trust solely in the merits of Christ, the promised Redeemer, for their salvation.

The Lord asks two important questions at this moment, in this location and of His disciples. The answers to the questions were important for them and also for His followers today. There can be no doubt that Jesus was aware of the gravity of the question being asked. They are the two important questions of faith.

Ø  “Who do men say that I am?
Ø  “But you, who do you say I am?”

Saturday, 23 August 2014—Sunday’s hymn of the day is Built on the Rock (LSB #645). It is based on the Gospel reading, the confession of St Peter which is the Rock on which Christ’s Church is founded. The last stanza confesses the same truth which is confessed in the Augsburg Confession: The Church is the congregation of saints in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered.

Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us to know Your Son, Jesus Christ to be the way the truth and the life that we may boldly confess Him to be the Christ and steadfastly walk in the way that leads to life eternal; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House 

Samuel

Almighty God, in Your mercy You gave Samuel courage to call Israel to repentance and to renew their dedication to the Lord. Call us to repentance as Nathan called David to repentance, so by the blood of Jesus, the Son of David, we may receive the forgiveness of all our sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

John Gerhard


Almighty God, Your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, and to another the word of faith. We praise You for the gifts of grace imparted to Your servant Johann, and we pray that by his teaching we maybe led to a fuller knowledge of the truth which we have seen in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Proper 15


Proper 15
17 August 2014
Matthew 15:21-28
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 does Jesus feel about her?  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. Or privileges. None! Not. A. Single. One. She wasn’t entitled. No one owed her anything. She stands there - alone.

2.            She was a Gentile with no claim on a Jew. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs” Vs. 26 Jews referred to gentiles as “dogs.”  Jesus is simply stating fact. The disciple’s perceptions and views of Gentiles will have to change. And, in time, they will.  Peter would one day realize: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him." . Later, all would recognize the fact that the gospel is for all. "When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, 'Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.'" 

3.            She was a pagan, a devotee of a false religion. And the demands of the law were clear. Have nothing to do with them. Be ye separate. 

She had reason to nag!

1.            She had a serious need. Her daughter was possessed. By a demon. The demons were in a fight with Jesus. They would lay hold of any victim they could find. From the time of Adam to this very hour, the devil acts as a narcissus. In order to strike out at God he attacks the children. She had a mother’s love. She didn’t say, “Help her!” She says, “Help me!” Her daughter’s problem was her problem. Her daughter’s issue was her issue.  No one could help her. Except Jesus, standing before her.

2.            She had humility. Notice her posture. Face down. Hands extended. ”Help me!” She cried! It’s the same prayer you pray, “Kyrie Eleison!” Lord, have mercy!  She does not care about anything. Other that this Prophet can help her daughter. And she will not be discouraged, depressed, dejected, or frightened. She did not demand. She had nothing to give. But she would plead, and beg, and petition Jesus until she got her miracle.

When you find yourself in dire circumstances continue to pray. Continue to seek Jesus’ help and comfort. Never, ever give up. Pray without ceasing. Embrace endurance. 

3.            She had faith. "Son of David" is a Messianic term. This tells us she knew something of the promise of God the Father to send a Savior. She addressed Jesus as that Messiah. Where had she learned this? We are not told. But, she is correct. It would have been easy for her to turn away. In anger. Or sorrow. Or pride. She saw Jesus as the only hope for her daughter. She would not turn away! “O woman” says Jesus. This is a statement of endearment. Of love. And affection. After three strikes,…she gets…a miracle! Jesus replies, “Great is your faith!”  She asks for crumbs and gets…Jesus! It’s all about bread – It’s all about Jesus - the bread of life!

Great faith brings great rewards. This took courage. It took commitment. It took a spirit that refused to be daunted. Her faith was tested. She passed the test. The apostles are starting to wake up. They received a lesson that day that they would remember. Salvation is open to all who come in repentance and faith.
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Words –655
Passive sentences –2%
Reading ease – 86.3%

Reading level – 2.8

Isaac

Isaac, the long promised and awaited son of Abraham and Sarah, was born when his father was 100 and his mother 91. The announcement of his birth brought both joy and laughter to his aged parents (so the name “Isaac,” which means “laughter”). As a young man, Isaac accompanied his father to Mount Moriah, where Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, prepared to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. But God intervened, sparing Isaac’s life and providing a ram as a substitute offering (Gen. 22:1–14), and thus pointing to the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. Isaac was given in marriage to Rebekah (24:15), and they had twin sons, Esau and Jacob (25:19–26). In his old age Isaac, blind and feeble, wanted to give his blessing and chief inheritance to his favorite—and eldest—son, Esau. But through deception Rebekah had Jacob receive them instead, resulting in years of family enmity. Isaac died at the age of 180 and was buried by his sons, who by then had become reconciled.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Time in the Word - Proper 15

Time in the Word:
Proper 15
11-16 August 2014
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).

Monday, 11 August 2014Psalm 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, 12 August 2014Psalm 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, 13 August 2014Isaiah 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, 14 August 2014Romans 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, 15 August 2014Matthew 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, 16 August 2014—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

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…

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House