Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Saints Day

O Almighty God, by whom we are graciously knit together as one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, our Lord, grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those unspeakable joys which You had prepared for those who love You; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Life for the Christian is a life that is lived by faith – On this All Saints Day Jesus the greatest teacher who has ever lived gives a description of the child of God who has been incorporated into the family of faith. These Beatitudes are the gifts the Savior has given to you.


1. Comfort for those who mourn now – Vs. 4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. "Mourn" describes a person who becomes aware of his personal offense to God and the pain that he has brought to others by his sinful behavior. The believer sees beyond consequences of his wrongdoing into the real offenses done to others. Mourning specifically over the sins we have committed against God - Sorrow for the fact that our sins brought God’s Son to the cross. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24). Mourning or godly sorrow leads to repentance and salvation and thus eternal comfort. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

2. Fulfillment of the desire for goodness – Vs. 6 - Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Hunger and thirst for righteousness" describes a man's relentless pursuit of God's righteous standards which he can only gain from God. He looks beyond himself for new standards of conduct and embraces God’s strength to obtain what he so desperately desires. Genuine humility, godly sorrow for one’s sin, and meekness leads to the desire to be right with God. Righteousness is attained through Christ. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30)

To gain the righteousness found in Christ, one must obey His gospel and continue to obey the truth or practice righteousness. (1 John 3:7). True spiritual fulfillment is given to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. (Matthew 5:6).

3. Mercy for those who are merciful now – Vs. 7 - Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. “Merciful" is a tender compassion for those in the wrong around them. Because he too has been forgiven, he cares for the special needs of those around him. Seized by his own unworthiness, he reaches out to others with compassion. The mercy of God is the source of motivation to show mercy toward others. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:36). Mercy is demonstrated, in part, by our willingness to forgive others. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32). Only the merciful will receive mercy on Judgment Day. …judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13)

4. A vision of God for the pure in heart – Vs.8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. "Pure in heart" speaks not of a person's old heart but his new heart and motivation. God has given the ability to seek the welfare of others above the desires for oneself. Refusing to focus on himself, he sincerely opens his heart to what God and others desire. .Pure in Heart means clean, pure of sin, sincere, earnest devotion to God. It is a pure longing for God, serving Him only. A pure heart is achieved by the help of God. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). Christians are to be committed to cleansing their hearts (and lives) of sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). To see God or maintain fellowship with Him requires purity of heart. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8).
These Beatitudes are not some new kind of new Law given to us. They are not rules for the righteous. They are rather a description of those who are in Christ. The Beatitudes describe both who Jesus is and what He gives to all who, by faith, have been incorporated into Him. You, dear friend are blessed. The Kingdom of Heaven is yours! You shall see God for you are called the sons of God - for you belong to Christ.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Maggy, Gwen and Lilly

Magdalen Jayne, Gwendalen Claire, and Lilliann Samantha Wright - triplet daughters of Pr. Kyle and Karrie Wright turn one today. We will celebrate with them and their soon to be three year old daughter Katie. I was given the wonderful privilege to baptize all three of them on November 3, 2008. The Lord bless the Wright family. In twenty six years of ministry I've had my share of baptizing twins (seven or eight sets) but only one set of triplets!

To view their photo blog see here http://kyleandkeriwright.wordpress.com/2009/10/

Monday, October 26, 2009

Time in the Word - All Saints Day

Collect for the Feast of All SaintAlmighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Feast of All Saints has been celebrated as such since the ninth century, but its roots are even earlier, in a festival in honor of All Martyrs celebrated in Syria in the mid-fourth century, and in the rededication of the Pantheon in Rome. The Pantheon was originally dedicated as a pagan temple in 27 b.c. to the gods of the seven known planets; it was re-dedicated by Boniface IV in a.d. 610 as a Christian basilica in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all martyrs.

The Feast of All Saints, therefore, recalls the memories of the faithful departed and the triumph of Christ over all false gods. Being thus a Christological feast, the color of the paraments is white.

After the Reformation, Lutherans continued to observe All Saints’ Day, while rejecting the additional Feast of All Souls the following day because of its unscriptural underpinnings in commemorating the souls in Purgatory who were not yet saints.

Monday, 26 October 2009—Psalm 31:1, 3, 5; Antiphon, Rev 7:14b—The antiphon is the description of a portion of the vision which the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John received from our Lord Jesus. In it, he sees those saints who have received the beatific vision of God by virtue of their having been baptized, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, that is, Jesus Christ our Savior. This is the blessed existence that awaits all the elect, for which we yearn even while we groan in this vale of tears.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009—Psalm 149—A psalm of high praise unto the Lord to be offered up in the assembly of the godly. He has taken pleasure in his people and adorned the humble with salvation. For this, we His saints do not cease to give Him the glory and praise due His name.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009—Revelation 7:9–17—This is the vision whence the antiphon for the Introit is drawn. These are the saints who never cease praising God and the Lamb for the salvation which has been accomplished by the Lamb of God having shed His blood for the remission of all our sins and for our salvation. In the Lord’s Supper, we join with those saints who have gone before, with palm branches in their hands, in singing the Sanctus: ‘Holy Holy, Holy…Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord!’ With those saints, we also partake of the marriage feast of the Lamb which has no end.

Thursday, 29 October 2009—1 John 3:1–3—What an amazing thing it is to be able to pray the Lord’s Prayer, where we address the Holy and Almighty God as Our Father! This we can do because we are the children of God, as St John tells us in the Epistle reading for Sunday. We are His children because, being baptized into Christ, we are Christ’s, and heirs with Him. By the redemption we have by the blood of Jesus, God has made us His children.

Friday, 30 October 2009—Matthew 5:1–12—The Beatitudes are not some new kind of Law given by a new Lawgiver, Jesus. Rather, they are a description of those who are in Christ. The Beatitudes describe both who Jesus is and what He gives to all who, by faith, have been incorporated into Him. You, dearly baptized, are blessed: the Kingdom of Heaven is yours, you shall see God, you are called sons of God, for you belong to Christ.

Saturday, 31 October 2009—Sunday’s hymn of the day, For All the Saints (LSB 677) is a song of high praise, not to the saints, but by us saints, for the grace of God shown to the saints who have gone before. As they now enjoy eternity with their Lord and Redeemer, so we, too, look forward to that more glorious day, when saints triumphant rise in bright array, and sing Alleluias to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


This week's Time in the Word was written by Pr. Jeff Keuning who serves St. John Dexter and Zion Casey, IA

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sycamores Win!

Henry's been at Indiana State the past five years and they have won two games!

The Indiana State Sycamores used a pair of touchdown runs by sophomore quarterback Ryan Roberts to end the nation's longest losing streak at 33 games with a thrilling 17-14 come-from-behind victory over Western Illinois on Homecoming in front of 6,028 fans at electric Memorial Stadium.

Image © Indians State University

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reformation

Almighty God, gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptations, defend them against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on the Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Truth for man is so elusive that many, like Pilate the Governor wonder what truth really is. There is widespread skepticism. What is proclaimed as truth today is not what is was yesterday…so some question, who knows what it will be tomorrow? In addition, there are various kinds of truth in our world it seems; political, scientific, and spiritual. In our Gospel Jesus is dealing with the most profound ground of truth concerning God and life.

In our lesson Jesus tells us two realities...

1. What truth is - “If you continue in My Word you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth.”

A. The picture of Jesus as the hero or Messiah is by no means limited to the Jewish audiences of His day. Many modern Christians also think of Jesus as a model for socio-economic and political reform. {I once heard a person ask in all seriousness “could a sincere Christian be a registered Democrat?”}

1. The Jews of Jesus’ day believed that the Messiah would come to “restore the kingdom of Israel” (Acts 1:6), a mistaken view that Jesus corrected repeatedly throughout His ministry namely that it was John the Baptist who would come first:

a. Matthew 11:14 -And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.”

b. Matthew 17:11-13 - “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

c. Mark 9:11-13 -To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”

2. The contemporary messianic expectations of all sorts of people are directed to the attainment of world peace, economic prosperity, and enjoyment of good things of this life. Actually, one does not need to believe in Jesus in order to live for such hopes. (e.g. radio talk-show host Glen Beck who is not a Christian but of the Mormon faith)

B. Those hopes contradicted the Word of Jesus. This Word is important because we who believe Him shall know the truth – if we continue in His Word.

1. It is truth regarding His person – who He is; namely, the only Son of the Father (John 8:54-55). Jesus is the truth in contrast to the devil, “the prince of this world,” whose nature it is to live (v.44).

2. It is truth regarding ourselves and our condition before God, our Creator and Judge. According to our fallen nature, we have the spiritual image and likeness of the devil. To know the truth about ourselves is to know what has happened to us, whom God originally had made for Himself. But the Jews did not want to know that. (Vs. 33)

Transition: Not only does Jesus tell us what the truth is – He tells us what the truth will do.

2. What this truth does – “the truth will make you free.”

A. This is not just any “truth” but the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (14:6). We confess Him as “the only begotten Son of God…who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures.”

B. How does Jesus make us free?

1. By redeeming us from the judgment of God and of sin. (Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23) Forgiveness of sin is no sentimental disposition of God. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). By obeying god’s law for us and by suffering the penalty of our trespass, He provided for us acquittal and life in Him. (Romans 5:18-19)

2. The forgiven sinner is received by God as a member of His family. Freedom in Christ must be understood as sharing in the liberty of Him who “is all in all” (Colossians 1:15-20)

Jesus Christ, our truth and freedom, is also our continuing hope. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My words, he will never see death.” (John 8:51; eternal death.) We Christians live in this hope. Reformation Day reminds us how we live in hope, namely, by daily contrition for the sins that cling to us in this world and in the firm faith that God continually forgives us our sins for Christ’s sake.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bach Collegium 8th Season



Sunday, 25 October, 7 p.m.
at Trinity Episcopal Church,
611 W. Berry St.
Ft. Wayne, IN


The season's theme: Hear the Joy, reflects one's experience when listening to the Collegium. Your spirit will be uplifted, and for whatever your burdens, they will receive soothing relief. Not only the music itself, but also the Baroque performance practices will uplift you -- vocal techniques in the Baroque style and performing with period instruments -- all contributing to a warm, rich, articulate sound that will delight the listener with its sparkle and lilting dance-like character. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or on line (http://www.bachcollegium.org/).



This is truly a treasure in our Ft. Wayne community.

Time in the Word - Reformation

The theme for the Reformation Sunday is Freedom in Christ. Over the course of centuries, the institutionalized church led by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, had become extremely corrupt. The Gospel had been obscured, and, in its place, a system of works-righteousness, treasuries of merits of the saints, and the buying and selling of indulgence had arisen.


God used an Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, to reform His Church. Luther searched the Scriptures, and found in them liberty rooted in the three-fold office of Christ (Prophet, Priest, and King.)


Christ is our Priest, our Mediator, who justifies us by His blood. He is our Prophet, who reveals to us the Gospel, which is the ‘power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes’ (Rom 1:16). Christ is our King, whom we follow by the clear and simple meaning of His Word.
By His death, Christ has set us free from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil. Through Luther and other Reformers, he has set us free from the tyranny of Popes and Councils. We have Freedom in Christ, indeed!

Monday, 19 October 2009Psalm 34:1–2, 11, 22; Antiphon, Psalm 119:46—The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit proclaims, I will speak of Your statutes before Kings O Lord, and shall not be put to shame. This verse also serves as the inscription for the Augsburg Confession, one of the documents in the Lutheran Book of Concord. We need fear no earthly kings or powers when we make confession of our faith, for we have been set free from fear by the Gospel. Let us make bold our proclamation of confidence in the Lord, who redeems the life of His servants. For this, we bless the Lord at all times.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009Psalm 46—This psalm of David expresses complete confidence in God, no matter the circumstance. It depicts scenes of turmoil: natural disasters (vv. 2, 3), political persecution (v. 6a), and even the end of days (v. 6b). The one who trusts in God can withstand such troubles, and be still and quiet, for God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009Revelation 14:6–7—This first angel of John’s vision has often been interpreted by Lutheran commentators as Martin Luther, because of his clear proclamation of the eternal gospel to…those who dwell on earth. Certainly God worked through this man, as He works through others, to bring His message of freedom in Christ to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Thursday, 22 October 2009Romans 3:19–28—Theologians use a Latin phrase that describes our relationship with God’s Holy Law: Lex semper accusat, that is, ‘the Law always accuses’. This is because none of us sinful humans can obey God’s Law perfectly. Both our original sin and our actual sin condemn us. But there is a righteousness before God apart from the Law and apart from ourselves and anything we do. This righteousness is the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to us through faith in the propitiating death of Christ on our behalf. Because of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law, and His blood which He shed for us, God declares us ‘not guilty’

Friday, 23 October 2009John 8:31–36—Sunday’s Gospel speaks of the freedom we find in the Truth of Jesus Christ. All of us were born into slavery—the slavery of sin. But Christ has set us free from our bondage by His atoning sacrifice. The One who declares, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life tells us here that the Truth shall set us free. The Truth has set us free: the Truth which embodied in Christ Jesus and the Truth which He declares to us in His Word. We are free, indeed!

Saturday, 24 October 2009—Sunday’s hymn of the day, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB 656) is Luther’s great battle hymn of the Reformation. Based on the Psalm of the day, Psalm 46, it reflects complete confidence in God, even when faced by a host of devils and the earthly adversities they bring. They can harm us none, for they have been felled—defeated—by one little Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Savior.

Collect for Pentecost 21Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeff Keuning who serves Zion, Dexter and St. John, Casey, IA

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pentecost 20 - Proper 24

The amazement of the disciples at Jesus' words reflects their cultural background. They placed a great emphasis on the privileged position of the rich. To be wealthy was believed to be sure and certain evidence of having the blessing of God. If you prosper God must be smiling down up on you was their thinking. But with His penetrating spiritual insight, Jesus saw how wealth could hinder someone from putting their trust and dependence in God.

For the rich to enter the kingdom of God simply because of their wealth is indeed impossible. The proverb Jesus quotes was not lost on the disciples. “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! (Vs.25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” As their question "Who then can be saved?" shows that they completely understood it.

Jesus, the greatest teacher who has ever lived points us to the solution. His answer makes clear that “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”(V.27) On this Mission Sunday we affirm three realities.

1. Salvation is totally the work of God.

A. There are two things we have in common. We are sinners. Because of Adam’s fall we find ourselves fallen people, living in a fallen and broken world. Why do bad things happen? We’re living in a broken world. We’re living in a sinful world. We’re living in a world that has gone astray. Because of this broken world filled with lost and broken people we can not come to God by ourselves. That’s why we teach our children a simple yet powerful hymn:“In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man. We all have fled that welcome voice that sought us when we ran.”

B. It is God alone who totally responsible for our salvation. We don’t wake up one day deciding to turn our life over to Jesus. He is the one who chooses to redeem and save us. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10) Jesus became personally responsible for the sins of His people. He paid for their sins once for all on the cross of Calvary. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Transition: Salvation is totally the work of God. We need His grace to fulfill it.

2. Apart from the grace of God, it is impossible for anyone to enter God's kingdom.

A. Recall the explanation to the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed. I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but he Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

B. Thank God for His amazing and life changing grace. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6 8)


Transition: Salvation is totally the work of God. It comes to us by grace and grace alone. That is why God alone receives the credit.

3. Humanly speaking no one can be saved by his or her own efforts; but what we can never do for ourselves, God does for us.

A. John in his Gospel explains it this way, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”(John 1) It is Jesus who broke into time and space to be our savior. He took on flesh to bear our sin and bring us to salvation. “He bore our sin in His own body on the tree that we might die to sin and live unto righteousness.”

B. This is the story of the Gospel. That’s the story of God’s amazing grace! What we can’t do for ourselves God does for us. In the end – God wins!

With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. May the Lord so use you to do the impossible. With Christ at the center all things are possible!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Time in the Word - Pentecost 20 Proper 24

The theme for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost is The Vanity of Wealth and Honor. Jesus used the occasion of the rich young man’s rejection of Him (last week’s Gospel) to instruct His disciples. He made a startling statement: ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’

Though the wealthy have the additional burden of earthly riches to tempt them to turn their eyes from the Kingdom of God (see the Old Testament lesson), it is the case the no person, rich or poor can save himself. Even our supposed ‘good works’ cannot appease God.

Are we, then, left without hope? No, for Jesus says, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’ God can even move an idolatrous rich man to set aside his riches and to rest his heart on God. That is the power of the Gospel.


Monday, 12 October 2009—Psalm 34:1–4; Antiphon, Psalm 34:18—The strange circumstances of this psalm are found in 1 Sam 21:10–15. David, in a moment of weakness of faith had sought protection from Saul in a foreign king, rather than trusting in the Lord. When he realized his sin, he faked insanity and then wrote this psalm which proclaims the truth that true deliverance is to be found only in the Lord. Neither riches nor earthly power can deliver us from our circumstances, only the Lord.


Tuesday, 13 October 2009—Psalm 119:9–16—Psalm 119, the longest of the psalms, is a p├Žan to the Word of God. This portion sings of the blessings of storing up God’s Word in our hearts. Ofttimes our children think it drudgery to memorize scripture passages; it is not until many years later that they recognize the blessing of knowing these nuggets of truth. We should all treasure the Word of God and delight in it as much as all riches.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009—Ecclesiastes 5:10–20—Many years ago, a reporter asked billionaire John D. Rockefeller, ‘How much is enough?’ His famous reply: ‘Just a little bit more.’ This passage from King Solomon, who possessed wealth of wisdom that surpassed his great wealth of riches, shows the futility of such thinking. Riches can be a blessing, but if they are allowed to control a person, they become a curse. Trusting in money more than in the One who provides material blessings is idolatry.


Thursday, 15 October 2009—Hebrews 4:1–13—This portion of our reading through the book of Hebrews contains an exhortation and a warning. We are exhorted to seek the true rest of the Lord, while warned not to make the mistake of the rebellious people of Israel, who hardened their hearts against the Lord, and did not enter into His rest.


Friday, 16 October 2009—Mark 10:23–31—Sunday’s Gospel is a continuation of last week’s. After the rich young man went away sorrowful, Jesus takes the opportunity to educate His disciples in the barrier that great wealth poses to one’s salvation. The temptation is to trust in the riches, rather than the Bestower of them. In fact, it is impossible, not only for the wealthy, but for anyone to earn His salvation by any means, even good works. ‘Who can be saved?’ they ask. Who, indeed? It is only by God’s grace that anyone can be saved, for all things are possible with God.


Saturday, 17 October 2009—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Take My Life and Let It Be (LSB 783) is the proper response of a Christian toward all he has. When we recognize that we are merely stewards of the gifts which God bestows, we will joyfully use them in His service, for the glory of God and for the furtherance of His Church.


Collect for Pentecost 20O God, Your divine wisdom sets in order all things in heaven and on earth. Put away from us all things hurtful and give us those things that are beneficial for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves Zion Dexter and St. John Casey, IA

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pentecost 19 - Proper 23

Enlighten our minds, we pray, O God, by the Spirit who proceeds from You that , as Your Son has promised, we may be led into all truth; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One god, now and forever.

Many people identify with the man of our text who could not wait to taste real life. He ran to Jesus. Kneeling, he begged Jesus to give him life. He wanted “eternal life”. He had life in the sense of its existence, but he wanted something more – he wanted a life of quality.

It was that kind of life that existed both in this world and in the next. Today, people are more interested in life lived today rather than in life after death. The tragedy of this story is that the young man turned down the opportunity to get real life – the price was simply too high.

How do you then get real life?

1. By earning it? It is not a reward for obeying the commands. This man sensed that keeping the commandments wasn’t enough for a spiritually satisfying life, He was right. Jesus told him to sell everything, literally, not figuratively, and follow Jesus. That made the young man sad, just as our losses during the recession have saddened and angered us. In painful loss we look for deliverance, for something more than a spiritualized religious lesson for our souls. We need a flesh and blood deliverer.

You know how the game is played. You simply follow the rules. This man was an expert at following the rules. He felt that he could receive real life by obeying the laws of God. He was only fooling himself. For there is only one person who has lived the perfect life. That was the man to whom this young man was speaking; the man Jesus Christ. He is the only person to follow the law of God perfectly.

2. So, you can’t earn it. In that case, then do the next best thing. By buying it? The young man had the wealth to buy it – if it could be bought. This man was rich man of many resources. If he had want it, he got it, and as we know in this world those who “have it” have it good! Or, so they think. For some the mark of success is never having to ask now much does it cost. And yet, there are some things which go beyond being able to pay for it.


3. By being taught? This man called Jesus a “good teacher.” Hoping Jesus would teach him how to get eternal life. Jesus refused to be his guru. “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answers. “No one is good but God alone.” (v.19) If this young man call Jesu “good” and only God is good, then did the young man accept the idea that Jesus was God? Only God is good. Human are not. The way to God is not to discover from another his secret for a good life in order to earn God’s favor. Rather it is to come in faith to God, who alone can bestow eternal life.

4. By receiving it as a gift. Eternal life is “inherited” as a gift from the One to whom we are fully committed. Jesus did not want anything standing in the way of this relationship. Instead of following Jesus this man choose to stay with his money and his wealth. He walked away sad and bitter for he was a wealthy man it was his money which he had given first priority in his life. What is you destiny? What is God’s desire of you? His desire is to give you life, liberty and peace, freedom, security, happiness and joy regardless of cost or price. He gives you all these things freely – without any cost without any price. It was all bought and paid for by His on Son’s blood.

Sadly by the world’s standards we are valued by our salary, position, our home, our education our status in the community our appreciation for culture. Jesus looked at him and loved him. One thing you lack, he said. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. We have nothing without Jesus Christ. To know Him is to know all. To have Him is to have all.

All Jesus asks of you is your life. He asks that you simply follow Him and no one else. By following Jesu you gain everything. It’s as simple as that. The one thing missing without this relationship is Jesus Christ. With this one thing, a relationship with Christ you have everything. Having everything but that one thing Jesus makes all the difference in the world. For what dies it profit a man to gain the whole world but to loose his own soul? Today trust Jesus. Follow Him! Obey Him! He is the one thing which makes everything else secondary.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Time in the Word - Pentecost 19 - Proper 23

The theme for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost is The Root of Evil. You will sometimes hear a person say ‘Money is the root of all evil.’ Usually it is said in a judgmental tone, used to condemn another. But such a one doesn’t quote Scripture correctly, for the Bible does not say that money is the root of all evil, but ‘the love of money is the root of all evil.’ (1 Timothy 6:10)

All of next Sunday’s readings exhort us not to depart from the Lord, but to remain faithful to Him. Oftentimes, not only the cares of this world, but the things of this world divert our attention from the Lord.

The sin of the rich young man in next Sunday’s Gospel reading was not that he had great riches, but that those riches were the most important thing to him. A Christian who is wealthy need not be ashamed of his wealth, for it is a gift from God, but he must not let his wealth rule him. He must realize that he is but a steward of the gifts God gives, and must use those gifts in a manner pleasing to God.

Monday, 5 October 2009—Psalm 112:3–6; Antiphon, Psalm 112:1—Sunday’s Introit tells of the blessedness of the man who fears the Lord and delights in His commandments. This man delights especially in the First Commandment, You shall have no other gods. He fears, loves, and trusts in God above all things, especially earthly things. Thus, he is truly wealthy, for he possesses wealth that is far greater than material things; he has the righteousness of God that comes by faith.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009—Psalm 90:12–17—Psalm 90 is a psalm written by Moses, and is a great comfort in times of sadness. It starts out with a confession that the Lord abides with us always: Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Verses 12–17 are a prayer for the continuation of God’s favor, and the wish that He would carry out His work of salvation and bless His people’s undertakings to that end.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009—Amos 5:6–7, 10–15—The prophet Amos lamented over the Israelites, who had turned their back on the Lord. Here the Lord exhorts the people through His prophet: Seek the Lord and live. He judges them for delighting in material things—houses of hewn stone and pleasant vineyards—but taking advantage of the poor and afflicting the righteous. Again they are exhorted, Seek good and not evil, that you may live.

Thursday, 8 October 2009—Hebrews 3:12–19—This portion of our reading through the book of Hebrews also contains an exhortation, that the hearers not be like the Israelites of old, who rebelled against God. No person, on his own, can fully withstand temptation. But God has given us His Word and Sacraments to keep us strong in the faith, and He also provides what our Confessions call the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren (SA III, IV). Therefore, we Christians exhort one another, that none of us may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Friday, 9 October 2009—Mark 10:17–22—The rich young man was off in his thinking from the very start, when he asked, What must I do to inherit eternal life? Inheriting eternal life is not a matter of our doing; it is a gift of grace. Jesus tried to show the man that he could not earn his salvation, by directing him to the commandments. Yet, the young man persisted in his self-righteousness by proclaiming that he had kept them all from his youth.

Still, Jesus looked on him with love and compassion, as a wayward sheep. He directs the man to the First Commandment, by asking him to give up all he had. This young man loved the things of the world more than the things of God, and so he went away sorrowful.

How can any person enter the Kingdom of God? Not on his own merits, for with man it is impossible…but all things are possible with God.

Saturday, 10 October 2009—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Thee Will I Love, My Strength, My Tower (LSB 694) is a hymn of resolute determination to love God above all things, not of our own selves, but prayerfully asking, Permit me nevermore to stray (v. 4).

Collect for Pentecost 19Lord Jesus Christ, whose grace always precedes and follows us, help us to forsake all trust in earthly gain and to find in You our heavenly treasure; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves St. John and Zion Lutheran Churches in Dexter and Casey IA

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pentecost 18 - Proper 22

O God, Your Almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity, grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be partakers of Your heavenly treasures; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Notice what Jesus is asking in our text for this morning – Jesus asks parents to permit their children to come to Him. Though parents may not physically abuse their children, they may be cruel to them by neglecting them by failing to bring to the Savior. This morning the Savior invites you to bring your children and permit them –

I. To be blessed by Jesus – Vs. 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

A. He embraced them – He took them up into His arms putting His hands on them. While the disciples refused them – Jesus accepted and welcomed them.

B. He blessed them. What is the biggest blessing we can receive from the Lord? Is it not the gift of faith? Notice that the faith is something that is given to us. It’s not earned. We certainly don’t deserve it. It is received freely by God’s free gift and favor.

Transition: We bring our children to Jesus to be blessed by Him. But how will they know Him?

II. To know Jesus by our instruction – Vs. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

A. To enter the kingdom of God is not to be as a child nor to be childish. A person enters the kingdom, “like a child.” There is an innocence, openness, and receptivity on the part of a child that a person wanting to enter the kingdom of God must have. Only by receiving the Kingdom as would a child can our relationship with God be changed. This happens through the gift of faith in Christ as our Savior.

B. A child is ready to believe and trust what an adult says. They take things literally. They have a literal mind. They readily obey without questioning. This is why we give our youth the truths that transform – the clear teachings of Christ and His Word. A grandmother comments on teaching her five year old grandson the truths of our faith, “I loved the way his very literal mind tried to make sense of something so...other than us. I know God is working in that little guy's life!”[1]

Transition: To know the Savior is to have a relationship with Him. That relationship was all initiated by the Savior in the waters of Holy Baptism.

III. To come to Jesus by baptism – Vs. 14 When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

A. Mark tells us, “He was indignant”. Indignation does not mean “flying off the handle,” displaying publicly a fit of temper, or expressing an irrational displeasure. It means a “holy” displeasure, a kind of a disposition which will act with displeasure every time it is affected by the same stimulus. Jesus certainly was no “pushover,” and indignation is absolutely not a vice. JESUS WAS INDIGNANT TOWARD THE SCRIBES, PHARISEES, AND HYPOCRITES. (Matthew 23) JESUS WAS INDIGNANT TO THE MONEY CHANGERS. (Mathew 21:12) JESUS WAS INDIGNANT TOWARD THOSE WHO REFUSED LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME TO HIM. When the disciples kept the little children from being brought to Jesus because they thought He was too busy, He was indignant. Jesus always took time for little children and was indignant with those who would not. He rebuked the disciples sternly in one breath; and in the next, He spoke kindly to these little ones. Here are the two sides of the Christian personality. We are told to love the good and hate the evil. We are taught to love the sinner and hate the sin. The Christian personality is no watered-down, namby-pamby, wishy-washy existence. Rather, it is stern and indignant toward wrong, but loving and compassionate toward the wrongdoer. Jesus showed both sides.

B. We must not hinder them. Rather they are to come – for the kingdom belongs to such as these.

The Savior invites children to come to Him. This is our marching orders - to connect others with the Savior. In your visits, in you conversations in all that you do – connect people with the Savior.

[1] Michelle Van Loon commenting on her blog May 25, 2009 - http://theparablelife.blogspot.com/