Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 15 - Proper 18

Time in the Word
 31 August-05 September 2015
Proper 18
Preparation for next week, Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

God’s standard of excellence is the theme for this coming Sunday. In the Old Testament lesson God’s people are called to be strong and not to fear as God promises to come to His people. The language which is used is similar to that used of the coming Messiah. In the Epistle lesson excellence is seen in how the believer behaves. Favoritism is forbidden; rather keeping the law is what is expected. The Christian faith is not merely a philosophical exercise of the mind. Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  In the Gospel lesson a standard of excellence has been stamped on everything Jesus has done. He fulfills the prediction given in the Old Testament lesson. This causes the believer to express praise and adoration to the Lord who has done all things well as expressed in the hymn of the day, which is based on this week’s appointed psalm. 

Collect for Proper 18O God, from whom all good proceeds, grant to us Your humble servants, Your whole inspiration, that we may set our minds on the things that are right and, by Your merciful guiding, accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
Monday, 31 August 2015Psalm 28:1-2, 6-7, Antiphon, Psalm 28:8 – The Lord is the strength of His people, He is the saving refuge of His anointed. The entire psalm is a prayer for deliverance from deadly peril at the hands of malicious and God-defying enemies. To rebel against the Lord’s Anointed is also to rebel against the One who anointed him. The Lord’s anointed is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The English word “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed one” and the English word “Christ” comes from the Greek word for “anointed one”. (See also Matthew 1:17)

Tuesday, 01 September 2015Psalm 146; key verse, verse 2I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. The psalmist makes a vow to praise the Lord as long as he lives. This is similar to the vow we make on the day of our confirmation. Question: Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it? Answer: I do, by the grace of God.

Wednesday, 02 September 2015Isaiah 35:4-7a  Be strong and do not fear; God will come.  The coming Messiah will bring a standard of excellence. When God comes to redeem His people, health and healing will be evident. The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame with leap and the mute will speak. Jesus will quote this passage in Matthew 11:5 to prove that He is the Lord’s chosen and anointed one, the Messiah.   

Thursday, 03 September 2015James 2:1-10 14-18Favoritism is forbidden – faith and deeds are explained. It’s quite easy to say, “I believe,” “I have faith,” “I trust,” etc. Too often these are empty words and phrases. James explains that the sign of a genuine faith is shown in deeds. The key verse is verse 17, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

James has no argument with the notion that we are saved by grace through faith. (See Ephesians 2:8-9) What he does say is that genuine faith will be demonstrated by certain actions and behaviors. (See Ephesians 2:10) This is the sign of excellence, faith that is active and engaging. 

Friday, 04 September 2015Mark 7:31-37 — The original translation of verse 37 literally reads, “Well! All things He has done!” A standard of excellence has been stamped on everything Jesus has done. He is able to make the deaf hear. This should not surprise us. Everything Jesus is doing is what God had promised to do when He came to redeem His people see Isaiah 35:5-6.

Saturday, 05 September 2015Psalm 146 – Sunday’s hymn of the day, Praise the Almighty (LSB 797), is based on the appointed psalm for this week.  Having seen everything that Christ has done our only response is to return to Him our worship and praise. The psalm is an exhortation to trust in the Lord, Zion’s King. Psalm 146 is the first of five Hallelujah psalms with which the Psalter closes (Psalms 146-150). 

For the those unemployed and underemployed Heavenly Father, we commend to Your care those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Grant that the wealth and resources of this right land by profitably used to that all persons may find suitable and fulfilling employment and receive just payment for their labor

Collect for Pentecost 15 O Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us without all doubt to know Your Son Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life that, following His steps, we may steadfastly walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

A Prayer for obedience to God’s Word O holy and most merciful God, You have taught us the way of Your commandments. We implore You to pour out Your grace into our hearts. Cause it to bear fruit in us that being ever mindful of Your mercies and Your laws, we may always be directed to Your will and daily increase in love toward You and one another. Enable us to resist all evil and to live a godly life. Help us to follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to walk in His steps until we shall possess the kingdom that has been prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

A prayer for God to guide usDirect us, O Lord, in all our doings with Your most gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help, that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in You we may glorify Your holy name and finally, by Your mercy, obtain eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

A prayer for guidance in our callingLord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

For Labor DayLord Jesus as once You shared in our human toil and thus hallowed the work of our hands, bless and prosper those who maintain the industries and service sectors of this land. Give them a right regard for their labors, and grant them the just reward for their work that they may find joy in serving You and in supplying our needs

Sources:

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House and from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcut  used with permission from WELS
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B – John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pentecost 14 - Proper 17




Proper 17
30 August 2015
Mark 7:14-23

O God, the source of all that is just and good. Nourish in us every virtue and bring to completion every good intent that we may grow in grace and bring forth the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We face a universal problem. How to make individuals good. To do good. And to live righteously.  What is the answer to crime? Is it education? More laws. Better prisons. Capital punishment? Today an emphasis is placed on behavior modification - Through drugs. Rewards. And punishments etc.

Jesus puts his finger on the cause of all evil behavior - a dirty heart. A good life calls for a good heart. If so, the world is suffering from heart trouble! What to do about heart trouble? The Savior gives us the answer in verse 23 - All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ V.23

Know that the heart is the source of behavior.
Realize that Christ alone can make a good heart. He alone is the great physician who has performed His work in us.

I. Know that the hearts is the source of behavior.

A.     The heart is the window to the soul.
1.      It is a heart blackened by sin.
2.      It is a heart broken by the hurt, pain and the effects of sin.
3.      It is a deficient heart inherited by our parents.

B.     This heart reflects the mature of man.
1.            Who was created in the image of God. Created in righteousness and holiness.
2.            Yet, when Adam and Eve rebelled, falling headlong into sin. Man lost this image of God.

Now the will, desires, and the thoughts of man follow the self. “Thus when Adam was 99 years old he had a son after his own image and likeness and called him Seth.”

3.            Because the heart is darkened by sin, man now tries to hide himself from sin.  Anyone who has ever been around a toddler has witnessed what happens when that child might be doing something he knows he shouldn’t. When the parents enter the room. He shuts his eyes. And the problem goes away! That’s what the darkness and blindness of sin can do. It makes us close our eyes to anything, which would expose our sinful self.

Transition: Realizing that the heart is the source of human behavior what shall we do? We turn to Jesus our Great Physician who is able to reform His work in you – He greatest work is reserved for those He came to save.

II.                 We turn to Jesus

A.     We must come to realize that He alone can make a good heart.  
1. Sometimes a transplant is the only solution. This is what Christ has done for you. He has given you a new heart. When He went to the cross and stood at the mouth of an empty tomb. He took your poor weak heart and replaced it!
2.            Because He has given you new life – new life in Him.  He is the one who shapes and   molds your life. Your times are in His hands. Only He can direct your path. He has promised He will do this.

B.     As the Great Physician Jesus alone is able to perform His work in you.
1.            His work in you began at your baptism. When you were connected to Christ. He gave His word and promise to restore and forgive you. He promises to be with you always for time and eternity.
2.            Yet His hand is still upon you. Never will He let you go. He will mold and shape every circumstance of your life to bring it into conformity with Hid good and perfect will.
3.            You are redeemed by Christ. To train the third and fourth generation of your family in the ways of the Lord. You are a child of God. You are redeemed by Christ. What you do in your job might not always define who you are. But whose you are - defines what you do. As you impact those around you in the mission of Christ and His Kingdom.

Having heart trouble? Take the prescription, which is proven to work every single time it’s offered – given to you by that great Physician – Jesus Christ the righteous!
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Words –728
Passive Sentences – 8%
Readability – 84.6

Reading Level -3.8

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Time in the Word Pentecost 14- Proper 17


Time in the Word
24-29 August 2015

Preparation for next week, The 14th Sunday after Pentecost


The theme for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost is Faith in Action. The Pharisees of Christ’s day adhered strictly to the dietary restrictions laid down by God in His Law. They even extended them. However, they believed that this strict outward fulfillment would save them. They gave little thought to the condition of their hearts, for even as they were outwardly pious in following the letter of the Law, inwardly, they were filthy with sin, hating Christ and His disciples and even hatching a plan to murder Him.

Jesus tells us that what matters is not the outward act, but the condition of one’s heart. Now this does not mean that we are free to act however we will. True faith will always manifest itself in doing good works, and a desire to adhere to the Word of God. People will be able to see that we have put our faith in action by our love for others.

As for the dietary laws of the Jews, we can be thankful that Christ has fulfilled the Law and has declared all foods clean. We are free to enjoy bacon cheeseburgers, pork chops, shrimp, and much more without guilty consciences.

Wickedness and evil come “from within, out of the heart,” and that is what defiles a person (Mark 7:21–23). Hence, we cannot save ourselves, because we are sinful and unclean from the inside out. But as the Lord Jesus “declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:19), so He cleanses us by His Word, by the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, “listen to the statutes and the rules” of the Lord, “and do them, that you may live” (Deut. 4:1). For His Word is righteous, and to live according to it is “your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples” (Deut. 4:6). Cling to His Word, and also teach it “to your children and your children’s children” (Deut. 4:9). Put on this “armor of God” by hearing and heeding what He speaks to you, that you may “stand firm” in the evil day (Eph. 6:11–13). Gird yourself with the righteousness of Christ, by faith in the “gospel of peace,” and take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” by confessing Christ Jesus and “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:14–18).

Prayer before confession and absolution: Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant us a true confession that, dead to sin, we may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in Your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for teaching the faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, even as You have committed the care and nurture of children to Your people, graciously enlighten those who teach and those who are committed to their instruction that they may know Your eternal truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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

Prayer for aid against temptation: O God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for spiritual renewal: Almighty 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.

Prayer for deliverance from sin: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

From Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

Monday, 24 August 2015—Psalm 51:7, 10–12; Antiphon, Psalm 51:2—Sunday’s Introit is a portion of David’s pÅ“nitential psalm, the one he wrote after being confronted with his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1—12:14). David evinces true repentance: grief, shame, and contrition over his sin, but also faith and trust in God that he would be redeemed of all his iniquity. When we sing this as the Offertory, we make David’s plea our own: we ask for—and receive—a clean heart, a right spirit. We have been washed thoroughly from iniquity and cleansed from all sin by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015—Psalm 119:129–136—Psalm 119 is the longest psalm, and it extols the virtues of delighting in the Word of God. One who is righteous by faith has a great desire to live according to the precepts of God’s holy Word. The Word of God gives light and understanding; it keeps us from having our iniquity getting dominion over us. We the redeemed long to live by faith according to the Word; we shed tears because people do not keep God’s Law.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015—Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9—As the Children of Israel were about to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving them, Moses reminds them of all that the LORD had taught and commanded them. His advice is to them and to us, heirs through Christ of the spiritual Promised Land, the Kingdom of Heaven. We must be diligent to hear the Word of God and preserve it, making it known, not only among ourselves, but to our children and our children’s children.

Thursday, 27 August 2015—Ephesians 6:10–20—This last reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians fit exceptionally well with Sunday’s other readings. Moses had given his instruction to the Israelites because he knew how easy it is for people to fall away from God. In times of both adversity and prosperity, people may be tempted to forsake the Lord. Attacks will come, for the devil hates God and all whom He loves.

The Christian must gird himself for spiritual warfare with the weapons which God has provided: truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation—with these, we are equipped for the assaults of the Evil One.

Friday, 28 August 2015—Mark 7:14–23—What defiles a person? Is it what goes into him? No. We are all defiled by sin. We have inherited our sinful nature from our first parents, and are inclined toward evil. Jesus gives a whole laundry list of wicked thoughts and actions which proceed out of our sinful hearts. We must ever be on guard, not only against the attacks of Satan, as in the epistle lesson, but even on the treachery of our own hearts. We must not depart from the Word of God, but read, hear, and learn it daily to know of both our salvation and of the will of God.

Saturday, 29 August 2015—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Be Strong in the Lord (LSB 665) exhorts us to make full use of the armor of God, that we may withstand the wiles of the devil and our sinful nature. Having been equipped by our Lord, we can be certain of the victory.

Time in the Word - Pentecost 14 - Proper 17

Time in the Word
17-22 August 2015
Preparation for next week, The 14th Sunday after Pentecost



The theme for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost is Faith in Action. The Pharisees of Christ’s day adhered strictly to the dietary restrictions laid down by God in His Law. They even extended them. However, they believed that this strict outward fulfillment would save them. They gave little thought to the condition of their hearts, for even as they were outwardly pious in following the letter of the Law, inwardly, they were filthy with sin, hating Christ and His disciples and even hatching a plan to murder Him.

Jesus tells us that what matters is not the outward act, but the condition of one’s heart. Now this does not mean that we are free to act however we will. True faith will always manifest itself in doing good works, and a desire to adhere to the Word of God. People will be able to see that we have put our faith in action by our love for others.

As for the dietary laws of the Jews, we can be thankful that Christ has fulfilled the Law and has declared all foods clean. We are free to enjoy bacon cheeseburgers, pork chops, shrimp, and much more without guilty consciences.

Collect for Pentecost 13O God, the source of all that is just and good, nourish in us every virtue and bring to completion every good intent that we may grow in grace and bring forth the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Let us pray for all who are outside the Church, that our Lord God would be pleased to deliver them from their error, call them to faith in the true and living God and His only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and gather them into His family, the Church:

Almighty and everlasting God, because You seek not the death but the life of all, hear our prayers for all who have no right knowledge of You, free them from their error, and for the glory of Your name bring them into the fellowship of Your holy Church; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Prayer before confession and absolution: Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant us a true confession that, dead to sin, we may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in Your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for teaching the faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, even as You have committed the care and nurture of children to Your people, graciously enlighten those who teach and those who are committed to their instruction that they may know Your eternal truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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

Prayer for aid against temptation: O God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for spiritual renewal: Almighty 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.

Prayer for deliverance from sin: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that we turn from our evil ways and live. Graciously spare us those punishments which we by our sins have deserved, and grant us always to serve You in holiness and pureness of living; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 17 August 2015—Psalm 51:7, 10–12; Antiphon, Psalm 51:2—Sunday’s Introit is a portion of David’s pÅ“nitential psalm, the one he wrote after being confronted with his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1—12:14). David evinces true repentance: grief, shame, and contrition over his sin, but also faith and trust in God that he would be redeemed of all his iniquity. When we sing this as the Offertory, we make David’s plea our own: we ask for—and receive—a clean heart, a right spirit. We have been washed thoroughly from iniquity and cleansed from all sin by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015—Psalm 119:129–136—Psalm 119 is the longest psalm, and it extols the virtues of delighting in the Word of God. One who is righteous by faith has a great desire to live according to the precepts of God’s holy Word. The Word of God gives light and understanding; it keeps us from having our iniquity getting dominion over us. We the redeemed long to live by faith according to the Word; we shed tears because people do not keep God’s Law.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015—Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9—As the Children of Israel were about to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving them, Moses reminds them of all that the LORD had taught and commanded them. His advice is to them and to us, heirs through Christ of the spiritual Promised Land, the Kingdom of Heaven. We must be diligent to hear the Word of God and preserve it, making it known, not only among ourselves, but to our children and our children’s children.

Thursday, 20 August 2015—Ephesians 6:10–20—This last reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians fit exceptionally well with Sunday’s other readings. Moses had given his instruction to the Israelites because he knew how easy it is for people to fall away from God. In times of both adversity and prosperity, people may be tempted to forsake the Lord. Attacks will come, for the devil hates God and all whom He loves. The Christian must gird himself for spiritual warfare with the weapons which God has provided: truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation—with these, we are equipped for the assaults of the Evil One.

Friday, 21 August 2015—Mark 7:14–23—What defiles a person? Is it what goes into him? No. We are all defiled by sin. We have inherited our sinful nature from our first parents, and are inclined toward evil. Jesus gives a whole laundry list of wicked thoughts and actions which proceed out of our sinful hearts. We must ever be on guard, not only against the attacks of Satan, as in the epistle lesson, but even on the treachery of our own hearts. We must not depart from the Word of God, but read, hear, and learn it daily to know of both our salvation and of the will of God.

Saturday, 22 August 2015—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Be Strong in the Lord (LSB 665) exhorts us to make full use of the armor of God, that we may withstand the wiles of the devil and our sinful nature. Having been equipped by our Lord, we can be certain of the victory.

From Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcut used with permission from WELS

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Proper 13 - Pentecost 16




Proper 16
August 23, 2015
Mark 7:1-13


Almighty and merciful God, defend Your Church from all false teaching and error that Your faithful people may confess You to be the only true God and rejoice in Your good gifts of life and salvation.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were an interesting sort. They were outwardly pious. They were serious about their faith. They practiced their religion. They kept the law. They even devised new rules to follow. In order to promote their self-righteousness. But they only gave lip service to God’s Word. They were interested in the letter of the Law not the spirit. They were focused on the rubrics and the mechanics of the law. They were not interested in the fulfillment of God’s law. They had no need of a Savior. They were convinced they could earn favor with God. On their own terms.

They followed the law in order to measure their own righteousness. And to compare themselves to others. Thus, the confrontation with Jesus’ disciples. They criticized Jesus’ disciples for not following their traditions.

Godly living comes from a believing heart. Our text begs the question – which is worse – dirty hands or a dirty heart?  Some are obsessed with dirt. They are super-clean. We might call them “neat freaks.” They are ever dusting, cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming. At the same time, they can be dirty on the inside as their hearts are filled with dirty thoughts, motives, interests. This is the issue from this morning’s Gospel lesson. The religious of the day were concerned with washing hands pots, pans but neglected to wash their hearts. Jesus points out that dirtiness is not from without but from within the heart. A dirty hearts causes a person to perform dirty acts.

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of man. Mark 7:8
Do not use religion to avoid the demands of faith. Leadership of Jesus day built for themselves a religion of traditions and proceeded to use tradition to escape the demands of faith. Jesus has a word for this – hypocrisy. Whose voice will you listen, the voice of God or the voice of the church? That was the issue of the 16th Century. Certain reformers repudiated those traditions that they found contrary to the word of Scripture. Is the church today in need of another overhaul? Some believe that a reformation is long overdue. If so, who is to be the arbitrator? At all costs, we need to avoid making religion our religion.

Traditions can and do change with time. They mask the real issues. Here religion was used to avoid the demands of religion. Building a religion of traditions and the use of traditions for tradition’s sake helped one escape the demands of true religion. Jesus calls this hypocrisy v 6. Tradition can become a substitute for true religion. Customs and ceremonies lose their significance and meaning. We do things without knowing why we do them. Traditions can become like barnacles that gradually grow on a ship and impede the progress of the boat. In the 16th Century, the issue was the Bible vs the traditions of the Church. The reformers repudiated traditions contrary to the Word of God.

1. There is a religion centered in man’s traditions.

A.      Traditions can become a substitute for true religion.

1.       The leadership of Jesus’ day – they were godly, they had it right, they fulfilled the very letter of the law, including the traditions. They were convinced that the external cleanliness of their lives, as was exhibited by their ritually clean hands, pots and pans made them clean before God.

2.       When tragedy strikes our lives, do we not sometimes wonder why God seems to take no notice of our godly and clean living? After all, we are faithful in our church and communion attendance. We are regular in our witness and generous with our offerings. We work hard at our jobs and try to raise our children rightly. We’re upright and moral people. When such thinking occurs, we make self the object of our worship, making tradition our religion, and fall into the trap believing external living in compliance with God’s law somehow makes us clean and godly before Him.

B.      When we live for tradition – customs and ceremonies can soon lose their significance and meaning.

1         We may wake up finding ourselves following practices and ceremonies not even knowing why we are following them.

2         This happens when we follow blindly never questioning why we practice such rites, rituals and ceremonies.

3         Cleanliness before God must flow from the inside out. From the heart out. It is the condition of the heart, not the position of the body that concerns our Savior. It is the state of your heart that determines whether you are clean before God.
We dare not let tradition become like barnacles that gradually grow on a ship and impedes its progress.

2. We need a religion based on the clear word of the Lord

A.      His Word will not fail. What does His Word teach us? It teaches us that mere ritual, washing, or clean living will never do. However, His washing will always make us clean. St. Paul reminds us, “When we were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him by our baptism into death that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we were united with Him in a death like His we will certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.”[1]

In Baptism, you were incorporated into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ is the only one who has ever lived a perfectly good, clean life before God. He alone is the spotless Lam of God. He never soiled Himself with the stain of sin, even though He was tempted as you are.

B.      His Word gives salvation and life. Jesus chose to cover Himself with the entire dirt and filth of your sin. The Father chose to give Him your punishment for that sin and to give you His cleanliness.  Now in the waters of Baptism the Father give you Jesus’ clean, holy life as your own and washes away the stain and dirt of your sin.

This is the Father’s idea of godliness. Not what we can do to look impressive before God rather it is what He has done for you. The power of forgiveness in Baptism we are able to really do what the leaders of Jesus’ day and our own hypocritical nature can only mimic – offer a life to God that is also externally clean and godly.

In Jesus Christ all our actions as God’s people – from the rituals of our worship to the duties of our daily lives are now clean in God’s sight. No wonder the Scriptures call Baptism a “washing of regeneration” and “a renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
Christ alone can make a good heart.
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Words- 1,189
Passive Sentences –
Readability- 74%

Reading Level -6.4

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 13 - Proper 16


Time in the Word
Preparing for Pentecost 13 –Proper 16
August 17-22, 2015



Collect for Proper 16 - Almighty and merciful God, defend Your Church from all false teaching and error that Your faithful people may confess You to be the only true God and rejoice in Your good gifts of life and salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, August 17, 2015 – Psalm 26 – Next week’s Introit is an appeal for God to take account of David’s moral integrity, his unwavering trust, and his genuine delight in the Lord. This is not a boast of self-righteousness, but an appeal to God. The Antiphon is taken from verse 8, “I love the house where You live, O Lord, the place where Your glory dwells.” 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 – Psalm 119:129-136 – The appointed Psalm for next week is taken from the longest Psalm and it under the Hebrew letter Pe. The Psalmist recalls the righteousness of God’s law and how they are a delight to follow. As we focus on the Lord and His precepts, we find direction in living.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 – Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 6-8 – National well-being comes from obedience is the theme for next week’s Old Testament lesson. The revelation the Lord gives is sufficient. All of it must be accepted and anything that adulterates or contradicts it cannot be tolerated. The Israelites always had access to the Lord in prayer. His presence was symbolized by the tabernacle in the center of the camp, and by the pillar of cloud over the tabernacle.

Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Ephesians 6:10-20 – Christians battle against wickedness. In magnificent imagery Paul describes the armor of God. Human effort is inadequate but God’s power is invincible. With the tools the Savior offers, we are able to withstand the devil’s assaults.

Friday, August 21. 2015 – Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23 – Good living comes from a believing heart. The prophet Isaiah had denounced the religious leaders of his day. Jesus uses a quotation form this prophet to describe the tradition of the elders as “rules taught by men.”

Saturday, August 22, 2015 –Luke 17:5– This verse is the inspiration for the hymn, “Oh for a Faith that Will Not shrink” (TLH #396).  The disciples, feeling incapable of measuring up to the standards set forth by the Lord, cry out to Him, “Lord, increase our faith!” This is the cry of faith asking the Lord to supply us in every need.

Prayers for the Week...

Let us pray for all in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty:
O merciful Father in heaven, because You hold in Your hand all the might of man and because You have ordained, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do well, all the powers that exist in all the nations of the world, we humbly pray You graciously to regard Your servants, especially [name], our President; the Congress of the United States; [name], our Governor; and all those who make, administer, and judge our laws; that all who receive the sword as Your ministers may bear it according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Let us pray our Lord God Almighty that He would deliver the world from all error, take away disease, ward off famine, set free those in bondage, and grant health to the sick and a safe journey to all who travel:
Almighty and everlasting God, the consolation of the sorrowful and the strength of the weak, may the prayers of those who in any tribulation or distress cry to You graciously come before You, so that in all their necessities they may rejoice in Your manifold help and comfort; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, our support and defense in every need, continue to preserve Your Church in safety, govern her by Your goodness, and bless her with Your peace; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lord of all power and might, Author and Giver of all good things, graft in our hearts the love of Your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord we pray. Amen.

Some thoughts concerning our worship life together …

Hearing the Word of God, the people respond with words of praise. The Gradual is a Proper. It is a portion of a psalm of other Scripture passage that provides a response after the Old Testament Reading. The Epistle lesson gives us god’s counsel on how His gracious Word is applied to the hearer and the Church. Often in this reading we hear how god’s Word accomplishes what it says-creating faith, bestowing forgiveness, strengthening God’s people in their struggles against sin, and enlivening in them the hope of eternal life.

Sources:
The Lutheran Hymnal, © 1941, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Lutheran Worship, © 1982, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis pg. 78
Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis 
Worshiping with Angels and Archangels – An Introduction to the Divine Service by Scot Kinnaaman© 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis pg. 20

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcut used with permission from WELS

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pentecost 12 - Proper 15



Proper 15
August 16, 2015
John 6:51-59


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 trusting in Him we might receive forgiveness of our sins and the inheritance He has won for us.

Words mean something. Jesus uses the word “life” six times. He uses the word “eat” eight times. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man you cannot have eternal life.”

Jesus says, “Believe in Me…come to Me.” The believer eats Christ to live spiritually just as one eats physical food to live. Either that or starve to death. Christ is your spiritual food, which is necessary to live. Can you have spiritual hunger pains? Can a person die spiritually from lack of food? It is eternal. Because Christ is eternal.

Christ is to be taken into one’s life, so that Christ permeates the whole of life. As food is taken into the body, and brings strength to the body so Christ is to be a part of you. It is a way of becoming one with Christ. 

But you can’t earn favor with God on your own terms. No one can do this. We have, for the last several weeks, been reading through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul leaves no room for doubt when he tells us, and all people, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” Dead men do not make decisions for Christ. Dead men do not co-operate with God in their own salvation. Nor contribute to it in any way. The Holy Spirit, working through Word and Sacrament, accomplishes this. Not through any of our own efforts.

Many today are searching for a deeper personal experience with Christ. If so, what does Christ desire of you?

1.            To be personalized. He desires a personal experience.  Christ gave His flesh and blood for the sins of the world. ".. And the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” The gifts seem too simple - The people said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, "I have come down from heaven?" and then later on in our text the Jews argue among themselves saying, "How can this man give us His flesh (to eat)?" They simply could not believe that the gifts of God could come in the form of a man - in the form of this man Jesus Christ. (Vv. 42, 52)

2.            To be individualized. A one to one experience.  The gifts are thought to be worthless. The bread in the desert did not last forever. As Jesus explains, "your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they are dead". (Vv. 49, 58)  That manna could not last. It wore out over time.

People today value too highly their own good works thinking that somehow God will reward them for their effort. For there is something, they will tells you that man has to do.


3.            To be internalized. Christ comes into a person’s life. God calls us by His Spirit. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and will raise him up at the last day". (v.44) Believing seems too simple to have any value. And yet we recall with the words to the explanation to the third article "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him. It is the Holy Spirit which has called me by the Gospel..."


4.            To be homogenized. Christ and the believer are fused into one. He sustains us through this life "I am the living bread from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world "(v.51) In these Words we have recorded the 10th time Christ reminds us that He has come down to us. We live in Christ who refused to be absent or indifferent. His intention is to remain with us.

Here is His promise – “The one who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” We find purpose and meaning by what we do.

As our students will soon be returning back to school a question that keeps being asked is “what shall I do?” It’s an important question to be sure. Yet we also remember today, not only who you are and what you shall be but always remember WHOSE you are.

You are a child of the lamb who was slain who now lives and reigns throughout all eternity. He has determined to come to you in this special way – in His Word and in His meal. His intention has always been to abide and dwell with you.




______________________
Words –825
Passive Sentences –9%
Readability – 81%
Reading Level -4.4 


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 12 - Proper 15




Time in the Word
August 10-15 2015
Proper 15
Preparation for next week, Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost


The subject of bread continues as we make our way through John 6. The theme for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost is Incarnating the Christ. Christ is the Living Bread who came down from Heaven, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), who gives His flesh for the life of the world.

We can find this Living Bread nowhere else but in Christ. As Peter answered, when asked by Jesus if he wanted to leave, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” After Jesus ascended into heaven, when called before the Jewish council, Peter would proclaim again, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Come, feast on the Living Bread. Gladly hear His Word, and eat His Body and Blood, given for you for the remission of all your sins.

Collect for Proper 14Almighty God, whom to know is everlasting life; give us to know Your Son Jesus to be the way the truth and the life that we may steadfastly follow His steps in the way that leads to life eternal.

Prayer for Home and Family: Visit, we implore You, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, and keep far from them all harm and danger. Grant us to dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels, and may Your blessing be with us forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer the Unemployed: Heavenly Father, we remember before You, those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Lead us so to use the wealth and resources of this rich land that all persons may find suitable and fulfilling employment and receive just payment for their labor; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Pray for Peace: O God, whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world simply cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Monday, 10 August 2015—Psalm 111:1–5, 9; Antiphon, Psalm 111:10—Atheist groups are taking out ads on city buses in cities across the U.S., even in Indiana (South Bend and Bloomington, so far), that proclaim that there is no God (‘You Can Be Good Without God’; ‘In the Beginning, Man Created God’). What utter nonsense! What through-and-through foolishness! The psalmist tells us what it truly means to be wise: to fear the Lord, to recognize all that He has done for us. Those so-called ‘atheists,’ far from disbelieving in a god, have made themselves their own god, and a very poor one at that.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015—Psalm 34:12–22—This is a continuation of the psalm for last Sunday. In the antiphon for to-day (verse 11), David calls us to listen to him, that he may teach us the fear of the Lord: one who is not foolish, and acknowledges the Lord, will turn away from evil and do good; he will seek peace and pursue it. These righteous ones will the Lord deliver out of all their troubles.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015—Proverbs 9:1–10—In the Old Testament reading, we continue our education in the way of wisdom from the wisest man who has ever lived, Solomon. Here, he gives wisdom a personality, and we start to understand that the personification of wisdom is Christ our Lord, for it is Christ who invites us to eat of His bread and drink of His wine. These are His body and blood, which He gives for the life of the world.

Thursday, 13 August 2015—Ephesians 5:6–21—In this section of our reading from the book of Ephesians, St Paul continues his instruction of how we ought to live. Since Christ has made us His own, and, since, by Word and Sacrament, we have eaten the living Bread that comes down from heaven, we ought to walk, not as unwise, but as wise.

We ought not allow ourselves to be deceived by charlatans masquerading as men of God; we ought not take part in the sins that the world takes pleasure in; we ought, rather, make the best use of time, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, 14 August 2015—John 6:51–69—Jesus declares that He is the Living Bread that came down from heaven. It is through Him alone that we can be forgiven, that our sins can be removed, that we can partake of eternal life. Through Word and sacrament, Christ feeds us, bestowing faith and nourishing it. The bread that He gives does not just satisfy for a short time, like earthly food; whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.

Saturday, 15 August 2015—This week, the final two stanzas of O Living Bread from Heaven (LSB 642) serve as the hymn of the day. Having received from the Lord Jesus Christ living bread, we seek to serve Him with holy fear, living as wise, not foolish ones, during our days on earth, and looking forward to the day when we leave this world below, and enter Heaven, where joys unmingled flow.

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 steadfastly follow His steps in the way that leads to life eternal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for Pentecost 12Almighty and everlasting God, always more ready to hear than we to pray and always ready to give more than we either desire or deserve, pour down on us the abundance of Your mercy, forgiving us the things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us the good things we are not worthy to ask but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House and from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcut used with permission from WELS

Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B – John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Time in the Word - Pentecost 11 - Proper 14


Time in the Word
August 3-8 2015
Pentecost 11 -Proper 14

Collect for Pentecost 11Gracious Father, Your blessed Son came down from heaven to be the true bread that gives life to the world. Grant that Christ, the bread of life, may live in us and we in Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for Proper 14Gracious Father, You blessed Son came down from heaven to be the true bread that gives life to the world. Grant that Christ, the bread of life, may live in us and we in Him, who loves and reigns with You and the holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Before the study of God’s WordAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate our study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

For reconciliationGod of love, through Your Son You have commanded us to love one another. By the guidance of Your Word and Spirit, deliver us from impenitence and teach us the truth that we might confess our sins, receive Your forgiveness, and be reconciled to one another; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

For guidance in our callingLord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

For proper use of leisureO God, give us times of refreshment and peace in the course of this busy life. Grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds that we may be opened to the goodness of Your creation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

 For a right knowledge of ChristAlmighty God, whom to know is everlasting life, grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, that following His steps we may steadfastly walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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.


The theme for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost is “Eat and Live”. His own people, the Jews, grumbled when Jesus told them that He is the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. They saw Him only as a man, not the Savior who had been promised from the very beginning in the Garden of Eden after the Fall (Genesis 3:15). Their own expectations of God’s promised Deliverer blinded them to the fact that He was standing before them.

Christ Jesus offers His gift of eternal salvation to all who will receive it. He calls them, and the Father draws them to Him. But some, because of the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their sin, reject the good gift that God has for them. May we ever nourish our faith through our regular church attendance, hearing the word of God preached and proclaimed, and receiving the body and blood of Christ.

Monday, 3 August 2015—Psalm 34:8–10; Antiphon, Psalm 145:16—The antiphon should be familiar to us, as it is part of the prayer before a meal which Luther included in the Catechism. The psalmist David then says to taste and see that the Lord is good. How are we to do this? St Peter tell us that we should be like newborn infants, longing for the pure spiritual milk. We have tasted that the Lord is good, for we have heard His Word of forgiveness and salvation, we have eaten of His Holy Supper, and we long for more.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015—Psalm 34:1–8—The psalm appointed for next week is one taken from a bizarre incident in the life of David, when he pretended to be insane before Achish, a Palestinian king in the line of Abimelech. The entire story is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. David exhorts us to extol the Lord at all times, for as the Lord delivered David in answer to his prayer, so He also has delivered us from sin, death, and the devil.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015—1 Kings 19:1–8—Despite the fact that the Lord had shown that He alone is the true God in Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal, wicked Queen Jezebel clung to her false gods and sought to kill Elijah. To escape, Elijah fled to the wilderness near Beersheba. There, the Lord fed him with bread. The Lord feeds us also; not through the ministrations of an angel, but by farmers, truckers, stock-boys, and grocery-store clerks. “God gives daily bread to everyone…we pray that He would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.”

Thursday, 6 August 2015—Ephesians 4:17—5:2—In this section of our reading from the book of Ephesians, St Paul tells us that, since we have been set free from bondage to sin and death, we should live outwardly in way that reflects our new life in Christ. We are to live as children of light, no longer living in the darkness of sin. Those in the world ought to see a difference in how Christians live versus how the rest of the world lives. As children of God, we imitate God, not the ways of the world.
  
Friday, 7 August 2015—John 6:35–51—“I am the Bread of Life,” declares Jesus. The bread that He gives is better than earthly bread, for that can only sustain the body while we sojourn in this earthly vale of tears. The bread that Jesus gives—the bread that Jesus is—sustains our souls for all eternity. Jesus gives Himself for the life of the world.

Saturday, 8 August 2015—Again this week, the hymn of the day is O Living Bread from Heaven (LSB 642). This second stanza proclaims that we have been led by the Lord to His house to receive His good gifts of forgiveness. We could not, and do not, do this on our own, but He leads us, and then feeds us with Word and Sacrament. The ‘food’ we receive in the Divine Service is better than the food we eat daily at our meals, for it is food that gives eternal life.

My Lord, You have led me
To this most holy place.
And with Yourself have fed me
The treasures of Your grace;
For You have freely given
What earth could never buy,
The bread of life from heaven,
That now I shall not die.
-Lutheran Service Book 642:2

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House and from Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcut used with permission from WELS

Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B – John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH