Sunday, October 15, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 20 ~ Proper 24



Time in the Word
Pentecost 20 –Proper 24
October 16-21, 2017


The Lessons for this week deal with God and the world. God rules the world. His glory is manifest among the nations. A pagan ruler, Cyrus, is chosen by God as his instrument; he uses a nation to fulfill his purposes in the world. In God’s hands lies the destinies of the nations. The Lord reigns among the nations and will judge the world with righteousness. In the Hymn “Before the Lord We bow” we praise God who rules the world and is boundless in power and love.

Collect for Proper 24Almighty God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Monday, October 16, 2017 - Psalm 121:1-4, 7-8 - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Vs. 5 of Psalm 121; “The Lord watches over you- the Lord is Your shade at your right hand.” Under the theme “Nations under God” this Sunday’s readings deal with God and the world. 

God rules the world. His glory is manifest among the nations. The Antiphon reminds us that the Lord is watching. How does that make one feel? We seek after Him who grants us grace which is found in the second half of the phrase “He is Your shade at your right hand.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - Isaiah 45:1-7 -In our Old Testament lesson a pagan ruler, Cyrus, is chosen by God as His instrument. The Lord uses a nation to fulfill His purposes in this world. In God’s hands lies the destiny of nations.

Wednesday, October 18, 20171 Thessalonians 1:1-5a - In our Epistle lesson for this week Paul greets the Thessalonians and thanks God for their faithful work of faith and love. This is the first of a series of readings from the book written by the Apostle Paul. With respect to the Gospel lesson for the week – The Thessalonians render to God what God deserves. As for the Old Testament lesson; as Cyrus was chosen, God chose the church of Thessalonica. (Vs. 4) 1 Thessalonians is Paul’s earliest letter from Corinth ca. 50 A.D. He was writing to a Gentile congregation. Accordingly, he refers to their turn from idols to God, to their deliverance from sin through the cross and resurrection, and to their hope for Jesus’ return. In these opening verses, Paul thanks God for their faith, love, and hope. They prove that God has chosen them through the gospel which he preached. Moreover, they imitated the example of Paul and thus they became examples to the other churches.


Thursday, October 19, 2017Matthew 22:15-22 - Religious leaders attempt to trap Jesus by asking him whether taxes should be paid to Rome. The religious leaders came to Jesus with a trick question that no matter how he answers, he is in trouble.

Pharisees and Herodians come to him with the question whether taxes should be paid to the Roman government. The Pharisees would say, “No”; the Herodians would answer, “Yes.” If Jesus said one should not pay taxes, he could be arrested as a subversive and revolutionary. If Jesus said one should, he would be in trouble with the patriotic Jews who hated Roman dominance. Jesus recognized that the inquirers were hypocrites and that they came to find occasion to have him arrested. His answer caused his enemies to marvel at his answer: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Friday, October 20, 2017 - Psalm 96:1-9 - This Psalm is appointed for next week. The key verse is verse 7b, "Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength”.

Saturday, October 18, 2017Psalm 145:1 -Our reading is the inspiration for tomorrow’s sermon hymn; “Before the Lord We Bow” an appropriate hymn for this week’s theme “Nations under God.” In this hymn we praise God who rules the world and is boundless in power and love. Truly we serve a God who governs the affairs of men who will judge the world with righteousness and equity. Having read these lessons here are a few points to ponder. Is it a true statement that the Lord has already judged the world? If so when and how? When Christ returns in glory what will be the sentence rendered? 

A Prayer of the Church at the time of the Reformation (The Great Litany): Be mindful of all who have fallen asleep…who have offered You these gifts…who do good works…and are concerned for the poor…Remember, Lord those who live in deserts and mountains…those who persevere in virginity…those in authority…speak good to their hearts…Be mindful, O Lord, of the people assembled here, as well as those who are absent from good cause…fill their households with every good thing; sustain their marriages in peace and harmony; nurture their infants; train up the youth; support the elderly, comfort the fainthearted; gather in those who are scattered and lead back those who have strayed, uniting them in Your holy, catholic and apostolic church…Sail with those who sail…plead for the widows, shield the orphans…hear the cries of the afflicted. O God, look after all those who are on trial…those who love us as well as those who hate us…Be mindful, Lord our God, of all Your people and lavish on all Your rich mercy, granting to all what leads to salvation. And, if we have failed to commemorate anyone, whether out of ignorance or forgetfulness or because of the great number of names, You, O God, will remember.  

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Prayer for California

Most merciful Father, with compassion You hear the cries of Your people in great distress. Be with all who now endure affliction and calamity as these wildfires burn in California. Bless the work of those who bring rescue and relief, and enable our pastors and congregations to bring comfort to those who are suffering that they may find renewed hope; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 19 ~ Proper 23





Clothed in the Righteousness of Christ, We Partake of His Wedding Feast

By His Cross and Resurrection, the Lord has swallowed up death forever, and by His Gospel He “will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth” (Is. 25:8). Therefore, “let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Is. 25:9). On the Mountain of the Lord of hosts—in His Church on earth, as in the kingdom of heaven—He has made “for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine” (Is. 25:6). It is the royal “wedding feast” of the Son of God, “and everything is ready” (Matt. 22:1, 4). Thus, His servants are sent into the highways and bi-ways to invite and gather as many as they find, “both good and bad,” to fill the wedding hall with guests (Matt. 22:8–10). In Holy Baptism, He clothes them all in the “wedding garment” of His own perfect righteousness (Matt. 22:11). Therefore, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” and “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4–6).

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

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

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

Prayer for those who are separated from the Church: O God, protect the tempted, the distressed, and the erring, and gently guide them. By Your great goodness bring them into the way of peace and truth. Graciously regard all who are in trouble, danger, temptation, or bondage to sin, and those to whom death draws near. In Your mercy draw them to Yourself; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for right reception of the Lord's Supper: Lord Jesus, You invite all who are burdened with sin to come to You for rest. We now come at Your invitation to the heavenly feast, which You have provided for Your children on earth. Preserve us from impenitence and unbelief, cleanse us from our unrighteousness, and clothe us with the righteousness purchased with Your blood. Strengthen our faith, increase our love and hope, and assure us a place at Your heavenly table, where we will eat eternal manna and drink of the river of Your pleasure forever and ever. Hear us, Jesus, for Your own sake.

Preparation for next week, Proper 23

Monday, 9 October 2017Isaiah 61:10; Antiphon, Psalm 146:2—The Gospel reading for next Sunday is the parable of the Wedding Feast, and the Introit helps establish a theme, by bringing in images relating to a wedding and the wedding garments. It speaks of us being clothed with garments of salvation. This same sort of imagery is used in Revelation, when it is said that the saints clothed in white robes have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This is rich sacramental imagery, portraying Baptism; the parable of the Wedding Feast has similar sacramental imagery, but that of the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017Psalm 23—The psalm for the day, the well-known 23rd Psalm, also has sacramental imagery, as we are told that the LORD leads us beside still waters, restoring our souls, and leading us in the paths of righteousness. Holy Baptism restores our souls; the Word of God leads us in the paths of righteousness. Later in the psalm, there is, again, the image of a feast being prepared for us who are righteous on account of being baptized into the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017Isaiah 25:6–9—The prophecy of Isaiah looks forward to the Last Day and portrays eternity in heaven as a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. One of the post-communion collects refers to the Sacrament of the Altar as a foretaste of the feast to come. Indeed, it is a real partaking of the feast in heaven, with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, those who have gone before us and died in the faith. The only difference is, so long as we live on the earth, we have to return our daily lives, while the feast goes on eternally. Therefore, we continue in the collect, Keep us firm in the true faith throughout our pilgrimage that, on the day of His coming, we may, together with all Your saints, celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.

Thursday, 12 October 2017Philippians 4:4–13—St Paul urges us to Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Rejoice, for the Lord has washed us clean in Holy Baptism, clothing us in white garments, and inviting us to the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end. He reminds us that the Lord is at hand. The Lord is, indeed, at hand; He is as near as His Word and Sacrament. Wherever the Word is preached in its truth and purity and the Sacraments are rightly administered, there the Lord is, dispensing the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

Friday, 13 October 2017Matthew 22:1–14—As we near the end of the Church Year, so the readings come closer to the end of our Lord’s earthly life, and begin to reflect on the Last Day, when we shall come into His heavenly kingdom. There are a number of themes in this parable. Those wedding guests who shunned the king’s invitation may be compared to the Jews, to who the Word of the Lord was given and whom the Lord chose as heirs of His kingdom. By and large, they have rejected the long-promised Messiah, and have no place at the eternal wedding feast in heaven. Likewise, those who come in unprepared, without a wedding garment, without a garment of salvation, trying to enter the feast of their own accord. These, too, will be rejected, for no one makes himself worthy of the kingdom of heaven; it is the Lord and King Himself who gives us the garment of righteousness.

Saturday, 14 October 2017—The hymn of the day is A Multitude Comes from the East and the West (LSB #510). It reflects the message of Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast. Those present at the heavenly banquet will come from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages (Rev. 7:9). At the heavenly marriage feast, we will dine with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all who have trusted in the Lord for their salvation, who have placed their trust in the merits of the promised Messiah, our Lord Jesus.

Sources:
Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Photo © Greg Gallmeyer 


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Proper 22



Proper 22 - 8 October 2017 – Matthew 21:33-43 
 
A Vineyard for Rent


“Lord Jesus, you have endured the doubts and foolish questions of every generation. Forgive us for trying to be judge over you, and grant us the confident faith to acknowledge you as Lord.”

It’s possible to rent an amazing variety of things. From housing to automobiles. From furniture to farm land. From carpet cleaning machines to apartments and cottages on a lake. In our text for today we see that God too has a rental arrangement

God also has a rental arrangement. For centuries the sign has been out, it reads, “VINEYARD FOR RENT.” Our question for today is what sort of tenants are we.

I. The terms of the agreement are specified.

A. As in any rental situation, we realize that there needs to be terms spelled out in the form of a rental contract. If there is going to be any safeguards to the tenant and the owner. The Lord Himself has placed the vineyard in excellent condition. The landowner planted the vineyard Himself. He put a wall around it. He dug a winepress. He built a tower. He brought it all up to code. He was s stickler for details.

What all this means is that from the beginning the Lord has given us the means and the resources for us to come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. The Lord did so for Israel. (Isaiah 5:1-7) He did this for His people in the Old Testament and today He continues to do the same through the good news of the Gospel.

A. Through the Gospel the Lord gathers and preserves us as His people. In the message of salvation which is found in Jesus Christ our Savior you are not only brought to faith you are also preserved as God’s very special people.

B. When you rent something there is an understanding or an agreement about who is the rightful owner of the thing which is being used. When you rent you have that object for your own personal use. But you will always remain the tenant. You do not own it. You never will own it. So it is that God is the owner of the vineyard. He rends it out to us. The message of His love and forgiveness is God’s message. Not ours. And the faith which we have. It is not ours. But God Himself is the One who has worked saving faith in us. We cannot claim ownership to the blessings of God. All these are His. Which He gives to us by His grace. 

God “rents out” the vineyard by giving it to us. Through it, supplying us with faith and strengthen us by the power of His Holy Spirit.

C. In this rental agreement, there are terms of payment. The rent check is to come in on time. At the same time. Every time it is due. The landlord expects to be paid. The same principle holds true with the Lord. God expects to be paid. God expects us to pay Him rent. 

1. He demands that the fruit of faith be demonstrated in our life. St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians lists the fruit of faith which include; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control” (Galatians 5:22)

2. Because of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Bearing fruit is not a chore for us. Rather it is a spontaneous outpouring which is the response to the benefits which God has worked in us.

Transition: The terms of the rental agreement have been spelled out. However this is not to say that from time to time difficulties may occur.

II. The difficulties encountered.

From time to time there can be problems when there are renters. The payment might be late or become delinquent. A tenant can say to himself “this isn’t my property; I am free from any responsibilities. I don’t have to take care of this dump!”  I’m sure you have heard of or have known of problems which can result with careless delinquent tenants.

A. Even God Himself had difficulties with His renters.

1. The renters of the Old Testament. The previous tenants. Killed the prophets which came delivering the message of God’s mercy and grace.

2. Finally they killed the Son of the landowner– Jesus Christ. Jesus was killed because the people refused to accept Him. They refused to believe that He was God in the flesh the only Savior from sin and so they had Him executed by crucifixion.

B. The problem with delinquent tenants can still exist today.

1. God can still have difficulties with His renters when we fail to see God’s mission to the world. When we fail to share with others the message of salvation which Christ has offered. If we do this we become delinquent and careless tenants.

2. We can become guilty of failing to hold up our end of the renter’s contract when we fail to love God’s people. As God has forgiven us. We in turn forgive others when they sin against us. As Christ has shown His compassion to us we in turn extend mercy to others. Refusing to deal with others on the same terms as God has dealt with us results in our failing to part of the rental contract. If we do that we have become delinquent and careless.

III. The Action of God.

So what do you do when you run across a problem with a troublesome renter? In most cases you demonstrate patience – but ultimately and finally patience has a limit. So also, with God.

A. God shows patience.
1. When a prophet was killed God kept on sending other prophets and servants. What a remarkable contrast to what most would have done under similar circumstances. But again, here is the patience of God demonstrated to us.

2. The Lord went so far as to send His only Son. Through Christ’s death He atoned for the tenant’s selfishness. Here we see the great lengths the Lord went to show His love and patience.

3. The Lord continues to demonstrate His patience for us. He is still giving us time to bring forth fruit of faith. He continues to love and seek our love. He continues to provide is those means which we need to receive His mercy and care.

B. And yet, the patience even of God has a limit.

1. When the Jewish nation finally rejected Christ, God’s only Son, God gave the Gospel message to the Gentiles. You and I believe in Christ because the Father gave us His grace and turned the vineyard over to all who would come to faith.

2. The patience of God will also run out with this world. Eventually the world will come to an end and then there will be a final judgment. We must see from these words of the Savior that if people reject the Gospel, then the Gospel will be taken from one group and given to others.

How can we apply these words to our day and time? It seems as if the Gospel of the kingdom has moved full circle. At one point in time the center of world Christianity was found on the continent of Africa. But when people finally rejected the Gospel and turned to other religions such as Islam the world center of Christianity shifted to Europe. Over time as people in Europe resisted the Gospel message the Church grew in North America.

As we are living in what many refer to as a Post-Modern or Post-Christian society where the center of World Christianity shifted has? Back to the continent of Africa. The point Jesus makes in this parable of a people reject Christ, the Gospel can and will be taken from one and given to others.

Again, we come back to the initial question – what sort of tenants are we? It is our duty to be good stewards, faithful tenants, and good renters. We must continue to share this message of the kingdom with all that we meet, and with all that we know.

God’s sign is still out for all to read and see. It says “VINEYARD FOR RENT.” The terms for the vineyard are as generous as they can be.

In His marvelous love God has considered all of the difficulties renters can give Him and yet He allows us to rent this prime ground. How wicked we would be if we would ever spurn His love.

What a privilege it is to be a tenant in God’s vineyard. What an honor it is to bring Him the fruit of faith with joy. My the Lord so move us to be good tenants until that time in which we move out of that rented ground into a new home, one which has been purchased by the same Landlord we are renting form now – Jesus Christ the righteous one.

Words – 1,500
Passive Sentences – 10%
Readability –79.2%
Reading Level – 5.2
Image "The Kingdom of Heaven is Like a Vineyard" © Ed Riojas Higher Things

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


"Christianity is the only religion whose God bears the scars of evil." ~Os Guinness

Monday, October 2, 2017

A pray for Las Veges

Holy Father, God of mercy, God of comfort, as the darkness grows and hatred and violence seem to triumph in this world, embrace in Your tender compassion all who suffer from this latest terror attack. Remember all who have lost loved ones, and the many who are injured and dying. Grant to them Your mercy, Your healing, Your peace. We remember that in Your Son You have given to us the Love that no hatred can overcome, the Life that no death can destroy, the Forgiveness that exceeds all the violence that fallen humanity inflicts upon itself. Make Your Church a firm witness to this unfailing hope. We pray these things in the saving name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October


The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation will be observed on Sunday, October 29.   At the center of our Christian faith is the understanding that a sinner is justified by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) for the sake of Christ alone (solus Christus), a truth revealed to us in Scripture alone (sola Scriptura).  This month, we focus on the word, “faith.” What is faith? 


Sola fide the Latin phrase “by faith alone,” also known as justification by faith alone, is the single most Christian theological doctrine that distinguishes Lutheran Christianity.

The doctrine of faith alone affirms God's pardon for guilty sinners. God’s forgiveness is granted and received through faith alone, excluding all "works". All mankind is fallen and sinful, under the curse of God, and incapable of saving himself from God's wrath and curse. But God our heavenly Father, on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ alone, grants sinners a full judicial pardon, which is received solely through faith. 

Faith is passive. Merely receiving Christ and all His benefits, among which benefits are the forgiveness of sins, and peace with God. Christ's active obedience - doing what God's law required – means that every event of Jesus’ life was a part of His payment of the penalty of sin.  Every event of His life was a part of His keeping of the law of God by which He earned for His people the reward of eternal life.

This righteousness is a righteousness that we receive from God. A person is righteous, that is, he is in a right relationship with God, when he simply receives the imputed obedience of Christ and the forgiveness of sins through faith. This righteousness is passive and comes apart from the Law.

Christ's righteousness, is imputed (or attributed) by God to the believing sinner (as opposed to infused or imparted), so that the divine verdict and pardon of the believing sinner is based not upon anything in the sinner, but upon Jesus Christ and His righteousness alone, which are received through faith alone. 

Augsburg Confession, 1530 sums this up with the following words, “Our churches by common consent...teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight.”  – Article IV

In his Introduction to the book Romans, Luther stated that saving faith is, “a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever...Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!  - "Luther, An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans"

Martin Luther is recorded as stating, “Works are necessary for salvation but they do not cause salvation; for faith alone gives life.” – [Ewald M. Plass, “What Luther says,” page 1509] Remember, works are necessary. But they do not cause salvation. Thus Luther could offer two seemingly contradictory truths:

The Christian is an utterly free man, lord of all, subject to none.  –In Christ all sin is covered period. He gave His all for you.

The Christian is an utterly dutiful man, servant of all, subject to all. –In love I serve my neighbor giving my all.


This month of October another harvest will begin. There is also a harvest of souls. Christ has won for you full salvation. You receive this freedom as a gift. No strings attached. You are now free to love and serve your neighbor. Every. Single. Day. You are compelled to do so. You can do no other.  Love God. Serve your neighbor. That’s what it means to be a person of faith. 

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things

Time in the Word - Pentecost 18 ~ Proper 22



A Study for Proper 22
October 2-7, 2017
The Vineyard of God’s People

In the Lessons for this week, we look at evil confidences, which cannot stand under the light of God’s Holy Law. God’s people constitute a vineyard. The Gospel and Old Testament lessons complement each other in the use of a vineyard as a metaphor for God’s people. In both, the vineyard is at fault; in the Gospel, the tenants refuse to render fruit; in the Old Testament, the fruit is wild. In the Epistle lesson, the wild fruit are those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” and serve as an example of the right kind of fruit Christians produce. Because God’s vineyard is His people, He has the right to ask for proper returns from the vineyard. Both the Old Testament lesson and the Gospel pronounce judgment upon the vineyard for failing to produce the fruit of acknowledging Christ as Lord and the fruit of justice. 

Collects for Proper 22Gracious God, You gave Your Son into the hands of sinful men, who killed Him. Forgive us when we reject Your unfailing love, and grant us the fullness of Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever

O God, whose 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.

A prayer for AgricultureYou bless the earth to make it fruitful, bring forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper; we pray the work of farmers as they bring food to our table. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruit of the earth, and thus proclaim Your goodness with thanksgiving. Cause all people who give thanks over their food to treat those who produce it with honor and respect. May we see by this noble vocation that through them You feed the world.

A prayer before we study the WordAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help, our labor is useless, and without Your light, our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

Monday, October 2, 2017Psalm 118:22-24 - Antiphon, verse 1:“O Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.” – This is a call to praise the Lord. David offers a song of thanksgiving for deliverance and victory. The people rejoice over what the Lord has done. Thereafter, the king speaks his final word of praise (see verse 28). We praise and exalt the Lord because He is mighty to save. This is why He is good – His mercy, His steadfast love endures forever.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017Psalm 80:7-19 – This week’s Psalm has as the key verse, verse 7. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is Israel, and the men of Judah are the plant He cherished (Isaiah 5:7). After making a lament over the Lord’s severe punishment of His people the Psalmist looks to the Lord who will vindicate His own as He restores and makes His face shine upon them that they might be saved. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017Isaiah 5:1-7 - God’s people receive judgment for evil fruit.  Confidence in violence and bloodshed leads to judgment. In the Old Testament reading, God’s judgment upon His people is shown for their failure to produce proper fruit. The prophet sings a love song to God regarding God’s vineyard, his people. God is his “beloved.” God loves His people. Proof of this love is that God’s vineyard, His possession, is His people. Out of love, God accepts and owns His people. And look what God has done for His people! He has placed a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug the ground, cleared away the stones, and planted it with the best vines. Then He built a watchtower and a wine vat. God is love and He deals lovingly with His people: claiming them as His own, and providing for them by giving them the best of everything to be fruitful.

Thursday, October 5, 2017Philippians 3:4b-14 – God’s people strive to be examples worthy of Christ. Confidence in the flesh cannot stand. Forgetting the past, Paul presses on toward the goal of Christ and lives as an example for others. Paul defends himself as a Christian of the first order through the mercies of God. Yet, he does not think he has it “made,” but keeps striving for complete devotion to Christ by becoming one in the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ. Because he imitates Christ, he is able to ask his people to imitate him in both faith and life. 

Though we are in the world, we belong to the kingdom of heaven. When Christ returns, He will transform our earthly bodies to spiritual bodies.

Paul uses this phrase “I press on” twice in this passage. It must have been important to him in getting across his plan. He is not idly waiting for perfection to come to him. He is not neutral. He is urgent, pursuing, and energetic in getting to his goal. To become like Christ is a process over a lifetime — ever striving to be like Christ in every area of life. At the same time, Paul would say that God was in him pressing on, working in him. A Christian dare not be content with his life. He is ever seeking to improve it.

Friday, October 6, 2017Matthew 21:33-46 – God’s people refuse to return God His due. Confidence in one’s own faith will fail. This is another parable of the kingdom.  The vineyard is Israel. The tenants are the religious leaders. The servants are the prophets. The son is Jesus. The murder was the cross. Jesus is saying that time after time God has sought to redeem his people through the prophets, but each effort was in vain. In desperation, He sent His Son whom they crucified. This is in accord with the psalmist who says the rejected stone became the cornerstone. The outcome of it is that the religious leaders of Israel will lose the kingdom, which will be given to those who produce the fruit of righteousness. Because of their rejection of Christ, the Jews lost, but the Gentiles gained the kingdom.

The owner has a right to receive fruit from the tenants. People owe something to God. Time after time God comes for His due until finally He makes the ultimate appeal in His Son, Jesus. Rebellious tenants kill the Son in hope of taking over the vineyard. Here can be seen the patience of God, trying repeatedly to get the tenants to respond; here can also be seen the greed of people.

Saturday, October 7, 2017Matthew 25:1-13 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn, “Rejoice, Rejoice Believers.” The believer rejoices only in Christ. The days are getting shorter, soon the harvest will commence. We pray for the safety of all who work to bring food to our table. We also anticipate a harvest of souls. 

Sources:
Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 2006
Lutheran Worship Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 1980 pg. 83
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH pg. 253
Image © Ed Rojas  Higher Things 


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Proper 21


1 October 2017 – Proper 21 – Matthew 21:23-27 (28-32) 
 


God of love. You know our frailties and failings. Give us Your grace to overcome them; keep us from these things that harm us; and guide us in the way of salvation.

Scripture testifies to the fact that all are sinners, whether in the church or in the world. In that event, why become a Christian? Why become committed to Jesus Christ? If all are sinners. Even Christians. Who can be saved? It is important for Christians to realize they are sinners lest they become holier-than-thou in their attitude toward non- Christians.

It is not a matter of being a sinner; it matters what kind of sinner you are. One type is missing and another repents. He is retrieved and reinstated. These two boys represent two kinds of sinners.

1. The lost sinner — the one who said, “I go, sir” — v. 30.

A. He had respect and piety —One of the sons was very polite and respectful of his father. He addressed him as “Sir.” (κύριε)  This son said he would go to work as the father expected. He gave the right answer and showed the proper respect. But he was not as good as his word. This son represents “religious people” who know the right things to say in worship and prayer and in life.

They consent to God’s laws. They make promises to obey. But do nothing. They gave confession without execution. They have “rigor without submission Orthodoxy without obedience”. 1

Jesus says these people do not enter the kingdom. They failed to repent. This does not mean that we are saved by acts of obedience. It points out that a superficial and artificial relationship with God does not count. How so? They fail in two respects.

B. They give only lip service — He said emphatically: “I go.” (ἐγώ) There are the obedient ones. Yet they refuse to obey. They see no need for Christ.

C. They fail to act. He cannot do what he promised. He cannot produce —“but did not go.” Failed to do what he said – “but did not go” Lip service is inadequate. But how can we do the Father’s will and not simply say, “I will”?

Transition: The way of righteousness is that Jesus calls us sinful sons to enter the kingdom through repentance. This involves sorrow over our sins and faith that God has forgiven our sins and declared us righteous because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit He gives us a God given resolve to be righteous in our everyday life.

2. The saved sinner — v. 29. He repented and He obeyed.

A. He repented — “he repented.” (μεταμεληθεὶς) Here is a case of repentance in action. There was an “about face” in his life. One son refused to go to work in his father’s vineyard. Then he changed his mind and went to work. This about-face. This change of mind. From disobedience. From “no” to “yes.” From going in the wrong direction to turning in the right direction. Is the meaning of repentance. 

When the religious leaders heard the Baptist’s call to repentance. They did not heed it. While the sinners of the day did responded in faith. It was shocking to the professional religious leaders that Jesus claimed the sinners and not the religious ones were in the kingdom. We are all sinners –yet saved by grace.

He repented – “he repented” (μεταμεληθεὶς›) He turned from his sinful ways. He came to the understanding that he was in need of a change in his life. He turned from his evil ways. The way of righteousness is that Jesus calls us sinful sons to enter the kingdom through repentance.

This involves sorrow over our sins. And faith that God has in fact forgiven our sins and declared us righteous. This has happened because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

B. He Obeyed — “He went.” (ἀπῆλθεν) He is the disobedient one who now obeys.

1. They turn from evil to good.
2. They respond to Christ.

Notice that there is action to the young man’s resolve. By the power of the Holy Spirit there is a God pleasing resolve to be righteous. It is Jesus Christ who has changed us. It is His Holy Spirit which works in us to will and to do the Father’s good and gracious will.

"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew 21:31

He who has entered the kingdom through repentance loves not just in word but in deed and in truth; his faith is not dead, without works, but alive and bearing fruit. God grant this for each of us. In Jesus’ Name. 

1  BOBO’s in Paradise © David Brooks

Words –825
Passive Sentences – 2%
Readability – 81.5
Reading Level – 4.2
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 17 ~ Proper 21



In the Lessons for this week, we deal with sin and an appeal to turn to God for mercy. The Gospel lesson tells of two sons, one of whom repented and entered the Kingdom even though at first he disobeyed the Father. Through Ezekiel, God appeals to sinners to repent lest they die, for His will is for everyone to live. In the Epistle lesson, Paul deals with the problem of disunity in the Philippian congregation resulting from selfishness and arrogance, and appeals for unity by adopting the humble mind of Christ. The suggested Psalm deals with the theme by asking God not to remember the sins of our youth and appealing to God’s mercy and steadfast love.

Collect for Proper 21Almighty God, You exalted Your Son to the place of all honor and authority. Enlighten our minds by Your Holy Spirit that, confessing Jesus as Lord, we may be led into all truth; 

Lord God heavenly Father, since we cannot stand before You relying on anything we have done, help us trust in Your abiding grace and live according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

O God, You are the Strength of all who put their trust in You. Mercifully accept our prayer, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Your help, grant us the help of Your grace that, keeping Your commandments, we may please You in both will and deed.

For Home and FamilyVisit, 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. 

A prayer before we study the Word – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

For SchoolsAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, since 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 the truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord


Monday, September 25, 2017Psalm 147:1-5, Antiphon, verse 6 – “The Lord lifts up the humble He casts the wicked to the ground.” Those who acknowledge that they are without resources in and of themselves, the Lord lifts up while others who trust in themselves will be cast down. This is the definition of faith.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017Psalm 25:1-10 – The Psalm appointed for next week has as the key verse, verse 6, “Be mindful of thy mercy, O Lord, and of thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old.”  The Psalmist asks the Lord to remember the Lord’s long-standing mercy and love but not to remember his long-standing sin.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 – God wants all to repent and live. In Sunday’s first reading, God appeals to Israel to repent and live. Turn from evil to good and you shall live. With that we can agree, but the rub comes in making the turn. What will create a desire to change? Where does one get the power to break away from sin to walk in righteousness? The answer is in “a new heart and a new spirit.” But how does one get a new heart? This takes us to Jesus who said, “You must be born new.” Thus, one does not straighten out his life and then come to Jesus. He comes to Jesus as he is in sin and gets a new spirit. He then follows a new way of life.

Thursday, September 28, 2017Philippians 2:1-4, 14-18 – Turn from conceit to humility for unity.   Paul in the Epistle lesson appeals for unity in the Philippian congregation. Paul, in appealing for unity, presents Jesus as the model of humanity and obedience. Paul pleads for unity in the congregation at Philippi. He uses Jesus as an example of humility. In this lesson Paul shows the dual reality of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. His deity is indicated by the words, “in the form of God” and “equality with God.” His humanity is expressed in the phrases, “emptied himself,” “the likeness of men,” “in human form,” “obedient unto death.” This humility and obedience led to Christ’s exaltation. It is God’s will that every tongue confess Him as Lord. In the light of this, Christians are to work out their salvation as God works in them.

What is the solution to lack of church unity? Paul urges his people to have the mind of Christ. His mind was one of humility demonstrated in His taking the form of a servant and dying on a cross. 
Humility is expressed by considering others better than yourself and being concerned more about others than yourself. Arrogance and pride divide and cause trouble while humility draws together into a unity.

Friday, September 29, 2017Matthew 21:23-27 – The sinner who repents enters the Kingdom of God.  The Gospel lesson tells of two sons, one of whom repented and entered the Kingdom even though at first he disobeyed the Father. In the Parable of the Two Sons we learn a valuable lesson concerning sin and an appeal to turn to God for mercy. With this parable, Jesus confronts the religious leaders of His time (priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) who condemn Jesus for His association with sinners (publicans, prostitutes, and so on). This one son who says, “I go” but does not, represents the religious leaders. The other son who says, “I will not go” but later changes his mind and obeys, represents the sinners. Moreover, Jesus points out that when the religious leaders saw sinners repenting upon hearing John the Baptist, they still did not repent. Consequently, the sinners will enter the kingdom before the leaders will.

Here is a case of repentance in action. One son refused to go to work in his father’s vineyard. Then he changed his mind and went to work. This about-face, change of mind from disobedience, from no to yes, from going in the wrong direction to turning in the right direction is the meaning of repentance. When the religious leaders heard the Baptist’s call to repentance, they did not heed it, while the sinners of the day did. It was shocking to the professional religious leaders that Jesus claimed the sinners and not the religious ones were in the kingdom.

Saturday, September 30, 2017John 8:31 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn, “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word.”  Faith clings to the Lord and His teaching. We are called to be faithful; faithful to the Lord, to His Word, to each other.

Sources:
Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 2006.
Lutheran Worship Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 1980, page 83.
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH, page 253.
Image © Ed Riojas Higher Things 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Proper 20



24 September – Proper 20 – Matthew 20:1-16
 
It’s Payday!

When unemployment figures are released for the nation, the state, or the local community people take notice.  The goal is always to have zero unemployment. In America, most are happy with 5 or 6% unemployment or less.  Unemployment means poverty, enforced idleness, increase in crime, welfare payments etc.

In God’s Kingdom there is not to be any unemployment.  God, as the householder, goes to the marketplace at different times of the day and asks, “Why do you stand here idle all the day? Come and work for Me!”

Every worker is interested in the wages for his work. Before he takes a job, he asks what the wages will be. If they are not adequate he may refuse to work.  What is the nature of God’s wages?  We know what the wages of sin is.  “The wages of sin is death.” Do we know the wages of God? This morning, let’s consider the nature of God’s wages.

1.      The amount is God’s decision, not our demands. “...and to those he said, 'You too go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And {so} they went.” (v.4NAS)  The landlord asked the workers to go into the vineyard. Agreeing to pay the workers a pre-determined amount.
God’s pay scale contradicts our notion of rewards. The enemies of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, grumbled about Christ’s gracious offer to sinners. Even Peter thought he and the other disciples should have received more. They had not left their homes, their families and jobs to follow the Savior.

Yet God deals fairly with us. God is a real equal opportunity employer. Whatever we give up we receive back a hundred –fold. And finally, we receive eternal life. Jesus says “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” - Matthew 19:29

2.      The wages are uniform – Everyone gets the same. "And when those {hired} first came, they thought that they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius. (v. 10 NAS) God has dealt fairly with us. No injustice has been done. We have received the agreed wage. God never promised to give us what we think we deserve for our efforts. 

Could it be that if we find ourselves grumbling that it may reveal a loveless and unmerciful attitude? If this were so. We are under Law instead of under grace more then we perhaps care to realize.

Yet, isn’t it wonderful that even those of us who worked only one hour also receiving a denarius? 
There is a lesson to be learned here. The work itself is already a reward in and of itself! Just to be a Christian is a privilege. It is not a wearisome duty but a happy service. No matter how long God allows us to serve. There is no richer, fuller life than that of a disciple of Christ. The wage question in the kingdom of God need not trouble us. In the kingdom there is no unemployment. The wage level is uniformly high.

3.      The wages are generous – The parable concludes. 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?' (v. 15NAS) 

God lives up to His promise to pay. We might go back on our words. And try to wiggle out of a commitment. Not so with the Savior. He has graciously promised that He will in no wise cast us aside. He went to the bloody cross on Good Friday to win for us salvation and life. There are literally hundreds of predictions in the Old Testament pointing to the cross. Jesus fulfilled them all and the payment for sin has been paid in full. The debt we owe has been paid.

God has a right to do what He pleases with His own. We are his workmanship. He is the one who deserves of our praise. We are obligated to Him. We are obligated to His Words and promises. He has the right to save and redeem those whom He pleases. This is why the landlord went back to the market place again and again. We should in no wise doubt that firmly believe, that this gracious act of the Father is an indication of His good and gracious will toward us. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.

God is generous to all. From His vantage point God’s wages are more than generous. Because of who we are and the wrong we have done, we rightfully should not get anything from God. We should get nothing but condemnation. God gives His grace to all regardless of how long or how well they worked for Him.

Ours is to have the joy and the privilege of being in the kingdom. We do not serve for wages. You can never obligate a person for doing good. Our only reward is simply being in the Father’s kingdom and doing His good and gracious will.

Words – 880
Passive Sentences –6%
Readability – 79.1
Reading Level – 4.8
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 16 ~ Proper 20

Time in the Word
Pentecost 16 ~ Proper 20


In the Lessons for this week the Gospel, as usual, gives the key to the theme of the day. When a payment time comes for the laborers in the vineyard, it was learned that each was to receive equal pay regardless of hours worked. The reward is the same in the Kingdom whether we enter early or late. They who return to the Lord (Old Testament reading) will receive mercy and pardon. In the Epistle lesson, Paul says he does not know whether to live or die, because death would mean a closer relationship with Christ, his greatest reward. The Lord is good to all. The suggested Psalm relates to the Old Testament lesson –“seek the Lord.” The hymn emphasizes our stewardship of life and harmonizes with the Gospel with its emphasis on working in the Kingdom.

Monday, September 18, 2017Psalm 116:12-13, 15 - Antiphon, verse 17: “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.” – This psalm is a song of deliverance from death. David or another king such as Hezekiah may have written it. (See Isaiah 38:10-20) 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - Psalm 27:1-9 - This week’s Psalm is David’s triumphant prayer to God to deliver him from all those who conspire to bring him down. The prayer presupposes the Lord’s covenant with David. It is faith which publicly testifies to the Psalmist’s confident reliance on the Lord.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - Isaiah 55:6-9 - Generosity of mercy to all who return. In Sunday’s first reading, the prophet’s hearers are encouraged to seek God and return to Him for mercy and pardon. God’s thoughts and ways are totally different from ours. This truth is illustrated in today’s reading, the parable of laborers in the vineyard. If God were like the world, he would not take back his enemies and freely pardon them. The world, rather, would seek revenge and treat enemies with hatred. We, by our nature, do not love or seek reconciliation. We hate and kill and never, never forgive. God is so different — thank God for that!  Those who return to the Lord in repentance will receive mercy and pardon. The same thought is echoed in the much loved hymn, “Just as I Am”

Thursday, September 21, 2017Philippians 1:1-5; 6-11; 19-27 - Our Epistle lesson for this week speaks of the generosity of Christ both in life and in death. Paul finds life on earth is Christ while the anticipation of death is gain. Paul says he does not know whether to live or die, because death would mean a closer relationship with Christ, his greatest reward. Thus our life here on earth is nothing but preparation for our life to be lived in glory. 

Friday, September 22, 2017 Matthew 20:1-16 - The parable of the laborers in the vineyard in the Gospel lesson for this coming week reminds us that God’s generosity is equal to all. When payment time came for the laborers in the vineyard, it was learned that each was to receive equal pay regardless of hours worked. The reward is the same in the kingdom whether we enter early or late. The thief on the cross receives the same reward as the faithful Christian who lives eighty plus years. Are we to spurn God’s generosity? 

Saturday, September 23, 20171 John 3:17 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn, “We Give Thee But Thine Own.” How does this hymn harmonize with our theme for today? It emphasizes our stewardship of life and harmonizes with the Gospel with its emphasis on working in the Lord’s Kingdom. How has the Lord blessed your life? How will you return a portion to Him this coming week?

Collect for Proper 20Lord God heavenly Father, since we cannot stand before You relying on anything we have done, help us trust in Your abiding grace and live according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Keep, we pray O Lord, Your church with Your perpetual mercy. Because without You we cannot but fall, keep us ever by Your help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable.

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

A prayer before we study the Word - Almighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

For Schools - Almighty God, our heavenly Father, since 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 the truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord

Sources:
Lutheran Service Book Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 2006
Lutheran Worship Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO © 1980, p. 83
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH, p. 253
Image © Ed Rojas Higher Things 


Saturday, September 16, 2017

PENTECOST 15 - PROPER 19



17 September – Proper 19 – Romans 14:1-12
 


Christian Forgive!  As the Lord Forgives You

In settling His accounts with us. Our Lord acts not with anger. But with compassion. He does not imprison you. As you deserve.  Rather He forgives.  All your debts.  And releases you.1  Therefore, our Lord bids each of us to have “mercy on your fellow servant.”2 

As for you? "Forgive your brother from your heart.”  

1. By the Lord’s forgiveness of your sins. You are now free to forgive those who sin against you.

A. Because Jesus has been handed over to the jailers in your stead. He has paid your entire debt.  With His life. And with His blood. Luther put it this way, “two little words, “grace” and “peace”, contain a summary of all of Christianity. Grace contains the forgiveness of sins, a joyful peace, and a quiet conscience. 

But peace is impossible unless sin has first been forgiven, for the Law accuses and terrifies the conscience on account of sin. And the sin that the conscience feels cannot be removed by pilgrimages, vigils, labors, efforts, vows, or any other works; in fact, sin is increased by works. The more we work and sweat to extricate ourselves from sin, the worse off we are. For there is no way to remove sin except by grace… 


Because the world does not understand this, it neither can nor will tolerate it. It brags about free will, about our powers, about our works – all these as means by which to earn and attain grace and peace, that is, forgiveness of sins and a joyful conscience. 

But conscience cannot be quiet and joyful unless it has peace though this grace, that is, through the forgiveness of sins promised in Christ. 3
   
B. Whether we live or die. We "are the Lord’s.” v.8 We live unto the Lord.  We live to do His will. And to promote His glory. This is the grand purpose of the life of the Christian. Other people live to gratify themselves. The Christian has a higher purpose. To do those things which the Lord requires. And what does the Lord require of us? He requires of us to simply forgive. As the Lord has forgiven you. 

C. Paul puts it simply. Since you all will “stand before the judgment seat of God.” You are not to "despise your brother." v 10 But gladly forgive him.

Transition:  We pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." And what does this simply mean?  We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worth of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us. (Explanation from Luther's Small Catechism) 

2. As you have been forgiven...forgive!

A. By the grace of God.  You forgive your brother also. “For the Lord is able to make him stand.” V.4 You do not know your neighbor’s motives or intentions. It is not for you to condemn. Rather you forgive. As God in Christ has forgiven you. 

B. Though we daily sin against each other. And so often fail miserably on this account. To simply forgive. We ask God for the strength and the mercy to forgive.  

Notice how grace is played out. Even in a dysfunctional family as Joseph's. The Lord intends, “to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” 4 

The Lord knew there would be a famine. He placed Joseph in the position to save not only his family but an entire nation. But consider all Joseph had to endure. 

He dreamt that his brothers' sheaves were bowing down to his own sheaves as they rose. His brothers hated him even more for this.  So much that they could not even speak civilly to him. 

One afternoon, Joseph's father sent him to check on his brothers who were tending their flocks. When his brothers saw him, they quickly planned to kill him. Reuben suggested that they should not harm him. But only throw him in the cistern. God worked through Reuben to save Joseph's life. Judah later formulated the plan to sell Joseph to the Midianite merchants, who later sold him to Egypt. 

Joseph was sold into slavery at the age of seventeen. The brothers convinced Jacob that Joseph was eaten by some wild beast. Jacob mourned for days. Jacob thought his favorite son had met such a tragic end. And all his sons could do was watch him mourn in silence. What could they say?  

Joseph was made a slave to an Egyptian master. But the master saw that God was with Joseph. And make him his attendant. Then Potiphar’s wife, one of Pharaoh's officials begged Joseph to sleep with her. Repeatedly! But God gave Joseph the strength to resist. One day, the wife lied to the pharaoh. She said Joseph had begged her to sleep with him. So the pharaoh sent Joseph to prison. But the prison warden saw that God was with Joseph and put him in charge.

Pharaoh saw that God was with Joseph and allowed Joseph back into his palace. He then made Joseph the king of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh King of Egypt. For seven years, Joseph traveled all throughout Egypt and stored up large quantities of grain. 
When the abundance was over, the famine began and lasted for seven years. The people of Egypt were well-fed because they lived off of the grain Joseph stored. Soon, people all throughout the world were coming to pay for Joseph's grain.

When God had sent the famine onto Joseph's brothers again, their father allowed them to take Benjamin back to Egypt. Once they arrived and Joseph saw that Benjamin was there, he invited them for dinner. At the sight of all of his brothers, Joseph became so emotional. He had to leave the room to weep. 

When it got to a point where he could no longer take it. Joseph admitted to his brothers that he was, in fact, their brother. And how long had it been since he had last seen his brothers? Close to a quarter century. Close to twenty-two years!  

He then warned them that the famine God had sent will last for five more years and invited them to live with him in the best of Egypt. He also gave them new clothes (five times more for Benjamin) and donkeys, and sent them on their way. He also instructed them to bring back his father.   

C. Jesus speaks kindly by His Gospel and promises: “I will provide for you and your little ones.”5   Only in hindsight could Joseph see God working through every circumstance of his life. He could finally say to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” 

You might not always be able to see the big picture. Do you find forgiveness a hard thing to do? Consider Joseph. Yes God sees everything! He knows of the misery. The pain. The nasty words. Everything!  Never give up in forgiving others. If He could do it for Joseph. He can certainly do it for you!

Words – 1,325
Passive Sentences –6% 
Readability – 82.7
Reading Level – 4.0
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

1.Matthew 18:23–27 from the Gospel lesson
2.Matthew 18:33, 35 from the Gospel lesson
3.From We Pray, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis,© 2008, 2010
4.Genesis 50:20 from the Old Testament lesson
5.Genesis 50:21 from the Old Testament lesson

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 15 ~ Proper 19



Forgiving as the Lord Forgives Us
In settling His accounts with us, our Lord acts not with anger, but with compassion. He does not imprison us as we deserve, but He forgives all our debts and releases us (Matt. 18:23–27). Therefore, our Lord bids each of us to have “mercy on your fellow servant,” and “forgive your brother from your heart” (Matt 18:33, 35). By the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins, we are free to forgive those who sin against us, because He has been handed over to the jailers in our stead, and He has paid our entire debt with His lifeblood. Whether we live or die, we “are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Since we all will “stand before the judgment seat of God,” we are not to despise our brother (Rom. 14:10), but gladly forgive him. By the grace of God, our brother also “will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). Though we daily sin against each other, the Lord intends “to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Gen. 50:20). Jesus speaks kindly by His Gospel and promises: “I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen 50:21).

Time in the Word
11-16 September 2017
Preparation for next week, Proper 19

O God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, hear the devout prayers of Your Church, especially in times of persecution, and grant that what we ask in faith we may obtain; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for deliverance from sin: We implore You, O Lord, in Your kindness to show us Your great mercy that we may be set free from our sins and rescued from the punishments that we rightfully deserve; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayers for the occasion of the sixteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks:

Prayer for peace in the world: Heavenly Father, God of all concord, it is Your gracious will that Your children on earth live together in harmony and peace. Defeat the plans of all those who would stir up violence and strife, destroy the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and, according to Your will, end all conflicts in the world. Teach us to examine our hearts that we may recognize our own inclination toward envy, malice, hatred, and enmity. Help us, by Your Word and Spirit, to search our hearts and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that in our lives we may be at peace with all people. Fill us with zeal for the work of Your Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring that peace which is beyond all understanding; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer for our enemies: Forgive, we implore You, O Lord, our enemies, and so change their hearts that they may walk with us in sincerity and peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer for the armed forces of our nation: Lord God of hosts, stretch forth Your almighty arm to strengthen and protect those who serve in the armed forces of our country. Support them in times of war, and in times of peace keep them from all evil, giving them courage and loyalty. Grant that in all things they may serve with integrity and with honor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer for good government: Eternal Lord, ruler of all, graciously regard those who have been set in positions of authority among us that, guided by Your Spirit, they may be high in purpose, wise in counsel, firm in good resolution, and unwavering in duty, that under them we may be governed quietly and peaceably; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…


Monday, 11 September 2017Psalm 143:1–2; Antiphon, Psalm 143:9—Psalm 143 is the last of the seven penitential psalms. It is, like many of David’s other psalms, a plea to the LORD to rescue him from his enemies. David does not appeal to his own goodness or righteousness, however, but explicitly confesses that no one living is righteous before you. Therefore, he must beg the mercy of the LORD: In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! This is how we, too, must approach the LORD when we ask Him to rescue us from earthly and spiritual enemies—acknowledging, as we do in the catechism, that we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment, and acknowledging that He delivers  us purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017Psalm 103:1–12—What a beautiful psalm of comfort! David praises the LORD for all His benefits to us: He forgives all our iniquity, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, and more. Why? Because the LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017Genesis 50:15–21—Joseph’s brothers had done the unthinkable—they had sold him into slavery and told their father that his son was dead, eaten by wild animals. Years later, they were astounded to find out that Joseph was still alive and serving in Pharaoh’s court, as the most powerful man in all of Egypt after Pharaoh. So long as their father was alive, they thought that they were safe from Joseph’s retribution; however, after Jacob’s death, they feared for their lives. Incredibly, Joseph forgave them. He recognized the hand of God at work in his life. Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers ought to serve as an example to us, particularly when we find it so hard to forgive petty sins of others.

Thursday, 14 September 2017Romans 14:1–12—Our reading through Paul’s letter to the Romans continues with Paul warning us against judging other Christians—especially those new to the faith or weak in faith. Two extremes must be avoided: measuring and judging others by comparing them to ourselves or our own standards; and failing to use the Word of God to judge. Paul reminds us that we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. What will be the standard? The same as here on earth: God’s holy Word, as revealed to us in the Bible.

Friday, 15 September 2017Matthew 18:21–35—When we hear this parable, our first reaction is probably the same as the king’s: indignation and fury against the servant who was unmerciful, especially after he had been forgiven a far greater debt. We must ask ourselves: Are we like the unmerciful servant? God has forgiven all our sins at great cost—the life of His own Son. We ought to examine ourselves: Is there anyone against whom we hold a grudge, refusing to forgive because we have been wronged? If so, we are like the unmerciful servant. Rather, we ought to remember the Lord’s Prayer, where we plead, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. That is, we beg God’s forgiveness, and then pledge that we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House