Sunday, August 20, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 12 ~ Proper 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time in the Word
Proper 16
21–26 August 2017

Monday, 21 August 2017Psalm 2:6–7; Psalm 117; Antiphon, Psalm 115:18—Next Sunday’s Introit comes is take from three psalms. Psalm 2 is one of the most important messianic psalms, pointing directly to Christ. Psalm 117, the shortest psalm, is Hallelujah song that calls upon all nations to praise the LORD for His steadfast love and faithfulness in keeping His promise to send a Savior to redeem us from sin. The antiphon expands the call to praise the LORD to all time. Thus, all people everywhere and of all times, Praise the LORD!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017Psalm 138—The beginning three verses and ending two verses of this psalm of David are David’s vow to praise the Lord for His deliverance and protection. The middle three verses, like the Introit call upon all the kings of the earth to give thanks and sing of the ways and the glory of the LORD. His love and mercy extend to all peoples of all time. Christ is the Redeemer of the entire world.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017Isaiah 51:1–6—In chapter 40, the LORD said, “Comfort, comfort My people.” The comfort would be provided by a Savior, one who would deliver His people out of exile in Babylon, out of exile in a land of idolaters. Chapter 42 begins telling us of this great Savior, who is portrayed as a Suffering Servant. The portion of Isaiah 51 used for next Sunday’s Old Testament reading once again assures God’s people of the comfort which He will provide them: joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. From where would such comfort be provided? He would be a Descendant of Abraham and Sarah (v. 2), but would bring His light to the peoples, that is, all peoples, not just other descendants of Abraham and Sarah, but for us Gentiles, as well.

Thursday, 24 August 2017Romans 11:33—12:8—St Paul’s splendid hymn of praise at the end of chapter 11 follows several chapters of his teaching about the salvation of all people—Jews and Gentiles alike—and extols the wisdom and knowledge of the one true God who conceived of, and brought about His plan of Salvation. 
He then gives practical advice as to what shape our response to God’s love and mercy in Christ ought to take: in leading lives that are acceptable to God, who, by His Word, transforms our minds, that we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Friday, 25 August 2017Matthew 16:13–20—The Holy Christian Church is founded upon the confession of Peter—that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This Church, the Body of Christ, is not distinguished by race or origin, but by those who despair of their own works and trust solely in the merits of Christ, the promised Redeemer, for their salvation.

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

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

Saturday, 26 August 2017—Sunday’s hymn of the day is Built on the Rock (LSB #645). It is based on the Gospel reading, the confession of St Peter which is the Rock on which Christ’s Church is founded. The last stanza confesses the same truth which is confessed in the Augsburg Confession: The Church is the congregation of saints in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered.

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

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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pentecost 11 - Proper 15

Haters be Hatin’ but not Jesus!
        Romans 11:1-2a, 28-32

Father welcomes all His children To His family through His Son. Father giving His salvation. Life forever has been won.” – Lutheran Service Book #605

Let Your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without Your help, protect and govern it always by Your goodness; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. ~ Collect for Pentecost 11  

“Has God rejected His people?” The Lord has not totally cast off the people He chose long ago. Even if they are at times disobedient to His will. God will always preserve for Himself a faithful remnant. There will be for Him, a faithful remnant as in the days of Elijah. 

What can we glean from today’s lesson is simply this. When God makes a promise He keeps it.  Not like out cheap imitations. Israel is still chosen. Even though many have cut themselves off. 

His promises are sure. For some, a promise is meant to be broken. But not with our Heavenly Father! For Him a promise is a promise.  He never breaks a promise, “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” This is reassuring to us. Who live in a world where so often a person’s word has become largely unreliable.  He will not disappoint you.

Paul addresses two sets of ears. The first were Jews who became Christian converts. The other group, are Gentiles. Like their brothers. They were at one time pagan. But now they are a part of the family. Paul says to these Gentiles, “You too were once unfaithful, disobedient.” But because Israel was unfaithful, Gentiles have been brought to Christ.  

Many of you in this room might not have ever met a Jewish person, let alone a Jewish Christian. Tammy and I have a mutual friend who is both Jewish and a Christian. A few weeks ago I reached out to Michelle and asked her for her input with respect to this portion of Scripture. Her response is as follows…
This is one of my favorite kinds of questions. I would want them to know - God's promises to the Jews continue to this day. Irrevocable means irrevocable. The church is grafted in to the covenant promises God first made to Israel. There are more Messianic Jewish believers today than at any time since the first century.” She concludes with these words, “Anti-Semitism is a toxic virus. Even if you personally don't know any Jewish people, maintaining anti-Jewish attitudes carries like a virus in our culture.” 1

Israel’s unfaithfulness had a purpose. That they might be brought back to God. The Lord called the Jews to be His people and Paul is positive God does not break His promises. Paul had this assurance that one day Jews and Gentiles will be in the church reconciled to God by faith in Christ. The disobedience of one provided the Lord with the opportunity. To give His mercy and love to all. Jews and Gentiles were of mutual benefit to each other. When one was shown mercy. The other shared in the blessing. 

God kept His promises to the Patriarchs. To Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Maintaining His love throughout. God will never cease to be merciful. God has never rejected His own. Because God’s promises are irrevocable speaks of His relationship to the entire world and especially in the world in which you live.

In this morning’s Gospel Jesus heals a Canaanite woman’s daughter. In this regard faith embraces Christ – which is NOT about doing right things. Or being correct. Performing rituals to perfection. Or even eating certain foods. It is what is on the inside which is the most important. 

We must not forget. Jesus was a Jew. As was the Apostle Paul. These words are Paul’s concerned, complex attempt to wrestle with the paradox that at least one Jew saw Jesus as Lord. While most of His people did not. This Canaanite woman is an unlikely candidate to be the ideal follower of Jesus. She’s Gentile. Yet she calls Jesus, “Lord” and “Son of David.” Unlike Peter. Who fails to understand anything Jesus was doing. Along with Jesus’ other disciples. Who attempt to chase her away. 

Discipleship is not automatic. Instead, a true believer is one who has absolute faith in Jesus. Paul is attempting to come to grips with the reality that his own people have not accepted Jesus as the Christ.  Yet all have been disobedient alike – both Jews and Gentiles together. In spite of everything, God is able to work through our disobedience to show us His mercy, love and care.  

In Jesus’ conversation with the Canaanite woman there is a wonderful exchange of words. Jesus responds to her by saying, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the family puppy.” She replies by saying, “Yes, Lord, yet even the mutts off the street eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”

By her persistent prayer.  That Jesus would have mercy and help her. Even in the face of His initial silence. And apparent rejection. This Canaanite woman boldly confessed her faith in Christ. 

Her beautiful example. Encourages us to cling to the words and promises of the Gospel.  Even in the face of the Law.  That accuses and condemns us. Do not think you can walk your way into the Kingdom of God by some grand achievement. Paul commands a life of faith. By faith we receive the Father’s gifts. By faith we get precisely what we don’t deserve. And even more! That is why grace will always be karma’s worst nightmare. 

There is a purpose in all this. “That he may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:32). Hence, the woman’s faith and hope were not disappointed. But her prayers were answered in the mercy of Christ. Not only does He grant us the crumbs from His Table. He also feeds us with “the children’s bread” in the house of His Father.  

Faith believes that God is not a Divine Accountant of Probation Officer. Rather, He’s an indulgent father. Who throws a party. For his indigent son. He’s like an employer. Who pays employees a full day’s wage. Even though they only worked an hour. He’s like a lavish wedding host. Who provides copious amounts of only the best and finest wine. He’s your Good Shepherd. Content to leave behind ninety-nine of His herd in safety. Who will risk all. To save just one, that is lost. 

This is the God who desires to bless all people I’m tempted to curse. He includes those whom I’d exclude. And embraces the very people I would shun. This good news, He says, is for all people. No one is to be excluded from the Father’s presence.

Tomorrow. We will witness the great eclipse. May this be our prayer. Lord, through the power of the Gospel - eclipse fear and hatred. By the power of Your love - eclipse violence and injustice. By the mercies of Christ - eclipse racism and bigotry.2

1 In light what has transpired in Charlottesville, VA these words are most appropriate:

Words – 1,175
Passive Sentences – 6%
Readability – 76.8%
Reading Level – 4.7
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 11 - Proper 15

Time in the Word:
Proper 15
14-19 August 2017
"The Church Lives Under the Cross of Christ  and Prays in the Hope of His Mercy"

By her persistent prayer that Jesus would have mercy and help her (Matthew 15:22, 24), and even in the face of His initial silence and apparent rejection (Matthew 15:23–26), the Canaanite woman boldly confessed her faith in Him (Matthew 15:28). Her beautiful example encourages us to cling to the words and promises of the Gospel, even in the face of the Law that accuses and condemns us. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 10:29), and His Law “has consigned all to disobedience” for the very purpose “that He may have mercy on all” (Romans 10:32). Hence, the woman’s faith and hope were not disappointed, but her prayers were answered in the mercy of Christ. Not only does He grant us the crumbs from His Table, but He also feeds us with “the children’s bread” in the house of His Father (Matthew 15:26–27). He has brought us to His “holy mountain,” and He makes us joyful in His house, where He hears our prayers and accepts our sacrifice of praise upon the altar of His cross (Isaiah 56:7).

Almighty and everlasting Father, You give Your children many blessings even though we are undeserving. In every trial and temptation grant us steadfast confidence in Your loving-kindness and mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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

Prayer for the mission of the Church and her missionaries: Almighty and gracious God, You want all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Magnify the power of the Gospel in the hearts of Your faithful people that Your Church may spread the good news of salvation. Protect, encourage, and bless all missionaries who proclaim the saving cross that Christ, being lifted up, may draw all people to Himself, who lives and reigns…

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

Prayer for unity of faith:O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Monday, 14 August 2017Psalm 28:1–2, 6–7; Antiphon, Psalm 28:8—This psalm of David was probably written during the rebellion of his son, Absalom. Recognizing that he is unable to protect and redeem himself, David cries to the Lord, his Rock, to hear the voice of his pleas for mercy, and then gives thanks to the Lord for having heard and delivered him. Verse 8, used as the antiphon, shows that God’s blessings extend to all His people.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017Psalm 67—All of the Propers of the day express the fact that God’s salvation is for all people.The psalmist begins with the familiar Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24–26), a blessing originally applied to the children of Israel, but then extends it to all people: that Your way may be known on earth, Your saving power among all nations.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017Isaiah 56:1, 6–8—Writing about 700 years before Christ, Isaiah prophesies of the LORD: Soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance will be revealed. The LORD’s salvation and righteousness have been revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for all, regardless of race, the LORD is pleased to gather to Himself people of all nations and races, and accepts their offerings and sacrifices: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.

Thursday, 17 August 2017Romans 11:1–2a, 13–15, 28–32—St Paul recounts how salvation is from the Jews (for Jesus was a Jew), but that it extends to all peoples, even to the Gentiles. Indeed, he laments over the fact that his people have now been disobedient by rejecting the Savior, but hopes that they may yet be saved.

Friday, 18 August 2017Matthew 15:21–28—In Sunday’s Gospel account, Jesus heals the daughter of one who was despised by the Jews of His day—a Cannanite woman. Jesus shows that His ministry is not limited to the Jews; it extends to all people. Like the woman, we are all poor beggars before the Lord, and are privileged to receive His crumbs of mercy, for even His crumbs are more than sufficient for us.

Get this woman off my back!

The disciples show great compassion…Not! They say concerning this Canaanite woman, “Send her away! She keeps crying out after us!” How did Jesus feel about her? At first he ignores her, Then He insults her by calling her a dog!

No one likes someone who nags. Yet, she uses her nagging to get a cure for her daughter! Could we learn something from her today?

This woman had no right to nag.
1. She was a woman with no rights Vv. 21-22
2. She was a gentile with no claim on the Jews. Vs.26
3. She was a pagan, a devotee of a false religion. Vs.22
This woman had reason to nag. 
1. She had a serious need. Vs. 22
2. She had humility. Vv. 25-26
3. She had faith. Vs. 28

Saturday, 19 August 2017—The hymn of the day, In Christ There Is No East or West (LSB #653), reflects the theme of the readings: that, according to the order of salvation in Christ, there is no difference between any of the people of His Church. All man-made distinctions are gone as regards His forgiveness: Jew/Gentile, black/white, male/female, Anglo/Hispanic, etc. The Body of Christ, the Church, comes from all nations. Indeed, even our liturgy reflects this, as it is drawn from Jewish, African, and European sources. Likewise, our hymns come from many cultures across many ages.

Almighty and everlasting Father, You give Your children many blessings even though we are undeserving. In every trial and temptation grant us steadfast confidence in Your loving-kindness and mercy through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006Concordia Publishing House
Photo © Greg Gallmeyer

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Time in the Word Pentecost 10, Proper 14

Time in the Word
7-12 August 2017
Preparation for next week, Proper 14

Christ the Crucified Comes to Save Us by the Word of Faith
The Lord who “laid the foundation of the earth” (Job 38:4) is the Author and Giver of life who governs all things by His Word. His wisdom and power are beyond our understanding, except as He reveals Himself in the incarnate Word, Christ Jesus. He has “entered into the springs of the sea” and “walked in the recesses of the deep” (Job 38:16), and He draws near to us in mercy. We have been “a long way from the land, beaten by the waves,” and tossed about by hostile winds (Matthew 14:24). In our mortality and sinful unbelief, we do not always recognize the Lord Jesus. But as we cry out in fear, He speaks tenderly to us: “Do not be afraid,” and He reaches out His hand to save us (Matthew 14:27, 31). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13), and now we call upon Him in faith, because we have heard “through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Romans 10:8).

Collect for Proper 14: Almighty and most merciful God, preserve us from all harm and danger that we, being ready in both body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish what You want done; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer in time of spiritual doubt and affliction: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You have given to all who believe exceedingly great and precious promises. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may without all doubt trust in Your Son, Jesus Christ, so that our faith in Your sight may never be found wanting; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Prayer for agriculture: Almighty God, You bless the earth to make it fruitful, bringing forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper the work of farmers and all those who labor to bring food to our table. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruits of the earth in abundance and proclaim Your goodness with thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Monday, 7 August 2017Psalm 34:4–8; Antiphon, Psalm 34:1—1 Samuel 21:10–15 provides the background story to this psalm. David, the one chosen by God to be king, lost his faith in a moment of weakness when pursued by King Saul and his armies, and sought refuge with the Philistines, the enemy of Israel. David realized his mistake and the truth of what he declares in verse 8:Blessed is the man who takes refuge in the LORD! When we are tempted to look elsewhere than to the LORD for rescue, let us also remember this psalm of David, and then bless the LORD at all times.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017Psalm 18:1–6—It is likely that King David wrote this psalm near the end of his life, as it is very similar to the psalm recorded in 2 Samuel 22, just before his last words. Here he recounts many of the terrible situation in which he found himself over the course of his life, and tells how the LORD delivered him. He says, In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. When we find ourselves in bad situations, we ought to remember that the LORD has already delivered us from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation, and that He stands ready to defend us throughout our lives.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017Job 38:4–18—Job had questioned God, as to why He would let such great calamities befall him. In response, the Lord answers Job by recounting His creation of all things, His ongoing involvement and dominion over that creation. God is not subject to nature; nature is subject to God. We weak humans, created beings that we are, have no right to question our benevolent Creator, but simply to trust that what He does, he does for our benefit.

Thursday, 10 August 2017Romans 10:5–17—How are we saved? By grace alone (sola gratia) by faith alone (sola fide).in the merits of Christ alone (solus Christus). This salvation extends to Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) alike. But how are we to receive such saving faith? By Scripture alone (sola scriptura).Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

That is why Paul quotes Isaiah: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! For the preaching of the Good News of the Gospel engenders saving faith.

Friday, 11 August 2017Matthew 14:22–33—We can see ourselves in Peter. Jesus asks him to do the impossible, and Peter, full of bravado, believes he can. However, when he takes his eyes off of Jesus, he falters, and is at risk of perishing. Likewise, when we avert our eyes from Jesus, we lose faith and confidence, and put ourselves in spiritual jeopardy. When we cry out, Lord, save me, Jesus rescues us, lest we drown in our sin and unbelief and are lost forever.

Saturday, 12 August 2017—Sunday’s hymn of the day is Eternal Father, Strong to Save (LSB #717). The first stanza, from the original Navy Hymn, proclaims the supremacy of our heavenly Father over the sea. The next two stanzas declare the authority of the Son and the Holy Spirit over the land and the air, respectively. Finally, the fourth stanza affirms the sovereignty of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, over all our foes. Let us put our trust in God alone for protection from all our enemies, whether physical or spiritual.

Collect for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Grant us, Lord, the Spirit to think and do always, such things as are pleasing in Your sight that we, who without You cannot do anything that is good, may be You be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy spirit, one God, now and forever.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” – Psalm 119:105

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS
Luther’s Seal ©Ed Riojas Higher Things Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006Concordia Publishing House and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Proper 13

Romans and the Reformation
A sermon series based the book of Romans in anticipation of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
6 August – Proper 13 – Romans 9:1-5

I’d go to Hell for You – Romans 9:1-5

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.

Paul is so concerned about his fellow citizens the Jews not accepting Christ that he says he would be glad to be cut off from Christ to get them to come to Christ. George Whitefield had a similar passion for winning people to Christ. Once he even told a non-Christians that he was willing to go with him to jail or even to hell, but he was unwilling to go to heaven without him. How would such a statement stand today?  

So, what about you? Who do you worry about? Whose walk with God are you anguished over? Hoping for them. That they find the hope you have found? Can you name them? Do you include them in your daily prayers? And if not, why?

This concern for the lost. This love for those missing. This passion for the non-Christian. Are the taproots of evangelism. In a time when Christians are prone not to seek Christian converts, this passage of Paul’s concern may be, to some, embarrassing.

Why I’d go to hell for you

1. To keep you from going to hell.  Accursed: V. 3 ἀνάθεμα – Paul is deeply concerned about his fellow countrymen– who have not yet accepted the Gospel. He is so concerned that he would be willing to be excluded from the Kingdom if it were the price of getting into the Kingdom. 

Paul is willing to go to hell. If his going would keep others from going there. In this age of pluralism. Some may argue it to be presumptuous and in bad taste to even consider witnessing to non-Christians on behalf of Christ. Would Paul agree?

Paul’s had “great sorrow (λύπη) and unceasing anguish (ὀδύνη)” in his heart because his fellow countrymen, though they were very religious, were lost. So great was his anguish, he was willing to be cut-off from God; if it meant his fellow Jews would be saved. (10:1) – 

2. To persuade you that Christ is the Savior. Paul says he is telling the truth. V. 1 - A recent researcher claims the average person tells one hundred lies daily. Was it the same in Paul’s day?  

Apparently, telling lies was a practice. Paul felt it necessary to assure the Roman Christians that he was not lying but telling the truth in Christ. It is not merely telling the truth. But the truth in Christ. It is the truth in relation to Christ – spiritual truth, divine truth.

It would be easy to think, “I’ll go to hell…so you can go to heaven!” But it isn’t that simple. You cannot enter heaven on another person’s merits. You can’t avoid condemnation. By allowing someone else to take your place. For it is Christ alone who became your substitute. 

Hence the question. “Did the Father also die for you?” He did not. The Father is God only as is the Holy Spirit; but the Son is both true God and true man. He died for me and shed His blood for me.  1

The Lord demands perfection and rightness. He has said, ‘You shall be holy as I the Lord am holy.” To keep us from being separated Christ entered time and space. 

He was abandoned by God and by men for your salvation. As Isaiah predicted, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7-9)

3 To enable you by faith to have a life in Christ. – Paul says his conscience   confirms that he is telling the truth. 

Paul’s heartache leads him to do two things. 

First, pray for them. 

Second, he would teach them whenever and wherever he could.2  Paul’s first course of action whenever he came to a new town was to find the local synagogue and teach the Jews why Jesus was the Christ.  3

There is no doubt; Paul had a heart for the lost. His constant plea was for others to follow his example.4 With that in mind, how then can you follow Paul’s example and have a heart for the lost?

How might we imitate Paul’s heart for the lost? 
Be grounded in your faith.

Paul was definitely a man who knew what he believed. (ref. 2 Timothy 1:12). He was “rooted and built up… and established” in his faith. (Colossians 2:7). A well-grounded faith is necessary if you are to have a heart for the lost. Otherwise, what will you share with them if you don’t really believe it yourself.

Have a sense of urgency.

Why did Paul constantly travel from city to city teach others? Because he had a sense of urgency. He knew the eternal punishment that awaited the lost.5  Time and time again, he alerted people to the destruction that awaited those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:19). If you are to have a heart for the lost then you must live with a sense of urgency because of the destruction that awaits the lost.

The Church is literally a hospital and a hospice for sinners. If we are going to speak of salvation in medical terms… Here the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments, “the medicine of immortality" 6  is dispensed, as the Great Physician prescribes them. Christ is your Divine Healer. 

Man is sick and dying with sin and the grace-filled Word and Sacraments give him life and healing. Sure, there are those who seem to think the Church is nothing but a sort of "museum of the saved" or the "collection of the already sanctified brethren" as the unwashed dare not enter. 
But you’ll never find a “No Vacancy” sign outside the church door.  May the Lord give us a passion for those who are missing. There is still room - in the Father’s house. 

  1. Christian Questions with Their Answers, Luther’s Small Catechism © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
2.   (Acts 9:20, 28; 13:14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:2, 10; 18:4; 19:10; 28:17)
3.   (ref. Acts 9:20; 17:1-3)
4.   (ref. 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:9)
5.    (ref. Colossians 1:28-29; 2 Timothy 4:1-2)
 6.   As St. Ignatius of Antioch called them.

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Words – 1,200
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability – 81.3
Reading Level – 4.5

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


We continue with our review of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.  The Righteousness of God which is offered us through the Gospel is what frees us. There is a tendency for us to follow only the external content of the law. “Don’t curse, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor authority, worship God…” That is, to regard or to be concerned only with the outward form of the law. How often do we follow the commandment but disregard the meaning? The rich young man attempting to justify himself argued with Jesus, “These I have kept since my youth.” (Matthew 19:20) Yet the Lord demands of us perfection. “You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.” That’s a requirement. That’s an ultimatum!

True, none of us are murderers. But we all have the capacity for anger. None of us has committed adultery. But we all have the capacity for lustful thoughts. The Savior does not look for rightness. He seeks humility, repentance and faith. 

Christ Jesus. The Incarnate Word.  Opens our ears to hear.  Opens our minds to understand. And penetrates our cold broken hearts. To believe His Word.  Lest the evil one come. And snatch it away. He transforms our rocky hearts into good soil. Which, clings to the Gospel. And, “indeed bears fruit.” (Matthew 13:23).

God never tires of hearing us repent. He doesn’t disregard it, treat it lightly, disparage the person repenting, or, throw them away. He mends. He heals. He forgives. He strengthens. And while we should always strive, as athletes do, not to fall, we do, and even if we should fall thousands of times, we stand back up, we repent, and God grants us forgiveness—for we are all the work of His hand.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 9 - Proper 13

Time in the Word
God Provides our Needs
Proper 13
 July 31 – August 5 2017

The day emphasizes God’s love in providing for all our needs. Our physical needs are met by Christ in the feeding of five thousand. In the Old Testament lesson we are invited to come to God for spiritual food. God also provides us with love form which we cannot be separated by the world. (Epistle lesson) Compassion motivates Jesus to feed the five thousand. Love causes God to invite us to come and enter into a covenant with Him. God, moreover, will not allow the world to separate us from His love.  In the Collect for the day we acknowledge that God has given us all we have and we ask that our material wealth might be a blessing rather than a curse. 

Collect for Proper 13Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, July 31, 2017Psalm 105:39-43 - This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 1, “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”  The psalmist encourages us to give thanks. We give thanks to God through our praises. We call upon Him in prayer. These two commands – to call upon the name of the Lord and to praise Him – highlight the rest of the psalm in which the author gives ten imperatives or exhortations. Praise and prayer are expressions of devotion to the Lord. The Psalmist throughout the Psalm will encourage the reader to celebrate the Lord’s past saving acts and to trust Him for future deliverance and blessing. 

Notice at the end of verse 1 we are to tell of the Lord’s mighty deeds among the peoples (among the nations).  Missions cannot be separated from the work we do. We reach out to others as we praise the name of our Lord. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017Isaiah 55:1-5 – God offers food for our souls (spiritual needs). God calls thee hungry and thirsty to come to Him for spiritual food and drink.  Can we buy without money or credit cards? There are some things that cannot be bought at any price. Can we buy love, friendship, happiness, or peace? Can we buy friendship with God? The best things in life are not for sale. They come as gifts from God.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017Romans 9:1-5 – God blesses us with inseparable love (emotional needs). Paul is desperately concerned for non-Christian Jews. Christ deals with the anxiety for non-Christians especially Jews who had accepted the Gospel. He is so concerned that he would be willing to be excluded from the Kingdom if it were the price of getting the Jews into the Kingdom.

Thursday, August 3, 2017Matthew 14:13-21 – God through Christ provides food for our bodies. Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. 

Here is the heartbeat of the miracle. It is a greater factor than the power to bring food for 5,000 out of five loaves of bread. Because of His love for the hurting and the hungry, Jesus is moved to help and heal. 

The people are not in a position to help themselves; it is at the end of the day; they are far from civilization; they are out of supplies.  To get food at that time and in that place demanded a miracle. This account teaches that Jesus is not only able but willing to help. Contrast this with many contemporary instances when people in trouble are ignored when they cry for help.

The power of the miracle is Christ. The 5,000 are fed with five loaves. He asks that the loaves and fish be brought to Him. He takes the food, gives thanks and breaks the bread until all are fed. The tremendous truth in this act is that man is little and Christ can do great things. This reminds us also that a common meal in the home or out in a field can be a sacramental act of love when the bread is blessed and shared.

Friday, August 4, 2017Psalm 136:1-9 – This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. The theme of thanksgiving continues in the suggested Psalm for this coming week. It is a liturgy of praise to the Lord as Creator and as Israel’s redeemer. Verses 7 to 9 echo Genesis 1:16.

Saturday, August 5, 2017Luke 1:68-79 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn “Jesus Has Come and Brings Pleasure.” {LSB 53}. They are the words of Zachariah as he prophesied concerning Christ at the circumcision of his son John. The words of the prophet are clear. Jesus, the Messiah from the house of David has the power to save and heal. 

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts Jesus feeds the 5,000 © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pentecost 8 - Proper 12

Romans and the Reformation
A sermon series commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
30 July – Proper 12 – Romans 8:28-39

Some of you are engineers. While some of you are draftsmen and accountants and bookkeepers. A lot of you are farmers. While some of you are machinists or work in the medical field. Some of you may be students with many of your teachers sitting in this very room. In your world mathematical formulas are extremely important. Facts and figures make sense to you!

There is symmetry to the Scriptures…

The heart of Psalm 23 is the phrase, "For Thou art with me." There are exactly 26 Hebrew words before that phrase. And 26 words after it.

What's more, the numerical value of the letters in the divine name, “Yahweh,” equals 26. His name is the first Hebrew word in the psalm, and He is the "Thou" who is "with me."

The abiding presence of the Good Shepherd with us--when we're in the valley of the shadow of death, or surrounded by enemies--is the beating heart of this psalm. 1

We have now come to the crown jewel of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. By these words you know the Father’s continual goodness…

Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope and love, that, receiving what You have promised, we may love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” Amen  2

God’s continual goodness
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ

Forever in God’s Love
These words. Are usually read at funerals. For the comfort of the bereaved. These words. Are a comfort. At all times. Not only at the time of death. Probably the one thing that gives Christians a sense of security. Your peace. Is the assurance of the Father’s love and care. Lose the Lord’s love. And all is lost. To be separated from God’s concern is to be apart from His mercy, acceptance and of life itself. 

You are forever in God’s love and care because –

1. Christ conquered our enemies at the cross. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come…”  V. 38

No sin. No attempt of the enemy. Can steal the loving care of God from your life. That makes you more than conquerors through Christ who loves you. The Christian life is not a playground. But a battleground. Some want to live on easy street. They want to kick back. And just count their blessings. That isn’t the way it works. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." —Ephesians 6:12 But for you fights the valiant one. Whom God Himself elected!

A. Not even tribulation. Nothing in your present experience. Nor anything to come. Can separate you from the Father's love in Christ. Nothing in all of time. Present or future. Can separate you from God's love.

B. According to Paul, death is the final enemy.  Nothing in this life. And nothing in death can separate a believer from God's love. The two things we fear most; dying and living, are not threats to your eternal life. Whether we live or die. We are in His love. Jesus won't ever let us go. We have security that is a matter of life and death.

C. Evil powers. They surround you. On every side. But you are in Christ. Nothing will befall you without His knowledge or consent. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” – Matthew 10:29 “Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns--and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26   

Transition: Dankness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that. The light of Christ.   

2. Faith in Christ gives us the victory. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” V. 37 We are conquerors only “through [Christ] who loved us.” At another time Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Christians do conquer. But not on their own power. It is Christ who gives the strength to overcome all enemies. “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

A. That great exchange. God’s mercy in place of and replacing your misery and sin.

B. Purchased and won for you at the bloody cross. That was the purpose of Christ’s suffering and death. That you might be His own. And live under Him in His kingdom. And serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Just as He is risen from the dead. Lives and reigns to all eternity.3   “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:28

Transition: The problems of this world are here and now. They are all around us. We do not war against flesh and blood. You do not war against people. They are merely being used. You war in order to set them free. How do we war? Through Jesus Christ. Because He already defeated those evil powers on His cross.  Expressing the Father’s love.  

3. The Father’s love will not let you go.  “…no powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” V. 39 Nothing in the universe can separate us from the love of God. It is impossible. Because on the cross Christ defeated all evil powers. In Christ you conquer. What does it mean to be separated from the love of God? Sin is separation from God. To be apart from God is to be deprived of God’s light, life, and love. Separation is the worst possible experience. This, then, constitutes good news. No suffering or evil power can separate you from the love of God.

Satan lacks the power to steal your eternal destiny. He cannot separate you from the love of God. Nothing you face worries God in the least. If you are His children through faith in His Son, then you have His pledge of love and protection. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." - John 10:27–29

A. You are loved. “This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” - 1 John 4:8-10

B. You are forever in Christ’s care. In baptism, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. In baptism, the Father claims you as His own children. And tells you that you are loved.  You are joined with the family of faith, the Church, the Body of Christ. As you are incorporated into the life and the mission of Christ’s work in the world. 

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Words – 1,075
Passive Words – 7%
Readability – 85%
Reading Level –3.5

1.   Blog post from Chad Bird posted July 26, 2017
2.   Collect for Proper 12, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis.
3.  Explanation to the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed, Luther’s Small Catechism © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 8 - Proper 12

Time in the Word 
Proper 12
July 24-29, 2017

Three parables of the nature of the kingdom of God are told by the Savior in the Gospel for this coming week. Three parables are directed to the disciples concerning the kingdom. The first two deal with the kingdom as being of top value worthy of any sacrifice to gain it. The third parable concerns are similar to wheat and the weeds parable, the separation of the good and the wicked on Judgment Day. Jesus asks the disciples if they understand these parables. They claimed that they understood. Consequently, they were to be scribes trained for the kingdom who bring out of the treasure the old and the new. 

The old truths are to be applied to the new conditions in the world. These are addressed in our Epistle and Old Testament lessons for the coming week.

Collect for Proper 12Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope, and love that, receiving what You have promised, we may love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Monday, July 24, 2017Psalm 105:2-6 –This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 1, “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” The psalmist exhorts us to worship the Lord. Thus, we are called upon to give thanks to God through our worship and praise. When we call upon God and as we give thanks, our worship shall be blessed. Praise and prayer are the two expressions of our worship. As we recall the many acts of kindness the Lord has given to us, we will trust in Him and share with others what He has done. We will make known among the people His many deeds.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017Deuteronomy 7:6-9 - The Lord is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love. We are loved and blessed because the Lord first loved us. Yet this love must be reciprocated by His people to others. Thus in the New Testament we are reminded, “We love because He first loved us” {1 John 4:19}.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017Romans 8: 28-39 -The Father spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us all. These words are read at many Christian funerals. They have comforted many troubled hearts. They have soothed and given encouragement to many who are troubled. St. Paul’s words are sure. No charge can be brought against the Christian because the Father has already pronounced a verdict! Not guilty! How so? No one can condemn God’s elect. Christ has died for you. He is alive at the right hand of God. He is interceding for you.

Thursday, July 27, 2017Matthew 13:44-52 – Christ treasures the world, and so He redeems it. Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a treasure, something of supreme worth. 

It is a treasure of infinite worth because it is the kingdom of God. This includes Jesus, the priceless treasure, the riches of grace, and the wealth of God’s love. This treasure is discovered by accident. It is always found where no one expected it. 

The kingdom of God can be a surprise. It may come in unexpected ways and places. Must we ask whether the average Christian considers Christianity the top treasure? Both the farmer and the merchant sold all their goods to get the treasure.

This implies that the two men considered all their possessions to be inferior to the treasure or the pearl. It was a matter of establishing priorities. Because the treasure and pearl were evaluated as the best, the price of total sell-out, or exchanging all other possessions, was considered worth the price.

When a person finds a treasure, how can he help but be overjoyed? If a merchant has been looking for the perfect pearl for years and then finds it, is there any wonder that he would be as happy as can be? Many church members lack the joy of being Christians. They are not happy about their religion. Could this be the reason? They have not found the treasure or the pearl of Christ.

Friday, July 28, 2017Psalm 125 -This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. This psalm speaks of Israel’s peace in testimony, prayer, and benediction. Bible scholars believe it was written after the exile when those held in Babylonian captivity were allowed to return to the Jewish homeland. This psalm was most likely prayed as part of the liturgy in the Jewish worship service. Thus, the Psalms we pray in worship reach back into the Old Testament. Through the centuries, our prayers have remained constant. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017Joshua 24:16 –This passage is the inspiration for the hymn, “From God can nothing move me” {LSB 524}. The people react to Joshua’s commitment to serve the Lord. The people respond, “We will not serve other gods.” If we say of the Lord, “He is our God,” we cannot serve any other. 

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pentecost 7 - Proper 11

Romans and the Reformation
A Series of Sermons Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
July 23, 2017 - Proper 11 - Romans 8:18-23

Total Loss for Permanent Gain - Why do believers suffer?

“Mom...why are there mosquitoes? That give people malaria? Why are there germs? That make us sick?”

“Mom...I saw on the news a bad flood that killed a lot of people. Why are there floods? And earthquakes? And hurricanes? And tornadoes? Why are there famines? Why do some people starve to death?”

“Why did my friend at school get cancer? Why did Grandma get sick…and die?”

“Mom, why do people set off bombs? Why do people do bad things? To hurt each other?”

Maybe your kids have asked you questions like these. I know mine have. Probably you’ve wrestled with them yourself.

How does all of this make sense to you?  How can a loving, all-powerful God allow terrible suffering that is in the world? Some become agnostics or atheists because they cannot come up with satisfactory answers to such questions.

Since none of us are exempt from suffering and death. It’s important that we understand what the Bible teaches on this difficult topic. The topic of brokenness in this world. 

As we continue with our reading and reflecting on Paul's letter to the Romans, Paul would give us this perspective. We live in an interim period. Now we have suffering. Later, permanent glory. Now we are children of God. But not fully. 

In this transitional period on earth, we wait, groan, and long for the end of this pilgrimage. What we endure today is a temporary loss for a permanent gain of glory as children of God. Both creation and creatures groan for redemption. That's what Paul is getting at this morning. "We wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." 

In this period of transition.

1. We wait for redemption.
2. We groan because of suffering.
3. We long for permanent gain.

1. We wait for redemption – “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Romans 8:19, 23


This needs to be stated because; there is a pervasive false teaching that God wants every Christian to be healthy, wealthy, and above all else successful. Purchase this product. Follow this program. Practice these steps and the blessings of God will follow. After all, God wants you to have your best life now. 

They say, “If you’re sick or poor, then you need to claim your healing or your wealth by faith.” Those who teach these lies are preying on people’s greed and their natural longing to be in good health. But, you will never see one of these false teachers live to be 120. They all succumb to disease and death at about the same age as the rest of us. Do not fall for their teaching!

Paul himself suffered terribly. When he was call on the road the Lord told Ananias the prophet whom He sent to open Paul’s eyes “for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”  (Acts 9:26)Paul often mentions the trials that he endured, which would have driven most to despair.  (See 2 Cor. 11:23-28).

Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). He came to this world of suffering to bear our sins through His own suffering and death. So why should we think that somehow we will be exempt from suffering?

In the sovereign purposes of God, some suffer more and some suffer less. But none are exempt. It’s a part of living in this fallen world.

2. We groan because of suffering – “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. -   "And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."- Romans 8:22-23

The present time is marked by sufferings because of man’s fall into sin.

Paul mentions “the sufferings of this present time.” v.18. He was not referring to an especially difficult period in history, but to the entire present age. The whole history of creation since the fall is marked by suffering. The history of nations is marked by struggles and catastrophes—wars, natural disasters, internal conflicts, power struggles, and crimes. 

The history of individuals is also in large part a history of trials—the trials of growing up, figuring out what to do with your life, whom you will marry, rearing children, working through struggles in your marriage, providing for your needs, growing old and facing declining health and finally, death.

But, why? Why do we suffer? How should we as Christians think about these difficult matters? 

3. We long for permanent gain - "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."  - Romans 8:19

To persevere in present sufferings with hope, keep your eyes on the future glory that God has promised us.  Paul wants us to understand two certainties… 

First, the present time is marked by sufferings because of man’s fall into sin. 

Second, the future will be marked by glory for believers as God fulfills all His promises to us. The practical conclusion is, if we keep our eyes on the future promised glory, then we can endure present sufferings with perseverance and hope.

Keep your eyes on the future promised glory and you will persevere in present sufferings with hope.
Paul anticipates us thinking, “But, I can’t see this future glory.” His reply is, “Yes, that’s the very nature of hope.” If you can see it all, then it’s not hope. Our salvation includes hope because we don’t receive it all in this life. The hope of our salvation is not uncertain, as when we say, “I hope it doesn’t rain on my picnic tomorrow.” Rather, it is absolutely certain because of the many promises of God, who cannot lie. But we hope for it because we have not yet received all that has been promised. So Paul concludes (8:25), “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” The key to persevering in suffering with hope is to keep your eyes on the promised future glory.

It's summer. Those who subscribe to the B1G network know that especially during the summer months, highlights from previous games are aired. 

If you’ve ever watched your favorite team live, or in person, it's only natural to become anxious as the game progressed. Especially if it was close. If your team fumbled or threw an interception, you groaned because you didn’t know the outcome. You hoped they would win, but your hope was uncertain. Maybe you even got depressed when they were far behind.

But if your team came from behind and won in the last seconds of the game and later you watched a replay of the game, your whole attitude is different. You don't despair when they fumbled. Or fell behind. Because you knew how it all would turn out. Knowing the certainty of the future glory gave you hope to persevere through the setbacks.

If we become anxious or depressed in trials and lose hope, it’s because we’ve forgotten the absolutely certain outcome: Future glory forever with Christ! Yes, there is present suffering because we live in a fallen world. But God has promised future glory. Keeping that in view will enable you to persevere any suffering with hope.

Words –1,300
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability – 73.5%
Reading Level -6.0

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 7 - Proper 11

Time in the Word
Proclaimed Word of God
Proper 11
July 17-22 2017

There is a tension between the faithful and the unfaithful. The unfaithful are the weeds of the parable in the Gospel, while the wheat is God’s faithful people. In the final judgment, the unfaithful are excluded while the faithful are accepted by God. In the Old Testament lesson the faithful acknowledge God to be the one and only God. For the faithful who are weak, the Spirit intercedes for them. The prayers of the faithful are echoed in the great hymn of the church, “Lord keep us steadfast in Thy Word.” 

Monday, July 17, 2017Psalm 86:1-15 – This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 6, “Give ear, O lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.” In our need we pray to the Lord because out of His kindness and love our Lord answers each prayer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017Isaiah 44:6-8 – The faithful believe in the one true God. There is no god but God. It could be that Isaiah in these words is recalling a song of Moses, which describes God as “the Rock” (see Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 30-31). This metaphor of the Lord is also common in the book of Psalms (see Psalm 18:2).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017Romans 8:18-27 – The faithful have the Spirit intercede for them. The Spirit intercedes for those who do not know how to pray. Both creation and creatures groan for redemption. Paul sees redemption in its cosmic perspective. With Adam the whole creation fell and the ground was cursed. It is in a state of decay and the whole creation groans for redemption from its bondage of decay and death. Nature is tooth and fang and it exists on the principle of “dog eat dog.” Paul sees the release of nature’s bondage when there will be a new heaven and a new earth at the time of the Savior’s return. Humanity’s sin pollutes nature, ravishes the good earth, and threatens creatures with extinction. Human beings share in this longing for redemption which by faith in Christ we now experience in part. With creation we long for the full redemption of our bodies when Christ returns.

Thursday, July 20, 2017Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 – The faithful enter heaven in the parable of the wheat and the weeds. The parable of the wheat and weeds and Jesus’ explanation of its meaning is given here. Jesus gives this parable because he is criticized for associating with sinners and outcasts (verses 24-30). The allegorical explanation of the parable is the product of the early church as the parable applied to it in its day (verses 36-40).

The parable teaches that we are not to judge who is a true or false Christian. We are not to weed out the weeds because in doing so, we would destroy the wheat. On the Day of Judgment, God will judge and separate the weeds and the wheat. Until that time comes the church needs to have patience and forbearance of the weeds among the wheat.

The wheat (good) and the weeds (bad) are in the kingdom, not in the world. We could understand it if the parable applied to the world where there are all kinds of people. The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God is God’s realm, God’s people, the church. The church of God consists of good and evil, wheat and weeds.

Friday, July 21, 2017Psalm 119:57-64 – This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. This section falls under the Hebrew letter “Heth.” The Lord is the psalmist’s true homestead because it is God’s law that fills the earth with all that makes life secure and joyous. So God’s promises are his hope and God’s righteous laws his delight.

Saturday, July 22, 2017 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn “In holy conversation” {LSB 772}. The eternal consequences of sin are more serious than any physical ailment. Thus we look to Christ who has borne our diseases and carried our sorrows.

Collect for Proper 11O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that, ever mindful of Your final judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here and dwell with You in perfect joy hereafter; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1942 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pentecost 6 - Proper 10

Romans and the Reformation
A Series of Sermons Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
16 July – Proper 10 – Romans 8:12-17

Heirs with Christ

As “the rain and the snow come down from heaven.” And “waters the earth…making it bring forth and sprout.” (Isaiah 55:10) So the Word of God accomplishes the purpose for which the Father speaks it. Granting joy and peace through the forgiveness of sins. Producing the fruit of faith. Demonstrating acts of charity. Kindness. And love. In the lives of those who are called by His name. 

Christ Jesus. The Incarnate Word.  Opens our ears to hear.  Opens our minds to understand. And penetrates our cold broken hearts. To believe His Word.  Lest the evil one come. And snatch it away. He thus transforms our rocky hearts into good soil. Which, clings to the Gospel. And, “indeed bears fruit.” (Matthew 13:23). 

The Preaching of the Word of Christ Bears the Good Fruits of Faith and Love making us Heirs with Christ.

1. Well, of course, it's all about Jesus.

A. He is Himself the first-fruits of all who “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons.” (Romans 8:15).

B. Believers have received the Holy Spirit. For Paul, whoever confesses Jesus as Lord does so by the power of the Spirit. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). That is evidence enough for being a person in Christ. They have thus already been adopted as God’s children. By faith and baptism and through the power of the Spirit they have a new relationship with God. 

C. There is evidence of this whenever they cry out “Abba, Father.” The word “Abba” is an Aramaic term for “father.” Abba was usually the word used in the home, as children addressed their fathers. 

It is easier for a child to use a two-syllable word ending in a vowel than to use a single syllable word ending with a consonant. Every parent knows this! At ten months, Daniel can now say, "Momma" "Dadda" and "Egg!" “Daddy” is easier to say than “Dad,” “Mommy” is easier than “Mom.” 

But “Abba” is the word used by Jesus in the crucifixion scene in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible… ” The use of “Abba” must also have been characteristic of Jesus’ prayers, as in the use of “Father” in the Lord’s Prayer.1  God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father. 2  This term was familiar to the Christians at Rome. The audience to whom Paul is writing.  

D. Being a son makes you an heir. And a member of the family. Being a citizen gives you rights, privileged, responsibilities. The Inheritance is yours. Because you belong to Christ. 

2. Thus being “led by the Spirit of God,” we are not afraid, but we cry out in faith to our Father in heaven. (Romans 8:14–15) 

A. Fear leads to isolation. This leads to withdrawal. Which leads to depression. Which leads to alienation. Which leads to death. Notice the downward spiral.
B. Which was Luther's journey. How can I find a loving God? One who is not angry? Luther finally understood what Paul wanted: to preach a righteousness that was a gift—a gift by which God mercifully justifies us through faith in His Son. Paul was not describing a cold-hearted standard that could only lead to our condemnation. That would hardly be Gospel, “good news!” Paul was speaking of the righteousness of God that was revealed at the cross—God’s great love for us. When Luther realized this, his whole world turned upside down, the bitter became sweet, and the locked door sprang open: 

I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word ‘righteousness of God.’ Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise.”  While wrestling with Paul, Luther found himself also wrestling with God, and like Jacob of old, Luther would never be the same. 3

3. For as we suffer with Christ, the beloved Son we look for a glorious future.

A. So shall we “also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:17). One characteristic of the son is that he is his father’s heir. So it is with the Christian. He, too, has an inheritance—an inheritance of glory which he will share with Christ. But he must not be surprised if, before sharing the glory, he also shares the sufferings. All who suffer for the sake of the gospel are regarded as suffering with Christ. They “drink of the cup” that He drank.

B. Yet, any suffering we endure will only last for a season. We have this promise. You shall live and reign with Christ throughout all eternity.
1. Then in glory. A place chosen especially for you! You shall reign with Him.
2. Yet even now. As we serve our neighbor. Says St. Paul “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   (Galatians 5:14)
a. So tomorrow. When you wake in the morning. And your feet hit the floor…Thank God. As the devil says to himself, “oh, know…she’s up!  Its and opportunity to praise God as you serve your neighbor.  S0, stop your griping. It won’t help anybody. 
b. Instead…Pick up a shovel.
c. And go merrily about your business. With a grateful heart. 

Words –995
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –79%
Reading Level -4.6
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

 1.     In Matthew 6:9; the Greek “pater” of the prayer is probably a translation of the Aramaic Abba).
 2.    Explanation to the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer Luther’s Small Catechism.
  3.  LW 34:337