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.