Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pentecost 20 - Proper 24

October 22
Pentecost 20 – Proper 24
Prayer & Preaching
What shall I render?”
Matthew 22:15-22

O God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that, with You as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

THEME: All Obligations Are to God, Expressed In Two Kingdoms

As we wind down to the conclusion of the Church Year the Gospel lesson appointed to be read on this Sunday gives us the opportunity to determine what our obligations are with respect to our God and to our government. This is important issue especially as we ask ourselves the question - how are we to be witnesses in this world?

There are certainly many differing opinions concerning this subject of church and State or God and government. Some believe that Christians are to be totally separated from this world and society. Some Christians believe that the child of God is to have absolutely nothing to do with this world and is therefore to be shielded and separated from the outside world. An example of such exists in our own backyard in the Amish community. Their manner of dress, their customs, their traditions are deliberate. They believe that the Christian is to completely separate from the rest of us. Their mantra - “Be Ye Separate.”

Then there are Christians who would go so far as to say that as Christians we have the obligation to change the world by being actively aggressive in the shaping of government policy and in dictating the culture of the world. There are some church leaders going so far as to publicly endorse particular political candidates. 

So how ought we approach this sometimes difficult subject? Do religion and politics mix? We have the obligation to be witnesses in the world. As Christians we certainly have a message the world needs to hear and what is more relevant to a lost world than the objective truth of the gospel? 
By these words of our Savior we must say that all obligations are to God as they are expressed in two kingdoms.

The Pharisees as a group were fiercely loyal to the Jewish nation. They hated the Romans. The Herodians on the other hand - were fiercely loyal to Rome which ruled the Jews with great difficulty. They come to Jesus with a question.

The Pharisees had hoped to trap Jesus in His teaching. If Jesus said it was unlawful to give tribute to Caesar, the Herodians would have Him brought to court on a charge of sedition, a crime punishable by death. If Jesus said it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, the Herodians would have advertised this and used it as an opportunity to diminish Jesus’ popularity before those persons who labored under the yoke of the Roman government (and wished to be freed).   But Jesus refused to be trapped. And His answer gives mankind direction in living for all ages of the world.

I. THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD IS OF GOD AND DEMANDS MY OBLIGATIONS

A. The kingdom of this world is of God. Jesus uses the word "Caesar" to symbolize the power of the government. In the history of the world there have been many different forms of government but all are of God. Jesus said to Pilate a Roman Governor. "You would have no authority over Me if it had not been given to you from above." (John. 19:11.) The God-man, Jesus, was subject to the earthly authority which He had given to Pilate. St. Paul says in Romans 13:1: "Let every person be subject to higher authorities because there is no authority which is not of God and the authorities which exist have been ordained of God."  God Himself has given us an earthly government. Daniel acknowledged the Babylonians as his government. Jesus and Paul recognized Rome as their God-given government.

B. The kingdom of this world demands my obligations. Jesus told the Pharisees and the Herodians: "Pay to Caesar what you owe to Caesar." What did they owe to Caesar? We owe taxes, obedience to all laws, and loyalty to the government. That is what Jesus Himself, Paul and Peter did. In Matthew 17:24-27 Jesus gives us the correct attitude toward earthly power. He directed Peter to catch a fish which would yield a coin with which Peter would pay their tax. And Jesus obeyed all laws whether of the Jews or Romans. He submitted both to Pilate and Herod at His trial even though it was an unjust trial. 

And the apostles direct us to willing obedience toward our government. Says St. Paul – “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.” Romans 13:1-6

Peter reminds us -– "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men."- I Peter 2:13-16

TRANSITION: The Kingdom of this world is of God so also is the Kingdom of God to which I am obligated.

II. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS OF GOD AND DEMANDS MY OBLIGATIONS

A. The kingdom of God is of God. Jesus said to the Pharisees and Herodians: "Pay to God the things of God." Jesus said in Matthew16:18 "You are Peter and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 

Peter's confession of Christ. Christ builds His church on the confession of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And even Satan and his hosts cannot destroy this church. To this church Christ gives the power to forgive sins to penitent sinners and to withhold forgiveness from sinners who refuse to repent.

B. The kingdom of God demands my obligations. Christ is our Shepherd. His pastors are also called shepherds. They are to take good care of the flock.  And when the Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus, Jesus asked for a denarius, a common coin in that day. We use our money to support the government and the church. We pay our taxes and we pay our church dues. 

Both are commanded by God. Says St. Paul in Romans 13 – “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Vv.6-7) And again in 1 Corinthians 16 “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (V.2) Paul told the people to pay their taxes and also their church dues. All of this belongs to God. We are only stewards of His gifts.

I am a citizen in two kingdoms, the kingdom of earthly power, my government, and the kingdom of God, my church. I owe each everything I have. It all is a gift of God and belongs to Him anyway. Christians are sojourners and pilgrims in this world (I Peter 2:11). 

While our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), we are to be ever mindful of our responsibilities to the nation in which we live. As we love God and serve our neighbor we are witnesses of Christ in this world. That, my friends is the definition of missions – Love God, serve your neighbor – become a sermon in shoes. 
_______________
Words –1,543 
Passive Sentences –10% 
Readability –69% 
Reading Level – 7.3



Proper 24


Proper 24 – October 22, 2017 –


O God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that, with You as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

THEME: All Obligations Are to God, Expressed In Two Kingdoms

The Gospel lesson appointed to be read on this Sunday gives us the opportunity to determine what our obligations are with respect to our God and to our government. This is important issue especially as we ask ourselves the question - how are we to be witnesses in this world?

There are certainly many differing opinions concerning this subject of church and state or God and government. Some believe that Christians are to be totally separated from this world and society. Some Christians believe that the child of God is to have absolutely nothing to do with this world and is therefore to be shielded and separated from the outside world. An example of such exists in our own backyard in the Amish community. Their manner of dress, their customs, their traditions are deliberate. They believe that the Christian is to completely separate from the rest of us. Their mantra - “Be Ye Separate.”

Then there are Christians who would go so far as to say that as Christians we have the obligation to change the world by being actively aggressive in the shaping of government policy and in dictating the culture of the world. 

So how ought we to approach this sometimes difficult subject? Do religion and politics mix? We have the obligation to be witnesses in the world. As Christians we certainly have a message the world needs to hear and what is more relevant to a lost world than the objective truth of the gospel? By these words of our Savior we must say that all obligations are to God as they are expressed in two kingdoms.

The Pharisees as a group were powerfully loyal to the Jews, who hated the Romans. The Herodians on the other hand - were intensely loyal to Rome which ruled the Jews with great difficulty. They come to Jesus with a question.

The Pharisees had hoped to trap Jesus in his teaching. If Jesus said it was unlawful to give tribute to Caesar, the Herodians would have him brought to court on a charge of sedition, a crime punishable by death. If Jesus said it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, the Herodians would have advertised this and used it as an opportunity to diminish Jesus’ popularity before those persons who labored under the yoke of the Roman government (and wished to be freed). But Jesus refused to be trapped. And His answer gives mankind direction in living for all ages of the world.

I. THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD IS OF GOD AND DEMANDS MY OBLIGATIONS

A. The kingdom of this world is of God. Jesus uses the word "Caesar" to symbolize the power of the government. 

In the history of the world there have been many different forms of government but all are of God. Jesus said to Pilate a Roman Governor.  "You would have no authority over Me if it had not been given to you from above." (John. 19:11.) 1 The God-man, Jesus, was subject to the earthly authority which He had given to Pilate. 

St. Paul says in Romans 13:1: "Let every person be subject to higher authorities because there is no authority which is not of God and the authorities which exist have been ordained of God." 2 God Himself has given us an earthly government. Daniel acknowledged the Babylonians as his government. Jesus and Paul recognized Rome as their God-given government.

B. The kingdom of this world demands my obligations. Jesus told the Pharisees and the Herodians: "Pay to Caesar what you owe to Caesar." What did they owe to Caesar? We owe taxes, obedience to all laws, and loyalty to the government. That is what Jesus himself, Paul and Peter did. In Matthew 17:24-27 Jesus gives us the correct attitude toward earthly power. He directed Peter to catch a fish which would yield a coin with which Peter would pay their tax. And Jesus obeyed all laws whether of the Jews or Romans. He submitted both to Pilate and Herod at His trial even though it was an unjust trial. And the apostles direct us to willing obedience toward our government. 

Says St. Paul – “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.” Romans 13:1-6

Peter reminds us – "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." I Peter 2:13-16

TRANSITION: The Kingdom of this world is of God so also is the Kingdom of God to which I am obligated.

II. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS OF GOD AND DEMANDS MY OBLIGATIONS

A. The kingdom of God is of God. Jesus said to the Pharisees and Herodians: "Pay to God the things of God." Jesus said in Matthew 16:18: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." In this passage the word "rock" means Peter's confession of Christ. Christ builds His church on the confession of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And even Satan and his hosts cannot destroy this church. To this church Christ gives the power to forgive sins to penitent sinners and to withhold forgiveness from sinners who refuse to repent.

B. The kingdom of God demands my obligations. Christ is our Shepherd. His pastors are also called shepherds. They are to take good care of the flock. 3   

When the Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus, Jesus asked for a denarius, a common coin in that day. We use our money to support the government and the church. We pay our taxes and we pay our church contributions. Both are commanded by God. In 1 Corinthians 16 Paul encourages us, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (V.2) Paul told the people to pay their taxes and also support their church’s mission. All of this belongs to God. We are only stewards of His gifts.

I am a citizen in two kingdoms, the kingdom of earthly power, my government, and the kingdom of God, my church. I owe each everything I have. It all is a gift of God and belongs to Him anyway. Christians are sojourners and pilgrims in this world (I Peter 2:11). While our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), we are to be ever mindful of our responsibilities to the nation in which we live. As we love God and serve our neighbor we are witnesses of Him in this world. That, my friends is the definition of missions – Love God, serve your neighbor – become a sermon in shoes. 

Words –1,454
Passive Sentences –12%
Readability – 68.3%
Reading Level – 7.4
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things

1.   Rome was one of the most tyrannical Empires known to man
2.   See also I Peter. 2:13-17 and Titus 3:1.
3.   Acts 20:28



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 20 ~ Proper 24



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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Prayer for California

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 19 ~ Proper 23





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparation for next week, Proper 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Proper 22



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


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

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

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

I. The terms of the agreement are specified.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The difficulties encountered.

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

A. Even God Himself had difficulties with His renters.

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

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

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

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

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

III. The Action of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


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

Monday, October 2, 2017

A pray for Las Veges

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things

Time in the Word - Pentecost 18 ~ Proper 22



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

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

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

O God, whose almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity, grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be partakers of Your heavenly treasures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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