Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Wednesday prior to Proper 25

 

Jeremiah 31:7-9 – Rejoice for the LORD will bring back his exiled people.

The Theme of this passage is the restoration of God’s people from captivity. God will deliver his people from dispersion. His concern for the afflicted is shown in the fact that among the returnees will be the blind, lame and pregnant. Here we see a connection with Gospel for this week. Good’s concern for the least, the helpless, and the handicapped among the exiles are evident. Though Israel has been rebellious and sent to captivity, God is still faithful to the covenant with his people. His faithfulness can be trusted. For this promised deliverance the people are to rejoice reality, in the mercy of God.

The LORD promises to bring all of his people back from the dispersion. This is evidence of his love and concern for his people. A special sing of his mercy is that he will also bring back the afflicted, the blond, handicapped and pregnant. The LORD is interested in the weak and helpless a well as the strong. He seems to love the hurt and the homeless.

Notice that the future tense is used. The LORD will bring his people home to freedom. It is a promise of the LORD. Can a people sing for joy and shout aloud for only a promise? They were not to wait to celebrate until the deliverance occurred but now with only a promise. How could this be done? It is possible only when we trust in the integrity of God’s Word. His Word is as good as the deed. He is a God who can be trusted.[2]   

Collect for Proper 25: O God, the helper of all who call on You, have mercy on us and give us eyes of faith to see Your Son that we may follow Him on the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [3]-20 October, 2021



[1] The Christ, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH

[3] Collect for Proper 25, Lutheran Service Book © 2006  Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Monday, October 18, 2021

Tuesday prior to Proper 25

 


Psalm 126 (antiphon: v. 5) “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.”

The words from this week’s antiphon should sound familiar. They are prayed during the committal service at most Christian funerals. They express our current reality. We are living in a broken world outside of Eden. Each will experience misery, sorrow and loss. Yet, we do not grieve as those who have no hope as Paul reminds us. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) We look to that glorious day when we shall be with the Lord. In the meantime we are encouraged to take each of our burdens to the LORD. He knows our needs and has promise to hear us when we pray. We are guided by a Savior who entered our humanity to provide rescue and life.  

This psalm is titled A Song of Ascents. It is the seventh in the series of 15 songs for pilgrims coming to Jerusalem. This song likely was composed after the exile, in wondrous gratitude for God’s restoration, and in prayer for a furtherance of that work.

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy: The gladness of the first half of this psalm was real, but only part of the picture. With wisdom the psalmist reminded himself and all of us that great joy is often preceded by a season of tears, as if they are seeds we sow that will bring a crop of joy to be later reaped.

F.B. Meyer noted that some farmers soak (steep) their seeds before sowing them, and then applied the idea: “It is well when Christian workers steep their lessons and addresses with their prayers and tears. It is not enough to sow; we may do that lavishly and constantly, but we must add passion, emotion, tender pity, strong crying and tears.”[2]

A Collect for harvest: Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season: grant that we may use them to your glory, for the relief of those in need and for our own well being; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[3]

Collect for Psalm 126: Lord Jesus, our life and our resurrection, the tears you sowed in the sorrow of your Passion brought the earth to flower on Easter morning. Renew the wonders of your power in the Church, so that, after the sorrows of our exile, we may come home to you in gladness and praise you now and forever. [4] -19 October, 2021



[1] The Christ, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[4] Collect for Psalm 126, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church. Vol. I © 1994 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Morning Prayer #35

 

Entrance into Cannan 
Deuteronomy 34 - Joshua 3 
(Selective Verses)


34 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, 6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8 And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

 

9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,

 



1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.  5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),

 

17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

 

Footnotes:

Joshua 3:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

Joshua 3:11 Hebrew the ark of the covenant, the Lord of all the earth

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Monday prior to Proper 25

 

Psalm 131 (antiphon: 130:1-2) - Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Psalm 131 is show-and-tell for how to become peaceful inside.” That's one of the goals of this psalm; for the people of God to have a calmed and quieted soul, a contented soul, rather than what we all have experienced: a disquieted and noisy soul.

This psalm is titled “A Song of Ascents. Of David”. Commentators suggest two possible occasions for its composition. The first may be when Saul hunted David, and David was repeatedly accused of ambition for the throne of Israel. The second may be David’s in response to his wife, Michal, when she accused him of being vulgar and undignified after he danced in the procession of bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:16-23).[2]

This week’s readings show us the merciful action of God toward his people. A blind beggar is given sing in the Gospel lesson (Mark 10:46-52) The people in captivity are brought home in the Old Testament lesson (Jeremiah 31:7-9).  In Christ God provides an eternal high priest for his people in the epistle lesson (Hebrews 7:23-28).  The Psalm reviews the great things God has done and is doing for his people. The Hymn of the Day is an expression of confidence knowing that the LORD himself orders our days and directs us in every circumstance.[3]  

Collect for Psalm 130: God of might and compassion, you sent you Word into the world as a watchman to announce the dawn of salvation. Do not leave us in the depts. Of our sins, but listen to your Church pleading for the fullness of your redeeming grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect for Psalm 131: Lord Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, you promised your kingdom to those who are like children. Never let pride reign in our hearts, but let the Father’s compassion embrace all who willingly bear your gentle yoke now and forever. [4]-18 October 2021



[1] The Christ, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[3] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, St. Louis

[4] Collect for Psalms 130, 131, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol. I © 1994 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Pentecost 21 -Proper 24B

 

17 October 2021
Mark 10.23—31
“Three Compelling Truths”  

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last week's reading. After the rich young man went away sorrowful, Jesus takes the opportunity to educate His disciples in the barrier that great wealth poses to one's salvation.

The temptation is to trust in the riches, rather than the rest of them.

In fact, it is impossible, not only for the wealthy, but for anyone to earn His salvation by any means, even good works. “Who can be saved?” they ask, who, indeed? None can! If he relies on himself. It is only by God's grace that anyone can be saved, yet all things are possible with God.

Almighty God, all that we possess is from Your loving hand. Give us grace that we may honor You with all we own, always remembering the account we must one day give to Jesus Christ, our Lord.[2]

Jesus predicts His trial, execution, and resurrection for the third time, while walking boldly to His death. Jesus goes to die the sinners' death, accepting the Law's penalty in our place.

Faith looks to Christ crucified and risen and says, "For me!" Luther asks. - "Who is this "me?" It is I, an accursed and damned sinner, who was so beloved by the Son of God that He gave Himself for me." (AE 26:176)

The amazement of the disciples at Jesus' words reflects their cultural background. They placed a great emphasis on the privileged position of the rich. To be wealthy was believed to be sure and certain evidence of having the blessing of God. If you prosper God must be smiling down up on you was their thinking.

Some still preach what may be called a “health and wealth gospel,” claiming that God always rewards his people with prosperity in this world.

However, in the Bible, wealth is no indication of God’s favor. Neither is poverty an indication of God’s punishment. Rather, Jesus teaches, “[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

Nevertheless, with His penetrating spiritual insight, Jesus saw how wealth could hinder someone from putting their trust and dependence in God. Today we consider three compelling truths…

For the rich to enter the kingdom of God simply because of their wealth is indeed impossible. The proverb Jesus quotes was not lost on the disciples. “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! (Vs.25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” As their question "Who then can be saved?" shows that they completely understood it.

-C.S Lewis reminds us, the camel has to die! “All things, (that is, a camel's journey through a needle's eye) are possible, it's true. But, picture how the camel feels, squeezed out. In one long bloody thread, from tail to snout.[3]

Jesus, the greatest teacher who has ever lived points us to the solution. His answer makes clear that “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”(V.27) We affirm three compelling truths.

1. Salvation is totally the work of God.

A. There are two things we have in common. We are sinners. Because of Adam’s fall, we find ourselves fallen people, living in a fallen and broken world. Why do bad things happen? We’re living in a broken world outside of Eden. We’re living in a sinful world. We’re living in a world that has gone astray. Because of this broken world filled with lost and broken people, we cannot come to God by ourselves.

That’s why we teach our children a simple yet powerful hymn: “In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man. We all have fled that welcome voice that sought us when we ran.”

B. It is God alone who is totally responsible for our salvation. We don’t wake up one day deciding to turn our life over to Jesus. He is the one who chooses to redeem and save you. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)

Jesus became personally responsible for the sins of His people. He paid for their sins once for all on the cross of Calvary. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Transition: Salvation is totally the work of God. We need His grace to fulfill it.

2. Apart from the grace of God, it is impossible for anyone to enter God's kingdom.

A. Recall the explanation to the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed. I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but he Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

B. Thank God for His amazing and life changing grace. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6 8)

Transition: Salvation is totally the work of God. It comes to us by grace and grace alone. That is why God alone receives the credit.

3. Humanly speaking no one can be saved by his or her own efforts; but what we can never do for ourselves, God does for us.

A. John in his Gospel explains it this way, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”(John 1) Jesus broke into time and space to be your savior. He took on flesh to bear your sin and bring us to salvation. “He bore our sin in His own body on the tree that we might die to sin and live unto righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24


B. This is the story of the Gospel. That’s the story of God’s amazing grace! What we cannot do for ourselves the LORD does for us. In the end – God wins!

Indeed, it is impossible for man, yet “all things are possible with God” (Mark 20:27). Thus, the Rich Man, Jesus Christ, has made Himself poor and has gone through “the eye of a needle,” through death and the grave, “to enter the kingdom of God” on your behalf (Mark 20:24–25). He is the “great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (Hebrews 4:14), so that we may now enter His Sabbath rest by faith in His forgiveness (Hebrews 4:3–9).

With man, this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible. May the Lord so use you to do the impossible. With Christ at the center, all things are possible!

 

Words-1,230
Passive Sentences – 2%
Readability –76.7 %
Reading Level –5.7



[1] The Eye of the Needle  copyright © Ed Riojas Higher Things
[2] Proper use of wealth, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. St. Louis
[3] – C.S. Lewis, Poems 


THE PARABLE OF THE TENANTS

 


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.

The Parable of the Tenants

12 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant[a] to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;[b] 11 this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” - Mark 12:1-11[1]

The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel” (Isaiah 5:7), which He planted “on a very fertile hill” (Isaiah 5:1). He did everything for His vineyard, not only clearing it of stones and planting it with “choice vines,” but also building the “watchtower” of His prophets and hewing out the “wine vat” of His priesthood in its midst (Isaiah 5:2). But when “he looked for it to yield grapes,” there were only “wild grapes” of bloodshed and unrighteousness (Isaiah 5:2, 7).

The Lord Jesus likewise described the unfaithfulness of those who were called to care for His vineyard. But in this He also describes His cross and Passion, by which He has redeemed the vineyard for Himself.

He is the true Vine, planted by death into the ground, and in His resurrection He brings forth “the fruits in their seasons.” Among those good grapes of the true Vine is the apostle Paul. Once a zealous persecutor of the Church, he “suffered the loss of all things” in order to “gain Christ and be found in him,” to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:8–10).

“This is the heir” – This is not fair!

 Still another parable of Jesus –

There was a landowner, who planted a vineyard.
Put a fence around it.
Dug a wine press.
And built a watchtower.
 Then He leased it to tenants. And went to another country.
When the harvest time had come.
He sent His slaves to the tenants to collect His produce.

 "A certain owner" happens to be the holder of everything. He built the fence. Dug the press. And built the tower. He lent it out to "earth workers." They were hired. To work the ground. It is His fruit after all.

 Owners do not pay rent. Who are you? Do you act as though you are the owner of your world and the master of your life? You are “tenants.” You do not own this place. You are not a permanent resident. You are a renter. Obliged to pay rent for the privilege of being on this earth. You are tenants. Expected to share the harvest with the Owner. You have a responsibility. To return to God His just desserts - as owner of the vineyard.

 But the tenants seized His slaves; beat one,
Killed another, and stoned another.
Again, He sent other slaves, more than the first;
and they treated them in the same way.

 They flogged. They violently and maliciously killed. Notice the progressive acts of violence. Sin compounds sin. It gets worse and WORSE. They are asserting a dominion they do not have. They are not behaving in a manner recognizing the King as the owner.

 When a prophet was killed, He kept on sending other prophets and servants. What a remarkable contrast to what most would have done under similar circumstances.

 Finally, He sent His Son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my Son.’
But when the tenants saw the Son, they said to themselves,
‘This is the heir; come, let us kill Him and get His inheritance;”
So they seized Him, threw Him out of the vineyard, and killed Him.

 This owner. By earthly standards is reckless. And way too patient and lenient.  He sent, at last, His Son...”they will have regard for Him my beloved...”they will be shamed by the Son.

 The incomprehensible patience and love of the Father produces an unexpected, odd response.

 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.

 Time after time, He came for His due until finally He makes the ultimate appeal in His Son. These earth workers kill Him. And possess the inheritance. This inheritance. It is a gift. This is NOT fair! It makes no sense. You killed My Son. So now, I'll write you into the will, so you receive the inheritance. This is the foolishness of the cross. Your sin kills Jesus! And you receive the inheritance...forgiveness, life, salvation...It's not fair! But it’s grace.

 The Lord continues to demonstrate His patience. He is still giving you time - to bring forth the fruit of faith. He continues to love and seek your love. He continues to provide those means which you need to receive His mercy and care.

 True, they received Him.  Took Him out of the vineyard. And killed Him. Rebellious tenants kill the Son in the hope of taking over the vineyard by force. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will He do to those tenants?”

 They said to Him, “He will put these wretches to a wretched death and give the vineyard to other workers. And lease the vineyard to other tenants. Who will give Him the produce at the harvest time?”

 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?
Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.
The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces;
and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

The Church has, always used these words. The point is the kingdom will be given to others. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, reminds the crowd, “you killed Him...repent...and your sin will be blotted out...He will be faithful and just and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” This is unfair, unexpected, and Good News.

God brings repentance. He brings contrition.  He brings faith. God brings them all to repentance. This is how the gospel works. The Son dies. And the murders receive the inheritance!

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables,
they realized that he was speaking about them.
They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds,
because they had Him out to be a prophet.

The patience of God also has its limits. Eventually this world will end. Then there will be a final judgment. In these last times. If people reject the Gospel, it will be taken from one and handed to others.

History has demonstrated this reality. The Gospel message began in Jerusalem. It spilled into Judea, Samaria. Finally, the continent of Africa became the epicenter of the Christian movement. Over time, it found its prominence in Europe, then the Americas, and now Africa has become the hub of world Christianity. Luther reminds us that the Gospel is like a cloud. If it is not embraced in one place, it moves on, to nourish another people - somewhere else.

 Spurn not His mercy. Receive the tokens of His grace, His compassion, His leniency, His grace.

 

 

 



[1] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 The parable of the Tenants Copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things


Friday, October 15, 2021

Saturday prior to Proper 24

 

Sunday’s hymn of the day is Jesus, Priceless Treasure (LSB #743). It is a great hymn of faith, trusting in Jesus in spite of all trials and tribulations, sadness and trouble. Written in 1641, it soon made its way into most hymnals, being paired with a strong melody, one of the finest German Lutheran chorales.

“Jesus, Priceless Treasure” (Lutheran Service Book, #743)

Biblically informed individuals are quite aware that since The Fall hardships, temporal and spiritual temptations, and trials are weighty challenges that will confront them throughout their life. Believers and unbelievers alike, no one escapes them!

Johann Franck (1618-1677), who penned “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”, knew of many difficult hardships. In fact, he chronicles a variety of them in this hymn, e.g. “storms”, “empty glory”, Satan’s tempting, and others. How he confronts them—in some instances quite defiantly, can provide encouragement to the reader/singer. Clearly reflected is a confident Biblical faith that enables this positive confrontation.

Realizing Franck was born the same year the 30 Years War commenced, and living several decades thereafter, he would have known from firsthand experiences and observation about dealing with various kinds of deprivation, unnatural loss of lives, property and possessions, and premature death for many.

Yet, what shines through in this hymn is the stalwart assurance he finds in the “Priceless Treasure”. Boldly, even exuberantly, Franck’s words can help us confidently sing of where true, enduring safety, peace, and “purest Pleasure” are to be found.

Several complementary components contribute to the widespread appeal of this hymn in America. Deserving particular recognition are the buoyant chorale tune “Jesu, meine Freude” and the splendid English translation that are commonly partners when it is sung. Separated from these, it is hard to imagine this poem having its breadth of recognition and being included in multiple Christian hymnals in this century.

Some of its textual richness can be further appreciated by focusing on various expressive adjectives, verbs, and salient nouns, each of which assists in illuminating a bit more brightly and clearly a life that has its abiding trust in Jesus, the priceless Treasure.

 As an avenue for initiating a devotional encounter with some of these enriching words, begin in stanza one with the first adjective: “priceless”. What or how does it offer potential for further and richer appreciation of its partner noun “Treasure”? Consider, then, reflecting on the other adjectives, verbs, and nouns in the stanza.

Allowing particular words sufficient time to stimulate and unveil additional meaning could be blessed by taking a few devotional minutes each day during the week to focus on just a single stanza: stanza one on Monday; stanza two on Tuesday; etc., finishing on Saturday with stanza six, culminating then with the singing the complete hymn on Sunday.

For starters, try reflecting on these from stanza one:

—with each, allow a little time for a thought or two to develop—

- “priceless” . . . a value that is beyond a monetary consideration . . .

- “treasure” . . . for a young child it may be a cozy blanket, or a cuddly fuzzy toy.

What do youths, many adults, or do I, personally, hold in very, very high esteem?

- “truest” . . . in what sense?

- “yearning”. . . how?; why?

- “suffer” . . . what does it mean here?[1] 

-16 October 2021