Sunday, August 31, 2014

Time in the Word - Proper 18

Christian Obligation to Sinners

In the Lessons for this week we encounter sinners. What shall we do with our fellow sinners and how shall we deal with them? In the Gospel lesson Jesus teaches what we should do to be reconciled to those who sin against us. Ezekiel in the Old Testament lesson reports that God expects us to warn the sinner, who, if he repents, will live. Paul in the Epistle lesson urges obedience to the officials and law of government and teaches that love is the way to obey the law. The Hymn of the Day speaks of the power we as Christians possess to carry out this task. It is found in the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who has called and saved us according to His grace and favor.  We place our confidence in God and enjoy His blessings, even in times of trouble.

Grant, merciful Lord, to Your people pardon and peace that they may be cleansed from all their sins and serve You with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
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.

For Schools—Almighty God, our heavenly Father, since You have committed the care and nurture of children to Your people, graciously enlighten those who teach and those who are committed to their instruction that they may know the truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

For Home and Family—Visit, we implore You, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, and keep far from them all harm and danger. Grant us to dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels, and may Your blessing be with us forever, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Monday, September 1, 2014—Psalm 37:3-5,39; Antiphon, Psalm 92:1—The theme of next week’s propers is the description and obligation of the Christian living in the world. The Introit tells us that trusting in the Lord enables us to serve Him, and to have courage in the face of a world that is hostile to the Lord and His people.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014—Psalm 119:113-120 - The first letter in each verse of this portion of Psalm 119 is the Hebrew letter samekh (2). As in the other sections, the psalmist here extols the goodness of God in giving us His holy Word. His devotion to the Word of God moves him to reject the counsel of evildoers. Take note that when the psalmist write, “I love Your law,” this is not the opposite of the Gospel, but a term which encompasses the whole of God’s communication to man.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014—Ezekiel 33:7-9—The Lord told Ezekiel that He would restore Jerusalem, yet this did not remove Ezekiel’s obligation to warn sinners to turn from their wicked ways and repent. Likewise, we who live in the post-resurrection time, when Christ has restored mankind by His death and resurrection, have an obligation to warn sinners to turn from their wicked ways and repent, that they may partake of fellowship with God.

Thursday, September 4, 2014—Romans 13:1-10—Civil governments have been given their authority by God. Thus, the Christian submits himself to that rule which God has established, and exhorts others to do the same. St. Paul also tells us how we are to live with our fellow man: letting love for the neighbor guide all our actions and dealings. This love is not of ourselves, but flows from Christ, who first loved us.

Friday, September 5, 2014—Matthew 18:15-20— Since we have been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus, the Christian life is one that strives for reconciliation with our fellow man. If our brother sins against us, we will try to restore him privately.
Only if that fails will we bring it before others, and before the Church as a last result. Throughout, the goal is the restoration of the erring brother, and his reconciliation with us.

Saturday, September 6, 2014Hymn 373, By Grace I’m Saved, Grace Free and Boundless—How is it that we have been set free from the bondage of sin, to live a life pleasing to God, with love toward our neighbor? Only by the grace of God. Our salvation is a free gift; our works could never begin to secure our salvation. But, through the love of God poured out upon us in the person of His Son, Jesus, He has made us His own. Tomorrow’s chief hymn is a jubilant recounting of the goodness of God in graciously providing for our salvation.

Artwork © by Ed Rojas © Higher Things© Higher Things
Lutheran Worship, © 1982, Concordia Publishing House

Friday, August 29, 2014

Proper 17

Proper 17
31 August 2014
Matthew 16:21-28
The ultimate sacrifice, which Christ demands

Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come.”

Jesus begins to show His disciples what He must endure to win salvation. For you. For the entire world. “From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things.” (v.21)  This is not a theology of glory. It is a theology of the cross. According to Jesus, suffering is a part of the Christian life. He is willing to be cut off from the Father. From the cross Jesus will cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

Last week. Peter made a good confession. Now we hear his great rebuttal. Today Jesus says, “You are a scandal. You are not focused on the things of God.”  Before, his confession came from God. Today, it comes from Satan. Then, he was a rock. Today, a stumbling block, Then, he made a good confession. Today, a denial of the Father’s purpose. Then, he was following the will of God. Now it was man’s will and human desires. Then, he spoke from the vantage point of faith. Now, a lack of faith. Then, it was Jesus on the Father’s terms. Now, it was Jesus on man’s terms. Then, Jesus said, “Follow Me!” Now, He says, “Get behind Me!”

The ultimate sacrifice, which Christ demands.

1.       Consider Christ’s demands.

A.      Denial of self. “And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests, also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” Mark 15:29-31

B.      Take up the cross. A cross? Peter knew what that meant. Roman execution. The most horrific kind of death imagined. Carrying a Roman cross did not sound like the Messianic kingdom. It sounded like death. The picture of a man, already condemned, required carrying the beam of his own cross to the place of execution. The disciples knew what this meant, for hundreds of men had been executed by this means in their region.

C.      Follow the will of the Father. When He was twelve He explained, “I must be about My Father’s business.”-Luke 2:48 By embracing the Father’s love for men, Jesus “loved them to the end,” –John 13:1 for “greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 In Jesus’ suffering and death, there is salvation and life. Out of love for His Father and for men, Jesus freely accepted His passion and death. “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I lay it down and I take it up.” –John 10:18 He became the suffering servant. Silently He allowed Himself to be led to the slaughter. He bears the sin of men. He becomes, “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”-John 1:29

2.       Consider the Christian. A “little Christ.”

A.      Deny yourself. It’s a hard life. Any death is hard. Especially the death of self.  “  1 Peter 4:12 Forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of yourself and your own interests.

B.      Take upon yourself your own suffering – the cross. The cross is more than a thankless job, a nosy neighbor a nasty mother-in-law. Even a physical illness is not necessarily a cross. Taking up your cross and following Jesus means literally dying to self. It’s a call to total surrender. It’s a call to following Jesus. Even it means losing some of your closest friends. Even it if means alienation from your family. Even if it means the loss of your reputation. Even if it means losing your job. Even if it means losing your life.  In some places of the world, these consequences are reality. The issue is, “are you willing?” Following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean all these things will happen to you. But are you willing to take up your cross? If there comes a point in your life, where you are faced with a choice – Jesus or the comforts of this life –which will you choose?

C.      Follow Christ. Join Jesus as a disciple. Siding with Him. Follow Him. Continually, cleaving steadfastly to Jesus. The road that Jesus pointed is a narrow road. Someone walks a road not by keeping his life but by losing it. It is the road of the resurrection.

3.       Consider the stakes. There are high stakes in life in terms of winners and losers.

A.      Saves his life – gains the whole world. Loses his life – loses his own soul. Can’t buy it back – what can you give as an exchange for your soul?

B.      Loses his life for Christ’s sake. It may be that the crucifixion of the old man, the self, brings pain, but crucifixion is always followed by resurrection. Finds his life. We do not want to avoid the pain of the crucifixion, for without crucifixion there is no resurrection.  What more can you win? We do not want to have the old man living in our hearts, but the new one, the resurrected Christ. Daily through contrition and faith, the old man is drowned and dies. The new man. He is our alive example and the one to whom we look. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “ Hebrews 12:1-2

The hymn for this day, “Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus” (LSB #531), connects the suffering of Jesus with your salvation. It shows that the glory of God is revealed in the suffering and death of His Son. ‘Worship, honor, power, and blessing…Thou art worthy to receive’ because Jesus suffered to release us…Jesus bears our sin and shame.

Words –1,171
Passive Sentences -5%
Readability –80%

Reading level –4.5

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Time in the Word - Proper 17

The Glory of God is the Passion and Cross of Christ Jesus
After St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, our Lord “began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16:21). Upon hearing this “theology of the Cross,” Simon Peter stumbled into a satanic “theology of glory.” But the glory of God is revealed in the Passion and Cross of His incarnate Son. The faithful prophets, such as Jeremiah, suffered persecution and rejection in anticipation of Jesus’ Cross. Yet the Lord did not abandon them; He remembered them, and He was with them to deliver them (Jeremiah 15:15–20). By His Cross Jesus has redeemed the world, and in His Resurrection He has vindicated all who trust in Him. Thus the Christian life is a discipleship of self-sacrificing love. Since Christ Jesus has reconciled us to God, we “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). By the certainty of His Cross and Resurrection, we “rejoice in hope,” and we are “patient in tribulation” and “constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Almighty God, Your Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption. Grant us courage to take up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Collect for the Feast of St Bartholomew (24 August): Almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, chose Bartholomew to be an apostle to preach the blessed Gospel. Grant that Your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns…
Prayer for patience: O God, by the patient endurance of Your only-begotten Son You beat down the pride of the old enemy. Help us to treasure rightly in our hearts what our Lord has borne for our sakes that, after His example, we may bear with patience those things that are adverse to us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…
Prayer in times of affliction and distress: Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…
Prayer for humility: O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns… 

Monday, 25 August 2014Psalm 37:5–7; Antiphon, Psalm 37:4—Those who trust in the Lord and in His promises may sometimes be frustrated and tempted to question the goodness and righteousness of God when they suffer trials, tribulations, and afflictions in this life. David exhorts us here to ‘trust in the Lord . . . delight in the Lord . . . commit your way to the Lord . . . be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.’ We Christians should remind ourselves that the Lord has demonstrated His goodness and righteousness in many ways, but especially by sending His only-begotten Son to be our Savior. Through Christ, He has already ‘brought forth our righteousness and . . . justice.’ He has given us ‘the desires of our heart’ in the person of our Savior, Jesus, and will, at the Last Day, deliver us out of this vale of tears and take us to himself in heaven.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014Psalm 26The psalmist, David, asks the Lord to vindicate him—clear his name—of false accusations. For what reason? Because David has ‘trusted in the Lord without wavering’—he belongs to the Lord by faith. Though Christ has died to forgive every one of our sins, the devil will try to throw our transgressions in our face, and make us despair of salvation. In such situations, we must call upon the Lord to vindicate us—not because we are without sin, but because Christ has redeemed us from sin and its eternal consequence and, by faith, we belong to Him. ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ (Rom 8:1)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014Jeremiah 15:15–21—Jeremiah calls upon the Lord to deliver him from the assaults and slander of his enemies. On what basis—his own righteousness? No; like David in the psalm for Sunday (above), Jeremiah pleads on the basis of his trust in the Lord: ‘I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.’ We can call upon the Lord in our times of trouble for the same reason: we belong to Him. Though the proclamation and preaching of His Word, and through the holy Sacraments, God makes us His own and delivers us from the tyranny of sin.

Thursday, 28 August 2014Romans 12:9–21—St Paul has spent much of his letter to the Romans showing how we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. But faith always manifests itself in love, especially toward our neighbor.
Here, Paul illustrates what Christian love, borne of faith, looks like. This is a description of the Christian—not in order to earn our salvation, but because our salvation has been earned for us by Christ.

Friday, 29 August 2014Matthew 16:21–28—In Sunday’s Gospel account, Jesus tells the disciples very clearly what must become of Him: ‘suffer many things . . . be killed, and on the third day be raised.’ This is the plan of God for our salvation, which is why Jesus speaks so harshly to Peter when he contradicts Him. The theology of the cross—that salvation entails suffering—is difficult for the natural man to accept. This is why so many Christians in our world are theologians of glory—looking away from the cross and focusing on temporal blessings, rather than seeing the blessings we have by the cross and by suffering.

Jesus begins to show His disciples what He must endure to win salvation. ”From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things.”(v.21) Suffering is a part of the Christian life. What is the sacrifice God demands?
1.       Consider Christ’s sacrifice.
A.      Denied self.
B.      Took up the cross.
C.      Followed the will of the Father.
2.       Consider the Christian, a little Christ.
A.      Deny self.
B.      Take upon yourself your own suffering.
C.      Follow Christ.
3.       Consider the stakes in terms of winners and losers.
A.      Losers – Gains the world, loses his soul.
B.      Winners –loses life for Christ’s sake and finds his life.

Saturday, 30 August 2014The hymn of the day, Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus (LSB #531), connects the suffering of Jesus with our salvation and shows that the glory of God is revealed in the suffering and death of His Son. ‘Worship, honor, power, and blessing / Thou art worthy to receive’ because ‘Thou didst suffer to release us…Thou universal Savior, Bearer of our sin and shame.’

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Proper 16

Matthew 16:13-20
The question of faith

Finally! The disciples get it! At least for this Sunday! It came at a crucial time in our Lord’s public ministry.  His focus was set on Jerusalem. Where He would complete His work of redemption. He was set to suffer many things. For your salvation.

Our Lord is at a critical location in His ministry. Caesarea Philippi was a Gentile city. Built by Herod’s son, Philip. In honor of Caesar. Jesus stood in a pagan region. Where false deities and their supporters abound. Critical also were His companions. The disciples were personally selected and taught by Jesus. They had witnessed every aspect of His public ministry.

The Lord asked two important questions. At this moment. In this location.  Of His disciples. The answers to the questions were important. For them. And for His followers today. There can be no doubt that Jesus was aware of the gravity of the question. Today consider the two important questions of faith.

I.        The first question was addressed to the disciples, “who do men say the Son of Man is?” (V.13)

A.      The response was varied. No consensus existed among the answers. John the Baptist was considered so great a contemporary figure. Some felt he would rise from the dead. Elijah, the great prophet of old, was looked upon as the peak of the prophetic line. His return would signal the coming of the Messiah. Jeremiah was considered another signal of the Messiah’s impending return.

B.        Our Lord heard the verdict of the people. He was named among the great company of the prophets of the Old Testament.   These were extraordinary men. But, these were “flesh and blood” interpretations. A shadow of the Son of Man. Each was built on a false and imperfect premise. This strived to understand men and events from a perspective of human logic.  A contrast to God’s revelation in the Scriptures.

C.       Today, the world’s responses differ little from those found in the text. At the basis of these opinions is human reason riddled with sin. People choose a classification of Jesus that fits their needs. It serves their desires at the moment. To them Jesus is just another spiritual guide seeking loyalty.  Fickle people. Then and now. Find no comfort in the claim that Jesus is more than greatest among great men. He is superior to them all.

II.     The second question was addressed once again to the disciples. “But you, who do you, say I am?” (V.15)

A.      Jesus asked for a confession of the lips. That stems from a conviction of the heart. Peter, ever the spokesman for the Twelve, responded with the words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16). Jesus, the long-expected Messiah.  The one God had promised. Since the fall of mankind into sin. He was the Savior of the world. Whose mission was the defeat and destruction of sin, death, and the power of the devil.
This was no mere human. Elevated to the highest category of honor. This was God Himself. He defied simple human descriptions.

B.      God revealed Jesus to Peter. Such understanding was not transmitted from one person to the other. As secondhand information. One who is infinitely greater than flesh and blood revealed the identity of Jesus to Peter.

C.       Today, the faithful of God continue to confess, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” Through Word and Sacrament, Christ, the Son of the Living God, is ever revealed to humankind. Not be human means. But by the Spirit of God. He calls. Enlightens. Sanctifies. And keeps you. He calls you by the Gospel. He enlightens you with His gifts. He sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth. And keeps you with Jesus Christ, in the true faith. 

III.   And now, the critical question is addressed to each of us, “You, who do you, say that I am?

A.      We can answer the question only through the intervention of the Holy Spirit in your life. The Spirit’s means are Word and Sacrament.  They come to the troubled heart of the sinner. The saving faith freely given by God leads each one of us to confess: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

B.       The source of our confession and our actions is the faith the Spirit gives us.  Because Jesus is the Christ. Your sins are forgiven. Because Jesus is the Christ. You are empowered to live a new life. Because Jesus is the Christ. You have the sure certainty of eternal life.

So.  What do you think of Jesus? Who is He? The answer to this question defines your identity. It determines your destiny.
Words –800
Passive sentences -15%
Reading Ease –74.9
Reading level – 4.7

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Time in the Word - Proper 16

There Is No Other God than Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 18 August 2014Psalm 2:6–7; Psalm 117; Antiphon, Psalm 115:18—Next Sunday’s Introit comes is take from three psalms. Psalm 2 is one of the most important messianic psalms, pointing directly to Christ. Psalm 117, the shortest psalm, is Hallelujah song that calls upon all nations to praise the Lord for His steadfast love and faithfulness in keeping His promise to send a Savior to redeem us from sin. The antiphon expands the call to praise the Lord to all time. Thus, all people everywhere and of all times, Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014Psalm 138—The beginning three verses and ending two verses of this psalm of David are David’s vow to praise the Lord for His deliverance and protection. The middle three verses, like the Introit call upon all the kings of the earth to give thanks and sing of the ways and the glory of the Lord. His love and mercy extend to all peoples of all time. Christ is the Redeemer of the entire world.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014Isaiah 51:1–6—In chapter 40, the Lord said, “Comfort, comfort My people.” The comfort would be provided by a Savior, one who would deliver His people out of exile in Babylon, out of exile in a land of idolaters. Chapter 42 begins telling us of this great Savior, who is portrayed as a Suffering Servant. The portion of Isaiah 51 used for next Sunday’s Old Testament reading once again assures God’s people of the comfort which He will provide them: joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. From where would such comfort be provided? He would be a Descendant of Abraham and Sarah (v. 2), but would bring His light to the peoples, that is, all peoples, not just other descendants of Abraham and Sarah, but for us Gentiles, as well.

Thursday, 21 August 2014Romans 11:33—12:8—St Paul’s splendid hymn of praise at the end of chapter 11 follows several chapters of his teaching about the salvation of all people—Jews and Gentiles alike—and extols the wisdom and knowledge of the one true God who conceived of, and brought about His plan of Salvation.

He then gives practical advice as to what shape our response to God’s love and mercy in Christ ought to take: in leading lives that are acceptable to God, who, by His Word, transforms our minds, that we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Friday, 22 August 2014Matthew 16:13–20—The Holy Christian Church is founded upon the confession of Peter—that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This Church, the Body of Christ, is not distinguished by race or origin, but by those who despair of their own works and trust solely in the merits of Christ, the promised Redeemer, for their salvation.

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

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

Saturday, 23 August 2014—Sunday’s hymn of the day is Built on the Rock (LSB #645). It is based on the Gospel reading, the confession of St Peter which is the Rock on which Christ’s Church is founded. The last stanza confesses the same truth which is confessed in the Augsburg Confession: The Church is the congregation of saints in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered.

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

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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Proper 15

Proper 15
17 August 2014
Matthew 15:21-28
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 does Jesus feel about her?  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. Or privileges. None! Not. A. Single. One. She wasn’t entitled. No one owed her anything. She stands there - alone.

2.            She was a Gentile with no claim on a Jew. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs” Vs. 26 Jews referred to gentiles as “dogs.”  Jesus is simply stating fact. The disciple’s perceptions and views of Gentiles will have to change. And, in time, they will.  Peter would one day realize: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him." . Later, all would recognize the fact that the gospel is for all. "When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, 'Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.'" 

3.            She was a pagan, a devotee of a false religion. And the demands of the law were clear. Have nothing to do with them. Be ye separate. 

She had reason to nag!

1.            She had a serious need. Her daughter was possessed. By a demon. The demons were in a fight with Jesus. They would lay hold of any victim they could find. From the time of Adam to this very hour, the devil acts as a narcissus. In order to strike out at God he attacks the children. She had a mother’s love. She didn’t say, “Help her!” She says, “Help me!” Her daughter’s problem was her problem. Her daughter’s issue was her issue.  No one could help her. Except Jesus, standing before her.

2.            She had humility. Notice her posture. Face down. Hands extended. ”Help me!” She cried! It’s the same prayer you pray, “Kyrie Eleison!” Lord, have mercy!  She does not care about anything. Other that this Prophet can help her daughter. And she will not be discouraged, depressed, dejected, or frightened. She did not demand. She had nothing to give. But she would plead, and beg, and petition Jesus until she got her miracle.

When you find yourself in dire circumstances continue to pray. Continue to seek Jesus’ help and comfort. Never, ever give up. Pray without ceasing. Embrace endurance. 

3.            She had faith. "Son of David" is a Messianic term. This tells us she knew something of the promise of God the Father to send a Savior. She addressed Jesus as that Messiah. Where had she learned this? We are not told. But, she is correct. It would have been easy for her to turn away. In anger. Or sorrow. Or pride. She saw Jesus as the only hope for her daughter. She would not turn away! “O woman” says Jesus. This is a statement of endearment. Of love. And affection. After three strikes,…she gets…a miracle! Jesus replies, “Great is your faith!”  She asks for crumbs and gets…Jesus! It’s all about bread – It’s all about Jesus - the bread of life!

Great faith brings great rewards. This took courage. It took commitment. It took a spirit that refused to be daunted. Her faith was tested. She passed the test. The apostles are starting to wake up. They received a lesson that day that they would remember. Salvation is open to all who come in repentance and faith.
Words –655
Passive sentences –2%
Reading ease – 86.3%

Reading level – 2.8