Sunday, October 26, 2014

Time in the Word - Proper 26

The Lessons for this week fall under the theme The Price of Christian Leadership. A national election is upon us. People ask the pressing question who shall lead us and what will tomorrow bring. We need not fear for the Lord directs us. He orders our days. He directs our path. We pray that the Lord would raise up godly people to use their talents for the praise of God and in service to the neighbor. At what price will we be willing to serve?  The appointed psalm for the day is. Psalm 43 (antiphon; V.3) In the Old Testament lesson Micah 3:5-12 – we see the price of true instruction in God’s truth. In the Epistle lesson 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 – Paul explains the price of godly living. In the Gospel, Matthew 23:1-12 – Jesus explains the price of humble service

Two simple yet heart felt Prayers Almighty God, source of every blessing, your generous goodness comes to us anew every day. By the work of Your Spirit, lead us to acknowledge Your goodness, give thanks for Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience.

Lord, we pray that Your grace may always precede and follow us that we may continually be given to good works

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.

A prayer before we study the Word Almighty 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.

Collect for Reformation Almighty and gracious Lord pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Collect for All Saints Day: Almighty and everlasting god, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into on holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect for Proper 25 -Merciful and gracious Lord, You cause Your Word to be proclaimed in every generation. Stir up our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may receive the proclamation with humility and finally be exalted at the coming of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Monday, October 27, 2014 – Psalm 34:1-2, 11, 22 - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Psalm 9:18: “For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 Micah 3:5-12 – The price of true instruction in God’s truth. The false prophets predicted peace for Judah while Micah predicted destruction and captivity. One of the chief purposes of Micah was to declare to Judah it sin. Micah along with the rest of the prophets were Spirit-filled messengers. The destruction of Jerusalem happened in history in 586 BC. These verses were quoted a century later in Jeremiah 26:18  Jeremiah 26:19 indicates that Micah’s preaching may have been instrumental in the revival under King Hezekiah. (see 2 Kings 18:1-6; 2 Chronicles 29-31) The words you speak today might not take root until one hundred years from now. We are not called to see results but to remain faithful.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 – The price of godly living. In the 1st Century moral standards were generally very low. Chasity was regarded as an unreasonable restriction. Paul however, would not compromise God’s clear and demanding standards. The warning was needed then and is needed now. Christians are not immune to temptations. (See 1 Corinthians 5:1)

We are not our own. Sexual sin harms others beside those who engage in it. In adultery, the spouse is always wronged. Premarital sex wrongs the future partner by robbing him or her of the virginity that ought to be brought to marriage. Here we see a motive for chasity.

Still another reason for chasity is God’s call to holiness. Sexual sin is against God. He gives the Holy Spirit to believers for their sanctification. To live in sexual immorality is to reject God. Specifically in regard to the Holy Spirit.

Some in the congregation were taking undue interest in other people’s affairs. The Greeks in general thought manual labor degrading and fit only for slaves. Christians took seriously the need for earning their own living. But some, perhaps as a result of their belief in the imminent return of Christ were neglecting work an relying on others to support them. Christians in need because of their idleness are not obedient Christians.   

Thursday, October 30, 2014 Matthew 23:1-12 – The price of humble service. The warning here is against seeking titles of honor to foster pride. Doubly zealous for ritual purification, which fostered pride and false security and brought no salvation was the downfall of these false teachers of the law.

Friday, October 31, 2014 – Psalm 43 - This Psalm is appointed for this coming Sunday.  The key verse is verse 3. This psalm is a prayer for deliverance from the enemy and for restoration to God’s presence. The key verse personified as God’s messenger who work our God’s salvation. He shows His faithful care on behalf of His own. Thus we pray with the psalmist, may these guide me back to Your temple.

Saturday, November 1, 2014 –Luke 24:29 - Our reading is the inspiration for tomorrow’s sermon hymn, LSB #585 “Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide” The two Emmaus disciples urged Jesus, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening, the day is almost over.” We pray, Lord, abide with me. Jesus responds. “ So He went in to stay with them.” Jesus is always with you. He will never forsake, never abandon, never leave you. This is His promise, “I am with you always!” Not a wish but a constant reality. The Lord sticks with you forever.

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use

Friday, October 24, 2014


26 October 2014
Romans 3:19-28
Living By Works or Faith?

Upon reading St. Paul’s letter to the Romans Martin Luther finally got it. He discovered the answer for which he had been searching. How does a person get right with God? Is it by works? Or by faith? Let’s see how Luther was drawn to the Gospel message of grace as Paul speaks to us this morning.

The quest of getting right with God is a timeless question. It’s an issue with which each generation must wrestle. How can the sinner approach God?  St. Paul addresses this important question.

1. The whole world is involved - Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God V. 23
A.    All have sinned. No one is exempt.  There is not a single religion known to man which states that man is somehow perfect, or that he is exempt from sin. Each will readily admit that man is far from perfect. But in trying to justify himself the people of the world will conclude one of two possibilities - either God will make up for the bad or he will somehow close His eyes to your sin. Yet this kind of religion will not stand the test of every man.  We therefore must come to God through Christ who, as Paul explains to us, has freed us from the punishment of which our sin has brought us.   (but) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; V.24

B.    Redemption is a free gift! It is given to us by God’s free favor, - with no strings attached. If it were anything else but a gift, we would have an obligation to God - which we could never repay. The Lord lavishes upon us His mercy and grace. As an offering of His love.

2. The whole world stands accountable to God. - Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; V.19
A.    The Law speaks to us in three ways.

1.    Curb – which checks our sin – where we fear punishment, retribution, and payback. The emotion which is employed is fear. When an exasperated and frustrated mother says to her children “just wait until your father gets home!” that’s the 1st use of the Law at work – fear.

2.    Mirror - Here we feel guilt. The Law shows us our sin. It shows us what we have done and what we have left undone.  It shows us our failing and our flaws. Embarrassment is a byproduct of the 2nd use of the Law.

3.    Ruler – Here we feel joy – as we can measure our faith – gladly doing those things, which the Lord would have us do. Only the Christian can experience this 3rd use – for only the Christian desires to please God.

B.    The Law condemns us before God.

1.    We are all under its curse. And it is a dreadful curse; it is the curse of death. “The souls which sins it will die” the Scriptures remind us and “The wages of sin is death.”
2.    It crushes us. Under the weight of sin no one can bear. Unless that burden and load is removed, we will be eternally devastated.  

3. We need Christ to bear our sin because of the inability of the Law to reconcile – Romans 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law {comes} the knowledge of sin. V.20
A.    The Law shows us the knowledge of sin; which always condemns, and always destroys. There is no saving power in the Law. The Law can only charge, prosecute, and indict us. The Law always accuses. 

B.    No one can be justified by means of following the Law. If all it can do is charge us as guilt, there is nothing the Law can do to free us from its curse.

4. In answering the question – how do we get right with God we must conclude reconciliation therefore is a gift. – Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; V. 24
A.    To be reconciled with God – to be at one with Him - comes through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. The Gospel message is at the same time so simple and yet so significant. It is so straightforward that a mere child can know and accept it.  Yet, at the same time, it challenges us.     

B.    It is a gift given freely by God. The hymn writer put it so clearly – “not the labors of my hands could fulfill Thy law’s demands…”  What we are unable to do the Savior does for us. He forgives our sins and credits our account.

5.    This gift of God is made possible only by grace. – Romans 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. {This was} to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; V. 25

A.    God passed over sins previously committed. This was demonstrated in the Passover event in the Old Testament. When the Lord saw the blood splattered on the doorpost He bypassed that house and spared those who remained inside. They were safe because of the mark. What He did in Egypt he does in your life.

God’s mark was placed on you on the day you were baptized. You received the sign of the a cross upon your forehead and upon your heart as a sign that you have been redeemed by Christ the crucified. When you make the sign of the cross {as a devotional aid} you are reminding yourself of this reality. Because of the cross – your sins are forgiven. The Father has passed them over.  

B.    Likewise, Christ’s sacrifice for sin is a sacrifice that satisfies and angry and offended God. What good news. “There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

C.    God is now appeased – Christ has compensated for us. There is nothing left to be done.

Christ has accomplished everything we need to be in a right relationship with God. Christ has done it all. He has done all things well.

D.   Saving faith looks to Jesus Christ in His sacrificial death for us. When we say there is “faith in his blood” we simply mean there is faith in what Jesus’ blood has purchased and won for us, for “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.”

6.    It is necessary for faith to appropriate the gifts. Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law V. 28

A.    When Luther translated this verse into German, he added the word “alone”.  It’s not faith plus works. Not faith plus my prayers. Not faith plus my co-operation. Not faith plus my pious behavior, actions and activities. It is faith and faith alone which saves. 

B.    Faith is not man’s contribution or decision, but a gift of God. Even your faith is a gift, which comes from God. The Scriptures are quite clear on the matter. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word of God.” Even your faith, which clings only to merits of Jesus Christ, is a good and gracious gift of God.

What more could be said then to add what Paul has stated in Ephesians 2:8-9  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

Words – 1,286
Passive Sentences – 10%
Readability –83%
Reading Level – 4.4

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Proper 24

Proper 24
19 October 2014
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;

These words of Jesus were spoken at the temple in Jerusalem. It's Wednesday of Holy Week -

The Pharisees took counsel on how to trip Jesus up. Jesus had been destroying them. Now there is a time of grace. But not for long. The end will come.

There was no inconsistency in Jesus' words. They wanted to find fault with Him.

Pharisees began to plot against Jesus in response to His actions in healing on the Sabbath day, and drew the Herodians into their conspiracy.

These Pharisees.  They send their disciples along with the Herodians to confront Jesus. Yes!  Pharisees and Herodians in bed together. These Herodians were considered unclean. Pharisees and Herodians were mortal enemies. They  did not like each other. These Herodians.  Were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great, and to his dynasty. They would refer to Herod as, "The King of the Jews!"

They begin by complementing Him. Be aware when they serve desert before dinner.

They flattered Jesus for His honesty and impartiality, then questioning Him politically in relation to His attitude to paying Roman taxes. Jesus did appear to have impressed the Herodians with his reply: "... they marveled (εθαυμασαν) at Him".

What do you think? We know you teach the way of God and truth. It doesn't matter to you nor does it concern you. You do not look into the face of men. Is it lawful to pay tribute, to participate in the census    to Caesar? (And what were His parents doing?) Is it permissible to participate in government?

Jesus knowing their evil asks them, "Why do you tempt me?" Remember the warning of the apostle James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations." (James 1:2)

"Show me the tribute'" Jesus responds. They displayed  a denarius.

"Whose image portrait is on it?"
"Caesar," they reply.
"Give to CAESAR what belongs to Caesar. And to GOD what belongs to God."

Jesus has no desire to get into a political debate. Especially when He knows their heart and their intent.

There are more pressing matters. Its Holy Week! It's Wednesday! In 48 hours Jesus will be dead. The cross is coming into view. It can't be avoided. It compels Him.

Jesus is content for His followers to render loyalty to Caesar , who is an earthly King. Render to Caesar what he is due;  taxes, revenue, respect. But to Christ, the King of Kings, we owe Him our lives.

“When they heard it they left Him.”  Literally, they let it go. Is this not the definition of forgiveness? Your sin, it's gone. It's been nailed to Jesus' cross. He bore your sin in His own body on the bloody cross of Calvary. That you might die to sin. And live to Him.

There at the cross we fund a great exchange. Your flaws and failures. Given in exchange for Christ's perfection. He renders you to God...offering His own body as the payment for your sin. 

As a Christian, a follower of Jesus; the Christ, the King of Kings, you owe Him everything. For Caesar there is an obligation. Try to evade paying taxes. You won't go far. Run afoul of law, and you must pay the consequences. For King Jesus, the debt you owe for your sin, the bill is marked, "paid in full!"

Jesus gives you NOT religion. Religion says, "If you change first, you may join us." Jesus invites you. He simply says, "Come, join and follow Me, and you'll be changed."

So, what's your obligation to Jesus?

"For all which it is my duty to thank and praise and serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true!
Words – 679
Passive Sentences – 5%
Readability – 79%

Reading Level – 4.0

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Proper 23

October 12
Proper 23
Matthew 22:1-14

Enlighten our minds, we pray, O God, by the Spirit who proceeds from You that, as Your Son has promised, we may be led into all through truth;

Yet another parable of Jesus –

God in His mercy desires all to be saved. He wants all to be included into the family. Yet each guest must have the proper clothes. The King Himself provides everything. Even the necessary garments.

To refuse to wear it is to show contempt to the host. To insult the king. Refusing to sit at the banquet on the king’s terms is to become self-righteous. Discarding, Eliminating. Denying. Refusing. Rejecting the righteousness God offers through Jesus Christ.

Anyone who thinks he does not need the garment of righteousness Jesus secured for him must suffer the consequences. Everyone is welcome at the wedding feast. All have been invited. Yet you can be a guest only on the King’s terms. So take seriously the Father’s offer of grace. No excuses allowed. Your King not only invites all to come. He provides them with the necessary garments.

The Father calls, “Come…for all things are now ready!” The Father has prepared a dinner – salvation, forgiveness, life. That’s quite an offer. This invitation has been ready for a long time.

1.       The Father sends His invitation.

He doesn’t command people to come. He simply invites. He presupposed they would be there. This is salvation’s history. It was given to them. When the King invites, you to come - you go! It’s crazy to say no.

He doesn’t demand that we first make ourselves worthy. He simply invites. He won’t force us to eat.  He offers without cost. Yet many refuse the invitation. They allow activities acceptable in themselves to become more important than the Father’s invitation. We need to watch that we do not put off accepting this invitation. The consequences of such procrastination can be drastic.

2.       The Father invites all.

He sends His messengers out again.  He sent others. Everything has been made ready. Come to the feast! He keeps sending servants. His single desire is for them to be with Him. He won’t let the rejection by some prevent the banquet from taking place. He wants the food to be eaten. Now He advertises the menu. He’s giving them His best.

God shows no partiality or prejudice. When the respectable people refuse, He invites the lowly and the despised. He sends His servants to the off ramps and overpasses inviting all to come. There’s still room in the banquet hall!

3.       The Father invites on His own terms.
He provides for each guest the needed wedding garment. Not only has He prepared salvation, but He also makes it possible for all to partake of salvation. The wedding garment is the righteousness Christ earned for you. Which alone make you acceptable to God. This alone qualifies you to be a guest at the wedding feast.

You receive this garment by faith in Jesus. It was given to you personally when you were baptized. St. Paul puts it this way; “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6:3-6)

Without Christ’s righteousness, you are doomed. For your unrighteousness condemns you. While Christ’s righteousness cover our sins. We must be on guard lest we continue to love and practice sin. That would be as if I were to say, “Tammy is as fantastic chef. She’s the best cook in northeast Indiana. Her cooking skills are so good that I will prove to her by eating nothing but garbage and fast food for the next two months. And, if she tries to cook me something, I’ll throw it in the trash.  I choose to act this way so that come Thanksgiving, I’ll have a greater appreciation for her.”  Not a good plan! That would make no sense!   We come to Christ neither on our own terms nor by living a life of hypocrisy. The price of salvation came at a tremendous price. The price of Christ’s life. There are no other options.   

That would amount to playing games with the grace of God. That would mean that we are e no better off than the blatant unbeliever.  The hypocrite insists on making it on his own terms. Doing this his own way. Playing by his own rules. Refusing to trust in the merits of Christ.

The Father Himself has prepared a wedding dinner. What joy to hear “All things are ready!” To hear Him invite us and to receive from Him the beautiful garment of Christ’s righteousness is the mystery of His mercy and grace.

Words – 851
Passive Sentences – 8%
Reading Ease – 77.8%
Reading Level – 4.5

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Proper 22

Proper 22
Matthew 21:33-46
“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.
Words –974
Passive Sentences - 7%
Readability – 81.0
Reading Level -3.5