Sunday, July 31, 2016

Joseph of Arimathea

Merciful God, Your servant Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burial with reverence and godly fear and laid Him in his own tomb. As we follow the example of Joseph, grant to us, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pentecost 11 - Proper 13

Proper 13
31 July 2016
Luke 12:13-21
The parable of the rich fool

Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” If it does not consist of material goods. Of what does life consist? Most people feel that money is the key to real living. After winning the lottery, a woman once exclaimed, “Now I’m going to start living!” People need to know what makes life worthwhile.

O God, the Protector of all who trust in You, without whom nothing is strong and nothing is holy, increase and multiply Your 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.

Possessed by one’s possessions

We need to have a balance in life. We need to learn how to handle our possessions so that our possessions will not handle us. Jesus is not condemning possessions. There is no virtue in being poor, needy, or devoid of material needs. It is a matter of keeping perspective. Do you possess your possessions? Or, do your possessions control you? Are you a slave to material goods? It is not a question of being rich or having fabulous homes, expensive jewelry, and having a high income. It is not only the super – rich who can become obsessed with possessions. Even those of modest means can become enslaved to their possessions – No matter how many or how few they may be. To be possessed by your possessions means.

1. You are greedy for possessions. "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." V. 15

A. Can you handle success? Can you handle wealth? Most people who strike it rich winning the lottery are broke within five to seven years. It wasn’t the money per se. It was their priorities. It was their attitude toward it. Your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions. We live in a consumed consumer society that shouts at us every day saying, “You need more of this, you won’t be happy without that, you need to look this way, and have these things in order to be accepted, respected and valued by others.” The truth of the matter is this; the things of this world are passing away and only the things of eternity last forever.

B. Can you remember what you received for Christmas when you were seven? So why do you think that your children will be scared for life if they don’t have the latest thing? Remember that day in your life. At the time, what you received might have been the most wonderful thing in the world. Now. Looking back. And reflecting. You now come to realize that what was truly important was having the people who mattered most in your life with you.

2. To be possessed by your possessions means you never get enough possessions. “He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'” V. 17

A. In just a few weeks it will be here, once again, college move- in day. It’s amazing how much “stuff” an 18-year old can cram into a dorm room! What is amazing to me and I see it each year we take our children and their “stuff” back to campus is those students who arrive in a big honking’ SUV pulling a U-Haul which is bigger than the dorm room itself! And remember this student will have a roommate who has come with all of his stuff as well.

B. We can never be satisfied because we always want more. You receive an e-mail from a Mr. Abu-Bakr in Nigeria. He claimed to be the friend to the son of the late senator of Nigeria. You were recommended to him as an honest and reliable person. To whom he can entrust a sum of money. He explains ~ the son of the late senator is sending $22 million dollars out of the country. For your help he will give you 20% of the total. He is confident you would not keep all of the money. Like someone in Germany did a year ago. He asked you to send him your address, fax and phone number, and bank account number. He assures you of privacy. He hoped to hear from you immediately. You don't get something for nothing. We all know that. But why do so many fall for such a scam? We are all tempted by greed.

C. One author put it this way. “If you look carefully you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that cause unhappiness. The name of that thing is Attachment. What is an attachment? An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy... Here is a mistake that most people make in their relationships with others. They try to build a steady nesting place in the ever-moving stream of life.” [1]

3. To be possessed by your possessions means you trust your possessions to give the good life. “And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." V. 19

A. Greed seeks worldly things, which must not be equated with true "living”. We stumble when material possessions become a substitute for the proper object of a person's search and worship--God. Therefore, greed . . . is idolatry!

God addresses the man on his own pragmatic terms. He is dealing not with matters of the kingdom or of life beyond death, but with the question of the disposition of his possessions. What will happen to all my stuff? This underscores the fact that in the end he will have to "leave it all." Then it will be someone else’s problem. Walk into any antique shop. It is filled with other people’s stuff. You will never see a U-Haul following a hearse.

Solomon reminds us of this reality in the book of Ecclesiastes. “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.” - Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

B. Since you can’t take it with you. Since things will not bring eternal happiness. We trust in that one thing needful. The only thing that can cause true contentment and joy, which is the person Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Contentment, joy, peace, happiness is not found in the amount and the value of your possessions but in knowing Jesus Christ. Trust not in princes. They are but mortal. Look to Christ. Where He may be found. There and there alone will we find lasting peace and joy.

Under Jesus’ protection and by His gifts you can experience the best life can offer. Jesus offers a completely new meaning to living. He provides full satisfaction and perfect guidance. He is your sufficiency. With Him, there is both peace and contentment.

Words –1,270
Passive Sentences –7%
Readability –80.4
Reading level – 4.8

[1]Anthony de Mello's 'The Way to Love.'

Friday, July 29, 2016

Mary, Martha Lazarus of Bethany


Lord, teach us to be like Jesus' death friends from Bethany, that we might serve Him faithfully like Martha, learn from Him earnestly like Mary, and ultimately be raised by Him like Lazarus. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

J S Bach

Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness, You have taught us in Holy Scripture to sing Your praises and have given to Your servant Johann Sebastian Bach grace to show forth Your glory in his music. Continue to grant this gift of inspiration all Your servants who write and make music for Your people, that with joy we on earth may glimpse Your beauty and at length know the inexhaustible richness of Your creation in Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

St. James the Elder, Apostle

O gracious God, Your servant and apostle James was the first among the twelve to suffer martyrdom for the name of Jesus. Pour out upon the leadeers of Your church that the spirit of self-denying servicee that they may forsake all false and passing allurements and follow Christ alone, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Proper 12

Proper 12
July 24, 2016
Luke 11:11-13
A God who loves to Give

Jesus has given us the Lord’s Prayer. He teaches persistence in prayer. It is common practice for many to ask once and soon forget. How long should we pray for something? How do you respond to unanswered prayer?  Can you take “no” as an answer?

Jesus teaches there is no limit to the number of times we should pray. A neighbor wanting bread comes at midnight. When his friend is in bed. He keeps pestering and pounding. Until in desperation for needed sleep, he gets out of bed and gave the food. It wasn’t because of friendship. But because his friend would not quit bothering him. He would not take “No” for an answer. Jesus teaches that we should ask, seek, and finally, knock.  Never quit.  Never, ever give up! Persistence in prayer is necessary.

Grant us Lord, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are pleasing in Your sight that we, who without You cannot do anything that is good, may by You be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

We may be tempted. To think of Christ’s unwillingness to hear us. So, we use prayer. Especially persistent prayer. To eke out of Him some favor. Or, to find an answer to our needs. To receive an answer to prayer. We might become concerned about the quality of our prayer. Or, the moral standing of the one who prays. This is unnecessary according to Jesus. The Father is more willing to give than we are to ask. Your heavenly Father lives to give. He exists to hear. He dwells to answer. Ask. Seek. Knock. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” –Luke 11:9

What has your heavenly Father promised to give?

1. He promises to give good gifts. "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Vv. 11, 12

A. God your heavenly Father, like any good earthly father, gives only good gifts. The point is, ‘you just can’t imagine a father who would do this!’ “I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.” – 2 Corinthians 6:18 He is not reluctant to give gifts. He does not have to be persuaded to help. As a father gives only good gifts. God, your heavenly Father gives even more to His children. “With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”[1]  

B. If one asks for a fish. He does not give a serpent. Here the Savior teaches us how to pray the right way. We pray as a child to a magnificent Father. We pray confidently as Abraham prayed. We pray as the persistent and unrelenting friend kept knocking. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us with these words, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” –Hebrews 4:16

C. The Father’s gifts are only and always good. They are forever helpful for us. Even when the Father is silent.

The Father’s timing is always perfect. When the Father is silent it may be that it is not the right time for Him to answer. At the time we ask, we may not be ready for the gift. If we do not keep asking, when the time is right, we may not be receptive. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” – Psalm 103:13

2. He promises the best gift. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" V. 13

A. The best gift is the Holy Spirit. Of all the gifts, the Holy Spirit is the best. The Father’s kingdom comes to us, “…when our heavenly Father give us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.” [2]

B. How many pray for the Spirit? How many realize the Spirit is the best gift God could ever give us?  We do not pray that God’s kingdom of power would come. Because that is already present everywhere. Instead, we ask God to give us His Holy Spirit so that we believe His Word and lead godly lives as members of His kingdom of grace.[3]    Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.–Mark 1:15 

It is easy to become distracted during these difficult days. We need to have a single solitary focus – bringing many others into the Father’s kingdom. Being used of Him to extend His kingdom of grace. Our petitions must include that our Lord would hasten the coming of His kingdom of glory. “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! – Revelation 22:20

C. Why is the Spirit the best gift? The Spirit is God. To Have the Holy Spirit is to have God in you, with you, for you. The Lord assures us. He promises. He guarantees that His means of grace will establish and sustain His kingdom. “My word…shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the things for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

Can there ever be anything better than God your heavenly Father and His gracious will for you?  We know that the will of God will always be done in our lives. The psalmist reminds us, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” – Psalm 115:3…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13

As His name must be hallowed and His kingdom come whether we pray or not, so also His will must be done and succeed. This is true even though the devil with all his followers raise a great riot, are angry and rage against it, and tries to exterminate the Gospel completely. But for our own sakes, we must pray that, even against their fury. His will be done without hindrance among us also. We pray so that they may not be able to accomplish anything and that we may remain firm against all violence and persecution and submit to God’s will.”[4]

Words – 1,215
Passive Sentences –3%
Readability –83.6%
Reading Level –4.3

[1] Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Small Catechism
[2] Explanation to the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Small Catechism
[3] For what do we pray in the Second Petition? Luther’s Small Catechism
[4] Luther’s Large Catechism, III 68

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mary Magdalene

Almighty God, Your Son Jesus Christ restored Mary Magdalene to health and called her to be the first witness of His resurrection. Heal us from all infirmities, and call us to know You in the power of Your Son's unending 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.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Commemoration of Ezekiel

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Ezekiel, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son our Savior, the final end times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Commemoration of Elijah

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Elijah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrated through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and Sacraments, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Commemoration of Ruth

O God, whose never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and earth, we humbly implore You to put away from us all hurtful things and to give us those things that are profitable to us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Commemoration of Isaiah

Isaiah, mighty seer in days of old,
The Lord of all in spirit did behold
High on a lofty throne, in splendor bright.
With robes that filled the temple courts with light.
Above the throne were flaming seraphim;
Six wings had they, these messengers of Him.
With two they veiled their faces as was right,
With two they humbly hid their feet from sight.
And with the other two aloft they soared;
One to the other called and praised the Lord:
"Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God the Lord of  Sabaoth!
His glory fills the heavens and the earth!"
The beams and lintels trembled at the cry,
And clouds of smoke en-wrapped the throne on high.

Isaiah, Mighty Seer in Days of Old - Lutheran Service Book #960 © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

Prayer for our countryAlmighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a untied people. Defend our liberties, and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government the spirit of wisdom that they may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful. In troubled times do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Proper 9

Proper 9
3 July 2016
Luke 10:1–20
Luke 10: 16
Get a move on!

Our Lord desires all people to be saved. And come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4). But how are people to believe in Jesus Christ? If they have not heard of Him? If they have not had the Gospel proclaimed to them? (Romans 10:14) Jesus sent out 72 men to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus. Likewise, the Church’s witness is met by different responses.

Some people are eager to hear of the forgiveness of sins performed by Christ’s death on the cross. Others reject it. Some refuse the forgiveness Christ offers. But what a glorious day it shall be for those who are in Christ. Who gratefully receive His gift of salvation.

Almighty God, You have built Your Church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. Continue to send Your messengers to preserve Your people in true peace that, by the preaching of Your Word, Your Church may be kept free from all harm and danger; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." - Luke 10:16

Who are you? As a follower of Jesus Christ. You are His ambassadors – a representative of the Savior. Who speaks and acts in the place of Christ. You are Christ’s surrogates! Some may ask, “So, what’s the hurry?” There must be concern. For there are people missing from the Father’s table. Yet, there are some who have become indifferent showing little concern for those outside. “There is a church on almost every corner! I can see three steeples from my back yard! If they want to go to church – pick one!” Or, some think one religion is as good as the next. We might see our neighbors live as good a life as most church members. This is not the feeling of Jesus about winning people for the Kingdom.

Throughout our text – Jesus emphasizes the urgency of going out and witnessing through visitation. Yes, visitation, which is essential today. Because people will not come to the church. The church must therefore meet people where they are. Today we examine the urgency of winning people for Christ.

1. The condition of this world – v.3 “Lambs in the midst of wolves.”
A. This is how the Savior viewed the people of His day. The Savior saw people who were lost. Without purpose. Lonely. And fearful.

B. Does this not describe the people of our day? This weekend we celebrate America’s independence. We live in the most affluent countries of the world. And yet. This affluence has not helped to cure the hurt of so many. Globalization might be good for countries. It might be good for corporations. But not always for the persons within those countries and corporations. Why have so many lost their way? They are Lambs in the midst of wolves. And, most especially, they are missing from the Father’s table.

2. The time is ripe – v.2 “the harvest is plentiful.”

A. Another wheat harvest is upon us. When I put the initial notes together for this discussion spring had was just beginning to break. Fields were beginning to green up. How will the growing season go? Soon we shall know. So far so good. Zucchini, beans, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes - are all starting to flower and flourish in the garden.  Garlic and Swiss chard is in abundance.  

B. But in a far more significant way. There is a harvest of souls waiting. Peter was called to be a fisher of men. In your life, in your interaction with family, co-workers, neighbors and friends the Savior gives you opportunity to be a witness for Him. Who will go to them? If not you – who?

3. Avoid delays – v.3 “salute no one on the road.”

A. There was a singleness of purpose in the Savior’s words. There should be no delays. No interruptions. No distractions. There was a harvest ready. It was time to go now! It was time to move.

B. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the time to make use of every opportunity the Lord gives us to share His message of salvation. We go now. Because there might be another opportunity. There might not be a tomorrow. Avoid delays. Avoid distractions. With a singleness of purpose. Share the good news. Gossip the gospel.

4. The imminence of the Kingdom – v.9 “The Kingdom of God has come to you.

A. Although they did not know it. For they could not recognize Him. The Lord of life was in their midst. God had come to visit His people. The people need to hear the message of salvation.

B. Today the Savior calls us to share this same message, “The Kingdom of God has come to you.” Make use of every opportunity the Lord gives you to share His story with all you meet.

These words. Spoken by men. Seem so ordinary. So common. But if that word has its basis in God’s written Word, Holy Scripture, it is God’s effective way of bringing His kingdom near. God continues to bring his kingdom near through people and the words they speak. May the Lord use you as you speak His Word to your neighbors, family and friends.

Words – 947
Passive Sentences – 2%
Reading ease –81.1%
Reading level -4.0

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for personal and congregational use