Monday, June 26, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 4 - Proper 8

Time in the Word
The Price of Being a Christian
Proper 8
June 26-July 1, 2017

Today’s lessons are uncomfortable. They give a side to the Gospel we often neglect. In the Gospel lesson, Jesus says He came to bring a sword and not peace, because a conflict naturally results when one makes Christ his first love. This produces a conflict with competing loves. The way of Christ is not easy; it is the way of the cross, a way of self-sacrifice and hardship. The Old Testament points out that the truth is not always peace but war. The truth hurts because it is often negative and judgmental.  Christians are called to be salt and light in this world. The role of a Christian in this world is that of a true prophet: “O thou troubler of Israel” and “Host thou fond me, O my enemy?” 

Collect for Proper 8O Almighty God, by the working of Your Holy Spirit grant that we may gladly hear Your Word proclaimed among us and follow it’s directing; through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

A simple yet heart-felt Prayer – “Almighty God, grant us a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, a cheerful hope in Your mercy, and a sincere love for You and one another.”

A Prayer of thanksgivingHeavenly Father, God of all grace, govern our hearts that we may never forget Your blessings but steadfastly thank and praise You for all Your goodness in this life until, with all Your saints, we praise You eternally in Your heavenly kingdom.

A Prayer for the Proper use of leisureO God, give us times of refreshment and peace in the course of this busy life. Grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds that we may be opened to the goodness of Your creation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

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

Monday, June 26, 2017Psalm 89:15-18 - This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 1, “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known You faithfulness to all generations.”  The love and faithfulness that appear here will be repeated fourteen times throughout the course of this Psalm. We trust in the mercies of our Lord because of His love and faithfulness.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017Jeremiah 28:5-9 – A true prophet is one whose message is fulfilled. One day two preachers were speaking in the temple. They contradicted each other and yet both claimed to be prophets. Whom were the people to believe? One says God will send peace; the other promises the way. Jeremiah gives the acid test: the true prophet is one whose preaching comes true. So, we have to wait and see who is right. 

Here we find God’s bad news (verses 5-8).  Most think God has only good news for us. According to this lesson, God has both good and bad news. For the rebellious and disobedient there is bad news – judgment, war, famine, and death. King Ahab referred to Elijah as “you troubler of Israel,” and “my enemy.”  Micah had bad news of defeat for the kings about to go to war. To say peace because people want to hear it is to be faithless to God who brings judgment upon a sinful people. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017Romans 7:1-13 – Paul warns Christians not to back into our former way of living. As far as Christians are concerned, a life “controlled by the sinful nature” belongs to our past. The law not only reveals sin, it also stimulates it. The natural tendency in man is to desire the forbidden thing – death. Physical death and beyond that, eternal death - final separation from God – are the fruit of our “union” with the law.

Thursday, June 29, 2017Matthew 10:34-42 –Jesus calls upon his disciples to love him above all others. Matthew continues in this lesson with the price of discipleship. In verses 34-36, Jesus declares that His coming will cause dissension in families because disciples will love Him more than any member of the family. In verses 37-39, Jesus calls upon His disciples to take up the cross and to lose themselves in His cause. To those who do this, Jesus promises rewards (verses 40-42). In this passage, we have the cost and reward of discipleship.

There are many rewards — reward of a prophet, or a righteous man, of a spokesperson and ambassador of Christ. “He who receives you receives me.” To accept a follower of Christ is to accept Jesus; to help a disciple is to help Christ. To reject a disciple is to reject Christ. What a high honor to be a surrogate of Christ!

Friday, June 30, 2017Psalm 119:153-160 – This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. It falls under the Hebrew letter “Resh” It is a psalm and prayer of deliverance. “See how I love your precepts; preserve my life…”

Saturday, July 1, 2017John 11:16 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn “Let us ever walk with Jesus” {LSB 685}. Thomas is ready to suffer all, even death, for the sake of Christ. Such commitment is necessary yet impossible without faith in Christ. Our prayer: Lord increase my faith!

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pentecost 3 - Proper 7

Romans and the Reformation 
A Series of Sermons Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation 

25 June – Proper 7 – Romans 6:12-23
We are now slaves to righteousness

We now enter into a new section of Paul’s letter to the Romans. (6:1-7:6) Paul begins with a discussion. He speaks of the nature of the power of the Gospel. Paul leads to assertions of the reality of the reconciliation and its peace even in the midst of affliction. 

Christ is always there for you. Even in your darkest hours. Even when you feel like there is no help left. Put your trust in Him. And he will lift you in His arms.  Even in the midst of your darkest hours. Christ remains present.  You can even glory in you weakness. For when you are weak. You are made strong by the power of Christ.  This change happens. Because of the sacramental effected change of lordship, Which has taken place in your baptism. You are not your own. You now belong to Christ.  

Delivered from sin and death, you now live before God in the righteousness of Christ.

1. The outcome of sin is death

A. "For the wages of sin is death," This we can see all around us. Common to human experience is the death of a loved one. Be they friend, family or other. We have all experienced grief loss and sadness. Yet Paul would remind us if the master is sin then we already know the outcome. It is only death. Death is the payment and the reward of sin. Paul uses a military term for wages. It refers to a soldier's daily pay. (opsonia)

B. And over against those wages is "the free gift of God" which is "eternal life in Jesus Christ."  The word "free gift" has buried in it the word grace. (charis) God's grace is the final word once again!

2. He has set you free.

A. From the slavery of sin, death, and the power and realm of Satan. And where does this freedom come from? It comes in your baptism. The place where the Father names you as His own dear child. And not because of what you have attained. Accomplished. Bought. Or achieved. This freedom comes to you simply because God has chosen to love you and adopt you as His own.

B. And has now brought you “from death to life." Because you have died to sin you have been raised to newness of life in Christ. No longer does sin reign over you. You now live in the light of your union with Christ. 

3. You are now a new person. Created in Christ Jesus.

A. No longer are you under the law. In Christ you died to sin. In Christ you were raised to newness of life. And thus you now live a new and different life in and through Him.

B. Now you live "under grace."   Because you have died to sin you have been raised you newness of life in Christ. Rather than presenting you bodies as servants of sin we now present our bodies as instruments of righteousness.

     1. Sin will have no dominion over you.
     2. Since you are no longer under law.
             a. The law always accuses. 
             b. The law always destroys.  

4.  Hope for today and tomorrow

A. Such is your courage in the face of those "who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."  Do not be afraid to speak clearly and openly what Christ has taught you. Be courageous to speak the truth of Scripture clearly and openly for all to hear even if it appears unpopular or dangerous. 

B. Although "you will be hated by all" maligned by the world for name of Christ. Any mistreatment for speaking the truth clearly and openly is not some unexpected, Accidental. Random, Meaningless experience. (Matthew 10:22, 25) That is just the way the world treated Christ. It is a sign that you belong to Christ. It's a sign that you are a part of His household. (See Hebrews 13:8) don't be afraid of the names they call you. Those very names. Bind you to Christ. 

C. You abide in the care of Christ.  Fear not. Your Father will not let anything happen to you apart from His gracious will. You are of more value than many sparrows. Not one of them will fall without your Father's will. No harm will befall you but what your Father Wills. If God has work for you to do you cannot die! 

So I appeal to you. Do not yield to the spirit of this age. Love the truth . What you learn of Christ in the closet speak in the light. What you hear in the Scriptures proclaim from the housetop. You need not fear the face of any man. You are in Christ.   

Words – 820
Passive Sentences –7% 
Readability –88.1%
Reading Level – 3.2
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Image of "death" taken from my goddaughter's blog and Facebook post

Monday, June 19, 2017

Time in the Word - Pentecost 3 - Proper 7

Time in the Word
Freedom from Fear
Proper 7
June 19-24, 2017

A simple yet heart felt Prayer – “O God, our defender, storms rage about us and cause us to be afraid. Rescue your people from despair, deliver your sons and daughters from fear and preserve us from unbelief.”

A Prayer for grace to use our giftsAlmighty God even as You bless Your servants with various and unique gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to grant us the grace to use them always to Your honor and glory; through Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

For Christian vocation - Heavenly Father, grant Your mercy and grace to Your people in their many and various callings. Give them patience, and strengthen them in their Christian vocation of witness to the world and of service to their neighbor in Christ’s name; through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray, 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.

The theme, “Freedom from Fear,” is prominent in the Gospel where Jesus says three times, “Fear not.” Jeremiah, in the Old Testament lesson experiences fear, though it is not specifically stated, of his enemies and is delivered from them by his trust in God. Because of sin, there is death which we instinctively fear and from which we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. The Prayer of the Day speaks of fear which is driven away when we “live secure and content in the Father’s eternal love. The suggested hymn of the day calls for a faith that will not disappear when oppression comes. It does not fear in general but the Christian’s fear of his/her enemies.  

Collect for Proper 6O God, because Your abiding presence always goes with us, keep us aware of your daily mercies that we may live secure and content in Your eternal love; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God now and forever. Amen

Monday, June 19, 2017Psalm 56:3-4; 10-11 - This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 13, “For You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”  David reminds us to make a confession of trust in the face of fear.  The confession is renewed throughout the Psalm but especially in the appointed verses for next Sunday. Especially when we face great difficulty, the Lord asks us to cling to His words and promises.   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017Jeremiah 20:7-12 – Jeremiah trusts God to deliver him from those who oppose his preaching.  Here is one who wants to quit but cannot. He decides not to preach but he finds himself driven to keep going. It is like a fire in his bones that must be expressed or explode! He is driven by an inner voice. The love of Christ, faith of God, the sense of obedience, impels, and compels one to witness regardless of popular acceptance.  Faith overcomes fear. In the midst of persecution, Jeremiah puts his trust in God’s deliverance from his enemies. He was sure God would vindicate him and his oppressors would be eliminated. His trust was justified, for when he was released from the dungeon, Jeremiah exulted, “Praise the Lord!” (v. 13).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017Romans 6:12-23 – In these verses, Paul explains what it means to be dead to sin (vv. 5-7) and alive to God (vv. 8-10).  Our victory over sin is refusal to let sin reign in one’s life (v. 12).  We do this as we offer ourselves to God Himself to be witnesses of His mercy and grace in this world. Hence the prayer for us to be mindful of our Christian vocation in this world.

Thursday, June 22, 2017Matthew 10:5a, 21-33 – The Disciples need not fear their enemies. Though the world may persecute Christ’s followers, the Father knows and cares for His people. Jesus has called His disciples and sends them out to preach and heal. As he was persecuted, his disciples could expect no less. 

They are not to fear those who can kill only the body. It is better to fear God who can kill body and soul. In spite of their hardship, the heavenly Father knows them as intimately as knowing the number of hairs on their heads and cares for them as he cares for even “worthless” birds. As they are faithful in their witness to God, He will be faithful to them.

Friday, June 23, 2017Psalm 91:1-10 – This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. The mention of terror or “threat” is reference to an attack by one’s enemies. Thus it is paired with “arrows.”  These two references to threats from war are arrayed alongside “pestilence” and “plague” (v. 6), two references to mortal diseases that often reached epidemic proportions. “night…day,” at whatever time of day or night the threat may come, you will be kept safe. The time references are not specific to their respective phrases.   

Saturday, June 24, 2017Psalm 79:9 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn “Lord of our life and God of our salvation.” {LSB 725}.  Taken from a prayer for God to heal and forgive His people and to redress the violent acts of their enemies. When we are attacked by slander, persecution, and the temptations of the devil, our world, and our own sinful self, we turn to Him who is our safe refuge, the Rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ the righteousness one.   

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pentecost 2 - Proper 6

Romans and the Reformation 
A Series of Sermons Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation 
18 June 2017 – Proper 6 - Romans 5:6-15

God Demonstrates His love for us

In his letter to the Romans, Paul addresses a predominantly Jewish audience. Jews living in Rome in the 1st Century understood life with the thought that there were, at any given time, three groupings of men living on planet earth. They believed that humanity was divided into three categories of class; the “righteous” (Tzadikim Nistarim) “good men” (Benim) and finally, “the sinners” or ‘evil-ones.’ (Resha’im) [1]  

The “righteous” were in a category all their own. They needed no help from God. They were already perfect, holy and pure. The world was still intact and would not spin out of control because there were at least a few righteous men on the earth at any given time. Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly destroyed because the Lord could not find any righteous men living there. Such righteous ones were men such as Abraham, Enoch, Elijah, and Job just to name a few. 

Those reading Paul’s letter for the first time, were very serious concerning their faith. Through ritual, a strict following of the law and by holy living they remained ethical, moral, principled, “good men.” Their goal was simple. To be better.

The rest were simply good for nothing. They were trolls. They were “the dirties” of the world. They were beyond help. They were to be shunned.  They were “the ungodly.” They were “helpless,” “sinners.” Beyond God’s mercy. Stay clear of them, they were warned.  They were to be avoided. At all costs.  So imagine the reaction that must have happened when Paul’s audience heard these remarkable words. 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8) This turned their moral compass upside down! It literally rocked their world!     

So how do you understand words such as love, mercy, and grace? The worldly do not grasp what true love means. God’s love for us reveals true love. Only by knowing Christ’s mercy are you able to show mercy. Again, this is not a natural characteristic of sinful humankind. By God’s grace, every believer not only knows these divine words but also believes them and lives them.  "When you were dead in your sins and in the un-circumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins." (COLOSSIANS 2:13). Thus God reveals His love for us.

I. While we were sinners, 
II. Christ has died for us.


A. Every believer lives a similar life to every other human being. Sin infects everyone’s lives. “While we were still sinners…” Verse 8b Paul comes straight to the point. No one can escape the effects of sin that affect all of mankind.

B. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Paul includes himself as a sinner when he uses the word “we”. Sin also lived in him. Sin is destructive. Humans are made “powerless”. No one can save himself. Sin is evil. “Ungodly” describes every sinful thought, word, or deed of any and every believer.

C. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Remember. The righteous need no one to take their place. The good might find a substitute in their place. The selfishness of sin means that very few are willing to sacrifice their lives for others.

D. Some try to deny that sin exists. Others try to explain away sin. Still others try to redefine the word sin. No matter what people try to do with sin, sin does not and will not go away. 

The old song sings. “Ain't no sunshine...Only darkness. Every day.”  Sin is still alive and well in our very own lives. Ever since the first sin of Adam no one can, will, or is able to escape sin. 

Each of us has inherited a sinful nature from our very first parents. We are not born into this world as friends of God but as enemies. "Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies." (PSALM 58:3). Life begins at conception. Sin starts with life. We are sinful.

E. By now we have come to realize the depth of destruction that sin causes in the lives of every living and breathing person on earth. The world drastically changed forever after sin entered the world. God promised Adam and Eve (and all mankind) a Savior. (GENESIS 3:15). 

Because of sin death entered the world. God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden so they would not eat from the tree of life. In the end, who would really want to live on this globe in this sinful life forever? "For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die" (EZEKIEL 18:4). No one can escape death. Death is a result of sin. Man dies because man sins.

F. God’s law reminds each one of us of our sinfulness. No one likes to hear how bad they are. We do not want to have all of our sins brought up for us to remember. Time and again, God’s law reminds each of us that we daily fall short of the glory of God. We sin daily. We sin much. Even worse, our sinful nature delights in doing that which is evil. "Wicked men…whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil." (PROVERBS 2:12-14). Such are our sinful lives. 

All too often we leave the path of righteousness. All too often we walk in dark ways, delight in doing wrong, and rejoice in evil. We are still sinners. “GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS LOVE FOR US…” We are still, always sinners. Christ has died for us.


A. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Believers as sinners are “powerless”. Believers acting as sinners are “ungodly”. Powerless to               save ourselves God sent his son, Christ, to die for sinners. 

B. Paul explains the depth of the meaning of Christ’s death for these believers who are powerless.
  Verse 8b: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is God’s great love for all. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!” Verse 9 Jesus’ blood cleanses all people from sin, God’s anger is gone.

C. For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Enemies of God are now made right (reconciled) with God. Enemies are now saved by grace. “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Believers’ lives are changed forever!

D. Once again, we begin to approach the depth of the meaning of God’s great love for each and every one of us. Our sins condemn us. We are powerless to save ourselves. Every day we sin against God with terrible thoughts, wicked words, and evil actions. The good that we ought to do and do not do is also sin. In spite of all of this our God loves us and forgives us. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (ISAIAH 53:6).

E. Graciously our loving Lord does not keep a record of our sins. The fact is that the Lord God Almighty sees sin as sin. In God’s eyes all sins are the same. Only in man’s thinking are there different degrees of sin. Big sins, small sins, worse sins, and not so bad sins are terms we use to describe sin. God’s term for missing the mark is simply sin. God’s forgiveness for our sins is simply complete. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 JOHN 1:7). Only by the blood of Jesus is there forgiveness. This holy blood of Jesus forgives all sin: not a few, some, or many but ALL sin. God shows us his great love

F. Like every other believer our lives are dramatically and drastically changed forever. “Powerless, ungodly” sinners are freely given complete forgiveness. Consider God’s great love for us undeserving and wretched sinners. We can never, ever repay the debt of love that God has shown to each and every one of us. Nor does God expect it. Our lives are changed. "Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own; eager to do what is good." (TITUS 2:14).

This is the story of grace. Christ gained more than Adam lost. You are restored back to God through the work of Jesus. 

As believers we can turn from that which is evil and be eager to do what is good. This makes all the difference in the world and for the world today. You are now the shining lights in today’s darkness. We do not deserve God’s great love. We cannot earn God’s mercy. It is only by the free grace of God that we are saved. We are sinners, always. 

We are sinners, forgiven of all sins. This is God’s great love to us and for us. This is also God’s great love to and for all humankind. 

The difference for believers is that we know we are sinners who have been freely forgiven purely out of God’s divine love, mercy, and grace. "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (EPHESIANS 2:4, 5) “GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE FOR US…” Even though we are sinners. Christ has still died for us.


Words – 1,815
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability – 82.4%
Reading Level – 4.3

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Time in the Word ~ Pentecost 2 - (Proper 6)

Time in the Word
The Formation of God’s People
Pentecost 2 (Proper 6)

June 12-17- 2017
The theme the Formation of God’s People places an emphasis upon God making a people for Himself. In the Old Testament lesson God through Moses tells the people they will be His people as long as they keep the Law. This they (and we too) failed to do. In the Epistle Paul explains that God still takes us s His people because Christ died for the disobedient and reconciled them to the Father. This good news is given by the called disciples who are sent to preach. The prayer for the Day refers to our calling to witness to the Gospel. The Psalm affirms that we are God’s people. The suggested Hymn of the Day deals with the spreading of the comfort the Christian has in knowing Christ came to seek the lost.

A Prayer for families – Almighty God behold the families of our congregation and community. We pray that You might be the ever present yet unseen guest in every home. Daily may we serve You that there might be harmony and peace. Keep us safe from the enemy and may Your blessings fall upon us like gentle rain.

A Prayer for purity– Almighty God unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, from whom no secrets are hidden, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love You and worthily magnify Your holy name.

For humility - Heavenly Father, 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.

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 Proper 6 – Almighty, eternal God, in the Word of Your apostles and prophets You have proclaimed to us Your saving will. Grant us faith to believe Your promises that we may receive eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for Pentecost 2 – O God, whose never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth, put away from us, we entrust you, all hurtful things, and give us those things tht are profitable for us; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. 

Monday, June 12, 2017 – Psalm 67:1-7 - This is the Psalm portion from which the Introit for next Sunday is taken. The antiphon is taken from verse 3, “Let the People praise You o God, let the people praise You.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 – Exodus 19:2-8 – Through obedience to the covenant the people at Sinai are reminded by the Lord that they are His people. God tells Moses that if the people will keep the covenant, they shall be his people. We do not know who we are until we know whose we are. If we belong to God, we understand who we are — children, sons, and servants of God. How did we become God’s possession?

We are his, first, by creation — “all the earth is mine,” and we are a part of the earth. Second, we are his by redemption — “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians ... and brought you to myself” (v. 4).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017– Romans 5:6-15 – Through the cross of Christ God’s love is seen as Christ dies for the sinner. God’s love is seen in Christ’s dying for sinners. It is not likely that anyone would die for a good person. How much less would one die for a bad person?

This is exactly what Jesus did — he died for us while we were yet sinners. He did not wait until we became good to die for us. There were no preconditions to be met. As a result of his atoning death, we are justified and in the coming judgment we will escape the wrath of God. If we are now reconciled by his death, we will move to be saved by his life. For what God has done for us in Christ, we rejoice in him. The love of God is seen in Jesus’ dying for sinners — worthless, evil, polluted people who are forever bent on doing evil. What did God see in a fallen man that he would give his Son to save a people like that? It is not human to do it; we would hardly die for a glorious man, let alone a wicked one. “While we were yet sinners” — a glorious phrase that proves God’s grace reaches out to humanity. This is grace, agape love.

Thursday, June 15, 2017 – Matthew 9:35-10:8 – Through the ministry of the Word Jesus calls disciples and sends them out to preach.

Jesus calls twelve disciples and sends them out to preach and heal. After teaching, preaching, and healing in various villages and cities, Jesus is impressed by the condition of the people — harassed, helpless, and lost. Their condition moves him to have compassion on them. To meet the need, he appoints the twelve and sends them only to the Jews to preach and heal. As they received the gospel free of charge, they are to give the gospel free of charge. Jesus’ ministry was a total ministry to the total person. It consisted of teaching, preaching, and healing: a ministry to the mind through teaching, to the heart (soul) through preaching, and to the body through healing. Since we are an inseparable unit of body, mind, and spirit, the church’s ministry today needs to include this threefold ministry.

Friday, June 16, 2017 – Psalm 100– This Psalm is suggested for next Sunday. The key verses is verse 3c “We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture” In light of our lessons we rejoice that we have this new found relationship with the Savior, a relationship caused by the Savior’s amazing grace and favor.

Saturday, June 17, 2017 –John 3:16-18 – This passage is the inspiration for the hymn “God Loved the World so that He Gave” {LSB 830} Taken from a familiar verse of the Scriptures the Savior explains the motivation the Father had in sending His Son into the world. The purpose of His coming was to redeem and save us.

A new season is upon us. The Christian year consists of two cycles: preparing, celebrating, and then living into our discipleship to Jesus Christ. The first of these is Advent through the Season after Easter. The second is the Season after Pentecost.

The Season after Pentecost begins and ends with what we might call “bookend Sundays.” These Sundays provide the frame for what comes between them. Trinity Sunday is the first of these. Christ the King, functions as the second. Trinity Sunday launches us into our life’s vocations after Pentecost with a celebration of the Triune God in whom all our lives and activities are grounded.  Christ the King, this season’s other bookend, point us to our final destination in the culmination of the reign of the one who makes us and all things new. All the readings are related to one another and are focused on the gospel lesson.

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO 
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Romans and the Reformation 
A Series of Sermons Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation 

11 June, 2017 –Holy Trinity – Romans 4:13-25
Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness

Getting right with God. How does that all happen? God the Father longs for His rebellious people to return. God the Son reaches out to sinners to call them to repent. Suppose sinners respond?  How can they get right with God? They are accepted on the basis of faith in God’s promises. Not the basis of their morality. Their good intentions. Or their status. 

The promise. Like the one made to Abraham. May seem humanly impossible. But faith believes that God can do anything. The impossible promise. Is that God will forgive, accept the sinner no matter how bad a delinquent he is. Can God transform a life from evil to good? Faith that God credits to man as righteousness is what fixes him. And on that basis. He is restored to God. This faith. Is focused on Christ. Whose death and resurrection makes access to God possible.  

What really pleases God? What can we do to move God to accept us as sinners? The one thing we can do. To get right with God. Is to believe. Faith is the one good work for which God gives credit. It is faith in God’s promises. Even though they seem impossible of fulfillment. As was the case of Abraham and Sarah. They were promised a child. Though they were way past the age of child bearing. Though it seemed impossible. They believed the promise.  

What counts with God?

1. Faith in God’s promises -4:18-23

In hope (Abraham) believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness[a] of Sarah's womb. 

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”  But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone.

Abraham trusted that God was able to do what He promised. Trials and challenges may tempt us to doubt God’s promises. As He did with Abraham. God will strengthen your faith. Assure you of His promises. Help you to trust. And fulfill all He said He would do. 

Problems surface. When we attempt to insert our will as we are so often tempted to do… 

God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be a numerous as the stars in the sky. Abraham did not doubt the promise. He got himself into trouble when he attempted to force God’s hand.  Remember. Faith may vary in strength. But even weak faith justifies because of Christ’s works. We have Abraham as such an example of how this all works.  

Abraham was one hundred years old. Considered too old to father a child. Sara was baron and 90 years old. Past childbearing age. “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” (Genesis 17:17)

These things can only be truly said of Abraham as a forgiven sinner. His actions demonstrate that he had some serious doubts. How many times have all of us been given the situation in which faith tells us one thing but our circumstances say, “this is impossible” or “this will not end well”? When such matters happen. We are often tempted to act swiftly. Abraham and Sarah did this precisely. They took matters into their own hands.  

Sarah said to Abraham, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant Hagar; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” Sarah was pragmatic. So you want a child? Have one through Hagar. Solution solved!    

Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah. Hagar conceived a child. Yet soon emotions began spiral out of control as everything began to unravel fast. 

Hagar looked with contempt on her mistress…And Sarah harbored hatred for her husband. Abraham threw everything back in his wife’s face saying, “your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” So Sarah dealt harshly with Hagar, so much so, that Hagar had to flee from her presence…. (Genesis 16)

Abraham and Sarah reasoned Ishmael would suffice. Yet the promise was given through Isaac. Abraham and Sarah had to learn to trust  God’s promises. Despite insurmountable and impossible odds.

What seems overwhelming. Without a solution. Or any possible resolve.  What is hopeless for you. Is always hopeful for your heavenly Father. He turns the impossible into the possible. When you are desperate. Despondent. And in despair. Take heart. Christ comes to your rescue.

Remember Paul’s instruction. When sins are forgiven. Only the fruit of faith remains. True. Faith may be weak. Because our conscience is troubled by certain sins that hide God's gracious countenance from us. At times like this we must trust all the more in God's grace and, despite the feelings in our heart, believe that our sins have been forgiven. In this way we can receive strength to fight against sin by means of God's Word and prayer. 

Remember. First the tree must be planted. Only then. Can we expect fruit. First we must believe our sins are forgiven.  Only then. As a fruit of faith. Will your life begin to improve. 

Someone may have a troubled conscience. Because there are some unsettled matters between him and some other person. If you have offended someone. You are obligated to ask him for his forgiveness. And if someone has offended you. You are obligated to forgive. As God has forgiven you. 

If someone has fallen into some sin. Say, for example, the sin of embezzlement, fraud or theft. He is obligated to restore what he has taken. There may, however, be matters that we should not talk about to our neighbor. But only to God alone. Either directly. Or if need be. Through your pastor. (Thus the practice of private confession)  

Such matters call for careful consideration and understanding. Although your faith may be weak. Rejoice that Jesus has atoned for your sins. And that they have been forgiven. And the most wonderful thing is this: The weakest faith in Christ is counted to us for righteousness. By God Himself. It is so powerful. That it saves eternally!  

Abraham drew strength and confidence from this faith. And how then can you be strengthened in your faith? God has given you means for this purpose - His own Word.  Either preached. Read from the Bible. Written. Sung.  Or remembered. 

He has given you the Sacraments. In Holy Baptism He has adopted you. And made you as His child. And established a strong Covenant with you.  Keep returning to this Covenant in faith. 

He has given you Holy Communion. This is especially for the purpose of strengthening weak faith. In this Sacrament. God gives the true body and blood of His Son for the forgiveness of your sins. The early Christians continued steadfastly in the Apostles' teaching and in the proper use of the Sacraments. In this way their faith was strengthened as their works of love testify to this.   

Transition: Faith clings to God’s promises. And those promises are tied directly to a person – Jesus. 

2. Faith in God’s Son – 4:23-25

But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are, essentially, one act. Jesus was crucified to pay the penalty for your sin. His resurrection demonstrates His power. Assures you that God approves of His Word. And is a promise of your resurrection.

Faith always has an object. Faith always has a focal point. And the object. The focal point. Of saving faith. Is Jesus. Faith is a noun. It is a gift. Outside of yourself. And we must always remember that when we speak of God’s gifts— They are gifts upon gifts. Always overflowing. 

God is reckless with His generosity toward His rebellious creation. We see how God’s kindness toward us is completely beyond our natural understanding. We tend to be nice to people who are nice to us. It is only natural to be terse or even avoid those unpleasant people in our lives. God, in His mercy and kindness toward us, does not avoid us. Or act unkindly toward us. 

Could you imagine? Someone breaks into your house. Trashes the place. Kills all of your pets.  Even your family. And while that person is hating your guts. You stand before the judge. And take that person’s prison and death penalty in their place? 

It is beyond our reason and comprehension. But that is what God, in Christ Jesus, has done for you. He took your punishment.  When Jesus died on the cross. While you still hated Him. With your selfishness. Jesus took your penalty. While you were disrespecting and disregarding Him.  Disparaging Him with your dirt and sin. He forgave you. And suffered your punishment.  

And this forgiveness. This life. Is always received in faith! "Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe." – Augustine Abraham believed. And it was credited to him as righteousness.

Faith always has an object to which it looks…

We see faith in action. When you sit in a chair—You trust that the chair will hold you. 

We see faith in action. When you flip the light switch—You trust that the electricity will work. 

We see faith in action. As a mother lives out her vocation as a mommy. Feeding and clothing her children. She trusts that God will provide for her family. Supplying their daily bread. 

We see faith in action. As the bus driver goes to work. Knowing that God will provide. And sustain his needs for that day. 

We see faith at work. As we gather in God’s House. Sunday after Sunday.  Confessing that we rightly deserve hell and damnation. Yet we approach the altar of the Lord with confidence. In the atoning sacrifice of Christ, for us.

The Christian faith is about Christ. And His sacrifice. It is His work. Trust in Him. Who became the victim. Judge. And priest. He carries your sins. He makes satisfaction. He pronounces you free. 

Words –1,805
Passive Sentences – 8%
Readability –79.8
Reading Level – 4.0
Image of the Trinity © Ed Riojas, Higher Things


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecost Outline & Points to Ponder

Romans and the Reformation
A Series of Sermons Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

4 June 2017 – Pentecost - Romans 3:21-28
Obedience to God’s Word results from grace.

Paul reminds us that obedience does not save –“a man is justified by faith apart from words of the law.” Obedience to God’s law has no part in getting right with God. This is a necessary corrective to the other lessons. We need to place obedience in its proper perspective.

Why be good by obeying God’s Laws?
1. Not to earn God’s acceptance Vv. 21, 28
2. But to express gratitude for grace received. Vv. 24, 25

Points to ponder…

> Lutherans have been accused that in stressing Justification we ignore or disregard Sanctification. How does St. Paul uphold both?

> Obedience does not save. So why be good? Where does obedience stand in the life of the Christian?

> Luther said, “A Christian lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor.” How does this make sense to you?

> For next week read Romans 4:13-25 – Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Image Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Time in the Word ~ Trinity Sunday

Time in the Word Preparation for next week, the Feast of the Holy Trinity

The Holy Triune God Recreates Us in the Image and Likeness of Christ Jesus
The Holy Triune God “created the heavens and the earth,” and “behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:1, 31). However, after Adam and Eve fell into sin and plunged God’s good creation into decay and death, the Son of God would be “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” to be “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). As Jesus “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33), He also raises up all the baptized and pours out the Spirit upon them through the preaching of His Gospel. He sends out His Apostles to “make disciples of all nations” by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and “teaching them to observe all that [He has] commanded” (Matt. 28:19–20). Through such baptizing and teaching–Gospel and Sacraments–the Holy Triune God recreates us in the Image and Likeness of His incarnate Son, Jesus the Christ, and behold, it is “very good” (Gen. 1:31).

Collect for the Feast of the Holy Trinity: Almighty and everlasting God, You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith and defend us from all adversities; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit: Lord God, heavenly Father, let Your Holy Spirit dwell in us that He may enlighten and lead us into all truth and evermore defend us from all adversities; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns...

Collect for grace: Almighty God, heavenly Father, Your mercies are new to us every morning and, though we in no wise deserve Your goodness, You abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul. Give us, we humbly pray, Your Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Your benefits, and cheerfully serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns...

Collect for peace: O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns...

Time in the Word
5-10 June 2017
Preparation for next week, the Feast of the Holy Trinity
Monday, 5 June 2017Psalm 16:8–11; Antiphon, Liturgical Text—The antiphon for Sunday’s Introit is an ancient liturgical text: Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to Him because He has shown His mercy to us. The Triune God has shown His mercy to us by creating us, daily providing for all our needs, and in accomplishing our salvation by the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Our response, therefore, is to give glory to Him, and to set the Lord always before us, for He has made known to us the path of life.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017Psalm 8—This psalm of David nicely ties together the three appointed readings for Trinity Sunday. The first two verses tell how the entire creation proclaims the majesty, glory, and strength of the Lord, the Creator of all things, as testified to in the Old Testament reading. The rest of the psalm speaks of Christ, the second Adam, our Savior, of whose redemption Peter preaches in the second reading, and who commissions His Church to make disciples by baptizing and teaching about Him in the Gospel reading.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017Genesis 1:1—2:4a—The opening chapter of the Bible matter-of-factly recounts the creation of the earth, the universe, and all that is in them in seven days by God. Which person of the Trinity was responsible for the creation? All three persons! The first three verses alone proclaim this fact: The Spirit is said to be hovering over the face of the waters, while God (the Father) speaks—speaks His Word, who is the Son, as St John tells us in the opening verses of his Gospel. On the sixth day, there is further testament to the working of the Trinity, when God says, Let Us make man in Our own image, after Our likeness. Not just the Father, but the Son and the Holy Spirit as well, were involved in the work of creation, just as all three are involved in the work of salvation.

Thursday, 8 June 2017Acts 2:14a, 22–36—The second reading for the Trinity Sunday is a continuation of St Peter’s Pentecost Day sermon in Jerusalem. In this portion, Peter speaks of Jesus Christ, a man attested to you by God with mighty wonders and signs, who was crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, but raised up from the dead because He was not just a man, but also Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. Peter quotes from Psalms 16 and 110, showing how the Old Testament testifies of Christ, and also proclaims how all three persons of the Trinity were involved in the salvation of mankind: Jesus (the Son) was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God (the Father), has been exalted at the right hand of God, and now pours out His Spirit that people might hear and believe the Good News.

Friday, 9 June 2017Matthew 28:16–20—Before His ascension to the right hand of His Father, Jesus charged His disciples with the task of making disciples of all nations. What are the tools which He has given to accomplish this task? His teaching and the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Baptism in the Name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Which parts of His Word are important? Which of His Words are they to pass down faithfully? Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Finally, He promises always to be with us—and so He is, in Word and Sacrament, the means of grace.

Saturday, 10 June 2017—There are few hymns that are addressed to, or focus on, the Holy Spirit. Sunday’s Hymn of the Day, Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest (LSB #498), is one such hymn. It is of ancient origin, from at least the eighth century, and generally attributed to the great Frankish scholar and theologian, Rhabanus Maurus (though sometimes Gregory the Great or Charlemagne are given credit). 

In the Middle Ages, it was one of the best loved and most frequently used invocations of the Holy Spirit, and its singing was accompanied by the use of incense, candles, bells, and rich vestments. The last two stanzas are explicitly Trinitarian, making it ideal for Trinity Sunday: stanza six (like Luther’s explanation to the Third Article of the Creed) affirms that it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to know the Triune God aright, and stanza seven is a doxology—a hymn of praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Lectionary summary on front page from LCMS Commission on Worship
Artwork by Ed Riojas, © Higher Things
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House

Saturday, June 3, 2017


4 June 2017 – Pentecost – Romans 3:21-28
Obedience to God’s Word results from grace

Luther possibly said it best when he stated, “A Christian lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor.” As we continue in our walk through the book of Romans we are presented with a question: “Why be good?”

Why be good? We are found to be in a right standing with God through Jesus’ work and Jesus’ merit. Paul reminds us that your obedience does not save –“a man is justified by faith apart from words of the law.” Your obedience to God’s law has no part in getting right with God.

Now, if that is all true. Then why exert yourself?    Where does obedience stand? We need to place obedience in its proper perspective.

Why be good by obeying God’s Laws?

1.     Not to earn God’s acceptance.But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, (although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.)” “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”— Vv. 21, 28

A.    The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.
It is impossible for a person to be righteous by law-keeping (v. 20). Not because of any imperfection in the law. But the result of our inability to keep it. So it is that God has provided a way of righteousness “apart from the law.” It is a righteousness that comes “by faith in Jesus Christ.” This righteousness is available to all people. The righteousness of God is Jesus. Apart from works of the law. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross fulfilled the law.

The entire Old Testament bears witness to Christ. On the road to Emmaus as Jesus talked to those two witnesses, Luke reminds us, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

B.     You are justified apart from works of the law.
This is glorious good news for anyone who has faced the reality of their sinful nature. Try as we might to live a “good life” or “keep the Ten Commandments,” we know that we fail time and again. If there is a way to get right with God, it has to be “apart from the law”. And thank God, that is exactly what the Father has revealed in the gospel. As the Reformation would unfold Luther and Philip Melanchthon would write, “Upon this article of justification everything that we teach and practice depends. We must be certain and not doubt this doctrine. Otherwise all is lost!”[1]

2.     We follow God’s directive to express gratitude for grace received.and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”  - Vv. 24, 25

A.    We are justified by His grace as a gift.
Grace cannot be earned. It must be given by God.  The word Paul uses for “Redemption” (Gk “apolytrosis”) is the concept of the buying back of a slave or a captive, setting a person free. Christ gave His life to see all people free when He died on the cross. “We receive the mercy promised in Him by and set it against God’s wrath and judgment.”[2]

B.     Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. [i]
Paul uses the term “Propitiation.”  Where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant’s cover this all pointed to Christ. (See Exodus 25:17) Christ’s righteousness covers the sinner. He is the sacrifice for sin. Faith does not earn anything…it receives God’s gift.

C.     Because the Father has passed over former sins.
Christ’s work shows that God both justly punishes sin and graciously forgives sinners.  God does not ignore sin. He delayed the punishment until Christ paid it. But this is not child abuse. Christ willingly made full satisfaction for sin. Christ is true God “reconciling the world to Himself.” (2 Cor. 5:19) The Father sent the Son sincerely, anticipating the sacrifice, victory and reunion. (The binding of Isaac.)

Remember Luther’s perspective; “A Christian lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor.”

Why be good? Because God is good. Because God is good He has made you good. You are now free to love God as you serve your neighbor in love.

Through the waters of baptism, each of us is called by the Lord, to become agents of the Gospel – the presence of Jesus Christ – wherever it is God calls you to serve. This is your calling in life to love God as you serve your neighbor. In faith. In hope of all things possible. In love expressed by Jesus' sacrifice.

Words – 1,210
Passive Sentences –9%
Readability –73.8%
Reading Level -6.3
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[1] The Smalcald Article Book of Concord Concordia Triglotta: - Page 145
[2] Apology to the Augsburg Confession  82

[i]               Jesus is not simply a teacher or a great moralist or a great example; rather, he is, as we confess in the Nicene Creed, light of light, very God of very God, of one substance with the Father, and the only begotten Son of God. Remember that the Council of Nicaea rejected the teaching of Arius, who did not think that Jesus was wholly divine. Yet without being fully human and fully divine, you and I remain earthbound, to dust and to decay.

“Some prefer a savior who only teaches and provides an example of a good life, or advances a political agenda. And to those people we must say that human teachers, no matter how moral they may be, or how grand a political agenda they propose, they cannot raise anyone-anyone-to eternal life, because such a teacher cannot conquer death. Others continue to create a Jesus in their own image, a teacher of secret truths to a select few, someone who has a grandiose social agenda of a you-pick-the-ideology. Still others prefer a wise rabbi or philosopher.

And yet, martyr after martyr, to say nothing of the disciples themselves, did not go to death out of loyalty to a wise rabbi or a great moralist. The only reason they could look death in the eye and not blink is because of the truth many had been witness too. They had witnessed the crucifixion, they had witnessed the resurrection, they were in the upper room, they had the Spirit breathed upon them on that first Pentecost, they were with him for forty days, and they saw him ascend. They took these truths and handed them down to others, who in turn passed them along to others still. These were life changing events that gave them the strength to sacrifice themselves for the Lord. This is the on-going work of the Church today: to continuously hand down those truths that we have received from those saints who came before us.” – Pr. Ken Kelly Ascension 2017 sermon