Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pentecost 14 (Proper 17)

Back in Wisconsin! Today's readings were Proverbs 25:2-10, Hebrews 13:1-17, and Luke 14:1-14 (sermon text).

The third petition of the Lord's Prayer reads: Thy will be done. Consider also Luther's explanation of this petition. As we pray, we recognize His will and ours, His holiness and our filth. Our world is out of order, but also has misplaced ideals. We fight entropy but to no avail. Wheat grows beside the tares. All the world is falling apart while perishing.

BUT. Jesus came to restore order. On trial in the text, He turns the tables. We would not help someone on the Sabbath, but He did and does! God's will is that He defeats Satan! This defeats entropy, restoring order to His sin-broken world. When Christ returns, all will be made new. Our job in the meantime: spread localized order, starting with worship - receiving gifts at His feet.

James 4 says that our plans by themselves are of no account. Commit them rather to God's will (ch. 2): love your neighbor. He reconciles us to Himself - and to each other. We are now able to proclaim Him!

Soli Deo gloria.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pentecost 13 (Proper 16)

At my home-home church, for the last time for a while. Today's readings were Isaiah 66:18-23, Hebrews 12:4-24, and Luke 13:22-30 (sermon text).

Take the words "strive" (lit. "agonize" or "struggle") and "narrow door" seriously. They were spoken in the middle of Jesus' travel narrative, while He was going deliberately to Jerusalem to suffer and die - so He was deadly serious. To the question "Will the saved be few?", asked by a self-confident Jew, Christ gives a command, not an answer. He explains with a caustic parable making it clear that mere knowledge of Christ does not constitute following Him (i.e. the kingdom of God). Jesus, not we ourselves, determines who gets in.

Expect a struggle. However, this does not mean that "I must do more works." For we can't fulfill the law of God! Strive instead to cling to His teachings and gifts, to oppose the devil who would have us fall and regress. Be strengthened in the Sacraments - for if He is really in you, then you are indeed able to obey God, every word. Therein, in Christ, is the door to heaven, open to us; no one on earth can lock
it. Jesus Himself is the narrow door. It's not us, it's Him.

Soli Deo gloria.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pentecost 12 (Proper 15)

Today's readings were Jeremiah 23:23-29, Hebrews 12:1-13, and Luke 12:49-53.

We are sometimes tempted to throw in the towel with regard to faith. Should
we? No! We should keep running, sobered by the poor examples of some who gave
up, now atheists. Christ isn't easy - in Him is a seemingly endless list of
paradoxes. Right-versus-left-hand kingdoms. Internal conflicts due to our sinful
nature. Desire for heaven but being stuck on earth. Our weakness making way for
the strength of Christ. Living for self, dying for Christ. Being winsome for Him
but also not keeping company with unbelievers.

In addition, we are to expect, endure, and rejoice in hostility and
difficulty, for Christ laid His own example there for us. Christianity is indeed
a life of conflict! But through it all, remember to look at Christ, preach the
truth in love, forgive others, and be ambassadors for Christ, presenting Him as
He is to people as they are. This is indeed a fine line, but it is also the
racetrack He has set before us. So keep your eyes on the prize, which is Christ
Jesus.

Special mention: a website set up and maintained by a strong, wonderful Christian, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to this week! Go read her site, Follow His Footprints.

Soli Deo gloria.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pentecost 11 (Proper 14)

Today's readings were Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-16 (sermon text), and Luke 12:22-34.

We have all the faith we need, no larger than a mustard seed. But what is
its root, and how mature is it? We know for certain many things we cannot (yet)
see. Our faith is built on God's promises, the firmest foundation. God told
Abraham, a retiree, to go forth in faith - not telling him details - and He made
a way for him to Israel.

There is no security apart from God's promises, no matter how much
insecurity or apparent security we have in this world, our concentration camp.
Should this discourage us? No; when in doubt, remind yourself of His promises,
of your eternal home with Him. Tell stories from the Word of faithful men who
walked not by sight. God doesn't promise earthly security; rather, He guarantees
heavenly security. So walk always by faith. God is secure; He will bring you
home.


Soli Deo gloria.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pentecost 10 (Proper 13)

I worshiped this weekend at a church near my new location, in WI again. From here on, unless otherwise specified, notes will come from this church. The readings were Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-26; Colossians 3:1-11; and Luke 12:13-21 (sermon text).

Why was the parable's rich man a fool? His ground gave a good crop (honest
wealth); he was rich (nothing wrong with money); these aren't the answers.
Rather:
  1. Denying how important money is = foolish. By it (indirectly from God) we
    have all material things. It's important, especially if one is just squeaking
    by. Keep in mind that "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his
    possessions." Humanness is separate from money, for Christ died for all. He
    gives us peace, regardless of how much or how little money we have.
  2. Keeping money all to ourselves = foolish. The rich man hoarded, giving
    nothing to those in need. This is contrary to what Christ intended for the
    proper use of money, stewardship. What god reigns in our hearts? Is it Christ,
    the one true God, or is it materialism? The strength to let Him
    reign comes from Spirit-given focus on heavenly things. The Cross is one such
    thing elevated - so reflect on its meaning!
  3. Allowing money to become our god = foolish. Do not get money for its
    own sake
    . This is materialism, vanity, meaningless. Like a fly greedily
    trapped on flypaper, materialists are trapped; their possessions own them.
    Therefore watch out for greed in your heart, for worldly currency can't be
    exchanged in heaven. Only Christ's gifts matter there.
Soli Deo gloria.