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Archive for July 2017

Only acknowledge your guilt

Jeremiah 3:13 (ESV) 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God …. that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.

How difficult it is to acknowledge our guilt, to admit wrong. Why is it difficult, our sinful natures doesn’t want to realize that it needs a savior.

But God is looking for this.
Psalm 51:17 (ESV) 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Job 42:6 (ESV) 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

However, we can’t do it ourselves. Our sinful nature won’t let us, but God does not abandon us to death. So the Psalmist reminds us earlier:
Psalm 51:10 (ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

God does create a clear heart in us, God does renew us.

Then why do we still find it difficult to confess? Why do so many churches still omit any confession/absolution, when this is what God is looking for.

As the church celebrates Pentecost, it remembers that we need the Holy Spirit, not just on the day of our baptism but every day.

Psalm 51:12 (ESV) 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

The Psalmist notes that God upholds us (supports us) with the Spirit. The joy of being in Christ Jesus is sustained within us by the Holy Spirit. For without the Holy Spirit we would just give in to our sinful nature.

So our prayer continually needs to be
Psalm 51:11 (ESV) 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Come Holy Spirit, Come!

Written by dballa

July 29, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Church, Confession, Study

Chosen Out of Love

Chosen Out of Love
Deuteronomy 7:6–9
July 30, 2017

About 10 month ago I had to change the example I would use to talk about Hope. Many people talk about hope use the word hope is a wishful sense, maybe it will happen maybe is won’t happen but I hope it will happen. So my example was the I hope that the Cubs would win the world series. But their success in world series last year has made me change the my example to I hope the Cubs will win the Word Series again. Yes, this is a wishful hope.

The Bible doesn’t deal with wishful hope, but a hope which conveys a certainty. Even though the Cubs are in first place at the moment, I can’t say with any certainty that they will win the World Series, this year.

Certainty, can you be certain about anything? In our Old Testament reading from Deuteronomy 7 there is a certainty,

Deuteronomy 7:6 (ESV) 6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Notice the certainty, Your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession. Just like in the parables of the Gospel reading, you are the treasured possession.

Notice that God explains a little more, but by saying what it isn’t: Deuteronomy 7:7 (ESV) 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,

Deuteronomy 7:8 (ESV) 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers,

So here we have it, not because of anything you did, but because of God’s Promise and His love of you have this mighty gift. This was especially true with the people of Israel. Deuteronomy was written to the next generation of the Israel coming our of Egypt. Even after being delivered from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, the people stilled rebelled against God. Did the people deserve to go into the promise land, not, but because of God’s oath, His promise, and God always keeps His promise.

We live in a world where promises are not always kept, sometimes for good reasons, but God is always faithful even when we are not faithful. To better explain the why, lets visits the opening word of the Old Testament lesson.

This is better explained by the opening words of our text.
Deuteronomy 7:6 (ESV) 6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.

How do we become Holy, not through body piercings. But God makes us Holy, when we receive God’s grace.

John Kleinig notes, We do not ever possess God’s holiness; we receive it from Him as a gift, just as we daily receive light from the sun without ever owning it. We are not expected to generate our own holiness. Rather, we are called to participate in God’s holiness.

So how to we participate into God’s Holiness? Martin Luther does an excellent job in teaching this to us in the explanation of The First Petition of the Lord’s Prayer
Hallowed be Thy name.
What does this mean?
God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.
How is God’s name kept holy?
God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!

God’s name is kept holy: “When both our doctrine and life are godly and Christian.”

God’s Word makes you Holy, that is why it is import to teach in in truth and purity. For through this Word we are made Holy.

When God’s Word is sprinkled on us through Holy Baptism, we are made Holy. When God’s Word is attached to bread and wine, which we consume, we are made Holy.

And this is our confidence, for God is Holy and He makes us Holy, because we have received His Holiness as gift.

We see this confidence on Romans 8:38–39 (ESV) 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love for us, talk about confidence.

Sometimes we experience a lack of confidence in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.

Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent. Instead we remember our Baptism, when God’s Word and promise with the water, applied to us. For Baptism is God’s work not ours, so again our Confidence is in what God accomplishes for us.

Deuteronomy 7:6 (ESV) 6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.

So have this confidence, in what God has done for you.

So the Church on this day prays: Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope, and love, (How is faith hope and loved increased) that, receiving what You have promised (His grace, which produces a result), we may love what You have commanded;

Moses already told the people of Israel before our text:

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV) 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Why teach, learn, and live them, because of the confidence in God’s Promise, and in Him we have life now, and for eternity. In His name Amen.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Written by dballa

July 29, 2017 at 9:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Lord’s Supper: Food for the Soul

Healthy eating is good for the body. Watching what we eat is import. I usually watch what I eat, since I watch the food get on the fork and then place it is my mouth. All joking aside, I do my best to eat healthy.

But what about the food that sustains the soul. We usually don’t think of consuming food to nourish the soul, We usually think that God’s Word will take care of that. While that is true, when God’s Word is attached to bread and wine, something special happens. Luther in the Large Catechism calls the Lord Supper “food of the soul, for it nourishes and strengthens the new creature….Therefore the Lord’s Supper is given as a daily food and sustenance so that our faith may be refreshed and strengthened and that it may not succumb in the struggle but become stronger and stronger.” The Soul like the body needs to be feed.

Not every one in today’s world eats well for the body. While running I notice the wording on T-shirts as I am being passed. I saw one, which said, “I run so I can eat.” While humorous, the opposite is actually true, I eat so that I can run. I need the nourishment from the food to sustain my running activity, or else the running won’t go well. Yes, I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

Likewise, the soul needs to be fed, or else, as Luther notes, we struggle with sin and its temptations. The Lord Supper is given to strengthen our faith, so that we and not fall to struggles in the faith.

Luther even has word for the pastor regarding this, he notes, “we should preach in such a way that the people make themselves come without our law and just plain compel us pastors to administer the sacrament to them.”

Would it be a burden to celebration the Lord’s Supper at every service, no, it is my joy to do so. So also when I visit people in the hospital I also bring my communion kit. The Supper is not forced upon anyone, but made available for the feeding of the soul.

So join us at the Lord’s Supper where the Soul is fed.

Pastor Balla

Written by dballa

July 25, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Christ is Our Mighty Fortress

Christ is Our Mighty Fortress

We live in a world of Superheroes, We see the remakes of Batman, Spiderman, and even wonder woman. Superman, Captain America and others still continues to live on in the hearts and imagination of many, for it is fun to see the superhero challenged by the face of evil, but in the end, the super hero wins the day and humanity is saved from another villain.

But there is one villain that none of the superheroes ever had to face. The Villain of death. For while the superheroes continues for many generations in print and on the silver screen, death still plagues humanity.

So in our Old Testament reading Isaiah speaking to the people of Israel, who were looking for their own superhero. Not necessarily in comic books, but in the culture and religions from the people around them.

God sent Isaiah to reminds the people, that regardless what their neighbor believe and trust in there is only one God and our real protection and the many blessings come from God.

Isaiah 44:6 (ESV) 6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

This passage bring to mind The First Commandment You shall have no other gods. What does this mean, Luther reminds? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

Why trust in God above all things. Isaiah spells it out for us, we need a redeemer, not a superman, because superman doesn’t defeat death for us.

God even challenges anyone to step up to the place, like a good super hero challenge.

Isaiah 44:7 (ESV) 7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.

No one have step up to that challenge. No one has defeated Death. For who do you know that has died and then returned from the dead, only Jesus the Christ. But there is more, much much more.

Besides being the defeater of death, we are reminded that God does even more.

Martin Luther reminds us in the explanation of the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.
He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.
He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.
All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.
This is most certainly true. Wow.

Notice here that God takes care of every part of your life. From creation to eternity, each and every day.

Which one of the DC or Marvel Comics create life? Care for your life every day? After Batman is done defeating the villain for the moment he returned to Bruce Wayne, until the next evil plot arrives. Not so with Jesus the Christ, who creates life and blesses us everyday beyond what we even realize.

Then why would the people of Israel so quickly forget where the blessings they had received from come? Our own very nature struggles against God, because of Original Sin. Deep down inside we want to be the Superman or the Wonder Woman. That is the popularity of the hero concept.

In one way we are, think about this. As Husbands and Father, yes we want to be the provider and have the children looks up to us, And in time of need, we want to be that protector for them. As Wives and mothers, they truly are a Wonder Woman, managing the children and household runner there and back again faster than Flash Gordon. We are in one essence superheroes. But to we trust in ourselves above all things. No, we realize that we serve our family and even our neighbors out of love, as 1 John 4:19 (ESV) reminds us 19 We love because he first loved us.

Isaiah reminds us that we need a Redeemer and that it is God who ultimately supplies all that we in. Sure we do a lot, but we can’t do all things. So the people of Israel were fascinated with the idols of their neighbors wanting to blend in the culture, and forget about the true God. They focused upon themselves instead of trusting in God to provide all things.
So, If there’s something strange in you neighborhood. Who you gonna call? (ghostbusters)

The Psalmist reminds us Psalm 50:15 (ESV) 15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

So we are to trust in God alone and look to Him and expect from Him nothing but good, as from one who gives us body, life, food, drink, nourishment, health, protection, peace, and all necessaries of both temporal and eternal things. He also preserves us from misfortune. And if any evil befall us, He delivers and rescues us. So it is God alone from whom we receive all good and by whom we are delivered from all evil.
We don’t need a Super, bat, or Spider man nor a wonder woman. For we have Christ who is our mighty fortress. Who reminds us:

Isaiah 44:8 (ESV) 8 Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

So on this day, we sing a Mighty Fortress, even though it isn’t reformation day, because Christ Jesus is our Mighty Fortress. He provides for all our needs, delivers from Sin death and the devil, and on the last day will bring us to be with Him forever for eternity. In His name Amen.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Written by dballa

July 23, 2017 at 4:38 am

Posted in Sermons

Commitment

Teaching a Sunday School Lesson: Issac and Rebekah – Pr. Tom Baker

In Genesis 24:3 Abraham concern for his son Isaac tells his servant to pick out a wife for Issac. Abraham concern is that the wife for his son will come from the people of his own land because the people where they were living did not understand the promises and ways of God. While the servant being given all that he needed to travel and procure a wife, does one thing one his own. The servant prays to God, Genesis 24:12-14, asking for a sign.

Who would do this in today’s society?
1. Have faith in God as the basis selecting a spouse.
2. Have a servant pick out the spouse.
3. The servant selects a criterion and asks for God’s blessings.

So much for as many couples today say when they want to get married, “we are in love.” This Biblical account has nothing to do with love, but commitment.
Tom Baker says, “Many people today marriage would include and be based on romance and emotion, as the basis of marriage. But God’s wants marriage primarily to be a life long faithfulness, vowed publically to be the basis of the love for husband and wife.”

The key is a covenant or promise of faithfulness. Marriage a different understanding from God’s perspective verse many in today’s world.

The Biblical characters have a trust that God will fulfill His promises.

Written by dballa

July 21, 2017 at 9:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized

For Paradise is the Eternal Vacation with an Abundance of Food.

John 14:1–7 (ESV) 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We gather here today to show support and love for the family and friends of Ann Mensinger. For Ann as touched the lives of many and with her death, we feel the loss in our own life. So we gather, recall the many events of her live, but we also need to especially remember that through Holy Baptism, Christ placed His name on Ann and made Ann his daughter.

Ann’s faith, which trusts in that baptism, was nourished especially these later years as Pastor Sollie. Now she has received as St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV) 9 “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

While we early await something beyond our imagination, the Scriptures does give us some hints. Let me explain those hints through two themes from Ann’s life.

There will always enough food and always a vacation.

Let me pick up on first about the food. From of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah 25:6–8 (ESV) 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

Let me also add Psalm 23:5 (ESV) states 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

So in paradise we will have food beyond our imagination, with cups overflowing. Yes, there will always be more than enough.

As for the vacation, if one thinks of the vacation of getting away from the daily burdens of this life and experiencing something much different, that our Gospel reading nails it well.

John 14:2–6 (ESV) 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The Father’s house, where no map nor road will lead you. As for directions, Thomas asks, with the answer from Jesus who says I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. Good thing that Ann bears the name of Christ through Holy Baptism, for through that name a place is prepared for her.

A place as Jesus describes to the thief on the cross as today you will be with me in paradise. And revisiting St. Paul, said, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” Wow that is some vacation.

But unlike the vacations that Ann took the family on, this one doesn’t have an ending, but continues for eternity. Talk about true paradise.

But for us as one of our hymns describes it, We feebly struggle, they in glory shine. Scriptures reminds us, the feebly struggling ones, with verse 1 of our Gospel reading.

As Jesus says John 14:1 (ESV) 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Our Lord consoles his disciples who, and us who would be naturally alarmed and troubled at the idea Christ Jesus upcoming death and the death of others, or even our own death, by assuring us of his divinity, … “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me,” that believe in Jesus is believing in God. For his would not follow unless Christ were God.. Let not your heart be troubled. For God shall raise it up just as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead. For all who bear Christ Jesus’ name through Holy Baptism will rise again.

So we struggle in this world, but with the hope, the expectation, that one day we will be raised with Christ and all the saints including Ann in paradise. Until that time comes we continue to connect ourselves to Christ and His promises, knowing that Christ is always faithful. Christ will guard your hearts. Especially during the struggle times, we connect ourselves to Christ and His Word, for in that Word of Christ we have life now and for eternity, just like Ann. For Paradise is the Eternal Vacation with an Abundance of Food.

In Christ’s name Amen. Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Written by dballa

July 17, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

There is a Change when Christ applies His Word

There is a Change when Christ applies His Word

In Summertime, it is wonderful to go out in the back yard and look around and what does one see? Weeds. My nickname for our subdivision is thistle valley. Every time I turn around I see another thistle. It wouldn’t be bad if the thistles would somehow turn into beautiful flowers.

The curse of Adam from the fall, Genesis 3:17–18 (ESV) 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

All because of Adam, I have to deal with thorns and thistles.

But wait,

Did you notice our Old Testament Reading for the day: Isaiah 55:13 (ESV) 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

I will take myrtle or cypress over thorns and thistles any day. But how is this possible? Notice verse 10 and 11.

Isaiah 55:10–11 (ESV) 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

A couple of notes here, It is God’s Word that will make this change AND the change will be for God’s purpose.

We see God’s word in action with John 1:14 (ESV) 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus, the Christ, the Word of God that became flesh, restores God’s creation that Adam and Eve destroyed. Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, we have restoration and life, for that it the purpose and will of God, is that we have life and life eternally.

Remember Adam’s fall, because of that fall there is sin, in which we deserve death. You could say that we are the thorns and thistles because of sin. But as Isaiah notes because of God’s Word, Christ bring a restoration, instead of sprouting thorns, now Cypress. It God’s Word that accomplishes this change in God’s Creation.

Notice what Christ says in John 5:25 (ESV) 25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Christ Jesus is the voice that shall sound from on high and raise up all the dead.

So when God’s Word is applied to us, it changes us from death to life. Martin Luther in the Small Catechism teaches this scriptural point with regard to Holy Baptism.

How can water do such great things?
Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three:
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” (Titus 3:5–8)
There is a Change when Christ applies His Word

While people cannot see the watermark of Christ’s name on us through Holy Baptism, people can see the change. For people who formerly resembled useless and rampant weeds and thistles, behold, after having God’s Word, they have imitated the height of the cypress and the sweet aroma of the myrtle. They proclaim by their deeds the power of our God and Savior, in offering their own change as a sign to others and as a miracle, great, astonishing and lasting. Thus, this sign will be eternal and shall not fail, as v13 reminds us and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Christ through His Word puts His name on us and we bear the name of Christ. Christ’s name, His Word is powerful and accomplishes the purpose for it was sent to save sinners. Those who bear the name of Christ, are also then witness of Christ to the world around. Which again is accomplishing Christ’s will.

So we continue to attach ourselves to Christ, His Word Applied with Water, His Word Proclaimed with words, His Word Applied again and again through bread and Wine.

So we prayed earlier, Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life;

For it is through Christ’s Word we have live now for for eternity, In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Written by dballa

July 16, 2017 at 5:32 am

Posted in Sermons

The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

As I write this, it is June 25th, on which, in 1530, was the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. The Lutherans were summoned to Augsburg, where they presented this document as a statement of what Lutherans believe, teach and confess.

In this confession, Article 5: The Ministry [1] So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. [2] Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given [John 20: 22]. He works faith, when and where it pleases God [John 3: 8], in those who hear the good news [3] that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.

This is why we call pastors, to proclaim the Gospel and administer the Sacraments. So in the call document that I have received and accepted from Peace Lutheran Church, the first two points match this article, to preach the Gospel and to administer the sacraments. This is how the Holy Spirit works to create saving faith.

This Augsburg Confession will even be mentioned during the Installation Service. All called workers and churches (including Peace) in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are required to subscribe to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. During the Installation I will be asked again if I believe that the Unaltered Augsburg Confession is a true exposition of the Word of God.

Yes, today, we remember this important part of our history. In 127 days, we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. More about the 500th anniversary coming soon.

I am looking forward to working with you as we share the Gospel of Christ in the Plainfield area.

Pastor Balla

Written by dballa

July 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Church, Newsletter

Christ Helps Us to Listen to His Word

July 2
Faith Lutheran Church Oak Lawn, IL
Jeremiah 28:5–9
Christ Helps Us to Listen to His Word

What do you want to hear today from the pulpit? Pause. I hope and pray that you have never heard that line before. Because the pulpit is not about what you want to hear, the message from the pulpit should be about what Christ has done for you. So if you were looking for the winning lottery tickets numbers you will be disappointed. If you were looking the message that will cure your cancer or restore you to your youthful state, it will not be here. Unfortunately many people only want pastor to tell them what they want to hear. It is almost as bad as election times when those running for office will say and do anything to get your vote. As St. Paul reminded Timothy,

2Timothy 4:3(ESV) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Keep this passage in mind as we look at the Old Testament reading for today. In may sound very innocent that the prophet Jeremiah was hoping that the words of Hananiah may come to pass, in Jeremiah 28:6 ESV Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles.

But we need to know a little more. And if you want even more join us for Bible class, where we will do a deeper dive. But here is a quick summary.

God had sent His people into exile, because they were not listening nor obeying what God spoke to them. Jeremiah, God’s prophet was telling the people this, and even more would go into exile. But the people did not want to hear a doom and gloom sermon. The people wanted to hear make Israel great again, a message of prosperity. So Hananiah rose up and prophesied a positive prophecy. One that would make Israel great again and return what was stolen. However this prophesy wasn’t from God even though that is want Hananiah and the people wanted. So we have a prophet who wanted to profit. Basically we have a false prophet, proclaiming not want God wanted, but telling people what they wanted to hear. The bottom line here is that God was working through Jeremiah, even though the people didn’t listen. Hananiah’s error would cost him his life, would die at the end of the chapter and the people would continue into exile.

Ok What is our take home point: we start with the Small Catechism of Dr. Luther, Lord’s Prayer,
The First Petition
Hallowed be Thy name.
What does this mean? God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.

How is God’s name kept holy? God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, Heavenly Father!

Too bad the people during Jeremiah’s time didn’t have the Small Catechism and were reading it. But then again that was the problem, they were not listening to anything of God.

So, Why is listening to God important? Let’s let St. Peter answer that question with His words in John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Since Jesus has the Words of life, why would anyone want to leave words that bring life and life eternally? What could be more important? Unfortunately many even today’s don’t value God’s Word. Their focus is upon the things this world

Jesus even names this when in John 8:23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. – John 8:23

Our original sin and sins we commitment and things we failed to do tie us to this world, which is death, just like Hananiah. However this is not a doom and gloom sermon, because just as Jeremiah told the people their fate, God is generous and gracious, there was hope. Yes, we are tied to this world, but there is a savior, a deliverer who will detach us from this sinful world. We know that savior as Jesus Christ. Our problem is that we get sidetracked. Jesus again has the answer, Jesus says in:

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Christ sends us the Holy Spirit to teach and to help us remember Christ and what Christ has done and what Christ is still doing for you.

Not only do you have the Holy Spirit keeping you connected to Christ, you have a pastor who is faithful to God’s Word. Pastor Birkholz feeds you God Word every week from this pulpit. A message of Law and Gospel, a message from God. He also feeds you Christ, body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. These are the messages of life, Life Eternal.

Every day we also struggle with our attachment of this world. With the effects of sin weighing heavy upon us. Maybe it is unemployment, health, or what ever is burdening your soul, we often are looking for the quick and easy fix in this world we live in. But notice how Christ solved our problem with sin. It wasn’t fixed by writing a check, nor by a pill, nor with a wishful thought, but with a sacrificial death, that wasn’t easy. We likewise in our struggles with the changes and chances of this world do not look to the quick and easy fix, but we look to the suffering death and resurrection of our savior Jesus the Christ. As we prayed in the Collect of the Day: Almighty God, by the working of Your Holy Spirit, grant that we may gladly hear Your Word proclaimed among us and follow its directing.

So we ask God to help us to continue to be attach to Him and His Word, And we thank God for sending faithful pastors like Pastor Birkholz who continue to proclaim God’s Word and administer God’s Word with water, beard and wine. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Written by dballa

July 2, 2017 at 6:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized