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Archive for November 2017

Rescued by Christ

Rescued by Christ
Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24
November 26, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today the Church celebrates that Last Sunday of the Year. It is a day in which the Church is looking forward to coming of Christ. Many however are not looking forward to that final day so to speak, because of fear. Fear that all they know will come to an end. Fear that there will be pain and misery, maybe fear of the unknown. But we need not be given in to fear. Why, because we have been rescued by Christ Jesus.

The prophet Ezekiel while in exile, hears the news that Jerusalem is destroyed. But in the midst of that bad news, comes this Word of God, that is our Old Testament reading for today. Christ Jesus is the shepherd, who rescues us.

Ezekiel 34:11–12 (ESV) 11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Who is doing the work, who is doing the searching, Christ Jesus. Even after the sheep have been scatted, even is a day of clouds and thick darkness, Christ Jesus seeks out the sheep, referring to the people.

Ezekiel 34:16 (ESV) 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.

There is nothing to fear here, we are healed and restored, set in a place of protection and well fed.

But what about those being destroyed, the fat and the strong. Please note that entrance into the kingdom of God is not based upon the Body Mass Index your BMI score. But rather entrance into the Kingdom of God is based upon God’s grace given to you through faith. The Fat and the strong that Ezekiel references is in regards to those who reject God, who reject the grace that comes from your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When the People of Israel wanted a King just like the other countries around them the Prophet Samuel felt rejected, but the Lord notes:
1 Samuel 8:7 (ESV) 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.

Well the last day you can consider as Vindication day. Not that you are going to be vindicated from all the people that did you harm, but God is going to be vindicated. For everyone who denies the grace of God, for everyone who doesn’t fear God,

St. Paul notes this
Philippians 2:10–11 (ESV) 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

On the last day everyone will bow down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

However while we are waiting for the last day, we can get discouraged.

We see the church in North America declining, like the sun setting in the evening. The dominance and respect that Christians had seems to be waning. We have just celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, will there be a 600th anniversary? My answer to that question is yes. One of the great themes of the reformation was, The Word of the Lord Endures Forever, based upon 1 Peter 1:25 (ESV) 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

It was preached to the people during the time of St. Peter about 2000 years again, it is being proclaimed today in your hearing, and it will be proclaimed until Christ Jesus comes again. As St. Peter would say in his second letter.

2 Peter 3:13 (ESV) 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

For this is what the church is all about. How Christ rescues us, protects us, guides us.
Here Luther’s Explanation to the 3rd Article of the Apostles Creed.

What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, en- lightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.
In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctify es the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.
On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.

Ezekiel also notes how Christ will rescue:
Ezekiel 34:23–24 (ESV) 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.

By the way, the servant David, is a reference to line of King David

Luke 2:1–5 (ESV) 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

More about that is the new Church year.
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

November 25, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Bless the Lord for the Good Land He gives you

Bless the Lord for the Good Land He gives you
Deuteronomy 8:1-10
November 22, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving! Your favorite Bible passage for your Thanksgiving celebration is the Old Testament reading Deuteronomy 8:10 which says, “And you shall eat and be full.” So at the end of Thanksgiving if you are sitting on a couch with a full tummy, then remember, you are just following what the Bible says, you shall eat and be full.

You may notice that the Bible verse doesn’t end with the word full, but continues with, “ and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”

What does it mean to Bless the Lord? To Thank God. Do you remember the days when you were little and you had just received a gift, to which your parents would prompt you with the words, “what do you say?” To which the proper response would be saying “Thank you.”

From God to Moses to you, that is our response which is to say, “Thank You.”

Martin Luther explains this in the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer
Give us this day our daily bread.
What does this mean?
God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

To receive everything with Thanksgiving. Why is receiving our daily bread and teaching our children to say thank you so import?

Think of it this way. Every time you say thank you to God, you are resisting the devil. Even by coming to the Divine Service tonight you are resisting the devil. The devil doesn’t want you to thank God for anything. The devil is trying to convince you to think that is no need ever to thank God, that you have gather and accomplished all things by your own doing, and that you deserve them because of who you are. But by coming here tonight you defy the devil and at the same time glorify God for what He had done.

But it is not easy to remember to give thanks to God. Consider for a moment the people of Israel when they left Egypt. What did God do for the people of Israel, notice our text. While they were wandering for 40 years God fed them and their clothing did not wear out. I am likely for my running shoes to last 1 year, let alone 40 years. But the people were not always thankful to God, instead they grumbled against God. But notice that God was testing them to know what was in their heart, if they were keeping the commandments or not.

So it wasn’t as easy as sitting on the couch with a full tummy, no you need to remember to Thank God.

The testing was there as our reading from Deuteronomy notes so that you would realize that you do not live by bread alone, it is not about the full tummy. Remember during the Reformation there was Three Solas, Sola Gratia (“only by grace alone”), Sola Fide (“only through faith alone”), and Sola Scriptura (“only through the Scriptures alone”). Please note there was no Sola Panem that would be for bread alone.

Jesus Himself would quote this passage in the great temptation from the devil, man does not live by bread alone but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, again it is not about the full tummy.

Just as we prayed in the Collect, the prayer of the day, which reminded us the God provides for our needs in Body and Soul, not just the tummy, but also the soul. Again the needs of the Soul is not what the devil wants us to be concerned about. Again we hinder the devil and glorify God as we come the the Eucharist, that is Holy Communion which feeds and strengthens the soul. Eucharist which is the Greek meaning “thanksgiving”,

As St. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 11:23–24 (ESV) 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” The term “Eucharist” (thanksgiving) was used by the early Christian by the last 1st century. So giving thanks to God is not just of the things for the body, but also of the soul.

It is good to remember this National Day of Thanksgiving, by gather together in the Divine Service. Weather our tummies are full, or even if there is still want, we gather and celebrate the Eucharist, where Christ remembers us, as feeds us His Body and Blood. As our Lord Jesus Christ gave thanks we also give thanks, regardless what the past, present or future would be, we thank God. Remember what Christ has done. We realize that soon after Christ celebrated the Eucharist, He was betrayed, and crucified, but still, He have thanks.

So we celebrate the Eucharist, Blessing the Lord, giving thanks to God in all circumstances.

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

November 22, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Consecrated Guests

Consecrated Guests
Zephaniah 1:7-16
November 19, 2017

How do we see God? Do you see God as an abusive father, an absent father or a loving giving Father? Strange as that question may seem, the answer may be even stranger.

How one perceives God, is what you get? Sounds strange, but think of it this way. By Faith we trust in a loving God who cares, provides with many physical and spiritual blessings. But those without faith in this loving God would see God as a wrathful judge or an absent father. You get what you believe.

Notice what is happening in the Old Testament reading:
Zephaniah 1:12 (ESV) 12 I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’

Classic example of the absent father. But this is very much like the trend in today’s society of the “Nones” who are increasing in the United States. What are “Nones?” None means none, that is not atheist, not agnostic, not unbeliever, more like none of the above. They don’t want a spiritual label and they don’t want what you believe either.

Regardless if they are “Nones” or the people during the time of Zephaniah, we note how they abandon God’s word, are apathetic toward God, not seeing any good coming from God nor do they see any ill, nor are they fearing the wrath of God.

Jesus Himself notes in:
Matthew 5:13 (ESV) 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

That is exactly what is in store for the people of Israel. But, God gives an opportunity to for the people, that is why Zephaniah was sent. So our Old Testament reading begins:

Zephaniah 1:7 (ESV) 7 Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests.

Be silent before the Lord God. It is like God is saying: “Pay attention I gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth, be silent before the Lord, meaning to listen to His Word as it is read and proclaimed especially if the God is calling for a correction. Hear the Word. Don’t cry out against it, saying this is boring and not revenant to life, for this Word is your life.
For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice. The prophet is playing with figures of speech, as the prophets do so often. The time for slaying the sacrifice is here. The Lord will slay a sacrifice for Himself, namely, you wicked people, if you do not repent.
The Lord has consecrated His guests. If the people do not repent God will send the Chaldeans to destroy and ruin the people who are the sacrifice. People may think that they are the consecrated guests, for the people of Israel were set apart, made Holy by God. But, How one perceives God, is the God you get? No Faith in a loving forgiving God, then no loving forgiving God. By the way, the Chaldeans will be doing God’s will even through the people of Israel are rebelling against God.

For this is the problem as it is names later in
Zephaniah 3:2 (ESV) 2 She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord; she does not draw near to her God.

Like a rebellious child, God is noting their disobedience, but the people are not changing. Their apathy is great. They will not accept rebuke, nor accept any condemnation. Therefore the people do not trust in the Lord. The people do not have a faith to fear and trust in God. The people willfully ignoring of God’s Word which pulls the people away from God as the prophet notes: She does not draw near to her God. One draws near to God by acquiring knowledge of Him. This happens by faith, not by works, not by hands or feet but by zealous practice and daily exercise of the faith.

There is only one solution, to send the people into exile.
Zephaniah 3:12 (ESV) 12 But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,

The exile was hard. But, the result was a people humble and lowly, who will have faith and hope in the name of the Lord, for that is the goal of Christ. For God desires all people to be saved, and doesn’t want anyone to perish. God wants people to fear and trust in God above all things.

But as the church recognizes the end of the church, next week, these last few Sundays have a strong focus that Christ is coming again. As we prayed in collect of the day we ask

Dispel from us the works of darkness and grant us to live in the light of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that our faith may never be found wanting;

The focus is on maintaining the faith that is given us, and in telling others that they have a God of that loves them, takes care of them, and forgives them, even if they don’t see it. What they believe the nature of God is what they will get. So we get an opportunity to teach, that Christ Jesus died in their place. That Christ Jesus has prepared a place for them in eternity. But it is hard to be a witness of the Christian faith when ones self is struggling in the faith.

So hear the words of Luther, Small Catechism, under the section of Confession, after a confession has been made.

Then the confessor shall say:
God be merciful to you and strengthen your faith. Amen.

Do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness? Yes, dear confessor.
Then let him say:
Let it be done for you as you believe. And I, by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in peace.

So believe and trust in the forgiveness of sin through Christ Jesus. Be bold and share that forgiveness, for you are Consecrated Guests, for God’s name is upon you through Holy Baptism, so believe and trust in what Christ has given you as God’s name was placed upon you.

In Christ’s Holy Name. Amen.

Written by dballa

November 18, 2017 at 4:01 pm

It is all good, in Faith

It is all good, in Faith
Amos 5:18-24
November 12, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If someone asked you, “Why do you come to church?” how would you answer? I have heard many answers like, My parents make me, an opportunity to talk to friends, to support and encouragement, maybe it is need the big question answered in your life.

May a better question to ask is does it matter why you are here in church?

The answer to that question can be seen in the Old Testament reading from Amos.

Amos 5:21–23 (ESV) 21 “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. 23 Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

The reason why God takes no delight in the solemn assemblies during the time of Amos was that the people did not gather in faith. Luther says it this way: The Lord, however, wants people to worship Him in faith. The wicked do not please the Lord, regardless of how great and splendid their works may be.

So when Amos says, “Take away from me the noise of your songs.” It wasn’t because the people of Israel had invented RAP, for music genre, that is the type of music doesn’t matter. It is the faith that matters. Faith that trusts in God.

Everything is good when done through faith, even rap. Faith that trust in the promises of God. This is why when we gather here at Peace we proclaim God’s Word of promise, We administer that Word of Promise with Water, Bread and Wine, our Liturgy is focused on that promise, and our Lutheran hymnody brings out those promises of God, so that our faith is strengthen and grows with the promises of God’s Word.

Without faith, every thing is bad

1 Corinthians 11:29 (ESV) 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

What is discerning the body? Luther has a beautiful way of answering this in the Small Catechism, Who receives this sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.

The Formula of Concord, part of our confessional documents says it this way:
We believe, teach, and confess that there is only one kind of unworthy guest, those who do not believe.

God gives you this faith through Holy Baptism, God feeds this faith through the Lord’s Supper, your faith hears the promises of God.

The Simple faith, that Jesus died on the cross for forgiveness of your sins. Faith that trusts that you need a Savior.

So if someone asks you, “Why do you go to Peace Lutheran church?” you can say that “I gather at Peace Lutheran church every week, for there the Gifts of God are waiting for me.” This is the reason why we gather at Peace every week, to receive the gifts of God, His Grace.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

In Christ Holy 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

November 11, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Clothed in White

Clothed in White
Revelation 7:9-17
November 5, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we have young kids, getting their clothes clean can be a challenge. Using a detergent is necessary, or at the very least baking soda, but our reading from the book of Revelation notes that their robs were washed by the Blood of the lamb. Using Tide, All, Wisk, Gain, Oxyclean, or even Cheer just won’t do it, especially when we are talking about the stain of sin.

Only the Blood of the Lamb will get it clean. Why Blood? This is what they did even in the Old Testament to consecrate the priests.

Exodus 29:21 (ESV) 21 Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.

The blood from the altar, had been offered to atone for their sins and cleanse them from impurity made and kept them holy. That blood was then sprinkled on them to protected them from all evil powers and kept the tabernacle safe from defilement.

Like those priests, we have robes that have been washed in blood
The blood of Jesus, by which He has ransomed and redeemed us

1 Peter 1:18–19 (ESV) 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

The blood of Jesus the Christ justifies us before God the Father cleanses us from all impurity and makes us holy Hebrews 13:12 (ESV) 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

Jesus Christ even gives us that blood to drink in Holy Communion (Matthew 26:27–28). There He sprinkles our hearts, not just our bodies, with His blood so that we are holy through and through. In Communion, Hebrews 12:24 (ESV) 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Jesus’ blood does not cry out for justice and revenge but for pardon and justification. When Satan tries to condemns us for sinning against God and others; Jesus blood covers and protects us with Christ’s own righteousness and holiness. By our faithful reception and reliance on His blood in Holy Communion, we stand under the protection of Christ, just as the Israelites were kept safe from the angel of death in Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb. Thus we overcome the evil one by the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God.

When we drink the blood of the Lamb in Holy Communion, it does not just sprinkle our bodies, like the priests at the temple; it sprinkles our hearts and our conscience so that we are holy through and through.It covers us with Christ’s righteousness and purity and holiness. It is our holy spiritual armor, our sure protection against Satan and all the powers of darkness. He may kill our bodies, but he cannot kill our souls.

Matthew 10:28 (ESV) 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

By drinking Jesus’ blood and trusting in it for our deliverance and safety, we overcome Satan.

Not only the Lord’s Supper, but also in Holy Baptism. In responses to trails and temptations of the devil, Luther wrote: We might say: “I know that I am baptized, washed, and steeped in Christ’s blood; therefore I am surely sanctified through Him.”

The Confidence that Luther puts in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is great.

The Sixth Petition
And lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean?
God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

How does one come out of the great tribulation? Through the work of Christ Jesus, as applied to us in Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, that is the blood of the Lamb, for that is how we are clothed in white.

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

November 4, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Posted in Sermons