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Archive for March 2019

Declared Worthy

Declared Worthy Luke 15:1–3, 11–32 Lent 4 31-Mar-19

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

Luke 15:1–3(ESV) 1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable:

Jesus tells another parable, which is a heavenly story using earthly means. The purpose of this parable is that the Pharisees and Jewish scribes were grumbling that Jesus receives sinners and eats with them. Apparently that was scandalous at the time. It today’s terms you could say that the Pharisees and Jewish scribes were haters. They didn’t consider themselves as sinners and they did not associate with sinners.

Jesus has some teaching and correction that needs to be done.

The Parable teaches that all are sinners. It is obvious the younger son is a sinner, but also the older son, why, because he refused to join the younger son who is a sinner. Please note that the older son loses nothing from an earthly value, but because of his judgemental viewpoint and not realizing the he also is a sinner loses everything eternal.

That didn’t the older son along with the Pharisee and Jewish scribes realize:

Psalm 51:5(ESV) 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

What did the younger son realize as the Psalmist:

Psalm 119:71(ESV) 71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

The realization that we are not worthy to be in God’s presence.

Luke 15:17–19(ESV) 17 “But when he came to himself… I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The younger son clearly states I am no longer worth to be called your son.

This is so true for all of us we are not worthy

Matthew 8:8–10(ESV) 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

Jesus praises the centurion’s faith and trust in Jesus, by the centurion’s admission that the centurion was not worthy. It is an admission, or you could say a confession.

So what is confession? When we confess the creed together we are stating this is what we believe. Likewise at the beginning of the Divine Service we confess together that we are sinners.

Psalm 5:5(ESV) 5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;

So something happens, so that we can stand before the living God, because by our nature, sinners cannot stand before God. What has changed? True contrition exists when a person not merely fears the temporal punishment of their sins, but also regards themself as eternally lost on account of their sins.

Luke 5:31–32(ESV) 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

This is the understanding the Jesus wanted the Pharisees, Jewish scribes and us to understand.

But do we understand it? How quick are we to judge others vs how quick are we to confess?

I am sure based upon my own experience: that it wasn’t easy for the younger son to swallow his pride and start heading back to his father.

But notice what happen when the younger son did? T

Luke 15:20(ESV) 20 …But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Embraced Him, connection restored before confession

Luke 15:21(ESV) 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

I am no longer worthy, we are never worthy. Instead we are declared worthy by our Heavenly Father.

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.

Please note that Luther and the parable don’t require a perfect life. Nor do they go through a long list of all the things that we have done, instead the focus is that we believe and trust in the promises of God. The younger son would not have return to his father is he didn’t think there would be food. Likewise we come to the Lord’s Supper trusting in the promises of Jesus Christ, for in Christ we are declared worthy.

Luke 15:24(ESV) 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Why celebrate, for Sinners declared worthy, are still sinners, but they are also saints.

1 Corinthians 2:5(ESV) 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

So we come before Christ Jesus, not that we are better than anyone one else, we come, because Jesus “receives sinners and eats with them.”

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

March 30, 2019 at 2:03 pm


Fertilizer Luke 13:1-9 Lent 3

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

Our Gospel reading for today starts out with some dramatic news. Wow, I guess they had bad news even during the day of Jesus. We are surrounded today with even more, because of the speed of communication, most of the world can hear of an event minutes of it happening. So naturally we are exposed to more today than in previous generations.

But what do we do with the traumatic news of the day. One thing that hasn’t changed since the time of Jesus is human mindset. During the time of Jesus and even today, some people think if something bad happens to you, then God must be upset with you. We may ask the same questions:

John 9:2(ESV) 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

So is God punishing you when bad things happen? There are natural consequences to sin, but God punished Jesus for your sins. So when Jesus dies on the cross, Jesus is paying for your punishment. However Jesus had a different way to answer their concern.

Luke 13:5(ESV) 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Our human reaction is very quickly to point the finger, and like the old adage, whenever you point the finger, three more are pointing back at you.

Unless you repent you will perish.

Salvation is not based upon being a better person than other, like some spiritual grading system, all the A’s go to the highest tier of heaven, while the D’s goto the door keeper position, while the F’s go to hell.

But the criteria is based 100% in Christ. You are in church, great, but please realise the rest of the reading.

Now we come to the parable, a story with a heavenly meaning.

The segway Luke 13:5(ESV) 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

It begins with a glimpse of the heavenly counsel of God that Father and Jesus. God the Father saying where’s the fruit on this tree, it been three years, now the divine judgement, cut it down. Jesus intervenes represented by the vinedresser says. Jesus will dig around and put on manure which is a fertilizer.

So what is the fertilizer that Jesus is going to use? Maybe a better way to ask that question would be what are the means that Jesus uses to effect change in people. Remember that change that is needed to be effected is repentance which is seen by bearing of fruit.

Luke 3:8–9(ESV) 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

So the tree by itself isn’t doing it, it is slated to be cut down, Jesus intervenes with the fertilizer of repentance which is:

Baptism as Titus 3:5(ESV) 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,


The Lord’s Supper: Matthew 26:28(ESV) 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

These are the means of grace, the fertilizer so to speak, so that the fruit will appear. St. Paul notes

Galatians 5:22–23(ESV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

So lets put these together. When we see bad things happening to us or to others, it is not part of the spiritual grading system, we don’t say I am better because I am bless you others are not. WE don’t point the finger. Instead when we see see bad things happening then change within us producing the fruit of the spirit, says, how can I help.

How can I help when I see especially my brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering. We don’t have to look too far, even here at Peace, there are people in need. We are a community of believers and yes we need your help. When we assemble our health kits to send to Africa, we have used Orphan Grain Train who continue to focus on getting supplies out overseas and even locally, as they are also assisting the flooding victims in the Midwest.

Yes, Jesus is continually feeding us and nurturing us through His Word and Sacraments. Being Changed by God’s Word we see our neighbor in need and realize it isn’t just a news event, but we ask how can I help.

We praise Jesus for being gracious to us even when we didn’t deserve it, and so in turn respond Luke 10:27(ESV) 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

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

March 23, 2019 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Sermons

Overcoming Temptation

Overcoming Temptation
Luke 4:1-13
Lent 1

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

Whenever I see one of those chocolate Boston Cream donuts, I am always reminded that temptation comes in different forms. I will admit the Swedish Flop is really number one, but excellent bakeries are hard to find, but Boston Creams are almost just around every corner. Sure you may say Pastor you just need more will power, but the truth of the matter is I have plenty of will power, because I don’t use any. While we may joke about temptations the truth is they are real and can be deadly.

In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus is tempted. Right after His Baptism where the voice of God the Father publically confirms, This is by beloved Son, then the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness for fasting.

There is an irony going on here. You may remember from Genesis that Adam because of falling into temptation was tossed out of the Garden of Eden into the wilderness, whereas the second Adam, Jesus the Christ goes into the wilderness on our behalf to overcome temptation in order to restore Paradise lost.

Luke 4:3(ESV) 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Was the first temptation as the first Adam fell by eating the forbidden fruit all about food, i.e. Chocolate Boston Cream donut? Some would say yes of course, Jesus hadn’t eaten in forty days. But please notice what was being questioned, “If you are the Son of God” if I may paraphrase prove it. Prove it my satisfying that fleshy stomach. But Jesus purpose in taking on flesh and blood was to fulfill the Father’s will, that flesh and blood would be redeemed.

John 6:51(ESV) 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

It isn’t about the Chocolate Boston Cream, it is about doing the Father’s will.

In the second temptation,

Luke 4:5(ESV) 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,

Was this some special movie playing the history of the world super fast. No. The devil only needed to show Jesus that humans were enslaved to him because of sin. The devil has taken this world by fraud, but now that the Christ has come, Jesus will restore this world back to its proper authority through his obedient suffering and death on Calvary’s cross. Please remember that right before physical suffering Jesus prays, Luke 22:42(ESV) 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

We realize that Jesus responds with these temptations by quoting Holy Scripture and remaining faithful to Father’s will. With the third temptation the scenery changes, they are at the top of the temple. The people would see the spectacular leap with the rescue from the angels and understand that Jesus is the Messiah. But knowledge Jesus is the Messiah doesn’t bring about the restoration of Humanity. Notice what the demons would say latter Luke 4:34(ESV) 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” The demons knew who Jesus is, but they were not being saved. It is only following the Father’s will, that lead Jesus to suffer and die on the cross that sin, death, and the devil would be defeated, and our sin atoned. So Jesus reminds the devil again with words of Holy Scripture, Luke 4:12(ESV) 12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

Now what about us. Do we just need more will power? We need Jesus. Jesus even knew that we needed God’s help so that in the Lord’s Prayer we have: 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.

God is the one who guards and keeps us. Trust in Christ and His Word. It was just quoting Bible verses and delivered, but trusting on God, believing that God does deliver.

Sure I joke about the Boston Cream donut, but there are real temptations out there. 1 Peter 5:8(ESV) 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

So we focus on the Bread of Life. His Flesh His Blood, the Lord’s Supper, for forgiveness of sins and strengthen of Faith. For God’s Word is powerful especially when attached to bread and wine. But if we leave God’s word and trust in our own will power, what we think we can do and accomplish, we may wind up like many who followed Jesus, but when Jesus said He was the bread of Life, John 6:60(ESV) 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

And they fell away.

St. Paul reminds us 1 Corinthians 10:13(ESV) 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Jesus the Christ gives you His very own body and blood, the same body and blood that withstood against the devil’s temptations. There is nothing more that you need. In His 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

March 9, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Unveiling the Mystery

Unveiling the Mystery
Luke 9:28–36
March 3, 2019

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

Would you like to see God? Be Careful how you answer. Hebrews 12:29(ESV) 29 for our God is a consuming fire. Even Moses was not allowed to see God as Exodus 33:20(ESV) 20 But,” [God] said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

St. Paul tells Timothy

1 Timothy 6:16(ESV) 16 [God] who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

So imagine the fear, that Peter, James and John had when they saw Jesus in His glory.

Sure they heard Jesus’ words Matthew 5:8(ESV) 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

But who had a pure heart?

Yet, there is hope. From the Old Testament Genesis 32:30(ESV) 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

What was different about Jacob’s encounter with God, well God had taken on flesh and blood and wrestled with Jacob. Jacob did see God in flesh and blood just like Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds and wise men and many other who had seen Jesus and lived. Jesus hadn’t reveal His full Glory.

But now, Jesus the Christ is in His full glory, if only for a moment.

Why and how is this possible?The answer: Only through Christ do we have access to the Father Ephesians 2:18(ESV) 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

John 14:6(ESV) 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Through Christ not only do we have access to the Father, but we know Moses and Elijah Luke 9:30–31(ESV) 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

My guess is that is there were more saints of old, we would also know who there are, because of Jesus.

But while we are this side of heaven St. Paul notes 1 Corinthians 13:12(ESV) 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

For Jesus atones for the sins of the whole world. To reconcile the world back to God.

Romans 5:2(ESV) 2 Through [Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We have Access to God through Christ, for Christ comes to us, first in the mystery of the incarnation, which we see when Jesus is born, through His word and by Means of Christ Body and Blood.

Luther reminds us

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.

The same Jesus without the glowing.

While we end the Epiphany season on a mountain top experience. Epiphany, the season is making known that Jesus is the Son of God, ends with not doubt. Here we see Jesus glowing in His glory, with Moses and Elijah.

From here is goes down hill so to speak, as Jesus heads to Jerusalem in order to suffer and die to complete God’s plan of salvation. But for now we have the uplifting event, seeing and hearing that Jesus is the Son of God.

This special event isn’t so much as a rah rah event, we don’t need fluffy words and a lot of excitement. Excitement can only take you so far, now we need the substance for the dreaded days are coming. That substance, that which keeps us going we see in the transfiguration, as Matthew 1:23(ESV) 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

No corporate speech here, because at the end they were to be silent.

This was privileged information, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God that God had indeed taken on our flesh, to redeem our flesh

So if we are looking for that Mountain top experience to help us in life daily struggles, we just need to unveil the Mystery and see Jesus.

As John 1:14(ESV) 14 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.

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

March 2, 2019 at 2:42 pm