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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

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

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 Delivers Us through the Tough Decisions

Acts 1:12-26
Christ Delivers Us through the Tough Decisions
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Word of Life, Naperville, IL

May 28, 2017

For some the decision to marry and whom to marry can be a great ordeal. For those who have ever married, how did you decide to marry your spouse?

At least when I was younger there was no such things as tinder, match.com or any on-line dating service to read biographical profile materials. Even with these and many more choices, where do you begin.

What were the priorities for making this important decision:
Similar interest
Great provider or Parent
The Wow factor

After the choice has been been made, you need to stick with it. The decision gets tougher, because you know you will need to live with it. There is a difference between now and later.

After over than 30 some years later, I am sure that my wife’s priorities were different than when she said I do and she has different expectations from me now.

The Book of Acts our first reading mentions a tough decision, the calling another apostle. The 12 Apostles were down to 11. To answer that problem they wanted to choose another, but how.

How did they choose? Flip a coin, cast lots, well not quite.

Notice where they started: They started with God’s Word, His promises

Acts 1:15–16 (ESV) 15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

Acts 1:20 (ESV) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “ ‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “ ‘Let another take his office.’

This is not a human institution, not developed by Peter, but one of God’s will.

The Criteria, how they were going to choose their candidates.
Acts 1:21–22 (ESV) 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

With us from the beginning
Witness to the Resurrection
The key is that they were witnesses this is what the Apostles do Acts 4:20 (ESV) 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Then they Prayed, You know the heart O Lord
Acts 1:24–25 (ESV) 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

God does know the heart and we do not. When David was to be anointed Samuel looked at his brother and thought this looks like a king.

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Solomon in the dedication of the temple notes of God
1 Kings 8:39 (ESV) 39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),

Please notice that God doesn’t use the Wow factor.

Then they cast lots.

Acts 1:26 (ESV) 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

This was not the first time that lots were used.

Joshua 14:2 (ESV) 2 Their inheritance was by lot, just as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes.

Why? What does Scripture says:
Proverbs 18:18 (ESV) 18 The lot puts an end to quarrels and decides between powerful contenders.

But please notice that they had 2 equal contenders. Let God answer but casting lots.

Making a Tough Decision. God gives us His Word, we need to search the word. God gives us our intellect, we need to use it, God gives us Good Christians Friends, seek their thoughts, God gives us an opportunity to come to Him in Prayer, then prayer.

Don’t worry about making a mistake. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Make the best decision possible at the time and stick with it.

Calling your next pastor is a tough decision, but necessary.
Romans 10:17 (ESV)  17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:15 (ESV)  15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
We need pastor to shepherd us and we need to take care of our pastors, so that they shepherd properly.

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)  17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

But please realize…your next pastor will be..a sinner.
Romans 3:23 (ESV) 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

But we live in God’s grace and forgiveness

1 Peter 4:8 (ESV) 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
So we love, forgive even the pastor, knowing that he won’t be perfect…

All the while we Listen to the Word the pastor teaches

Acts 17:10–11 (ESV)  10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Don’t focus on the sins or short-comings, but focus upon the Word and Promises of God being proclaimed to you.

Remember Jesus said:
John 6:63 (ESV)  63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

So look for the Word of Spirit and Life, focus on what God have given you, His Word and Promises and Pastors to shepherd and guide.

After all this is this community that is called Word of Life, so focus on the Word and bring Life

Written by dballa

May 28, 2017 at 6:02 am

Posted in Church