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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

Repent Before God


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

Here at Peace we celebrate the Lord’s Supper at every service. It is a joy to receive Christ in His body and blood, it is a joy to receive the forgiveness of sin, through Christ’s body and blood. St. Luke tells us in

Luke 22:19–20 (ESV) 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Oh what a joy it would have been to be there with Christ. But how long does this joy last? How fast does the joy of being with Christ begin to fade. How quickly do we go from the Lord’s Table to the Devil’s Business. The answer to these questions may surprise you 4 verses, : from verse 20 to verse 24

Luke 22:24 (ESV) 24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.

Wow, they hadn’t even left the table, any were arguing among themselves.

The questions we need to ask ourselves: do my conflicts with others affect my relationship with God? The answer is yes, even though they just had received the Lord’s Supper, that unique special joy given by Christ Himself, but yet our sinful nature is strong. It is not me and Jesus, during Holy Communion, but as the word Communion implies a community of those in Christ Jesus, which included those around us, and all believers in Christ through the world and even in the past who are with Christ in paradise. So how we interact with others is important for we are all part of the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12 (ESV) 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many….19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

We see this connection again when we look at the Law of God and especially of the 10 Commandments, we see as Jesus responds in

Matthew 22:36–40 (ESV) 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

When we look at the 10 Commandments, we see two tablets. The first tablet is dealing with our relationship with God, the Second, dealing with our relationship with our neighbor. During confirmation class we learn that when I break any of the commandment I am also breaking the first commandment,:.

The First Commandment You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. By breaking any other commandment we are not trusting in God above all things as Luther puts it. The results of which is that my relationship with others does greatly affect my relationship with God.

The Psalmist says:

Psalm 51:4 (ESV) 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

When we break or fail to do any part of the commandments, we are sinning against God. For God know our heart. It isn’t just stealing or being angry against someone, but a heart that is not trusting God to provide.

What is God looking for? The Psalmist puts it

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

A realization that we haven’t kept the commandments of God. Christ wants us to love our neighbor.

1 Peter 4:8 (ESV) 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

As we love our neighbor, we forgive our neighbor. As we forgive, we overlook their faults which will lead to less conflict with our neighbor.

For this is why God forgive you. God doesn’t want sin to stand in the way of you being with God for eternity.

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.

Not even your sin, for Christ Jesus has forgiven you. So Jesus forgive, because His relationship with you is more important than your sin.

But do we express the same with others? How long do our relationship with other last if we don’t forgive.

Jesus notes: Matthew 6:14–15 (ESV) 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

How do my conflicts with others affect my relationship with God?

Our conflicts of not forgiving others have a direct relationship on our relationship with God. Not that God withholds His forgiveness, but that we are not coming to God with a

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

There is a connection between the horizontal relationship ( us and God) and vertical relationships (community of people around us)

When we are in conflict with our neighbor it affects our relationship with God and theirs and they also struggle with the conflict.

Remember God as St. Paul tell Timothy 1 Timothy 2:4 (ESV) 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So Jesus notes:

Matthew 5:23–24 (ESV) 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

So we remember that our relationship with others, does affect our relationship with God. We remember that we have a broken spirit, that needs Christ’s mending, along with our brother and sister, because Christ want you to be saved.

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper with joy, reminding ourselves that we are sinners in need of Christ forgiveness and strength. We need that strength and forgiveness from God for it can take only 4 verses before we are doing the devil’s business. 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

February 21, 2018 at 9:39 am

Remember Whose You Are

Remember Whose You Are

1 John 3:1

Ash Wednesday


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

Lent is the Church’s road to the Cross. It is marked by 40 days of Lent, not including Sundays. It begins today, Ash Wednesday and ends on Good Friday. During this time the church has it focus on remembering why Jesus the Christ had to die on the cross, for the forgiveness of sins and restoration of the human race.


Sackcloth and ashes, were a sign of of Grief & repentance.


Esther 4:1 (ESV) 1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry.


Jonah 3:4–5 (ESV) 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.


God sees the change in a person and then has mercy on the Jewish people in Esthen and the people of Nineveh.


So we have the Burning of the Palms into ashes as a way to get the ashes for Ash Wednesday.  This isn’t what the people of Nineveh did for Palm Sunday hadn’t yet occurred.  The church uses this custom to show how Quickly do we move from Palm Sunday, Adoring Jesus as King, to shouting crucify Him a few days later on Good Friday.


Just like Peter who we heard on Sunday, Mark 9:5 (ESV) 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

The great mountain top experience of the Transfiguration with no doubt later even celebrating the first Lord’s Supper on Maunday Thursday to a few hours later saying  to I don’t even know the man, that is to deny Jesus.


Why this change. As we burn the palms from Palm Sunday to make ashes for Ash Wednesday we realize our how powerful our Original Sin actually is. We realize what our sin has brought us and it is beyond our own help and understanding.


The Formula of Concord, one of our confessional books puts it this way, “Through Adam’s fall human   nature and our essence are completely corrupted. The damage is so indescribable that it cannot be recognized by our reason but only from God’s Word.”

The damage is so bad we can’t even see it, because our very reason is corrupted.  That is why Peter coming from the wow moment of the transfiguration would later deny Christ. This is why we need the promises of God through His word, we need the reconciliation of the Cross that is given to us through Baptism.

Our reconciliation first begins with Christ, as He reconciled us to Him through the cross, we receive this forgiveness directly through Holy Baptism which is a means to receive God’s forgiveness.  Once baptized we don’t just walk away, because we are still stained with that Original Sin, so we remember our Baptism, in our daily life. We remember why we needed God’s grace through Baptism.  

Also, as we have conflict with others we remind ourselves needed reconciliation with God. We are not perfect, but need God’s grace, so likewise why do we expect others to be perfect. Just as Christ had mercy on us shouldn’t we also have mercy on others, so that we can be reconciliation with others.

1 John 3:1 (ESV) 1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (through Holy Baptism, the verse continues) The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Please note the conflict. The World does not know Christ, but Christ wants all people saved.

Unfortunately there are some who don’t want reconciliation with God nor with us.

What does Christ do? He patiently waits until the last day, working through His Spirit in His own way, which may include us. So we who have God’s patient love, are now patient with those who don’t want reconciliation, just as Christ was patient with us.

So we remember our baptism as we come to the Lord’s Supper, remembering our need to be reconciled to God and how God comes to us through the waters of Holy Baptism. We come the Lord’s Supper for strength and mercy knowing like Peter, our Original Sin is great, and that we too praise our King with Palms, only later to deny our Savior with our many sins.

So during this road to the Cross, the season of Lent, we confess, we really need God grace each and daily, and so we have it. Remember your Baptism. 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

February 13, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Formed by Christ

Formed by Christ
Isaiah 64:1-9
December 3, 2017

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

We are beginning the new Church year, the color is blue, the season is called Advent, which is a season that prepares us for Christmas. How do we prepare for Christmas? You see the tree, you see the Advent Wreath, but there is much more, not outside decoration, but much more. Advent is a time for excitement but also a proper fear. We are to be shaken to the very depths of our souls, so that they may wake up to the truth of who we really are. For why do we need a Savior to be born in Bethlehem, as a baby, but also true God? Because when we look at the nature of our soul, we don’t see sugar plums and fairies, but death. So we need a savior, who will change us, form us, re-birth us. This re-birth as Luther Reminds us in the Small Catechism under Baptism

What does such baptizing with water indicate?
It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Keep this in mind, as we start our Advent preparation to receive Christ at Christmas.

Isaiah actually begin our Old Testament reading for today.

Isaiah 64:1 (ESV) 1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—

While this may initially seem like a good thing, that God would come down and the mountain would shake, but we are reminded that

Exodus 33:20 (ESV) 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

There is a reason for this and Isaiah notes this is verse 6

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

This is not a good. This is why we need the time of Advent. What we need is a Savior, and Christ Jesus is that Savior, but as

Isaiah 64:7 (ESV) 7 There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

Notice that God is hidden from us. This may sound strange, but think of it this way. The reason for God being hidden from us is because of our sin. There are many people who don’t see God active in their lives. There are many who even deny God exists, who have no problem with their lives and don’t want God to re-create them. Skipping Advent and moving from Thanksgiving to Christmas isn’t a problem for them because they don’t see the problem within them.

But once we realize the consequences our of sins and need of a Savior, which is what the Advent season is all about, then we are at the right place to be re-born, re-newed, ready for the Christ child to be born. Isaiah shows us how this looks in:

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) 8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

As Isaiah notes, now we are ready to be formed, re-created into the image of God. Isaiah notes that we are the work of God’s hand. Notice this is God’s work to be done to us, to be formed by Christ, is to realize that we need that baby to be born in Bethlehem.

The beautiful Christmas Gospel, needs a Advent reminder, that even after the Fall into sin, even after our own sin, we are still the Work of God’s hands. We are still part of His creation, God has not abandon us, but as Isaiah notes will still redeems us. So in regards to matters of God, we are indeed like clay in the hand of the potter. For there we do not choose, we do not do anything; but we are chosen, we are equipped, we are born again.

So the prayer of the day summarizes this for us, we prayed: Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance.

Yes, Advent has begun, and we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus the Christ, by realizing that we need to be formed in Christ. We remember our Baptism where Christ first forms us. We ask Christ to soften our hearts so that He can continue to shape us during Advent, as we move closer to celebrating the Feast of the Nativity, that is Christmas. 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

December 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Always Forgiving

Always Forgiving
Isaiah 55:6–9
September 24, 2017

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

Christ Jesus is Always Forgiving, at least what the electronic sign in front says. But is this true? Does Christ always forgive? What does out text for today say:

Isaiah 55:7 (ESV) 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Abundantly pardon. Please note the adverb, Abundantly, not occasionally, but abundantly.

Many people ask the question then, Why are all people not saved saved? Another question is similar, do I really need to go to church?

The reason why the church gathers together in worship each week is because this is how Christ Jesus and the forgiveness He alone brings comes to us. There are two things we need to keep in mind, First how the forgiveness of sins is achieved and won and Second how the forgiveness of sins is given to us.

When Christ Jesus does on the cross, Christ defeats Sin, death and the devil.

John 19:30 (ESV) 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The Second part has is the forgiveness of sins given to us. St. Paul notes that this also comes through Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So where does Christ promise the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 26:26–28 (ESV) 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Christ Jesus notes a little later in Matthew

Matthew 28:19 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, (how, by) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper distributes and apply the forgiveness of sin to us.

This is why we, as Lutherans, have such a strong focus upon Word and Sacrament Ministry in our churches. Because it is in God’s Word and Sacraments by which we receive this pardon abundantly.

Matthew 12:31 (ESV) 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

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 sanctifies 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.
This is most certainly true.

So the Holy Spirit is calling, but why are not all saved,

Acts 7:51 (ESV) 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.

Christ Jesus allows Himself to be resisted, and there are many people who resist. Many people claim to be spiritual, but resist receiving God’s grace and mercy through Christ Jesus Word and Sacraments. But since this is the way the Holy Spirit call us, then they are resisting the Holy Spirit. So if a person is saved, we give Christ Jesus the Glory, for it is Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the devil. But a person condemns themselves who resists the Holy Spirit.

John 3:17 (ESV) 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Theodoret of Cyr (an early Christian father): says, “When you who seek have found, … show God your face, not your back. For he will grant you mercy and give you forgiveness of sins.”
Elliott, M. W. (Ed.). (2007). Isaiah 40–66 (pp. 187–188). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

How do we show God our face, not our back? The first verse of our text:

Isaiah 55:6 (ESV) 6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

Why is this important
Hebrews 12:1b (ESV) 1 …lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

St. Paul also notes:

Romans 7:21 (ESV) 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

We still have our sinful nature and continuance of sin which clings to us.

Besides we may not have a tomorrow:

Proverbs 27:1 (ESV) 1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

So we have today.

Do we daily need to turn from our sin and return to Christ and His Word of promise. For we have a Savior Christ Jesus who always forgives. We gather where Christ promises to be, where Christ Word is proclaimed and His sacrament is given. We gather for Christ Jesus always forgives. 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

September 23, 2017 at 3:01 pm