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Friday, July 31st Devotion

1PrayingHands2

“You who are far away, hear what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge My might.”  Sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling has seized the godless.  “Who among us can live with the consuming fire?  Who among us can live with continual burning?”  (Isaiah 33:13-14).

When judgement comes, those who know the Lord do not fear what is coming.  The call is for those who do not know the Lord to draw close to Him.  Judgement does come and those who have been sinning against the Lord will be held accountable.  Take care to pay attention to what is important and not to get carried away with things that are not.  The Lord alone will accomplish what He purposes.

Lord, You have all things in your hands.  You know the times and seasons.  Help me to not be one who is far away from You, but one who is always drawing closer to Your purpose and presence.  Remind me that no matter the season, or the situation, I can do all things through You who strengthens me.  Guide me in the strength of Your Word that I would abide in You and You in me.

Almighty Lord of all, You have spoken Your purpose over and over again and in each generation, there are the few that hear and the many who do not.  Help me to be one who hears Your plea and Your call to follow You through the sinful mess of this world knowing that You alone have the Words of eternal life.  Guide me today and every day to walk with You alone who saves.  Amen.

Pigs, Pancakes, and a Sticky Mess by Rev. Steven K. Gjerde

  • July 30, 2015 - 3:02 pm
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LCORE Rose 4-10-2015 11-35-24 AM

Common Confession, Article Two: The Gospel of Salvation

We believe and confess that all human beings are sinners, and that sinners are redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God alone justifies human beings by faith in Christ — a faith that God creates through the message of the Gospel. As ambassadors for Christ, God uses us to speak his Word and build his kingdom.

If you give a pig a pancake, he will want maple syrup—or so says the book that I’ve read to my children.  Pancakes and maple syrup: the one sticks to the other, both on the plate and in our minds.

The church knows something of this stickiness, and it’s a good thing.

God gave Jesus and the Gospel together; you cannot find them apart.  They’re sticky.

And once God gave Jesus in the Gospel, and the Gospel in Jesus, people started sticking together, and they wanted what they found in the Gospel, and so they wanted water, bread, and wine, too.  There is no Jesus without these people or these things.  They stick.

But who will speak this Gospel?  Who will handle these holy things?

Well, you must have preachers, of course—you must have ambassadors of the Gospel, who will carry it to the people, because the things that stick to Jesus are earthy, and do not float in the air.  Where there is Jesus, there are His ambassadors; you cannot have one without the other.

“But I don’t need a preacher; I have the Bible.”

But, friend, how is it you have a Bible?  Is it not through those ambassadors of old, the ones truly deserving of the name, our brothers Paul and Peter, and all the rest whom Jesus sent?  Who taught you to love this Bible?  How did it come into your hands?  Had you no family, no friends, no publishers and no churches to fund them?  No, I’m sorry: if no ambassadors, then no Bible, and no Jesus.  They stick together.

“And what has all of it to do with you, Lutheran CORE—you passel of schismatics, spreading hatred of our beloved church?”

“Schismatics?  Ha!  They are no schismatics.  They’re fence-sitters, some of them, unable to see the danger facing them in their church.”

Ouch.  I promise not to call you names (even if I can think of several, and they all fit).  There is a far better Name to be named, that we all carry, yes?  But I must also promise the following:

We will keep speaking the truth, both where we are not wanted, and where others think we ought not go.  “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all have died” (2 Corinthians 5:14).  That love is sweet aroma to some; to others, it will be like rot, seeping between stones until the bond is loosed; or mustard weed, invading the garden until the birds get a place that the gardener would not grant them; or yeast, gassing out its acid until the whole loaf is leaven—I guess you could say that we’re open to different outcomes.  We must be, as ambassadors of a message that first came out of an empty grave.  But however you picture it, it’s all for love, in the end (not ours, but God’s).

There are people who need to hear what God says about this or that question—“to everyone an answer” (1 Peter 3:15)—and we find ourselves in the position of speaking it, in a way that others cannot.  Should we not do so?  God sticks to people, so do not be surprised if some of His ambassadors do, too.  We know that our preaching (His Word!) is its own shelter, the shelter of faith, and that where it creates a common faith, a common fellowship follows.  Patience as a farmer, someone said, and I reckon missionaries need plenty of it.  And yes, perhaps the time will come when God will have enough of us and call us away or shut us up—can anyone say differently?

In the meantime, it all sticks together: Jesus, the Gospel, the bread, the wine, the water, the sinners and the ambassadors—it’s a sticky mess.  Come with your wipes and hand gel if you must.  But haven’t you ever eaten monkey bread on a summer night when the kids are sweaty from doing God-knows-what in the backyard and there’s soil in your nails from the garden?  Or whatever stickiness it is your life brings you in the Lord’s goodness.  It’s simul, right?  Sticky as hell, but as tasty as the kingdom.

 

 

 

Thursday, July 30th Devotion

1PrayingHands2

“You have conceived chaff, you will give birth to stubble; my breath will consume you like a fire.  “The peoples will be burned to lime, like cut thorns which are burned in the fire.”  (Isaiah 33:11-12)

The Lord calls for us to walk with Him, for He is the One through whom all things have their being.  Many though will create their own ideas of what is right and what is wrong and will pursue their own illusions.  Sadly, they are the chaff spoken of in the parable.  The Lord will use the chaff to be amongst those whom He will grow, but the chaff will be consumed, cut down and burned in the fire.

Lord, You say it over and over again, yet in each generation, there are those who will not listen to the Word You give.  Clear my ears to hear and my eyes to see that I would not be amongst those who have not lived according to Your Word.  Guide me into the Word You give that I would not listen to this sinful world, but You as You declare the truth of coming to You and living according to Your purpose.

Lord Jesus, You have come to lead those who will listen away from being the chaff of this world.  Help me, I pray, to live clearly in the truth of Your presence and purpose that I may do what is right and pleasing in Your sight.  Help me to see it clearly, Lord, that I may not be tricked by the devil. Today may I do what is right in Your sight.  Guide me, my Savior, into the life Your would have me live.  Amen.

Now Online: CORE Voice issue no. 5

  • July 29, 2015 - 12:26 pm
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Inside CORE Voice issue no. 5:
Life after SCOTUS: Lutheran CORE Responds
to the Recent Supreme Court Decision
by Pr. Dennis D. Nelson………page 1
“Bound Conscience” letter……page 2
In Christ Alone We Trust……..page 3
Radical Hospitality letter……..page 3
Encuentro Planned for fall……page 5
Hot off the Press……………….page 5
Mission Events………………….pages 6-7
Calendar………………………….page 8

Read it here: 5.2015

 

Wednesday, July 29th Devotion

1PrayingHands2

“The land mourns and pines away, Lebanon is shamed and withers; Sharon is like a desert plain, and Bashan and Carmel lose their foliage.”  “Now I will arise,” says the Lord, “Now I will be exalted, now I will be lifted up.”  (Isaiah 33:9-10)

When all is stripped away, what is left but one who stands before their Creator, pondering life’s meaning.  Eventually, we will have all stripped away at the gate of death, where little in this world really matters.  It is not that we do not care, in fact, we care all the more, but that priorities need to be put aright.  The Lord is exalted when the truth is known.  The Lord is feared when it is realized that He is Lord of all.

Lord, You Are the One who created all things.  Nothing exists apart from You.  Guide me into Your truth that I would live as one who has been stripped of pretense, living according to Your never-failing Word of truth.  Guide me ever deeper into Your Word that I may learn and grow according to Your purposes, living life toward the day when I shall see You face to face.

Lord Jesus, You have come to lead the way into eternal life.  Guide me, I pray today and every day to have right priorities and live into the life You have intended that all of us live.  Help me to be thinking and seeing, that I would not get caught up in the pretense of this age, but live fully in the truth of the Word You have spoken.  Guide me to faithfulness this day as Your disciple I pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 28th Devotion

1PrayingHands2

“The highways are desolate, the traveler has ceased, he has broken the covenant, he has despised the cities, he has no regard for man.  (Isaiah 33:8)

When calamity comes, civilization slips away.  The veneer of being civilized is thin.  The Lord empowers those who are in Him to live with a different standard, where what is right becomes a part of the person, not just a veneer put on top.  The sinful person cares only for himself, whereas the Lord grants compassion and care in those who are in Him.

Lord, I often cannot see, because what is on the outside does not look all that different from one to the next, but what is on the inside is very different.  Help me not focus on what others are doing, but on who You have promised to make me to be that I would live now and forever in the truth of what Your Word proclaims.  Guide me into the depths of Your Word that I may know the truth and be free.

Thank You, Lord, for freeing me from the depths of sin.  Guide me ever deeper into Your Word that I may learn and grow in the truth You have revealed.  Help me be one who seeks to keep Your Word inside and not just wear pretense on the outside.  May I be empowered this day by Your Holy Spirit to see more clearly what is going on in my life and live according to Your purpose.  Amen.

Monday, July 27th Devotion

1PrayingHands2

“And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is his treasure.  Behold, their brave men cry in the streets, the ambassadors of peace weep bitterly.”  (Isaiah 33:6-7)

Put not your trust in any earthly ruler, or those who proclaim peace, peace.  The rulers of this world are flesh and like the grass, they will perish.  There is no help except in the Lord, for the Lord is forever.  This world looks to its rulers generation after generation, seeking whom they may find to bring them out of the chaos of this world, but the only true and lasting hope is in the Lord.

If I step back and look, Lord, I see that each generation goes through the same turmoil and false hope, thinking the next leader to come along is the great hope, yet it is all fleeting and temporary.  Help me see clearly that my hope is in You alone and apart from You, there can be no peace, no rest, no hope.  Help me live into the promise of Your love which You have already shown that I may live even in this turmoil in Your peace.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving the peace that surpasses all understanding.  Help me into that peace knowing that only in You will I find hope and a future.  Guide me today and every day to live according to the peace You give, knowing that in You I have my hope and being.  Help me, I pray, to see more clearly the direction You give and walk according to the way You have established.  Amen.

 

Sunday, July 26th Devotion

1PrayingHands2

“At the sound of the tumult peoples flee; at the lifting up of Yourself nations disperse.  Your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers; as locusts rushing about men rush about on it.  The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; he has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.”  (Isaiah 33:3-4)

When it comes, the trouble, the turmoil, people panic.  They would not listen to the warning, they would not repent nor prepare. But it does not need to be that way for you.  Be prepared for the day of the Lord is coming and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.  The Lord is exalted, for He is the Master of all that is, so turn your heart toward Him and live according to His ways.

Lord, I go about life as though everything should be the way I want it to be.  Help me see the signs and understand the times and always, be prepared for what You would have me to do.  Guide my thoughts and actions to that I am consistently looking to You for guidance, seeking Your wisdom and acting in a way that is pleasing to You.  Help me look for Your justice and righteousness.

Thank You Lord Jesus for both leading the way and being the example of a godly life.  Help me this day to focus on those things You have me learn as You prepare me for all that is to come.  Help me to be prepared to stand firm in every time and place in the truth You have revealed, knowing that in You alone is there truth and righteousness.  May I be dedicated to this life of faith You have given me.  Amen.  

Saturday, July 25th Devotion

1PrayingHands2

“Woe to you, O destroyer, while you were not destroyed; and he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him.  As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed; as soon as you cease to deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with you.  O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for You.  Be their strength every morning, our salvation also in the time of distress.”  (Isaiah 33:1-2)

There are always those who are slick in what they present, but they are destroyers.  They come along making promises, all the while, robbing, breaking and living only for themselves.  Whether a common thief or a leader in the land, they are both destroyers.  Do not rely on those who kill and steal and destroy.  The Lord is gracious to those who turn to Him.

Lord, through Your grace, You have called me to live in You.  Help me and guide me in Your presence that I would live according to Your never failing world.  The world wants me to trust in its crazy leading, but help me see clearly the steady hand of Your presence and the faithful guidance of Your Word, that I may live life faithfully in You, the only hope of every generation.

Thank You, Lord, for the abundant grace You have given to those who call on You.  Help me this day to live according to Your grace and rest in the provision You grant.  This life is but a fleeting moment and I need Your help to not become wrapped up in the turmoil of this world, brought on by those who destroy.  Keep me in Your hand and lead me through this day to live faithfully with You.  Amen.

Preaching Justification in the Book of Ephesians by Rev. Robert Myallis

  • July 24, 2015 - 12:50 pm
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Preaching Justification in the Book of Ephesians
Pastor Robert J Myallis
Zion’s Lutheran, Jonestown

 

The Gospel of Salvation We believe and confess that all human beings are sinners, and that sinners are redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God alone justifies human beings by faith in Christ – a faith that God creates through the message of the Gospel. As ambassadors for Christ, God uses us to speak his Word and build his kingdom.

 

“God alone justifies human beings by faith in Christ.”  Philipp Melanchthon said that the church rises or falls on this article—and what Lutheran pastor fails to love its proclamation in the letter to the Ephesians: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (2:8-9, NIV)?  The good news of justification, and so also the second statement of the Common Confession, must be axiomatic for any Lutheran body.

Yet I wonder how this gospel of salvation gets proclaimed in our church.   My sense is that many Lutheran pastors passionately believe we are saved by grace through faith, but struggle to integrate it into their preaching.  I wonder if some have given up this task of preaching justification altogether, preferring to focus on social issues or faith practices.  Teaching or preaching on social issues and faith practices is not bad; it is good and necessary.  But my sense is that most pastors struggle to integrate preaching justification along with those things.  Perhaps, at best, the cross becomes an intrusion into the end of the sermon, exonerating the fact that our society is broken or that our own faith lives are empty.

I believe that we might resolve some of this homiletical stress by taking our cues from the letter to the Ephesians, which features prominently in the summer 2015 lectionary.   There Paul (or deutero-Paul; regardless, a theologian worth emulating) discusses Christ’s work of redemption clearly.  Yet he also exhorts the readers to practice what we would call “spiritual disciplines,” encouraging them to immerse themselves in Scripture and pray (6:18, for example).  Finally, he addresses a number of social issues in his counsel on marriage, children and slaves in chapters 5 and 6.  In short, if one wants to preach on justification, spiritual disciplines, or social issues, Ephesians can serve as a fruitful sourcebook.  Even more, Ephesians may serve as a model of how to integrate them in preaching.

First, Paul reiterates what Christ has done over and over again.  He explicitly references Christ’s death in 1:7-8, 2:13-16 and 4:32 – 5:3, and one could argue that he alludes to it in other places, too.  In this way, Christ’s work of justification remains the “red thread” of the whole letter, and not simply the starting point to launch into a “therefore” sermon where it takes backseat to holy living.  Furthermore, it doesn’t just show up at the end, like a deus ex machina neatly added in order to make the sermon Lutheran or get listeners out of a bind.  Rather, it is the fabric that holds the letter together.  By repeatedly returning to Christ’s death (and arguably resurrection), sermons modeled after this letter would present Christ’s atonement as the ground of existence before God and the neighbor.

Second, Paul begins his letter with a long hymn about who Christ is.  Too often preaching about justification moves to a simple proposition: “He died for you.”  Yet many hearing our proclamation do not know who “He” (or even “Jesus”) is, how he died, or why he did it.  By preaching about who Christ is, Paul can offer a compelling proclamation of what Christ has done for us.  I also think that when pastors spend more time in their sermons presenting Scripture and its stories, it frees them from the absurd search for pseudo-stories and illustrations on the internet.  We have the stories that we need in the Word.

On a very practical note, connecting the who of Jesus with the what of his salvation is especially important in this long summer cycle of Year B, which includes numerous lessons on John 6.  When preaching on those texts, it is probably helpful to remind people of the events of John 6:1-21 (who Jesus is) first.  Few people are in church every week in the summer and they probably missed those events or have long forgotten them amid vacations.  Moreover, all of the commentary in John 6 builds on the events of 6:1-21, and it really helps us understand who Jesus Christ is (the new passover lamb) in a way that allows for proclamation of what he has done (give his very life for us).
I realize that this article touches on a sensitive issue for many “radical” Lutherans: the need for catechesis with sermons.  Even if you cannot agree with me on this, I think we all can still learn from Ephesians about integrating the proclamation of the Gospel into our sermons.  First, we need to return to the cross repeatedly rather than simply begin or end with it.  Second, we need to do a much better job of teaching about who Jesus is.  Employing these traits of Ephesians can certainly help us, as Paul says, “make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel.”

 

Pastor Robert J Myallis is author of lectionarygreek.blogspot.com