Welcome

Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer

Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

I Will Send My Messenger - December 9, 2018 - Second Sunday in Advent - Text: Malachi 3:1-7b

Friendships come and friendships go. If you are a person who moves around from place to place you will understand how true it is that when you leave from some place that is when you find who are your real friends. Do you have friends that live any distance from you? Do you hear from them or do you write or call them regularly? Keeping up friendships with people who are near is hard enough, distant friendships are even more difficult to keep up. Just like many things in life, friendships take time and energy. Having said that, I would suppose social media of today might make it a bit easier with distant friendships, yet, there is still the need to invest in such relationships. Without an investment of the necessary time and energy a friendship will begin to fade. Maybe you know someone who was once a good friend, yet for reasons unexplainable, you are now not the friends you used to be. I do not want to get too carried away with this analogy about friends, but our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is very much the same way. Is Jesus our friend, even our best friend, or is He, or has He become just another acquaintance? If we do not invest our time and energy in our relationship with Jesus, that friendship fades. The difference between our relationship with Jesus and with others is that when our relationship with Jesus fades, it is not because He moved on, but because we moved on. A more important difference is the difference of eternity. We can lose earthly friends, but if we lose our friendship with Jesus, we lose our eternity.
 
This morning we focus our attention on continuing to prepare for our celebration of the birth of the best friend we could ever have, Jesus. The context of our text is one which shows us what happened when the children of Israel moved away from their relationship with the Lord and what could happen to us.
 
Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament. Malachi was the last prophet to speak to the children of Israel until the birth of John the Baptist some 400 years later. At this point in time, the children of Israel have been waiting for many years for the Messiah and He has not yet come. Added to that is the fact that the priests, the tribe of Levi, has become corrupt. All this makes it appear that God has all but given up on the children of Israel. Again, between the prophet Malachi and John the Baptist, God is, for all intents and purposes, silent to the children of Israel.
 
Our text tells us that the messenger is coming. We begin at verse one, “1Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (v. 1). The Lord will send His messenger. This messenger is John the Baptist. John is the one who is the child announced to Zechariah and Elizabeth six months before the announcement to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus. John is the one who was born to prepare the way for the Messiah.
 
About this messenger we are told, “2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord” (v. 2-3). John is the one who was born to confront the children of Israel and especially to confront the religious leaders of Israel. The message John was to bring was one that reminded the people to look at their relationship with the Lord and see how it had faded. The purpose of John’s life was to call the people to repentance. He is the one who was to call for a baptism of repentance.
 
John called the people of his day and he calls us today to look at our lives and to see if we are living as God would have us to live. We pick up at verse four, “4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. 5Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. 6“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them” (v. 4-7). The purpose of the life of John the Baptist was to point out the sins of the people, to point out our sins so that they, so that we, might see our need for a Savior and then to point them and us to the coming of the Messiah.
 
This Old Testament text is seen being fulfilled in the Gospel reading for today. John is the one who came calling in the desert to prepare the way for the Messiah, the Savior of the world. John is the one calling the people back into a right relationship with Jesus.
 
What more fitting texts can we have for this the second Sunday in Advent than these that call us back into a right relationship with Jesus? Is our relationship with Jesus what it was a few years ago? Is it what it should be? Where are our hearts? Are we prepared to celebrate Jesus first coming? Are we spending all of our time buying presents and working overtime to pay for the presents, or are we spending time on our friendship with Jesus? And I guess the borage of questions could go on, but I think you get the idea.
 
Before I go on, I might also remind you that as we prepare for our celebration of Jesus birth, His first coming, we also continue throughout the year preparing ourselves for Jesus second coming and we could ask the same borage of questions concerning our readiness and our relationship with Jesus about His second coming.
 
Again, the main questions before us this morning are, are we prepared for our celebration of Jesus birth? And how is our relationship with Jesus? And we could ask, how do we know if we are prepared and how do we know what is our relationship with Jesus? We could put it in logical terms. I could ask you to think about your other relationships; your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your mother and father; your relationship with your brothers and sisters; your relationship with your children; your relationship with those with whom you would consider close friends. How are those relationships? How much time, effort, energy, even money do you spend in those relationships? Now, compare that to how much time,  effort, energy, even money you spend with your relationship with Jesus? We see how the law always reminds us that we come up short.
 
Thanks be to God that we do not rely on the law to make sure that we are in a right relationship with Jesus. The law reminds us that we can never do enough to make sure that we have a good relationship with Jesus. That is why we do not rely on what we are doing in our relationship with Jesus, rather we rely on what He has already done for us. Because Jesus knows that we fail in our relationship with Him, He gives His all in His relationship with us. Jesus gave His all, even His life for us.
 
As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of our Savior, we do so by focusing our lives on Jesus and on what He has done for us, and still does for us, instead of focusing on what we have failed to do for Him and instead of focusing on the outward trappings of the season and the things of this world.
 
We focus on Jesus and we spend time with our relationship with Jesus by going to the place where He comes to us, His Word and His Sacraments. If you want to deepen your relationship with a friend, you meet them somewhere where you can talk and share. If you want to deepen your relationship with Jesus you meet Him where you can talk and share, His Word, the Bible and His Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Meeting Jesus in His Word means spending time reading His Word and praying about what He says to you in His Word. Meeting Jesus means making use of confession and absolution, confessing all our sins, even those we do not know that we have committed, and hearing His great and awesome words of absolution, “Your sins are forgiven.” Meeting Jesus in the Sacraments means remembering your Baptism. Remembering that at your baptism Jesus put His name on you. He put faith in your heart. He made you His own. Each day is a day to praise the Lord for the gift of baptism through which we were given faith, forgiveness and life. Meeting Jesus in the Lord’s Supper means partaking of His body and blood in, with and under the bread and wine, participating in His death and resurrection, and being given forgiveness, strengthening and life.
 
Today we are reminded that on this Second Sunday in Advent, we are to continue to prepare the way for the Lord. We must be prepared for Jesus our Lord is coming. We continue to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Jesus as He continues to come to us through His Word to prepare us. We continue to prepare ourselves for His second coming, or our return to Him through our physical death from this world. This morning I want to end with Paul’s prayer from the Epistle lesson. “9And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” Phil. 1:9-11). To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Prophecy Candle - December 5, 2018 - Advent Midweek 1 - Text: Isaiah 9:6-7a

Our text for this evening is from Isaiah chapter nine, 6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7). This is our text.
 
Every year during the season of Advent I invite the children to come forward during the children’s message and we talk about the Advent wreath. Each Sunday we talk about the different candles and the meaning of each one. This year during the Wednesday services we will talk about the Advent wreath and what each candle represents, but we will do so for the rest of us, the adults of the congregation. We will learn to use the Advent Wreath in our own preparation to celebrate the greatest birth and gift to mankind.
 
We begin talking about the advent wreath by recognizing that it has a circular base reminding us that God is Eternal. Just as a circle has no beginning and no endings so our God has no beginning, He was not created and no ending, He is eternal. Indeed, as we know our God does not live in the past nor in the future, but He lives in the eternal present, as His name is I Am, thus we might use the circle to symbolize His eternal existence.
 
The greenery of the advent wreath reminds us that God is alive. As we might look at a lawn that is brown or a tree that has brown leaves and surmise that it is dead, so as we look at a green lawn or a green tree we might surmise that they are alive. So it is with God, the green of the Advent wreath reminds us that we worship, not a dead God, but a living God.
 
The four candles of the advent wreath, along with the middle candle count for the four Sundays of Advent, counting the weeks and days till Christmas. Each week of Advent we light another candle until we reach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the night and day we light the center candle celebrating the birth of the One Promised, the Savior, Jesus.
 
The first candle that we light is called the Prophecy Candle. I often call this the promise candle because that is what God’s prophecy concerning the coming Messiah, Savior, Christ, is God’s promise to send a Savior. Thus, the first candle points us back to the Garden of Eden and man’s sin. In the beginning God created all things out of nothing and everything that God created was good. On the last day of creation God looked at all that He created and said that it was very good. Indeed, all that God created was perfect.
 
The first candle points us back to God’s first prophecy, His promise of a Savior, for all people. Although all that God created was good, very good and perfect, when we get to Genesis chapter three and the account moves from the history of God’s creating work to the history of human beings we hear how Eve and Adam fall for the lies of the father of lies, Satan himself. They disobey God and sin, eating from the forbidden fruit the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil  in the midst of the Garden. Although God’s command and warning was that they were not to eat of the fruit with the punishment of death, and by death God meant physical, bodily death and apart from Jesus death would also mean eternal spiritual death, or hell. Although God had given them His command and warning they did eat and they brought death into the once perfect world. Thanks be to God that He immediately stepped in and promised a solution, to send a Savior, a Messiah, One who would suffer the punishment for their sin for them, in their place, as their substitute.
 
The first candle also points us to Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Judah, David, and so forth. We are pointed to these men of faith throughout the Old Testament as God reiterated His promise to them that the Savior, the Messiah would be born through their line of descent.
 
The first candle points us to Isaiah and our text. 6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7).
 
The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Savior promised in the Garden of Eden, reiterated to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, King David and so on, would be born as a human being and born under the law. In other words, the Savior would be born to be our substitute doing for us what we are unable to do, be perfect. As God’s command in Eden was perfection and because Eve and Adam sinned and brought imperfection, so the Savior would come and live in perfection for us, in our place, as our substitute, thus fulfilling God’s first command.
 
Not only would the Savior be born as a human He would also be born as God. Isaiah points not only to the Savior’s earthly life but also to His heavenly, everlasting rule. The Savior would be truly human to be our substitute, but truly God to be perfect, holy and eternal.
 
The Savior would be of royal blood, yet not in order rule on earth, but to rule in heaven for eternity. The Savior would be born and live under the Law, perfectly obeying the Law, for us in our place. The Savior would bring, establish and uphold justice and righteousness which He would do by shedding His blood for the sins of the world. Remember, the price for sin was set at death, thus the Savior would have to suffer death in order to reconcile us for the price for our sins.
 
Finally, ultimately the Savior will rule in heaven for eternity. The promised Savior would be born of the earthly line of King David and King Solomon, indeed born of royal blood. Yet His was not to be an earthly kingdom. He was not born as a social/political Savior, but a Savior from sin, a spiritual/eternal life Savior. His birth was never for earthly rule, but always for heavenly rule.
 
Advent is the season and the time for getting ready. We are getting ready for a great and grand celebration. As someone once said, we do not plan to fail but we often fail to plan. When we are having a grand celebration we begin by planning and the better we plan the better the celebration. The Advent Wreath helps us in our planning. The Advent Wreath helps us remember the history and reason to celebrate Christmas.
 
The Advent Wreath helps us prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate. The Prophecy Candle, or as I like to call it, the Promise Candle and I like to call it the Promise Candle because not everyone knows or understands what prophecy is, and what it is, is God’s promise of future event, anyway the Prophecy Candle reminds us of our first parents and their sin. It therefore reminds us of our sin and the reason Jesus had to be born, for us. We are conceived and born in sin. Every intention of our heart are evil all the time. Yet, because of God’s great love for us He sent a Savior to live for us, to take our sins and to suffer and pay the price for our sins.
 
Preparation and taking time to prepare is important. Just as God took time to prepare to send Jesus so we take the time to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth. From the time of God’s first promise to send a Savior, God waited some four to six thousand years. God wanted to make sure everything was just right and it was. Jesus was born at just the right time. All history that pointed to Jesus was in just the right place. So, we take the time. We plan. We prepare. Especially we prepare our hearts and minds for our celebration.
 
And finally, we will celebrate. We will celebrate the birth of the One promised so long ago, the One promised immediately after Eve and Adam sinned, the One promised and the promise reiterated throughout Old Testament history. We celebrate the birth of the One who would live for us, a perfect life, perfectly obeying all God’s Laws and Commands. We celebrate the birth of the One who took our sins and suffered the punishment which should have been ours, for us, in our place so that we do not have to suffer. We celebrate the good gifts and blessings He has earned for and given to us; faith, forgiveness, life and salvation. And what a great and grand celebration it will be a celebration lasting twelve days.
 
As we have lighted the first Advent candle may we be reminded once again of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore (Isaiah 9:6-7). We rejoice and give thanks to our great God for the gift of His Son, our great God and Savior, Christ the Lord. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Lutheran Vocational Evangelism

(Giving An Answer - About the Office of Holy Ministry)

How often have you heard someone say, “I felt God calling me to be a pastor. I felt God calling me to start a church.”? My first reaction would be the same as Hans Luther’s, Martin’s father, when Martin told him God was calling him to the monastery, “How do you know it was God calling you and not the devil?” Now that I have your attention . . .

The Lutheran difference in faith and the calling into the Office of Holy Ministry are not dependent on our feelings. Indeed, if faith were simply a “feeling,” then there are many times we may not “feel” very saved, and we would certainly not think that one is not saved because they do not feel saved. The same is true for any of the ways in which we “feel” God. Just because I had a dream, heard a voice, or felt something even if it were something I felt was from God, how do I know it was from God or not? Perhaps I felt God calling me to do one thing, and you come along and tell me you felt God calling you to do the opposite. Does this mean God is schizophrenic? Certainly not!

The Lutheran difference is our understanding that God speaks most clearly through the means He has given to speak to us, His Holy Word, and we would add His Sacraments as well. We are most sure of God’s speaking in His Word. So, even though I would not deny God speaking to anyone, my first question is to check out what was said versus what God actually says in His Holy Word.

When it comes to the Office of Holy Ministry, I am most sure of my calling as it is confirmed by God through His congregation. In other words, even though as a child and a youth I felt the inclining to become a Pastor, and even though I went to the Seminary and was educated, graduated and received a certificate of placement in the Lutheran Church, that call was not validated until God, through a congregation, called me to be their pastor. At that point, when I was ordained and installed, then I knew for certain that God’s call was validated to be His Pastor. In like manner, the congregation calling me as their pastor knows that I did not call or appoint myself as their pastor, but that God through them called me to be their pastor.

Just as one does not call oneself to faith, just as one does not baptize oneself, so one does not call oneself to be a pastor, nor does one ordain himself. The call, as always, comes from outside oneself, and the call comes through the means that God has put into place to call.
45 of 52    © Rev. Dr. Ronald A. Bogs (2018)

Monday, December 3, 2018

How Are They to Hear Without Preaching? - December 2, 2018 - Ordination and Installation of Arturo Mendez - Text: Romans 10:14-17

Brothers and sisters in Christ, invited guests, Rev. Pastor Arturo Mendez. Today is a day you have been waiting on for some time. Today the call of God has been confirmed through this congregation to be a pastor, a shepherd to His sheep. What a great and wonderful day, a day of rejoicing indeed, yet a day of recognizing the gift of God that He is bestowing on you. And along with His gifts He gives you the very means to carry out His calling.
 
For Arturo the journey from unbelief to faith to the desire and now the call to share the Word of God with others has not been an easy journey. Having grown up in a difficult country, one in which he served as a soldier and policeman and seeing much corruption, God stirred him to want to do the right thing. And yet, even that desire to do what was right was not always the God pleasing thing. Indeed, it is as God worked through His Word spoken by others that Arturo heard the Word of God, that the Holy Spirit worked through that Word of God and worked faith in his heart. And as he grew in his faith he knew he wanted to share that faith with others so they too might be a part of God’s kingdom. All this moved him to pursue what is being confirmed on him today.
 
Our Epistle lesson is one which reminds us not only of the importance of God’s Word but also of the importance of one to deliver the Word of God as well as His Holy Sacraments, His means of grace.
 
How important are the means of grace? Paul tells us in our text, “14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And 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!’ 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (v. 14-17).
 
The means of grace are so important that they are indeed a matter of faith, life and salvation. This question of the importance of the means of grace ties in with the old question about those we think have not had an opportunity to hear the Gospel, how can they be held accountable for their lack of faith? The fact of the matter is that they have had the opportunity, but somewhere along the line their fathers failed to share the faith and so they are being punished for the sins of the fathers, to the third and fourth generations, as we speak in the close of the commandments. Remember, we all go back to Noah who had the Word. Thanks be to God that He allows for other opportunities to hear the Word so that those whose fathers failed to share the Word may hear it elsewhere and be given faith through that Word, which is what is the desire of Arturo, to share that Word with those whose fathers have neglected to share it with them.
 
In our text Paul asks, “How can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” How can one hear unless some one is sent to administer the means of grace? Notice the importance of the means of grace and making use of them? God’s usual way of coming to us is through means, namely through the means of grace, the Bible, Confession and Absolution, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And notice the importance, again, of making regular, every Sunday, and diligent, everyday, use of these means. When we absent ourselves from these means then we fall into this group about whom Paul is speaking, how can we believe if we do not hear?
 
And Paul speaks of the importance of the Office of Holy Ministry. How can one preach unless one is sent? Notice, a man does not appoint himself for the Office of Holy Ministry. Simply to feel a calling does not validate such a calling. A man’s calling by God is validated when God through a congregation, calls him into the Office of Holy Ministry in order to preach the Gospel and to administer the Sacraments, the means of grace.
 
Notice the bottom line in Paul’s words for us this afternoon. The bottom line is the Word of God. And I would add the authority and the promise of the effect of the Word of God, that is that the Word of God is efficacious, it does what it says and it gives the gifts it has to give. I can believe and trust that Word, that it has authority and will give its gifts, or I can attempt through some means of my own to try to “help” it along. Certainly I could stand up here every Sunday and entertain you. I could speak with pious platitudes or show a power point presentation or a video of this that or the other thing to move you. Or I could stand up here and try to motivate you, which usually amounts to preaching law to you because that is what such motivation usually is, telling you what you have to do in order for God to do something for you. I could even use some great Christian sounding words, words your itching ears might want to hear. I could tell you how God wants you to succeed in life. I could tell you that all you have to do is believe hard enough or all you have to do is work hard enough and God will reward you. I could sound like many of the preachers you hear on TV. But, is that what God promises us and is that what God tells us in His Word? Does God promise us great success and happiness in life?
 
Arturo, the temptations are great. Many men get out of seminary, see how “successful” their neighboring church is and desire to be just as successful, in the name of saving souls of course. In an attempt to be as successful they let down their doctrinal filters and buy into all the sociological ways of being about God’s business with the belief that if we just do it one way or the other they will come. Don’t preach too much law, put on a good show, have a certain type of music and they will come. Interestingly enough, God has never promised to make anyone successful through any means. What God has said is that He gives us the authority to speak His Word. He will be with us. He will give us the Words to speak and He will give the harvest, when and where He pleases.
 
In the Old Testament, in Leviticus God gave His people the ceremonial laws which pointed to Jesus. In the New Testament Jesus fulfilled all those laws and now we have a Divine Service which has been around since the day of Jesus and the Apostles, ad since Leviticus given by God. Today we have it in its fulfilled form which continues to point us to Jesus; a Divine Service that transcends time, language, culture, age, ethnicity and the like; a Service that is permeated with the means of grace, the Word of God which is where God promises to be with us and to come to us to give us His gifts.
 
So, what does this mean? And what is important? What is important is the means of grace through which the Holy Spirit gives faith, forgiveness, life and salvation and works a response of faith. Oh, we might make it in life without these means. We might be quite successful and we might even believe that God has made us successful. Yet, even more important for our eternal salvation is the forgiveness of sins and faith in Jesus. Paul does not even mention success as a part of salvation, but he does mention faith, believing and confessing our faith.
 
Faith and confession of faith is important and so the Office of Holy Ministry is important. God has given us the Office of Holy Ministry and He has called some men into this Office for the administration of the means of grace, preaching the Gospel, administering of confession and absolution and administering the sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Today we celebrate that you, Arturo, have been given this call by God.
 
So, what about your part as members of this congregation? Under section three of Luther’s Small Catechism, the Table of Duties, Luther reminds us of “What the Hearers Owe Their Pastor.” from 1 Cor. 9:14, “The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. ” From Gal. 6:6-7, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” From 1 Tim. 5:17-18, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’” From 1 Thess. 5:12-13 “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” And finally from Heb. 13:17, “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.” So we are reminded that Pastor Mendez did not call himself here to be your pastor, God called him through you, thus we are reminded that the way we treat God’s called worker and ambassador is what we think of how we would treat God Himself. And I would remind you that Pastor Mendez is a worker priest, working a regular job to support himself and his family while serving God as associate pastor here in our midst.
 
Now to wrap this up. The important things Paul tells us are, hearing, believing and confessing. These three work together. We hear the Word of God through the pastor which gives faith. Faith motivates us to confess that we believe. And as we believe, so that becomes our confession. This hearing, believing, and confessing are reflected in our worship. Our worship practice comes out of our confess of faith and our confess of faith comes out of our worship practice. Because we believe the means of grace are the way in which our Lord comes to us, so our worship practice is that our worship is permeated with the means of grace, beginning with the invocation which reminds us of our baptism, to our confession and absolution, to our responsive readings which are our repeating back to God the very words He has given us to say, and to the Lord’s Supper. As we worship this way we understand the importance of the means of grace and we are strengthened and kept in faith.
 
Paul continually reminds us of the importance of the Word, namely, the Gospel, and the Word, Jesus, God in flesh. The Jesus of the Bible is not a Jesus of glory. He is not a Jesus of success, at least not in the terms the world would like to frame Him. As a matter of fact, He is a God who gave up the glory that was His, as God, in heaven, in order to go to the cross, to pay the price for ours sins. The Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus of the Word is a Jesus of the cross. And He is a Jesus for all.
 
Paul covers a lot for us this afternoon and clears up some misunderstandings about the importance of the Word. There is only one God and one Lord who calls to and gives faith and he does this through the men He calls into the Office of Holy Ministry to speak His means of grace so that Holy Spirit works through these means, the Bible, Confession and Absolution, Holy Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, so that we might respond by listening, believing and confessing that Jesus Christ is Yahweh. Arturo, this calling is now your calling from God. May He bless you in this calling so that your work may be done in such a way that we all say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.