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!


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, July 29, 2018

God’s Sign, Seen Even Today - July 29, 2018 - Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 12) - Text: Genesis 9:8-17

Perhaps you have all heard the saying, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Unfortunately there is a line in that saying that is out of place. Remember what I always say, we get it right when we point to Jesus, not to ourselves. We get it right when God is running the verbs. Although we can be sure of what God is doing, we can never be sure of what we are doing. We can not be sure when we are running the verbs. Thus, the second line that states, “I believe it,” is out of place. My faith in what God does or can or cannot do, does not determine what God has done, what He is doing or what He can do, or even will do. God is God and He can do whatever He wants to do and He can do it whenever He wants to do it. If God says it, that settles it, whether I believe it or not. Adam and Eve found that out. Noah and the people of his day found that out and we are still finding that out today.
Before we get to our text, let us take a moment to go over a little background material. We know, we believe, teach and confess, according to what God has told us in His holy Word, not according to the sin infected, tainted stories of humans, but according to the Lord, we know that God created a perfect world. In Genesis we are told that after God created all things they were good even very good, meaning that everything was perfect. We know that it was into this perfect world that Adam and Eve brought sin through their disobedience of God. Evidently they did not believe what God said, but it happened anyway, just as He said, that is that disobedience was sin and sin brought death, eventually physical death, but immediately spiritual death, at least apart from Jesus.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned. Their sin tainted, not only themselves, but also the whole world, all the earth. And their sin begat sin, that is, sin is in the DNA of all the earth and it will remain, continuing to propagate itself  until the world is completely filled with sin. So, although God created a perfect world, the world in which we live today is not perfect, but is a sin infected cursed world.
Sin propagated the earth until it reached the point that God brought judgement upon the earth and we know that the judgement God brought was the judgement of washing the earth with the flood. Out of all the people on the earth the Lord chose Noah and his family to save in order to start the world over. Unfortunately, as we know the history, Noah and his family still bore sin infected DNA so soon after the flood, the world continued on its sinful way.
Getting to our text for this morning, our text is the word of the Lord after the Flood, and is the account of God’s Covenant renewed with His people. We begin with God’s promise to Noah, his sons and ultimately to us, that is that never again will He destroy all the world with a world wide flood. Our text begins at verse eight, “8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9‘Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth’” (v. 8-11). God’s promise to Noah and his family and, again, ultimately His promise to us is that He will never again destroy the whole earth by a flood, a world wide flood. Notice He did not promise that parts of the world would never flood, only that the whole world would never experience a world wide flood.
We know God’s promises are faithful and true and in order to help us in our unbelief, God gave a visible sign of His promise, the rainbow. We pick up at verse twelve, “12And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh’” (v. 12-15). We know we can believe these words, because they are God’s Word. God said it and that settles it. We also can look at history and see that there has never been a second world wide flood. And here I might add, do not believe the dooms day alarmist of our world today who suggest that humans can cause the world to warm to the point of flooding the world. We have God’s promise and His promises are certain.
God’s Covenant is still with us today. We pick up at verse sixteen, “16‘When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ 17God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth’” (v. 16-17). Here God reiterates His promise, for our sake, because we need to hear again and again.
And God reiterates His promise yet today as we see the rainbow in the sky. Yes, ever time we see a rainbow we might well remember God’s promise that never again will He destroy His world by means of a world wide flood.
So, what does this mean? Unfortunately we live in a world where too many people do not believe God and His Word. To them the phrase might go something like this, “God said it. I do not believe it. So that settles it, it is not true.” Notice, then, that their focus is not on God, but on themselves, which is what leads them to a wrong conclusion. The question we might as is this, “Is there evidence a world wide flood?” And if there was a world wide flood is there evidence of God’s promise? From “Answers in Genesis,” we get these words from one of Buddy Davis’ songs, “If there ever was a world-wide flood, what would you expect to see? Millions of dead things laid down in layers, buried by water, all over the world. And what do you see? Millions of dead things laid down in layers, buried by water, all over the world.” Yes, there is evidence all over the world of a world wide flood. Interestingly enough, if the flood was not a world wide flood, but was only a local flood and God promised never to destroy the world with world wide flood, or as it might be interpreted, a local flood, then we would have to believe that God does not keep His promises, because we have witnessed local flooding in many places over the past many years.
So, there is ample evidence of a world wide flood, but is there also evidence of God’s promise to never destroy the world in this way? And again, the answer is “Yes!” God placed the rainbow in the sky as a sign of His promise to never destroy the world with a world wide flood and we do, still today, see the rainbow in the sky which continually reminds us of God’s promise.
Again, God said it and that settles it. God created, all things, out of nothing. Not only did God create, God also preserves, all things. God is the Creator and He has power over nature, all His creation. We see this power of God in Jesus. Yes, Jesus is true God and He shows Himself to be true God. In our Gospel reading for today we see Him as He walks on water. At other times in the Gospels we see Him still storms, heal sick people, cast out demons and raise people from the dead. Jesus is true God in human flesh with power over all His creation, over all He has created.
God created, God preserved and God shows His great love for us, His creatures. God is love and He shows His love in Jesus as we hear in our Epistle lesson, that His love surpasses all knowledge (Eph. 3:20). What great love our Lord has for us, His creatures. Think about it. God created all things, perfectly. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and brought sin, death and destruction into God’s perfect world. God washed His world with a flood and started over with Noah and his family, yet the world persisted in sin. Today we live in a world full of sin and we are sinners in a sin filled world. How or why would a Creator God continue to love and care for His rebellious creation? And yet, that is what our great God does. Our Lord shows His great love for us, His creatures in the very fact that He, Himself, took on human flesh and blood, becoming one of His own creatures in order to live perfectly for us, which is God’s demand on us and which we cannot do, in order to take our sins upon Himself, in order to pay the price for our sin, that is to suffer eternal spiritual death for us, in our place. He came to die for us so that we might not have to suffer eternal spiritual death, so that we might not have to die, but so that we might have life and have it to the full. Yet, death and the grave had no power over Him. He rose, victorious over sin, death and the devil and He ascended into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, where He is watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us. And we also know that because He is truly God that His sitting at the right hand of the Father does not mean He cannot still be always everywhere present, which He can as God. And We know that because He rose, we to will rise again. There is no greater love and certainly His love is beyond all understanding.
Today, we, with God’s help, continue to live lives of faith, imperfect though they may be. Yes, God continues even today to deal with us as He has dealt with His creation since creation and the beginning, calling us to and giving us faith, disciplining us as His children, reiterating and reminding us of His great love for us, including giving His life. Our church year calendar walks us through the events of our salvation as each year we look forward to and celebrate Jesus birth, as we look forward to and celebrate our forgiveness as we are reminded of Jesus’ suffering death and resurrection and as we walk through the Sunday’s of Pentecost reading and hearing God’s Word.
And of course, we still have God’s rainbow in the sky which reminds us of what a great, loving God we have. And how His promises remain still today. Yes, God said it and that settles it.
Our texts for today remind us of what a great and loving God we have, what a powerful and merciful God we have, how our God loves us so and how He delivers us, and guards, guides and protects us. Today we are reminded how God calls to and gives faith, forgiveness and life, and yet, when we refuse and reject, God brings down judgement, but even in judgement, God continues to save and give us His promise and sign that He is good and gracious to us. My prayer is that as you see the rainbow and whenever you see a rainbow, you will be reminded of what a great and loving God we have and what a powerful and merciful God we have. And then you will be reminded to pause and give Him thanks for all His mercies, for all His good gifts and blessings, for faith, forgiveness, strengthening of faith, life and salvation. And that you might rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Lutheran Vocational Evangelism

(Come and See: Inviting One to Come and See Our Church Means Giving an Explanation, Teaching)

Philip is an exceptional example of vocational evangelism. Philip is the one who told Nathanael about Jesus and when questioned his response is one we can all use: “Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’” (John 1:46).

As we have the opportunity to give an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus we too can invite others to “Come and see Jesus.” When the opportunity happens that we can invite them to come to Divine Service, it is at that time that we explain what Divine Service means. We take the time to explain that Divine Service is God coming to us to give us the good gifts and blessings He desires to give. Divine Service is not entertainment, it is not our favorite genre’ or style, it is not our doing something for God, nor offering something to Him, rather it is His coming to us and our response of faith through the responsive readings and hymns.

Our Divine Service may seem different maybe even intimidating to someone who has never been.  Thus, it is imperative that we explain the parts of the service along with the appropriate responses and behavior of the worshiper. Actually it may be quite comforting for the uninitiated to know what is and what is not required of them in the Divine Service.

It might be helpful to explain the reason the church is built and set up the way it is, with altar, pulpit, lectern, baptismal font, etc. It might help to explain the Pastor’s robes. And certainly it might be helpful to explain the various parts of the Divine Service and why we do the things we do and how the parts of the service are connected to what we believe according to God’s Word.

As our friends “Come and see” Jesus in the Divine Service their worship will be enhanced as through the means of grace in the Divine Service God gives them forgiveness of their sins, strengthens and keeps them in faith.
26 of 52    © Rev. Dr. Ronald A. Bogs (2018)

The Days Are Coming - July 22, 2018 - Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 11) - Text: Jeremiah 23:1-6

We live in a very pluralistic society. That means that we live in a world in which there are many religions, philosophies, cults, sects, faiths, and the like. We live in a country in which we cannot declare that we are the only ones who have the truth and all the other religions are roads to hell. We live in a country where we are free to believe and teach whatever we want. And that is just what happens. Open a book, turn on the radio, turn on the TV, open the newspaper, go into any church and you will be inundated with many, many, many views and opinions about God and religion. Unfortunately what happens is that we get so caught up in listening to the views of the world that we forget to listen to what God has to say. Oh, we think we remember what God says, but often we tend to get the philosophies of the world enmeshed with God’s Word and we come up with something other than God’s Word. Yes, it even happens here at St. Matthew. Someone will state what they believe the Bible says, but instead of actually quoting the Bible, they end up quoting some movie or TV theology they have learned. You know how it is, we all know that God looks like George Burns and Moses looks like Charlton Heston. Instead of going back to see what God says, we are determined that our TV theology is what the Bible says. This is how false prophesies are started and continued. And this is a reminder of how we are a lot like the children of Israel.
Getting into our text for today we begin with a woe, that is a warning, to false shepherds. We begin reading at verse one, “1‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. 2Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord’” (v. 1-2).
The Lord brings a word of warning to false prophets, kings, and rulers who lead the people astray into idolatry and immorality. The danger here is that, not only does the false prophet, king, and ruler bring judgement upon themselves, they are in positions to lead many others astray. Thus, they are accountable for many lives, not just their own. In a very similar way, we too are held accountable for our faith and lives and for how our witness has an affect on others. Are we, through our lives, leading others to the Lord or driving them away? How do you know? One indication is this, think about what would happen if you invited your family, friends or co-workers to church? Would they accept your invitation, because you have spoken well of our congregation, or would they decline your invitation, because you have spoken harshly concerning our congregation? If you are not sure, ask them and see, see if you are giving a good witness or a not so good witness.
The Lord’s Word is that the false prophets will be punished. They will not be punished with a hand slap, but with an eternal punishment. They will be punished with eternal damnation in hell. Here again, the problem is not that they themselves have been lead astray, but the fact is that they are in positions to lead many others away from the Lord.
False prophets, kings, and rulers will be held accountable, yet, the fault does not lay just with the false prophets, kings and rulers. The fault lays also with those who have been lead astray. Our Lord tells us over and over again to test the spirits, to check out what the prophet is saying, to make sure that what we are hearing is the Word of the Lord. We are responsible for what we hear and what we listen to. We are responsible for our own faith. We cannot blame our unbelief on anyone other than ourselves.
As we continue in our text we read the Lord’s plan to bring back His people. We pick up at verse three, “3Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord” (v. 3-4).
The Lord’s promises are true and comforting. Those that have remained faithful will live. And it is the Lord who will gather those whom He had driven out, those whom He has driven out to protect them from false prophets. Those who have remained faithful are those who continually check what the prophets say against God’s Word to make sure that what they believe and pass on to others truly is God’s Word.
The Lord’s promise is that the faithful will prosper. Of course they will prosper, they will prosper as they grow through the means of grace, which is the way the Lord has given for His church go grow. The Lord has given us the Word and the Sacraments as the means of grace, that is as the means through which He comes to us to gives us all His good gifts and blessings. Notice the Lord does not speak of success, but instead He encourages us to be faithful, to hold fast to His Word. He encourages us to make regular and diligent use of His means of grace and to be discerning in our hearing and reading of His Word.
The Lord’s promise is that there will be no fear. John reminds us that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Perfect love is that love that only God can have for us and is that love which, because it is a love from the Lord, does cast out all fear.
Finally, in our text, we read the promise of a Messiah. We pick up at verse five, “5Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (v. 5-6).
The Messiah is coming. The days are coming of the promised Messiah. We know that the promised Messiah is Jesus. He is the One promised, true God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and true man, being born as a human being, of the human woman, the virgin Mary. He is true God and true man. He came to die on the cross for our sins, but not ours alone, but for the sins of all people, of all places, and of all times. That is what God’s perfect love is all about. God’s perfect love is such that He gave His one and only Son so that He might give His life for ours so that we might have forgiveness of sins. And so that we might not fear.
What is there to fear? Days are coming when the Lord will judge according to His righteousness. The Lord’s righteousness is pure righteousness. If we are judged according to His righteousness then, in and of ourselves, we have no chance, no chance at all, to expect to be saved. Yet we are not judged according to our own righteousness. We are judge according to Jesus’ righteousness, which is our by grace through faith in Jesus our Lord.
Thus, as Christians, we eagerly await the days that are coming. We eagerly await the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus, when He will come to take us from this valley of tears to be with Him in heaven.
Our text comes with many warnings. Personally, I am reminded, as a pastor, that I must be careful what I preach. The Lord will hold me accountable for what I preach, to make sure that I am preaching His Word, not my own opinion. That is why you see me with my Bible and that is why I am constantly quoting from God’s Word, because I am here to deliver to you God’s Word, not my own.
At the same time, you must be careful what you believe. As the Lord in His Holy Word urges you, so I continually urge you to be in God’s Word, to search the scriptures daily. Search the scriptures, as Paul tells us of the Bereans, they searched the scripture to see if what Paul said was true. I urge you, search the scripture to make sure that what I tell you is true. And to make sure that what you read in the paper, in other books, what you hear on the radio and television, are also the truth, according to the Word of the Lord.
The Lord is coming again, and this time He is coming to take us to be with Himself in heaven. We are to ready ourselves for Christ second coming. We ready ourselves by making regular and diligent use of the means of grace, those means He uses and through which He comes to give, strengthen and keep us in faith. We are to remember our Baptism, that we have been washed, forgiven and given faith. We are to make use of confession and absolution, repenting our sins and hearing God’s Word of absolution, that our sins are forgiven. We are to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest His Word through our reading and hearing His Word proclaimed. We are to eat His body and drink His blood in His holy Sacrament, again, for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith. And we are to do this regularly and diligently. Just as we would not miss a meal, just as we would not refuse or reject gifts and presents on our birthday and at Christmas, so we are not are refuse and reject His gifts on any Sunday morning. When we absent ourselves from divine service, from making regular and diligent use of the means of grace, this is suggesting to the Lord that we do not need any of His gifts this week so we decide to skip a week or two of divine service. This is gift refusal. As a Christian, our desire, more than anything else, is to be when and where the Lord gives His gifts, in divine service, in Bible Class, making use of His means of grace.
I do not know about you, but as a pastor, I sometimes wonder if God has not abandoned, or if He has almost abandoned, His church here in the United States. At times it gets discouraging fighting the good fight. It gets discouraging when so many people refuse the gifts God has to give by absenting themselves from where He gives His gifts. It also gets discouraging when so many people have an opinion about God’s Word, but do not want to take His Word for what He says. In other words, they would rather propagate their opinion, as God’s Word, rather than letting God’s Word speak for itself.
It is at these times, these times of discouragement, that I go back to God’s Word which reminds me that God will never abandon us. Never will He leave us, never will He forsake us. Certainly, He has every right to abandon us, but He has not and He will not. And yet, even though He will not abandon us, He did abandoned His only Son on the cross. He abandoned Jesus for your sins and for mine. He abandon Jesus so that He might suffer the brunt, the punishment for our sins. Thus, I am secure in my faith, in my preaching, in my living. Because of the love of our great God, we are secure in our faith, we are not afraid, we are loved, we live boldly and lovingly, bearing witness of the faith that is in us. Thus, we cling to the Lord, holding on to Him and to His promises which we know are faithful and true, because they are His promises. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lutheran Vocational Evangelism

(Location, Location, Location: Evangelism Takes Place in One’s Life, Not in Church)

The so called Church Growth Movement, which was based on social or sociological practices suggested that the church service was the place for evangelizing and tended to make the worship service an evangelistic event. One problem with this teaching is that most people who attend worship are already Christina. Another problem is that those who are Christian are often seeking to deepen their faith in the worship service. And finally, the use of the church service for evangelism is that it leaves the Christian with no place to go for spiritual growth and it negates the fact that it is in one’s daily life that the Gospel is shared best, on a one on one contact.

Thus, as we go back and listen to Jesus tell us that as we are going about our daily lives, as we are living lives of faith, no matter where we are, no matter our location or vocation, that we are to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have. We attend Divine Service so that we are given forgiveness of sins, so that we are strengthened in our faith, and so that we so filled that when we are asked, so that when we have the opportunity, we know that God will give us both the words, which we have been given in the Divine Service as well as the courage to speak the words He gives to give an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus.

So, whether you are at your workplace, office, school, workshop, lobby, at home or out, no matter what your location, as you live your life as a priest, serving God by serving others, so you are bearing witness of your faith. And as you are asked, then the one asking will be open to hearing your answer. God will give you the courage and the word to speak. And yet, God will give faith, when and where He pleases, according to His time frame and good and gracious will.

Yes, sometimes God may give faith in church, but more often than not, it happens in life. Thus, we are always ready to give an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus as our Savior.

25 of 52    © Rev. Dr. Ronald A. Bogs (2018)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Go, Prophesy to My People - July 15, 2018 - Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 10) - Text: Amos 7:7-15

Certainly we have all heard jokes that start like this, “I have good news and I have bad news. Which would you like to hear first?” Certainly we have actually had people, not telling a joke, tell us that they have good news and bad news and then ask, “Which would you like to hear first.” In our text for this morning Amos does not come with good news and bad news. He comes only with bad news and his bad news is not what the people want to hear. As a matter of fact, his bad news, which really is not even his bad news, but he is simply the messenger, bringing the bad news from the Lord. Amos has only bad news, he does not even have any good news to share. And he has no choice except that God told him to tell the bad news.
Our text begins with the vision of Amos from the Lord and the accusation of the people, “7This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; 9the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’ 10Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11For thus Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land’” (v. 7-11).
Amos speaks of a vision from the Lord. In the vision, the children of Israel are compared to a plumb line. A plumb line is a line that is drawn in order to make sure everything was perfectly aligned, level and squared. In his vision, then, Amos is shown a plumb line by the Lord to point out the fact that the Lord had created a good upright nation. The Lord showed Amos a plumb line and then when asked what he saw, he answered and the Lord says He will measure Israel and they will not measure up to what is just and right and good. And so the Lord has determined to make Israel desolate. And because of his words, or rather because of the Lord’s vision which he speaks, Amos is accused of being a traitor and a conspirator.
Because of his words, or rather because of the Lord’s Word of prophecy through Amos, Amaziah, who is the priest of Bethel, finds Amos to be a threat. How do you deal with a threat? You tell the king, but you do not tell the king the whole truth and nothing but the truth, rather you tell him what you want him to hear.  Amaziah tells the king that Amos is conspiring against him and this is not good for the people to hear. Amaziah says that Amos says the king will die. These words are intended to anger the king even more.
What is Amos really saying? He is saying that the king, Jeroboam will die by the sword and that the people will be taken into exile into a far away land, a land not their own. Amos tells the truth. He speaks the words the Lord has given him to say. These are not Amos’ words and they are words he probably does not really want to speak, but they are the Lord’s Word which He has given to Amos and so Amos must speak them.
Our text continues with the words of Amaziah to Amos, “12And Amaziah said to Amos, ‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom’” (v. 12-13).
In essence, Amaziah tells Amos to get out of town before it is too late. He tells Amos that he is no longer allowed to make a living as a prophet. You see, Amaziah was a paid prophet, which is why he only spoke what those who paid him wanted to hear. Today we might refer to someone like Amaziah as a “yes man.”
Amaziah threatens Amos that he should not prophecy any more in Bethel because that is the kings sanctuary and he does not need to hear any gloom and doom proclaimed in his sanctuary. Amaziah forbids Amos from prophesying in Bethel. Notice that for Amaziah truth does not matter. It does not matter to him if what Amos is speaking is true or not true, whether his words are really from the Lord or not. He is simply more concerned about keeping his position of prestige, power and authority.
    Finally, we are given Amos’ response, “14Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, ‘I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel”’” (v. 14-15).
Amos’ response and answer to Amaziah is to assure him that he was not a prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but was a shepherd and a gardener, taking care of sycamore-fig trees. Amos has no connections with any of the prophets, nor with their disciples. He was not hired by anyone. All he did was care for sycamore-fig trees and sheep and that is all the business he really wanted to have. But the Lord had other plans for Amos.
The only reason Amos has come to prophesy is because the Lord took him and told him to go and prophesy. Amos’ defense is that he can only say what the Lord tells him to say, these are not his words.
It was not Amos’ idea, it was the Lord’s doing. How could Amos stop his prophesying? What could Amos do? He was doing only what the Lord gave him to do. In other words, Amos is telling Amaziah, it is not me that you have a beef with, but with the Lord. Amos must obey God rather than men.
So, what does this text mean and what does it mean for us today? Just as in the days of Amos, so today, the Lord calls us. You might recall last week we talked about the callings from God. God calls us to life at our conception. God calls us to faith through the means of grace. He calls us to faith through the waters of Holy Baptism. He calls us to faith through the means of His Word. He strengthens and keeps us in faith through that same Word, through our remembering our Baptism, through confession and absolution and through His Holy Supper.
God also calls us to vocation. God calls us to be His people where ever we are. No matter what our vocation, no matter what our job, God calls us to live lives as priests. God calls us to live lives as living sacrifices for Him. God calls us to do, whatever it is we do, our best, and to do whatever we are doing as if we are doing it for Him.
For some, God calls some men into the office of Holy Ministry. Those He calls into the office of Holy Ministry, He gives His Word to proclaim to His people. The man called by God is to speak as the Lord gives him the word to speak and he is not to be concerned about what his hearers want or desire to hear. Sometimes, just as was the case with Amos and other prophets, this means he proclaims words that are hard to hear, or that we do not want to hear such as repent.
Mostly, the Lord calls our pastors to rightly divide the law and the Gospel. To preach the law in all its severity, that is to make sure we hear the law, to make sure we understand that we are conceived and born in sin, that we sin in thought, word and action, that we sin sins of omission, not doing what we ought and sins of commission, doing what we should not do, that every inclination of our heart is evil all the time, that we are spiritually blind, spiritually dead and enemies of God. We need to hear the law otherwise the Gospel will mean nothing to us. Why or of what would we need to repent if we did not know we were sinners. So, even if our pastors should not necessarily want to preach the law, they must, because the law was given to them by God to proclaim to His people.
And our pastors are called by God and given His Word and authority to preach the Gospel in all its sweetness. We are to hear our pastors proclaim the fullness of that Gospel that is that Jesus lived for us, perfectly, obeying all of God’s laws perfectly, for us, in our place, because we cannot. We are to hear our pastors proclaim that Jesus lived perfectly, and then He took all our sins, all your sins, all my sins and He paid the price, He suffered the eternal death penalty, the price for sin, for us in our place and He died. But death and the grave had no power over Him, because He rose from the dead and now He lives and reigns with the Father and the Spirit. He has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father where He is watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us. And we know because He rose, we too will rise again. That is not simply good news, but that is the greatest news in the world. It is news that truly is out of this world.
Our response to all that God does for us and gives to us is that God calls us to be His witnesses, through our thoughts, words and actions. No, we are not all ministers or pastors, but we are all priests. Remember the role of the priest was to offer sacrifices. The pastor is not a priest. He does not offer sacrifices. We are priests, we offer sacrifices. We offer our lives as living sacrifices for the Lord.
We live in a world that has changed and continues to change. We live in a world where one sides against another and just as Amaziah did not always speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth but rather spoke his own version of the truth to gain support, so too it happens in our world today. As Christians we must be very discerning at what we hear and do not hear because there are many false prophets and false proclaimers in our world even today. What is more is that we were once a Christian nation founded on Christian principles, yet this foundation has been given up for the lies and false teachings of fallible humans. Indeed, as a country we have lost much of our heritage and Christian foundation.  All one needs to do is to look at the so called Christian churches in our country today to see that too many do not look much different than our society, that is that what was once considered sin by the church is now hailed as meet, right and salutary, and what was once considered meet, right and salutary is now hailed as wrong. And yet, we are to continue to obey God rather than humanity and to proclaim what God says as truth, even in the face of persecution. We are indeed to be like Amos for the sake of the truth of God’s Word. And like Amos, our Lord will protect and defend us.
We may most certainly feel like Amos. We are simply practitioners of our vocations. We are simply minding our own business, and I would add, always being ready to give an answer for the hope that we have in our faith in Jesus. We would rather not be accused as Amos was, yet with the help of the Holy Spirit, we stand firm in our faith, giving an answer for the hope that we have as we have the opportunity. We rejoice and share the good news of sins forgiven, faith given, and eternal life won for us and given to us. And we rejoice and give God praise. To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Lutheran Vocational Evangelism

(Seeing Opportunities)

“Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15b). It is a fact that a person will not listen to you if they are not interested in what you have to us, unless they ask you. In other words, it is best to be ready to give an answer when someone asks you for a reason for the hope that you have, just as Peter tells us.

So, what are such opportunities and can we create such opportunities? We cannot create opportunities, but God can. What we can do is to pray for opportunities. We can live lives of faith bearing witness of the hope that we have. We can wear clothing and/or jewelry that is of such a nature that one might ask about our hope, in other words, we might wear something with a Christian message, a shirt or tie, or hat or the like. We may wear a necklace or earrings that suggest our hope as Christians.

More often than not our friends are like-minded people that we have come into contact with because of similar interests. Perhaps we only have Christian friends. Think about your travels, the groups or clubs of which you are a member. Are their ways you might work the conversation so as to be asked about the hope that you have, not in a contrived, fake or phoney way, but that fits the conversation?

It might be helpful for you to ask a question remembering to ask permission to ask first especially if it is a personal question, such as, “May I ask you about your church?” “What do they teach about . . . ?” perhaps some social issue or the like, any question that might bring the question back to you.

The point is that as you pray for opportunities to share your hope, the Lord will give you those opportunities. With the opportunity is the encouragement to be ready to give an answer and we are ready as the Lord gives us both the words and the courage to speak. And then we leave it to Him to work when and where He pleases.
24 of 52    © Rev. Dr. Ronald A. Bogs (2018)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

I Am Sending You - July 8, 2018 - Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 09) - Text: Ezekiel 2:1-5

Our text for today is the call of Ezekiel to his prophetic office. The name Ezekiel means strength of God or God’s strength. As we will see, Ezekiel has a fitting name, because His strength as a prophet of the Lord does not come from within himself, but from outside of himself, from the strength the Lord gives to him. Ezekiel’s name reminds us that we are like Ezekiel. We are not strong, in anyway, because of our own strength. Our faith and strength do not come from within ourselves, but from outside ourselves. The Lord calls us through the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments. As He calls us He put faith in our hearts and God gives us all His gifts and blessings, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
Our text begins with the call of Ezekiel. We read beginning at verse one, “1And [God] said to me, ‘Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.’ 2And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me” (v. 1-2). Notice that our text begins with the Lord calling Ezekiel to stand on his feet. When the Lord called him, he fell down. He fell down in awe. Although Ezekiel had fallen down because He heard the Word of the Lord, when the Word of the Lord tells Him to “stand up” on his feet he is raised to his feet by the Spirit who comes through that same Word. As always, the word of the Lord is efficacious, it does what it says, it lifts him to his feet.
As we hear Ezekiel’s call this morning we are reminded that there are different calls from the Lord. The Lord’s first call is to everyone is the call to life. God calls us to life at the moment of our conception. At conception we are called to be the person God would have us to be.
The Lord’s second calling is the call to faith. God’s will is that all people come to faith and know and believe in Jesus. God’s call is to all people, of all places and all times, and yet there are many who resist and refuse the call to faith, yet the Lord still calls and He continues to call until we pass on from this world. For most of us God’s call to faith came while we were yet infants as He called us through the waters of Holy Baptism. For others, God’s call to faith came at a later age through His Holy Word which stirred in us a desire to be Baptized.
  The Lord’s third calling is to our vocation. In other words, the Lord would have us to do whatever we do to His glory. Often we equate vocation with job and that is a good equation, but our vocation goes beyond simply our job. Our vocation includes that fact that we serve in many vocations at the same time. For some, you may serve in the vocation as a husband or wife, and a father or mother, a brother or sister and an aunt or uncle, as an employee and perhaps a supervisor, even as a grandparent or mentor. Unfortunately, we often equate the value of a job, one of a persons vocations, with the amount of money that person earns, or the amount of perceived prestige or power one might wield. God equates the value of a person’s job with how well a person serves Him and gives glory to Him through that job or vocation. In other words, the person who does manual labor at minimum wage to the glory of God is serving the Lord and, to put it in human terms, is of greater value to the Lord than the person who makes millions of dollars a year, but does so for his own personal glory and gain. God calls us to our vocation so that we serve Him by serving others.
God calls to life, to faith and God calls to vocation. There is one other calling from the Lord and that is the calling to the office of Holy Ministry. When it comes to this last calling, we understand that the Lord calls only some men to the office of Holy Ministry, that is to be pastors.
Getting back to Ezekiel’s call. The Lord calls Ezekiel for a purpose. We pick up at verse three, “3And he said to me, ‘Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. 4The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” 5And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them’” (v. 3-5).
The Lord calls Ezekiel to speak to a rebellious nation. What is interesting about this calling is the language of the text. The children of Israel are not called the children of God, but are called a rebellious nation. The word for “nation” that is used is “goyim” which is the Hebrew word for nations in general and is often translated as Gentiles. Goyim are non-Hebrew, non-covenant people. In other words, the Lord is intimating, if not outright saying, that these people are no longer the Lord’s people because they have rebelled and refused the Lord’s gifts.
God calls Ezekiel to speak the Word of the Lord. Ezekiel is not to speak his own words, but he is to speak the words which the Lord gives Him to speak. This means that when the people rebel against Ezekiel’s words they are not rebelling against Ezekiel, but against God. Here we are reminded that we are people who act the same way today. It happens too often that someone will disagree with what I, as a pastor, will say from the pulpit. Now, this does not negate the fact that you are to be as the Bereans and you are to check everything that I say against the Word of God and if I do preach something that is contrary to the Word of God, certainly you are to take issue with me. But if what I am preaching is from the Word of God, then if someone takes issue, unfortunately, they will not be disagreeing with me, because I am merely passing on the Lord’s Word. So, they find themselves disagreeing with God.
Back to Ezekiel’s call. The Lord’s call to Ezekiel was not a call for results, or as we may think today, it was not a call for success. Ezekiel was not expected to change the people’s minds. He was not expected to make the people listen and change their ways. He was expected only to proclaim the Lord’s Word to the people. The Lord would take care of the rest and “they [would] know that a prophet has been among them.”
God’s call to us is a call to faith and His call to faith is through means. As we mentioned earlier, for most of us that call was through the means of Holy Baptism, in other words at our baptism God called us to faith. At our Baptism God put faith into our hearts. For others that call was through the means of God’s Word. In either case, God comes to us, God calls to us, God gives to us, through the means He has given us, the Word and the Sacraments. God comes to us through these means to bring us to faith, that is to give us faith, to strengthen us in our faith, to give us forgiveness of sins and to give us eternal life.
God calls us to faith and He calls us to be His holy priesthood. We are all equal in God’s eyes. We are all sinful human beings. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And yet, our Lord sent His only Son, Jesus, to give His life for ours on the cross so that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Thus, we are all equal in God’s eyes as being redeemed children, not of our own, but by the shedding of Jesus’ blood for us. It is Jesus and the shedding of His blood that makes us just and right in God’s eyes. It is faith in Jesus’ shedding His blood, faith given by the Holy Spirit, that moves us to live lives of faith. It all points to God as the prime mover. God does and God gives and we are done to and we are given to.
God calls us to our vocations. As I said earlier, we each serve in various vocations at the same time. The purpose of our vocation is not to serve ourselves but to serve the Lord and we do that in our vocation and vocations by serving others. We serve in the various vocations such as husband and wife, mother and father, brother and sister, parent and child, uncle and aunt, grandmother and grandfather and so forth. We also serve in various vocations when it comes to our work or our job. Whatever our vocation according to our work or our job we are to work to bring God glory. We may think that we are working for our employer, yet we have a higher calling. No matter what our job, we are to work for the Lord. Just think how much more value there is to our work as we realize that we are working for the Lord. This means that we do our jobs in such a way that we bear witness to the hope that is in us and that we do our work to the glory of the Lord.
God calls some men to be pastors. As human beings we are all equally sinners and saints in God’s eyes. Yet our Lord has set certain boundaries, He has given certain roles to us as men and women in His church. He has set certain boundaries and roles for the sake of order and for peace and harmony. One role in particular is that God calls only men and only certain men to be pastors. To put this into a bit of a perspective, God has called women to bear the image of God in that they can procreate, they can give birth to children. God has not given this calling to men. God has called men to be responsible for their families. God has not given this calling to women. So we each have our calling and we each have our role.
God calls us all to be faithful, not necessarily successful. To suggest that God calls us to be successful would necessitate defining the word success. In the Bible, the only times the word success is used is in connection with a military campaign and the success is what is given by God. Our world would define success as a matter of wealth, fame, power, or glory. God does not call us for any of these. God calls us to be faithful. “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of live” (Rev. 2:10).
God calls and He moves in us to not refuse His call. We do not come to the Lord, looking for Him, seeking Him. We do not have a spark of faith in us which we must kindle. To speak in terms of what we are doing is to speak in terms that would suggest that we are enemies of God, spiritually blind and spiritually dead. I think it is so unfortunate that the world, movies, novels, and so forth urge us to look inside ourselves for the answers and yet we know that when we look inside ourselves all we see is the fact that we are sinful human beings fighting as enemies of God. Thus, I would encourage you, I would urge you, look outside yourself. Look to God’s Word. Look to Jesus. It is the Lord who comes to us, looking for us, seeking us. He comes to us through the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments. He comes to us to gives us the gifts He has to give, gifts of faith, strengthening of faith, forgiveness of sins, life, eternal life and salvation. He comes to give us the gifts earned by the giving of Jesus life for us on the cross. He comes to give us His gifts and to stir in us so that we do not refuse His gifts.
The example of God’s call to Ezekiel reminds us that the Lord has called each one of us. He has called us to faith, through the Gospel and the waters of Holy Baptism. He has called us to our vocation, to work to His glory. And He calls us to be faithful unto death. Most important is the fact that as He calls us He also stirs in us to not refuse His calling. And He stirs in us to give glory to Him alone. To God be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Lutheran Vocational Evangelism

(Understanding the Word)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

In the beginning the Word of God was a spoken, oral word. As time went on, God spoke His Word giving it to Moses to write down so that we have the written Word. In the course of time, at just the right time, Jesus, the Word of prophecy that was spoken and written, became flesh and was born as a human being. Jesus is the Word made flesh. He had to be God in order to be perfect. He had to be human in order to shed His blood, trade His life for ours. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament did not forgive sins since the price for sin was the blood of man. Jesus shed His blood for our forgiveness.

Jesus lived perfectly, obeyed all God’s laws and commands perfectly, fulfilled all God’s promises and prophecies perfectly then took our sins upon Himself, suffered and died to pay the price. Yet, death and the grave could not hold Him as He rose from the dead. He has ascended and has promised to return. Until He returns He gives us His Word in the tangible means of His Holy Supper wherein we taste Him as we eat His body and drink His blood so that He becomes a part of us.

Jesus is the Word which is truth and life and the only way to eternal life. Apart from Jesus, from the Word, which is the means the Lord uses to give us the gifts He has to give, there is no life. Thus, we understand the importance of the Word, of our being in the Word, reading the Word, studying the Word, hearing the Word preached and living according to the Word.

As we are in the Word, the Word is in us and gives us the gifts promised; forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death and the devil and eternal salvation. Thanks be to God for the Word.
23 of 52    © Rev. Dr. Ronald A. Bogs (2018)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

His Love Endures Forever - July 1, 2018 - Sixth Sunday after Pentecost - Text: Lamentations 3:22-33

Today is the sixth Sunday after Pentecost. My “Pastoral Desk Calendar” makes note that this past week we had commemorations for the “Presentation of the Augsburg Confession” on Monday, and if you read your Portals of Prayer on Monday you were reminded of such. On Tuesday we commemorated the prophet Jeremiah; on Wednesday, Cyril of Alexandria, Pastor and Confessor, on Thursday; Irenaeus of Lyons, Pastor, and on Friday; St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles. That is a lot of people to remember for one week. And as we are reminded to remember these people of faith we are also reminded that we do not remember them as to worship them, but as a way of putting their lives, sinful as they were as well, before us as examples of lives of faith for us in our world today. Now, for more fun, let us get to our text for today.
But before we get into our actual text we need a little review of the background of the children of Israel. Simply stated, God chose the children of Israel out of all the other nations on the earth. God chose them to be His people and He would be their God. God chose them to be the nation through which the Savior of the world, of all people, the Savior promised back in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, the Savior promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would be born. They did not choose God, God chose them.
Even though God chose the children of Israel out of all the nations of the earth, they continually turned away from God. The history of the children of Israel is really a roller coaster history. They would be close to God. They would be fairly being obedient to God and His commands, at least mostly. Things would be going well. Then they would let their guard down, as it were, they would allow outside influences to tempt them and they would fall away from God. They would be disobedient and sin. Things would go bad. God would discipline them,. After life got so bad they would repent. God would forgive them. God would deliver them. God would restore and renew them. They would then once again get close to God. They would be fairly obedient to God and His commands, at least mostly. Things would go well. They would let their guard down, again, as it were, they would allow outside influences to tempt them and they would fall away from God. They would be disobedient and sin. Things would go bad. God would discipline them. After life go so bad they would repent. And on and on their history goes, up and down.
The book of Lamentations is a lament, that is, it is a book of crying and weeping. It is a lament over God’s prophecy of the destruction to come upon the children of Israel. The prophet laments as he is given these words to pass on to his own people, the children of Israel. Although the book of Lamentations is a lament over the destruction of the children of Israel, our text is a section of Lamentations in which God shows how He will be merciful. Thus, we see that Lamentations is a book of law and Gospel.
As we get into our text we see that God’s love is shown. We begin at verse twenty-two, “22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (v. 22-24).
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,” are words that tell us that the Lord will keep the children of Israel from total destruction, they will not be completely destroyed. Certainly the children of Israel are deserving of destruction, even eternal punishment. However, the Lord has steadfast love, He is a gracious and compassionate God. His usual work is always the work of the Gospel. His unusual work is the work of the Law. Here we are reminded that even though the children of Israel are deserving of and the prophecy is set for their destruction, their destruction will not be a total destruction.
God is faithful, He keeps His promises. Because He is faithful to His promises, He sent Jesus to die for the sins of all people of all places of all times, that includes us. Jesus died for us so that we might have forgiveness. Yet, we remember that the price for sin had to be paid and it was paid by Jesus death on the cross.
Our text continues as the prophet describes suffering. We pick up at verse twenty-five, “25The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. 26It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; 29let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; 30let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.” (v. 25-30).
The Lord chastens or disciplines those whom He loves. As the Lord chastens us we learn the discipline of taking up our cross. Our reaction to His chastening and our having to take up our crosses is described in these verses. As we are strengthened in our faith we are even more humbled in our reaction. We see the differences in how we react to His chastening as we see the levels of humbling, beginning with the easiest and going to the hardest. First, in our chastisement we “sit alone in silence” and wait on the Lord and patiently bear our yoke. This is the easiest, although, to sit in silence and wait patiently as we struggle through pain, suffering, or sorrow, is not necessarily the way we would like to deal with our discipline.
Second, in our chastisement we put our mouth in the dust as we wait on the Lord and patiently bear our yoke. On this level of dealing with the Lord’s discipline, we are asked to humble ourselves to the point that we put our mouth in the dust that is we admit that it is our own fault which brings on the discipline we are suffering. We do not repent that we got caught, but we actually repent of our sins.
Third, in our chastisement we “give [our] cheek to one who strikes” us as we wait on the Lord and patiently bear our yoke. This is truly the hardest and most humbling of the ways in which we react to the Lord’s discipline. Not only do we sit silently and wait patiently during our discipline, not only do we shut our mouths in shame and admit that we are the cause of our need for discipline, but we also give our cheek, we open ourselves up to being disciplined. That is the Law.
But there is comfort, there is Gospel. We continue at verse thirty-one, “31For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 33for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” (v. 31-33).
The prophet reminds us that we will not be chastened or disciplined, we will not be cast off forever. The Lord disciplines us in order to affect a change in us. The Lord disciplines us in order to strengthen us in our faith. The Lord disciplines us for a short time. In Exodus we are reminded that the Lord’s justice if only to the third and fourth generation, but His loving kindness if for a thousand generations. The Lord’s Gospel always far out reaches His Law.
The Lord’s discipline is but for a short time. And even during our time of grief, the Lord will show us His unfailing love. His unfailing love is shown to us in Christ. Again, God’s Holy Word reminds us that it was while we were enemies of God, fighting against Him, while we were in the middle of our sinning, that is when Christ died for us.
Just as a parent disciplines a child out of love for that child, so too, the Lord does not chasten us for nothing, but He does so out of His great love for us. The Lord chastens us in order that we might see our sins and repent; not repent that we got caught, but actually repent of the sins we have committed, in order that we might be given forgiveness of our sins and in order that we might be strengthened in our faith in Him; and in order that we might be drawn closer in our relationship with Him.
What does this mean? This text reminds us that we need to be disciplined and chastened. As we were reminded last week, we want and need boundaries and because God loves us so much He has given us good boundaries, the Ten Commandments. We want and need boundaries so that we know we are safe, so that we can have law and order, peace and harmony. When we test those boundaries, when we trespass and transgress those boundaries then we need to be chastened and disciplined. We need discipline because there are so many ways to sin. Sin is doing wrong, missing the mark of God’s perfection, but sin is also when we refuse the gifts that God has to give. To know that we sin by refusing God’s gifts means we need to be careful to not refuse His good gifts and blessings. We refuse God’s gifts by staying away from them and by staying away from where the Lord gives His gifts. The Lord gives His gifts through the means of grace. When we stay away from the Word and from the Sacraments, when we absent ourselves from Divine Service and Bible class, from personal and family devotions, we refuse God’s gifts. When we do not take God’s Word seriously, concerning sin then we cannot take His Word seriously concerning grace, and we have refused God’s gifts.
This text reminds us that God chastens us in order to strengthen our faith; to bring us back to Him; or to draw us closer to Him. The Lord chastens us because He loves us. He shows His love for us in His chastisement and in His compassion.
As we reviewed all those saints that have gone on before us earlier. this text reminds us that those saints were not immune to being chastened by the Lord either. Our Gospel lesson for today remind us that even Peter was rebuked by Jesus. In other places we are reminded that Paul had his thorn in the flesh. The great apostles were human beings like you and me. They were chastened and disciplined by the Lord, like you and me. They also were given the Lord’s grace, like you and me. Jesus died for them, He gave His life for them, just as He gave His life for you and me.
We have God’s word given to us through the Prophets and Apostles of old. God’s Word through the Prophets of old have their fulfillment in Jesus and are attested by the Gospel writers and the Apostles of the New Testament reminding us that God has kept His promises; the promises He made to Adam and Eve; the promises He reiterated to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel. He has kept His promises that His Law remains steadfast even today, not because He is a mean demanding God, but because He is a God of love who desires good for us, law and order, peace and harmony. Most importantly, He has kept His promise to send a Savior, Christ the Lord, who gave His life for ours. Indeed, the Good News, the Greatest News, the Gospel is that Jesus was born, fulfilling all the promises of the Old Testament, living perfectly for us in our place, fulfilling all the demands of the law for us in our place. Jesus took our sins, trading His perfection for our imperfection. Jesus suffered the penalty for sin, eternal spiritual death, for us, in our place, on the cross so that we might have forgiveness of sins and live, even eternal life. Jesus rose from the dead, defeating sin, death and the devil and giving eternal salvation to all who believe. We rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.