Thursday, February 27, 2014

Luther Quote - Comfort in Word and Spirit

“The Lord is on my side; that is, my cry has been heard. Although troubles still continue, I now have a
mighty, strong, powerful Defender, who is with me and supports me.

This makes it pleasant and easy to bear my yoke (Matt. 11:30). Who is this? It is the Lord Himself upon whom I called. In my sore distress He came to me through His eternal Word and Spirit. I scarcely know that I have been troubled.” We must not, as the sectarians do, imagine that God comforts us immediately, without His Word. Comfort does not come to us without the Word, which the Holy Spirit effectively calls to mind and enkindles in our hearts, even though it has not been heard for ten years. (LW 14, p. 62)

Monday, February 24, 2014

What is the Transfiguration Really All About?

Ephrem the Syrian (born 306),  a Syrian writer of commentaries and devotional hymns which are sometimes regarded as the greatest specimens of Christian poetry prior to Dante, wrote this stanza about the Transfiguration:

The Lord who is beyond measure
measures out nourishment to all,
adapting to our eyes the sight of himself,
to our hearing his voice,
His blessing to our appetite,

His wisdom to our tongue.     Hymns on Paradise 9.27.
There was only one brilliant moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration; then He emptied Himself the second time of His glory, and came down into the demon-possessed valley. For thirty-three years Jesus laid out His life to do the will of His Father, and, John says, “we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” It is contrary to human nature to do it.
The comment above is from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It is interesting that this is the only time that Christ was revealed in His eternal glory during His life prior to crucifixion.

Why is Transfiguration so important in the Christian Church that it has its own day on the Church calendar?

Somewhat reminiscent of Elijah's departure into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12), Christ appears with Moses and Elijah in a heavenly "state" fulfilling Moses' request of Ex. 33:18.

From the Concordia Self Study Bible: 
Moses is the representative of the old covenant and the promise of salvation, which was soon to be fulfilled in the death of Jesus. Elijah is the appointed restorer of all things (Mal 4:5–6; Mk 9:11–13). The disciples here witness the confirmation of Jesus’ claim (5:17) that he fulfills the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). Lk 9:31 says that they talked about Christ’s death.
The Transfiguration of Jesus is the sight of Jesus in His divinity. Everything else in His earthly life is witnessed through His humanity until His resurrection. It becomes a message of how Jesus, the true God can encompass the past, the present, and the future in a moment, in a flash, because He is God. The Transfiguration reveals His glory, wherein the remainder of His life reveals His humiliation and the cross of suffering.

The comfort of the Transfiguration is His return to the cross of His human life in this sinful world. He followed through with His word and promises to redeem us from sin, to suffer hell, and then proclaim His victory. The Transfiguration is not His victory, rather it was a revelation of the unity of all of history, the Old and the New Testament, the Apostles and Prophets before God, upon whom the Church stands.

Our Transfiguration began in our baptism and continues in the miracle of the resurrected victory feast at the church's altar. Our hope is in the forgiveness He earned in the total sacrifice of His entire life for our sin and not in the moment of glory in the Transfiguration. His presence in the sacramental life is better than the one time experience of the Transfiguration.

As those in the Transfiguration pictures teach us, while we are on this sinful earth, we can only humble ourselves in reverence to His presence. This is why we kneel at the Lord's Supper when possible.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Luther Quote - Jesus the Strongman

From Luther's Works vol. 51

Such works are nothing whatever and must be completely destroyed. Mark these words: none of our works have any power whatsoever. For God has chosen a man, the Lord Christ Jesus, to crush death, destroy sin, and shatter hell, since there was no one before he came who did not inevitably belong to the devil. The devil therefore thought he would get a hold upon the Lord when he hung
between two thieves and was suffering the most contemptible and disgraceful of deaths, which was cursed both by God and by men [cf. Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13]. But the Godhead was so strong that death, sin, and even hell were destroyed.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pr. Sell on the Radio - KFUO 850am

850 AM
The Lord blessed the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod with a dynamic radio station. It is KFUO 850 AM.

Recently, their program manager, Craig Donofrio, asked me to participate in a couple of radio shows. The first was last Saturday at 11 a.m and the second one was today (Presidents Day) a 11 a.m.

Rev. Craig Donofrio, KFUO

If you are interested, listen to them by clicking on the links below.

   with host Andy Bates

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

AHA! Eureka! In the Presence of God, An Epiphany

Archimedes'Eureka!” moment when he

realized the principle of buoyancy

while bathing.


We are wrapping up Epiphany at OSL and Lent is on the horizon. Epiphany is all about the revelation that Jesus is God.

Epiphany means to be in the presence of a revelation or a manifestation; suddenly to realize the truth about something. In the church, it is confessing the truth that the Babe of Bethlehem is the Son of God.

Eureka! That moment when it all comes together - the light goes on - the slap on the forehead - duh! Our Epiphany season is the eureka moment that reveals that the little boy in Mary's womb was God.

However, eureka moments are the result of long thought provoking discussions, or the protracted study of a difficult topic, or for the Christian Church, it is the long awaited proclamation that the Law and Prophets were right. Their prophecies came true. The eureka moment is the revelation that Mary's infant was the Messiah, but it was a long time coming.

It is a fallacy that great discoveries in science suddenly are revealed; or that a great athlete is naturally destined to become a champion free-throw shooter; or that suddenly God's Word makes sense. Instead, the life of a Christian, just like the Epiphany season is a life that plods on, struggling with daily troubles, and desiring forgiveness from those around us. It is a life of epiphanies over and over again.

Sometimes it is an epiphany to people that the church on earth still struggles with sin and corruption and that forgiveness is the only way forward.

Sometimes it's an epiphany to grasp the miracle of baptism that God saves through water and His Word.

Sometimes it's an epiphany to realize that even OSL is Christ's church and that forgiveness and mercy will sustain us, not money or how many people are in the pews.

These are epiphanies that we go through over and over again as Christ's Church on earth. We are holy and perfect by the work of Christ, not because we work so hard.

The point of Epiphany is to show and proclaim from God's Holy Word that what the prophets proclaimed over thousands of years is true. God provided a Savior to deliver the world from sin. The Law of Moses was fulfilled and lived out perfectly by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That God provided both the priest who became the sacrifice in Jesus Christ as well as the victor over sin, death and the devil. The Holy Christian Church at 1500 San Simeon way will march on because the victory is in Christ.

It's an Epiphany!