Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Sunday, August 21st at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Struggle to Enter through the Narrow Door” (Luke 13:22-30)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint’s Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School…we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

The Lord Jesus speaks words in tomorrow's gospel that are unsettling. Luke 13:24: "Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Also, Luke 13:30: "And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

 

To understand these words -- as always -- context is extremely important. Part of the necessary elements to take into consideration is the question immediately preceding our Lord's teaching. What of that question? What of the attitude that it represents? What is behind the question? What does it reveal about the spiritual state of the one who asked it?

 

To understand this is to get a handle as to where the Lord was coming from with the answers mentioned above.

 

The answers are meant to rouse some fear, but especially in the kind of heart and mind asking the question. This is not to imply that we are above the one who asked it. We aren't. So, yes, there is a place for holy fear that even holy ones (Christians) are meant to experience.

 

This fact seems to fly in the face of other Scriptures. The Lord also teaches after all that God casts out fear (1st John 4:18). So which is it? Are we or aren't we to experience fear?

 

This will be answered in tomorrow's proclamation. To know the answer is to know more about how to live as a Christian. I hope you come!

 

We will also -- as always -- receive the saving and sanctifying body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Come and receive salvation!

 

May the Lord bless us as we abide in Christ, the Author and Perfector of our faith!

 

Pastor Mueller and I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning!

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday, August 14th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Division” (Luke 12:49-53)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint’s Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School…we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

The Lord Jesus came to save and as a result of that salvation, there is -- as a natural consequence -- a resultant division among people. The division strikes even the closest families. This is a painful reality. At the same time, it is also a chance for Christians not to stand idle in the face of it. We are given the Lord's Word (and Sacrament) and Holy Spirit to respond to the division in a godly manner: not by demonizing anyone, but by overcoming evil with good. Divisions can also receive healing. We don't give up on healing. We shouldn't. Still, it does no good for us to pretend that divisions aren't there. We need to understand them and we need the Lord's instruction on how to deal with them. I hope you come for tomorrow's proclamation on this important subject.

In addition, I will be announcing my decision regarding the call I've received from the Kansas District of the LC-MS. This has been an arduous process. It would mean a great deal to me if I could have your support tomorrow morning. Please come so that I may share with you the basis for my decision. It would mean a lot to me. As always, I thank you for your prayers and support along the way.

Tomorrow will be a blessed day too, because:

  • We are installing a brand-new elder to the board of elders! Jeff Mays is a wonderful man of faith and true servant of the Living God. An already outstanding board of elders is getting even better!
  • We are receiving a brand-new member -- Katherine Dubke -- who is a tremendously gifted and talented young Christian woman. We grow stronger tomorrow as a congregation.
  • We continue with Dr. Bret Taylor's important study on the theology of the call.
  • I will meet with the youth once again for Sunday School-Bible Study in the conference. We will consider what faith is, where it comes from, and how it grows stronger.

Let us rejoice for the many blessings our Heavenly Father continues to pour out upon us. We are truly blessed!

 

In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,

 

Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday August 7th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Don’t Be Anxious…Don’t Be Afraid” (Luke 12:22-34)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint’s Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School…we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The gospel text for tomorrow is once again addressing a tremendously practical issue in our daily Christian lives: worry, anxiety, and fear.
Have you ever noticed how much better you feel when you are in the middle of feeling anxious and someone tells you, "Don't worry!" Sometimes this kind of "encouragement" just makes matters worse.
Jesus our Lord does not do that, but he leads us to carefully examine how to know exactly why we don't have to worry, but even at that, that is not all He says. He leads us to see the other side of the ledger. It is a different view which does more than simply "take our mind off things," but presents to us a glorious alternative.
This is what the proclamation is about tomorrow morning.
Come also to receive the Holy Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation!
Also, tomorrow we commence a new adult Bible Study with Dr. Bret Taylor on the Divine Call, a most appropriate topic in this season of our life together as a congregation! Thank you Dr. Taylor!
During the adult study, I'd like to invite the pre-confirmation group and even older youth to join me in the conference room. I will speak to them about "The Problem of Evil." Many of our youth are exposed to one of the most popular atheistic arguments against God: the fact that evil exists. We will equip our children to know how to stand against this argument.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday, July 31st, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “What Are You Worth?” (Luke 12:13-21)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint’s Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School…we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow's gospel text from Luke 12 is a fantastic Bible passage and leads us to answer the question above: "What Are You Worth?" We work, we earn, we attain, we build, we gather, we keep, we invest...where does it go and what is it for? In the end -- and along the way for that matter -- do these things really define us? We are tempted to permit them to. This is the world's way. The Lord gives us a different perspective; the true one, the lasting one. To Him -- in Christ -- the whole discussion about our worth takes a radical shift. Come and receive this word tomorrow morning.
Come also to receive the life-giving Holy Sacrament. Come and be assured once again that your sins are wiped away and that eternal life is yours in Jesus!
Tomorrow we also receive new members (again!). We are so blessed. Come celebrate our growing family!
In addition to all of the above, I have a very important announcement to share with you and the entire congregation. I hope you'll come also so that I can share this important news with you. I will need your prayers and I will be asking for your feedback and prayers.
Pastor Mueller and I look forward to serving you in God's house tomorrow morning!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Al

Sunday, July 24th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Holy Impudence [or] How To Pray” (Luke 11:1-13)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint’s Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School…we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

There is much we can still learn about prayer...and then upon learning, put into practice!

 

I hope you'll come this Sunday, July 24th to Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine. Come receive the Word of Christ! Come -- if you share our confession -- to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Life of the World! Come to be blessed in the Name of the Lord!

 

It is my deep privilege and pleasure to serve you!

 

In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,

 

Rev. Alfonso O. Espinosa, Ph.D., senior pastor, Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

 

“Holy Impudence [OR] How To Pray”

(Luke 11:8)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Text (ESV): “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.”

 

“I say to you, even if rising up he will not give to him because he is a friend, yet because of his shameless insisting, rising up he will give him as many as he needs.”

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. So there I was -- really not that long ago, about a decade ago -- having had so much experience and training in the faith and yet struggling. I went in to see my pastor with a heavy heart and I knew what I needed to confess: I was neglecting my prayer life. What a sad state of affairs: a man of faith, a man of prayer, coming to confess that he was not praying as he should. My pastor and I went into the sanctuary as was our typical practice, I kneeled and he knelt beside me. I confessed my sin. But behind my confession was unfortunately, an excuse. I was confessing that I was feeling as though my heart was not in it. I was confessing my lack of fervor; my lack of enthusiasm. Such a state of course is worthy of confession, but it is also not an excuse for not praying.

 

My pastor heard my confession and was faithful in pouring out the gospel to forgive my sin, but he was also good about reminding me: “It is one thing to confess a complacent heart, but let us not use this as an excuse: we pray not because we feel like it, but we pray because God commands us to pray, come rain or shine; come feeling great or feeling low. Keep the Word before you brother. Pray because God calls you to pray. Don’t permit your life of prayer to depend on your mood or feeling. Pray because God commands it.” [a paraphrase of the substance of the Rev. Dr. Scott Murray’s counsel]

 

That is, this pastor knew the proper use of the law. Yes, God’s command convicts us. That is what the law does. It shows us our sin, but God’s law is also there to teach the one who has been forgiven. It guides us and because we still have our sin hanging around our necks, we need its guidance.

 

It’s embarrassing to admit it, but even though prayer is such a basic thing in the faith, we really struggle with it. Why? For many reasons: one, because we are just lazy. The disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open when our Lord was praying on the night He was going to be betrayed. The diagnosis was clear: “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).” We can have the best of intentions, but our flesh is so weak that we actually fight against praying. There is this part of us that does not want to pray. Sometimes we express this as skeptics: “Why bother? God already knows what is going to happen!” Other times we express our resentment: “When I prayed for [such and such once upon a time] God didn’t come through, so why should I pray now?” Still in other situations we convince ourselves that we are unworthy: “My faith is so weak, why would God even bother listening to me?!” These are all of our sad and immature excuses. We convince ourselves that these are compelling reasons not to pray, but we only deceive ourselves. We think we have good excuses, but we’re only hurting ourselves.

 

For the record, let’s offer a quick apologetic to the excuses already mentioned:

 

  1. “Why bother? God already knows.” Answer: this is a colossal blunder that makes a false assumption, namely, that prayer is for God’s benefit. Wrong! Prayer is for our benefit. Of course God already knows, but prayer exercises faith. Prayer leads us to hold to God’s perfect will for us which exercises what faith does.

 

  1. “But God didn’t answer my prayer before.” Answer: who says He didn’t? The truth which we conveniently forget is that while God always answers the prayer coming from the one who trusts in the Lord, He does not, however, always answer as we believe He should.

 

“But you don’t understand pastor. Things could not have

turned out any worse than they did! How can anyone say that this was for good?!” But we don’t know this; we can’t know this. The fault is not God’s; the fault is that we refuse His answer because secretly we believe that we know better than He does. We forget for example what happens when a child of God dies. We assume that the worse thing is that they’ve lost their life on earth. We forget the glory that is given to the child of God. We choose not to contemplate the glorious resurrection that is yet to come. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a child of God. Why do we so often act like it is? And why do we hold this against God when it is our sin that brings death? And yet we hold to our excuses not to pray.

 

  1. “My faith is too weak.” Answer: But prayer does not rest

on the size or power of our faith. Prayer is effective on account of the One to Whom faith clings. Prayer is effective on account of Jesus. And even if your faith is the size of a mustard seed, yet because you hold to Jesus, your prayer is as powerful as any other saint. When you have Christ – and you do – then your prayer is as powerful as the prayer of St. Paul or St. Peter. If you have faith in Christ, then Christ makes your prayer efficacious, not your level of sincerity, not the right combination of your words, nor how many tears you shed, etc. Jesus is key. If you have Jesus – and you baptized child of God do – then your prayer is answered and always for good.

 

But at the end of the day, even when we resolve to pray more fervently, we easily approach prayer in the wrong way. We pray tentatively. We pray like we’re tiptoeing around God. We pray shyly, bashfully, hesitantly. We can speak to a person very boldly, but then mumble in the presence of God. We are missing something.

 

You’ve heard the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” We are being invited here in our gospel from Luke 11 to be squeaky wheels; to practice sanctified boldness; holy insistence; and with an attitude that says, “I’m not letting anything hold me back!” This gospel does not mean that we should be irreverent or disrespectful towards the Lord. Of course not, but we should care less about our doubts and hesitations; we should throw these to the wind. This gospel account uses a word that is not otherwise found in the New Testament: “impudence, or shamelessness.” This kind of prayer – the prayer of the “friend” coming at midnight – is shameless. It doesn’t worry about inconveniences. It is laser-like and focused: (1) I have a great need; (2) I know who to ask; (3) So I will ask boldly without backing down; and (4) I know that He will answer. This is the prayer of someone without hesitation; without doubt. It is a description of Jacob who wrestled with God and would not let God go until he was blessed (Genesis 32:26). This is prayer. It is warrior-like.

 

But from where does such persistence, boldness, and shamelessness in prayer come from? It comes from the Holy Spirit working through the Word against our sin; and against our silly excuses! We easily forget that God knows exactly how desperate we really are, so He gives us the basis for shameless prayer:

 

“Mankind is in such a situation that no one can keep the Ten Commandments perfectly, even though he has begun to believe. Besides, the devil, along with the world and our flesh, resists our efforts with all his power. Consequently nothing is so necessary as to call upon God incessantly and drum into his ears our prayer that he may give, preserve, and increase in us faith and obedience to the Ten Commandments and remove all that stands in our way and hinders us from fulfilling them. That we may know what and how to pray, our Lord Christ himself has taught us both the way and the words, as we shall see.” [emphasis mine] (Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord, Large Catechism, Third Part. 420)

 

I love this quotation from our Confessions! Did you hear that part about “drum into his ears”? Here it is again: Consequently nothing is so necessary as to call upon God incessantly and drum into his ears our prayer that he may give, preserve, and increase in us faith and obedience to the Ten Commandments and remove all that stands in our way and hinders us from fulfilling them.” [emphasis mine]

 

So we learn a mature view about prayer:

 

  • We do it because God commands it. Who cares about how we feel?!
  • We do it because God has attached glorious promises to it: to bless us for good!
  • We do it because God Himself (esp. in The Lord’s Prayer recorded here in Luke 11 and in Matthew 6) has given us the very words to pray. Now no one can say, “I don’t know what to say.” When this prayer is used, the best prayer is used! It is yours now Christian!
  • We do it on account of our great need! Which great need by the way means that we may also pray from our hearts:

 

“We must feel our need, the distress that impels and drives us to cry out. Then prayer will come spontaneously, as it should, and we shall not need to be taught how to prepare for it or how to generate devotion…This we must know, that all our safety and protection consist in prayer alone. We are far too weak to cope with the devil and all his might and his forces arrayed against us, trying to trample us under foot. Therefore we must carefully select the weapons with which Christians ought to arm themselves in order to stand against the devil…But by prayer alone we shall be a match for [our enemies] and for the devil.” (Tappert, 423-424)

 

With such an understanding about prayer, we are equipped to pray like the guy in the parable. Interestingly, Jesus teaches this invaluable parable on account of the “shameless” prayer of the disciple in verse one. The event is remarkable: a man – only a man, a sinner – doesn’t just make any request, but his request is worded as a command to the Son of God (talk about a confident and bold spirit!): “Lord, [I command you] teach us to pray!”

 

In this spirit Jesus tells about the guy in the parable. The story does not take place necessarily at “midnight,” but “in the dead of the night.” The friend he visits is fast asleep in bed. Talk about bold! The cultural context isn’t explained in the text, but the audience was aware: among the Jews one person never provided hospitality without the village acting together (Just, Concordia Commentary: Luke 9:51-24:53. 470). It would have been shameful if the sleeping friend had turned the other friend away. He was practically obligated. But so is the Lord. He has promised us grace; He has promised us mercy in His Son; He has committed to being our God of love. He’s obligated Himself. We have His Word on it. So the parable really is quite applicable. God has in effect – as far as you are concerned – painted Himself into a corner of grace and mercy.

 

When I was a teenager, my dad’s philosophy was that during the school year we could not work a part-time job. School was our “job”. That’s just the way it was. So I didn’t have any money. I was dependent on what my dad gave me. But there were times – even as a teenager – that I knew I could just “drum into his ears” my requests. When I did, most of the time (not all of the time) -- but most of the time -- he granted my requests, and when he didn’t it was for a good reason and most certainly for my good (at least in his sincere way of thinking).

 

Our Lord makes a similar point: “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” (Luke 11:11-12). Meaningful comparisons by the way, as some fish could appear as a snake and the coiled white scorpion certainly from a distance appeared as an egg.    But the point of comparison that the Lord made was: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

 

Jesus just gets to the greatest possible gift: the Holy Spirit. God’s gift for a living faith! God’s gift to us given in our baptism into Jesus so that we may now know -- among other things -- the real scoop about prayer: that our Heavenly Father really does have our best interests in mind even when we don’t understand what is permitted to happen. But He does, because He is omnipotently kind; and He is utterly trustworthy and will never break His promises to bless us (even through trials). And even more, we know we can be bold, because Jesus was already bold for you and me.

 

He prayed for us, went to the cross for us, shed His blood for us, gave His life for us, paid for the debt of our sin, removed our curse; conquered our death. And in glory, continues to pray for us. This is the Savior we have…so yes, we may pray boldly to Him…shamelessly, as if all of our sin were gone and in His eyes – and as far as He is concerned – it is. So equipped with the Holy Spirit who even prays for you, resting on God’s mercy and kindness; knowing His complete trustworthiness, and trusting in why this is all guaranteed: on account of Jesus…pray away; be warrior-like, be like Jacob and grab hold of your Heavenly Father, come even in the dead of night; don’t worry about waking God up from a deep sleep, because He is always ready to receive your prayer; and pray with persistence: ASK and do not stop ASKING, SEEK and do not stop SEEKING, KNOCK and do not cease KNOCKING, because Jesus has opened the kingdom of God for you. He asked, He sought, He knocked for you: “Father forgive them (Luke 23:34).” The prayer was answered, so pray, pray with boldness; pray with persistence! Pray. It’s not for wimps, but for warriors; for those who know the greatest “shamelessness”: “The Lord will hear, the Lord will answer, and the Lord shall bless me!”

Sunday July 10th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Delivered from Darkness” (Colossians 1:13-14)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint’s Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School…we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

In order to live rightly, we must know what we are living in. God's creation includes both that which we can see and that which we cannot see. Furthermore -- and regarding that which strayed from God's good creation -- we are also confronted by "the domain of darkness." Fortunately, we are blessed in that we have been delivered from that domain and translated into the kingdom of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. This is reality. How aware of it are you?

We must be wise in the way we live, because darkness tries to overtake us. How is this countered, esp. through the kingdom of Jesus Christ?

The answer to this question relates to our marriages and families, to the assault on God's creation of man and woman, and to the horrible violence that occurred in our country this past week. The answer to the question is about our living as the people of God who reflect and bring the kingdom of God in their very lives replacing for example hatred with love.

I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow to receive the Word proclaimed and given in the Holy Sacrament, always for the forgiveness of sins, salvation, and for remaining delivered from the domain of darkness and translated into the kingdom of Jesus Christ! These are for your strength, your families, and for our country.

 

In Jesus' Name,

 

Pastor Espinosa

Sunday, July 3rd at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Do Not Grow Weary” (Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint’s Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School…we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

We rejoice that the Lord granted us five (5) fun-filled days at Crystal Cove State Beach for Vacation Bible School. Friday's memory verse was Ephesians 5:18: "Be filled with the Spirit." This was a complement to the overall theme on The Fruit of the Spirit! Our entire presentation emphasized what the Holy Spirit is always leading us to: The Gospel of Jesus Christ! We had a great time this past week! Thank you for your prayers and support!

 

Tomorrow is a great day for us at Saint Paul's:

  1. The proclamation is on Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18 and it's a message we all need: "Do Not Grow Weary"!
  2. We will ask you to support our national church offering that Pastor Mueller and Pastor Loy will take to Milwaukee with them. We are blessed to be a congregation in The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Our national church body is doing some great things to advance the Kingdom of God!
  3. We are giving a special blessing to our very own Daniel Kuntz who will be conducting a four-week mission to Indonesia.
  4. We are receiving the Lord's Supper to keep us strong in the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
  5. Tomorrow we offer a new adult study on suffering in the life of Christians.
  6. Our very own Joel Stichler (who has most of his training to be a DCE complete) will cover the older youth class tomorrow after worship.
  7. Our organist Jerry Dahlin is going to share a medley of Patriotic Hymns at the end of service as we prepare to celebrate July 4th.

We rejoice! Hope to see you at 9:30 am in God's house.

 

In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,

 

Pastor Espinosa

 

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Set Free” (Galatians 5)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

New Member Reception: 11 am

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

You have a new life! Yes, it is true that while we Christians still have the sin nature, it's condemnation and guilt has been removed by Jesus Christ! In addition, you have been born-again; you have a new life and you have a living spirit! This means our lives make a difference. We love, we pray, we move and live as God's people who bring light to the world and salt to the earth. Come and receive the proclamation tomorrow on Galatians 5! You're free to live in Christ!

Such a life is also active in the face of cultural and political assaults against the faith. Don'e buy into this false logic: that just because the political realm addresses an issue, that for the Church to respond to that issue means that the church is "getting political." That's just not true. When the left-hand kingdom encroaches upon the right-hand kingdom, the Church must speak up.

This encroachment is happening with California Senate Bill 1146 (SB1146). Please go to this link: http://www.cui.edu/aboutcui/sb1146  Right now, our Concordia University Irvine (and all religion-based colleges and university's are being severely threatened. Help me speak UP to our elected officials before this Tuesday. Please. This is about religious freedom. If this bill passes the state assembly, it will greatly impact our university in a most serious way.

Brothers and Sisters, this coming week is Vacation Bible School! Please come. Bring children! It is Monday through Friday from 9 am to 12 pm at Crystal Cove State Beach. Directions: we are meeting at the Northern-Most location at Crystal Cove called "Sandy Beach at Treasure Cove". Treasure Cove is accessed from hiking trails that lead down the steep bluff from day-use parking lots inside the Pelican Point entrance. This entrance to the state park is across from Newport Coast Drive on Pacific Coast Highway.

Tomorrow Pastor Herb Giesler turns 99!!!!! He has been in hospice care, but his spirit in the Lord is strong. I plan on bringing my I-Pad tomorrow so that we as a congregation can extend a special "Happy Birthday" to him and to sing Happy Birthday to him. Let us show our love to him! He is a blessing!

Tomorrow is new member Sunday. We are welcoming three new members. Come and celebrate with us!

Tomorrow we receive the Holy Sacrament! Come and receive the forgiveness of sins! Come and receive Jesus!

Finally, please rejoice with me and Traci. Our first grandchild was born last night. Ellie Adela Espinosa was born our son A.J. and Gaby our daughter-in-law! She is beautiful and we are so filled with joy! Yes, I am now a grandpa!

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

Pastor

 

 

 

Sunday, June 19th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran of Irvine: “Adopted and the Owners of Everything!” (Gal. 3:23-4:7)

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Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

 

Dear Christian Friends,

How is that we can be completely assured that we are actually children of God? That we are loved and cherished, that we have rights to come to our Heavenly Father to be heard and to receive mercy? It is one thing to consider the gift of faith, but what is the basis for confidence in faith? What is our objective reason to know we may in faith approach the Lord's throne of grace?

The answer is that we are adopted by God. Adoption. We are accustomed to using the word to describe the status of some children, but the truth is that every Christian -- who is truly a Christian -- is adopted by God. By grace in Christ Jesus, you are adopted.

Adoption is the basis for our confidence about our standing before the Lord. Adoption is the guarantee that the kingdom of God is truly ours.

Think about it. How many things in this life are really secure? How many things are sure things? Answer: not much. But when it comes to God's love and mercy for you in Christ, there is something that makes it certain and true: you have been adopted in Christ!

You're invited to the feast tomorrow morning at Saint Paul's at 9:30 am. Come and receive the Lord's life-gifts. His holy absolution given to those who come confessing their sins, His Divine Service filled with His Word to put the life of the Holy Trinity into your hearts, upon your lips and in your ears; come and receive the Word proclaimed in the sermon to hear of our adoption; and then come to receive the very body and blood of our Savior for the forgiveness of sins.

All of these gifts are yours in Christ! Why? Because you are adopted.

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

Pastor Espinosa

 

 

“Adopted and the Owners of Everything!” (Gal. 3:23-4:7)

The 5th Sunday after Pentecost, June 19th, 2016

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Adoption often gets a bad rap. When I was growing up for example, my older siblings would sometimes subject me to some psychological jabs. Since I had come along 8 years after my three older siblings, I was sometimes referred to as having been adopted. Today, I’m embarrassed by the fact that this used to bother me. I wish today that I had embraced it back then. You know how it is. How often we think to ourselves, “If I had only known then, what I know now!” Why embrace it? Because God’s Word says to you and me dear Christian that every single one of here today for whom Jesus died and rose; and for us who have been baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have been adopted into God’s kingdom, into God’s family, into God’s magnificent and eternal love and mercy for us with the promise that He shall never, ever let us go.

 

This is where the proverbial rubber hits the road in terms of what makes the faith so invaluable. Last week I explained what faith is: 1) it is true; 2) it is trustworthy; and 3) it lives in the reality of the promises given…or simply said, it takes God up on His truth and trustworthiness…it actually lives in His grace, walks in His grace, and expresses its life in His grace. Just think of Peter when He saw Jesus walking on water: 1) He believed that Jesus was really there (that Jesus was true and real); 2) He believed that Jesus was able to call him unto Himself even on the water (Jesus was trustworthy); and 3) Peter actually stepped out and indeed – before he began to sink – Peter was walking on water. This is faith.

 

I bring this up because adoption is the assurance that we are indeed people of faith: it is the guarantee that God has called us, that God has united us to Jesus, that we have received the grace of God and the gift of faith, and it is the assurance that we are living never, ever alone, but always and constantly with the Holy Spirit. Do you have faith? To answer the question, just back up and ask yourself: “Well, am I adopted or not?” The answer is yes, esp. if you understand when and how God adopts you (answer: in Holy Baptism and by the power of the Word of God contained in the water which joined you to Jesus Christ). And if you are adopted, then yes, you have also received the gift of faith!

 

If you know this Christian, then you are called to live in great confidence and -- don’t be shy about it now -- in the power of faith in God. This is a faith that might not be impressive to the world with its confused ideas about faith, but it is a faith led by the Spirit of God that leads you to face anything in life with the assurance that God is with you and that God will bless you no matter what. No, this doesn’t mean that you and I always get what we want or what we think we need. But it does mean that God will keep holding us as His adopted children and He will bless us…He always finds a way. And the reason you know that these are not just pious platitudes, is because the One who guarantees your adoption lived and died and rose for you!

 

Such faith flows from the knowledge that Jesus gave up His life for you and if God loves you that much, then The Father will not allow anything to interfere with the truth of the saving Gospel of His Son Jesus. Faith knows this to be true, because your faith knows that you are adopted/you belong to God. This faith figures that if Jesus could give His life for me, then I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will always be for me and to erase all doubt He assures me of this reality because He came to me in Holy Baptism, and adopted me as His child.

 

And this is what makes our faith so glorious even in this veil of tears in the world and even as we bear crosses. It is true, but it is also extremely relevant. This is what the world needs to know about the Christian faith. It is true – based on what actually corresponds to a real state of affairs in space and time – but it is more than just true, it is exceedingly relevant. The world needs this sense of truth, relevance, importance, and meaning. It is true that this past week the Golden State Warriors were battling the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA championship, but many of you could care less. It may be true, but it isn’t terribly relevant. But when it comes to faith, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus and the life it produces in becoming adopted heirs of God means that our whole lives are impacted: we have clarity about our identity, our purpose, and our destination; and we have gifts poured out from God to live as His adopted people. The faith is true, it is relevant, and it is exciting…and it is on account of our adoption that we begin to see clearly about these things.

 

But it begins by embracing the guarantee that you are indeed a child of God; not called to doubt who you are, but to be absolutely clear about it. You are a child of God, because you are adopted. That means that this word “adopted” can’t be a weird thing, but a glorious status. We should say with pride and joy: “I am adopted!”

 

When Traci and I adopted five of our eight children, our lives changed for the good; it taught us to live our faith; to get out of ourselves; and it has humbled us so that we have been led to rely upon the Lord more, not less.

 

In addition, I have seen many added instances of loved poured out. My wife has taught our children that to be adopted is to be additionally loved. Traci has taught that to be adopted is to be chosen and this is testimony to our baptism in Christ: God chose us in Jesus! That is how much you are loved! But how do you know that this is true for you?

 

First, we are assured of being united to Christ through Baptism:

 

Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

 

Second, we are therefore given assurance that we are saved since Christ -- Whom we have put on -- came to:

 

Galatians 4:5: “redeem those who were under the law”

 

Third, we now have a new status:

 

Galatians 4:5 again: “so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

 

And finally, this impacts our lives to the extent that we now have the Holy Spirit and a new standing and status with God:

 

Galatians 4:6-7: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

 

The original language here is delightful! We are being taught that we are no longer a child confined to a babysitter (the law); that child being a “napios” which is a non-speaking one who is no different than a “doulos” or a slave according to Galatians 4:1. But now that Christ has liberated us by His life, death, and resurrection, and adopted us through baptism, and given the gift of the Holy Spirit to us, we are no longer a “napios”/child with no voice and no rights, but we are now a “[h]yios” or “son” [the point here is not about sex or gender, but about legal standing; “son” = an heir with full rights, and to clarify that God isn’t taking about male and female, He says at Galatians 3:28 that in Christ there is neither male nor female]. Now here’s the thing about the “[h]yios” over “napios”: you now have full rights. You can speak and you will be heard by the Father! You have a voice, because you are an adopted child who is dearly, dearly loved. The Father cares about every prayer you offer up regardless and they are prayers that have His complete attention even as He answers them in accord with what is best for you, even if you don’t see it. In the meantime, all that is the Father’s is now yours. You’re family now!

 

But Traci and I quickly learned that many people struggle to “get” adoption. 18 years ago or so, Traci was in a grocery store and a woman was gazing at our baby. She would look at the baby and then look at Traci; look at Traci and then look at the baby…and this expression of complete and utter bewilderment was all over her face. She just couldn’t make her assumption compute in her mind. “How did this white-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed gal give birth to this dark-skinned, black-haired, brown-eyed baby?!” The woman just couldn’t help herself and so asked my wife, “What does the father look like!?” There is a natural dissonance that takes place in the minds of many people.

 

But it is one that precisely makes the point about how we struggle with this amazing truth of our adoption. We look at God (and know that He is righteous; He is holy; He is without sin); and then we look at ourselves. We look at God, we look at ourselves. We look at ourselves and we look at God. Then we ask, “How can this be?” And then we doubt.

 

This is our sin. We terribly underestimate the power and the reality of God’s amazing grace; we doubt and question the truth and the power of the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus; we try to convince ourselves that our baptism was just some ceremony that happened a long time ago and we sinfully underestimate exactly what happened when were adopted and therefore we question our very adoption itself.

 

In our sin we treat that which is extremely and indescribably valuable as if it had no value. This very thing happened to the Christian monks at St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai in Egypt.

 

The monks were visited in 1844 by a German researcher named Constantin von Tischendorf, who had come to search for ancient manuscripts of the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. He found piles of extremely valuable Bible manuscripts that were sitting in a wastebasket, waiting to be burned! Included in this wastebasket were two of the most ancient and valuable manuscripts of the Bible that survive to this day.

 

The monks of St. Catherine’s had no idea of the immense value of what they possessed (taken from an article within Good News, Issue 32, p. 30). This is what we do with our adoption guarantee: with the saving Gospel of Jesus and with our magnificent baptism. How often do we toss these aside and let them linger by the wastebasket as we tend to what we sinfully think is so much more in life? We dabble with the things that are passing away and will be forgotten at the expense of neglecting the most important and lasting things!

 

But thanks be to God that this is not what the Lord has done or is doing with you. Since He has covered you with Christ in Holy Baptism (Galatians 3:27), you have received a totally new status in God’s sight. God, in His miracle of Baptism, has adopted you and immediately covers you with Christ’s perfect righteousness and holiness. God has declared you redeemed (purchased from the realm of sin and death) and has declared you justified (declared righteous). He no longer sees your sin. Others may see it. You see it, but God does not! Why not? Because Christ covered you with His blood; God baptized you into His Son; and because you are now adopted.

 

You are God’s very own, welcomed into His family, belonging to the household of faith, with full rights, filled with the Holy Spirit…with a voice that cries out, “Abba! Father!” And the Lord hears you and answers you, because He now counts you as family, welcomed to His table where you are served and strengthened by the body and blood of Jesus which does more than galvanize your adoption, but don’t be surprised by this, because you’re family now! What is the Lord’s is yours, even to the extent of giving you His very body and blood guaranteeing the sanctity of His words to you: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).” You all these gifts, because He has adopted you and now -- as Galatians 4:1 says -- you are the owner of everything: that which belongs to the Father like eternal life and eternal love now belongs to His adopted child, you. Thank God that we are adopted!

Sunday June 12th, 2016 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “You No Longer Live, And Now You’re Really Alive!” (Galatians 2:20 & Galatians 3:13)

11Jun/16Off

Location: Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA 92618

Directions: Exit Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5, head East towards the hills, cross Irvine Blvd., turn right on Saint's Way (this will put you on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the event center/gym)

Divine Service: 930 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11 am

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Faith" is a word that people use all of the time, but what is it?! Immediately, we can correct the notion that it is something that anyone produces within themselves, because true faith -- saving faith in Christ -- is the gift of God (Eph. 2). But once we have have this gift, what ensues? How is it known? Faith produces other things like acceptance. Accepting for example that what Scriptures reveal about our Savior is true, but is that it? I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that there is more! Tomorrow we will rely on God's Word from our epistle in Galatians to see the full-orbed revelation about faith.

Tomorrow we also receive the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. In this holy gift we receive the very body and blood of Jesus to strengthen our faith and to comfort all of us who are weary and heavy-laden.

The Lord bless you as you prepare for the Divine Service which awaits us in the morning.

In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,

Pastor Espinosa