Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow July 13th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Christ Prepares Your Heart for the Word” (St. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) & VBS Report

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

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)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow we study the very first parable our Lord Jesus taught: "The Parable of the Sower." Our Lord thoroughly described sinful reactions against His life-giving seed which creates and nurtures faith. We learn that what is really important is our relationship to His life-giving seed (His Word). When the seed of Christ's Word touches our lives through hearing, understanding, and producing fruit, we experience the fruit of a living faith. This is the Lord's gift to us His people...through HIS fruit born for us...His hearing, His understanding, and His fruit for our forgiveness and salvation!
Come to Divine Service ready to receive the Lord's forgiveness and grace as you continue to live in Christ. Come ready to receive His body and blood...we celebrate the Holy Sacrament which the Lord gave for the life of the world!
Also, I wanted to share some exciting news about the VBS at Crystal Cove State Park (Beach) that we just completed. Consider these three year statistics:
2012: Total number of children served: 22
2013: Total number of children served: 29
2014: Total number of children served: 34
Total number of other participants including nursing students from CUI:
2012: 29
2013: 31
2014: 32
Total number of participants:
2012: 51
2013: 60
2014: 66
We praise the Lord for the opportunity He granted for us to serve more children than ever!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Sunday July 6th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “I Will Give You Rest” (Matthew 11:25-30)

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Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School: 11:00 am

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)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

 

One of the most comforting Scripture passages is found in this Sunday's Gospel, Matthew 11:25-30! Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Jesus calls us to Himself and it is a most loving and gracious invitation indeed. It is one which invites us to receive rest in our lives, rest from the burden and condemnation of sin; rest from the hopelessness of the world; and rest from the bondage of the evil one. This is the rest that leads us to know Jesus' yoke...to be joined to the One who bore all of our sorrows and by whose stripes we are healed. When we have this yoke -- this union with Christ created in Holy Baptism -- then we know the "easy" way; the "light" way...the way of God's peace and the way of God's constant compassion and comfort. This is the rest we all need.

This rest is also received in the Holy Sacrament. For those who share our common confession of the faith (normally established through the rite of holy confirmation in the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod) and confess the true body and blood of Jesus in, with, and under the bread and wine receive this Holy Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins and do indeed receive Christ's rest.

Let us gather this Sunday for this wonderful rest!

 

Also on Saturday, July 5th: we are having a share and defend the faith seminar with Pastor Mark Jasa at Psator Espinosa's residence, 21986 Mae Circle, Lake Forest, CA at 4:00 pm. Please call Pastor Espinosa at 949-379-0883 if you'd like to come. We would love to have you. Invite a friend!

 

Also, this coming week is VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL at Saint Paul's: July 7th through July 11th from 9 am to 12 noon. We are meeting at Crystal Cove State Park. We are using the Reef Point entrance between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar. Reef Point entrance is between El Morro School (to the south) and Newport Coast Drive (to the north). When parking at the Reef Point parking lot ($15) walk down to Sandy Beach at Muddy Creek (just below the stair way on the beach). This is where we are setting up!

 

VBS is FREE and Ruby's Diner is providing FREE lunches!

 

We are celebrating "Creation in Christ" and of course the fact that "Jesus Loves You!" Hope to see you at Vacation Bible School.

 

Note: all children must have a registration form filled out & these will also be available on site.

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

Pastor Al Espinosa

Sundays June 22nd and June 29th at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine and VBS July 7th – July 11th!

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To reach us: from the 405 or 5, off at Sand Canyon in Irvine and head northeast towards the hills. Cross Irvine Blvd. and turn right onto Saint's Way. We worship at 12500 Sand Canyon Ave. on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School. Our Divine Service begins at 9:30 am. Bible Study and Sunday School begin at 11:00 am.

 

Dear Christian Friends,

 

We will celebrate the Second Sunday after Pentecost on June 22nd and the Third Sunday after Pentecost on June 29th.

We are extraordinarily blessed to have our assistant pastor, Rev. Dr. Steven P. Mueller, proclaiming God's Word on both these Sundays. Dr. Mueller is the Dean of Christ College at Concordia University Irvine. He is the author of Not a Tame God: Christ in the Writings of C.S. Lewis and the editor of Called To Believe, Teach, And Confess: An Introduction to Doctrinal Theology as well as the abridged version which is widely used Called To Believe: A Brief Introduction to Christian Doctrine. He is an outstanding teacher of the faith and we rejoice in his service in the Kingdom in our midst. He will proclaim the Word of Christ at Saint Paul's on both of these Sundays.

Come! Invite a friend! Receive once again the saving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and serve a friend who might perhaps receive it for the very first time!

On both Sundays we will celebrate the Lord's Supper. We will receive the true body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. All those who share in a common confession of the true faith with us -- normally established through holy confirmation in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod -- receive this Holy Sacrament to abide in Christ's forgiveness, the strengthening of faith, and in the gift of everlasting life. If you have any questions about the Holy Sacrament, please know that we are eager to serve you in holy catechesis (instruction in the Word of Christ and our Lutheran Confession). We care enough to spend the time necessary for people to receive the Sacrament for their benefit in accord with 1st Corinthians chapter 11.

Also: we are taking registrations for VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL. We will be at Crystal Cove State Beach from Monday, July 7th through Friday, July 11th from 9 to 12 each day. Ruby's Diner is supplying free lunches to all of those participating. We still need children (from 3 to 12) and volunteers to help. There will be puppets, hymns and songs, games, crafts, Bible stories, snacks, and fantastic fellowship! You can register by sending an email to: vbs@saintpaulsirvine.com! Hope to see you there!

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

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

Tomorrow Sunday June 15th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Holy Trinity Sunday and special guest Rev. James Cerdenola, president of The Lutheran Church of the Philippines

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Come join us at 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA. We worship at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine. From the 405 or 5, take Sand Canyon and head towards the hills (northeast). Cross Irvine Blvd. and then turn Right on Saint's Way. We worship in the gym at 9:30 am!

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow is a BIG day for us!
We welcome Rev. James Cerdenola, the President of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines! LCP is a partner national church body of our church body, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. We have a vital relationship in our shared ministry of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is really a very special treat to welcome such an important world leader and dignitary. We are fortunate to have this relationship with President Cerdenola as it all began when he was "just" a parish pastor and had the opportunity to visit our congregation when we were in Laguna Beach. President Cerdenola will preach in the Divine Service and then teach during Bible Study.
ALSO: we are celebrating The Holy Trinity. Too often folks get the impression that this is just another article of faith, another "doctrine" to be recited so that we can merely identify ourselves as Christians. This truth of God's Word, however, is so much more than that! To know the revelation of God as The Holy Trinity, three distinct persons in the one substance of the Godhead, is to know -- for example -- the significance of God revealed as love in 1st John 4:8. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son glorifies both in His love for the Father and for the Son. God is love; it flows within Him from person to person. This is not a theoretical thing. His love also flows to you. The Father who loved the Son more than anything sent Him to die for you...this is how much God loves you. Come worship the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity!
ALSO: we celebrate Father's Day. Suffice it to say that we are looking forward to giving a gift to all of our dads tomorrow morning.
Most importantly, we will give the Lord's Supper to hungry sinners desiring to remain in the forgiveness of sins and in the gift of eternal life.
Come hungry and thirsty sinners! Come to the feast of salvation!
In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday June 8th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Rivers of Living Water” (John 7:37-39)

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You're invited to worship with us on Sunday morning's at 9:30 am. We meet at Crean Lutheran High School located at 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA.

 

Exit Sand Canyon from 405 or 5

Head East, towards the hills

Cross Irvine Blvd.

Turn right on Saint's Way

 

Dear Christians,

Tomorrow is The Day of Pentecost when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church on the 50th day after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord describes the gift of the Holy Spirit as His giving to us His people "Living Water" (John 7:37-39).
Unfortunately, there have been some wacky ideas put forth as to what this means. Our Gospel text from John 7 teaches its meaning and you will be encouraged to know how we know the gift of the Holy Spirit is indeed ours.
Also, tomorrow we will conduct "Farewell And Godspeed To A Church Work Student"...namely for our very own Joshua DeYoung, our church son going off to seminary (Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN). This will be a very special blessing extended to him as he begins his preparation for the pastoral ministry.
Come and receive Christ's gifts tomorrow dear people of God and let us rejoice that in our Lord Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven, we have eternal life, and from our hearts there flows Living Water, the gift of the Holy Spirit is yours.
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“Rivers of Living Water” (John 7:37-39)

The Day of Pentecost, June 8th, 2014

Pastor Espinosa

 

 

Introduction: How are we to relate to and understand the gift of the Holy Spirit?

 

  1. At the beginning of the 20th century, just over 100 years ago there was a big Azusa Street revival that occurred right here in Southern California that commenced the modern-day Pentecostal Movement.
  2. One had to receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” to truly be born again.
  3. Water-baptism would be insufficient for being truly baptized by the Holy Spirit. That is being baptized with water had to be followed by being baptized with the Holy Spirit. This is actually two-baptism theology.
  4. One may know if they’ve received this true outpouring of the Holy Spirit if one was given the gift or ability to “speak in tongues” (that is, a heavenly language produced by the Holy Spirit).

5. We don’t believe in or teach these things as Lutheran Christians.

6. For one thing the one baptism taught in Scripture at Ephesians 4:5 is both a water and Holy Spirit gift. When the water of Holy Baptism was poured out upon you at your baptism, you also received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is why the Holy Scriptures refer to Holy Baptism as it does [please read with me when I get to the underlined portion]:

 

Titus 3:5: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

 1. As for speaking in tongues, we believe that his gift is subservient to the preaching and proclamation of Word of Christ. This why St. Paul said that he would rather speak 5 clear words to instruct others than speak 10,000 words in a strange tongue that could not be received nor understood (1st Corinthians 14:19). The tongues are all of the various languages used to proclaim the Gospel. And the Lord has indeed gifted His Church to proclaim in many tongues, in many languages, but the goal is always that people receive the clear Good News of salvation in their simple and understandable language!

2. These languages are given precisely for the most important work of the Holy Spirit: to make known the Word of Christ for the sake of saving faith being formed in the hearts of hearers. Thus Christ taught His first disciples in John 16 that the Holy Spirit’s ministry would be to glorify Christ (vs 14) and take what is of Christ and declare it (vs 14 & 15).

3. The whole point is that we are not to look for the working of the Holy Spirit through extraordinary signs and wonders, but through speaking and through words.

 

Part 1: But this is hard for us to accept, our sin makes us want more:

 

  1. In our sin, God’s way is insufficient, we want to be amazed.

 

  1. After I arrived to a former parish, I asked the question from the leadership what they were expecting from my sermons. One of the older members answered very enthusiastically: “I want you to blow my socks off every Sunday!” Not only did he speak unrealistically, but he also spoke in a fleshly and in a spiritually enthusiastic way. To be fair, however, he was speaking for all Christians in accord with their sinful nature.
  2. We live in culture and world of instant gratification, we want to be wowed, impressed, entertained, we want to get a buzz from what is before us; and we use our smart-phones and i-pads to give us a constant flow of stimulation. We want big things from what is before us. Latest surveys reveal that the average American using a smart-phone is on it between 2 ½ to 3 hours a day. And all of the apps and all of the portals are designed to give you a good time; to stimulate.

 

  1. My family will sometimes watch “America’s Got Talent” and it is interesting to me that the acts are continually try to push the envelope so to speak. Sometimes you will have dance numbers or dare-devil acts that try to present something that has never been done before or never been seen before. They are plugging into our thirst for something that will delight us…we are all enthusiasts and we want God to touch us in the same way.

 

  1. The colossal problem with this, however, is that when we go along with this kind of stimulation-mentality, then we don’t know how to live in the Christian faith:

 

  1. We start to judge our faith based on how we feel.
  2. We start to rate our faith based on what we do.
  3. In other words, we replace the Gospel of Christ with the Law…our “faith” starts to depend on US and it no longer depends on Christ.

 

  1. What does this reveal about us? It reveals that we are thirsty people. We are dry inside, very, very dry. In our sin we continue to do the things that we know we ought not do; in our sin we are as I said last Sunday incurvatus in se (curved in on ourselves) and sinful from “head to foot” as in our flesh we hate God and hate His Word. In our sin, we don’t want to hear words, we want to be stimulated. And this is why there are so many religions…we are dying of thirst and we want to be stimulated…we want to feel something because we see in our sin death staring us in the face, eye-to-eye. We are desperately sick in sin and dying of thirst. We want to live, but we don’t know how, but the problem is that we keep insisting that it is up to us to figure it out; it is up to us to save ourselves…someway, somehow…so we keep seeking the stimulation that our thirst demands.

 

Part 2: So God’s solution is water.

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday June 1st 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “That All May Be One” (John 17:20-22)

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Invite a friend, pass on our address: 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA...remember head northeast on Sand Canyon from the 405 or 5 and cross Irvine Blvd and then turn right on Saint's Way...this will take you onto the campus of Crean Lutheran High School...we worship in the gym at 9:30 am!

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Oneness and unity...these things are missing because sin has entered into the world. We see the break in families, in marriages, in our nation...and in the church...we see the disruption in ourselves. Sin is that pervasive and it is not a hypothetical thing, but through the lack of oneness we see its effects.
But our Savior Jesus also came to restore our oneness and unity. He prayed for it and then He conducted what was necessary to bring it about. In Christ, we are one with God; reconciled to the One who created us and who saved us!
From this unity with the Lord -- and though in this world we will continue to have much tribulation (John 16:33b) -- we may nevertheless take heart because nothing can remove the oneness we have with the One who overcomes the world shattered by disunity. What is more, however, with unity and oneness in Christ, we see the fruit of this -- though never perfect -- but there in so many ways: families living in their baptismal grace; congregations receiving Word and Sacrament; and even for sinners like you and me -- baptized into Jesus -- we pray, "Our Father..."...in Him, we too are one.
Let us remain in this oneness and unity by gathering in the morning.
Tomorrow is the last Sunday of Easter...let us continue to worship as we proclaim: "Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!"
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon...it ends before Law and Gospel will be proclaimed:

“That All May Be One” (John 17:20-22)

For Your Life in Christ the Week of the Seventh Sunday of Easter

June 1st, 2014

Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA (LC-MS)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Introduction: What did our Lord pray for before He ascended and sent the Holy Spirit?

  1. It is an important question, because it would seem to address what is most important to our Lord Jesus Christ, concerning us before His crucifixion!
  2. And be sure to know this: Jesus prayed for you, not just the first-century disciples!

 

John 17:20: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”

 

  1. That is, Jesus prayed “for those who will believe in me through [the apostle’s] word” = that includes YOU!
  2. OK, so we know He was praying for you, but what was He praying for specifically?

 

Part I: What Jesus Asked For…For You!

 

John 17:21: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

 

  1. Two little words to take note of:
  2. “all”
  3. “one”
  4. R.C.H. Lenski wrote, “though so many in number all believers are to be one unit, one body, one spiritual whole.” (The Interpretation of John, 1155)

 

1st Corinthians 12:20: “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”

  1. There is almost universal acknowledgement that oneness is a necessary attribute:
  2. On Sport’s Teams: During play-offs, commentators often consider which team is playing as a team, instead of – for example – just depending on star players.
  3. Businesses and corporations: Need synergy, unity, common goals, and a common vision.
  4. Governments seek oneness and unity for the people they serve. This is the reason why there is a fundamental division in our great country:
  5. There are those who insist that God is primary.

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about America in 1831: “There are an innumerable multitude of sects in the United States. All differ in the worship one must render to the Creator, but all agree on the duties of men toward one another. Each sect therefore adores God in its manner, but all sects preach the same morality in the name of God…Besides, all the sects in the United States are within the great Christian unity, and the morality of Christianity is everywhere the same.” (Democracy in America, Mansfield & Winthrop, eds. 278)

  1. In 2014, however, this no longer holds true. There are now many who insist that God is secondary or entirely unnecessary. This fundamental breach represents a culture war & oneness is limited.
  2. Oneness is crucial for marriage, especially during crisis.
  3. Oneness is vital for good parenting.
  4. But the oneness Christ prayed for is infinitely greater than all of the forms of the world’s oneness:
  5. First, consider the comparison: our oneness corresponds with (Jesus prayed): “just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” = the ONENESS of God!
  6. How could we ever achieve such oneness? We can’t! But God can!
  7. Second, this is a spiritual oneness.
  8. So by God’s work, we become spiritually one!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday May 25th at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Whoever Has My Commandments” (John 14:21)

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We worship at Crean Lutheran High School, located at 12500 Sand Canyon Ave. in Irvine, CA. From the 405 or 5 head East on Sand Canyon. Travel away from the ocean and towards the foothills. Finally pass Irvine Blvd and turn right on Saint's Way which is just a few blocks to your right after passing Irvine Blvd. When you turn right onto Saint's Way, you will be on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School. We worship at 9:30 am in the gym!

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

The section in John's Gospel that we are presenting tomorrow is extraordinarily important for understanding our lives in Christ and how we live the Christian faith. Here is the thought progression:
Premise 1: True believers love God.
Premise 2: If you love God, you will keep God's commandments.
Conclusion: Therefore true believers keep God's commandments.
But if you know the overall saving faith, you know that we are also sinners who always fall short of God's commandments (not sometimes, but always), so what was St. John teaching through these words?
This will be what tomorrow's sermon is all about and I rejoice for the wonderful grace and work of God that is described in this part of God's Word (in St. John's Gospel).
Additionally, not only will we pray to celebrate this 6th Sunday of Easter, but we will also pray in anticipation of the Ascension of our Lord that is coming up this Thursday. Furthermore, we will remember those who gave their lives for our country in the Prayers of the Church (this weekend is the Memorial Day weekend).
What is more we will -- as always -- distribute the true body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. What a gift to poor sinners like you and me!
Finally, I would like to remind you that we have a short but very important voter's assembly meeting tomorrow as we will by God's grace establish our administrative leadership for 2014-2015 (the new parish council). Please help us ensure that we have a constitutional quorum.
Rejoice in the Lord dear people of God, the love of Christ prevails and He keeps you in the palm of His hand!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“Whoever Has My Commandments” (John 14:21)

For Your Life in Christ the Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 25th, 2014

Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA (LC-MS)

Rev. Dr. Al Espinosa

 

Introduction: The Problem of “Cheap Grace”

  1. In his book Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes the tragedy of cheap grace: “Cheap grace means justification of sin but not of the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways. ‘Our action is in vain.’ The world remains world and we remain sinners ‘even in the best of lives.’ Thus, the Christian should live the same way the world does…Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.” (43-44) What a great WARNING!

 

  1. The old saying “Talk is cheap” means that it’s easier to say something than do it. It’s easy to say you love someone. It’s really easy to say you love God. But again, talk is cheap. You know it, the people around you know it, and according to today’s Gospel, Jesus knows it. He doesn’t say, “If you love me, then say so,“ but he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (v15). As sinners, we would seem to have a big problem with this. What are we to make of these words? In our Gospel, the Lord describes the relationship that actually does make Jesus’ very difficult – and anything but cheap – “keeping” happen: (much of this outline is taken from Concordia Pulpit Resources, Volume 21, Part 2 March 13-June 12, 2011 Series A, the published outline was written by Pastor Espinosa).

 

Part I: By the Grace of God, Disciples KEEP [through Christ]

1. Disciples who love Jesus keep his commandments (v15).

2.  There are real signs and indicators that we love Jesus, that we are truly born again (Jn 3:3, 7).

3. Holy Baptism and Holy Communion

4. That we LOVE GOD. Agape love made known especially by what you DO!

 

McGrath: “True knowledge of God moves us to worship, obedience and the hope of eternal life.” (Roots That Refresh, 42)

 

  1. This is the love that God gave to you in Christ (Jn 3:16). No theoretical love here! He was crucified!

 

  1. So no love in a vacuum or again, no theoretical love.

John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

  1. Easy to misunderstand. This is NOT a rehashing of the Mosaic Law like a legalistic check-list.
  2. The word “keep” = like keeping a TREASURE!
  3. It is “taking care” of something very important.

 

Illustration: Raising a child: you don’t do it perfectly, but if you really love your child, you keep them, you take care of them no matter what!

  1. So Jesus is teaching: because you love Him, you strive to honor him.
  2. His commandments are the living out of his gifts of Word, worship, and your neighbor.
  3. If you love him, you will TAKE CARE of these with the highest care and devotion.

 

Part II:  Christ Keeps His Disciples in His Care Through The Gift of The Holy Spirit

  1. The problem is that as we strive to honor God, we FALL SHORT on account of our sin!
  2. We neglect devotion in the Word.
  3. We do not rightly hunger and thirst for the Sacrament.
  4. We do not love our neighbor as we should.

 

The Lord knows! So you must know what He DID ABOUT IT! {the rest of the sermon will get into this vital detail!}

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday May 18th at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Out of Darkness” (1st Peter 2:9)

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We worship at 9:30 am at Crean Lutheran High School, 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA!

 

Exit Sand Canyon

Head East, towards the hills

Cross Irvine Blvd.

Turn right on Saint's Way

 

Dear Christians,

Tomorrow we are focusing on one of the most EXCITING descriptions of WHO and WHAT you ARE in the Lord Jesus Christ!
God's Word says:
1. You are a chosen race.
2. A royal priesthood.
3. A holy nation.
4. His own possession.
I will of course make this quite personal to you as we get into your identity in the Lord Jesus. It is an invigorating, inspirational, and powerful identity!
A long time ago -- before I was a pastor -- someone told me that the highest office, the most important position was to be a pastor. Through my training and study, however, I realized that that was incorrect. The highest position, the brightest status is what YOU ARE. You the chosen one, you are a royal priest, you are holy, and you are God's jewel...all through Jesus. You can't top this. The pastor is just a fellow priest who has been called to serve what has been given to all the priests. Yes, the Scriptures speak of honoring leaders, etc., but this does not cancel your highest status.
With this new identity, comes a new activity...it is simple and basic, but it is also powerful and miraculous...and it is an activity that belongs to YOU. We will also get into this.
So Jesus has risen!
So what?
Well, for one thing it means that you who have been baptized into Him and who believe in Him have a new identity and a new priority for living...that's what!
Come to church! Invite a friend! Receive the Lord's Supper for forgiveness and renewal; come and receive the Word and be equipped; come and rejoice!
Reminders:
8:15 set up
9:30 worship
11:00 Sunday School and Bible Study
12:00 parish council
12-3 high school youth (we go to the Geislers at 2 pm)
3:00 confirmation
Let us rejoice!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“Out of Darkness”

(1st Peter 2:9)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

We have had the very short, but very powerful letter of 1st Peter in front of us as of late:

 

Two Sundays ago -- March 4th -- we were reminded that now that Christ is risen we see the bigger picture: heaven is our home and in the meantime we are exiles passing through and so we conduct ourselves with a holy fear so that we hold on to faith in our Living Lord instead of going along with a world that wants to tear itself away from the Lord. (1st Peter 1:17)

 

Last Sunday -- March 11th -- we considered how the Resurrected Lord equips us to cope with unjust suffering along the way and the endurance which not only demonstrates that the Living Lord Jesus is with us (you are able “to go on” because Jesus is holding you up!), but that same endurance also acts as a witness to others in the world. (1st Peter 2:19-20)  When you keep serving and forgiving and loving, people start to wonder: “where does such a life come from?” You know the answer!

 

Today -- March 18th -- we receive a fantastic testimony about your true identities now that the Savior has conquered death and about what it is our lives are now all about. 1st Peter 2:9 will be our focus and it is powerful description of the new life we have in the One who is risen!

 

Here is the text:

 

1st Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

 

We need this Word from the Lord. The reason Peter is writing this letter to the scattered Christians throughout the Roman Empire is because they are going through all kinds of struggles. Keep in mind that elsewhere in the Bible Rome is called “Babylon” referring to it being steeped in false religion and phenomenal immorality (cf. Romans 14:8). We are in the same boat today…we are immersed in false teaching and we live in a world that has lost its moral compass. All of these are incredibly dangerous spiritual threats to us and our families. So the Christians back in Peter’s time were “the easy and constant targets of ridicule and persecution.” (Concordia Journal, Jan. 2002, Vol 28, Num 1, 110). And because this situation is the same today, we really need this message from God through First Peter!

One of the examples of the phenomenal confusion – a form of getting you to question your faith -- that is out there is represented by a recent (April 17, 2014) TIME article “In Praise of Darkness” by Barbara Brown Taylor. Interestingly while Ms. Taylor is criticizing many Christian churches for not dealing with the darkness that affects us all, she – at the same time – lumps all Christian churches together. She points out that through the dark times in life we often grow the most; the darkness is an important part of life. That much is true. But she goes on to criticize those Christian traditions who insist on this superficial – what she calls – “solar spirituality” that insists that with true faith everything is great and LIGHT all the time, but once we encounter darkness, the Church doesn’t know what to do with this! She goes so far as to write, “Christianity has never had anything nice to say about darkness.”

 

She actually makes a valid point about some churches today. But we aren’t one of them. Our tradition acknowledges that the fact of the matter is that we are in a battle! And there are many times that the true Christian enters into dark times, times of suffering, times of feeling discouraged, times of spiritual uncertainly, times when God just feels hidden (we Lutherans appreciate the aspect of God called Deus Absconditus or the Hidden God). Furthermore, we fully acknowledge that in these dark times, God is working to bless us! More importantly, however, Ms. Taylor makes a false argument: that because darkness can sometimes be used for good, that it is always good. No it isn’t. Sometimes, it’s really bad. When darkness is spiritual confusion and unbelief, then that darkness can lead people to condemnation and life in eternity without God (this is how the word “darkness” is used in 1st Peter).

 

This is an example of the world generating road blocks against your faith. These are little attacks that you get from sources like books, magazines, television, friends – esp. those who don’t know Christ – and needless to say the greatest source of in-your-face images and words is now before us in smart phones, i-pads and laptops. How much of this helps your faith? How much of this draws you closer to Christ? What words and images are bombarding your eyes, your ears and your mind? Is it dark or is it light?

 

There is old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” But if what you receive is good, then good things flow from you. If you receive darkness, darkness comes out; but if you receive light, light comes out. If you receive Christ, Christ comes out!

 

So God is concerned about our darkness to the extent that when Jesus rose from the dead, He changed believers in the True God in who and what they are.

 

To encourage you and to strengthen you as you go through life, being harassed, being attacked, being tempted to sin, etc., the Lord proclaims the truth of your new identity in Christ at 1st Peter 2:9 (I am here giving abbreviations of the four points):

 

  1. You are chosen.
  2. You are a royal priest.
  3. You are holy.
  4. You are a jewel.

 

And with this phenomenal new identity (verse 9), comes also a new priority in what you DO (also verse 9): “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow May 11th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran of Irvine: “This Is A Gracious Thing” (1st Peter 2:19-25)

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Divine Service is at 9:30 am at Crean Lutheran High School, 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA. From the 405 or 5 head EAST towards the hills on Sand Canyon...cross Irvine Blvd. and then look for the road "Saint's Way" on the right. Turn right and you'll be on the campus of Crean Lutheran High School. We worship in the GYM, but it really feels like Church!!! Really!!!

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow we have a special gift to our mother's! Our children will present an important "thank God for mom" gift! So bring mom to church!
In the message we are going to consider our lives in the face of unjust suffering. This will not be a pep talk or a 12-step program on how to endure, no. Rather, we will delve into 1st Peter chapter 2 and see how endurance is a grace-gift flowing from the Gospel of Christ, keeping us in the One who endured unjust suffering out of His fantastic love and mercy for you and me! "This [Endurance] Is A Gracious Thing!" and what is perhaps most exciting is that going through unjust suffering is not -- contrary to popular opinion -- a sign of the Lord's abandonment, but -- much to the contrary -- a sign of the Lord's abiding presence! No one can stand like those held up by Jesus!
The Sunday School children are doing a special Sunday School painting project, so we ask that they would come to church in old clothes (just in case paint gets on their clothes)!
Today's Catechism Convocation was a blessing and I'm proud of the Saint Paul's contingent that came out. May the Lord continue to bless this ministry that celebrates our confessional witness. Saint Paul members who attended were Linda Seward, Loren Kellogg, Mark Kuntz, Mei Kuntz, Bill Frank, Ali Frank, Ray Hullet, Aubrey Hullet, Pastor Espinosa, Traci Espinosa, Christina Espinosa, David Espinosa, Esbeydi Espinosa, Bryan Espinosa, and Katherine Espinosa.
I am attaching the Power Point that we shared with the youth.
We hope to see you in God's house tomorrow, joyful to receive the Word and Sacrament of Jesus, keeping your sins covered by the blood of Christ and strengthening you to continue to walk in the light of Christ!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“This Is A Gracious Thing” (1st Peter 2:19-25)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is risen! [wait for response: “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”], so why – since Christ is risen – do we Christians continue to suffer in so many unjust ways? Doesn’t it stand to reason that if Christ is risen, victorious over death and the grave, that He would intervene to relieve us [those who trust in Him and who follow Him] of our unjust suffering? Where is the Risen Christ when I need Him in the face of being mistreated? Indeed, isn’t this the reason why so many former Christians are former Christians? And isn’t this the reason why we are tempted to turn away as well?

 

The Word of God teaches us differently -- correcting our sinful skepticism which resides in our sinful nature -- in today’s epistle from 1st Peter 2:19-20: 19This is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

            First of all we should be conscientious about the context of what St. Peter was addressing precisely: Peter was writing to house-slaves who belonged to Roman Empire families. “There were many slaves throughout the empire, and when Christianity was preached to them, many slaves were converted to it.” (Lenski, The Interpretation of 1 and II Epistles of Peter, the three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude, 114) Unfortunately for these house-slaves, they “were being pummeled by their irate masters, the only offense of the [house-slaves] being that they lived Christ-like lives which were used of the Holy Spirit to convict [their masters] of [their] sin.” (Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume II, 65)

So yes, St. Peter was addressing Christian house-slaves in the first century in the Roman Empire, but taken in the context of Scripture, St. Peter is only echoing the words of Jesus spoken to all believers and yet we will be able to come back to St. Peter and realize the richness of his words from God. But again, our Lord spoke similarly as recorded in the Gospels:

Matthew 5:10-12: “10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Jesus also taught as recorded in Luke 6:27ff: “27Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either….35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

And in 1st Peter chapter 2 we learn more about this grace that is given to us. It is easy to go along with the popular idea that God is setting up a transaction: endure bad things without complaining and I’ll give you a reward. This understanding falls short, especially since this section of God’s Word is anchored to the heart of the Gospel! This endurance of the Christian is bound to the rest of what St. Peter records: “21For to this [endurance in the midst of unjust suffering] you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 26For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

The Lord through His Gospel/Wonderful Good News that He has saved us from our sins and our death has called you to live in faith no matter what…and especially when you are caused to suffer…and especially when that cause is unjust; when it is wrong; when you shouldn’t have to! Why would God do this?

Precisely dear Christians because such a life demonstrates NOT that the Risen Jesus is not here, but exactly the opposite: that the Risen Jesus IS HERE. There would be no endurance in the face of unjust suffering, if Jesus Himself were not upholding you keeping you – by His grace – following Him when every atom of your being wants to run and hide in the opposite direction. This is a gracious thing that the Lord empowers us to endure; this is God’s gracious work when we can stand and not only is our faith refined (to trust in God alone), but the Lord then permits an astounding testimony to take place.

Eusebius of Caesarea who wrote in the 4th century A.D. (the 300’s) – 1700 years ago – was a Christian historian who also wrote about the martyrs (Christians who gave their lives for the faith). In Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History he writes about “The holy martyrs….endured tortures, beyond all description; Satan striving with all his power, that some blasphemy might be uttered by them. Most violently did the collective madness of the mob, the governor and the soldiers rage….Against [a Christian woman named] Blandina, also, in whom Christ made manifest, that the things that appear mean and deformed and contemptible among men, are esteemed of great glory with God, on account of love to him, which is really and powerfully displayed, and glories not in mere appearance….Blandina was filled with such power, that her ingenious tormentors who relieved and succeeded each other from morning till night, confessed that they were overcome, and had nothing more that they could inflict upon her. Only amazed that she still continued to breathe after her whole body was torn asunder and pierced, they gave their testimony that one single kind of the torture inflicted was of itself sufficient to destroy life, without resorting to so many and such excruciating sufferings as these. But this blessed saint, as a noble wrestler, in the midst of her confession itself renewed her strength, and to repeat, ‘I am a Christian, no wickedness is carried on by us,’ was to her rest, refreshment and relief from pain.” (Cruse, tr., Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Hendrickson, 1998, 150)

In Jesus' Love,
Rev. Alfonso O. Espinosa, Ph.D.

Tomorrow Sunday May 4th at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Time of Your Exile” (1st Peter 1:17-25)

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We worship at Crean Lutheran High School in the GYM at 9:30 am at 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA close to the intersection of Irvine Blvd. and Sand Canyon...look for "Saints Way" off of Sand Canyon before you hit Portola!

 

Dear Christians,

When we hear things like our time in "exile," it sounds so austere, weird, and/or religious...hard to relate to at first glance. But God is teaching us that our lives in Christ do not mean that we simply say, "I believe in Jesus" and then go on autopilot through our lives. Being in Christ means that we live differently and we confess a new relationship not only with God but with the world.
We are in temporary residency...we are just passing through. If we hold to anything in this life as if it is our source of identity, peace and happiness, then we are making a big mistake. This is not to say that we can't enjoy the good gifts in this life. Of course we're supposed to, but we view the things in this world differently..they are passing and there is only ONE thing that lasts: our being in Christ. In our Lord and in Him alone we have lasting peace and lasting joy. So we fear God -- in the right way -- and fear nothing else.
Come to Church and grow in your walk with the LIVING and Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ!
Also, come and receive the Holy Sacrament and receive the real body and blood of Christ for the absolute assurance of the forgiveness of sins!
We will of course also offer Bible Study and Sunday School tomorrow at 11:00 am. There is confirmation for the youth at 3:00 pm.
Divine Service is at 9:30 at Crean Lutheran High School, 12500 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA.
ALSO: You are invited to the FREE Catechism Convocation for the People NEXT Saturday, May 10th at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Escondido at 1087 W. Country Club Lane, Escondido from 9 am to 3:30 pm. Our special keynote speaker is Dr. Rod Rosenbladt who will present on sharing the Gospel while in your everyday vocations in a simple and non-threatening way. There will be two others speakers who will cover our relationship with the Church and with the Government. These are timely and important topics.
I will have the privilege along with Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz to serve all young confirmands and high school students...we are offering two break-out sessions to the YOUTH.
Again, it is ALL FREE! Please come! I would love to see you there.
Finally, today is graduation for Concordia University Irvine. We have several members involved in the commencement, both faculty and students. Please keep them in prayer on this special day. We have much to be thankful for!
 
See you tomorrow in God's house!
 
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“The Time of Your Exile”

(1 Peter 1:17-25)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word of the Lord from 1 Peter 1:17:

 

17And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,”

 

This verse is about praying as a Christian and living as a Christian; as one who puts themselves into the picture of today’s worship bulletin: you go through life walking with the Risen – victorious over sin, death, and the devil – Living Lord Jesus Christ! The picture itself depicts the two disciples and Jesus on the road to Emmaus, but it is a reminder of the life we are called to live (remember in verse 15 of 1st Peter 1 -- just before today’s epistle -- it is God who calls you, so that in response you may call on Him as verse 17 says). God calls you to a living faith in the Living Lord and He does so through His Word…remember that those Emmaus disciples said that their hearts burned within them as Christ spoke to them (Luke 24:32)…in the same way we know we are truly walking with Jesus today when He continues to speak to us every, single day through His Word causing our hearts to burn with a living faith. But if you take away the Word, there is no faith; and if there is no faith, then we are not walking with Jesus, but we’re walking alone with all of the worthless things (the “futile ways” and “perishable things” that St Peter refers to in verse 18). There are only two ways to live: on the road that leads to eternal life with the Living Lord; or on the road that leads to eternal death without the Living Lord. These are the only two options.

 

Don’t ignore Him Christian, because He is the only life…every other form of so-called “life” will turn to dust and lead to death! But in this section of 1st Peter everything hinges on the way you live and how you conduct yourself. Let me say it again because what I just said sounds blasphemous in relationship to being saved by grace alone, but it is biblical and as I will demonstrate completely consistent with God’s grace alone as our salvation: “everything hinges on the way you live and how you conduct yourself.” 1st Peter 1:17 has the main verb in a very long sentence that extends from verse 17 through 21: the verb anastraphete which is translated as “behave, conduct oneself, live.”

 

            The Word of the Lord here at 1st Peter 1 is teaching on HOW…how are we to behave, conduct ourselves, and live? That’s the question and it teaches you point blank how to live as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ; as a true child of the Living God. Everything is known in proper context.

First in regard to your prayer life which is of course an extension of your faith life, ask yourself “how do I pray?” Answer: you pray to God and present yourself before the Lord every single day knowing that “God judges impartially according [to your deeds].” This truth must be put into the framework of Law and Gospel. You come before the Father who is an impartial Judge who deals with you ONLY on the basis of Law and Gospel. There is no other criterion. And because there is an objective universal criterion, God is truly impartial and treats all people the same. The way God judged St. Peter is the way He judges you; the way that God judged Moses is the way that He judges your pastors; the way that God judged the martyrs is the way that He judges your children; the way that God judged St. Mary is the same way that God judges your enemies. He is 100%, totally and completely impartial:

 

Romans 2:11:  “For God shows no partiality.”

 

Ephesians 6:9: “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”

 

Colossians 3:25: “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

 

Acts 10:34: “So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,’”

 

And here is the verdict when God judges according to His Law: we are completely and utterly condemned “because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” This past week the media has had a heyday indicting and elaborating upon the sin of Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling for his racist remarks and his reprehensible treatment in the past in regards to housing discrimination towards minorities. But here’s the thing: we bask in self-righteousness. We love to accuse someone else of their wrong-doing; we delight to gossip about the bad things that other people do; and this makes every man a judge; it makes every man prove that in accord with the sinful nature we want to be God. It is a sad commentary on our culture, because in God’s courtroom being banned from the NBA for life and being fined 2.5 million dollars is nothing, but being banned from heaven and eternal life is everything! When God judges impartially and only our bare sin is laid before Him, then Donald Sterling has nothing on us, because we are all sinners deserving condemnation.

 

But the text clearly says that He judges each man’s deeds. How on earth does the Gospel ever come into play here? Luther: “There is no faith where there are no good works. Therefore link faith and good works together in such a way that both make up the sum total of the Christian life. As you live, so you will fare. God will judge you according to this…Works are evidence of our belief or unbelief…They show whether you have believed or have not believed…The works are fruits and signs of faith and that God judges people according to these fruits, which certainly have to follow, in order that one may see publicly where belief or unbelief is in the heart.” (Buls, Exegetical Notes: Epistle Texts, Series A, Festival Season Sundays, 119).

In Christ,
 
Pastor Espinosa, Ph.D.