Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday June 28th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Grace Upon Grace Upon Grace” (2nd Corinthians 8:1-9)

27Jun/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study and Sunday School will be cancelled tomorrow due to our special fellowship event: we are saying farewell and Godspeed to our organist/choir-director for these past 4 years, Karissa Lystrup, who has been a phenomenal blessing to us at Saint Paul's! She will be missed! 

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 Christians,

The season of Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us, the people of God. The life that He creates in us is a life that knows the grace of God in super-abundance!
"Grace" = God's FREE gift of love and mercy!
Some have suggested an acronym to better understand the meaning of "grace":
God's
Riches
At
Christ's
Expense
In 2nd Corinthians 8:1-9, however, the grace of God is not ONLY described as coming from God to us, but ALSO as coming from His people -- all of you -- towards other people! This section of God's Word is packed with grace!
Come and hear about this transforming work of God in our lives, esp. as it pertains to the outpouring of help to those in need through the people of God...all of YOU!
We will also receive the body and blood of our Savior to keep us in God's gift of new and eternal life!
ALSO: we will have many additional celebrations!
Tomorrow we will celebrate a baptism (for Braydon Kaupke) and a confirmation (for Karissa Lystrup).
In addition, we will conduct a service of Farewell and Godspeed for our dear Karissa! Afterwards, we will enjoy fellowship as God's family as we thank Karissa for her wonderful service these past 4 years and wish her well as she prepares to start serving full-time at St. John's Lutheran Church in Bakersfield, CA.
Hope to see you God's house tomorrow morning!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

Not only was St. Paul the tireless apostles to the Gentiles, but he was also amazing in another ministry: the collection of money for the poor, especially the poor in the sacred city of Jerusalem, for the converted Jews who were especially ostracized and persecuted. So what does St. Paul do? He encouraged the Christians in Corinth to give to the church in Jerusalem and he does so by informing them about the example of the Christians in Macedonia, the region that included the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. But their testimony is absolutely staggering and most likely humbling for every one of us here this morning: the churches in Macedonia were not wealthy. They were in fact very poor.

 

St. Paul says that the Christians in Macedonia went through “the most severe trial.” (verse 2) We may conjecture that “the most severe trial” was produced by virtue of two main things: 1) The Romans in the process of making it one of their provinces in 146 B.C. discovered gold and silver and had no loss of conscience in taking it from the natives, essentially looting their once great wealth; and 2) Civil wars which decided who would be emperor were fought there and Macedonia had been devastated.

 

And yet, the Word of God goes on to record something absolutely astounding about these poor and ravaged Macedonians: though they were very poor, St. Paul says this at verse 2:

 

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”

 

This is such an incredible statement if for no other reason than because it appears nonsensical. How on earth does rich generosity come out of extreme poverty? That sounds like getting water out of a dry well.

Here ends the excerpt. Please come tomorrow and hear the full sermon. God's grace works beyond our limitations; God's grace connects us to Jesus and His is an endless supply!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday June 21st at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Getting Back to the ONE Who is in Control!” (Mark 4:35-41)

20Jun/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

In the midst of terrible storms in life, sometimes it seems like the Lord is sleeping. In our text for tomorrow, the disciples were very alarmed and afraid having felt compelled to ask the Lord, "[Lord] don't you care?!" (Mark 4:38)
What do we do when we feel like the Lord has stepped out at the precise time that we need Him? Tomorrow's sermon addresses this important feeling and perception that sometimes we just conveniently avoid ever talking about.
The Gospel will come out even in the midst of this difficult perception!
Tomorrow we will also remember Father's Day through both the Children's Message and through the Prayers of the Church.
Most importantly, we will once again receive the body and blood of our Lord for the forgiveness of sins.
Finally, I want to share what our synodical president Matthew Harrison has written regarding the terrible tragedy of this past week. Please read it:
President Harrison offers words of comfort,
hope regarding South Carolina shootings
 
Another brutal and senseless killing spree by a crazed gunman, motivated by racial hatred, sends our thoughts swirling between despair and numbness. Why were these nine Christians martyred as they were taking in the life-giving Word of God in Christian Bible study? We know and are too often reminded that there is horrid evil in this world, and an “evil one” who bedevils the minds of such killers. Jesus said it would be so (John 17:15).As the world devolves around us from insanity to insanity, I’m reminded of the statement of John Adams that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Nowhere is that more true than in the case of the Second Amendment. As both religion and morality are on steep decline among us, we can only expect more of this insanity by individuals unhinged from the safety of families and a society normed by natural law and influenced by the genuine teaching of the Bible. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

No truth of the New Testament is so loudly stated by Jesus than that the Triune God is the creator of all people (Matt. 19:4); that God loves all (John 3:16); that all are equally indebted to God and valuable to Him (2 Cor. 5:14–15; John 8:12). Racism is a fundamental denial of the Word of God (cf. Acts 2:5ff.; Matt. 15:21ff.) and natural law. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” (Declaration of Independence). The denial of human rights, maltreatment of persons due to race, including the forbidding of the right for a man and a woman to marry without regard to race, is contrary to natural and divinely revealed law (Holy Scripture). It also contradicts the universality of the truth of the Gospel of Christ, who died for all (Romans 3:9–10, 19; 2 Cor. 5:19).

We mourn the loss of these dear Christians and pray for their loved ones. May they be consoled by “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting,” and the picture of heaven painted by St. John in Revelation of “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9).

We reject racism and racially motivated hatred in all its forms. We repent where we have fallen short, and we pray for strength to stand for what is good and right and true. We pray for the perpetrator and his family, even as we demand the swift execution of justice.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison
President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

In Your Service and To Christ's Glory,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday June 14th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Lord Makes the Dry Flourish” (Ezekiel 17:22-24)

13Jun/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

What does a sprig, Zedekiah, the U.S. Supreme Court, Hermann Sasse, Miley Cyrus, and Caitlyn Jenner all have in common?
Answer: These are all in tomorrow's sermon!
Come and receive the saving Word of Jesus!
Also Jesus said, "Do this" regarding His Holy Supper. Guess what else you'll receive if you come? Yes indeed, Holy Communion as God says, "for the forgiveness of sins."
Dr. Mueller will be teaching the adult Bible Study and I will be teaching the high school study.
Hope to see you in God's house!
Here is a portion of the sermon:

The Lord Makes the Dry Flourish

Ezekiel 17:22-24

Pastor Espinosa

 

Text: 22Thus says the Lord God: ‘I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the top-most of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.”

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. You don’t hear the word “sprig” every day, but this is how our Old Testament reading from Ezekiel begins. The Lord takes a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar. The sprig is the topmost crown of a special shoot or tender branch of a tree (Block, Daniel I., The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 1-24, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997: 550) – full of life – and because it is at the very top it represents the head and in this case it represents the coming Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Here is a picture of a sprig and imagine it in your mind’s eye coming out on the very top of a cedar tree:

 

 

Other Old Testament prophets in addition to Ezekiel used this kind of imagery for the coming Lord. Isaiah described a “shoot” or “branch” in Isaiah 11:1. Jeremiah refers to a “sprout” in Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15. And Zechariah does the same at Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12.

 

So what is this picture language all about? It’s fantastically relevant and significant.  This is because of what God’s people – the nation of Israel – had become and had been reduced too. No longer were they strong as God’s nation, but were now in captivity. They were not as a green, living, strong, and healthy branch, but they were defeated and dry like this:

 

 

 

This picture is a picture of dry and dead cedars. How did this happen? The dryness came over Israel because she was unfaithful to the Lord. While the imagery in Ezekiel chapter 17 is intriguing and informative, it is the imagery in Ezekiel chapter 16 that is really disturbing. There in chapter 16 Israel is a faithless bride. Her shame is that she became a prostitute. It is a shameful and defeating picture of what happened to the people of God.

 

God’s people had a king named Zedekiah who tried to be independent of Babylon when the Lord permitted Babylon to be in power. Zedekiah was ambitious and was not humble. His ambition was doomed to fail and it did.  One commentator explains: “The barefaced way in which Zedekiah broke his oath...is a clear example of how men refuse to conform to God’s decisions, and of how, while breaking laws sanctified by God himself, they strive by false and faithless methods of their own...”. (Eichrodt, Walther, The Old Testament Library: Ezekiel, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1970: 230)

We are like Zedekiah and want to be our own kings, call our own shots and depart from the ways of the Lord. In our sin we want to be our own authority while rejecting God’s authority. In our sin, we are the “barefaced” ones who don’t mind not conforming to the Creator’s decisions and will. Our pride and ambition also lead us to a state of dryness, because sinners apart from the Author of Life cannot water themselves.

 

But Ezekiel went on to prophesy in verse 24: “And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” And all of this played out in history: King Zedekiah was the high tree made low, and the lowly king Jehoiachin who was languishing in captivity in Babylon would be made high. His line would live! His line would be restored to the throne of Israel and there would be a Son who would be elevated to the status of King of Kings and Lord of Lords even the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

And this work benefits “every bird” (23) and “all the trees”...that is, all the world, all the world full of sinners. And this Savior planted to save us from our sin will be the shelter for all people! All who take refuge in this One find shelter under this perfect cedar of life. “The nations will either bow in sincere faith or break in humiliation (cf Php 2:10-11)...Christ and the sinner changing places...so that none may boast but confess that it was all pure grace (cf Lk 1:46-55; 1 Co 1-2).” (The Lutheran Study Bible, 1337)

It must be out of pure grace, because notice who does all the work: when we are dry, helpless, and without strength, hear the grace: The Lord says, “I myself will take the sprig...and will set it out,” (22); “I myself will plant it,” (22); “I will bring low the high tree,” (24); “[I will] make high the low tree,” (24); “[I will] dry up the green tree,” (24); “[I will] make the dry tree flourish,” (24); and finally the words – so clear, so powerful – “I will do it.” (24) This is grace, the work of God and why you are saved. In this saving work for you God has guaranteed you that you will live in the eternal Zion that is on the highest mountain; that is the city of God is your eternal city by grace through faith in Jesus!

 

How important is this Old Testament message to us today? Can we properly value it? It is invaluable! “What might seem unlikely to happen on the human plane was guaranteed by God’s pledge. In fact, the humiliating destruction...in fulfillment of his word, brought its own confirmation of his providential power to restore and glorify.” (Leslie Allen, Word Biblical Commentary: Ezekiel 1-19, Volume 28, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994: 261)

 

And this is the real lesson: it is realizing through faith what God does when things appear hopeless and unlikely. But the Lord says in our epistle through St. Paul describing all of you the people of God: “[you] walk by faith, not by sight.” (2nd Corinthians 5:7) And from our Gospel from St. Mark chapter 4: “It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth.” (v 31) It seems so small, so low, so unlikely to produce anything. And yet: “when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (v 32)

 

But when we start off seeing dry branches (even dead branches) like in Ezekiel; when we see only the body that dies/the tent that is destroyed like from our epistle; or when we see meager and tiny resources like in the case of the unimpressive mustard seed, how can we hope? What is there to realistically expect?

 

This is what confronts us right? How often does this happen? Listen to the chorus of despairing Christians. Listen to how far gone our country is! And in a way this is good, because the Lord does not call you to trust in man or a country, or any human resource...but to trust only in Him, but on the other hand, how we are trained on what we see. Like Israel when all they saw was a dead cedar and dead branches. It is easy to feel distress.

 

The dryness can quite simply seem overwhelming at times. What will happen to us in our country? Recently, one of the most successful young entertainers in our country, Miley Cyrus was interviewed about her views on sexuality. She was emphatic that she relates to neither boy nor girl. Her position was a bold denial of the idea of gender altogether. Think about it. Could there be a greater rejection of God’s creation? She spoke of the way she was raised by “conservative” parents; parents who did not want her to “go to hell,” but – however – at the end of the day loved her more than “any god.” In her words was her own rejection of any god, (and esp. by implication, the true God). And millions purchase her music and admire her. What has happened to our culture?

 

Our LC-MS president Matthew Harrison recently sent out a letter to the pastors of our church. He asked us to pray and to begin to prepare for what might come out of the Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage in America. In that letter he quoted Hermann Sasse from his work  Union and Confession, 1936:

 

The lie is the death of man, his temporal and his eternal death. The lie kills nations. The most powerful nations of the world have been laid waste because of their lies. History knows of no more unsettling sight than the judgment rendered upon the people of an advanced culture who have rejected the truth and are swallowed upon in a sea of lies. Where this happens, as in the case of declining pagan antiquity, religion and law, poetry and philosophy, life in marriage and family, in the state and society – in short, one sphere of life after another falls sacrifice to the power and curse of the lie. Where man can no longer bear the truth, he cannot live without the lie. Where man denies that he and others are dying, the terrible dissolution [of his culture] is held up as a glorious ascent, and decline is viewed as an advance, the likes of which has never been experienced.

 

            It is like Zedekiah who could not accept God’s established structure. Such rebellion leads to destruction. The great cedar turns dry. The nation turns to death as its god. The news is not good.

Come hear the Gospel!

In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday June 7th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “All Sins Forgiven: This Is the Gospel” (Mark 3:20-35)

6Jun/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

We are thoroughly into the season of Pentecost now. Tomorrow's Gospel from Mark 3:20-35 teaches us about the necessary ministry of the Holy Spirit to bring the saving Gospel to us. Without Him, there is no saving faith. When the Gospel comes the Holy Spirit makes the words of Christ, "all sins will be forgiven the children of men" (v 28) become words that give us life, that sooth the soul, that bring peace to our consciences attacked by accusation from sin and the evil one. We need this Gospel. We need it so much that this is why Jesus extends one of the most alarming warnings in all of Scripture. Tomorrow you will learn about this warning and learn about how God protects you.
Also, come and receive the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Come and receive His true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Remember the words of our Lord Christians: "Do this in remembrance of me." He commands us to "do this" and then extends a gracious promise to you who receive the gift: the forgiveness of sins.
The skeptic says, "why do we need constant forgiveness?" A 16-year old confirmand in our congregation answered this question this past week when I asked her. The answer: "Because we always sin!" This is the answer. We are forgiven by virtue of the complete work of Christ and we remain in forgiveness through the ongoing work of Christ. God knows what He is doing. We should trust Him and we should come as He has commanded. We should come for His great promise.
Pastor Mueller and I rejoice to serve you dear Christians.
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

All Sins Forgiven: This Is the Gospel

Mark 3:20-35

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. When the power of the Gospel shines brightly, people standing on the outside looking in, think something must be wrong. There our Lord was: proclaiming the Gospel, teaching the crowds. His family figured that something was amiss. Our Gospel text at Mark 3:21 says that Jesus’ family “went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’” John 7:5 says curtly, “For not even his brothers believed in him.” But if you listened to His message, it sounded scandalous. The Gospel preached in its truth and purity doesn’t fit human reason:

 

  1. How can we be forgiven without some sort of contribution?
  2. How can we be forgiven when our sin is so horrendously terrible?

 

The first objection to the Gospel insists that the Gospel

must succumb to the rule of life that we learn from a very young age: “nothing is free.” We swear on this principle of every-day experience. If we are to receive a promotion at work, we must work harder; if we are to receive better grades at school, we must work harder; if we are to nurture our intimacy in marriage, we must work harder; if we are to impress that boy or girl at school, we must work harder; if we are to improve athletically or artistically (as we pursue our various passions), we must work harder; if we would develop our prayer lives, we must pray more often; if we are going to trim down and lose some weight, we must work harder. The axiomatic principle has to qualify the Gospel right?! This is our deep-seated suspicion and even though we hear it preached to the contrary -- though there are many so-called “Christian churches” that do not -- we often sub-consciously qualify the Gospel:

 

  1. I suspect that the forgiveness of sins means the Gospel + my efforts to be better father, mother, or child.
  2. I suspect that the forgiveness of sins means the Gospel + my ability to love and forgive.
  3. I suspect that the forgiveness of sins means the Gospel + improved attitude toward the Word of God, worship and a life of prayer.
  4. I suspect that the forgiveness of sins means the Gospel + my ability to overcome my addiction.
  5. I suspect that the forgiveness of sins means the Gospel + the overcoming of my fears and doubts.

 

Some way, somehow – we insist that though we say Christ’s forgiveness to us is a free gift – we live as though this just can’t be right. It is as one gentleman once said to me after I shared the Gospel with him: “It sounds too good to be true.”

 

How does this situation strike you? Are you tempted to think that this is “just the way it is”? Did you know Christian that this way of thinking is not an arbitrary thing? This is not just the way “it happens to be.” You know what propaganda is about; you’ve heard of the concept of “brain-washing,” and you have certainly heard about the power of subliminal messages. The realm of psychology and the way in which the media employs strategies for selling represent compelling reasons as to why people spend their money. I had jobs as a salesman when I was 18 years old. I sold Kirby Vacuum Cleaners and then I sold various electronics at Radio Shack. We had training in sales (and I am not implying that all companies or all sales personnel do what we did or what I did). We were trained to lead people to imagine their lives enhanced by what we were selling. Get the customer to envision themselves benefiting from the product. The approach was manipulative. Because of the way I trained, if I see a sales representative make his or her way to me today, I am tempted to cast up a cross to block them...I know it’s a terrible attitude, but all of this conjures up memories of my training back in the day.

 

Just for the record, I have reminded myself that if I am given time with a sales representative that it is in fact an opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ. I suppose I’ve had time to reconsider my position about lifting up a cross and getting out the garlic.

 

But the idea that the Gospel is too good to be true is not happenstance...it is a strategic propaganda. It is the work of sin, the world, and the devil.

 

People were seeing and hearing the ministry of our Savior and “from Matthew 12:23 we learn that the people began to ask whether, after all, this was not ‘the Son of David,’ namely the Messiah. Their unbelief was breaking before his exhibition of Jesus’ power.” (Lenski, Gospel of Mark, 147)

 

The scribes who were against the Lord tried to capitalize on their doubt. They put forth their negative propaganda by suggesting that Jesus was so far from being the Messiah that he was in league with the devil himself. (Lenski, 147)

 

This is an extraordinary accusation and a very serious one to say the least. It captivates the attention of our Lord and leads our Savior to state one of the most serious warnings in the entire Word of God. It is a terrifying warning in and of itself, but it is one which we can live with – and in peace – if we know the Gospel!

 

But before I get to that, we must value how God’s Word pulls no punches about the reality of the devil and the existence of his demons. The Word of God teaches that the devil is “the ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31), so needless to say he is a real threat. As our Gospel text is teaching us, he detracts from Christ -- by trying to cloud how people know WHO our Lord is and by trying to confuse people on knowing WHAT our Lord did to save us – He is the liar and denier of the things of salvation. He wants you to go to hell. He fights so that you would lose your faith. He is real and his threats are real. However – and at the same time – his authority is only what the Lord permits (cf Jb 1:12; Jn 16:11; 1 Pt 3:18-19). Yes, the devil is trying to manipulate, put forth his propaganda, and his subliminal and not so subliminal messages to crush your faith, but in our Gospel from Mark 3 this morning we learn about our protection. Thank God!

 

Satan goes on and on in conjunction with your sinful nature and the skepticism of the world: “your forgiveness could not possibly be for free...there must be many ‘plus signs’ that you must add to your salvation...the Gospel “plus” you’re doing this; the Gospel “plus” your ability to stop doing that, etc. He lies! He deceives! He is full of falsity, so that we finally learn the truth: “the best things in life really are free,” and none of them better than the Gospel. There are no + signs in the Gospel formula. All of your sins are forgiven through Christ alone! Period! Done! Finished! Complete! There is nothing to add! You’re forgiven!

 

So Jesus confronted those scribes! Satan cannot cast out Satan. To call Jesus Satan who is healing people from Satan is the height of bad thinking. It is totally illogical. It doesn’t work. It can’t be true. Anyone – and you don’t have to be a Bible scholar – can see that such a claim is ludicrous; ridiculous! Much to the contrary, Jesus has come to first to bind the strong man Satan and then having bound him, plunder his house. What does this mean? It means that when Jesus was confronted by the devil in the wilderness, he beat him. He bound him by superior power and might so that what Jesus does now is plunder the devil. That is, he delivers people from the devil’s realm (from darkness) into the realm of God, light, forgiveness and salvation.

 

So the Word of God teaches:

 

Colossians 1:13-14: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 

Jesus has fulfilled the prophets prediction that the tyrant was going down. The Lord is the “I” in this verse from Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 49:25: “For thus says the Lord: ‘Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.’”

Come to receive the rest of this sermon tomorrow morning!
I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday, May 31st at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Holy Trinity Sunday!

30May/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 11:00 am. Please note: tomorrow, May 31st, there will be a voter's assembly meeting in place of our Bible Study and Sunday School.

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 Christians,

The Holy Trinity is not doctrine for the sake of doctrine. It encapsulates the way that the Lord has revealed Himself to us. And this is in no way random, because inherent in this revelation is what makes sense of life itself: we were designed for relationship; we were designed to love.
The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father. In love, the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit so that we would know the love of God.
To know God the Holy Trinity is to know love. This is why 1st John 4:8 & 16 both say, "God is love." We know we were not created nor designed to be alone. We were created out of love to know love and to share His love.
Let us gather tomorrow to celebrate The Holy Trinity! Let us gather tomorrow as the Father draws you to Christ (John 6:44), as the Son gives you His body and blood (1 Cor. 11), and as the Holy Spirit leads you to confess Jesus (1 Cor. 12:3b).
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa
p.s. Members, please attend the important voter's assembly meeting after divine service. We don't have very many of these each year, but when we do we cover important information and conduct important decisions. Please come to support your church!

Tomorrow Sunday May 24th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: The Day of Pentecost

23May/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

The red color of Pentecost represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit given to Christ's Church and the tongues of fire which rested upon those first disciples gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 2). This gift of the Holy Spirit is given to all Christians who are baptized into Jesus. The gift is yours.
In our Gospel tomorrow from John 15:26 we hear that the Holy Spirit is "the Helper" and "the Spirit of truth." Furthermore, we learn about His mission and work: "he will bear witness about me."
There is a lot packed in this verse, and it is so important to our Christian lives. We have received forgiveness, salvation, and new life, but remaining and growing in these are vital concerns. How will we remain in this faith? How will we grow in it? We need the Holy Spirit. Without Him, we are lost.
He is the only way Christ is kept before our eyes of faith. Thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit!
Let us gather to be fed with the Word and also the Holy Sacrament. Let us gather to be blessed!
A note about one of our members: Dr. Eleanor Pettus has moved to Atlanta, GA to begin a new position. We were greatly blessed to be in fellowship with Eleanor. She was and is an example of Christ's salt and light. She is a woman of faith who has always conducted herself as a holy one of Christ, bold and deliberate about walking with God in all purity of conduct and life. She served our congregation on the altar guild and one year worked hard for us to enjoy what turned out to be an outstanding children's Christmas program. Of course, she was regular in Divine Service and lived out the ministry of mutual encouragement. We will miss her and we pray that the Lord will richly bless her next stage of service in the Kingdom!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“He Will Testify About Me”

(John 15:26)

Pastor Espinosa

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. So what exactly is “Pentecost”? This is not an incidental thing. For our lives of faith and for truly knowing God, it is a big, big deal! We need to know about Pentecost and the great gift that was given!

“Pentecost means ‘fiftieth day’ and refers to the Hebrew...Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), [and the] day of First Fruits (Numbers 28:26)....” [Lueker, ed., Concordia Bible Dictionary, 108] “It was named Pentecost because it fell on the fiftieth day after the offering of the barley sheaf [a bundle of cut stalks of grain presented] during the Passover celebration. [That first offering of Passover led to the Pentecost] offering of firstfruits [50 days later].” [Tenney, ed., The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopdia of the Bible, vol 4, 692]. First fruits are signs that what was originally presented has led to great blessing! If you have a good planting, then you will have a good harvest!

In very simple terms: Passover brought forth God’s richest blessings (the necessary grain) and 50 days later, Pentecost was the proof that these richest blessings led to an ongoing blessing or harvest (symbolized for example by loaves of bread brought forward during Pentecost). First the grain, then the bread...there was a pouring out of more blessings from the first blessing.

This is beautiful imagery: just as you must first have grain to make bread, you must first have a Savior to know salvation. Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God. He was the great offering – giving His very body and blood – to save us from sin and death. And 50 days later there is a great harvest! Just as grain leads to bread to eat; Jesus’ death and resurrection lead to a real life to live. But for that life to happen, a harvest must occur; a pouring out of the blessings that follow the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And sure enough! 50 days after His death and resurrection, Jesus poured out His first-fruits gift; His resultant real-life blessing for you and for me: Pentecost shows the result of what Jesus “planted” when He won for us the forgiveness of sins through the great harvest of the Holy Spirit. What has come from Jesus’ great saving work? The blessing of the Holy Spirit. He is the grain turned to bread. He is the One who fills us so that we may know Jesus, the Bread of Life.

There is no Christian life, no faith, no peace, no salvation, and nothing good apart from the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to be alive in our spirit like our bodies need air to breath. Without the Holy Spirit, we are spiritually dead, but with the Holy Spirit, we live...Christ’s harvest of eternal life is within us. That’s how important the Holy Spirit is.

With the concept of harvest comes a very basic and vital realization: we get to live. Harvest means life is given. Without a harvest, we starve. Without a harvest, we die. With a harvest, we live. The Holy Spirit is our Christian harvest. With Him, we live. With Him, we do not die.

But we continue to learn about our Christian lives and the Holy Spirit through the Old Testament. Never let anyone ever tell you that the Old Testament isn’t important. In so many ways, we just can’t understand the New Testament without it. The Old Testament is the foundation of the Gospel itself.

In all of these blessings from God at Passover and Pentecost, the Lord led His people to be in worship. They were active in the worship; they were active in the receiving (if nothing else). They were offering themselves to God, even as God was coming to them to bless them. They were gathered to receive the blessing; they were gathered to receive the harvest. Nothing has changed.

This is why we worship. This is why we come to Church: to receive the blessing of Jesus...and to know the harvest of the Holy Spirit. Jesus who has won your salvation gives you His first-fruit gifts: in Holy Baptism you receive the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit feeds and nourishes your faith as you hear the sermon; and the Holy Spirit leads you to receive the body and blood of Christ in a good and proper way as you come forward for Holy Communion. The Holy Spirit is the harvest of God who “calls, gathers, and enlightens” the Christian Church on earth. Again, we can’t have faith without Him!

But our offerings of worship don’t just take place here. They continue as we go out into the world and live in it 24/7...and guess who is guiding and sustaining you Christian? The Holy Spirit! And as He does, you are experiencing what it means to have a new life, but this is where as your pastor I am especially eager to describe the new life harvest the Holy Spirit is giving to you.

What is this new life like? Some would have you believe that if you have this new life, this harvest life of the Holy Spirit that you become some sort of super Christian; full of astounding and spectacular spiritual gifts; and living in such a way as to avoid the common struggles of the rest of humanity...perhaps having better health, a better attitude, and knowing all kinds of extraordinary benefits. This is how the world sees the harvest of true spirituality. And our flesh sees it this way as well. If you were really filled with the first-fruit harvest of the Holy Spirit, then you would be a much better Christian. You wouldn’t struggle so much with doubts, fears and temptations. Life would be easier. This is, however, not the true faith, but a form of triumphalism, utopian imagination, our “theology of glory” image of the Christian faith. When we convince ourselves of these images, then we don’t attain this life, we are tempted not to believe at all. These are gross misunderstandings of what it is like to know the harvest ministry of the Holy Spirit.

So what is this harvest ministry? It is put forth very simply in the first verse of our Gospel in John 15:26: “[Jesus said:] When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”

[come to worship tomorrow and hear the rest of this sermon!]
I hope to see you tomorrow morning in God's house.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday May 17th 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Ascended…and Closer Than Ever Before” (Luke 24:44-53)

16May/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

This past Thursday, May 14th, was the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, the 40th day after the Lord's resurrection from the grave. Tomorrow, Sunday, May 17th, we will observe this feast and celebrate it.
It might seem like this is a formality: the Christian Church is supposed to mark the special days of Jesus. This is a very religious thing to do, etc (though I'm not sure how this makes a difference in my life today)!
This thought-line misses the significance. The ascension of our Lord assures you of God's presence in your life. He is not far away even though reason wants to say, "Well if Jesus was taken up into heaven, he's far away." No. The result of the ascension is the direct opposite of this idea. Christ entering into heaven in glory means that He lives for us with no restraints. He has entered the position of glorious reign while He remains more than interested in helping you, in saving you, and in guiding you. The ascension means that we have assurance that God -- in Christ -- really is with us!
*** Tomorrow is also a day of a special offering. We will do something that we do not do very often: after the regular offering, there will be a secondary special offering to raise funds for military BibleSticks (with the digitized New Testament) for our U.S. troops. For every $100.00 we raise, we will sponsor four (4) troops. A squadron represents 12 troops; a platoon has 40 troops. Let us ask the Lord to lead us to see how we might give God's Word to the men and women who defend our nation.
*** Please keep in prayer: today, Saturday, May 16th, is the funeral of Ray Hulett's brother Ryan. Please keep Ray's family in prayer and pray that the Gospel would be powerfully proclaimed.
Also please keep Chris Panichi's mother, Janet Panichi, in prayer. She had surgery for an aneurysm this past Tuesday. She is still recovering in ICU.
In addition, please keep Don Cittel in prayer as he has now been in hospice for about two weeks.
*** We all carry many burdens and tomorrow the Lord will give us His body and blood. He will give us the greatest resource in the world by doing so. Of course, I understand why so many have no thirst or urgency for this gift. To them, it is only bread and wine. It is nothing but a remembrance and to remember is something one can do anytime. But to others who know the truth: Jesus keeps His word. He says it is His body; it is His blood. These pour out continually our life-line; they give forgiveness; and this relieves the soul of the terrible loads we bear. Come to the feast; come and receive your Savior in what gives healing and strength. I rejoice to offer it to you!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

Ascended...and Closer Than Ever Before

(Luke 24:44-53)

Pastor Espinosa

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Ascended Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen! Alleluia! Christ is ascended! He is ascended indeed! Alleluia! Yes, it is good and right to say “alleluia” on this great feast of the Ascension which we observe today (though it officially landed on the 40th day of Easter, this past Thursday). And even though this day of the Ascension of Christ is so important in the Word of God and in the life of the Holy Church, it is a day that many are confused about. What is this ascension all about?

 

Well, what it is clearly not about is any inference or idea that the Lord Jesus is now further away from us; that He was taken far, far away to observe us from His heavenly throne that is totally detached from us His people. No way! Much to the contrary, the ascension of our Lord – when He ascended on high in glory – is a day that has established that our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ is now closer to us than ever before!

 

I would like to point out some important Scriptures from the book of Acts which were events that occurred after the ascension. So Christ indeed ascended into heaven, but notice how He continued to interact with His people still on earth:

 

The first example is the stoning/the martyrdom of St. Stephen. He had proclaimed the Word of the Lord and convicted those he was preaching to. Those who heard him were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him (Acts 7:54) and were on the verge of stoning him, but note what is recorded at Acts 7:55:

 

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

 

Stephen had proclaimed the Word of Truth, he was full of the Holy Spirit and He saw the Lord Jesus right before he died! Jesus was there. Jesus was with him!

 

Consider also Acts 9:3-5. In this Scripture St. Paul in his pre-converted state was known as “Saul;” he was actively persecuting the Church. He was on his way to arrest Christians on the road to Damascus, but this is what the Word of God records:

 

“...and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are persecuting me?’ 5And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’”

 

Jesus – the King of Kings who ascended into heaven – was right there speaking to Saul who was in the process of being converted into the mighty St. Paul. It was Jesus Himself conducting this great work for Paul’s re-birth!

 

Finally, consider Acts 23:11. St. Paul was before the Jewish council and witnessing to Ananias the high priest and the other chief priests. The meeting got violent and so soldiers were commanded to take Paul away into barracks (Acts 23:10). Then, the Scriptures record this in Acts 23:11 which reveals when the Lord Jesus came to Paul again:

 

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.’”   

 

But this evidence from the book of Acts is just the icing on the cake and it might be argued that the “cake” itself is our Gospel this morning from Luke 24! Our Lord demonstrates that He is always with us as we glean from verses 44-52 in Luke chapter 24:

 

  1. By virtue of the Holy Scriptures “written about [Him].” To have the Word of Christ is to have Christ. Our Lord comes to us through His Word!
  2. By virtue of His power to open our minds to understand the Scriptures. He is working on you to this day to increase your understanding of His healing and liberating Word!
  3. By virtue of the power of the Gospel itself which proclaims that He had to suffer and then be raised from the dead to convert people to God through what is conveyed by this Gospel: namely the forgiveness of sins.
  4. By virtue of the powerful ongoing ministry of Christ’s Church with and through which our Lord is always working repentance in the lives of people through His proclamation in His office of the ministry. That is the Gospel works in us to turn us from sin and towards God. Christians are serious about leaving sin behind...this is a sign of Christ’s presence!
  5. By virtue of His sending His disciples out to be His witnesses who according to the Word are “clothed with power from on high.”
  6. By virtue of His lifting up His hands to bless. He did so for the original disciples and He does so to this day through His office of the ministry.
  7. By virtue of being here with us as we worship Him to this day...worshipping Him with joy even in the face of our many trials because we know He has not left us alone.

 

But finally and most importantly is the ascension itself. It means as the Scriptures teach in our epistle from Ephesians that Christ “fills all in all.” One example of this is the fact that the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Christ and where the Holy Spirit is, Christ is. If the Holy Spirit fills you, then Christ is with you. You who are baptized...you know who you received: you received the Holy Spirit; and that means you also received Christ! This is for all intents and purposes beyond our capacity to grasp and yet is true. The Almighty God who is uncontainable – and this is a deep mystery – has at the same time chosen to be with you and to be in you (John 14:20).

 

So Christ has ascended and it means quite simply dear Christian that He has never been closer to you than He is now. You are never alone. Jesus is with you. His ascension guarantees it. He who is ascended can do anything, and He has chosen to guarantee and to promise that He is with you always! And after this sermon is done, He will demonstrate this promise again in the intimacy of the Holy Sacrament in and through which He gives you His very body and blood. These are no mere signs; they are the guarantees that the ascended Lord has given us ways to know God is with us!

[and to hear the rest of the sermon which emphasizes and applies the Gospel]
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow May 10th 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Abide in My Love” (John 15)

9May/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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 are in John 15:9-17 and the Lord elaborates from last week: we are to abide in Him...and tomorrow He proclaims "Abide in my love." His gift of love -- the best love in life -- is His way of keeping us in His life...it is our faith in Christ that knows how much we are loved. This love leads us and directs us. It is the way to live!
Come and receive the Lord's love through Word and Sacrament!
We will also distribute a special gift to our moms!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:
Abide in My Love
John 15:9-17
Pastor Espinosa

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is risen! [Response: He is risen indeed! Alleluia!] In Jesus’ Name. Amen. Last week we studied and received into our hearts the magnificent Gospel from the first part of John 15: Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. In that Gospel He commanded: “Abide in me.” The Lord is looking out for you dear Christian in revealing to you how to remain in life, not death; in the peace of God that He has won for you, not alienation and separation from the God of peace. And while we had a clue last week in terms of the signs that we do indeed abide – remain with and in – Jesus Christ namely, 1) His words remain in us (His life-giving teaching, most especially that you are cleansed and continue to be cleaned or pruned); and 2) The fruit, more fruit (15:2), and much fruit (15:5, the good works that God has prepared in advance for you to do), there is more to be said. We certainly praise God for these great signs and assurances...these are indeed great consolations that you abide in Christ the Life of the World. These are signs that the peace of God is in your life. We need such signs along the way, because life is very hard.

This past week I was in the hospital with one of our members who was anxious about her upcoming surgery so I shared with her Isaiah 26:3: “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Going into the surgery, I compared our anxiety to the winds and waves that buffeted the disciples on the boat when they saw Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22f.), but when Peter had his mind and eyes stayed on Christ nothing else mattered. His fear from the wind and waves was canceled out and indeed for a short time, even Peter walked on water. The great encouragement though continues: even when in our sin we take our mind and eyes off of Christ and permit ourselves to be driven by the restless wind and waves of the world again (when the devil seeks to sift us like wheat), and we begin to sink, what did the Lord do? He rescued Peter and pulled him back up. So keep your mind and heart on Christ and if you begin to sink, know that the One who died and rose for you will lift you back up and then keep your mind and heart upon Him again (and this cycle of grace continues).

But our Lord Jesus loves us so much that He elaborates on this cycle of grace. He does not want you to be ambiguous or unclear about how you remain united with and connected to Him. We need to know this dear Christians. How easy it is for us to feel that God is far away and to feel as though we have no idea as to how to abide in Christ, to remain in His life for us.

He has won for you His peace. His blood covers your sins. God the Father now sees you as a forgiven and holy one in His Son: you have peace with God! We want desperately, however, to remain in this peace. We want desperately to remain in Christ our Savior.
This makes sense because our sin makes us insecure. It raises the worst doubts in us and tries to convince us that we are unable to go on. That is our sin is daily trying to pull us away from abiding in Christ and needless to say this is the goal of the evil one. So Christ your Savior pulls you close to Himself and says with the most compassionate love and mercy, “Abide in me.” But then our sin, the world, and the devil grab our attention and tries to yank us out of the Savior’s arms. This “tug of war” is the normal Christian life, so needless to say we need additional resources, more ammo in this battle, more encouragement, and great clarity about how we are going to in fact abide in our Savior so that we never leave Him; so that we are never pulled away from Him! This is what our Gospel today is for.

So Jesus continues His teaching for your great security and what he is doing is giving you a fortress of security. Going into John 15 the Lord had already assured you of peace. How is it that the Lord would even approach me, a terrible sinner? It is because He has brought peace through His blood. His blood covers your sins. Now you have peace. So in John 14:27 the Lord says:

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

This is the impetus behind knowing that the Lord gladly holds you with your warts and all; with your doubts and all of your struggles. In-spite of these and by covering these with His blood, you have peace with God, but He knows that you should have even more assurance in your abiding in Him. So in what follows from today’s Gospel in John 15:9-17...

1. Your peace is complemented with...
2. Love which is further complemented with...
3. Joy

Not just any love or joy mind you, but with a very specific love and a very specific joy. This is what our Gospel is about. And be clear, these give answer to, “Exactly how do I know that I abide in Christ?” Again we already know that this is partially answered through His words that abide in you and through the fruit, more fruit, and much fruit, but we need more and so He gives you more. He wants you to be confident in your faith Christian!

I hope you take this the right way. The sinful skeptic wants to criticize what has been said thus far, “What’s the matter, does God have trouble getting it right?” Don’t go there. There are actually good reasons as to why the Lord goes this extra step for us. Our good works – while being a sign of our abiding in Christ – can never be the basis for our abiding in Christ. We compromise our confidence regarding our good works, because how often we do other works that seem to cancel the good that we do? On top of that even our good works are grossly tainted with sin and in the end, in themselves, are as unclean rags. (Is 64:6) Furthermore, the words of our Lord are certainly efficacious and produce faith...we are to rejoice that His words abide in us, but how often we look away from His words and listen to other words...the words of our flesh which lure us not to live for God, but self; the words of the world which lure us to deeply desire things that will turn to dust; and the words of the devil which lure us to seek the things of pride and power...in our sin we permit words of death to cover the words of life.

These impact our peace. These make us restless. And when that happens, we doubt.

This is why our Lord takes the next step.

1. Not just His peace, but
2. His love, and not just His love, but
3. His joy

Why are these so important? Because dear Christian these put you in the life of Christ itself. The love and joy of the Lord will not permit us to be bystanders to the faith. The love and joy of the Lord will not permit us to treat the faith as this theoretical thing to be thought about and merely analyzed on a comfortable rocker on our front porch as we sip tea or lemonade. The peace of God and the actual presence of our Savior through His Word and Sacrament compel us to live. To be people of action who know the Lord’s action in and through us...our faith must be active; it can’t help but be and when this happens the Lord takes away time from the skeptic; takes away the doubt from the casual observer, but because the casual observer is transformed into an active doer. His or her peace is extended through love and joy.

In Christ,
Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday May 3rd, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Abide in Me, and I in You” (John 15:1-8)

2May/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

John 15 is truly a great Scripture. Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ identifies Himself as the true vine and that we -- the people of God -- are His branches. It is hard to think of a better description of what it means to be a Christian. In a world in which we are bombarded with that which takes from you, extracts, exhausts, weighs down, weakens, etc., we are led to the One who lifts up, adds to, invigorates, restores, heals, revives...He is our Vine, the true Vine, the genuine Vine. This is our theme tomorrow; this is His Word for you!
Also come to receive the Lord directly in the bountiful and powerful gift of the Holy Sacrament. Through this means of grace we "bear much fruit." (John 15)
Let me switch gears and share a very important announcement with you:
Today (Saturday, May 2nd) our organist Karissa Lystrup graduates from Concordia University Irvine and not too long ago she was offered a truly fantastic full-time position to serve a very large LC-MS congregation (St. John's) in Bakersfield, CA. This is a golden opportunity for her and she has decided to take the position.
Karissa has been a fantastic servant of God in our midst. And the timing of it all...when we needed to have a strong start (in a re-start congregation/like a mission church) and when we needed a strong musician, the Lord sent Karissa to us. For almost four years she has been that perfect musician for us. She was instrumental (no pun intended) in helping us build a strong foundation for the church. I can't think of anyone who could have done a better job!
Karissa will continue to serve us throughout this month and the month of June. Her first day in Bakersfield is July 1st. The leadership will of course begin the process for a new organist.
In the meantime, please reach out to Karissa sharing the love and support of Christ and thanking her for her heart-felt service to us. She will be missed!
Here is a little excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:
Abide in Me, and I in You
(John 15:1-8)
Pastor EspinosaGrace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. Alleluia! He is risen! [He is risen indeed! Alleluia!]. In Jesus’ Name, Amen! How often dear Christians – and how easily – do we feel completely drained? Most assuredly our cares and concerns weigh us down and our actual deficiencies due to our true weaknesses and limitations make us feel wholly inadequate. It is like we are always running out of power.

Our contemporary technology reminds us of this. My laptop has a battery, but it only lasts for about an hour and -- you know the routine -- before you know it, you’ve got to plug it in because it is about to die. How often do we do this with our phones? Just the other day there I was repeating that all-too familiar scenario: there is an important call coming in, but my phone was about to die. In that particular instance, my phone charger wasn’t in my car. The whole episode raised the stress-level and produced a fair share of anxiety. The I-Pad needs to be plugged in, the coffee maker needs to be filled with water, the car needs gas...even “the Engergizer Bunny” (if you remember those commercials) doesn’t really go on forever...the “going, going, and going” eventually stops going!
Our Lord Jesus teaches us as much, but in application to infinitely more important realities. He says bluntly – and with the greatest love for you – that “apart from [Him], you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) We need to hear this and we need to believe it. It isn’t easy for us to do. In-spite of all the examples of limitations all around us, we behave as if this really isn’t true of ourselves (even though there is so much evidence to the contrary). But why do we act this way as if to live in a state of denial (even though we know that our limitations are as real as real can be)? Our sin of course makes us behave as though we are totally self-sufficient. It is our sin that drives us to live as if we do not need the one and only power source, even the Lord.
Jesus here in John 15 is using this rich imagery of the vine, but we should understand that when the disciples heard the imagery, they most likely already knew that Jesus was using the imagery in a new and different way. You see the Jews had heard about the vine before, but in the Old Testament it was in reference to the people of Israel. Israel herself – the apple of His eye – was God’s vine.
Israel, however, in Psalm 80:9-19 was a vine that stopped flourishing. They too experienced their sinful limitation – their rebellion against God got them “unplugged” from the Lord and they lost their power -- and in this Psalm there is begging to God to restore His people; to re-energize them again.
The Lord had and has compassion. He saw Israel’s true state and He sees ours and He knows that we do not have what it takes to be our own vines, our own sources of life and power. So in the greatest love and mercy He came to the Jews; in the greatest love and mercy He comes to you:
1[Jesus said:] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday, April 19th, 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Having Sin vs. Committing Sin” (1st John 3:1-7)

18Apr/15Off

Divine Service: 9:30 am

Bible Study for adults, high school, and Sunday School for junior youth and little children starts at 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,

A really weird circumstance has occurred in modern Christianity regarding sin (or perhaps this self-same problem has just always been there since the beginning): we know that the Scriptures teach that we have sin and we experience our own personal sin every day, but with this we begin to take on this idea of, "Oh well, I'm just a sinner...what else does one expect?" "A leopard can't change its spots...so just go with the flow." If nothing else we can remind ourselves that we sin "in weakness." What comes out of such thinking is laxity towards sin. We just start to accept it, but then we accept it so much that we just give in to the flesh, but this is not the Christian life.
Let's be sure to have a right view about the situation and tomorrow we will do so through a sermon entitled, "Having Sin vs. Committing Sin" (1st John 3:1-7) It's important in that we want to live in our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ who did not rise from the dead for sin to be our master, but so that through His glorious victory, we would be "under new management" if you will.
Also, tomorrow we have Bible Study and Sunday School at 11:00 am for:
1. Adults: starting a new study tomorrow morning on World Religions with Dr. Russell Dawn.
2. High Schoolers: Ghosts and the Paranormal part 2.
3. Jr. High: with Dr. Mary Hobus.
4. Little Ones: with Traci Espinosa.
Today was a great outing to the 8th Annual Catechism Convocation of the People which was sponsored this year by Grace Lutheran Church, San Diego. I had the honor of being one of two keynote speakers on the Resurrected Savior in connection to the six chief parts of the Small Catechism. The other talk was given by Rev. Dr. John Bombaro. The recordings for these will soon be made available to you.
I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow morning. It is the most important Sunday of our lives...the one we will have "today"!!! Today...let us be served with the Word and Sacrament of our Glorious Lord...today, let us receive forgiveness and eternal life!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:
Having Sin vs. Committing Sin
(1st John 3:1-7)
Pastor Espinosa
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Alleluia! Christ is risen! And this dear Christians has put us into a whole new relationship with God and in a whole new relationship with sin. To be in the risen Christ – as your baptism assures you that you absolutely are – means among other things that sin is no longer your master (Romans 6). You have died to sin. Christ died with your sin upon Him...your sin was buried with Him. It is covered and as far as God is concerned, it is gone (which explains why God doesn’t remember it, Is 43:25: “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.”). And since you are joined to Christ who St. John says in our epistle is righteous, practicing sin is out, practicing righteousness is in.
Didymus the Blind explains: “Just as the person who dwells in virtue and true doctrine does not sin and is not ignorant, so the one who remains in Christ, who is his righteousness and sanctification, does not sin. For how can someone act unrighteously when he is in the company of righteousness, and how can he be content to place corruption alongside holiness?” (Ancient Christian Commentary, New Testament XI, 197)
Does this make you uneasy? I hope so. It’s supposed to. Not as a ploy or a manipulation, but as maintaining what the Holy Spirit is always doing for our own good: generating the terrors of conscience in us so that we would hunger and thirst for God’s grace in Christ over and over again! We cannot rationalize our situation. We are in Christ. Christ is risen! Sin has been defeated. What it produces, namely death, has been defeated. These cannot mark those who are in Christ. Thus, St. John is plain at 1st John 3:6: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” That’s pretty clear.
John is not denying that the sinful nature clings to us. He does not reject the truth of our original sin; nor does he suggest we are not to confess our sin. How could he when he is the one who also wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves...” and obviously then leads us to confess our sin. (1st John 1:8-9). So again, John is neither denying nor contradicting any of these things.
At the same time, John is defending, teaching, and proclaiming your new identity. He started by saying that God calls you children of God, and then says point blank: “and so we are.” God calls and things come into existence. His Word creates. He spoke over the universe: “let there be light” and there was light; He speaks over you: you are a child of God and behold, that is what you are! In and through Jesus, God has called you His child. Hear it again, that is what you are.
So St. John is saying that since this is what you are, this is what this life looks like...it doesn’t sin. He is grapping our attention and slapping us from falling asleep in Satan’s deception and lies. Dr. Schuchard gives an uncompromising commentary and tells the truth: “John has indicated [instead] that sin is no small matter. Sin is deadly. So the apostle gives no permission in weakness or otherwise to sin, ever. Sin is ever present, corrupting every thought, word, and deed (see 1:8, 10). John extols not to some kind of born-again perfectionism. Neither does he here or elsewhere (see further 3:9) contradict himself. Rather, he exhorts in consistent terms to a concerted pattern, to a tenor, to a way of life that is ever lived in active opposition to sins’ pervasive influence and power, that sin would never be either an indifferent matter or a ‘settled habit.’ In no way does the sinner acquiesce, give up, give in, tolerate, condone, or otherwise ignore sin. In no way does the sinner suggest that the reign of sin is ‘just the way God made me.’” (Bruce G. Schuchard, Concordia Commentary, 1-3 John, 328-329)
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa