Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Last Sunday of the Church Year: Matthew 25:31-46

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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,

We are very blessed to welcome a special guest tomorrow at Saint Paul's: Rev. George Mather who is an expert in the field of cults and the occult. He will proclaim God's Word in worship and then after worship, he will present a special presentation-study on the Kingdom of the Cults and how to remain faithful to our confession of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of so much confusion in the world about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow in Divine Service we will also hear the heralding of God's saving Gospel based on the assigned Gospel for the last Sunday of the Church Year: Matthew 25:31-46 on the sheep and the goats.

This Scripture can be very challenging! Isn't it true that we are saved by God's grace through the gift of faith in Jesus Christ apart from the works of the Law? Yes of course! So how come our judgment is described in terms of whether we fed the hungry or gave drink to the thirsty or welcomed the stranger or clothed the naked or visited the sick and those in prison? These are works are they not? Yes of course they are! But this seems contradictory! Tomorrow's proclamation will also teach the crucial distinction -- as well as the inter-relationship -- between who and what you ARE and what people DO. Those on the right of Christ at the last judgment are called "sheep," and this is not a minor detail. WHO you are is the crucial point...once one is in Christ, the rest of living is also in Him!

Most importantly, you will receive the precious body and blood of the Lord Jesus. This is the medicine of grace and the Kingdom of God that keeps you alive and strong in the One whose life fulfilled the Law for you; whose death paid for all of your sin; and whose resurrection gives you life eternal. Come and receive God's gifts; come and be fed; come and be strengthened in the saving faith.

Here is a some information about our special guest, Rev. Mather:

  1. George Mather has become a Nationally recognized authority on cults, World Religions and the occult. Lectured throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. Interviewed (i.e. 60 Minutes, 20/20, CNN, NBC Nightly News, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Voice Of America, UPI Radio Network, Time, Newsweek, and People Magazines, The Boston Globe, L. A. Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Sun, The Boston Herald and numerous others. Invited to appear on The Donahue Show, and The Shirley Show of Canada). Has personally counseled hundred’s of cult members and their families over the years. Some of these cult members and family members were high profile cases like David Karesh and the Branch Davidians, Jeffrey Dahmer, (the cannibal) Son of Sam (David Berkovitz) and Jim Jones’s of People’s Temple. ‎

 

  •        It has been said of him, "George brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make him particularly useful.... He also has the advantage of training in careful research and the maturity to exercise sound judgment." (Rev. Philip Lochhaas, Executive Secretary, The Commission on Organizations, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod). And "I have known Pastor Mather for many years, both as a Theological student and as a researcher at Dr. Walter Martin's Christian Research Institute. He is a man of vision and integrity and can be trusted in his endeavors for the Lord. (Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Law and Humanities, University of Bedfordshire, England).

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor Espinosa

 

Tomorrow Sunday November 16th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The End is Coming — Don’t be Afraid” (1st Thessalonians 5:1-11)

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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,

You support a ministry that exists to put the salvation and hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before people who suffer on account of the sin that has entered into the world. Yesterday I received a call from a member of the community who shared with me the heartache her family is going through since the death of her nephew this past summer. As the holidays approach, she is very concerned for her brother (the young man's father) and the rest of the family. They miss their loved one and she wanted to know how -- while they are a family of faith in Jesus -- they can live through the real bereavement they are going through.
The heartache of the Christian I met for the first time on the phone is an indication of the tribulation of the time of the end. St. Paul was teaching the Thessalonians about how to live during these end times. He was dealing with a practical question: "What will happen to our loved ones who have died before the coming of Christ?" [it is comforting to see that St. Paul refers to the death of Christians as a "falling asleep"...they are safe and alive with the Lord and we will see them again!] and St. Paul was dealing with a practical concern: "How do we live in the interim?" [or simply, "How do we live in the face of the end?"]
For the Christian confronted by all of the birth pangs of the end times, the answer is to not live in fear; not to give in to the many temptations for discouragement. The answer lies in Jesus -- the God of the LIVING -- and the answer lies not in living in isolation, but in an active engagement in the words of St. Paul:
"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." -- 1st Thessalonians 5:8
This is the life we are called to; this is the life that is already yours through your baptism into Jesus; this is the life already yours as you will be filled with the life of Christ once again as you receive the blessed Sacrament tomorrow morning.
I'm excited! Tomorrow we will be reunited. Pastor Mueller and myself look forward to seeing you, the blessed people of God that the Lord has called us to serve and to love. Come to the feast! Jesus is giving Himself to us tomorrow morning -- giving to us the victory already won; the forgiveness already secured; the eternal life already guaranteed -- and in the face of the end we will experience once again why we have nothing to fear.
May the Lord powerfully bless our worship tomorrow morning!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor
p.s. Tomorrow:
8:15 am Set up for worship
9:30 am Divine Service
10:45 am Fellowship
11:00 am Adult Bible Study and Sunday School
12:00 pm High School youth will wash our van-bus
3:00 pm Confirmation
p.s.s.
I am hosting our LC-MS regional Vice President tomorrow evening, Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, and I'm hoping he will be able to address our confirmands tomorrow.

Tomorrow November 2nd, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: All Saints and Commemoration of the Faithful Departed Observed + FALL BACK for Daylight Savings Time! + Continuing Collection for Mary’s Shelter

15Nov/14Off

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,

The Church is more than just those who confess the saving Name of Jesus Christ on earth; it includes the Church triumphant in heaven and in glory! These we especially remember tomorrow in a very special Divine Service.

This world is full of sorrow and tribulation, but the Lord Jesus speaks to all of you saints, "take heart for I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

We take heart even in the face of much trouble and rejoice that once again we will be fed through the Word and Sacrament of Jesus Christ.

The Lord bless us as we gather!

In Jesus' Love,

Pastor

p.s. please remember to continue to bring items for Mary's Shelter

Donations needed for Mary’s Shelter

We need donations for diapers, liquid laundry detergent, Dreft liquid detergent, plastic dishes (bowls, cups & plates), towels (face, hand and body), personal hygiene (shampoo, conditioner, razors, face wash, deodorant, lotion), place mats (8 to 10 for each house), baby wipes, non-perishable food for our emergency supply, Children’s Tylenol, plastic Tupperware with lids, oven mittens, diaper rash cream and cleaning sponges. Robby Flores has a box here this morning in which we are collecting your donations! If you have any questions, please email Robby @floresrobby@gmail.com.

p.s.s.

Gladys Geisler Memorial

A memorial has been established for the future purchase of handbells for the congregation. If you would like to give to this special fund we would ask you to do so by Sunday, November 16th. We have a special opportunity to purchase some previously owned bells that are in excellent condition! Please contribute! 

Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: Reformation + Supplies Needed for Mary’s Shelter + Preparations for Commemoration of The Faithful Departed

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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,

I have just gotten caught up with news this evening (Friday, October 24th): deadly shootings in Washington and in California, the Ebola virus in New York, and someone deliberately smashing into the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma City, etc...and in the midst of this we will CELEBRATE the Reformation this Sunday.
Could anything be more irrelevant -- or, wait a second -- could anything be more relevant?
In the face of the terrible things going on in our world, if there was ever a time for the message of the Reformation to be clear, then that time is now. The visible Church had once -- at least at the popular level -- lost the Gospel of Christ, but you will see red paraments and stole this Sunday to remind us of the Holy Spirit's powerful movement of restoring the Gospel of Christ to His Church during the Reformation. And He did so by restoring the true preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the Holy Sacraments.
So what? The answer is that the Gospel restored to Christ's Church is the ground for hope in the face of madness; light shed upon darkness; and God's grace in Christ which will not permit death to reign. And as the Holy Spirit moves through Christ's Reformation Word and Sacraments, you -- the people of God -- become as salt and light in this world so inundated with fear. That is the celebration of the Reformation is faith facing the world head on knowing that the Lord is in control; giving life even in the face of death. This is a sure and certain hope; and one which the world desperately needs to know.
Part 2: We live out our faith also by helping those in need. Robby Flores is our congregational representative for the Life Ministry at Concordia University Irvine and he is asking that you bring some supplies this Sunday to donate to Mary's Shelter. Here is the list:
Diapers
Liquid laundry detergent
Dreft liquid detergent (for babies)
Plastic dishes (bowls, cups, plates)
Towels (face, hand and body towels)
Personal hygiene products: shampoo, razors, face wash, deodorant, lotion
Place mats (8 to 10 for each house)
Baby wipes
Non-perishable food for our emergency supply
Children's Tylenol
Plastic Tupperware with lids
Oven mittens
Diaper rash cream
Cleaning sponges
Bring some of these and place in the box that Robby is bringing to church this Sunday! Thank you!!!
Part 3: Sunday, November 2nd is the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed...please fill out the form available THIS Sunday and submit it back to the designated collectors OR send the information directly to me, Pastor Al at my email address: give me the name or names of loved ones and the date of their entry into glory...we will name your loved one in the service and hear the tolling of a bell to symbolize their eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is an important tradition for us at Saint Paul's and we hope you will participate!
 
May the Lord bless your weekend so that you continue to abide in Christ's faith, hope, and love, rejoicing that in Him not some, not many, not most, but ALL your sins are forgiven through His life, death, and resurrection. Some people say, "Nothing is free!" There is, however, one thing that is: God's love and forgiveness in Jesus! This is His free gift to you...it is true of course that it cost HIM dearly...but as for you, this is God's GIFT to you: life and forgiveness in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
In His Love,
Pastor Al Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday October 19th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: ““Give To Caesar, Give to God” (St. Matthew 22:15-22)

18Oct/14Off

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,

We live in two kingdoms so that we carry out what Jesus taught: we give to Caesar and we give to God, but does this mean that our Lord was teaching that He was not somehow King even of the civil realm? Of course not! He is King of all kings; He is Lord even of all emperors, presidents, and monarchs. This has far-reaching implications. For one, the Lord is in charge; He is in control, even if things seem to be completely out of hand. Alarmist theology that insists that Satan is NOT bound is just that, alarmist and inappropriate. God isn't sweating in heaven and worried because of liberal forces that reject Him. If anything, He laughs: "He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision." (Psalm 2:4) Needless to say, the child of God -- truly -- has nothing to worry about.
This, however, does not mean that we sit back and do nothing. Since the Lord of glory reigns, we are to advance and be proactive, showing good works in the civil realm, sharing the Gospel and being -- as Christ describes us to be -- salt and light.
Part 2: After the worship service, I am presenting what may be the single most important report I've given to our voter's assembly since the restart here in Irvine. I've prepared a powerpoint and I assure you that I will be clear and quite excited about a developing vision. I was inspired by Dr. Russell Dawn who spoke up at our last voter's meeting (in so many words): maybe -- in respect to our property search -- we've been thinking too small. I went into vacation this past summer with his words stuck in my conscience and tomorrow I will share with you how these words have come to fruition. Come and help your church. This is an important discussion about our future.
I rejoice to serve you. Who is the pastor to serve? He serves the Lord first; His stewardship is defined by his master. The Master is Jesus. So I serve Him, but to serve Him is to serve the One who HImself came not to be served, but to serve. To serve whom? To serve YOU! I am, therefore, also your servant. What I will serve -- with Pastor Mueller -- is the Word of Christ and the Sacrament of Christ. Jesus said, "Do this..." in respect to His Holy Sacrament. So many churches nowadays have diminished His command (to say nothing of how they have diminished the meaning and significance of the Supper)...at your congregation, the Holy Sacrament is given every Sunday. Jesus said, "Do this..." so that is what we do.
And the benefit? It is for salvation, comfort, and strength. It is pure blessing.
I look forward to serving you!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“Give To Caesar, Give to God” (St. Matthew 22:15-22)

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

For your life in Christ the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 19th, 2014

Pastor Espinosa

Introduction: Total and Complete Separation of Church and State?

  1. The idea is foreign to the U.S. Constitution.
  2. In Separation of Church and State, Philip Hamburger, John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago challenges (as stated in the introductory synopsis):

“the conventional assumption that the separation of church and state has a historical foundation in the First Amendment. The detailed evidence…shows that eighteenth-century Americans almost never invoked this principle. Although Thomas Jefferson and others respectively claimed that the First Amendment separated church and state, separation became part of American constitutional law only much later…separation became a constitutional freedom largely through fear and prejudice. Jefferson supported separation out of hostility to the Federalist clergy of New England. [Some] Protestants…adopted the principle…to restrict the role of Catholics in public life. Gradually, these Protestants were joined by theologically liberal, anti-Christian secularists, who hoped that separation would limit Christianity and all other distinct religions.”

  1. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
  2. Jefferson wrote in referring to separation: “…thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” (Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, 1802).
  3. The great irony confronting those who perpetuate the “wall of separation” is that when theologically liberal, anti-God humanists and naturalists misuse the First Amendment, they are in fact perpetuating and encouraging, guess what? Answer: Their own religion! Consider the fact that ANY position that touches on God is a theological/religious For example, atheism is a theological position.

 

  1. Christians and other theists are not the only ones with resultant MORAL positions that come from their THEOLOGICAL positions. Not at all: Darwinists also have a moral position called “moral relativism.”
  2. When morality is based on the individual, it is called
  3. When morality is based on what society says, it is called
  4. Which one does Christianity support? Answer: Neither!

 

Part I: Christ Spoke Truth

  1. The people who came to Him as recorded in today’s Gospel (St. Matthew 22:15-22) were disciples of the Pharisees (v 16) and then there were also Herodians (v 16). Two distinct groups with different views about the Roman government.
  2. The Pharisees considered paying taxes to a pagan/anti-God government as sinful and so disagreed with the Herodians. To them, it was BAD to pay taxes.
  3. The Herodians were Jews who supported the dynasty of Herod the Great and therefore believed that paying taxes was obligatory. To them, it was GOOD to pay taxes.
  4. But they had one thing in common: they didn’t like Jesus!
  5. This tag-team of disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus with flattering words, but their intent was to trap the Lord:
  6. If Jesus spoke in Rome’s favor, it would cost him popular favor among the Jews.
  7. If Jesus spoke in the people’s favor, it would set Him against the government and He would be guilty of sedition.
  8. The point is that the enemies of God attack God. Do not think that they sit idle and say, “We have no opinion,” no way, they actually attack the truth.
  9. If anyone thinks there isn’t a battle for truth, morality, and God in the world, then they are probably kidding themselves.

The enemies of Christ knew the kind of man Jesus was and they approached Jesus with flattering words.

St. Matthew 22:16: “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.”

  1. Actually where the ESV states “you are not swayed by appearances,” it is trying to bring out: “You do not look at the face of men.”
  2. Many people gauge what they will say based on how they perceive people’s faces. Not Christ. He just spoke the truth period. So he tells it like it is!
  3. The Lord knew what was going on, verse 18 says, “[He was] aware of their malice.”

Come to church tomorrow morning and get the rest!

 

In Jesus' Love,

 

Rev. Al Espinosa, Ph.D., senior pastor, Saint Paul's Lutheran of Irvine

 

Tomorrow Sunday October 12th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “For Many Are Invited, But Few Are Chosen” (Matthew 22:1-14)

11Oct/14Off

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 Christians,

Sometimes the Christian faith is criticized for its exclusivism based on our proclamation that Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). And, there is no other name given unto men under heaven by which they must be saved (Acts 4:12). To focus on the exclusivism upsets our politically correct climate that wants all ways/religions/worldviews to be equally legitimate ways to salvation and eternal life. In our politically charged climate, it is cool to get one of those "Co-Exist" bumper stickers. The message: it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere about something.
Never mind that from a logical perspective major comparative doctrines are diametrically opposed to each other. For example, let's be raised again AND be reincarnated. Doesn't that make sense?!
Ironically, such an approach to truth substitutes knowing God with out-right relativism. There is no truth other than what a person decides to be true. Truth becomes not about correspondence to reality (a real state of affairs), but about the whims and preferences of subjective beings. That is, the politically correct position trades in our foundation for knowing God for whatever feels right.
Such a position also denies our faiths' INCLUSIVISM. Once Christ is relegated to one religion among many, then who cares about the details? This is where Satan wants us to be. But the truth is in the details.
The Christian faith actually offers the greatest inclusivism in that Christ -- the very Son of God, true God of true God -- died for the sins of the world. That is, the sins of ALL PEOPLE were covered by His blood on the cross of Calvary. Again, the Christian faith is serious and actual universal salvation.
Still, it is a universal justification that must be believed in...and our world is way too busy trying to convince people not to (be careful not to assume we teach universalism, which is salvation regardless of one's faith...that's not us either).
Our parable tomorrow morning is about the fact that MANY are called by God...in fact if Christ died for all people, then we may go so far as to say that the Lord has opened the way to ALL. "For God desires ALL to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." (1st Timothy 2:4)

But the evil one and our own sinful nature fights against this.
Tomorrow morning, I will be much less philosophical about this and much more practical. We are tempted to give up on Christ's universal salvation as...
Sexuality is assaulted which leads to marriage being assaulted which leads to parenthood being assaulted which leads to children being assaulted...which leads to the very image of God which men especially (as fathers) are called to bear as being assaulted...when this happens then people are used, not cared for...then relationships become based on consumerism, not faith and love.
 
Many are called but few are chosen...the chosen repent of this sinful state of affairs and by God's grace run to Jesus...in Him our sexuality is restored, our marriages are restored, our parenthood is restored, our children are restored, and our image of father is restored...and we become called families that are redeemed families (thank God that we don't have to be perfect families).
 
Tomorrow is the only Sunday we're being given or guaranteed -- if the Lord permits us to be there tomorrow morning -- so let's focus on this one. Tomorrow the body and blood of Jesus is being given for our remaining in God's grace; tomorrow the Word will be proclaimed; tomorrow absolution is given.
On account of these gifts, I hope to see you.
This morning, I did not feel like working out...I wasn't feeling it. Afterwards, I was so glad I did. How often has this happened to you? If this is true when it comes to a physical workout, how much more is it true when it comes to receiving the Word of Christ?
It is normal to not want to come to Church...the question is whether we will permit our flesh to overcome our faith...come and be blessed!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

For Many Are Invited, But Few Are Chosen (Matthew 22:1-14)

For Your Life in Christ the 18th Sunday after Pentecost

October 12th, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

Introduction: the Chief Priests and Elders = Attitudes that Persist!

  1. Two Sundays ago we heard about these leaders questioning Christ’s authority (Matt. 21:23-27).
  2. Last Sunday we heard about these leaders rejecting the prophets and Christ Himself (Matt. 21:33-46).
  3. Questioning and rejecting Jesus. Does this sound familiar? Today’s parable of The Wedding Banquet continues to teach what God does about this situation.

Part I: The Parable Speaks to Us!

  1. The parables are remarkable & represent oratory genius & yet we mustn’t get too comfortable and forget that through these parables God continues to speak and He is speaking to us!
  2. There are two parts to this parable:
  3. 1-7: Christ is teaching that when God’s call is rejected, there are catastrophic results; it quite simply leads to hell, being separated from God and life for eternity.
  4. 8-13: Jesus teaches that sometimes some people pretend that they’ve been called – they become a part of the visible church; they go to church and participate as one known as a “Christian” – but in fact they are hypocrites. Yes, God’s Word teaches that there are real hypocrites in the visible church of Christ; He tells us so in this parable. And this parable is God’s way of confronting each of us so that each one of us would ask ourselves the question, “Is it I?!”
  5. So, in response to this parable, we ask ourselves the first question, “Have I continued to reject God’s gracious call?” And then we ask ourselves the second question, “Am I one of the hypocrites only pretending to be one of the Christians?”
  6. And Jesus wraps up this parable and the inherent two questions with this astounding statement:

 

Matthew 22:14: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

 

Part II: What Do The Figures in the Parable Represent?

  1. God the Father is the King.
  2. The Wedding Banquet is the banquet of redemption and salvation.
  3. It is for the King’s “Son” = we all know who The Son is! It is the Savior King who is given all glory, power, dominion and authority! The banquet is for Jesus Christ!
  4. Another title for Jesus Christ is “Bride-Groom”…now guess who His “bride” is? Answer: YOU/The Church!
  5. So the parable is answering a very important question: exactly who is the Church? Who are those identified with “Bride?”
  6. Who gets to stay? Who gets thrown out?

 

Part III: We Have Reason to Be Anxious:

  1. For example, take the concept of faithfulness in marriage and to the family. Today, the epidemic of adultery, divorce and the epidemic of child abuse (while they are still in the womb when they are not given a chance to be born and then when they are permitted to be born but are mistreated) continues to be rampant in our country. These are stark reminders of the fact that faithfulness is becoming less and less popular. One Hollywood actor said in an interview I saw: “people are not meant to be in a single relationship for life, but to have many relationships.”
  2. There is all-out evil assault on God’s plan for the family: 1. First the gift of sexuality is assaulted; as a result, Gender roles and therefore marriage is assaulted; as a result, parenthood is assaulted…why even have children? the culture asks…they are too much work since I’m here on earth to have fun and to only worry about myself!; as a result, children are assaulted; and finally the concept of “Father” is assaulted, the very image of God. 71% of all high school drop-outs are from fatherless families; 85% of all youth in prison come from fatherless families (see the documentary “Irreplacable”). The abortion situation reflects this: if a woman – even if she has material resources – is pressured by the man to have an abortion, there is a high likelihood that the child will be aborted; but if the woman – even if she is in poverty with no resources to speak of – has a man who will stand by her side and resolve to care for his unborn child, it is far more likely that abortion will be avoided.
  3. What threatens our families is that relationships have been put into the category of consumerism. Our children are exposed to a culture that does not understand the idea of living for God. Instead, the culture teaches that we are here to learn how to use other people. As an example of this is the “hook-up” trend that is popular in our country. What is so terribly disturbing is that relationships start to become devoid of emotional investments (to say nothing of lacking all commitment). The “hook-up” culture is detached from all personal investment and exists only for selfish use. The great tragedy – among other great tragedies in all of this – is that young men are referred to as “players”…given a heroic status, they are considered cool; and achieve something that is good for their reputation; but what of the girls who participate? They are not given a “good” name, but a bad one…and I won’t say it in church, but the name they are given doesn’t make them win but lose. When interviewed and asked if participation in this culture makes them happy the answer is an emphatic “No!” So why participate? From the pressure of peers – esp. other girls -- and to be approved of. This is why the goal for popularity is so dangerous…it makes one feel important and loved; but it also puts one in the vortex of wanting to please others…but what if the standards of others are immoral and against God? This is a terrible state of affairs. So Christian parents, know your children’s friends, know your children’s friends, know your children’s friends…the moment a child keys in on a certain friend, have them over, invite them for dinner. Don’t dread this, but embrace it…talk about an opportunity for the Gospel!
  4. But the threat of the hook-up culture is the result of atheism, agnosticism and the fundamental rejection of the Lord. If one lives this way, then the guiding principle is “what I want,” [the rapper Jay Zee has a clothing line that has the words “Do What Thou Wilt” on some items and others have the words “I am Da God”…yes, these also reflect the occult] so that one is encouraged to follow self-serving urges much like animals do and this is precisely the enormous danger of Darwinian Evolution because at the end of the day – according to this theory -- we are just animals following their instincts and you just can’t change your stripes so you may as well go along with the crowd! This is a terrible, horrendous way of thinking and it is utterly destructive to one’s self, to others, and to society.
  5. The reason I am discussing these moral aspects is because in the Old Testament idolatry (false worship and the rejection of the true God) was described as spiritual adultery.
  6. You see God has put you here so that you would know Him as your first love, your only God, and the One and Only One to whom you are called to be faithful to. And by the way, if you are faithful to HIM, then faithfulness to others will follow like being faithful to the one you are married to.
  7. But the world resists this message more than I can say. The culture today says in so many words, “We are not meant to follow One, we are to be open to all, following all, committed to nothing, serving ourselves and uniting to whatever seems most attractive, appealing, and beneficial at the time.”
  8. Now this mentality is not simply reserved for the irreligious, being religious or not really has nothing to do with it. The chief priests and elders were very religious, but they had no idea what being faithful to the Lord was about. They may have been religious, but they were very far from God!
  9. So in telling this parable, Jesus makes it clear that they have just been hard-hearted and unfaithful.
 
In Jesus' Love,
 
Pastor

Tomorrow Sunday October 5th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The One Rejected is the One We Welcome” (St. Matthew 21:33-43)

4Oct/14Off

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,

Today is "Yom Kippur" which translated means "Day of Atonement." The day's establishment is recorded in Leviticus 23:27f. In the context there is much said about the people needing to "afflict" themselves as part of this holy day. Because of this some modern versions of the day refer to it as a day to "afflict the soul." This is an unfortunate concept in that it implies that in order to "atone" for your sins, you must cause affliction to yourself (suffer for your sins). This of course is the popular idea in the phrase: "atone for your sins" or "make atonement for your sins." It means that you must "pay up" or go through something bad so as to be restored, etc.
This of course is bullet train moving away from the Gospel.
In actuality, the "Day of Atonement" involved the blood which "covered" sins. Or -- and another way of understanding atonement -- you "became one" with that which saves you. In either direction of the meaning, this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the idea that you must suffer for yours sins. Instead, the Lord has provided the sacrifice for your sins!
What is important to know is that Yom Kippur pointed to the ultimate Day of Atonement, the Day in which our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ spilled His precious blood to cover our sins so that you and I are forever forgiven as we abide in Christ!
 
So in the Name of Jesus: Blessed Yom Kippur (in the right sense)!
 
As for tomorrow morning: Jesus is coming to serve through His Word and Sacrament, keeping us in forgiveness and eternal life!
We also celebrate some new members being received -- along with some complementary special music -- and we are excited about Ruth Koenig and Rosemary Hilton officially joining Saint Paul's! We are having a reception after worship and its a chance for us to relax and enjoy some fellowship as we welcome our newest members.
Tomorrow will proclaim the Parable of the Vineyard. Have you ever felt pain for being rejected? Come and hear about what Jesus came to do for you!
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“The One Rejected Is the One We Welcome” (St. Matthew 21:33-43)

For Your Life in Christ the Week of the 17th Sunday after Pentecost

October 5th, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

Introduction: Definition of “Parable”

  1. Literally means “putting things side-by-side.”
  2. It is an extended simile. When we say, “This thing is LIKE that ” And then go on to elaborate.
  3. It is presented in story form and things in the world (physical things) represent spiritual realities. Spiritual things are “put along side of” physical things.
  4. What is conveyed in a biblical parable is TRUTH and an actual state of affairs.
  5. Jesus used parables constantly during His earthly ministry; He was the master teacher! Why did He use parables?

St. Luke 8:10: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.”

  1. Jesus Himself taught that parables contain “secrets” or “mysteries,” in the sense of something higher than us, or beyond our own ability and reason; things that teach us about ultimate realities (about ourselves and about God).
  2. What challenges folks though is that the words in Luke 8:10 seem to indicate that Jesus does not give these beneficial mysteries to all people. Some people will see, but not see; some will hear, but not understand. Why?
  3. NOT because Christ does not love all people. He does! The difference, however, is that some people continue to REJECT Christ. Jesus once described the difference between people:

St. Matthew 9:12-13: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means,

‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

  1. But those who believe themselves to be “righteous” apart from God do not need Christ, and therefore reject Him. Thus some who “heard” the parables of Jesus, did not understand a word. They did not see their meaning, but were spiritually blind.
  2. Let us now delve into the “secrets” of today’s parable:

 

Part I: The Parable of the Tenants

  1. This is a very important parable presented three times in Scripture, in Matthew 21, Mark 12, and Luke 20!
  2. The imagery of the parable:
  3. The “vineyard” = the nation of Israel, God’s people.
  4. The “landowner” = God.
  5. The “wall” = the Word of God that protects God’s people.
  6. The “winepress” = sacrifice of atonement, blood.
  7. The “tower” = the watchmen, the prophets of God.

 

Part II: This Parable Applies to Our Lives Today!

1. The Church is like the Vineyard today. We are His people. Notice that in the New Testament this imagery is maintained:

 

Jesus said in John 15:5: “I 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.”

 2. We know the location of the vine and branches = in the vineyard; this describes the mystical union of Christ and His people which is precisely the Church, the Body of Christ. Jesus is here with us in His vineyard!

3. The landowner is still and always the Lord. He is our head and He leads us through life! Think of the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation.”

4. The wall is still the Word of God that surrounds us and protects us. Think of the hymn “Thy Strong Word.” Think of the “surrounding” description we find in Deuteronomy:

 

Deuteronomy 6:6-9: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

 

5. The winepress is perhaps most evident in the Church today! The winepress where the wine flows is the Holy and Blessed Sacrament of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is where the blood of Christ is continually poured out for the forgiveness of sins!

6. And finally, the watchtower is still held by servants who watch over God’s people through the ministry of the Word and Sacraments. One term for them is “overseer,” but today we typically call them “pastors.”

I hope to see you in the morning dear Christian!
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor

Tomorrow September 28th, 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Authority?” (Matthew 21:23-27)

27Sep/14Off

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,

The entire divine service (the worship service) is designed to bring Jesus Christ -- the Savior of the world -- to you directly and personally. The liturgy, the holy absolution, the witness of another baptism, the sermon, the hymns, and holy communion...all of it assures you the constant coming of Christ, keeping you in the forgiveness of sins; keeping you in the palm of His hand.
If you're tracking the news...war, disease, earthquakes (did you hear about the "earthquake swarm" hitting central California?), it can easily make us wonder about the end times. Well -- and consistent with the seminar I'm doing in Anaheim again this Thursday at 7 pm -- we are already living in the "end times" and have been since the Church was established 2000 years ago. In the meantime, no one knows when Christ will come again (Acts 1:7), but what we do know is this: you are kept ready for Christ's glorious coming through His repeated and constant coming through His Word and His Sacrament. Thanks be to God!
How can we be so certain? Because Christ has been given all authority (Mt. 28). In tomorrow's Gospel reading from Matthew 21, we hear how the Lord's authority was questioned. Just like in accord with our sin, we question God's authority today. But thanks be to God for His answer! By His authority, sin and death have been defeated; by His authority you are covered by His perfect holiness and righteousness...by His authority your failure has been replaced by His success; your weakness for His strength; your violations for His faithfulness...by His authority these things are true!
Tomorrow we witness the miracle of holy baptism; tomorrow we receive the holy absolution as God's voice from heaven; tomorrow we partake of the holiest feast on earth and are guaranteed that we are one with our Savior and Lord...there will be the fellowship of Christians, special music, the blessing of the mighty Word of Christ which created the heavens and the earth and which has created saving faith in your heart...let us gather and rejoice!
Here's an excerpt (note: this is most definitely the LAW portion...come tomorrow to most definitely hear the GOSPEL portion as well!):

Introduction: Authority…Good or Bad?

  1. God’s authority was staring me face-to-face through the fourth commandment: “Honor you father and your mother.”
  2. I was about five years old, and my whole family was sitting around the kitchen table for dinner. My dad and mom gave me an order: “Eat your sweet potatoes!”
  3. But I had a problem: at the time, I could not stand sweet potatoes! Much to my great shame, I did not obey my parents. To this open defiance, my oldest brother Larry (13 years my senior) decided to try intimidation. He pointed his finger at me, and using the most threatening voice he could muster said, “EAT YOUR SWEET POTATOES!” By this point, my sinful nature was in full bloom. I got up and made a stand and said, “NO!”
  4. And in that instance I proved what it means to be a sinner: God asserts His authority, and then we assert ours.
  5. This state of affairs reminds me of a story one of my college professors shared. He had been thoroughly witnessing to a colleague and unleashed his formidable arsenal of Christian apologetics. In the end, his colleague said that strictly on an intellectual level my former college professor had completely convinced him that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was absolutely true. He said, however sadly, that he would not follow it because quote, “He was having too much fun.” This too was open defiance. God said, “follow me!” But the man said, “NO!”
  6. This is the heart and soul of sin: it is putting our authority (no matter how illusory it may be) over God’s true and legitimate authority.

Part I:  Along the way, however, not only do we disrespect the Lord and His authority, but we make up sinful excuses!

  1. He now sends you forth to live joyfully. By His authority, you are free to love and serve God; free to love and serve others.
  2. But sinners shamelessly question the Lord’s authority!

Recall that up to this point in Matthew chapter 21 the Lord had demonstrated His authority through His many miracles and His amazing prophetic preaching. This was the Creator of all things (Colossians 1), the One who commanded the wind and the waves, walked on water, fed the multitudes, raised the dead, and yet He is questioned:

Matthew 21:23: “When [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’”

  1. The key word here is “authority.” It means “absolute power” and “warrant.” In this case, the person referred to has the right and power to do what they do.
  2. Jesus’ authority is completely intact and He is fully vested with the power and authority of God. To question His authority is ludicrous; it’s like saying that He didn’t have the right to create us. Of course He did.
  3. The true problem is a moral one, and it begins because we feel threatened by God.
  4. When the text mentions the “chief priests and the elders of the people,” these refer to the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the Great Council of the Jewish Church. These men had great power, prestige, and authority. Point blank Jesus threatened their position.
  5. How often does this occur?
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor Espinosa

Tomorrow Sunday September 21st 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The First Last, the Last First” (Matthew 20:1-16)

20Sep/14Off

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 Jesus Christ,

There is a natural part of us that doesn't "get" nor like the Lord's math and sense of what is fair. We have standards! And those standards are law-based. If we work harder than someone else, we deserve more. That's the way "it works!"
This approach, however, has nothing to do with our new status in Christ, and God's grace poured out upon us.
It is a common problem, however, to try to make God's circle of grace fit into our square, legalistic holes...but again, they don't correspond.
The practical implications are tremendous, but if we keep insisting on the inconsistency, we bring great frustration and bitterness into our souls. We're called to repent.
Tomorrow morning, the Word of Jesus will be given, we will receive special music from a gifted harpist, and Christ's body and blood will wash away your sin once again; keeping you in Christ and Christ in you. It is day for rejoicing! Hope to see you in worship!
Here's an excerpt from tomorrow's sermon:

“The First Last, the Last First” (Matthew 20:1-16)

For Your Life in Christ the 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

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

Pastor Espinosa

Introduction: This parable in Matthew 20:1-16 of “the laborers” or “the workers” or “the hours” needs the backdrop of Matthew 19:16-30. Remember context is very important for proper understanding.

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

  1. The entire parable is meant to explain what Jesus taught in chapter 19, and is meant especially as an elucidation of 19:30:

 

Matthew 19:30: “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

  1. When he teaches today’s parable in Matthew 20:1-16, he concludes with similar words:

Matthew 20:16: “So the last will be first, and the first last.”

  1. In saying this, Jesus was answering Peter’s initial concern which is also ours: on what basis will we have eternal life? Peter expresses his concern in the form of a statement and a question:

Matthew 19:27: “Then Peter said in reply, ‘See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?’”

  1. After all, if it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to be saved, Peter had good reason to be a little concerned about his own status!
  2. Jesus assures Peter and the other disciples as he describes their reward based on those who truly follow Christ: [quote] “for [His] name’s sake.” [don’t miss the emphasis]
  3. That is, the matter of our attitude, what is going on in our hearts and souls has everything to do with our place in the parable. Do we do what we do as Christians for our own sake, to look good, to pay off God, to receive honor, to have a better status, to be admired in society, to get along with family, etc. OR do we do what we do as Christians for the sake of the name of Jesus?!

Part I: So what IS Going On in Our Hearts?

  1. In other words, we are already in trouble! Because our hearts are full of sin!

Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

  1. Peter, like us, shows disconcerting signs right off the bat as he takes inventory of what he has done: we are self-centered. Let me be clear that the parable in Matthew 20 is about the kingdom of heaven on earth which is the visible church. Jesus is talking about people in the Christian Church. Like Peter we want to compare ourselves to others.
  2. To understand God’s answer to our grave problem, we need this parable. Now remember that this is a parable, so the symbols correspond to a greater reality. For example, the denarius is symbolic of God’s grace given to us all; and the hours represented by the words “in the morning,” and then “the 3rd hour, the 6th hour, the 9th hour, and the eleventh hour” are symbolic of how we sinfully compare ourselves to others. Bottom line, we easily think this way: “When I compare myself to so and so, I don’t think God’s treatment is fair!”
  3. What is going on in our hearts is that we want to treat God not in a relationship of grace, but in a relationship of law, contract, or agreement like the beginning of Matthew 20 indicates. The first workers go forth working based on an agreement (v 2). Now this is not bad in and of itself. For example, when I stood before God to be ordained as a pastor, I did make an agreement even in the context of God’s call. During my installation, you also made an agreement. But the problem comes when we begin to treat our relationship with God as a matter of our accomplishment and what we think we deserve. This is the terrible problem raised by our flesh.
  4. Service within the church, however, is not based on the LAW, but on the GOSPEL. If, however, we insist to make our relationship with God based on Law, we will forfeit – really reject and deny – the grace of God, so that the words of Jesus will come true: the first – those called and who believe they are better than others – will be last.
In Jesus' Love,
Pastor
p.s. Confirmation is tomorrow at 3 pm at my place!

Tomorrow September 14th 2014 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “A Reasonable Question” (Matthew 18:21-35)

13Sep/14Off

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,

I recently read from a wise man: "God forgives without limits and without counting." A simple and profound sentence at the same time. I hope to see you in God's house to hear more on this vital message...it is what frees us from bondage; it is what sets us free to be people of God. The evil one desires to keep us tied up with a ball and chain of sin; Christ has come to set us free simply on account of His taking our ball and chain from us: His forgiveness is the key. This is one of those things in the faith that we think we know so well because we hear it -- we think -- all the time, but it just might be the easiest thing in the world to take for granted (and thereby forget; and thereby cease enjoying the release). Come, let us do more than remember...let us receive through Word and Sacrament.
A separate word...
I want to take this opportunity to simply say thanks. It is such a privilege (and pleasure) to serve this congregation, all of you.
Today is my brother's birthday (my brother Larry). He has turned 62. I need to call him today and say, "Happy Birthday." These things strike me at this stage in my life: I have three siblings, one is retired, and two retire this coming year. It makes me think about "what next?" for me...I know the answer (if the Lord permits it). I look forward to service here for as long as He will permit. We have much work to do, good work, and I am glad for the opportunity to do it.
I share this because longevity, stability, and commitment are important. It permits a pastor to "follow" his flock through life. I am mindful of this esp. today. Many years ago I confirmed a young lady in junior high school at the time. Her name is Samantha. Today, I will conduct her wedding. Samantha is now in the U.S. Navy and she will become one with Marcus who serves as a U.S. Marine. It is important to follow people through life...these are the best relationships.
This is what I desire in my service to you: through the ups and through the downs.
This is a portion of this morning's prayer from Lutheran Book of Prayer:
"Keep me steadfast in the awareness of Your protection and in faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, Your Son. Lord, make me mindful of the temptations of sinful care, selfishness, and impure desires, which beset me on every side and from within. Help me in this hour to put on anew the armor of light, that I may be fitted with every weapon of offense and defense against the perils that threaten my spiritual life. Let Your Gospel call me with new sweetness to be reconciled to You; let Your Spirit call me with new power to follow You. Teach me to live this day as though it is my last on earth, knowing that whether I live or whether I die I am present with You. Be my Protector, my Guide, and my Father; for Jesus' sake. Amen."
 
I hope to see you in God's house tomorrow!
 
In Jesus' love,
 
Pastor