Messages from Pastor Raddatz

October 10, 2021, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX Other texts for the day: Psalm 90:12-17, Hebrews 3:12-19 and Mark 10:17-22

“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.”  Amos 5:14 ESV

Dear People of God,


Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and savior Jesus Christ,


You have probably sung a “dirge” and did not know it.  The first time I remember hearing the word dirge was in the song, “American Pie” written and sung by Don Mclean.  It was about fifty years ago this year that Mclean wrote about “the day the music died”.   It was written as a reflection on the death of According to McLean, "American Pie" was originally inspired by the death of Buddy Holly. "I loved his music," he told Songfacts. "When that whole crash happened, it was a real ache in my heart. So, I ended up bringing back all those memories of 1959 and the things that happened later."  A “dirge” is a brief song or hymn of crying or grief, usually sung at a funeral.

In the Song American Pie he said that they sang dirges in the dark, "The Day The Music Died".  This is on February 3, 1959, when Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash after a concert. McLean wrote the song from his memories of the event ("Dedicated to Buddy Holly" was printed on the back of the album cover).

            Amos, (flourished 8th century bc), the first Hebrew prophet to have a biblical book named for him. It was a time of prosperity for the children of Israel, and they had left God’s ways. He accurately foretold the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. Needless to say, he was not a popular prophet.

            The children of Israel, who were called to be God’s people were not acting like God’s people.  God accused them of legal injustice 5:7 

The reason for Yahweh's consuming judgment of Israel was that the Israelites were turning sweet justice into something bitter and were throwing righteousness to the ground with disrespect. These figures picture their total contempt for what was right (cf. Prov. 1:3; 2:9; 8:20; 21:3; Isa. 1:21; 5:7; 28:17). Right conduct was the proper action, and justice was the result, but the Israelites had despised both in their courts. Instead of the judicial system functioning like medicine, healing wrongs and soothing the oppressed, the Israelites had turned it into poison

Their own courts had become corrupt.   Even good people did not speak up against evil.  They imposed high rents and taxes of grain on the poor to keep them tenants on the land (cf. Exod. 23:2, 6).  "The small farmer no longer owns his own land; he is a tenant of an urban class to whom he must pay a rental for the use of the land, a rental that was often a lion's share of the grain which the land had produced." -Dr. Constable’s notes

If you spoke up against this evil, you too would be prosecuted.  Therefore Amos called for individual repentance.  


            The only thing that would be good for them to do is to repent of their sins.   Repentance means to turn away from sinning and turn to God.  If they do this, God will not be their prosecutor, but he will defend them.   He desires these children of Israel in the Northern Kingdom to seek God.  By turning to God and not to sin they will find a gracious God who is ready to forgive them.

            God calls us to sincere sorrow and remorse over our sins.  You have been thinking one way about the way you act, but God wants you to think about another way to live.

            To Illustrate, let’s say that a man is learning how to parachute.  So he goes to a parachute school, and they show him how to rig up his gear, how to pull the rip cord and how to land safely.   Finally the day comes when they take him up in an airplane.  He’s scared to death but, he’s afraid to back out.  The moment comes when he is to jump. -ILLUSTRATIONS.COM


            The power to change comes from outside ourselves.  It comes from God.  This is why seeking the Lord gives life.  This goes against our world that says, “Change comes from inside ourselves”.   It is only the Lord who can change our heart.

            Repentance can be confusing.  I hope to clear it up.  Centuries ago, the Roman system of repentance means that three steps have to be accomplished before forgiveness is granted:

  1. CONTRITION-contrition: a lamenting or sorrow of your sins.
  2. VERBAL CONFESSION-a listing of his personal sins to a confessor, with sorrow.
  3. SATISFACTION-this is where the priest prescribed actions for the penitent to complete in order to pay for his sins.

This comes from a mistranslation of Jerome’s Greek translation into Latin of Matthew 4:17, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” NASB.  Jerome translated the Greek word as “do penance” rather than “to be penitent”.   Luther pointed out the folly of Rome’s false system and the uncertain state of forgiveness it yielded.  How could a sinner know if he was contrite enough of if he had made sufficient confession?

To repent is simply to see that nothing good dwells in our hearts and to therefore look entirely outside of ourselves to the Savior.  How can we ever “scrape the bottom of the barrel” of our sinfulness and sinful motives?   Any attempt to understand and analyze our sin is never ending (Cf. Jeremiah 17:9, and Psalm 51:3-5).  -Cruciform Press


… The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sins” -1 John 4:7. By seeking God and living, it means that we live in repentance and faith.  I find it helps to look at the doctrine of repentance like a coin: one side is to turn away from sin (REPENT) and the other side of the coin is to turn to God (FAITH).

We don’t have to sing dirges in the dark about our sin.  Instead God calls us praise him for accomplishing the total forgiveness of all our sins through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

This peace which passes all human understanding will keep your heart and your mind in the one true faith in Christ Jesus to life everlasting.  Amen

Your Fellow Servant, in Christ,

Pastor John Raddatz

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