Messages from Pastor Raddatz

June 11, 2023, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX, Other Readings for Today: Hosea 5:15-6:6 and Romans 4:13-25


Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

    Part of growing up is finding a place in the world where you can work to provide shelter, food and clothing.  This is not only the place where you can earn a living, but where you can live out God’s call on your life.  This is why it is vitally important that we remember our Vocation.

VOCATION: God’s call upon every area of our life.  This is not to be confused with becoming a church worker, but with becoming God’s person in our day-to-day work.


In our reading for today, Jesus calls Matthew to follow him.  Matthew was a tax collector and therefore despised by the Jews.

The Jews detested the publicans because

•    They represented the dominance of a foreign power, the Romans;

•    They were considered traitors to the Jews;

•    They often took more tax money than they were supposed to.

These three in addition to the fact that no one likes to pay taxes. It cannot be determined whether Matthew was a principal customs collector or one of his subordinates. It makes no difference. Very likely Matthew had heard Jesus preach before or at least had heard about His preaching.

Fahling wrote: Long before the eventful day which forever decided his future life he had probably in his heart become a disciple of Jesus. But on account of his social standing, being a despised publican, he did not dare to hope for personal recognition, far less for a call to discipleship. He was mistaken.

    When Jesus calls Matthew, “he rose and followed him.” V. 9.

    In much the same way Jesus calls you to follow him.  He was calling you before you were probably aware.


    None of us could come to Jesus if he did not call us.  

    In writing about our inability to come to Jesus without God’s call Luther wrote: “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightens me with his gifts, sanctifies and keeps me in the faith.” -Luther’s Small Catechism, 3rd Article, explanation.

    We, just like Matthew are sinners.  We have fallen short of God’s expectations for our life.  It is not as important what people think about us than what God thinks about us.  It is like when you throw a dart at a dart board.  God’s expectation is perfection, which means hitting the bullseye.  Whether we can hit it or not is not the question.  Even if we were to hit the bullseye, we cannot hit it every time.

    But the beautiful thing about Jesus’ call on your life is that he has hit the bullseye of God’s expectations.  He has lived the perfect life and he gives you his perfection.

    According to Matthew 9:10 the result of God’s love is that he has not called those who think they are righteous, but Jesus calls sinners.  Look at verse 10 with me:  And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  God and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE MERCY, AND NOT SACRIFICE.’ FOR I CAME NOT TO CALL THE RIGHTEOUS, BUT SINNERS. ESV

    The church is a spiritual hospital.  We are all sin sick sinners.  Our souls need the great physician. All of us need Jesus’ mercy.  He does not condemn us, but he gives us the highest calling: a follower (disciple) of Jesus.


Playing Second Fiddle

An Admirer once asked Leonard Bernstein, celebrated orchestra conductor, what was the hardest instrument to play. He replied without hesitation: “Second fiddle. I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.” -Andy Cook

    So much has been written about “leadership” but there is not much written about followership.  Discipleship is about both: who we follow and how we lead our life.  -Playing Second

In Eugene Peterson’s book running with horses he warns that there can be two types of religion when following Jesus.  

1.    One is calling on him when we are out of our depth and need divine help and guidance.  

2.    The other is a dangerous discipleship which seems content with handling the mundane things like a checkbook or cleaning a kitchen where we do not need Jesus at all.  

The fact of the matter is we need Jesus for all parts of life.  

Some of us still use calling cards or name cards.  It tells you a person’s name, what they do (maybe they have a title) and how to get hold of them.

May you always know that Jesus’ has claimed you as his.  What we do is not as important as how we do what we do.  In other words: We are God’s servant first and we live out that calling in whatever ways God leads.  Know that God’s call on your life is irrevocable and that he will guide you all the days of your life.

May this peace which passes all single human understanding keep your hear and your mind in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting. Amen

Pastor John Raddatz

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