The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

July 12, 2020

 

SERVICE OF THE WORD

This service offers the congregation a form of worship that focuses on the proclamation of God’s Word.  Believers respond to this divine gift with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.  The service begins on page 38 in the front of the hymnal.

 

M:       We worship today in the name of our Triune God— God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

C:        Amen

Confession of Sins

M:       We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve Him as His dear children.  But we have disobeyed Him and deserve only His wrath and punishment.  Therefore, let us confess our sins to Him and plead for His mercy.

C:        Merciful Father in heaven, I am altogether sinful from birth.  In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child.  But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray:  Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love.  Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.

M:       God, our heavenly Father has forgiven all your sins.  By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt forever.  You are His own dear child.  May God give you strength to live according to His will.

C:        Amen.

Prayer and Praise

M:       In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.

C:        Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.  Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Your faithfulness continues forever.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed are they who take refuge in Him.

PRAYER OF THE DAY

M:       Let us pray.

O God, you have prepared joys beyond understanding for those who love you.  Pour into our hearts such love for you that, loving you above all things, we may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire: we ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:     Amen

The Word

FIRST LESSON – Jeremiah 28:5-9

Love for God brings a love for His Word.  The false prophet Hananiah spoke his own words and Jeremiah reminds him that only prophecies from the true God will come true.

Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD.  He said, “Amen! May the LORD do so!  May the LORD fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the LORD’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon.  Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people:  “From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms.  But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.” (NIV1984)

 PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 89

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever;

I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations.

I will declare that Your love stands firm forever,

that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.

The heavens praise Your wonders, O LORD,

Your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.

O LORD God Almighty, who is like You?

You are mighty, O LORD, and Your faithfulness surrounds you.

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,

who walk in the light of Your presence, O LORD.

They rejoice in Your name all day long;

they exult in Your righteousness.

.           Glory be to the Father and to the Son

                        and to the Holy Spirit,

            as it was in the beginning,

                        is now, and will be forever.  Amen

 

SECOND LESSON – Romans 6:1-11 (Sermon Text)eba

Through Holy Baptism we participate in Christ’s death and resurrection.  Sin no longer has dominion over us.  We are free to live a godly life here on earth and forever in heaven.

What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NIV1984)

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Alleluia.  (Mark 8:34b)

CAlleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is

       the Christ, the Son of God.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

GOSPEL LESSON – Matthew 10:34-42

Love for God and the demonstration of that love toward others is a vital part of Christian life.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—  a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.  Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.  Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.  And if any gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (NIV1984)

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

SERMON  Wanted:  Dead and Alive!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

When I was a young boy— probably about Isaac’s age— I loved watching movies about the Old West.  “Go west young man!” was much more than just a sound bite.  To me it was an entire philosophy of life.  In the Old West land was plentiful as well as cheap.  In the Old West the main ingredients needed for success were a strong back and true grit.  It was a very rugged yet a very fulfilling time for many people.  But unfortunately, there were those who took advantage of the situation.  When someone really made a nuisance of themself they usually ended up with their face on a poster which read, Wanted:  Dead or Alive.  The implication was clear.

Usually when we refer to someone as being “wanted” it almost automatically has a negative flavor to it.  But that is not always true.  As we turn our attention to the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans Paul clearly reminds us that as God’s children we are all “wanted.”  We are ”wanted” by God!  We are “wanted” for the purpose of openly living as a redeemed and justified child of the one and only true God!  Using a little bit of a play on words then let’s study this text under the theme:  Wanted:  Dead and Alive!

Critical to a proper understanding of this text is the realization that Paul has just finished contrasting the disobedience of the first Adam with the obedience of the second Adam.  Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden brought sin into God’s once perfect Creation.  Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden infected the DNA of every human being— except for One of course!  This is what we call Original Sin.  Then in the verses preceding our text for this morning Paul emphasizes two additional points.  First of all, he reminds us that when God gave His written Law to the Children of Israel the “sin” of the human race “increased” because now it was clearer than ever before what the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth does and does not want/expect of each and every human being.  Secondly, Paul stresses that God’s grace is so great and so wonderful and so amazing that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (5:20).  Think about it.  If the sins of the world came up to here, God’s grace would rise significantly higher!

Now to us that is a very comforting truth, my friends.  We have the assurance of knowing that no matter how bad and no matter how numerous our sins may be, our loving God has already completely forgiven all of them!  Unfortunately, some people— including some people in Paul’s day— tried to take advantage of this truth.  They tried to use the truth which was intended to comfort us as a license to do whatever they want.  Their rationale is this:  If God is willing to forgive all of our sins then, hey, we might as well sin as much as we want— right?  We might as well cheat on our spouse.  We might as well just take what we want.  We might as well live our life however we want because God will forgive us anyway— right?  Hardly.  Paul writes, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”  Martin Luther emphasized this truth when he said, “Sin is forgiven not so that we may continue in it but that we might break loose from it; otherwise it would be called a per-mission of sins and not a re-mission of sin.”  Purely out of His eternal, glorious, amazing grace the God of heaven reached into the cesspool of sins in which we were drowning for time and for eternity, He pulled us out, He cleaned us off and He set us on the rock-solid foundation of His Righteousness and His Truth.  (Pointing to the cross)  God also promises that if we slip back into that cesspool out of weakness or negligence He will reach in and pull us out again.  But that in no way means that we are free to consciously and willingly dive back into the cesspool of sin simply because that’s what “everybody else” is doing or because that is where the “action” is!  We are to see our old way of life for the stinky rotten repulsive cesspool that it is and daily say to ourselves, “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

When it comes to sin, when it comes to walking in the ways of this world, we are to consider ourselves as being dead— a lifeless corpse.  And just as a corpse is cut off from the daily events of the living so also we are to be separated from the daily activities of sin.  It is simply out of the question for us to become willingly involved in sin much less controlled by sin.  But is that even realistic— especially in our open permissive society today?  It most certainly is!  Paul goes on to say, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”  Here , my friends, is where we gain unparalleled comfort from knowing that Baptism is not just a quaint tradition.  Baptism is not just a nice ceremony.  Baptism is not just a time to officially “christen” a child with a name!  Baptism is a sacrament— something that the God of heaven does for us!  It is a sacrament through which we are baptized “into Christ Jesus”!

I’d like you to picture a sphere.  That sphere represents the grace of God revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ.  By nature we were completely outside the sphere of God’s grace.  By nature we were unable to access any of the wonderful blessings God’s grace has stored up for us— such as the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation.  But when we were baptized with water in the Name of the Triune God we were brought inside that sphere!  We are now “connected” to the grace of God.  We are now “connected” to Jesus Christ in a very special way.  How?  The first step in understanding how we are connected to Jesus is to understand that when Jesus died on the cross (Pointing to the cross) our old sinful nature died too!  Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism Jesus’ death became our death.  Our motivation then for not sinning, our reason for not thinking, speaking, and acting like the sinful world around us is not because we are afraid of God’s punishment!  No, the reason we don’t live a life of sin is because we know that the nails which pierced the hands and feet of our Savior and suspended Him upon the cross until He was dead, pierced the hands and feet of our sinful nature as well!  Yes, through Baptism we died on that cross along with God’s only begotten Son!

Paul’s parallelism, however, does not end there.  He goes on to tell us, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death.”  Whenever something dies it has to be buried.  We all know what happens if it is not buried.  So also with our old sinful nature.  Instead of embalming our sinful nature or instead of preserving it in a glass coffin so that we can look at it now and then and say, “Ah, I remember when…” our old sinful nature has been buried with Christ.  It’s behind us.  It’s simply not to be a part of our day to day life as a redeemed child of God.  Leave it buried, my friends.  Don’t dig it up now and then, dust it off and see what it can still do.  Leave your sinful nature dead and buried so that it no longer exercises any control in your life.  Digging it up will only bring you pain and sorrow and headache.  This is what Martin Luther was emphasizing when he taught us to confess these words, “Baptism means that the sinful nature in us should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and that all its evil deeds and desires be put to death.”

By now it is very clear to us what Paul means when he says that as God’s baptized children we are “dead to sin.”  But true to form Paul does not end there!  He goes on to say, “If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection…If we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”  Now these words almost sound as though they belong in a sermon text for Easter Sunday!  We know that Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead guarantees to us that one day we too shall rise from our graves and live with Jesus forever in heaven— Hallelujah!  But that’s not really what Paul is emphasizing here.  In this portion of our text Paul is talking about our life right here and now.

Just as Jesus rose from the dead and lived on this earth for forty days before He ascended into heaven— so also we!  We have been born again through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism!  We have been given a new life as the children of God and that is how we are to live!  Remember that sphere I asked you to imagine a few moments ago?  The grace that we have in Jesus Christ is to go with us wherever we go.  The grace that we have in Jesus Christ is to have a powerful direct effect on absolutely every aspect of our life!  We are to live as Jesus would live.  We are to think as Jesus would think.  We are to talk as Jesus would talk.  We are to treat other people as Jesus Himself would treat them!  In effect, we are to live as Christians.  We are to be like a little Jesus for as long as the Lord leaves us here on this earth.  That’s precisely why Martin Luther also taught us to confess concerning our Baptism, “It also means that a new person should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

Wanted:  Dead and Alive!  Or as Paul says in the closing verse of our text, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  By virtue of our baptism this is who we are.  May God grant that who we are will always be evident in what we do, in what we think, in what we say and in how we treat others.

To God be the glory!

Amen

APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.  From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.

 OFFERING

During this time of uncertainty we still want to bring our thank offerings to our dear Lord and Savior.  We ask that you continue to set your offerings aside so that when we are able to come together again in God’s House we will be able to place our offerings on His altar.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH

O Holy Spirit, we humbly thank you that through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism you have made the Gospel of salvation known to us and brought us to faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.  Let nothing please us more than the assurance that we are born-again children of God and heirs of eternal life.  Let nothing give us greater joy and satisfaction than knowing that through faith in what Jesus has done for us all of our sins are completely forgiven.

Divine Counselor, daily bestow your grace upon us that we may have the will to resist all temptations to sin and the power to overcome all attacks made upon our faith.  Guide us daily along the path of godliness and compel us by our love for Christ to fill our lives with all manner of good works— fruits of faith worked by you.  Help us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to deal honestly and faithfully with them, to be patient and kind and forgiving toward them and to help them in their hour of need. Guard our lips from sinful speech, our hearts from lust and our minds from malicious thoughts.  Center our lives in God and above all things help our hearts to desire His great love and mercy, which is already ours through Christ.  Make us willing to suffer the loss of all things, even death, rather than fall away from our Savior.

Spirit of truth we confess we often neglect your divine Word.  All too easily we allow worldly matters to keep us from reading and studying Scripture for ourselves.  Help us remedy this spiritual weakness and to include at least some study of your Word in our daily schedules.  And as we read and meditate, grant us spiritual growth and blessings according to your promise.

Do not permit us to be discouraged by the wickedness of this present evil world.  Help us to await with longing hearts the second Advent of our Savior, who will take us to Himself in heaven.  Reveal the treasure of the Gospel to the hearts of sinners everywhere and turn them from their sins and unbelief to Christ.  It is in His name that we make these and all our requests.

LORD’S PRAYER

C:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

M:       O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people.  Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:        Amen.

M:       Brothers and sisters, go in peace.  Live in harmony with one another.  Serve the Lord with gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.  The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

C:        Amen.