The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

June 28, 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, protector of all the faithful, you alone make strong; you alone make holy.  Show us your mercy and forgive our sins day by day.  Guide us through our earthly lives that we do not lose the things you have prepared for us in heaven; 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 – Exodus 19:2-8a

Moses reminds the people of Israel that God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt.

After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.  Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:  ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’  These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”  So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak.  The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.”  So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD. (NIV1984)

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness;

come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God.

It is He who made us, and we are His;

we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;

give thanks to Him and praise His name.

For the LORD is good and His love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations.

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 5:6-11 (Sermon Text)

The inspired apostle reveals that while we were still “powerless,” “ungodly,” “sinners,” and “God’s enemies,” Christ willingly died for us and reconciled us to God.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (NIV1984)

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy.  Alleluia.  (Psalm 132:9)

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 9:35-10:8

Jesus sends His disciples to share the message of healing and freedom in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.  These are the names of the twelve apostles:  first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.  These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions:  “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.  As you go, preach this message:  ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.” (NIV1984)

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

SERMON  The Confidence of the Christian Faith!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Confidence.  According to Webster’s dictionary confidence means:  “1. Firm belief; trust; reliance 2. The fact of being or feeling certain; assurance.”  Confidence is something that can wax and wane inside of us depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in.  When your child or your grandchild comes running across the room calling your name are you confident of the love that exists between you?  Absolutely!  Now that the Shelter-in-Place order is being relaxed somewhat are you confident about going to see a movie anytime soon?  Maybe— and maybe not!  When you get in your car and turn the key are you confident that your engine will start?  Sure you are— unless you’ve been having car troubles.  Then you might say a short prayer before you turn the key.

Confidence is indeed something that can wax and wane inside of us depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in.  There are certain circumstances— and certain people— that literally fill us with confidence.  At the same time, I am sure that we can all look back over the course of our life and remember certain circumstances or picture certain people who for one reason or another did not fill us with a great deal of confidence.

Because we have all experienced situations in our life when we felt very confident and since we all know people who may not fill us with a great deal of confidence let’s study this portion of holy Scripture under the theme:  The Confidence of the Christian Faith.  There are two things we want to see this morning.  First of all, let’s see that the confidence of the Christian faith is based on the love of God.  Then let’s see that the confidence of the Christian faith is based on the works of God.

Look at verse eight of our text.  Paul proclaims, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Notice, my friends, that the Bible does not debate the question of whether or not you and I are sinners.  It is an absolute undeniable fact that we were conceived and born in sin.  (See Psalm 51:5)  Anyone who doubts that fact has never gone shopping with a two year old who decides to throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the mall and they have probably never attended a funeral for an infant.  It is also an undeniable fact that whether in our hearts (See Matthew 5:28; Matthew 15:19-20) or in our minds (Romans 13:14; Mark 2:6-8; Ephesians 4:17-19) whether it is with our words or our actions (Exodus 20:1-17; James 3:1-12) we sin against the Lord God Almighty each and every day.  Anyone who doubts that fact is either simply not being honest with themselves or they simply do not have any confidence in the holy Scriptures.  Ultimately the undeniable proof that we are sinners, the undeniable proof that the Bible is correct is found in the fact that one day we will— die!  As the Bible declares, The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).

No, my friends, the Bible does not allow for a debate on the question of whether or not you and I are sinners.  There is ample evidence to support the fact that we are right on target when we stand up in church and confess that we are by nature sinful, that we have disobeyed God in our thoughts, words and actions and that we deserve His punishment both now and in eternity.

Since our sinfulness is so salient and so serious mankind has desperately been searching for a solution to the problem of sin.  The various belief systems that mankind has developed over the course of time offer various “solutions” to the problem of sin— solutions which almost universally depend on youYou must do this!  You must do that!  But deep down inside all those man-made solutions to the problem of sin make us shudder.  We shudder because even our own conscience condemns us!  (See Romans 2:12-16)  We shudder because deep down inside those man-made solutions to the problem of sin do not offer us any confidence!  Have I done enough?  Am I good enough?  Was I really sincere when I did what I was told I had to do?

The confidence of the Christian faith, my friends, is just that— confidence!  It is an unshakable unparalleled confidence that is based on God’s love for us!  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Pointing to the cross)  Are you a sinner?  You have the confidence of knowing that Jesus died for you!  (Pointing to the cross)  Have you ever fallen short of God’s standard of holiness and perfection?  You have the confidence of knowing that Jesus died for you!  Has your heart ever been tainted by greed or lust or anger or jealousy or pride?  You have the confidence of knowing that Jesus died for you!  Have you ever allowed evil or malicious thoughts to reside in your mind?  You have the confidence of knowing that Jesus died for you!  Have you ever said anything or done anything to hurt or to harm anyone?  You have the confidence of knowing that Jesus died for you!

Why?  Why did Jesus die for you?  Was it because you are such a good person?  Was it because Jesus saw that you had so much “potential”?  Was it because you tried so hard— or at least you tried your best?  You know the answer, my friends.  Jesus died for you because of how much He loves you!  That’s a confidence that no other belief system can even begin to fathom much less offer!

In perfect harmony with the statement that the confidence of the Christian faith is based on the love of God is the statement that the confidence of the Christian faith is based on the works of God.  Look at verses 9 & 10 of our text.  What are the two “works” of God mentioned there?  The work of God mentioned in verse 9 is the work called:  justification.  We have been justified, we have been “Declared:  Not Guilty!” by the one and only living God!  How?  Is our justification based on anything we have done?  Is our justification dependant on something we decide?  Again, the answer is a resounding:  No!  Paul writes, “Since we have now been justified by his blood….”  The debt of our sin has been stamped “Paid in Full!,” the guilt of our sin has been completely washed away, the punishment of our sin has been fully taken care of— all through the holy precious blood of Jesus shed upon the cross of Calvary’s hill.  Yes, my friends, the confidence of the Christian faith is based upon the work that God has completed for us.  We are:  “justified by his blood.”  (Pointing to the cross)

Since we are justified, since our sin has been paid for Paul is able to confidently proclaim to us in verse 10, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son….”  Sin separates us from God.  (See Isaiah 59:2)  Sin makes us enemies of the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.  (See Romans 8:7)  Sin creates a Grand Canyon-like chasm between us and the God of heaven.  Can you cross the canyon of sin on your own?  If you work hard enough can you “build a bridge” to God?  If you try hard enough can you “leap” to God’s side of the canyon?  Not a chance!

Picture the Grand Canyon in your mind.  You are on one side and God is on the other.  For every day you are alive you move one step further away from the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Each step back represents the sins that you have committed against God that day.  Some people have been taking steps backward for 70 or 80 or 90 years!  Others have been taking steps backward for what— two years?  Twenty years?  Now let’s say that at the time of their death everyone is told to run as fast as they can and “jump” across the Grand Canyon.  In every case the result is rather predictable, right?  That picture gives a whole new meaning to the passage, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23).  Whether it’s you or me or anyone else we can not “reconcile” ourselves to God.  We can not close or cross the “canyon of sin” to bring us and God back together so that we are both on the “same side” for all of eternity.

The confidence of the Christian faith, my friends, is this:  What we could not do God has already done!  “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”  Think about that!  Through the death and physical resurrection of God’s Son we have been “reconciled” with the Living God!  Through the death and physical resurrection of God’s Son we have been “put into friendship” with the God of heaven.  Through the death and physical resurrection of God’s Son we are saved— saved for all of eternity!  Yes, the confidence of the Christian faith is based upon the fact that through God’s work of reconciliation the chasm that once separate us from God has been “crossed” by God’s own Son!

Confidence is:  “1. Firm belief; trust; reliance 2. The fact of being or feeling certain; assurance.”  As we look back over the course of our life, as we look at the lives of the people we love it is not difficult to see that our confidence does indeed wax and wane.  Sometimes we are extremely confident.  Sometimes we have no confidence at all.  Praise God, my friends, that this cross (Pointing to the cross) serves as a beautiful consistent reminder to us of the confidence that is ours purely by the grace of God— the confidence of the Christian faith.  Let this cross assure you that the confidence of the Christian faith is indeed based upon the love that your God has for you.  Let this cross assure you that the confidence of the Christian faith is indeed based on the work that God has done for you.

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

Dear Lord God of heaven and earth, in your holy Word you reveal that we are by nature sinful and that that only thing we deserve to receive from you is your punishment.  You have also revealed in your Word that there is nothing we can do to change the situation we are in by nature.  Yet your love found the way!  You sent your only Son to atone for our sins.  Through the cross of your Son we are justified in your eyes!  Through the cross of your Son we have been reconciled to you, the one and only true God!  The confidence of our faith rests solely on your love and on what you have so graciously done for us.  We ask, O Lord, that you forgive us where we have sinned and where our faith has wavered.  We also ask that you strengthen our faith through regular use of your holy Word and Sacrament.

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.