Pentecost Sunday

May 31, 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.

The minister says the Prayer of the Day.

Holy Spirit, God and Lord, come to us this joyful day with your sevenfold gift of grace.  Rekindle in our hearts the holy fire of your love that in a true and living faith we may tell abroad the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Father, one God, now and forever.

 

C:     Amen

The Word

FIRST LESSON – Joel 2:28-29

The prophet foretells the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day.

And afterward, I will pour out my spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.  (NIV1984)

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 51b

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare Your praise.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from Your presence

or take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me,

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,

and sinners will turn back to you.

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 – Acts 2:1-21eba

Luke records the details of that first Pentecost Day.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  Utterly amazed, they asked:  “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?  Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs— we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”  Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”  Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:  “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.  These men are not drunk, as you suppose.  It’s only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.  I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.  And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ”   (NIV1984)

 

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people, and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Alleluia.

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 – John 16:5-11 (Sermon Text)

Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit as a special Counselor for His disciples, as they live out their faith in Jesus.

“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth:  It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:  in regard to sin, because men to do not believe me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”  (NIV1984)

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

SERMON  God the Holy Spirit Is Our Guidance Counselor for Life!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As I was studying our sermon text for today and as I was formulating how I wanted to place this portion of Scripture before you this morning I almost automatically focused on Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit as the “Counselor.”  That thought led me to think of a friend of mine back in Michigan.  Her name is Lynn.  Lynn is a Guidance Counselor at a high school.  She is responsible for guiding and for counseling the students as they navigate their high school years.

Since I had an idea of what I wanted to include in this sermon I emailed Lynn and asked her how the words comfort, convict and convince tie in with her work as a Guidance Counselor.  In reference to the word comfort Lynn wrote, “As a high school counselor, one of the best ways to comfort students is to assist them in solving their own problems.  They often cannot actually fix the problem, but I can guide them to recognize tools in their own arsenal that allow them to work through, deal with and self soothe.  Hopefully they will remember and try to apply their tools to other problems as they come up throughout their lives.”  When it came to the word convict Lynn made it abundantly clear that she does not do this because “that is the assistant principal’s/principal’s job!  LOL.”   And when it came to the word convince Lynn said that if there is an issue in the life of a student that needs to be dealt with “I try to convince them of other ways to view their situation.”

While I certainly would not draw too tight of a comparison between the work that Lynn does as a high school Guidance Counselor and the work of the “Counselor” Whom Jesus promised to send to His disciples, I think it does give us a beneficial perspective on our sermon text for this Pentecost Sunday.  With that in mind let’s see how this portion of Scripture helps us to understand this truth:  God the Holy Spirit is Our Guidance Counselor for Life!

Unlike our Old Testament lesson for today (Joel 2:28, 29) which is clearly a prophecy of the gift of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the first New Testament day of Pentecost and unlike our Epistle Lesson for today (Acts 2:1-21) which is clearly the fulfillment of that prophecy, our sermon text for today may not automatically have such a clear connection to the fact that today is Pentecost Sunday.  These words were originally spoken by our Savior in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday.  There in the Upper Room the joy of celebrating the very last Passover meal that would ever be necessary plus the joy of celebrating the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for the very first time was shrouded by grief and sadness.  What was causing this grief and sadness?  There were two causes.  First, Jesus had once again told His disciples what was about to happen— His betrayal by one of the disciples, Peter’s denial and the fact that Jesus was “going away”— a reference to His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  The second cause of this grief and sadness was the fact that after Jesus went away Satan and the unbelieving world would focus all of their anger and all of their hatred on Jesus’ disciples.

To overcome that grief and sadness and to protect them against that anger and hatred Jesus promised His disciples that even though He would no longer be visibly present among them He would not leave them alone to simply fend for themselves!  Look at what the Lord says in the opening half our text, “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me. ‘Where are you going?’  Because I have said these things you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth:  It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

The disciples’ grief had so paralyzed their minds that they didn’t even think to ask Jesus where He was going!  Some of us can very easily relate to how grief can do that to us.  It muddles our minds to that we can’t think or see clearly.  But Jesus gently overcomes that grief by assuring His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away.”  What an incredible statement!  How could Jesus’ departure be “good” or “advantageous” for the disciples?  Think about it.  For three years the disciples had enjoyed the unique advantage of having the true eternal Son of God physically present among them!  For three years they watched Jesus perform miracles.  For three years they heard Jesus teach the Truth of God’s holy inspired Word.  For three years they listened as Jesus refuted the false teachings of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Teachers of the Law.  And now it was for the disciples’ “good” that Jesus was going away?  How “good” could that be?

How Jesus’ departure would be “advantageous” for His disciples would be found in the fact that after He was gone Jesus would send His disciples the “Counselor.”  The Greek word that is translated here as “Counselor” is the word “Paraclete.”  Very literally a “paraclete” is someone who calls you to their side.  This word can also be translated as “Comforter” and as “Advocate.”  In the legal system of this day and age a “paraclete” was a legal assistant who helped you by serving as your advocate and pleading your case in court.

Think of what this meant for Jesus’ disciples.  Even though Jesus was “going away,” even though Jesus would no longer be visibly or physically present among His disciples, the “Counselor,” the “Comforter,” the “Paraclete” that Jesus would send to them would be their “Guidance Counselor” for their entire lives!  As their “Guidance Counselor” for life God the Holy Spirit would provide an unlimited source of “guidance,” “counsel” and“comfort” for Jesus’ disciples.

We don’t have to think long and hard to understand how the Holy Spirit guides and comforts Jesus’ disciples, do we.  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit continues to serve as our “Guidance Counselor” by providing us with comfort throughout our entire lives here on this earth.  How does the Holy Spirit comfort you and me?  The answer to that question is one with which you are very familiar.  God the Holy Spirit continually points us to the “tools” that He has given to us— God’s holy inspired Word and God’s holy Sacraments.

Even during this pandemic God the Holy Spirit comforts us by coming to us in His holy Word to keep us focused on Jesus and what Jesus has done for us.  (Pointing to the cross)  No matter how much turmoil this pandemic has brought into our lives, no matter how much uncertainty we face from one day to the next our “Guidance Counselor,” our “Paraclete” calls us to His side and through His holy Word He comforts us with the knowledge that Jesus’ Easter victory still stands firm and it still shines brightly.  So if you need comfort, my friends, comfort to get you through these troublesome times, comfort to guide you through these uncertain days, open up your Bibles and let the Holy Spirit do what He does best— take you by the hand, lead you to the cross and assure you that because of Who your Brother is, because of what your Brother has done for you and because of the wonderful promises your Brother has given to you— everything will be alright.  And when we are allowed to gather together again in God’s house I pray that all of us will have an even greater desire and an even greater appreciation for receiving the Lord’s holy Supper.  Through this precious Supper our “Guidance Counselor” for life gives us the priceless precious comfort of knowing that all of our sins are completely forgiven!

Now look at the second portion of our text, verse 8-11.  Jesus continues, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:  in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

As we study these verses I’d like us to take a little different perspective on our theme for today:  God the Holy Spirit is Our Guidance Counselor for Life!  We’ve already seen how God the Holy Spirit guides us and counsels us throughout our entire lives with His holy Word and Sacrament.  Now let’s see how God the Holy Spirit is our “Guidance Counselor” for life— as in eternal life!

To help us understand these verses correctly I think we need to drill down on the Greek word which is translated by the NIV as “convict.”  According to The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology this Greek word means, “bring to light, expose, set forth, convict, convince.” In John 3:20 this same word is translated as “expose”— “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  In 2 Timothy 3:16 this same word is translated as “rebuke”— All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  What helped me was to look at these verses in this way:  God the Holy Spirit is our “Guidance Counselor” who uses the Scriptures to try and “convince” unbelievers and/or our own sinful nature that their view of “sin and righteousness and judgment” can only lead them to eternal death.  If they are not “convinced” of that reality, if they do not repent and change their view of “sin and righteousness and judgment” then when they stand before the judgment seat of God to give an account of their life, they will be “convicted of guilt.”  (See Matthew 12:36, 37; Romans 14:123; 2 Corinthians 5:10)  With that understanding let’s go back to our “Guidance Counselor” “convincing” or “convicting” the world in regard to “sin and righteousness and judgment.”

God the Holy Spirit uses His holy Word to tell the unbelieving world and to tell our old sinful nature that they/we are wrong about sin.  Not only are we sinners but we are wrong about sin itself.  Anyone and everyone who does not believe in Jesus and what Jesus has done for them is wrong about sin.  We can name the sins of others.  We can condemn the sins we personally don’t like.  We can classify sins by degrees.  And we are all wrong!  It takes the Holy Spirit to “convince” us how serious sin is in the eyes of the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.  It takes the Holy Spirit to “convince” us that the only way to avoid being “convicted of guilt in regard to sin” is by trusting in the sacrifice that God’s Son made (Pointing to the cross) to take away both our sin and our guilt!

The unbelieving world and our old sinful nature are also wrong about “righteousness.”  Our natural default setting is that we can become “righteous” all on our own.  If we do the right things, if we do enough “good works” we can be accepted as being worthy of eternal life in heaven, right?  Wrong!  It takes the Holy Spirit to “convince” us that our “righteousness,” even the very best we can possibly do is like “filthy rags” in the eyes of the God of heaven.  (See Isaiah 64:6)  I takes the Holy Spirit to “convince” us that the only way to avoid being “convicted of guilt in regard to righteousness” is by trusting in the only Source of true “righteousness” — the one Who victoriously ascended Home to heaven and is now sitting at the right hand of the heavenly Father.

And finally, the unbelieving world and our own sinful nature is wrong about God’s “judgment.”  When people speak about God’s “judgment” they often speak from the view of how they would judge if they were God.  It’s amazing to me how often people want to decide things for God!  How often have we heard someone say that God is a God of love (which is true!  See 1 John 4:8) and that God would never condemn anyone to a place like hell (which is false!  See Matthew 25:41)  It takes the Holy Spirit to “convince” us that God’s “judgment” on our sins took place right there— the cross of Calvary’s hill.  (Pointing to the cross)  It takes the Holy Spirit to “convince” us that the only way to avoid being “convicted of guilt in regard to judgment” and receiving the very same punishment as “the prince of this world (who) now stands condemned” is by trusting in what Jesus has done for us.

God the Holy Spirit is Our Guidance Counselor for Life!  What a wonderful truth to take to heart on this Pentecost Sunday.  Even though our Savior has ascended into heaven He has not left us alone here on this earth!  He graciously gives us the Holy Spirit as our “Paraclete” as our “Guidance Counselor”!  May the good Lord grant that we will always enjoy the comfort and the guidance that the Holy Spirit gives to us through His holy Word and Sacrament.  May the good Lord grant that we will both treasure and share with others that God the Holy Spirit is the only One whose guidance and counsel can save a person from eternal death and give them the gift of eternal life!

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, divine Counselor, who on Pentecost established the Christian Church through the preaching and hearing of the Word of truth:  continue to bless this Word, both upon the lips of Christ’s witnesses and upon the hearts of all who hear, that countless souls may come to trust in Jesus alone as their Savior from sin.

Divine Helper, we praise you as the Giver of all truth and as the exalter of Jesus Christ, for you have given our Lord’s saving Word to sinners like us and exalted Christ in our hearts by calling us to faith.  Thanks to you, we are now born again children of God and joint heirs of heavenly glory with our Savior.  Comfort us through our faith and having begun your work in us, continue it to the end.  Dwell in us as Counselor, as Teacher and as Protector of God’s truth.  Help us grow in our faith, in our knowledge of salvation and in our love for God.  Keep us from falling prey to false teaching and unbelief.

Remind us always that we are God’s beloved children by faith in Christ, so that we never hesitate to bring all our wants, our troubles, our worries, our desires, our hurts and our illnesses to Him for help and healing.  Filled with your power and your grace, may we have the boldness to witness Christ’s saving name to an unbelieving world, ever confessing and never denying that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

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.