The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 9, 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 Lord, your ears are always open to the prayers of your humble servants, who come to you in Jesus’ Name.  Teach us always to ask according to your will that we may never fail to obtain the blessings you have promised;  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 – 1 Kings 3:5-12

King Solomon is blessed by God with great wisdom.

 

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”  Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart.  You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.  Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David.  But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.  Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.  So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.  For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”  The LORD was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.  So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked.  I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (NIV1984)

 

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 119b

 

Teach me, O LORD, to follow Your decrees;

then I will keep them to the end.

Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law

and obey it with all my heart.

Direct me in the path of Your commands,

for there I find delight.

Turn my eyes away from worthless things;

preserve my life according to Your Word.

Fulfill Your promise to Your servant,

so that You may be feared.

How I long for Your precepts!

Preserve my life 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 8:28-30eba

Before He created us, God knew us and destined us to be His.  Even now there are no accidents in life.  God turns Satan’s evil into good for those who love Him.

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (NIV1984)

 

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Alleluia.  (John 6:68)

 

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 13:44-52 (Sermon Text)

Through His parables, Jesus teaches us the deep truths of heavenly wisdom.

 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.  Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore.  Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  “Have you understood all these things?”  Jesus asked.  “Yes,” they replied.  He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (NIV1984)

 

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

 

SERMON  Rejoice in the Kingdom of Heaven!

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

Many of the people I know have their own personal treasured possession.  For one reason or another we tend to pick out one of our possessions and cherish it more than all the others.  For some people their treasured possession has great sentimental value.  Perhaps it is a piece of jewelry that once belonged to someone who was very dear to them or maybe even a stuffed animal which they’ve had since they were very young.  Some people may treasure something which took them a great deal of time and effort to acquire such as a special car, a dream home or a piece of fine artwork.  And still others might consider their treasured possession to be their family and friends.

 

Yet, no matter what a person’s treasured possession may be there are certain things which we all tend to have in common when it comes to our treasured possession.  There is a certain amount of joy and satisfaction which we feel every time we use or perhaps just look at our treasured possession.  There is the desire to show our treasured possession to others so that they too may enjoy it.  And we also feel a certain amount of protectiveness when it comes to our treasured possession.  Yes, we want to use it.  Yes, we want others to see it and to enjoy it.  But we also want to do whatever we can to make sure that we don’t lose or damage our treasured possession in any way.

 

Well today, my friends, as we look at two of the parables recorded here in our sermon text Jesus very simply and very clearly reminds each and every one of us that as Christians our greatest treasured possession is the Kingdom of Heaven itself!  As we focus on these two parables let’s humbly use this portion of Scripture to remind ourselves that every single day of our lives we have reason to:  Rejoice In The Kingdom of Heaven!

 

As we look at these two parables we can not help but marvel at Jesus’ ability to teach such eternally important truths using pictures that are so easy to understand and so easy to remember!  In the first parable we are asked to envision a man walking or perhaps working in a field.  As he walks or as he works he stumbles upon a hidden treasure.  This man was not looking for this treasure.  The field was not even his own!  But after he found this hidden treasure he quickly and willingly sold everything he had and bought the field so that the treasure would always be his!

 

In much the same way there many people walking through this world totally unaware of the hidden treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Perhaps they have never heard the gloriously simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps they have heard the message of Scripture but their limited logical mind simply won’t let them believe that eternal salvation could be so simple and so free.  Perhaps they just don’t think that they need a Savior from sin.  But as they are walking along the path of life they unexpectedly stumble upon this amazing treasure.  A good friend speaks to them about their soul’s salvation in Christ and this time the message actually gets past the limitations of their mind and begins to sink into their heart!  Perhaps they find a Bible in a motel room or find some Christian literature in a waiting room and begin to read it simply because there’s nothing else to do.  Perhaps they catch a Christian message on the radio or are persuaded to attend a Christian worship service such as a baptism, confirmation, wedding or funeral.  Perhaps someone takes the time to talk to them when they are going through a very difficult time in their lives.  How the person “stumbles” upon the hidden treasure is really not that important.  What is important is that they come into contact with the message concerning the Kingdom of Heaven!  For as a result of this contact the sinner is introduced to Christ and Christ is introduced to the sinner.

 

In the second parable we are asked to envision a slightly different situation.  In this parable Jesus speaks to us about a merchant who was out specifically looking for “fine pearls.”  While he was doing this he unexpectedly found one pearl of “great value.”  Like the man in the first parable this merchant quickly and willingly sold everything he had so that this most excellent pearl might become his own personal treasured possession.

 

Even so there are many people today who are consciously searching for what they consider to be “treasures” or “fine pearls.”  They do this in hope that these “treasures” will somehow satisfy their desires and needs— both for time as well as for eternity.  But as they are searching they find themselves disappointed over and over again.  They are disappointed at the shallowness of what the world has to offer.  They are disappointed at the hollowness of what human philosophy has to offer.  They are disappointed in themselves.  Therefore, they continue searching for something different and hopefully something better.  They may wander from one church to another and from one cause to another because the inner needs of their soul are not being satisfied.  But while they are on this quest some find the true treasure, the “pearl of great value,” the Kingdom of God.  Like the person in the first parable they unexpectedly “stumble” upon this treasure and by the grace of God are led to see that absolutely everything else pales in comparison to this one great pearl!

 

As you and I apply these two parables to our own lives there are two points which I especially want to emphasize.  The first point is brought out in the reaction of these two people here in our text once they found the “treasure.”  In both cases Jesus tells us that once the person found the treasure they willingly sold everything they had so that the treasure might always be their personal treasured possession.  That’s how valuable they considered this treasure to be!

 

Most of us here today will have to admit that we have been very blessed when it comes to material possessions.  We drive nice cars and live in nice homes.  We always have clothes to wear and food to eat.  We have jobs and bank accounts and retirement funds that provide us with a relatively comfortable living.  Compared to many many people in this world we are indeed “rich.”  As we look at all the “things” that the good Lord has graciously given to us we might even be tempted to consider these “things” to be our “treasured possessions.”  But what are they in reality?  In reality, my friends, they are just “things.”  In reality, they are simply “stuff.”  In reality, each and every one of those “things” will eventually be given away to someone else.   If we were to focus our lives on these “things,” if we were to make this “stuff” the anchor or the foundation of our hope and security— well, we will eventually find ourselves in a very precarious and a very insecure place.

 

While we are to see all of these “things” as blessings from our good and gracious heavenly Father (see James 1:17), as Christians we always need to remember that the greatest and most treasured possession God has given to us is our “membership” in the Kingdom of Heaven!  When we were “adopted” by the God of heaven to be His own dear child— for most of us that took place when we were baptized in the Name of the Triune God— at that time we were brought into God’s glorious Kingdom of Grace!  Through the gift of saving faith which God Himself has created in our hearts we were given the guarantee that even if we lose all the “stuff” of this world we will still possess the greatest treasure of all— Kingdom of God!  Through the gift of saving faith which God Himself has created in our hearts we are given the guarantee that when— not if but when— we leave this world and all of its “stuff” behind we will inherit the perfect, glorious, heavenly Kingdom of our Father!  The “key” to having this kind of perspective on life is one that you have heard me emphasize many times before:  Focus!  Stay focused on what God has done for you— right there on the cross of Calvary’s hill!  (Pointing to the cross)  Stay focused on what God has given to you and what God has promised to you through His holy Word and Sacraments!  Stay focused and you will always possess the most treasured possession of all— the Kingdom of Heaven!

 

That brings us to the second application that I hope you take home with you today.  The second application centers on the joy that these two people felt when they found this treasured possession!

 

When you stop to think about it, my friends, you and I have that very same joy!  As the children of God we have a joy that goes beyond measure.  We have the joy of knowing that we have already been brought into God’s Kingdom of Grace through the power of His Holy Spirit.  We have the joy of knowing that through regular use of God’s holy Word and God’s holy Supper we are constantly being strengthened in our faith and showered with the grace and the love which God has shown to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.  By the grace of God we have the joy of knowing that there is nothing, absolutely nothing that we need to do in order to earn or work our own way into heaven.  Jesus has already done it all for us!  By the grace of God we have the joy of knowing that all of the sins which once eternally separated us from our God have been fully and completely paid for through the holy precious blood and the innocent suffering and death of God’s Son on the cross.  (Pointing to the cross)  By the grace of God we know this!  Therefore, by the grace of God we too rejoice in knowing that the Kingdom of Heaven is our treasured possession!

 

Now I wholeheartedly agree with anyone who says that it’s difficult for a person to be happy and joyful all of the time— even if that person is a Christian.  The devil, the world and our own sinful flesh are way too good at bringing suffering and sorrow and sadness into our lives.  But what we need to remember is that even on the worst of days we still have the comfort and the joy of knowing that our powerful and loving God has promised to make all things work together for our good.  (See Romans 8:28)  Even on the worst of days we have the comfort and the joy of knowing that the God who loved us enough to send His only begotten Son to into this world to live for us and to die for us and to rise again for us has given to us His solemn promise, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:9).  Even on the worst of days we have the comfort and the joy of knowing that we are but strangers here and that heaven is our home!

 

While each of us may indeed have something that we consider to be a personal treasured possession, as Christians we realize that there is nothing in this world that can even begin to compare to the “hidden treasure” and the “pearl of great price” that our Savior God has already given to us— free of charge!  My prayer then this morning, my friends, is very simply this:  I urge you to always rejoice!  Rejoice in the Kingdom of Heaven!  Remember that the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed the most treasured possession you could ever be given.  Take pride in that treasure.  Share that treasure.  Stay focused on that treasure as you journey through life so that you will never lose this greatest treasure of all!

 

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 Savior Jesus Christ, Lord of the Church, Head of the body of saints whom you purchased with your own blood, hear our humble prayer.  We thank you for the sacrifice you willingly made on the cross so that sinners like us might appear before God in a pure white robe of perfect righteousness, the clothing of the saints.  You completely paid for all of our sins and washed us clean in your own holy precious blood.  We also thank you for sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts to give us the gift of saving faith so that we might be the children of our heavenly Father and so that we may always rejoice in the Kingdom of Heaven that you so graciously guarantee to us.  We thank you too for the Word of Truth that you gave to this world, so that sinners like us may know and enjoy your divine love and forgiveness.

 

As you have promised, let not the gates of hell overcome your Church.  Having made us saints and members of your body, keep us ever true to you.  Let none of us be drawn away from you and lost through sin and unbelief.  Foil all the schemes and plans of Satan by which he attempts to not only fracture your church with divisions, but by which he also attempts confuse and corrupt the minds and hearts of God’s children.  Keep us from succumbing to his temptations.  Help us all to grow together in faith and love through the Word, in zeal to witness our faith to others and in doing all good works to the glory of your name.  May we always be merciful and forgiving toward each other, even as you are merciful and forgiving toward us.  Teach us to be peacemakers who seek to settle their earthly differences in a quiet and God-fearing manner.  May all people know that we are Christians by the love, by the patience and by the compassion that we display.  Govern the affairs of this world for the protection and the benefit of your Church and rule our hearts with your grace, forgiving our sins and granting us eternal salvation.  Hear us and help us, our beloved Redeemer.  In your Name we pray this and in your Name we join together in praying:

 

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.