The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

August 16, 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 reveal your mighty power chiefly in showing mercy and kindness.  Grant us the full measure of your grace that we may obtain your promises and become partakers of your heavenly glory;  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 – Isaiah 55:1-5

The Gospel invitation calls us to the new, everlasting covenant which alone satisfies our soul:  “Come, buy and eat…without money and without cost…Listen…Give ear…hear me, that your soul may live.”

 

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.  See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.  Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.   (NIV1984)

 

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 42-43

 

As the deer pants for streams of water,

so my soul pants for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God.

Where can I go and meet with God?

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me;

let them bring me to the place where You dwell.

Then will I go to the altar of God, my Joy and my Delight.

I will praise You with the harp, O God, my God.

.           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 8:35-39eba

Paul reminds us of our secure position in God’s hands.

 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NIV1984)

 

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  Alleluia.  (John 14:23)

 

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 14:13-21 (Sermon Text)

Our compassionate Savior provides for the needs of His people.

 

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.  Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.  As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late.  Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”  Jesus replied:  “They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat.”  “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  “Bring them here to me,” he said.  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.  Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.  (NIV1984)

 

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

 

SERMON  Our Source of Security in an Insecure World!

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that we live in a rather insecure time in the history of this world.  From what I read on the Net and from what I hear on the news the Coronavirus Pandemic is only getting worse.  On a world-wide scale over 20 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and 760,000 have died.  On a national level over 5 million people have been infected and about 171,000 have died.  Because of the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions that have been placed on both people and businesses, there are many many people who are out of work and there may be many businesses that simply do not survive.  If the moratoriums on evictions are allowed to expire there could easily be many more people who become homeless.  Individual households are struggling to figure out how they are going to pay their bills since unemployment benefits are not always sufficient.  Then there is the whole subject of “distance learning.”  Both parents and children are unsure of how this is going to work.   No, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that we are living at a very insecure time in the history of this world.

 

With all of this insecurity in our lives it is truly refreshing to gather together in the Name of our Savior God and look at a portion of Scripture such as our sermon text for this morning.  Here Jesus Himself gives us a very powerful example of why as Christians we never need to despair when it comes to our security.  This morning then on the basis of this text let’s focus our attention on:  Our Source of Security in an Insecure World!

 

The incident which is recorded for us here in our text took place after the very sad and very senseless execution of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.  After Herod had John killed, we see that Jesus began to spend even more time preparing His disciples for His own death— which was quickly drawing near.  In order to accomplish this goal Jesus often withdrew to a solitary place, as we see here in our text.  But as we also see here in our text as soon as the people figured out where Jesus had gone crowds gathered around Him!  Did Jesus ever turn these people away?  Was Jesus ever “too busy” or “too tired” to help them?  Never!  As the loving Savior God Jesus continued to use these opportunities to accomplish two things.

 

First, and most importantly, Jesus used opportunities such as this to provide for the spiritual needs of the people.  In Mark’s parallel account of this incident he tells us, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So, he began teaching them many things” (Mark 6:34).  Luke tells us that Jesus used this opportunity to teach the people about “the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:11).  Jesus knew how vitally important it was to provide the people with spiritual food so that they would have security for their soul.

 

At the same time, our text very beautifully reveals to us that Jesus also used these opportunities to look after the physical needs of the people.  Matthew tells us that as the compassionate and all-powerful God Jesus “healed their sick.”  No matter what their ailment was, no matter how long a person had been ill Jesus lovingly “healed” them!

 

Now— try to picture in your mind what happened next.  We are told that the hour was getting late.  Evening was approaching.  Jesus was absorbed in teaching and healing this tremendous crowd of people.  The disciples, however, began to get a little nervous.  They came to Jesus and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late.  Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”  Does that sound reasonable to you?  It certainly sounds reasonable to me!  And yet, how did Jesus react to this relatively reasonable request of His disciples?  Much to the astonishment of the disciples Jesus said, “They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat.”

 

As astonishing as this sounded, Jesus’ words were also transparent.  If this crowd of people did not need to go and find food for themselves and if the disciples were told “You give them something to eat” Jesus must have meant that they, the Twelve, had a source of supply which they had totally overlooked!  Mark and Luke tell us in their parallel accounts that the disciples asked Jesus whether He had in mind that they were to actually go out and buy food for all these people.  After all it was late.  And if nothing else it would take at least eight months wages to buy enough food so that everyone would have at least a little bit to eat!  The most the disciples could “come up with” on their own on such short notice was— “…only five loaves of bread and two fish.”

 

Oh, how miserably the disciples failed to understand what Jesus was trying to teach them!  Therefore, Jesus took charge of the situation, didn’t He!  Using His divine power Jesus miraculously multiplied the five small loaves of bread and those two small fish into more than enough food to completely satisfy the hunger of these thousands of people.  Plus, after the disciples had finished feeding all of the people who where there they had more food left over than they started with!  Intending that none of His gifts be wasted Jesus had His disciples collect all of the food that was left over.  How much was left over?  There was exactly enough to fill 12 small wicker baskets.  Twelve baskets— one basket for each of the disciples, but none for Jesus.  Could it be that He who created this bounty also created an opportunity for each of the disciples to share with Jesus the gifts which He had given to them?  It’s an interesting thought isn’t it?  Out of all the blessings that Jesus gives to us, His children, we have the privilege of giving a little back to Him!

 

We can only imagine, of course, what went through the disciples’ minds as they gathered around Jesus with those 12 baskets of food.  I can not help but think that perhaps the disciples had an even greater understanding of and an even deeper appreciation for the words of Psalm 145:15-16, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  Trust.  That is what Jesus was trying to teach His disciples!  From a human point of view five small loaves of bread and two little fish certainly weren’t going to go very far among thousands of hungry people.  But when you look past the physical and human limitations and trust in the almighty power of a compassionate God then the difficulties begin to disappear and the possibilities begin to appear!

 

Trust.  That my friends, is also why Jesus had this incident recorded for us on the pages of holy Scripture.  Through these words Jesus is saying to us, “Trust in me!”  This pandemic has laid bare some very serious shortcomings in our nation— and perhaps even in our own personal lives.   Most if not all of us here today have known what it is like to be in need.  Business adventures have not always turned out the way we had hoped.  Jobs vanish all but overnight.  Unexpected medical bills or repair bills or school bills suddenly loom over our heads like storm clouds rolling in off the Pacific.  And like the disciples here in our text we can very easily become anxious about such things.  Unsure of how we are ever going to handle the situation, unsure of how we are ever going to pay those bills and still feed and clothe our family we somehow forget that “we” don’t have to do it!  As the dearly beloved children of God we know that our loving Lord, the Lord who was able to miraculously feed over 5,000 people with just five small loaves of bread and two small fish, can and will provide for our needs too!  But since we never really know exactly how the Lord has already decided to provide for our needs the best advice that I can give to you whenever such a situation arises can be summed up in that one little word:  Trust!  Trust in the Lord your God!  Trust in His power!  Trust in His love!  Trust in His compassion!  Trust in His promises to always be there with the help that you need!  Trust in Him!  (Pointing to the cross)  He is your Source of security in this insecure world!

 

Now besides the wonderful words which we have recorded here in Matthew 14 there are many other places in Scripture where we are encouraged to trust in the power and in the love of our God to supply for all of our needs— both our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs.  Some of the more well known passages are found in Matthew 6 where we are told, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (See Matthew 6:25-34).  One of my favorite passages which I think very beautifully applies to what we are emphasizing today is found in Romans 8:32.  There the Lord says to us, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all— how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things?”  And, of course, the one passage which we all know very well is found in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  We have all prayed these seven words countless times.  But do we always listen to what we are saying?  Here Jesus Himself teaches us to ask our heavenly Father to grant us whatever He knows we need to get by day-by-day-by-day.  He doesn’t teach us to pray for huge bank accounts or lucrative pensions plans.  He doesn’t teach us to ask for a closet full of the latest fashions or a house filled with only the best furniture.  No, He teaches us to pray to our heavenly Father for our daily bread— trusting that He can and will indeed provide it.  That’s why we can say that hand-in-hand with Christian trust is Christian contentment.  We may not always have everything we want, but God Himself sees to it that we have everything we need.

 

In closing today, I would like to specifically direct your attention to five words of our text.  They are the five words which Jesus spoke to the disciples when they told Him that the only food they could find was five small loaves of bread and two little fish.  The words Jesus spoke are, “Bring them here to me.”  Remembering what Jesus was able to do with those five loaves of bread and two small fish we find a tremendous source of comfort and security for our lives today.  Do you have concerns about your personal security or your family’s security?  Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”  Do you have concerns about your bills and expenses?  Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”  Do you have concerns about providing for your family or making ends meet?  Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”  Do you have concerns about how long your retirement funds will last?  Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”  Do you have concerns about your health and what will happen in the future? Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”  Do you have any concerns of any kind?  Jesus says, “Bring them here to me.”

 

Yes, my friends, as the dearly beloved adopted children of our heavenly Father we have a tremendous source of security in this increasingly insecure world.  We find our Source of security in the power and in the love of our Savior God.  Therefore, if we ever find ourselves in a situation that seems completely insecure, if we ever find ourselves in a situation that simply overwhelms us let’s first of all remember what Jesus did here in this text and then let’s also remember what Jesus said to His disciples:  “Bring them here to me.”

 

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 most merciful God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you fill heaven and earth with your presence and reign over every creature with your power and glory.  We thank you for your Word which enables us to know and worship you as our Creator, our Redeemer from sin and our Sanctifier.  We also thank you for the many everyday, personal evidences of your loving and watchful care.  Truly, you are our God!  All glory, honor and praise be to you, now and forever!

 

Our heavenly Father, continue to love, preserve and defend us.  Accept the prayers we send to your throne of grace through Jesus and answer our prayers in the way that you know is best for us.  According to your good and gracious will allow us to live out our days in good health and permit us to find continual safety under your protection.

 

Our Savior Jesus Christ, cover our sins with your shed blood and hide them forever from your sight.  Fill our hearts with joy and may our inmost being experience the peace and calm that comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven.  As the source of our security in this insecure world fill us with contentment and keep our minds uncluttered by the riches, cares and worries of this life.

 

O Holy Spirit, our divine Helper, keep us faithful to your Word and through that Word feed our souls on Christ, the living Bread.  Use your divine power to always keep us focused on the simple central message of the Word you have given to us, the message which proclaims that we are saved purely by grace through faith in what Jesus has done for us.  Strengthen our faith day by day and make us fully committed to bearing fruits of righteousness to the honor and praise of God.

 

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.