The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 6, 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.

Almighty and merciful God, give us an increase of faith, hope and love; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; 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 6:2-8

Through Moses, God would bring deliverance and freedom to His people.

God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD.  I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.  I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens.  Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.  Therefore, say to the Israelites:  ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.  I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.  I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.  Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.  I will give it to you as a possession.  I am the LORD.'”  (NIV1984)

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 34

Taste and see that the LORD is good;

blessed are they who take refuge in Him.

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous

and His ears are attentive to their cry.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,

and He delivers them.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;

He delivers them from all their troubles.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The LORD redeems His servants

no one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.

     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 11:33-36 (Sermon Text)

As we live in God’s hands, we trust His immeasurable wisdom and share in His abundant blessing.

 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor?  Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!  Amen.  (NIV1984)

 VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.  Alleluia.  (1 Timothy 1:10b)

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 16:13-20

Peter’s “rock solid” confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ, is the foundation for the Church to this day.  Our confession of faith in Jesus is an unstoppable force in God’s hands.

 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.  (NIV1984)

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

 SERMON  To God Be the Glory!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

One of the consequences of sin is that we human beings relish the opportunity to bask in glory.  One might argue that this all began with Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Eve’s quest to “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5) led her to disobey the one Commandment of her loving Creator so that she might bask in His glory.  Then there was Lamech who basked in the “glory” of killing a young man who had “injured” him.  (Genesis 4:23, 24)  We all remember the account of the Tower of Babel.  Why did the people want to build this tower?  Because they wanted to bask in the “glory” of what they were able to achieve!  “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).  Then there was Nebuchadnezzar who while walking on the roof of his royal place basked in his own glory saying, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).  For basking in his own glory, the Sovereign Lord took away his glory by driving him away from people and making him live with the wild animals until he humbled himself.  (See Daniel 4)  And do you remember what happened to King Herod when he basked in the glory of the people who were saying to him, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man”?  We’re told, “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:23).

Because we all have that old sinful nature that loves the opportunity to bask in glory, it is very fitting for us to focus on a portion of Scripture such as our text for today.  To help us keep in check that urge to bask in glory, let’s see how the apostle Paul encourages us to always have a philosophy in life that enables us to say:  To God Be the Glory!  As we study this portion of Scripture, we’ll see that Paul gives us three reasons as to why we are to always give glory to God!

The first reason we say To God Be the Glory! is found in the opening verse of our text.  Paul writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”  These words are a fitting response to what God the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to reveal to us in the chapters leading up to our text.  Throughout Romans chapters one to eleven God the Holy Spirit emphasizes that our eternal salvation is 100% the result of “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God”!  How so?  Think about it.  When left with just our own “wisdom” and our own “knowledge” we quickly come to the conclusion that either:  a) we don’t need someone to save us— we are just fine just as we are; or b) we don’t need someone to save us because we have the ability to save ourselves by doing good works.  Both conclusions are categorically false!  We do need Someone to save us!  Why”  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We can’t save ourselves by doing good works.  Why?  “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his eyes by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20).

Our eternal salvation, my friends, comes only from the “depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God”!  What does this mean?  While there are numerous passages recorded in Romans 1-11 that we could use to answer this question, some of the most well-known passages are found in the familiar words of Romans 1:16, 17.  There Paul proclaims, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:  first for the Jew and then for the Gentile.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

The “depth of the riches” of God’s “wisdom” coupled together with the “depth of the riches” of God’s “knowledge” have produced for us the sweet simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Believe in Who Jesus the Christ is, trust in what Jesus the Christ has done for you (Pointing to the cross) and you are saved!  We human beings never would or could come up with a Plan of Salvation that is so simple and so beautiful and so powerful!

That truth ties in well with Paul’s words, “How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”  Just as the “depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” soar far beyond our comprehension— so also do the “judgments” and the “paths” of God!  While the “judgments” of our holy, just and perfect God are always correct, and while the “paths” that God takes in this world as well as in our lives are always true, that doesn’t mean that we can always understand what God does or why He does it.  That’s why we need to make sure that we never try to second-guess God’s judgments.  That’s why we need to make sure that we never question what God has done in the past, what God is doing in the present or what God says He will do in the future.  Like the apostle Paul we need to stand in awe of God’s “wisdom,” God’s “knowledge,” God’s “judgments” and God’s “paths” so that we can always say:  To God Be the Glory!

The second reason as to why we are to give glory to our God is found in verse thirty-four.  Paul writes, “Who has ever known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor?”  This probably won’t come as a surprise to you, but I need help!  Whether it is in my personal life or in my professional life there are times when I come across situations that I simply can’t handle on my own.  So, what do I do?  Thankfully, I have people in my life that I can turn to for advice, people I trust.  These are people who know me well enough— and more importantly they know God’s Word well enough— to give me God-pleasing advice, God-pleasing “counsel.”

The Lord our God could never find Himself in that type of situation.  As the one true living God, as the God concerning whom we confess, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out!” He does not need anyone’s advice or anyone’s “counsel.”  So how could we possibly think that we can judge what God does as being “right” or “wrong”?  How can we dare to critique or criticize what God has revealed to us here in His holy Word?  Every time we even attempt to ponder “the mind of the Lord,” every time we stop to remember that our God does not need a “counselor” because He is the perfect “Counselor” we cannot help but say:  To God Be the Glory!

That leaves just one more reason as to why we gladly say:  To God Be the Glory!  Look at what Paul tells us in verses thirty-five and thirty-six.  He writes, “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?  For from him and through him and to him are all things.”  I don’t know about you but there are certain people I “owe.”  I’m not talking about “owing” them money or anything like that.  Some people I “owe” because of the counsel and the advice they have given to me.  Some people I “owe” because over the course of the years they have helped me out in various ways.  And then there are the people to whom I sometimes “owe” an explanation because of something I’ve done or not done.

The Lord our God does not “owe” anyone anything— nor will He ever “owe” anyone anything.  Even when the Lord our God in the “depth of the riches of (His) wisdom and knowledge” does something or decides something that we don’t understand or agree with, He does not “owe” us or anyone else an explanation!  Why?  Because as Paul reminds us this morning, “For from him and through him and to him are all things”!

Stop and think of what that truth means, my friends.  As the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth God is the Source of everything see as well as everything we can’t see!  “From him…are all things.”  As the One who lovingly preserves us and graciously provides for all the needs of all of His Creation (See Psalm 145: 15, 16) we humbly and gratefully confess that “through him…are all things.”  And, as the One who has redeemed us, that is, bought us back from the power of sin, death and the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His own holy, precious blood (1 Peter 1:18, 19) (Pointing to the cross), as the One who now rules over all things in heaven and on earth for the good of His Church (Ephesians 1:22, 23), as the One before whom every knee will bow in heaven and on earth, the One concerning Whom every tongue will confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 23:10, 11) we understand exactly why Paul says “to him are all things!”

There is just one more point I need to make before I close this morning.  At the beginning of this sermon I said that we human beings love the opportunity to bask in glory because of our old sinful nature.  Does this mean that as Christians we can never bask in glory?  What about when we graduate from school?  What about when we marry the love of our life?  What about when our children are born or our grandchildren come to visit?  What about when we get a promotion at work or retire from our job?  What about when… and the list could go on and on and on.  In each and every one of those situations we can indeed bask in the glory— as long as we realize in our heart and proclaim with our mouth that the glory ultimately belongs to the Lord our God.  Since He is the One who has given us all of our gifts, our talents and our abilities (1 Corinthians 12), since “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17), since everything we have, everything we are and everything we will one day inherit comes from Him (Pointing to the cross) we consciously take to heart what Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor?  Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?  For from him and through him and to him are all things.”

As we bask in the wonder and in the awe of those words we freely and gladly say along with Paul:

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 Lord our God, as we come before you today, we gladly and freely join with your servant Paul in saying:  To God be the glory!  We thank and praise you for the many undeserved blessings you so richly shower upon us.  It is purely by your grace that we, who are by nature sinful— even your enemies— can stand fully acceptable in your sight.  It pleased you to seek us lost sinners when we sought you not and to send your Son to be our Savior.  We know our own good works cannot save us; it is your grace that makes us righteous through the blood of Christ.  Your grace sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts with the powerful Gospel message of forgiveness and caused us to believe it to the salvation of our souls.  In your great love for us lost sinners you are truly merciful to us.  Help us to acknowledge and appreciate your gracious salvation.

Fill our hearts with a living faith that cannot be shaken and with a pure love for you that remains untainted by the allurements of this present, evil world.  Lead us to joyously and eagerly do those things which your true children do out of love and thankfulness to you.  Through the Holy Spirit give us grace to follow the example of your love and that of our Savior Jesus Christ; then we will want to love others, even those who do not love us.  Enable us to be kind and considerate toward others in their individual needs and gladly help to alleviate whatever distresses and hurts them.  Give us a deep sense of responsibility for the souls of our fellow human beings so that when faced with opportunities to witness your saving grace to others, we will not remain silent.  Open our hearts to give generously to the cause of Christian missions that your Gospel of grace may be preached throughout the world.

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.