The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

July 19, 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.

God of all power and might, you are the giver of all that is good.  Help us love you with all our heart, strengthen us in true faith, provide us with all we need, and keep us safe in your care;  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 33:12-23

Moses boldly asked to see God’s full visible glory.  Since sinful man cannot endure the full glory of God, Moses was not allowed to see God’s face but only His passing by.

Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.  You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’  If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.  Remember that this nation is your people.”  The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?  What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”  And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”  Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”  And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.  I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”  Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.  When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.  Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (NIV1984)

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 145

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

His greatness no one can fathom.

One generation will commend Your works to another;

they will tell of Your mighty acts.

The LORD upholds all those who fall

and lifts up all who are bowed down.

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.

The LORD is near to all who call on Him,

to all who call on Him in truth.

He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;

He hears their cry and saves them.

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 7:15-25aeba

Though a Christian is not dominated by sin any longer, there is, inside each Christian, a war between the new man and the sinful nature.  The victory is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do— this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  So I find this law at work:  When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!  (NIV1984)

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  Happy are they who hear the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.  Alleluia.  (Luke 8:15)

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 11:25-30

Love for our Source of true rest is found only in Jesus, the Father’s Son.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.  “All things have been committed to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV1984)

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

 SERMON  Take My Yoke Upon You!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Did you know that the word “yoke” is used sixty-one times in the Bible?  Did you know that when the word “yoke” is not always used in reference to animals?  The word “yoke”  is used in reference to the descendants of Esau serving the descendants of Jacob.  (Genesis 27:40)  The word “yoke” is used in reference to the Israelites serving as slaves in Egypt.  (Exodus 6:6, 7)  God’s own people grew to view the rules and the regulations of God’s holy Law as a “yoke” that was too much for them to bear.  (Acts 15:10)  In his letter to the Galatians the apostle Paul warns God’s people that if they forfeit the freedom that Christ won for them on the cross they are letting themselves “be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

The people to whom Jesus originally spoke these words of our text were very familiar with the picture of a “yoke.”  Whether it was a picture of oxen that were “yoked” together to plow their fields, or the picture of the “yoke” of slavery or the picture of the “yoke” of God’s Law the picture of a “yoke” did not readily portray something positive— unless or until you factor in the picture that Jesus paints for us today!  For that reason, our sermon theme this morning is taken directly from our text.  Today my friends let’s rejoice as we hear our Savior extend to us that glorious Gospel invitation:  Take My Yoke Upon You!

In the opening portion of our text we hear Jesus say, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”  What did Jesus have in mind when He refers to “these things”?  Jesus answers that question in the verses which precede our text.  In Matthew 11:2, 3 we’re told, “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’”  Do you remember how Jesus answered that question?  Using the words of the prophet Isaiah (See Isaiah 35:5, 6; 61:1) Jesus pointed them to the miracles He was performing and the message He was proclaiming.  Through those miracles and through that message sinners were being brought to faith in Jesus as the long-awaited Promised Messiah.

Not everyone believed, however.  Jesus goes on to pronounce God’s judgment on Korazin and Capernaum, the cities where most of His miracles were performed.  Why this refusal to believe?  Since they considered themselves to be “wise and learned,” since they didn’t think they needed Jesus’ help to get into heaven, since they considered Jesus’ message to be “foolishness”— the heavenly Father “hid these things” from them.  Instead, He “revealed them to little children”— to those who humbly recognized how desperately they needed Jesus to save them from their sins, to those who have a simple childlike trust in Jesus as the Promised Messiah.  And if anyone objects to the way the heavenly Father works, Jesus adds, “Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

In the middle portion of our text Jesus goes on to say, “All things have been committed to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  Stop to think about how powerful this statement is!  Jesus holds the exclusive right to reveal and distribute the Truth about the one and only living God.  Do you want to know what the one true God thinks?  Do you want to know what the one true God says?  Do you want to know what the one true God promises?  Do you want to know God’s Plan for your Salvation?  You must go to Jesus!  You must go to what Jesus has revealed to us through the quills of the “apostles and the prophets”!  (Ephesians 2:20)  Jesus emphasizes this very same truth when He tells us in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

After pointing John’s disciples to His miracles and to His message, after pronouncing God’s judgment on those who reject His miracles and His message, after proclaiming to us that saving faith is a gift that can only come from God’s “good pleasure” Jesus proceeds to  say to you and to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Right down to this very day there are people who like the rich young man look at the Ten Commandments as the answer the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18)  Even our own sinful nature tries to convince is that if we work hard enough, if we at least try to do more “good” things than “bad” things that God will probably/hopefully let us enter into His heavenly home.  But, unless we are completely naive concerning God’s requirements for living in His home forever or unless we have completely deceived ourselves into thinking that we’re not really “all that bad” we will confess along with the apostle Paul, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do— this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).  And what was Paul’s conclusion?  “What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:24).

Anyone and everyone who tries to pull the weight of God’s holy Law all by themselves will be overwhelmed by the guilt and the burden of trying to pull themselves up to God’s standard of holiness and perfection.  (See Leviticus 19:20; Matthew 5:48).  Anyone and everyone who thinks that Jesus merely “helps” us as we try to pull this load by ourselves, anyone and everyone who thinks that if we simply “cooperate” with Jesus then we can pull the weight of the Law together with Him— each of us doing our own part, each of us “pulling our own weight” so to speak— well, they will ultimately find themselves “weary and burdened.”

That reality is what makes Jesus’ Gospel invitation so wonderful and so glorious!  The gift of saving faith which God has created in our heart purely because of His “good pleasure” always draws us to the foot of the cross (Pointing to the cross) on Calvary’s hill.  The cross convinces us that Jesus bore the full weight of all the punishment that we deserved for all the times we have not just broken God’s Law, but for all of the times that we have shattered God’s Commandments.  The cross convinces us that Jesus took upon Himself the immense burden of our guilt and our shame and He willingly endured the consequences that should have been ours— for all of eternity!  The cross guarantees to us that “It is finished”— the victory has been won!  The cross empowers us to say along with the apostle Paul, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God— through Jesus Christ my Lord!” (Romans 7:24, 25)

Knowing what Christ has already done for us enables us to rejoice in Jesus’ glorious Gospel invitation, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Once the crushing weight of the curse of the Law has been removed from our shoulders God’s holy perfect Law becomes our “guide” revealing to us how to live a God-pleasing life as our way of thanking and loving Him.  (Pointing to the cross)  Being “yoked” to Jesus assures us that when this life becomes weighted down with unusually heavy burdens, when over a long period of time the regular burdens of life become wearisome, when unexpected difficulties— such as a pandemic!— quickly overwhelm us, we know that we are not alone!  Our Jesus is right by our side!  Our victorious Savior has an inexhaustible source of “rest for our souls.”  Our Lord and our God will always be there to lovingly put His arm around our shoulder and softly whisper in our ear, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“Take my yoke upon you.”  What does this glorious Gospel invitation mean for you and for me this morning?  What does this glorious Gospel invitation mean for you and for me tomorrow?  Next week?  Next year?  It means that because Christ has borne the weight of the Law and removed from our shoulders the curse of sin, we do not need to “work” for our salvation.  We find “rest” for our souls in Him and His gift of salvation which He has secured for us on the cross.  (Pointing to the cross)  It means that we do not need to despair in our struggles with the burdens of life.  Rather, since we are “yoked” to Christ He freely gives us the strength we need to bear whatever crosses He allows to come into our lives.  It means that He will never ask us to bear more than He has empowered us to handle.  It means that when things become overwhelming, He will lift us up and carry on for us because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  It means that we have even more reason to say:

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 Jesus Christ, as the true Son of God and the true Son of Man you know the many things that cause us to feel weary and burdened as we journey through this sinful world.  Sometimes our weariness comes from not using your holy Word and Sacrament to strengthen and nourish the gift of faith which you have graciously created in our hearts.  Sometimes our burdens are the result of our own sins and/or the sins of others.  Whenever we are feeling weary or burdened help us to remember the glorious Gospel invitation that you extend to us.  Send us an even greater measure of your Holy Spirit so that we always look to you as the only source of rest for our souls.

Dear Lord, you also know the things that cause our loved ones to feel weary and burdened.  We ask, therefore, that you would also be with them.  Remind them that by kneeling at the foot of your cross and by remembering what you have so graciously done for them, the burdens of this life are lifted from their shoulders and they are given true rest for their souls— the rest that only you can provide.

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.