The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

August 2, 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.

Grant us, Lord, the spirit to think and do what is right that we, who cannot do anything that is good without you, may by your help be enabled to live according to your will;  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 – Joel 3:12-16

The forces of darkness are many, but their destruction is as sure as ripe grain falls before a sickle or grapes under a press.

“Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.  Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.  Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!  For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.  The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.  The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble.  But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” (NIV1984)

PSALM OF THE DAY – Psalm 18

The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer;

my God is my Rock, in Whom I take refuge.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

He rescued me from my powerful enemy.

He brought me out into a spacious place;

He rescued me because He delighted in me.

You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;

my God turns my darkness into light.

You save the humble

but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

You give me Your shield of victory,

and Your right hand sustains me.

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 8:26-27 (Sermon Text)eba

When God’s saints are suffering, sometimes they don’t know what to pray.  Here we have the gracious promise that God the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf!

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (NIV1984)

VERSE OF THE DAY

Alleluia.  My Word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  Alleluia.  (Isaiah 55:11b)

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 13:24-30, 36-43

In the words of a parable, Jesus pictures the final judgment and the removal of all evil.

Jesus told them another parable:  “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?  Where then did the weeds come from?  An enemy did this,’ he replied.  “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’“  ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time I will tell the harvesters:  First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”  Then he left the crowd and went into the house.  His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.  The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.  The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  He who has ears, let him hear.” (NIV1984)

C:        Praise be to you, O Christ!

SERMON  The Holy Spirit Extends His Helping Hand to Us!

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

When you’re feeling weak or a little wobbly on your feet, when you’re feeling scared or insecure or just a little bit lonely, what is the easiest and perhaps the best thing which someone can do for you?  Isn’t it just reaching out and taking your hand in their hand?  For some reason people seem to shy away from what the military refers to as “P.D.A.” which stands for “Public Displays of Affection.”  And yet, simply holding someone’s hand, simply putting your arm around someone’s shoulder, or simply giving someone your arm to help give them a little extra support and stability is something that does us a world of good no matter whether we are on the giving or the receiving end of that gesture.

Here in our text for today the apostle Paul reminds us that just as we all need a physical “helping hand” at various times during our lives here on this earth, so also there are times when we need a spiritual “helping hand” to guide us and to strengthen us and to help us.  Today we have the privilege of reminding and reassuring ourselves that just such a helping hand exists!  Today on the basis of our text we are going to see that:  The Holy Spirit Extends His Helping Hand to Us!

Last Sunday we studied the verses that immediately precede our text for today, Romans 8:18-25.  In that portion of Scripture the apostle Paul reminded us that because of sin all of God’s Creation “groans” as it waits for that great and glorious day when our dear Savior Jesus will return to this earth to do away with sin and all the effects of sin once and forever!  At the same time Paul reminded us that even as Christians we “groan inwardly” and we eagerly await the day of our final redemption.  Our inborn sinfulness, our temptations to sin, the frailties of a body which is wracked with the effects of sin, the misfortunes, trials and hardships which we encounter and endure as we journey through this world—  these are all a part of our day-to-day lives here on this earth.  That is why Paul reminded us last week, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  We can hardly wait to reach our heavenly home where all of our cares, all of our worries, all of our sorrows, all of our pain and all of our problems will be gone— forever!  That is the confident hope which we hang on to!  That is the absolute guarantee which keeps us going!  That is the light at the end of our tunnel!  By staying focused on all of the glory that awaits us in heaven we have the confidence and the ability to conquer any trial or any temptation or any hardship that we might experience here on this earth!  Right?  Not always!

Sometimes when our faith is weak and wobbly but our sinful nature is strong and aggressive we wonder whether we’ll even survive the day as a Christian much less the rest of our lives.  Here is where the words of our text fit in perfectly with the reality of our lives.  Paul writes, “In the same way, (that is, with the same kind of focus on the glory of heaven, with the same confident hope in our eternal salvation) the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”  A very literal translation of this verse goes like this, “In the same way, the Spirit extends his helping hand to us in our weakness.”  (Hence our sermon theme for today!)  You might be interested in knowing that the word that is translated here as “helps” or “extends his helping hand” is used only one other time in Scripture.  It is used in Luke 10:40 where Martha comes to Jesus and says, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!” or, “Tell her to extend a helping hand to me!”  We all too often forget that God the Holy Spirit has a two-fold role in our lives.  Out of His eternal grace and power God the Holy Spirit created the gift of saving faith in our heart.  Through His holy Word and Sacrament He brought us into God’s eternal Kingdom of Grace.  But the role of the God the Holy Spirit does not end there!  In his explanation to the third Article of the Apostles’ Creed Martin Luther taught us to confess, “The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

There are, of course, many ways in which the Holy Spirit enlightens us, sanctifies us (that is makes us holy) and keeps us in the one true faith.  Here in our text the Apostle Paul highlights one.  He says, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”  Have you ever been in a situation where you felt so helpless or so powerless or so ashamed that you didn’t even know if you could go to God in prayer?  Sickness, personal tragedy, the death of a loved one; fear that your actions may have disappointed your family, disappointed your friends or disappointed your God; remorse over having done something that you knew your Savior did not want you to do, remorse over not doing something that you know your Savior wanted you to do— these are just a few examples of when we might feel unable or unworthy to approach the Lord our God in prayer.  We know we need His help.  We know that we need His guidance and His strength.  We know that we need His forgiveness, but in our “weakness” we just don’t know what to say to Him!

That my friends, is when God the Holy Spirit “extends His helping hand to us.”  When we feel unable or unworthy to approach God’s eternal throne of grace in prayer God the Holy Spirit lovingly and effectively “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”  Somehow, in a way that I don’t think our mortal minds can even begin to understand, somehow God the Holy Spirit looks at us in our “weakness,” sees that we are as helpless and as powerless as babes among wolves, and from the depths of His eternal being He offers up prayers for us “with groans that words cannot express.”  Just try to envision what that means for your own personal life!  There you are weak, helpless, and confused.  The Holy Spirit looks at you and with a heart that is filled with compassion and with love He turns to God the Father and says, “Come, let us help this dear child of ours.”

What a comforting picture for Christians who are in the midst of suffering and pain!   I certainly can’t speak for you, but for me the thought of the Holy Spirit “interceding” before the Father’s heavenly throne on my behalf when I am weak, confused and helpless— well, that gives a whole new meaning to the promise that Jesus gives us in John 14:16-17.  There our Lord says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  Every single moment of every single day of our lives God the Holy Spirit is there by our side— ready, willing and able to “extend to us” His heavenly “helping hand!”

Now lest we leave here today wondering how these “groanings” of the Holy Spirit can help us, we need to look at the second verse of our text.  There Paul says, “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”  Although the Holy Spirit “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express,” God the Father understands perfectly!  The Father knows the goal as well as the intent of the Holy Spirit’s prayers for us.  Think about it, my friends.  Even though the words and expressions are far beyond our weak limited understanding, we can always be confident in knowing that the Holy Spirit accurately and effectively conveys all of our needs and all of our desires to our loving heavenly Father.  This intimate inner-working of the Holy Trinity is yet another one of those glorious Scriptural truths which goes completely beyond our understanding.

At the very same time, however, there is an infinite amount of comfort to be gained in knowing that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit all have one goal in mind for us.  That goal is to lead us and to guide us and when necessary to even carry us through our life here on this earth into the eternal glory of heaven.  That is why Paul says here in our text that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us “in accordance with God’s will.”  We can be sure that whatever we need to strengthen and nourish our faith, whatever we need to glorify God in our lives, whatever we need to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16), whatever we need to share the message of the cross of Jesus Christ with others (Pointing to the cross)— all of this is included in the prayers and petitions which the Holy Spirit brings to the Father’s throne on our behalf.

I am sure that at various times and in various situations each and every one of us has felt spiritually “weak” or at least a little wobbly on our “spiritual feet.”  You may even be in the midst of a situation right now which has made you feel unable or unworthy to approach the eternal throne of your God in prayer.  Therefore, I would like to close today by simply and sincerely reminding you that even when you feel that all other helpers have failed you, God the Holy Spirit— who has graciously made your heart His Home— is always there to “extend His helping hand to you”!  Trust in Him  Rely on Him!  Lean on Him!  Turn to Him!  He will never let you down!

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 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 Teacher and 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 pray to false teaching and unbelief.

Daily extend to us your powerful helping hand— especially when our faith is weak and wobbly.  Strengthen us with the assurance that we are God’s beloved children by faith in Christ, so that we need 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 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.