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HOLY TRINITY & ST. JAMES LUTHERAN CHURCHES

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS †

OPENING HYMN – ♫ TLH 290 (SEARCH “TLH 290” ONLINE TO ACCESS HYMN)

INVOCATION (CALLING UPONG GOD’S HOLY TRIUNE NAME)
Pastor: In the Name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Congregation: Amen.

CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
P:
Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God, our Father, beseeching Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

P: Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
C: Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

P: I said, “I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
C: And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

P: Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed.  Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
C: O most merciful God, Who hast given Thine only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and hath given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins.  To them that believe on His Name He giveth power to become the sons of God and hath promised them His Holy Spirit.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.  Grant this Lord, unto us all. (John 20:19-23)
C: Amen.

INTROIT (ENTRANCE INTO SERVICE OF THE WORD)
P:
P: We have thought of Your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of Your temple.  As Your Name, O God, so Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.  Your right hand is filled with righteousness.  Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, His holy mountain.  Within her citadels God has made Himself known as a fortress.  Let Mount Zion be glad!  Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments!  This is God, our God forever and ever.  He will guide us forever. (Psalm 48)
C: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Psalm 123:3)

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS (GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH)
C: Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.  We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.  O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  O Lord the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.  Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.  Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.  For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.  Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.
(Luke 2:14; John 1:29) 

SALUTATION (GREETING) AND COLLECT (PRAYER)
P:
The Lord be with you. 
C: And with thy spirit.

P: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You with our whole heart that You have caused us to come to the knowledge of Your precious Word, and we implore You to graciously preserve us in that Word and to grant us a blessed death according to it.  Mercifully defend from every evil all godly preachers who faithfully proclaim Your Word, and sustain their lives.  But if any handle Your Word unfaithfully and, having the appearance of godly sheep, are ravenous wolves, punish them as they deserve, graciously restrain them and keep Your dear Christendom from them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – JEREMIAH 23:16-29
16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They say continually to those who despise the Word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”

18 For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear His Word, or who has paid attention to His Word and listened?  19 Behold, the storm of the Lord!  Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.  20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart.  In the latter days you will understand it clearly.

21 “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.  22 But if they had stood in My council, then they would have proclaimed My words to My people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.

23 “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. 25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My Name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make My people forget My Name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot My Name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has My Word speak My Word faithfully.  What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not My Word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

P: This is the Word of the Lord.  
C: Thanks be to God.

PSALM 26 
P:
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
C: Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.

P: For Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in Your faithfulness.
C: I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.

P: I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
C: I wash my hands in innocence and go around Your altar, O Lord.

P: I proclaim thanksgiving aloud, and tell of all Your wondrous deeds.
C: O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells.

P: Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men.
C: In their hands are evil devices, and their right hands are full of bribes.

P: But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
C: My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

SECOND LESSON – ACTS 20:27-38
27 I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God, which He obtained with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

P: This is the Word of the Lord.  
C: Thanks be to God.

TRIPLE HALLELUJAH
C: Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

P: The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, the 7th chapter.
C: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

GOSPEL LESSON – MATTHEW 7:15-23
[Jesus said] 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and do many mighty works in Your Name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’

P: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise be to Thee, O Christ.

HYMN OF THE DAY – ♫ 526 

SERMON – TRUE PROPHECY JUDGES WITH THE LAW, SAVES IN CHRIST – JER. 23; MT. 7
Let him who has My Word speak My Word faithfully,” (Jer. 23:28) and “hear the Word of the Lord.” (Jer. 22:29)  Amen.

The peace of Christ be yours in full measure.  Amen.  If we intertwine the Prophet Jeremiah’s denunciation of false prophets in his day with our Lord Jesus’ warning of them in His day and ours, we get a good picture of what types of false religious teachings we’re to be on the lookout for and guard ourselves against.

A big one that St. John refutes is a denial that Jesus as God assumed our humanity: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” (1 Jn. 4:2-3)  From this we must denounce and condemn the false teaching that Jesus is not eternal God – together with the Father – but something less than the Father.  He’s every bit as much God as the Father is, as we boldly confess in the Creeds.  So we hold that Jesus Christ is both Lord and God, to the glory of the Father. (See Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:11)     

Another false teaching is that, in order to be true Christians, in addition to having faith in Jesus as our Savior, we must also submit to God’s holy Law and keep all its precepts.  And so, a mixture of faith and obedience to God’s Law “seals the deal” in terms of our salvation.  The Apostle St. Paul destroys this condemning doctrine: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the Law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Gal. 5:4)  “All who rely on works of the Law are under a curse.” (Gal. 3:10)  With Paul we denounce and condemn any religious teaching that mixes faith with works so as to get us to God and heaven.  We believe that “a righteousness from God, apart from the Law, has been made known.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:21-24) 

One more false teaching is that we have a “pass” to indulging in sexual indecency.  The idea being that, unlike worldly people who have no faith in God, we can still be forgiven by Him at the end of the day.  Yet in the Bible we find that God despises sexual immorality: “God will judge the sexually immoral and the adulterers.” (Heb. 13:4)  To Christians who think it’s okay to be sexually-active outside the bounds of marriage: “The sexually immoral…will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10)  Immorality dishonors God and His will for us to live sexually pure, decent lives.  Yes, divine forgiveness of sins is always available for everyone, the sexually-immoral included.  Trouble is, those who behave this way – including Christians – tend to think that they’re fine with God in all they do, and if not, He’ll forgive them anyway.  So what, they can keep on sinning in their bodies?  You see the problem.   

We denounce and condemn every kind of perversity of the body, from fornication to sodomy, or homosexuality.  Our calling as Christians is to “abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3) and to flee from every kind of sexual indecency. (See 1 Cor. 6:18)  Instead, we’re to control our bodies “in holiness and honor” (1 Thess. 4:4) and honor God with our bodies (See 1 Cor. 6:20) since He has “not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:7)

These examples of false teachings give us good insight into what Jeremiah the Prophet and the Lord Jesus had to contend with, and what we, too, must contend with.  You’ll note that in his day, Jeremiah had to deal with false prophets who were popping up all around him like fire ant hills and army worms on the prowl and the munch around here.  To those who didn’t care for or hated God’s Word, the false prophets said, “It shall be well with you.” (Jer. 23:17)  As in, “Pay no attention to what God ‘supposedly’ says to you through that ‘so-called’ prophet of His: Jeremiah.  What a downer that man is; what a kill-joy!  You know that God will never do you any harm; He’ll never deal sternly with you or judge you in any way.  Relax.  Be at peace.  God wants what’s best for you; He’ll only do good to you.”    

The lying prophets were also falsely-reassuring all those who were stubbornly following their own hearts, saying, “No disaster shall come upon you.” (Jer. 23:17)  No doubt Jeremiah was urgently warning the people – like a tornado siren telling of an approaching twister – that disaster was about to strike them.  And yet these “wise-in-themselves prophets” were egging people on – who loved to think and do what was right in their own eyes – to double-down on their self-trust.  “Forget about that lying pessimist, Jeremiah!  Who does he think he is!  God will bless you and be with you in whatever you do.  He’s not about to judge you and never will; you’re His people, after all!  You really can do no wrong.”

So Jeremiah – the only true prophet of God of the bunch – had to counteract the lying prophets with God’s Word, which alone is true.  “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophecy to you filling you with vain hopes.  They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jer. 23:16)  Only the Word of the Lord could dissuade them from listening to lying tongues and move them to trust in the Lord and repent of their transgressions.  Only Jeremiah was dealing the wisdom and power of God to Israel, calling them form their false teachings to His true teaching, from  idolatry to the only true worship of the only true God.

Jeremiah’s main message was indeed harsh after he told the people that none of the false prophets ever stood in God’s counsel in order for Him to tell them what to say: “Behold, the storm of the Lord!  Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked.  The anger of the Lord will not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the intents of His heart.” (Jer. 23:19-20)  The Holy Spirit reminded Israel through Jeremiah’s words that He is righteous and would judge the rebellious in the land, just as He did in the past.  They were in total insurrection against God and stood to lose everything for it – their land, even their lives.  God was dealing super-sternly with them because their wayward hearts made them more-than-deserving of judgment.  By all rights, He ought to have wiped them off the face of the earth right there.  But, in His mercy and compassion, He warned them, giving them time to repent and to be turned by Him from unholiness to holiness, from living unto themselves to living unto God.

If all Israel had followed the false prophets, then every last one of them would’ve been judged and condemned in God’s wrath, wiping the Southern Kingdom of Judah off the map forever.  As it was, many did this and so didn’t survive the Babylonian invasion, conquest and captivity to come.  Yet some heard Jeremiah and believed – from the Word of the Lord which he spoke – that he alone was the prophet of God; he alone spoke His truth to them.  They were led to realize that something was “way off” in the false prophets praising them in their perverted beliefs, words and deeds, while Jeremiah was telling them what God had said to His people all along, warning them that their unfaithfulness and sins would be their downfall (see Hos. 4:1), as they always are. And so God preserved a faithful remnant in captivity Who heeded His Word.  The rest lost everything – in particular, eternal joys…because they wouldn’t hear, believe, love the Lord their God.        

What does this have to do with us?  Everything!  When God calls us to account for our sins through His holy prophets, apostles, especially His Son – our eternal Prophet, and we refuse to listen to Him, look out!  Judgment awaits.  

An especially dangerous false teaching that threatens us today is what’s known as antinomianism, meaning “against the Law of God.”  The idea behind it is that you really don’t need to hear the Law all that much as Christians; it’s not that important to you.  All that really matters is the Gospel: that Jesus died for you, God loves you, and all will be well with you.  But without God’s Law, how can you possibly know how guilty you are unto condemnation as a sinner?  And according to the Law you really, truly are guilty unto condemnation as a lawbreaker! Without the Law, you don’t know of your need for a Savior from sin.  You won’t repent of anything, turn from any transgression of yours ever to your merciful Redeemer if the Law doesn’t first drive you to Him and His saving blood.  The Law always accuses, always condemns us sinners because it must, and because we need this!  We’re so rotten and lost in-and-of ourselves.  We can’t offer God anything but our wretched trespasses!  So we do so by confessing them to Him, begging God to take them away from us so that we aren’t incinerated by them forever.  

So you need God’s holy Law – a lot!  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn. 1:8)  The Law leads us to Christ by condemning us where we stand and offering us no hope whatsoever to be godly.  Then the Holy Spirit brings us to Christ Jesus by the Gospel!  “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9)  So “walk in the light, as God is in the light, and have fellowship with one another as the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:7)

Our Lord Jesus counsels us on how to spot and avoid false prophets: By the fruit of what they say and how they act, you’ll know them.  False prophets won’t speak the living Word of Christ.  Neither will they do what God’s Word says since their conduct will be worldly.  So lay the words and deeds of every preacher or religious speaker beside the Holy Scriptures to see whether they agree.  “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn. 4:1)  If they extol Christ from their lips, God has sent them.  If not, He hasn’t.  “Let him who has My Word speak My Word faithfully.” (Jer. 23:28)

O you who hear God’s Word, hear it faithfully!  Let no other religious teaching come into your ears and hearts except that of Christ the Lord, His holy prophets and apostles.  Always believe and confess Jesus Christ as God and man, believe only that you’re saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus alone (see Eph. 2:8-9), abide in sound speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. (See 1 Tim. 4:12)  Be judged by the Law, earnestly repent of your iniquities and be forgiven and saved by the Gospel.  “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9) from God in Christ.  Amen.  In the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
P:
Let us rejoice in God’s judgments and promises, coming before Him boldly with our petitions through the merits and mediation of Christ our righteousness, Who sits at God’s right hand.

For the Holy Spirit, that we may receive with thanksgiving the Word of the Lord, which daily calls us to repentance and faith; and that our hearts would be enlivened so that we hear the Word with eager hearts and prepare ourselves rightly for God’s heavenly Kingdom, unhindered by any worldly teaching or vice, let us pray to the Lord: C: Lord, have mercy.

For the spread of sound Lutheran Christian teaching in our Church body and all over the world, and for the defeat of false teaching in the Church and everywhere, let us pray to the Lord: C: Lord, have mercy.

For the conversion of the unbeliever to the Christian faith, that the Lord would remove all false beliefs from the hearts of those who do not confess Him as Lord, and graciously grant them the only, true confession of Jesus Christ,              let us pray to the Lord: C: Lord, have mercy.

For all the baptized children of God, adopted in the Son by the Spirit, that we would be kept in our Baptism,  remember it every day and always be comforted by it in times of suffering with hope for the eternal inheritance prepared for us in Christ, let us pray to the Lord: C: Lord, have mercy.

For our nation, that God would direct and defend all who make, administer and judge our laws; for our soldiers, police and all those who work to keep our communities safe; that God would keep us from violence, discord and confusion, pride and arrogance, and every evil course of action; and that He would teach us to grow in virtue, living at peace with everyone, let us pray to the Lord: C: Lord, have mercy.

For all who need healing, strength or comfort, especially _______, that they would be defended from the attacks of the evil one and able to join us in God’s praise, let us pray to the Lord: C: Lord, have mercy.

For all the faithful who have gone before us, in whom the Word of the Lord grew until they departed this vale of tears in faith, let us give thanks to the Lord.  Asking Him to bring us to share in the joys of the unending feast with them, let us pray to the Lord: C: Lord, have mercy.

God of truth, protect Your flock from the wolves that seek to mislead and devour the sheep through their false teaching. Give us discernment to test them against Your Word and so recognize false prophets by their bad fruit. Preserve Your Church in the pure doctrine of Your Word, that the good fruit of salvation would be offered to all who hear and believe; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  C: Amen.

HYMN – ♫ 260 [SUNG TO 301]

CONCLUDING COLLECTS
P:
Grant to us, O Lord, Your Holy Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may be enabled by You to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
C: Amen.

P: Lord God, heavenly Father, we heartily thank You that by Your Word You have brought us out of the darkness of error into the light of Your grace.  Mercifully help us to walk in that light, guard us from all error and false doctrine and grant that we may not become ungrateful so that we disregard and despise Your Word, but receive it with our whole heart, govern our lives according to it and put all our trust in Your grace through the merit of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

CLOSING HYMN – ♫ 410

† TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY! †

SERVICE OF THE WORD, TRINITY 7, 7/18/21

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS †

OPENING HYMN – ♫ 12 

INVOCATION (CALLING UPONG GOD’S HOLY TRIUNE NAME)
Pastor: In the Name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Congregation: Amen.

CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
P:
Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God, our Father, beseeching Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

P: Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
C: Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

P: I said, “I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
C: And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

P: Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed.  Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
C: O most merciful God, Who hast given Thine only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and hath given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins.  To them that believe on His Name He giveth power to become the sons of God and hath promised them His Holy Spirit.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.  Grant this Lord, unto us all. (John 20:19-23)
C: Amen.

INTROIT (ENTRANCE)
P:
Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!  For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.  He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.  Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!  For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a Psalm!  God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. (Psalm 47)
C: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Psalm 123:3)

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS (GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH)
C: Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.  We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.  O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  O Lord the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.  Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.  Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.  For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.  Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.
(Luke 2:14; John 1:29) 

COLLECT (PRAYER) OF THE DAY
P:
Lord God, heavenly Father, Who by Your Son in the wilderness bountifully fed four thousand men, besides women and children, with only seven loaves and a few fish: We beseech You graciously to visit us also with Your blessing and to protect us from covetousness and cares for this life, that we may seek first Your Kingdom and righteousness and mercifully be made to know Your generous, fatherly goodness in all our needs of body and soul; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – GENESIS 2:7-17
7 Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon.  It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

P: This is the Word of the Lord.  
C: Thanks be to God.

PSALM 145 (SELECTED VERSES)
P:
I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your Name forever and ever.
C: Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

P: Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.
C: One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.

P: The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
C: The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.

P: The Lord is faithful in all His words and kind in all His works. 
C: The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

P: The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season.
C: You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.

P: The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.
C: The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

P: He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them.
C: My mouth will speak the Lord’s praise, and let all flesh bless His Holy Name forever and ever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

EPISTLE LESSON – ROMANS 6:19-23
19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

P: This is the Word of the Lord.  
C: Thanks be to God.

TRIPLE HALLELUJAH
C: Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

P: The Holy Gospel according to St. Mark, the 8th chapter.
C: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

GOSPEL LESSON – MARK 8:1-9
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And His disciples answered Him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And He directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, He broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, He said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied.  And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people.  And He sent them away.

P: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise be to Thee, O Christ.

APOSTLES’ CREED

HYMN OF THE DAY – ♫ 19, 1–3 

SERMON: DINING WITH JESUS, YOUR LOVING, PROVIDING, FORGIVING SAVIOR, MK. 8:1-9
“They ate and were satisfied.” (Mk. 8:8)  Amen.

Dear baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  To what can we compare Jesus’ miraculous feeding of four-thousand people?  How about a family meal where you and your family sit down together to eat supper.  It’s helpful to view Jesus’ humanly-impossible feeding of so many with so few pieces of food through the lens of your own dinner experience.  This helps us better understand what the Son of God is doing – according to the gracious will of His Father – for the good of His people then and for us now.  And why He’s doing it.  It also gives us special insight into the greatest Meal which we can partake of this side of heaven: The Holy Supper of our Lord’s body and blood!

Common themes shared by your mealtime at home and this special meal in Mark 8 are many and striking.  In both instances, people are gathered together in order to dine.  The people of Israel in our Gospel Lesson are hungry, needing to be fed so that they can be nourished and strengthened in their bodies.  You’re also famished, needing to be invigorated also.  As in that day, God has compassion on you, too, providing “seed for the sower and bread to the eater,” (Is. 55:10) and other food besides.  From what is provided from the earth’s bounty, the Lord feeds all who hunger for good things from Him – both in that “desolate place” St. Mark describes and at your supper table.  Just as Jesus thanks His Father – the God of heaven – for the several loaves and few fish before feeding every last person there with them, so too do we “give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever” (Ps. 136:1) in our prayer before eating.  We also ask God to bless our food, as Jesus surely does too by “looking up to heaven” in His miraculous feeding of 5000 people – and no doubt His feeding of 4000 as well.  “Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest, and let Thy gifts to us be blessed,” (Common Table Prayer) we pray, and also “Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy gifts which we receive from Thy bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Luther’s Table Prayer)  Finally, as in Jesus’ day, we also eat and are satisfied as often as God feeds us.

There are also differences between Jesus’ feeding of the 4000 and your supper table, aside from the number of eaters and the type of food served.  The biggest difference is that Jesus wonderfully demonstrates His power as God in the flesh to multiply very little food to satisfy the hunger of thousands of people.  When you sit down to eat, you don’t need one biscuit to become three, four, five or six biscuits, your main dish to triple in size or side dishes to replicate.  That would be awesome to witness, and you’d have even more to eat; there’d also be leftovers.    

We need to stop ourselves when we think that, while Jesus was clearly present and active that day, teaching and feeding them all to the last mouth…He’s not present with us today at our supper tables.  Why would He not be; how could He not be present with us?  The prayer and the wall-plaque tell it like it is in properly addressing our Lord as “the unseen Guest of every meal.”  “I am with you always,” (Mt. 28:20) He reminds us.  And so He’s no absentee God in your life.  He’s always present with you and for you!  To be sure, Jesus isn’t physically present with you – at least not most of the time.  He definitely is bodily present with you, for you and in you from His holy altar, as we’ll see. 

Maybe we don’t always want the Lord to be present with us.  Maybe we only desire His presence when we’re on our very best behavior at the dinner table and elsewhere, and absent when we’re misbehaving.  We only want God to see us when we’re putting our best foot forward, and yet He knows all-too-well what vile transgressors of His Law we really are.  And yes, He sees us at our worst.  What do you think He thinks of us then?
 

The dinner table typically provides the very best time for good family conversation – talking about how the day has gone, how everyone’s doing, topics of importance to us, kind, fun banter, etc.  It can also be a place where heated disagreements and verbal fights break out.  So anywhere from the cheeriest, most agreeable of places in the home to among the ugliest.      

You bet God is displeased with us when we “weaponize” the dinner table to be critical of a person of people around us.  And maybe our criticism is right, yet don’t we oftentimes go too far so that we’re wrong at the top of our voices?  Fights between siblings, those married, etc., should never begin at supper or pick up steam as we eat together, yet they do.      

No matter their size or ferocity, dinnertime quarrels tag us for the rotten sinners that we are as unkind words and insults fly, incensed eyes glare and tempers flare.  During these shameful episodes, how easily we dismiss the Lord’s presence or somehow hope He’s not paying attention or even turn our ire on Him, justifying our sour attitude with selfish pride.

We must own up to the times when we’re guilty of turning what’s supposed to be a good, wholesome time into a painful, bitter one.  We must also come clean on how willing we are to rush into meals – with others our by ourselves – without thinking upon God’s goodness to us, without giving Him thanks, without paying Him any heed at all.  Yes, we work for, pay for our food.  But it’s God Who’s the ultimate Source and Supplier of “all that [we] need to support this body and life.” (SC, Explanation of the 1st Commandment)  Our food – and our bodies filled with it – aren’t blessed apart from Him.  

So repent of antagonizing and quarreling with others during that time which only calls for nourishment, enjoyment, peace. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” (Eph. 4:29)  “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,” (Col. 4:6) so that you may speak kindly with one another.  Repent too of dining as if God doesn’t exist.  He does, so you eat.  Be grateful to Him for this.  Acknowledge your Lord’s benevolent heart toward you and His giving hands – the very same hands that “gave [the bread and the fish] to His disciples to set before the people.” (Mk. 8:6)

God’s anger justly burns against us when we treat others with contempt or fail to acknowledge Him as the “Giver of every good and perfect gift.” (James 1:17)  He certainly doesn’t want this for us.  So in His great love for us, which thank God far surpasses His wrath!, He sticks our damning sins right in front of us so that we see how grave our guilt is.  So that we’re well aware of His displeasure, and that of others.  Then He directs us to run to the man Whom He has appointed to take away all our sins by carrying them in His own body, moving us in the Spirit to lay all our unkind, bitter treatment of others and our disregard for God on the Son of Man Who shares eternally in the deity of His Father.  Only God can remove His just wrath against us, and He does so by having Jesus His Son suffer His holy anger in our place.  So lay your sins on Jesus Who died to remove them from you, and to cover you with divine forgiveness, righteousness, everlasting peace with God.         

See God’s anger and wrath toward you being overcome time-and-again, always by His love, mercy and compassion toward you in your Lord Jesus.  Only don’t refuse to turn from your sins and seek God’s mercy in Christ.  Don’t shun His forgiveness.  Don’t shrug off resolving to live and do better.  Because then only divine wrath awaits you.

Every meal you eat at home is really a shadow of the “Meal of meals” which you eat in the House of God: The “Meal of Immortality.”  Because in this Meal you receive the “Medicine of Immortality:” Jesus’ very body and blood!  As with Jesus’ feeding of the 4000 in the wilderness and your meals, the Lord Himself stoops down in love to serve you at His altar-table.  He doesn’t feed you all by yourself, but also gives His body and blood to all your fellow saints who join with you at His altar as one holy communion, just like He feeds thousands in Mark 8 and you and your family at your dinner table.  You hunger and thirst for Christ’s forgiveness, life and salvation.  You can’t eat of, drink of, consume eternal life in any other way except by eating, drinking of Jesus!  As with the 4000 and you at dinner, God has compassion on you and feeds you Christ’s body and blood in order to strengthen your faith in Him…so that it doesn’t grow weak or perish.  As Jesus thanked God for bread and fish, as you thank Him for your supper, how much more do we, the Church, thank God for the Food of His Son which blesses us with deathless might and everlasting joy!  We even have a table prayer to pray before receiving the Lord’s Supper: The Lord’s Prayer.  And talk about eating and being satisfied!  “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life,” Jesus says.  “And I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:54)  So always keep on partaking of Christ’s flesh and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar, together as one, with those words in your ears and on your hearts! 

Thank God; praise Him in His sanctuary for blessings you with all the benefits of His Son’s death and resurrection for you in a small draught of wine and a thin wafer of bread, wherein you eat and drink of your beloved Savior’s precious body and blood so that you live upon Him and abide with Him today, tomorrow and forever!  Amen.  The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.  

OFFERTORY (CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD)
C: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.  Amen.
(Psalm 51:10-12)

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
With confidence in Christ Who is our Brother, let us call upon His heavenly Father and ours and bring before Him our requests for the Church and for the world. 

Merciful Father, You have forgiven our great debt and pardoned all our sins, though we are wretched, miserable and undeserving of such forgiveness.  Grant that we, too, may readily forgive our brothers and sisters when they sin against us. Soften our hard hearts, which are so inclined to hold a grudge, and grant that we would show others the same mercy that You have freely given to us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Holy Father, You gave Your Son to be our Bread of Life.  Grant us always to partake of Him by faith and to never hunger, that we may not be put to shame as we wait for Him to meet our every need, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant Your baptized people to constantly hear, trust and live from Your gracious promises.  Give to all pastors, teachers and servants of the Church the grace to hold those promises forth with clarity, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Steadfast God, Your Word stands firm and amid the constant changes of this world You do not change.  Grant to all the faithful who are experiencing change or uncertainty in their lives the assurance that their heavenly Father will never abandon them.  Grant them the peace that comes with the knowledge that their salvation in Christ is secure, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen. 

Caretaker of all mankind, because of our sin the ground now sprouts forth thorns and weeds, yet in Your mercy You still provide a harvest and food.  Grant Your blessing, protection and favorable weather to all those who work in agriculture and who raise livestock, that through their efforts You may give us our daily bread, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Merciful Lord, You know the devastating impact sin has had upon our bodies.  Be with all those who are suffering the ravages of illness and age.  Bless all doctors, nurses and therapists, that they might lessen the burdens Your people face.  Be with all those who are in assisted living centers and nursing homes, as well as all who work there, and with the homebound, including our members who cannot get around, so that all Your people would be well cared for all the days that You grant them.  We pray this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Heavenly Father, Ruler of all things, Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, healed all manner of infirmities and cured all manner of diseases. Mercifully help Your servants _______ in body and soul and, if it is Your will, free them from their sicknesses, that restored to health, they may with thankful hearts bless Your Holy Name, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Grant us all these things and whatever else is beneficial for us so that we may live and serve to the glory of Your Name; for You live and reign, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

HYMN: – ♫ 19, 4–6

CONCLUDING COLLECT
P:
O God, Whose never-failing Providence orders all things both in heaven and earth, we humbly implore You to put away from us all hurtful things and to give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

CLOSING HYMN – ♫ 477

† TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY! †
 

SERVICE OF THE WORD, TRINITY 6, 7/11/21

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS †

OPENING HYMN: ♫ 287, 1-6 (Please refer to a copy of the Lutheran Hymnal for the hymns, or look the hymn up online, using "TLH 287" as your search parameters.)

ORDER OF WORSHIP [PAGES 5 TO 14(TLH)]

INVOCATION (CALLING UPONG GOD’S HOLY TRIUNE NAME)
Pastor:
In the Name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Congregation: Amen.

CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
P:
Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God, our Father, beseeching Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

P: Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
C: Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

P: I said, “I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
C: And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

P: Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed.  Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
C: O most merciful God, Who hast given Thine only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and hath given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins.  To them that believe on His Name He giveth power to become the sons of God and hath promised them His Holy Spirit.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.  Grant this Lord, unto us all. (John 20:19-23)
C: Amen.

INTROIT (ENTRANCE INTO SERVICE OF THE WORD)
P:
The Lord is the strength of His people; He is the saving refuge of His anointed.  Save your people and bless your heritage! Be their Shepherd and carry them forever.  To, You, O Lord, I call; my Rock, do not be deaf to me.  Otherwise, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.  Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to You for help, when I lift up my hands toward Your most holy sanctuary.  The Lord is my Strength and my Shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; My heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him. (Ps. 28)  
C: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Psalm 123:3)

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS (GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH)
C: Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.  We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.  O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  O Lord the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.  Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.  Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.  For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.  Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.  Amen. (Luke 2:14; John 1:29) 

SALUTATION (GREETING) AND COLLECT (PRAYER) OF THE DAY
P: O Lord God, do not enter into judgment with us, Who have not kept Your Commandments from the heart, but regard the precious merit of Your dear Son and let us always be partakers of His righteousness.  Enable us also by Your Holy Spirit to walk in Your fear, true faith and holiness of living, and to beware of pride and self-security, so that we are not cast into everlasting prison, but enter into Your eternal Kingdom; through Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – EXODUS 20:1-17
And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.  13 You shall not murder.  14 “You shall not commit adultery.  15 You shall not steal.  16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

Psalm 119:7-14
P:
The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
C: The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

P: The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
C: They are to be desired more than gold, even much fine gold; they are also sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

P: Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
C: Who can discern his errors?  Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

P: Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; do not let them have dominion over me!  Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
C: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

EPISTLE LESSON – ROMANS 6:1-11
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL LESSON – MATTHEW 5:17-26
Jesus said: 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 

P: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise be to Thee, O Christ!

HYMN OF THE DAY: ♫ 287, 7-12

SERMON: THE LORD WOUNDS, BUT HE ALSO HEALS, EX. 20:1-17
“I am the Lord your God Who [delivered you.]  You shall; you shall not.” (Ex. 20:2-4)  Amen.

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father, through His Son, in the Spirit.  Amen.  As children are taught by their parents what bad things they’re not to do and what good things they are to do – all for the good of others, moms and dads are really following the ultimate model of God’s holy Ten Commands.  They’re following the wisdom of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  

The Ten Commandments that almighty God first gave to His people on Mt. Sinai are nothing but pure blessing – never a curse – to us and to all who are declared righteous by God’s grace alone through faith alone in our Savior Christ Jesus alone, and not by the works of the law (see Rom. 3:28), or by keeping the Commandments.  This is because they aren’t mandates which we must follow in order to be saved or to earn eternal life; they’re not the way we become Christians or remain in the faith.  There’s nothing we need to do or can ever do to gain heaven since our sin, death and judgment have been swallowed up in victory by our crucified and risen Savior!

As God’s people today, we’re truly helped by His Ten Words as they serve as written, spoken indictments against our unholy, sinful hearts and our acts of disobedience against our Holy God.  As such, God’s Commandments lead us to turn from our trespasses to our Savior in repentance, and also teach us how to order our days and our deeds in God’s peace.

So let’s journey together through the Commandments of the Lord our God and see how they both prohibit sin in our hearts and hands – “Thou shalt not” – and also instruct us to do what’s good and right by faith – “Thou shalt.”  In doing so, we’ll see how – after we’re justly convicted of breaking God’s Commandments – we’re led to heartily seek His mercy and forgiveness for this in Christ alone, and to walk as forgiven sinners “in the way we should go.” (Is. 48:17)

The First Commandment – “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3) – convicts each of us of not always fearing, loving and trusting in God above all things.  True, we’re not guilty of “gross idolatry” or worshiping and loving another god or gods, people or things in the place of the one true God – because we’re Christians.  Yet our hearts still know very well how to stray from the Lord.  The First Commandment still indicts us for failing to love the Lord our God with our whole heart.  We have divided loyalties; we’re all guilty of casting more than a passing gaze on our own private idols such as ourselves, others, success, money, pleasure, worldly goods, etc.  So God calls us to repent of this, to turn from cherishing earthly treasures in excessive fashion, and to seek His mercy and forgiveness for this.  “For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us,” we cry.  And He always does!          

Purified of our sin, we’re blessed to fear God above all things, or “with our whole heart revere Him as the highest Being, honor Him with our lives, and avoid what displease Him.”  And to love God above all things, or “with our whole heart cling to Him as our God and devote our lives to His service.”  And also to trust in God above everything, or “with our whole heart commit our lives to His keeping and rely upon Him for help in every need.” (Riess, What Does the Bible Say? 26)  So “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Prov. 3:5)

The Second Commandment – “You shall not take the Name of the Lord Your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7) – indicts us for failing to honor God’s Name to the extent that we’d want our own names and those of others dear to us to be honored.  So caring about our own names more than His.  When we use God’s Holy Name carelessly or profanely, or are okay with others doing so…  When we curse others by His Name, make false promises by it, lie in His Name, we break this Commandment.  None of us is guiltless in this!  All of us must pray, “For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!”  And God forgives us the iniquity of our sin.  So that we trust in the Name of the Lord and boldly confess it, pray to Him frequently, and praise His blessed Name in His sanctuary and in our daily lives.  “Bless the Lord, for His Name alone is exalted!” (Ps. 148:13)

The Third Commandment – “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy” (Ex. 20:8) – faults us for gathering at other altars than God’s altar alone in His holy House.  When Sunday morning dawns, and we bow our knee to the altar of sleeping in, family time, leisure, yard work, labor, remaining home, are we honoring God’s Sabbath Day, keeping it holy?    Even in Church, how easy it is to let the mind get carried off to other altars!  We all know what it’s like to draw near to God with our lips, while are hearts are removed from Him. (See Is. 29:13)  True, events and circumstances such as work sometimes prevent us from being able to worship the Lord with our fellow saints.  Question is, do we let such things turn our hearts from God to them?  We all break this Commandment too, and must plead guilty of it before God: “For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!”  In His tender mercy God won’t hesitate to cleanse us from this sin.

Then our hearts rejoice to hold God’s Word as sacred, as our one and only life-giving Word, apart from which there’s only death and eternal woe.  So do so!  Gladly hear, learn and inwardly digest the living voice of God to you.  “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Col. 3:16)  “Honor and support the ministers of God’s Word.”  And “spread the Word of God by doing and supporting missionary work.” (Riess, WDTBS? 28)  Let Psalm 26:8 be your motto: “O Lord, I love the habitation of Your House, and the place where Your glory dwells.”  Be found often with God in His holy House of worship…in this life and the next!  

The Fourth Commandment – “Honor your Father and Your Mother” (Ex. 20:12) – justly accuses us when we stiff the authority of our parents, other earthly authorities over us, and if no one else, God and His authority over us.  It’s when we put ourselves over our parents and other God-given authority figures in any way.  We’re all guilty of this at one time or another; we want no greater boss than us.  It’s then that we must confess our guilt of bucking God’s order: “For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!”  Have mercy on us in Jesus He does!   So “honor your superiors as God’s representatives and willingly obey them in all things in which God has placed them over you.” (Riess, WDTBS? 28)  “Submit to your authority figures.” (1 Pet. 2:18)  Above all, “obey God.” (Acts 5:29)

The Fifth Commandment – “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13) – forbids any bitterness toward others, or the hatred and mistreatment of anyone in any way – all the way up to killing them.  We’re all guilty of saying or doing things that hurt our neighbor or embitter him against us.  We bear grudges in our hearts toward others regularly.  So this commandment too justly accuses us of violating Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger do not sin.”   What, then, can we do but plead guilty of this and ask of God to, “for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us?”  “And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:7)  Which empowers us in love to put others before ourselves – to look to them first and “help and befriend them in their every bodily need, [and to] be merciful, kind and forgiving toward” (Riess, WDTBS? 31) them all.  So “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:31)     

If you’re not married, the Sixth Commandment – “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14) – is the one commandment you can’t break.  If you’re married, you’re “on the hook” in that you’re to be 100% committed to your spouse in every way possible all your days together.  Marital infidelity is certainly condemned here, but so is looking at a woman or a man who isn’t your spouse lustfully as this is committing adultery with him or her in your heart. (See Mt. 5:28)  In the end no one’s really off the hook after all since this Commandment also forbids any sexual indecency of any kind, married or not.  So repent here too and say, “For Jesus’ sake, have mercy on me, O Lord!”  God always forgives the contrite, forgiveness-seeking sinner.  So go, “lead a chaste and decent life in thoughts, desires, words and deeds.  Fight against and overcome all impure thoughts and desires with God’s Word and prayer, work and temperance.   Flee and avoid all opportunities for unchasteness.” (Riess, WDTBS? 32) “Flee sexual immorality.” (1 Cor. 6:18)  “Keep yourself pure.” (1 Tim. 5:22)      

The Seventh Commandment – “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15) – catches us red-handed in every way we covet and/or take something from others that doesn’t belong to us, thereby depriving them of what’s theirs, and at the same time dissing God for not blessing us with what we think we should have.  The nub of this commandment is our distrust of God to provide us with everything that we need in this life.  There are just some things we’re not meant to have at a particular moment, or maybe at all.  So when we envy another’s possessions in a sinful way; when we take what isn’t ours, we need to realize the wrong we’ve done to God and to those we’ve stolen from.  What’s left for us to but to admit our guilt and turn from it, saying, “For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!”  Will not God then take away our greed-guilt?  He will!  Then we ought to make restitution, to return what we’ve taken, as Zacchaeus the tax collector did.  Lastly, we need to reorient ourselves from “self-care” to “neighbor-care” as we, in the words of Rev. Luther, “help [our neighbor] improve and protect his possessions and income.” (Small Catechism, Explanation of the 7th Commandment)  So “do not steal,” (Lev. 19:11); instead, “be content with what you have.” (Heb. 13:5) and “through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13)

The Eighth Commandment – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16) – convicts us, among other things, of speaking about others in ways hurtful, damaging to their good names and reputations, while claiming that we’re merely just “passing on information” about them.  Whether we know it or not, we’re helping others form a bad opinion of them.  The test for this is, if we say something about others, would they approve of it or want us saying it if they were present?  What this sounds like is when we say of someone to others, “She’s mean-spirited” or “He smells bad and must not care much about hygiene,” or, “I wish that person were more this and less that, or more like so-and-so.” Speaking ill of anyone else, even thinking badly of them, lands us in hot water according to this Commandment.  We’re all guilty before God when it comes to bearing false witness against others, so again we need to appeal to Him: “For Your Son’s sake, have mercy on us!”  He has compassion on us, hears our confession and absolves us of our sin.  This moves us to defend others against false accusations rather than spread them further, to speak well of others when possible, and, when we can, to explain what they’ve said or done in the kindest way.  Other times, it’s best just to keep our mouths shut and not be gossiping manure-spreaders.  “A trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Prov. 11:3)  “Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)  “Love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8)  

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; spouse, etc.” (Ex. 20:17) – seem more obscure to us, yet they really hit home since they deal with property and family.  Maybe we’re not as guilty of breaking these last two Commandments of our Lord as much as the rest, but neither are we completely without guilt.  Commandments 9 and 10 mirror Commandments 7 and 6 respectively, building upon them.  Coveting another’s property or his or her spouse is again longing for or seeking what we should not and cannot have; what God hasn’t blessed us with.  We ought to be ashamed, but not surprised, when these Commandments and our consciences convict us of breaking them.  Once more, what can we say then but, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner, in Jesus’ Name and for His sake!”  God will have mercy on us, always!, and will set us in the palm of His hand so that we don’t drown in our guilt but rejoice in His restoring forgiveness.  Then what’s better for us to do than to keep only holy desires in our hearts, to be content with what we have and to help our neighbor keep what is his? (See Riess, WDTBS? 35)  So “do not covet.” (Rom. 7:7)  “Rejoice in the spouse of your youth.” (See Prov. 5:18)

Fellow lawbreakers who need the Son of God’s mercy, righteousness and salvation – you got it!  For God the Son feared, loved and trusted in His Father above all things, with flawless faith.  Jesus revered the Name of His Father to the hilt and worshipped Him as well as He can be worshiped.  Not only did He honor His Father completely, He was also submissive to His parents Joseph and Mary as a boy in all things.  Christ never hated nor hurt a single soul, but loved as He has commanded us to love one another.  He lived a chaste and decent life in every way at every time.  He never took what wasn’t His or coveted anything, but was content with what His Father provided Him on earth.  Christ never bad-mouthed or trashed anyone behind their backs, but spoke blessings upon men.  Nor did He ever covet another’s property or the spouse of anyone, but was perfectly content with His divine calling to save us and all fallen sinners.  And He did so by obeying all Ten Commandments for us and our salvation!  Amen.  In the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
P:
O Lord, our Strength, our Refuge and our Rock, do not be deaf to Your people, but hear us as we lift up our hands and prayers toward Your most holy sanctuary in heaven through the mediation of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

God of all concord, by the death of Your Son You reconciled the world to Yourself and made peace between God and man. Give us Your Spirit of peace and reconciliation, that Your people may live together in forgiveness and harmony.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

O Lord, You gave the Law that we might know Your will and live as Your holy people.  Increase in us true fear, love and trust in Your saving Word and Your Holy Name, that we may have no other gods but You.  Guide and bless all fathers and mothers, pastors, teachers and others as they bring up children in the discipline and knowledge of the true faith and in wisdom, that they find favor with You and with many.  Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Almighty God, You gave the commandments that we might live a holy life and love our neighbors as ourselves.  Give us Your Holy Spirit and teach us to honor authority, protect life, cherish marriage, respect possessions, defend reputations and be content with the gifts You give us. Bless us to do so through the example of Your own dear Son. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Lord God, Giver of all that is good, grant Your healing and support to all who are in sorrow or need, sickness or adversity, especially [HT] Donna Moerbe, Margaret, Edna, Carolyn, Andrew, [STJ] Paulette, Pastor Schumpe, Ernest, Charles, Walter, Shelby, Lorine, Stephanie, Scott, Amber, Elton and Bethany.  Give them also the gift of Your grace to accept and bear their crosses with faith in You, that finally they would be prepared to depart this life and receive the gift of eternal life in Your Kingdom. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

Lord, in Holy Baptism You join Your children to the death and resurrection of Your Son.  Bless the memory of all our loved ones who have departed in the faith, and comfort all who mourn with the knowledge that, being united with Christ in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. Lord, in Your mercy, C: hear our prayer.

All these things and whatever else You know that we need, grant us, Father, for the sake of Him who died and rose again and now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.  C: Amen.

HYMN: ♫ 295

CONCLUDING COLLECTS
P:
Lord of all power and might, Author and Giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your Name, increase in us true religion and nourish us with all goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
C: Amen.

P: O Lord God, heavenly Father, we confess that we are, alas, miserable sinners, in whom there is nothing good at all.  Our heart, flesh and blood are so poisoned that we can never be without wrong desires.  Therefore, dear Father, forgive us and purify our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, that we may have a desire and love for Your Word and follow it, and through Christ abide in Your grace eternally, for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: Amen.

CLOSING HYMN: ♫ 297

† TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY! †

† THE DIVINE SERVICE OF THE WORD, THE 5TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY (7.4.21) 
HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN, FEDOR & ST. JAMES LUTHERAN, LEXINGTON †

† IN THE NAME OF JESUS †

OPENING HYMN ♫ – 580, TO THEE, OUR GOD, WE FLY
1. To Thee, our God, we fly For mercy and for grace; Oh, hear our lowly cry And hide not Thou Thy face!  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

2. Arise, O Lord of hosts, Be jealous for Thy name And drive from out our coasts The sins that put to shame.  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

3. Thy best gifts from on high In rich abundance pour That we may magnify And praise Thee more and more.  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

4. The powers ordained by Thee With heavenly wisdom bless; May they Thy servants be And rule in righteousness!  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

5. The Church of Thy dear Son Inflame with love's pure fire; Bind her once more in one And life and truth inspire.  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

INVOCATION (CALLING UPONG GOD’S HOLY TRIUNE NAME)
Pastor:
In the Name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Congregation: Amen.

CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION
P:
Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God, our Father, beseeching Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.

P: Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
C: Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

P: I said, “I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
C: And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

P: Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, we poor sinners confess unto Thee that we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we have sinned against Thee by thought, word, and deed.  Wherefore we flee for refuge to Thine infinite mercy, seeking and imploring Thy grace for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
C: O most merciful God, Who hast given Thine only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and hath given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins.  To them that believe on His Name He giveth power to become the sons of God and hath promised them His Holy Spirit.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.  Grant this Lord, unto us all. (John 20:19-23)
C: Amen.

INTROIT (ENTRANCE INTO THE SERVICE PROPER)
P:
Show us Your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation.  Let us hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but do not let them turn back to folly.  Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land.  Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Righteousness will go before Him and make His footsteps a way. (Psalm 85:7-10)
C: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

KYRIE (LORD, HAVE MERCY)
C: Lord, have mercy upon us.  Christ, have mercy upon us.  Lord, have mercy upon us.
(Psalm 123:3)

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS (GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH)
C: Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.  We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.  O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.  O Lord the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.  Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.  Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.  For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.  Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.
(Luke 2:14; John 1:29) 

SALUTATION (GREETING) AND COLLECT (PRAYER) OF THE DAY
P:
The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit. (2 Timothy 4:22)

P: O God, Redeemer of the world, set us free from the bondage of our sins and give us, we implore You, the liberty of that abundant life which You have made known to us in Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
C: Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSONS: OLD TESTAMENT LESSON – 1 KINGS 19:11-21
11 And God said to [the Prophet] Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus.  And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth.  Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”  21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate.  Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.

PSALM 33 (SELECTED VERSES)
P:
Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!  Praise is fitting for the upright.
C: Give thanks to the Lord with the harp; make melody to Him with the harp of ten strings!

P: For the Word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.
C: He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

P: By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. Let all 
C: Let the earth therefore fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!

P: For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.
C: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His heritage!

P: See, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love.
C: That He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

P: Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield.
C: For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His Holy Name.

P: Let Your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
C: even as we hope in you.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

EPISTLE (LETTER) LESSON – GALATIANS 5:1-14
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.  3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

7 You were running well.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  8 This persuasion is not from Him Who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?  In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.  12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  

P: This is the Word of the Lord.  
C: Thanks be to God.

TRIPLE HALLELUJAH
C: Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

P: The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, the 9th chapter.
C: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

GOSPEL LESSON – LUKE 9:51-62
51 When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, He set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And He sent messengers ahead of Him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for Him.  53 But the people did not receive Him, because His face was set toward Jerusalem.  54 And when His disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”  55 But He turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  To another 59 He said, “Follow me.”  But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.  But as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

P: This is the Gospel of the Lord.
C: Praise be to Thee, O Christ.

HYMN OF THE DAY: ♫ 385
1. Now I have found the firm foundation Which holds mine anchor ever sure; 'Twas laid before the world's creation In Christ my Savior's wounds secure; Foundation which unmoved shall stay When heaven and earth will pass away.

2. It is that mercy never ending, Which human wisdom far transcends, Of Him who, loving arms extending, To wretched sinners condescends; Whose heart with pity still doth break Whether we seek Him or forsake.

3. Our ruin God hath not intended, For our salvation He hath yearned; For this His Son to earth descended And then to heaven again returned; For this so patient evermore He knocketh at our heart's closed door.

4. O depth of love, to me revealing The sea where my sins disappear!  In Christ my wounds find perfect healing, There is no condemnation here; For Jesus' blood through earth and skies Forever "Mercy! Mercy!" cries.

5. I never will forget this crying; In faith I'll trust it all my days, And when o'er all my sins I'm sighing, Into the Father's heart I'll gaze; For there is always to be found Free mercy without end and bound.

SERMON: JESUS CHRIST HAS WON YOUR ETERNAL FREEDOM, GAL. 5:1-14 
“You were called to freedom.” (Gal. 5:13)  Amen.

Dear baptized in the Name of the Holy Triune God.  Amen.  “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Rom. 5:1) St. Paul declares in our Epistle for today.  On the day we celebrate our independence, these words of our Lord spoken from the Apostle ought to remind us of the freedom many sought and fought for, even died for and, thanks be to God, won all those years ago.

American freedom or “liberty and justice for all,” as we say in the Pledge of Allegiance, is political freedom from oppression or tyranny, as when a government suppresses the rights and the voices of those they govern, “becoming destructive to these ends,” in the words of our Declaration of Independence.  Meaning that when any government seeks to take away the rights of the people it governs and silence their voices, it simultaneously seeks to rob them of their liberties.  A tyrannical form of government is always destructive to the people it’s supposed to serve, and ultimately destructive to itself.

This was the case prior to and during the American Revolution.  Treating its American colonial subjects as second-class citizens, Parliament and the British Crown slowly-but-surely deprived the thirteen American colonies of their rights.  The delegates to the Continental Congress and American patriots everywhere rightly believed that almighty God and not Great Britain had granted them their liberties, and that the mother country was a threat to their political freedom, or self-governance.  They were right.

That’s why the Declaration states that when a “form of Government becomes destructive [to its people and their liberties], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government.”  And that’s exactly what the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War accomplished – I would say by the providential hand of God.  So much so that, eighty-seven years later, President Lincoln was able to say at Gettysburg: “Our fathers brought forth…a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” (Gettysburg Address) and who therefore share in equal liberty, equal rights.

Circling back to St. Paul’s seminal words that Christ Jesus has freed us, we need to ask, freed us from whom or what?  From political oppression, as in the case of the American colonists, or from an oppression far worse than this?  Asked another way, is the freedom St. Paul speaks of essentially the same type of freedom our American forefathers sacrificed so much for?  

To answer this question, let’s dig into God’s Word.  Ephesians 2:1-3 describes our former abject slavery: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh.”  We were all spiritually dead to God in our sins, slaves of the “course of this word,” (Eph. 2:2) completely conforming ourselves to it and its ways (See Rom. 12:2), loving the world and the things of the world. (See 1 Jn. 2:15) Worse still, we followed the prince of the power of the air, who to this day controls all “sons of disobedience” – really his own sons who love his godless disobedience and eagerly join him in it.  He’s Satan, of course, and his followers are those enslaved by him as well as by their unbelief, sin and death.

One would think that this spiritual oppression and slavery that mankind fell into would be something that all people would strongly wish to be freed from.  While it’s true that the devil’s and the world’s spiritual tyranny over people is altogether evil, awful and ultimately eternally destructive to them – if they are not freed by Christ from it first – peoples’ sinful nature and their unbelief powerfully blinds them to this blatantly obvious reality.  They’d rather stay dead in their sins and unbelief forever, under Satan’s sway, if it were up to them.

St. Paul goes on to describe Who freed us from the devil’s dominion over us.  It wasn’t us – our desire for spiritual freedom or our fight for it, since we were stone-dead sinners.  “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:4-5)  We too would’ve perversely preferred to remain enslaved to sin and death, devil and hell.  And it’s not as if our Lord persuaded us to leave our servitude to Satan and come follow Him instead.  Rather, He saved us from our spiritual tyranny, as Rev. Luther writes: “[Christ] has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His Kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.” (Explanation, 2nd Article of the Creed) 

So our former spiritual oppression defined us, who we were.  Kind of like if the American colonists had let King and Parliament walk all over them, usurping their rights left-and-right because, hey, they were just colonials.  It’s not like we refused to settle any longer for being slaves to the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh.  God refused to settle for us being abused, crushed and condemned subjects of Satan’s kingdom.  That’s why “He rescued us from the dominion of the darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13)      

This is the difference between political freedom and spiritual freedom.  While the two freedoms indeed share some things in common with each other, political freedom has to do with not being politically, socially, economically and yes, even religiously-oppressed.  It’s all about being free to vote for whom you desire, and not being attacked for it, being free to speak your mind openly in society without being censored for it, doing business as you please in a lawful manner, and practicing your religious tenets without anyone threatening you or stopping you from doing so.  

As crucially important as these freedoms are, they pale in comparison to the Freedom of freedoms: Freedom in Christ!  All earthly, civil freedoms are trumped by our Lord and Savior Who has freed us from the power of sin and death. (See Rom. 8:2)  Our civil liberties and rights don’t grant us eternal life with God.  Our Freedom in Christ or our being declared righteous by God’s grace alone through saving faith in Jesus Christ alone is the one Freedom that matters most! 

St. Paul’s point to us and to all people, really, is that, in order for us to be spiritually free in Christ, and no longer slaves to sin, the devil and hell, Christ our Lord has set us free.  And that it would be terrible for us to want to go back to the spiritual captivity and tyranny from which our Savior has freed us.  And yet every day we’re tempted to go back to who we formerly were, and the wretched acts we formerly committed in unbelief – like a dog returning to its vomit or a clean pig to its mud pit. (See 2 Pet. 2:22) 

Dr. Luther describes our truest of freedoms in Christ this way: “Our conscience is free and quiet because it no longer has to fear the wrath of God.  This is real liberty, compared with which every other kind of liberty is not worth mentioning.  Who can adequately express the goodness that comes to a person when he has the heart-assurance that God will nevermore be angry with him, but will forever be merciful to him for Christ’s sake?  This is indeed a marvelous liberty, to have the sovereign God for our Friend and Father Who will defend, maintain and save us in this life and in the life to come.  As an outgrowth of this liberty, we are at the same time free from the Law, sin, death,  the power of the devil, hell, etc.” (Commentary on Galatians, 5:1) 

So love and prize your spiritual liberty in Christ – by which you’re eternally saved unto God by Him – at least ten times as much as you do your political liberty.  Don’t seek a way to God – either in your good works, religious zeal or the goodness of your heart – but look to the Lord Jesus alone as your Way, your Truth and your Life. (See Jn. 14:6)  Do not enslave yourselves again to the world and its ways, nor be conformed to it so that you’re once more a son or daughter of the world and of the devil.  This is to act, speak and believe like the world does and to wonder away from Christ and His Church.  This isn’t for you any more than slavish submission to Britain was for the American colonies.

The question of liberty in Christ or a lack of it “involves everlasting liberty or everlasting slavery,” according to Luther.  “For as a liberation from God’s wrath through Christ’s saving office is not a passing good thing, but a permanent blessing, so also the yoke of the Law is not a temporary but an everlasting affliction.” (CoG, 5:1)  Thank the good Lord that He has saved you from the law of sin and death as surely as He freed the American colonies from British tyranny! 

Founding Father John Adams wrote: “Posterity!  You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom!  I hope you will make good use of it.  If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains I did to preserve it.”  We must cherish our freedoms as Americans, especially as we see more than a few of them threatened nowadays.  We need to make good use of them, pray to God for His aid in protecting and preserving them, and rise up, speak out against all earthly authorities that would seize them from us, for, as Adams also said, “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” 

But we have a hundred-times greater need to hear and believe Him Who declares to us: “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  And that, since “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin, if the Son [of God] sets you free [from your sin], then you are free indeed” in Him. (Jn. 8:31; 34-35)  So always hear Jesus.  Trust that He died for you to set you free to believe in Him alone and to live in Him in righteousness and purity forever.  Amen.  The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

OFFERATORY (CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART, O GOD)
C: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.  Amen.
(Psalm 51:10-12)

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
P:
Almighty and eternal God, You are worthy to be held in reverence by all people.  We give You our most humble and hearty thanks for the immeasurable blessings You have bestowed upon us, unworthy and undeserving though we are.  Bring us to the acknowledgment of Your grace and goodness, and fill our hearts with the desire to worship You above all things and to serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.

We praise You for making and preserving all things, but most especially for making known to us Your saving Word and Holy Sacraments and preserving our lives and Your whole Church through these Means of Grace.  Bring to all Your Church unity of doctrine and life together, and raise up pastors who will preach Your Word faithfully and care for Your flock.  Send forth Your Spirit, that all who hear may believe and all those believing may live good and holy lives in accordance with Your will and purpose.  Raise up those who will serve within the vineyard of Your Church in the various callings appropriate to their gifts and abilities and in accordance with Your will.

Keep us in repentance and faith, that we may not depart from Christ our life.  Bring to repentance all enemies of Your Church and those who do not yet know You, that by faith they may confess Jesus Christ as Lord with us and amend their lives by the power of Your gracious Spirit.  Give us courage for the path set before us, that we may not faint or grow weary but endure to the day of Christ’s coming and receive the blessed “Well done” of Your favor when we enter through Christ to everlasting life.

Bless our country as we celebrate our independence and freedom built upon the rule of law, that liberty and justice may persist in our land.  Bless also all who are in authority in federal, state and local offices, that they would be just and wise in their service, acting with love, righteousness, compassion and devotion for the common good of all our citizens.  Protect the members of our armed forces, that they would serve their country well, be shielded from harm and danger, and perform the services appointed to them

Defend us from all disaster, both natural and man-made, from scarcity and famine, from war and violence, and from every danger. Give to the land fruitfulness and prosper all lawful labor, that the hungry may be fed, the homeless given shelter, the abused safety and the poor relief. Guide us to use the precious gift of liberty for noble purpose and for the love and care of our neighbor.

Accept now, we pray, our bodies for Your service, with our minds, talents and abilities, together with the offerings we bring, for this is our reasonable service and our duty and delight. Keep us from looking back with longing and from the fear of the future so that we may live upright and holy lives in the days You give us, manifesting the fruits of the Spirit and walking in Your ways both now and forever.

You have invited into Your presence all who suffer, the sick, those troubled in spirit and the dying.  Today we remember before You: _______.  Grant them healing, relief, comfort and peace, according to Your gracious will. 

Out of Your abundant blessing You satisfy us with Christ, the Bread of life.  Give repentance and faith to all who commune this day, that finding refuge in Your Son’s true body and blood, we may taste and see that You are good. 

Though we are but sojourners upon this earth, we pray You to grant us safety and strength in all our travels and most especially for the journey of this mortal life. Until that day when we rest in Your presence and know the fullness of Your promise, when all things will be brought to their perfect consummation and bliss, keep us in Christ, holy and blameless in Him, in whose name we pray. With the Father and the Spirit, You are one God, both now and forevermore.  
C: Amen.

LORD’S PRAYER

HYMN OF THE DAY: ♫ 385 (CONT’D.)
9. Let mercy cause me to be willing To bear my lot and not to fret.  While He my restless heart is stilling, May I His mercy not forget!  Come weal, come woe, my heart to test, His mercy is my only rest.

10. I’ll stand upon this firm foundation As long as I on earth remain; This shall engage my meditation While I the breath of life retain; And then, when face to face with Thee, I'll sing of mercy, great and free.  Amen.

CONCLUDING COLLECTS
P:
Grant, O Lord, according to Your gracious care, that the course of this world may be so peaceable ordered by Your governance that Your Church may joyfully serve You in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 
C: Amen.

P: O God, by Whose wise and righteous order the whole creation groans, eagerly awaiting the Day of Redemption, we humbly implore You to graciously help the infirmities of Your people and to raise us up through the strong power of Christian hope, that we who have received the first fruits of the Spirit may not seek our rest and finality in this mortal state, but inwardly long after that which is far better, to be with Christ in heaven, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
C: Amen.

BENEDICTION (PARTING BLESSING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD)
P:
The Lord bless thee and keep thee.  The Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious to thee.  The Lord lift up His † countenance upon thee and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
C: Amen.  Amen.  Amen.

OPENING HYMN ♫ – 580, TO THEE, OUR GOD, WE FLY (CONT’D.)
6. The pastors of Thy fold With grace and power endue That, faithful, pure, and bold, They may be pastors true.  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

7. Oh, let us love Thy house And sanctify Thy day, Bring unto Thee our vows, And loyal homage pay.  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

8. Give peace, Lord, in our time; Oh, let no foe draw nigh Nor lawless deed of crime Insult Thy majesty!  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.

9. Though vile and worthless, still Thy people, Lord, are we; And for our God we will None other have but Thee.  O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand And guard and bless our Fatherland.  Amen.

† TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY! †

    HOLY TRINITY & ST. JAMES LUTHERAN CHURCHES
    PO Box 247
    Lexington, Texas 78947
    PH: 979.773.2634
    lexington.fedor.lcms@gmail.com
    ABOUT US

    We are two conservative, confessional Lutheran churches of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, who, in faithfulness toward God, gather around His Holy Word and Sacraments.

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