Book: 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Don’t Receive God’s Grace in Vain.

By James Wiese on February 16, 2024

First Sunday in Lent – Invocavit (Receive God’s Grace)                 Feb.18, 2024

Text: 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 Historic Series                          24:2429

Theme:    Don’t Receive God’s Grace in Vain.

Early Friday morning I sat in a waiting room as new tires were installed on my car. The television in the room was tuned to a news show. I listened as a reporter told the story of someone who held a winning lottery ticket but was unaware that he had won a large sum of money, in the millions. His time to claim the prize expired so he would not receive it. What would it be like to hold a winning ticket in your hand, yet to be grasping it in vain as you let time run out on claiming the prize? What a shattering blow that would be! I think that I would prefer to never know I had won, for if I knew that I had carelessly let go of something so big, it would haunt me the rest of my life.
Yet people, many Christians, do something far worse. They let go of eternity, even though they hold God’s grace in their hands. But they pay little attention to it and so empty it of its blessings for them.
Lent is a season of repentance and renewal in grace. It is now that we watch our Savior win for us the greatest prize of all, eternal salvation. As we enter Lent, Paul warns against losing it. The warning comes not to the unbeliever. This warning is aimed at Christians.
Very rarely do I draw up a sermon with a negative theme to it. But what else can you do when Paul pleads in very emphatic ways in the Greek language: “We urge you, we beg you, we admonish you, we appeal to you: Don’t Receive God’s Grace in Vain!” God grant that we take his warning seriously.

I. What is grace?
Perhaps the first thing we ought to do is remind ourselves of what grace is. If we fully understand and appreciate what grace is, we will never receive it in vain or take it for granted but grasp it firmly.
In its briefest terms grace is God love for us in Christ in which He showers upon undeserving sinners His free gift of forgiveness and life. Such sinners were ruined completely by the Fall. Ruined, not just harmed, not just damaged, but ruined…destroyed…bombed out completely …left with nothing spiritual within. It is as if a spiritual atomic bomb completely obliterated and disintegrated everything godly within. Sin works total destruction. Think of what that means.
In everything pertaining to God, sin totally blinds our minds, our hearts, our souls, our complete selves. By nature we are totally turned against Him and His divine ways, totally killed. By nature there is nothing good of God left in us. So thorough is this destruction within that God told Noah at the time of the Flood: “Every inclination of man’s heart is evil from childhood” (Gn.6:5;8:21). That is universal. Undirected by God, every human inclination, every bent, every imagination is thoroughly tainted and destroyed by sin to the point of opposing God in everything. Since the Fall, our nature pursues only evil, or else God is lying to us when He says “all the thoughts and plans (men) form in their hearts are only evil every day.” Paul adds to this: “the mind of the sinful flesh is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, and, in fact, cannot…It cannot please God” (Ro.8:7).
This is the reason we have such senseless tragedies, like that in Kansas City this past week and others daily across our nation and world. Where people and nations forsake God, as is our modern state, senseless evil occurs, for the unconverted heart is only evil every day. The sinful flesh is hostile towards God. It does not submit to His laws.
This destruction by sin is completely devastating for it penetrates man’s every tissue. It is like a few drops of poison falling into a glass of water permeating the whole thing and making it deadly. So thorough is it that the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have become worthless” (Ro.3:10).
Don’t underestimate what sin has done to us. By nature we are like bombed-out cities, leveled to the ground so that nothing of God is left. Until that reality of sin is understood and confessed, grace has no substance and meaning.
But now, behold the miracle of grace! God saw us completely ruined by the Fall yet loved us notwithstanding it. Out of undeserved love He decreed to save us and undo the ruin through His Son. So, He sent Him forth to die for us. Through Christ who sacrificed His life for us to pay the price of sin…through the preaching of the Gospel given freely to us…through faith mercifully kindled within us, God’s pardoning and rebuilding love flows. That is grace. Without God acting you could not have it. Salvation – beginning, middle, and end – all depends on merciful grace restoring the ruined.
As an illustration the story is told of the late missionary to Africa, Albert Schweizer. A visitor came to see him. Upon entering the dining room, the visitor saw a piano which he described as old, broken down, and warped. When the meal was finished, Dr. Schweitzer sat at the keyboard of the broken-down, decrepit instrument and began to play. Within moments the room was filled with majestic harmonies. In describing it, the visitor wrote, “That old piano seemed to lose its poverty in his hands.”
Even greater is the transforming power of God’s grace in Christ. In His omnipotent and loving hands, old broken-down and twisted lives of sin “lose their poverty” and become rich with salvation. This is what grace can do in our lives. As Paul wrote, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2Co.8:9). Only at the merciful, loving touch of the Master do we lose the abject poverty of the sin that is within us. That’s what grace is.

II. That leads to a second question: Who receives it? Jesus answered that with His Parable of the Sower and the Seed. We had it as the Gospel Lesson just a few Sundays ago. Jesus compared the word of grace falling like seed onto hard soil, rocky soil, weedy soil, or good soil. On the hard soil, the seed couldn’t get in to germinate. On the rocky and weedy soil, the seed could grow for a while, but it soon got snuffed out. Only on the good soil could the seed get in and grow.
The soils stand for the hearts of people on whom the Word of grace falls. Some won’t let God’s Word in. Some are hard-hearted and full of weeds of concern and worldly cares. There the Word does not last long. But some are open hearts that receive the Word of Grace. Which of these hearts receive God’s grace in vain? Only the ears and hearts that are open to the hearing of His Word of grace don’t receive it in vain. The rest do. So, what kind of ears and hearts do we have?
Alas, there are many that receive God’s grace in vain, uselessly. They hold grace in their hands for a time, but they let it slip by unused, indifferent to it. Dare we imagine that we can have the day of grace whenever we feel that we are ready for it but otherwise have no use for it? Those who do grow careless in repentance, faith, prayer, worship, and godly living. And the grace so wondrously offered slips through their fingers, without them even aware of it. It’s like having the winning ticket but failing to cash in on it.
Think of what a tragedy that is for the seed of the Gospel’s grace has fallen upon us as Christians. What a tragedy if at last the verdict for us might be “they received it in vain,” their lives showing that they did not want and appreciate it. How sad! Receiving God’s grace in vain means:
– that Christ died in vain for that person – a meaningless death;
– that the Gospel has no effect and meaning for his life;
– that the time God blessed him with it here came to naught;
– that in the end one failed completely with the life God gave him.
Could anything be sadder or more tragic?
– It is no small matter to spurn the love of God that planned one’s salvation by giving His very best – His own Son.
– It is no small matter to spurn the Son’s love who gave His life
and did not shrink from offering Himself in our place.
– It is no small matter to spurn the Spirit’s love who goes all out
in order to search and find hearts with the Gospel, pleading with
each sinner to receive it.
Could any greater insult be offered to the Triune God? This is the reason for Paul’s urgent plea: “Now is the favorable time; now is the day of salvation.” Don’t Receive God’s Grace in Vain! The time is now, today. Tomorrow might be too late.
What guarantee do any of us have that we will be alive tomorrow to then accept God’s grace? What guarantee do any of us have that, even if we should live tomorrow, the Holy Spirit will continue to work upon the heart that up to that moment has shown little signs of life? How long can one resist and grieve the Spirit before the Spirit gives up? Thankfully, divine Providence bends over backwards to bring grace to all. But if grace is received in vain and put off time and time again, the season passes, perhaps never to return.
So, dear friend, what to do? It’s not so much a case of what to do, for God in grace has done everything for us. It’s more a case of what not to do, reject and prevent Him from working.
To that end may we not obstruct the Holy Spirit working in our hearts this Lenten season through carelessness or inattention to His Word. May we repent anew and draw nearer in joy to God through the message of grace in the cross of our Savior. There the repair of fallen souls was affected. There the opportunity for a place in God’s Kingdom is assured. There grace will ever maintain its hold on the heart that does not receive it in vain. God grant it in our lives of faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


 Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield

4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)

Church phone: 417.887.0886         Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244 

www.zionluthchurch.com               email: revelehmann@gmail.com

You can also find us on Facebook.

The First Sunday in Lent:  Invocavit       February 18, 2024

(“He will call on me.”)

“He called the name of that place: ‘The LORD will provide (Jehovah-Jireh).’ So it is said to this day, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.’” Gen.22:14

WelcomeThe family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today.  We encourage children to worship with us.  However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary.  The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall.  Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary.  We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.

U p o n    E n t e r i n g    G o d’ s    H o u s e

“The LORD says, ‘Because he clings to me, I will rescue him.  I will protect him.  He will call on me, and I will answer him.  I will deliver him and I will honor him.  I will let him see my salvation’” (Psalm 91).

W h a t    T h i s    S u n d a y    i s    A b o u t

Satan Defeated; Christ the Victor   Lent is that special time of the Church Year in which our thoughts turn in loving contemplation to the Savior’s Passion.  Often considered a solemn time of repentance, it is nonetheless a time of great joy for the believer.  We see Jesus take the field of battle against Satan for us and overcome what we in the weakness of our flesh could never do on our own.

Jesus’ vanquishing of Satan in His work of redemption will be seen in the Gospel Lessons over the next three weeks, beginning today.  Each lesson reminds us to whom we turn in every need, especially in times of temptation.  We must turn to Christ and the power of the Word which alone can overpower and defeat Satan for us.  Here is the reason for joy during this somber season:  Christ, our triumphant Victor.

To that end we pray:  Lord our Strength, the battle of good and evil rages within and around us, and our ancient foe tempts us with his deceits and empty promises.  Keep us steadfast in Your Word, and when we fall, raise us up again and restore us through Your Son; in His name.   Amen.

T h e   W o r d   o f   G o d   f o r   T o d a y

(The Lessons of the Day are from the Historic Pericope Series of the Christian Church.)

The Old Testament Lesson: Genesis 22:1-14 

God tests Abraham’s faith in Him in telling him to sacrifice his son. Here is a pre-figurement of Jesus’ time of temptation in the wilderness.  But, when God tests, He tests to strengthen faith. When Satan tempts, he intends to make us fall.  Faith in Christ secures the victory for us.

The Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10  

The Apostle Paul urges believers to remain strong in faith by which God saves.  This is so important that the apostle did not want to become a stumbling block to anyone but was willing to endure all kinds of trials in order to bring them the message of God’s triumphant grace in Christ.

The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11

When Satan tempted Jesus, Christ proved Himself the Victor over him. Jesus, the Stronger One, remained unmoved by Satan’s temptations. By faith His triumph becomes ours.

O u r   P r a c t i c e   o f   H o l y   C o m m u n i o n

Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation.  This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17).  It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says.  Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.

The Organist: Jane Rips is in IA attending to her mother’s medical needs.        

The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Points to Ponder: “Not the approach of temptations, but our entertaining them and yielding to them, we can prevent. You cannot prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building their nests in your hair.”  — Martin Luther

“What can be more frightening than to have received grace after wrath only to misappropriate that grace so as to reap wrath once again!  What can be more frightening than, after being full of hope for salvation and heaven, being thrown suddenly into hell and damnation!  Oh, may God protect us against this in grace, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”  — CFW Walther

Outline of  Our Worship

The Preparation

Opening Thoughts on the Service

 The Entrance Hymn: #863

Order of Worship:       The Service: Setting Two with Holy Communion: page 172-180

Prayer of the Day

The Ministry of the Word

Genesis 22:1-14

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Gospel Acclamation: Lent pg.179

Matthew 4:1-11

Sermon Hymn: #811

Sermon: 2 Corinthians 6:1-2    Don’t Receive God’s Grace in Vain.

The Nicene Creed pg.180

Our Response to the Word

Prayer of the Church: pg.182

The Offering

The Lord Blesses Us

Preparation for Holy Communion     Hymnal page 182-187

(Visitors: Please read the box on  page 2 regarding Holy Communion)

Consecration and Distribution

Distribution Hymn: #661

Thanksgiving & Blessing     Hymnal: middle of page 187

Closing Hymn: #928

Silent Prayer


Lent 1 – Invocavit (“He will call upon Me”) – Historic Series

Old Testament Lesson: Genesis  22:1-14 – God Tests Abraham, then Provides.

1Some time later God tested Abraham. He called to him, “Abraham!” Abraham answered, “I am here.” God said, “Now take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains there, the one to which I direct you.”

Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, along with Isaac his son. Abraham split the wood for the burnt offering. Then he set out to go to the place that God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.  Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go on over there. We will worship; then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and loaded it on Isaac his son. He took the firepot and the knife in his hand. The two of them went on together.

Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father?”  He said, “I am here, my son.”  He said, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them went on together.

They came to the place that God had told him about. Abraham built the altar there. He arranged the wood, tied up Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.  11 The Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” Abraham said, “I am here.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 Abraham looked around and saw that behind him there was a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham called the name of that place “The Lord Will Provide.” So it is said to this day, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 – Paul Causes No One to Stumble.  

1As fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says: “At a favorable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. “ Look, now is the favorable time! See, now is the day of salvation!

We are giving no one a reason to stumble in any way, so that our ministry will not be blamed. Rather, in every way we show ourselves to be God’s ministers: in great endurance, in troubles, in hardships, in difficulties, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in hard work, in sleepless nights, in times of hunger; in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness on the right and on the left; through glory and dishonor, through bad report and good report; treated as deceivers yet being honest, treated as unknown and yet being well known; as dying, and yet look—we live; as punished yet not put to death; 10 as grieving yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing yet possessing everything.

Gospel Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus Is Tempted by the Devil

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The Tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.”  Then the Devil took him into the holy city. He placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, and he said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you. And they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”  Jesus said to him, “Again, it is written: You shall not test the Lord your God.”

Again the Devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said to him, “I will give you all of these things, if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” 11 Then the Devil left him, and angels came and served him.                                                     The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019


Calendar &  Announcements  for  Zion Evangelical  Lutheran  Church

Today

Feb.18

Monday

Feb.19

Tuesday

Feb.20

Wednesday

Feb.21

Thursday

Feb.22

Friday

Feb.23

Saturday

Feb.24

Next Sun.

Feb.25

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

with Holy Communion

online -Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study

 

Lent 1 – Invocavit

6 pm

Elders,

Trustees, Church Council Monthly Meetings

Midweek Supper and Service at Peace

6 & 7 pm

 

 

11 am

Midweek Bible Class

 

5:45 pm

Supper – Italian

6:30 pm

Midweek Lent 2

   

 

 

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

online – Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study

 

 

Lent 2 – Reminiscere

 

A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. Historically, it was a period of time during which the Christian would deny himself certain things in order to focus more clearly on the tremendous sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross. The Sundays during Lent are not considered part of the forty-day season, and, therefore, the passion history itself is not generally part of the Scripture lessons for these days. Today’s lessons remind us of the stark contrast between God’s perfection and our sin-stained imperfection, but also of the victory Christ has won on our behalf and has credited to us.

The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11  (the answers are found on the back side)

  1. What did Jesus use to defeat the temptations of Satan?
  2. What parallels can be seen to God’s people as Jesus is tempted? (compare Deuteronomy 8:1-5)

Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (Long’s son-in-law); Libya, (Jodi Milam’s granddaughter); Barbara Long; Kathy Workentine; Robbie Woessner; Liz & Roger Lisenby; Kay Schmidt at Quail Creek Rehab after tumor removal; Liz Lisenby at home after heart valve replacement; Norine Richardson at home after pace-maker procedure; Lois Wiese, at home.

Looking at the Lenten Season  The Lenten Season began this past Wednesday.  Our suppers and services at Zion are held on Thursday evenings, 5:45 and 6:30 pm, at Peace in Marshfield, on Wednesday evenings, 6 and 7 pm. The Lenten theme this year is People of the Passion. Each service in our midweek Lenten series centers on a key person or people and a characteristic of them that played into their roles in Jesus’ death and resurrection. This week’s focus will be The Schemer. 

Divine Call Sent  Last week Pastor Jason Enderle returned the divine call to be our next pastor to both our congregations.  The church councils are contacting District President Dennis Klatt to see when another call meeting can be set.  We anticipate another meeting within the next two weeks, possibly holding one midweek Lenten supper and service, with a meeting following.  If you have any thoughts on this, speak with a church council member or pastor. Please keep both congregations needs before the throne of grace as we look for the Lord to provide us with another called worker.

Upcoming Services and Events

Tuesday, February 20 – Monthly Church Council Meeting

Thursday, February 22 – Second Midweek Lent Supper – Italian, 5:45 pm; Worship, 6:30 pm

Friday-Saturday, March 15-16 – Youth Retreat at Christ Alone LC, Dardenne Prairie, MO – “Preparing to Give an Answer”

The Week in Review

Last Sunday Worship: 26; Bible Study: 21; Midweek Bible Class: no class this week; Offerings: $912.

Next Sunday’s Lessons:               

Lent 2 – Reminiscere: Exodus 33:17-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7; Matthew 15:21-28   (Historic Pericope Series)

Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:

  1. Always the Word of God, a tool God graciously places also at our disposal!
  2. As the Israelites were led into the desert to be tested, so Jesus was tested. But our Savior passed each test perfectly, depending on the power of God found in the Word.

This week I am praying for……  


The Passion of Jesus Christ

was all about people. Jesus suffered and died for all people. People were there. People took part. People stood by and watched. What do we know about these people?  Each service in our midweek Lenten series centers on a key person or people and their roles in Jesus’ death and resurrection—from Judas, to Pontius Pilate, to the women who first saw the resurrected Jesus.    Through our observance of their place in the Passion, may God help us gain insights into our lives in Him and strengthen our faith to follow Him more dearly.

People Of The Passion

# 1:  Judas, the Opportunist – Luke 22:1-6; John 12:4-6

# 2:  Caiaphas, the Schemer – John 11:47-53

# 3:  Nicodemus, the Silent Believer – John 3:1,2; 7:50,51; 19:39

# 4:  Peter, the Born Leader – Luke 22:31,32,61,62; John 21:17

# 5:  Pontius Pilate, the Thinker – John 19:12

# 6:  One of the Mob, the Follower – Matthew 27:20-23