Sermon for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost October 4, 2020
Texts: Matthew 20:1-16 CW – 3 Year Series: A 20:2217
Theme: (In His Goodness) The Lord Does Us No Wrong
“I prayed to God for sunshine today,” complained a little boy to his mother,” but it’s raining. “Why didn’t God answer my prayer?” His mother answered him by telling a story.
“One day two boys dug up some ground. One planted a garden, the other collected worms. That night the boy with the garden prayed for rain. The other boy prayed for sunshine so that he could go fishing. Which prayer would you expect God to answer?”
“I don’t know,” said the little boy.
His mother replied, “Wouldn’t it be better for us just to tell God what we would like and then be glad that He decides what is best? Maybe other people needed rain today. God does not always think the way we think, and He doesn’t always do what we want, but He promises that His ways are always best.”
Have you ever been disappointed at God for not doing things the way you thought He should? He responds, “Certainly, my plans are not your plans and your ways are not my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my plans are higher than your plans” (Is.55:8-9).
My ways would be that I never get sick, never struggle with bills, never have anything bad happen to me or others. But God allows sickness, hardships, storms to descend, and death to come to us. And every time something happens to me that I don’t like, He turns it for my good as He teaches me endurance in faith, hope in Him, and trust in His grace. How often His plans are not my plans, His ways not my ways. Yet, in His Goodness He Does Me No Wrong. He is never unjust; He is always gracious.
I. He is never unjust with us.
But people miss that. Sometimes God is criticized for what He does or doesn’t do according to what they think should be done. “If there is a loving God in heaven, then why are so many people getting sick and dying from this COVID disease?” “If there is a just God in heaven, why do the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer?” “It’s not right; it’s not fair,” as though God, with whom there is no favoritism (Col.3:25), should do things our way, which is often selfish and sinful. And what does God, who owns all things and from whom all things come (Rm.11:33f), reply to the complaints that fall from unguarded lips: “Friend, I do you no wrong. Can’t I do what I want with my own (things)?”
To illustrate that truth, Jesus told a parable: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing to pay them a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.” The men actually bargained with the owner for the pay to be given them.
Isn’t that the way people often approach God, trying to bargain with Him? “Lord, if you do this for me, I’ll do that.” Maybe it’s not that pronounced, but we try it. Why? Because people are concerned about getting what they think they deserve. It’s often “Lord, what will I get out of this” instead of “Lord, what do You want?”
The vineyard owner didn’t expect the men to work for nothing. He intended to give them whatever was right. In fact, he was very generous with them. And they agreed. So, they went to work.
At the end of the day they got exactly what had been promised. But they didn’t like it. They grumbled and complained because the owner gave the other laborers, who began working later than they did, the same amount. “Unfair!” they cried. “It’s not right! We did all the work while these guys came late.” The owner replied, “Friend, I am not being unfair to you. I am doing you no wrong.”
Was he unfair? Did he wrong them? They did put in more hours; they endured the brunt of the day’s labor. Under similar circumstances, do you think that you would be a little upset too?
It’s not too much unlike in our day when the professional athlete gets as much for one game as you might make working for several years, and then gripes over it. People griping over what they agreed to! Treated unjustly? That’s what these first workers thought. But, had the owner wronged them; was he unjust? No. He gave them exactly what he promised. He was just with them.
And so it is with God, dear friends. Has He been unfair with you? Has He done you wrong? If He ever were unjust, even for a fraction of a moment, He would cease to be God. As the Bible says, “The Lord is upright; He does no wrong” (Ps.92:15). In all the years no one has ever had the right or the reason to say, “God has been unjust with me.” Thank God! He Does Us No Wrong.
In fact, in one way, God has been unjust with Himself. Justice would demand that we pay the price for our sins against Him, for daring to bargain with Him over things that are His, for complaining that we deserve more and better things than He has given us, for being greedy and self-seeking instead of ever grateful for what we have from His hand. If He were truly just with Himself, He would have to throw us all into hell forever.
Instead, He had His Son pay the price for our sin against Him. His Son was innocent; we were guilty. But His Son took the punishment for sin on Himself. In a sense, wasn’t that unjust towards Him? But thank God He did it so that we could be saved. And He promises that all who believe in what He did for us will have salvation’s blessings. Indeed, He Does Us No Wrong.
Then when His ways and His plans for us are completed here, He promises to take us to His side in heaven to be with Him forever. As Paul professed in the Epistle Lesson (Phlp.1:21), what a gain such a death in Him is for us! Unjust? Unfair? Hardly! In His great Goodness the Lord Does Us No Wrong!
II. He is always gracious.
Go back to those men in the parable who wanted to bargain with the owner for greater returns. They wanted to bargain on the basis of what they had done. What if we approached God that way, protesting that He should treat us for what we have done? If we would dare to approach Him that way, then think about this.
He has given us His commands that set the standards for us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Put me first; have no other gods. Do not misuse my name. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Love your neighbor as yourself. Honor your father and mother. Don’t harm anyone, and so on. Do this and you shall be rewarded with good. But go against me just once, and you shall get what justice demands: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law’ (Ga.3:10). Sin once, and you die eternally.” That would be justice, dear friends.
So, I would suggest that if a man would seek to bargain with God or claim that God is not fair, he should beware. God will give him what he deserves, and he won’t like it, for to bargain with God is to bargain with the divine and holy Being who demands perfection. His justice does not say, “Ah, do this as best as you can.” No, He says, “Do this, be holy like me, and you shall live.”
But “there is not a righteous one among us who does what is right and never sins” (Ec.7:20).
So, bargain with God, if you wish. Demand that He give you what you deserve. But “the wages of sin is death.” And you shall have it — if you bargain on the basis of justice.
Thank God that there is more to Him than that, for we would all perish were it not for the fact that He is also “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin” (Ex.34:6).
It is this which we need; this is what He desires and grants by grace that flows to us freely in Christ Jesus. He paid the price on the cross that meets the requirements demanded by God’s justice. He paid it that we might live. Even should anyone come to faith in the Savior in the last hour of his life, like the murderer on the cross next to Jesus, even such a one shall enjoy the blessings of forgiveness and heaven. That’s God’s generous promise. In Christ, God is ever gracious to the sinner who comes in humble faith.
How much we have received from His hand – more, so much more than we deserve on our own. With Paul we can proclaim: “Indeed, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” The ever- gracious God gives, and gives, and gives the greatest in eternity where the last shall be first and the first shall be last. He has a mysterious way of reversing things for the good of all who believe.
Thank God! In His Goodness He Does Us No Wrong but is always just and gracious. God grant it in our lives of faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244 email: email@example.com
www.zionluthchurch.com You can also find us on Facebook
The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost October 4, 2020
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The 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 is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?…This is what I seek: that I live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life….LORD, teach me Your way….Take heart, and wait for the LORD“ (Psalm 27)
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Thinking and Living God’s Way. When people lose their moral compass, they develop strange views about life and death. When life is no longer seen as a blessing of God – created and redeemed by Him – when people refuse to acknowledge that the times of their lives are in God’s hands, when people forget that God has a purpose for their lives at every turn, then they see no value in their lives. If we refuse to believe that God has His ways in mind and refuse to believe that life is a gift from Him, our thinking gets turned upside down. So do our lives.
Our lives are in God’s gracious hands. Whether we are old or young, healthy or ill, active or bedridden, God shows no partiality. What matters to Him is that in life and in death we are His through faith in Christ. May we think and live for His saving ways.
To that end we pray: Lord God, You call us to work in Your kingdom and leave no one standing idle. Help us to order our lives by Your wisdom and to serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 55:6-9
In calling sinners to repentance, God promises to pardon those who return to Him, for He is rich in mercy. Divine mercy graciously goes beyond human foresight. It forgives and saves all on its own, defying the human mind which thinks that it deserves rewards of merit from God.
The Epistle Lesson: Philippians 1:18-27
From a prison cell in Rome, Paul speaks of the unique tension in which a Christian lives. On the one hand he longs to be with Christ in heaven. On the other hand there is much useful work to be done for God and His people here on earth. Paul encourages us to live worthy of the Gospel.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 20:1-16
God’s gracious ways go beyond human thought. He allows His Kingdom to come to people at different times and they come into it at different points in life. But the rewards of the gospel are the same no matter when one comes to faith or how much service he gives to the Lord. It’s all a matter of God’s grace, goodness, and generosity, not human merit.
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 The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “This security Christ has won for us by dying and rising again so that He might be the Lord of both the living and the dead….If this gain of death moves us so little, it is a sign that our faith in Christ is weak. It does not sufficiently value the reward and the gain of a blessed death, or it does not yet believe that death is actually a blessing….Therefore, we should try to attain the knowledge and the love of the blessing of death. It is a great thing that death, which to others is the greatest of evils, has turned into the greatest gain for us.”
— Martin Luther on Dying Is Going into Life
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #382
Order of Worship: The Common Service: page 15-16
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: #466
The Nicene Creed pg.18
Sermon: Matthew 20:1-16 The Lord Does Us No Wrong
Our Response to the Word
The Offertory: Hymnal pg.20
Prayers & The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Blesses Us
Order of Holy Communion Hymnal pages 21-23
(Visitors: Please read the box on page 2 regarding Holy Communion)
Thanksgiving Prayer & Blessing
Hymnal pages 24-25
Closing Hymn: #318
The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Series A
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 55:6-9 – God’s Ways Are Higher than Ours
6Seek the Lord while he may be found! Call on him while he is near! 7Let the wicked man abandon his way. Let an evil man abandon his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will show him mercy. Let him turn to our God, because he will abundantly pardon. 8Certainly my plans are not your plans, and your ways are not my ways, declares the Lord. 9Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my plans are higher than your plans.
Epistle Lesson: Philippians 1:18-27 – To Live Is Christ; to Die Is Gain
18What does it matter? Only this, that in every way, whether for outward appearance or for the truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19because I know that this will turn out for my deliverance, through your prayer and the support of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20This matches my earnest expectation and hope that I will in no way be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, so even now, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21Yes, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I am to go on living in the flesh, that will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet which should I prefer? I do not know. 23I am pulled in two directions, because I have the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. 24But, it is more necessary for your sake that I remain in the flesh. 25And since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and will continue with all of you, for your progress and joy in the faith. 26And so by my coming to you again, my goal is to give you even more reason to boast in Christ Jesus. 27Just conduct yourselves in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come to see you or am absent, I may hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, contending together with one soul for the faith of the gospel.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 20:1-16 – God’s Gracious Generosity
1 “Indeed the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing to pay the workers a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3He also went out about the third hour and saw others standing unemployed in the marketplace. 4To these he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6When he went out about the eleventh hour, he found others standing unemployed. He said to them, ‘Why have you stood here all day unemployed?’ 7“They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ “He told them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When it was evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last group and ending with the first.’ 9“When those who were hired around the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius. 10When those who were hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But they each received a denarius too. 11After they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner: 12‘Those who were last worked one hour, and you made them equal to us who have endured the burden of the day and the scorching heat!’ 13“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not make an agreement with me for a denarius? 14Take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last one hired the same as I also gave to you. 15Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16In the same way, the last will be first, and the first, last.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Midweek Bible Class
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
The lyrics to a Christian song proclaim, “Everything I need, I already have!” Through faith in Christ Jesus, we know that we are members of His saved family and that heaven is ours. But not everyone in our insecure world today enjoys that confidence and conviction. May we use our time of grace here on earth wisely by helping others see the love of Jesus, too.
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 55:6-9 (answers are found on the back side)
- What urgency do you sense in the words “while He may be found” and “while He is near”?
- How are God’s thoughts and ways higher than man’s?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde & Sharon Johnson; the Lisenbys’ granddaughter Jackie; Dave Ballou, at home; Greg Miller; Casey Milam & family; Felicia Nichols’ brother’s family and father; Bill Buchanan; Lois Wiese; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; Pastor Leroy Martin, Rachel Bates father, in a Florida hospital with pneumonia and Covid.
Daily Devotions If you would like a hard copy of pastor’s daily devotions for the week past, you will find a few on the credenza in the narthex. If you would like to receive them through text on your cell phone or by email, let him know
Forward in Christ’s monthly edition for October has arrived. You will find copies for family and friends on the credenza under the window in the narthex. If you have missed any, past issues will be found by the mailboxes.
LWMS – The Fall Rally will be held at Christ Alone LC, Dardenne Prairie, MO, Saturday, Oct. 10. Please see the poster on the women’s bulletin board for more information. Again, arrangements are being made to assure that the rally will be held safely. If you plan to attend, please let pastor know. He will RSVP for you so that proper arrangements for safety will be in order for everyone attending.
Face Masks Since Springfield/Greene County passed ordinances requiring face masks in public settings, we have been wearing masks in the worship service. There are masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use. Please, watch your physical distancing in the service today, not only side to side but also front to back. We are not passing the offering plate during the service, but it will be found at the door upon leaving.
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 14; Adult Bible Class & Sunday School: no classes at this time; The Gardens Bible Class: no class; Midweek Bible Class: 5; Offering: $1,080.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 19 Series A: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32
Answers to Today’s Old Testament Lesson Brief Study:
- This was their time of grace. Salvation was close at hand in the Word that was being preached to them. The opportunity for repentance was still being held out to them. Indeed, for God’s chosen people, there is no time like the present.
- Man’s thoughts and ways are inherently evil and lead to eternal destruction; the Lord’s are good, righteous, and holy and lead to everlasting life. Whereas the weight of man’s sins seems unpardonable, yet God in His mercy forgives them all.
This week I am praying for……