The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 5, 2021
Text: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8 CW 3 Year Series – B 21:2275
Theme: Are You Listening?
It was the last class of the day. By then we were worn out and just wanted to get out of the classroom. As seniors in high school (Tertianers) our last class was English Literature. Exciting, eh! I actually liked it, reading Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, etc. But it was the last class of the day. Do you remember how you approached the last class of the day? It must be hard on the teacher when no one is really listening anymore.
Our teacher had a unique way of trying to gain our attention. He would be quiet. Then all of a sudden he would clap his hands together loudly and yell, “Hey! Anybody out there?” It was his way of saying, “Are You Listening?” We would chuckle and listen for a time, but I’m not sure that we stayed with him till the end of class, especially not on a Friday.
Is anybody out there today? Are You Listening? In a sense, that is what Moses was saying to the Children of Israel in our lesson. Except he wasn’t asking; he was commanding: “Listen to the statutes and the ordinances that I am teaching you, and carry them out so that you may live and may enter the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving to you, and take possession of it.”
I. It begins with the adults.
To whom is Moses making this appeal to listen? Right after our text it says, “Guard yourselves and guard your whole being diligently, so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen …and those things do not disappear from your heart….Make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”
From that the encouragement to be listening to God’s Word begins with the adults. They are the ones who are to hear it first and take care that they don’t forget what God told them and put those things into practice, first in their lives. Then they teach it to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If the adults aren’t actively involved, where’s the teaching coming from?
Funny how we too easily turn this around. We see the importance of Sunday school, confirmation class, Vacation Bible school, and other such Christian education ventures for children, but then can so easily neglect it for ourselves. If a family moves here, they might ask me, “Is there Sunday school for our children?” when the first question ought to be, “Is there Bible class for me?” and then “Is there Sunday school for my children?” Where the adults are involved, the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will benefit. They will not only learn by example, but they will learn from the adults teaching them. Christian education begins with adults. Adults, are you out there? Are you listening and then applying what you have heard?
You don’t want someone else teaching your children the critical truths of God’s Word. What if that person doesn’t really know God’s Word and understand what it’s all about? You want your children to know the truth, for it’s the truth of Christ’s gospel that will set them free. Their souls are too precious to let someone else play with that.
So, you might say that Christian education begins with adults sinking their roots deeply into God’s Word. Where that happens, things fall into place and the children are blessed.
Think of it this way. The story is told of a little boy getting ready for his first day at school. “Mom,” he cried. “My shirt’s all wrong!” The boy had been struggling to button his brand-new shirt. Finally, after great effort, he thought he was done. He had successfully filled each hole. But to his surprise and dismay there was still a button “left over”! And in his childish reasoning, he had concluded that whoever made the shirt had made a mistake.
There had been a mistake all right. But the mistake was not the shirt makers. It was the little boy’s. He had poked his first button into the wrong hole, and every button after that was wrong. He had to be taught the importance of that very first button. If he would get that one in its proper place, the rest would fall in line.
And the little boy’s mother had learned something too. There were a lot of other things in life in which it was important that he avoid the wrong start. It is always possible to unbutton a shirt and start over. But it is not always possible to unbutton a life and make a new beginning. The habits which we form today are establishing the habits of tomorrow. If these habits are wrong, the time to correct them is now. It will be much more difficult later.
And the best habit of all? – listening – “Listen to the statutes and the ordinances that I am teaching you, and carry them out so that you may live and enter the land that the LORD…is giving you….Keep them; put them into practice.” The best habit that adults can ever make is Listening to the God’s Word – for yourself, first.
Christian adults know how important it is that the children “get that first button right.” It’s true what the Scriptures command and promise: “Train up (or dedicate/consecrate – the word is used of dedicating a temple/entrust) a child in the way he should go (like Hannah did with Samuel) and even when he grows old, he will not turn away from it” (Pv.22:6).
So we bring children to Christ in early infancy and surround them with Christian influences throughout their childhoods. We seek to place children’s feet on the path of faith in the Savior. And we realize that Christian education begins not with the children, but with us, the adults. Are you out there? Are You Listening?
II. …Holding to that Word.
Don’t overlook this. It is to adults that God says, “Keep them. Hold to my Word. Do not add anything; do not subtract anything.”
Children, because of their tender age, lack of experience, and immaturity level cannot be expected to have the level of knowledge and the skills of discernment that are necessary to hold to the Word of God in its truth and purity. Children are little sponges that soak up whatever they are put in. But they can’t determine through study and experience what is good and right. Adults have a hard enough time with that. Only the Spirit guards and keeps His Word pure. People often throw obstacles in the way. So God wants adults to see to it that they guard and keep themselves from doing that. How?
Moses continues, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it,,,. Keep them and put them into practice.”
Isn’t it plain to see from these words that holding to God’s Word is more than just an outward activity? It’s more than just sitting in a pew and passively listening, letting the speaker do all the work. You are to take care that I or anyone else does not add or take away anything that God has to say to you. You must measure what is being said. That makes listening an activity on your part as you study it on your own.
One of the best examples the Bible offers is the case of the Berean Christians. When the Apostle Paul came to Berea on his second missionary journey, they listened intently to the Gospel he preached. But it didn’t stop there at church. When the service was over, they went home and got out their Bibles. With great eagerness they examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul had said about Jesus was true. They wanted to hold to the Word of God correctly. And Paul commended them for such scrutiny of him.
Likewise, with great attentiveness listen at church, but then you must go home to search the Scriptures to see that I or any other pastor has been faithful to God’s Word. Likewise, when you teach it to the children, don’t add your own thoughts to it; don’t take away anything from it because it’s hard or you don’t like it. Hold to the Word because it is God’s Word, not yours. He knows far better what is true. Then it will save you through the truth of Christ crucified for you.
You know, in our world today this is most important because the altering of God’s Word is so common. It’s so easy for the sinful heart to make the Bible say what a person wants it to say. The Pharisees did that in the Gospel Lesson today. If you alter God’s Word in any way, you make it lose its effectiveness to comfort and save us in Christ alone.
So, hold to the Word. Then, like Moses said, “your wisdom and understanding will be recognized by all people who hear it. And they will say, ‘These people are certainly a wise and understanding people. God is close to them.’” And then one day as we hold to that Word we will also take possession of the land that God has prepared for us above in Christ.
Are you still out there?! Let’s get our first button straight and things will fall into place. God grant it to us 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
You can also find us on Facebook
The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 5, 2021
“Do not add to the words I am commanding you, and do not subtract
from it….Keep them and put them into practice” Deuteronomy 4:2,6
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
“Oh, how I love Your law. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I may obey Your Word. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Hold to My Word. Do you hold to things that are not to your benefit? Some people hold to things that they should have released years ago – worries, grudges, resentments, temptations, pride, etc. Such things encumber lives. They are not worth holding on to.
But there is one thing that we will want to hold to as the people of God. That is the saving Word of God. It has the power to cleanse us, guide us, and change our lives. It gives strength to fight life’s battles against the old evil foe. It prepares us for the unknown that lies ahead. The Word saves us. And so, God encourages us to hold to His Word through every turn of life.
To that end we pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, preserve the congregation of believers with Your never-failing mercy. Help us avoid whatever is wicked and harmful and guide us in the way that leads to our salvation. We ask this for Jesus’ sake. 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: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
As Israel drew near to possess the Promised Land, Moses called on them to remain faithful to all God’s commands. As they held to His commands, it would show other nations the wisdom of remaining faithful to the only true God.
The Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 6:10-20
A life and death struggle goes on every day. It is against the power of evil. The fight is intense, but help is at hand. God is faithful; His Word is powerful; with it He defeats every attack of the evil one. Hold on to it. Pull it on in every aspect and you will stand firm in Christ.
The Gospel Lesson: Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
God’s Word does not stand in need of human assistance. When man tries to add his own holiness to its teachings, he abandons the Word and nullifies its grace and power. Israel let go of God’s commands in order to follow the rules of men. Jesus urges us to hold to the Word.
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 absent today, visiting her parents in IA
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “The blessing of the Word is so great that no human heart can comprehend it. This is why its retention requires a stout, stiff battle. Even then it is easy to lose it forever if we do not hold to the Word with all our might. By no means is the Word to be considered as lightly as the world considers it.”
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Opening Hymn: #255
Order of Worship: The Common Service with Holy Communion: page 15-16
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: #537
The Gospel Responses: pg.18
The Nicene Creed pg.18
Sermon: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8 Are You Listening?
Our Response to the Word
The Offertory & Offering: page 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)
Post-Communion Hymn: #316
Thanksgiving Prayer & Blessing Hymnal pages 24-25
Closing Hymn: #293
The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Series B
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8 – Review of the Covenant
1So now, Israel, listen to the statutes and the ordinances that I am teaching you, and carry them out so that you may live and so that you may enter the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving to you and take possession of it. 2Do not add to the word that I am commanding you, and do not subtract from it, so that you keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you.
6Keep them and put them into practice, because in this way your wisdom and your understanding will be recognized by all the people who hear about all these statutes; and they will say, “This great nation is certainly a wise and understanding people,” 7because what other great nation is there that has a god as close to it as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call on him? 8What other great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances as righteous as this entire law that I am presenting to you today?
Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 6:10-20 – The Armor of God
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can stand against the schemes of the Devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13For this reason, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to take a stand on the evil day and, after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness fastened in place, 15and with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace tied to your feet like sandals. 16At all times hold up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. 17Also take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18At every opportunity, pray in the Spirit with every kind of prayer and petition. Stay alert for the same reason, always persevering in your intercession for all the saints. 19Pray for me also, that when I open my mouth a message will be given to me that boldly reveals the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may speak about it boldly, as it is necessary for me to speak.
Gospel Lesson: Mark 7:1-8,14,15,21-23 -The Tradition of the Elders
1The Pharisees and some of the experts in the law came from Jerusalem and gathered around Jesus. 2They saw some of his disciples eating bread with unclean (that is, unwashed) hands. 3In fact, the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they scrub their hands with a fist, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4When they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions they adhere to, such as the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches. 5The Pharisees and the experts in the law asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders? Instead, they eat bread with unclean hands.”
6He answered them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7They worship me in vain, teaching human rules as if they were doctrines.
8“You abandon God’s commandment but hold to human tradition like the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.”
14He called the crowd to him again and said, “Everyone, listen to me and understand. 15There is nothing outside of a man that can make him unclean by going into him. But the things that come out of a man are what make a man unclean. 21“In fact, from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual sins, theft, murder, 22adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained immorality, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and make a person unclean.”
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
with Holy Communion
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
Midweek Bible Class,
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
The psalmist wrote, “Oh, how I love Your law! (Psalm 119:97). The three scripture readings for today give to us good reasons to love that law as well. It is all-sufficient to guide us through life. It is the ultimate defense system against the onslaughts of the devil. It identifies the beginning of evil—our own hearts.
The Gospel Lesson: Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23 (answers are found on the back side)
- How did the Pharisees add to God’s law?
- Why did Jesus call them “hypocrites?”
- The Pharisees were afraid of becoming unclean because of contact with Gentiles in the marketplace. How does a man become unclean according to Jesus?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde Johnson; Dave Ballou; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; Jodi Milam; William & Laurie Moon; Patsy Mickelson; Lance & Jodi Milam; Pauline Jaeger, Randy’s mother; Laurie Moon’s family; Lindsey Bates and Samuel Anibal joined in marriage yesterday.
Meditations There are still plenty of copies for family, friends, and neighbors of the new series of daily devotions that began last Sunday. They will be found in the narthex. Large print copies are also available. There were no Daily Devotions written by pastor this past week.
No Face Mask Regulations Facemasks are no longer required in a church setting. If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask, especially with the upswing in Covid cases in our community, you may do so. Masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer are in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use. We are again passing the offering plate in our worship services.
Tuesday, September 14, 6:30 pm – Monthly Church Council Meeting
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: ; Bible Class: ; No Midweek Bible Class this past week; Offering: $
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 16: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:31-37 (CW 3 Year Series B)
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- The Pharisees had elevated hand-washing to a religious ceremonial act that made them appear better before God.
- They were always finding fault with other people but never with themselves. They pretended to love and worship God when their real intent was to make themselves appear holier than others.
- Sin starts in the heart when we allow the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature to plant evil inside of us. We become unclean when we embrace those evil thoughts and often expose them by our outward actions.
This week I am praying for……