God’s Advent Call:  “Change What You Are and Do!”

by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on December 11, 2021 in

The Third Sunday in Advent                                                                 December 12, 2021
Text: Luke 3:7-18                                    CW-21 3 Year Series C         21:2291
Theme: God’s Advent Call: “Change What You Are and Do!”

Worldly people today might have called him “weird,” for he was a strange, rough looking man. However, he was anything but that for he was sent directly and immediately by God. With his unusual appearance and manner, he captured people’s attention.
The one garment he wore was made of camel skin, caught at his waist with a strip of leather. He managed to exist only on locusts and wild honey. His garb and manner were reminiscent of that of the prophets of old. They had ceased to exist the past 400 years. It had been a long time since Israel had heard a prophet cry: “Thus saith the LORD!” Had one of them returned to life? Maybe this was more than a prophet. Could it possibly be the Christ?
The word spread like lightning throughout the land: “There is a new prophet preaching at the ford of the Jordan River. A message has finally come to us from God.”
From far and near the crowds streamed out to see John, to hear and be baptized. “You offspring of a poisonous snake!” he cried. “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? At this very moment God’s ax is ready to swing at the tree of your life, down to its base. Produce fruits of repentance. Change What You Are and Do, or He will cut you down and throw you into the fire of hell.”
If a pastor today looked and acted like John, stood in your face and condemned you to hell, how would you react? Throw yourself into that crowd once and hear the Baptizer asking: Why?

I. “Why did you come here? Why did you come to be baptized?”
You know, when I was baptized years ago, it was not I who came to those waters on my own. Someone else brought me to the baptismal font. At least these people came on their own. I didn’t. But what does it matter? Whether a person comes on his own or as a baby, someone else must bring him. We are the same – offspring of a poisonous snake. Conceived and born in sin (Ps.51), we are by nature a brood of vipers ever since Adam and Eve’s fall.
Imagine standing out there in the desert, by the Jordan River, and hearing John calling you a snake, a poisonous snake. A man says that to another who has proved himself to be deceitful and treacherous. It describes one whose conduct is hypocritical and cunning, like Satan was. But those characteristics are not always outwardly seen in us. You could not see it in me when I was brought to baptism. But they were there, for sin dwelt within me.
Let me picture it for you. Imagine yourself walking through a forest when in your path lies a tree, fallen to the ground. From outward appearance it looks to be tall and strong. When it was still standing, many who passed by remarked at its beauty and sturdiness. As you gaze upon it, now fallen, you set your foot on it, wondering what made it fall. To your surprise, your foot breaks through the surface and sinks into the body of the tree. As you stoop to examine it, you find that poisonous fungus and ugly insects are at home in the hollow giant. Its strength and beauty were an outward sham.
This is what I am by nature. As the hymn writer says, “I am all unrighteousness; False and full of sin I am” (TLH 345:4). I need help, healing, and forgiveness before I fall to ruin. Outward appearances can be deceiving. That’s why my parents brought me as a child to be baptized. You came to it also for the same reason, to be healed within.
It was the same for the crowds who came to John. They came to hear God’s Word and to be baptized. Rich and poor, church representatives and government officials, plain and ordinary folk like you and me – they came in great crowds, longing for a change. Not all, but many came for that reason, heeding God’s Advent Call: Change What You Are and Do! And as they came and listened, their hearts were stirred.
“Produce fruits in keeping with repentance. And don’t say, ‘We have Abraham as our father, because God is able to raise up true children to Himself from stones.” As John preached the Word, the people’s consciences awoke from sleep. They remembered their past sins – their selfishness and greed, their lovelessness and hate, their meanness and disobedience. And the Word affected a change of heart and mind within them.
It awakened in them a knowledge of their many and damning sins, so that they were desperate for an escape. John pointed them to the Savior. He preached the Good News: “He is your way out! He will change what you are. He will take care of your sins that are rotting you within. He is stronger than I am. He is God’s Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. He will do what we have not done and will bring us healing by sacrificing Himself for our sins.”
With that Gospel assurance, a change took place within many of them. They streamed to the water to be baptized and receive God’s forgiveness, for God was willing to forgive what they were just as in Christ He willingly forgives us. He works the change in us.
It doesn’t matter what your background is or who your parents were, whether you are descended from Abraham or not. None of that saves us from our sin. God does and has through His means of grace. That’s why the people came to be baptized – to receive His forgiveness. They needed a change in what they were as the advent of the Savior approached. So do we. But more was needed.

II. Do you hear them cry: “What should we now do?” John answered, “Whoever has two shirts should share with the person who has none…. To the tax collectors he said, ‘Collect no more than you are authorized to collect.’ To the soldiers he said, ‘Don’t extort money by force or false accusation. Be satisfied with your pay.’” What did that mean?
John meant, “Change your life. Change what you do. Let the mercy, grace, and love that God has shown to you in Christ, be reflected in your attitudes and in how you treat God and others.”
You see, when through baptism or the hearing of His Word, God affects a change within the heart, one begins to understand the greatness of the forgiveness that is ours in the Savior. And a change takes place on the outside as well – in what we do in life.
Before that change takes place, our horizons are confined to this world. But when God changes what you are in Christ, what you do also changes. The penitent believer’s hopes are raised to heavenly endeavors and eternity.
Before that change takes place, our natural thoughts revolve around ourselves and worldly affairs. But when God changes what you are in Christ, your aspirations in life are raised to the Kingdom of God and in pursuing His righteous ways.
Before that change takes place, we pursued our own will and desires. But when God changes what you are in Christ, you ask, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Ac.9:6).
It was this radical change within that moved the people to ask, “What shall we do?” John’s answer? “Change how you live. Produce fruits of a living faith. Live for Christ, not yourselves.”
It is not as much the things we do as penitent believers as it is the motive behind them for which the Lord looks. He judges the fruit of faith not by the size of the work, but by the size of the heart in which Christ dwells. He rewards not the action, but the love of Christ, which is made visible in the action, whether one be a tax collector, a soldier, or an ordinary person. That motive of love, born by gratitude to the Savior and what He has made us within, can be seen in the tiniest as well as the largest of deeds, whatever they might be. The motive determines the goodness of the deed. And love to Christ is the soul of every fruit of faith produced. If our motive in all that we do is to make God’s glory more visible and to magnify His praise for the greatness of the salvation He sent us in Christ, we shall not be seeking our own gain, but His.
God grant us such a change this Advent Season. For He changes what we are in Christ that we might change what we do for Him in His Kingdom. 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)

www.zionluthchurch.com                                  Church phone:   417.887.0886

email: revelehmann@gmail.com                      Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244

You can also find us on Facebook  

The Third Sunday in Advent: Gaudate (“Rejoice!”)     December 12, 2021

 Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4f

 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

“Remember Your mercy, O LORD. Out of the depths I cry to You. Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. With You there is forgiveness. I wait for the LORD and in His Word I put my hope” (Psalm 130).

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

When the Lord Comes Near, He Humbles His Enemies. Too many people take sin way too lightly. God not only threatens His enemies who sin against Him with hellfire, but He promises to bring destruction on all who refuse to repent. The prophets of old did not mince words when describing the fate that awaits the ungodly.

However, the Third Sunday in Advent comes, soothing us like a breath of fresh air in the midst of stifling heat. In the midst of such heated threats, God’s promise of the Christ is given. When the time was right, He came bringing hope and rejoicing to those who believed. In order that we might not miss it, God sent His Forerunner, John, ahead of the Savior to prepare a way for Christ to come to us.

To that end we pray: Lord Jesus Christ, come with the good news of Your mighty deliverance. Drive the darkness from our hearts and fill us with Your light now and forever.   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: Zephaniah 3:14-17

Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah about the years 640-610 B.C. He points past Judah’s upcoming captivity to the future of God’s people under the glorious rule of Christ who would come to rescue them from their enemies. In repentance people would find joy in Him.

The Epistle Lesson: Philippians 4:4-7

Even though St. Paul was in prison and endured many hardships because the world opposed the Gospel of Christ that he preached, he could still rejoice in the Lord and encourages us to do the same. The Lord is near. Put aside anger and anxiety, setting your mind on Him.

The Gospel Lesson: Luke 3:7-18            

John came preaching: “The Lord is coming.   Prepare to receive Him.” All who humbly prepare in repentance and faith will rejoice in God’s salvation at His coming. Such joy reveals itself in changed lives that are lived to His glory and the good of others.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Organist: Jane Rips                

The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Point to Ponder: “Our Lord is not interested in sad looks; He did not create the head for me to let it hang….Flee sadness, the author of which is Satan, and serve God with gladness. He is the enemy of sadness and is bent on destroying it through all His power – through the Holy Spirit, the Sacraments, and the Word of the Gospel. So wisdom counsels, “Sorrow has killed many, and there is no profit in it.”

We have more occasions for joy than for sadness. We believe in the living God; Christ lives; and we, too, shall live. But sadness is born in us, and Satan is the spirit of sadness. However, God is the Spirit of gladness; He saves us.”

— Martin Luther on Our God Dislikes Sadness and Loves Gladness

The Advent of our King Our prayers must now employ,

And we must hymns of welcome sing In strains of holy joy.          Christian Worship: #1 st.1

 Outline of  Our Worship

 The Preparation

 Opening Thoughts on the Service

Opening Hymn: #16

Order of Worship     Hymnal page 38,  “Service of the Word”

The Ministry of the Word

Zephaniah 3:14-17

Psalm of the Day: #130     Hymnal page 114

Philippians 4:4-7

Hymn Response: #62

Luke 3:7-18

The Sermon Hymn: #20

Sermon Text: Luke 3:7-18     God’s Advent Call:  “Change What You Are and Do!”

Our Response to the Word

The Offering

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer. pg.43

Hymn: #1

The Lord Blesses Us

Closing Prayer & Blessing:  Hymnal pages 43-44

Silent Prayer


The Third Sunday in Advent – Series C

Old Testament: Zephaniah 3:14-17: God Turns Back His Enemies

14Sing out, daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, you daughter of Jerusalem. 15The Lord has removed the judgment against you. He has turned back your enemy. Israel’s king, the Lord, is in your midst! You no longer need to fear disaster. 16In that day Jerusalem will be told, “Do not be afraid, O Zion. Do not give up. 17The Lord your God is with you as a hero who will save you. He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Epistle Lesson: Philippians 4:4-7: Encouragement: Press on in Faith

4Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Gospel Lesson: Luke 3:7-18 – Produce Fruits of Repentance

7So John kept saying to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Therefore produce fruits in keeping with repentance! Do not even think of saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ because I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. 9Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is going to be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10The crowds began to ask him, “What should we do then?”

11He answered them, “Whoever has two shirts should share with the person who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.”

12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. They said, “Teacher, what should we do?”

13To them he said, “Collect no more than what you were authorized to.”

14Soldiers were also asking him, “And what should we do?”

He told them, “Do not extort money from anyone by force or false accusation. Be satisfied with your wages.”

15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John could be the Christ. 16John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But someone mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor. He will gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18Then with many other words, he appealed to them and was preaching good news to the people.                                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

 

 

Today

Dec. 12

 

Mon.

Dec. 13

 

Tues.

Dec. 14

 

Wed.

Dec. 15

 

Thurs.

Dec. 16

 

Fri.

Dec. 17

 

Sat.

Dec. 18

 

Next Sun.

Dec. 19

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

online -Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Brief Bible Study

 

Advent 3

  6:30 pm

Monthly Church Council Meeting

 

 

 

 

11 am

Midweek Bible Study

 

4:30 pm

Confirmation

Choir

 

  9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

with Holy Communion online – Facebook

10:15 am

Pre-Christmas Meal and Fellowship

Advent 4

 

A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today

The coming of Christ into the world creates a life of rejoicing in those who really know Him and put their trust in Him. Knowledge of our sins forgiven and His daily concern for our lives makes us look outwardly at how we can serve Him and positively impact the lives of others.

The Epistle Lesson: Philippians 4:4-7  (answers are found on the back side)

  1. What spirit does Paul encourage in us here?
  2. How can someone feel that way in the troubled world we experience around us?

Those We Remember In Our Prayers:   Clyde Johnson; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Norine Richardson; Jodi Milam; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Dave Ballou; Lois Wiese, hospitalized this past week; Barbara Long; John Workentine, Schulz’s brother-in-law; Brandon Schulz with spinal injuries; Khendra Murdoch; Paul & Patsy Michelson with Covid; Kevin & Tom Jaster, Laurie Moon’s brother and nephew, also with Covid.

Thank You to all who were able to help last Sunday with the decorating of the church for the Christmas season. We appreciate the time and efforts all our volunteers put in to decorate and keep our worship facilities pleasing and in fine order.

Christmas Concert Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary will livestream their Christmas Concert this afternoon and evening, December 12, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. You can view the concert at livestream.com/WLSLive They invite all who are able to join in for “Christmas at the Seminary.”

No Face Mask Regulations Facemasks are not required in a church setting in Springfield. If you feel more comfortable wearing a face mask, you may certainly do so. Masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer are in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, December 14: Church Council Monthly Meeting at 6:30 pm

Sunday, December 19: Pre-Christmas Meal and Fellowship in the fellowship hall following the worship service

Friday, December 24:  Zion Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6:00 pm

Friday, December 24:  Peace Christmas Eve Children’s and Candlelight Service at 9:00 pm

 The Week in Review

Sunday’s Worship: 35; Communed: 30; Bible Class: 12; Midweek Bible Class: 3; Sunday Offering: $2,004.

Next Sunday’s Lessons: When the Lord Comes Near…                                      

Advent 4 – He Lifts Up the Humbled: Micah 5:2-5; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55 (CW-21, 3-Year Series C)

Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:

  1. Paul’s tone in this whole letter is one of rejoicing. That rejoicing is directly connected to the relationship with the Lord. He wants that to always be part of our lives too.
  2. Paul tells us to no longer live for ourselves but to let our gentleness (big-heartedness) be evident to others. And when anxiety sets in, take all those things to God in prayer. The result: Peace will guard our hearts and minds from those things that attack joy.

                                                This week I am praying for……     

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Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann