The First Sunday in Lent – Invocabit February 21, 2021
Text: Romans 8:31-39 ILCW – B 21:2241
Theme: If God Is For Us…
Who knows you best? – outside of God, that is. Your husband/wife? Your mother/father? Your sister/brother? Your best friend? Who knows you best?
Your spouse, parents, siblings, or friends may be close to you. But the one who knows you best, outside of God, is you. No one else hears all the thoughts that go through your head. No one hears the talks you have with your heart. Only you do…and God because God knows what goes on in the heart of everyone (Jn.2:24f).
It may seem like there is another one who knows what is going on within you. At least he can see what is outwardly happening, then he uses that against you.
I’m thinking of the devil. He knows me very well. But it would be a mistake to think he knows my every thought. He may be a good “guesser,” but he is not all-knowing. Only God knows all things (Jn.21:17). But the devil has watched me for many years… 68 to be exact. He sees things that are going on in my life. I’m his “spectator sport.” He sneaks around, looking, watching, waiting for the right moment to pounce (1 Pt.5:8). He never works in my behalf. He is Satan, my adversary. He only looks for my downfall. But, if God is for me, what does it matter? Satan may falsely accuse, condemn, tempt, and inflict me with sorrows to separate me from God. But this truth remains: nothing, anywhere will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
I. No accusation can separate me from God’s love in Christ.
What a comfort that is! It puts my mind and heart at ease. Paul writes, “Who will bring any accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies! Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus, who died, and, more than that, was raised to life, is the One who is at God’s right hand and who is also interceding for us.”
God goes right to my believing heart because the devil often turns my heart against me to drive me to despair. If Satan can tempt me to despair and get a hold on my heart, he’s got me.
You see, a heart is not the place to go for guidance. By nature, our hearts do not have a correct understanding of things. Jesus warned, “What comes out of a man, that is what makes a man unclean. In fact, from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual sins, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained immorality, envy, slander, arrogance and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within” (Mk.7:20f).
That’s why I shudder when I hear people tell me, “Just follow your heart.” They may mean well, but the devil must rejoice when he hears that. He knows how to make my heart go astray. And if he can do that, he will use it to drive me to despair by accusing me.
Hasn’t that happened to you? We look into the deep chambers of our hearts for evidence that we are God’s children, and we fail to find it. We are aware of our times of weakness when we have given in to temptation. I search my soul for assurance of my salvation, but I only find evidence of sin. My heart confronts me, accuses me, and finally condemns me with a crushing judgment: “You call yourself a Christian? Look what you’ve done, thought, and said!”
It is at moments like these that divine assurance comes to us from God through His Word (1Jn.3:20): “If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
It can be a terrible thought to realize that God “knows everything.” Among those things He knows are the unnumbered sins that lurk within my heart, like skeletons in a closet. That terrifies me. You don’t know what I’ve thought or done. He does.
Yet for the believer there’s comfort in the fact that God “knows all things.” Why? What does God know that reverses the terrible judgment of my heart that Satan throws at me?
Paul answers, “He did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all.”
Through the Word God declares that He justifies, forgives, declares me, the sinner, innocent before Him for Jesus’ sake. Then I hear Jesus plead for me above: “Father, forgive him. I died for them all.” That is fact, and because of it no accusation can separate me from God’s love. In Christ God is for me, God is for you. You have His word on it. Never let the devil manipulate your heart to tell you differently.
You know, right there is the difference between the Christian faith and all other religions of the world. God looks at us through Christ and faith in Him! He knows, to be sure, that we are sinners. But He also knows that in Christ our guilt has been atoned for, our sins have been paid, and, by faith, we are righteous in His sight.
So, let no accusation separate you from God’s love in Christ. Even in your most depressing times, you are loved in Christ. Jesus assures, “Son/daughter, your sins are forgiven. Take heart” (Mt.9:2)
II. No sorrow can separate you from His love in Christ.
But the false heart is only one means by which the devil seeks to drive me to despair. He’s got other means. Paul writes, “trouble, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword.” To make it easier, let’s lump them all under one word – sorrows.
When sorrows come the devil tempts us to think it is proof that we have lost God’s love. He wants us to think the way little children think who get spanked. The spanking hurts. Because of it, children are tempted to think that their parents don’t love them. Weren’t you tempted to think that way when you were a child? But now, having been parents yourselves, you know that the discipline which a parent gives a child has a good intent. In fact, the Bible says that “he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him” (Pv.13:24). Discipline shows that the parent loves and is for the child, looking out for the child’s best interests.
In the same way I shouldn’t think that, if the Lord allows sorrows to enter my life, it is an indication that the Lord doesn’t love me. Indeed, the opposite is true for the Bible says, “The Lord disciplines those whom He loves” (Hb.12:6). If sorrows come, they draw me closer to Him. Furthermore, sorrows toughen character (Ro.5:3f), show us our weaknesses, and turn our attention to God who alone is our Strength.
If sorrows come, they come because God loves me. Far from meaning that He has separated Himself from me, it indicates that His love goes with me, like a parent’s love for a child. No sorrow can separate you from God’s love in Christ. It draws you closer.
III. In fact, nothing can separate you from God’s love in Christ.
Paul ends our text: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, neither things present nor things to come, nor powerful forces, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Death doesn’t separate me from God. It draws me to Him. Angels can’t separate me from God. They are sent to serve me and eventually bring me to His side above. As for Satan’s evil angels that we call demons? They are powerless before God.
The highest honors which the world might give me or the lowest depths to which my enemies might drag me can’t separate me from God. Even if the entire world were against me, it can’t separate me from Him for Jesus assures: “I am with you always.” In Christ nothing anywhere can separate me from God’s love.
In faith nothing can separate me because the Savior who was Paul’s is my Savior. He is yours too. The Savior who gave Paul such great and precious promises to fight temptation is my Savior. He is yours too. His love does not diminish; His promises never fade. If God Is for You, what/who can be against you? No one … nothing! God grant us that assurance in 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
You can also find us on facebook
The First Sunday in Lent: Invocabit (“He will call…”) February 21, 2021
“He was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan.” Mark 1:13
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
We extend a warm and sincere welcome in our Savior’s name. Please sign our guest book, located to the right just outside the sanctuary. If you desire more information about Zion Lutheran Church or are in need of spiritual guidance, please call upon our pastor at any time. We are delighted to have you join us today and invite you to return soon.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“He will call on me, and I will rescue him. I will protect him, because he acknowledges my name. If you make the Most High your shelter, evil will not overtake you. One who lives in the shelter of the Most High will stay in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Tested, Tempted, Triumphant. God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. On the other hand, the devil tempts us with evil intent to make us fall, and we so often yield to his temptations. But Christ did what we were unable to do. He overcame every temptation for us so that His triumph could become ours.
That triumph was complete on Calvary when He cried, “It is finished.” But the battle began before that. It began with His life lived for us.
So it is that at the start of the Lenten season the Church dwells upon Christ’s victory over the devil in temptation. Believers share in His triumph. When times of testing come, we remember that Christ is for us, and if Christ is for us He will enable us to endure as we look to Him
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 Old Testament Lesson: Genesis 22:1-18
God tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, the son of the Promise. Abraham willingly surrendered the son he loved to the Lord, trusting that the Lord would provide a way out. And God did. He provided a substitute for the sacrifice.
The Epistle Lesson: Romans 8:31-39
Since Christ justified us before God, none of the temptations, testings, or troubles we face in life can separate us from God and His love for us. Paul seeks to convince us of our triumph in Christ that we might confidently walk in His ways.
The Gospel Lesson: Mark 1:12-15
At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, right after His baptism in the Jordan River, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness alone to be tempted by Satan for 40 days. He overcame Satan’s temptations and went out to preach repentance, calling people to faith in the gospel.
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 “God surely tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us, or lead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins; and though we are tempted by them, we pray that we may overcome and win the victory.”
– (Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation to 6th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer)
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #200
Order of Worship: Service of Word and Sacrament Hymnal page 26
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: #419 st.1-4
The Gospel Response: pg.30
Sermon Hymn: #423
Sermon: Romans 8:31-39 If God Is For Us….
Our Response to the Word
The Nicene Creed: page 31
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer: Hymnal page 32
Lord, Bless Us
Order of Holy Communion: Hymnal pages 33-35
(Visitors: Please read box inside about the practice of Holy Communion)
Thanksgiving & Blessing: Hymnal pages 36-37
The Closing Hymn: #455
The First Sunday in Lent – Series B
Old Testament Lesson: Genesis 22:1-14 – Abraham Tested in Offering Isaac
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He called to him, “Abraham!” Abraham answered, “I am here.” 2God 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.” 3Abraham 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.
4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go on over there. We will worship, and then we will come back to you.” 6Abraham 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. 7Isaac 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?” 8Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them went on together.
9They 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. 10Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11The Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” Abraham said, “I am here.” 12He 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.” 13Abraham 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. 14Abraham 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.”
15The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16and said, “I have sworn by myself, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will bless you greatly, and I will multiply your descendants greatly, like the stars of the sky and like the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the city gates of their enemies. 18In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Epistle Lesson: Romans 8:31-39 – Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love
31What then will we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also graciously give us all things along with him? 33Who will bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies! 34Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus, who died and, more than that, was raised to life, is the one who is at God’s right hand and who is also interceding for us! 35What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36Just as it is written:
For your sake we are being put to death all day long.
We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. (Psalm 44:22)
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, neither things present nor things to come, nor powerful forces, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gospel Lesson: Mark 1:12-15 – Satan Tempts Jesus as Jesus Begins His Ministry
12The Spirit immediately sent Jesus out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels were serving him.
14After John was put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. 15“The time is fulfilled,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near! Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
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
Lent 1: Invocabit
Midweek Bible Class
Lenten Service 2:
What Wondrous Love
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief
Lent 2 Reminiscere
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
In Lent we see Jesus go to the cross to suffer and die for us. Today’s lessons show that when God tests us and the devil tempts us, Jesus is our holiness before God. He is also our strength, and our example. We do not live on bread alone, Jesus says. We live on God’s promises. They come to us in Holy Baptism, in Holy Communion, and straight from the Bible¾ the book in which every word is from the mouth of God.
The Gospel Lesson: Mark 1:12-15 (answers are found on the back side)
- Who sent Jesus into the desert to be tempted?
- Wild animals in stadiums threatened some of Mark’s first readers. What comfort did Jesus’ temptation give them?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde Johnson; Dave Ballou; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Bill Buchanan; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; Jodi Milam; Laurie Moon’s husband. William; Pastor Jim Witt, St. Louis; Lois Wiese; Felicia Nichols & family; the Domeier & Parten families from NE whose son/brother, Matt, the Lord took to Himself last week through an accident. (Matt developed Zion’s first website for us); Sharon Johnson recuperating from a broken hip at Glendale Gardens Rehab/Nursing facility off Hwy 65, south of Sunshine St.
Meditations’ next series of devotions beginning next Sunday will be found in the narthex. Also, copies of the daily devotions written by pastor this past week will be found there.
Midweek Lenten Suppers and Services The theme for our Lenten observance this year is What Shall I Do with Jesus? Follow Him in His Wondrous Love…. this week …in Gethsemane. Our midweek services at Zion are held on Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm with a supper beforehand. The suppers and services at Peace in Marshfield are held Wednesday evenings at 6 and 7 pm respectively. We hope you can join us.
Health Ordinance With Springfield and the Greene County Health Dept. extending the mask requirements until April, we will continue wearing masks in the worship service. You will find masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use. Please, continue to watch your physical distancing, side to side and front to back. We are not passing the offering plate during the service at this time, but it will be found at the door upon leaving the sanctuary.
2nd Midweek Lenten Supper & Service at Zion – Thursday, February 25 – 5:45 & 6:30 pm
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 8 (snowstorm); Sunday Bible Class: 7; Midweek Bible Class: 4; Offering: $1,155. Midweek Lenten Service 1 (snowstorm): Worship 8; Communed: 6.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Second Sunday in Lent: Genesis 28:10-17; Romans 5:1-11; Mark 8:31-38 (Series B)
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- God the Holy Spirit. We can take comfort that the devil never tempts us unless God allows it.
- When Jesus was tempted in the desert, He too was with wild animals with no one to comfort or strengthen Him, except His heavenly Father. He overcame all temptations by the same Word that steadied the hearts of martyrs whom Roman officials fed to lions. No matter how God allows us to be tempted, He will always provide a way out for us (1 Cor.10:13).
This week I am praying for……