The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost September 19, 2021
Text: James 2:15,8-10,14-18 CW 3 Year Series – B 21:2277
Theme: Let Them See What You Believe.
Over the past 40 years, there have been many new English translations of the Bible. They are not all the same, nor do they all have the same approach to translations. Which one do you like?
When pastors get together, sometimes they talk about them, discussing the merits or the problems with various translations. At one such gathering, one pastor liked the King James Version because of its poetic, classical English style. Besides, he had grown up with it. Another liked the New American Standard Bible because it is a more literal translation, coming closer word for word to the layout of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. The third had a strong preference for the Evangelical Heritage Version, because he trusted the people who did the translation. He thought it spoke a little more closely to the way we speak today and is therefore more understandable. The fourth pastor wasn’t quite ready to express a preference. But, when his brothers pressed him for his opinion, he surprised them by saying: “I like my mother’s translation the best.”
Why, she didn’t even know any Greek or Hebrew! He was referring to the way she lived her Christian life from God’s Word. Her simple actions of a humble, living faith said a lot to him. She not only had the Savior’s words living in her heart, they were also clearly seen in her life as she let people see what she believed.
Does your personal translation show people what the Bible says? Let Them See What You Believe.
I. …about impartial love.
In a very real way, the Savior was asking us to “translate” the Bible this way when He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt.5:16). James said it this way in our text, “I will show you my faith by my works.” Earlier he illustrated what he meant.
Suppose that the Lord blessed you with plenty of good things. One day you saw a church member who didn’t have enough clothing or food and could use your help. What if you said to that brother in need, “Go with God. I hope you stay warm and eat well,” but you didn’t help him? If that’s all that you did, could it really be said that you loved him? Is that a faith that responds with love and compassion the way Jesus did? It’s is surely not vibrant. Is it even alive? James replies, “I will show you my faith by my works – by what I do.”
People will see by what we do whether we love them. Even more, people will see by what we do that we love the Savior. He said, “As I have loved you, love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (Jn.13:3).
James preceded his illustration by talking about impartial love. Let’s call it acceptance within the body of Christ. Isn’t that something that we all want? We would like people to accept us for whom we are as we live together according to God’s Word.
We’re not talking here about what today the world calls “tolerance” that accepts any type of lifestyle, even that which is directly opposed to God’s will. James is not talking about tolerating a sinful life, but about impartial love among Christians. Christians don’t show favoritism the way the world does towards the wealthy, or the good-looking, the powerful, or the highly intelligent, etc.
Surely, we would expect that the church, which proclaims God’s unconditional love for the world, would be the leader in exercising impartial love. But sometimes we struggle with it. That’s a little surprising when you think of the early New Testament church, the disciples’ backgrounds, and Jesus unconditional and impartial love towards them.
Some of His followers were fishermen, others were farmers; there was a tax collector and a rebel; there were politicians, doctors, and prostitutes. There was the poor widow who had only two small coins, and there was rich Nicodemus. There were strong ones and sickly ones. And Jesus received them all with unconditional love as they came in repentance and faith. He turned to them and said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (Jn.13:34). Jesus received all to himself. But James’ readers struggled with it.
In the beginning of this chapter, he speaks of what we might call money favoritism: “Suppose a man enters your worship assembly wearing gold rings and fine clothing, and a poor man also enters wearing filthy clothing. If you look with favor on the man wearing fine clothing and say, ‘Sit here in this good place,’ but you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there,’ or ‘Sit down here at my feet,’ have you not made a distinction among yourselves and become judges with evil opinions.”
It’s the temptation to be nice to people who are “just like me” – or to people are who influential and can do things for me, and then to brush off, even be rude to those who aren’t like me, or the not-so-nice people, or the ones who are lacking and can’t benefit me. God preserve us and our congregations from such impartiality.
“My dear brothers,” James says, “have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ without showing favoritism.” Do you believe in God’s unconditional love? Do you show it to others as God has shown it to you? Then let people see what you believe about impartial love.
II. …about sin and a Savior
With impartial love God’s gospel invitation is universal. It is enough to embrace all nations, tribes, races, languages, social and economic classes, and genders as He made them. At the center of that type of love is the truth: “God does not show favoritism but in every nation, anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Ac.10:34).
He knows that sin condemns us all alike, whether rich or poor, strong or weak, educated or uneducated, good looking or plain. He knows that all need the Savior and need to come to faith in Him. He strives to act in our behalf with no exceptions.
Abel needed a Savior, but so did Cain. Moses needed a Savior, so did Pharaoh. Peter needed a Savior, so did Judas. Lazarus needed a Savior, so did the rich man. You and I need a Savior, no matter what we have or don’t have, no matter how we look or don’t look. It’s not about looks. It’s about our sin. And God meets that need for everyone in the Savior, for “God does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2Pt.3:9). You see, the truth is He cares for you and you and you and you and all (1Pt.5:7).
So that no one should think of this as a minor matter, James continues, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, since you are convicted by this law as transgressors. In fact, whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles in one point has become guilty of breaking all of it.”
People have a tendency to grade the commandments, putting a value on them, making “this one” more important or crucial than another, and making “that one” less damning than another. Then we are tempted to excuse ourselves for what we might consider a minor infraction of the law. But James writes, “Whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles in one point has become guilty of breaking all of it.” That pretty well condemns us all and puts all in the same boat together.
Think of his words this way. Suppose that I have a balloon and draw 10 squares over the face of it, numbering each square. I blow up the balloon, give you a pin, and say, “Stick the pin through just one number, only one without breaking the rest of the balloon.” Could you do it? Of course not! The moment you stick the pin into one square, the whole thing blows up, even though you never touched any of the other numbered squares.
That’s the way it is with God’s Law and sin. “For whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles in one point has become guilty of breaking all of it.”
Oh, dear friends, regarding sin, how much we need the Savior alike. How much we need God’s forgiveness alike. And how glorious is the truth that Christ Jesus died for all. There is no sin or shortcoming that is not covered; no sin or shortcoming that is not wiped off our record. Forgiveness for them all is received by faith.
Do you believe it? That’s crucial. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hb.11). Let people see what you believe by what you do and how you act towards others. If there is life in us through a real faith in the gospel, we will “live in Him. We will walk in His ways and do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Ga.6:10). Faith and good works don’t have a separate existence. They go hand in hand. If both aren’t there, then a real faith is not present, for “faith without works is dead.”
An apple tree, if it’s alive, produces apples. Likewise, the Christian, who is alive in Christ, believes and produces the fruits of good works. It isn’t otherwise. And that is a special comfort to you.
If you can say in all humility, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” and if you believe that Christ Jesus died for your sin, then you are His. If you are His in faith, your life will show it. An apple tree produces apples; a believer produces the fruits of faith.
So don’t be afraid. Let People See What You Believe. God grant it to us 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 Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost September 19, 2021
“If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me….. Whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” Mark 8:34f
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
“I love the LORD, for He heard my voice…my cry for mercy. When I was in great need, He saved me. How can I repay the LORD for all His goodness? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. (Ps. 116).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Losing Life to Gain Christ. In following Christ, do you have an undivided heart? What is “an undivided heart”?
A person is either on the side for God or on the side against Him. One can’t ride the fence. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters…. One cannot serve both God and Money.” A divided heart tries to do both.
If the heart tries to serve both, it loses Christ and turns instead to the world’s attractions. So, Jesus warns us to “lose” our lives for Him and the Gospel so that we may gain Him and heaven.
As we follow Him and the Gospel with undivided hearts, we find life in Him. Such hearts lose nothing. Instead. they gain everything that is eternally good. So the Christian gladly loses “life” in order to gain Christ in the present and for all eternity.
To that end we pray: Lord, may Your mercy and grace always go before and follow after us that, loving You with undivided hearts, we may be ready for every good and useful work; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Today’s Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 50:4-10
In a prophecy spoken long before the event, the Servant of the Lord (Messiah) tells of His obedience. His words mirror the events of Jesus’ Passion. The Servant speaks of His determination and the Lord’s help for Him. He was willing to lose His life that we might gain life in Him.
Today’s Epistle Lesson: James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18
Christians don’t show partiality towards some that is based on wealth or other factors. Like Christ they treat all people as God has graciously treated them. Furthermore, since saving faith cannot exist apart from deeds of love, true faith will show itself in acts of love.
Today’s Sermon Text: Mark 8:27-35
Jesus foretells his upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection. After confessing Jesus as the Christ, Peter didn’t like such dark talk, so he rebuked Jesus. Jesus rebuked Peter for his tempting words to Jesus and made it clear that Christianity without the cross is an impossibility.
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
The Lord’s Supper is a wonderful gift in which we receive Jesus’ own body and blood to forgive our sins and strengthen us in faith. It is a gift given with certain responsibilities. The Sacrament is intended for those who have been instructed, understand, and confess as one what they are receiving and doing. Through it we express our unity of faith (1 Cor.10:17). Therefore, we ask that only confirmed members of Zion Lutheran Church or our sister congregations of the WELS or ELS approach to receive Communion. If you would like to become a communicant member of Zion or have any questions about our practice, the pastor would be happy to meet with you after the service.
The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “The cross of Christ is distributed through the whole world, and to everybody inevitably comes his portion of it. Therefore, do not cast it aside, but rather take it up as a holy relic, kept not in a golden or silver case but in a golden heart, that is, one that is filled with His gentle love.”
–Martin Luther on Every Christian Has a Bit of the Cross
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #236
Order of Worship: Service of Word and Sacrament Hymnal page 26
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: #491
The Gospel Response: pg.30
Sermon Hymn: #465
Sermon: James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18 Let Them See What You Believe
Our Response to the Word
The Nicene Creed: page 31
The Offering & Prayers 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)
Distribution Hymn: #318
Thanksgiving & Blessing: Hymnal pages 36-37
The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – Series B
Old Testament: Isaiah 50:4-10 – The Lord’s Servant Is Vindicated
4The Lord God gave me a tongue like the learned, an instructed tongue, so I know how to sustain the weary with a word. He wakes me up morning by morning. He wakes up my ears so that I listen like the learned.
5The Lord God opened my ear, and I myself was not rebellious. I did not turn back. 6I submitted my back to those who beat me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from disgrace and from spit. 7The Lord God will help me, so I will not be disgraced.
7Therefore I have made my face hard like flint. I know that I will not be put to shame.
8The one who will acquit me is near! Who can accuse me? Let us take our stand. Who can pass judgment on me? Let him approach me.
9Look, the Lord God will help me. Who then can declare me guilty? Look, all of them will wear out like a garment. A moth will consume them.
10Who among you worships the Lord and listens to the voice of his servant? Anyone who walks in darkness
and who has no bright light—let him trust in the name of the Lord, and let him lean on his God.
Epistle Lesson: James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18 – Warning against Partiality
1My brothers, have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ without showing favoritism. 2For example, suppose a man enters your worship assembly wearing gold rings and fine clothing, and a poor man also enters wearing filthy clothing. 3If you look with favor on the man wearing fine clothing and say, “Sit here in this good place,” but you tell the poor man, “Stand over there” or “Sit down here at my feet,” 4have you not made a distinction among yourselves and become judges with evil opinions? 5Listen, my dear brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him?
8However, if you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9But if you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, since you are convicted by this law as transgressors.
10In fact, whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles in one point has become guilty of breaking all of it.
14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says that he has faith but has no works? Such “faith” cannot save him, can it? 15If a brother or sister needs clothes and lacks daily food 16and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but does not give them what their body needs, what good is it? 17So also, such “faith,” if it is alone and has no works, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Gospel Lesson: Mark 8:27-35 – Jesus as the Christ Foretells His Death
27Jesus went away with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28They told him, “John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others say one of the prophets.” 29“But who do you say I am?” he asked them. Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things; be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the experts in the law; be killed; and after three days rise again. 32He was speaking plainly to them. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But after turning around and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have your mind set on the things of God, but the things of men.” 34He called the crowd and his disciples together and said to them, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
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
Painting of Church Exterior
Midweek Bible Class,
4:30 pm Confirmation
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Through our own trials and the trials of others the Lord is constantly testing our faith to see if it is a living and active faith. Believers in Jesus Christ will confess their Savior and do His will.
The Gospel Lesson: Mark 8:27-35 (answers are found on the back side)
- Why was Peter rebuked for not wanting Jesus to suffer and die?
- What is meant by taking up the cross?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Clyde Johnson; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Norine Richardson; Jodi Milam; William & Laurie Moon; Patsy Mickelson; Pauline Jaeger, Randy’s mother; Dave Ballou with an infection in Cox South; Lois Wiese with a blood infection; Barbara Long; Khendra Murdoch’s husband, Jason, hospitalized for an obstruction.
New Hymnal About 10 years ago, the WELS in convention authorized work on an updated hymnal, since the Christian Worship Hymnal that we use was 20 years old at the time. History shows that the life of a hymnal is about 25 years before revisions are made. The target date for publication was 2124, which is the 500th anniversary of the first Lutheran Hymnal. Ahead of schedule, the publication of Christian Worship 2 is now at the press. Two copies of the hymnal and a musical rendition of the psalms, called a Psalter, were sent to each congregation. Please take time to look at the new hymnal that is in the fellowship hall. Talk with our organist Jane or Pastor about it. We are most interested in your thoughts on it.
Christian Business Referral Guides are like a Yellow Pages of Christian businesses in the area. The 2021-2022 edition is free for the taking and can be found in the narthex and fellowship hall.
No Face Mask Regulations Facemasks are not required in a church setting in Springfield. If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask, especially with the upswing in Covid cases, you may do so. Masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer are in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use.
Monday-Tuesday, September 27-28 – Fall IA/MO pastors’ conference at Grace LC, Oskaloosa, IA
Friday-Saturday, October 1-2 – Grace LC Ladies of Lowell, AR, sponsoring a women’s retreat, invite your attendance
Saturday, October 9 – LWMS Fall Rally at Grace LC, Columbia, MO; Africa Missionary Howard Mohlke – speaker
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 20; Bible Class: 8; Midweek Bible Class: 4; Offering: $1,650
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 18: Jeremiah 11:18-20; James 3:13-18; Mark 9:30-37 (CW 3 Year Series B)
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- Peter and the other disciples did not understand what the name “Christ” really meant. They were looking for an earthly king. Jesus rejected Peter’s well-meant but ill-conceived rebuke. Without Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, we would still be in our sins and lost forever.
- Following Christ means denying oneself, that is, refusing to make oneself the sole object in one’s life, but making God and His will the center of one’s life. That will always involve sacrifices, avoiding everything that might come between us and our Savior, even taking up a cross and being ready to suffer shame and death to remain faithful to Him.
This week I am praying for……