Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost August 23, 2020
Text: Matthew 14:22-33 CW – Series A 20:2209a
Theme: Looking Only to Jesus
Meteorologist Lehmann. Do you know him? I think you have met him. I am he. That’s what Liz calls me. You see, I’m fascinated by the weather. I always turn on the news so that I can catch the weather report. I’ve been that way since I was a child.
Weather – it’s a favorite topic of conversation, isn’t it? People often talk about the weather. When you arrived at church today, did anybody greet you with words about the weather? Sometimes it may be something like, “Well, looks like another hot one today.” These days it’s more like, “Did you get any rain last night? We need it!” I wonder how often conversations turn to the weather. What do they say in Missouri – “If you don’t like the weather now, wait awhile. It’ll change”? It can change quickly and drastically.
A few hours of sunshine, then dark thunderclouds, storm and rain roll in. The temperature suddenly falls or rises, depending on the front that is coming. Sometimes it’s unfavorable, especially for those who make their living outdoors – the farmer, the builder, the construction worker. What first looked like success in their labor may be ruined in an instant by a change in the weather. On the other hand, it also happens that what looked like certain failure may turn into smiling success by a change in the weather.
Life is like that too, isn’t it? We experience sunshine and cloudless skies in our walk through life, and we experience dark and dreary days. There are times that we feel like we are on top of the world, and days when we feel “under the weather.” You might say there is also “weather” in our walk of faith through life. There is good, there is bad. It can change in an instant. Yet, for the Christian, it all works out in the end. As the hymnwriter said, “Storms may howl, clouds may gather, All must work for good to me.” (CW 465:3) And that brings us to our text. All shall work for our good when our eyes are on Jesus – Looking only to Him.
I. When alone.
The disciples ran headlong into a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They were well qualified to deal with it, since some were fishermen. They lived on the lake. They knew how to handle it. But this storm was more violent than most, and the weary disciples were not making much headway.
It was the 4th watch of the night, between 3 and 6 in the morning. By now they were in the middle of the lake (Mk.7:47), their boat tossed about on the waves like driftwood. Buffeted so hard by the wind and the waves, how soon before they went under? They were weary, afraid, alone.
After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, Jesus dismissed the crowd late in the day and told His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him across the lake. He wanted to get away by Himself for a while so that He might have some “alone time” with His heavenly Father in prayer. So away they went.
At first the trip was routine. These old sailors had often sailed these waters and knew what they were doing. But suddenly a squall descended on the lake. It all happened so fast when they were alone, carrying out Jesus’ orders.
They hadn’t set out on their own. No, Jesus told them to go. In other words, they found themselves alone, in trouble, “in the line of duty” to the Savior. They were simply carrying out Jesus’ command, and they weren’t able to get the job done.
Getting the job done which the Lord gives us to do, but it doesn’t happen! Striving as best we can, doing what He told us to do, and not getting anywhere with it! You try to get the job done, but things intervene; He’s not around; and you feel alone, trying to carry on. Nothing happens. In fact, things seem to get worse.
That’s how it must have seemed to Elijah in the Old Testament Lesson today. As the Lord’s prophet to Israel, he was doing what God told him to do – preaching the Word of God to the people. But it seemed like he wasn’t getting anywhere with it. Even after the great victory over Baal’s prophets on Mt. Carmel when the Lord confirmed his preaching by sending fire down from heaven to consume his sacrifice, even then the people didn’t seem to be affected any. What good was he doing? Near despair, feeling alone with the work God gave him to do, he cried out, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God….I’m the only one left.” Even the greatest prophets take their eyes off Jesus and give in to frustration.
As for the disciples – some 6-8 hours passed. Alone they struggled against forces greater than they in the middle of the lake. It happened once before when Jesus was with them, sleeping in the back of the boat. At that time Jesus got up and calmed the storm: “Hush! Be still!” And all was peaceful again. But not this night; He was not with them. Or was He? From the book of Mark (6:48) we read: “He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
Jesus knew exactly what was taking place, even though He was miles away from them. He knew that they were struggling to do the thing He asked them to do. So He came to them. How comforting that is for us all to see.
We know that the Lord Jesus has invited: “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…and you shall find rest for your souls” (Mt.11:28f). Isn’t that passage a great comfort to you as a Christian in unsettling times? But there’s more. Not only does the Savior see and invite us, but He comes to us when we feel alone and struggling. In all our trials, temptations, and times of bad weather, He sees, He knows, He comes, and is already on His way to help us? Alone? Not really; in fact never!
The Son of God who died for our sins is with His people always to the end of the world (Mt.28:20). He never leaves you nor forsakes you (Hb.13:5). He doesn’t ever close His eyes in sleep over you (Ps.121:4). You’re never out of His sight; never away from His presence. And if troubles arise when you feel alone, He only allows them in order to accomplish His good and gracious will in you through them. No more the situation you are at peace in Him.
So, dear friend, in the hour you feel alone, look only to Jesus. His eye is on you. In His time He’ll come to relieve the burden.
II. When faith fails.
Soon He was there. The disciples saw Him on the water, but a touch of old sailors’ superstition still lingered within them. Their faith failed them and they cried: “It’s a phantom.” Jesus immediately put aside their fears calling, “Take heart! It is I. Stop being afraid!” Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” The Lord consented. There’s Peter, walking on water! Can you believe it? After a while, neither could he. The wind rose and faith failed again.
What causes faith to fail? Storms? Shadows in the dark? Human inability? Sickness? Growing old? Losing someone close to us? Failure? Guilt? What frightens us, causing our faith to fail?
You know, if you keep your eyes on such things and take them off Jesus, you’ll begin to drown in your fears and anxities, just like Peter. He made a big mistake. With eyes off Jesus, he began to sink.
But a little faith is still faith and look what the Lord accomplishes through it. The moment Peter felt himself going down, he reached out to the Hope he had and cried, “Lord, save me.” And the Lord Jesus did. He reached out His hand and caught a faint-hearted Peter and saved him from drowning.
Saved from drowning. It’s like that with eternal salvation too. A person is not saved because his faith is strong, nor is he lost because his faith is weak. If that were the case, none of us could ever be sure that our faith is strong enough, that we believed deeply enough, or that we trusted firmly enough. No, we are saved because Christ in His mercy chose us to be His own and reached out His hand to us. That is grace. Upon that fact, and that fact alone we rely, especially when faith seems to fail. God’s love and Christ’s redemption are great enough and strong enough to save.
Think of it this way. A million dollar check is worth a million dollars whether it is held in the uncertain hand of a child, in the wavering hand of a cripple, or in the strong, firm grasp of a weight lifter. The value of the check does not change. Neither do the promises of Christ. In mercy He saves.
So, if your faith seems weak, look again to Him. He will catch you. He will take you by the hand and gently bring you into the “safety” of His gospel promises. There you will find the calm He seeks to give as the Savior who lived, died, and rose again for you.
Looking only to Jesus! He will take you safely through the storms of life and give you peace. God grant it to us in 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 www.zionluthchurch.com
Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost August 23, 2020
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27
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
“I am always with You, O LORD, You hold me by my right hand. My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Strength for the Faint-hearted. As the divine Son of God and the Creator, Jesus has power over all things in nature. It is a power that He used when storms blew against those who followed Him.
Not only can He control nature, but He also wields His power when the storms of life threaten to engulf His people’s hearts. Life’s storms may seem to overtake them for a time, but the Savior never forsakes the redeemed. He will always come to their aid, quieting their fears, reaching out His hand to save them, and holding them firmly in His grasp until the danger passes. He is the strength of the faint-hearted.
To that end we pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve. Pour upon us the abundance of Your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Old Testament Lesson: 1 Kings 19:9-18
Discouraged by Israel’s apathy towards the true God and running from the wrath of Queen Jezebel, the prophet Elijah felt despondent and alone. He asked God to take his life. Instead, the Lord admonished the faint-hearted prophet, strengthened Him, and sent him back to work.
The Epistle Lesson: Romans 9:1-5
Have you felt sorrow when people close to you do not believe in Christ? Paul also felt such anguish for his fellow Jews and prayed for them. They had been God’s chosen people, but so many rejected Him. Paul would gladly substitute himself for them if they would believe.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 14:22-33
During a storm on the sea, Jesus comes to the aid of His disciples walking on the water. Peter asks to come to Him. When Peter falters, Jesus reaches out His hand to save him.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Today’s Organist: Jane Rips
Today’s Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “A Christian modestly says to God: ‘Dear Lord, although I am sure of my position, I am unable to sustain it without Thee. Help me or I am lost.’
“The Christian is indeed certain of his position, as Peter was on the water. Peter could not be more certain than he was. The water was supporting him. He saw no obstacle in his way. But when the wind came rushing on, he saw what was lacking in him.
“This must be taken well to heart. For although we are sure of our position…our security depends on the power, the will, and the might of God who protects and defends us against the devil. This happens that God may make us determined and yet keep us fearful, so that we are always filled with concern and cry: ‘O Lord, help us and increase our faith; for without Thee we are undone.”
Martin Luther on Lord, Keep Us Steadfast
Outline of Our Worship
Lord, Hear Us
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Today’s Order of Worship: Morning Praise: Hymnal pg.45
Opening Hymn: pg.45
Lord, Feed Us
Psalm of the Day: #73 Hymnal pg.94
1 Kings 19:9-18
Hymn Response: #465 st.1-3,
Sermon Hymn: #357
Sermon Text: Matthew 14:22-33 Looking Only to Jesus
Lord, Accept Our Response
Hymn: #278 (In place of the Te Deum Laudamus)
“Lord, Have Mercy”
Prayers, Lord’s Prayer & Prayer for Grace
Hymnal pg. 50
Lord, Bless Us
Hymnal pg. 51
Closing Hymn: #517
The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – Series A
Old Testament Lesson: 1 Kings 19:9-18 – Elijah Flees to the Wilderness
9He came to a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord suddenly came to him, saying, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 10He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.”
11Then the Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is passing by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains and shattered rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a soft, whispering voice. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak, and he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 14He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.”
15Then the Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came and go to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you get there, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16You will also anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah as prophet in your place. 17Whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill, and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18But I have preserved in Israel seven thousand whose knees have not bent to Baal and whose lips have not kissed him.”
Epistle Lesson: Romans 9:1-5 – The Blessings of the True Israel
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying—my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit 2that I have great sorrow and continuous pain in my heart. 3For I almost wish that I myself could be cursed and separated from Christ in place of my brothers, my relatives according to the flesh, 4those who are Israelites. Theirs are the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, came the Christ, who is God over all, eternally blessed. Amen.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 14:22-33 – Jesus Walks on the Water
22Immediately Jesus urged the disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed the crowd, he went up onto the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. 24By then the boat was quite a distance from shore, being pounded by the waves because the wind was against it. 25In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified and cried out in fear, “It’s a ghost!” 27But Jesus spoke to them at once, saying, “Take heart! It is I! Do not be afraid.” 28Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29Jesus said, “Come!” Peter stepped down from the boat, walked on the water, and went toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid. As he began to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33Those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God!” 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
Some weekly activities are still curtailed.
Midweek Bible Class
Chris Bruck Memorial Service at Christ Alone LC
Dardenne Prairie, MO
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Chris Bruck Memorial Service at Zion
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith is a spiritual quality and accepts the gracious gift of eternal life from our Savior. But faith is not something we can achieve on our own. It is completely the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. With such a value attached to this gift, God provides means to strengthen that faith so that it will remain strong until the day of Christ Jesus. Lord, give us such a faith as this!
The Epistle Lesson: Romans 9:1-5 (answers are found on the back side)
- Why is Paul grieving the state of his people?
- Comment on Paul’s love for his people.
- Was it too late for Israel to be saved?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde & Sharon Johnson; the Lisenbys’ granddaughter Jackie; Dave Ballou, at home; Laurie Moon’s father; Greg Miller; Casey Milam & family; Felicia Nichols’ brother’s family and father with the virus; Bill Buchanan; Lois Wiese; the family of Chris Bruck; Megan & Zach Sloan and infant daughter Maizey; Norine Richardson recovering at home from a fall; Barbara Long undergoing surgery at Cox South Tuesday.
Meditations next set of daily devotions begins next Sunday. Copies will be found in the narthex.
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.
Chris Bruck Funeral Services There will be two memorial services held for Chris next weekend. The first will be Saturday afternoon at their former church, Christ Alone in Dardenne Prairie. The service in our church will be held Sunday afternoon. A visitation will be held an hour before each service with catered meals served afterwards.
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: 16; Communed: 13; Adult Bible Class & Sunday School: no classes at this time; The Gardens Bible Class: no class; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Offering: $1,540.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 13 Series A: Isaiah 56:1,6-8; Romans 11:13-15, 28-32; Matthew 15:21-28
Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:
- As a nation, Paul’s people—the Jews—had rejected Christ and therefore were destined to face God’s wrath eternally.
- Paul’s love was of the most selfless variety, a sacrificial love. Note that in verse three, Paul states that, if it were possible, he would rather face eternal judgment than to see his people perish. What a powerful model of selfless love this is!
- Not as long as they were still alive on earth. Their teachers still held the books of Moses and the prophets containing the promises of salvation. They were still living in a time of grace. But their nationality and lineage would not be sufficient to deliver them from judgment.
This week I am praying for……