The Fourth Sunday in Lent – Laetare March 14, 2021
Text: Ephesians 2:4-10 CW – Series B 21:2248
Theme: Lord, You Did It All For Me.
What does it mean that You have saved me? What does it mean that I am a Christian? Lord, it means that You have been so kind to me. You have been merciful, loving, and gracious, even during the times that I did not acknowledge all that You have done for me, for my salvation, and for my life in You.
If I am saved, if I can truthfully call myself Christian, You have done it all, from start to finish and everything in-between. It’s not my work but Yours. That’s grace, Your undeserved love at work.
I. You saved me by grace.
Grace is a gift; it’s not a reward that is earned. One doesn’t earn a gift. A gift is freely given – no strings attached. Sometimes I chuckle when people tell me that they received a gift and now they feel obligated to give something back. If a gift is viewed as an obligation to do something in return, was it really a gift? I would say no. As humans we have such a funny way of looking at this. And it spills over into many people’s view of salvation.
It is clear from the Scriptures, especially these verses, that salvation is by grace. So, Lord, if my forgiveness and salvation is by grace, it means that You have done it all for me! I haven’t added a thing to it. You saved me by grace. Being a redeemed Christian is not due to any effort on my part. It’s due to the mercy and love You that have shown me in Christ.
You did it because You saw the pain and the terrible consequences towards which I was headed and mercifully reached out to help me in my helpless state.
I was dead, dead in my sin. I was dead in the sinful condition which I inherited from my parents, and they from their parents, and they from their parents, going all the way back to when Adam and Eve disobeyed You. When they listened to that snake in the Garden of Eden and went against what You had told them, they lost the image of holiness in which You first made them. So, from then on everyone’s condition into which they are born into this world is that of sin. That condition leads me to unloving acts of sin.
Some I do because of my self-centered ego. Others I do because I am a weak human being, struggling with temptation and daily letting it have the upper hand in my life. I understand what Paul meant when he saw the same thing in his life and then cried, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” In a sense he was calling out, “Help! I can’t do it! Sin lives in me” (Ro.7:7). It makes me dead to You; dead in trespasses (v.5).
If a person is dead, he’s lifeless. It’s impossible for him to do anything on his own. You can’t go out to a cemetery, stand over a marker, and call to the person who is beneath it and expect him to respond. “Get up! Come on, get up and get out of there!” Nothing will happen. Why not? He’s dead!
That’s the way I was until You intervened in my life. I was alive outwardly, but dead within – dead towards You until You brought me back from death to You by sending Christ Jesus to die for me as payment for my sin. He paid the price for me; I’m forgiven. And more, then You gave me the faith to believe it. That’s grace, unmerited, undeserved – a gift. You saved me by grace. Paul said, “It is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” How much clearer can it get? I did nothing. You gave me life with You. Lord, You did it all for me.
Sometimes I am amazed by it because in my human way of thinking, I don’t get it. I simply don’t understand that You saved me. I don’t mean the way You did. Your Word is clear on that when it says, “Christ Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only ours but also for the whole world” (1 Jn.2:2). I get that. But how is it that what He did for me actually became mine? If nothing is by my own efforts, then it had to be Your doing; it had to be Your choice. And Your way of doing things and choosing things is certainly not my way of going about it.
If I had a candy dish with three pieces of candy in it and one was a little piece, another was smashed, and the third was a big candy bar, which would I choose? I would choose the big candy bar of course. I would choose that one because it looked the best to me. That’s the way we do things.
But You don’t make choices that way. If You did, You would look at all the people on earth and select those who did the most good, those who looked the biggest and best. They would be the ones You chose to be with You “in the heavenly places.” If You did it that way, You would be deciding on the basis of something You saw in the person, the best looking ones. That may be the way that we pick a piece of candy, but I’m sure glad that You didn’t use that method to choose people for salvation and heaven because then I know that it would never be mine, nor anyone else’s because no one is good enough on their own before You.
But in grace You loved the world and gave Your Son for it. That was universal love, but it was also personal love meant for me. Because if I am a part of the world, which I am, and You loved the world enough to send someone to save it, that also means You loved me and, in Your mercy and grace, wanted me to be with You. Lord, You did it all for us; You did it all for me. You saved me by grace. Oh, how great is Your love!
II. You created me for works for You.
It is that love that motivates me to act, not as an obligation, because I feel guilty, thinking that I need to do something in return for the gift You gave me. Rather, Your gracious love motivates me in gratitude to do something for You because You not only saved me by grace, but You created me to do good works. You wanted to see me do good things to glorify You and to help others see You through what I do. Like Jesus said, “Let your light shine in people’s presence, so that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt.5:16). Paul said here that You made me for that purpose: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which You prepared in advance so that we would walk in them.”
It’s like Paul is telling me, “Look at yourself. Do you see what God has done for you? You have been created by God. Just like a potter makes a vase or a woodworker makes a delicate carving, God has fashioned you into something good and useful. And now He has joined you with Christ and made you into a person who dedicates his or her life to God’s service, created to do good things.”
You see, true Christianity and my response to grace and salvation cannot be a lazy life. If I just sit around and do nothing for You, can it even be said that I am a grateful Christian? If I do nothing to glorify You, nothing to grow in faith, nothing to help my neighbor in love, am I really alive in Christ?
When a tree is alive, it produces leaves. Soon trees and plants will show that there is life within them. They will be blooming and blossoming again. But after spring has truly sprung, if a tree produces no leaves, can there be life in it?
Likewise, if I am a Christian who responds to Your mercy and grace in saving me and creating me for Your works, I will do the things You want me to do – first towards You and then towards my neighbor. It’s simply the natural response of faith, produced from gratitude, not guilt. They are my spiritual apples and serve as evidence that salvation is alive within me. Christianity is not a lazy man’s religion. Faith lives, works, and grows inwardly and outwardly. If it doesn’t, it’s dead or dangerously close to it.
Lord, You saved me by grace, and You created me in Christ for works for You. I don’t comprehend it all, but it’s a wondrous truth. And because of it I want to serve You better.
Help me forget myself and what I do or have not done. Grace covers me. Instead, help me think on You and what You are doing in me. And help me grow in faith.
Lord, You did it all for me. So kind, so merciful, so loving You have been. I rejoice in You daily. Give me the ability and will to do all things in gratitude to You; 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
www.zionluthchurch.com email: email@example.com
The Fourth Sunday in Lent Laetare (“Rejoice!”) March 14, 2021
“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith…It is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
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
“Rejoice with Jerusalem and celebrate with her, all you who love her. I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD….Peace be within you.’ As Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains, so the LORD surrounds His people from now to eternity.” (Psalm 122&125).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Only by Faith The price that Jesus paid for our sin saddens us. Because of that the days of Lent are somber ones. But the Sundays in Lent are like mountain peaks rising above the valley of humiliation.
On the Sundays in Lent we Christians rejoice (laetare) to see the great love of God that led Him to sacrifice His Son for us. Christ alone was the cure and provided rescue from death. Furthermore, God gives us the means to receive His saving blessings – faith. So we live in His love by faith, taking comfort and strength from His blessings that last eternally.
To that end we pray: Almighty God, we confess that we deserve to be punished for our evil deeds. But we ask You graciously to cleanse us from all sin for Jesus’ sake. Comfort us with Your salvation and strengthen us to live our lives, trusting only in You; for Jesus’ sake we pray. 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: Numbers 21:4-9
Israel grew impatient on their way in the desert. When they complained against God, He sent poisonous snakes into their camp. Only those who trusted in God’s promise for a remedy for their rebellion against Him were spared from death.
The Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 2:4-10
When we were dead in sin, God made us alive in Christ. By grace He saved us to live in Him and for Him through faith. It is all a gift by which God comforts and strengthens the believing heart. This grace by faith motivates us to do the good works God has prepared for us to do.
The Gospel Lesson: John 3:14-21
As Moses put a bronze serpent on a pole so that any Israelite who was bitten by a poisonous snake could look to it and live, so Jesus would be lifted upon a cross to save the world from sin. All who look to Him in faith will not perish but have eternal life.
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The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “When the devil accuses us by saying, ‘You are a sinner, therefore, you are damned,’ we can reply: ‘The very fact that you say I am a sinner makes me want to be just and saved…So I take refuge in Christ, who gave Himself for my sins….You remind me of God’s paternal love for me…for He so loved the world that He gave His Son….So, when you throw up to me that I am a sinner, you are not terrifying me; you are comforting me beyond measure for you revive in my memory the blessing of Christ, my Redeemer, and God’s love. “
— Martin Luther on A Satanic Charge that Backfires
God loved the world so that He gave
His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in Him believe
Should everlasting life receive.
(Christian Worship Hymnal #391 st.1)
Outline of Our Worship
Lord, Hear Us
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Entrance Hymn: #112
Order of Worship: Hymnal page 38, “Service of the Word”
Lord, Feed Us
Psalm of the Day: #38 Hymnal page 81
Hymn Response: #393 st.1-4
Sermon Hymn: #391
Sermon Text: Ephesians 2:4-10 Lord, You Did It All For Me
Lord, Accept Our Response
Apostles’ Creed: pg.41
The Lord’s Prayer. pg.43
Lord, Bless Us
Closing Prayer & Blessing: Hymnal pages 43-44
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
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
Lent 4: Laetare
Midweek Bible Class
4:30 pm Confirmation
5:45 pm Lenten Supper
Lenten Service 5:
What Wondrous Love…
On the Cross
Divine Worship Service with Holy Communion
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief
Lent 5: Judica
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
It has been noted that a drowning man will not complain about the size of the boat that comes to rescue him. Yet today’s first lesson alerts us to illegitimate complaining as God rescued His people from slavery. In each lesson God shows His merciful disposition of grace—undeserved love that rescues sinners.
The Old Testament Lesson: Numbers 21:4-9 (answers are found on the back side)
- Which flaws of human nature led to the painful, in some cases deadly, lesson of venomous snakes?
- God could have saved the people without having them look at something. What did He want to teach them by having them look at the snake on a pole?
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; Patsy Mickelson, Jane’s mother, in rehab suffering brain injury from a fall; Sharon Johnson suffering from a broken hip and being treated in Cox South for Covid.
Meditations’ next series of devotions for the next 3 months will be found in the narthex. Copies of the daily devotions written by pastor this past week will be found there. Forward in Christ’s latest issue for March has also arrived.
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….To the Cross. Our midweek services at Zion are held on Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm with a soup 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 at one or the other.
To Mask or Not to Mask To our knowledge the Springfield/Greene County Health Dept.’s mask and distancing requirements are still in effect till April. 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 you will find it at the door upon leaving the sanctuary.
5th Midweek Lenten Supper & Service at Zion – Thursday, March 18 – 5:45 & 6:30 pm
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 20; Communed: 16; Sunday Bible Class: 10; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Offering: $1,340.
Midweek Lenten Service 4: Worship 10.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Fifth Sunday in Lent: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33 (Series B)
Answers to Today’s Old Testament Lesson Brief Study:
- Moses tells us the people grew impatient. We hear their sins of complaining and ingratitude. Even daily free food from God (manna) is criticized. It all started with lack of trust and love for God. (“You brought us… to die in the desert.”)
- Trust God! God found a way to heal their soul and body at the same time. Their underlying problem was spiritual—a lack of trust—and God taught them to trust His promise. Sure enough, anyone bitten who looked at the bronze snake lived.
This week I am praying for……
The Fourth Sunday in Lent – Series B
Old Testament Lesson: Numbers 21:4-9 – The Bronze Serpent
4They set out from Mount Hor along the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom, but the people became very impatient along the way. 5The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? Look, there is no food! There is no water! And we are disgusted by this worthless food!”
6The Lord sent venomous snakes among the people, and the snakes bit the people. As a result many people from Israel died. 7The people went to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord to take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed on behalf of the people.
8The Lord said to Moses, “Make a venomous snake and put it on a pole. If anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will live.” 9Moses made a bronze snake and put it on the pole. If a snake had bitten anyone, if that person looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 2:4-10 – Made Alive By Grace Through Faith
4But God, because he is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! 6He also raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 7He did this so that, in the coming ages, he might demonstrate the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8Indeed, it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance so that we would walk in them.
Gospel Lesson: John 3:14-21 – For God So Loved the World
14“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. 19This is the basis for the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 20In fact, everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, or else his deeds would be exposed. 21But the one who does what is true comes toward the light, in order that his deeds may be seen as having been done in connection with God.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.