The 20th Sunday after Pentecost October 10, 2021
Text: James 5:7-18 free text to finish Epistle of James 21:2282
Theme: Never Forget, God Is Full of Compassion and Mercy
The other day I received a text from a friend that read: “Every time I count my blessings, my love for God grows bigger…. And every time I count my struggles, my faith in God grows stronger.” Keep that in mind as I tell you the following story.
Back in the days of the Great Depression, a lecturer spoke to a group of businessmen. In his talk he took a sheet of white paper like this one. With a pencil he put a black spot in the middle of the paper. He held the paper up and asked: “What do you see?” A man in the front row stared at the paper for a long time. After studying it for a while, he finally replied, “A black spot.”
Good answer, right? There is a black spot in the middle of the paper. What do you think the speaker responded? He said, “You know, that’s the trouble with us, especially during hard times. We see the little things, the black spots, and we fail to see the great white field of opportunity that is surrounding it.”
Isn’t that true! Isn’t that part of where we are with this pandemic? So often we fail to see the greater, more numerous blessings with which God surrounds our lives and instead focus on the one black spot that smudges the middle – the sorrow, suffering, hard work, aggravation, trouble, sickness, and so on. We see life’s walls and mountains that seem unscalable and lose sight of the great white sea of God’s boundless love. He Is Full of Compassion and Mercy and displays it in blessings every day in our lives.
I. He is not far away; so be patient and stand firm.
James began this letter reminding us of that compassion and mercy of our loving God in all things. He wrote, “Every giving is good and perfect from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like a shifting shadow.” James focuses our attention upon the perfect gifts of God in our lives for He is a God who loves His people and wants to help them. And the people who first read this letter needed help because they were suffering greatly.
Religious persecution hit Jerusalem, causing them to flee their homes. As a result, the members of his congregation were scattered far and wide throughout the Roman Empire. That black spot of trials seemed to cause great tension within them. That’s understandable, isn’t it? Hard times can cause us great stress, right? But the odd thing is that it seemed to cause Christians to turn against one another – to turn against their fellow believers.
First James admonished them for harboring bitter envy and selfish ambition in their hearts. Then he admonished them for fighting and quarreling among themselves. Here he addresses their grumbling and complaining about each other, and then their impatience and ungodly language. The stress got to them. Sadly, they turned on each other as their patience wore thin in all their troubles. So James wrote, “Be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord….Strengthen your hearts; the coming of the Lord is near….The Judge is standing at the doors.” He’s not far away.
In their troubles, look where he turns their attention? To Judgment Day. It’s similar to the thing that Elizabeth does when I’m away and the grand-kids are misbehaving. What does she tell them? Something like, “Pappy will be home soon.”
That’s the severity of the Law speaking, which we need at times because in sin our behavior gets out of whack, especially in days of trouble and stress. There are times that we all need a little Judgment Day therapy to keep our thinking straight. Christ is not far away. “The Judge is standing at the door.”
As the redeemed of Christ, we may not think about Judgment Day enough from this perspective. But we also have the sinful nature clinging to us in this life. He seeks to convince us not to worry yet about where we will stand on the Last Day. That’s off in the distance. After all, it hasn’t come yet. It’s been almost 2000 years since James wrote this. We’ll have time to get our thinking and behavior in order later. And then we do nothing to change it. Maybe our problem is the way we think of Judgment Day.
We tend to think of time running straight ahead of us towards a cliff in the distance that we call Judgment Day. When time finally gets there, it stops, and Jesus returns. Maybe it is wiser to picture eternity as running parallel to us. As we travel through life, that cliff is always right next to us, and it can curve into our path at any moment. If we look at it that way, Jesus’ coming is always near. He’s not far away.
How does that make you feel? A little uneasy? Do you remember the bad thoughts that stirred your mind or the angry words that flew from your lips? Do you remember the fighting, the quarreling, the grumbling and complaining that you did, when troubles overtook you? We have failed to live up to God’s standards for our lives. Recognizing that, we might understandably have some dread about our Lord’s return in judgment.
But, dear friends, He is not only the Judge; He is also the Redeemer, full of compassion and mercy, who paid the price demanded for our sin. He is not coming to punish those who look to Him in repentance for help and who trust in His blood for their forgiveness. Rather He is coming to rescue those who believe in Him from their troubles and to give them His most perfect gift, their heavenly home. So be patient and stand firm in your faith. Don’t let the black spots of life wear you down so that you give in.
II. Are you in trouble? Then pray and the Lord will raise you up.
There is another way that He is near as He runs alongside us on our way to eternity. We call it prayer. James writes, “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing songs of praise. Is anyone sick? He should call the elders of the church and they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up.”
If you’re in trouble, what do you do? For example, if you are in a car accident while driving home, what do you do? You call for help, right? You cry out to whomever can help you, family, doctor, police – someone stronger, someone in a better position, someone wiser that can help in a need that you cannot handle by yourself.
But much of the time men cry out to what can’t help them – to false gods that don’t exist or to doctors and friends who are limited in wisdom and power. So often men cry out in vain because the measure of help is not determined by their cry, but by the strength and ability of the helper. There is only One who is all-powerful, able, and, most willing to help. That is the Lord Jesus.
“Come to me,” He repeats over and over again. Like in the Gospel lesson this morning: “Let the little children come to me. Don’t hinder them” (Mk.10:14). He’s not only speaking about the real tiny ones. He’s also talking about you, baptized into Him. In your faith you are His dear child. “Come to me,” He invites, “in your troubles and I will give you rest.” He has all wisdom and power in heaven and earth to help us. And more, He has the love of our Redeemer, full of compassion and mercy to all who come to Him in faith. Come in prayer.
James writes, “The prayer offered in faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. So, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another in order that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is able to do much because it is effective.”
Forgiveness is at the center here. Prayer honors God by showing that we trust His forgiveness towards us in Christ. Prayer shows that we gratefully receive His forgiving love. Prayer shows that you actually believe that you’ve got a personal relationship with the Savior. Prayer is confidence in the Lord’s promise not just to watch you from a distance but to intervene in your life to bring you good. Prayer is God’s gift to you, His forgiven one. It enables you to see yourself not as a helpless prisoner of fate but as an active participant in the way God directs your world, since you are His.
You know, often I foolishly don’t see myself that way, as an active participant in God’s direction of earthly affairs. But He gives an example of that when James writes, “Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. Then He prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the land produced its harvest.”
Only God has the power and the wisdom to intervene at the right time. But, dear children of God, we are not helpless prisoners of fate. He sees us as active participants in His direction of earthly affairs – through prayer. Wow! What a position Your God gives you in His Compassion and Mercy. Never Forget It!
So, when you are you in trouble, be patient and stand firm. Pray and the Lord will raise you up. He is not far away and the great white sea of His boundless love surrounds you. Count your blessings and your love for God will grow bigger, your faith will grow stronger. 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 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost October 10, 2021
“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be
united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
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
“O LORD, You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” (Ps.139)
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
The Christian Family. Many church lesson series devote at least one Sunday in each half of the year to the special role of the Christian family in God’s divine providence. In grace He provides for so many of our temporal and eternal needs through the family. He gives us Christian companionship, love, instruction, and guidance, to name a few things. So intent is God in blessing us through the home that He speaks against those who would interfere with His design for spouses and children.
May God preserve our Christian homes that spouses lovingly devote themselves to each other under Him and children love and honor their parents.
To that end we pray: Almighty God, in Your bountiful goodness keep us safe from every evil of body and soul in Your redeemed family. Make us ready with cheerful hearts to do whatever pleases You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Old Testament Lesson: Genesis 2:18-24
It was not good that the first man was alone without a companion to be a match for him. So, God created the perfect companion, a spouse who would lovingly help him in his need like God graciously helps us. Then He designed to bring them together as one for a lifetime.
Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 2:9-11
God’s love for us is so great that even when we had sinned against Him and lost our holy state, He yearned to have us back in His holy family. So, He gave His one and only Son into death for us to save us. To do that Jesus was not afraid to become human like we are.
Gospel Lesson: Mark 10:2-16
Marriage is God’s holy estate, designed for a lifetime for our good where husband and wife are committed to each other in Christ. In it children have a special part and serve as examples of faith through their trust in the Savior. They rely on Him. So should we all.
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The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “Although, because of sin, many crosses have been laid on this estate (marriage), nevertheless our gracious Father in heaven will not forsake His children in an estate so holy and acceptable to Him but will always be present with His bountiful blessings. For He has promised to bless all who love Him, trust in Him, and live according to His will, for Jesus’ sake.”
— author unknown; from an old marriage rite
For Christian homes, O Lord, we pray, That You might dwell with us each day.
Make ours a place where You are Lord, Where all is governed by Your Word.
United in a bond of love, We lift our eyes to You above.
From You we gain the strength to live, The wish to share, the joy to give.
And when You call us all to rest, Then will we have a home more blest,
See all our care and sorrow cease, And find with Christ eternal peace.
Christian Worship 500:1,3,5
Outline of Our Worship
Lord, Hear Us
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Entrance Hymn: #257
Order of Worship: Hymnal page 38, Service of the Word”
Lord, Feed Us
Psalm of the Day: #139b Hymnal page 117
Hymn Response: #394
Sermon Hymn: #296
Sermon Text: James 5:7-18 Never Forget – God Is Full Of Compassion and Mercy.
Lord, Accept Our Response
Apostles’ Creed: Hymnal page 41
The Lord’s Prayer. pg.43
Lord, Bless Us
Closing Prayer & Blessing: Hymnal pages 43-44
The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – Series B
Old Testament: Genesis 2:18-24: Man and Woman; the First Marriage
18The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is a suitable partner for him.” 19Out of the soil the Lord God had formed every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that became its name. 20The man gave names to all the livestock, and to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal, but for Adam no helper was found who was a suitable partner for him. 21The Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. As the man slept, the Lord God took a rib and closed up the flesh where it had been. 22The Lord God built a woman from the rib that he had taken from the man and brought her to the man.
23The man said: “Now this one is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken out of man.”
24For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will remain united with his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 2:9-11: Jesus and Humanity
9But we look to Jesus (the one who was made lower than the angels for a little while, so that by God’s grace he might taste death for everyone), now crowned with glory and honor, because he suffered death.
10Certainly it was fitting for God (the one for whom and through whom everything exists), in leading many sons to glory, to bring the author of their salvation to his goal through sufferings. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified all have one Father. For that reason, he is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Gospel Lesson: Mark 10:2-16: Marriage & Divorce; Jesus & Little Children
2Some Pharisees came to test him and asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He replied, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 5But Jesus told them, “He wrote this command for you because of your hard hearts. 6But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10In the house his disciples asked him about this again. 11He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12If she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
13Some people began bringing little children to Jesus so that he would touch them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said, “Let the little children come to me! Do not hinder them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15Amen I tell you: Whoever will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the little children in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.