The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 12, 2021
Text: James 1:16-22 CW 3 Year Series – B 21:2276
Theme: Real Faith Lives
Do you know what an ossuary is? About 20 years ago that word became well-known among students of the Bible. It became well-known when archeologists, digging in the sands of Israel outside Jerusalem, found one. They hailed it as a remarkable discovery.
An ossuary is a burial box made of stone. First century Jews used such boxes to hold the bones of the dead. On this particular ossuary, an inscription carved on the side caused a big stir. The inscription read: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”
Jesus probably had younger brothers (Mt.13:55), half brothers. One of them was named James. This half-brother James is thought by many to be the one who wrote this epistle. If the inscription is authentic, it would support things that the Bible says. But don’t get too excited. Some claim the inscription is a forgery and that the names were carved recently. I never heard of a final judgment on the matter, and I don’t look for one.
It doesn’t matter one bit as far as faith goes for Christians live by faith in the Word of God, not by sight of an archeologist’s discovery. Faith is not built on nor confirmed by anything that is written on a dead man’s box, but on the fact that Jesus isn’t in one. Don’t hang your faith on what archaeologists dig up, what the Discovery Channel reports, or what historians say they’ve found. One thing they will never find is the risen body of our Savior, because He’s now ascended and in heaven.
If people want to have a living faith, they need to be digging in a different place – God’s Word. As James said, “God gave us birth through the Word of truth…that He planted in you, which is able to save your soul” (v.18,21). Through the Word faith comes to life in Christ, the Savior. You won’t find faith or life in an ossuary.
Does your Faith Live? That’s what James asks in his epistle.
I. Yes, when it’s based in a God who does not change
He begins, “Do not be deceived, my dear brothers. Every giving is good and every gift is perfect from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, who does not change or shift like a shadow.”
Back in Genesis 1 you’ll read that on the fourth day of creation,
God placed the sun, moon, stars, and planets in the sky. Those heavenly lights mark days, nights, seasons, and years for us. Think for a moment how you rely on them, especially the sun.
It sets the pace for your day. It provides you with light, heat, and power. It’s predictable, never changing, always there. Even if you can’t see it on a cloudy, rainy day, it’s still there and will “reappear” once the clouds have passed. It’s always there, since day 4. It’s constant. It doesn’t change.
But it seems to change to us. It shifts in the sky as the day goes on. Actually, it’s not the sun that is moving; it’s our earth that is. But to our eyes the sun seems to shift.
Some days if I go running at noon, I watch my shadow, with the sun shining directly overhead, running underneath me and I can’t get off of it. If I go running in the late afternoon, it’s shifted. My shadow runs ahead of me, and I can’t catch up to it. If I stop and turn around to run back home, the shadow is chasing me but can’t catch me. My shadow shifts with the sun’s different angles.
I don’t mind that kind of variation in the sun, but do I get the same thing from our heavenly Father? Does His position towards me change? Does He beam down His grace one minute, only to snatch it away and leave me cold the next? After I pile up so many sins, does He then say, “That’s enough! No more forgiveness for you.” No! He doesn’t! “He does not change or shift like a shadow.” He chose you and will keep you as His own through the Word.
Sometimes people worry that God changes His mind about them. It’s not hard to do. When I begin looking at myself, really looking at myself, I see how unfaithful I have been towards Him.
For example, He tells me to be slow to anger. But I’m not so slow at times; I blow up. Then the devil gets in there to fill me with doubt, just like he did with Eve. He sneers: “Do you think God cares about you the way you act?” Then I waver. Soon difficulties and trials arise, and I tend to think that indicates that God has given up on me and doesn’t want me anymore. Do I really live in Him?
Yes, even then, as I cling to His Word I am alive in Him because our heavenly Father is not so fickle as to change His mind. He is not two-faced. He won’t bless me one minute with forgiveness through His Son, then snatch it away the next. Along with the certainty of forgiveness in Christ, He blesses me richly in other ways. Everything He gives is good and perfect. How can I be sure of this? Look to the Word. There He says, “I the Lord do not change” (Mal.3:6). And again it says, “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hb.13:8), And again, “He makes all things work out for your good” (Ro.8:28).
He won’t hold a piece of bread out to me one day and a stone the next. He does not give me an egg today and replace it with a scorpion tomorrow. He doesn’t promise, then take it back. He will not lift me to the heights of joy and peace in a Savior who says, “I forgive you and I will supply all your needs,” and then send me crashing to despair and hopelessness with nothing. Faith that lives is based on a God who promises that He and His gifts do not change. That’s a real faith. His Word assures us of it. TheWord makes my faith live. Oh, how important that Word is to me!
II. Yes, when you listen and do what it says.
It’s the reason that I and you want to hear it. James encourages, “Let everyone be quick to listen.”
One very important characteristic of a real, living faith is a person’s willingness to listen, really listen to God. How good are you at listening. I wonder what God thinks from His perspective. Maybe, all too often, we engage Him in a one-way conversation.
Have you ever had a one-way conversation? You know how that goes, don’t you? You sit down with someone, and he launches into the story. When you try to add something, it only reminds him of something else about himself and off he goes telling you every detail. When the conversation is over, you feel like you know everything about him, but he doesn’t even know your name.
Some people monopolize conversation with God. They tell about all the prayers they make, but they don’t spend time reading the Bible. In such a case, who is doing all the talking?
Oh, don’t misunderstand. Prayer is important; it’s “a good and perfect gift from God.” God’s wants us to pray. But God doesn’t speak to us in prayer and He doesn’t make our faith alive through it. Prayer doesn’t add to faith; it’s an expression from faith. It’s how I respond to God. He talks to me through His Word where I benefit when I listen to what He says.
So, James continues, “Be slow to speak.” Maybe he says that because we don’t listen to God and to one another well enough. Maybe that’s a reason we have problems in the home, with our friends, or even at church. Maybe we talk too much. That’s serious.
We need to pay attention to the Word which can save us.
Another thing that gets in the way of a real living faith is when we don’t deal with anger very well. James says, “Be slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about what is right before God.”
Anger is not always wrong (Ep.4:26). It’s an emotional reaction within us, like love or happiness is. But anger can cause many problems. For one thing an angry person seldom hears what others say, and especially doesn’t hear what God says. Sometimes an angry person says things he wouldn’t ordinarily say. So, James says, “be quick to listen and slow to speak.” Listening more, especially to God, and talking less helps keep anger in control and reflects a real living faith.
Think of the problem this way. Think of a regular lead pencil that you write with. That pencil is a way to get a message to someone else. If I want to make the message stronger, I press down harder on the pencil. The words get bigger and bolder. But if I continue pressing, I’ll break the lead and I can’t write at all.
When I get angry, I raise my voice. People may listen for a while, but if I get angrier, no one will listen. It’s like breaking the lead in the pencil. I can’t communicate any more.
Furthermore, James writes, “Man’s anger does not bring about what is right before God. So, after getting rid of all moral filthiness and overflowing wickedness, receive with humility the word planted in you. It is able to save your souls.”
There it is again – the Word saves. It’s the source of a real living faith.
The next time you are tempted to blow your top, think about the crimes leveled at Jesus. Instead of getting angry He prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Think of how God’s purposes may be fulfilled with such responses of love. And, although God doesn’t forbid all anger in a Christian’s life, how often is God’s saving will accomplished through anger? Anger by itself has never won a soul for eternity.
Oh, it will take a lot of strength, God’s strength. He will not fail you for He is not like a shifting shadow. He promises to help and that won’t change because He doesn’t change. As we listen and do what He says, faith lives within us. And it’s real. God grant it to us for Jesus’ sake.
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 Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 12, 2021
“After He looked up to heaven he sighed and said, ‘Ephphatha! Be opened!’ Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was set free, and he spoke plainly.” Mark 7:35
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 will sing praise to my God as long as I live. The LORD gives food to the hungry, He sets the prisoner free. The LORD gives sight to the blind and lifts up those who are bowed down. He remains faithful forever.” (Ps.146)
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
He Has Done Everything Well. Imagine what it would be like to be shut off completely from everyone by a hearing and speech disability. What if you couldn’t communicate in any way with those who are close to you? How would you feel? Afraid, alone, helpless?
That is the way we were by nature – spiritually alone. Because of sin we were helpless before God. Thank God that Christ steps into our lives to give life and healing. He opens our ears to hear His Word and loosens our tongues to sing His praise. With Him beside us we need no longer feel alone, afraid, helpless, and hopeless. We’ve got a Savior who does everything well for our good. That wonderful truth is the Christian’s comfort. It is the center of our quiet confidence in every day of trouble.
To that end we pray: Let Your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without Your help, protect and govern it by your goodness; 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 35:4-7
Isaiah prophesied that when the Messiah came to save, He would come to bless the downtrodden in Israel with physical and spiritual healing. Fearful hearts would be quieted; the blind, deaf, and mute would be healed. Even the land would be refreshed, and hope would abound.
Today’s Epistle Lesson: James 1:17-27
It is God’s nature to give only good gifts to His children. In His faithful love, He can do nothing less. He will not let them down. With grateful hearts they respond to His grace by gladly hearing His Word and putting it into practice in their lives.
Today’s Sermon Text: Mark 7:31-37
A compassionate Savior reaches out to touch the life of a man who was deaf and could not speak plainly. Note how He concentrates just on the individual person. Jesus opens the man’s ears and loosens his tongue (literally, sets his tongue free from bondage) and restores hope to him.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Points to Ponder: “Even today the blind receive their sight when minds obsessed by Satan are brought to know Christ. The deaf hear the gospel and walk about happily; the mute, too, now sing and proclaim the praise of God. Those who are not moved by these miracles would not believe even if Christ were to perform these miracles bodily, for they are no less significant than raising the dead and restoring sight to the blind.” — Martin Luther on Mighty Miracles Still Performed
Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our joy and our wonder when Jesus we see.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory – great things He has done!
Christian Worship 399 st.3
Outline of Our Worship
Lord, Hear Us
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Entrance Hymn: #234
Order of Worship: Hymnal page 38, “Service of the Word”
Lord, Feed Us
Psalm of the Day: #146 Hymnal page 120
Hymn Response: #238
Sermon Hymn: #520
Sermon Text: James 1:17-22 Real Faith Lives.
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 Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Series B
Old Testament: Isaiah 35:4-7 – The Joyful Return to Zion
4Tell those who have a fearful heart: Be strong. Do not be afraid. Look! Your God will come with vengeance. With God’s own retribution, he will come and save you.
5Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unplugged. 6The crippled will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy. Waters will flow in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland. 7The burning sand will become a pool, and in the thirsty ground there will be springs of water.
Epistle Lesson: James 1:17-27 – Hearing and Doing God’s Word
17Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, who does not change or shift like a shadow. 18Just as he planned, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creations.
19Remember this, my dear brothers: Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. 20Certainly, a man’s anger does not bring about what is right before God. 21So after getting rid of all moral filthiness and overflowing wickedness, receive with humility the word planted in you. It is able to save your souls.
22Be people who do what the word says, not people who only hear it. Such people are deceiving themselves. 23In fact, if anyone hears the word and does not do what it says, he is like a man who carefully looks at his own natural face in a mirror. 24Indeed, he carefully looks at himself; then, he goes away and immediately forgets what he looked like. 25But the one who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continues to do so—since he does not hear and forget but actually does what it says—that person will be blessed in what he does.
26If anyone considers himself to be religious but deceives his own heart because he does not bridle his tongue, this person’s religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled in the sight of God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Gospel Lesson: Mark 7:31-37 – Ephphatha! Be Opened!
31Jesus left the region of Tyre again and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of the Decapolis.
32They brought a man to him who was deaf and had a speech impediment. They pleaded with Jesus to place his hand on him. 33Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34After he looked up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”) 35Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak plainly. 36Jesus gave the people strict orders to tell no one, but the more he did so, the more they kept proclaiming it. 37They were amazed beyond measure and said, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!”
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
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
Monthly Church Council Meeting
Midweek Bible Class,
4:30 pm Confirmation
Divine Worship Service
with Holy Communion
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
The sense of hearing is a wonderful gift from God. With this sense we can have an instrument that can receive the wonderful message of deliverance and salvation, as the people in the days of Isaiah did. When it comes to God’s Word, hearing is the beginning of taking action. Woe to the man who hears the Word of God but does not do what it says. Jesus once restored the hearing of a deaf-mute and thus proved His claim as the promised Messiah.
The Gospel Lesson: Mark 7:31-37 (answers are found on the back side)
- Why does Jesus use sign language in healing the deaf man?
- What’s the significance, “he spoke clearly?”
- Why did Jesus not want them to tell anyone about the miracle that just had taken place?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Clyde Johnson; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Norine Richardson; Jodi Milam; William & Laurie Moon; Patsy Mickelson; Lance & Jodi Milam; Pauline Jaeger, Randy’s mother; Dave Ballou with an infection in Cox South; Lois Wiese with a blood infection; Barbara Long, recovering at home after hospitalization
Forward in Christ’s latest edition for September has arrived. There are copies in the narthex that you may take for family and friends. Also, there are plenty of copies of Meditations daily devotions that you can give to friends and neighbors.
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.
The Men’s’ Retreat to be held September 17-18 has been postponed until spring, partly because of the virus situation
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: 17; Communed: 17; Bible Class: 5; Midweek Bible Class: 3; Offering: $1,855
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 17: Isaiah 50:4-10; James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18; Mark 8:27-35 (CW 3 Year Series B)
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- The poor man could not understand what Jesus was doing if He spoke to him. So, Jesus used sign language to show the healing that He was giving him.
- Jesus healed the man perfectly. He didn’t have to go to a speech therapist and learn how to pronounce words. No, Jesus healed with the ability to speak clearly.
- Jesus did not want fame and popularity to slow or hinder His way to the cross.
This week I am praying for……