The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 13, 2020
Text: Matthew 16:21-26 CW 3 Year Series A 20:2213
Theme: Thinking God’s Way About My Life
What makes you different from the animals? Is it that you walk upright on two feet instead of on four? Is it that you can talk instead of bark or chirp? Is it that you have a mind that can reason instead of acting only on instinct? Is it that you are aware of your mortality? What makes you different from the animals?
At creation the difference between you and the animals was made when God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” After saying that, “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
God created man in His image, with the ability to think and to rule all things. He formed him differently from the rest of creation. Then He gave him a living, immortal soul. Ah, there’s the greatest difference of all. You have a soul that will never stop living.
There is no more precious thing than the soul. Yet, some live their lives with little concern for it. They live as though their bodies were their most precious possession. They eat right, exercise, get the right amount of rest, watch out for illnesses, and pursue things that give pleasure. They put everything into the upkeep of their bodies, but let their souls starve with little to no spiritual care at all.
How is your soul doing? Are you taking care of it daily? Are you giving it what it needs or are you neglecting it? What about the souls of your children? Grandchildren? Others around you? The soul, not your body is the most priceless possession you have, one that you can lose. Jesus said, “What will it benefit a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?” To Jesus the welfare of the soul most critical. Do you think and act that way too?
I. It is so important that Jesus was sent to die for it.
Thinking God’s way about the soul means listening and believing what He says about it. He says that it needs to be saved and only He can save it because you cannot save yourself. But God can (Mk.10:27). In fact, God must save your soul if it is to live forever. So He sent His Son into the world for that purpose.
Jesus knew exactly why He was here and what He had to do. He told His disciples that “He had go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed and on the third day be raised again.” He must do this because it was the way that God would regain the soul after Adam’s Fall. To accept that would be Thinking God’s way about life. It was so important that Jesus was sent to die for it.
But the disciples didn’t see it that way. They didn’t like this talk about the cross and dying. They did not realize the soul’s desperate need for Jesus to free it. They weren’t thinking God’s way about it.
So it was that after Jesus was finished explaining it all to them, Peter took Him aside and scolded Him for saying such things: “Mercy, Lord! May this never happen to you!”
Peter thought he knew better. How could God’s Son suffer and die? In that Peter was only denied the person and work of Jesus, whom he had just identified as the Christ, but he denied the importance of his own soul and its desperate need for God to regain it. He wasn’t thinking God’s way about it.
God knows that “the soul that sins shall die.” He knows that sin totally corrupts us. He knows that there is nothing which we could offer Him for it. We need help to be saved, a help that must come from outside of us. “What can you give in exchange for your soul?” Jesus asked. Have you come up with anything? Christ did – Himself for you. So He came, “not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life (soul) as a ransom for many” (Mk.10:45).
I don’t understand it completely, but I believe it. Jesus gave His life for mine. Only He could pay the price needed. Believing that, not contradicting it, is thinking God’s way about it.
What God thinks about it matters. What God says about it is important. Your soul is so important to Him that Jesus was sent to die to regain it. It’s the only way that you could be saved. Think God’s Way about it.
II. It is so important that you must lose your soul to find it.
Jesus continued, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Whoever wants to save his life will lose, and whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Think of this along the lines of a story that I wrote in a devotion not too long ago. A man asked a high school graduate what his plans were after graduation. “I plan to go to college,” he said. “And then?” asked the man. “Then I’ll get married, find a good-paying job, make a fortune, and be successful.” “And then?” “I suppose I’ll retire, see the world, and take life easy.” “And then?” “Well, old age will come, but I hope to enjoy that as well.” “And then?” “Well, then I suppose I’ll have to die.” “And then?” Silence.
How often it happens that people are so concerned about what they are doing that they never understand life? Life is more than being successful and making a comfortable future. It’s about losing the life you have.
Jesus said that if anyone “wants to save his life he will lose it, and that whoever loses his life for Him will find it.” Saving means losing? Losing means finding? That sounds like a contradiction. It’s not a normal way to talk. Lose my life and I will find it? How?
In God’s way of thinking losing means finding and dying brings life. It would be that way for the Savior, and it will be that way for everyone who follows Him by denying themselves and taking up his cross. Jesus lost everything. In a sense, we must too – for Him. Lose your soul for Jesus’ sake in order to find it.
It was the opposite of what Peter had just done. Instead of saying “no” to himself and his way of thinking, he said “no” to Jesus. Instead of being willing to take up a cross, he tried to prevent Jesus from going to His. Instead of following Jesus and what He had in mind, Peter was trying to get Jesus to follow him and what he had in mind.
Thinking God’s Way means losing everything you are for Jesus’ sake in order to find it. That happens when you are willing to say “no” to yourself and “yes” to Him and the cross. The cross – what does He mean by the cross?
The cross is everything you endure for Jesus’ sake. It’s the ridicule that may be heaped upon you for your faith in Him. It’s the persecution that you could receive from others, like He did. It varies from person to person, but You can expect it. It’s not something to avoid, but something to endure. It doesn’t earn anything for you, but it draws you closer to Him. It’s things that you learn to lose in the present in order to find your soul in eternity.
If my chief concern is to preserve my life and get all that I can out of it, at the expense of thinking the Savior’s way about life, then I will lose it. On the other hand, if I am willing to lose everything for Jesus’ sake, then I will find life in Him and enjoy the blessings of eternal life in heaven. I have to think God’s way.
We have souls. Nothing else in creation does. But God gave them to us. What a blessing! We lost them when Adam and Eve fell. But then God regained them for us when He sent His Son to die and rise again for them. We have a Savior. He did this because our souls were precious to Him. And those who believe, say “no” to themselves and yes to Him by taking up the cross to follow will gain life now and in eternity. God grant us such a faith to think His way about life 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 Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 13, 2020
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
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
“I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot stumble….The LORD watches over you” (Ps.121).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Let Us Ever Follow Jesus. Follow the Leader. A child’s game? Perhaps, but Christians live it on a daily level. Jesus said: “Follow me.”
Our unquestionable leader is the Savior. Where would we be without Him going before us? Lost, stumbling, heading on a way that would lead to eternal destruction. But with Him in the lead we are brought back to God. And as we see Him offer Himself for us on the cross, we in turn offer ourselves to Him and His Kingdom, tirelessly dedicated in following and serving Him.
To that end we pray: Lord Jesus Christ, preserve the congregation of believers with Your never-failing mercy. Help us avoid whatever is wicked and harmful, guide us in the way that leads to eternal life, and graciously give us the strength, wisdom, and desire we daily need to tirelessly follow You; for Your name’s sake. 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: Jeremiah 15:15-21
Jeremiah shows us a prophet of the Lord who was tired and worn out. No one wanted to hear God’s word from him. He complained to God. He even blasphemed God, calling Him a “deceptive brook” that gives no comfort. God calls him to repentance and restores him to useful service as He fortifies Jeremiah to continue following Him in faith.
The Epistle Lesson: Romans 12:1-8
Paul speaks of cross-bearing from a positive view point – in terms of offering ourselves and gifts to God as living sacrifices in love for His mercies to us. It means rejecting the ways of the world so that God can transform us to follow that which is His will.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 16:21-26
Jesus foretells his upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection. Peter didn’t like such dark talk, so he rebuked Jesus. Jesus rebuked Peter for such wrong thinking and made it clear that Christianity without the cross is an impossibility for the Savior and for those who follow Him.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Organist: Jane Rips
The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “So it is that when faith comes into existence, God never fails to thrust the holy cross upon our shoulders that He may strengthen us and make our faith even more vigorous.”
There is a poem that reads:
I counted dollars while God counted crosses.
I counted gains while God counted losses.
And I never knew ‘til one day at the grave,
How vain are these things that we spend life to save!
— author unknown
Outline of Our Worship
Lord, Hear Us
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Entrance Hymn: #452
Order of Worship: Hymnal page 38, “Service of the Word”
Lord, Feed Us
Psalm of the Day: #121 Hymnal page 112
Hymn Response: #484
Sermon Hymn: #453
Sermon Text: Matthew 16:21-26 Thinking God’s Way About Life
Lord, Accept Our Response
Apostles’ Creed: pg.41
Reception of New Member
Prayers & The Lord’s Prayer. pg.43
Lord, Bless Us
Closing Prayer & Blessing: Hymnal pages 43-44
The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Series A
Old Testament Lesson: Jeremiah 15:15-21 – Jeremiah Complains
15O Lord, you understand. Remember me and care for me. Take vengeance for me on those who persecute me. You are slow to anger. Do not take me away. Keep in mind that for your sake I bear disgrace.
16Your words came to me, and I devoured them. Your words became my joy, the delight of my heart, because I bear your name, O Lord God of Armies.
17I did not sit with the band of partygoers, nor did I celebrate with them. I sat alone, because your hand was upon me. You filled me with indignation.
18Why is my pain unending? Why is my wound incurable, refusing to heal? Will you be as deceptive as an intermittent stream to me, like a source of water that a person can’t depend on?
19Therefore this is what the Lord says. If you repent, I will take you back, so that you may stand before me. If what you say is worthwhile and not worthless, you will be my spokesman. They must turn to you, but you must not turn to them.
20I will make you like a bronze wall to this people. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, because I am with you to save you and to rescue you, declares the Lord.
21I will rescue you from the hand of the wicked, and I will deliver you from the grasp of the ruthless.
Epistle Lesson: Romans 12:1-8 – Living Sacrifices
1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy and pleasing to God—which is your appropriate worship. 2Also, do not continue to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you test and approve what is the will of God—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.
3So by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think in a way that results in sound judgment, as God distributed a measure of faith to each of you. 4For we have many members in one body, and not all the members have the same function. 5In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
6We have different gifts, according to the grace God has given us. If the gift is prophecy, do it in complete agreement with the faith. 7If it is serving, then serve. If it is teaching, then teach. 8If it is encouraging, then encourage. If it is contributing, be generous. If leadership, be diligent. If showing mercy, do it cheerfully.
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 16:21-26: Take Up the Cross
21From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised again.
22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “May you receive mercy, Lord! This will never happen to you.”
23But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a snare to me because you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of men.”
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25In fact whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26After all, what will it benefit a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what can a person give in exchange for his soul?”
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.
Monthly Church Council
Midweek Bible Class
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
God and His Church are under attack on many fronts today, so we ask, “How can the Church remain strong?” The soundest encouragement comes from God Himself, who urges us to cling to His unfailing promises and devote ourselves to lives of service.
The Epistle Lesson: Romans 12:1-8 (answers are found on the back side)
- How do we “offer our bodies as living sacrifices”?
- How do our special gifts and abilities find their application in congregational life?
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; Barbara Long at home.
Forward in Christ’s present issue for September is here. Copies will be found in the narthex.
Welcome Today we welcome into communicant membership at Zion Khendra Murdock through Profession of Faith. Khendra, we are glad to have you worshiping with us and pray that the Lord continue to strengthen and keep you safe in faith unto His heavenly Kingdom.
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.
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: 11; Communed: 9; Adult Bible Class & Sunday School: no classes at this time; The Gardens Bible Class: no class; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Offering: $1,600
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 16 Series A: Ezekiel 33:7-11; Romans 13:1-10; Matthew 18:15-20
Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:
- God gives an assortment of ordinary and extraordinary gifts to the members of His body, the Church. Some possess executive skills, others the aptitude to preach and teach, and still others the ability to apply God’s Word to various circumstances of life. May we use these gifts with passion, cheerfulness, humility, and gratitude, always to God’s glory!
- A divine obligation was resting upon Jesus; it was a necessity which he had taken upon himself to fulfill the will of his heavenly Father by his death for all mankind.
This week I am praying for……