What You Believe Is Critical.

by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on March 15, 2024 in

The Fourth Sunday in Lent – Judica          March 17, 2024

Text: Numbers 21:4-9      Historic Pericope Series                24:2436

Theme:   What You Believe In Is Crucial.

Suppose you stood before your house. You need to get to the roof. How do you get there? You need a ladder, right? But you don’t have a ladder. I can make one for you.
Fortunately, I have enough materials to do that. In fact, I can make you two ladders. They’ll be made of different things, but they’ll be complete. Which one do you want? Do you want to use the ladder that I can make out of wood, or the one I can make out of paper? You want the wood. Why? I can make a much nicer ladder for you out of paper. I can color it all kinds of pretty colors; I can make fancy cuts in it; I can glue pretty attachments to it. It will look so much nicer. Why don’t you want the ladder that I can make out of paper?
Oh, you can’t trust it to hold your weight. So then, it’s important that you have a ladder made out of stuff you can believe in. You wouldn’t want to put your life on the line with something that can’t hold you, would you?
What You Believe in Is Crucial. It must have the ability to do that which you need.
Strange, isn’t it, that people would see that truth in relation to the safety of their bodies, but not in relation to the welfare of their souls? If it’s important for me to believe in something that works for the welfare of my body, the same ought to be true for my soul.
God is able to help both soul and body. Yet many don’t look to Him. They trust in people or ideas that cannot help them eternally.

I. If you set your heart on evil things…
But if you do that and set your heart on people or ideas that can’t help you, then what? You will falter, fall, and harm yourself. You must look to and rely on that which can help and support you.
In our text Israel was drawing near to the end of its 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. They were getting close to entering the Promised Land. But they ran up against several set-backs.
First, they wanted to cut through the land of Edom on their march to the Promised Land (Num.20:14f). It would make their travel so much easier. Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom with the request to pass through. Israel would take care not to harm or take anything. Israel hoped for a good answer because the Edomites were cousins to them. Israel was descended from Jacob; Edom from Esau, Jacob’s older brother. Surely, they would help them, especially after knowing all the hardships that Israel endured during their time of slavery in Egypt. But Edom denied Israel passage, not just once but twice. Then they came out with a large army to stand against them. So, Israel turned back, forced to detour around Edom. They again travelled through the hot, desolate desert.
On their way the king of Arad attacked and captured some of them. Israel fought and defeated him. However, things weren’t going so well. This trek to the Promised Land wasn’t so easy. So it was that our text said, “The people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
You know what the miserable food was. It was the manna with which God faithfully covered the ground like frost every morning and from which they could make breads and cakes and all kinds of baked items. It was miracle bread from heaven that tasted sweet like honey. They didn’t have to work for it, yet grumbled about it.
Thankless complainers, impatient at set-backs – that would pretty much describe Israel here. They lashed out against God and Moses. But the Apostle Paul adds something else. In his letter to the Corinthians (1:10:6f) Paul writes that the Israelites had “set their hearts on evil things…and put Christ to the test.”
If you set your heart on evil things, there is no longer trust in your heart for God; you are looking elsewhere. You believe that someone or something can help you better than God can. Faith is not important to you anymore. The question is can that with which you replace your trust in God hold you? What if that which you have chosen to believe in is a “paper ladder” that will fail you?
The Scriptures encourage us not to grow impatient in our trust in God. The psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to Him; trust in Him…wait patiently for Him…keep His way and He will exalt you” (37:4,5,7,34).
If you grow impatient and complain, you will set your heart on evil things. And if you set your heart on evil things, you look elsewhere, outside of God, and you will falter and fall like Israel. Paul warns, “These things happened to them as example and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall” (1Co.10:11).

II. But, if you set your heart on God…He will help you. It’s crucial what you believe in and where you put your faith.
When Israel complained and did evil, God sent venomous snakes among the people. They bit the people; many died. The people repented of their evil ways and came to Moses for help. Moses prayed on their behalf.
You know, God, who is just in all He does, had every right to let them die. They set their hearts on evil things; they failed to trust in Him after all those years in which they were blessed by great displays of His love and care for them. They turned on Him. God had every right to let them die. After all, He is the righteous God. But He is also love, merciful, gracious, and compassionate, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin (Ex.34:6). Divine love found a way to restore them.
He had Moses construct a bronze replica of the deadly snakes that bit the people and had him fasten it to a pole. If those who had been bitten would set their hearts again on God, and look to His remedy, they would be healed and live. And that’s what happened. Those who set their hearts on God and looked at the bronze snake in faith were spared.
Can such a bronze image tacked to a pole, cure anyone of poison? What ability does a snake, made out of metal, have that will heal a poisonous bite?
None, absolutely none! Their healing had nothing to do with the physical properties of a metal snake. It had everything to do with God’s promise and faith in it. Faith in anything else would have doomed the people. Had they gone to a poison control doctor, had they taken antidotes against poison, had they done nothing, thinking that they were strong enough to overcome the bite on their own, they would have died. Only one thing could spare them – setting their hearts on God and believing His promise. He alone had ability to save them. That was like building a ladder out of wood. Anything else would have been like building a ladder out of paper with no ability to sustain them. It Is Crucial in What or in Whom You Believe. Certainly, that is the lesson here.
But this story has more to do than with just the healing of the Israelites who were bitten by poisonous snakes. Jesus made that clear when He said: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life” (Jn.3:14). God intended this as a type of Christ and His cross who is the cure for the deadly bite of sin.
The remedy for sin is simple and complete. Nothing else will work. Believe in yourself and your own goodness – you will die. Look to some other god or religion – you will die. Look to Christ and only to Christ – you will live. Why? That is God’s promise. In that way saving faith is nothing less than being in agreement with that which the Bible says. It’s that simple.
So you see, what you believe in is crucial. Is your faith’s ladder made of paper or of wood? Look to Jesus. It’s the only thing that will hold you in time and in eternity. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield

4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)

Church phone: 417.887.0886       Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244 

www.zionluthchurch.com           email: revelehmann@gmail.com

You can also find us on Facebook


The Fifth Sunday in Lent – Judica           March 17, 2024

“If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never see death.”  John 8:51 

WelcomeThe 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

“Judge me justly, O God, and plead my case.  Rescue me from deceitful men.  I know You are God, my stronghold.  Send out Your light and Your truth.  Let them guide me and bring me to Your dwelling” (Psalm 43).

W h a t    T h i s    S u n d a y    i s    A b o u t

Judge What a Great Savior Is Yours.   With this Sunday the Savior’s Passion comes more directly into view.  The elements of sacrifice and pardon take on the greatest meaning.  There can be no forgiveness and no salvation without Christ taking on Himself both elements for us.  As Victim and Priest, He atones for our sin and vindicates us before God.

In order to receive the blessings of His redeeming work, a judgment about Him must be made. “Judica” means “judge,” but mostly in the sense of vindication for doing that which is right.  Through carefully weighing the evidence to Jesus’ Person and work, one must form an opinion. Looking to Him in faith will bring blessing; rejecting Him in unbelief will bring condemnation from God. One cannot “ride a fence” regarding their opinion of or response in life to Jesus.

As Jesus’ Passion now comes fully into view, thank God we have the holy One who provides the sacrifice and pardon before God we needed.

To that end we pray:  Almighty God, by Your great goodness, mercifully look upon Your people that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul through Your Son, 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

(The Lessons of the Day are from the Historic Pericope Series of the Christian Church.)

The Old Testament Lesson:  Numbers 21:4-9 

When Israel grew impatient and sinned against God and Moses in the desert, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them to punish them.  But in mercy, He provided a means of pardon. As they looked to the Bronze Serpent on the pole in repentance, they were saved from death.

The Epistle Lesson:  Hebrews 9:11-15 

The blood of Christ is greater than the blood of the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament times.  Without connection to Christ, their blood alone could do nothing for the cleansing of sin.  It was an outward sign of the inner reality that only Jesus’ blood would have the power to save.

The Gospel Lesson: John 8:46-59 

The hostility of the unbelieving Jews to Jesus rises to its highest pitch.  They refuse to believe the truth about Him.  They judge Him and His word unfit and are ready to stone Him to death.  Jesus presents Himself in His true, divine glory as God’s holy Son, the incarnate Savior.

O u r   P r a c t i c e   o f   H o l y   C o m m u n i o n

Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation.  This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17).  It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says.  Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.

The Organist: Jane Rips                  The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Points to Ponder: “Christ crucified….This gaze upon the “brazen serpent” will save us.….On the cross of Christ hang the trophies taken from our defeated enemies and tyrants.  Thus, the heart is able safely to look at death and is not terrified by that specter.  But looking at death and struggling with it apart from Christ is like swimming in the midst of the ocean.  You had better climb into the ship and cling to the mast from which these trophies are suspended.”

— Martin Luther on Cling only to the Cross of Christ

Outline of  Our Worship

The Preparation

Opening Thoughts on the Service

 The Entrance Hymn: #563

Order of Worship:     The Service: Setting Two with Holy Communion: page 172-180

Prayer of the Day

The Ministry of the Word

Numbers 21:4-9

Hebrews 9:11-15

Gospel Acclamation: Lent pg.179

John 8:46-59

Sermon Hymn: #407

Sermon: Numbers 21:4-9      What You Believe Is Critical.

The Nicene Creed pg.180

Our Response to the Word

Prayer of the Church: pg.182

The Offering

The Lord Blesses Us

Preparation for Holy Communion     Hymnal page 182-187

(Visitors: Please read the box on  page 2 regarding Holy Communion)

Consecration and Distribution

Distribution Hymn: #570

Thanksgiving & Blessing     Hymnal: middle of page 187

Closing Hymn: #405

Silent Prayer

Lent 5 – Judica (“Judge Me Justly, O God”) – Historic Series

Old Testament Lesson: Numbers 21:4-9 – The Bronze Snake

   4 They 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. The 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!”

   6 The Lord sent venomous snakes among the people, and the snakes bit the people. As a result, many people from Israel died. The 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.  The 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.” 9 Moses 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: Hebrews 9:11-15 – Jesus’ Blood, The Payment Needed

   11 But when Christ appeared as the high priest of the good things that were coming, he went through the greater and more complete tent, which was not made by human hands (that is, it is not part of this creation). 12 He entered once into the Most Holy Place and obtained eternal redemption, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood. 13 Now if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on those who were unclean, sanctifies them so that their flesh is clean, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works, so that we worship the living God? 15 For this reason, he is the mediator of a new covenant. A death took place as payment for the trespasses committed under the first covenant, so that those who are called would receive the promised eternal inheritance.

Gospel Lesson: John 8:46-59 – Jesus Rejected as God’s Son

   46 Who of you can convict me of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God listens to what God says. The reason you don’t listen is that you do not belong to God.”

48 The Jews responded, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon. On the contrary, I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 I do not seek my own glory. There is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Amen, Amen, I tell you: If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never see death.”

52 So the Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, so did the prophets. Yet you say, ‘If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never taste death.’ 53 You are not greater than our father, Abraham, are you? He died. And the prophets died. Who do you think you are?”

   54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, about whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 Yet you do not really know him, but I do know him. If I said, ‘I do not know him,’ I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I hold on to his word. 56 Your father Abraham was glad that he would see my day. He saw it and rejoiced.”

57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t even fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Then they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and left the temple area.

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019

People Of The Passion

The Passion of Jesus Christ was all about people. Jesus suffered and died for all people. People were there. People took part. People stood by and watched. What do we know about these people?  Each service in our midweek Lenten series centers on a key person or people and their roles in Jesus’ death and resurrection—from Judas, to Pontius Pilate, to the women who first saw the resurrected Jesus.    Through our observance of their place in the Passion, may God help us gain insights into our lives in Him and strengthen our faith to follow Him more dearly.

People Of The Passion

# 1:  Judas, the Opportunist – Luke 22:1-6; John 12:4-6

# 2:  Caiaphas, the Schemer – John 11:47-53; February 21,2024

# 3:  Nicodemus, the Silent Believer – John 3:1,2

# 4:  Peter, the Impetuous yet Faithful Disciples – Luke 22:31-34

# 5:  Pontius Pilate, the Thinker – John 19:12

# 6:  One of the Mob, the Follower – Matthew 27:20-23


Calendar &  Announcements  for  Zion Evangelical  Lutheran  Church


March 17


March 18


March 19


March 20


March 21


March 22


March 23

Next Sun.

March 24

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

with Holy Communion online -Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study


Lent 5 – Judica

  6 pm

Elders, Trustees,

Church Council Meeting

  11 am

Midweek Bible Class

5:45 pm

Supper: Chinese

6:45 pm

Midweek Lent 6

  Easter for Kids at Peace LC, Marshfield

12-2 pm

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

online – Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Bible Study

Begin Revelation


Lent 6- Palm Sunday


A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today

A drowning man will not complain of the size of the boat that rescues him. Yet, in today’s O.T. lesson we hear of complaining of God when He rescued His people from Egypt. God shows mercy and grace in rescuing undeserving sinners.

The Old Testament Lesson: Numbers 21:4-9  (answers are found on the back side)

  1. Which flaws of human nature led to the painful, in some cases deadly, lesson of venomous snakes?
  2. 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?
  3. How is Jesus similar to the bronze snake?

Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (Long’s son-in-law); Libya, (Jodi Milam’s granddaughter); Barbara Long; Robbie Woessner; Kay Schmidt at Quail Creek Rehab after tumor removal; Liz Lisenby as she undergoes treatment for her blood disease; Norine Richardson; Lois Wiese.

Easter Lilies If you would like to help decorate the church for Easter with lilies, envelopes are found in the narthex. On the envelope, please write the name(s) of those whom you would like to remember, who through faith now live with Christ above.

Divine Call Sent  At the joint call meeting of Zion and Peace, Pastor Steven Bauer was selected to whom our call for pastor will be sent. He is 49 years old and presently serves Immanuel Lutheran Church, Gibbon, MN.  He and wife Karin have two older children, 20 and 17 years old. On the bulletin board in the basement, you will find biographical, educational, and ministry information about him. Please keep Pastor Bauer and family in your prayers over the next few weeks as he prayerfully considers where the Lord would have him serve in His Kingdom of Grace.

Looking at the Lenten Season  This coming week we hold the last in our present series of mid-week Lenten observances with our suppers and services – at Zion, Thursday evening, 5:45 and 6:30 pm, and at Peace in Marshfield, Wednesday evening, 6 and 7 pm. The Lenten theme this year is People of the Passion.. This week’s focus will be The Mob. 

Upcoming Services and Events

Tuesday, March 19 – Elders, Trustees, and Church Council Monthly Meeting

Thursday, March 21 – Midweek Lent 6: Supper at 5:45 pm; Service at 6:30 pm

Saturday, April 23 – LWMS Spring Rally at Grace, Columbia, MO; Mission Speaker: Pastor Nixon Vivar from Ecuador

Holy Week Services – Maundy Thursday at Peace; Good Friday at Zion; the services are the same, both at 7 pm

Next Sunday’s Lessons:               

Lent 6 – Palm Sunday: Zechariah 9:8-12; Ephesians 2:5-11; Matthew 21:1-9   (Historic Pericope Series)

Answers to Today’s Old Testament Lesson Brief Study:

  1. 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.”)
  2. 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.
  3. Both the bronze snake and Jesus were lifted up. Both were lifted up so many could look, see the solution promised by God, and be saved. Both required no payment or human work, instead they both called dying people to look with trust to the only savior for their problem.

This week I am praying for……


Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann