The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 20, 2020
Text: Matthew 18:1520 CW 3 Year Series A 20:2214
Theme: “You Are My Watchman!”
You have heard of the prophet Ezekiel, right? Did you ever read his O.T. book? Try it once. It can be difficult because its chock full of symbolism. But it is a very emotional, personal account of God’s relationship with and instructions for His prophet.
Ezekiel was like a pastor to Israel, serving the people with the Word of God while they were held in captivity in Babylon. In the Old Testament Lesson today, the Lord instructed him about his work saying: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman” (Ez.33:7). God called the prophet a watchman. What does a watchman do?
In those days, watchmen were stationed on the highest part of the city wall to watch over the city. They would warn people about any danger that was approaching. During war, watchman reported how the fight against the enemy was going. Watchman might even call out the time or the weather. Ezekiel was God’s watchman. He was not stationed on the walls of Jerusalem, but God placed him on the walls of His Church. For what danger was he watching? Sin – when he saw it, he was to point it out. If he did not warn the people, God would hold him accountable. The Lord said, “You are to warn them from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘Wicked man, you shall surely die,’ if you do not speak to warn the wicked man against his way, that wicked man will die because of his guilt, but I will hold you accountable for his blood.”
God’s ministry is not just a job; it is a calling to watch. It is not limited to prophets and pastors but includes each Christian. You are part of it. God said, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the people who are God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”(1Pt.2:9). You Are God’s Watchmen too.
We are stationed on the walls of God’s holy city, His Church, as watchmen, calling out the time, forecasting the spiritual weather, and warning of an advancing enemy. How should we go about it?
I. Go to your brother in love.
Jesus told us how. He began, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother.”
Is there anything difficult to understand about those words? It’s actually quite simple. “Has a brother, that is a fellow Christian, sinned? Go! Show him his sin! Just you go! Don’t go and tell others. Go to him only. Go in love to regain him for the Lord.” That’s not hard to understand. But doing it seems to be hard for us. At least, we often give excuses as to why we can’t do it.
A lot of the time we feel that our own sins disqualify us from speaking with a fellow Christian about his sin. “Who am I to do that?” we might think. And then the devil gets in there and whispers in our ears, “Who do you think you are to do that?”
You see, if we are truly Christian, we know we are sinners too, painfully aware of how great our own guilt for sin is. In Psalm 51 David cried out in agony, “My sin is ever before me.” His heart was in anguish. He felt inadequate, disqualified, broken. Our own guilt affects us the same way. And the devil will jump on that and accuse us so that we say nothing to the brother.
“But you are my watchman,” God says. What good is a watchman who doesn’t say anything? How can a city stand and defend itself against danger, if they aren’t aware of the enemy?
We can wrongly convince ourselves that it is humility to say, “Who am I to tell another about his sin?” But it’s more cowardice than anything, and it goes opposite of that which Jesus told us to do. Jesus said, “Has he sinned? Go! Show him!” Why? God answers, “Your guilt has separated you from your God. Your sins have hidden God’s face from you so that He does not hear“ (Is.59:2).
That barrier must be torn down or else, Jesus said, “you will perish” (Lk.13). Here God said, “Wicked man, you shall surely die…because of guilt!” (33:8). We can’t just stand by and watch a brother perish eternally. Christ’s loving concern for us won’t let us.
The goal is to win him back to the Savior. “As I live,” God said, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from their way and live. Turn back, turn back!” (33:11)
“You Are My Watchman,” God says, “to help the brother turn from his sin. Take action. Go! First, just you go, knowing the necessity. Don’t blab it around. Don’t even go to the pastor. Go, just you, because you love him. Call him back to the Savior.”
But what if he doesn’t listen to your earnest plea? People often don’t like being corrected. Did you hear Peter respond joyfully to Jesus’ correction of him in last week’s lesson? Did King David jump for joy at Nathan’s correction when David committed adultery and murder? How many times haven’t we also shot back words of anger at someone who pointed out our own wrongdoing? By nature, we don’t like to be corrected because sin makes us blind to what we really are and actually do.
“But You Are My Watchman,” God says. “You can’t stand by idly. You’ll lose your brother for me in eternity. If he won’t listen to you, take some others along. They will act as witnesses and maybe can reach him with my Word. Go to the congregation if need be. If he still refuses to listen, you will all have to show him the truth by how you treat him. He has placed himself outside my Church. Show him that reality. Do what you must do. But go to your brother in love to win him back to me.”
Some people might call that tough love, but perhaps the term sacrificial or truthful love might better describe it. It’s patterned after the Savior who said, “As I have loved you, love one another. No one has greater love than this: that someone lays down his life for his friends” (Jn.15:12f). Then Jesus laid down His life to cover our sin. The Apostle John tells us “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin. But if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His Word is not in us” (1Jn.1:7-10).
Repentance, faith, humble acceptance receives the blessing. Denial, unbelief, rejection lose it. But the truth must be seen. Without it one cannot be set free from the shackles of sin.
“You Are My Watchman,” God says. “Go! Tell him.”
II. Go to the Savior for assurance and help.
It seems overwhelming. But watchmen are to act. If they don’t act, what should they expect from those who are over them?
I have never been in the army. But I imagine that if I were a soldier who fell asleep at my watch or refused to do my duty, I would be dealt with severely. What harm would come to my brothers in arms if I were in a battle zone and fell asleep at my post while the enemy advanced? And even if not in a battle zone, what would happen if I did not show up for my watch? Would I be court martialed? Thrown into the brig? Dishonorably discharged?
But God does not want to throw me, nor my brother, into jail. In Christ He set me free and wants me to stay free. He doesn’t want to court martial me. He does not want to dishonorably discharge me. He wants to bring me into His heavenly glory. He wants to help and save me and enable me to serve Him. So, in Christ He calls to repentance and declares me not guilty for Jesus’ sake. Then He calls me to be His watchman to warn and help others see it.
But He does not send us without strength. He wants us to go with His assurance and help. After all, this is what He told us to do and how to do it. So, He continued, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven…And where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I among them.” What does that all mean?
First, tie it together with this whole matter of a brother sinning, our going to him in love seeking repentance, and the preaching of forgiveness to win souls for Christ.
The most awesome fact about it is that God has given us the privilege of dispensing it for Him. When it is done with the intent of regaining the soul for Christ, Jesus assures that it is valid before Him. Sometimes that may even mean holding a person’s sins against him. “You’ve got no right to do that!” some people say. Well, the Savior said something different, didn’t He? And He wants to assure us that it is alright to refuse pronouncing forgiveness when there is no repentance. But how will we really know that is the case? How will we know when to do this, when to do that, when to say this, and when to say that?
Go to Him who knows all things; go to the Savior in prayer. Beg Him to guide you, to verify what is said. He promises to hear; He promises to help; He promises to go with His people, even if only 2 or 3 are there. Go to Him for assurance and help in this. He will give it to you for You Are His Watchman; and He is the Lord who looks out for the eternal welfare of His people. God grant us such faith to believe and work for Him; 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
You can also find us on facebook
The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 20, 2020
“I have appointed you, son of man, to be a watchman for the house of Israel.” Ezekiel 33:7
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
We extend a warm and sincere welcome in our Savior’s name. Please sign our guest book, located to the right just outside the sanctuary. If you desire more information about Zion Lutheran Church or are in need of spiritual guidance, please call upon our pastor at any time. We are delighted to have you join us today and invite you to return soon.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Be gracious to me, God, according to Your mercy….Purify me from my sin….for my sin is always in front of me… Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:1-3,12).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
God’s Watchmen. God calls His spokesmen “watchmen.” Watchmen stand on the city walls to look out and over the surrounding territory. It is their job to watch for an advancing enemy and warn the people.
There is no more dangerous enemy that advances against us than sin. With Satan as its lead, its goal is to entangle our lives and to bring our souls down to eternal destruction. There is no greater loss than the loss of one’s soul to sin. For that reason God sent His Son to overcome sin’s grip on us. God sent His Son because He would have each soul preserved for His heavenly kingdom.
He does not enjoy it when a soul is lost eternally as people fall away in sin and unbelief. Therefore, in love He calls His people to watch, to warn, and to seek to regain that soul for Him through the Word.
To that end we pray: O Lord, let Your continual mercy cleanse and defend Your Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without Your help, protect and govern it always by Your goodness. Use us as watchmen to warn and to win others for Christ; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Old Testament Lesson: Ezekiel 33:7-11
God gave His prophet the solemn charge of watching over people’s souls. Ezekiel couldn’t prevent someone from doing the evil that person chose to do. But the prophet could speak God’s Word to warn him. God’s Word warns but more, proclaims the way to life through Christ.
The Epistle Lesson: Romans 13:1-10
In response to God’s unconditional love for us, we who believe in Christ have a joyful debt of love that we owe our neighbor. Love does no harm to him. This includes the governing authorities. We owe them taxes, honor, and respect because they serve as God’s agents for our welfare.
The Gospel Lesson: Matthew 18:15-20
If a brother in faith should go astray and refuse to acknowledge the need for repentance, God appoints His people to use His Word in witness and prayer to regain the erring brother. All is done out of love and concern for the soul.
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.
Today’s Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “More and greater sins are committed by people when they are alone than when they are among men. The devil deceived Eve in Paradise while she was alone….The devil tempted Christ in solitude. David fell….And I myself have found out that I never fall into sin more frequently than when I am alone. God created man for society, not for solitude….Solitude begets sadness….Furthermore, Christ promised that he would be in the midst of two or three who had come together in His name.” –Luther on The Devil Tempts More Easily in Solitude
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #226
Order of Worship: Service of Word and Sacrament Hymnal page 26
The Ministry of the Word
Old Testament Lesson: Ezekiel 33:7-11 – God’s Watchman to Israel
7But I have appointed you, son of man, to be a watchman for the house of Israel. So whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you are to warn them from me. 8When I say to a wicked man, “Wicked man, you shall surely die,” if you do not speak to warn the wicked man against his way, that wicked man will die because of his guilt, but I will also hold you responsible for his blood. 9But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he will die because of his guilt, but you will have saved your life.
10So you, son of man, say the following to the house of Israel. This is what you people are saying: “Certainly our rebellion and our sins weigh us down, and because of them we are rotting away. How then can we live?” 11Say to them, “As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from their way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why should you die, O house of Israel?”
Epistle Lesson: Romans 13:1-10 – Authorities Established by God
1 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities. For no authority exists except by God, and the authorities that do exist have been established by God. 2Therefore the one who rebels against the authority is opposing God’s institution, and those who oppose will bring judgment on themselves.
3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to evil. Would you like to have no fear of the one in authority? Do what is good, and you will receive praise from him, 4because he is God’s servant for your benefit. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because he does not carry the sword without reason. He is God’s servant, a punisher to bring wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore it is necessary to submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of conscience.
6For this reason you also pay taxes, because the authorities are God’s ministers, who are employed to do this very thing. 7Pay what you owe to all of them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, and honor to whom honor is owed.
8Do not owe anyone anything except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9For the commandments—do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet (and if there is any other commandment)—are summed up in this statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no harm to a neighbor, so love is the fulfillment of the law.
Hymn Response: #494
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 18:15-20 – Show Your Brother His Sin
15“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And, if he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as an unbeliever or a tax collector. 18Amen I tell you: Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Amen I tell you again: If two of you on earth agree to ask for anything, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20In fact where two or three have gathered together in my name, there I am among them.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
The Gospel Response: pg.30
Sermon Hymn: #308
Sermon: Matthew 18:15-20 “You Are My Watchman!”
Our Response to the Word
The Nicene Creed: page 31
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:
Hymnal page 32
Lord, Bless Us
Order of Holy Communion: Hymnal pages 33-35
(Visitors: Please read box inside about the practice of Holy Communion)
Thanksgiving & Blessing: Hymnal pages 36-37
The Closing Hymn: insert #551
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.
Midweek Bible Class
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
The apostle Paul wrote frequently about the obligations and duties resting upon Christians in their capacity as church members, citizens, and neighbors. These can be summarized in the law of Christian love, an ideal which, out of gratitude to God, believers strive and work for all the days of their lives.
The Old Testament Lesson: Ezekiel 33:7-11 (answers are found on the back side)
- Who is held responsible when a wicked man dies in unbelief?
- What is God’s immutable will for all mankind? (v.11)
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; Bill Buchanan; Lois Wiese; the family of Chris Bruck; Megan & Zach Sloan and infant daughter Maizey; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long.
Forward in Christ’s present issue for September is here. Copies will be found in the narthex.
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
Upcoming Events: Pastors’ Conference – During Monday and Tuesday next week, Sept. 28-29, Pastor will be attending the fall pastors’ conference of the MN District Southern Conference. It will be held at Arlington Heights Lutheran Church, Des Moines, IA. Arrangements are being made to assure that the conference will be held safely during this pandemic time.
LWMS – The Fall Rally will be held at Christ Alone LC, Dardenne Prairie, MO, Saturday, Oct. 10. Please see the flyer for more information. Again, arrangements are being made to assure that the rally will be held safely. If you plan to attend, please let pastor know. He will RSVP for you so that proper arrangements for safety will be in order for everyone attending.
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: 16; Adult Bible Class & Sunday School: no classes at this time; The Gardens Bible Class: no class; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Offering: $2,320
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 17 Series A: Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 14:5-9; Matthew 18:21-35
Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:
- The reading speaks of dual accountability: a.) the unrepentant sinner is clearly responsible for his unbelief and will pay the penalty for his guilt; and b.) the watchman who fails to speak up to “dissuade” the unrepentant sinner also bears responsibility. God is admonishing us against neglect and indifference.
- How much more emphatic can God be? “Turn! Turn from your evil ways!” and “live”! His gracious will is the salvation of all.
This week I am praying for……
Come share a wonderful day of worship, fellowship, and education at the Missouri Valley Circuit
LWMS Fall Rally
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Registration at 9:30
Lunch provided by Host Congregation Christ Alone
2600 Bates Rd.
Dardenne Prairie, MO
Pastor Roger Neumann
WELS Liaison to
The Lutheran Church
Greetings Women of the Missouri Valley Circuit of LWMS,
A little over 5 years ago, I was approached by the WELS World Mission
Board and asked if I would consider being the WELS’ liaison to the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. I accepted that position, not a called position, and have made frequent trips to Ukraine.
I have weekly conversations with their church body’s leader, Bishop (President) Horpynchuk. During this time, we (the WELS) have supported their pastors and congregation financially, as well as using some of our resources to assist them. Resources include developing evangelism plans, teaching stewardship principles, conducting various Pastoral seminars, etc.
We have organized VBS teams to go to Ukraine in the summer and intend to have some of our youth join theirs for their annual Youth Forum in each of the coming years. Mission Journeys is now assuming this role and have been very helpful in assisting the pastors and congregations in Ukraine.
My presentation will give a brief overview of WELS’ support of the ULC, with pictures to share, and answers for questions. My wife, Rose Marie, and I too look forward to being with you for your Fall Rally on October 10th.
In Christ, Pastor Roger Neumann
WELS Liaison to the Ukrainian Lutheran Church
PLEASE SIGN UP WITH YOUR CONGREGATION REPORTER IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND SO THE HOST CONGREGATION WILL HAVE ENOUGH BOX LUNCHES.