Worship Helps for Epiphany 4

The Possessed Man in the Synagogue
James Tissot

Worship Theme: Why follow him? Jesus shows his glory by his triumph over the devil. In his own day he sometimes did that openly for many to see. He still does it just as effectively but in a less public, less obvious way. Just as his victory made manifest his glory then, so it does now. Just as then, so now, everything is accomplished through his Word.

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die." 17 The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."

1. What request did the people of Israel have for the Lord when they had previously assembled at Mt. Horeb (Sinai)?

2. Whom was the Lord going to send?

3. Which is worse, for a preacher to speak a little that God has not commanded, or to speak in the name of other gods?

Epistle: Hebrews 3:1-6
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

4. Who was greater, Moses or Jesus? Why?

5. Who or what is God's house on this earth?

6. What will happen if we don't fix our thoughts on Jesus and don't hold onto the eternal hope Jesus gives?

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-- the Holy One of God!" 25 "Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching-- and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

7. What struck people, when Jesus taught?

8. How did Jesus demonstrate his authority?


 Answers:
1. The Israelites asked that the Lord no longer speak to them with his own voice―in all his majesty. They feared they would die. We sinners cannot deal with holy God in his full glory, as the Lord had told Moses: “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20)

2. The Lord was going to send a prophet from among the people of Israel who would speak on God’s behalf. He meant his own Son, our Savior Jesus.

3. Preaching a little false doctrine is just as bad as advocating idolatry. God insists on passing along his Word of truth 100 percent. Only the truth can combat the father of lies. (See today's Gospel, Mark 1:21–28).

4. Jesus was greater than Moses. Moses was a faithful servant over God's house, but Jesus is God's Son who is over God's house. Jesus was faithful even when God told him to die on the cross for us with the world's guilt on him.

5. We are God's house, as long as we hold onto our courage and don't fall away from Christ when others try to influence us. God's Spirit lives in all Christians together and individually. We have become God's holy house by faith.

6. If we do not, God will not live in us anymore. We will not live with God forever. We will die apart from him, with the devil.

7. Jesus amazed people because he taught others based on his own authority (verses 22, 27), while the Jewish teachers of the law often based their teachings on quotes from famous rabbis.

8. Jesus shows his authority by casting out an evil spirit. (Note how the demon tried to scare/ deceive people by screaming out the truth.) Jesus is God. He has the power, ability and willingness to set us free from the devil and all harm.


Putting your faith into action
The monster that strives to repossess our hearts often uses more subtle tactics than the overt possession of Mark 1. But make no mistake. Whether it’s our own sinful nature or the devil himself, our faiths are under relentless attack by enemies much stronger and craftier than we. Thanks be to Jesus that our Rescuer is mightier still! With the same powerful Word he drives greed, fear, resentment, and coveting from our hearts so that the only possession in our lives is our hearts belonging solely to him. Thankful people indeed!


A reading from the Book of Concord for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
We believe that the community of God has the power to change such worship ceremonies in a way that may be most useful and edifying to the community of God.

Nevertheless, all frivolity and offense should be avoided in this matter. Special care should be taken to exercise patience toward the weak in faith (1 Cor. 8:9;  Romans 14:13).

We believe that during a time of persecution, when a plain confession is required of us, we should not yield to the enemies in such matters of adiaphora.  For the apostle has written in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  He also writes in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Also note Galatians 2:5, “To them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”  For in such a case it is no longer a question about adiaphora.  But it concerns the truth of the Gospel, Christian liberty, and sanctioning open idolatry.  It also concerns the prevention of offense to the weak in the faith.  In such a case we have nothing to concede.  We should confess and endure what God sends because of that confession, and whatever He allows the enemies of His Word to inflict on us. – Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article X, Church Practices Called Adiaphora (paragraphs 63-65)


Text of the Hymn of the Day: Praise The One Who Breaks The Darkness
Praise the one who breaks the darkness
With a liberating light;
Praise the one who frees the pris'ners,
Turning blindness into sight.
Praise the one who preached the gospel,
Healing ev'ry dread disease,
Calming storms and feeding thousands
With the Father's word of peace.

Praise the one who blessed the children
With a strong, yet gentle, word;
Praise the one who drove out demons
With the piercing, two-edged sword.
Praise the one who brings cool water
To the desert's burning sand;
From this well comes living water,
Quenching thirst in ev'ry land.

Let us praise the Word incarnate,
Christ, who suffered in our place;
Jesus died and rose victorious
That we may know God by grace.
Let us sing for joy and gladness,
Seeing what our God has done;
Let us praise the true Redeemer,

Praise the one who makes us one.

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