Worship Helps for Pentecost 7

Good news of deliverance
Zaki Baboun

Worship Theme: Preaching the message of God is not a popularity contest. The size of the crowd and the level of cheering is not what it is all about, but rather being faithful in speaking God’s word to the specific people and situations. That may ruffle feathers. The unwillingness of people to listen humbles God’s spokesmen. May we always pay close attention of God’s message, no matter how lowly the messenger who brings it.


Old Testament: Ezekiel 2:1 He said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 He said: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen-- for they are a rebellious house-- they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you." 9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. 3:1 And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel." 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3 Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. 4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.”

1. What did God call Ezekiel to do?

2. How would God measure Ezekiel’s effectiveness?

Epistle: 2 Timothy 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings-- what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

3. As Paul writes these words to Timothy, Paul is in prison in Rome. He knows he is about to die. Paul does not say that only apostles will be percecuted, or that only pastors and prominent Christians should expect persecution. What does Paul write in 3:12?

4. What does Paul say about the Bible, our only source of strength in persecution? See 3:15-17.

5. Was Timothy supposed to focus on church leadership with Paul about to die?

Gospel: Mark 6:1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

6. What obstacle did Jesus meet while preaching in his hometown?

7. What did the reaction to Jesus in Nazareth show?


Answers:
1. Ezekiel was to go to the Israelites who had rebelled against God. God had a specific people and a specific message on which he was to focus his life from this point on.

2. Popularity was not to be the deciding factor in determining his effectiveness. He continues to remind Ezekiel that he is going up against a rebellious and stubborn people. His effectiveness will be gauged on his faithfulness in saying God’s words to them no matter how much opposition he gets from them.

3. Paul says that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

4. Paul says the Bible is holy, and it can make us wise for salvation (both that we need it desperately, and that we have it, for free) through trusting in Christ Jesus. Paul says the whole Bible is God-breathed. It thoroughly equips us for every good work.

5. Timothy was not to focus on leadership. Paul had Timothy swear to preach the Word. Timothy was both to warn and correct others with God’s Word. He was to encourage others with it, using great patience and careful instruction.

6. The people of Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, remembered Jesus as a child, and they pictured him as a carpenter. Now he was a preacher? Since they were so familiar with him and his family, they were unwilling to see past the person and listen to what he preached.

7. The reaction of the people of Nazareth to Jesus showed their lack of faith. They were amazed at his wisdom and the miracles he did, but they let their reasoning get in the way. Instead they should have seen Jesus’ wisdom and miracles as evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, by believing they would have had life in his name (see John 20:30-31).


Putting your faith into action
“We can’t do that!” can be a reaction in some congregations to establishing new ministries or planning for an expansion of facilities. We look to the past and say, “We tried that before and failed, so why try again?” As stewards of God’s gifts, we sometimes need to develop trust that God can work, through us, miracles of faith. We must not let the naysayers discourage us when God places a challenge before us, but trust him to provide the leadership and the resources to accomplish what he has for us to do. God’s promise of support for proclaiming his message of salvation should be encouraging to us. As stewards of the gospel, let us place our trust in the Lord and go in the direction he sets.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 7
God punishes sin with sins.  This means that because of their self-confidence, lack of repentance, and willful sins, He later punishes with hard-heartedness and blindness those who had been converted.  This punishment should not be interpreted to mean that it never had been God’s good pleasure that such persons should come to know the truth and be saved.  For both these facts are God’s revealed will:
1. God will receive into grace all who repent and believe in Christ.
2. He also will punish those who willfully turn away from the holy commandment and entangle themselves in the world’s filth, decorate their hearts for Satan, and despise God’s Spirit.  They will be hardened, blinded, and eternally condemned if they persist in such things.
Even Pharaoh perished in this way.  This was not because God had begrudged him salvation.
God caused His Word to be preached and His will to be proclaimed to Pharaoh.  Nevertheless, Pharaoh willfully stood up against all rebukes and warnings.  Therefore, God withdrew from him, Pharaoh’s heart became hardened, and God executed His judgment on him.  For he was guilty of hellfire.  The holy apostle also introduces the example of Pharaoh to prove God’s justice by it, which He exercises toward the unrepentant despisers of His Word. – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration Article XI, God’s Eternal Foreknowledge, paragraphs 83-86



Text of the opening hymn: 768  How Firm a Foundation
1  How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he has said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

2  “Fear not! I am with you. Oh, be not dismayed;
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

3  “The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

4  “When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be your supply.
The flames will not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

5  “Throughout all their lifetime my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love,
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs they shall still on my shoulders be borne.”

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