Worship Helps for Pentecost 8

The Exhortation of Christ to the Apostles
Artist: James Tissot

Worship Theme: Faithfully proclaiming God’s Word is hard. Public ministers serve as God’s representative to a sinful world, and the world does not want to accept God’s truth. The Old Testament prophet Amos found that out; Paul and Timothy found that out; Jesus’ newly-called apostles would find that out. Yet God has chosen faithful public preachers as a way he will have the good news of Jesus come to his chosen ones in all nations.  Thank God for faithful public preachers and teachers of the gospel!  By them Jesus gives us the Bread of Life.

Old Testament: Amos 7:10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: "Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying: "'Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.'" 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, "Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom." 14 Amos answered Amaziah, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' 16 Now then, hear the word of the LORD. You say, "'Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac.' 17 "Therefore this is what the LORD says: "'Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will certainly go into exile, away from their native land.'"

1. Was Amos proclaiming a popular message in Israel?

2. What did the king’s representative tell Amos to do, and how did Amos respond to the king’s command?

Epistle: 1 Timothy 3:1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.

3. What is the first qualification of a teaching elder in the church?

4. What is the only qualification of a teaching elder in the church that does not relate to his character?

Gospel: Mark 6:7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-- no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

5. What is an apostle? What were the Twelve called to do?

6. What instructions did Jesus give them and why?

7. In a word, what not-so-popular but oh-so-necessary message did the Twelve preach?


Answers:
1. As is often the case today, Amos did not have a “politically correct” message for the people of Israel. He announced that Israel’s popular king would die by the sword and that Israel would go into exile. Interestingly, Amos proclaimed this message during the height of the Northern Kingdom's greatest prosperity (2 Kings 14:24).

2. Amaziah told Amos to go back to Judah, his homeland, and to stop prophesying in the land of Israel. Amos responded that he was not a prophet of his own choosing; instead he had been commanded by the Lord to say these things.

3. The first quality God requires for teaching elders in his church (pastors and other overseers) is that they be ‘above reproach’ or ‘beyond criticism.’ As sinners, they cannot be perfect, but they should be exemplary, with nothing in their past or in their current way of life that makes it hard for the average person to trust them.

4. Besides all the character-qualifications for an overseer in God’s church, that man must be ‘able to teach.’ He must be knowledgeable about God’s truth and be able to communicate it well.

5. An apostle is “one who is sent,” an ambassador with a message. Jesus called the apostles to proclaim the good news about him and his kingdom.

6. Jesus told the Twelve not to take anything with them except a staff. In other words, they were to trust God to provide. If any place did not accept their testimony, they were to move on to another place.

7. The Twelve told people to repent.


Putting your faith into action
Imagine sending a child off on a trip to Europe with these instructions: “Take no luggage. Don’t pack any emergency food. Don’t take any money with you.” Preposterous! Yet Jesus sends out his disciples with instructions just like those. To leave on a journey to a faraway place with no provisions is either foolish or shows a great deal of trust that somehow everything will be provided. If we were to strike out on our own with little or no planning, the risk of failure would be high. But striking out in faith with God’s assurance of support is a good risk. The evangelists were probably shocked at Jesus’ instructions until they remembered who it was who was sending them out. Then trust kicked in. As stewards in God’s world, some of the things God challenges us to do seem risky. We look around and see no resources. But when it is God who says, “Move!” we can be sure he will provide the resources necessary. “If it is of men, it will fail,” the officials noted of the activity of early Christians in Acts, “but if it is of God, no one can stop it.” When God sends you, strike out in trust that he will also provide the resources.

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 8
Because faith receives forgiveness of sins and reconciles us to God, we are ‹like Abraham› counted as righteous for Christ’s sake before we love and do the works of the Law.

This faith alone receives forgiveness of sins, makes us acceptable to God, and brings the Holy Spirit.  It could be called “grace making one pleasing to God”. 

We receive forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake through faith alone. We are justified, that is, unrighteous people are made righteous.  The knowledge of this faith is necessary.   Because Christ’s office is recognized in this alone, we receive Christ’s benefits by this alone.  Only this teaching brings sure and firm consolation to pious minds.  In the Church there must be the teaching by which the pious may receive the sure hope of salvation.  For the adversaries give people bad advice when they tell them to doubt whether they receive forgiveness of sins.  How will such persons sustain themselves in death who have heard nothing of this faith and think that they ought to doubt whether they receive forgiveness of sins?  The promise is that sins are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake.  Those who teach nothing of this faith we speak about, completely abolish the Gospel.  Our adversaries reject this faith.  By rejecting this faith they abolish the entire promise about the free forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Christ. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, paragraphs 114, 116-121



Text of the opening hymn: God's Word Is Our Great Heritage
God's Word is our great heritage
And shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age
Shall be our chief endeavor.
Through life it guides our way;
In death it is our stay.
Lord, grant, while worlds endure,
We keep its teachings pure
Throughout all generations.

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