Worship Helps for Lent 1

Artwork: Baptism and Temptation of Christ
Artist: Paolo Veronese

Worship Theme: Each of us battles with temptation every day, and the results are too obvious to mention. Christ was no stranger to temptation, either. He battled, yet was without sin…for us and for our eternal righteousness. This message of victory gives us confidence as we journey through the wilderness of sin in true repentance.

Old Testament: Joshua 7:16-26 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me." 20 Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath." 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD. 24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

1. What was Joshua trying to do for Achan in verse 19? Was he successful?

2. What impact does God’s treatment of Achan and his family have on us?

Epistle: Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

3. The Old Testament high priest went into the presence of God on the Day of Atonement. Read that account in Leviticus 16:11-14. Where specifically did the high priest go on that day? How is Jesus superior to him? (Hint: Focus on the phrase “gone through the heavens” in Hebrews 4:14.)

4. In 4:15 the writer says that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. Why can Jesus sympathize with us? How is Jesus different from us?

Gospel: Luke 4:1-13 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'" 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours." 8 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" 12 Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

5. Compare Satan's temptations of Eve with Satan's temptations of Christ?

6. What can we learn from Jesus' method of defeating Satan's temptations?

1. He was trying to lead Achan to repent. Achan was not giving glory to the Lord or praising him for his victory. Joshua was successful; Achan did repent. Yet he still had to suffer the consequences of his sin.

2. Achan’s disobedience brought defeat upon the Israelites at Ai. The Lord revealed Achan as the culprit. Achan and his family were put to death. Thus, Achan’s sin leads us to realize that God is serious about his will. It leads us to realize that God sees everything we do, even the subtle theft of the wealth God has given us that we refuse to use for the purpose he intended.

3. Jesus did not go through an earthly tabernacle, which represented heaven. Jesus went into heaven itself. He did this when he ascended into heaven, having offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin.

4. He knows the daily temptations that confront us, because he went through them also. Think of what he went through in Gethsemane. Also think of what Jesus must have gone through every day of this life as he preached and dealt with all sorts of people, from enemies, to disciples, to those in the middle. He is without sin.

5. Satan tempted Eve to doubt God's love and Word, to make her own decisions about her care, and to think that created things could somehow satisfy her more than the creator.  Satan basically tempted Jesus in the same way.

6. When we are tempted, we need to go to the source for our answers and for our strength to stand firm.  By the power of His Word, God created all things and raised His Son from the dead.  By the power of His Word, we shall be victorious and live a new life!

Putting your faith into action
Heart and mouth go together in the Christian. It has never been the end of faith to simply know Jesus died for sinners. When you believe he died for you, it’s only natural to call to him. Are you stewarding your prayer time too? To have the one called Jehovah, the great I Am, on your side—the remover of sins, giver of hope, promise of paradise—it makes you long to have whatever he is willing to give you. A daily prayer that makes so much sense is, “Lord Jesus, forgive all my sins!” How wonderful his assurance: You will never be disappointed by looking to me!

A reading from the Book of Concord for the 1st Sunday in Lent
The blasphemy of assigning Christ’s honor to our works cannot be tolerated.  These theologians are now entirely shameless if they dare to bring such an opinion into the Church.  One who knows why Christ has been given to us, and who knows that Christ is the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins, needs no further proof.  Isaiah says, “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:6).  The adversaries, on the other hand, teach that God does not lay our offenses on Christ, but on our works.  Neither are we inclined to mention here the sort of works that they teach.  The adversaries condemn the clear truth, whose defense is necessary for the Church and increases Christ’s glory. Therefore, we easily look down on the terrors of the world, and we will bear with a strong spirit all suffering for Christ’s glory and the Church’s benefits.  Who would not joyfully die in the confession of these articles, that we receive the forgiveness of sins through faith freely for Christ’s sake, and that we do not merit the forgiveness of sins by our works?  The consciences of the pious will not have sure enough comfort against the terrors of sin and of death, and against the devil tempting with despair, if they do not know that their confidence lies in the forgiveness of sins freely for Christ’s sake.  This faith sustains and enlivens hearts in that most violent conflict with despair. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XX, Good Works (paragraphs 81-85)

Hymns for this Sunday: 200; 202; 204; 726

200  A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
1  A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

2  With might of ours can naught be done; Soon were our loss effected.
But for us fights the valiant one Whom God himself elected.
You ask, “Who is this?” Jesus Christ it is,
The almighty Lord. And there’s no other God;
He holds the field forever.

3  Though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill; They shall not overpow’r us.
This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done!
One little word can fell him.

4  The Word they still shall let remain, Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain With his good gifts and Spirit.
And do what they will—Hate, steal, hurt, or kill—
Though all may be gone, Our victory is won;
The kingdom’s ours forever!

Text: Martin Luther, 1483–1546; tr. composite.


Popular posts from this blog

Be still – A funeral sermon for Jason Lopez, Jr.

The hand of the Triune God’s blessing

Funeral sermon for Susan P. Tangerstrom