Worship Helps for Lent 2

Artwork: Jerusalem, Jerusalem
Artist: J.J. Tissot

Worship Theme: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified" (I Thessalonians. 4:3). What if we have ignored God's call to holy living? God says to examine ourselves, repent of our failures, and ask for his forgiveness. Yet we never do any of those three perfectly. We must confess that, as an old prayer says, "we have no power to defend ourselves." So how can we not end up among those who permanently reject God's rescue? Only by God's constant grace in Christ. In his mercy God even used Jesus' rejection by his Jewish countrymen to put Jesus on the cross. Rejoice doubly, then: Christ did not reject his Father's will, he died for you. In Christ God will also keep you from rejecting him.

Old Testament: Jeremiah 26:8 But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, "You must die! 9 Why do you prophesy in the LORD's name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?" And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. 10 When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD's house. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, "This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!" 12 Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. 13 Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. 15 Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing."

1. It's seems impossible that God's people should want to kill his servant just for speaking his Word.  How did it come to that?

2. If the Jews shaped up outwardly, would that make them deserve not to have God bring the disaster on them he had threatened?

Epistle: Philippians 3:17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

3. Paul points out how unbelievers think and live. How do such descriptions serve as a blessing for believers like us?

4. Our citizenship is in heaven, soon Jesus will come down from heaven. How do such mercies help us resist temptation?

Gospel: Luke 13:31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." 32 He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' 33 In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day-- for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! 34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

5. Even though repentance and faith are works of God, why can't those who lack repentance and faith blame God for that?

6. At the end, Jesus warned that Jews of his day would not see him as he really is until he came in glory on the last day. How did Jesus' warning serve as a call to repentance and faith?


Answers:
1. Jeremiah's warnings that Jerusalem and the temple would be a desolate ruin and his call to repent attacked their pride. They responded with death threats.

2. Giving up outwardly what the Jews didn't want to give up inside could not have spared them from God's wrath. God sees inside. He demands that we be holy from the inside out. If the Jews had let go of their pride and looked to God's grace for their standing before him, they would have desired righteousness and abhorred sin. Then by grace, for Jesus' sake, God would have spared them.

3. A believer, when he sees flagrant displays of sin, is appalled. When we are in the middle of a temptation, we may not see how bad sin is. But when we see that sin in others, the Bible's descriptions of sinners help us ask ourselves, "Is that really what I want to be like? If I persist, won't I end up where they will end up?"

4. Picture an engaged couple, so in love with each other than they give no thought to anyone else's attractiveness. That couple looks forward so much to the thrill of being together in marriage. In the same way, we are engaged to Jesus, to spend eternity with him. The more we ponder his love for us and what living with him face to face in his eternal kingdom will be like, the more we will want to please him and thank him now. No one else comes close.

5. God works through his Word.  The reason some lack repentance and faith is they hardened themselves to the Word rather than give up their favorite sins or their pride.  However, rather than simply pointing our finger at the Jews of Jesus' day, we need to examine ourselves.  Are we doing what they did? Or in danger of that?

6. The Jews ought to have been terrified at the thought of seeing Jesus coming again in glory on the last day. After hearing the testimony of the Old Testament and of Jesus' teachings, and after seeing the evidence of his miracles, they had to know that Jesus coming in glory to judge them was more than a possibility. If they had cried out, "Lord, make me ready for that day," he would have sheltered them under his arms. (Some Jews did repent later.)


Putting your faith into action
On this second Sunday in Lent, the message of Scripture is sadly and even painfully clear. In our world today—with mass media, super-powered communication devices, instant news flashes of crises occurring in every corner of the earth—we are living in the Information Age. We reflect upon the daily crises which bombard our television and computer screens. We see the seemingly hopeless situations in which some men, women, and children are placed and ask ourselves “Why?” We look at the leadership under which these crises occur—in foreign countries, in our country, in our towns, and in our families. With a touch on the Internet, we can communicate with people we will never meet and “listen” to their life stories. We may not “hear” the true pain and hopelessness they may feel. We may not “hear” that they have not yet realized that “their mind is on earthly things” or that “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Do we use our God-given time to really listen? Do we take the time to share that “we eagerly await a Savior,” that we believe in the Risen Christ of Easter? Do we “stand firm in the Lord?”


A reading from the Book of Concord for Lent 2
1] Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted 2] and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these 3] two parts: One is contrition, that is, 4] terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of 5] the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts 6] the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance. – Augsburg Confession, Article XII, Of Repentance (paragraphs 1-6)

Hymns for this Sunday: 466; 434; 311; 452


 452  Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus
1  Let us ever walk with Jesus, Follow his example pure,
Flee the world which would deceive us And to sin our souls allure.
Ever in his footsteps treading, Body here, yet soul above,
Full of faith and hope and love, Let us do the Father’s bidding.
Faithful Lord, abide with me. Savior, lead; I follow thee.

2  Let us suffer here with Jesus, To his image e’er conform;
Heaven’s glory soon will please us, Sunshine follow on the storm.
Though we sow in tears of sorrow, We shall reap in heav’nly joy,
And the fears that now annoy Shall be laughter on the morrow.
Christ, I suffer here with thee; There, oh, share thy joy with me.

3  Let us also die with Jesus. His death from the second death,
From our soul’s destruction, frees us, Quickens us with life’s glad breath.
Let us mortify, while living, Flesh and blood and die to sin,
And the grave that shuts us in Shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus, here I die to thee, There to live eternally.

4  Let us gladly live with Jesus; Since he’s risen from the dead,
Death and grave must soon release us. Jesus, thou art now our head.
We are truly thine own members; Where thou livest, there live we.
Take and own us constantly, Faithful Friend, as thy dear brethren.
Jesus, here I live to thee, Also there eternally.

Text: Sigmund von Birken, 1626–81; tr. J. Adam Rimbach, 1871–1941, alt.


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