Worship Helps for Pentecost 7

Artwork: Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-two
Artist: James Tissot
Date: 1836-1902

Worship Theme: The Lord invites believers to take part in his kingdom work. What joy and privilege is ours to work in his harvest fields, to witness the power of the Spirit, and to support this ministry!  

Old Testament: 1 Kings 17:1-16 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." 2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" 11 As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread." 12 "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread-- only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it-- and die." 13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'" 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

1. In what unusual way did God provide for Elijah?

2. How did the Lord next care for Elijah? How was the Lord’s method of caring for Elijah an indictment of Israel? (See Luke 4:23-26.)

3. The Lord caused the ravens to act against their nature. How did he do the same with the widow?

Epistle: Philippians 4:10-20 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

4. On Paul’s second missionary journey, he first preached the gospel in Philippi. Then he went to Thessalonica, where he experienced bitter persecution. He then went to Berea, and hostile Jews from Thessalonica pursued him there. Finally, he left for Rome. How had the Philippians helped Paul during this difficult time?

5. Why did Paul value these gifts from the Philippians? (verses 17,18)

6. How would God reward the Philippians’ generosity?

Gospel: Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 5 "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8 "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.' 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. … 16 "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." 18 He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

7. How did Jesus make the seventy-two men whom he sent out the answer to their own prayer? (See verses 1–4.)

8. When we listen to our pastor or someone similar announce the forgiveness of all our sins—or, God forbid, the opposite—to whom are we listening? (See verse 16.)

9. In what did Jesus say not to rejoice? In what did he say to rejoice? (See verse 20.)

1. Ravens fed him. Ravens are scavengers who gather food for themselves. The Lord was making them act against their nature.

2. The Lord sent him to a widow in Zarephath, a non-Israelite city near Sidon. In other words, the Lord decided to let a non-Israelite woman care for his prophet because the people in Israel were, for the most part, serving other gods in defiance of the Lord.

3. The Lord caused a poor widow, who was about ready to die of starvation and who had a son whom she would have to see die from starvation, to give food to his prophet. If this woman was not a believer, the Lord gave her strength to believe the prophet’s words.

4. The Philippians had sent Paul aid again and again, especially during his stay in Thessalonica. They had also helped him when he set out from Macedonia.

5. He valued them not just for his own sake, but because they were fruits of faith. These fruits of faith would be credited to their account, not in the sense that they earned salvation but because Paul knew that the Lord would give them rewards of grace in eternal life. Paul also saw these gifts as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (verse 18).

6. God would meet all their needs, already in this life giving them a reward of grace.

7. Jesus made the seventy-two men the answer to their own prayer by first having them pray for more workers in the Lord’s harvest, then sending them out on a tour of the towns ahead of him in Judea. (In line with our individual gifts, Jesus wants to make us the answer to our own prayers for more workers, too.)

8. When we listen to our pastor or someone similar announce that our sins have been forgiven or are retained, we are listening to Jesus himself. The same is true if we reject such words, which are “as valid and certain,” Luther says in our catechism, “in heaven also, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us himself.”

9. Jesus said not to rejoice that evil spirits submit to us as we share the gospel, but to rejoice that our own names are written in heaven.

Putting your faith into action
The disciples went out with no funding from their mission board. They went out with no means of income. They went out with nothing more than the clothes on their back. They went out as “lambs among wolves.” But those lambs also went out with a mission and a promise. The mission was to proclaim the good news about Jesus. The promise was that their Good Shepherd would provide for them. Ask God to send his Holy Spirit so that we might be less concerned about our purse/bag/sandals/stuff, more trusting of his promise to care for us, and more eager to make “Satan fall like lightning from heaven” as we use our time, talents, and treasures to proclaim the good news.

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 7
Righteousness of the heart is a spiritual matter, a matter of enlivening hearts. Clearly human traditions do not enliven hearts and are not effects of the Holy Spirit. Such efforts are love for one's neighbor, self-control, and so on. They are not tools through which God moves hearts to believe, as are the divinely given Word and Sacraments. Rather, traditions are customs that have no connection to the heart. They perish with the using, and we must not believe that they are necessary for righteousness before God. To the same effect Paul says, "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). But there is no need to cite many testimonies. For they are everywhere clear in the Scriptures, and we have gathered many of them in the latter articles of our Confession. In this controversy the point to be decided must be repeated, namely, whether human traditions are acts of worship necessary for righteousness before God. In due course we will discuss this matter more fully.

The adversaries say that universal traditions should be observed because they were supposedly handed down by the apostles. What religious men they are! They wish that the ceremonies received from the apostles be kept. Yet, they do not wish the apostles' doctrine to be kept. – Apology, The Church (paragraphs 36-38)

Hymns: 573; 570; 567; 572; 568

1  Hark! the voice of Jesus crying, “Who will go and work today?
Fields are ripe and harvests waiting; Who will bear the sheaves away?”
Loud and long the Master calleth; Rich reward he offers thee.
Who will answer, gladly saying, “Here am I—send me, send me”?

2  If you cannot speak like angels, If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus; You can say he died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked With the Judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children To the Savior’s waiting arms.

3  If you cannot be a watchman, Standing high on Zion’s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven, Off’ring life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your off’rings You can do what God demands;
You can be like faithful Aaron, Holding up the prophet’s hands.

4  Let none hear you idly saying, “There is nothing I can do,”
While the multitudes are dying, And the Master calls for you.
Take the task he gives you gladly; Let his work your pleasure be.
Answer quickly when he calleth, “Here am I—send me, send me!”

Text: Daniel March, 1816–1909, st. 1-2, 4, abr., alt.; unknown, st. 3, alt.


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