Worship Helps for Pentecost 10

Artwork: Our Daily Bread
Artist: Anders Zorn

Worship Theme: God has given most people the wonderful gift of speech. Through words we communicate our thoughts, ideas and feelings. Without words it would be much harder to express ourselves, a frustrating prospect! Our thoughts, ideas and feelings need an outlet, and so does our faith-life! Faith looks for ways to express itself, and one way Christian faith does that is in fervent faith-filled prayer.

Old Testament: Genesis 18:20-32  Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[a] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[b] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

1. When Abraham found out that the Lord was planning destruction for Sodom and Gomorrah what did he do?

2. What does this story teach us about our life of Christian prayer?

Epistle: James 5:13-18 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

3. What does James say the people to whom he was first writing should do if they are sick?

4. What proof does James give that the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well?

Gospel: Luke 11:1-13 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father,[a]
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.[b]
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]
And lead us not into temptation.[d]’”
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

5. With his illustration in verses 11:5-8, what is Jesus teaching us about our life of prayer? How should we pray?

6. What encouragement is Jesus giving us about our life of prayer in verses 9-13?


Answers:
1. Abraham prayed to the LORD, asking him to spare the cities for the sake of righteous people who may have been living there. Abraham was especially concerned about his nephew Lot (whom God would in fact spare from the fiery destruction that fell on Sodom).

2. Abraham shows us how bold and fervent we can and should be in our faith-filled prayers to the LORD, because of his great mercy. Abraham “persuaded” the LORD to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if he found only ten righteous people in them. Therefore, when you pray, do not quit. Keep appealing to God’s mercy in Christ.

3. He says they should ask church elders to come and pray over them and put olive oil on them. (Olive oil may have been soothing/medicinal and probably also brought with it a symbol of God’s blessing. That may be one reason elders were to bring it, not just family or friends.)

4. To prove that God can and does answer prayer (sometimes dramatically), James gives the example of Elijah. He prayed, and God withheld rain for three years. He prayed again; God brought an end to the drought.

5. With his illustration, Jesus is teaching us to be persistent in prayer. In the same way that the man in Jesus’ illustration continued to knock on his neighbor’s door until the neighbor got up to help him, we also should continue to approach the throne of God’s mercy with faith-filled prayers. Thankfully, our loving heavenly Father is much more ready to help us in our need than a grouchy, groggy neighbor!

6. Jesus asserts that if most earthly fathers give their children good things (even though they are sinners), our perfectly loving heavenly Father will be much more likely take care of our every physical and spiritual need abundantly. God promises to work all things together for the eternal good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).



Putting your faith into action
When we think of stewardship of time, we often think of getting into the car, driving to church, and doing some task that needs to be done. The use of our talents almost always necessitates the use of our time. Today Abraham reminds us that taking time to pray is an important part of our stewardship of time. After the Lord told Abraham that he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham could have used his time to run to Sodom and tell his nephew Lot to vacate the city immediately. He could have used his time to help Lot move out. Instead he used his time to pray. Through prayer, Abraham learned God was righteous in destroying these evil cities and gracious in sending his angels to rescue Lot. Martin Luther tells us, “I still find it necessary every day to look for time during which I may pray.” In your busy world, find time to pray.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 10
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)


Hymns: 408; 411; 410; 760


760  When Peace Like aRiver

1  When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll—
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,  
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain
It is well (It is well) with my soul (with my soul).  
It is well, it is well with my soul.

2  My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—      
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

 3  And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend;
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

Text: Horatio G. Spafford, 1828–1888, alt.


 

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