Worship Helps for Pentecost 12

Artwork: Shepherdess with Her Flock
Artist: Eugene-Joseph Verboeckhoven
Date: 1798-1881

Worship Theme: A 2011 Australian study found that after the age of 25, every hour of television reduced the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. (Yikes!) God’s warning for us all is far more dire than the old “slouch on the couch.” He says that by frittering time away we could slide away from him and into eternal death. Conversely, how good it will be for those whom Jesus finds busy and watching for him when he reappears.

Old Testament: Haggai 1:12-14
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. 13 Then Haggai, the LORD's messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: "I am with you," declares the LORD. 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God.

1. How were the Jews of Haggai’s day doing financially? How can you tell? (See 1:6 and 1:10-11.)

2. What did God want his people to do? (See 1:8.)

3. See 1:12. What attitude do we also need?

Epistle: Revelation 3:1-6
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

4. What reputation did the church in Sardis have? By contrast, what did Jesus think? (See 3:1.)

5. In what way will Jesus come like a thief? (See 3:3.)

Gospel: Luke 12:32-40
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

6. What attitude does Jesus encourage Christians to have about this world and the things of this world?

7. Instead of worldly things, with what should we concern ourselves?


Answers:
1. The Jews of Haggai’s day were not doing well, financially. They had planted much, but harvested little. God had sent a drought because they had been busy with their houses, not with his house (the temple).

2. God wanted them to a) give careful thought to their ways and b) go get timber and finish building his house.

3. If we are going to be properly industrious while waiting for the LORD, it will stem from revering the LORD. Such fear of God comes from the Word of God.

4. The church in Sardis had the reputation of being alive, but Jesus says they were dead.

5. Like a thief, Jesus will come not only on a day we cannot predict, but at a time when we do not expect him. (See also Luke 12:40.)

6. Christians should not be engrossed with the things of this world. Jesus goes so far as to suggest that we should sell our worldly possessions and give to the poor. The reason for Jesus’ encouragement is simple: the things of this world have no lasting worth. In time worldly things will all be exhausted, stolen or destroyed. Why waste time on the constant pursuit of such things?

7. Jesus repeatedly encourages us to set our hearts on the kingdom of God, on the eternal things that are in store for us in our heavenly home. He wants us to be ready when he comes again because he will only take those who have been waiting for him to be with him forever, like servants waiting by the door for their master to knock after a long journey.


Putting your faith into action
The order of the words Jesus uses in our gospel reading for today is very deliberate. You would think a person’s beliefs would drive his choices. But Jesus turns it around and says that the choices one makes eventually affects his beliefs. Think about it: Seemingly innocent choices of TV programs or movies with violence, or music with violent lyrics, can develop a belief that this is the way the world operates. The choice of “treasure” changes the “heart.” As stewards of God’s gifts, we can make choices about what is precious to us that can affect what we believe. Picking the wrong treasures can even destroy our faith. But picking treasures that are spiritual and eternal preserve our faith and trust in God. May we always hold the cross of Christ as most precious, and arrange our lives’ priorities around it.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 12
We profess that the work of the Law must be begun in us, and that it must be kept continually more and more.  Our theologians not only require good works, but they also show how they can be done.  Human nature is far too weak to resist the devil by its own powers.  We may pray for the governance and defense of the Holy Spirit, that we may neither be deceived and err, nor be pushed to do anything against God’s will.  Christ has overcome the devil, and has given to us the promise and the Holy Spirit, that—by divine aid—we may overcome.  1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”  We teach not only how the Law can be kept, but also how God is pleased if anything is done.  This is not because we satisfy the Law, but because we are in Christ.  It is clear that we require good works.  We also say: Our love for God, even though it is small, cannot possibly be separated from faith.  For we come to the Father through Christ.  When forgiveness of sins has been received, then we are truly certain that we have a God that cares for us.  We call upon Him, we give Him thanks, we fear Him, we love Him as 1 John 4:19 teaches, “We love because He first loved us.”  In other words, we love Him because He gave His Son for us and forgave us our sins.  In this way John shows that faith comes first and love follows. – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article V, Love and Fulfilling the Law (paragraphs 15-20)

Hymns: 466; 442; 421; 422; 477

442  Have No Fear, Little Flock

1  Have no fear, little flock; Have no fear, little flock,
For the Father has chosen To give you the kingdom;
Have no fear, little flock!

2  Have good cheer, little flock; Have good cheer, little flock,
For the Father will keep you In his love forever;
Have good cheer, little flock!

3  Praise the Lord high above; Praise the Lord high above,
For he stoops down to heal you, Uplift and restore you;
Praise the Lord high above!

4  Thankful hearts raise to God; Thankful hearts raise to God,
For he stays close beside you, In all things works with you;
Thankful hearts raise to God!

Text: Marjorie A. Jillson, b. 1931. From Five Hymns. © 1973 Concordia Publishing House.

All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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