Worship Helps for Pentecost 20

Worship Theme: It is the believer’s duty to abstain from sin, give forgiveness, and serve our neighbor. It is a privilege to do our duty as Christians, but we are weak. The Church, therefore, prays that God would make us ready to do with a cheerful heart that which pleases him.

Old Testament: 1 Chronicles 29:1 Then King David said to the whole assembly: "My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God. 2 With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God-- gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble-- all of these in large quantities. … 10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, "Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 14 "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 15 We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.

1. When today do we regularly pray just like David did in 29:11?

2. When we give offerings to God or charitable help to someone in need, are we giving what used to be ours to someone else? (See the second part of 29:14.)

Epistle: Romans 6:15-23 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. There might be thousands of businesses that could employ you. But Paul says there are only two powers for whom we can work. Which are they? (See 6:16‒18.)

4. Which one do you work for, if you are a believer in Jesus? (Again, see 6:18.)

5. Why not go back to working for sin and let sin be the boss in our lives once again? (See 6:23.)

Gospel: Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." 5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" 6 He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you. 7 "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? 8 Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? 9 Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"

6. Jesus says to rebuke other sinners, but if a fellow believer repents, to forgive him or her (17:3). Why are both of these commands hard?

7. Jesus’ disciples seemed to think he was asking a lot. They needed more faith (17:5). How can faith do such great things?

1. Today when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we usually end in one of two ways: A) “For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever. Amen.” Or B) “For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.” Either way, those words seem very similar to David’s.

2. No, gifts to the Lord or contributions to the needy are only giving what belonged to God in the first place. All things are God’s.

3. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to obedience/righteousness.

4. All believers in Jesus are former slaves to sin. Now we are slaves to righteousness.

5. We must not go back to sin as the boss in our lives, for the wage sin pays is death, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

6. You rarely are popular when you tell people they are wrong in what they are doing. It also goes against the wisdom of this world to forgive and not exact punishment from someone who has wronged us.

7. Living new lives of love is not automatic, but through trusting Jesus we remember that we are just as bad as everybody else. We are redeemed sinners, bought back by Christ's blood. In love, then, we look out for the spiritual welfare of our brothers and sisters, and we are eager to share the message of forgiveness and peace in Jesus.

Putting your faith into action
Minimum standards. Schools have them. Corporations have them. The government has them. A contract (covenant) is normally written based on minimum standards. If the job is completed according to the minimum standards, the student, the worker, or the contractor is paid the agreed-upon amount. In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus is saying the same holds true in the kingdom of God. There is a minimum standard of belief that invokes the covenant promise. Eternal life is available to all who have basic faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. There is, however, also a minimum standard of performance in living under the contract. The servant who does his duty, Jesus says, receives appropriate and agreed-upon rewards. As managers for God of his property, our stewardship is part of a minimum standard—it is what is expected of us by the Master.

A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 20
18] Now, if in St. Paul and in other regenerate men the natural or carnal free will even after regeneration strives against God's Law, it will be much more obstinate and hostile to God's Law and will before regeneration. Hence it is manifest (as it is further declared in the article concerning original sin, to which we now refer for the sake of brevity) that the free will from its own natural powers, not only cannot work or concur in working anything for its own conversion, righteousness, and salvation, nor follow [obey], believe, or assent to the Holy Ghost, who through the Gospel offers him grace and salvation, but from its innate, wicked, rebellious nature it resists God and His will hostilely, unless it be enlightened and controlled by God's Spirit.

19] On this account the Holy Scriptures also compare the heart of the unregenerate man to a hard stone, which does not yield to the one who touches it, but resists, and to a rough block, and to a wild, unmanageable beast; not that man since the Fall is no longer a rational creature, or is converted to God without hearing and meditating upon the divine Word, or in external, worldly things cannot understand, or of his free will do, or abstain from doing, anything good or evil. – Solid Declaration, II Free Will (paragraphs 18-19)

Hymns: 482; 520; 310; 610

1  Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, In whom his world rejoices,
Who from our mother’s arms Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love And still is ours today.

2  Oh, may this bounteous God Through all our life be near us,
With ever-joyful hearts And blessed peace to cheer us
And keep us in his grace And guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills In this world and the next.

3  All praise and thanks to God The Father now be given,
The Son, and him who reigns With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, Whom earth and heav’n adore!
For thus it was, is now, And shall be evermore.

Text: Martin Rinkart, 1586–1649; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1827–78, alt.


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