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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Worship, 8 AM Phoenix Time

The Hymn #267 by Luther – Waer Gott nicht mit uns
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual Ephesians 3:13-21
The Gospel Luke 7:11-17
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 479 Fahre Fort

God at Work

The Hymn #307 Old 124th
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 376 Toplady

KJV Ephesians 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

KJV Luke 7:11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. 17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.

Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst send Thy Son to be made flesh, that by His death He might atone for our sins and deliver us from eternal death: We pray Thee, confirm in our hearts the hope that our Lord Jesus Christ, who with but a word raised the widow's son, in like manner will raise us on the last day, and grant us eternal life: through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

God at Work

Ephesians 3: 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

People think of St. Augustine (354-430) as a religious leader of the distant past, but he was once a famous, hedonistic pagan. His mother Monica gave him Christian instruction as a child and prayed for his conversion to the faith. Augustine’s unique intellectual gifts made him a powerful intellectual leader and the finest orator at a time when rhetoric was the pathway to fame. He was so brilliant that he felt the Scriptures were beneath him. In addition, Christianity was one of many religions of his day and not very successful in the marketplace of ideas. Monica never ceased her prayers. Another burden in her life was an unbelieving husband. One day, as Augustine felt the weight of his sins, he was overwhelmed with a sense of contrition. Weeping under a fig tree, he heard a child’s voice sing out a Latin song, “Tolle, lege. Take and read.” The song had no religious content, but Augustine felt compelled to pick up the Scriptures where he read the damning words of the Law and the comfort of the Gospel:

KJV Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Augustine wrote: “I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” Augustine then went to tell his mother Monica, who “leaped for joy triumphant, and she blessed Thee, Who art ‘able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.’” (Ephesians 3:20) [24]

Monica prayed to have a believing son, but God gave her something she never imagined, a son who became one of the greatest of all teachers of Christianity. Augustine became a bishop and served the African church, writing such classics of the faith as his Confessions and The City of God. It is impossible to study Christian thought apart from Augustine or find a topic he did not write about, using the gifts abundantly given him by God. At the last bookstore I visited, not long ago, I saw a well known highly respected biography of Augustine in paperback, a testimony to the kind and loving Father Who blessed Monica far beyond her ability to think or ask. That power gave her, like many heart-broken mothers afterwards, the faith to pray, the hope to find comfort in waiting, and the patience to wait for the effectual working of the Triune God, who can use a child and a secular song to fashion a bishop and theologian out of a rogue.

"In like manner, St. Paul says that God's ability is thus proved, in that He does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. Therefore, we should know we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God. Let us leave that entirely to Him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that He will hear us." [25]
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p.179f.

"A very fine example of the power of prayer is provided by Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. She asked for nothing in her prayer for her son except that he might be liberated from the madness of the Manichaeans [pagans] and be baptized...But the more she prayed, the more stiff-necked and stubborn the son became, and her prayer seemed to her to have become a sin. But when the time for hearing her solicitous prayer had come (for God usually defers His help), Augustine is not only converted and baptized but devotes himself entirely to the study of theology and turns out to be such a teacher that he shines in the church to this day, teaching and instructing the church. Monica had never asked for this. It would have been enough for her if her son had been freed from error and had turned Christian. But God wants to give us greater blessings than we can ask for, as long as we do not weaken in our prayer."
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald M. Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959 II, p. 1094. Genesis 17:19-22.

In world religion class we have discussed the problem of emphasizing the institution rather than the Gospel.

If we step back and look at the preaching of the Apostolic age and the Reformation, the only concern was the Gospel. There certainly were factions and groups, as Paul said there must be, but the emphasis was upon the Gospel.

The Christian faith is simple, plain, and easy to learn. Someone can study the Scriptures all his life and never learn more than a fraction of what God says, but the basics are clear.

God shows us the way we really are through the preaching of the Law. If the Law is taught clearly, according to God’s Word, we see ourselves in a mirror. That destroys our self-righteousness, our claims to be perfect, or the idea we can earn favor with God through our good works.

Just like medicine, we first need a proper diagnosis. I just read about Robert Novak hitting a biker and not knowing it. He said a mob started to form. Novak was taken to a hospital and learned he had a mass in his brain. Several other things happened before he realized what his diagnosis was. Until he accepted that, he did not consider surgery and the possible healing required.

Non-sinners (in their minds) may hear the Gospel and find it interesting, but they hear without comprehending, like Novak at first. When they know the true nature of man, they want the comfort of the Gospel.

The Gospel teaches us that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary for one reason only – to die for our sins and be our Savior.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him might not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Paul says in this verse (Eph 3:20) – The power of the Gospel is at work (effective) in all who believe.

The Gospel is always at work in believers, moving them to pray and do good works.

As I said many times before, God urges us to pray but also moves us to pray with His Gospel promises.

One is here in this lesson, which is one of the best known about prayer.
God is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”

The hesitation everyone has in praying has its foundation in doubt, doubt about His Word, doubt about His power, doubt about His love.

Can human reason rise about these doubts? – not at all. Human reason and experience are the reasons for the doubt. We think we know and we draw conclusions based on our limitations and experience.

God extinguishes doubt with His Promises.

First of all, God is able to accomplish exceeding abundantly… Normally we would say that is not very good writing. Paul does a lot of that. But he does so in expressing how God is above anything we can imagine, in grace, in forgiveness, in love, in mercy, and in power.

There is nothing impossible for God’s Word.

The best example is God taking someone dead to the Gospel and producing a new Creation, a believer, given kinship with Jesus, and the promise of everlasting life that goes with the forgiveness of sin.

God does not stop with those abundant blessings, but promises far more in this verse alone.

How can someone not pray when God promises so much. How much from our perspective? “Above all that we ask or think.”

The power is at work among believers because the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian. The Holy Spirit accompanies the Word in reaching people. No one becomes a believer except through the Holy Spirit. Preaching takes place through the Holy Spirit guiding the minister and the audience both.

The Holy Spirit’s work draws attention to the Father and the Son, moving the believer to prayer and good works. The Holy Spirit moves people to pray and helps people pray.

When we ask God for anything, the Holy Spirit urges us through the Gospel Promises.

Are we not worthy to ask? Christ has made us His worthy brothers, so that God sees His beloved Son when we ask in His name.

Is God not able? The more we understand, the more we see what God has already done and can do.

Does God love us? Yes, the Word tells us that God loves us because we love His Son. His chief quality is to love and forgive us. So we should always expect the best from Him, even when things seem grim at the moment.

"A third answer to our enemies is: We are certain that wherever the Word of God is proclaimed, the fruits of the same must exist. We have the Word of God, and therefore the Spirit of God must be with us. And where the Spirit is, faith must obtain, however weak it may be."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids Baker Book House, 1983, VIII, p. 274. Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Ephesians 3:13-21,

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