Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost 16/08/2020

Sermon- “All Who Love the Lord,” Isa. 56- Pentecost 11, Pastor Joe Asher- Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany- LCMS- *IN NOMINE JESU*

Isaiah 1, 6-8

Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
    and my righteousness be revealed…

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Today I want to start by giving you a little insight into the work of a pastor.  I’m sure all of you have heard the joke that pastors have the easiest job on earth, for all they do is work one hour a week.  And that is often the only noticeable work many routinely see.  Leading worship and preaching God’s Word takes about an hour.

But faithful pastors spend countless hours in teaching prep, and we pour into God’s Word with the goal of relating the Lord’s eternal truth specifically to the lives of God’s people.  Counseling the broken-hearted; visiting the sick are often never seen by the congregation at large, and the hours spent in prayer is never put on a work time card.

In sermon preparation, when I first approach the readings assigned for a Sunday, I look for ways that the Old Testament, the epistle, and the Gospel are connected, because in the connection we can identify a worship theme that applies to our lives.

So, if you would look at the back of your bulletin insert like a pastor, then you will see that Isaiah 56 begins-

Thus says the Lord:

And here we clearly have God’s call for His people to- verse 1- “keep justice and do righteousness” in this fallen world.  This theme is certainly worthy of our attention today, since what we encounter constantly lacks justice and righteousness due to the sinful self-interest of just about everybody.  So as Christians, we need go against the prevailing culture to live just and righteous lives in the public arena.  We also need to further insist that our leaders 

also keep justice and do righteousness as they perform their civic tasks.

But I would suggest that our living Godly and righteous lives is not the main unifying subject for all our readings.  Instead, what brings the Old Testament, the epistle, and the Gospel together is what comes next in Isaiah 56.  Please look with me to verses 6-7-

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”

I would propose that God’s welcome of everyone, including foreigners (non-Jews) to a life in Him is the Scriptural focus that we really need to pay attention to. 

Please look now to the Romans 11 text.  The whole reading is about Paul’s work as the apostle to the Gentiles.  The Gentile designation refers to all people who are not Jewish.  Yet God sends Paul out to preach and teach the Good News of Jesus so that everyone, everyone, may have a life in Him.

And now let’s go to the Gospel reading.  A desperate Canaanite woman, a foreigner, approaches Jesus because her daughter is oppressed by a demon.  Jesus tells her, verse 24-

I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And yet our Lord responds to her “great faith,” and heals her daughter instantly.

From God’s Word, today’s message for us is that the expanse of God’s love is so wide that it includes everyone.  We see it powerfully in  all three readings.  Everyone who repents and believes is welcome in God’s house and in a relationship with Him.

God’s approach to this lost world is based upon His merciful heart.  The word “mercy” is repeated three times in our Romans 11 passage.  God’s mercy is the reason why our Lord offers salvation and a life in Him to outcasts and foreigners.  Because God pities us in our lost condition, and because in sin we are all outcasts and foreigners, the Lord offers His payment for sin in Jesus Christ to all who will believe.  

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians says it this way- (Eph. 2:1, 4-5).

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

God loves us, not because of something in ourselves, but because of something in Him.  What a mystery! God, who has every reason to judge us for our iniquities, graciously grants us His mercy. Mercy 

full of forgiveness. Mercy wrapped in love. The magnificent mercy of God, which we do not deserve . . is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ.  And in Jesus, through faith we receive the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life.

Because of His mercy, the expanse of God’s love is so wide that it includes everyone.  No matter what you’ve done in the past, no matter the screw-ups, no matter the sin, no matter the time away from Him to indulge yourself, no matter your rebelliousness to God, the mercy of our heavenly Father is available to all who look to Christ in repentance and faith.

It’s too easy, you say.  You’re telling me that I can do anything I want and return to God in repentance and faith?

Well, it is true that you can’t play games with God.  Scripture tells us- Galatians 6-

Be not deceived; God is not mocked.  For what a man sows that shall he also harvest.

The Lord knows our hearts, and He can with omniscience determine true faith versus human hypocrisy.

So if a person responds to the Holy Spirit’s call to faith and genuinely repents of sin and trusts in Christ, then alltransgressions are washed clean based upon God’s mercy extended to us through our Savior’s payment for sin on the cross of Calvary.

Many wrongly see God’s mercy as a way for the Lord to let us off for the iniquities we have committed against Him and others.  But really, God’s Word reveals that love and mercy flow from God’s heart because He genuinely desires all to be saved and enter into close fellowship with Him.  While all through Scripture we often see the Lord’s power directed in judgement against wickedness, we can also easily see that God extends His mercy in the most surprising ways.

  • In the Book of Jonah- God’s mercy was given to Jonah, for he received a second chance… and also mercy was given to the great city of Ninevah as they repented of sin.
  • God also extends mercy to David following his sin with Bathsheba.  David confessed his sin, which included the murder of Uriah, and the Lord forgave him
  • In the New Testament- after Peter denied Jesus, He received mercy
  • And Saul, in persecuting the Church, and being an accessory to Stephen’s murder, Saul was given mercy and he became the apostle Paul in the Lord’s service.

God’s mercy is not peripheral or incidental.  Since God is love (1 John 4:8), in His perfect love toward sinners, He is also merciful.  And the cross of Christ was the zenith of God’s merciful plan to save our lost world.

God is the Initiator.  The mercy He gives is never earned by us or deserved.  And salvation depends completely on the mercy God gives to us in Jesus.

What this means for us is that- Romans 8:1-

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Sin cannot accuse us anymore.

And in the mercy and forgiveness God gives us, we can live joyful lives in Him.  For we are His people, redeemed by Christ, and destined for heaven.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  +Sola Deo Gloria+

KELC Prayers- Pentecost 11- 8/16/20

Blessed Heavenly Father, We thank you for the mercy you have extended to all humanity through the salvation provided through Christ our Lord.  Help all to look to you in repentance in faith.  Give all sinners the understanding that you receive all people based upon the merit of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection.

Lord in Your mercy………………………………………… Hear our prayer.

Gracious Holy Spirit– Defend Your Church throughout the world, O Lord. Give strength to our brothers and sisters in Christ who experience persecution,  Turn all hearts to Christ, the Prince of Peace, so that life in our fallen world would be accord with Your will.

Lord, in Your mercy………………………………..Hear our prayer.

Eternal Triune God, Give us hearts to recognize that all that we have comes from Your gracious provisions, and keep us faithful so that we always put You first in every area of our lives.  Help us to  be generous in our tithes and offerings and in our assistance of those who need help. 

Lord, in Your mercy……………………………………………………………hear our prayer

Merciful Savior, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care.  For those who are sick, hospitalized, unemployed, lonely, traveling, away of duty assignments, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…


Lord in Your mercy…………………………………. hear our prayer…

O Lord, our God, we pray You to be our light in darkness, our strength in weakness, our courage in fear, and our peace in distress. Speak to us by the voice of Your Word, that we may call upon You in the day of trouble and confess Your saving name before all people. Hear us on behalf of ourselves and those for whom we have prayed…

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.   Amen.

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