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Psalm 68:18

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men …

Acts 1:1-11

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Meditation

Thursday, May 13, is Ascension Day, a Christian festival often forgotten by churches today. It is the day to remember Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the fact that He now rules over and fills all things (Eph. 1:17-23) and will soon return to judge the living and the dead and establish His everlasting kingdom. Today, we consider the words of the angels to Jesus’ disciples when Jesus was taken up into heaven.

This Word of God, which was spoken by angels to the disciples who had just witnessed Jesus’ ascension into heaven, teaches us that Jesus Christ will return visibly in the clouds of glory on the Last Day. The Bible also says this in Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

As Jesus ascended into heaven, so He shall also return on the Last Day, the Day of Judgment. He will come again in clouds of glory. Every eye will see Him! His return will be no secret rapture — both the believer and the unbeliever will see Him coming in glory!

In Matthew 24:29-31, we read: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

But, are you ready for His return and judgment? Are you prepared to meet Him?

Those who do not trust in Him for salvation will wail in sorrow at His return because they stand condemned for not trusting in the only begotten Son of God. In John 3:18, we read: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Mark 16:16 says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

And, in 2 Thess. 1:7-10, God’s Word says: “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

But those who do trust in Christ Jesus as their Savior — believing that they have pardon for their sins and peace with God for the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death in their stead — will rejoice at His return because He comes to take them to be with Him forever in the mansions of heaven.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Cf. Luke 21:27-28; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.)

Do you acknowledge your sins and look to Christ and His cross for mercy and forgiveness? If not, the day of His return will be for you a day of sorrow and mourning as you face His eternal judgment and condemnation!

But, if you agree with God about your sins and trust in Christ and the atonement He made for the sins of the world when He died on the cross, that day will be a day of joy and gladness as you receive His mercy, His pardon, and life eternal in His glorious kingdom!

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, as You have ascended up into heaven to the right hand of God the Father, so come again and take us to be with You forever. Graciously keep us in the true faith so that, on that Day, we may greet You with joy and not with sorrow. Grant this to us for the sake of Your holy life and bitter sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

“A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing” (The Lutheran Hymnal, No. 212)

1 A hymn of glory let us sing;
New songs thro’out the world shall ring:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ, by a road before untrod.
Ascendeth to the throne of God.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2 The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
And with His followers they see
Jesus’ resplendent majesty.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3 To whom the angels, drawing nigh,
“Why stand and gaze upon the sky?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
This is the Savior,” thus they say;
“This is His noble triumph-day.”
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

4 “Again shall ye behold Him so
As ye today have seen Him go.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
In glorious pomp ascending high
Up to the portals of the sky.”
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

5 Oh, grant us thitherward to tend
And with unwearied hearts ascend,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Unto Thy kingdom’s throne, where Thou,
As is our faith, art seated now.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

6 Be Thou our Joy and strong Defense,
Who art our future Recompense:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
So shall the light that springs from Thee
Be ours through all eternity.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

7 O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to Thee let earth accord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit One.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Amen.

Text Information
Title: A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
Latin Title: Hymnum canamus gloriae
Translator: Benjamin Webb (1854, alt.)
Author: The Venerable Bede, d. 735

Tune Information
Name: LASST UNS ERFREUEN
Source: “Geistliche Kirchengesäng,” Cologne, 1623

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KJV – Pure Cambridge
1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

1. Where is the Sea of Tiberias? Who was there at the Sea?

2. What did Peter say? Do we know why? How far out did they go? Did they catch any fish?

3. Who then appeared and stood on the shore? What did He say to those fishing in the boat?

4. What happened when they listened to Jesus and threw the net out on the right side of the boat?

5. How was what happened an indicator that it was Jesus on the shore? Cf. Luke 5:4ff.

6. What did the Apostle John (or the disciple whom Jesus loved) say to Peter when their net was filled?

7. What did Peter do when John told him that it was the Lord?

8. What did the disciples see when they came to shore? What did Jesus have cooking over the fire? What did He ask them to do? How was this also an indicator that it was Jesus? Cf. John 6:1ff.

9. How many fish did the disciples catch? What was amazing about them bringing ashore such a big catch?

10. Did the disciples need to ask Jesus who He was? Why?

11. What did Jesus do for His disciples?

12. How many times had Jesus now appeared to His disciples after His resurrection from the dead?

KJV – Pure Cambridge
15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. 20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

13. After Jesus and the disciples had eaten, what did Jesus ask Peter? How many times? Why was Peter grieved by this? (Is Peter the son of Jonah or the son of John? TR has Jonas and WH/UBS has John.)

14. How did Peter answer Jesus? What did Jesus commission Peter to do?

15. Whose are the sheep and the lambs?

16. Is there a significant difference in the Greek words behind the words “love” in these verses? How about the difference between feeding and tending?

17. Why was it important that Jesus ask Peter this three times and recommission Peter three times? Cf. Luke 24:54-62.

18. What did Jesus say would happen to Peter for being a disciple and apostle of Jesus? Did Jesus’ words help in preparing Peter for what would happen to Him as a follower of Jesus?

19. What does Peter then ask Jesus? How did Jesus answer Peter? How did people understand these words? What does John say these words meant?

20. Should we worry about what others may or may not suffer for Christ or focus on following Jesus where He leads us?

21. What does John say in v. 24? Of what do these words assure us? Cf. John 19:35.

22. How does John conclude his gospel? Why did John write the things he did? Cf. John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4.

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-5:

Message for the day –

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Dear fellow-redeemed sinners, ransomed by the shed blood of Christ Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior.

Who is this Jesus of Nazareth, that Babe born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth? We look to the Word of God, to the inspired testimony of the apostles who suffered all to faithfully follow Christ Jesus.

Today, we begin with the inspired testimony of the Apostle John, in his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

The Word, spoken of here in the inspired Scriptures is Jesus, for John later writes, in verse 14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

In his first epistle, John writes (1 John 5:7): “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

This already tells us that Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God come into this world as a true man, that He had divine glory, and that He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit (a Person of the Triune God).

The opening verses of John’s Gospel tell us that “in the beginning” – the same “in the beginning” when “God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) – the pre-incarnate Jesus, the Son of God, already was. He was with God and He, in fact, was and is God.

While some cult religions of our day (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons) would try to reduce Jesus to being only “a son of God,” the Greek text leaves no doubt: “The Word was with the God, and God was the Word” (the Greek definite article and the placement of God at the beginning of the second part of the sentence emphasizing that Jesus, the Word, was not only with God; He is God Himself – a Person in the Triune Godhead).

Some so-called “Christian churches” would make Jesus, the Son of God, less than and inferior to God the Father. This too is a rejection of the truth God has revealed to us in His inspired Word. Not only was the pre-incarnate Christ there with God in the beginning before anything was created or made, He is the Creator God who made all things and gave all living things life and breath.

This is why the Christian Church has, for centuries confessed to believe “in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made. …” (Nicene Creed)

God tells us: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Can it get any clearer than that? Jesus, before He took on human flesh and blood and became true man and was born of the Virgin Mary, created all things. Nothing made or created was made or created without Him.

Read Genesis one in that light. Creation was not just the work of God the Father; all was created by God the Son and nothing was made without Him (cf. Colossians 1:15ff.; Hebrews 1:1-3). The Holy Spirit was also actively engaged in this divine work, for the Scriptures tell us that “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be….” (Genesis 1:2ff.).

In Jesus was life. When “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7), it was Jesus, the eternal Word, who gave him life and made him a “living soul.”

And, lest we forget that life was more than physical life but included spiritual life and the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), Jesus is the One who gave to Adam and Eve knowledge of God and a life in harmony and fellowship with their Maker. This life that Jesus gave was “the light of men.” They were spiritually alive, they knew God and His holy will, and they loved and honored Him and trusted in Him.

This was the life that mankind lost in the fall of Genesis three. Instead of loving God, trusting Him and seeking His honor, Adam and Eve rebelled against His commandment and then hid from His presence. And, even yet today, when this light shines into the darkness, the darkness does not comprehend it – it does not understand it or receive it.

People today – all of us as we are by nature – walk in darkness. We do not wish to accept the truth that Jesus is God the Son in human flesh, our Maker and our final Judge. Though the evidence is all around us, we do not wish to face up to the truth that we are sinners and guilty before God. We do not wish to hear of our sins and shortcoming and of the hellfires we so deserve. We would rather continue on in darkness, thinking that we are basically good and that God will not condemn us if only we do our best to be loving and caring people.

The light shines in the darkness, and we would continue on in darkness! We don’t want to give up our own selfish and sinful ways. We don’t want to return to fellowship with God because that would cramp our lifestyle! Instead, we would attempt to change God into a god who smiles at sin and disobedience and would punish no one. Of course, to form our own opinions of God instead of accepting what God tells us of Himself in the Bible is no different than making a graven image and inventing our own ways to serve it. It is idolatry!

What does God say? “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 1:5-2:2

In God – in Jesus Christ, the eternal Word – is light and life! If we claim to have fellowship with God but continue to hide and cover up our sins, pretending that all is well, we are lying and deceiving ourselves. God’s truth tells us that we are sinners, that we have failed to love God with all our heart, soul and strength or love our neighbor as God requires. God’s light reveals His holy will but also our failures to live in accord with His holy commandments.

But God’s light also reveals the way of salvation He has provided for lost mankind: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Jesus, God the Son in human flesh, lived a righteous and holy life in our stead and He suffered and died for our sins and rose again. He satisfied God’s wrath against our sins and the sins of the whole world. That is why: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus is still the life and light of men. He redeemed sinful mankind by His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. He offers to all people forgiveness of sins and life eternal in fellowship with Him through faith in His name. His light shines into this dark and sinful world, revealing God’s holy will and man’s sinfulness but also offering forgiveness and life with Him in His eternal kingdom. When He, by the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit through His Word, convinces us of sin and conveys to us forgiveness through faith in Him – when He breathes into our nostrils the breath of life – we become living souls!

God graciously grant to each of you light and life in Christ Jesus, the eternal Word! Amen.

Psalm and Confession of Sins –
Psalm 32: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. (A Psalm of David, Maschil.)

O Thou crucified Lord Jesus Christ, who, as the truly patient Lamb of God, didst suffer for me the most shameful death on the cross and with Thy precious blood didst redeem me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, I pray Thee, give me the assurance of this redemption through Thy Word, govern my heart with Thy Holy Spirit, preserve me with Thy divine love, and hide me this day, both soul and body, in Thy holy wounds. Wash me clean from all my sins, teach me to live a life of good works, and finally lead me from this world of sorrows to Thine eternal joy and glory, Thou most faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, mine only Comfort, Hope, and Life. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, page 118)

The Apostles Creed: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary; Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; The forgiveness of sins; The resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting. Amen.

Prayers: O Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, the everlasting Son of God, shine upon my heart the light of Your truth, reveal my sinfulness and disobedience to Your holy will, but also comfort me with the knowledge of Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death for my sins that I may take courage, rejoice in Your forgiveness, and walk in the light of Your truth until You come again and take me to live with You forever in Your eternal kingdom. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Blessing: “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Amen. (Numbers 6:24-27)

[Scripture quotations from the King James Version of the Bible]

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V. O LORD, open Thou my lips. R. And my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.
V. Make haste, O God, to deliver me. R. Make haste to help me, O Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Hallelujah.

V. O come, let us worship the Lord. R. For He is our Maker.

Venite
O COME, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving: and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God: and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God: and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Hymn: “Our Father, Thou, in Heav’n Above” by Martin Luther

1 Our Father, Thou in heav’n above,
Who biddest us to dwell in love,
As brethren of one family,
And cry in ev’ry need to Thee,
Teach us no thoughtless words to say,
And from our inmost heart to pray.

2 Thy name be hallowed. Help us, Lord,
In purity to keep Thy Word,
That to the glory of Thy name
We walk before Thee free from blame.
Let no false doctrine us pervert;
All poor, deluded souls convert.

3 Thy kingdom come. Thine let it be
In time and in eternity.
Let Thy good Spirit e’er be nigh
Our hearts with graces to supply.
Break Satan’s pow’r, defeat His rage;
Preserve Thy Church from age to age.

4 Thy gracious will on earth be done
As ’tis in heaven before Thy throne;
Obedience in our weal and woe
And patience in all grief bestow.
Curb flesh and blood and every ill
That sets itself against Thy will.

5 Give us this day our daily bread
And let us all be clothed and fed.
From war and strife be our Defense,
From famine and from pestilence,
That we may live in godly peace,
Free from all care and avarice.

6 Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore,
Remove from us their burden sore,
As we their trespasses forgive
Who by offenses us do grieve.
Thus let us dwell in charity
And serve our brother willingly.

7 Into temptations lead us not,
When evil foes against us plot
And vex our souls on every hand,
Oh, give us strength that we may stand
Firm in the faith, a well-armed host,
Through comfort of the Holy Ghost!

8 From evil, Lord, deliver us;
The times and days are perilous.
Redeem us from eternal death,
And when we yield our dying breath,
Console us, grant us calm release,
And take our souls to Thee in peace.

9 Amen, that is, So shall it be.
Confirm our faith and hope in Thee
That we may doubt not, but believe
What here we ask we shall receive.
Thus in Thy name and at Thy Word
We say: Amen. Oh, hear us, Lord! Amen.

Epistle: James 1:21-27
21 Therefore lay apart all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26 If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Pure religion, undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

V. O Lord, have mercy upon us. R. Thanks be to God.

Gospel: John 16:23-30
23 And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name. Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs; but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day ye shall ask in My name, and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” 29 His disciples said unto Him, “Lo, now speakest Thou plainly and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things and needest not that any man should ask Thee. By this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.”

V. O Lord, have mercy upon us. R. Thanks be to God.

Sermon: “Doers of the Word” — James 1:21-25

“21 Therefore lay apart all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:21-25

“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.

It is through the hearing of God’s Word that we are saved, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

The Word of God convicts us of our sins and calls us to repent of our evil ways — of “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness” — and to look in faith to the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for pardon and forgiveness. The Word is engrafted into our hearts and there creates faith that takes hold of God’s promises of mercy and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.

However, as James warns us, such faith is not just an empty assent to the facts. It’s not a faith that produces no fruits; it’s not an empty, dead faith, for “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). And so, James says, “But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (v. 22).

When we hear the Word of God preached and proclaimed, or when we read it in our Bibles, it will do us no good unless we act on it. To hear the Word and not do as it says is self-deception — thinking that all is well with our souls when it is not — when we have no real and genuine faith in Christ Jesus.

It is to hear the Word of God calling us to repent of our evil ways and to look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for forgiveness but then not repenting of our sins and not looking to Christ. It is to continue on in our sinful ways rather than to lay aside “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.”

It is seeing ourselves in the mirror of God’s law — seeing our utter sinfulness and the just condemnation we deserve on account of our sins — but then coming away and forgetting our wretchedness and, consequently, not seeing our need to repent and look in faith to the cross of Jesus.

As James writes, “For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:23-24).

Do you do this? Do you see from reading and hearing God’s Word that you are a sinner and deserving of God’s wrath and punishment but then just go your way and do nothing about it? Do you assume it’s OK to continue on as you are and not repent and look in faith to Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world?

John the Baptist said to his hearers (Luke 3:7-9): “O generation of vipers! Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say unto you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees. Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.”

If one truly looks at himself and examines himself in the mirror of God’s law and sees his wickedness and sin and then hears of Christ and His holy life and His innocent suffering and death in our stead, of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2), this word, if it becomes engrafted in the sinner’s heart, will move him to repent of all sins, trust in Christ for pardon and forgiveness, and then, as a fruit of faith, to amend his evil ways and seek to live for the LORD God in accord with His Word.

Has God’s Word become engrafted in your heart? Is it putting down roots and growing, moving you to repent of your sinful ways and look in faith to Christ and His cross for pardon and forgiveness?

James writes: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

The one in whom the Word of God has taken root repents of his evil deeds and looks to Christ for mercy and forgiveness. But the Word also moves him to then amend his evil ways and seek to live for Christ who died for him and rose again. He is set free of the guilt and condemnation of his sins that he might freely live for His Savior!

As the Scriptures say in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “He [Christ] died for all, that those who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.”

Grant that I be not a forgetful hearer but a doer of Your Word, O Lord. Grant that I see my sins and repent, trusting in Christ and His cross for forgiveness and life everlasting, and then amend my ways and live for You. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]

The Canticle — Te Deum Laudamus
We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting. To Thee all Angels cry aloud, the heavens, and all the powers therein. To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy Glory. The glorious company of the Apostles praise Thee. The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise Thee. The noble army of Martyrs praise Thee. The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee; The Father of an infinite Majesty; Thine adorable, true and only Son; Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father. When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a Virgin. When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father. We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge. We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood. Make them to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine heritage. Govern them and lift them up for ever. Day by day we magnify Thee; And we worship Thy Name ever, world without end. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us. O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us as our trust is in Thee. O Lord, in Thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded.

Kyrie
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord’s Prayer
OUR Father, Who art in heaven; Hallowed by Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

V. The Lord be with you. R. And with thy spirit.

Collect
O GOD, from Whom all good things do come: Grant to us Thy humble servants, that by Thy holy inspiration we may think those things that be right, and by Thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

Collect for Grace
O LORD, our Heavenly Father, Almighty and Everlasting God, Who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with Thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by Thy governance, may be righteous in Thy sight; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

V. Bless we the Lord. R. Thanks be to God.

Benediction
THE Grace of our Lord + Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. +

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Members desiring the Lord’s Supper but not comfortable attending services during the COVID-19 pandemic may call Pastor Moll at 479-233-0081 or email him at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org and he will arrange a time to bring the Sacrament to them.

Online Services will continue each week via Facebook Live and with recorded YouTube videos posted on the church website after the service when we are back in the church building. The bulletin is posted and made available online. In addition, devotionals and sermon summaries are also available on the church website: https://goodshepherdrogers.org.

Midweek Bible Study will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday via Google Meet. We continue our study of the Gospel of John.

Ascension Day Vespers may be held at the church at 7 p.m.on Thursday, May 13, or in an online service, depending on the progress in the building.

A Voter’s Assembly meeting will be held following our morning worship service on Sunday, May 23. In addition to other items, the congregation will consider adopting an amended Constitution and Bylaws.

Church Council will next meet via Google Meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18.

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18 And all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they removed and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, “Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

1. What did the people do when they saw the thunderings and lightnings, heard the voice of the LORD, and saw the mountain smoking? What did they say to Moses? Why?

2. What is the significance of this passage? Cf. Deuteronomy 5:22ff.; 18:15ff.; John 1:15ff.; Hebrews 12:18ff. How was Jesus like Moses? How is Jesus our Mediator and Advocate? Cf. 1 John 2:1-2; John 14:6.

3. Can we stand in the presence of the LORD God in our own righteousness? What does God’s holiness demand? Cf. Exodus 33:17ff.; 34:6ff.; Isaiah 6:1ff.; Psalm 130:3-4; Romans 3:9ff.; Galatians 3:10ff.

20 And Moses said unto the people, “Fear not; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. 22 And the Lord said unto Moses, “Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel: ‘Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 Ye shall not make with Me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings and thy peace offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen. In all places where I record My name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25 And if thou wilt make Me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered thereon.’”

4. What did Moses tell the people? Why, according to Moses, did God speak His commandments to the people in this way?

5. How is the word “fear” used in verse 20? How should we fear the LORD God? Why does Dr. Martin Luther begin his explanations of the commandments with the words “We should fear and love God that …”? Is there a difference between a godly fear and the fear of the world?

6. How does this relate to the three uses of God’s law (a curb, a mirror, a guide or rule)?

7. What did God command Moses to say to the people? How was God’s appearance on Mt. Sinai and His voice giving the 10 Commandments to keep the people from making other gods of silver or gold? How does this apply to us today? Cf. Psalm 115.

8. What instructions did God give regarding the worship and sacrifices of the children of Israel? What kind of altars were the people to make? Why? What is the significance of this?

9. What kind of sacrifices were the children of Israel to offer? What are these sacrifices? Cf. Leviticus 1-9.

10. What does God promise in verse 24? How does this relate to Numbers 6:22ff.? How does this relate to our worship today?

11. Why were the people not to go up on steps to the altar for sacrifice? Think of the pagan altars, often built on high places, towers or ziggurats. Does ascending steps to offer sacrifices, or building ornate altars indicate that man is cooperating with God and doing his part in appeasing God?

12. Based on these verses, what applications can we make in regard to our worship?

A. Are we worthy to come into God’s presence?

B. How only can we come into God’s presence? Cf. John 14:6.

C. Can we add anything to the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus for the sins of the world?

D. Who blesses who in worship? Do we bless God? Does God bless us?

E. What kind of fear should we have toward God?

Other questions or comments?

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