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His Healing, Our Thanks

NKJV Luke 17:11 1 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Our text for this morning finds Jesus near the beginning of the last trip of his earthly ministry to Jerusalem. He started in Galilee and was headed south – through the land of Samaria, which wasn’t entirely friendly to Jews.

Samaria was the land directly between Galilee and Judea. Long before, it had been populated by the Jews of the Northern Kingdom, the 10 tribes that broke away in a revolt when King Solomon’s son inherited the kingdom of Israel. This began the divided kingdom, with a separate kingdom of Judah. Relations between north and south were tense, and sometimes they even fought. Meanwhile, the northern kingdom drifted further away from God’s commands and laws and was eventually overrun by the Assyrians after about 300 years, or about 700 years before Jesus was born, and about 140 years before the Jews of Judah and Benjamin were carried off to Babylon.

When the Assyrians conquered the northern tribes, they carried many of the people off, and they brought in many others – the idea was to destroy the sense of nation and identity that the people they conquered had. In this case, it was successful – the tribes lost their sense of identity and those who were left mingled with those who were brought in. These people became known in time as Samaritans.

Jesus has several interactions with Samaritans, and occasionally uses them in illustrations, and he does in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The woman at the well freely admits that Jews do not associate with (eat with or socialize with) Samaritans. This was because the Samaritans had some very peculiar religious beliefs – they had the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, but that’s all. They didn’t use the rest of the Old Testament. They did not worship in Jerusalem and weren’t particularly welcome there.

The Jews did not like the Samaritans, and it seems safe to think that the Samaritans didn’t like the Jews very much either. But shared suffering can make for some strange friendships, and it seems that it did in the case of our text.

Jesus and his disciples pass by a group of lepers. The term “leprosy”, as Scripture uses it, refers to a number of disfiguring diseases, including the disease we call leprosy today, but also including some conditions that weren’t necessarily as destructive or as contagious. But it didn’t really matter – anyone with any of the conditions that counted as “leprosy” (which are laid out in detail in Leviticus chapter 13) were considered permanently unclean and had to live apart from the rest of the people. Furthermore, sufferers of leprosy in the narrow sense (which is the disease we call Hansen’s Disease today) suffered nerve damage that could destroy their hands and feet, and make them go blind. In those days, leprosy was a death sentence.

These men must have heard something about Jesus because they address him by name (they don’t use the term “Lord” to refer to him, the use the term “master” instead, which doesn’t necessarily have the same divine overtones). They must have thought he could do something for them; and so they plead for his mercy. They show their obedience to the law by standing a ways off.

And so Jesus tells them all to go show themselves to the priests, who have the responsibility (according to Leviticus 13) of diagnosing leprosy and declaring when people are clean again – meaning that they can rejoin society and live with their families again, do work, and so on.

And so while they are on the way to the priests, they are cleansed. Just one of them realizes, turns around, and gives thanks. He knew that he was healed, so he fell at Jesus’ feet, showing that he understood the importance of what had happened to him.

And possibly the most surprising thing of all? This man was a Samaritan! We don’t know how many of the other nine might have been Samaritans, maybe none of them, but probably not all of them, since Jesus singles him out as a “foreigner.” But foreigner or not, he showed proper thanks for his healing, and he gets a special blessing from Jesus: “Your faith has saved you.”

What does this teach us today? Surely, we have much better medicine today; leprosy is still a problem, it can be readily cured. But perhaps in seeing the things that our medicine can help now that perhaps it hasn’t been able to, we see the things that it still can’t cure and think of them.

Maybe we hear about this and think, “What a bunch of jerks! What were those nine men thinking? I know I would have been thankful! I would have marched right back there and fallen at Jesus’ feet along with that Samaritan guy!” Scripture says no more about the other nine.

It’s easy for us to look down on these nine men. But when we examine ourselves, are we any better? Have we been as thankful as we could have been for all the blessings God gives us, each and every day? I know I don’t. The blessings we have in this area, in this country, are almost countless. Even in this midst of the great tragedy of this pandemic we are living through, this area has not been as badly affected as others. Many of the shortages we experienced at the beginning of the crisis have now been addressed. And are we thankful for it? Maybe we are, but even if we are, we can never be thankful enough.

We always want to make deals with God, to have God grade us on a curve, as it were, when it comes to our standing with him. We like to compare ourselves not to his perfect law, but to other people, or even to ourselves. We like to think God will be pleased with us if we act better than our neighbors, or at least if we improve on ourselves from yesterday.

But that kind of thinking is like a leprosy in our souls – it will devour our spirits and will only lead to death. Why did Jesus heal those men? Was it because they deserved healing? Were they better than their neighbors? Was it because they cried for mercy?

Jesus did not have to heal them, but he chose to. He doesn’t reveal his reasons for doing so, but he showed mercy and compassion on many such people who were suffering physically during his public ministry. And he also follows the same pattern in dealing with us spiritually today.

We like to think that we deserve God’s mercy. But we do not. We are all born with a kind of leprosy of the soul; we are born hating God and his Word. We start out blind, dead, and enemies of God. The sin we are born with corrupts our souls much as leprosy corrupts the body, and leads to spiritual death.

And yet, Jesus finds us and shows mercy on us. The lepers asked for his mercy and he showed it to them; spiritually, he shows us mercy before we can even ask for it. In most cases, he calls us to faith in Baptism, cleanses us, and creates a new and right spirit within us. It is only that spirit, which cries out in faith, that can properly thank him because it is only with that spirit that we can see how blind and dead we are without him.

But even with this new spirit, we must still carry around our old man, the old sinful nature, until Jesus takes us home to him or comes back in glory. This old man can make it really hard, when we receive something we recognize as a great blessing from God, to fall down and thank him. At least we are in good company – Saint Paul himself was in agony over the conflict he suffered because of his own sinful nature:

NKJV Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

And yet it was the same Paul who said:

NKJV Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.

And if we are tempted to think that our faith is the reason God has chosen to be gracious to us, Paul reminds us:

NKJV Eph 2:8 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The thankfulness that Jesus praised the Samaritan leper for, was one of the good works that God had prepared beforehand for him to walk in. Just as he did, we too have thanks that we can show – and many other works besides – to thank our God in Christ Jesus for the great love he has shown us in cleansing us from our spiritual leprosy.

In Jesus name, we pray, Amen.

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1 Cor 10:6-13 – Enduring Temptation

1 Cor 10:6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Dear Christian friends,

Wouldn’t it be nice if temptation were no big deal? Wouldn’t it be great if we could fall into sin with impunity? Apparently, some of the believers Paul knew even thought this way: “Should we sin more, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1). That is, why don’t we sin even more, so that God can show himself to be even more gracious! Yet we must not think of things this way. In fact, Paul teaches us, through the Holy Spirit, that the nation of Israel was given to us as an example to prevent us from exactly this kind of thinking.

Indeed, think of the advantages the people of Israel had. During the Exodus, they had God’s own glory cloud, the physical manifestation of God’s presence with them, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Not only that, but they had physically walked over dry land when God parted the Red Sea via Moses, and saved them from the Egyptian army.
And when they were hungry and thirsty in the wilderness, God provided miraculous food and drink for them; he gave them manna six days out of seven, and quail as meat.

Paul reminds us of these physical proofs of God’s presence with Israel in the verses immediately preceding our text:

1 Cor 10:1-5: Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

The people of Israel had daily, physical reminders of God’s presence with them. They could literally not turn around without seeing physical evidence of God’s presence with them.

You would think that would be enough to keep them from coarse outbreaks of sin. You would think they could behave themselves for a little while. But it was not so.

As we go into the verses of our text, we see several examples where the nation of Israel was faced with temptation, and failed those tests, horrendously. There were many other examples, of course, from the time of the judges and later during the time of kings, and of the exile. Paul limits these examples to the Exodus. They are sufficiently serious; and they are good examples of the coarsest kind of sinfulness. There’s no gray area here, no “from a certain point of view” kind of justification of this behavior. It was clearly contrary to what God wanted then and still wants now. It seems that idolatry and adultery go together in these examples, as well.

The first example Paul uses is that of the golden calf. The Golden Calf incident is recorded for us in Exodus 32. Here’s some of what Moses recorded for us:

2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.

Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

It took place at the foot of Mt. Sinai, just after Moses had brought God’s Law down to his people. Moses had gone back up the mountain. The people looked to Aaron for advice, and so Aaron gathers their gold and makes a calf, and calls it their God. And they rose up to “play” – to engage in adultery. Surely the temptation was great since so many people were participating. Aaron, of all people, was leading them. But was that an excuse? It was not.
There were other examples of specific sexual immorality. One such example is recorded in Numbers 25 – in Acacia Grove, the men of Israel were tempted to harlotry by the women of Moab; this resulted in a plague that killed twenty-four thousand; there is some discussion over Paul’s figure of twenty-three thousand in our text; and some people see this as a problem. In the Moabite incident, we read that twenty-four thousand died in total, but it does not tell us when they died. I am of the opinion that Paul is referring to this incident with his twenty-three thousand number, and that the others died on different days than the one Paul references.

Again, we see a mass revolt against God and his Word – literally thousands of people committing open sin and rebellion. Yet “everyone else was doing it” is not an excuse in this case, either.

Numbers 25:1-3,9 1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.

9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

The incident where the Israelites were destroyed by serpents was the Bronze Serpent incident, recorded for us in Numbers 21, and also referenced in the third chapter of the Gospel of John.

Numbers 21:4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” 6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

In this case, the Israelites grumbled against God and Moses, and the miraculous way that their food and drink was being provided. They said that it would have been better for them to die in Egypt! And so God sent venomous serpents among them, to bite them, and many died But God provided the Bronze Serpent, which Moses lifted up in their midst, and those who looked to the serpent in faith were healed and lived. Jesus shows us how this incident points to him in his night-time conversation with Nicodemus in John chapter 3 – and in this case, we have the clearest specific example of God providing a way for us to bear temptation.

So, we have three great examples of what not to do, and how not to act. What are we supposed to learn from them? It’s easy to look at these examples and ask if the people who personally experienced some of God’s greatest miracles could not stand up under their temptation, what possible hope can we have? They got up to commit gross sins in the literal shadow of God’s glory cloud. How can we do any better?

First of all, our focus should not be so much on what we do. Because we will not be saved by what we do or do not do. One of the key points in recording this for us, as Paul says, is to remind us, that temptation is not that special. Others have been tempted before, as well, and some have fallen. Luther had a great saying – “You can’t keep the birds from flying overhead [and pooping on you], but you don’t have to let them build a nest in your hair.” Yes, God offers us ways out of temptations – but we are not always strong enough to take them. These are recorded for us to prevent us from becoming too complacent, from being self-righteous, or wanting to take credit for our own goodness. But our comfort in temptation is not that we ourselves overcome it. When we fall into temptation, we must not despair that we have fallen, but we must properly see that what we have done is sinful. We should repent of that sin, which means that we don’t minimize it or justify it, but acknowledge it as wrong and try not to do it again. Meanwhile, our comfort is not that God is going to be nice because we’re sorry for our sins, but because we claim not our own merit, but the precious blood of Jesus, which alone can cover the guilt of our sins. We look to him and his sacrifice for us in faith, because he has told us that he is a merciful God, who is just, yes, but more importantly who is merciful. And that mercy calls to us every day when we fall. And what if we have days where we do not fall? This is the most perilous thing of all to think. As John says, 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God does not forgive because we merit forgiveness by confessing our sins – he forgives because he is merciful, and because he gives us the strength to confess and to trust in his forgiveness.

Bearing our crosses in this world will not be easy. There are temptations on every side, and doubtless, we all have friends or acquaintances who would happily help us go astray. Our own flesh constantly struggles against God’s will. Even Paul said that the good that he wanted to do, he didn’t, and the evil that he didn’t want to do, that he kept on doing. He even asked who would save him from this body of death?

But we know the answer to that question, don’t we? Jesus Christ himself will save us from this body of death. For someday, he will come again, and take us to be with him. Either when we die, or at his glorious re-appearing, he will take us to live with him forever. And then there will be no more temptation, no more misery, no more pain.

But until that day, let us give thanks to him that he has given us his help and strength to help bear our temptations, and his grace and mercy when we fall. Let us ever trust in him to be gracious and merciful according to his promise.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church

An Independent Lutheran Congregation
“Holding Forth the Word of Life”

2305 S. Dixieland Road/P.O. Box 2335
Rogers, AR 72757
479-310-5501

www.goodshepherdrogers.org

Eighth Sunday After Trinity
August 2, 2020

Pastor Randy Moll 479-233-0081 / Deacon Marty Jackson 479-899-2807
Ron Wellander – Music Director / Lois Wellander – Choir Director
Lee Allen and Wolfgang McKenzie – Acolytes

Prelude and Lighting of the Altar Candles
The congregation is seated and quietly prepares for worship.

Liturgy: LSB 184 “Divine Service, Setting Three”

Hymns:
LSB #644 “The Church’s One Foundation”
LSB #585 “Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide”
LSB #632 “O Jesus, Blessed Lord, to Thee”
LSB #582 “God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage”

Introit: Psalm 26 A Psalm of David
1 Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. 2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. 3 For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. 4 I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. 5 I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. 6 I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: 7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. 8 LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. 9 Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: 10 In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. 12 My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD.

Collect
Grant to us, Lord, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may be enabled by You to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Catechism Lesson: The Apostles’ Creed (Article 1)
117. Wherein did the divine image consist? In blissful knowledge of God and in perfect righteousness and holiness.
215) Col. 3:10. Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.
216) Eph. 4:24. Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
118. Do we still bear the Image of God? No; it was lost by the fall, and while a beginning is made of its renewal in believers, it will be fully restored only in eternal life.
217) Gen. 5:3. Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.
Col. 3:10. Eph. 4:24. See Qu. 117.
218) Ps. 17:15. I will behold Thy face In righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.

Old Testament Lesson: Jeremiah 23:16-29
16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. 18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? 19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. 21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. 25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. 28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

Epistle Lesson: Acts 20:25-38
25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. 34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, 38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

Gospel Lesson: Matthew 7:15-23
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Sermon: “Beware of False Prophets” Matthew 7:15-23

ANNOUNCEMENTS

We welcome you and pray that you are built up and strengthened in your faith through the hearing of God’s Word among us and invite you to join us again. If you would like one of our pastors to call or visit, please speak to him after the service, or call, or contact him by email at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org. We ask our visitors to fill out a guest information card at the table near the door.

Holy Communion will be administered during our worship today. Since Christ Jesus offers and gives us to partake of His body and blood, given and shed for us upon the cross for the remission of sins, since the Bible calls upon us to examine ourselves before partaking of Christ’s Supper and since partaking of the altar is a profession of agreement with the doctrine proclaimed among us, we practice “closed communion” and ask that only communicant members of this congregation who have examined themselves come forward to partake of the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23ff.; 10:16ff.). Any others desiring to commune with us are asked to speak to the pastor about receiving instruction and becoming a member of the congregation by a public profession of faith. 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 @goodshepherd- rogers.org and he will arrange a time to bring the Sacrament to them (to the front porch or to a suitable location at members’ homes, or at the church when no one else is there).

Upcoming Events: Wednesday Evening Bible Study meets at the church, or online via Google Meet, at 7 p.m. each Wednesday. The link is posted in the church calendar on the church website. For other scheduled events and cancelations, check the church website at https://goodshepherdrogers.org and click on the Calendar tab.

Online Services will continue via Facebook Live and recorded YouTube videos each week. Our Sunday bulletin will be emailed to members and made available online. Since our Sunday services at the church use the Lutheran Service Book and many of the hymns and the liturgy are subject to copyright protection, we suggest that members and guests order a copy of the hymnal on Amazon or at CPH.org to follow along with hymn verses and the liturgy. If members or guests need assistance in obtaining a copy, please call Pastor Moll at 479-233-0081 or email him at pastor@goodshep- herdrogers.org. Copies may also be borrowed from the church.

COVID-19 Precautions — In compliance to a state mandate and a Rogers’ city ordinance requiring individuals to wear face coverings when not able to maintain a minimum of 6 feet between family groups at indoor venues, including houses of worship, we ask that those attending services in-person spread out and maintain the required social distancing and wear a face mask when that is not possible. Anyone who is ill and running a fever or presenting symptoms of COVID-19 is asked to refrain from in-person attendance until fever and symptom free for at least 3 days.

Beware of false prophets

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:15-20

It is the responsibility and duty of every Christian to be watchful and on guard against false prophets; for outwardly false prophets may appear to be fine Christian pastors and teachers, but inwardly they are ravening wolves which destroy and scatter God’s flock.

The Apostle Paul, too, warned against such when he said to the elders of the church in Ephesus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32).

It will happen. There will be false prophets and false teachers who do not faithfully preach and teach God’s Word. And, they will cause divisions in the church and gain followings for themselves. Instead of building upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets — the Word of God — with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (cf. Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10), they will build on the sands of false doctrine, human understanding and opinion. The end result, of course, is that those who do not love the truth and hold fast to Christ and His Word are deceived by the lies of the devil and robbed of the salvation Christ won for them when He suffered and died on the cross for the sins of all.

The Bible tells us: “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19; cf. 2 Thess. 2:3-12).

That is also why Paul wrote to Timothy: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:10-17).

Thus, for the sake of each of our soul’s salvation, Jesus would have us judge those who preach and teach God’s Word to us. Like the believers in Berea, we should search the Scriptures daily to be sure that what we are being taught is in truth God’s unadulterated Word (cf. Acts 17:10-11). If we don’t, we might easily be misled into unbelief or sin.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:16-20: “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

And what is the fruit of a prophet? What does he produce that we might judge? First and foremost, it is his teaching. Thus, we must always compare the teaching of pastors and teachers to the Scriptures, for the Scriptures are the inspired and unerring Word of God.

Isaiah also wrote: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20; cf. Jer. 23:16ff.; Deut. 13:1ff.). If a pastor or teacher is not speaking and teaching in full accord with God’s unerring Word, he is a false prophet and we ought to flee from him and hear him no more.

What if the error is only a small point here and there? Is it alright to continue to hear such a preacher? Consider how Satan worked in the Garden, causing doubt regarding the fruit of a single tree. Consider that any error and false teaching comes from the devil, the father of lies, and is meant to deceive us and lead us away from Christ and His truth, even if only little by little (cf. John 8:44).

Consider that Jesus, earlier in His Sermon on the Mount, warned against changing the smallest letter or portion of a letter of God’s Word (cf. Matt. 5:17-20). If a preacher will not humbly yield to the clear and plain truth of God’s Word, he is a false prophet — beware of him, Jesus said, for in the end his errors will tear, divide and scatter the flock like a ravenous wolf. Cf. Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 John 8-11; Titus 3:9-11; Eph. 5:11; Jer. 15:19.

If one added a single drop of a deadly poison to a clear and clean glass of water, would you drink it? I dare say that none of us would; for even if that drop of poison were not enough to kill us, it could still do damage and might over time, if we continued to ingest it, cause our death. So why then would anyone wish to continually expose himself to the deadly poison of error and false teaching? Even if it did not immediately destroy faith, it very well might over time. And, even more importantly, why would any believer and disciple of Christ wish to be unfaithful to His Word in any point? Cf. 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9.

A preacher and teacher of God’s Word must also be judged on the basis of his conduct and manner of life — not that any will be perfect and without sin, but there should be the sincere and earnest purpose to live in accord with God’s Word, repent of all sin and error and be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus.

Where one lives in continual disregard of God’s commandments and in open sin, one would not expect to find the good fruits of faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word and an exemplary life to lead and guide God’s flock in the way everlasting.

Thus, our Lord Jesus, who shed His holy and precious blood for the sheep, desires that none of us be misled and deceived by false prophets and be separated from Him. He desires that we all continue in the true and saving faith — revealed to us in God’s unadulterated Word. He warns us against false prophets that we might always hear Him and His Word and continue to trust in Him unto life everlasting.

Dear Lord Jesus, Shepherd and Redeemer of our souls, grant that we be not deceived and misled by the many false prophets who have gone out into the world, but hold fast to You and to Your Word unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Hymn texts and tunes used by permission under LSBHymnLicense.net #100010399. Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.]

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“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (read verses 1-23)

That we are all guilty before God and stand guilty and condemned under the law of God is made clear in Romans 3:9-20.

That God provided a way for sinners to be justified and counted righteous by God through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world is revealed and explained in Romans 3:21-28 and the following two chapters of Paul’s letter.

In the sixth chapter, the Apostle Paul addresses the errors of those who think they can continue in sin and still possess the benefits of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (v.1-2). We were saved for a life with purpose (cf. 2 Cor. 5:15). We were joined, in our baptisms, to Christ in His death and resurrection in order that Christ’s death on the cross would be our death and punishment for sin and that Christ’s resurrection, after He paid the price for our sins, would be our resurrection to new life in fellowship with and service to our God and Savior (v.3ff.).

“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (v. 15-16).

If we willingly give ourselves back into sin — yielding ourselves to the temptations of the devil, the allurements of the world and the sinful desires of our flesh, we again become slaves of sin and reap the results, the wages of sin, which are spiritual death and eternal death and damnation! Cf. Gen. 2:16-17; Heb. 10:26-31; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; Rom. 6:20-23.

If we turn away from Christ and back into sin, seeking to turn God’s grace into a license to live in rebellion and enmity against God, we justly earn the penalty for our sins, which is death and the eternal wrath of God.

But if, by the grace of God, we continue trusting in Christ Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, we are set free from the condemnation of the law and from our former servitude to sin, and God’s gracious gift to us is forgiveness for all our sins and eternal life for Jesus’ sake.

If, by the grace of God, we trust in Christ our Savior and walk in fellowship with God through faith in Christ (cf. 1 John 1:5 — 2:2), we possess and receive the gracious gifts of God which Jesus won for us — forgiveness of sins and everlasting life in fellowship with our God and Maker.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23; cf. Deut. 30:15-20).

Dearest LORD Jesus, grant we not turn away from You and back into sin but hold fast to You and the new life You have given us by means of Your death upon the cross for our sins and Your triumphant resurrection on the third day. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.]

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Righteous Before God

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church

An Independent Lutheran Congregation “Holding Forth the Word of Life”

2305 S. Dixieland Road/P.O. Box 2335
Rogers, AR 72757
479-310-5501

www.goodshepherdrogers.org

Sixth Sunday After Trinity
July 19, 2020

Pastor Randy Moll 479-233-0081 / Deacon Marty Jackson 479-899-2807
Ron Wellander – Music Director / Lois Wellander – Choir Director

Lee Allen and Wolfgang McKenzie – Acolytes

Prelude and Lighting of the Altar Candles
The congregation is seated and quietly prepares for worship.

Liturgy: LSB 184 “Divine Service, Setting Three”

Hymns:
LSB #578 “Thy Strong Word”
LSB #579 “The Law of God is Good and Wise”
LSB #635 “O Gracious Lord, I Firmly Am Believing”
LSB #537 “Beautiful Savior, King of Creation”

Psalm: Psalm 19 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. 13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Collect
Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of Your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Catechism Lesson: The Apostles’ Creed (Article 1)
115. What are the evil angels? The fallen spirits, forever rejected, who are the declared enemies of God and man, and endeavor to destroy the works of God.
209) Jude 6. The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
210) Eph. 6:12. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
211) John 8:44. The devil was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it.
212) 1 Pet. 5:8-9. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith.
B.H. Gen. 3:1-5. The serpent. — Job 2. Satan. — Matt. 4:1-11. The Tempter.

Old Testament Lesson: Exodus 20:1-17
1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 13 Thou shalt not kill. 14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15 Thou shalt not steal. 16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Epistle Lesson: Romans 6:1-11
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel Lesson: Matthew 5:17-26
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Sermon: “How can you and I be righteous before God?” Matthew 5:17-20

ANNOUNCEMENTS

We welcome you and pray that you are built up and strengthened in your faith through the hearing of God’s Word among us and invite you to join us again. If you would like one of our pastors to call or visit, please speak to him after the service, or call, or contact him by email at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org. We ask our visitors to fill out a guest information card at the table near the door.

Holy Communion will be administered during our worship today. Since Christ Jesus offers and gives us to partake of His body and blood, given and shed for us upon the cross for the remission of sins, since the Bible calls upon us to examine ourselves before partaking of Christ’s Supper and since partaking of the altar is a profession of agreement with the doctrine proclaimed among us, we practice “closed communion” and ask that only communicant members of this congregation who have examined themselves come forward to partake of the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23ff.; 10:16ff.). Any others desiring to commune with us are asked to speak to the pastor about receiving instruction and becoming a member of the congregation by a public profession of faith. 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 @goodshepherd- rogers.org and he will arrange a time to bring the Sacrament to them (to the front porch or to a suitable location at members’ homes, or at the church when no one else is there).

Upcoming Events: Wednesday Evening Bible Study meets at the church, or online via Google Meet, at 7 p.m. each Wednesday. The link is posted in the church calendar on the church website. For other scheduled events and cancelations, check the church website at https://goodshepherdrogers.org and click on the Calendar tab.

Online Services will continue via Facebook Live and recorded YouTube videos each week. Our Sunday bulletin will be emailed to members and made available online. Since our Sunday services at the church use the Lutheran Service Book and many of the hymns and the liturgy are subject to copyright protection, we suggest that members and guests order a copy of the hymnal on Amazon or at CPH.org to follow along with hymn verses and the liturgy. If members or guests need assistance in obtaining a copy, please call Pastor Moll at 479-233-0081 or email him at pastor@good- shepherdrogers.org. Copies may also be borrowed from the church.

COVID-19 Precautions — In compliance to a new Rogers’ city ordinance requiring individuals to wear face coverings when not able to maintain a minimum of 6 feet between family groups at indoor venues, including houses of worship, we ask that those attending services in-person spread out and maintain the required social distancing and wear a face mask when that is not possible. Anyone who is ill and running a fever or presenting symptoms of COVID-19 is asked to refrain from in-person attendance until fever and symptom free for at least 3 days.

How can you and I be righteous before God?

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20

Some in Jesus’ day misunderstood and thought that Jesus was trying to throw out all that is taught in the Old Testament Scriptures because He offered forgiveness and life through faith in His name.

Unfortunately, some today assume that Jesus’ teaching does away with the Old Testament and makes these Scriptures obsolete and unnecessary for Christians. Many even believe and teach that one can be a Christian and disregard some or all of what the Bible teaches. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

It is as Jesus said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Jesus, the long-promised Messiah and Savior, came to fulfill all that is taught in the Old Testament, not to destroy it. Not the smallest letter (jot) of the Law or the smallest part of a letter (tittle) in the Scriptures will pass away until all is fulfilled.

Thus, Jesus went on to say: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Thus, it is a grave offense to break even the smallest commandment in the Scriptures and teach others so. Those who do so will be least or excluded entirely from God’s kingdom (cf. Ex. 20:1-17; Rom. 6:1ff.).

And, as a study of the Scriptures will reveal, the righteousness which God demands is far greater than the outward righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. It far exceeds the righteousness of the churchgoers of our day who depend on their own righteous works and deeds.

The Scriptures demand perfect righteousness of heart, soul and mind (cf. Matt. 5:21ff.; 5:27ff.; 5:33ff.; 5:38ff; 5:43ff; 5:48; Lev. 19:2). The Scriptures demand a holy life in thought, word and deed — righteousness which we do not have and cannot attain by our own attempts to keep God’s Law (cf. Rom. 3:9-20).

But Jesus came to keep every commandment of the Scriptures perfectly for us. He regarded the Scriptures as the very Word of God and was obedient in thoughts, desires, words and actions to every teaching of the Law and the Prophets! He fulfilled all and regarded all as absolute truth. He fulfilled the righteous demands of the Scriptures for us.

Jesus also, as prophesied by the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament Scriptures), took our place under God’s Law and took the guilt and punishment of our sins upon Himself, that we might have forgiveness and life through faith in Him and His blood shed for us upon the cross (cf. Isa. 53:6).

And these same Scriptures declare to us Christ’s full atonement for our sins and the acceptance and pardon of a merciful God for Jesus’ sake (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 3:21-28; 4:3-8; 4:23ff.)! They offer to us the imputed, perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus that we might stand in God’s judgment through faith in Jesus’ name.

And, the Bible assures us that all who trust in Christ will be saved. Those who trust in Him will not be condemned but have eternal life (cf. John 5:24; 3:18; Mark 16:16; Rom. 8:1; 10:9-13)!

Dear LORD Jesus, holy Son of God and true man, our Savior, thank You for fulfilling for us the perfect righteousness taught and demanded in the Holy Scriptures, and thank You for bearing upon the cross the full and just punishment for all our sins and then rising again to grant us forgiveness and life — perfect righteousness — through faith in Your name. Amen.

Hymn texts and tunes used by permission under LSBHymnLicense.net #100010399. Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

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