The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity    October 22, 2023

The Twenty-Second Sunday of the Pentecost Season


Christ’s Call to Discipleship


            An essential characteristic of great leaders is that they make challenging demands of their followers.   When Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of England during the worst days of the Second World War, he told the British people that he had nothing to offer them except “blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”   The British people joined Churchill in meeting and exceeding those challenging expectations.    The 19th century Italian freedom fighter Garabaldi told his followers that he offered them only hunger and death.   They followed him anyway, and made great sacrifices along with him.    As a result, the small states of the Italian peninsula eventually were united by Garabaldi and his followers  into the country of Italy that we know today.

            Churchill and Garabaldi were demanding leaders, but Jesus requires far more from His followers than those two men ever did from their followers.  Our Savior once said, “So, therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”    No amount of possessions, and none of your earthly wants and desires can be allowed stand between you and the Lord.  In fact, Jesus went so far as to say, “I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”   Even something as noble as love for your family, as good and important and right as that is, cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the Christian’s commitment to our  Savior and to the Kingdom of God.   Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Consequently, our laziness, our fears, any selfishness, our personal priorities, and even family……none of that can be allowed to stand between us and the call to discipleship that Jesus has given to each of us.  Our Savior demands total commitment from His followers ….including the dedication to offer our very lives for Him – if necessary.

            During the days of the former Soviet Union, a congregation of Christians was forced to meet secretly, because it was illegal to hold public worship services, or even private house services in those days in the Soviet Union.  So the members of this congregation tried to be as
inconspicuous as possible when they gathered on Sunday to worship the Lord.   Thy arrived at different times, casually walking into the house that was their meeting place until they had all arrived. Then they would close the doors, pull the curtains, and quietly worship the Lord.

            But one Sunday, right in the middle of their worship service, two soldiers broke down the front door and rushed into the room where they were gathered.   All the members were lined up, at gunpoint, against a wall.   One soldier shouted, “if you wish to renounce your faith in Jesus Christ right now, you may leave!”

            One, then two, then a few more renounced Jesus and quickly left.   The soldier spoke to those who remained, “This is your last chance.   Either renounce your faith in Christ now and leave, or stay here and deal with the consequences.”   Another left, and then some more, almost hiding their faces in shame as they went exited.

            But the rest stood resolutely against the wall….children standing beside their parents….some members crying softly, while others prayed…..all of them fully expecting to be gunned down or imprisoned.

            After everyone who chose to renounce Christ had fled, the second soldier closed the doors, looked back at those who stood against the wall and said, “Keep standing, but this time so you can join us in praising our Lord Jesus Christ.   For we, too, are Christians.”

                                                                                                The two soldiers explained that some time earlier they had been sent to another house church to arrest the Christians there. But in the process, as they waited outside the house, they had heard the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit miraculously had worked faith in their hearts in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.   And then they added this:  “We have

learned that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted.”

            This morning in our worship service, we’re going to consider not only the extent of our personal commitment to Christ and His Kingdom, we’re also going to talk about the sufferings and persecution that Jesus faced for us in order to save us, as well as the obedience that He calls on us to render and the sacrifices that He expects us to make for His sake and for the sake of His Gospel. 


Today’s Scripture Lessons

            In our Epistle Lesson Peter is writing to his fellow Christians, encouraging them not to be surprised at the persecutions they are encountering for their faith.   Instead, he suggests, they should be rejoicing because they are being given the opportunity to experience some of the sufferings that Christ endured for their salvation.   Then he adds that our sufferings as Christians will pale in comparison to the sufferings that unbelievers eventually will experience at God’s hand.   …….That last thought give you and me plenty of motivation to present that Law and Gospel to unbelievers and those who are floundering in their faith  – whoever they might be – while we have the time to preach Christ to them, and while they have the opportunity to repent and believe in Him….before it’s too late.

            Our Gospel Lesson for today is the account of Jesus choosing his Twelve Apostles and then initially sending them out as His ambassadors to the “lost sheep of Israel.”   (Later He would also send them to the Gentiles.)   He gave them authority to preach repentance and salvation in Him, as well as to preform miracles.   He also warned them that not everyone would accept them and the message He had given them.   In fact, Jesus promised that now and in the future His disciples would be persecuted for His sake…..just as His enemies would persecute – and eventually kill – Him.   But He tells them not to be afraid.   All the enemies of the Gospel can do is kill their bodies – not their faith.   Finally Jesus says that He did not come to earth to make everyone happy and accommodate sinners.    He came to save the souls of sinful humanity.   Consequently, those who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior will experience rejection – even from some within their own families.   But as we continue to follow and to serve Jesus, we have His assurance of eternal life in heaven, through faith in Him.

            Paul speaks, in our Children’s Lesson, about our being “good  soldiers for Jesus” who are focused on serving and obeying Him – even in the face of suffering for the Gospel, such as Paul was experiencing.   Paul also urges Timothy (and us) to keep on remembering – as our motivation and security – that Jesus lived, died and rose to save our souls for eternal life in heaven.

            Finally through today’s  Sermon Text we will be considering Jesus’ “Mission of Division.”   In other words, Jesus did not come into our world to get along with everyone by approving of any and all sinful behavior.   He came to suffer, die and rise for our sins (not accommodate them) and to secure our salvation through His sinlessness and by sacrificing Himself for our sins.  Consequently, many people in His day and ours would hate – not love – Him and would reject the truths of sin and grace that He (and His Church) proclaimed.   Sadly, those who reject Jesus and die in that unbelief are lost eternally.    At the same time, those who believe in Christ as their one and only Savior will enjoy not only His forgiveness and love, but one day will experience eternal life in heaven.    As a result of this reality, we today also share in Jesus’ “Mission of Division.”   We cannot and will not accommodate wickedness and unbelief.   We cannot and will not tolerate, let alone embrace, false teachings and those who teach them.  And if that means that we lose the favor and approval of people – even those closest to us – we will accept such hardship and rejection for the sake of Jesus, and in order to continue to testify to the truth of the Gospel….all for the sake of helping lost souls to be saved.




A Word Of Welcome To Our Guests . . . Good morning and welcome to Grace Lutheran Church.  We’re pleased that you’ve chosen to be a part of our worshiping assembly  this morning.  Whether you are a guest today or a member of this Christian family, your presence at this service is sincerely appreciated.  It is our wish that the time you spend here will be enjoyable and spiritually edifying, and so it is our desire to serve you in the best way we can.  If there is anything that we might do to assist you in your worship today, please speak with one of our ushers or our Pastor.  They will be pleased to serve you in any way they can.

     Following the worship service this morning, we invite you to join those around you for some coffee, refreshments, and good conversation during our fellowship period.  If you are able, we would also be honored to have you remain after today’s fellowship time in order that you might further hear and study the Scriptures with us in one of our Bible Classes or Sunday School classes.  And, we hope that you will come back soon to again praise the Lord with us.  May God bless you and your worship of Him today.




About Our Worship Service . . . . . The order for our worship service is printed in this service bulletin.   You will find that our worship is made up of three essential ingredients:  praise, instruction from God’s Word, and prayer.   We sing our praises to God for all of His gracious blessings.   We receive instruction from His Word in our various Scripture Lessons and through the Sermon.  Our prayers consist of expressions of our repentance for our sins, plus requests for God’s forgiveness, guidance, and continued blessings.  

            A few additional brief explanations of how we worship might be helpful.   The congregation in worship (we are not part of an audience, but participants in the action of worshiping) generally are seated to listen to God’s Word and sing the regular hymns.   The pastor faces the congregation when he is serving as God’s spokesman.  He faces the altar both when he is serving in the capacity of the congregation’s spokesman, and when he joins the congregation as a fellow worshiper.   One final note:  Because Jesus is our Lord and King as well as our Savior and Redeemer, we customarily stand out of respect for the words of Jesus during the reading of the Gospel Lesson.




About Our Congregation . . . . Grace Lutheran Church is a fellowship of individuals and families who have found the Jesus Christ to be the only safe and reliable answer to all of life’s critical problems and questions.   We are members of the WELS, or the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  Wisconsin indicates the geographical origin of a group of Christians (organized in Milwaukee, WI in 1850) who believe, teach, and confess that the Bible is the inspired and error-free Word of God, and who are united in their efforts to proclaim Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins.   Evangelical declares that we believe and proclaim the great Gospel principles of the Bible that sinners are saved by Grace alone,  through Faith alone,  in Christ Jesus alone,  on the basis of Scripture alone.     Lutheran indicates that we hold to the historic Christian faith of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, almost lost to the Church at one time before God restored it through the Lutheran Reformation.  Synod states that we are part of a gathering of 1200 Christian congregations through-out the United States plus congregations in 26 other nations, all of which “walk together” for the express purpose of serving and sharing the Good News about our gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.




The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version 

Copyright 2019,   The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.

Used with permission.     Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831




Prayer Upon Entering Church   

The day has dawned and duty calls, so many tasks await.

Lord, strengthen me when my spirit fails, or when I hesitate —

To do the good I ought to do, to shun each sinful way.

Jesus, forgive the wrongs I’ll do, and keep me safe today.   Amen.




Silent Prayer                                                                                                                           Pre-service music


We Praise Our God


The Welcoming and Introduction to Worship


at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise


The Invocation


Pastor              We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.



Today’s Psalm Reading                                                                                                                Psalm 67


Pastor:            May God be gracious to us and bless us.


Congregation          May His face shine on us –


P:         so that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.

C:        May the peoples praise You, O God.   +   May the peoples praise You    all of them.


P:         May the countries be glad and sing for joy,

C:        because You rule the peoples with fairness,   + and You guide the countries of the earth.


P:         May the peoples praise You, O God.   May the peoples praise You – all of them.

C:        The earth will yield its harvest.


P:         God, our God will bless us.


C:        God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him. 


After which the Congregation will be seated for

Opening Hymn                                                                Hymn 238   “Oh, Bless the Lord, My Soul”


1 Oh, bless the Lord, my soul!  Let all within me join

And aid my tongue to bless his name   Whose favors are divine.


2 Oh, bless the Lord, my soul,   Nor let his mercies lie

Forgotten in unthankfulness   And without praises die.


3 ‘Tis he forgives my sins;   ‘Tis he relieves my pain;

‘Tis he that heals my sicknesses   And makes me young again.


4 He fills the poor with good;   He gives the suff’rers rest;

The Lord has judgments for the proud   And justice for th’ oppressed.


5 His wondrous works and ways   He made by Moses known,

But sent the world his truth and grace   By his beloved Son.


After which the Congregation will rise as

We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God

Pastor  God, our Heavenly Father, invites us to come into His presence and to worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness for all our sins.


Congregation          Holy and merciful Father,   I confess that I am by nature sinful   and that I have

 disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and actions;    I have done what is evil in Your sight   and have failed to do what is good.    For this I know that I deserve Your punishment, both now and for eternity.     But I am truly sorry for all my sins,   and trusting in the perfect life   and innocent death of my Savior,   Jesus Christ, I plead:   God have mercy on me, a sinner.


Pastor                          Our gracious Lord and Master has shown us His mercy:   He has given His one and only Son to save us from all our sins.     And now, carrying out my office as a called servant of Christ,  and according to His command and authority,   I forgive you all your sins   in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  May the peace of God rest upon all of you.    Amen.

The Order of Matins                                                                                         

Pastor            O Lord, open my lips.

Congregation – (sung)     And my mouth shall show forth Your praise


Pastor            Hasten, O God, to deliver me.

Congregation          (sung)   Hasten to help me, O Lord


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.   Hallelujah


Pastor            O come, let us worship the Lord.

Congregation             (Sung)    For He is our Maker


Oh come, let us sing to the Lord

Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving.

Let us make joyful noise to Him

 with songs of praise.

For the Lord is a great God,

 and a great King above all gods.

The deep places of the earth are in His hands;

The heights of the hills are also His.

The sea is His, for He made it.

And His hands formed the dry land.

Oh, come, Let us worship and bow down.

Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker

For His is our God.

And we are the people of His pasture

and the sheep of His hand.

after which the Congregation  may be seated

We Hear God’s Word

The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                              I Peter 4:12-19

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised by the fiery trial that is happening among you to test you, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead rejoice whenever you are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

14 If you are insulted in connection with the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or as a meddler. 16 But if you suffer for being a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God in connection with this name.  17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God. Now if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who disobey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, where will the ungodly sinner end up? 19 So let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to their faithful Creator while doing what is good.


after which, the Congregation will rise in respect for our Savior’s words

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                   Matthew 10


10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to himself and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits and to heal every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5 Jesus sent these twelve out and commanded them, “Do not go among the Gentiles, and do not enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’ 8 Heal the sick. Raise the dead. Cleanse lepers. Drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. 9 Do not take gold, silver, or bronze in your money belts. 10 Do not take a bag for the journey, or two coats, sandals, or a staff, because the worker deserves his support. 11 Whenever you enter a town or village, find out who is worthy and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the household, give it your greeting. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace rest on it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that house or that town. 15 Amen I tell you: It will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on guard against people. They will hand you over to councils, and they will whip you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought into the presence of governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 Whenever they hand you over, do not be worried about how you will respond or what you will say, because what you say will be given to you in that hour. 20 In fact you will not be the ones speaking, but the Spirit of your Father will be speaking through you.

21 “Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father will do the same with his child. Children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by all people because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. 23 And when they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. Amen I tell you: You will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor is a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master. If the master of the house was called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

26 “So do not be afraid of them, because there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?   Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without the knowledge and consent of your Father. 30 And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Everyone who confesses me before others, I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 Whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink because he is my disciple—Amen I tell you—he will never lose his reward.”


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.


after which the Congregation will be seated for



The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                  II Timothy 2:3-10

3 Share hardships as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the affairs of everyday life. If he does, he will not please the one who enlisted him. 5 Also, if someone competes as an athlete, he does not receive a crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should receive a share of the crops first. 7 Think about what I am saying, because the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, a descendant of David, in accordance with my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of the elect, so that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, along with eternal glory.


Be All That You Can Be:

Be A Good Christian Soldier



Sermon Hymn                                                                     Hymn 537 “Onward Christian Soldiers”


1 Onward, Christian soldiers,  Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus Going on before.

Christ, the royal master,  Leads against the foe;

Forward into battle  See his banners go!

Onward, Christian soldiers,  Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus   Going on before.


2 Like a mighty army   Moves the Church of God;

Brothers, we are treading   Where the saints have trod.

We are not divided,   All one body we,

One in hope and doctrine,   One in charity.

Onward, Christian soldiers,  Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus   Going on before



3 Crowns and thrones may perish,   Kingdoms rise and wane,

But the Church of Jesus   Constant will remain.

Gates of hell can never   ‘Gainst that Church prevail;

We have Christ’s own promise,   And that cannot fail.

Onward, Christian soldiers,  Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus   Going on before


4 Onward, then, ye faithful;   Join the happy throng,

Blend with ours your voices   In the triumph song:

Glory, laud, and honor   Unto Christ the King;

This through countless ages   Saints and angels sing.

Onward, Christian soldiers,  Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus   Going on before

after which the Congregation will rise for

The Pre-Sermon Salutation


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!  Amen.


The Sermon Text                                                                                                                  Luke 12:49-53

49 “I came to throw fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already ignited. 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is finished! 51 Do you think that I came to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 Yes, from now on there will be five divided in one household: three against two, and two against three. 53 They will be divided: father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”


His Mission of Division…Is Our Mission Too


after the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED  for the post-sermon blessing

The Post-Sermon Blessing


May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, now encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord

Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.     However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings

through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash, please) to our church address

 (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745); or

2) You can donate through our website:



After which the Congregation rises for prayer

The Prayers for this Day     


In our Prayers this morning we include:

Prayers of Thanksgiving for Robert and Brenda Bontke

whose wedding anniversary is this Friday

  • The Lord’s Prayer


    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.



    We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing

    The Benediction

    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.


    Closing Hymn                                                                                    “God the Father, Son and Spirit”

    Melody 8787   (Regent Square)    cwh 2009

    God the Father, Son and Spirit:    As our service ends today 

    Thank You, LORD, for granting us this 

     time to study, sing and pray —

    May our faith, which You have strengthened,

    be for Your praise, now, alway.


    From eternity You chose us, All by grace and grace alone.

    Through Your saving Word You called us,  

     In our hearts, You made Your throne —

    Gave us faith in Christ, our Savior,

    Who for our sins did atone.


    Help us all, Lord to be faithful  Throughout life, unto the end.

    May each one of us be useful — 

     that your Kingdom might extend

    Through this town, across this nation,

    and to earth’s remotest end.


    Grace for all, from every station, 

    blood-bought souls from near and far —

    Christ has earned for us salvation:

     “Reconciled to God, we are —

    Life through His death.   It is all done.”  

      Glorify our Morning Star!


    LORD, for Your great love, we praise You,   

    Guiding us our whole lives through

    Day by day our faith, You renew     

     May we e’er to You be true

    Serving You in all that we do   

    ‘Til in heav’n, we live with You.   Amen.   

    Silent prayer


    Post-service music