The 23rd Sunday after the Festival of the Holy Trinity

also known as   The 25th Sunday of the Pentecost Season

November 15, 2020

Every Christian’s Glorious Goal: To Live Forever in Heaven


         Beginning last Sunday and continuing through next Sunday our worship services are focusing their attention on what Scripture has to say about the “end of times,” in particular about the suddenness of the day of Judgment and our need to be ready at all times.  Continuing with   that end-of-the-church-year tradition, this morning we will devote our time spent in worship to addressing a few of those portions of God’s Word which speak about the goal of our Christian faith, which also will be the result of Judgement Day for us: Eternal Life in Heaven in all its fullness.            

         The “problem” for us is that on this side of heaven we can’t begin to understand — let alone appreciate — the blessings, the majesty and the timelessness all that we will experience in heaven.  And while we still won’t understand that much about heaven at the conclusion of today’s service, may our study of what the Word of God tells us about heaven not only increase our knowledge, but encourage our faith.

         In today’s Old Testament Lesson, using language that is clearly figurative, the inspired prophet Isaiah gives us a description of heaven as a place of peace, contentment, and joy — a concept which is entirely foreign, yet very encouraging, to us living in this sin-corrupted.  Looking through the inspired eyes of the Apostle John in our Epistle Lesson, we will be given a picture of the Church in eternal glory, celebrating its salvation in the presence of the enthroned Lord and enjoying the perfect peace that heaven provides.   In this morning’s Gospel Lesson Jesus talks also talks about what heaven will be like as far as perpetuating our earthly relationships goes.   In point of fact, He says heaven will be different from this life also in the sense that the earthly institution of marriage will not exist in heaven.  Rather, the saints (believers) will live as the angels do in that we will neither be taken nor given into marriage.  In the text of our Sermon for today, John gives us another inspired vision of what heaven will be like, this time describing it as the “New Jerusalem” — a place so wonderful and glorious that we cannot, on this side of heaven, even begin to imagine how marvelous it will be.   Finally, our Children’s Lesson will talk about the comfort we have that our names have been written by God in His Book of Life in heaven. 



Grace Lutheran Church of Northwest Arkansas

is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a church body which spans the United States and Canada, and which also operates a number of foreign missions.

Our Vision:      Extend God’s Kingdom through His Word, serving each Soul.

Our Mission:  Share the Gospel, Encourage Faith, and Prepare Souls

through Worship, Education and Fellowship.



Scripture quotations in this worship flyer, unless otherwise noted,  are taken from the EVANGELICAL HERITAGE VERSION of the Bible.  Copyright 2019

 by the Warburg Project.   All rights reserved.



Pre-service prayer

Pre-worship music


Let Us Praise The Lord


Welcome and Introduction to Worship


at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


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



Our Psalm for Today                                                                               Psalm 126



P:      When the LORD restored the captives to Zion,          

    C:     we were like dreamers.

  • Then our mouths were filled with laughter,
  • and our tongues with songs of joy.
  • Then they said among the nations,
  • The LORD has done great things for them.”
  • The LORD has done great things for us,
  • We are glad. Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
  • like the dry gulches of the Negev.
  • Those who sow with weeping
  • will reap with joyful shouts. 
  • The one who walks along weeping,
  • carrying a bag of seed to sow,
  • will come back again with joyful shouts 
  • carrying his sheaves.



After which the Congregation will be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                 “Blessed Jesus, At Your Word”


1 Blessed Jesus, at Your Word   We are gathered all to hear You.

Let our hearts and souls be stirred   Now to seek and love and fear You,

By Your teachings, sweet and holy,   Drawn from earth to love You solely.


2 All our knowledge, sense, and sight   Lie in deepest darkness shrouded

Till Your Spirit breaks our night   With the beams of truth unclouded.

You alone to God can win us;    You must work all good within us.


3 Gracious Savior, good and kind,   Light of Light, from God proceeding,

Open now our heart and mind;   Help us by Your Spirit’s pleading.

Hear the cry Your Church now raises;   Hear and bless our prayers and praises.


4 Father, Son, and Spirit, Lord,    Praise to You and adoration!

Grant that we may trust Your Word,   Confident of our salvation,

While we here below must wander,   Till we sing Your praises yonder.   Amen.



After which the Congregation will rise


Hear Us and Forgive Us, Lord


Pastor – “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.                


Congregation           “And also with you.”


Pastor – “God invites us to come into His presence and worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness.


Congregation –       “Holy and most merciful Father,    +   I confess that I am by nature sinful, +   and that I have disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and

 actions;   +  Each day I turn away from Your Will.    +  I have left undone those things which  You have asked me to do,   +    and I have done those things which You tell me not to do.   +    I do not love You or my neighbor the way I should.   +    Because of these,    and all of my other sins,   +    too numerous for me to recall,   +    I acknowledge that I deserve nothing less than Your punishment   +    both now and for eternity.   +   But I am truly sorry for the evil that I have thought, spoken, and done,   +     and trusting in the perfect life,   +   and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray:   +     Lord, forgive me all my sins,   +     restore to me the joy of Your salvation,   +   and strengthen my weak faith through the promises of Your divine Word    +    that I may obtain Your promised grace.


Pastor – “Find comfort for your souls, then, in these words of our Lord:   “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just,  and will purify us from all unrighteousness,  because

 we have One Who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous  One.   We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”   And now, upon this, your voluntary confession,  I, because of my office as a called servant of God’s Word,  announce the grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place of, and according to the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  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 be with you.  Amen.”



Our Response To God’s Forgiveness


 ALL sing:               to the tune of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”


All praise, eternal Son, to Thee

For Thy forgiveness, full and free,

He, who by grace, this truth believes

The blessings of Christ’s love receives


Praise God the Father, God the Son

And God the Spirit,   Three in One,

As ’twas, is now, and so shall be

World without end,  eternally!     Amen.


Lord, Have Mercy Upon Us


Pastor            For all that we need in life, Lord God, hear our prayer.   We pray for the wisdom to use everything You have made with God-pleasing responsibility, gratitude and joy:


Congregation Lord, have mercy upon us!

Pastor            We pray for the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from

                      Your love:


Congregation Christ, have mercy upon us!


Pastor            We pray for the courage to stand firm against the assaults of Satan and every evil:


Congregation Lord, have mercy upon us, as we place our trust in You.


Pastor            Merciful God, Maker and Preserver of life, uphold us by Your power and keep us always in Your gracious care.


Congregation Amen.


after which the Congregation will be seated for


Feed Us, Lord


The Old Testament Lesson                                                              Isaiah 65:17-25


17 Watch this! I am about to create new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered.    They will not come to mind.

18 Instead, rejoice and celebrate forever, because of what I am creating.

Watch this! I am about to create Jerusalem to be a source of gladness,

and her people will be a source of joy.

19 I also will be glad because of Jerusalem,   and I will rejoice over My people.

The sound of weeping will not be heard in her again,   nor will the sound of crying.

20 There will never again be an infant there who lives for only a few days,

or an elderly man who does not fill out all his days,

for one who dies at a hundred will be considered a young man,

and one who fails to attain the age of one hundred will be regarded as cursed.

21 Then they will build houses and live in them.

They will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 They will not build a house and have another person live in it.

They will not plant and have another person eat the crop,

for the days of My people will be like the days of a tree,

and My chosen ones will enjoy all the work of their hands.

23 They will not labor only to receive nothing,

and they will not give birth to children doomed to disaster,

for they will be offspring who are blessed by the Lord,

and their descendants will be with them.

24 Then even before they call, I will answer.   While they are still speaking, I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will graze together,   and lions will eat straw like cattle,

but the serpent will eat dust as its food.  

They will not harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain, says the Lord.



The Epistle Lesson                                                                       Revelation 7:9-17

9 After these things I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing in front of the throne and of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. 10 They called out with a loud voice and said:


Salvation comes from our God, Who sits on the throne, and from the Lamb.


11 All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures. They fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:


            Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and

    power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen.


13 One of the elders spoke to me and said, “These people dressed in white robes, who are they and where did they come from?”


And I answered him, “Sir, you know.”


14 And he said to me:

These are the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation.

They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15     Because of this they are in front of the throne of God,

    and they serve Him day and night in His temple.

He Who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them.

16 They will never be hungry or thirsty ever again.

The sun will never beat upon them, nor will any scorching heat,

17     for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd.

He will lead them to springs of living water.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.


At the Pastor’s invitation, the congregation will stand for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                     Matthew 22:23-33


23 That same day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him. They asked Him a question: 24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without having children, his brother should marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one died after he married her, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 It was the same with the second brother, the third, and all the way to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman died. 28 So then, in the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since they all married her?”   29 “You are mistaken,” Jesus replied, “since you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 In fact, in the resurrection people neither marry nor are given in marriage. Instead they are like the angels of God in heaven. 31 And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you never read what was spoken to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’?   He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  33 When the crowds heard His answer, they were amazed at His teaching.



The Nicene Creed


I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,  and of all things visible and invisible.  And 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;  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven   And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary   And was made man;  And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.  He suffered and was buried;  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures;  And ascended into heaven,  And sitteth on the right hand of the Father;   And he shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;  Whose Kingdom shall have no end.   And I believe in the Holy Ghost,  The Lord and Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,  Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,  And I look for the resurrection of the dead,  And the life of the world to come.  Amen.



After which the congregation will stand for



The Children’s Lesson                                       Luke 10:20  and  Revelation 21:27

Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names have been  written in heaven.”


Nothing that is unclean and no one that is detestable or tells lies will ever enter it, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. 


God Has Your Name On His List!


The Hymn of the Day                                                         “Jerusalem the Golden”


1 Jerusalem the golden,  With milk and honey blest —

The sight of it refreshes The weary and oppressed.

I know not, oh, I know not  What joys await us there,

What radiancy of glory,   What bliss beyond compare.

2 They stand, those halls of Zion,   All jubilant with song

And bright with many an angel   And all the martyr throng.

The Prince is ever in them;   The daylight is serene;

The pastures of the blessed   Are ever rich and green.


3 There is the throne of David,   And there, from care released,

The shout of them that triumph,   The song of them that feast;

And they who with their leader   Have conquered in the fight

Forever and forever   Are clad in robes of white.


4 Oh, sweet and blessed country,   The home of God’s elect!

Oh, sweet and blessed country   That eager hearts expect!

Jesus, in mercy bring us   To that dear land of rest;

You are with God the Father   And Spirit ever blest.      Amen

The Greeting


This is the day the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God

and of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   Amen.


The Sermon Text                                                        based on Revelation 21:1-14


1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, because the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And the sea no longer existed. 2 And I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.


3 And from the throne I heard a loud voice that said, “Look! God’s dwelling is with people. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain, because the former things have passed away.”


5 The one who was seated on the throne said to me, “Look, I am making everything new!” He also said, “Write, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me:   It is done.   I  am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To anyone who is thirsty,     I will give freely from the spring of the water of life.  7 The one who overcomes will inherit these things.  I will be his God, and he will be my son. 8 But those who are cowardly, unbelieving, detestable,  murderers, adulterers, sorcerers, idolaters, and all the liars

will have their share in the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.


9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls that were filled with the seven last plagues came and spoke with me. He said, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”


10 He carried me away in spirit to a great and high mountain, and he showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It has the glory of God. Its radiance is similar to a very precious stone, like crystal-clear jasper.   12 It has a large, high wall. It has twelve gates. Twelve angels are at the gates, and twelve names are engraved on the gates, the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 Three gates are on the east, three on the north, three on the south, and three on the west. 14 The city’s wall also has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the Lamb’s twelve apostles.

God’s Picture of You in Heaven



The Blessing


May the God of peace, Who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will!   Amen.



Lord, Receive our Offerings and Prayers


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate today during today’s worship service, those in attendance may leave their offerings in the offering plates by the exits at the close of our service.

For those watching today’s service, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:  

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can go to our website ( and use the giving option.

Today’s Special Prayers

In our Prayers this morning we include:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of Vicki and Vic Walker

and Tina and John Wambold – both couples will celebrate their wedding anniversary this Tuesday;

and also for Rachel and Roger Kattestad (whose anniversary is this coming Friday)

and for Tammy and Todd Schwartz (who will celebrate their anniversary next Saturday);

also we offer

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Mary Pudas, who – at last – has returned home

(yesterday) after an extended hospitalization for Covid-19.


The Prayers of the Church              


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 Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


    Pastor –               The Lord be with you.


 Congregation      (Sung)   And also with you.

 Pastor –              Lift up your hearts.

Congregation      (Sung) we lift them up to the Lord.

 Pastor –              Let us give thanks unto the Lord, our God.

Congregation      (sung)   It is right to give Him thanks and praise.


Consecration of the Elements                                                                                                                                 


    Pastor –              The peace of the Lord be with you always.


             Congregation(sung)   Amen.



The Exhortation Regarding the Lord’s Supper


The First Distribution Hymn            “Draw Near And Take The Body of the Lord”


1 Draw near and take the body of the Lord,  

And drink the holy blood for you outpoured;

Offered was He for greatest and for least, 

Himself the victim and Himself the priest.


2 He who His saints in this world rules and shields,  

To all believers life eternal yields;

With heav’nly bread He makes the hungry whole,  

Gives living waters to the thirsting soul.


3 Come forward then with faithful hearts sincere,  

And take the pledges of salvation here.

O Lord, our hearts with grateful thanks endow  

As in this feast of love You bless us now.       Amen


The Second Distribution Hymn        “Draw Near And Take The Body of the Lord”


1 Lord Jesus Christ, You have prepared   This feast for our salvation;

It is Your body and Your blood,   And at Your invitation

As weary souls, with sin oppressed,   We come to You for needed rest,

For comfort, and for pardon.


2 Although You did to Heav’n ascend,    Where angel hosts are dwelling,

And in Your presence they behold   Your glory, all excelling,

And though Your people shall not see    Your glory and Your majesty

Till dawns the judgment morning.

3 Yet, Savior, You are not confined    To any habitation;

But You are present even now    Here with Your congregation.

Firm as a rock this truth shall stand,   Unmoved by any daring hand

Or subtle craft and cunning.


4 We eat this bread and drink this cup,    Your precious Word believing

That Your true body and Your blood   Our lips are here receiving.

This word remains forever true,   All things are possible with You,

For You are Lord Almighty. 


5 Though reason cannot understand,    Yet faith this truth embraces;

Your body, Lord, is even now    At once in many places.

I leave to You how this can be;    Your Word alone suffices me;

I trust its truth unfailing.


6 Lord, I believe what You have said;    Help me when doubts assail me.

Remember that I am but dust,    And let my faith not fail me.

Your Supper in this vale of tears    Refreshes me and stills my fears

And is my priceless treasure.


7 Grant that we worthily receive    Your Supper, Lord, our Savior,

And, truly grieving o’er our sins,    May prove by our behavior

That we are thankful for Your grace   And day by day may run our race,

In holiness increasing.


8 For Your consoling supper, Lord,   Be praised throughout all ages!

Preserve it, for in ev’ry place    The world against it rages.

Grant that this sacrament may be    A blessèd comfort unto me

When living and when dying.     Amen


Following the distribution, at the Pastor’s invitation the Congregation will rise as


We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Prayer                                                                                                 


The Benediction    


    The LORD bless you and keep you.

    The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

    The LORD look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.   Amen.

The Closing Hymn                       “I’m But A Stranger Here”


1 I’m but a stranger here,   Heav’n is my home;

Earth is a desert drear,   Heav’n is my home.

Danger and sorrow stand   Round me on ev’ry hand;

Heav’n is my fatherland,  Heav’n is my home.


2 What though the tempest rage,   Heav’n is my home;

Short is my pilgrimage,   Heav’n is my home;

And time’s wild wintry blast   Soon shall be overpast;

I shall reach home at last, Heav’n is my home.


3 Therefore I murmur not,   Heav’n is my home;

Whate’er my earthly lot,   Heav’n is my home;

And I shall surely stand   There at my Lord’s right hand;

Heav’n is my fatherland,   Heav’n is my home.        Amen


Closing prayer, Announcements, post-service music





Last Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Sunday Worship Attendance: 71                  Bible Class: 25            Sunday School:  6

Budgetary Offerings:  $4170.00                          Capital Improvement Fund:   $1

Tuesday Morning Bible Study:   12                  Wednesday Bible Classes…..6 men;   6 women


Bible Classes This Week      Today our adult class continues its general study called “Lessons Learned From Believers of the Past.”   This morning, we’ll be concluding a study of the story of an unlikely, but courageous servant of God: Queen Esther.   Class starts approximately 15 minutes after our service concludes.     Our Tuesday morning Bible Class (10:30 to 11:30;   both in-person and over-the-phone) resumes this week.  We’re working through the book of 2 Samuel, and this week will study the story of Absalom’s rebellion against David.   We’ll start with chapter 16.  

Wednesday Evening Bible classes for Women and Men (both in-person and over-the-phone).   The women are studying the book of Philippians under the theme: “Joy.”   The men are studying the book of James, “Real Faith Works.”   For over-the-phone participation, call the Tuesday Bible class number.)  


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church


Today                     Morning Worship with the Lord’s Supper at 9:30 a.m.

                               Bible Classes/Sunday School, 15 minutes after worship concludes

                               Youth Confirmation, 12:00 to 1:15 p.m.

Nov 16 (Mon)         Secretary in the church office, 10:00 am. onward

Nov 17 (Tues)         Morning Bible Class, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.  (In person & over-the-phone)

Nov 18 (Wed)         Evening Bible Class –  Men & Women, 6 p.m  (In person/over phone)

\ Nov 21 (Sat) Outreach visits, 10 am.

Nov 22 (Sun)          Morning Worship 9:30 a.m.

                               Bible Classes/Sunday School, 15 minutes after worship concludes

Nov 23 (Mon)         Secretary in the church office, 10:00 am. onward

Nov 24 (Tues)         Morning Bible Class, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.  (In person/over-the-phone)

Nov 25 (Wed)         Evening Bible Class – Men & Women, 6 p.m.  (In person/over phone)

Nov 26 (Thurs)       THANKSGIVING DAY WORSHIP service, 9:30 a.m.

Nov 29 (Sun) Morning Worship with the Lord’s Supper at 9:30 a.m.

                               Bible Classes/Sunday School, 15 minutes after worship concludes

                               Youth Confirmation, 12:00 to 1:15 p.m.

Nov 30 (Mon)         Secretary in the church office, 10:00 am. onward

Dec 01 (Tues) Morning Bible Class, 10:30 -11:30 a.m.  (In person and over-the-phone)

Dec 02 (Wed) First Midweek Advent Worship Service, 7:00 p.m. (with

         Communion)   Note….this service will be held in the chapel;   not in our gymnasium.


Birthdays/Anniversaries             Nov 16 – Duane Pansegrau;     Nov 17 – Lisa Pudas;

Nov 17 – Pat Quinlan;       Nov 17 – Tina & John Wambold;    

 Nov 17 – Vicki & Vic Walker;         Nov 18 – Vince Larson;    

Nov 20 – Rachel & Roger Kattestand;    Nov 20 – Steve Stone

Nov 21 – Darrell Anderson;      Nov 21 – Tammy & Todd Schwartz


Midweek Advent Worship Services Ahead  – As part of our congregational preparation for the celebration of our Savior’s birth, we’ll hold 3 special, midweek worship services in December.   The Advent season anticipates the coming of Christ as the Savior from sin; its purpose is to encourage repentance preparation for celebration.   This year’s services will be on the Wednesday evenings (7:00 p.m.) of December 2, 9, and 16.  Incidentally, the first midweek service will include a celebration of the Lord’s Supper.    Please note that we will hold this first service in our chapel (church building) instead of in the gymnasium (where we have been – and will continue to meet – on Sundays).    We will have to work together to observe proper/safe distancing and mask wearing.   But this is an opportunity for us to be “back in the church” building again.  We hope that you will join us!

DEVOTIONAL BOOKS FOR YOU,   In the entry are two devotional books that are available for everyone:  Meditations (our church body’s daily devotional booklet);  and “The Jesse Tree” (a collection of Advent devotions, prepared by our Martin Luther College faculty…..where Kelvin Johannes is attending).   Please take home a copies of each today.


Thanksgiving Day Worship Service NEXT THURSDAY (November 26th)    We hope that you’ll be able to join us this Thursday morning at 9:30 for a special service of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Lord.   And we encourage you to bring along any non-churched family and friends, as well as any guests that will be sharing this Thanksgiving Day observance with you.  It would be our privilege to serve them and you.


Your Photographs are needed……….   for a new church “Picture Display” in this building’s entryway.   We’d like to have a CURRENT photo of every one in our congregation.   Some of you have already had your picture taken today.   If not, please give us the opportunity to do so before you leave today, or next week.   Fred Cusanelli was at the rear entryway before worship today.   He’ll be at the main entry after worship to also take your pictures.  


Serving Us Next Sunday         Elders:       Vic Walker and Tim Pfortmiller

Ushers:   Tom Otto, Pat Quinlan, Kent Mayer

Altar Guild: Tammy Schwartz, Linda Winnat

Grace Lutheran Church, Lowell, AR                                              

Lessons Learned from People of the Past

Sunday Morning Bible Study                                                                                         

Late Summer/Fall2020


Lesson 9: An Unlikely, but Courageous Servant of God

…..Esther said “Yes” when called to stand up for what was right,

even though it meant risking her security – indeed, her life…..


Scripture        Esther 4:1-17;   5:1-8;    7:1-10


Background:          The story of Esther has some romantic, and certainly some dramatic, elements to it.   It is the story of an orphaned Jewish girl’s rise to prominence through becoming the Queen of Persia, and of her subsequent role in preventing a massacre of the Jewish people at the hand of Haman, the King’s Prime Minister.    It is clear that the author’s (a person unknown to us) main intent in writing was not merely to add one more account to the Old Testament record of the way in which the LORD providentially cared for and preserved His people, and in particular the Messianic line……as significant as that truth is to our story and to today’s study.   Rather the writer’s specific purpose was to leave a written record of the origin and correct observation of the Feast of Purim (chapter 9:18-32).   This festival was to serve the OT believers as an enduring reminder of how an enemy of God’s people, Haman, had cast lots (3:7; 9:26;  Purim comes from the Persian word “pur,” which means “lot”), to determine the day he would massacre the Jews, and how the LORD dramatically – even miraculously – frustrated his evil designs in order to preserve His chosen people.

A few more background remarks are probably in order…….First, Esther’s husband was King Xerxes, who ruled over the Persian Empire from 485 to 465 B.C.   Esther became the queen after “Queen Vashti refused to come”(as ordered by her husband….see 1:12) before a group of men in order to display her beauty to them…..her action, by the way, was consistent with Persian custom.   Vashti’s disobedience of her husband’s directive cost her her crown and position as queen (2:1-2).   This took place at the end of a 180 day feast that Xerxes held for his advisors and military leaders (Esther 1:3-5)……the ancient Greek historian Herodotus corroborates the Biblical record by informing us that, prior to his efforts to invade and conquer Greece, Xerxes held a 180 day combination war planning session/feast.

Second, at the same time the incidents recorded in the book of Esther are taking place, some of ancient history’s more significant events also occurred.  Between chapters one and two occurred three of history’s most momentous battles:  Thermopylae, Salamis, and Marathon (all of which preserved the Greek states from Persian dominance).   Also two of history’s greatest religious thinkers died during this period:  Confucius, and Buddha.

Finally, Esther’s Hebrew name was “Hadassah.”   We know that she had been orphaned at an early age and had subsequently been taken into Mordecai’s home where he cared for her has his adopted daughter.  Eventually, at Mordecai’s urging and with his help, Esther “won” the competition to replace Vashti.   It is significant to note, however, that initially Esther kept from the king (and, doubtless, from others in the court) the fact that she was Jewish.    In time (chapter 2:19-23) Mordecai uncovered and exposed a plot to assassinate the king.   Sometime later, because the latter would not bow down to him, Haman plotted the death of Mordecai and all the other Jews throughout the Persian Empire (chapter 3).   It is at this point that today’s lesson actually begins…..

Looking at God’s Word and Applying it to our lives


4:1       Why engage in wailing, wearing sackcloth, and covering oneself with ashes?

4:3       “the edict and order of the king” – How was King Xerxes connected to this ancient plan for genocide?

4:5       Why didn’t Esther go to Mordecai herself?

4:7       How much had Haman paid Xerxes?   (3:9….11)

4:8       Haman’s intent and plan to annihilate the Jews was, obviously, not a secret.

4:11     Mordecai wanted Esther to intercede, but what was the problem?

4:11     “thirty days have passed” –

*          How does the saying “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” fit into this story?

*          How do you feel when you are the third party to whom a problem has been brought?   How do you think Esther felt?


4:13-14           How would you characterize the “tone” of Mordecai’s second communique to Esther?    Would he dare to break his silence about her secret?

4:14     “For a time such as this?” – To what “fact of faith” is Mordecai referring in this verse, and particularly through these words?

4:16     What does Esther now ask of Mordecai and her people?      Put her request into terms that we might use among ourselves today.

4:16     “And if I perish, I perish” –          When has doing the right thing put you in peril?

*          Can you imagine a crisis, or a situation, in which you would “go against the law” as Esther commits herself to doing here?


5:1       “on the third day” – why is this “little detail” relevant to the story?

5:3       “up to half my kingdom” – Was the king really offering up to half his kingdom?    (Can you name another incident from Scripture when this offer was made….with tragic results?)

*          If any one request (or desire) of yours could be granted, what would you seek?


5:4,5,7 Why didn’t Esther tell the king from the very start what her concern/problem was?


7:3       Why did Esther, the Queen of Persia, plead for her life?

*          When were some instances in your life when you “stepped forward in faith” as Esther does in this setting?


7:6       For Haman the jig was suddenly, and frighteningly, up!

*          “Make your words sweet, you may have to eat them some day.” – When have you seen the truth of that proverb in your life?


7:8       But things go from bad to worse for Haman.

7:10     To worst!


Though this chapter ends with Haman’s death, what important issues still remain unresolved?

As a closing thought, see 8:17 as an example of how God’s will is done even in the face of evil.


Chapter 4

4 When Mordecai became aware of everything that had happened, he ripped his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, went out into the middle of the city, and let out a loud, bitter cry. 2 He went right up to the king’s gate, even though no one clothed with sackcloth was allowed to enter it.    3 In every single province that was reached by the proclamation of the king and where his decree was posted, there was great mourning, fasting, weeping, and lamenting among the Jews. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.


4 When Esther’s female attendants and her eunuchs came and told her what had happened, the queen agonized over it. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai so that he could take off his sackcloth, but he did not accept them. 5 Esther summoned Hathak, who had been assigned from among the king’s eunuchs to attend to her. She ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why.


6 Hathak went out to Mordecai in the public square in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened and the exact amount of silver that Haman had said he would put into the treasuries of the king to destroy the Jews. 8 Mordecai also gave Hathak a copy of the written decree which had been issued in Susa to destroy the Jews, so that he could show it to Esther. Hathak was to place the responsibility upon her to go to the king to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.   9 So Hathak went and told Esther what Mordecai had said.


10 Esther spoke to Hathak and gave him directions to pass on to Mordecai: 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that it is the law that any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned will be put to death, unless the king holds out the golden scepter to him. Then he will live. But I have not been called to go to the king for thirty days.”


12 They told Mordecai what Esther had said.   13 Mordecai responded, “Take this message to Esther: Do not imagine that of all the Jews, you alone will escape because you are part of the king’s household. 14 If at this time you keep totally silent, relief and deliverance for the Jews will spring up from somewhere, but you and the house of your father will perish. Who knows whether you have become queen for a time like this!”


15 Esther responded to Mordecai, 16 “Go. Gather all the Jews who are found in Susa. Fast on my behalf. Do not eat and drink for three days and nights. I and my young women also will fast in the same way. After that I will go to the king, contrary to the law. And then, if I perish, I perish!”


17 Mordecai went away and did everything Esther had ordered him to do.



Chapter 5

On the third day Esther dressed in the queen’s royal clothing and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the quarters of the king. The king was sitting on the throne in the reception hall, opposite the entrance.   2 When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she pleased him. The king held out to Esther the golden scepter, which was in his hand. Esther approached and touched the head of the scepter.   3 The king said to her, “What concerns you, Queen Esther? Whatever you are seeking (up to half of the kingdom) will be given to you.”

4 Esther said, “If it is agreeable to the king, the king and Haman should come today to a banquet that I have made for him.”


5 The king said, “Hurry! Get Haman so that we can do what Esther has said.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.


6 While the king was drinking wine, he said to Esther, “What is your request? It will be given to you. What are you seeking? Up to half of the kingdom—it’s yours.”


7 Esther answered, “This is my request. This is what I seek. 8 If I have found favor in the eyes of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, let the king and Haman come to a banquet, which I will make for them tomorrow. Then I will give the answers requested by the king.”



Chapter 7

So the king and Haman went to the feast with Queen Esther.   2 On the second day, when they were again drinking wine, the king said to Esther, “What is your request, Queen Esther? It will be given to you. What are you seeking? Up to half of the kingdom—it’s yours.”


3 Queen Esther responded, “My King, if I have found favor in your eyes, and if it pleases the king, I am asking that my life be spared, and I am seeking the lives of my people, 4 because I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we were merely being sold to be male and female slaves, I would have remained silent, because that would not have been bad enough to be a reason to bother the king.”


5 King Xerxes spoke up. He said to Queen Esther, “Who is this, and where is this person who has the audacity to do this?”


6 Esther said, “This hateful enemy is this evil Haman!” Haman was terrified in the presence of the king and the queen.


7 The king rose angrily from the place where they were drinking wine and went to the palace garden. But Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, because he saw the king had evil plans for him.   8 Just as the king was returning from the palace garden to the hall where they had been drinking wine, Haman was falling onto the couch on which Esther was lying. The king said, “Will he even assault the queen when I am in the building?” As soon as the words left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.


9 In addition, Harbona, one of the eunuchs present with the king, said, “You know, there is a gallows seventy-five feet high standing by the house of Haman, which he made for Mordecai, the person who spoke up for the benefit of the king.” The king said, “Hang him on it.”


10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.



Lesson 10:    An Unwillingness to Compromise

      God’s Will &  Word

Daniel and his associates could have satisfied their superior and peers in order to gain an earthly advantage for themselves.   Instead of opting to be “politically correct,” however, they chose to satisfy their Lord.    When opportunities come to compromise God’s will and/or confess our faith…..what do we do?


Scripture   Daniel 1 and Daniel 6


Background  Daniel (Belteshazzar), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – among others – were part of the Jewish nobility and/or Jewish elite which had been among the first to be carried off into captivity in Babylon as a manifestation of the Lord’s judgement against Judah’s apostasy.     Owing to their skills and potential, Daniel and his associates were pressed into the service of the king of Babyon, with Daniel eventually rising to the very heights of Babylonian governing power.    The story of these men is one of faithful service to the Babylonian government, but especially of faithful service to their Lord……even in the face of hostility by those jealous of God’s favor toward them and in spite of commands from their earthly superiors to compromise their religious beliefs, and even in the face of threatened death.    God has surely given us their stories both as encouragement and as an example of faithful commitment and confidence to Him. 


Daniel 1




v 1       “In the 3rd year of Jehoiakim”


v.3-5   “to teach them the language and literature….to train them”


  1. 7 Why the new names?




  1. 8 “chose not to defile himself” …Why did Daniel resist?


What would be an equivalent choice for you between God’s way and the “royal food” of the world today?     


  1. 9 “God had caused….” —


v10      “I am afraid of….the king” – (see v.5)  


            What often keeps Christians from taking a stand for the Lord’s truths?


  1. 12 “test your servants for 10 days” ……        “nothing but vegetables…and water”


v.15     Is this a Biblical endorsement/encouragement of a vegetarian diet?

v.17     “To these four young men God gave…..”


            How has God favored you in the past year?


v 19, 20           “none equal” ….  “ten times better”  – 


  1. 21 “Daniel remained….until the 1st year of King Cyrus” –



Daniel 6


  1. 1 “satrap”


  1. 3 “Daniel so distinguished himself”


            “To set him over the whole kingdom”


  1. 4 “he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent”


            How do you think Daniels’ peers viewed him?


Share a time when (because of your faith) someone tried to do you in by “pulling the run out from under your feet.”


            What stirs up jealousy in people?


  1. 6-7 How do the satraps, etc, manage to get their way (to get Daniel) with the king?


            Does having strong principles/values cause a person to be more, or less vulnerable to others?


            If you were tried for being a Christian…..would there be enough evidence to convict you?


  1. 10 Doesn’t Daniel’s behavior here violate the 4th commandment (to obey those in authority over us – see also Romans 13:1 ff)?


  1. 14-16 Whose side is the king really on?


            What parallels do you see here between Daniel’s betrayal and Jesus’ betrayal?


  1. 15 Look at the role the law of the Medes and Persians plays in this story. What role should God’s laws play in our lives?


  1. 22-23 Daniel was unscathed……how?


            Relate a similar event/circumstance from your life.


  1. 24 As part of his complete vindication, Daniel’s accusers receive the very punishment they had demanded for him. Can you think of incidents in the Bible where the Lord dealt with evildoers in the same manner?


  1. 26 Do you think the king is “genuine” in his confession/declaration?

Daniel 5



In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand, along with some of the vessels of the House of God, and he brought them to the land of Shinar, into the house of his god. He brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.


3 The king told Ashpenaz, the chief of his court officials, to bring some young Israelite men from the royal family or from the nobility. 4 He was to choose young men who had no blemish, who were good looking, who had insight into all kinds of wisdom, who possessed knowledge, understanding, and learning, and who were capable of serving in the king’s palace, in order to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them daily rations from the special royal food and from the king’s own wine. He ordered that they should be trained for three years. At the end of training they were to serve the king. 6 In this group of young men were the Judeans Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 The chief of the officials gave them new names. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah the name Shadrak, Mishael the name Meshak, and Azariah the name Abednego.


8 Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the special food of the king or with the wine that he drank. So he sought permission from the chief official, so that he would not have to defile himself. 9 God made the chief of the officials favorable and sympathetic toward Daniel. 10 Then the chief of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink. Why should he see your faces looking less healthy than those of the other young men who are your age? You put my life at risk before the king.”


11 Daniel said to the superintendent whom the chief of the officials had placed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days. Tell them to give us only vegetables, and we will eat them and drink water. 13 Observe our appearance and the appearance of the young men who eat the special royal food. Then deal with your servants based on what you see.” 14 So he listened to what they said about this and tested them for ten days.


15 At the end of ten days, their appearance was noticeably better than that of the others. They were healthier than any of the young men who had been eating the special royal food. 16 So the superintendent permanently took away the special royal food and the wine they were to drink and gave them only vegetables. 17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and insight into all kinds of literature, as well as wisdom. In addition, Daniel also understood every kind of vision and dream.


18 At the end of the time which the king had set for them to be brought to him, the chief of the officials brought them before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king spoke with them, and none of the others were found to be comparable to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they served the king. 20 In every matter concerning wisdom and understanding that the king sought from them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and spell casters in his entire kingdom. 21 So Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.



Daniel 6


It seemed like a good plan to Darius to appoint one hundred twenty satraps over the kingdom. They were to rule throughout the kingdom. 2 Above them there would be three supervisors (Daniel was one of them) to whom these satraps would report, so that the king would not suffer any loss. 3 It came about that this Daniel distinguished himself above the supervisors and satraps, because there was an outstanding spirit in him. So the king intended to promote him so that he would be in charge of the entire kingdom.


4 Then the supervisors and satraps kept trying to find a basis for an accusation against Daniel in regard to his administration of the kingdom. However, they were unable to come up with an accusation or any evidence of corruption, because he was trustworthy and no neglect of duty or evidence of corruption could be found against him. 5 Then these men said, “We will not find any accusation to bring against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God.”


6 So these supervisors and satraps came as a group to the king and said this to him, “Darius, Your Majesty, may you live forever! 7 All the supervisors of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the advisors and the governors advise the king to establish and enforce a decree that prohibits anyone to pray a prayer to any god or person for thirty days except to you, Your Majesty. Anyone who does so will be thrown into the den of lions. 8 Now Your Majesty, please establish the decree and sign a document that cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians that cannot be revoked.”   9 That is why King Darius signed the written decree.


10 Now, when Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went to his house. It had windows on its upper story that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times each day he would get on his knees and pray and offer praise before his God. He continued to do that, just as he had been doing before this. 11 Then these men came as a group and found Daniel praying and seeking favor from his God.   12 They then went and asked the king about the decree. “Your Majesty, did you not sign a decree that anyone who prays to any god or person for thirty days except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the den of lions?”    The king answered, “Indeed I did. The order is established as a law of the Medes and the Persians that cannot be revoked.”    13 Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, does not pay attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree that you signed. Instead, three times each day he is praying his prayers.”


14 When the king heard this report, he was very upset about it, but he was determined to save Daniel. So until sunset he worked hard to rescue him. 15 Then these men came as a group to the king and kept saying to the king, “You know, Your Majesty, that it is the law of the Medes and the Persians that every decree or statute that the king establishes cannot be changed.”


16 Then the king gave the order, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you.” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the pit. The king sealed it with his signet ring and the signet rings of his nobles so that nothing could be changed with regard to Daniel’s situation. 18 Then the king went to his palace. He spent the night without food, and no entertainment was brought before him. But he could not sleep.


19 At dawn the king arose as soon as it was light and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 As he came near the pit, he cried out in a fearful voice. The king said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, was your God, whom you serve continually, able to rescue you from the lions?”


21 Then Daniel spoke with the king. “Your Majesty, may you live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the mouth of the lions. They have not hurt me because he found me innocent in his presence. Also before you, Your Majesty, I have committed no crime.”


23 Then the king was very glad and said that Daniel should be brought up from the pit. So Daniel was brought up from the pit, and he was unharmed because he trusted in his God.


24 The king gave the order, and those men who maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den—they, their children, and their wives. They had not reached the bottom of the pit when the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.


25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in the entire earth:   “May your peace and prosperity increase.   26 I give this command throughout my royal dominion:   People should continually tremble and be afraid before the God of Daniel, because he is the living God, who endures forever.  His kingdom will not be destroyed, and his dominion is eternal.  27 He rescues and he saves.   He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth. So he saved Daniel from the power of the lions.


28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, that is, during the reign of Cyrus the Persian.