The First Sunday in Lent

also known traditionally as “Invocavit Sunday”

February 26, 2023

Facing, and overcoming, Satan’s Temptations


A Few Thoughts on Temptation……….I loved playing baseball as a young man.   I still enjoy watching watch baseball, as well as reading about.  One of the best baseball books I’ve read on the subject was George F. Will’s book, “Men at Work.”   In this book Will takes a close look at four successful major league baseball players.   One of them was Orel Hershiser, a “border-line hall of fame” player who almost single-handedly pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers to a World Series victory way back in 1988. 

            In the section of the book that talked about him, Hershiser discussed his philosophy of pitching.  He said, “There are two theories about pitching.   One is that you try to convince the batter that a particular pitch is coming and you throw something different. The other theory, one that you don’t hear as much about, but that I use, is that if the batter expects a particular pitch, you throw it, but you throw it in a place where he can’t hit it.”   In other words, the pitcher has to know exactly what a batter wants or expects, and then throw the ball almost – but now quite — there.  If the batter is a highball hitter, then you would throw it a bit too high.   His eagerness to hit that high pitch will prevent him from laying off it, but because of how high it actually is, it’ll be hard for him to hit the ball very well.  That’s they way Hershiser tempted batters to hit – and miss – his pitches.   And it worked quite well for him, as he enjoyed a very successful major league career.

            Doesn’t that sound a lot like the way the Devil uses temptations against us?    Just think about it.   Satan knows just what kind of “temptation pitch” that you or I are suckers for.   So he throws that particular temptation our way.   But, it’s just a little higher or just a little bit more outside than where we’d like it.   Still we’re likely to swing at it, because it looks so good, and it feels so right.    Of course, the result is that we take a big swing and a miss.  We strike out with sin instead of being faithful and spiritually disciplined.   Consequently, the Lord is disappointed.   We and others (“the team”) lose to the Devil once again.    And we end up walking back to the “dugout of life” sulking, wondering what went wrong this time.


* * * * * * * * * *


            Raynald III was a 14th century king in what is now Belgium. Grossly overweight, he was called, “Crassus,” a Latin name meaning fat.   Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a revolt against him and captured him. But instead of killing him he built a room around Raynald in his castle and promised his brother that he could regain his title and property…..whenever he finally left the room.   Now, that wouldn’t be so hard for most people, since there were doors and windows of nearly normal size, and none of them were barred or locked.   They didn’t have to be locked.

            You see, Raynald was so fat that he was trapped.  He needed to lose weight to get out.   But Edward knew his older brother very well.   Each day he had a collection of goodies sent to his room from the Royal Kitchen with which to tempt him.    Instead of dieting his way out of prison,  Raynald grew fatter and fatter!   When Edward was accused of being cruel to his brother he replied,  “My brother is not a prisoner.   He can leave whenever he wants to.”   BUT Raynald was, in fact, a prisoner –– a prisoner of his own greedy appetite.   Aren’t we too at times?


* * * * * * * * * *


            Struggling to make ends meet on a modest salary, a particular pastor was livid one day when he confronted his wife with the receipt for a $250 dress she had bought. “How could you do this?   You know we can’t afford that!”

            “Dear, I was outside the store looking at this dress in the window, and then I found myself trying it on,” she explained. “It was like Satan was whispering in my ear, ‘You look fabulous in that dress. Buy it!’” “Well,” the pastor replied, “You know how I deal with that kind of temptation don’t you?   I say, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’” “I did,” answered his wife, “but Satan said, ‘It looks good from back here, too!’”


* * * * * * * * * *


Today is “Invocavit” Sunday    Over the past sixteen centuries, the Christian church – at least that portion of the church which follows the traditional “Church Calendar” –  has retained the custom of identifying the six Sundays of Lent by the first words of their Latin “introits” (Psalm readings for the day;  “introit” is the Latin word for “he enters” and refers to a particular point in the worship liturgy/order when the minister approached the altar/the symbolic “presence” of the Lord in worship).   The first Sunday in Lent, then, is known as Invocavit Sunday, taken from verse 15 of our Psalm for this morning, Psalm 91 (“invocavit” means “He will call”).  The Scripture readings for this day were originally assembled to focus the Church’s attention on Satan’s relentless efforts to tempt Jesus (and us), as well as on Christ’s ability to successfully overcome all of the Devil’s temptations.  He defeated Satan for us!


The Origin of the Season of Lent  “We are going up to Jerusalem.”  With these words Jesus invites us to follow Him as He travels the way of the cross during another season of Lent.   Having already begun this past Ash Wednesday, Lent is a 40 day period which ends on Holy Saturday, just before Easter Sunday.     While Ash Wednesday actually takes place 46 days prior to Easter, the six Sundays in Lent are traditionally not included in the 40 day count of this Lenten season with its penitential emphasis.   The reason for this omission is that, by custom, the Sundays during Lent are regarded as interludes during which the Church can celebrate, however briefly and still with a measure of solemnity, the joy that continues to be ours by virtue of God’s grace to us in Christ.  

            The term “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for “spring,” the time when the days lengthen.  The earliest Christians to observe Lent did so over 40 hours, remembering the 40 hours during which our Savior lay in the tomb.  The period of commemoration was later extended to two weeks (that period is still referred to as “Passiontide”), and eventually to forty days. 

            The 40 days, incidentally, are representative of several biblical events: Jesus’ 40-day fast at the beginning of his ministry (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-13);   Moses’ stay on Mt. Sinai in connection with the Lord’s giving the Ten Commandments and His other laws to Israel (Exodus 24:18);  and Elijah’s period of fasting on his way to the mountain of God (I Kings 19:8) .


The Focus of Worship during Lent       The Christian Church traditionally has made use of the season of Lent as a period of spiritual preparation – specifically, a time during which it has devoted itself to the contemplation of the cross of our Savior, and all for which it stands.  While the midweek Vespers (evening) worship services during Lent have a more “penitential” character, and thus focus the worshiper’s attention on Christ’s Passion (His sufferings for our sins), the Scripture readings and prayers for the Sundays of Lent are typified by a general spirit of “celebration” which anticipates Jesus (and our) victories won on Easter morning.    And so, all of the traditional Scripture lessons and prayers of the six Sundays in Lent deal in one way or another deal with the challenges and battles which our Savior waged and won against the kingdom of Satan.  Each victory “prefigures” (points ahead to) the glorious triple- victory which Jesus won through His resurrection – His (and His Church’s ) victories over sin, death, and Satan’s power.           


The Special Prayers and Scripture Lessons During Lent          Today’s (and our entire Lenten season’s) Scripture lessons and Prayers can be traced back to the first centuries of the early Christian Church.  Initially “collect-prayers” were simply the product of early church pastors gathering/collecting prayer requests from church members prior to the worship service.   The “collected” requests would then be offered in one, general prayer.    Over time, and due to the consistency of many prayer-requests, formal collect-prayers were written down and used from one year to the next, and were handed down from one generation to the following – all the way to us today.   In addition, during its early era the Church customarily required its adult candidates for Baptism to undergo a 40 day period rigorous discipline, prayer, and fasting, which — in time — came to be known as the season of Lent.  The intent was to provide spiritual support to these soon-to-be baptized members so that they might be freed from affection for worldly matters and from any attachments to the Devil’s wicked works and ways.  The terminal point of their period of Lenten denial was Easter Eve (or Holy Saturday), when they were baptized into the faith and first permitted to commune with their Savior through the Lord’s Supper.  

             In the weeks ahead, we will be hearing – with some variation – many of the same Scripture readings those

 early Christian candidates for Baptism also heard during the worship services that they attended over 19 centuries ago.  We will also join in offering essentially the same “Collect-Prayers” to the Lord which they joined in offering.  In addition to giving us a sense of the heritage we possess, which connects us with the earliest Christians and believers since then, these specially-selected readings and prayers should also help us  better prepare our hearts and lives both for the reception of the Sacrament during Holy Week, for the observance of Christ’s death on Good Friday, and for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morn.


The Focus of our Worship and Lessons Today      Today’s Sermon Text is taken from the first epistle of John.  In these words from God, John  urges his readers to stop sinning, warning them that those who claim Christ as their Lord – yet who are committed to continuing to impenitently sin – are actually being led by the Devil….and not the Lord.   Among the key “litmus tests” of a person’s Christianity is her/her willingness – expressed both in word and action – to actively love their fellow Christians.    Anyone who won’t love a brother (or sister,  father, mother, son, daughter, fellow church member, neighbor, etc), but who instead has hard and harsh feelings about a fellow believer is finally more like Cain the murder….more like a follower of the Devil….that a faithful follower of Christ.    That person even dares to risk his/her eternal salvation and heavenly home….all because he/she prefers feelings of hatred and hostility toward others, rather than preferring to live a life of Christian love and forgiveness toward all.      Still, the centerpiece of this lesson – and today’s Sermon – is Jesus’ affirmation that Christ came to destroy the Devil’s work.   Because Christ has defeated Satan, we have nothing to fear from him. 

            This morning’s Old Testament Lesson is taken from the book of Genesis.  It’s the well-known story of how Joseph – as a slave in Egypt, far from home and away from the support of his family, in a very vulnerable position – had to face and fend off the temptations of his master Potiphar’s wife as she repeatedly attempted to seduce him.    He tried to “reason” with her – that she was his master’s wife, a master he respected – but she wouldn’t listen.   He told her that he would not commit this sin against God.   He tried to avoid her.  And ultimately, he had to run away from her … relentless was the temptress, Mrs. Potiphar.  He was committed to not ever giving in to her temptations.  But Mrs. Potiphar would not be rejected without revenge.   She lied to her husband about Joseph, falsely accusing him of trying to seduce her, and she saw to it that Potiphar had Joseph thrown (innocently) into prison.   But the Lord was with Joseph and blessed him even in that awful, unfair situation….just as He has promised to work out everything for the good of His children who love Him.   In due time, Joseph was released – not as a slave but (due to his God-given ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams) into the position of being the right hand man of Pharaoh….a role in which God would use Joseph to save from famine both the nation of Egypt and his own extended family (and the family line of God’s Promised Savior).

       For today’s Children’s Lesson  we’ll turn to the “Full Armor of God” chapter – Ephesians 6.   Tying this lesson in with today’s other Scripture readings and their truths, we’ll want to recognize that every day we are under attack from Satan, but that we are already assured of ultimate and inevitable victory against him through the redemptive work and power of Christ, our Savior.   We have protection from him now, as well, when we are wrapped in the “spiritual armor” that Jesus gives us.  Then  we can safely stand against all Satan’s assaults certain that our souls remain eternally secure through faith in Christ.

            In today’s Episle Lesson, Paul reminds the Christian congregation in Corinth of Eve’s deception in the Garden of Eden at the hands (actually, the lying tongue) of the Devil.   Then, he compares Satan’s deceiving Eve to the doctrinal deceptions of certain false teachers who visited Corinth in order to confuse, corrupt, and – if possible – destroy the faith of the Corinthians.  Like Satan (who occasionally masquerades as an angel working for God), false teachers present themselves as faithful servants of the Lord…..even though they are working for the Devil.   How could the church in Corinth (and how can people like us today) recognize and avoid false teachers?    By dutifully comparing what they teach with what we know to be true from the Scriptures.   

            Finally, the account of Satan appearing before Jesus three times in succession in an effort to tempt Him into sinning (in the vain hope of stopping Jesus from carrying out His mission of saving fallen mankind) is our Gospel Lesson for today.   Each time the Devil tried to tempt Him to sin, Christ turned away the temptation by relying on a portion of God’s Word.  Nearly 2000 years later the Devil continues to work his wiles of temptation on God’s people.    Since Satan never gives up, let us always be on our guard against Satan’s repeated temptations, and may we always be prepared to use the power of God’s Word as our best defense against the Devil’s temptations.




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.




Pre-service Silent Prayer    Heavenly Father, please guide me in wisdom and truth through Your Holy Spirit, as I spend this hour meditating on Your Word and rejoicing in Your limitless love for me.  Help me to be attentive in heart and mind to Your Word, as well as to the hymns, petitions, and prayers of repentance and thanksgiving my voice directs toward You.  Use today’s service to deepen my love for You, strengthen my trust in You, and renew my commitment to You.  I ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior.  Amen.




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



Silent Prayer                                                                                                                           Pre-service music


We Praise Our God


The Introduction and Invitation to Worship


after which the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation


Pastor              We begin this service in the name of the Father,

and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.


The Psalm for Today                                                                                                                            Psalm 91


P:         One who lives in the shelter of the Most High will stay in the shadow of the Almighty.


C:         I will say to the Lord, “My Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in Whom I trust.”

P:         Surely He will rescue you from the fowler’s trap, from the destructive plague.  With His feathers He will cover you, and under His wings you will find refuge;   His truth s will be your shield and armor.


C:         You will not fear the terror of night,   +   nor the arrow that flies by day,   +  nor the plague that prowls in the darkness,   +   nor the pestilence  that destroys at noon.  +   A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,   + but it will not come near you.   +   You will only observe it with your eyes.  You will see the punishment of the wicked.   +   Yes, Lord, You are my Refuge!


P:         If you make the Most High your shelter — evil will not overtake you.   +   Disaster will not come near your tent.


C:         Yes, He will give a command to His angels concerning you  +   to guard you in all your ways;   +  so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.   +   You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;  +   you will trample the great lion and the serpent.


P:         The LORD says, +   “Because He clings to Me,  I will rescue him.   +   I will protect him   +   for he acknowledges My name.”     


C:         He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;   +   I will be with him in distress,   +  I will deliver him and I will honor him.   +   With long life I will satisfy him + and I will let him see My salvation.


After which the Congregation will be seated for


The Sermon Hymn                                                                                      “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”


1 A mighty Fortress is our God,   A trusty Shield and Weapon;

He helps us free from ev’ry need    That hath us now o’ertaken.

The old evil Foe   Now means deadly woe:

Deep guile and great might   Are his dread arms in fight;   On earth is not his equal.


2 With might of ours can naught be done,    Soon were our loss effected;

But for us fights the Valiant One,    Whom God Himself elected.

Ask ye, Who is this?–    Jesus Christ it is,

Of Sabaoth, Lord,   And there’s none other God,   He holds the field forever.


3 Tho’ devils all the world should fill,    All eager to devour us,

We tremble not, we fear no ill,    They cannot overpow’r us.

This world’s prince may still    Scowl fierce as he will,

He can harm us none,    He’s judged; the deed is done;    One little word can fell him.


4 The Word they still shall let remain,    Nor any thank have for it;,

He’s by our side upon the plain    With His good gifts and Spirit.

And take they our life,    Goods, fame, child, and wife,

Let these all be gone,    They yet have nothing won:     The Kingdom ours remaineth.    Amen.



We Join in Confession of Our Sins



  • Almighty God, Heavenly Father, we have violated Your holy will through our sinful actions, in our failure to do what You righteously expect from us, with our wicked words, and by our evil thoughts and desires.




  • We come, O Lord, to Your altar to confess our sins. +   We beg for Your mercy, + though we do not deserve it.   +   Hear our prayer.    +  Grant us the forgiveness of all our sins, for Jesus’ sake.

Just as I am without one plea   But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.




  • Our sins are many….inexcusable, yet inevitable given our weakness and dullness. We have sworn falsely and used Your name to curse, rather than to bless others and to praise You.   We have not worshiped You as faithfully as we ought.  We have not listened to Your Word as we should.  Too often we have conformed our lives – not to Your perfect will – but to the norms and dictates of this sinful world.    At times we have lived as though we were “god” instead of humbly submitting everything that we are and have to You, O Lord.


Just as I am, though tossed about   With many a conflict, many a doubt,

Fightings and fears within, without,   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.




  • We have acted spitefully toward friends and strangers. We have fought with our family.  We have been impatient with each other, and even with You, O Lord.  We have sought superiority over others at work, in the home, at school, and in the church.   We have preferred materialism more than we have pursued our spiritual growth.   We have committed the very evils that we have self-righteously – and You have properly – condemned.


                        Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;   Sight, riches, healing of the mind,

Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,   O Lamb of God, I come, I come.




  • We have passed by and ignored those who have been in genuine need. We have thought too highly of ourselves and too little of others.      Though converted by the Gospel’s power, we have been reluctant and indifferent to bring the Good News to others.    We have not readily forgiven those who have sinned against us.    We have not loved You and others as You have commanded us to do.



  • Forgive us all our sins, +  those known and unknown to us,   + according to the mercy of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.     +   Pour Your grace upon us, +    that we might know the peace which surpasses all understanding, + and that we might share eternal life with Christ, our Lord.


Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Congregation              Almighty and most merciful God,   +   We acknowledge and confess   +    that we have

sinned against You in thought, word, and deed;    +    That we have not loved You with all our heart and soul,   +   and with all our mind and strength;   +    and that we have not loved our neighbor as our-selves.   +   We ask You, O God, + to be forgiving of what we have been,   + to help us to amend what we are,   +   and – in Your mercy – to direct what we shall be,   +   so that the love of what is righteous in Your sight   +    might always be in our hearts,   +     that we may always walk blamelessly in Your commandments,   +   and faithfully follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ to the very end.   +   Amen.  


Pastor              Upon this, your voluntary confession, and in accordance with the responsibilities entrusted to me as a called and ordained servant of the Living Word, I assure you that God, our heavenly Father, has

forgiven you all your sins.   By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt and condemnation forever.   You are His own dear child –  an heir of everlasting life through faith in Christ.   May God now give you the strength of faith to live according to His will.   Go in His grace and peace.   Amen.


Our Grateful Response for God’s Forgiveness            To the tune of “Come You Thankful People, Come”


Blessed Holy Trinity,   Glorious in Your majesty,

Father, Spirit and the Son –   Savior-God, the Three-in-One –

From sin’s curse You set me free   Heaven’s mine – eternally.

All I am, to You I owe,    Source from Whom all blessings flow.    Amen.

The Prayer for This Morning                                                                                                                           


O Lord God,   +   graciously hear our prayers,   +   and help us in all our times of need.   +   Stretch out  Your powerful right hand   +  to defend and preserve us   +  from every attack of the Devil,  +   from every assault of this evil world,   +   and from every inclination of our sinful human nature,  +   through Jesus Christ,   +   Your Son, our Lord,   +   Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit,   +   One God, forever and ever.   +    Amen.



We Listen to the Word of God


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                             Genesis 39


When Joseph was brought down to Egypt, Potiphar the Egyptian, who was an officer of Pharaoh and the

captain of the guard, bought Joseph from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down to Egypt. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became successful. He served in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made everything that he touched a success. 4 Joseph found favor in his sight. Joseph served him, and he made Joseph manager of his household. He put Joseph in charge of everything.   5 From the time that Potiphar made him manager of his household, in charge of everything that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake, and the blessing of the Lord rested on everything that he had, both in the house and in the fields. 6 So he left Joseph in charge of everything that he had. He did not concern himself with anything except the food that he ate.

            Joseph was well built and handsome. 7 Sometime after all this, his master’s wife had her eye on Joseph, and she said, “Come, lie down with me.”  8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not concern himself with anything that has been entrusted to me in the house. He has put me in charge of everything that he has. 9 He has no one in this house greater than I am, and he has not withheld anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a great evil and sin against God?”

            10 She kept speaking to Joseph day after day, but he would not listen to her. He would not lie down beside her or even be with her. 11 But one day when he went into the house to do his work, none of the men of the household were there inside the house. 12 She caught him by his garment and said, “Come, lie down with me!” He left behind his garment in her hand and ran outside.

            13 When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had run outside, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “Look, my husband has brought a Hebrew man in to put us to shame. He came in to lie down with me, but I screamed loudly. 15 When he heard me scream, he left behind his garment with me and ran outside.”

            16 She kept his garment beside her until his master came home. 17 This is what she told him: “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought to us, came to me to put me to shame and said to me, ‘Let me lie down with you.’ 18 And look, when I screamed and cried out, he left behind his garment with me and ran outside.”   19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, “This is what your servant did to me,” he became very angry. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were confined, so Joseph was kept in prison there.

            21 But the Lord was with Joseph. He showed mercy to him and gave him favor in the sight of the warden of the prison. 22 The warden of the prison made Joseph responsible for all the prisoners who were in the prison. Joseph was responsible for whatever they did there. 23 The warden of the prison did not pay attention to anything that was under his authority, because the Lord was with Joseph, and the Lord made everything that he did succeed.



The Second Lesson                                                                                              II Corinthians 11:1-16; 13-15


            I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.  5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way…… 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.


after which the Congregation will rise


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                         Luke 4:1-13


            Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry. 

            3 The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”   4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”   5 The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to Him, “I will give You all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If You worship me, it will all be Yours.”   8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”

            9 The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:  “‘He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully;   11  they will lift you up in their hands,  so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”     13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.



The Apostles’ Creed                                                           to the melody of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You”


I believe in God the Father,   Maker of the heav’ns and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, our Savior, God’s own Son, of human birth.

Virgin born, the Lord incarnate,    Whom the Spirit did conceive,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate;     Our salvation to achieve.


Crucified, was dead and buried,    Down to hell in victory;

From the dead He rose the third day;  Up to heav’n triumphantly.

There at God’s right hand He’s ruling,   By His will the world is led.

He will come to judge the nations,    Both the living and the dead.


I believe in God the Spirit,    In His Church, His chosen band.

They are joined in close communion,      Holy in His sight they stand.

I believe in sins forgiven;    That the dead will rise again;

I believe in life eternal.    Amen!   Amen!   A – – men!



After which the Congregation will be seated for


Today’s Children’s Lesson                                                                                                  Ephesians 6:10-17


10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can stand against the schemes of the Devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to take a stand on the evil day and, after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness fastened in place, 15 and with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace tied to your feet like sandals. 16 At all times hold up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. 17 Also take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


Wear God’s Armor….And You Can Defeat The Devil



The Second Hymn                                                                     Hymn 431  “I Walk In Danger All The Way”

                                                                                                                                                     verses 1,  5 & 6


1 I walk in danger all the way;    The thought shall never leave me

That Satan, who has marked his prey,    Is plotting to deceive me.

This foe with hidden snares    May seize me unawares

If e’er I fail to watch and pray;   I walk in danger all the way.


5 I walk with Jesus all the way;    His guidance never fails me.

He takes my ev’ry fear away    When Satan’s pow’r assails me,

And, by his footsteps led,   My path I safely tread.

In spite of ills that threaten may,   I walk with Jesus all the way.


6 My walk is heav’nward all the way;    Await, my soul, the morrow,

When you farewell can gladly say    To all your sin and sorrow.

All worldly pomp, begone!   To heav’n I now press on.

For all the world I would not stay;   My walk is heav’nward all the way.


The Greeting


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ!   O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.  Amen.


The Sermon Text                                                                                                                           I John 3:4-10


4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.  7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.


              Jesus….the Perfect Anti-Sin-Virus


after the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing


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



Lord, Receive our Offerings and Prayers


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) to the church address    (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can donate on our website:


the Congregation will please rise as the offerings are brought to the altar

Today’s Special Prayers

included in our prayers this morning is


A Prayer of Thanksgiving   on behalf of Karen and Kent Swogger

who will be celebrating their wedding anniversary this Thursday;


The General Prayer for This Morning                                                                                      (ending with….)


P:  Hear us also, dear Lord, as we take a few moments to offer You our silent, personal petitions and praises…..


Silent Prayer


P   Finally, O Lord, into Your hands we commend ourselves and all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.   We offer this prayer in His name, and we also continue by praying:


C:       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 LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make His face shine upon You and be gracious unto you,

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


The Closing Hymn                                                                                Hymn 333   “Abide, O Dearest Jesus”

                                                                                                                                                     Verses 1, 5 & 6


1 Abide, O dearest Jesus,   Among us with your grace

That Satan may not harm us    Nor we to sin give place.


5 Abide with your protection    Among us, Lord, our Strength,

Lest world and Satan fell us    And overcome at length.


6 Abide, O faithful Savior,   Among us with your love;

Grant steadfastness and help us To reach our home above.



This Past Week At Grace          Sunday Worship: 75    Online views: 19       Sunday Bible Class: 23    Online views: 9     Sunday School: 5        Budgetary Offerings:  $3366.05     Online Offerings: $564.24     Capital Improvement: $11           Online Audio/Video:   $101.31     Tuesday morning Bible class: 10      Midweek Lenten Worship Attendance: 48

Wednesday Budgetary Offerings: $547


Looking Ahead At Grace Lutheran Church

  • Today The First Sunday in Lent worship service, 9:30 a.m.                    Fellowship 10:40 p.m.  
  • Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.                          Congregational Meeting, 15 minutes after worship
  • Youth Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Feb 28 (Tues) Morning Bible Class, 10:15 a.m. to noon
  • Mar 01 (Wed) Fellowship Meal; 6-6:45 p.m. Midweek Lenten Worship, 7:00 p.m.
  • Mar 04 (Sat) Outreach Calling, 10 a.m.             
  • Mar 05 (Sun) 2nd Sunday in Lent, 9:30 a.m. with the Lord’s Supper                   Fellowship Period, 10:45 a.m.  
  • Bible Class/Sunday School time, 11:05 a.m.                    Youth Confirmation, 12:15-1:30 p.m.
  • Serving Us This Coming Sunday
  • Elders: Tim Pfortmiller, Terry Bruns Ushers:   Fred Cusanelli, Chris Roberts, Trent Schroeder
  • Fellowship: the Quinlan family Altar Guild: Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold
  • Birthdays/Anniversary Feb 27 – Lindsey Bratton; Feb 27 – Helen Mayer;    02 – Ken Abernathy;     
  • Mar 02 – John Luedtke; Mar 02 – Kent & Karen Swogger; Mar 04 – Ann King
  • Today’s “Meditations” Is Available on the Entryway Table ….an excellent personal, daily, devotional booklet produced by our Synod’s Northwestern Publishing House, the devotions in this edition of Meditations are scheduled to begin today, February 26th. Please take home a copy for you and/or your family today.
  • Daily Devotions for Your Smart Phone, Computer or Tablet – “What About Jesus” ( is a web site operated by our Synod. It provides short, morning devotions sent straight to our smart phones each day via an email address.  Each devotion is Biblically faithful and takes about a minute to read.  They arrive around 4 a.m, so you can start your day with it.   Just go to the web address, and click “Subscriptions” on the top line.   Simply follow the directions from there.   After providing some information to identify you, you’ll be sent an email with directions to complete the sign up process.   It takes a few minutes….and you will be blessed each day by these devotions.
  • TIME CHANGE WEEKEND IS NEAR!!! Just an evangelical reminder that in two weeks……Saturday night, March 11th, we need to turn our clocks AHEAD one hour.   Please don’t forget.
  • Midweek Lenten Service THIS WEDNESDAY Please join us for worship this Wednesday evening, March 1st, at 7 p.m., plus on other Wednesdays through March 29th. These midweek Lenten services can better help us to spiritually prepare for commemorating Jesus’ death for us and for celebrating His resurrection.  The theme of this year’s services and sermons is “Personalities of the Passion.”  In the coming weeks we’ll consider the stories of Judas, Nicodemus, Peter, Pilate and John and their part in  Jesus’ sufferings and death for us.     
  • Please also join each Wednesday evening during Lent, for our “come-as-you-are” fellowship meals. They start at 6 p.m., but we’ll have food available until 6:45 p.m. or so.   We could use some more volunteers to help provide the various food items for those meals.  A sign up sheet is on the table in the church entryway. 
  • Many churches don’t offer midweek Lenten services like we do, and so these services give us a unique outreach opportunity to invite others to participate with us in one (or more) of them.  These services are give folks who work on Sundays an opportunity to worship.  Please pray about whom you might encourage to attend a midweek  service, and then do invite that person/family (maybe even bring them) to worship with us.

Grace Lutheran Church

Adult Bible Study, 2023


The Parables of our Lord

Divine Truths From Real Life Stories

The Role And Interpretation Of Parables

What is a parable?

Definition of a parable

It is…….
– not a fable
– not a myth
– not a proverb
– A parable, by common definition, is an aid for teaching.


Many of us also have learned this definition:   “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

Look up the following Scripture references. In what way were parables effective in the given situations?


            *           Luke 20:1-19

            *           2 Samuel 12:1-8

            *           Luke 14:25-33



How Jesus Used Parables

Look up Matthew 13:31,32.   There’s no explanation of what this short parable means.   Why did Jesus often speak in parables rather than simply stating the facts?



  • Jesus used parables not to mask the truth, but to cause His hearers to search for it.



  • Parables are more interesting than “abstract” theological discussions. They are also easier for people to relate to, and to remember.




  • Jesus used parables in discourse with His enemies so that they would have no clear statements from Him to use against Him. Look up Mark 4:10-12.  


  • For those who were hardened in their refusal to acknowledge the truth of Jesus’ message and identity, parables served to hide the truth from them and act as a judgment against them.   Look up Matthew 21:43-46. Who is Jesus addressing here? (see v.23)     What is He clearly saying to them?    Why did He use a parable to make this point?


The Gospel of John has no parables. Mark has only one that is unique to his book.  The majority of our parables, then, come from Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospels.   A few are also found in the Old Testament.



The  Interpretation Of Parables

The following principles should guide us as we seek to interpret the parables of Jesus:

  1. The parables are not merely charming little stories about the “way things always are.” They explain ways in which God operates, or ways in which He expects His followers to live for Him. Matthew 13:11 tells us that parables explain certain aspects of the Kingdom of God to us; namely, God’s just and gracious dealings with sinful man.  Also, keep in mind the main thought or leading idea of the parable as given by Christ himself, or the context.
  2. Always pay careful attention to the immediate context of the parable.Parables typically answer a question or address a particular situation that its hearers are facing.   What prompted Jesus to speak the parables offered in the following references?
  • Luke 7:41-50



  • Matthew 12:29
  • Luke 10:25-37


  1. All the features of the parable are subordinate to the leading idea. The interpretation of details must fit the main thrust of the story. Consequently, not every part of a parable needs to be interpreted. Some parts simply supplement the story.    The parable itself should be studied along with the context to determine what is the one main point at issue (this is often called the “tertium”).   For example in Luke 18:1-8, what might you conclude about God if you focused primarily on the description of the judge?   What, however, is clearly the main point of this parable?




  1. Parables are not to be used to establish doctrine. Parables support other clear doctrinal passages.
  2. Finally, the interpreter should be familiar with the history, geography, culture and customs of Bible times to properly interpret the parables. Familiarity with Jewish marriage customs, the practice of wine making, the art of farming in ancient Israel, etc. will help us to better understand the parables.

Parables:    Divine Truths From Real Life Stories

            Section One: The Work And Worth Of The Gospel

(The sower & the seed;   the weeds;

the mustard seed and yeast;   the hidden treasure/pearl)

            Section Two: God’s Great Expectations

(The two debtors;   the lost sheep;   the unmerciful servant;

the good Samaritan;     the tower builder & warring king;

the shrewd manager;   the unworthy servants;   the 10 minas)

            Section Three: By Grace Alone; By Faith Alone
            (The searching shepherd/woman/father;   the persistent friend;

the pharisee and the publican;   the laborers in the vineyard)

Section Four: Preparation For Judgment
            (The rich fool;   the narrow door;    the seats at a wedding feast;

the great banquet;    the wedding banquet;   the net;

foolish & wise virgins;   the tenants)


Section Five:   Miscellaneous and Lesser-Known  Parables

(The Parable of The Patched Garment And The Wineskins;   Children In The Marketplace;

Parables Proving The Person Of Christ;   The Empty House;   The Owner of the House;   Clean and Unclean;   Lost Sheep and Dogs;   The Yeast of the Pharisees;    The Rock and the Keys;    The Lamp of the Body;   

The Fruitless Fig Tree;   The Wise and Foolish Builders)




Section One:    The Work and Worth of the Gospel

The Sower, The Seed, And The Soils

(Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:2-20; Luke 8:4-15)

To understand this parable, note that farmers in Jesus’ day simply broadcast the seed on untilled ground and then scratched the seed into the soil with a crude plow.   A footpath of soil hardened by foot traffic, often ran around the perimeter of the field.

This parable and others seek to explain the nature of and operation of the “Kingdom of God” or “The Kingdom of Heaven”. What do these passages tell us about God’s kingdom?




  • Luke 17:20,21
  • John 18:36,37
  • Romans 14:17

We define “God’s Kingdom” as his gracious rule in our hearts through his Word.

What four results followed the farmer’s sowing of his field? (Mark 4:2-8)

Read Mark 4:10-12.  For Jesus’ enemies, what purpose did these parables serve?    What “secret” did the disciples know that enables them to understand the parables?

In verses 13-20, Jesus explains this parable to his disciples.     In the first case, Satan takes away the word before it has a chance to sink in.     Give examples of how the devil can take the Word away.

In the second case, why would someone “receive it [the Word] with joy, but have no root”?    What are some of the issues/things in life that, spiritually-speaking, cause a shallow root system that, in turn, leads to the rather rapid death of a faith that initially seems to thrive?    


Agree or Disagree……..A person like this person never had genuine faith in the first place.


In the third case, explain how worries and mixed-up priorities can choke out God’s Word in human hearts.

In the last case, what does Jesus mean when he says that the Word produces different amounts of fruit in people’s lives?   Why is it dangerous to assume that all believers should produce the same amount of fruit in their lives?

This parable not only speaks to four types of hearers, but describes each of us individually as well. In what way is that true?

Our mission purpose, as a Christian Church, is to make and maintain disciples of Christ.   How does a proper interpretation of this parable help us understand what we are to do?

The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)

On the basis of the previous parable, should we assume that some people are to receive credit for their salvation because they were “good soil” and accepted the Word whereas others rejected it?   This parable shows us that the life that comes from a seed of grain, and spiritual life that comes from the seed of God’s Word, are both mysteries.

What warning can we take from this parable when we are tempted to tamper with or dress up God’s Word to make it more appealing to human hearts?
What comfort can we take from this parable as we seek to sow God’s Word in human hearts with sometimes fumbling efforts or little outward “success”?

The Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43)

Jesus uses another familiar illustration from the agricultural world. How did Jesus explain this parable? (vv.36-43)

Why is it dangerous to say, “We’re going to get rid of all those people in our congregation who act like unbelievers”?

How does this parable help us to understand and deal with the disturbing fact that there are hypocrites even in Christian congregations?


Often we wonder “why” things in this world are so evil.   Verse 28 gives a succinct answer……

The Mustard Seed and the Yeast (Matthew 13:31-35)

The mustard plant here pictured is not the 18 inch plant that grows in our garden. The oriental mustard plant can reach the height of a tree one year from planting (J. Dwight Pentecost, in his book The Parables Of Jesus, claims that he has a picture of a one-year-old mustard tree, 32 feet high!)

Knowing Satan’s opposition to God’s kingdom, an understandable question is “What will become of God’s kingdom if Satan so vigorously seeks to destroy it?”     How does this parable answer that question?

The Bible speaks of the Gospel as something considered by many to be “foolishness”, “weak”, and “lowly” (1 Corinthians 1:27,28).    For example, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are regarded by many as mere rituals or symbols.    When we speak about these Sacraments as “Means of Grace” through which God powerfully works, we are often met with skepticism and even ridicule.   What evidence do we have, however, that these things are not as weak as they seem?

The parable of the Yeast in the dough focuses in on the way in which the Gospel works, which is similar to the working of yeast amid dough.   Yeast works internally, and yet its work is all-pervasive and is readily observable.

How does this parable speak to the person who assumes (or presumes), “I can love however I want, as long as I believe”?

The Hidden Treasure And The Pearl of Great Price

(Matthew 13:44,45)

It was not uncommon for people in Bible times to bury part of their wealth as a means of keeping it secure in times of war or political unrest.    People in ancient times placed an unusually high value on pearls, similar to how we might value gold, diamonds, or other precious gems today.

Does this parable teach that God’s kingdom is something that we obtain by giving up other things?   (See Isaiah 55:1,2)

Does this parable teach us to hoarde the Gospel once we find it? (Mark 16:15)

This parable DOES teach us something about our attitude toward the Gospel. Namely, what?




Section Two:    God’s Great Expectations

The Two Debtors (Luke 7:36-50)

The basis for this parable is an incident that occurs during a dinner Jesus attends at the home of a Pharisee named Simon.

What makes you wonder about the sincerity of this man’s invitation to Jesus? And if he did not invite Jesus out of true respect, why did he invite him?

The woman who enters Simon’s home is called “a woman who had lived a sinful life.” She was probably a prostitute. Pharisaic law made being touched by such a woman an act of defilement.

In addition, what kind of rabbi would accept an expensive perfume gift when it was undoubtedly purchased with sin-tainted money!? Why did Jesus allow this sorry, sobbing scandalous human being to even get near him?

What spiritual point does the parable make? What should it particularly have meant to Simon?

It was common hospitality in Eastern cultures to provide water for guest to wash their feet, to greet guests with a polite kiss, and to anoint the guest’s head with oil (considered by most to be an act symbolizing joy and festivity). Not only did Simon neglect to do this, but this sinful woman – in contrast — went beyond what was customary.

Do we ever consider ourselves less in need of forgiveness than others?   When?   Why?

In what ways do we view certain sinners with disgust?   How should we be viewing them?

How would you have reacted to that woman?   Would you have been embarrassed?   Would you have thought she went overboard?    When does showing love for Jesus become excessive?    What is easier- To fall short of showing love for Jesus or to go too far?


The Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:10-14)

What was on the disciples’ minds that leads us into chapter 18? (See verse 1) What does this question tell us about their attitude and character?

Verses 10-14 contrast the disciple’s attitude and goals with God’s. The angels who “always see the face of my Father in heaven” rejoice whenever a sinner repents.  What is Jesus’ point in this verse?

Contrast the attitude of the heavenly Father in this parable with that of the disciples in verse 1.

How does this parable influence how we look at others? How we look at ourselves? How we approach our ministry as a church and as individuals?

The Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35)

Jesus had just finished discussing how to deal with someone who has sinned against us. Peter has a question that seems quite natural, given the preceding conversation. “How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?”


We need to give Peter credit for the right motives, but the wrong mechanics.   Pharisaic law demanded that one forgive two times, or three times if you wanted to exceed the standard.   Peter also knew the law of love should prompt a Christian to be more forgiving than that. Even more than twice as forgiving. It seems he was anticipating Jesus to give him an answer somewhere between 3 and 7.    


Note that Jesus’ use of the number “seventy times seven” was a Jewish idiom and was understood to mean an innumerable amount.  

10,000 talents = millions of dollars
A few hundred denarii = A few dollars


What are some excuses we use to justify being unforgiving?  

The parable gives us the reason why we are expected to forgive innumerable times.    What is the number one motivating factor that makes the victim of a sin able to forgive the sinner. see Matthew 6:12; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13

“he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold . . .” The selling of a debtor who was not able to pay was not unusual in ancient times.     “I will pay back everything.” A flat-out lie. Don’t many people think the same thing when it comes to salvation? Good works cannot pay God back for sins in our life.

The Roman Catholic church uses v. 34 as a proof passage for purgatory. Why is that not a legitimate interpretation?

What’s wrong (and dangerous) with this statement? “I just can’t forgive him/her for what he/she has done!”


The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)

To understand why Jesus spoke this parable, read verses 25-29. Why did this expert in the law ask the question, “And who is my neighbor?”      What’s wrong with the lawyer’s question?


Look at Deuteronomy  6:5 and  Leviticus 19:18.     What is emphasized in both passages?    Why the emphatic repetition of “all?”   What will prompt such love?  (See I John 4:1)


In verse 28, the Greek word for “do this” means “keep on doing, never fail, never give up, never slip, never let go.”   What is Jesus’ point in telling the lawyer, “Do this and you will live?”   (Also, see Galatians 3:21)

Jesus’ parable is His answer to the man’s question. To understand this parable better, we want to note the following:




  • A priest was the highest and most repsected religious leader in Israel.
  • The Levites were temple workers; both the priest and the Levite therefore could well be considered as model, God-fearing Jews.
  • The Samaritans and Jews hated each other; the Jews considered the Samaritans as half-breed low-lifes because they were of mixed blood (Jewish and native Canaanite); Samaritans considered the Jews to be arrogant and overbearing. A Jew would have nothing to do with a Samaritan, and vice versa.


What reasons might that Priest and Levite have for not stopping to help that wounded man?     Could their “reasons” be viable, spiritually speaking?  


The main point of the parable is stated in verse 36.   What is it?

Many misinterpret this parable. They assume that Jesus was teaching us to be kind to people. Acutally, this parable holds no comfort for us at all. Because it convicts us, just as it convicted that expert in the law…………of what?
This account points out sinful man’s wrong assumption that God is satisfied with our keeping common standards of basic, decent behavior.   What ARE God’s standards?    Can we “Go and do likewise?”     If not, how can we have any hope of pleasing God?

In what ways are we, at times, like the Levite and priest?    In what ways would you like to be more like the Good Samaritan?    How is Jesus the true Good Samaritan?



The Tower Builder And The Warring King (Luke 14:25-35)

This parable leads the crowd following Jesus to consider whether they are willing to pay the price of living in this kingdom as a disciple of Christ.

In what sense does the call to follow Jesus include a call to “hate” even those close to us? How is it a call to “hate” even our own life?

Today, we hear the phrase “a cross to bear” and we think of something difficult we have to live with. However, in Jesus’ day, carrying a cross meant much more. It meant . . . what?

Why is it important to “count the cost” of discipleship?

According to this section of Scripture, who IS qualified to be a disciple?    Are you qualified?    Justify your response.

The Parable Of The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-13)

After focusing on God’s desire to save sinners, Jesus teaches his disciples how to live in such a way as to show that rescuing souls is their main objective as well.


In Eastern business practice, as long as a manager collected what his owner demanded, he was free to take any added percentage for himself. Therefore, it is possible that even with the discounts the manager offered, he still returned the amount that his owner originally demanded. Regardless, the manager lost out on money that could have been his. About what was the manager most concerned?

Why did the owner “commend” the manager?

There’s no question that dishonesty was involved in this man’s plan.  However, that is not the point of Jesus’ parable. Jesus wants to bring attention to the shrewdness of the manager, and for his disciples to take note.

In verse 8, who are the “people of this world?” (see Psalm 17:14)   Who are the “people of light?” (see Ephesians 5:8)   Why would people of the light want to be shrewd in dealing with people of the world?

You have a neighbor that moves in and you find out he and his family are atheists. What are some ways you can be “shrewd” in dealing with him? What factors will determine how “shrewd” you become?

Agree or Disagree:      The manner in which I use my wealth on this earth determines to what degree God will bless me with more. (see 2 Corinthians 9:6)

What is the main point of this parable?
NOTE: Heaven is a gift. It has nothing to do with how we use our money. However, our use of wealth in a God-pleasing way may RESULT in many people being in heaven to welcome us one day.


Unworthy Servants (Luke 17:7-10)

In verses 1-6 of chapter 17, Jesus has just given some examples of the stringent demands of obedience that those who follow Him must follow.   When they expressed their intimidation at such high standards, Jesus comforted them by telling them that, though their faith was small, yet because their faith was in him, it was powerful enough to enable them to  great things for God!

This short parable, however, speaks to a different concern: the human tendency to judge our faithfulness to God on the basis of how we stack up compared to others. There’s always someone less faithful than we are.   Often we are able to find that person in our lives.   What does this parable say to us when we start to compare ourselves to others?

What are the evil consequences for me, for others, and for God when I conclude, “you know, compared to most people, I’m a pretty faithful Christian”?

The Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27)

If someone gave you $l000.00 extra dollars, what would you do with it?
            1. Invest it aggressively.
2. Put it in an insured bank account.
3. Stuff it in a mattress because you don’t trust banks.

The setting of this parable is that Jesus and his disciples are nearing Jerusalem on his last journey. Many believed Jesus would now establish His kingdom in Jerusalem.   The story of Zacchaeus, just previous to this parable, points out the commitment to Jesus that accompanies a life of faith.   Zacchaeus gave half of his possessions to the poor and paid back those he had cheated four-fold.   The parable is all about faithfulness.   Perhaps Jesus spoke this parable in Zacchaeus’ home.

Who’s the man who went into a far country and promised to return again?  Who are the servants?   Who are the people who say, “We don’t want you to rule over us?”   What’s the distant country?    What’s meant by the interval between when the nobleman left and would return?

(Verse 13)  a mina was about three months wages.   What does the mina that each servant received before the nobleman left in the parable represent?  (see John 20:22).   It could also be the means of grace God’s servants are to use faithfully until the end of the age. I Tim. 6:20.   What are we to do with the mina until Jesus returns again?

In Biblical numerology the number ten, incidentally, consistently represents perfection or completeness.

The faithful servants in the parable showed their faithfulness by investing the money given to them by their master wisely and profitably.    How can we show our faithfulness as God’s servants?

Should we expect tangible or visible rewards already now on earth?


What does Jesus mean in verse 26?

Should we be afraid of the Last Day when the Lord calls us to give an account?

Section Three:    By Grace Alone…By Faith Alone


The Searching Shepherd, The Searching Woman, The Searching Father (Luke 15:1-32)

What precipitated these three parables? (v. 2)

These parables sharply contrast the attitude of the Pharisees toward sinners with God’s attitude toward sinners. How did a stereotypical Pharisee regard a “sinner”? What do these parable teach us about how GOD regards a sinner?

NOTE: Verse 7 reminds us that God is NOT in the business of rubber-stamping with his seal of approval the self-righteousness of people like the Pharisees. What really pleases him is rescuing repentant sinners. How do these parables challenge how we view ourselves?

List some details from these three parables that indicate the depth of God’s love for us.


Did you ever run away from home? Where did you go? What happened? (Or, Did you ever think of running away from home? Where would you have gone? Why did you change your mind?)    Which child were you in your family, the “obedient” one or the “wild” one?

Why do you think the prodigal son decided to leave home?  


In those times if a younger son left the family home for one reason or another, the older son was expected to stay at home and take care of the estate.  However, the younger son had no right to demand his share of the inheritance when he did.   According to Jewish law, the children could not divide the inheritance until after the father’s death. Then the firstborn (oldest) received a “double share” of the estate, and the other children shared the remainder of it (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).   The younger son in the parable could have received a considerable amount of money.

What’s meant by the “distant country?” When are we off in a “distant country?” Why didn’t the father stop his son? Why doesn’t God stop us?    What kind of pleasures can the world give?


Does God ever abandon someone to their foolishness? Romans 1:24,28.

Do you think that the father was wise to give his son his inheritance when he knew his son would probably blow it?
If the father had a pretty good idea where his son had gone, do you think he should have gone after him?


(Verses 17-19)  What does the lost son realize he doesn’t deserve? What’s his only hope when he goes back home? What must we also realize we don’t deserve from God? What’s our only hope also?

Of what can we be sure when we return to our heavenly father?   What’s the spiritual counterpart to the “best robe” (verse 22)?    See Galatians 3:27; Isaiah.61:10. The ring signified son ship. Sons also wore sandals. Slaves went barefoot.


In the third parable, what flaws do you find in the protest of the older brother to his father’s goodness toward his younger brother? (vv. 28-30)


By temperament and experience, which of the three main characters do you best identify with in this story of the prodigal son/unforgiving brother/waiting father?

Agree or Disagree:      Some “lost sons” can appear to be very nice, decent, family loving and church going people?

What’s the only food that nourishes and feeds the soul?   What is some “pigs food” the world offers?


The Blind Guides (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:39-42)

This parable is connected to Jesus famous “Sermon On The Mount.” In this sermon Jesus teaches almost the diametric opposite of what the Pharisees taught; namely, that an attitude of humility and mercy are more important than an outward show of righteousness; that sin is not only what one does but what one thinks; that God expects more than reasonably good behavior, that he expects perfection.

Read the parable in verses 39-40 of Luke 6. In what sense were the Pharisees “blind” leaders?

What does Jesus indicate as the consequences of such blind leadership?

Read verses 41,42. Then read Luke 6:1-10. How did the Pharisees prove themselves guilty of the sin this parable reveals? What was the plank in the Pharisees’ eye?    Let’s apply this parable to ourselves. Should we ever point out sin in the life of a fellow Christian? (See 6:37) If so, what should be our attitude in doing so and our goal?


The Persistent Friend (Luke 11:1-10)

This entire section has to do with prayer. What would prompt the disciples to request “Lord, teach us to pray”? What’s so difficult about praying?

Verses 2-4 describe the nature of God-pleasing prayer. God-pleasing prayer will reflect that our greatest concern is God’s glory and his kingdom (gracious ruling) in the hearts of people, that spiritual matters are most important, that we are dependant on God for everything from basic physical needs to forgiveness to help in any trouble.

Verses 5-8 is a parable which makes what point about HOW we are to pray?

(This parable should remind us not to go too far in interpreting every detail of parables. For instance, we shouldn’t assume that God is like the man in the parable, answering our prayers merely because we keep bothering him.

Verse 9,10 should be an encouragement to us; however, what do you make of the claim that some make based on these words, that, if you really believe, God will answer all of your prayers?

Verses 11-13 are an argument from a lesser point to a greater. What is the point?

What is the greatest gift we can ask for?

The Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8)

The purpose of this parable is in Luke 18:1. What is the purpose? Why do we need this parable?

There is an argument from the lesser to the greater from this parable. If even an unjust judge grants justice after much pleading, then certainly . . . what?

Is Jesus’ last statement in v. 8 a warning for the disciples or about the world they live in? Be prepared to defend your answer. What does verse 8 say to us?


The Pharisee And The Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

When you were in high school, what did it take to be with the “in” crowd?    What was a guaranteed way to be out?
What is the purpose of this parable? (verse 9)

(Verse 11)  Was the Pharisee really thanking God?

God prescribed only 1 day of fasting a year, the Day of Atonement. Lev. l6:29,31 Later the Jews observed four official days of fasting. The Pharisees fasted each Monday and Thursday, the days tradition says Moses ascended and descended Mt. Sinai.   The Jews also weren’t commanded to give a tenth of everything. Small herbs, for example, were exempted.
Comment on the body language of the tax collector.


(Verse 14)   justified = not condemned, innocent, fully forgiven, free and rid of all guilt and punishment, accepted and beloved to God. On what basis does God pronounce this verdict? Why was the Pharisee not justified?

What’s meant by “universal justification?” When did it take place? What’s meant by “personal justification?” When did it take place? Why is universal justification of such comfort to the penitent sinner?

Agree or Disagree:      Even today the Pharisee and the tax collector go to the temple to pray.

How can religious feelings be deceiving?    To what must we compare ourselves to get a true picture of ourselves?

How is this parable a comfort? How is it a warning?

The Laborers In The Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)

The basis for this parable is Peter’s question in 19:27. Peter was curious about the reward he could expect as someone who had left everything to follow Jesus. What does this parable say to those who serve God because they want to get a bigger reward than everybody else?

This parable forces us to ask, “Why do I serve God?” It also forces us to ask whether we feel a “new” Christian has the same rights as we do in the congregation? How does this parable respond to both of those concerns?



Section Four:    Preparation for Judgment

The Parable Of The Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21)


According to Jewish law, the eldest son received a double inheritance, with the provision he subsequently must support his mother and (any) unmarried sisters.

The man in our text seems to make a rather simple request of Jesus. Describe Jesus’ response and what flaw he points out in the man’s question…and heart.


What does Jesus mean in verse 15 by the term “a man’s life?”

There are hints regarding the attitude problem this man had. How did he get his crop? (pay careful attention to the wording in verse 16)


Does this parable say that it is wrong to plan ahead for the future?   (See James 4:13-15)    Is it right to put money away in a life insurance policy or a retirement account or even to have a savings account?
Pay careful attention to the wording he uses when he talks about material possessions. What do you notice that indicates just what was the problem with this rich man’s view of life?     (See also Psalm 39:6; Psalm 49:10; Eccl. 2:18,21)

Why did God call him a “fool” in verse 20? 


Agree or Disagree:      To possess wealth gives a person a false sense of security

Aside from material wealth, what other earthly matters might give one a false sense of security?

What does it mean to be “rich toward God”?   And how does one do that?

Where are your riches?     What are three chief priorities for your life right now?    How would you like to be remembered?
Where would you like to leave your riches?

The Net (Matthew 13:47-50)

The normal way to fish on the Sea of Galilee was to simply drag a net through the water. The net, of course, would collect both edible and inedible fish. Take note that Jesus is speaking this parable from a location near the Sea of Galilee, where the people may been able to see fisherman out on the water and plying their trade.

It is impossible to determine how many “keepers” there are in a net bulging with fish, simply by looking at the net. What lesson do we learn from this parable about the nature of the kingdom of heaven?

How does this parable serve as a warning to us?

Define the “wicked” and the “righteous” (See Romans 3:20-23)

Many today do not believe in the traditional understanding of hell as a place of fiery punishment. Verse 50 makes the nature of hell very clear.

The “gnashing of teeth” is symbolic of anger and frustration. Why are the inhabitants of hell frustrated and angry?


The Narrow Door (Luke 13:22-30)

In what respect is the door to heaven a narrow door?

The people outside the house claim to be acquainted with Jesus. Why does God deny knowing them?

If it is “evildoers” (v.27) who will be shut out of heaven, how can you or I stand a chance?
In verse 28, the “weeping” refers to sorrow and the “gnashing of teeth” refers to anger. Why will people shut outside of heaven grieve and be angry?

In verse 30, what was the message for the Jews of Jesus’ day? What is the message for us today?
The Seats At The Wedding Feast (Luke 14:7-11)

The feast Jesus was attending was also attended by Pharisees and teachers of the law. In what way was their behavior at this feast (grabbing the best seats) indicative of their spiritual attitudes?

What did Jesus’ specifically mean in his statement in verse 11? Think of some situations when we need to remember these words.The Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24)

One of the guests at this banquet expresses his feelings about the blessedness of sharing in that future feast in the kingdom of God. The parable Jesus speaks directs that man’s attention AWAY from how wonderful heaven will be to whether he is willing, RIGHT NOW, to accept the invitation.

Who embodies God’s invitation to his heavenly feast? And how does one therefore reject God’s invitation to his kingdom?

The people in the parable had seemingly legitimate obligations in other matters. Why, then, are these people excluded from the feast and their “reasons” for not accepting the invitation called “excuses” (v. 18)?

This parable is all about priorities . . . in what sense?

What are some excuses humans use today for rejecting God’s invitation to his kingdom?

The Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32)

This parable was spoken right in the temple courtyard before the chief priests and elders during the week of Jesus’ death. His words are blunt.

How were the tax collectors and prostitutes like the first son? How were the Pharisees and teachers of the law like the second son?

There is a difference between claiming obedience and actually obeying. What command from the Father were the religious leaders simply unwilling to obey (though they calimed to be truely obedient to God)?

Comment on this statement: “Oh, I’m sure she went to heaven. She was very religious.”


The Parable Of The Tenants (Matthew 21:33-44)

Note that the situation is the same as that surrounding the parable above.

Who or what is . . .1) The landowner 2) The tenants 3) The servants 4) The son 5) The vineyard 6) The expected fruit 7) The other tenants 8) Harvest time?

Note how the parables are very direct and obvious in meaning to confront the religious leaders with their obstinate refusal to accept the truth of Jesus Christ.

What does verse 44 mean?

Ready And Waiting Servants (Luke 12:35-48)

In verses 35-40, Jesus speaks of being prepared for his second coming. In the first illustraation of servants waiting for their master to return home, what highly unusual thing does the master do for his faithful servants? What does this tell us about the nature of our Savior?

The second illustration pictures Jesus’ coming like a thief breaking into a house. Why?

The parable in verses 42-46 reminds us that there is a temptation all of us face until Jesus returns. What is that temptation? In what ways do we emulate that unfaithful servant?
The final verses, 47-48, remind us that the privilege we have been given to know the Savior and his word so well comes an important responsibility; namely, what?

NOTE: Scripture does teach clearly that there will be different degrees of punishment in hell.

The Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14)

According to Jewish custom, when a couple was betrothed, an announcement was sent out regarding the impending marriage, which usually took place around one year later. This parable speaks about the subsequent personal invitations given shortly before the wedding.

The wedding clothes were special garments that guests were expected to wear to show their joy at the event being celebrated. Not wearing those garments was an insult.

Apply this parable to God’s dealings with Israel, focusing in on these details in the parable:

1. The repeated invitations

2. The apathetic and even hostile response

3. The subsequent invitation to anyone on the street

4. The importance of wedding clothing

What tendancies do we have that make this parable an apt warning for us?

In what way does this parable glorify God’s grace?

How does this parable help us to answer the charge: “I can’t believe a loving God would actually send people to hell.”


The Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

Bridegrooms would walk in a festive procession from the home of the bride to the groom’s home. Guests could join the procession as it went along or greet the groom at his home. It was necessary, however, that the guests have lighted lamps. Each lamp would serve to further illuminate the home or banquet hall, and provide a bright and joyful atmosphere for the celebration.

Why did 5 of the 10 virgins fail to meet the groom? Whose fault was it? Why?

Verse 13 states the point of this parable. What is it?

What can lead us to not be prepared to meet Jesus when he returns?


Section Five:   Miscellaneous Parables


The Parable of The Patched Garment And The Wineskins

(Matthew 9:16,17; Mark 2:21,22; Luke 5:36-39)
Jesus has been baptized by John, thereby authenticating the ministry of John as well as giving public witness of his identity as God’s Son and chosen Messiah. He has returned from the wilderness to Galilee and chosen his disciples. He has worked his first miracle (turning water into wine) in Cana of Galilee. He has returned to Jerusalem for the Passover. He has made his way back to Galilee, where he has set up headquarters at Capernaum. He has gone throughout the region proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and healing many sick and demon-possessed people.

He has been ministering publicly long enough for the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law to become familiar with him and his message and to form some opinions about him. What do the following references tell you about the doctrine and practice of these religious leaders?




  • Matthew 6:5
  • Matthew 6:16-18
  • Luke 11:37-54
  • Luke 16:14

Is Jesus a friend or foe to them? Why?



  • John 1:13-22
  • Luke 5:17-26
  • Luke 5:27-32

Read Luke 5:33-39 in light of the last two references from Luke 5 we just studied. This was obviously not an honest question. It was meant to discredit Jesus. What did the question imply about Jesus and his disciples?

The Pharisees assumed that fasting won brownie points with God. Jesus answer implies that fasting isn’t a deed that impresses God. It is a sign of sorrow. When Jesus said his disciples shouldn’t fast in sorrow, because the bridegroom was with them, what was he claiming about himself?

The parable Jesus then speaks about the garment is designed to lead the Pharisees to conclude that their teaching doesn’t match Jesus’ teaching. Explain the difference and how the parable illustrates the incompatibility of the two.

The parable of the wineskins indicates that it is impossible to package Jesus’ message in the structure of Old Testament Law. Explain how the parable illustrates that and why the point of the parable is true.

This parable has to do with mixing up the Law and the Gospel. How do the following examples illustrate an improper use of Law and Gospel?

All you have to do to get to heaven is believe in Jesus and live a good life.

We really feel good about our church! We’re growing by leaps and bounds, we always have something going for every age group, and people say that we’re the friendliest group around!

No Christian who appreciates what Jesus did for them would EVER have done what you did! Does Jesus’ death for you mean ANYTHING to you at all?

The Ten Commandments are a real comfort to me because they keep me on track in my walk with God.

Children In The Marketplace  (Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:29-35)

This parable is directed to the Pharisees and experts in the law. How did these people regard John’s ministry? (See Luke 7:29,30) What did they think of Jesus? (See notes on the parable of the Wineskins)
Jesus compares the religious leaders of his day to children at play. In verse 32, what are we told about the way that children act when it comes to choosing what to play.

How did the religious leaders also act this way? (See vv. 33,34). In verses 33 and 34, what are we told about the different nature of John’s
and Jesus’ ministry?

Our sinful nature also resists both the Law and the Gospel. List some examples.



Parables Proving The Person Of Christ  (Matthew 12:22-30; Mark 3:22-27)

What precipitated the parable-based teaching of this section? (See vv 22-24)

List the arguments Jesus uses to show how ridiculous and simple-minded the accusation that Jesus is driving demons out by the power of the devil is. (v26-29)

What conclusion, arising from Jesus’ obviously real and God-given miracle-working power, did the Pharisees not want to accept? Why not?

Many today want to find some reason to dismiss anything about Jesus that points to his divine nature. Why is it simple-minded for someone to think he can separate Jesus from his miracles and end up with “Jesus, the great humanitarian-teacher”?

The Empty House (Matthew 12:43-45)

What leads to Jesus’ words in this section? Read 12:38. The current religious leaders again show their absolute ridiculousness when they ask    Jesus for a sign that will prove he is the Messiah sent from God. Why in  the world would they need a sign, given all the miracles Jesus had  already performed!? Their request merely betrays their refusal to accept  the truth that had already been made clear.

Read the parable. It speaks about a demon-possessed man who enjoyed  freedom from demon possession for a while, but in the end was possessed  by seven demons rather than merely one.

Many Israelites who had rejected God repented when John the Baptist  brought his message to Israel and pointed them to the Messiah, Jesus.  But many of those baptized by John later rejected Jesus and so their fate  was worse at the end.

What warning can we take from this parable?

How does this parable move us to reach out more energetically to our  fallen-away friends and relatives?

The Owner Of The House (Matthew 13:51,52)

In order for the teachers of the law to give their listeners the full  revelation of God, they first had to be instructed in the kingdom of heaven themselves. What did they need to learn about the kingdom of  heaven? (Matthew 3:1-3)

What are the old treasures? What are the new treasures?
Christian teaching is more than just a matter of imparting knowledge or facts; it’s sharing treasures! List some of the treasures that Christian teachers (such as parents, Sunday School teachers, and every Christian witness) are privileged to share.

Clean And Unclean (Matthew 15:1-20)

Since the time of the return from the Baylonian Capitivity, the teachers of the law had added additional regulations and laws to the Mosaic Law. Two of those “traditions of the elders”, as they were called, are mentioned in the opening verses. One is the practice of ceremonial washing before meals, and the other is the practice of dedicating something as a special gift to God.

In their effort to keep the man-made traditions of the Elders, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law ended up breaking God’s clear commands. How does Jesus illustrate that? How do the Isaiah passages support Jesus’ accusation?

Read 15:10,11 and then 15:15-20 for the explanation of this parable.

Our sin and our need for a savior is more serious if we view sin as a matter of the heart and rather than as a matter of one’s life. Why is that?

NOTE: This was a theme Jesus hit again and again in his discussions with the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. Without a true understanding of sin, there isn’t much need for a Savior.

Read 15:12-14 Jesus here tells his disciples why they shouldn’t be surprised if the Pharisees were offended by Jesus’ words, nor should they let the Pharisees intimidate them as men who seem to be in control.

Lost Sheep And Dogs (Matthew 15:21-28)

Jesus’ ministry was conducted primarily for the benefit of God’s people, the Jews. Jesus’ mission was conducted for all people. Jesus’ is referring only to his ministry in verse 24.

In Jesus’ statement in verse26, who are the children? What is the bread? Who are the dogs?

In the woman’s reply, what was she saying to Jesus? How would you describe this woman’s faith?

Jesus didn’t help her right away; in fact he seemed to ignore her and then cut her down. Why did he deal with her in this manner?

The Yeast Of The Pharisees And Sadducees (Matthew 16:5-12)

The point of this parable is obvious and extremely important. The false teaching of the religious leaders was like yeast- it influenced a person’s entire thinking and life.

Note what had happened leading up to this parable. The religious leaders had asked Jesus for a sign to prove he was the Messiah. That doesn’t seem so bad, does it? How did this request, however, give evidence of their false beliefs and teaching?

One of Satan’s biggest lies is that a little false teaching is no big deal. A little false teaching can lead to toleration or acceptance of more false teaching and ultimately destroy one’s faith and eternal future.



The Rock And The Keys (Matthew 16:13-19)

The Roman Catholic Church states that this reference is Scriptural evidence that Christ chose Peter to be the first pope, and that all
successors of Peter have the headship of the church that Christ entrusted to Peter.

However, while Jesus DID change Simon’s name to Peter, which means “rock” because of his rock-solid confession of who Jesus was, Jesus was NOT referring to Peter when he said, “On this rock I will build my church.” The Greek word for “rock” in that phrase is of the feminine gender, and therefore cannot refer to Peter (masculine gender); it must refer to Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ and Son of God.

What are the keys Jesus speaks of? (See John 20:23)


The Lamp Of The Body (Luke 11:33-36)

Earlier in this chapter Jesus drove a demon out of a man and some concluded this miracle was accomplished through the power of Satan.
Others demanded that Jesus prove he was really God by a “sign” from heaven.

This parable shows that the problem for those who would not accept Jesus is NOT that there isn’t enough evidence. How does verse 33 point that out (if the lamp is Jesus)?

In verse 34, the eyes are “faith”, what is Jesus saying to those who refused to accept him as God and Savior?

In verses 35 and 36, what is Jesus saying about the person who truly believes in him?

This parable should be a good reminder to us that some people simply don’t WANT to believe, though they may claim that the evidence for Christianity isn’t compelling enough.

How does this understanding actually help us when we witness our faith to others?

NOTE: One year away from his death, Jesus begins now to use much clearer language. Consider what he says in the rest of this chapter.


The Fruitless Fig Tree (Luke 13:1-9)

This parable was spoken by Jesus in response to a question that has always plagued mankind. Why does tragedy strike some and not others? Jesus doesn’t answer that question. Rather, he addresses the attitude of those who asked it.

Rather than being concerned about whether somebody else was under God’s judgment, what should they be concerned about?

In verses 6-9, who is the vineyard owner, the vineyard tender, and the fig tree.

What is the point of the parable . . . about God? about stubborn Israel?


The Wise And Foolish Builders    (Matthew 7:24-29; Luke 6:46-49)

Multitudes had been attracted to Jesus and his teaching. Many were amazed that he spoke with authority that even the Teachers of the Law did not have. But fascination with Jesus is not the same as faith in Jesus.

How does the parable in Luke 6:43-49 make that point? In what sense are we all builders? What is the rock foundation? What are the consequences of building or not building on the rock?

In what ways do we call Jesus “Lord” but live as if we are the lords of our lives?