The Sixth Sunday after EpiphanySeptuagesima Sunday February 13, 2022

God’s Grace Is Amazing


In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” set during the Normandy invasion of World War 2,  a group of US Army

Rangers is given a mission requiring them to go deep into enemy territory in order to save Private Ryan.  Along the way they experience skirmish after skirmish, and some of the unit are killed in the process. They finally reach Private Ryan, they tell him,  “Come with us. We’re here to save you.”   But Ryan tells them he isn’t going to leave.  He feels he has to stay, because there’s a big battle coming, and he isn’t about to abandon his fellow soldiers.

     What did the Rangers do?  They all stayed and fought, and almost everyone died except one of the Rangers, plus Private Ryan.

At the end, one of the main characters—played by Tom Hanks—is sitting on the ground. He’s been shot and he’s

dying. But the battle has been won.

     Ryan leans over to him, and Tom Hanks whispers, “Earn this.”   As dramatic as that moment is in the move, it’s very unlikely that any real Ranger would say, “Earn this.” Why? Because the Ranger motto for the past two hundred years has been (in Latin), “Sua Sponte,” which means “Of one’s own will.”  In other words, “I chose this.”

     So, if Tom Hanks’s character had been a real Ranger, he would have said, “I chose this. You don’t have to earn this.  I’ve given my life for you, because that’s my job.”

     Similarly, when you and I look at the cross and see Jesus hanging there, what we don’t hear is “Earn this.” What our Savior says to us all is,  “I chose this. You don’t have to pay anything for it.  I chose to earn this for you.  I  died for you so that I could save you.”   That’s “Grace.”


     But Grace is a difficult concept for any and all believers to grasp and appreciate.    Grace, for example, was hard for Jesus’ disciples to deal with as they heard Christ teach them about it through the parable of the laborers in the vineyard – one of our Scripture lessons for today.   What Jesus told them was an amazing, yet somewhat disturbing story about a man who offered others the opportunity to work for him for a fair wage, and who paid everyone a flat rate even though some had worked much harder and longer than others.  From a purely human perspective, it wasn’t fair at all.   (Those who’d worked hard all day only to receive the same pay as their less-burdened associates said so in no uncertain terms!   They felt the had earned more.)   At the end of the parable, Jesus has the owner ask this probing question that deals (as the parable does) not so much with dollars but with the matter of God’s grace in dealing with sinners: “Are you jealous of my generosity?”   

     “Well…….yes” – truth be told – Jesus’ disciples did and sometimes we also struggle with God’s grace in His dealing with sinners of all varieties.   Please don’t misunderstand me.   I’m very grateful for the reality of God’s grace in my life because I have tons of sinful shortcomings.   That I don’t have to earn my salvation – something everyone is incapable of doing because none of us are perfect – because Jesus gives it to me as a free gift….is absolutely amazing!    I’m grateful for His forgiveness of all my sins and His guarantee to me of eternal life through faith in Him.   I’ve earned a place in hell because of my sins, but Jesus suffered all that hell is in my place.   Instead, He gives me the gift of heaven that I can’t earn and don’t deserve.    How amazing is that?

     I’m also grateful when the Lord graciously fills my life with blessings that bring me joy and that ease my heavy burdens!   And I don’t even mind it when God, in His grace, is forgiving and generous to others.  But – like in Jesus’ parable of the laborers in the vineyard – what can occasionally “offend” me about God’s grace, is that God seems (to me) to be more gracious to others than to He is to me.   And that’s particular troubling when I’m sure that those “others” don’t deserve or appreciate His goodness the way I do.  

     In moments like that God’s grace can be hard for me to deal with………and in those times, the problem (and the sin) is all mine.    What makes “Grace” so amazing is that it is never deserved, and can never be earned by any sinner – even the best-behaved of sinners (which, alas, I am not).   “Grace” is God’s freely given gift of His unconditional and all-encompassing love and forgiveness for ALL sinners.   Me.   You.   And everyone else too. 

     So, may the Spirit of God help us to better understand and appreciate what He teaches us in His Word about the gift of His Amazing Grace.   After all, it’s that Amazing Grace that makes us sure of our salvation, and for which we’ll praise the Lord today, tomorrow, every day of our lives, and for all eternity. 


Today’s Place on the Church Calendar

     With today’s  service we find ourselves heading into what is technically the final portion of the “Epiphany” season;   it is also referred to as “Pre-Lent.”  It’s the Church’s traditional three Sunday “waiting” period during which Christians begin their “count-down” toward the more intense penitential and preparatory season of Lent.   By tradition, the first of those three “pre-lent” Sundays (today) has been given the ancient Latin name “Septuagesima.”   It’s a term which means “70,” and symbolizes the 70 years of captivity in Babylon (606 to 536 B.C.) during which the Jews waited for the LORD’s eventual deliverance. 

     As we think of the Jews enduring 70 years of bondage in Babylon – as the Lord’s discipline for their rejection of Him – we’ll want to reflect upon our own bondage to sin, our need for deliverance from the curse of our own sins, and the grace of God freely given us through the redeeming work of Christ for us….so that, through faith in Him, we might one day live forever with our Lord in the “Promised Land” of heaven. 

     Starting with this “Seputagesima Sunday”  we are beginning a long journey that will culminate in our Savior’s death for all sin on Good Friday and His resurrection for our salvation on Easter Sunday.   As we start out, then, on this road to Jerusalem, we will travel, via Scripture, the path of spiritual discipline, self-denial, and sacrifice which our Savior once trod.  And through this journey may every one of us learn to appreciate, even more than we do now, the grace of God for undeserving sinners such as we are, secured for us entirely through the merits, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 

     It is that grace of God for undeserving sinners — such as we are — through the merits, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior to which we specifically turn our attention in the hymns and portions of Scripture which constitute today’s worship service.  


Today’s Scripture Lessons

     Starting with our Old Testament Lesson from Micah, we’ll consider the “mercy” (the OT term which is the equivalent of our NT term “grace”) which God extended to His frequently rebellious, chosen people.  Here the prophet praises the LORD for His patient forgiveness and the way He kept His mercy-filled promises to His people.  In our Epistle Lesson Paul declares that the law serves to show us our utter sinfulness, and is never the means for us to secure our salvation.   Instead, we are declared righteous before God and saved solely because of God’s’s grace, tied to the merits of Christ for us.   Christ suffered our punishment for all our sin, while we are now right with God and heaven’s heirs through faith in our Savior.   Today’s Gospel Lesson is Jesus’ parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.   This parable teaches us that regardless of whether they are believers for their entire lifetimes, or whether they come to faith in the final hour of life, and whether they serve the Lord during the course of their lives of faith either marginally or abundantly or somewhere in between….the same gift of salvation through God’s grace is offered to everyone who believes in Christ as Savior and Lord.   Finally, Our Sermon Lesson (and Children’s Lesson) are the very familiar words of Paul defining “grace” as God’s free gift to all of us undeserving sinners.  If God were “fair” in His dealings with us, we would all be eternally dead, headed to hell because of  our transgressions and sins.  God’s grace is something no one can earn; we don’t deserve it.  But it is a gift He freely gives to us because of His amazing love for us.    That grace guarantees us eternal life, a home in heaven, and true purpose (to serve God and others) while we live here.


Pre-Service Prayer

Lord, open now my heart to hear      And through Your Word to me, draw near;

Let me Your Word e’er pure retain,      Let me Your child and heir remain.

Your Word inspires my heart within,      Your Word grants healing from my sin,

Your Word has power to guide and bless,      Your Word brings peace and happiness.  Amen.


                                                                                                                              CW, Hymn 282, verses 1 & 2



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage  Version    Copyright 2019,    The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission

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




Prayer upon entering the sanctuary                                                                                       Pre-service Music


Let Us Praise The Lord


The Welcoming and Invitation to Worship


 After which, at the Pastor’s invitation, 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.


Today’s Call to Worship                                                                                      selected verse of Psalm 116


P:  I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice;

C: Because He inclined His ear to me,   +   therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.

P:  The snares of death encompassed me,  the anguish of Sheol laid hold of me;  I suffered distress and anguish.   Then I called on the name of the LORD:  “O LORD, I pray, deliver me!”

C: Gracious is the LORD and righteous;   +   our God is merciful.


P:  What shall I render to he LORD for all His benefits to me?

C: I will lift up the cup of salvation   +  and call on the name of the LORD.


P:  I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.

C: I will offer You the sacrifice of thanksgiving    +  and call on the name of the LORD.   +   Praise the LORD.


after which the Congregation will be seated


Opening Hymn                                                               Hymn 195 “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty”


1 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! 

Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;

Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,   God in three persons, blessed Trinity!


2 Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee, 

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,

  Who was and is and evermore shall be.


3 Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,  

Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,

Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,   Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.


4 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!  

All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea.

Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,   God in three persons, blessed Trinity!


the Congregation will rise to sing the final verse



We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


Pastor      Brothers and sisters in Christ:    the Word of God urges us to confess to our Lord all our sins of thought, word, and action.   This is something that ought to be daily part of our spiritual lives, and

 should come forth from every heart that is humble and penitent.    But we should especially do this when we meet together in His house to thank God for all that He has done for us, to praise Him, and to hear His life-giving Word.  Therefore, come with me now, to our Heavenly Father’s throne of grace, and let us confess our sins together.


Congregation       Miserable person that I am,   +   I confess and lament to You, O most holy  God,  +   that I  am a weak and sinful creature,  +  guilty of  every sin, of  unbelief, and of blasphemy. +   I also confess

 that Your Word has not brought forth good fruit in me.   +   I hear it, but do not receive it earnestly.   +   I do not show works of love toward my neighbor.   +   I am full of anger, hate, and envy.   +   I am impatient, greedy, and bent on every evil.   +   Therefore my heart and conscience are heavy.   +   Lord, I ask You, free me from my sins,   +   strengthen my faith,   +   and comfort my weak conscience by Your divine Word,  +   that I may obtain Your promised grace.


Pastor      Having humbly and sincerely confessed your sins before Almighty God, now be strengthened in your faith, mindful that our Lord is not willing that anyone should perish eternally, but that everyone

 should come to repentance, turning from their evil ways and receiving from Him everlasting life.    God has commanded His ministers to declare His forgiveness of sins to all who are penitent.   Therefore, rest assured that your sins have been fully covered by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ your Savior.  May the peace of God rest upon all of you.   In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


Now, in the peace of God’s forgiveness, let us together praise our gracious and glorious Lord!


The Congregation sings:                                                                               “All Glory Be To God On High”

                                                                                   sung to the melody of “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less”


All glory be to God on high!   We praise, we thank, we glorify,

And worship You, Who gives earth peace,   Whose love and favor never cease.

Lord God, our King, on heaven’s throne, Our Father, the Almighty One.

O Lord, the Sole-begotten One.    Lord Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son,

O Lamb of God, You take away    The sin of all,   now hear us pray.

You rule at God’s right hand this day,   Have mercy on us, Lord, we pray.


You only are the Holy One;   O’er all things You are Lord alone.

O Jesus Christ, we glorify You only as the Lord Most High,

Who with the Spirit e’er shall be    One in the Father’s majesty.     Amen.



The Prayer for Today


O LORD, God   +   We beg You to hear and bless our prayers   +   so that, even though we deserve to be punished for our sins   —   both those intentional and those done in ignorance,   +   we will instead receive the benefits   +   of Your boundless grace:     +   namely the full forgiveness of all our sins   +   Your steadfast love   +   and everlasting life in heaven with You  —   not because of our works or personal worthiness   —   but because of the merits of Jesus Christ,   +   Your Son, our Savior,   +   Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit,   +   as the One, true God,   +   forever and ever.   +   Amen.


After which the Congregation may be seated


Feed Us, Lord


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                        Micah 7:14-20


14 Shepherd Your people with Your staff,  the flock that is Your inheritance, the flock which dwells by itself in a forest, in the middle of fertile pastureland.  Let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in days of old.  


15 As I did in the days you came out from the land of Egypt, I will show you wonderful miracles.   


16 The nations will see and be ashamed of their lack of strength.    They will place their hand over their mouth.  Their ears will be deaf.   7 They will lick up dust like a snake,      like the things that creep on the earth.   They will come from their hiding places, shaking with fear.   hey will come trembling to the Lord our God, and they will be afraid in Your presence.


18 Who is a God like You, Who forgives guilt, and Who passes over the rebellion of the survivors from His inheritance?   He does not hold onto His anger forever.    He delights in showing mercy.   19 He will have compassion on us again.   He will overcome our guilty deeds.   You will throw all their sins into the depths of the sea.   20 You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, as you swore to our fathers from days of old.



The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                  Romans 3:19-28


9 Now we know that whatever the law says is addressed to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be subject to God’s judgment. 20 For this reason, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by works of the law, for through the law we become aware of sin.


21 But now, completely apart from the law, a righteousness from God has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all and over all who believe.



In fact, there is no difference, 23 because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God publicly displayed as the atonement seat through faith in his blood. God did this to demonstrate his justice, since, in his divine restraint, he had left the sins that were committed earlier unpunished. 26 He did this to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so that he would be both just and the one who justifies the person who has faith in Jesus.


27 What happens to boasting then? It has been eliminated. By what principle—by the principle of works? No, but by the principle of faith. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law.


following which the Congregation will rise, out of respect  for the words of Christ,  as we hear our Gospel Lesson


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                 Matthew 20:1-16


“Indeed the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing to pay the workers a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 He also went out about the third hour and saw others standing unemployed in the marketplace. 4 To these he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 When he went out about the eleventh hour, he found others standing unemployed. He said to them, ‘Why have you stood here all day unemployed?’


7 “They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’


“He told them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8 When it was evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last group and ending with the first.’


9 “When those who were hired around the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius. 10 When those who were hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But they each received a denarius too. 11 After they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner: 12 ‘Those who were last worked one hour, and you made them equal to us who have endured the burden of the day and the scorching heat!’


13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not make an agreement with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last one hired the same as I also gave to you. 15 Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 In the same way, the last will be first, and the first, last.”



The Apostles’ Creed


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



The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                Ephesians 2:8


It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God


GRACE:   “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”



The Sermon Hymn                                                                                           Hymn 379   “Amazing Grace”



1 Amazing grace — how sweet the sound–  That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost but now am found,   Was blind but now I see.


2 The Lord has promised good to me;   His Word my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be   As long as life endures.


3 Through many dangers, toils, and snares   I have already come;

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,   And grace will lead me home.


4 When we’ve been there ten thousand years,   Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise   Than when we’d first begun.



after which the Congregation will rise for


The Pre-Sermon Salutation


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!   May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.



The Sermon Text                                                                                                                    Ephesians 2:1-10


You were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked when you followed the ways of this present world. You were following the ruler of the domain of the air, the spirit now at work in the people who disobey.


3 Formerly, we all lived among them in the passions of our sinful flesh, as we carried out the desires of the sinful flesh and its thoughts. Like all the others, we were by nature objects of God’s wrath.


4 But God, because he is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! 6 He also raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 7 He did this so that, in the coming ages, he might demonstrate the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 Indeed, it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.


10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance so that we would walk in them.


The Gifts of God’s Grace


after the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing


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



We Respond To God’s Word through our Offering 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

The Offering Prayer


Dear Savior, You have taught us:  “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Teach us to realize more and more that happiness in life does not depend on the number of things we can call our own.  Rather, Jesus, help us to find joy in the uses that we as stewards make of the money and all of the other resources that You have placed into our hands.  Amen.


Special Prayers for the Day


We include in our prayers this morning:

A Prayer of Intercession on behalf of brother in Christ, Dan Beck, who continues to faithfully contend with the challenge of pancreatic cancer;

And for our brother in Christ, Chris Merritt, as he remains hospitalized due to Covid.


The Prayers for the Church


     P:   Also hear us, dear Father, as we take a few moments to silently offer our personal petitions and praises to You.


A Moment for Silent Prayer  


     P:   And finally, with all our prayers being offered in Jesus’ name, we also join in that special prayer which has been given to us by our Savior:


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   for ever and ever.    Amen.   



We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Benediction


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.

the Congregation will be seated for


The Closing Hymn                                                                    Hymn 381    “Grace Has A Thrilling Sound”


1 Grace has a thrilling sound To each believer’s ear;

That peace with God through Christ is found Is news I gladly hear.


2 Grace first inscribed my name In God’s eternal book,

And grace has brought me to the Lamb, Who all my sorrows took.


3 Grace led my wand’ring feet To tread the heav’nly road,

And grace supplies each hour I meet While pressing on to God.


4 Grace taught my soul to pray And made my eyes o’erflow;

His grace has kept me to this day And will not let me go.


5 Grace all our work shall crown Through everlasting days;

The heav’nly home God gives his own Shall echo with our praise.


Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-service music                                                                                          




Last Week At Grace Lutheran              Worship: 59       Communed: 52      Bible Class/Sunday School: 22/2    Wed Bible Classes:   4 women; 4 men           Budget Offerings: $4763      Online offerings: $90.71      Benevolence: $20


Serving Us Next Week                                                             Altar Guild:  Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold

Elders:   John Johnson, Tim Pfortmiller    Fellowship: Mary Karloski      Ushers: Terry Bruns, Tim Huebner, Tom Otto


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today            Morning Worship at 9:30 a.m,      Fellowship, 10:40 a.m.            Bible Class/Sunday School, 11:00 a.m.    Fellowship/Potluck Dinner after Bible study

Tuesday        Morning Bible Study, 10:30 to 11:30

Wednesday   Evening Bible Studies for Women and Men, 6 to 7 p.m.

Saturday        Women’s Group Meeting, at Lesa Roe’s home, 10 a.m.

Sunday          Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m. including the Lord’s Supper                                  Fellowship 10:45 a.m.    

                       Sunday School/Bible Class, 11:05 a.m.                Youth Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.


This Week’s Bible Classes  

In Bible Class today we’ll be studying what God has to say to us through I Corinthians chapter 13.   For our Tuesday morning Bible class we’ll continue our study of 2 Kings.  This week we’re in chapter 23.   Wednesday, from 6-7 p.m. we’ll offer two Bible classes, one for men, the other for women    Our men’s class is studying in the book of Psalms, while our women’s class has just started a study of the book of  Hosea.


Early Rummage Annoucement…..our Women’s Group will sponsor a  rummage sale again this year… early June.   So, as you start planning your spring cleaning, please keep our rummage sale in mind.  For those who might need to bring items earlier than the week prior to the sale, early drop offs will be available in early May.   Please speak with Pastor about this  when the time comes.  We’ll do our best to work with you.


Meditations Available on the Entryway Table ….an excellent personal, daily, devotional booklet produced by our Synod’s Northwestern Publishing House, the devotions in this next  edition of Meditations are scheduled to begin on February 27th.  Please take home and put to good use a copy for you and/or your family today.

Valentines/Pot-Luck Fellowship Dinner TODAY   after our Bible Class/Sunday School hour.    Whether you brought a dish to pass or not, we hope you’ll stay today and be art of this important opportunity to spend time getting to know better your/our fellow church members.


Remember, Midweek Lenten Services are Coming in three weeks….    Please make your plans now to join us on Wednesday, March 2nd,  and on the following Wednesdays through April 6th, for six special midweek evening worship services, each beginning at 7 p.m.  Our goal is to become better prepared spiritually for the observance of our Savior’s death and the Easter celebration of His resurrection.   Plus it’s been our custom to hold soup and sandwich fellowship meals before each Wednesday evening service during Lent, going from 5:45-6:45 p.m. 

            Something special will take place for our Ash Wednesday (March 2nd) worship service:  our Synod’s Martin Luther College Choir will visit to present a sacred concert called “Age to Age.  As choirs from our Synod schools in the Midwest rarely visit churches in our area, this is a special opportunity that we hope you’ll take advantage of.    Please invite and bring others to be a part of this occasion, too.   If you are able, we could also use some help housing some (not all) of the students.   We need volunteers to house at least 6 pairs – male or female – the night of the concert, and then to return them to church in the morning .   A sign up sheet is on the entryway table.                                                                                             

     Finally, please keep in mind that many churches don’t offer worship services like these midweek Lenten services.   This presents us, then, with something of an outreach opportunity to invite others to participate with us in one or more of these special services during Lent.   Midweek services such as these also give us opportunities to invite to worship with us people who ordinarily have to work on Sunday.   Consequently, please pray about whom you might encourage to attend a midweek service, and then offer that person or family your invitation (and maybe even a ride) to worship with us.

I Corinthians, Chapter 13   

Spiritual Gifts….”Altogether now….All You Need Love!”



A “classic rock and roll” song, first sung by the Beatles almost 60 years ago (yikes!) includes the

above line:   “All you need is love.”   Whatever you do, or don’t think about the Beatles and their stamp on popular music even today, that phrase is “spot on” in what it asserts.

            The problem in church found in Corinth 20 centuries ago was that the brothers and sisters weren’t consistently relying on Christian “love” in their dealings with each other, and with their actions and attitudes regarding “Gifts of the Spirit,” in particular.   Too much ego was involved, and there an unhealthy measure of selfishness as well.  Instead of the Holy Spirit guiding them to glorify God and serve others through the Spiritual gifts that this talented group of Christians possessed, a combination of their sinful natures, unholy worldliness and a dangerous dose of the Devil was presumptuously influencing them to put self before God and others…..and it was damaging the Church in general, and blood-bought souls in particular.

            No….they hadn’t lost their faith.   The Corinthians weren’t “heathen.”  But they weren’t being faithful to their calling.  (Sound familiar?  There’s a little “Corinthian” in all of us, isn’t there?)   They were arrogantly abusing the gifts God had entrusted to them – Spiritual gifts intended to grow His Kingdom and to bless the faith not only of the possessors, but also of the beneficiaries.

            Ultimately, it was driven by self-love….and sin.   Not the “agape” (selfless love of God) that we‘re going to be talking about in greater detail in a few moments.

            And so, Paul had to present what God’s “Will” really was……so the Corinthians could repent on the one hand, and so that they could get on with that plan of God for them – a gracious plan that clearly focused and was founded on His selfless love for them in Christ, our Savior.   It was a plan they also would give evidence to in the ways in which they expressed God’s (and their) love for each other through, among other things, the faithful use of their Spiritual Gifts.

            As you employ the various Gifts of the Spirit which your God has entrusted to you personally, what attitude and approach do you have toward these Gifts?   Do you see them as your property?   Do you regard them as some reward from God due to your exemplary faith?   Whom are they supposed to serve?   And why?


“All You Need Is Love”


Overview     In the previous chapter Paul identified nine Spiritual Gifts that can be employed in the worship life and ministry of the Church.  (There are many more….and can be found in Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and I Peter 4:10-11.)   The Giver (and true Owner) of these Gifts is God the Holy Spirit.   By bestowing them in great variety, and throughout His Church, the Spirit effectively is stating that every Christian has been given a role in the Spiritual “building up” of the Church.   And lest the Corinthians then (or we, today) abuse and diminish the purpose of these Gifts by viewing and using them selfishly, here in chapter thirteen the Holy Spirit has inserted what is essentially a great hymn about selfless Christian love….which always has, as its foundation, the selfless love of God in Christ for us!    All we truly need is this kind of love.   It not only gives value to the Gifts God has entrusted to us, it actually is the abiding “power” and motivation behind the righteous life and service of the Spiritually mature Christian.   Not all Christians can preach, teach, work miracles, discern between the spirits of truth and falsehood, be administrators, etc., but the Gift of love is – and must be – an abiding possession of each and every believer.


  1. The Preeminence of Love (Verses 1-3)


            The meaning of love (agape)……By “love” Paul does not mean a mere emotion, but rather a soul-moving power which transforms the Christian’s life and expresses itself in the service of souls for Christ’s sake.   The New Testament uses an ancient and rare word (agape) to express the utterly unique concept of “Christian love.”   There are other Greek words for love – notably “eros” (which describes physical/sexual love…and from which our word “erotic” comes);   and “philia” (which deals with brotherly/filial love).   Both of these words are wholly inadequate when it comes to expressing the meaning of the wondrous love of God which is essential to His person, and which selflessly demonstrated itself in God, as Christ, sacrificing Himself as the Substitute for sinful humanity, in order to secure the salvation of fallen mankind.   The word for the unique love of God for us (agape) is used no less than 200 times throughout the New Testament.


The “agape/love” that is spoken of in this chapter (and elsewhere in Scripture) is the kind of love that always gives without asking for anything in return.   Here on earth it was displayed perfectly in the selfless love that Christ exhibited throughout the course of His redemptive work…..and especially when He remained on His cross innocently enduring His Father’s wrath and rejection due to our sin, so that we might be forgiven, reconciled to God and saved for all eternity.   Although as sinners on this side of heaven we simply are not capable of loving others in as totally a selfless way, we are to strive for such a giving love for those around us……particularly a love for their souls/spiritual well-being (even if “they” are our foes, instead of family or friends).


(Note… the KJV, the Greek word “agape” is translated as “charity.”   While we today commonly understand “charity” as works/expressions of generosity, in the original God’s intent goes far beyond being generous – particularly to those in need.)


            To what other gifts (“charisms” in Greek) is Christian love superior?  (vv 1-3)


            Why is oratory without love “meaningless”?


Why are preaching, prophesy, understanding, knowledge, heroic faith, and works of charity/generosity without value in God’s sight, if “Christian love” is missing from them?



  1. The Qualities of Christian Love (Verses 4-7)


            How does Paul describe love…..from a negative perspective?   ….from a positive point of view?


            Why is a love-filled person never overcome by envy, boasting, ungracious or selfish behavior?


Why does the love-filled person not find malicious pleasure in someone else’s misfortune or transgressions?


            How does a love-filled person show patience with other people?


How is that individual able to react with kindness and goodness toward everyone – even toward those who have mistreated him/her?


Why can he/she endure anything, trust completely, never cease to hope, and bear any- and everything that comes along in life?


            Discuss James 2:14-17 and I John 3:17-18 in relation to this chapter.



III.    The Permanence of Love   (Verses 8-13)


In contrast to those gifts and talents whose use is limited by time and place, love is a Spiritual gift which will continue to manifest its power throughout eternity.


            How does Paul indicate the durability of love in this section?


What other gifts will eventually cease?   Why will they no longer be necessary for the Church Triumphant?  


Notice Paul’s use of illustrations/examples:   a child’s knowledge;   a mirror’s reflection.    What’s his point in using these comparisons?


What kind of knowledge is Paul talking about here?   When will this knowledge finally become perfect, and why?


            What three gifts remain as the prime/premium Gifts of the Spirit…and why?


            In this context, how would you define:   “Faith”?    “Hope”?   and “Love”?



  1. Applying the Word to our Lives


  1. Can a non-Christian perform deeds of love? (See 12:11; also II Corinthians 4:14,15 and Hebrews 11:6)


  1. How can a Christian show love in such matters as “community poverty?”   race relations?   labor-management issues?   Or, today’s political environment?


  1. Is the love of a Christian a “giving” or “receiving” love?   


  1. Why might this chapter be recommended for husbands, wives and families to read regularly?


  1. How far does love reach in dealings with those persons who are easily offended/quick to take offense?   How far does this love reach in dealing with the “easily offending” person?


  1. Orthodoxy without love……Is it possible?   Why or why not?


  1. React to this:   Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8,9) doesn’t require works of love toward others.