The First Sunday after Trinity    June 11, 2023   

The Third Sunday of the Pentecost Season


Living in a Danger Zone

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Cor 13:5)  

A foolish old farmer, so the story goes, one day reached the conclusion that the oats he had fed his mule for years were simply costing him too much. So he hatched a plan: He mixed a little sawdust in with the feed, and then a little more the next day, and even more the next, each time reducing the amount of oats in the mix.

The mule didn’t seem to notice the gradual change, so the farmer thought things were fine and kept decreasing the proportion of oats. But weeks later, on a day he finally fed the poor beast nothing but sawdust, the mule finished the meal … and promptly fell over dead.

A silly story, perhaps……. but it serves as a parable-of-sorts describing “the backslider” – that Christian who slips further and further away from God through selfishness, indifference, or some other unrepented sin.    Though we all know our souls cannot survive on a diet of nothing but spiritual sawdust, the sinful nature inside each of us has the capability of deceiving us into believing that a little sawdust once in a while won’t hurt all that much….that a little less real spiritual food won’t be missed – in fact, cutting back now and then (just like going on the occasional “real” diet) might be just the thing for us.   However, over time, the proportion of spiritual sawdust increases while the good oats of God’s Word gradually disappear.    Before long, before you know it…..the change is complete, and another starved, sawdust-stuffed spiritual life has collapsed.    The intimacy we once enjoyed with the Father has evaporated;   and his/her saving faith has vanished.

This process can be so subtle, progressing in such small increments, that it’s easy for us to fail to recognize that there’s even a problem, let alone a damnable disaster looming on the horizon.    However……the “mule” does display a few symptoms warning us that all is not well – provided we pay attention to those signs and act on them.   We might summarize them under three headings, each describing a critical loss or malnourishment in our spiritual life:   First, the loss of love for God;   Followed by, the loss of fear of God;   and, Finally, the loss of faith in God.

  1. Loss of Love for God The first Christians in the city of Ephesus received from the Apostle Paul a fine grounding in the Word of God – and so they were well-rooted in the true, saving Christian faith. His letter to them burned with a passionate love for God that was undoubtedly contagious. Paul prayed that they, “being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:17-19). He fervently hoped that they would be among those “who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Eph 6:24).  And why shouldn’t they love their Lord and Savior?   


The Lord had used the faithful preaching and teaching of Paul and his associates to call them out of the darkness of unbelief and idolatry into the light of saving faith in the one, true Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   Their faith in Christ was genuine.   The Ephesians confidently knew Him as their Savior-God Who became incarnate in order to live, in their stead, the righteous life demanded of them according to God’s Law but which, as sinners, they could not flawlessly achieve.   However, keeping the Law perfectly was only part of Christ’s redeeming work.   He also had to be their Sin-Substitute before God, enduring through His sinless suffering and death on the cross, the fury and torments of an eternity in hell that they should have experienced……but were able to avoid because Jesus, as their willing Replacement, had paid in full the everlasting penalties for all their wickedness.    And then, three days after His death, Christ rose from the grave….. proving that His sacrifice for sins was sufficient and that  salvation was assured through faith in Him…..and guaranteeing through His conquest of the grave not only that they would also one day conquer death and the grave through faith in Him, but also that He was (and remains) the true God…..and so was forever worthy of their reverence, devotion and faith.

And what was true for the Ephesians remains true for us, assembled here today. Christ has done it all for us, and has given to all of us, all the blessings and glories of heaven through faith in Him.

But good starts do not always guarantee successful endings.   Sadly, just a few decades after Paul founded that faithful congregation in Ephesus, the Lord Jesus Himself had to give John a disturbing message for the Ephesian congregation:   “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. . . . Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” — Rev 2:2,4-5

The Ephesians’ passionate “first love” was gone. They were apparently still going through at least some of the motions of devotion to God, but their hearts were growing cold, and their faith was in grave danger of being extinguished by their own selfishness, worldliness, neglect, and indifference. 

What specific “red flags” might go up to indicate that any Christian’s – including your and my – first love for the Lord is waning?    Let’s think of the telltale signs of a love grown cold in human relationships….. there are parallels here to our love for Christ which may be useful and instructive for us.

Loss of joy.   Every one of us finds joy in the things that we love.  When we lose the joy in our relationship with someone, it’s a sign that our love for that person has somehow diminished. A loss of joy in our relationship with God is thus one indicator that our first love has dimmed.

King David experienced such a loss following his adultery with Bathsheba. In Psalm 51 he described his anguish of mind and soul once he finally recognized how far he had fallen from God. In that prayer for mercy, he cried out to the Lord, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (v. 12).

Aversion to prayer and God’s Word. We also want to spend time with those we love. We want to pour out our hearts to them and listen as they open up their own hearts to us. So when we develop an aversion to spending time talking and listening to someone, that’s a second sure sign of love lost.

We talk to God in prayer and listen to Him as we study and meditate upon the Scriptures. As a devout pastor once put it, “I have a relish for God. If you love squash, you eat it for breakfast, you eat it for dinner, you eat it for supper. You just can’t get enough of it. And if you love God, you just can’t get enough of Him. You want to pray and read the Word.” If, on the other hand, we’ve grown reluctant to spend time with Him in these ways, this is a sign that our love for God isn’t as hot as it once was.

Aversion to Christian fellowship.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden, what was one of the first bad fruits of their fall? They tried to hide from the God Whose fellowship they had once so naturally and happily enjoyed (Gen 3:8).

I once saw a pet-lover’s bumper sticker that said: “Love me, love my cats.” When you love someone, you almost naturally love the ones he or she loves. You enjoy spending time with the friends of your beloved friend. But when a friendship turns sour, you tend to lose interest in that person’s friends as well, and you want to avoid people who are likely to talk about the person you want to forget.

For that reason, Christians whose love for God has grown cold because of sin tend to avoid fellowship with fellow believers. They don’t want to be around people who remind them of the One they’re trying not to think about. In Hebrews 10, the author closely associates fellowship with God and fellowship with other believers. “Let us draw near to God,” he says in verse 22, and, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (v. 25). Clearly, we cannot draw near to God without a corresponding desire to relate to others who love Him as well.

Misplaced treasure. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). We are made to love, and love we will. If we lose our love for God, other loves will fill His place in our hearts. Time once spent with God will be devoted to other pursuits that yield little or no spiritual fruit.

Thus the backsliding believer often becomes progressively immersed in an array of worldly concerns as substitutes for the old spiritual life.   Entertainment replaces prayer and time in the Word as a form of “diversion”–that is, something that diverts attention from troubling thoughts that might lead to serious self-examination and repentance. “Safe” secular acquaintances with no spiritual interests take the place of Christian friends. Energies once spent in evangelism, outreach, or other forms of ministry are now focused inward on financial, educational, career goals, and satisfying personal feelings and ambitions. Money once designated for church and charity is redirected to more selfish or frivolous ends.

Once we stop searching for that one pearl of great price (Matt 13:45-46), we will devote our time, energy, and money to the pursuit of other treasures. Having lost our first love for God, we will go–in the words of an old ’70s song–“looking for love in all the wrong places.”

  1. Loss of Fear of God Though we often think of love and fear as opposites, the Scriptures remind us repeatedly that a mature relationship with God is characterized by both attitudes: “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love” (Ps 147:11). When we drift away from God, we lose not only our love for Him, but also our healthy fear of Him. And if “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10), then the loss of that fear – or reverent respect – is the beginning of dangerous, and potentially damnable, folly.

What are the signs that a person no longer fears God? Since “to fear the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov 8:13), we need only examine our attitude toward sin.  A growing attachment to sin–a sure sign that we are losing our fear of God–typically manifests itself in several stages:

Covering up sin. In the first stage, we recognize our wrongdoing, and in our shame we try to hide it. Adam and Eve provide the classic example: After their fall in the garden, they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7). King David, too, knew the trouble that comes from refusing to confess sins to God and from trying to “cover up . . . iniquity” (Ps. 32:5).

Of course, trying to hide our sin from God is useless:  “Does He Who formed the eye not see? Does He Who disciplines nations not punish? … The Lord knows the thoughts of man; He knows that they are futile.” — Ps 94:9-11

But in this early stage of disobedience, we fool ourselves into thinking that somehow He won’t know what we’ve done as long as we don’t admit it to anyone, and if He knows, we erroneously assume that He doesn’t care, isn’t that upset about our sins!

Denying responsibility. When we realize we can’t hide our sin from God, the next step is to insist that what we’re doing wrong isn’t really our fault. Once again, note the pattern in Eden: Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent (Gen 3:12-13).

Our excuses are legion: “Yes, it’s an ugly little habit, but I was raised this way.” “Of course I’m not supposed to hold grudges, but how could anyone be expected to forgive what they did to me?” “It’s just a weakness that I have.  Others have their weaknesses too.  Besides, nobody’s perfect, right?”  Whatever the excuse, the sin continues, and the sinner moves further and further from God.

Procrastinating over repentance. Once we realize we cannot shift the blame–for at some deep level we know that we truly are responsible for our wrongdoing–our next strategy is to put off the day of repentance. Augustine of Hippo, the celebrated fifth-century bishop whose autobiography, The Confessions, recounts his promiscuous youth, remembered praying this prayer during his spiritually immature days: “Lord, give me self-control……..but not yet!”

Persons who are actively disobeying God forget His warning: “Today, if you hear H

\-is voice, do not harden your hearts” (Ps 95:7-8).  They want to wait until tomorrow to repent, but they forget that for some, tomorrow never comes.  Little by little their hearts harden like lumps of clay left in the hot sun, becoming useless because they can no longer be shaped according to God’s will.

Justifying sin. If we put off repentance long enough, our consciences become seared (1 Tim 4:2). We stop trying to hide our sin, or make excuses for it, or delay our reckoning with it;   instead we begin to convince ourselves that it isn’t really sin after all.   In time we may even grow brazen in our wrongdoing, openly defying God or others who condemn our behavior……asserting our independence and freedom to do whatever we want – which, we say, is nobody else’s business anyway.

King Saul was a master rationalizer. When the prophet Samuel rebuked him for disobeying God’s command to destroy everything in the enemy city of Amalek, Saul tried to justify his behavior by claiming that he had saved the best of the booty to sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel pointed out that the king had nevertheless disobeyed God’s clear instructions. Yet Saul adamantly insisted that he had done no wrong (1 Sam 15:1-21)…..even though he was fooling no one but himself.  In the end, Saul’s rebellion cost him his kingdom, and – more important – that rebellion grew into unbelief that led to Saul’s suicide and cost him a place in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Other biblical figures also demonstrated this pattern. Having slain Abel, Cain defied God with the impudent challenge: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). The high priest Caiaphas had an elaborate rationale for murdering Jesus: If He wasn’t put to death, he reasoned, the Nazarene’s followers would cause trouble, the Romans would react violently, and the Jewish nation would be harmed (John 11:45-50). Having Jesus executed, he insisted, was obviously the right thing to do.

The hardened sinner thus embraces sin and refuses correction. All fear of God is gone. “This is the way of an adulteress,” says a biblical proverb. “She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong'” (Prov 30:20).

III.   Loss of Faith in God     Unrepented sin can eventually lead a Christian into a disastrous rejection of God via

unbelief.   Consider, for example, those members of the children of Israel who self-hardened their hearts against the Lord in the desert. 

Having lost their initial loving gratitude for all that God had done to save them from slavery in Egypt,  they reverted to a persistently

 snful lifestyle which, finally, resulted in their forfeiting faith altogether.   They dared to conclude that the god they would worship

should be like the impotent gods of Egypt from which they had just escaped.   So, while Moses was still up on Mt. Sinai receiving the

Ten Commandments from the Lord, the people he was going to bring them to opted instead to worship a golden calf of their own

creation (Exodus 32).

Sadly, I can recall several one-time Christians I’ve known who followed a similar path, gradually distancing themselves from God until they finally altogether rejected the Lord.   All along the path to rejection they kept telling themselves and others that everything was fine – that there was no reason to be concerned – that they were still spiritually “right” with the Lord.    We can probably swap sad stories like this, can’t we?   Despite possessing at one time a genuine, vibrant faith in Christ as their Light for living, their Savior from sin, and their sole Hope for heaven, they gradually slipped deeper and deeper into sins for which Christ had died.    They lost their love for God and their fear of God, replacing it with worldly affections and selfish sinful desires.    And in the end, once seemingly faithful fellow believers,  gave testimony with their lips and their lives no longer believed even the essentials of the Christian faith.    Finally, they proudly declared themselves Christians no more.

Why does loss of faith so often follow loss of love and fear?    First, we must recognize that a believer’s faith is fed only through the Word and Sacraments.   To keep faith alive, we have to regularly draw nourishment for our souls from the source of all spiritual strength:   God’s Word.    Paul puts it succinctly in Romans 10:   “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.”    What’s more, we all need encouragement and support to stay in the faith, and not to stray from it.    That encouragement comes through regular fellowship with other believers – particularly when we’re together for worship and study of the Lord’s Word.    How tragic it is, then, when some people choose to separate themselves from God’s Word, and when they avoid the encouragement, instruction, and those necessary admonitions of fellow Christians.   The result is often that they end up putting their faith on a starvation died that – if unchecked – will inevitably kill faith altogether.  The old “mule” needs its oats; sawdust in the feed bag is deadly.

Perhaps another reason for loss of faith is that those who justify their wrongdoing must inevitably (and arrogantly) deny the truth and authority of the inspired Scriptures.    And once they have undermined in their own hearts the right of God’s Word to rebuke them in their sins and to guide them with regard to righteous living……then they have opened the door of their souls to doubts about all of Scriptures’ other claims, directions, assurances, and promises.   Ever since the serpent first tempted Eve, Satan has sought to seduce believers with the unsettling question: “Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1).

Affirming God’s existence and making pious-sounding statements about Him while habitually disobeying Him creates a tension in our souls that is ultimately unbearable.  There simply is no way to remain faithful to God and, at the same time somehow convince ourselves that our favorite sinful behaviors are justifiable…….because the LORD plainly says they aren’t acceptable;   but instead that they are reprehensible in His sight.   Read the Ten Commandments.   Study the Sermon on the Mount.   Search the Scriptures.   Over and over and over and over God – Who loves us all….why else would He have sent His Son to be the world’s Savior – over and over God calls sinners to repent of their sins and, through faith in Christ, to be reconciled to Him, producing the fruits of faith that are in keeping with godly repentance.   God doesn’t want anyone, ever, to end up in hell because of unbelief.   Paul puts it so clearly in these words:   “God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

But if we refuse to repent, the only way out of the dilemma is to conclude that He hasn’t spoken to us…..or that He doesn’t speak the truth……or that He doesn’t exist after all.   The inevitable result of persistent impenitence is: “a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Heb 3:12).   And, should that be the case, Jesus warns: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”because the Lord has no choice but to eternally punish unbelief.

So, Let’s Examine Ourselves   “Examine yourselves,” the Apostle Paul instructs us, “to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Cor 13:5).  As we’ve searched the Scriptures today, and examined our lives and attitudes in their light……..Do we find evidence that we’ve failed to faithfully address and repent of our sinful behavior and inclinations?      In our lives are there some indications of early (or advancing) heart-hardening toward God?    Do you see any of the signs that suggest a diminishing love for God, and a budding absence of true fear of the Lord?

If so, then repent of all those sins of thought, word, and deed.    Flee for refuge to His infinite mercy, seeking and imploring His grace, His forgiveness for Jesus’ sake, with the confidence that reconciliation and restoration are ours.

And know that God will not write you off or cast you away.  “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”    And that “all” includes you and me.   That’s why we can be confident that the Lord stands, ever ready, to bring us back to Him whenever we begin to drift away – just as the Father waited and welcomed home his wayward son in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son.    What’s more, as we continue in His Word, the Lord assures us that through the Holy Spirit He will keep us in the true faith and enable us to stay on “the narrow way” which leads to eternal life in heaven through faith in Him.  

So, let’s repent of the many ways where we’ve failed to live up to the Lord’s righteous expectations, and let’s recommit ourselves….for today and every day in the future… daily studying the Scriptures, to regularly receiving the Lord’s Supper, to seeing to it that our children are promptly Baptized, to consistently attending Divine worship services, and to encouraging and participating in Christian fellowship and service opportunities..    As we do….repentance, reverence for the Lord, and the daily renewing of our faith will be a continuing part of our spiritual lives, until – in faith – we enter life everlasting in heaven for Jesus’ sake.   Let’s close now with these words from the letter of Jude:  “To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy–to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!”   Amen!

            I live near an active quarry, just west of I-49, by the Wagon Wheel Road exit, in Springdale.   Twice each week, like clockwork, the quarry operators use explosives to blast apart some of the limestone that’s found throughout the quarry area.   Our house is situated well outside the blasting – or danger – zone, and yet we can always hear and feel the blasts when they occur.   Sometimes our whole house shakes and rattles from the concussion of the explosion.  Over the years we’ve  grown accustomed to the blasting – to the point where often we barely notice anymore.   However, occasionally there are some really big blasts that do get our attention.   Through them I’m reminded of just how powerful and dangerous those explosives can be.      

            While my wife and I don’t live inside the quarry’s “danger zone,” we do live daily in another, much more deadly,“Danger Zone.”   So do you.    That Danger Zone includes this sinful world in which we live, with all its potentially soul-damaging (perhaps, even soul-destroying) power. It also includes the Devil with his evil influences, as well as the sinful nature within us…..a treacherous, wicked foe if ever there was one!  Now, whether or not we regularly recognize those dangers around and within us that are so deadly to our souls, there’s no denying that they are present, powerful, and potentially damnable.

            This morning the portions of God’s Word upon which we’ll meditate, in their unique ways, all call to our attention those spiritual dangers with which we must daily and devotedly contend.

            For example, in our Old Testament Lesson we’ll consider readings from Proverbs and Lamentations which remind us 1) the Lord is aware of all we do; 2) that we are sinful;   3) that we need to examine ourselves against the Word of the Lord; and 4) that we ought to daily repent of our sins.  

            Through today’s Epistle Readings, from James and Revelation, we’ll be reminded not to be complacent about, or live in denial regarding our sins.   Instead, testing our actions, attitudes, and words via God’s Law, we will want to repent of what’s sinful and – instead – pursue that which is God-pleasing. 

            This morning’s Gospel Lesson is Jesus’ familiar parable of the Sower and the Seed.   Through it  we’ll see that not all who hear God’s Word (including some in which that Word works faith) embrace and faithfully retain it in their hearts.  Unless we’re vigilant and continue to remain in His Word, those sinful desires within us and worldly influences outside us can damage and even destroy a person’s faith. 

            In our Children’s Lesson we’ll compare various diagnostic tools to one of the functions of God’s Word, namely our use of it in order to “test” our faith.  

            Finally on the basis of today’s Sermon Text, from II Corinthians, we’ll endeavor to take to heart Paul’s inspired counsel about the critical importance of regularly testing/ examining, our faith and godliness (or lack thereof) on the basis of the Word as a way of remaining in the true faith.

Pre-Service Prayer Dear Father in heaven, let me rejoice with my fellow Christians gathered here this morning as we worship You in Your house.   Reassure me of Your love and forgiveness for me as I confess my sins to You today.    Receive my praises and prayers, humble and imperfect though they be.   Renew my faith and Christian life through Your Word.  And then, return me to my appointed calling in this world, invigorated, equipped, and eager to serve You with all that I am and have, until the day when You call me to that heavenly home which You have promised and prepared for me and all believers, through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.   In His name I pray  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.     Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831

Pre-Service Prayer                                                                                                                                             

Pre-service Music

We Praise Our God

Welcome and Introduction 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 36:1-10

P:         A declaration about the rebellion of the wicked is deep in my heart.   There is no dread of God before his        eyes.

C:         Because he flatters himself in his own eyes too much to notice his guilt and to hate it.

P:         The words from his mouth are deception and deceit.  He has given up being wise and doing good.

C:         He plots deception even on his bed.   He sets out on a path that is not good.  He does not reject wrong.

P:         LORD, Your mercy reaches to the heavens.  Your faithfulness to the skies.

C:         Your righteousness is as high as the mountains of God.   Your justice is as deep as the ocean.   You save both        man and animal, O LORD.

P:          How precious is Your mercy, O God!    So all people find refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

C:         They are satisfied by the rich food of Your house.    You let them drink from Your river of delights.

P:         For with You is the fountain of life.  In Your light we see light.

C:         Stretch out Your mercy over those who know You,  

            Your righteousness to the upright in heart.

The Opening Hymn                                                                 Hymn 234   “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty


1 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,    the King of creation!

O my soul, praise him,    for he is your health and salvation!

Let all who hear Now to his temple draw near,    Joining in glad adoration!


2 Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things     is wondrously reigning

And, as on wings of an eagle,   uplifting, sustaining.

Have you not seen All that is needful has been   Sent by his gracious ordaining?


3 Praise to the Lord, who has fearfully,   wondrously, made you,

Health has bestowed and, when heedlessly   falling, has stayed you.

What need or grief Ever has failed of relief?   Wings of his mercy did shade you.


4 Praise to the Lord, who will prosper    your work and defend you;

Surely his goodness and mercy    shall daily attend you.

Ponder anew What the Almighty can do   As with his love he befriends you.


5 Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all    that is in me adore him!

All that has life and breath, come now   with praises before him!

Let the Amen Sound from his people again;   Gladly forever adore him!


after which the Congregation will rise


We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


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

Congregation   Holy and merciful Father, +   I confess that I am by nature sinful   +   and that I have disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and actions;    +    I have done what is evil in Your

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


Pastor              Our gracious Lord and Master has shown us His mercy:   He has given His one and only Son to save us from all  our sins.     And now, under His command and authority,   I forgive you all your sins   in

the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  May the peace of God rest upon all of you.   

Congregation   Amen.



Lord Have Mercy


P:         For all that we need in life, and for the wisdom to use all Your gifts with gratitude and joy, hear our prayer,      O Lord.

C:         (Sung)   Lord have mercy

P:         For the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from Your love and for the courage to stand firm       against the assaults of Satan and every evil, hear our prayer, O Christ:

C:         (Sung)   Christ have mercy.

P:         For the well-being of Your holy Church in all the world and for those who offer here their worship and      praise, hear our prayer, O Lord

C:          (Sung)    Lord have mercy.

P:         Merciful God, Maker and Preserver of life, uphold us by Your power, and keep us in Your tender care:

C:         (sung)   Amen.

P:         The works of the Lord are great and glorious;   His name is worthy of praise.

(Sung)  O Lord, our Lord,   How glorious is Your name in all the earth.    Almighty God, merciful Father,

 Your crown our life with Your love.   You take away our sin;    You comfort our spirit;

You make us pure and holy in Your sight.    You did not spare Your only Son, but gave Him up for us all.

O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth.   O Son of God, eternal Word of the Father,

You came to live with us;   You made Your Father known;

You washed us from our sins in Your own blood.

You are the King of glory;   You are the Lord!

O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth

Our Prayer for Today

Blessed Lord, +   You have given us Your Holy Scriptures for the benefit of our faith.   +   May we so hear them,   +   read and learn from them,   +    and take them to heart,   +  that being strengthened and comforted by Your Holy Word,   +   we might cling to the blessed hope of everlasting life   +   which is ours through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ our Lord,   +   Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,    +   as One God, now and forever.   +    Amen. 

After which the Congregation will be seated


We Hear God’s Word

The First Lesson                                                                                                                      Proverbs 5:21-23

21 For the ways of a man are in front of the eyes of the Lord, and he weighs all of his paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked man will capture him, and he will be bound by the ropes of his sin. 23 He will die for lack of discipline, and he will go astray because of his great stupidity.

                                                                                                                                         Lamentations 3:40-42

40 Let us explore and examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord.  41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven. 42 We were disobedient and rebelled, so you did not forgive.

The Epistle Readings                                                                                                          Revelation 3:14-21

14 To the messenger of the church in Laodicea write:   The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation, says this:  15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. If only you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm and not hot or cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, “I am rich. I have become very wealthy and need nothing.” But you do not know that you are miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments, so that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness may not become public, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.   19 I rebuke and discipline those whom I love. So take this seriously and repent.   20 Look, I stand at the door and I am knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in with him and dine with him, and he with me. 21 To the one who is victorious I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.  22 Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.


                                                                                                                                                      James 1:22-27

22 Be people who do what the word says, not people who only hear it. Such people are deceiving themselves. 23 In fact, if anyone hears the word and does not do what it says, he is like a man who carefully looks at his own natural face in a mirror. 24 Indeed, he carefully looks at himself; then, he goes away and immediately forgets what he looked like. 25 But the one who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continues to do so—since he does not hear and forget but actually does what it says—that person will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone considers himself to be religious but deceives his own heart because he does not bridle his tongue, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled in the sight of God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


after which the Congregation will rise, for the reading of



The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                        Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus left the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 A large crowd gathered around him. So he stepped into a boat and sat down, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 He told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen, a sower went out to sow. 4 As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil. Immediately the seed sprang up, because the soil was not deep. 6 But when the sun rose, the seed was scorched. Because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked it. 8 But some seed fell on good ground and produced grain: some one hundred times, some sixty, and some thirty times more than was sown. 9 Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

18 “So listen carefully to the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the seed that was sown along the path. 20 The seed that was sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he is not deeply rooted and does not endure. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. 22 The seed that was sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worry of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it produces no fruit. 23 But the seed that was sown on the good ground is the one who continues to hear and understand the word. Indeed he continues to produce fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times more than was sown.”   

The Apostles’ Creed                                                            to the melody of “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”


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

The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                            Galatians 6:1-10

Brothers, if a person is caught in some trespass, you who are spiritual should restore such a person in a spirit of humility, carefully watching yourself so that you are not also tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if someone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Let each person test his own work, and then he will take pride in regard to himself and not his neighbor. 5 For each man will bear his own burden.

6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with his teacher.  7 Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. To be sure, whatever a man sows, he will also reap. 8 Indeed, the one who sows for his own sinful flesh will reap destruction from the sinful flesh. But the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. 9 Let us not become weary of doing good, because at the appointed time we will reap, if we do not give up.  10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the household of faith


Test Yourself!

The Hymn of the Day                                                                Hymn 431  “I Walk In Danger All The Way”


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.


2 I pass through trials all the way,   With sin and ills contending;

In patience I must bear each day    The cross of God’s own sending.

Oft in adversity   I know not where to flee

When storms of woe my soul dismay;   I pass through trials all the way.


3 Grim death pursues me all the way;    Nowhere I rest securely.

He comes by night, he comes by day,    And takes his prey most surely.

A failing breath, and I    In death’s strong grasp may lie

To face eternity today.   Grim death pursues me all the way.


4 I walk with angels all the way;    They shield me and befriend me.

All Satan’s pow’r is held at bay    When heav’nly hosts attend me.

They are my sure defense;    All fear and sorrow, hence!

Unharmed by foes, do what they may,   I walk with angels 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.


after which the Congregation will rise for


The Greeting


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge

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



Sermon Text                                                                                                                     II Corinthians 13:5-6

5 Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not know this about yourselves: that Jesus Christ is in you—unless perhaps you fail the test? 6 But I hope that you will recognize that we are not failing the test.

Are You Living in A Danger Zone?

The Spiritual Dangers We Face (among others) Are:

The Loss of Love, Fear, and Faith in God

We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord

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

1) You can mail a check (no cash, please) to our church address:    (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745); or

2) You can donate through our website:


After which the Congregation rises for prayer

Today’s Prayers

Included in our prayers this morning:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of Michael & Ann King, who will be

observing their wedding anniversary this coming Saturday.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, Who art in heaven   Hallowed be Thy name;   Thy kingdom come;  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;    Give us this day our daily bread;  And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;   And lead us not into temptation;  But deliver us from evil;   For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory   for ever 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                                                                                                           “Search Me, O God”


Search me, O God, and know my heart today.

Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.

See if there be some wicked way in me.

Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.


Lord, take my heart and make it wholly Thine.

Fill my poor soul with Your great love divine.

Take all have, my passion, self and pride.

Now and forever, Lord with me abide.    Amen.

Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-Service Music