The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity     September 24, 2023   

The Eighteenth Sunday of the Pentecost Season



The Blessings the LORD Gives

…Unexpected and Undeserved


As a minister was addressing a group of men, he took a large piece of paper and made a black dot in the center of it with a marking pen.  Then he held the paper up in front of the group and asked them what they saw.   One person quickly replied, “I see a black mark.”   “Right,” the preacher replied.  “What else do you see?”  Complete silence prevailed.  “Don’t you see anything other than the dot?” he asked.   A unison chorus of “no”  came from the audience.   “I’m really surprised,” the speaker went on.   “You’ve completely overlooked the most important thing of all — the sheet of paper!”   Then he made this application:  He noted that in our daily lives we often end up becoming distracted by the various small, dot-like experiences we have – generally they’re disappointments.  Instead, we are inclined to forget the innumerable blessings that we do receive daily from the hand of the Lord.   Like the full sheet of paper compared to the black dot, the good blessings we are given are far more significant than the adversities that too frequently command our attention.

That reminds me of a short poem that, although it is somewhat trite, expresses some valuable, practical advice.   Someone once wrote:

 “As you travel down life’s pathway, may this ever be your goal:

Keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole!”

Instead of focusing on the troubles and trials of life, let’s fix our attention on the daily (often unexpected) blessings God gives us, none of which we deserve, yet they are all ours by His grace.  We’ll endeavor to do that through today’s the Scripture lessons, hymns and prayers, as we also continue our summer service/sermon series on the life of Joseph the Old Testament Patriarch.  

As we consider our blessings, we’ll start with our Old Testament Lesson/Sermon Text’s story of Jacob, who is close to passing away, choosing to give the first-born’s doubling-blessing to his favorite son, Joseph.  Keep in mind that Joseph was actually the 11th of Jacob’s  twelve sons.   Joseph’s mother, Rachel, was Jacob’s most beloved wife.   She died while giving birth to his brother, Benjamin.  All she had were two children.   So, as he prepares to bless Joseph, Jacob does something unusual;   he instead blesses Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh (the older of the two) and Ephraim.   As he gets ready to do that, Jacob tells Joseph that he is going to adopt both of these grandchildren as his own sins, so that they will each receive an inheritance equal to all of Jacob’s other sons.  (In so doing, Joseph receives the first-born’s “double portion.”)  Next, Jacob crossed his hands, so that he blessed the younger grandson (Ephraim) with his right hand….the preferred hand of blessing….while he blessed Manasseh with his left hand.  Consequently, Joseph was surprised – and a little offended.   He initially corrected his father, but Jacob assured him that he was giving this “cross blessing” intentionally.  Of course, what Jacob did was both undeserved, and also quite unexpected.    The varied ways God extends His grace to us, of course, are also both undeserved and unexpected….particularly His blessing of our forgiveness and salvation to us through Christ’s sinlessness, death on the cross and His resurrection. 

Today’s Epistle Lesson is Ephesians 1:3-14.  It happens to be one of Scripture’s key passages regarding the doctrine of Election.    That doctrine, which we’re studying in our Tuesday morning Bible class (please join us!), is a comforting teaching focusing on God’s grace to us in Christ.   It teaches us that even before the world was created (in eternity) God individually elected, or chose, us to believe in Him and to inherit eternal life in heaven.  That chose wasn’t because of our worthiness, or even because we are “not as bad as others;”   God’s election is not something any sinner should expect.   Rather, it is purely because of His undeserved love (Grace) toward us in Christ, our Savior, that our God has chosen us to be His children and to live with Him forever in heaven.


Our Gospel Lesson is the beginning portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon that’s ever been preached, and perhaps the most misunderstood.   That introductory section is commonly known as “The Beatitudes.”   Here Jesus sets the tone for the sermon’s discussion and application of the Ten Commandments.  But His message in these verses and over chapters five through seven is not a “golden rule” (“do good to others as you want them to be good to you”)/earn your way into heaven message.    Instead, Jesus is speaking to people who are already saved through faith in Him.   What He does here is to detail some of the characteristics and qualities that make a believer a godly individual who is growing in his/her life of sanctification.   The verses before us do not tell us how to “become blessed” (to earn God’s blessings), but describe eight ways in which our God has chosen to bless us in Christ.

Finally, the Children’s Lesson for today is based on the familiar words of Jesus in Luke 11:28, where He tells us that a person is truly blessed when that person listens to and faithfully follows God’s Word.  

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 O Lord God, Almighty Creator, from Whom every good and perfect gift comes, You have bountifully blessed me throughout the days of my life.   You have chosen me as Your own – granting me the faith to believe in You.   You have also preserved me in that one, true Christian faith through Your Word and Sacrament.  You have provided for my bodily needs.   And You have protected me from all spiritual harm.  For Your abundant goodness to me, I humbly praise and thank You.  In however many days and years that might lie ahead for me, I implore You to continue to bless me with Your abiding presence, Your Fatherly protection, and Your guidance in all areas of my life.  I submit myself to Your gracious will, with the confidence that You will use me, as Your humble servant, in whatever ways will serve to further Your glory and Your kingdom. Bless and enrich my faith as I hear Your Word today, and receive my heart-felt praises, prayers, and offerings, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Savior and Lord.  It is in His name that I pray.   Amen.

Pre-service prayer                                                                                                                                             

Pre-worship music


Let Us Praise The Lord


The Greeting and Introduction to Worship


The Invocation

Pastor                  We begin this service in the name of the Father

Congregation Who gave us our lives through His almighty power.

P:       And of the Son

C:       Who redeemed our lives with His precious blood.


P:       And of the Holy Spirit

C:       Who gave us eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

P:       Amen.                              



The Responsive Psalm for Today                                                                                             Psalm 1

P:       How blessed is the man who does not walk in the advice of the wicked,  who does not stand on the path with sinners, and who does not sit in a meeting with mockers.

C:       But his delight is in the teaching of the Lord,   +   and on His teaching he meditates day and night.

P:       He is like a tree planted beside streams of water,  which yields its fruit in season,  and its leaves do not wither.

C:       Everything he does prospers.

P:       Not so the wicked!

C:       No, they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.

P:       Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

C:      Yes, the Lord approves of the way of the righteous, +   but the way of the wicked will perish.



The Congregation will then be seated for



The Opening Hymn                                                                                                                 Hymn 234

                                                                                                        “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”


1 By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;   My soul, believe and doubt it not.

Why waver at this word of promise?   Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?

So then this word must true remain:   By grace you, too, shall heav’n obtain.


2 By grace God’s Son, our only Savior,   Came down to earth to bear our sin.

Was it because of your own merit   That Jesus died, your soul to win?

No, it was grace, and grace alone,   That brought him from his heav’nly throne.


3 By grace! Oh, mark this word of promise   When you are by your sins oppressed,

When Satan plagues your troubled conscience,   And when your heart is seeking rest.

What reason cannot comprehend   God by his grace to you did send.


4 By grace to timid hearts that tremble,   In tribulation’s furnace tried —

By grace, despite all fear and trouble,   The Father’s heart is open wide.

Where could I help and strength secure   If grace were not my anchor sure?


5 By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying;   In Jesus’ promise I rejoice.

For though I know my heart’s condition,   I also know my Savior’s voice.

My heart is glad; all grief has flown  Since I am saved by grace alone.



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.

 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

The Prayer For Today


Almighty God, our heavenly Father, +   we praise You this morning – that though we deserve only punishment for our evil deeds, +  You still embrace us as Your children   +   and by Your grace, You provide for all our needs of body and soul. +   Through Your Holy Spirit, working in the Word and Sacraments, +  grant that we might all grow in our faith, +  gratefully celebrate Your merciful goodness toward us, +  give You our sincere thanks for all Your blessings, +   and truly commit ourselves to obediently serving You all our days.  + Finally, when our time on earth is through, + grant us the joy and bliss +   of spending eternity in heaven with You,   + our Merciful Father. +   This we ask in the name   + and for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, +   Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, as the one, true God,   +  now and forever.   +   Amen. 

After which the Congregation will be seated as



We Listen to the Word of God

The First Lesson                                                                                                    Genesis 47:13-48:22


13 There was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan grew weak because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan as payment for the grain that they purchased, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When all the money in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan had been spent, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die right in front of your eyes? Look, our money is running out.”

16 So Joseph said, “Give me your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock if your money is gone.”

17 They brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, and for the flocks, and for the herds, and for the donkeys. He supplied them with food for that year in exchange for all their livestock. 18 When that year was ended, they came to him during the second year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord the fact that our money is all spent, and the herds of livestock belong to my lord. My lord can see that we have nothing left but our bodies and our lands. 19 Why should we die right in front of your eyes, both we and our land? Purchase us and our land in exchange for bread, and we along with our land will serve Pharaoh. Give us seed, so that we may live and not die, so that the land will not be desolate.”

20 So Joseph purchased all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh, because every man among the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine had them in its grip, and the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he made them all servants from one end of the territory of Egypt all the way to the other end of it.  22 The land that belonged to the priests was the only land that he did not purchase, because the priests had a regular allotment from Pharaoh and ate from the allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land. 23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Since I have purchased you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you to sow the land. 24 This is what you shall do at the harvests: Give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths will be your own share, which you can use as seed to sow the field and as food for yourselves, for everyone in your household, and for your little ones.”

25 They said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.”

26 Joseph made it a regulation concerning the farmland in Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should receive a fifth of the produce. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.

27 Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they acquired possessions for themselves there. They were fruitful and multiplied greatly. 28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were one hundred forty-seven years. 29 The time drew near that Israel must die, so he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh and deal kindly and truthfully with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, you are to carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.”

He said, “I will do as you have said.”

31 He said, “Swear to me,” and he swore to him. Israel bowed himself on the head post of the bed.

48:1      Sometime after these things Joseph was told, “Come right away. Your father is sick.” So he took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him. 2 Jacob was told, “Look, your son Joseph is coming to you,” so Israel gathered his strength and sat up on the bed.

3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 4 He said to me, ‘I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make you into a community of peoples, and I will give this land to your descendants after you as a permanent possession.’ 5 Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, will be counted as mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will count as my sons the same as Reuben and Simeon. 6 Your sons that you father after them will count as your own. For receiving their inheritance they will be registered under the name of their brothers. 7 As for me, when I came back from Paddan, to my loss Rachel died on the journey in the land of Canaan when we were still some distance from Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”

8 Israel saw Joseph’s sons and asked, “Who are these boys?”

9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.”

Israel said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.”

10 Now the eyes of Israel were failing because of his age, and he could not see. Joseph brought the boys close to Jacob, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I did not think I would see your face, but now God has let me see your offspring also.” 12 Joseph moved them from Jacob’s lap, and he bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 Joseph led them both. He led Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel, crossing his hands, stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, though Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 He blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,

the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,

16 the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,

bless these lads,

and let my name be placed on them,

and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.

Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, he was displeased. He held up his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”

19 His father refused and said, “I know, my son. I know. He also will become a people, and he also will be great. However, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” 20 He blessed them that day with these words: “Israel will pronounce a blessing using your name, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.’” So he placed Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21 Israel said to Joseph, “You see that I am dying, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. 22 In addition, I have given to you one share more than your brothers: the ridge of Shechem that I took out of the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                       Ephesians 1:3-14

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

4 He did this when he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ. He did this in accordance with the good purpose of his will, 6 and for the praise of his glorious grace, which he has graciously given us in the one he loves.

7 In him we also have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in keeping with the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. 9 He made known to us the mystery of his will in keeping with his good purpose, which he planned in Christ. 10 This was to be carried out when the time had fully come, in order to bring all things together in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have also obtained an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in keeping with the purpose of his will. 12 He did this so that his glory would be praised as a result of us, who were the first to hope in Christ.

13 In him, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and in him, when you also believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own possession, so that his glory would be praised.

After which the Congregation will rise for

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                          Matthew 5:1-12


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up onto a mountain. When he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He opened his mouth and began to teach them. He said these things:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 

because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

    because they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the gentle,

    because they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    because they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

    because they will receive mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

    because they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

    because they will be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

    because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. In fact, that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

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 at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He will 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.

Following which the Congregation may be seated for



Our Children’s Lesson                                                                                                           Luke 11:28

28 But he [Jesus] said,  “Even more blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”

This Is How You Can Be Blessed Every Day

The Sermon Hymn                                                                                                                  Hymn 384

                                                                                                                                 “By Grace I’m Saved”


1 By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless; My soul, believe and doubt it not.

Why waver at this word of promise? Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?

So then this word must true remain: By grace you, too, shall heav’n obtain.


2 By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, Came down to earth to bear our sin.

Was it because of your own merit That Jesus died, your soul to win?

No, it was grace, and grace alone, That brought him from his heav’nly throne.


3 By grace! Oh, mark this word of promise When you are by your sins oppressed,

When Satan plagues your troubled conscience, And when your heart is seeking rest.

What reason cannot comprehend God by his grace to you did send.


4 By grace to timid hearts that tremble, In tribulation’s furnace tried —

By grace, despite all fear and trouble, The Father’s heart is open wide.

Where could I help and strength secure If grace were not my anchor sure?


5 By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying; In Jesus’ promise I rejoice.

For though I know my heart’s condition, I also know my Savior’s voice.

My heart is glad; all grief has flown Since I am saved by grace alone.



The Greeting


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                                                                                                                     Genesis 48

today’s Old Testament Lesson

The “Crossed” Blessing


after the Sermon, the Congregation will rise for



The Post-Sermon Blessing

May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers;    May He never leave us or forsake us.   May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways.    Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts 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) to the church address

 (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can also donate on our website:


after the offering is presented, the Congregation will rise for


Today’s Prayers

Included in our prayers this morning is a prayer of thanksgiving and continued intercession for our brother, Tom Otto, who continues to recover at Apple Creek Rehabilitation Center in Centerton from his recent operation. 

and also

A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of

Ceilidh and Jeremiah Tabor, whose wedding anniversary

was last Sunday;   for

Rebecca Johannes and Andrew Birkmaier who were joined

 in Christian marriage yesterday in Mankato, MN;   and for

Ken and Lisa Pudas, whose anniversary is today

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 Conclude our Worship

The Benediction

The LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make His face shine on You and be gracious to you,

The LORD look upon you with favor,

 and grant you His peace.   Amen.

The Closing Hymn                                      Hymn 327  “God Be With You Til We Meet Again”


1 God be with you till we meet again,  By his counsels guide, uphold you,

With his sheep securely fold you–   God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, Till we meet,   Till we meet at Jesus’ feet.

Till we meet, Till we meet–   God be with you till we meet again.   


2 God be with you till we meet again,   ‘Neath his wings protecting hide you,

Daily manna still provide you–   God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, Till we meet,   Till we meet at Jesus’ feet.

Till we meet, Till we meet–   God be with you till we meet again.  


silent prayer


post-service music