The Nineteenth Sunday after  the festival of the Holy Trinity

also known as the Twenty-first  Sunday of the Pentecost Season

October 18, 2020




What’s the Big Deal if I Sin Some

and Then Am Sorry Afterward?


            David was a poor parent, an adulterer, liar and murderer too.   He had a harem of wives….contrary to God’s express command.    Yet He’s described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart.

            Saul was an unbeliever and blasphemer, as well as a violent man who attacked Christians.  Yet he was called to serve as an Apostle.  He was – arguably – the greatest Christian missionary of all time.   Plus Paul was the inspired writer of half the New Testament.

            Moses was a murderer, had a temper, and was initially unwilling to serve God when the LORD called him to lead the Israelites out of slavery.   He came up with multiple lame excuses – none of which God accepted, of course.   But the LORD used Moses to lead Israel for 40 years.   He wrote the Bible’s first five books under inspiration.   And he joined Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration to encourage Jesus on His journey to Jerusalem to die for the salvation of all of us.

            Then there was Peter.   He was “a piece of work.”    That impulsive braggart lied by denying he even knew Jesus…..letting his friend, and Savior down at a critical moment.   But he not only remained as an Apostle, Peter preached a powerful sermon on Pentecost and was one of the early church’s key leaders.  The Holy Spirit also used him to write the two New Testament epistles that bear his name, and he was the witness behind Mark’s Gospel.


            The brothers James and John were disciples of Jesus who were self-promoters and hot-heads.  They coveted the top positions in Jesus’ kingdom.   And, when a Samaritan village wasn’t hospitable to Jesus, they wanted to figuratively “nuke” it with fire and brimstone from heaven.  (Jesus rebuked them, of course.)   Instead of “firing” them, James would become the first apostle to be martyred for Christ.  John, on the other hand, was the only member of the Twelve not to die a martyr’s death.   He lived into very old age, and was known in his latter days as “the Apostle of Love.”   He, too, was guided by the Holy Spirit to write five books of Scripture:   the Gospel of John; the three Epistles of John; and Revelation.  

            And let’s not forget Abram/Abraham, “the Father of the Faithful.”   In many ways the Bible fairly depicts him as the epitome of the obedient believer who loves God.   When God told him to move, he moved.  When God told him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to Him, Abraham was willing to do it – unbelievably hard though it was.   Abraham trusted God implicitly and is a model of faithfulness for us.   But He also had multiple wives – contrary to God’s wishes.  And Scripture records him as twice telling the lie that his wife, Sarah, was merely his sister, in order to save his own skin.   Abraham was a sinner who needed his Savior too – just like me and you.

            Finally, there’s Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew.   He benefitted richly from God’s blessing Abraham.   In 2 Peter he is described as a righteous man.   But he made some very selfish, sinful choices not only in moving near the wicked city of Sodom, he later moved his family into it.   When degenerates in the city pounded on his door, demanding to have their way with the two angels God sent to rescue his family (how foolish was that on the part of the men of Sodom?), Lot incredibly offers the men his two daughters to “use” sexually as they saw fit.   Later, after Lot survived God’s destruction Sodom through fire and brimstone, and he and his daughters are living in a cave, the girls get him drunk and he engages in incestuous sexual behavior with them……and yet the Bible calls him a “righteous man.”

            What’s the point of highlighting these sins of these Biblical examples of faith and service?

            Simply this.   Often God’s people excuse their sinful behaviors by looking at others around them – or looking into Scripture – to find examples of others who have behaved as badly or worse…..but ended up being forgiven by the LORD and used by Him to accomplish His purposes.   If David, Saul/Paul, Moses, Peter, James, John, Abraham and Lot can do those things, and God still loved them…..then can’t I “get away” with some sinning too?

            Whether we’re talking about the sins of anger, bitterness, lust, adultery, pride, greed, a vulgar and vile mouth, apathy, worry, drunkenness, disrespect for authorities God has placed over us,  or one of the countless other sins humans not only commit, but often enjoy……since we’re all sinners, so Christians sometimes reason, sin is unavoidable.   Nobody’s perfect.   Sin happens….including from me.  What’s more, since Jesus lived, died and rose for all my sins, I’m fully forgiven.   So, what’s the big deal?   Can’t I sin and then say I’m sorry after that (even if not right afterward)?   It’s not like God is going to send me to hell, is He? 

            No…. He’s not.   But He does have every right to.   And, sinners though we might be, we have no right to sin – at all.   God’s directives, “Be holy as I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2), and “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) are not simply “pious suggestions” from God or “righteous recommendations” that the LORD doesn’t honestly expect us to keep to the letter.    They are absolute expectations from Him for us.   No compromises.   No excuses.    No “wiggle-room.”

            What’s critical for each of us, then, are these two things in connection with our sinfulness and inherent inability to be righteous.    First, God’s forgiving grace through Christ that does fully forgive us the eternal consequences of our sins (and sometimes spares us their earthly consequences as well).   That grace – and the faith in Christ that the Holy Spirit works in us – provides every one of us with the assurance that we are freely forgiven and are heirs of heaven according to God’s mercy.    Second, as the Holy Spirit enables us (and our sinful nature can resist Him!) we will want to be genuinely penitent people.   Not saying, “I know I’m a sinner….BUT.”   Instead, we’ll mean it when we echo the words of the Tax Collection in Jesus’ parable about him and the Pharisee, “God have mercy on me a sinner!”

            “So, does God care if I sin?”   Absolutely.    Our sins matter to Him.  The Father sacrificed His Son for us sinners!   The LORD’s holiness matters to Him too…..and His holiness cannot tolerate any sin.   Consequently, “but nobody’s perfect” is no excuse.   Because Jesus was perfect for us, every one of us has been forgiven by God’s grace.   Why, then would we want to abuse that grace?   Instead, in gratitude for God’s grace to us let’s strive daily, honestly, to repent of all our own sins, and strive with the Spirit’s power to live more God-pleasing lives for our good, and for God’s glory.


            As we continue our summer/fall service and sermon series “Questions God’s People (and sometimes others) Ask” today’s Scripture lessons are:


            The Epistle Lesson is from Romans 7.   In it Paul speaks of his personal struggle with sin….not only pre-conversion, but post-conversion!    Some inside the Church in Paul’s day, as well as in our day, want to believe that the Law of God, which confronts us with our sinfulness, is no longer necessary or is even something bad.    To the contrary, says Paul, the Law is not only valuable, it is essential for a believer.    Of course, it can’t serve to show us how to earn heaven (as some wrongly suppose);   already-imperfect sinners can’t ever get to heaven on the basis of their personal goodness….ever!   Nothing imperfect can enter heaven; God says so.   The “perfection” that earned heaven for us is the perfection Christ achieved through the sinless life He lived for us and credits to us.   God sees us as sinless for Jesus’ sake….period.  

            What the Law does for us, then, is to show us our utter sinfulness and its hopelessness, and especially shows us our need for our Savior.    Paul talks here about his personal struggle with the Law.  Hard as he tried to be faithful, he kept on sinning and the law reminded him again and again of that sad fact.   He realized that, as a believer, he was torn between wanting to do what is good in God’s sight, and at the same time wanting to do the evil that is pleasing to his sinful nature.   He felt awful, and frustrated.    What could he do?   The same thing that you and I can do……neither excuse our sinfulness, nor trust not in our goodness, but instead trust totally in the total victory over sin, death and the Devil that our Lord Jesus Christ has won for us as our Savior.  That trust in what Christ has done is what secures my salvation and yours.

            This morning’s Children’s Lesson is based on I John 1:7-9.    John writes here about how our forgiveness and salvation have been won for us through the sinless blood of Christ sacrificed for us.   He talks about people who are willing to admit that they sin, because they want Christ’s forgiveness.   He then compares that with people who won’t admit their sin, and so who don’t think they need Christ’s forgiveness…..even though they do.   Those who are repentant know that’s good for them – Christ’s forgiveness.   Those who don’t know what’s good for them ignore Christ’s forgiveness.   We’re going to use a number of food items to illustrate those contrasting points today.

            Our Gospel Lesson is Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector from Luke 18:9-14.   This parable teaches us that none of us should ever be confident of our own righteousness before God, as though our goodness merits God’s love and secures heaven for us.   That’s because nothing we as sinners do is truly righteous, no matter how hard we try.  The truth, as Isaiah 64 says, is that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”   In this story, then, we see a huge Spiritual problem in the attitude of this  outwardly “godly” man – the Pharisee.   He knows he’s “a little sinful,” I suppose.   But he considers himself so much better than others – particularly that Tax Collector in the corner – that he is sure God will accept and bless him based on his own merits.    Instead of repenting of his sins, the Pharisee praised himself and repented of the Tax Collectors sins.  How dreadfully wrong he was, as Jesus points out.   Confessing his goodness to God didn’t justify him before God at all.   Comparing himself with the Tax Collector didn’t accomplish anything either.   The Tax Collector, on the other hand, was clearly repentant.  He didn’t “trumpet” his personal goodness to God.  Instead, he humbly acknowledged his utter sinfulness, as well as his absolute need for God’s forgiving mercy.   And he’s the one who went home forgiven.    (Let’s all have the Tax Collector’s “attitude” when we confess our sins this morning during worship!)

            Finally, today’s Sermon Text is the story of Cain and Abel, centering on the two dialogs between God and Cain.   In both we see God’s grace to Cain.  First the LORD calls Cain to repent of his sins of jealousy, bitterness and anger and their spiritually dangerous effects.    Then, after he has murdered Abel, God again approaches Cain with another opportunity to repent, but Cain doesn’t repent;   instead, he disrespects God.    Even toward the end, Cain expresses not repentance over his murderous act, but regret at its possible effect for him – that someone might now try to harm him in retaliation.   Once more God shows grace to Cain in putting a sign for protection on him, that his life might be spared even as he now lives as an outcast as a consequence for his murderous act.


Pre-Service PrayerO Heavenly Father, please guide me in wisdom and truth through Your Holy Spirit, as I spend this hour meditating on Your Word and rejoicing in Your limitless love for me.  Assist me in being attentive in heart and mind to Your Word, as well as to the hymns of praise, the various petitions, and the prayers of thanksgiving my voice directs toward You.  Use this worship service, O Lord, to deepen my love for You, to strengthen my trust in You, and to renew my commitment to You.  All this I ask for the sake of and in the name of Your One and only Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior.  Amen. 


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

 by the Warburg Project.   All rights reserved.


Prayer upon entering the sanctuary

Pre-service Music



We Praise Our God


The Introduction and Invitation to Worship


The Opening Hymn                                                                           “With the Lord Begin Your Task”


1 With the Lord begin your task;       Jesus will direct it.

For His aid and counsel ask;       Jesus will perfect it.

Ev’ry morn with Jesus rise,       And when day is ended,

In His name then close your eyes;       Be to Him commended.


2 Let each day begin with prayer,       Praise, and adoration.

On the Lord cast ev’ry care;        He is your salvation.

Morning, evening, and at night       Jesus will be near you,

Save you from the tempter’s might,       With His presence cheer you.


3 With your Savior at your side,       Foes need not alarm you;

In His promises confide,        And no ill can harm you.

All your trust and hope repose       In the mighty Master,

Who in wisdom truly knows       How to stem disaster.


4 If your task be thus begun        With the Savior’s blessing,

Safely then your course will run,       Toward the promise pressing.

Good will follow ev’rywhere       While you here must wander;

You at last the joy will share       In the mansions yonder.


5 Thus, Lord Jesus, ev’ry task       Be to You commended;

May Your will be done, I ask,       Until life is ended.

Jesus, in Your name begun       Be the day’s endeavor;

Grant that it may well be done      To Your praise forever.     Amen



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 Ghost.   Amen.”


The Confessional Order of Service


Pastor             “O LORD, Open my lips.”


                        Congregation –   And my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.



Pastor             “Hasten, O God, to deliver me.”


                        Congregation –   Make haste to help me, O Lord



Pastor             “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.”


                        Congregation – A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.


                        Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

                        As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end.  Amen.



We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


Pastor –         “I now ask you before God, who searches your heart, do you confess that you

 have sinned against God  and deserve His wrath and punishment?  Then declare so by saying, “I do confess.”


Congregation –  “I do confess.”


Pastor –         “Truly you should confess, for the Holy Scriptures say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive  ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

                      Second, do you, with all your heart, repent of all your sins, committed in

                  thought, word, and   deed?  Then declare so by saying, “I do repent.”


Congregation – “I do repent.”


Pastor –         “Truly, you should repent, as other penitent sinners have done:  King David, who prayed for a contrite  heart;  Peter, who wept bitterly;  the sinful woman, the prodigal son, and others.

Third, do you sincerely believe that God, by grace, for Jesus’ sake, will forgive

                 you all your sins?  Then declare so by saying, “I do believe.”


Congregation –  “I do believe.”


Pastor –         “Truly you should so believe, for the Holy Scriptures say, “God so loved the world that He gave His  one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Fourth, do you promise that with the help of the Holy Ghost, you will, from

this time forward, reform your sinful life?  Then declare it by saying, “I do promise.”


Congregation – “I do promise.”


Pastor –         “Truly, you should so promise, for Christ, the Lord says:  “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”     

Finally, do you believe that through me, a called servant of God, you will receive from God the  forgiveness of all your sins?   Then declare it by saying, “I  do believe.


Congregation – “I do believe.”


Pastor –         “Upon this, your confession, I, because of my office as a called and ordained servant of God’s Word, announce the  grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place, and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  I  forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Peace  be with you.  Amen.”


After which the Congregation will be seated


We Hear God’s Word


The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                               Romans 7:7-25


What will we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I would not have recognized sin except through the law. For example, I would not have known about coveting if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity provided by this commandment, produced every kind of sinful desire in me.


For apart from the law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive without the law. But when this commandment came, sin came to life, 10 and I died. This commandment that was intended to result in life actually resulted in death for me. 11 You see, sin, seizing the opportunity provided by this commandment, deceived me and put me to death through it.


12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good. 13 Then did what is good become death to me? Absolutely not! But sin, so that it might be recognized as sin, brings about my death by this good thing, so that through this commandment sin might prove itself to be totally sinful.


14 Certainly we know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 But now it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 Indeed, I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out. 19 So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me.


21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22 I certainly delight in God’s law according to my inner self, 23 but I see a different law at work in my members, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin, which is present in my members. 24 What a miserable wretch I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!


So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my sinful flesh I serve the law of sin.


after which the Congregation will rise


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                  Luke 18:9-14


9 Jesus told this parable to certain people who trusted in themselves (that they were righteous) and looked down on others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple courts to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of all my income.’


13 “However the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even lift his eyes up to heaven, but was beating his chest and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’


14 “I tell you, this man went home justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”



The Nicene Creed


I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,  and of all things visible and invisible.  And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God,  Light of Light.  Very God of Very God.  Begotten, not made.  Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made;  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven   And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary   And was made man;  And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.  He suffered and was buried;  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures;  And ascended into heaven,  And sitteth on the right hand of the Father;   And he shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;  Whose Kingdom shall have no end.   And I believe in the Holy Ghost,  The Lord and Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,  Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,  And I look for the resurrection of the dead,  And the life of the world to come.  Amen.



After which the Congregation will be seated for


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                              I John 1:7-9


7 But if we walk in the light, just as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


Every Day We Have To Choose What’s Good – and Not Good


The Sermon Hymn                                                                                   “Before You, God, the Judge of All”


1 Before you, God, the Judge of all, With grief and shame I humbly fall.

I see my sins against you, Lord, My sins of thought and deed and word.

They press me sore; to you I flee: O God, be merciful to me!


2 O Lord, my God, to you I pray:   Oh, cast me not in wrath away!

Let your good Spirit ne’er depart,   But let him draw to you my heart

That truly penitent I be:  O God, be merciful to me!


3 O Jesus, let your precious blood     Be to my soul a cleansing flood.

Turn not, O Lord, your guest away,    But grant that justified I may

Go to my house at peace to be:  O God, be merciful to me!   Amen




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




The Sermon Text                                                                                                        based on Genesis 4:1-15


The man was intimate with Eve, his wife. She conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I have gotten a man with the Lord.” 2 She also gave birth to Cain’s brother Abel.


Abel tended sheep, but Cain worked the ground. 3 As time passed, one day Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil. 4 Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord looked favorably on Abel and his offering, 5 but he did not look favorably on Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and his face showed it.


6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why do you have that angry look on your face? 7 If you do good, will you not be lifted up? If you do not do good, sin is crouching at the door. It has a strong desire for you, but you must rule over it.”


8 Cain said to Abel, his brother, “Let’s go into the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked Abel, his brother, and killed him.


9 The Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?”


He said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”


10 The Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the soil. 11 Now you are cursed and sent away from the soil which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the soil, it will no longer give its strength to you. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”


13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear. 14 Look, today you have driven me away from the soil. I will be hidden from your face, and I will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. And whoever finds me will kill me.”

15 The Lord said to him, “No!   If anyone kills Cain, he will face sevenfold revenge.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that anyone who found him would not strike him down.


                                    The Choice We Face Every Day



The Blessing       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…now and forever.  Amen.



We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate today during today’s worship

service those in attendance may leave their offerings in the offering plates

by the exit door at the close of our service today.

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

1) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to the church address

(415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can go online to our website (

and use the giving option there.

We Bring Our Prayers to the Lord


     The Prayers for Today


           Included in our Prayers this Morning…

Prayers of Thanksgiving  on behalf of Bill Krizsan, who learned this past week

that his cancer treatments have been successful so far;

and one on behalf of Mike Outlaw, whom our Lord took through a successful

neck surgery this past week.


A Prayer of Thanksgiving and continued Intercession for Mary Pudas

as she continues to make progress in her battle to recover from Covid-19.



The Lord’s               Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name;   Thy

Prayer                       kingdom come;  Thy will be done    on earth as it is in heaven;    Give us this day our daily bread;    And forgive us our trespasses,    as we forgive those who trespass against us;     And lead us not into temptation;     But deliver us from evil;  For Thine is the kingdom,  and the power,  and the glory,   forever and ever.  Amen.


We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


Pastor –         The Lord be with you.


           Congregation      And also with you



     Pastor –          Lift up your hearts.


           Congregation      We lift them up to the Lord



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


           Congregation      It is good and right so to do   



Consecration of the Elements                                                                                                                                                                            



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


           Congregation   Amen.



The Exhortation Regarding the Lord’s Supper


                                                                           (Please read the following if you have not spoken with

                                                                                   our Pastor about taking communion.  Thank you.)



     We ask that only “Confirmed, Communicant” members of this congregation, or of one of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod congregations come forward to receive the Lord’s Supper at this time.                                                                                                                                                      

     We believe, according to Scripture, that only those who are “one,” that is, in complete doctrinal agreement, united in a common public confession of faith, are to commune together at the same altar (see I Corinthians 10:17 and I Corinthians 1:10).

     To be “in communion” means to share and to hold in common.   By eating and drinking at our Lord’s Table, we are not only sharing in, with, and under the bread and wine, Jesus’ very body and blood…we are also publicly declaring that we hold in common a specific confession of faith.  In other words, as a result of having comprehensively studied the Scriptures together all of our communicants have agreed to accept and proclaim the same Biblical doctrines and practices.

     Through membership in a particular church body (for us, that church body is the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod), each person makes a public statement that he/she is in full agreement with the teachings and practices of that body.  Because not every church body or Lutheran Synod teaches and practices the same things, we in the WELS want to be honest in our recognition of the doctrinal differences that, here on earth, separate us from other church bodies.   Please bear in mind that we are not, in any way, judging the legitimacy of your Christian faith.  Still, we ask that  if you have not (upon study of the Word with us) declared yourself to be in full doctrinal agreement with us, you would respectfully not join us in the Lord’s Supper this morning.  

     It is our prayer that our Scripture-based practice of “Close Communion” will encourage anyone among us today who is not presently in full fellowship with us to seriously examine the teachings and practices of his/her church in order to determine if those teachings and practices are really in full agreement with God’s Word. 

     And if you are guest among us today, we want you to know that it is our earnest desire that you might become familiar with the Biblical doctrines our congregation confesses, in order that you might one day join with us at the Lord’s altar in this public expression of full unity of doctrine and practice.  Until then, please know that we are most grateful for your participation as a fellow Christian in this worship service, and that we appreciate your understanding and respect of our Communion practice. 




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


1 Draw near and take the body of the Lord,  

And drink the holy blood for you outpoured;

Offered was He for greatest and for least,

Himself the victim and Himself the priest.


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

To all believers life eternal yields;

With heav’nly bread makes them that hungry whole,

Gives living waters to the thirsting soul.


3 Come forward then with faithful hearts sincere,

And take the pledges of salvation here.

Before Your altar, Lord, Your servants bow

In this Your feast of love be with us now.



The Second Distribution Hymn                                                                                “Thy Table I Approach”


1 Your table I approach;    Dear Savior, hear my prayer.

Let not an unrepentant heart   Prove hurtful to me there.


2 Lord, I confess my sins   And mourn their wretched bands;

A contrite heart is sure to find   Forgiveness at Your hands.


3 Your body and Your blood,   Once slain and shed for me,

Are taken at Your table, Lord,   In blest reality.


4 Search not how this takes place,   This wondrous mystery;

God can accomplish vastly more  Than what we think could be.


5 O grant, most blessed Lord,   That earth and hell combined

May not about this sacrament   Raise doubt within my mind.


6 Oh, may I never fail   To thank You day and night

For Your true body and true blood,   O God, my peace and light.




We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Prayer                                                                                                                                           


The Benediction            


                       The Lord bless you and keep you.

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

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


The Closing Hymn                                                                              “May the Grace of Christ the Savior”


May the grace of Christ our Savior   And the Father’s boundless love

With the Holy Spirit’s favor   Rest upon us from above.


So may we abide in union   With each other and the Lord

Gathered here in blest communion   By the power of His Word.


Now with all the saints in heaven   Thanks and praise to You we sing,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,   Three in One, our Triune King!   Amen.


Silent Prayer ,  Announcements,  Post-service Music                                                                                       



Last Week at Grace Lutheran                                                      Worship Attendance: 74    Online views: 19

Sunday School Attendance: 4           Bible Class: 22 + 8 online                                  Tuesday Morning BC:  16

Wednesday Evening Bible Class attendance:       Men’s study: 6    Women’s Study: 7

Budgetary Fund: $ 2,22.50                   Capital Improvement:  $1


Birthdays This Week:              Oct 18 – Carolyne Walker;        Oct 22 – Jordan Harper

Oct 23 – Carol Ann Heinemann            Oct 23 – Linda Winnat


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church


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

                       Sunday School/Bible Class – 15 minutes after      Youth Confirmation, 12:00pm

     Tuesday    Morning Bible Study, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

     Wednesday   Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies, 6-7 p.m.

Saturday   Morning Outreach Visits, 10:00 a.m.

     Sunday    Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.

                       Sunday School/Bible Class – 15 minutes after      Youth Confirmation, 12:00pm

Serving Us Next Sunday       Elders:   Tim Pfortmiller, Vic Walker

Ushers:   Tom Otto, Kent Mayer

Altar Guild: Tina Wambold, Harriet Johnson


Bible Classes This Week ………Today our adult class continues its general study called “Lessons Learned From Believers of the Past.”   This morning, we’re studying I Kings 17, 18, & 19.   Our Lesson is titled “A Most Faithful Witness” and is the story of the prophet Elijah.


           Our Tuesday Morning Bible Class (10:30 to 11:30;   both in-person and over-the-phone) is working its way through the book of 2 Samuel.  Tuesday we’ll be in chapters 15-18 (Absalom’s Rebellion).  To join this class over-the-phone, please dial 1-701-802-5405.  The access code is 7519304#.  


                        Also, on Wednesday Evening we’ll offer Bible classes for Women and Men (both in-person and over-the-phone).   The women are studying the book of Philippians under the theme: “Joy.”

Lesson Eight:   A Most Powerful Witness

…..understanding God’s Power

and standing up boldly for His Truth…..


Scripture   I Kings 17:1-7;  18:1,2, 17-46; 19:1-18; and II Kings 2:11



            I dare you…….Stand up in a public gathering and announce to everyone assembled there that anyone who is not a Christian – a BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIAN – will definitely not end up in heaven until he/she repents and comes to faith in the only true God – the Triune God of Christianity.    Stand up and declare that……it IS the truth after all (see John 14:6 and Acts 4:12, among other passages), and then watch the “fur fly.”    Unless you’re in a room full of nothing but like-minded Christians (probably not likely), you’ll be denounced as “judgmental,” “mean-spirited,” “unloving,” “not a real Christian,” or worse!      And we all know why we’d be denounced by the general public, don’t we?    It’s because we live in a “politically correct” and spiritually open-minded culture that truly, sincerely believes one religion is as good as the next.   Or, to put it another way, that all roads (and religions) can lead you to heaven…….provided you’re sincere in what you believe and that you try your best to be a good person.   That’s damnable foolishness…..and not because I, your pastor, think so….but because God SAYS so in His Word!    First it’s foolish because you can’t ever be good enough to get to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9;   Titus 3:4-7).    We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, our Savior.   But it’s also foolishness because the true God simply will not permit Himself to be made the “equal” of the god of Mormonism, Judaism, Islam, Ba’hai, or the “god” of any other religious group.    He has NO equal, because aside from Him there is no other God through whom we can be saved  (Isaiah 45:5, 21;   Isaiah 43:10,11;   Isaiah 42:8;   Matthew 4:10;   Psalm 115:3,4;   and John 5:23).    Any and every other religion is false.   Any and every other “god” is an idol that can only take its worshipers straight to hell.



            Now, it was the task of the Old Testament prophets to speak out for God against the sinful idolatry of the Israelites (and, subsequently, the Jewish people) and to plead with them for a return to the worship of the LORD.   These prophets boldly predicted that if such a return did not take place, there would only be terrible destruction and damnation ahead.   Elijah was one of those faithful prophets for the LORD.

            At the time of the events in our reading, notoriously wicked Ahab was king over Israel.   His rule began about 874 B.C. and continued to 853 B.C.   Although he knew Who the true God was, he was weak-willed, ruled by his wife Jezebel and led by her into worshiping the idol Baal.   Throughout the land of Israel she spear-headed the construction of heathen temples and gave support to hundreds of pagan priests.   In no time at all Baal worship became the religion of almost the entire nation.   This was the deplorable situation that Elijah faced when God sent him to serve as His prophet in Israel.  

            Because of their rejection of Him, the LORD God had punished Ahab and Israel with a terrible drought.   However, most of the people continued to worship Baal rather than to repent and return to the LORD.   At this point Elijah set up a daring contest to prove once and for all whether Baal was the true, almighty God, or Jehovah, the LORD.   Two sacrifices were setup on two altars on a huge flat field on top of Mount Carmel.    One altar was a recently constructed pagan altar and the other was a ruined heap of stones which had once been an altar to God.   An animal would be placed on each altar and the God who consumed the sacrifice would be accepted as the true God.   The atmosphere was electric, almost like a championship sporting event dominated by fanatical fans……. There was Elijah all alone, pitted against hundreds of prophets of Baal, with their respective altars in the center surrounded by masses of Israelites all “cheering” for their god Baal and against Elijah and the LORD!   What followed was one of the greatest, most dramatic and LORD-affirming moments in all of Scripture as well as human history.



Looking at God’s Word


17:1     “Elijah” – He appears suddenly out of nowhere and vanishes even more mysteriously (II Kings 2:11).   Just as Moses was a type of Christ, so Elijah was a type of John the Baptist.  His faith in God knew no limits.   His zeal was all-consuming, and his obedience was absolute.   He would deliver a message from God before men, reinforce it with miracles, and disappear.


18:1     “Let rain fall”   Elijah announced the drought in I Kings 17:1.   The famine and drought during the three years was so severe that the king himself went in search of grass which was needed for animals for military and commercial reasons.  Elijah would now go to Ahab to announce the termination of the drought.


18:19   “Mount Carmel” – Elijah demanded a meeting of all Israel including the 450 prophets of Baal, on a huge, flat field half way up Mount Carmel.


18:20   “How long will you waver between two opinions” – Israel was at a fork in the road.   It wanted to go both ways, but couldn’t.   Then, as today, one cannot serve two masters; how foolish we are when we think we can!   Elijah submits that a choice must be made.   A daring contest by fire is proposed to prove to the people that they must make a choice, that Baal is worthless, and that the true God, Jehovah, alone lives, cares and rules.  


18:26   “they danced around the altar they had made” – Baal didn’t answer the prophets from morning to noon.  So, the prophets of Baal danced in a vain attempt to attract Baal’s attention.  In the next verse Elijah taunts them with some cutting sarcasm.   Eventually these godless prophets even cut themselves, getting their blood to flow, hoping Baal might pity them.    But there was no answer……because Baal couldn’t care…..he simply didn’t exist.


18:30   “He rebuilt the altar of the Lord” – After the altar was rebuilt, Elijah placed wood, then placed the bull he had cut onto it, and next had the people pour water over it (an interesting request, given the 3 years’ worth of drought that was still going on!).   Of course, it also made the contest even more daring.    


18:40   “slaughtered” – Deuteronomy 13:6-11 and other verses decreed that the death penalty was to be imposed on anyone who seduced the Israelites into serving other gods.


19:8     “40 days and 40 nights” – In Exodus 34:28 we read that Moses was with the Lord for 40 days and nights without eating or drinking.  A similar experience takes place here with Elijah.   (Later they would be partners in the Transfiguration – Matthew 17).   Jesus also went 40 days and nights without eating in the wilderness.

19:12   “a gentle whisper” – While God had manifested Himself in nature at other times,  here He speaks to Elijah in a gentle, quiet voice.  


II Kings 2:11  “a chariot of fire and horses of fire” – His work finished – some 20 years after the Mount Carmel incident – God finally, lovingly and dramatically takes the great prophet directly into heaven without tasting death.    (Only one other believer’s earthly life was so ended – without experiencing death.    Can you identify him?)   



General Discussion


What was the purpose and work of the OT prophets?   (How many can you name?)


Pastors have some functions today that are similar to those of the OT prophets.   How many of those ministerial/prophet-like functions can you identify?


What prophecy did Elijah make in our story?


Speaking of prophets, what’s the simple Biblical standard when it comes to accepting, or rejecting any prophet and his message?   (See Deuteronomy 18:22)


In verse 16 Ahab calls Elijah the “troubler of Israel.”  Why did Ahab think so poorly of Elijah?    In what way might/should we be “troublers” in America (and for some of the people that we know) today?


Do you think Elijah was afraid of Ahab?   (Give some “support” for your answer….)


Why do you think Ahab was willing to go along with Elijah’s challenge against his (Ahab’s) “god” Baal?


Why do you think Elijah was willing confront not only the prophets of Baal, but all of Israel, as well as Ahab and Jezebel on Carmel?


Were the prophets of Baal native Israelites?  (see 16:31-32)


Why do you think the people of Israel didn’t say anything in response to Elijah’s challenge (v.21)?  


(Be specific here….)   What forms/types of idolatry do you see in the world around us today?


Two miracles took place on Mt. Carmel.   Which were they?


Has your faithfulness to God ever led you into any “spiritual showdowns” with someone?     If so, when……and what happened?


What would have happened had God not answered the prayer of Elijah?


Give some examples today of how even our loyalties as Christians can sometimes be divided between God and someone/thing else.


When the people shouted “The Lord – He is God!” they were…….(you fill in the thought)

Have you ever wondered how Elijah was able to outrun that chariot?   (v. 46)


I Kings 18 ends with a victory for the LORD, for His prophet Elijah, and for the thousands of believers in Israel who remained faithful to the LORD.    How long did that victory last, and what should we learn from this particular aspect of the story?     (See I Kings 19:1-3)


Why did Elijah flee into Judah?  (especially into the desert, of all places?)


Notice Elijah’s “tone” in speaking to the Lord (19:4).   Have you ever addressed God with a similar spirit/attitude?


Does it seem, at times, as though God is distant in your life….that He doesn’t care?    


How – in the end – did God lead Elijah past his period of despondency?  (19:15-18)    What “lesson” is there for us (when we “get down”) from this part of the story?





I Kings 17:1-7  

Elijah from Tishbe, one of the settlers in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As surely as the Lord lives, the God of Israel before whom I stand, there will be no dew or rain during the coming years, except at my word.”   2 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Leave this place and turn east. Hide yourself by the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the stream, and I will command the ravens to provide for you there.” 5 So Elijah went and did just as the Lord had said. He lived in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening, and he drank from the stream. 7 After some time the stream dried up because there had been no rain in the land.


I Kings 18:1,2, 17-46

After a long time, the word of the Lord came to Elijah. (It was during the third year.) He said, “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain to water the surface of the ground.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab……..17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is that you, the one who brings trouble on Israel?”


18 Elijah said, “It is not I who have brought trouble on Israel, but rather you and your father’s house, because you abandoned the Lord’s commandments and followed the Baals. 19 But now gather all Israel before me on Mount Carmel, along with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab sent word to all the people of Israel, and he assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.  


21 Then Elijah said to all the people, “How long will you stagger around on two crutches? If the Lord is God, follow him. If Baal is God, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a single word.   22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I am the only one left of the Lord’s prophets, but the prophets of Baal total four hundred fifty men. 23 Provide two bulls for us. Let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it up and place it on the firewood, but they are not to light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the firewood, but I will not light the fire. 24 Then you will call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers with fire, he is God.”  All the people said, “This proposal is good.”


25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull, and you go first because there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god. But do not light the fire.”    26 So they took the bull which had been given to them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, “Baal! Answer us!” But there was not a sound. No one answered. So they staggered around the altar which they had made.   


27 When noon came, Elijah mocked them: “Shout louder! He is a god, isn’t he? He may be deep in thought or busy or on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and will wake up!” 28 So they cried out with a loud voice, and according to their practice they cut themselves with daggers and spears until their blood flowed. 29 After noon, they kept up a prophetic frenzy until the time of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound. No one answered. There was no response.   30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” So they came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come and had proclaimed, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 He built the stones into an altar in the name of the Lord. Around it he made a trench big enough to hold about twenty-five pounds[c] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and placed it on the wood.   Then he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the sacrifice and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it again.” So they did it again. Then he said, “Do it a third time.” So they did it a third time. 35 The water flowed all around the altar. It even filled the trench.


36 When the time of the evening sacrifice had arrived, Elijah the prophet stood up and said, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and that I have done all these things by your word. 37 Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you are turning their hearts back to you.”   38 Fire from the Lord fell on the sacrifice and on the wood, the stones, and the dirt. It even licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell on their knees and said, “The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God!”    40 Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let a single one of them escape!” So they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Kishon River and slaughtered them there.


41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for I hear the sound of a heavy rainstorm.” 42 So Ahab went to eat and drink, but Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. He bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, “Go up and look toward the sea.”   So his servant went up and looked, and he said, “There is nothing.”  But seven times Elijah told him, “Go again.”   44 On the seventh time the servant said, “There is a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.”   Then Elijah said to him, “Go up and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down so that the rain does not stop you.’”   45 Meanwhile, the skies got dark with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab got into his chariot and went to Jezre’el. 46 But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he hiked up his garments around his waist and ran ahead of Ahab until he came to Jezre’el.


I Kings 19:1-18

Then Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the fact that he had killed all their prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to say to Elijah, “May the gods punish me severely and even double it, if by this time tomorrow I have not made your life like one of theirs.”


3 Elijah was afraid, and he ran for his life. He went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. There he sat down under a broom tree, where he prayed that he would die. He said, “I’ve had enough, Lord. Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 Then he lay down and went to sleep under the broom tree.


Suddenly an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”


6 Then he looked around, and near his head there was a loaf of bread baking on coals and a jar of water, so he ate and drank, and then he lay down again.


7 Then the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, because the journey is too much for you.”


8 So he got up and ate and drank. Then, with the strength gained from that food, he walked for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 He came to a cave and spent the night there.


Then the word of the Lord suddenly came to him, saying, “Why are you here, Elijah?”


10 He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.”


11 Then the Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is passing by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains and shattered rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.


After the wind came an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.


12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.


After the fire there was a soft, whispering voice.


13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak, and he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”


14 He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.”


15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came and go to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you get there, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 You will also anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah as prophet in your place. 17 Whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill, and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 But I have preserved in Israel seven thousand whose knees have not bent to Baal and whose lips have not kissed him.”


II Kings 2:11


11 While they were walking and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire came and separated them. So Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.