Why Did God Choose Me?

            Have you ever received one of those annoying phone calls congratulating you because you’d been chosen to receive, as a gift, some fabulous vacation?       They usually go something like this: “Congratulations, you’ve just won a cruise, or a Disney vacation, or a 3-day getaway to beautiful Podunkville, Idaho”……okay, maybe not the last place…..But whatever it is, you immediately get the feeling that there’s got to be a catch somewhere in this special offer…..an offer that’s probably going to end up costing you a lot of money and hassle.   Whether you’re just supposed to sit through a sales pitch, or pay a small reservation fee to lock in the vacation they’re offering you, you just know that there has to be a catch.   Because nothing in life is free, right?    Wrong!  

            Something – one thing – is free:   Grace from God.   Well, sort of free.  Grace (the unconditional love and salvation of God through faith in Jesus Christ) cost us nothing, but it cost God everything because in the person of Christ, God died as the payment for humanity’s sin, so that we could be forgiven, reconciled to Him, and – through faith – receive the glory of heaven.

            When you pause to think about it, God’s grace in Christ is an absolutely amazing gift!     It was won for us all at the cross and the open grave when Christ defeated sin, death, and the Devil for us.   But it became yours and mine personally at the moment when God the Holy Spirit, in His grace, called each of us to saving faith in Christ.   And the most amazing part is that none of us earned or deserved such a gift……It’s come to us solely because of the merciful love of our Lord for each of us.  

            Today, it’s an undeniable part our part of our privilege and calling as Christians to carry that message of God’s Grace to everyone else.     And so later today we’ll go out of our church doors back into the world from which we’ve come…..we’ll go reminded that we have a message of eternal life in Christ to bring to our family and friends, our neighbors, work associates, and even strangers….and it’s a message that many need to hear from you and me –  even in these times of social isolation due to the Covid-19 virus.   

            But, as we bring the Good News about Jesus to others,  God wants us to know that it won’t necessarily be well-received by everyone.    Some people (“legalists”) will regard the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ as absolute foolishness.    “Whoever heard of such a thing,” they might say.  “Heaven, for nothing?   I don’t believe it!   A man has to earn what he gets.”    Others (“worldly intellectuals”) will reject the Gospel because the thought of one Man being the Savior of everyone is so fantastic that they just can’t bring themselves to believe it.   Still others (“libertines”) despise the Gospel because they want to be free to believe in anything they choose – not be bound to a specific faith in the God of the Bible.   And so, as our First Lesson shows us, “Faith” in the Gospel is something that doesn’t come about because of our reason – rather, in spite of human reason.   It’s a gift that God chooses to give us through the working of that faith into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  

            Grace is also at the center of today’s Epistle (and Children’s) Lesson in the very familiar, inspired words of the Apostle Paul from his letter to the Ephesians.    In this first half of chapter two, Paul opens by discussing our natural state – that we were dead (and damned) in our transgressions and sins.   But he goes on to declare that our faith today is the result of “God [Who] made us alive” – that is, He did the work of bringing us from spiritual death to life, from unbelief to faith.    Next, the Apostle makes it clear that our conversion and salvation are purely the result of God’s grace – His undeserved love for us that was evidenced in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ in our place.   We simply are called to have faith in Christ and all that He accomplished for us (and not in ourselves).   Lastly, Paul states that – having been saved – there is something that God wants us to do…..not to earn our salvation, but as a grateful response to it:   He wants us to do the good works of faith which the Lord, from all eternity, planned out and prepared us to do.

            Today’s Gospel Lesson comes from the Evangelist Luke’s inspired, and inspiring pen.   It consists of two of Jesus’ “lost” parables:   the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin.    As you probably know, a parable is defined as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”   In every parable there is one main point, and that main point must not be obscured by focusing too much on each and every item or event within the parable.    In both of these teaching stories, Jesus’ main point is the same:   that heaven rejoices over each and every unbeliever (sinner) who comes to faith (“repents” – understood in its broader definition of both godly sorrow over sin and faith which trusts in the Lord for forgiveness).    We need to keep that in mind when we deal with – and especially when we reach out with the Gospel to – persons who do not have faith in Christ.    It requires patience and persistence to evangelize someone.   It also, at times, requires that we lay aside our prejudices and pride in order to serve our Savior and other precious souls for which He gave His life.  Continuing that line of thought, whether it’s the conversion of an infant through the Spirit’s working in Baptism, or an older child or adult coming to faith through the Spirit’s work in the printed or proclaimed Word of God, we too can celebrate along with the angels in heaven each time someone is brought to faith in the true God.

            Finally, this morning’s Sermon is based on the account of Matthew’s conversion and Christ’s calling him into his Apostolic office.   “Why Matthew?”  we might ask, especially as we look at Matthew’s former way of life (a “thieving” tax collector working for the Romans and himself, someone who took serious advantage of his fellow man, and someone who was “excommunicated” from the Jewish synagogues because of his formerly unrepentant sinful lifestyle).   Considering his past, I’d have to admit that Matthew probably wouldn’t be my first, fifth, or twelfth choice as an Apostle of Christ and as a writer of Scripture.   But Jesus wanted him both as a believer and as one of the thirteen apostolic pillars of His early Church.    So, Christ called Matthew from his tax collector’s booth and immediately, by God’s grace, Matthew left that sinful way of life to follow Christ.   That same grace motivated the Lord to bring each of us to faith too.    We don’t deserve to be Christ’s followers anymore than Matthew did, but God wanted us to be part of His eternal Church, and so He effected our conversion and to this day continues to keep us in the one, true saving faith.    One last thought…….As amazing as it was that Matthew immediately got up and followed Christ once Jesus called him, it’s equally impressive that one of the first things that Matthew did upon his conversion was to invite his friends to meet Jesus too.    …..Right now why not think of someone you know who doesn’t know Christ.   Then ask the Lord in prayer to help you reach out to that soul with the Gospel, just as Matthew reached out to his friends.    As you do, it provides the angels in heaven with yet another opportunity to rejoice!



Pre-Service PrayerO Lord God, Almighty Creator, from Whom every good and perfect gift comes, You have bountifully blessed me in the past year.   You have persevered me in Your Word.  You have provided for my bodily needs.   You have protected me from spiritual harm and have kept me in the true faith.  For your abundant goodness to me, I humbly praise and thank You.  This morning I implore You to bless me with Your continued 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 in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Savior.  It is in His name that I pray.   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


Service Introduction and Invitation to Worship


at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


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.


Our Psalm Reading for Today                                                                                       Psalm 119:97-104


           P:  Oh, how I love Your laws!    I meditate on them all day long.

           C:  Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, +  for it is always with me.

P:  I have more wisdom than all my teachers, because your testimonies are my meditation.

           C:  I have more understanding than the elders, + because I guard Your precepts.


           P:  I have kept my feet from every evil path in order to keep Your words.

C:  I have not turned from Your judgments,   + because You, Yourself, have instructed me.

      P:  How sweet are Your sayings to my taste,  sweeter than honey to my mouth!

           C:  From Your precepts I gain understanding    +  therefore I hate every wrong road.


after which the Congregation will be seated for



The Opening Hymn                                                                                      Blessed Jesus At Your Word


1 Blessed Jesus, at Your Word   We are gathered all to hear You.

Let our hearts and souls be stirred   Now to seek and love and fear You,

By Your teachings, sweet and holy,   Drawn from earth to love You solely.


2 All our knowledge, sense, and sight   Lie in deepest darkness shrouded

Till Your Spirit breaks our night  With the beams of truth unclouded.

You alone to God can win us;   You must work all good within us.


3 Gracious Savior, good and kind,   Light of Light, from God proceeding,

Open now our heart and mind;   Help us by Your Spirit’s pleading.

Hear the cry Your Church now raises;  

Hear and bless our prayers and praises.


4 Father, Son, and Spirit, Lord,   Praise to You and adoration!

Grant that we may trust Your Word,   Confident of our salvation,

While we here below must wander,   Till we sing Your praises yonder.   Amen

After which the Congregation will rise as



We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


Pastor     Brothers and sisters in Christ:    the Word of God urges us to confess to our Lord all our sins of thought, word, and action.   This is something that ought to be daily part of our spiritual lives, and should come forth from every heart that is humble and penitent.    But we should especially do this when we meet together in His house to thank God for all that He has done for us, to praise Him, and to hear His life-giving Word.    Therefore, come with me now, to our Heavenly Father’s throne of grace, and let us confess our sins together.


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

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



 Pastor    Having humbly and sincerely confessed your sins before Almighty God, now be strengthened in your faith, mindful that our Lord is not willing that anyone should perish eternally, but that everyone should come to repentance, turning from their evil ways and receiving from Him everlasting life.    God has directed those who serve in His name to proclaim His forgiveness of sins to all who are penitent.   Therefore, rest assured that your sins have been fully covered by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ your Savior.  May the peace of God rest upon all of you.   In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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



The Congregation responds by singing:                                           “All Glory Be To God On High”

                                                                               sung to the melody of “Almighty Father, Strong To Save”

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


The Prayer For This Morning


O Almighty God,   +   Who alone can transform the unruly wills    +  and selfish affections of sinful mankind;   +   Grant unto us, Your people,   +   the desire to love those things which You command,   +   and the faith to confidently believe   +  what You promise us in Your Word;    +  so that, in the midst of the many changes that take place    +    in this world in which we live,   +   our hearts might always be firmly fixed     +  on You and Your Word,   +  in which alone, now and forevermore, +    the believer can find true and lasting joy,    +      all this we humbly ask in the name   +  and through the merits   +   of Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord,   +     Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,     +    one God, now and forever.    Amen. 


After which the Congregation will be seated


We Hear God’s Word


The First Lesson                                                                                                            I Corinthians 1:18-


18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 19 In fact, it is written:   I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will bring to nothing.    20 Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Jewish law? Where is the probing thinker of the present age? Has God not shown that the wisdom of this world is foolish? 21 Indeed, since the world through its wisdom did not know God, God in his wisdom decided to save those who believe, through the foolishness of the preached message. 22 Yes, Jews ask for signs, Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified—which is offensive to Jews and foolishness to Greeks, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 We preach Christ crucified, because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


26 For example, consider your call, brothers. Not many of you were wise from a human point of view, not many were powerful, and not many were born with high status. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are strong, 28 and God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things, and the things that are not, to do away with the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before God. 30 But because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us the wisdom from God, namely, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 God did this so that, just as it is written, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”



The Epistle, and Children’s  Lesson                                                                             Ephesians 2:1-10


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


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


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


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


We Don’t Believe on our Own…God Made Us Alive in Christ


After which the Congregation will please rise, out of respect for the words of Christ



The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                  Luke 15:1-10


All the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”


3 He told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, if you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that was lost until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls together his friends and his neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7 I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.


8 “Or what woman who has ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, would not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”



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.




The Sermon Hymn                                                                                     “Jesus Sinners Does Receive”


1 Jesus sinners does receive;   Oh, may all this saying ponder

Who in sin’s delusions live   And from God and heaven wander.

Here is hope for all who grieve–   Jesus sinners does receive.


2 We deserve but grief and shame,   Yet his words, rich grace revealing,

Pardon, peace, and life proclaim;   Here their ills have perfect healing

Who with humble hearts believe–  Jesus sinners does receive.


3 I, a sinner, come to you   With a penitent confession.

Savior, show me mercy, too;   Grant for all my sins remission.

Let these words my soul relieve–   Jesus sinners does receive.


4 Jesus sinners does receive.   Even I have been forgiven.

And when I this earth must leave,   I shall find an open heaven.

Dying, still to him I cleave–   Jesus sinners does receive.   Amen.



The Greeting

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge

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


Sermon Text                                                                                                                         Matthew 9:9-13


9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s booth. He said to him, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed him.


10 As Jesus was reclining at the table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were actually there too, eating with Jesus and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”


12 When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “The healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ In fact, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”



Why Matthew?   Why Me?



The Post-Sermon Blessing


And now may the peace of God which transcends all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord.   Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the 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 (www.gracelutherannwa.com)

and use the giving option there.

At the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


Ttoday’s General Prayer and Special Prayers for this Day  


Included in our prayer this morning is:

An intercessory prayer on behalf of our sister, Mary Karloski,

who is recovering from her recent surgery; and also

 for Bill Krizsan, who is continuing to recover from surgery for bladder cancer,

and who will soon be undergoing treatment for that cancer;

Plus a Prayer of Thanksgiving

for John and Harriet Johnson, whose wedding anniversary is 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 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 unto 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                                                                               “By Grace I’m Saved”


1 By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless; 

My soul, believe and doubt it not.

Why stagger at this word of promise?

Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?

No! Then this word must true remain;

By grace you too will life obtain.

2 By grace! None dare lay claim to merit;

Our works and conduct have no worth.

God in His love sent our Redeemer,

Christ Jesus, to this sinful earth;

His death did for our sins atone,

And we are saved by grace alone.


3 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.


4 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.    Amen.



The Second Distribution Hymn                                                                                                                                   Your 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.   Amen.


Following the distribution, at the Pastor’s invitation the Congregation will rise as



We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Prayer


The Benediction


Pastor–         The LORD bless you and keep you.

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

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



The Closing Hymn                                                                             “On What Has Now Been Sown”


1 On what has now been sown   Thy blessing, Lord, bestow;

The pow’r is Thine alone   To make it sprout and grow.

Do Thou in grace the harvest raise, And Thou alone shalt have the praise!


2 To Thee our wants are known,   From Thee are all our pow’rs;

Accept what is Thine own  And pardon what is ours.

Our praises, Lord, and prayers receive,  And to Thy Word a blessing give.


3 O grant that each of us,   Now met before Thee here,

May meet together thus   When Thou and Thine appear

And follow Thee to heav’n, our home.    E’en so, amen, Lord Jesus, come!



Silent Prayer

Announcements , Post-Service Music




Last Week at Grace Lutheran Church                                                                                                        

Worship Attendance:  46                 Tuesday Bible Class: 18           

Budgetary  Offerings: $ 2110      Online budgetary:   $2040.51     Online Benevolence: $ 51.80

Capital Improvement:   $10       Benevolence:   $20


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church


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

“30 minute Bible Class,” begins 5 minutes after close of worship

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

       Sunday        Morning Worship  9:30 a.m.

                             Bible Class, after worship (30 minutes)


This Week’s Birthdays and Anniversary

August 04 – Lori Meyers;     August 04 – Mike Outlaw;    August 08 – Tim Huebner

August 08 – Harriet and John Johnson


Serving Us Next Sunday                                    Elders:   John Johnson, Steve Stone, Tim Pfortmiller

Ushers:   Kent Mayer,  John Wambold,,  Jim Winnat    Altar Guild:  Linda Winnat,  Christine Quinlan



Lesson One:    The Character of Abraham

“Following God’s Call……No Matter How Hard,

and Fulfilling God’s Purposes for our Lives”




            You probably know some husbands and wives who dearly wanted children, but who waited many years – all the while wondering whether or not it would ever be possible for them to have even one child.   Then one day, a baby enters their lives.  For them, the gift of that child is an especially joyful event, because they had waited and hoped so long for it.   That baby IS one of the most wonderful gifts which God could have given them…..and they know it and thank Him for it!

            In Genesis 12 God had called a childless, and rather old Abram to leave his family and friends of 75 years.  What’s more, the LORD told Abram to proceed to a new land that He would eventually reveal to Abram.   To follow that call took great faith, both in Abram’s act of leaving what was familiar and in proceeding to an unknown, foreign destination.    But – as we see throughout his life story, recorded fr us in Genesis, Abram never wavered;   he simply went where the Lord told him to go and did what God told him to do.

            In Genesis 15 God had repeated and amplified the promise he first made to Abram in Genesis 12, indicating that he would become the father of a great nation…..a remarkable promise, since both Abram and Sarai were well beyond the “normal” child-bearing years.  Yet God kept His remarkable promise by giving them a “miracle baby” in their one and only son, Isaac.   (That event is recorded for us in Genesis 21).

            Of course, theirs wasn’t exactly a “happily ever after story.”   Their household faced a variety of challenges, but none greater than when Isaac was an adolescent/young adult.   It was obvious to God just how much Abraham loved God, and how much he also loved his son Isaac.   But the Lord wanted to test the patriarch’s faith….for Abraham’s benefit (and for ours as well).   So the Lord instructed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering.   To Abraham this must have seemed an unreasonable….even an inhumane order from God.   How he must have trembled at the thought of putting his son to death as the proof of his love for the Lord!

            Yet, Abraham immediately began making plans to obey God’s command, difficult as it was.  He loved his son Isaac very much.   But he loved His LORD even more….and Abraham trusted that somehow, in some way, God would do what was best for him and would still keep His specific promise that He had made earlier to Abraham, that “the family line of your descendants will be tranced through Isaac” (Gen 21:12).   The journey from his home to Mount Moriah would take Abraham and Isaac three long, emotionally-draining days to complete.    While Abraham and Isaac were ascending alone to the top of the mountain, Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the offering.   Abraham gently, but also faithfully, answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”    Upon reaching the top, Abraham built an altar, laid wood on top of it, tied up Isaac, and placed his bound son on the wood.    Having raised his knife, just as he was about to plunge it into his beloved son, the Angel of the LORD stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac.   The Angel said, “Do not do anything to him.  For now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”   When Abraham looked up, he saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush.   Abraham took that ram and offered it — in Isaac’s place — as his sacrifice to God.   The relief and joy that must have filled Abraham’s heart is something to which, I dare say, none of us can to relate.   But the love that Abraham had for the Lord is something to which we can aspire as we grow day by day in our faith.   God had given Abraham a supreme test of faith, and the great patriarch passed it with flying colors!


Key References:           Genesis 12:1-9                                                                                    Genesis 22:1-19                             Hebrews 11:8-19           


Notes on the Genesis 12


Gen 12:1          *  “Abram” – the word means “exalted father.”   Later (in Genesis 17:9) the Lord changes Abram’s name to “Abraham” which means “Father of many [nations].”   


                        *   “I will show you” – the tense (time) of the verb is very significant here.   The Lord had not yet identified for Abram the place to which he was going.    Eventually God would tell him where to settle.   At this point, Abram receives a “directionless direction” from the Lord;   Abram had no idea whether he was going to travel north, south, east or west.    He simply trusted God to guide him and bring him safely to his destination, wherever that final destination would be.   Now, there’s faith!!!


Gen 12:2          *   “I will make you a great nation”  – In fact, many nations and ethnic groups do trace their heritage back to Abram/Abraham.   Can you identify a few?


*   “I will bless you”  – Abram would have many children, plus he would become even wealthier.


                        *   “[I will] make your name great” – And, as God promised, Abraham’s reputation/fame would increase.


                        Of all the blessings Abram received from God (there are seven identified in these verses…..can you list them all?), what do you suppose was the most precious to this patriarch, and why?


Gen 12: 3         *    “All the families of the earth will be blessed in you – This is a specific allusion to the Savior…….the promised Offspring of Abraham Who would inevitably bless the entire world through His sacrificial death for us all.    This promise is repeated with growing clarity and scope throughout Genesis and the OT.


Gen 12:4          *   “So Abram went, AS THE LORD HAD TOLD HIM”  – He did exactly what God said.    What an example for us!   (See Hebrews 11:8)


                        *    “Abram was seventy-five years old” – an old man by this time…..although he would also live another full century, and die at the ripe old age of 175.  (See Genesis 25:7)


Why do you think it’s so hard for so many of us to take God’s directions, promises, and statements exactly as He says?


Gen 12:5          “Canaan” – the name comes from Ham’s son (9:18,25).


Gen 12:7          *  “The Lord appeared to Abram” – Frequently the Lord appeared to Abram/Abraham and a number of other individuals in the OT and NT.   (Can you name any of those persons?).    In these visible appearances or manifestations the Lord showed Himself in a limited manner to people who believed in Him.    At no time did God reveal Himself to any of these persons in His full glory.   To have done that would have resulted in the death of any one of them.


                        *   “I will give this land to your descendants” – A promise God would keep when He delivered the land and its inhabitants into the hands of the nation of Israel some 500 plus years later in 1410 B.C.


Gen 12:8          “proclaimed the name of the Lord” – that is, he worshiped the Lord.  (a common OT expression for worship)


Gen 12:9          “Negev” – the dry, wasteland desert region in south Palestine/Canaan.   It stretched all the way south from Beersheba into the Sinai.



Notes on the Genesis 22


Gen 22:1          “God tested Abraham” – Bear in mind that God doesn’t “tempt” anyone to sin (James 1:13);   that is the work of the Devil (I Cor 7:5).   But the Lord does “test” his people in the sense that He develops and strengthens our faith (Exodus 20:20) and also proves to us the extent of our commitment to Him (Deut 8:2).


Gen 22:2          *   “Your ONLY son whom you LOVE” – The Holy Spirit phrased the inspired record this way for emphasis, reminding us of Isaac’s significance to his aged father.     It also makes us mindful of Isaac’s role in the promise God had made to Abraham……the promised Savior would come through Isaac (Gen 21:12).   Therefore, in a very real way, when God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, He was also asking Abraham to put his salvation in jeopardy.


*   “Moriah” – see II Chronicles 3:1, where the writer tells us that Mt. Moriah eventually became the site of the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem.  At the time of our story it was about 45 miles north of Abraham’s home at Beersheba.   Today this site is home to the Muslim “Dome on the Rock,” which was completed in 691 A.D.   It’s presence on a site that is spiritually significant not only to Muslims, but also to Jews and even to us Christians has produced a multitude of religio-political controversies over the years right up to today.


*    “Offer him there as a burnt offering” – God called for a total commitment and consecration from  Abraham……to sacrifice to the Lord is to give Him our very best, without holding back anything…..ever!   That’s the type of sacrifice Christ made for us;   see Ephesians 5:25.


WHY did God ask all this of Abraham?   What would you be willing to give up/sacrifice in order that you might remain faithful to the Lord?


Gen 22: 3         “Early in the morning” – Abraham didn’t hesitate.  Prompt obedience to the Lord was a hallmark trait of Abraham’s character.   Do we respond as well, as quickly and completely to the Lord’s commands?


Gen 22:5          “We will worship and then WE will come back to you”    Don’t fail to note Abraham’s confidence, born not out of arrogance or a heart set on disobeying the Lord’s command, but rather driven by faith.   Consider how Romans 4:11 describes Abraham for us.    Also, don’t fail to understand this statement in the light of Hebrews 11:19.    Abraham believed that if the Lord said a great nation – and especially the Savior for all mankind – would be reckoned through Isaac, then even if he took Isaac’s life at the Lord’s command, God could and would raise his son back to life so that His promise to Abraham would be wholly kept.


Gen 22:6          “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and loaded it on Isaac, his son”   — Do note the similarity here between Isaac carrying the wood by which he would be sacrificed to the Lord, and Christ carrying His cross to Calvary….where He was sacrificed to His heavenly Father as the ultimate offering for the world’s sins, including yours and mine.


Gen 22:8          “God Himself will provide the lamb” – This shows us Abraham’s considerate love for his son, not wanting to cause him any distress before it was absolutely necessary.   It also reveals Abraham’s great faith, which trusted that God would, in some way, provide a way out.


Gen 22:11        “The Angel of the LORD” – this is the pre-incarnate second person of the Trinity (Christ).   The Hebrew term “malak adonai” is regularly used in the OT (see Genesis 48:15-16; Exodus 3:1-15;   Joshua 5:13;   Judges 6:11-24;   Isaiah 63:8-9; and Malachi 3:1 for examples).    Because of the divine characteristics He possess (e.g. “from Me,”) we can confidently adduce that this Angel is no ordinary, created angel, but is instead Himself a divine personage, yet one distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit……and, hence, is God the Son.


Gen 22:12        “That you fear God” – Let’s keep in mind that for the believer to “fear” God does not mean he/she will tremble in abject terror before the Lord.  Rather, it means that we will recognize and respect God’s absolute claim on all that we possess and all that we are.   It requires a total submission to Him, and is part of the First Commandment’s demand upon our lives.


Gen 22:14        “The LORD Will Provide” (Hebrew “Jehovah-jireh”) — when the Lord provides a test for His children, He always provides a way out (I Corinthians 10:13).


                        In what ways was Jesus like Isaac?    In what ways was Jesus like the ram?


Gen 22:16        “I have sworn by Myself” – It’s no sin to take a godly oath (Hebrews 6:13;   also see Matthew 26:63-64).   And there is, obviously, no greater name by which the Lord could take an oath than His own name.


Gen 22:18        “In your Seed” – a reminder that Abraham’s “ultimate seed/descendant,” the Promised Messiah would bring everlasting blessings for all the people of the world.   He will come, suffer, die, and rise to pay the price and secure forgiveness for the sins of every human being.



Discussion Questions



  1. Mention some ways in which Christians are called by God to leave father and mother, family and friends to carry out His will?


  1. HOW do you think Abraham felt about this entire experience while it was happening? How do you suppose he felt afterward….by the time he arrives back home in Beersheba (Gen 22:19)?


  1. WHAT do you suppose Isaac learned about God from the events in Genesis 22? ……about his father, Abraham?


  1. Why does the Lord put His children to the test? In what ways has He tested you?     In the following passages, how does God test our “loyalty” to Him?    (Matthew 10:37;   Mark 8:38;    I Corinthians 10:13;   Acts 14:22.


  1. What truths can you find from these two stories hat are meaningful/important for your life and faith?


  1. Some of the more “important” gifts that you possess at this time might include the following: Money;   Home;    Job;   Family;    Health;    Recreation/Vacation Time;    Friends;    Your faith in God;    a favorite pet;     Your intelligence. ……..Now arrange them in priority order, starting with that which is of LEAST importance to you, and ending up with that which is of greatest importance.