The Fifth Sunday of the Season of Lent

also known as Judica (“Judge” or “Vindicate”) Sunday

April 03, 2022

Anyone who doesn’t love Jesus doesn’t

know God (…regardless of what folks say)


            C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian “Apologist” (defender of the faith) once wrote: “On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him.”   And how true that is…..and how we thank God for His limitless, persistent, gracious love toward sinners such as ourselves – indeed, toward the entire world!     Left to our own resources – independent of the Holy Spirit’s working and sustaining faith in our hearts – you and I could neither come to faith, nor remain in the saving Christian faith we’ll be professing today.   Had we been left under the direction of our sinful human nature, rather than loving the Lord and living for Him, each one of us would have persisted in remaining God’s enemies….forever.    Even as believers (and that, solely by the grace of God) our love for and faithfulness to God are inconsistent.  Thank God, then, that our forgiveness and salvation depend on God’s love for us in Christ, rather than on our imperfect obedience and love for Him.   Sadly, the love of God that we celebrate today is ignored by many, and even rejected by people who had once embraced it in faith……only to eventually, willfully fall away again into unbelief.   Our prayer today and always is that the Lord will continue to protect us from Satan, the world, ourselves and preserve us in our faith.


The Last Two Weeks of Lent traditionally known as “Passiontide”

     Although as our preparation for Easter began with “Ash Wednesday” back on March 2nd, with today’s service our preparation intensifies as we enter into the final two weeks of Lent…..a time traditionally known by the term “Passiontide.”   This period of fourteen days’ duration, starting on the fifth Sunday in Lent, was the Church’s first formal effort to commemorate our Lord’s Passion.   Eventually, the fourteen days of Passiontide were incorporated into the season of Lent when the latter was “officially” defined as a 40 day period of preparation (this occurred in the 9th  century A.D.).   “Passiontide’s” purpose is to recall, in a more vivid way than is done on the other Sundays in Lent, the persecutions and sufferings our Lord endured for our eternal deliverance. 


The Fifth Sunday in Lent:   Judica Sunday

            This morning is sometimes referred to as “Passion Sunday.”   But it is also known by a more traditional name…..“Judica Sunday.” That name is taken from the first word of the Psalm appointed to be read during worship on this day, Psalm 43.  The world “Judica” means “judge”.   In our Psalm reading we’re going to declare, “Judge me, O God” because we know that it is God who judges us.  How does He judge us…by our works and merits?  Well, if we were judged by our merit, then we would be guilty of sin and deserving of eternal death.   Thank God we aren’t judged by our merit, but according to Jesus’ merits.  He was sinless in our place and laid down His life for our sins on the cross.  Because of His redeeming work for us,  we will never be punished eternally because of our sins.  May the Holy Spirit bless us as we meditate on the Gospel truth that Jesus was judged for our sins, and so we are now judged perfect according to the righteousness of Christ.


Today’s Worship Service and Scripture Lessons

            In today’s First Reading, we ‘ll give our attention to the arrest, the final portion of his public defense, and the death by stoning of the early Church leader and martyr, Stephen.    In his eloquent message before the Sanhedrin, Stephen details the history of Israel’s (and Judaism’s) disobedience and deliberate rejection of the Lord and the many prophets He sent to them, as well as eventually their own hateful crucifixion of Jesus Christ — the Messiah promised across the pages of the OT Scriptures.    As he concluded his defense (and admonition of this unfaithful spiritual leaders), Stephen condemned them for the same hardness of heart that had affected their disobedient and idolatrous ancestors – declaring that they always resisted the faith-imparting and faith-sustaining work of the Holy Spirit.    Indeed, the fault of their faithlessness was all theirs, because they had turned deaf ears to the OT Scriptures and the words of Christ.  In the same way, all unbelief is ultimately and solely the responsibility of the sinner who – denying the convicting call of the conscience, along with ignoring both the Lord’s “signature” in His creation, and especially the Lord’s written revelation of truth in the Word – spurns the Holy Spirit to his/her damnation. 

            Today’s second reading is our Epistle Lesson.   The overriding concern of the writer to the Hebrews throughout this book is that his readers will remain true to Jesus in spite of the strong temptation to avoid further persecution by renouncing Christ and returning to their former Jewish faith…..a faith which could never save them.  Instead he exhorts them to grow their faith because it is weak./ In fact, he has to chastise them for their spiritual immaturity and encourage them to more faithfully use the Word.   As a part of that exhortation, he informs them of the eternal peril of forfeiting their faith and the salvation Christ has won for them.   With the solemn words “26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice for sins. 27 Instead, there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a raging fire that is going to consume the enemies of God.“    ….he warns them in Christian love that, in effect, there will be “no coming back” to Christ if they throw their faith away.    That love is admittedly very “tough” brotherly love but it is also true…..for believers 1900 plus years ago, and also for us Christians today. 

            In today’s Children’s Lesson, we’ll talk about eternal danger that even Christians face – the danger of weakening our faith in Jesus, and perhaps eventually even throwing it completely away.   The faith which guarantees us a place in heaven is never something we should take lightly or treat carelessly.  The right and only way to stay strong in our faith is very simple:   Jesus says if we want to remain His disciples, we need to “continue” in His Word – that is, to keep on hearing, using and trust the Bible.   So let’s hear and believe that Word every day!

            Finally, this morning’s Gospel Lesson/Sermon is based on Jesus’ painfully blunt, yet gracious, dialogue with certain Jews who had put their faith in Him, some of which were now turning away from Him.   Confronting them with their false belief and its inevitable result –

 eternal condemnation, unless they put their faith solely in Him as their Savior – Jesus declares that they do not know the true God, since they have put their faith in their religious formalism and in their behavior and Jewish heritage as the assurance of their salvation.   Even so, today, rather than embracing the truth from Scripture alone about the Triune Savior-God, many people prefer to put their faith in a generic “spirituality,” or general “deism,” or simply in the goodness of their character as their (false) assurance for heaven……but they do so to their eternal peril.  



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version 

Copyright 2019,   The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.

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


The Confessional Order of Service



Pre-service Prayer                                                                                                                  Pre-service Music


We Praise Our God


The Greeting and Invitation to Worship


after which the Congregation will rise


Pastor      We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.


The Psalm for Today                                                                                                                           Psalm 43


P:  Vindicate me, O God and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;  rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.

C: You are God my stronghold.     Why have You rejected me?     Why must I go about mourning,     oppressed by the enemy?


P:  Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me;  

C: let them bring me to Your holy mountain,     to the place where You dwell.


P:  Then I will go to the altar of God,  to God, my joy and my delight.

C: I will praise You, with the harp,   O God, my God.


P:  Why are you downcast, O my soul?   Why so disturbed within me?

C: Put your hope in God,    for I will yet praise Him,    my Savior and my God.


P:  Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,    for I hide myself in You.

C: Teach me to do Your will,     for You are my God;    Who saves me from my enemies.  You exalted me above my foes;    from violent men You rescued me.


P:  For Your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life;

C: in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble,   for I am Your servant.     



The Prayer for the Morning 


O Gracious Lord God,   +   drive out every trace of spiritual darkness from our hearts  +  that we may see Your Son as our one and only Redeemer   +   and that we may confidently call on Him   +   to deliver us from all our troubles of body and soul.    +  Bless our worship of You this morning   +   that through our meditation on Your Word  +   our faith might grow stronger    +    and our love for Your truth might increase.   +  All this we seek for the sake of Jesus Christ,  our Savior   +   Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit,  +  One God, forever and ever.  +    Amen.



The Opening Hymn                                                                                     “The Morning Light Is Dawning”

                                                                                                      To the tune of “The Morning Light Is Breaking”


The morning sun is dawning,    And I thank God once more

Beneath Whose care awaking    I find the night is o’er:

I thank Him that He’s called me     To be His child and heir;

I know, whatever happens    I’m safely in His care.


O Lord of all creation,    Watch over me this day;

In all I do be near me,     For others too I pray –

To You I do commend them:   Our church, our youth, our land;

Direct them and defend them,    When dangers are at hand.


You are the Vine, O Savior,    May we, Your branches be,

Connected to You firmly,     And for eternity.

Your Spirit place within us,     And let His gifts of grace

Empower us to serve You – throughout our earthly race.


So grant us, Lord, Your blessing       That we may do Your will,

No more Your ways transgressing,     Our calling to fulfill;

To go and tell the Good News:    Christ died for all, that we –

through faith in Him, forgiven —  Have heaven eternally.



The Confessional Order of Service


Pastor      O LORD, open my lips.


     Congregation (sung)   And my mouth shall show forth Your praise


Pastor      Hasten, O God, to deliver me.


     Congregation (sung) Make haste to help me, O Lord


Pastor      The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.


     Congregation –   (sung) 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 Spirit.  Peace  be with you.  Amen.”


After which the Congregation will be seated


We Hear God’s Word


The First Lesson                                                                                                   Acts 6:8-15 and Acts 7:37-60

8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Some men who were from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia) rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to stand up against the wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.    11 Then they secretly induced some men to say, “We heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the experts in the law. They came, dragged Stephen away, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They presented false witnesses who said, “This man never stops making threats against this holy place and the law. 14 In fact, we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs Moses handed down to us.”   15 All those who were sitting in the Sanhedrin were looking intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

……………………….    35 “This is the same Moses they had rejected by saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’ This is the one whom God sent to be a ruler and deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This is the one who led the people out, as he performed wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the people of Israel, ‘God[n] will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’   38 This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our fathers. He received living messages to give to us, 39 but our fathers refused to obey him. Instead they pushed him away and turned back, in their hearts, to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we do not know what has happened to him.’  41 That was the time when they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and were taking delight in the works of their hands.    42 “But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies, as it is written in the book of the prophets:   Did you bring me slaughtered animals and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel?   43 No, you even took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the statues you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.


44 “Our fathers had the Tent of the Testimony in the wilderness. It was just like the model Moses had seen, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it. 45 After our fathers received it from him, they brought it in with Joshua when they took possession of the land from the nations God drove out before our fathers. It was here until the days of David. 46 He found favor in the presence of God and asked that he might obtain a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.    48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands, just as the prophet says:   49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. What sort of house will you build for me? says the Lord, or what is my resting place? 50 Did not my hand make all these things?


51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit! You are doing just what your fathers did. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who prophesied the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers— 53 you who received the law as transmitted by angels, but did not keep it.”   54 When they heard these things, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed up into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 He said, “Look, I see heaven opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”   57 But they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and rushed at him with one purpose in mind. 58 They threw him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.    59 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” After he said this, he fell asleep.



The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                               Hebrews 10:26-38


26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice for sins. 27 Instead, there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a raging fire that is going to consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without pity, on the basis of the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much greater punishment do you think will be deserved by the person who trampled the Son of God underfoot, who considered insignificant the blood of the covenant, by which he was sanctified, and who insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said:   Vengeance is mine. I will repay.   And again: The Lord will judge his people.   31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


32 Remember the former days when, after you were enlightened, you patiently endured a great struggle of sufferings. 33 Sometimes you were publicly shamed by insults and persecutions. At other times you became companions of those who were treated this way. 34 Indeed, you also sympathized with those in prison, and when your possessions were seized, you accepted it with joy, because you knew that you yourselves had a better and lasting possession. 35 So do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 Certainly you need patient endurance so that, after you do God’s will, you may receive what was promised. 37 For in just a little while:   The one who is coming will come and will not delay.  38 And my righteous one will live by faith, but if he shrinks back, my soul takes no pleasure in him.

Afterward the Congregation will rise out of respect forthe words of our Savior



Today’s Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                 John 8:31-59


31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples. 32 You will also know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”   33 “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered, “and we have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be set free’?”   34 Jesus answered, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Everyone who keeps committing sin is a slave to sin. 35 But a slave does not remain in the family forever. A son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because there is no place for my word in you. 38 I am telling you what I have seen at the side of the Father. As for you, you do what you have heard at the side of your father.”    39 “Our father is Abraham!” they answered.    “If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard at the side of God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You are doing the works of your father.”    “We were not born of sexual immorality!” they said. “We have one Father: God.”


42 Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and I am here. Indeed, I have not come on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand my message? It is because you are not able to listen to my word. 44 You belong to your father, the Devil, and you want to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and did not remain standing in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks from what is his, because he is a liar and the father of lying. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Who of you can convict me of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God listens to what God says. The reason you do not listen is that you do not belong to God.”    48 The Jews responded, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”   49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon. On the contrary, I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 I do not seek my own glory. There is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Amen, Amen, I tell you: If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never see death.”


52 So the Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets. Yet you say, ‘If anyone holds on to my word, he will certainly never taste death.’ 53 You are not greater than our father, Abraham, are you? He died. And the prophets died. Who do you think you are?”   54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, about whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 Yet you do not really know him, but I do know him. If I said, ‘I do not know him,’ I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I hold on to his word. 56 Your father Abraham was glad that he would see my day. He saw it and rejoiced.”   57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t even fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?”   58 Jesus said to them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Then they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and left the temple area.



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 may be seated


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                    I Corinthians 9:24-27


24 Do you not know that when runners compete in the stadium, they all run, but only one receives the prize? Run like that—to win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable victor’s wreath, but we do it for an imperishable one. 26 That is why there is nothing aimless about the way I run. There is no pummeling of the air in the way I box. 27 Instead I hit my body hard and make it my slave so that, after preaching to others, I myself will not be rejected.


Don’t Throw Your Prize Away!


The Hymn of the Day                                                                     Hymn 393  “If Your Beloved Son, O God”


1 If your beloved Son, O God,       Had not to earth descended

And in our mortal flesh and blood    Had not sin’s power ended,

Then this poor, wretched soul of mine   In hell eternally would pine

Because of my transgression.


2 But now I find sweet peace and rest;   Despair no more reigns o’er me.

No more am I by sin oppressed,    For Christ has borne sin for me.

Upon the cross for me he died    That, reconciled, I might abide

With you, my God, forever.


3 I trust in him with all my heart;    Now all my sorrow ceases.

His words abiding peace impart;    His blood from guilt releases.

Free grace through him I now obtain;    He washes me from ev’ry stain,

And pure I stand before him.


4 All righteousness by works is vain;    The law brings condemnation.

True righteousness by faith I gain;    Christ’s work is my salvation.

His death, that perfect sacrifice,    Has paid the all-sufficient price;

In him my hope is anchored.


5 My guilt, O Father, you have laid    On Christ, your Son, my Savior.

Lord Jesus, you my debt have paid    And gained for me God’s favor.

O Holy Spirit, Fount of grace,    The good in me to you I trace;

In faith and hope preserve me.


after which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Pre-Sermon Salutation


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!  Amen.



Sermon Text                                                                                                                                   John 8:31-59


Why Is It That So Many People Won’t Believe In Jesus?


The Post-Sermon Blessing


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



We Respond To God’s Word through our Offerings


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.

   However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:      1) You can mail a check (no cash, please) to our church address  (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745); or

2) You can donate through our website:


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord

after the offerings are brought forward, the Congregation will rise for

We Offer  the LORD our Prayers


The Prayers for this Day  –                                                                    


In our Prayers this morning we include:

An Intercessory Prayer for

Mary Beck, who is in hospice care at Circle of Life in Bentonville, and

 for Dan Beck, who is contending with pancreatic cancer.


Today’s General Prayer  


P   Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through  Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.   In His name we offer this prayer and continue now, by praying: 


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



We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


Pastor –          The Lord be with you.


     Congregation   (Sung)   And also with you



Pastor –          Lift up your hearts.


     Congregation    (Sung)   We lift them up to the Lord



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


     Congregation   (Sung)   It is good and right so to do.



Consecration of the Elements                                                                                                                                                                            


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


     Congregation –   (Sung) 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 Distribution Hymn                                                                                          “I Stand Here Before You”

                                                                                                         Sung to the melody of “How Firm A Foundation”


I stand here before You, O mightiest One

In need of forgiveness for wrongs I have done.

Oh, grant me Your pardon, my spirit now pleads

Forgive my transgressions in thoughts, words, and deeds.


The Tempter keeps taunting me day after day,

I often succumb and submit to his way.

From birth I’ve been evil — my mortal flesh weak,

I do not abide by the words that You speak.


I humbly confess with the deepest of shame

The times I abused Your magnificent Name.

In spite of Your right to demand faithfulness,

My life’s often guided by my selfishness.


I covet, I slander, I look with lust, too.

I fail to give honor where honor is due.

I steal and I gossip… far do I fall –

Your perfect commandments:   I’ve broken them all.


Right here at Your table forgiveness is found

In Christ’s holy blood that flowed down to the ground,

His body and blood in the bread and the wine

A marvel of love that is truly divine!


That blood of Your Chosen was shed to erase

The sins of the world.   How I cherish that grace!

Dear God I am thankful to be such a one,

Washed clean by the blood of my Savior, Your Son.



We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Prayer and Blessing


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                                                                 Hymn 324 “Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast”


1 Almighty God, your Word is cast    Like seed into the ground;

Now let the dew of heav’n descend   And righteous fruits abound.


2 Let not the foe of Christ and man    This holy seed remove,

But give it root in ev’ry heart    To bring forth fruits of love.


3 Let not the world’s deceitful cares    The rising plant destroy,

But let it yield a hundredfold   The fruits of peace and joy.


4 Whene’er the precious seed is sown,    Life-giving grace bestow

That all whose souls the truth receive    Its saving pow’r may know.


Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-Service music                                                                                         





Looking Ahead At Grace Lutheran Church

Today                                                                                                                  Choir Rehearsal, 8:40 a.m.                                                                       

                             Morning Worship Service, 9:30 am with Communion

                             Fellowship, 10:45 to 11:05 a.m.     BC/SS, 11:05 to noon

April 05 (Tues)    Morning Bible Class, 10:30 a.m.        

April 06 (Wed)    Soup & Sandwich Fellowship Meal, 6:00 p.m.

                             Midweek Lenten Vespers Worship Service, 7:00 p.m.

April 09 (Sat) Outreach Calling/Visitation:  11:00 a.m.

April 10 (Sun) Choir, 8:40 a.m.                                    Morning Worship Service 9:30 a.m.

                             Bible Classes/Sund­ay School, 11:05 a.m.

                             Easter Outreach Brochure Distribution, noon


Last Week At Grace Lutheran:                           Sunday Worship Attendance: 63               Sunday School Attendance: 5              Sunday Bible Class Attendance: 27           Budget Offerings: $2860.39                 Online Offerings: $178

Tuesday Bible Class: 11                                         Midweek Lent Service: 21                             Offerings:   $278


Serving Us Next Week              Ushers:    Jim Taylor, Jim Winnat, James Boatright

Altar Guild:   Christine Quinlan, Linda Winnat                Elders: John Johnson, Rick Tragasz


This Week’s Birthdays            April 05 – Andy Frazmeier;     April 05 – Cindy Ryan;     April 07 – Tammy Abernathy;


This Week’s Bible Classes   In Bible Class today we’ll move into I Corinthians 16.  We’ll be looking further at how and why Christians present their offerings to the Lord.  For our Tuesday morning Bible class we’re studying the book of Ezra.    Please join us!


Midweek Lenten Worship Service Reminder ….this Wednesday evening, April 6th we’ll conduct our final midweek Lenten Wednesday worship service, beginning at 7:00 p.m.   Under them theme “Seven Times Jesus Spoke” we’ll consider the significance of Jesus’ words, “I Thirst.”   Please join us for this service…and please also bring a non-churched friend, or friends, to share the worship of the Lord with us.


Special Holy Week Worship Services Reminder  –  In a week and a half we’ll have two special opportunities to participate in worship together.  We urge all of you to make your preparations and plans now so that you will be able to join us for both our Maundy Thursday (April 14) worship service with the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 p.m., and our April 15th Good Friday worship service, which will also begin at 7:00 p.m.


Easter Invitation – Brochure Distribution NEXT SUNDAY  After our normal activities on next Sunday, (April 10th), we’re asking you to offer an hour’s worth of your time to help us distribute Easter brochure/ invitations.   This is an important part of our Easter Outreach effort, as we are planning to deliver invitations to worship with us to about 1500 homes in the area immediately around our church.  We need plenty of volunteers to do this.  We hope you’ll be able to join us, for a little exercise, fellowship, and Christian outreach next Sunday afternoon


Easter Brunch Food Items Sign-Up Sheet   On the table in the entryway, and next to the coffee maker in the fellowship hall you’ll find sign-up sheets asking you to provide some food items for our post-service Easter Breakfast.   We hope you’re planning to join us for both the service and this fellowship meal.   If you can bring a brunch item  (donuts, milk, juice, other drinks, cereal and bowls, breakfast bars, desserts, hard-boiled eggs, casseroles, meats, various types of potatoes and other vegetables, etc.) please sign up today or next Sunday We also hope that you will invite and bring friends, family, and guests to join us in celebrating our Savior’s resurrection during the morning worship service, and that you’ll also ask them to join us for our Easter Brunch afterwards.


Please Bring Your Easter Lilies to Church on Easter Sunday….. – We’d like to adorn the front of our church with Easter lilies on Easter Sunday.  Please help us do that by bringing a lily (or lilies) to church.  To volunteer use the sign up sheet in the front lobby, or for more information.


Children’s Easter Egg Hunt Easter Sunday –  The children of our congregation (and their friends) are invited to an Easter Egg hunt to be held here on the church grounds at the close of our post-worship Easter Brunch.   If you’d be willing to help fill the plastic eggs, please volunteer yourself to Debbie Huebner


Names Wanted – Our congregation’s outreach ministry has the goal of seeking out and serving anyone who is not currently churched.  You can be a part of this work by witnessing about Christ to any of your non-churched Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, and Neighbors.    With the celebration of Easter almost upon us, we have a very natural opportunity to share with others our invitation to join us in the celebration of our Savior’s passion, death, and resurrection.   We’d like to extend written invitations to your non-churched friends regarding our Holy Week and Easter Sunday worship services.  But to do that, we need your help.   In writing, please give us the names and addresses of any of your non-churched friends.  We’ll get in touch with them via the mail….and, if you give us the “green light,” we’d be happy to contact them by phone or through a personal visit as well.   Give your names (again, preferably in writing) to Pastor or text (479-685-2440) or email them to him ( 


Rummage Announcement…..In little over one month, our Women’s Group will sponsor a  rummage sale…..on May 14-15.   If you’re one of those persons who does an annual “spring cleaning” of your home, would you please keep our rummage sale in mind?   Even if you don’t do a “spring cleaning,” if you have items you could donate to our rummage sale, that would be very much appreciated.   And, if you might need to bring items earlier than the week prior to the sale, early drop offs will be available in early May.   Please speak with Pastor about this  when the time comes.  We’ll do our best to work with you.

I Corinthians, Chapter 16   

Aimless Gifts….or Planned Offerings?



The story is told of an eccentric rich man who occasionally opened the window of his

penthouse apartment and threw handfuls of dollars to the people in the street below.  It was, so he said, his way of helping the needy.   It is also an extreme example of “aimless” giving.

            In a similar vein, people who have only occasional contact with the Church are apt to be random, aimless givers.  Whenever they do come to God’s house – perhaps at Christmas, for Easter, and in a few assorted other instances – they place some coins and paper bills, or maybe a check, into the offering plate.   In the vast majority of cases, their donations are entirely disproportionately small compared to the many gifts God has graciously given them, as well as devoid of prayerful, purposeful, planned giving.

            The needs of God’s Kingdom are opportunities through which Christians can express their gratitude to God for all the love and many blessings He has graciously given them for Jesus’ sake.  In today’s lesson we will listen to how Paul urges the Christians in Corinth – as well as us today – to follow a simple but effective, seven point plan for properly setting aside appropriate, God-pleasing offerings that express our love for and gratitude to the Lord.


Overview of Chapter 16

            Through a communication delivered to Paul by Stephanus, Fortunatus and Achaius, the Corinthians had asked for the apostle’s guidance on a number of topics.   Paul began his answers to these questions with “now for,”   “now concerning,” and “about” (7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; and 16:1).  As chapter 16 begins, he talks about a special offering that was being gathered for the poor in Jerusalem.   Other matters of importance for Christian fellowship follow.   In the closing, more personal portion of this letter, Paul includes information regarding his plans for the immediate future, as well as references to Timothy and Apollos who were his co-workers, along with his encouragement to them to remain steadfast in the faith and fervent in their love for the Lord and each other, and – finally – a request on behalf of the house of Stephanas as well as some brotherly greetings.


  1. Christian Giving (Verses 1-4)


            Paul’s seven point plan for Christian giving:    1) Offerings should come from every member of the congregation;   2) These offerings should be systematic (regular);    3) A third principle is that of proportionate giving;   4) Emotional appeals for giving shouldn’t be necessary;   because 5) Ones motivation for giving should always be God’s grace to us in Christ;   6) Benevolent funds must be carefully administered;   and 7) Benevolent offerings should be sufficiently generous to be worthy of Christ and the Lord’s servants.    Paul also hints that he might personally go to Jerusalem with their gifts….if these gifts are appropriately generous enough to give dignity to such a journey.


  1. Why are Paul’s discussions regarding offerings so appropriate at this point in his letter?


  1. Why was this offering being taken?


  1. What are Paul’s directions for giving in verse 2? How can we make use of them in our own stewardship of the gifts God has entrusted to us?


  1. Are Paul’s plans for giving consistent with the instructions he gave in 14:40? How does Christian giving differ from the Old Testament tithe?


  1. Contrast your views on “voluntary” giving with “compulsory” giving?



  1. Paul’s Immediate Plans (verses 5-9)


  1. Locate Macedonia on a map (for those of you who have maps in the back of your Bibles). What happened in connection with what we refer to as “the Macedonian call” (Acts 16:9)?   Where were some of the earliest Christian congregations in Macedonia found?


  1. For what reason did Paul intend to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost?


  1. What was the “great door” of verse 9 supposed to be?



III.    Concluding Remarks, Exhortations and Salutations (verses 10-20)


  1. For what reasons should the Corinthians treat Timothy with honor and respect?


  1. Is there any evidence of a rivalry between Paul and Apollos? Why might Apollos have been unwilling to come to Corinth at this time?  (See 1:13)


  1. A particular commentator has referred to verse 13 as “a little sermon in a nutshell.” Why do you think this verse could be a good sermon for a congregation with no pastor?


  1. Why does Paul make a special point of recommending the household of Stephanas to the Corinthians?


  1. Who were Acquila and Priscilla?


  1. Why are interchurch greetings important?


  1. Regarding the “holy kiss” practiced by the early Christian church, see I Thessalonians 5:26;

            II Corinthians 13:12;   Romans 16:16 and I Peter 5:14.



  1. The Final Benediction (verses 21-24)


  1. What does verse 21 seem to indicate? (see Romans 16:22; II Thessalonians 3:17;    Galatians 6;11)


  1. What does the word “maranantha” mean? (Revelation 22:20)



  1. For Discussion


  1. Note the sense of fellowship and unity described in this chapter (e.g., 1, 10, 14, 17, 19, 20). How can we demonstrate such fellowship and unity today?


  1. Is the offering during our worship services an “interruption” or a “part of worship”? Should it come before, or after the sermon?


  1. What is the solution to the church’s perennial “money problems?” How can Christians be trained to turn away from “aimless giving” to faithful, planned, sacrificial giving?


  1. Is it appropriate for the head of the household to give his offerings of behalf of his household? Consider the force of the words “each one of you” (verse 2) in connection with the giving of every individual member of the family.


  1. Compare the importance of gifts devoted to the benefit of the physical welfare of others with gifts given for the specific task of the “ministry of the Word.”