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“1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” Luke 5:1-11

I remember when I was a young man and contemplating studying for the ministry, an uncle of mine jokingly told me that being a pastor was a great job because “you only have to work a half-day a week and you can go fishing the rest of the time.” And, to be honest with you, it’s even better than that. A pastor’s job allows him to go fishing every day of the week. Of course, the same is true for every Christian.

All of us, like Peter, are unworthy to serve the almighty Son of God or even be in His presence (v. 8), yet Jesus called Peter and He called His apostles and He calls His Church — every true believer — to be fishers of men, to go “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (cf. Luke 5:10; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 8:4). Even though we may have tried our best and “toiled all the night,” Jesus commands us to let down our nets again and again, trusting that He will accomplish His purposes.

And so we do. We continue to preach and share God’s Word, knowing and trusting God’s promise that His Word will not return to Him void, without accomplishing His purpose.

The Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:10-11: “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Perhaps we can take the analogy of this Scripture text even further. Jesus commanded His disciples to launch out into the deep and let down their nets for a catch. He didn’t tell them to stand on the safety of the shore and try to bait the fish in. He sent them out to where the fish were — in the deep — and it is there where they were to let down their nets.

So also, Jesus would have us go out into the world where the people are — maybe even into places we would rather not go — and there let down our nets.

It doesn’t usually work to call the fish to come onto the shore or to jump into our boats. Nor is it sufficient to simply invite people to come within the walls of our church building that they might hear the Word of God and believe. We need to go to them and find ways to reach them with the Word of God where they are. It’s only when they are caught in the net out there that they can be brought into the boat and in here!

The Bible tells us that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). But it also says: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:13-16).

Though I have read these articles of faith to you before, I again remind you of Articles IV and V of the Augsburg Confession, to which we all subscribe:

Article IV. Of Justification.
Also they teach, that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, hath made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in his sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

Article V. Of the Ministry of the Church.
That we may obtain this faith, the Office of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who worketh faith where and when it pleaseth God in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justified those who believe that they are received into favor for Christ’s sake.

So, how do we launch out into the deep that we might catch men for Jesus? First of all, we need to go out where the people are and not expect them to come to us where we are.

Secondly, we need to let down our nets, and they may need to be let down deep to where the fish are. That means finding ways to touch people’s lives with God’s Word where they are and in ways they will hear.

Thirdly, we need to remember who it is that fills the nets and follow His fishing instructions. We won’t catch souls for Jesus unless the nets we let down are His words of Law and Gospel — His words warning people concerning their sin and its eternal consequences and His words telling them of God’s mercy and forgiveness and of life eternal in Christ Jesus, who fulfilled all righteousness for us and then suffered and died on the cross for our sins and the sins of all, and rose again in victory!

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” And to the Romans, Paul wrote (Rom. 4:23-25: “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

Jesus was delivered up to die and pay the price for our sins and the sins of the world, and Jesus was raised up again on the third day in victory, proving that atonement has been made. Why? That we might believe on Him and trust that in Him we have a Savior, that through faith in Him and His cross, we have pardon and forgiveness and are justified and counted righteous in God’s eyes.

And, what a great job God has given to us as believers! We get to go fishing every day by taking the message of His Word out into the deep, where the lost are, and catching them with the good news of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus, who is God’s Son and our Savior, who died for the sins of the world and rose again in victory!

God grant that we hear His Word and trust in Christ Jesus, our Savior! And God grant that we hear His call and let down our nets in the deep and become fishers of men! Amen.

Dear Lord Jesus, You have called us to be fishers of men, to launch out into the deep and let down the net of Your Word for a catch. Grant us the faith to heed Your call and to go out into the world and proclaim Your Word to people where they are that You might fill the nets and bring people from the depths of their sin to faith in You as their Savior. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:1-10

When publicans (tax collectors for the Roman government) and other sinners came to Jesus to hear Him and learn of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life which He offered to all, the Pharisees and scribes were critical of Jesus for associating with such sinners. As a result, Jesus told two parables to point out that anyone who loses an item of value will seek it until he finds it.

A shepherd with one hundred sheep who loses one does not say, “I still have ninety-nine,” and then forget about the one that is lost. Even the scribes and Pharisees would not do such a thing! Nor would a woman with ten silver coins who lost one of them just forget about the one lost coin and be content with the nine. Both the shepherd and the woman in these two parables would seek out and find that which was lost. Then they would rejoice because they had found that lost sheep or that lost coin. And, wouldn’t we also act in the same way if we were to lose something of ours?

So also, every soul is extremely important to the LORD God. He created mankind — each and every one of us — to live for Him and serve Him in eternal righteousness. Because we fell into sin, He sent His only-begotten Son into this world a true man, that He might fulfill the righteous demands of God’s Law for us and then suffer and die for our sins that we might look to Him in faith and receive God’s pardon and forgiveness. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, and, during His earthly ministry, He sought out all sinners and turned away none who came to hear His saving Gospel.

Since He had come into this world to redeem fallen mankind by His innocent sufferings and death, it gave our Savior great joy, along with the angels of God in heaven, when a lost sinner repented and turned to Him in faith for forgiveness and life everlasting. Our Lord Jesus was not afraid to associate with sinners; He shed His blood to redeem them!

Those who trust in Christ live in daily repentance, being truly sorry for their sins and trusting in Him for forgiveness and eternal salvation. And it gives our risen Savior, as well as the angels in heaven, great joy when we hear His Word, repent of our sins and place our faith in Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross. We certainly should not, as did the scribes and the Pharisees, consider ourselves righteous and in no need of repentance.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” In 1 John, we read: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. … My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2).

Christ Jesus appointed apostles and sent them out to preach the Gospel that others, too, might hear the truth, repent of their sins and look in faith to Him for pardon and life eternal. He commanded His disciples to “Go … into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), to preach “repentance and remission of sins … in his name among all nations” (Luke 24:47). He gives to His church pastors and missionaries yet today to carry on this work (cf. Eph. 4:12).

Like our Savior, should it not be our desire to seek out lost souls and rejoice when they are brought to repentance. We should not be satisfied if 99 percent of our members are continuing in the truth and only one percent is going astray; we should seek the lost until they are found and returned to the fold. The same is true of the lost souls who are not under the care of a congregation. We should, in the love of our Savior, seek out the lost and seek to bring them to the Good Shepherd by sharing with them the saving truths of God’s Word.

Christ Jesus shed His holy, precious blood to redeem them. We also ought to care enough for their souls to share with them the good news of forgiveness and life everlasting through faith in the Savior. Never should we be satisfied with the 99 who are in the fold, nor should we ever be ashamed to be seen sharing the Gospel with lost sinners, no matter how bad their past reputations! We remember that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

O gracious Father, grant that we repent of our sins and trust in Christ Jesus for pardon and forgiveness, and give us a love for the lost that we also reach out to them with the good news of forgiveness and life through faith in our Savior. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

“God Loved the World so that He Gave”

1 God loved the world so that He gave
His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in Him believe
Should everlasting life receive.

2 Christ Jesus is the Ground of faith,
Who was made flesh and suffered death;
All that confide in Him alone
Are built on this chief Cornerstone.

3 God would not have the sinner die,
His Son with saving grace is nigh,
His Spirit in the Word doth teach
How man the blessed goal may reach.

4 Be of good cheer, for God’s own Son
Forgives all sins which thou hast done,
And, justified by Jesus’ blood,
Thy Baptism grants the highest good.

5 If thou be sick, if death draw near,
This truth thy troubled heart can cheer:
Christ Jesus saves my soul from death;
That is the firmest ground of faith.

6 Glory to God the Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To Thee, O blessed Trinity,
Be praise now and eternally! Amen.

Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt
Translator: August Crull, d. 1923 (alt.)
Author: Unknown (1791, cento)
The Lutheran Hymnal #245

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What is the heart and soul of Lutheran worship? Is it a beautiful church building? an instrument? a liturgy? vestments? hymnody? No, because these alone would be nothing more than an empty shell, void of true worship.

The heart and soul of Lutheran worship is Christ and the blessings He won for us when He was offered up on the cross a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.

We are miserable sinners and begin our worship confessing our utter sinfulness and looking to Christ and His cross for mercy and forgiveness. And through the absolution spoken to us by Christ’s called ministers, Christ Himself forgives our sins and promises us the eternal joys of heaven.

We bring to God our prayers and praises. And then, as Christ taught His disciples during His earthly ministry, He teaches us and speaks to us through His Word which is read to us and explained by Christ’s ministers.

We remember Jesus’ words in John 6:63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” We know that faith is the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and His Sacraments and that Christ is at work in us as we hear His Word, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

We offer up to Christ our prayers for the church and its ministers and for those around us in the world. We pray for our leaders that we may freely preach and teach God’s Word and live according to it. We pray also for the lost that they too might hear the preaching of the Gospel and be brought to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

And, if that were not enough, Christ further consoles us poor sinners by giving us to eat and to drink of His very body and blood which was given and shed for us on the cross. We partake of the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and so receive the blessings of forgiveness and life He won for us.

Before we leave, Christ dismisses us and sends us out into the world to bear witness to Him with God’s name and blessing upon us. We are to “go … and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things” that Jesus has commanded us, and He promises to be with us always, even to the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20).

He blesses and keeps us; He looks upon us with grace and favor; He grants us the peace of sins forgiven and the promise of everlasting life with Him in heaven.

So, Lutheran worship is not really about us and what we do for God; it’s all about God and what He offers and gives to us in Christ Jesus, our Savior!

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“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23

Not all who call Jesus, “Lord,” will enter God’s eternal kingdom. Not all who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ truly are Christian.

We can think of groups who take the name of Jesus on their lips and claim to hold to His doctrine but who do not believe in Him as their Savior and Redeemer. It is not enough to look to Jesus as an example, as a son of God, or only as a lord and master.

But Jesus spoke these words that we, too, might examine ourselves and be certain we are holding fast to Him in faith and trusting in His innocent sufferings and death for our salvation.

The Scriptures admonish us: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Cor. 13:5).

It is not enough to just take the name of Jesus on our lips and call Him Lord. It’s not enough to preach in His name or do miracles or good works in His name. Jesus says we must do the will of His Father in heaven.

What is that will? Jesus answered that question for us when He said, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

It is the will of God the Father that we sincerely repent of our sins and wickedness and place our faith and confidence in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Christ Jesus our Savior. It is the will of God the Father that we not only see Jesus and take His name on our lips but that we believe and trust in Him and continue trusting in Him unto life everlasting.

Jesus called upon His hearers to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15; Matt. 4:17); and He still calls upon us today, through His Word, to turn from our evil and rebellious ways to Him for forgiveness and life.

The Bible tells us to “repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).

And, where there is true repentance, there are also “fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8). Those who are sorry for their sins and place their faith and hope in Jesus Christ will also, as a fruit of their faith, seek to live their lives for Him in accord with his Word.

Thus, as Jesus said, many who have professed to know Him will be cast out on the Last Day, for their repentance and faith were feigned — they may have even deceived themselves. They may claim to be followers of Jesus, but they are not truly sorry for their sin and unbelief and do not turn to Christ Jesus for forgiveness. Nor do they seek his help and strength to amend their lives and live for Him.

And then Jesus will, as He said, “profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Jesus spoke these words in His Sermon on the Mount that we might not be deceived and find ourselves cast out on the Last Day. We, therefore, ask ourselves if we are truly sorry for our sins; if we trust in Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for our salvation; and if we, with the help and aid of the Holy Ghost, truly desire to amend our lives and live in accord with God’s commandments. If we cannot honestly answer all three of these questions with a yes, we need to consider the consequences we shall pay for our sin and rebellion against the LORD God and His anointed.

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation as God has provided for us in His own dear Son (Heb. 2:3)? Or, as the Bible says in Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

But how comforting it is to know that we can yet, by God’s grace, turn to the Lord Jesus for mercy and He will not cast us off but wash away our sins! Because Jesus suffered and died for all sins and rose again, the Lord is indeed “good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon” Him (Psalm 86:5).

O Lord Jesus Christ, keep us from impenitence and unbelief and grant that we sincerely repent of our sins and trust in You for mercy and forgiveness that we may be received into Your everlasting kingdom and not be cast out on the Last Day. And as a fruit of our faith, grant that we also seek to walk in accord with Your commandments while we await Your return. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

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15th Anniversary of ELDoNA

INVOCATION
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

PSALM — Psalm 25 A Psalm of David.
Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

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.

COLLECT
O GOD, the Strength of all them that put their trust in Thee: Mercifully accept our prayers: and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Thee, grant us the help of Thy grace, that in keeping Thy commandments we may please Thee, both in will and deed: through Jesus Christ. Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

EPISTLE — 1 John 4:16-21
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him. because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

GOSPEL — Luke 16:19-31
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

SERMON/DEVOTION — Luke 16:19-31
We should note first of all that Jesus’ illustration of the rich man and Lazarus may be much more than a parable, for it is told by Jesus as if it is a true and factual account. But, whether an actual historical event or a parable, we can still learn much from Jesus’ telling of it.

The rich man is not identified by name; but the poor beggar’s name was Lazarus (from the Greek, but probably Eleazer in Hebrew), which means “God is help.” Even though Lazarus was poor and full of sores, we know that he was a true believer in God, as his name indicates, because he was taken to heaven when he died.

Even though the rich man was greatly blessed by God in material things, he did not believe or listen to the Word of God (Moses and the Prophets) and repent of his selfish and sinful ways. This can be seen by the fact that there were no fruits of faith in his life in regard to poor Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, and also by the fact that his soul went to hell when he died.

In addition to teaching that one’s soul goes either to heaven or to hell when he dies, Jesus warns against living one’s life solely for the selfish enjoyment of the good things of this world. One’s first concern should be to heed the Word of God and repent, turning away from sin and the selfish use of this world’s goods to faith in Christ, who died to redeem us from sin and death and then rose again.

As a fruit of true repentance, we will then put to death our selfish and sinful desires and use the goods of this world to help those in need. We will not close our hearts to the poor and needy but will do all we can to help them.

One more important truth should also be learned. If one does not heed the Word of God during his lifetime, there is no other hope for repentance; for the Holy Ghost works through the Law to convince us of our sin and the punishment we deserve and through the Gospel to reveal our Savior and to give and assure to us forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

If one, during his lifetime, refuses to turn from his sins to Christ Jesus, his Savior, there will be no more opportunity for repentance. His torment in hell will be forever!

But when one, by the grace of God, heeds the Word and repents, trusting in Christ for forgiveness and life, he is forgiven by God; and his soul, at the time of death, will be transported by angels to the bosom of Abraham.

O Jesus, who my debt didst pay and for my sin wast smitten, within the Book of Life, oh, may my name be also written! I will not doubt; I trust in Thee, from Satan Thou hast made me free and from all condemnation. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn 611, Verse 5)

GENERAL PRAYER
Almighty and Everlasting God, You are worthy to be held in reverence by all the children of men, we give You most humble and hearty thanks for the innumerable blessings, both temporal and spiritual, which, without any merit or worthiness on our part, You have bestowed upon us.

We praise You, especially, that You hast preserved unto us, in their purity, Your saving Word and Your holy Sacraments. And we give thanks unto You for 15 years of blessing upon the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America. We beseech You, O Lord, to grant and preserve unto Your holy Church, throughout the world, purity of doctrine, and faithful pastors who shall preach Your Word with power; and help all who hear, rightly to understand, and truly to believe it. To that end, we pray Your blessing on Bishop Heiser, on our pastors, and on all the pastors of our diocese.

Be the Protector and Defender of Your people in all time of tribulation and danger and may we, in communion with Your Church, and in brotherly unity with all our fellow Christians, fight the good fight of faith, and in the end receive the salvation of our souls.

Bestow Your grace upon all the nations of the earth. Especially do we entreat You to bless our land, and all its inhabitants, and all who are in authority. Cause Your glory to dwell among us, and let mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, everywhere prevail. To this end, we commend to Your care all our schools and pray You to make them nurseries of useful knowledge and of Christian virtues, that they may bring forth the wholesome fruits of life.

Graciously defend us from all calamities by fire and water, from war and pestilence, from scarcity and famine. Protect and prosper everyone in his appropriate calling, and cause all useful arts to flourish among us. Be the God and Father of the widow and the fatherless children, the Helper of the sick and the needy and the Comforter of the forsaken and distressed.

We pray for all those ill from the coronavirus, from other diseases or afflictions, or suffering from the effects of isolation. Grant health and healing to those ill and comfort all with the Gospel promises of forgiveness of sins and the everlasting joys of heaven through faith in Christ Jesus, Your Son, and our Savior.

And as we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, help us by true faith and godly life to prepare for the world to come; doing the work which You have given us to do while it is day, before the night comes when no man can work. And when our last hour shall come, support us by Your power, and receive us into Your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen.

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, forever and ever. Amen.

BENEDICTION
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Amen.

HYMN — The Day is Surely Drawing Near
1 The day is surely drawing near
When God’s Son, the Anointed,
Shall with great majesty appear
As Judge of all appointed.
All mirth and laughter then shall cease
When flames on flames will still increase,
As Scripture truly teacheth.

2 A trumpet loud shall then resound
And all the earth be shaken.
Then all who in their graves are found
Shall from their sleep awaken;
But all that live shall in that hour
By the Almighty’s boundless pow’r
Be changed at His commanding.

3 A book is opened then to all,
A record truly telling
What each hath done, both great and small,
When he on earth was dwelling;
And ev’ry heart be clearly seen,
And all be known as they have been
In tho’ts and words and actions.

4 Then woe to those who scorned the Lord
And sought but carnal pleasures,
Who here despised His precious Word
And loved their earthly treasures!
With shame and trembling they will stand
And at the Judge’s stern command
To Satan be delivered.

5 O Jesus, who my debt didst pay
And for my sin wast smitten,
Within the Book of Life, oh, may
My name be also written!
I will not doubt; I trust in Thee,
From Satan Thou hast made me free
And from all condemnation.

6 Therefore my Intercessor be
And for Thy blood and merit
Declare my name from judgment free
With all who life inherit,
That I may see Thee face to face
With all Thy saints in that blest place
Which Thou for us hast purchased.

7 O Jesus Christ, do not delay,
But hasten our salvation;
We often tremble on our way
In fear and tribulation.
Then hear us when we cry to Thee;
Come, mighty Judge, and make us free
From every evil! Amen.

Text Information
Title: The Day is Surely Drawing Near
German Title: Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit
Translator: Philip A. Peter (1880, alt.)
Author: Bartholomäus Ringwald (1586, ad.)

Tune Information
Name: ES IST GEWISSLICH
Source: “Geistliche Lieder,” Wittenberg, 1535

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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