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Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  1. For support from the Lord
  2. To support others in distress

The word of God for meditation this morning is Psalm 142 printed in the bulletin. It was also our Psalm that we sung today, 

Psalm 142

I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

This is the word of God. 

On a trail frequented by bicycle riders near Kent England one day there appeared across that path a single barbed wire tightly hooked around stakes or poles on each side of that path. A bicycle rider early in the morning came upon that booby-trap, and the bicycle wheels caught on that wire, and the bicycle rider flipped his bike over the top and landed square on his head. He had major injuries in spite of the fact that he was wearing a bicycle helmet. This prompted a debate in the newspapers and magazines. Why well, first of all, who did such a thing? And the second question is why would someone do that? Why would somebody set a trap like that knowing that someone could and probably would get seriously hurt? From time to time there are, I should point out that’s what this picture is of on the front of the bulletin. If anybody wondered what that very obscure photograph was, that’s a booby-trap on a bike trail. And our question of the day is who did it and why would someone do that? After all, we wouldn’t, right? And we could probably not even imagine why somebody would be so mean. So low, so bent on destroying someone else, even a stranger, a random stranger to put out a trap like that. Perhaps you are still in the stage of life where you try to figure out why people do what they do. When you reach a certain age, you will simply shrug your shoulders and say I don’t know why people do what they do. Why does a mass murderer commit his crimes? Why does a murder suicide? I mean you have to be very sure that there is no God and no judgment to do something like that. Why does someone hurt a child? Why would someone knowingly cause harm to any other person? Yet we see that these things happen. Why do people do what they do? The simple answer, of course, is that we are sinners. We are often motivated by our sinful nature rather than being motivated by God’s word or being motivated by proper considerations. And so when we are faced with people who do bad things to us. People who threaten us. What is it that we should do? Are we to fight back? Are we to stand our ground? Should we threaten them with retaliation and revenge? Doesn’t Jesus tell us to do the opposite? If someone if someone strikes us on the cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone takes us to court to sue us for our coat give them our shirt as well. If someone forces us to walk a mile or to do extra work, go ahead and walk the 2nd mile. Jesus says in doing that we will be showing the righteousness of our actions and we will be heaping burning coals on the head of the unrighteous actor. We will be showing the spirit of Christ through us. Revenge or vengeance, getting even is not something that Christians should be about. God is the one who says revenge is mine. Sometimes that’s misquoted out of the Bible they forget to say revenge is mine saith the Lord. And people seem to say revenge is mine saith me.

We can commit judgment to the Lord. Cry out to him our text says. Cry out to him and know that he will strengthen us so that we can do the right thing because sometimes the right thing is oh so difficult. It is hard to turn the other cheek. It is hard to go the extra mile. It is hard to willingly give up something that belongs rightfully to you because it is demanded. God promises to strengthen us. Let’s look at the text again. King David wrote these words while he was in a cave. There were two times that King David sought refuge in a cave one was the Cave of Adullam, and the other was the Cave of En-Gedi. In the one case, he was fleeing from Saul, the king, because Saul was jealous of David. David had slain the giant Goliath, and the people of Jerusalem were saying in a mocking way to King Saul, Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands. And so Saul being very jealous, threatened David’s life. David wisely fled into the desert and hid in a cave. We can understand that in a case like that he might have said things like this:

In the path where I walked people have hidden a snare for me.

Look and see there is no one in my right hand no one is concerned for me I have no refuge no one cares for my life.

The second time when David had sought shelter hiding in a cave he was running from the Philistines, the enemies of God’s people. God’s people were determined, I mean that the enemies of God’s people the Philistines were determined that’s such a hero like David should not become king. And besides, he had done much damage to the Philistine communities. So hiding in a cave, he may very well have said, I have no one by my right hand no one to help me and yet he knew that there was someone invisible and yet immensely powerful. Someone who could hear his cries for help.

Of course, that person is here with us today. That person is God listening to every one of our words. Aware of every one of our thoughts. Knowing what we’re about to do even before we decide to do it or even have the idea to do it. Knowing our strengths and our weaknesses and yet loving us anyway. Yes the Lord is next to you beside you, behind you and in front of you. He will fight for you. You need only to be still. The Lord, our God, is so powerful that he does not need your help to decide to follow him or to invite him into your heart. If you have if you have the desire to have Jesus in your heart, he is already there. If you have the desire to follow Jesus, he is already there motivating you. So when we have Jesus in our hearts, we can truly pray and be absolutely sure that not only does God hear us, just like he hears everything that people say, but he also listens to you in the way that he promises to hear and heed your prayers. Prayer does change things. Someone once asked the great Christian apologist and author CS Lewis whether he prays and CS Lewis replied that yes, indeed he does pray very often, but not as often as he should. The person interviewing him asked, “well then Mr. Lewis what difference has your praying made in the world?” And Lewis replied that he doesn’t necessarily see very much change that has happened in the world because of his prayers, but Lewis knew the prayer had changed him. Prayer can change us. It can change our attitudes and can strengthen us through are listening to God’s word and his voice. God can certainly answer our prayers and help us to stand up under the most difficult of situations. Prayer is powerful not because we are such strong prayer’s but because the one to whom we pray is so strong and faithful and loves us.

Our president Donald Trump has declared tomorrow to be a national day of prayer. Of course, this is in response to the hurricane and subsequent flooding of southeastern Texas, especially around Houston and Beaumont and Port Arthur. These areas were so hard-hit by the flooding that there are still people displaced from their homes and unable to go back and repair the damage. Today people might ask what good does prayer do? We are going to lift up those in Houston, especially our brothers and sisters, our fellow Christians there, but what good does it do? But God tells us, he gives us a command that we should pray. So were going to do it whether we see the result or not, but here are things that God says he accomplishes through our prayers. He says the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. That God connects the prayers of a Christian whose sins are washed away with actual change and actual blessing upon others. God says that we, that is believers should lift up our holy hands in prayer for kings and all those in authority that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our father, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. In the model prayer that Jesus taught us, he says that we should address God as our Father in heaven. We should pray for those things that God promises he will accomplish through His word and will. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. We should pray for our needs; give us our daily bread. And especially we should pray for our spiritual and eternal needs; lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. As we pray we may not see those results, but we know that God is active and working. There are results. Many of them will never be known to us in this life. For instance, there were many people praying that Hurricane Harvey would not affect them very much, and their houses are flooded today. There were many people praying that Hurricane Harvey would turn back out to sea and not reach landed all, but we know what happened. There were many who prayed that there would be no loss of life, but there has been loss of life. We could certainly say that things could’ve been worse. We’re glad that the death toll has not risen, not even up to three digits, but still, any loss is tough. We can look for the blessings and certainly the Lord has blessed us with a great amount of inspiration as we see people helping other people. Normal everyday average people are helping others. Many of these people are motivated by love for Jesus. Churches are scrambling to provide as much assistance as they can. Our own synod has provided tens of thousands of dollars in relief. And many members of our congregation have shared the blessings that God has given them with those in need. See God is going to glorify his name in some way or fashion through this Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, and we command to prayer all of those affected. But there’s something even better than God accomplishes, not only through our prayers but especially when we together with praying, add the reading of Scripture and the proclamation of the gospel. God says that he will accomplish the great thing the thing that blesses people for all eternity. He says set me free from my prison that I may praise your name. In other words, whatever has me trapped. Whether it’s ungodly men, or whether it is my own sinfulness and folly, or whether it is a natural disaster or man-made disaster, set me free from that prison that I may praise your name. And then once we praise God’s name, then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me, God sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to take my sins on himself. God sent his spirit through his word into my life so that I would trust in Jesus and God is being good to me, and he is being good you.

Let people know how good God has been let people here you praise him. And people will gather, not everyone but some will gather, and some will wonder what is it that gives you joy. Even on a difficult day, they will wonder, what is it that motivates you to share? What is it that motivates you to do things that are foolish to the world, like going to church in Bible study? And the Lord bless each one of us to be willing to be foolish in the eyes of the world. To be willing to follow our Lord Jesus and receive his wonderful and abundant blessings. God bless us in Jesus name.

Amen

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  1. For support from the Lord
  2. To support others in distress
SERMON TEXT:  Psalms 142

I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Joshua 2:8-21

But before the men lay down, Rahab came up to them on the roof. She said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land. Because of you, terror has fallen upon us, and all the inhabitants of the land are melting in fear before you. Indeed, we have heard that the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea in front of you when you came out of Egypt, and we heard what you did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan—to Sihon and to Og. We heard that you devoted them to destruction. We heard, and our hearts melted, and no one’s courage could hold up anymore against you, because the Lord your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth below. So now, please swear to me by the Lord that since I have shown kindness to you, you in turn will show kindness to my father’s house. Give me a trustworthy sign that you will preserve the lives of my father and mother and my brothers and sisters and all who belong to them, and that you will deliver our lives from death.” The men said to her, “If you do not reveal what we are doing, our lives are pledged for your lives, even to the point of death. Then when the Lord gives us the land, we will show mercy and faithfulness to you.” So she let them down through the window with a rope, since her house was built into the city wall, and she was living inside the wall. She said to them, “To the hill country! Get moving, so the pursuers do not catch up with you. Hide there for three days until the pursuers return, and then you can go on your way.” The men said to her, “When we come into the land, we will be free from this oath you made us swear unless you tie this bright red cord in the window through which you let us down, and you gather your father and mother, your brothers and your father’s entire household into your house. Anyone who goes outside the doors of your house, his blood will be on his own head, and we will be free of guilt. Anyone who is with you in the house, his blood will be on our heads if a hand is laid on him. If you tell what we are doing, we will be free from the oath that you made us swear.” She said, “Just as your words say, so be it!” Then she sent them out, and they went away. And she tied the bright red cord in the window.

SECOND LESSON:  Romans 11:13-15, 28-32

I am speaking to you Gentiles. For as long as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I am going to speak highly of my ministry. Perhaps I may make my own people jealous, and so save some of them. For if their rejection meant the reconciliation of the world, what does their acceptance mean other than the dead coming to life? In regard to the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But, in regard to election, they are especially dear for the sake of the patriarchs, because God’s gracious gifts and call are not regretted. For just as you were once disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy due to their disobedience, so also now they have become disobedient, so that by the mercy shown to you they may be shown mercy too. For God imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may show mercy to all.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Hebrews 4:12

Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ

GOSPEL: Matthew 15:21–28

Jesus left that place and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon. There a Canaanite woman from that territory came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! A demon is severely tormenting my daughter!” But he did not answer her a word. His disciples came and pleaded, “Send her away, because she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt in front of him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered her, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet the dogs also eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith is great! It will be done for you, just as you desire.” And her daughter was healed at that very hour.

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