Our Relationship with God Depends on His Good Pleasure
These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
How do you strike up friendships or relationships with other people? Most people attempt to find something they have in common with another person and develop a friendship based on those common interests. But how do we strike up a relationship with God? We don’t. Our relationship with God depends on his good pleasure. God is “out of our league” and really shouldn’t have anything to do with us. But miraculously, he does! Amazingly he loves us and cares for us. He desires to be our dearest friend! But he always makes “the first move” through the gospel.
Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 33:12-23
What condition did Moses put upon his leading God’s Old Testament people?
God must go with his people, otherwise, Moses was not willing to lead them. Moses recognized the importance of having a close relationship with the Lord and that such a relationship depended on God’s good pleasure.
How did Moses want God to “seal the deal”?
He wanted the Lord to show him his glory as a seal of God’s presence. The Lord conceded to show Moses his “backside” and proclaim his name. (See Exodus 34:5-7.)
Supplemental First Lesson – Joshua 23:1-11
God kept the promise he made in the First Lesson: he had gone with his people to the Promised Land. Many years after finishing the conquest of Canaan, Joshua looked back and reminded the people that God had fought for them and had given them rest from all their enemies. Since God had done this, Joshua called on the people to give the Lord their allegiance, obedience, and love. Let the preacher make that same call to God’s people today. We can look back and see that God fought for us and gave us rest from our three great enemies. Now, with sin atoned, the devil defeated, and death vanquished, let all God’s people thank him for this rest by giving him allegiance, obedience, and love.
Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 7:15-25a
What struggle does Paul outline in these verses?
The struggle that every Christian has between the sinful flesh and the new person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit. Only the Christian has this struggle.
How are we able to overcome our sinful nature?
We aren’t able to overcome the sinful flesh by ourselves. We must rely upon the working of the Holy Spirit through the gospel. This is our Christian life of sanctification. God gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Supplemental Second Lesson – Hebrews 4:1-11
The rest that God gave his people in Canaan foreshadowed the true rest of God in heaven. The rest in the Promised Land was received by some through faith and rejected by others through unbelief. The writer to the Hebrews urges every Christian to heed the warning of the generation that died in the desert. Instead, by faith in Christ, we find the true Sabbath rest of God in heaven.
Gospel – Matthew 11:25-30
True or false: We make the choice to enter into a relationship with God.
False. By nature, we are enemies of God and objects of his wrath. (See Ephesians 2:3.) God is the one who wins us over to friendship with his wonderful promises. He’s the one who makes us alive with Christ. (See Ephesians 2:5.) Our relationship with God depends on his good pleasure.
To whom does God choose to reveal the truths of the gospel?
Jesus says that God reveals the truths of the gospel not to the “wise and learned” but to “little children.” In other words, to those who do not persistently reject the working of the Holy Spirit through the gospel. God is the one who wins us to faith. We have no power to choose God as our friend; it’s all God’s doing (Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation to the Third Article of the Creed).