Our Devotion Is to God and His Church
These are the readings for the Fifteenth 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
God and his Church are under attack on many fronts today, so we ask, “How can the Church remain strong?” The soundest encouragement comes from God, who urges us to cling to his unfailing promises and devote ourselves to lives of service.
First Lesson – Jeremiah 15:15-21
What was the essence of Jeremiah’s lament?
Jeremiah had devoted himself with all seriousness to God’s calling. Yet he felt isolated, scoffed at, and his message fell on deaf ears. At the heart of his lament was whether God was really faithful to his promises.
As God did on many occasions with the Old Testament prophets, how did God respond?
In a gentle reproof, God reassured his servant Jeremiah that if he turned from his course of discontent with the Lord, he would use Jeremiah as a powerful instrument in sharing his Word and would sustain him against all the enemies of the gospel.
Second Lesson – Romans 12: 1-8
How do we offer our bodies as living sacrifices?
We do not view our bodies as our own personal property to use or abuse as we see fit. Rather, our physical body and all its members are to be devoted to the service of God. We do that when we bring our Christian life into conformity with the holy will of God, not to merit salvation, but as a willing obligation to him at all times and in all things.
How do our special gifts and abilities find their application in congregational life?
God gives an assortment of ordinary and extraordinary gifts to the members of his body, the Church. Some possess executive skills, others the aptitude to preach and teach, and still others the ability to apply God’s Word to various circumstances of life. May we use these gifts with passion, cheerfulness, humility, and gratitude—always to God’s glory!
Supplemental First Lesson – Judges 16:22-31
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?
Jesus’ words of warning form a perfect picture of Samson. He had the world: strength, fame, power, leadership, love. Yet he was losing his soul. But the God of grace humbled him. Samson repented and took up his cross and followed. He lost his life but died in faith. His words comprise the most fervent plea that a sinner can make at the end of life. Like the thief, he cried, “Remember me!” Once again, as a man of faith, he had in mind the things of God rather than men and died in service to his Savior God.
Supplemental Second Lesson – Galatians 6:12-16
Christians will be tempted to give in to license or legalism in order to escape persecution. But Christ told us to expect persecution and burdens that come from carrying his cross. For the Christian, bearing the cross is a point of pride and the basis for our boasting. How can this be?
We are the Church militant, so death comes before life, the cross before the crown. By the cross the world dies to us, and we die by that same cross to the world. But after that death comes life—new life—an entirely new creation.
Gospel – Matthew 16:21-26
Why did Jesus say he “must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things”?
A divine obligation was resting upon Jesus; it was a necessity he had taken upon himself to fulfill the will of his heavenly Father by his death for all mankind.
Explain Jesus’ sharp rebuke to Peter.
Peter had offered a well-meant but all-together meddlesome interference with the business of Christ. His thoughts were not in line with God’s will and work. It lacked the wider-vision necessary in the kingdom of God. In calling Peter, “Satan,” Jesus was accusing him of tempting him to do wrong. Understandably, he commanded, “Get behind me!”—for far be it from Jesus that he should ever prefer Peter’s foolish, carnal wisdom over the will of his heavenly Father.
According to verse 25, what is real “life”?
He who aims to find in this world all that his heart desires will, by that fact, lose the real life—true, abounding, and everlasting—which is found in and with Christ Jesus.