Your September 17th, Ministry Resources
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Lectionary Readings — 16th Sunday after Pentecost, September 17, 2023
Exodus 15:1b-11,20-21; Psalm 114; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35.
Opening Prayer (based on Romans 14:1-12)
Heavenly Father, the Creator of all, we gather here in Your presence, in the sanctuary that You have provided, to worship You and to hear Your Word. Lord, we come before You with humble hearts, acknowledging Your sovereignty over our lives.
Today, as we reflect on the words of Paul in Romans 14, we are reminded to embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ despite our differences. God, we admit that it's so easy to judge, to look down on others who don't think or act as we do. Forgive us, Lord, for forgetting that each one of us will stand before Your judgment seat, and not one of us lives or dies to ourselves alone.
Father, teach us to welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Help us remember that we belong to You—each of us—and in that belonging, there is unity. Lord, let us lay aside all judgments and embrace the rich variety of people in Your kingdom. May we hold fast to what we have in common: our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
We pray that as we engage with Your Holy Scriptures today, we may not only understand the text but also understand each other better. Let Your Holy Spirit guide us, so we may live out these principles of acceptance, love, and understanding in our daily lives.
Lord, it is to You that each of us will give an account of ourselves, so help us live lives worthy of Your calling, honoring You in everything we do.
We pray all of this in the wonderful, matchless name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Call to Worship (based on Psalm 114)
Leader: Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob.
People: We come with awe and reverence, acknowledging the power and majesty of our God!
Leader: Who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
People: God transforms the hard places in our lives into springs of blessings and grace!
Leader: Tremble, O people, as you enter His sanctuary, as we approach the God who makes all things new.
People: We tremble with joy and anticipation, eager to worship the God of wonders!
All: With hearts open wide, we enter this sacred place to worship You, O Lord, the God of transformative love and unparalleled power. Amen!
Sermon Outline (based on Matthew 18:21-35)
Purpose: To deepen our understanding of God's boundless forgiveness toward us and to challenge us to extend that same forgiveness to others, thus aligning our lives more closely with the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Title: The Parable of Unforgiving Grace (Matthew 18:21-35)
The challenge of forgiveness in our lives
The crucial relationship between forgiveness and the kingdom of heaven
I. Peter’s Provocation (Matthew 18:21-22)
A. The Question of Quantity
Peter's Sevenfold Solution (v. 21)
The Limited Human Perspective
B. Jesus’ Jarring Reply
Seventy-Seven Times (v. 22)
The Boundless Nature of Divine Forgiveness
II. Parable of the Pardoned Servant (Matthew 18:23-27)
A. The King’s Calculation
An Unpayable Debt (v. 24)
The Seriousness of the Sum
B. The Servant's Supplication
Plea for Patience (v. 26)
The Mercy of the Master (v. 27)
III. The Poison of Unforgiveness (Matthew 18:28-35)
A. The Servant’s Stranglehold
A Minuscule Debt (v. 28)
Lack of Love and Learning
B. The King’s Condemnation
Restoration of the Original Debt (v. 32-34)
The Danger of an Unforgiving Heart (v. 35)
The Paradox of God's Forgiveness: An invitation and a warning
The necessity for us to forgive as we have been forgiven
A call to let go of the poison of unforgiveness and embrace the freedom of God's boundless grace
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