Second Sunday of Lent

16 March 2014

862, 793, 826, 138 (V 1 - 4), 863.


Genesis 12: 1-4a (GNB)
'The call of Abraham'

The Lord said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
But I will curse those who curse you.
And through you I will bless all the nations.'
When Abram was 75 years old, he started out from Haran, as the Lord had told him to do.


Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17 (NIV)
'Abraham our father justified by faith'.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about - but not before God. What does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'
Now when a person works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
However, to the one who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
It is not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring - not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: 'I have made you a father of many nations.' He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed - the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be'. Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead.
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why 'it was credited to him as righteousness'.
The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


John 3: 1-17 (NIV)
'God loved the world and gave his Son'.

Narrator: Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him,

Nicodemus: Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.

Narrator: Jesus answered him,

Jesus: Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.
Narrator: Nicodemus said to him,

Nicodemus: How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?

Narrator: Jesus answered,

Jesus: Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above'. The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Narrator: Nicodemus said to him,

Nicodemus: How can these things be?

Narrator: Jesus answered him,

Jesus: Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

Narrator: No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.


GENESIS 12: 1-4a:
Abraham lived around 2000 BC. He had settled in Haran, but God called him to go to a far country which he did not know. Not only that, but he would thereby need to break off relationships with his kindred people. He was promised, though childless, that he would be the ancestor of a great nation, that God would bless him and others through him and that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. What an amazing faith Abraham displayed, simply to trust God's word and promise and to go.

ROMANS 4: 1-5; 13-17:
In the previous chapter Paul told the Roman Christians that salvation is given as a free gift by God. It is not given in answer to a person's obedience to the commands of God's law the way Jewish teachers maintained. It is given solely by God's grace through faith in God's promises in the gospel of Christ. In this section Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 to illustrate to the Romans that there is no contradiction between this teaching and God's dealings in the Old Testament. Abram lived before the commands of the law were given. He was justified (acquitted of sin) before God by faith. God counted that to him as righteousness. Therefore all who believe, regardless of whether Jew of Gentile, can have the same blessing through Christ, simply through faith.

JOHN 3: 1-17:
The words of our Lord himself in this reading authenticate the previous two readings. Baptism bestows new life through the power of the Spirit. One is born again. No one can attain spiritual life through one's own human efforts, no matter how devoted or sincere. 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh.' The New Testament word 'flesh' includes the meaning of the 'sinful nature' inborn since the fall into sin. That is why new birth by the Spirit's washing is 'being born from above', which confers the kingdom of God. Our Lord made it even clearer in verse 16. It is God's love which not only sent his Son into the world and gave him into death, but also rescues from everlasting death and bestows everlasting life on whoever simply believes this promise of the Son.

Bible readings for Sunday 23 March 2014:
Exodus 17: 1-7, Roman 4: 1-5, 13-17, John 3: 1-17.

Sunday School - parents please note:
Due to school term break, Sunday School will not be held on Sunday's 6th and 20th April.

1. This week in the Lord's Service - 16th - 23rd Mar:

Tuesday - 12.30 pm - Kaffeestunde.
Wednesday - 11.00 am - Lenten worship service at 'Our Redeemer' - 7.30 pm at St John's Yarra St.
Wednesday - 4.30 pm - Confirmation class.
Saturday - 10.00 am - 11.00 am - 'Sing - along' time to learn songs for the Sunday.
11.00 am to 12 noon - Choir practice.

Next Sunday - 9.30 am - Public Divine service - (with Holy Communion).

2. Grow Ministries Conference 2014:
A conference designed around re-thinking child,Youth and family ministry in modern Australia will be held at St Paul's Lutheran Church, Box Hill on
16 - 17th May. Presenters: Pastor Greg Priebbenow and Jodi Brook. Please see notice board on how to register interest and for further information.

Coming up for your diary:
Tuesday 1st April - 7.30 pm - Deacons.
Thursday 17th April - 2.30 pm - 4.00 pm -
Maundy Thursday mid-week worship service with Holy Communion. Fellowship afternoon tea to follow