The following scripture readings will be read during service on October 23, 2016.
Genesis 4:1-15. The First Reading is recorded in Genesis 4:1-15. This passage immediately follows the account of sin entering the perfect creation the Lord had made, where Adam and Eve rebelled against God, trying to put themselves in the place of God. Here we have the sons of Adam and Eve making offerings to the Lord, Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, Cain’s was not. In rage and jealousy, Cain killed his brother Abel. Like we often do when we sin, Cain denied any responsibility for Abel (am I my brother’s keeper?), but the Lord knew the truth. Judgment fell on Cain, and he was driven from the ground which he worked, and he was cut off from the Lord. Notice that there is no remorse for what he did, he was only concerned about himself and that he might be killed for killing his brother. But there is grace from the Lord, the Lord will not let anyone get blood revenge on Cain, no one can kill him even though he killed his brother Abel. Cain’s sin had serious ramifications, but God mitigated the severity of the punishment. In Christ, our sins are forgiven.
Just and righteous Lord, we are horrified to see how quickly and the extent of sin in the world: Cain killing his brother. The blood of Abel cried out to You. Punishment was exacted on Cain, yet You also gave grace. In our own lives we see sin and we know we deserve Your punishment, yet in Jesus we see grace. Forgive us and turn us from sin to You each day for the sake of Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 5:1-12. The psalm is recorded in Psalm 5:1-12. This is a psalm of David, who experienced terrible trouble from others, such as from king Saul and his own son Absalom, both of whom sought to kill David. This psalm also fits the situation in the First Reading, as if Abel were reciting it regarding his evil brother Cain. Notice how the psalmist trusts the Lord in the face of his persecutors, and how the psalmist lets vengeance be the Lord’s action. In the face of those who ridicule us for the Name of Jesus, let us trust in the Lord and leave them in His hands to deal with them according to His justice and mercy.
Lord of comfort and justice, in the face of those who oppose You by opposing Your people, keep us safe in Your hands through the faith You bring forth in us, and enable us to trust in Your justice and mercy toward those who resist You, lead them to repentance, like You did with Saul of Tarsus. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18. The Second Reading is recorded in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18. These are the apostle Paul’s farewell words to his young pastor friend Timothy. Paul knew that he would soon be martyred for the faith; as a Roman citizen he would be beheaded. Notice he is not bitter toward his executioners, nor is he bitter toward those who deserted him at his trial, he wants them to be forgiven. What a powerful message of God’s grace! Paul had received grace even though he approved of Stephen’s martyrdom, and now he is asking for the same grace to be given to those who deserted him. May we, who have received God’s grace, extend His grace to others.
Gracious Lord, we thank and praise You that You have given us undeserved grace and mercy in Jesus. By this same grace and mercy, enable us to be merciful to others, not holding their sins against them, but releasing them through forgiveness, as You have forgiven us through Jesus. Amen.
Luke 18:9-17. The Gospel is recorded in Luke 18:9-17. This parable leaves no question as to its purpose: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” The Pharisee is the self-righteous one who is not justified before the Lord (even though he thinks he is). There are many pharisees today: those who think their words and actions make them acceptable to the Lord, that their words and actions put them in a right standing with the Lord; who think that if they act first then God responds to them, they think that if they make themselves worthy by some action or word, then God will come to them. What does this parable say about their justification with the Lord?
The tax collector knew his unworthiness, he knew that except for the grace and mercy of God he would be condemned. His prayer sums up the situation: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He knew he was not worthy, he know he needed the grace of God, and God gave him grace.
Let us also realize that we are totally and completely dependent upon God’s grace and mercy; grace and mercy we have received only through Jesus.
God, be merciful to us sinners. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.