Bible Readings for Week of Feb. 19

The First Reading is recorded in Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18. The command here is for God’s people to be holy, as He is holy. Through Moses the LORD then lists some ways in which the people of Israel show that they are a holy people: leave gleanings for the poor and sojourner; do not steal, do not lie, do not swear falsely, do not oppress your neighbor, or rob, pay the worker what they have earned, do not harm the helpless, be just, don’t gossip nor tear down your neighbor, don’t hate nor get revenge, don’t bear a grudge. Basically, love your neighbor as yourself. In our lives we want to follow these commandments, we know they are best, but if we are honest with ourselves, we see that we fall short. When we do fall short, let us turn to the Lord in repentance. And, as we look at this list, let us turn our eyes to God and see God’s love for all people, let us see how He treats all people. Even though we fall short of this list, the Lord does not, He fulfills all righteousness, holiness, and perfect love in His Son Jesus.
Holy and loving Lord, as we read the words of this passage we see how we fall short of Your holiness, despite our best efforts. Forgive us for not loving others as You call us to do. As we again read this passage, turn our eyes from ourselves to You to see how You are holy, righteous, and loving; to see how You fulfill Your compassion for all people. Turn our eyes from ourselves to Jesus, to see in Him the One Who kept the demands of the Law, and Who gives us His righteousness through our Baptism into His death and resurrection. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

The psalm is recorded in 119:33-40. Read the passage as a prayer. Notice how the psalmist asks the LORD to teach, give, lead, incline, turn, and give what the psalmist needs to follow the LORD. Notice how the psalmist asks the LORD to confirm His promises to His servant. We long to keep the Law of God, but cannot do it by ourselves, we need the grace of God. His grace includes forgiving and restoring us when we fall short, as we do every day.
Lord, by Your grace enable us to live life as You want us to live, and forgive us when we fall short. Continue to remind us that the good we do is motivated and led by You, and turn us to You in repentance to receive Your forgiveness when we fail. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Second Reading continues readings in 1 Corinthians, as is found in 3:10-23. Notice the image the apostle Paul uses: a building. He urges us to build on Jesus alone, He alone is the true and lasting foundation. Build on Him, giving Him honor and glory.
He then reminds us that the followers of Jesus are the Church, the Temple of God, in whom dwells the Holy Spirit. Let our lives be centered on Jesus, the only foundation in life, build on Him.
Jesus, our foundation in life, by Your Holy Spirit build us up in Your Temple, in the Church throughout the world. Let our lives be firmly anchored in You, because You are the only rock and cornerstone upon Whom life can truly be built. Amen.

The Gospel is from Matthew 5:38-48. How seriously do we take sin in our lives? Do we just overlook it as if it is nothing? Jesus doesn’t. He calls us to examine our lives and to purge sin from us. Of course He knows that no matter how hard we try, no matter what we might cut off to get rid of sin, sin is deeply rooted in our hearts. We can’t cut sin out of our lives, but Jesus can free us from sin and its consequences through His death and resurrection. Let us turn to Him to cleanse us from sin.
Then He calls us to love as God loves. Again we fall short. Let us realize that we can only be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect as we are joined to Him by grace through faith when He joins us to Himself in Baptism. Let Jesus’ perfection be our perfection, received by His grace through the gift of faith.
Perfect Lord, You are so awesome and wonderful. Enable us to see Your perfect love for us and all people. Change our hearts by Your grace to love as You love. Forgive us and free us from sin in our lives. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

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