Bible Readings for Sunday 4/23/17

The First Reading, Acts 5:29-42, is increasingly relevant to our world today – the Gospel of Jesus is increasingly being resisted by many in our world, and we are put in the position of who we will obey, God or the world. In today’s First Reading the apostle Peter boldy proclaims that he will obey God, not people, even in the face of persecution. The message of repentance and forgiveness through Jesus is so important that Peter and John would risk their lives to get the Word of Christ out to others. How about us, will we obey God or people?
Holy Spirit, inspire and empower us to be bold in sharing the Gospel of Jesus with others. Bless the proclamation of Jesus and bring more and more people to faith in Him. Amen.

Psalm 148  Today’s psalm, 148, is a hymn of praise. Notice that the psalmist calls on the whole creation to praise God! As His people, redeemed through Christ, let us daily give Him thanks and praise!
Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we join in the hymn of praise of creation and of Your people of all times and all places, giving You thanks and praise for the life we have in You: life in this world, and life in Your new world to come. Through Jesus we pray. Amen.

In the Second Reading, 1 Peter 1:3-9, we again are lifted up to praise the Lord because He has redeemed us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Notice the importance of the proclamation of the Gospel: that this proclamation brings faith, even in the face of trials, and that through the work of the Holy Spirit we will rejoice in the salvation we have in Christ. Thanks be to God!
Lord Jesus, all thanks, honor, and praise to You for redeeming us and for keeping us safe in You, especially during the times of trials. Thank You for enabling us to believe, and for the gift of the outcome of faith: the salvation of our souls. Amen.

John 20:19-31 The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter is traditionally the evangelist John’s accounts of the resurrection appearances of Jesus to His disciples on two consecutive weeks. Notice what Jesus gives them when He appears to them: peace, then the opportunity to see His resurrected body – He is no ghost or whispy apparition – then He again gives His peace to them, with a mission – to be sent into the world. To empower them for their mission He breathes the Holy Spirit on them, giving them the authority to announce forgiveness in Jesus’ Name, and to warn the unrepentant that their sins are not forgiven, calling them to turn from sin.
One of the disciples, Thomas, is not with them, and he doubts the resurrection. Eight days later Jesus again appears among them and again gives them His peace. He then invites Thomas to see and touch the wounds. Upon seeing Jesus, Thomas proclaims one of the greatest statements of faith: My Lord and my God! Let us allow the Holy Spirit to open the eyes and ears of faith so that we can proclaim with Thomas, and the whole Church: My Lord and my God!
In the first paragraph Jesus called on His disciples to announce forgiveness. What is one way this forgiveness appears? We see forgiveness in Jesus not condemning and driving Thomas away, but in being patient with Thomas in his doubts, and revealing Himself to him. Jesus doesn’t drive us away in our doubts, but rather He again patiently reveals Himself to us in Word and Sacrament. Why? The last two verses tell us: these are written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His Name. Let us be diligent in the use of the Word and Sacraments so that the Holy Spirit can cause faith to grow in each of us more and more each day.
Living Lord Jesus, thanks and praise to You for revealing Yourself to Your disciples, even when they were hiding behind locked doors. Thanks and praise to You for giving them the peace You alone can give, and for empowering them to proclaim forgiveness and the call to repentance to all people. And thanks and praise to You for being patient with Thomas, even in His doubts, and for making Yourself known to him. Even though we don’t see You as Thomas did, thanks and praise to You for enabling us to believe. And, thanks and praise to You that in our doubts and questions You don’t drive us away, rather You again show us Yourself in Word and Sacrament. Open us up more and more to You, enable us to increase in faith as we study Your Word and as You draw us to Yourself in the Sacraments. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

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