Bible Readings for Sunday 5/21/2017

Today’s First Reading, Acts 17:16-31, shows the place of Christianity in relationship to the other religions of the world.  Paul is in Athens, a very religious city, and Paul takes the opportunity to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection even though his hearers are already religious people; we see in the passage that just being religious does not bring us into relationship with God, rather it is through Jesus alone that we receive forgiveness and salvation.  Let us be bold in our proclamation of Jesus as Lord and Savior because no other religion can bring us to God.                                                                                                                                          Holy Spirit, empower our witness for Jesus so that others will hear the Gospel and be drawn to Jesus, the only Lord and Savior.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Psalm 66:8-20  Today’s psalm, 66:8-20, reminds us that bad things can and do happen even to the followers of the Lord, but that God is faithful to lead us through them.  Notice the response of the psalmist – giving praise to God for God’s faithfulness and telling others about the Lord.  God will safely bring us through every trial and lead us into eternal life.  Let us give Him thanks and praise.
Holy Lord, as we face difficulties in life, keep our eyes fixed on You and our ears open to You so that we will hear and see again how You bring blessings into our lives, even as we face hardships.  Keep us in faith, trusting that You work all things for good in Your Son Jesus.  In His Name we pray.  Amen.
The Second Reading, 1 Peter 3:13-22, deals with a difficult topic, what about suffering by the people of God.  Peter reminds us that if we suffer for doing the will of the Lord, God will bless us.  Peter then reminds us of the example of Jesus Who, though He was innocent, died for us so that we might be redeemed. In the face of unjust suffering, trust yourself to God’s care and faithfulness.  And pray for our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are facing persecution; pray for their strength of faith and that the Lord would deliver them.
Lord, uphold all of Your children who face suffering and persecution for Your Name.  Keep them in faith and safe in Your loving arms.  Receive the martyrs into Your everlasting rest.  Turn persecutors to You in repentance.  Draw all to You through Jesus, our Lord and Savior, in Whose Name we pray.  Amen.
The Gospel, John 14:15-21, takes place on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.  Jesus told His disciples, including us, to follow His commands.  Later that evening Jesus clearly states His command – to love.  As the First Letter of John reminds us, we love because God first loved us.  Let us love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and our neighbors as ourselves.  God loves us, let us love in return.
Loving God, we thank and praise You for Your love for us, especially as we have Your love in Jesus.  Change us, move us, empower us to love as You first loved us.  By Your Holy Spirit, enable us to love You with our whole being and our neighbors as ourselves so that the love of Jesus is seen in and through us, bringing You glory by our words and actions.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.
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