Bible Readings for Sunday 6/25/2017

The First Reading is recorded in Jeremiah 20:7-13. This is a confusing passage to wade through; the prophet Jeremiah is complaining to God because he is facing persecution and hardship from the enemies of the Lord; Jeremiah didn’t expect this kind of treatment. But notice as the passage unfolds that Jeremiah continues to trust in the Lord’s care and justice on his behalf. We see increasing hostility toward the Lord in our world today, especially as we see Christian brothers and sisters facing persecution, and an increasing intolerance toward Christianity in America. Like Jeremiah, let us trust in the Lord’s care and justice.
Just Lord, keep Your children safe in faith as Your kingdom and Word are increasingly resisted in the world. Surround Your persecuted children with Your steadfast love and mercy. Give to all of us boldness like Jeremiah to continue to proclaim the truth of Your Word even in the face of persecution. Keep before us the strength of Jesus Who went to the cross to defeat sin, death, and the devil. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

The psalm is Psalm 91. This psalm is a fitting psalm to pair with the First Reading. Notice the trust the psalmist has in the LORD, even in the face of resistance and persecution; the psalmist trusts in the LORD to care for him in all circumstances. May we have the same trust and join the psalmist in this comforting psalm of praise.
Sheltering Lord, You are our refuge and fortress, our God, in whom we trust. Keep us in faith, knowing that You work all things for good for those who are called according to Your purpose. We thank and praise You that ultimately through Jesus’ death and resurrection You work for our redemption. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Second Reading is Romans 6:12-23. This passage immediately follows the apostle Paul’s great passage on what the Lord does in the sacrament of Baptism, read Romans 6:1-11 to set this passage in context. Notice how the Lord works in and through Baptism to join us to Jesus’ death and resurrection. This passage shows that Baptism changes us, we are no longer enslaved to sin, but we belong to the Lord, and because of this, sin is no longer to be master of our lives; Jesus, and the righteousness He gives us, is Lord. Don’t submit again to sin, and when we do sin, turn to Him asking for forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, we thank and praise You that You have set us free from sin, death, and the devil in Baptism and have become our Lord and Savior. Keep us in You, let Your righteousness form and mold us into the people You wish us to be. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel is recorded in Matthew 10:5a, 21-33. Notice the heads-up Jesus gives to His followers: we will be persecuted, just as He was. Notice also the call to remain faithful to Him no matter how severe persecution might become. At this point we are not facing this kind of persecution, but some of our brothers and sisters in Christ are in other parts of the world, keep them in prayer that they will remain in faith. And pray for the Lord quickly to put an end to persecution, turning all persecutors to Him in repentance, as He did to Saul of Tarsus, turning him into the apostle Paul, and dealing with justice and mercy toward the unrepentant.
Lord, keep Your persecuted followers in Your steadfast love and mercy, surrounding them in Your loving arms, keeping them in faith. Receive the martyrs into Your everlasting rest. Turn all persecutors to You in repentance, and for those who refuse to repent, deal with them according to Your justice and mercy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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