Bible Readings for Sunday July 30, 2017

The First Reading is recorded in Deuteronomy 7:6-9. This is a crucial passage in the Old Testament to show the relationship between God and His people: the relationship is based on God’s choice and God’s action, not on the holiness or decision of the people; the Lord chose and made covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants, not because of anything in them, but because of the choice of the Lord. This is true for us who follow Christ: He chose us and appointed us to bear fruit; our relationship with Him is based on His choice of us and His action in our lives.
Loving Lord, we thank and praise You that You choose and make covenant with Your people, and so we are safe in Your faithful and loving hands. Keep us in You today, tomorrow, and forever in Jesus. Amen.

The psalm is 125. It is a song the pilgrims would sing as they made their way to Jerusalem to worship. Notice again how God is in charge: protecting the city of Jerusalem and His people, but also a warning not to turn to evil. May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and follow Him as Lord and Savior.
Protecting God, we thank You that You surround Your people, even in the midst of trouble. Keep us safe in Your loving arms, arms which we see stretched out on the cross embracing all in Your love. Lead us and keep us in faith. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

The Second Reading is one of the most comforting passages in the Bible. It is found in Romans 8:28-39. Notice how God is in control and how He works all things for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Notice also how He keeps His people safe so that nothing can separate us from His love in Christ Jesus our Lord. May we always walk in this hope and assurance.
Lord, we thank You for the words of this passage, as they always turn our eyes to You and to Your blessings in life. Keep us steadfast in Your words, always trusting that we are safe in Your hands in Christ. In His Name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel is found in Matthew 13:44-52, and includes three very short sayings of Jesus; they may be short in length, but they are filled with His grace. The first two parables deal with the great value of the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom is freely given to us in Christ, but once we are part of it, it will change our lives and we will willingly give up all for Christ.
Another dimension of these parables is to see the main characters as an image of God: what will God be willing to give up to buy back His creation from sin, death, and the devil?
The third parable is a foreshadowing of the Last Day, when the angels will be sent out to separate those in Christ from those who reject Him. Let us leave the judging and separating to God. Let us follow the Lord in faith.
Loving Lord, we thank and praise You for the immense value of Your kingdom. We thank and praise You that You have brought us into Your kingdom of grace and mercy. Enable us to give up all for You as You gave up all to redeem us. Empower us with Your Holy Spirit to proclaim Your kingdom of grace and mercy in Christ, and keep us from judging others. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.



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