The First Reading, Isaiah 25:6-9, is an oasis of hope and assurance from and in the Lord in the midst of warnings from God to turn from sin, or punishment would come. Isaiah often had to warn God’s people that because of their unrepentant sin God would bring judgment and punishment on them (which did happen). Today’s reading from Isaiah is also a reminder to God’s people then, and to us today, that God will destroy all of His enemies, including death. God fulfilled this promise when Jesus rose from the dead. Through Jesus, by grace through faith, the victory over all of God’s enemies, including death, is ours. Let us rejoice and give thanks to God that He fulfills all of His promises, including His promise to destroy death. By grace in Jesus we have forgiveness and eternal life. Thanks be to God!
All glory, honor, praise, and thanks be to You, Lord, for winning the victory over all Your enemies, including death, and for giving us this victory in Jesus. Keep us firm in faith. Amen.
Today’s Psalm, Psalm 23, is one of the best-loved passages in all of the Bible. What comfort and hope we have in the Lord because He is our shepherd. In the New Testament Jesus picked up on this theme, calling Himself the Good Shepherd (see John chapter 10).
One of the best ways to be immersed in this psalm is to read it slowly, meditating on each verse. Please read it slowly, contemplating on all of the blessing of the Lord, especially the blessings we have in Jesus our Good Shepherd; as you read and meditate, turn to the Lord in thankful prayer.
Loving Lord, we thank and praise You that You are our good shepherd. Thanks and praise to You for leading us to life, including eternal life. Enable us to follow You every moment of every day, and when we stray, thank You for coming to find us. Amen.
As we turn to the Second Reading for today, Philippians 4:4-13, remember that Paul is writing this letter from a prison cell; he does not know the outcome of his imprisonment, whether he will be released, or put to death. Notice the joy in Paul’s life (the root word for “joy” in Greek occurs over 20 times in these 4 chapters). His joy is rooted in the Lord. Notice also that he is at peace; his peace is rooted in the Lord. Notice how he calls us to live.
Notice especially how Paul can face what he faces and do all he does. Read again his words, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Let us have the same faith and assurance in Christ.
Oh Lord, as we face so many problems, hardships, and difficulties in life, by Your Holy Spirit working in our lives keep our eyes fixed on You, always trusting that You will work all things for good, and as we trust, enable us to rejoice always in You. Amen.
As we work our way through the Gospel of Matthew, we are approaching the events leading to Jesus’ betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. Obviously there were those who resisted what Jesus was saying and doing, and their resistance was building to a head. Instead of running away, Jesus told parables, such as today’s in Matthew 22:1-14, warning that the smug, that those who refuse to listen to and follow the Lord, will be turned away, while He will call others to His kingdom, including those the smug and self-righteous overlook. Which group are we in? Will we humbly trust in the Lord? Will we call others to follow Him?
Lord, we are not worthy to be part of the great banquet You have prepared for Your people, yet in Christ You have brought us into Your kingdom where we will celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb. Keep us in You, and enable us give thanks to You for Your grace, mercy, and steadfast love which we have in Jesus. All these things we pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.