Bible Readings for Dec. 17, 2017

We are now at the Third Sunday of Advent. Notice how the readings are focusing in on the coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago. God promised to send the Messiah, and as we see in these readings He is fulfilling His promises. Let us trust Him to continue to fulfill His promises.

The First Reading is recorded in Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. Near the end of this prophecy, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed words of comfort and hope to the people of God. God knew the hardships and devastation the people would face at the hands of the Babylonians, and He also knew that at the right time He would restore a remnant of His people; Isaiah is announcing what God will (and did) do. These words are also words that find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus: Jesus is the One upon Whom the Spirit of the Lord will rest, He is the One Who will minister to all in need (in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus quoted the opening words of this passage in referring to His ministry). As we hear these words, let us hear and see what Jesus does as He fulfills God’s promises.
Lord, through Isaiah the prophet You gave Your people such comforting words of hope. Open our ears and hearts to hear these words and to be comforted through them in their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. Amen.

Today’s Psalm 126, is a psalm filled with joy! Notice the rejoicing in what God does to restore and redeem His people. As we think of Jesus, born in the stable in Bethlehem, born to be our redeemer, is it any wonder that the angels sang with joy at His birth? Let us join the song of the angels and sing our joy in the Lord for His redemption of us!
Holy God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: All praise, thanks, honor, and glory be to You for rescuing and redeeming us through Jesus! May we always rejoice in Your blessings! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Second Reading, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, gives good insight into our lives as disciples of Jesus. Notice how the passage begins with joy – we can be filled with joy because of what Jesus does to redeem us! Notice also the form and shape of discipleship: joy, prayer, thanksgiving, being open to the work of the Spirit, listening to the message of God’s people, discerning the words of the Lord from false messages, holding to what is good and abstaining from evil. The passage ends with a beautiful doxology, proclaiming what God will do to preserve and sanctify us.
Holy Spirit, please work in our lives to conform us more and more into disciples of Jesus, enable us to pray, give thanks, not quench Your work, be open to prophecies from You, testing to see if they conform to Scripture, and keep us from evil. We thank You that You sanctify us, keeping us blameless through forgiveness until Jesus comes again. Continue to keep us in You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Gospel in recorded in the Gospel of John 1:6-8, 19-28. Notice the focus on John the Baptist, the one sent ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for Jesus. Notice that John the Baptist is both bold and humble, he is bold because he called people to repent and get ready for the coming of the Messiah, and he is humble because he understood his place in God’s plan and didn’t draw attention to himself. John the Baptist was an effective witness for the coming of Jesus because he heard and heeded the call of the Lord, and because he pointed to the coming of Jesus and not to himself. Let us, like John the Baptist, boldly point to Jesus, humbly remembering that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and that we are obedient servants.
Lord, thank You for sending John the Baptist to get people ready for the coming of Jesus. Praise to You for His boldness to proclaim Jesus, and also his humility to realize that Jesus was the focus of his preparations. May we be as bold to proclaim Jesus, and as humble to point to Jesus and not draw attention to ourselves. Amen.

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