Bible Readings for Feb. 4, 2018

The First Reading for the 5th Sunday of Epiphany, Isaiah 40:21-31, is a passage in the part of the prophet Isaiah that was proclaimed to give comfort and hope to the people of Israel as they faced exile in Babylon. The people were discouraged and hopeless, feeling as if the Lord had abandoned them. In this passage the Lord encourages His people by reminding them that He is all-powerful over creation and over the people of the earth, and that since He is all-powerful His people can have hope that He will restore and renew them. In the Lord they will be refreshed and uplifted.
When we are discouraged, when we feel as if the Lord does not hear our anguished prayers, remember His faithfulness to refresh us, just as He did for His people who were facing exile. Remember that He Who gave His Son to be our Lord and Savior loves us so much He will restore us, uplifting us in Jesus.
Lord, when life overwhelms us, remind us again that You have overcome through Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Keep our eyes fixed on You. Amen.

The Psalm, 147:1-11, continues the theme of the Lord lifting up His people who are discouraged and crushed by life. Again the Lord reminds us that He is all-powerful over the universe, and also over the events on earth. As the One Who is all-powerful, He will refresh and restore His people. Let us listen to the faithfulness of the Lord as proclaimed in this passage, and let us trust in Him.
Holy Lord, in this psalm we see Your power over all of creation. Enable us to trust in Your power, mercy, and steadfast love in our lives. Amen.

The Second Reading is recorded in 1 Corinthians 9:16-27. In this passage we see that Paul is compelled by the Gospel to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior, he cannot do anything else! Thankfully the message of Jesus has come to us through the generations, and now it is our turn to share the Gospel with others. Notice that the apostle Paul would do almost anything so that others would hear of Jesus, he would do almost anything so that he himself would not be a stumbling block to others in hearing the Gospel of Jesus. Do we have that same dedication and passion to tell others about Jesus?
Holy Spirit, move us each day to share the love of Jesus with others through our words and deeds. Increase in our lives while we decrease so that others will see Jesus and be drawn to Him. Amen.

The Gospel for today, Mark 1:29-39, is set in the context of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Immediately prior to this reading Jesus was in the synagogue, where He taught and drove out an evil spirit. Right after that He went to the home of Simon and Andrew, and healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Later that day He healed others as they were brought to Him.
This passage gives us a wonderful outline of discipleship, of following Jesus’ leading: be in worship, as was Jesus’ custom; help people in their needs, as Jesus did; spent time in prayer; and go tell others about Jesus, including ministering to the spiritual and physical needs of others. Will we follow Jesus in the way He leads?
Holy Spirit, lead us in discipleship of worship, growth in faith, and service in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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