Bible readings for Feb. 25, 2018

The First Reading, Genesis 17:1-7,15-16, is another time when we see God making a covenant with Abraham. Notice what God promises to give to Abraham and Sarah: that He would establish His covenant with them, give them new names, which is a symbol of the covenant with God, give them so many descendants that they would become nations, that God would be their God and their descendants’ God throughout their generations, and that God would bless them. Keep in mind that Abraham is 99 years old, and Sarah is 89. God is so powerful, and so faithful, He can and will keep His covenant with His people, even when it seems to be impossible. Abraham trusted God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Let us also trust God, knowing that He will fulfill His promises to us through Christ. God is faithful, let us trust in His faithfulness.
Faithful Lord, we praise You that not only do You make covenants with Your people, but You fulfill them, even when the fulfillment seems impossible. Keep us in faith, trusting in Your faithfulness and power to fulfill Your promises. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Psalm is part of Psalm 22, vs. 23-31. Please read the entire psalm, and notice how the psalm so clearly describes Jesus’ crucifixion, 1,000 years before it happened! This part of the psalm is filled with praise that God will rescue and redeem those of His who are afflicted. There is growing persecution in our world today, some of our brothers and sisters in Christ are even being martyred. Let us keep them in prayer, that they would remain steadfast in the face of persecution, and let us pray for their deliverance. And let us proclaim that one day the Lord will return and put all things right.
Lord, we join Your children of all times and places in praise of You! We thank You that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, foreseen 1,000 years before by king David, You have redeemed us; to You all glory is given for Your steadfast love and mercy. Amen.

The Second Reading is recorded in Romans 5:1-11. Notice the strong emphasis on what God has done to redeem us – while we were sinners, while we were enemies – Christ died for us. Because of what Christ has done, we are reconciled with God. Notice also that Paul begins this passage by proclaiming that we are justified by faith, trusting in what God has done in Christ. By God’s grace, let us hold fast to our confession of faith, knowing that God is faithful to fulfill what He has promised, and let us face trials and tribulations, knowing that God will lead us through them, and that through them He will strengthen us.
Lord God, we thank and praise You for Your faithfulness to redeem us, even while sinners and enemies. As we face hardships and difficulties in life, increase our faith in You, knowing that You will keep us safe and lead us to eternal life in Jesus. Amen.

The Gospel for today is recorded in Mark 8:27-38. This is a pivotal passage in the Gospel of Mark; the disciples have been seeing and hearing all that Jesus has been doing, as have the crowds. Jesus asks them what the talk about Him is. They respond with what the crowds are saying. Then Jesus puts the question to them: what do they say about Him? Peter, bold Peter, speaks for the disciples when he confesses that Jesus is the Christ. Let us join Peter in that same profession of faith!
One of the things I like about the Bible is that it presents its heroes to be people just like you and me. How often do we make the bold proclamation of faith in Jesus, just like Peter did, but then almost in the next breath we try to tell God how God ought to do things, and we need to be brought back to the way of the Lord.
Let us hear Jesus’ words and pick up our cross, giving of ourselves for the sake of others, and giving up clinging to this world for the sake of the better life Jesus gives to us.
Merciful Lord, we join Peter in proclaiming You as the Messiah, as our Lord and Savior! And, we join Peter in trying to tell You how to be the Lord; forgive us when we try to take control. Like Peter and the other disciples, enable us to pick up our cross and follow You, losing our lives for Your sake and the sake of the Gospel, and receiving the greatest gift of eternal life in Jesus. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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