Readings for the week of August 12, 2018

The First Reading is recorded in 1 Kings 19:1-8, and is set in the context of Elijah’s contest with the prophets of the false god Baal, which king Ahab and queen Jezebel worshiped and supported. Read 1 Kings 18 to see what happened on Mt. Carmel. I Kings 17 describes the drought that led to the contest on Mt. Carmel. Read 1 Kings 17, 18, and 19 to see the whole story, it’s great reading! In the Reading for today, wicked queen Jezebel has threatened to kill Elijah. Instead of standing firm in the LORD (as he did in 1 Kings 18), Elijah ran away and hid. But, in His grace and mercy, the LORD provided for Elijah’s needs. In chapter 19 Elijah complains about his situation and asks to die. The LORD isn’t done working through Elijah and tells him to get on with his ministry. At times we may feel like giving up in our tasks for the Lord. When we do, remember Elijah, and that the Lord isn’t done with us either.
Lord God of grace and mercy, all thanks and praise to You for providing for Elijah during his flight from the queen who sought to kill him. And, all thanks and praise to You for continuing to use Elijah as Your prophet, turning him away for self-pity back to service in Your kingdom. Encourage and strengthen us, especially when we are discouraged, so that we will continue to serve You and our neighbor in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Psalm for today is recorded in Psalm 34:1-8. In the context of the psalm, David has had to flee to the Philistines to escape from king Saul, who was seeking to kill David. When David was with the Philistine king Abimelech, suspicion about David’s loyalty came into question. To save his life, David feigned insanity and was driven away from Abimelech. This section of Psalm 34 is a song of praise that David sang when he was driven out. See 1 Samuel 21:10-15 for the story. The Philistine king is called Achish in this account.
Protecting Lord, as You protected David in the midst of danger to his life, so protect us, and keep us trusting in Your faithfulness, knowing that in Jesus even the enemies of sin, death, and the devil have been defeated. Keep us in Jesus. Amen.

The Second Reading is recorded in Ephesians 4:17-5:2. The context of this passage is that we have been made new in Jesus, and the new life He gives us changes our lives; the old sinful self has been put to death and new life in Christ is to be manifest in us. Paul urges the Ephesians to live the new life of Christ each day. He would urge us to do the same. As we look at our lives, we see that we fall short of the apostle Paul’s description of the Christian life and behavior. Thanks be to God that in Jesus we can turn to Him each day, asking for forgiveness and renewal in Jesus.
Lord Jesus Christ, when we look to You we see God’s love, and we are drawn to You. When we look to ourselves we see that we fall short of loving as You first loved us. Turn our eyes back to You in repentance and renew Your life and love in us each day. Amen.

The Gospel is recorded in John 6:35-51, and continues reading through most of John 6. Here Jesus again says that He is the bread of life Who satisfies our hunger and thirst. Jesus calls us to faith in Him. Notice that whenever His hearers thought about themselves and what they thought was true, they grumbled against Jesus. The same is true for us, when we look at ourselves and think we know more than Jesus, we end up grumbling and empty. But, if we keep our eyes on Jesus in faith, He provides what we need: food and drink that lasts into eternal life, food and drink we receive in the Word and the Lord’s Supper. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus.
Lord Jesus, all thanks and praise to You for providing what we need for life: Your flesh and blood poured out on the cross, Your flesh and blood revealed in Your Word, and Your flesh and blood given to us in the bread and wine of Your holy Supper. Amen.

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