Bible Readings for Sunday, March 24, 2019

As we are now in the midst of Lent, today’s Readings remind us of the shape of Lent: repentance and bearing fruit for the Lord in that the life we have in Him changes our lives so that we share His love with others. As you read the lessons, keep in mind the call to repentance and bearing fruit for the Lord.

The First Reading is recorded in Ezekiel 33:7-20. Notice the warning to the prophet: the prophet Ezekiel is to warn the unrepentant to turn from sin, but if the prophet does not warn the unrepentant, then the unrepentant’s blood/death will be the responsibility of the prophet. Do we let the sinner continue in their sin, or do we humbly lead them to the Lord?

Notice the second paragraph: there is a warning that if the righteous turn from the Lord, their past righteousness will not avail, and if the sinner turns from sin to the Lord, their past sin will not condemn them. Are we continuing to trust in the Lord each day, or are we relying on the past to keep us right with the Lord? Let us walk with Him each day, trusting in the life we have in Jesus.

Forgiving Lord, let us love others as You love them, humbly walking with them to repentance and new life in Jesus. And keep us on the path of discipleship, always following You in faith. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Today’s psalm is Psalm 85. Notice the order of the life of repentance in this psalm: the psalmist begins with a prayer of praise to the Lord that the Lord has forgiven in the past. Because the Lord has forgiven, the psalmist can turn to the Lord in repentance, asking for restoration in the Lord, trusting that God will again forgive as He has in the past. The psalm then ends with praise in God’s faithfulness to forgive and restore. God is just as faithful to forgive today, as He has in the past. Because He is faithful, we can turn to Him in repentance, confident that He will forgive, renew, and restore us in Jesus.

O Lord, we are humbled by Your steadfast love and mercy, by Your willingness to forgive. Move us to repentance each day, turning from sin, turning to You, confident that in Christ our sins are forgiven for His sake. And enable us to forgive others as You have forgiven us. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Today’s Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, continues the theme of repentance and turning away from sin. The apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian congregation of the people during the Exodus, how they continued to rebel and turn from God, even though He had done so much for them. Paul writes this to warn the Corinthians, and us, not to continue in sin, as the people during the Exodus did, and were destroyed for their continued sinfulness. He ends the passage with wonderful words of hope that all temptations we face are common to humans, and that God provides to strength to resist; of course, our strength to resist temptation is centered in Jesus.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that the apostle Paul calls us to turn from sin, reminding us of the terrible consequences of unrepented sin. By Your Holy Spirit lead us to turn from sin each day, trusting in Your strength, grace and mercy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Today’s Gospel is recorded in Luke 13:1-9. So, why do bad things happen to people? Are they worse sinners? Are they being punished for transgressions? No, Jesus says, they aren’t worse sinners, but unless we repent, we will also perish. Again, we are called to repentance. Let us heed the call of Jesus to repent, to turn from sin, each day. Repentance is one of the themes of Lent.

Another theme of Lent: bearing fruit, living the repentant life that is evident in a changed life, loving others as Christ has loved us, is a theme of verse 6 and following. Notice the worthlessness of not bearing fruit, and the judgment on the fruitless fig tree – a warning to all those who do not bear fruit for the Lord. But, also notice the patience to give the fig tree, to give the unrepentant and unfruitful, one more chance. Let us be people of repentance and people who bear fruit in service to the Lord.

Lord Jesus, we thank You for the call to repent. Lead us to repentance and new life in You each day. And, as You have made us new, lead us to bear the fruit of Your love, grace, and mercy to others so that they can see You. Enable us to be the disciples You have called us to be. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

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