Bible readings for April 7, 2019

The First Reading is recorded in Isaiah 43:16-21. Notice the direction of the reading: Isaiah quotes the Lord, proclaiming what the Lord has done in the past, and encouraging the people of Israel (and us) to trust in the Lord Who faithfully accomplished His will in the past, and Who will do a new thing in the future, refreshing and sustaining His people. This prophecy has its fulfillment in Jesus. May we trust the Lord Who keeps His promises.

Lord God, open our eyes to see Your actions on behalf of Your people in the past, that You are faithful to be trusted. Increase our faith, looking to You to give us the blessings we need, trusting that as You have been faithful in the past, so You are faithful in the future. We thank and praise You for the fulfilling of Your promises in Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today’s psalm, Psalm 126, has the same theme and direction as the First Reading. The psalmist recounts God’s faithfulness in the past, which leads to joy in the Lord, and the proclamation of God’s faithfulness on behalf of His people. Then the psalmist prays that the Lord will restore His people in the present, as He has done in the past. The psalm ends with the assurance of God’s help, and with praise to Him for His actions on behalf of His people.

Lord God, we give You thanks and praise for Your faithfulness to keep Your promises. Enable us always to give You thanks and praise. As we face the difficult days ahead, enable us to trust that You will keep us safe in Your hands and that You will fulfill Your promises. Let us give You thanks and praise for all You have and will do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Second Reading is recorded in Philippians 3:4b-14. If anyone could be saved by works, it was Saul of Tarsus (who became the apostle Paul). Yet, as he points out in this passage, good works are of no account when it comes to salvation. Salvation is a gift of God, to be received by faith. It is God’s grace which enables us to attain to the resurrection of the dead, grace received through faith. Let us keep this distinction in mind: we are saved by grace through faith, not as the result of works. Then Paul concludes by reminding the Philippians that he still strives toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul will not let his faith languish and die. How about us? Are we growing in Christ?

Lord Jesus Christ, we give you thanks and praise that our redemption is based on Your grace through Your death and resurrection, and not the result of our works. We thank and praise You for the gift of faith. Let Your Holy Spirit work in our lives each day that we continue to grow in faith, hope and love in and through You. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel for today is recorded in Luke 20:9-20. This is a parable about some renters who refused to give the owner of the vineyard his due at the harvest time. As the parable concludes, the greedy, murderous tenants receive their punishment. Notice the reaction of the people, especially the scribes and chief priests, they were aghast at the just punishment meted out to those tenants. Why would they react in this way? In the Old Testament the vineyard is an image of the nation of Israel, and the scribes and chief priests realized that in this parable Jesus is saying that they have squandered their responsibility toward God, and that punishment would fall on them, especially because of the way they treat His Son. This is what happened. How do we treat the kingdom that God has entrusted to us? Are we squandering His grace and mercy, or are we extending His love to others by our words and actions?

Lord Jesus, enable us to be faithful stewards of the kingdom and the blessings entrusted to us so that others share in Your blessings. Move us to reach out to others and bring them to You, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

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