Bible Readings for Sunday, Aug. 18. 2019

We often think of “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild”, and certainly He is, especially when dealing with sinners who need His forgiveness. He calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and He is, seeking the lost and restoring us to Himself. But, in today’s readings, we see an aspect of the Lord that can make us uncomfortable: Jesus Who brings judgment and cleansing by fire, and because of Whom even families will be divided. Jesus is giving us a true warning: sometimes following Jesus will divide us from others.

The First Reading is recorded in Jeremiah 23:16-29. These are strong words of the LORD through the prophet Jeremiah warning the people and proclaiming judgment on false prophets. Not everyone who claims to be speaking on behalf of the Lord really is, not everyone who claims to be from the Lord really is, we need to be so familiar with the Bible that we can discern true from false teachers. Are we called to daily repentance? Are we called to new life in Christ? Listen to the Word of the Lord in the Bible.

Lord God, we thank You that You love us so much that You have given us the Bible. Enable us to know it so well that we can distinguish between true and false teachings, and keep us in You through Your Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

The Psalm is part of psalm 119, verses 81-88. In this passage notice the desire of the psalmist to continue to follow the LORD, even in the face of persecution. Like the psalmist, when we face resistance for being a Christian, let us turn to the Lord for help, strength, and protection.

Almighty Lord, keep us safe in You in the face of those who resist You, keep us close to You in life and into eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.

The Second Reading is a continuation of reading through the 11th chapter of Hebrews, verses 17 through chapter 12:3. Notice the emphasis on faith in the Lord, even in the face of terrible persecution and even martyrdom. Those followers of the Lord who went before us are great examples of remaining faithful, even when mistreated because of the Lord. But, notice how the passage ends: the heroes of faith are examples to encourage us, but our eyes are to be fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Let us always keep our eyes on Jesus.

Holy Spirit of God, continue to work in our hearts and lives so that in faith we always keep our eyes fixed on Jesus; He alone redeems us through His death and resurrection. Enable us to trust, give thanks, and follow Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel is recorded in Luke 12:49-56. There is no “gentle Jesus, meek and mild”, in this passage; Jesus comes to do battle against sin, death, and the devil, and it is a battle that will lead to His death, but also to His resurrection. As Christians, this battle will also involve us, and unfortunately will at times lead to divisions within families. This is heart-breaking when it happens, but we must stand with Jesus, praying for our loved-ones.

The end of the passage is a warning from Jesus to note the signs of the times: do we? Do we see how much the world needs Jesus? Do we make Him known to others? Let us always stand with Jesus.

Lord Jesus, You battled against sin, death, and the devil, winning the victory in Your death and resurrection. To You be all honor and glory, now and forever. As Your followers now in the Church Militant, keep us faithful to You, resisting the forces and powers of evil by Your Name: Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

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