Bible Readings for Sunday, March 15, 2020

The First Reading, recorded in Exodus 17:1-7, ends with a stark question: Is the LORD among us or not? The people of Israel had witnessed the 10 plagues in Egypt, leading to their exodus from Egypt; they had seen the power of the LORD which led to their liberation. Yet, now in this passage they face death by thirst. How will they respond to their situation? They grumbled against Moses, who brought the complaint to the LORD. Would God take care of them or not? Is the LORD among them or not? We shake our heads at their lack of faith, yet, aren’t we more like them than we care to admit? We have read and heard the accounts of God caring for His people, we have had His care in our lives, yet when the next problem arises, don’t we at times wonder: Is the LORD among us or not? Let us keep our eyes on the Lord, trusting in His faithfulness to take care of us today, tomorrow, and into eternity.
Faithful Lord, when we doubt, question, and grumble whether You are among us or not, lead us to hear again all that You have done for Your people, especially what You have done through Jesus, and cause faith to grow in us, trusting that You work all things for good. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

The psalm is recorded in Psalm 95:1-9. Notice how this psalm ties in to the First Reading. This is a psalm of praise for Who God is and a call to faithful worship of Him. Notice also the warning not to put the Lord to the test as the people of Israel did in the wilderness. The psalm proclaims Who God is and what He has done, leading to praise, and then as we hear again Who and what He is, we are urged not to turn from Him as the people did in the wilderness when they were thirsty. We can trust Him because all things are in His hands, and He will graciously provide for our needs.
All glory, honor, praise and thanks be to You, O Lord, for You are above all and You hold all in Your powerful hands. Keep us in faith, knowing that You will provide for our needs. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Second Reading continues reading through parts of Romans, and is recorded in Romans 5:1-8. How are we put right with God? By faith alone. His justification of us through Christ gives us peace, and access to the grace we need in every situation, including as we face hardships and heartaches in life. In Christ our hardships and heartaches can lead to hope that He is faithful to give us His mercy. The passage concludes with the powerful proclamation that even when we were enemies, when we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We can’t make ourselves good enough for the Lord, but in Christ He brings us to Himself, forgiving and renewing us in Jesus.
Lord God, as we face hardship and heartache, as we face the sinfulness in us, bring to our remembrance Your mercy and grace in Jesus. Increase our faith in Your faithfulness so that what we face in life will lead us to a stronger faith in Christ. In His Name we pray. Amen.

The Gospel is recorded in John 4:5-30, 39-42. In the text we have a woman who has many things going against her. By all standards of the day, Jesus should avoid such a person, yet He engages her in conversation for the purpose of leading her to faith in Him. As she hears more and more from Jesus, she is told by Him that He is the Messiah. Suddenly faith is born in her, and in her joy, she goes back to the village and tells others Who is at the well. Because of her witness they also come to see Jesus, and once they have heard Him, faith comes into their lives as well. We see the important message that all are within the sphere of mercy in Jesus. Let us share the message of Jesus with others so that they too can be brought to faith in Him.
Lord Jesus, all thanks and praise to You that You did not shun the woman at the well, rather You showed her mercy and grace, leading her to faith. Lord, as she witnessed to her community about You, may we also witness to others, opening the door to Your Holy Spirit to lead them to faith in You. Amen.

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