Year B – Proper 6 – 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel. 16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”a 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9 Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

 

Insight:  There will be many unforgettable moments in your life; usually these will be life-changing and defining moments that signal a new era, a new development, or a new found role in your life.  Image getting behind the wheel of that car for first time, alone with the road and radio; turning around together, as the pastor introduces you as husband and wife; or with yet another diploma in hand,  smiling as your family proudly gathers around.  This passage tells of one such defining moment in David’s and in Samuel’s lives.  This was also a turning pointing in Israel’s history.  Thereafter, David was seen as the exemplary human king;  and it would be his son who would lead them to victory and lasting peace.  Saul had not been such a good example.  He had been a disobedient king and now the Lord was to name this youngest of eight boys the future king of Israel.  While it is uncertain just how much David and his family understood at this moment.  This occasion was God’s way of setting David apart; and this young shepherd boy would grow to be a man after God’s own heart.

Catechism Question:  What did Samuel use to anoint David?  The horn of oil.

Discussion:  What have been some defining moments in your life?  What were David’s qualifications for becoming king?  What had been some of the reason why Saul was rejected as king?

Your hand is upon your people, O God,
to guide and protect them through the ages.
Keep in your service
those you have called and anointed,
that the powers of this world may not overwhelm us,
but that, secure in your love,
we may carry out your will
in the face of all adversity. Amen.

Contributed by M. West

Year B – Trinity 2 – Mark 3:20-35

Mark 3:19–35 NRSV –   3:20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 3:21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 3:23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 3:24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 3:25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 3:26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 3:27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. 3:28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 3:30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” 3:31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 3:32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 3:33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 3:34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 3:35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Summary  –  In this passage of Mark we have the teaching of Christ’s new authority as a new Adam in the world (casting out Satan).  This set in the midst of an encounter with Jesus’s own biological family (his mother and half-brothers and half-sisters). They were trying to keep Jesus from embarrassment or themselves from shame. “For people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.'” The Scribes said He had a demon. It is in just this setting that we have a one of the strongest statements of Jesus’s authority to bind Satan and take the rightful place of the True Ruler of the World. Christ reigns and those who do the will of God are His brothers and sisters and mother.

Insight – In this season of  Pentecost the Gospel texts show our empowerment to accomplish God’s will in the world. In the previous Gospel readings of John 16 and John 17 Christ promised and delivered judgment on the former “Ruler of this World.” Satan had authority in the world prior to Christ. His authority came through deception and lies at the Fall of Adam and Even (Gen. 3). He was legally in a place in which He had authority since Adam yielded authority and power to Satan. As Mark 3:27 makes clear Christ came to “tie up” or “bind” the Strong Man, Satan so that “the house can be plundered” (v27). See also Hebrews 2:14-15 – He rendered “powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” and Colossians 2:15,  “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” Because of this we have the authority in Him to accomplish the mission God has given us in the world. We must believe that  Christ has now “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:19) and no demonic or Satanic force has authority. Though Satanic forces have some power through temptation, they have no  rightful authority.

Catechism – Who are the brothers, sisters and mothers of Christ? Those who do the will of God.

Discussion – How much authority does the devil have in the world today? How much power does the devil have in the world?

Prayer – Almighty Father of our Lord Jesus, you sent Christ into the world that the world might be saved through Him. Through His sinless life and death for sins, you provided an atonement for all the fallen race of Adam and through His resurrection and glorious ascension you placed Jesus as the supreme Lord and King of all heaven and earth. Grant that we may trust Him and not give power to the defeated dark forces in the world by our unbelief. In the name of the only King, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Year B – Palm Sunday – Philippians 2:5-11

“5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Summary – Last week we read where Jesus, Glorified by God alone to the office of the Eternal High Priest and was the only begotten Son of the Father offered up prayers to the only One who could save Him from Death. We are called to have the same mind wherein Jesus was heard because of his respectful submission as in one believing, trusting even worshiping the Father. Even though He was a Son, he learned obedience through what He suffered. Thus, being made perfect we too are called to have the same mind set.

Insight – We should practice the same mind of Christ Jesus, “who .  .  .  .  emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.” We too should empty and humble ourselves and become obedient to God and His truth even to the point of death. Our level of commitment and benevolence should be such as we are to be total servants of the most high God putting off “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:17-24, NASB)

Childs Catechism – Should we be committed to serve like Jesus in every area of our lives? Yes, we should be committed to serve like Jesus in every area of our lives.

Discussion – What does it mean to be committed even to the point of death? Did Jesus have to do that?

Prayer – Dear Lord God and heavenly Father, bless us O God, bless us O Lord, protect us and give us strength to be the servants You have called us to be. Prepare us O God for such servant-hood and forgive us when we fail in our commitments to You in our everyday lives serving others. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Contributed by Rev. Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Fifth Sunday in Lent – Hebrews 5:5-10

“5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” 7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Summary – Jesus, Glorified by God alone to the office of the Eternal High Priest begotten of the Father offered up prayers to the only one who could save Him from Death; Jesus was heard because of his Reverent submission. Even though a Son, he learned obedience through what He suffered. Thus, being made perfect Jesus is the only source of our salvation.

Insight – Jesus did not assume the glory of the priestly office for Himself but rather was called of God (John 8:54). That is, the Father glorified and appointed Him to the priesthood. This appointment was the result of the Sonship of Christ which qualified Him for the office. Only the divine Son could have fulfilled such an office.  Jesus did not represent Himself to be the Son of God, but was from everlasting [in eternity] the only-begotten son of God.  He is a Priest absolutely because He stands alone in that character without an equal.  He was always obedient to the Father’s will but the special obedience needed to qualify Him as our High Priest He learned through suffering. He was High Priest already in the purpose and eyes of God before His crucifixion, but after it, by it, He was made perfect.

Childs Catechism – Is Jesus the perfect son of God the only source of our salvation? Yes, Jesus is the perfect son of God and the only source of our salvation, and He says: “anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24, NSAB)

Discussion – What qualified Jesus to be the High Priest forever? If God could save Him from death why did He have to die?

Prayer – Lord God and heavenly Father, our ways are not Your ways nor our thoughts. Help us O God, Help us O Lord to think of one another as Christ thought of us giving Himself on the cross that we might live. We thank you Lord for all you have done, You alone are God and the great High Priest and we worship You alone with great thanksgiving and we do so in your name Jesus, Amen.

Contributed by Rev. Tom Miller, MA

Year B Fourth Sunday of Lent Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 “1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. . . . . 17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.”

Summary – The psalmist in verses 1 – 3 gives thanks for God’s steadfast love on behalf of those the “redeemed of the LORD”. He praises God alone for His deliverance and for the children of the covenant. The psalmist in verses 17 – 22 speaks to those in rebellion, those whose sickness of sin resulted in their being led into exile. However, after their crying out in their time of need and desperation, God once again delivered them by his Word.

Insight – The psalmist began by giving thanks in his ongoing experience of God’s steadfast love with a sense of in-depth spiritual understanding of how the Lord has worked on behalf of those the “redeemed of the LORD”; the groups of which referred to here were those gathered out of the lands who had been dispersed throughout the Babylonian empire and re-gathered. In part he was referring to those brought through the Red Sea (Psa. 114:3), which was to the south. For us looking retrospectively and also into the future regarding believers in Christ that did and will follow; we can know who will experience God’s deliverance as all the children of the Covenant will be saved. The psalmist in verses 17-22 speaks to those in rebellion; their sickness of sin resulted in their being led into exile. It also led to human or physical sickness. This does not refer to the ignorant only, but more at those willfully given to doing evil and acting in violation of God’s ways (Psa. 14:1). They were afflicted, even tormented with disease. However, crying out in their need, God once again delivers them by his Word allowing those who were sick to participate in the cultic festivities of thankful praise. We too can count on being delivered from our circumstances and sickness due to our own sinful passions. ““Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”” (Romans 10:13, NSRV)

Childs Catechism – If we confess our sins and repent will God restore us who call out to Him alone? Yes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Discussion – What dose it mean to “call on the name of the Lord”? Can we too rejoice with the psalmist?

Prayer – O Lord O God, please forgive us and open our eyes to our sins, remind us that as we sin against others and ourselves we also sin against You. Help us to see into Your ways for our lives and behaviors thus revealing our evil hearts filled with evil human worldly passions. Forgive us and teach us in Jesus name, Amen.

Contributed by Rev. Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Third Sunday of Lent – Exodus 20:1-7

“1Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”

Summary –  The first of the Ten Commandments starts  with God Himself Who spoke in a way so to be heard and understood by the all those standing in the valleys below. God was speaking to those who were fallen and sinful making it clear that a change in their understanding and character was required of them; to give greater understanding of the character and sanctions of the Law revealed from heaven which was and is an example of the Character of God in His perfection as no one could keep the Law humanly speaking other than Jesus Himself. To summarize the first three commandments we have the first against idolatry, the second against worshipping idols and the third against false swearing, blasphemy, and ungodly use of the name of God.

Insight – Many biblical scholars since the 1950’s have recognized the similarities of the covenants written form to the structure of ancient Near Eastern treaties, particularly the type made between a ruler and those depending upon him. Such forms or patterns were used in legal documents although they might have varied somewhat.  It is interesting to note that God in his revelation of the commandments uses literary forms that were common to the Jewish peoples so that they could better understand the nature of their relationship with God.

Childs Catechism – When looking into the perfect law of God whose character do we see and whose character do we seek to imitate? We see Gods perfect Character and we see k to be imitators of God.

Discussion – What was the purpose of the commandments when originally given and has it changed the way we live under those commandments today?

Prayer – Dear Lord God and Heaven Father, we see Your perfect law and we realize that it is impossible for us to keep Your commandments perfectly on our own. Our every attempt reveals our weakness. Teach us O God to live and serve You alone while still in our fallen condition. Give us a new heart that we might be able and even desire Your ways over our ways serving You alone no matter how difficult times may get. Bless us, heal us and forgive us when we fail and allow us to continue in service to You for all the days of our lives, in Jesus name, Amen.

Contributed by Rev. Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Lent 2 – Psalm 22:23-31

“23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;    he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him. 25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him. 26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. 28 For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him. 30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, 31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.”

Summary – The psalmist calls for the praise of God to be declared throughout the all the believing community because God does not despise the afflicted but rather, He has delivered them. After such a demonstration of God’s faithfulness the psalmist in great thanks and celebration will pay his vows with witnesses present and in a common or a community meal together they celebrate the deliverance with others who were also oppressed. The psalmist expanded his worship and praise as if to include all past, present and future worshiping communities together.

Insight – With a deeper level of belief, insight and confidence and as a result of having witnessed God’s deliverance the psalmist has more of an eternal and universal understanding of God’s grace, mercy and sovereignty. And in light of a very real and passing crisis, the psalmist fulfills the vows to God which he made under great pressure and in fear. He then celebrates in community with a common meal, a preview if you will of what we now do in our Communion meals. Deliverance for the believing psalmist who suffers causes him to reflect on the sovereign rule of God with which he may now look forward to the universal eternal praise of all the saints in Kingdom Come. While I will not state with certainty that he would have understood that reality with the same insights or perspective that we are blessed with at this time in history (on the other side of the cross as we can look back) it would be clear that God’s deliverance announced and witnessed by many would have impacted those present, those approaching death and even those yet unborn.

Child Catechism – Can we both trust and count on God’s deliverance and protection in our times of crisis? Yes, we can trust God and count on God and we are even called by God and empowered by God to do so.

Discussion – How can or how does one grow in faith when reflecting on the crises in our lives? Do we make vows today that we need to pay, and what are some examples?

Prayer – Dear Lord God and heavenly Father, O God we see you deliver Your people over and over in the Scriptures and yet when in the middle of trouble we worry and fear and even at times wonder if we’re going to make it through. Please O God help us as with the psalmist to have a stronger faith and to trust and fully count on you for deliverance in our difficult times. Heal us O God and bless us Father, comfort us and give us a special peace today as we reflect on all You have done for every generation. And we pray this with great thanks in Jesus name, Amen.

Contributed by Rev. Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Transfiguration Sunday – 2 Kings 2:1-12

“1Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”4Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”6Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground. 9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.”

Summary – Elijah, knowing that he was about to be taken up by God and prompted by the Holy Spirit goes on a journey. He is depicted here as wanting to go off to a quiet place and he is accompanied by his understudy Elisha. He does however ask Elisha if he realizes that his master is about to be taken up. Elisha acknowledges but makes it clear that his loyalty to Elijah will supersede Elijah’s request for him to stay behind and so they press on together passing through the region served. In addition, fifty other men “of the company of prophets” also follow but at a distance as though curious but still showing respect. Elijah when arriving to the Jordan in similar fashion as Moses by the Spirit parts the water and they cross together on dry ground. Elijah asks Elisha if he has a parting request from his master. Elisha’s request is for a “double share of your spirit.” Elijah assures him that if it is to come to fruition it will be of God not him and then states: “yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” They are then separated by the horses and Chariot of fire and Elijah departs to the heavens in a miraculous whirl wind. Elisha then rends his clothes as an expression outwardly of his grief and loss inwardly.

Insight – The miraculous event had been made known to the prophet Elijah. However, unknown to him, it had also been revealed to his disciples and to Elisha who in particular was determined to remain by his side until Elijah’s final departure. Gilgal was near Ebal and Gerizim; a school of the prophets was established there. At Beth-el there was also a school of the prophets, which Elijah had founded. In travelling to these places inspired by the Holy Spirit Elijah would pay a farewell to those institutions. They were also on the way to the place of his ascension. At the same time and from a feeling of humility and modesty Elijah was, wanting to be where there would be no eye-witnesses of his glorification. However, all his efforts to have Elisha remain behind were fruitless. Elisha knew that the time was at hand and at every place the sons of the prophets spoke to him of the approaching removal of his master. Their last stage on the journey was at the Jordan where they were followed by fifty scholars/students who sought to witness the miraculous translation of the prophet. The revelation of this striking event to so many was a necessary part of what would be visible historical proof of the continuation of promised supernatural events that would take place in the fulfillment of the covenant promises and a type of the resurrection of Christ the perfect and final fulfillment of God’s promise to His covenant people for their salvation eternal by grace alone through faith alone and as we hear and read by the Word alone.

Childs Catechism – What promises can we know and trust God for? We can know and trust God for all His promises.

Discussion – How did God translate or change Elijah? Why did God translate Elijah to depart this realm without seeing death?

Prayer – Dear Lord God and heavenly Father, thank you Lord for your Word which teaches; gives demonstration and proof of Your miraculous supernatural intervention in Your creation and our lives as we both retrospectively witness with trust and faith the fulfillment of your promised Messiah and the inward testimony we have today by the indwelling of Your Holy Spirits as we now through Christ are temples of You O God, and “the temple of God is Holy,” and that is what we are by grace alone through faith alone according to Your Word alone, O God, AMEN.

Contributed by Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Epiphany 5 – Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

“1 Praise the LORD! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. 2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. 5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. 6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre. 8 He covers the heavens with clouds,   prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry. 10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;  11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.   .  .  .  .  20c Praise the LORD!”

Summary – The psalmist proclaims the Praise of our Lord and God because He is gracious, He is our salvation and He provides all of our needs and the needs of all creatures in His care. He gives all things abundantly to all His children. He looks for us and finds us, He heals us. He builds His Holy City; His Kingdom and for His glory to our joy and rejoicing. God created the universe His marvelous dwelling place like a great planetarium which He displays for all to see as He reveals his sovereignty, power and control over all creation; the original from which copies are made as is our worship at the foot of the throne just a glorious sample of the truly magnificent experience of worship yet to take place in Heavenly Places, His Kingdom Come! God does not delight in our wondrous works but rather, He rejoices in His children who put their trust in Him, who love Him and take delight in His wondrously magnificent works rejoicing and singing to the praise of His glory humbly in thanksgiving in honor and with respect for a God who shall surely be feared.

Insight – God has done it all, it’s amazing – all has been and will be provided and all we need do is: as we are called and gifted we are to be good stewards of that which we have received and do the sacrificial works of service taking care of that which is appointed to man; to see to the needs of our church family and beyond as called to show grace, love and mercy to those who hurt, to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice and give Praise because He is God and Jesus the Christ is risen!

Child Catechism – What does God do for us? He saves us, restores us and provides all of our needs.

Discussion – What are some of the things God provides for us? Why does He do so many wonderful things for us?

Prayer – Dear Lord and Heavenly Father, we see Your signature in the heavens and Your stars that shine Your Holy light and we see all Your amazing works daily and yet often we take them for granted. Help us O God to remember daily all you have done for us and remind us daily of our obligation to care for one another joyfully as we await Your Magnificent return. Let us praise You daily and for all eternity Almighty Father and God and we worship You alone, we love You because you so loved us first and we thank You and praise You in Jesus name alone, Amen.

Contributed by Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Epiphany 4 – Mark 1:21-28

“21They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.”

Summary – Jesus goes to Capernaum and according to tradition, on the Sabbath, He goes into the synagogue and begins to teach.  The people were amazed by His teaching because He taught as One superior in knowledge and with authority yet to be experienced by those awaiting Messiah. At that time there was a man with an unclean spirit. The spirit calls out to Jesus in a sense as if saying, “what are you doing here, I know who you really are and I do not want to hear from you!” The very thing that man with the unclean spirit needed was deliverance by the hand of Jesus but the evil spirit speaks out and challenges Him. Jesus in the authority of the Most High God rebukes the spirit who with no power over the Christ angrily causes the man to violently shake and as ordered by Jesus the spirit comes out of the man.  Everyone there was amazed and wondering if this was a new teaching.  Jesus became famous, and the news spread throughout the region.

Insight – Jesus’ message was revolutionary and it still is but He did not upset the religious system of that time at that time. Jesus taught in an organized manner and did so within the established religious order even though right practice had been distorted by the religious leadership of that time. Jesus’ sermon is remembered not altogether for what he said, but for how he said it. Rather than offer a personal opinion on a subject, the religious teachers of that day relied on a whole series of quotations from great men of the past to support their teaching. Jesus relied on the authority of God according to the written Word alone and the people responded quickly to his fresh style. He then both supported and demonstrated His/God’s authority by casting out the unclean spirit.

Child’s Catechism – How did Jesus teach? He taught as one having authority.

Discussion – Where can we find truth to rely on as an authority in all areas of life? In what ways do you show that you trust God’s authority in your life?

Prayer – O God O Lord, we thank you Jesus for being faithful to your calling and standing against all evil in every age. Give us this day the faith we need to trust Scripture for every area of our lives as You did in obedience even unto death. Help us, O Lord, lead and empower us to spread the truth of Your Word faithfully in our everyday walk and lives. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

Contributed by Tom Miller, MA