Year B – Easter 3 – Psalm 4

Psalm 4: Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. 2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah 3 But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;  the Lord hears when I call to him. 4 When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent.  Selah  5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. 6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”  7  You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. 8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Summary:  We say a great deal of many things.  But sometimes in our prayer lives, the words just won’t come.  What stops you from praying?  Here David speaks confidently.  He speaks as if God will hear him.  Prayer is an action done in trust.  But sometimes we still need to question, and sometimes we need to be silent.  David mentions times for them both.  In this psalm, he seems to be questioning the actions and attitudes of fallen humanity (vv2,6) rather than God directly (cf. Ps 6:3, 10:1).  And David had a great deal to question in his life, and he had plenty of reasons to be frustrated, but his trust in God remained.

Insight:  Even when we are angry, we can remain faithful.  There is a difference between righteous outcries and vain venting:  think how often we take out our frustrations upon innocent and unwitting third-parties.  We love vain words.  When life gets difficult, or when we are being that difficult party, David suggestions is that we get quiet (v4).  And during this moment of silence, we can then think about what we have said and will say… to God, as well as, to our fellow man.  We always have cause to lift up our hearts; we needn’t wait until everything goes wrong, or until everything is going just right.  Certainly, as we ponder this Easter Season, consider the full implications of Christ’s resurrection and ascension:  Prayer is just one of our great privileges and responsibilities.  It is an amazing and confident conversation done between the Creator of the Universe and His creatures who are now at peace with one another (v8).

Discussion:  What is getting in the way of your conversations with God?   How do we sincerely pray for those who hates us or have different views than us?  (cf. Romans 12:14-21, Lk 23:34).

Thank you Father for the opportunities given to us,

Through sin and struggles, grant us the right words and hear our prayers

May our words glorify You, And May our words bring peace and gladness to others

In harmony with your Spirit’s leading and in Christ’s Name,

Forever.  Amen.

Contributed by:  M. West

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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 – 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 – Mark 9:2-9

Mark 9:2-9  Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Summary:  Of all the theories about what Christ’s return will look like, this we can be certain, it’s going to be bright.  The Nicene Creed says of Christ:  “…He will come again in glory…”  The Transfiguration was a glance at that awesome sight.  Jesus had been declared The Christ a few days before; And now these three disciples saw even further reality of just whom they were looking at.  The Father’s voice and this revelation of Jesus’ divine glory not only confirms his place among the great messengers of God, but that he is the Message that we must listen to as the kingdom appears.

Insight:  What if you had been there?  What if could have heard the voice of God… seen Elijah and Moses… along with Jesus’ awesome whiteness?   How much more confident in Christ would you be?  Well, Peter was there.  And Peter himself says we have something in our possession today even more certain.  Peter, a personal disciple who spend all that time in the physical presence of Jesus and an eyewitness to this very event, says you and I have something that we should be more confident about:  we have the Word of God.  And so, we do well to pay attention, to listen to Him (v7) and to trust this most trusted source from God (2 Peter 1:16-21).

Child Catechism – What can we be sure of?  Word of God

Discussion Questions  –  If you were in Peter’s sandals, what would you have said?  What was Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses about (see Luke 9:28-36)?

Prayer –  Heavenly Father,  you have spoken to our fathers in many different ways and now you speak to us by your Son, shape our hearts and minds to listen and follow His words, by the power of your Spirit and in Christ’s name.  Amen.

Contributed by:  Mac West