Year A – Advent 2 – Romans 15:4-13

Romans 15:4–13  – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; 10 and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; 11 and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 12 and again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Overview  – Chapter 15 is the Hallelujah Chorus to the book of Romans. Handel’s libretto is taken from the “seventh trumpet,” – “The kingdoms of this world [is] become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). Romans 15, like Rev. 15, brings Israel’s history to its climax. God through Jesus, has opened the way of mercy to the nations. This is a thick statement summing up whole sections of Romans (ch. 3-4, 9-11). We must strive reach out to those that not like ourselves in this congregation. Psalm 117, cited by Paul, made clear that the goal of the gospel includes all nations. As John Piper has written, “Let the nations be glad.” Shared worship with all nations and all kinds of people is central to Paul’s vision. Paul concludes with a litany of fulfillment texts. These are all precisely what he began with: the promises to the fathers are being fulfilled in the new covenant church. “Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy” (15:8-9). The promise of God is for Jews and Gentiles, all humanity, to come into Christ as a New Man (Eph. 2:15), a new Adam or humanity. The ending of chapter 15 makes clear the “missionary purpose.” The message of unity in Christ over differences of status, ethnic identity and cultural differences, when accepted, becomes the foundational message for church planting. A church that sees the promises of God coming to bear can reach out and establish more churches in different contexts. Romans 1 reads right through to chapter 15.  1:15 Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome. . .  15:20 I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, 15:22  This is the reason I was often hindered coming to you. 15:23 But now there is nothing more to keep me in these regions, and I have for many years desired  to come to you…”

Insight – What would you find if you read the book of Romans backwards? You would see how Paul has been making the argument for the salvation of all nations in a new Body, the Church as the goal of his arguments about sin (chs. 1-2), justification in Christ (chs. 3-5), life in Christ (chs. 6-8), Israel’s role (chs. 9-11), and application to the Church (chs. 12-16). What was prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah and the Psalms, for example) is coming about through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Child’s Catechism – How will God get praise from all nations? He will be praised as all nations accept the gospel that Jesus is the Savior.

Prayer – O Lord our God, thank You that in Your wonderful redemptive plan, You have destined all nations and peoples to know deliverance through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Grant that we may continue in faithfulness to Him as we rejoice in the harvest that all nations will become worshipers of the true God. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Year C – Sixth Sunday in Easter – Psalm 67

Psalm 67 (NRSV)

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

A  1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.

B  3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

C  4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

B  5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

A  6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
7 May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.

 

Summary – It is believed that this Psalm was meant to be sung during the Harvest Feast, also known as the Feast of Weeks, or, as we know it today, The Feast of Pentecost. Verse 6 gives God the praise for “the earth yielding its increase”, so it seems appropriate that the context would be the Harvest Feast. This Psalm is written as a chiasm, as you can see the text arranged to fit an A B C B A structure. This means that the center point is the main focus of the Psalm, which is verse 4. The Psalm is a praise and a prayer that focuses on God blessing “us”, so that the nations and the peoples of the earth would also receive blessing from God (1-2, 6-7). The very middle verse, verse 4, gives us the center of the Psalm and helps us to focus on the main point. Because God blesses his people, all the nations of the earth will also be blessed (a reference to the Abrahamic Covenant in Gen. 12:1-3). As a result of that blessing on the nations will be glad and will sing for joy, because God will judge with righteousness, and he will guide the nations of the earth. For nations that have been walking in the darkness of their own sins, the righteous judgments and laws of God and the Spirit to obey such laws are indeed a blessing that is worthy of singing for joy and with gladness.

Insight – The Blessing of Abraham that came upon the whole world is the gift of the Holy Spirit who gives people faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). The Holy Spirit was given to the world on the Feast of Pentecost, when this Psalm was most likely to be sung. Jesus tells his disciples that “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers few. Pray earnestly to the Lord of Harvest that he would send laborers into the harvest” (Luke 10:2). The harvest is the gathering up of all the believers throughout the whole world. This Psalm is a prophecy about the future salvation of the world, of people from every nation, who will be blessed by God with the gift of the Holy Spirit. God first blessed Abraham, and then has blessed Israel, and then blessed Jesus, and then blessed the disciples, and then blessed the nations with the Holy Spirit. And He has blessed you too. Will you sing this song as you go into the harvest of people and gather them up for the Lord, so that they too might be blessed?

Catechism – Who has God blessed? Us.

Discussion – Discuss the Abrahamic Covenant and what that means for the world (Gal. 3:14). Discuss what it means to go into the harvest. Discuss the responsibility we have being blessed by God to share that blessing with others.

Prayer – O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sirts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal, that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of peace, and in righteousness of life. And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover

Year C – Fifth Sunday in Easter – Psalm 148

Psalm 148 (NRSV)

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Summary – This Psalm calls upon the whole of creation, in both of its divisions, the Heavens (v. 1-6) and the Earth (v. 7-14), to give praise to God. Verses 1-4 call for the Heavens and those associated with it to give praise to God, while verses 5-6 tell why it is that the Heavens should give praise to God. Similarly, the second half of the psalm, verses 7-12, calls upon those creatures associated with the earth to give praise to God, with verses 13-14 giving the reason why.

The Heavens are to praise God because God “commanded and they were created” (v. 5). He has also established them forever and ever (v. 6); and he rules the heavens with a decree, that is, he has ordered the universe to work in the way that it does, and it will not pass away. Praise God! The Earth is also to Praise God because God’s name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven. And he has lifted up a horn for his people, Praise for all his faithful saints, praise for the people of Israel who are close to Him” (13-14). Praise the Lord!

Insight – When we read about “the Heavens and the Earth” we tend to put up a dividing wall between the two. The Heavens are way up there, and the earth is down here, with us. We are on the Earth, and God is in Heaven, and one day we will go to Heaven. But when we think like this, we miss the whole point that the Bible is trying to tell us when it puts the Heaven and the Earth together like this. Verse 14 gives us a reason why the earth it praise God, whose glory is above both Heaven and Earth – and that is because God is near to His people Israel. If God is in Heaven, and we are on the Earth, how can God’s saints be near Him (verse 14)? How can a people who are on Earth be near to a God who is in Heaven? This is because in Jesus Christ, who is “the horn” mentioned here in verse 14, came to bring together all things in himself, things in Heaven, and things on Earth. In Jesus, Heaven and Earth come together. He is the bridge between the two worlds. And since we are united to Him in His death through baptism and faith, we are near to God who is in Heaven, and God is near to us. And this is why he came – to bring Heaven to earth together.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.   – Colossians 1:15-20 NASB

Catechism – Who is commanded to Praise God? The Heavens and the Earth.

Discussion – Discuss the sea monsters in verse 7! Discuss how heaven and earth are not separated worlds, but are inter-connected. What does that mean for how we think of ourselves, the earth, God, and Jesus? What does it mean to be near to God? Is it good or bad to be near to God? Encourage your children to see everything in nature as an expression of praise to God. The snow, the wind, clouds, fire, hail, trees, mountains, beasts, and kings – and yes, especially the sea monsters! It is important for us to be amazed with the creation and to see it as giving praise to God.

Prayer – Almighty God of Heaven and Earth, the whole creation gives you praise. Though your glory is exalted above the heavens, you delight to draw us near to you. Let us be reminded that in Christ we ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, and in Christ you come down to eat with us at your Son’s table. Grant us the grace to see all things being recreated and made new in Jesus. Amen.

 Submitted by Michael Shover

Year C – Second Sunday in Easter – Psalm 150

Psalm Lesson – Psalm 150 NRSV

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

 

Summary – The Book of Psalms comes to a close with a command to praise God. Hallelujah, literally means “Praise the Lord.” The Psalmist tells us in verse 1 where the Praise of God should take place – in His Sanctuary, and in His mighty Firmament, that is, Heaven. Verse 2 tells us why we should praise God – For His mighty deeds, and because of God’s excellent greatness. Verses 3-5 tell us with what we should praise God – trumpet, lute, harp, tambourine, dance strings, pipe, and cymbals. This is an all encompassing list, meant to tell us that  we should praise God with all kinds of instruments, and the louder the better! The last verse tells us who is to praise God – “everything that breathes, praise the Lord!”

Insight – The last verse of says, “Everything that breathes, Praise the Lord.” That is a lot of things. In Genesis, when God created Adam, God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). The “breath” that was given to Adam was the Spirit of God. The Spirit is what makes us a living soul. I think Psalm 150:6 is suggesting what the living soul who has been given breath is supposed to do – Praise the Lord! God made us to worship Him, and praise Him, and sing Praises to Him. That is the number one reason that we even have breath. The second reason is to breathe to live. But your breath helps push words out of your mouth, and helps you make noises and sounds. And those sounds that your breath helps make, are meant to be used as Praises to God. If there was ever a song that would help us to know that the reason we breathe is sing Praises to God, Handel’s “Messiah” is it! Sing with me. Take a breath. Breathe in……Breathe out……Breathe in……and sing…

Hal—le-lu-jah! Hal—le-lu-jah! Hal-le-lu-jah! Hal-le-lu-jah! Hal-le——lu-jah!

The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth!!! Hal-le-lu-jah! Hal-le-lu-jah!

Catechism – Who is to Praise the Lord? Everything that breathes.

Discussion – Discuss the worship of the Church. Why do we sing songs n Church? Why do we like to sings songs in Church? What is the relationship between singing and learning? Discuss a plan about how your family can practice the singing songs for Church for the upcoming week to prepare yourselves praise God better, and not learn the song on the spot.

Prayer – Hallelujah! We praise and honor and glorify you Father, for you have created us to be worshippers, and you have given us the Holy Spirit to be our very breath. You have redeemed us in your Son Jesus, so that we could worship you in Spirit and in Truth. May you give us the grace to live every breath with worshipful purpose. Put into our heart a new song, so that Your praise never get old and stale or turn into dead familiarity. May we always be excited to give you the praise for the great deeds you have done, and for your excellent greatness! In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover

Year B – Proper 15 – Behold the Glories of the Lamb

The hymn, Behold the Glories of the Lamb, was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Watts was a prodigy in many ways.  In his youth he learned Greek, Latin, and He­brew and became a tutor. His father was a “Nonconformist” Minister (a puritan and not an Anglican). At the time these Calvinistic churches only sang Psalms but Isaac desired to change that by adding New Testament teaching to the hymns and psalms being sung. So he composed a book of Hymns and Spiritual Songs which interpreted the Psalms of David in terms of the New Covenant fulfillment in Christ. In 1728, the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Ed­in­burgh award­ed Watts a Doc­tor of Di­vin­i­ty de­gree. He wrote many books, including:
Specula­tions on the Hu­man Na­ture of the Lo­gos
Horæ Lyr­i­cae, 1706-1709
Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs, 1707-9
The Di­vine and Mor­al Songs for the Use of Child­ren, 1715
The Psalms of Da­vid Im­i­tat­ed in the Lan­guage of the New Tes­ta­ment (Lon­don: J. Clark, 1719)
Sermons, 1721-1727
Reliquiae Ju­ve­niles: Mis­cel­lan­e­ous Thoughts in Prose and Verse, on Na­tur­al, Mor­al, and Di­vine Sub­jects (Lon­don: 1734)
Remnants of Time (Lon­don: 1736)
The Im­prove­ment of the Mind, 1741
Logic
The World to Come, 1745
Catechisms, Scrip­ture His­to­ry, 1732

This particular hymn is a reflection of Revelation 5 when Christ is worship as God after He opens the sealed book of the history of redemption. All creatures worship the Father and the Lamb. Some of Watts  original verses not included in our hymnal (note verses 2-3), make clear the heavenly context.

Behold the glories of the Lamb
Amidst His Father’s throne.
Prepare new honors for His Name,
And songs before unknown.

Let elders worship at His feet,
The Church adore around,
With vials full of odors sweet,
And harps of sweeter sound.

Those are the prayers of the saints,
And these the hymns they raise;
Jesus is kind to our complaints,
He loves to hear our praise.

Revelation 5:6–10 NRSV –     Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 5:7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. 5:8 When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 5:9 They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; 5:10 you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth. . . .To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 5:14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Year B – Easter 5 – Psalm 22:25-31

Psalm 22:25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.  26 The afflicted 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 you. 28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.  (NRSV)

Summary:  We don’t always see the results of our prayers; but that does not make our unanswered requests worthless.  Our hearts and minds must always cry out to God, no matter how frustrated or confused our desires and needs.  David could not have possibly understood the full weight and outcome from these cries [in the first half of the Psalm] and subsequent rejoices [found in our verses today].  This Psalm clearly had and will have further fulfillment through Christ and in his people.

Insight:  The opening of this psalm was quoted by Christ upon the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  These once future events, the impending sufferings, and the hopeful promises which David sung a thousand years before, were cried out, and lived out, by the Son of God himself.  For they did indeed pierce his hands and feet (v16) and they even divided his garments (v18).  His death was the will of God and now through Him redemption has been accomplished.  The results that followed, were also foretold by the Psalm.  The Apostles were seeing and living out the future “shalls” promised by the verses we are looking at today.  Just as we are seeing and living that future.  The ends of the earth are turning to the Lord, and we are those families from the various nations which worship Him (v27).  And thanks be to God, it will be even our future generations, those not yet born, that will serve him forever.

Child Catechism:  The Lord is to receive worship from whom?  All the families of the nations are called to worship and serve our King, Jesus the Christ.

Discussion:  Can you think of places in the Gospel where Jesus declares the fact that the nations were to come and worship the Lord?  How might have David understood these events (for example, crucifixion was not yet “invented”)?

Gracious Father, you have rescued us from the old creation, build us up with your Spirit,  untangle the anxieties and confusions of our lives, that we may trust and serve you only, no matter how unclear the future may be, we look to you for guidance, And it is in the power of your Spirit we pray; and in the name of him whose hands and feet we have pierced, Jesus the Christ, Amen.

Contributed by M. West

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