Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Sunday Lectionary Readings for SUNDAY, May 3, 2020 — Fourth Sunday of Easter

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/revised-common-lectionary-complementary/2020/05/03?version=NIV

The Sunday Lectionary Readings
SUNDAY, May 3, 2020 — Fourth Sunday of Easter
(Revised Common Lectionary Year A)

God-Consciousness
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10



Opening Statement
In general, we don’t like being compared to sheep. And while the image of God as shepherd may be nostalgically comforting, it doesn’t fit with our everyday lives. But focusing on a God who loves us deeply, who takes care of us and guides us along the way, who will never abandon us, and who calls us by name is an image worth lifting up and preserving, even if it is expressed in an anachronistic way.


Opening Prayer

We are standing at the gate, o loving Shepherd, not sure about the journey. But you have called our names, and in your voice we hear such love and surety. Bring us safely on the journey and strengthen us that we may serve you in all that we do. Amen.


Prayer of Confession
(adapted from Psalm 23, John 10)
Shepherding God, be with us in our need. Like sheep who have gone astray—we have not heeded your voice, calling us to follow the right paths, beckoning us to lie down and be restored; we have acted as if our salvation lies in busyness and control. We do not want to be sheep—dependent on a shepherd for everything. We want to do it alone—to maintain our independence. Forgive us for rejecting your shepherding care and your love and guidance. Forgive us for our need to do it by ourselves, to be separate from the flock. Forgive us for doubting your presence in times of trouble. Forgive us our despair in the face of seemingly unrelenting evil and death. Lead us back to the path of life. Amen.


Words of Assurance
(adapted from 1 Peter 2, John 10)
Jesus said, I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly. In so confessing, we have returned to the shepherd, the guardian of our souls who welcomes us with open arms and a glad heart. Know that the shepherd of our lives never abandons us, is always calling our name, and unfailingly loves and forgives us.


The Collect
(from the Book of Common Prayers)
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Prayer of the Day
O God our shepherd, you know your sheep by name and lead us to safety through the valleys of death. Guide us by your voice, that we may walk in certainty and security to the joyous feast prepared in your house, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


First Reading
The believers’ common life
2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


God our shepherd
1  The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
   he leads me beside quiet waters,
3    he refreshes my soul.
   He guides me along the right paths
     for his name’s sake.
4  Even though I walk
     through the darkest valley,
   I will fear no evil,
     for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff,
     they comfort me.

5  You prepare a table before me
     in the presence of my enemies.
   You anoint my head with oil;
     my cup overflows.
6  Surely your goodness and love will follow me
     all the days of my life,
   and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
     forever.


Second Reading
Follow the shepherd even in suffering
2:19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
     and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.


Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. Jesus says, I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. Alleluia.


The Gospel
Christ the shepherd
10:1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.


Here end the Readings


Click HERE to read today’s Holy Gospel Lesson message


  • I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen


Holy Communion

A nondenominational serving of bread and wine

Many churches around the world are working hard to adapt to online worship, and one challenge is how our members can celebrate communion from home. Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present.


Benediction

You have been given your rest, now go and proclaim with your lives the good news of Jesus Christ. Be a Good Shepherd to someone today. Amen.



Christ’s death and resurrection mean that we are invited to join God in his plan to redeem this broken world. It’s not just a wishful idea; it’s a call to every follower of Jesus to change the world.

Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets.]

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The Daily Lectionary for SUNDAY, May 3, 2020
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10

“The Lord Is My Shepherd”


Our Gospel message comes to us today from the 10th chapter of John, beginning with the 1st verse, “Christ the shepherd,” and from Psalm 23, “God our shepherd.”



10:1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:1-10)


23:1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.


5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)

Lord, help us approach the gate of this sheepfold with confidence. Let us walk through from our fears and doubts to lands of hope and peace, trusting in the Shepherd who seeks us, guides us, and cares for us. In so many of our ways, we are stubborn; yet you gently call our names, reminding us of your eternal love. As we have placed the names of those near and dear to us before you seeking your healing grace, help us remember that we also stand in need of your healing mercies. Help us place our trust in you. Help us reach out to others in confidence because of your love for us. For we ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.

“The Lord Is My Shepherd”

We all have the need to think and talk about God in a more or less concrete way. Considering that God is a mystery deeper than the deepest ocean and vaster than the universe, that is quite a challenge, to say the least. And honestly speaking, it may not be very helpful to philosophize about aspects of God that go far beyond human understanding.

The Bible provides us with metaphors or images of God that have concrete meaning for us and that apply to God as he appears to us and reveals himself to us, and as we relate to him. For example, God is described as creator, as king, as judge, and as father. The metaphor used also defines where we stand in relation to God: as creature, as subject, as defendant, and as child.

Different metaphors may appeal to us in different times of our lives and in different situations. That is what we see people doing in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

King David used many metaphors to describe his understanding of God and his relationship with him. In many of his Psalms, he says, “The Lord is my …”—and then comes a metaphor:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. (Psalm 18:2)

The Lord is my light and my salvation. (Psalm 27:1)

The Lord is my strength and my shield. (Psalm 28:7)

God is my help. (Psalm 54:4)

God is my King. (Psalm 74:12)

And here in Psalm 23:1: The LORD is my Shepherd.

Where did David get these metaphors? And what did he want to express about his relationship with God through these metaphors?

First, he had been taught from early childhood about who God is and what God had done. Even though there was no Holy Scripture in writing, the great narrative of God and his people Israel was taught in homes, in public meetings, in the evenings around the campfire, and during the great festivals. Fathers told their children how God called Abraham and promised to make him a great nation. They told about Moses, who led Israel out of Egypt, out of slavery, to wander in the wilderness for forty years and then, under the leadership of Joshua, to conquer the Promised Land. They told about the times of the judges, when God gave his people over to their enemies when they had disobeyed him, but delivered them again when they turned back to their God. That teaching made up the framework for what David knew about God.

Secondly, David had quite some personal experience with God. As a young teenager, he had taken care of the sheep of his father’s flock. He had been a good shepherd to them, leading them to places where they were safe and had plenty to eat and drink. At night, he had looked at the starry sky in amazement, and composed songs like Psalm 8:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:1-4)

He had mountain-top experiences with God. One of them was the moment when he was chosen and anointed to become king of Israel. Sometime later, God empowered him to fight and kill the giant Philistine warrior Goliath. And after quite some years, David rose to the throne to become one of the mightiest rulers in the Middle-East.

But he also had his share of deep-and-dark valley experiences. For years he was haunted and pursued by king Saul, who was determined to kill David. Once he became king, David had to fight enemies around him and enemies from within his kingdom—and even from within his family.

All these experiences shaped how David felt about God—how he saw him.

And thirdly, there were hopes and expectations. There were God’s promises to Abraham to make Israel into a great nation that would be a blessing to the whole world. And there were many personal promises that David had received from God. And last but not least, God had promised that his throne would be established forever and that one of his descendants would sit on it and rule Israel as a mighty and independent nation.

In Psalm 23, this teaching, these experiences, and these hopes and expectations boil down to two distinct metaphors. First, in verses 1–4, he describes God as a Shepherd. And then in verse 5, the image changes—almost unnoticeably—into that of God as a Host.

Perhaps these two metaphors describe two different stages in the life of David: the time before and during his reign as king of Israel. Or maybe David thought of life on earth and life after death. That is how we often read and understand this Psalm today. That is why it is used so often in funerals because it contrasts the plight of this life with the blessing of heaven.

It does not really matter which of the two views we support, or perhaps a third one. The point is that David uses these two metaphors to describe the reality of life with God. They speak about his relationship with God. They are not so much the answer to the question: “What or who is God?” They don’t define him. Instead, they answer the question: “What or who is God to you?” They define the relationship between God and David.

There are three points in this Psalm that I would like to draw your attention to. The first comes right in the opening line: “The LORD is my Shepherd.”

David uses the name that God gave to Moses in the burning bush: “YHWH” or Jehovah. The name means: “I AM.” It is translated as “the LORD” because God’s actual name was considered so holy that, when reading the Scriptures, the Jews would replace the name with Adonai, which means Lord.

And what does he say about his relationship to this God of Israel? “He is my Shepherd.” Many times in the Old Testament, God is described as the Shepherd of his people Israel. They are his flock, so to say. But David does not say: “The LORD is our Shepherd,” but “my Shepherd.” He takes God very personally, so to say. In the original Hebrew poetry, it sounds like this: “Yahweh Ro’–i–, lo echsar.” In this line, the stress is on the fourth syllable: “my.” David wants to emphasize that he is not just one of the flock. He has a personal one-to-one relationship with God.

It is easy to explain this individualistic streak. After all, David was king of Israel, not just an Israelite. He had a special position as God’s chosen and anointed representative—“a man after God’s own heart.” As a king, he was, in a sense, the shepherd of Israel. So that should qualify him to make a personal statement like this and single himself out from the rest of the flock.

But that is not the whole truth. In the New Testament—in John 10—Jesus, the Son of God, calls himself the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd knows each and every sheep of his flock by name. He knows his sheep personally, and the sheep know his voice and listen when their name is called out. That was a reality in sheep farming in those days, before the industrialization of sheep farming and the introduction of ear tags with barcodes. It is still a reality in many parts of the world.

Jesus wants us to recognize him both as our Shepherd and as my Shepherd. We should not become so individualistic in our faith as to ignore the rest of the flock. As Christians, we are called into a community of believers, into the family of God, into the kingdom of heaven. We belong together. But that does not give us an excuse to hide anonymously in the flock or to delegate our Christian faith and calling to the church as a community or institution. Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us. Each and every one of us counts. Jesus is your Shepherd and mine. I am not his only sheep, but he is my only Shepherd.

The second point in this psalm is that life is a journey. Psalm 23 is a psalm of comfort and assurance. It looks like it promises an easy and lazy life of comfort and abundance for the sheep of God’s flock. But that’s not what David is saying here. The tense of the verbs used in verses 1–4 do not express a matter-of-fact statement of what life is like every day. Instead, they express purpose or assurance. They look into the future and see where the Lord is leading. Older translations said: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” That understanding turns the picture into a very realistic one. Those of you, who know sheep farming in an African or Middle East context, will have no trouble seeing this.

In Israel, the dry season can be relatively long and hot. Much of the countryside is dried out completely. Shepherds have to lead their flocks over long distances through rough places to bring them to plains with freshwater and green grass. There are dangerous stretches on the way, and shepherds have to be careful in choosing the right path. There are dark valleys that provided relatively safe passage through dangerous mountain ridges. But for sheep to be ready to enter the darkness, the shepherd has to go in front. They trust the route only if the shepherd whose voice they knew were going ahead of them.

Often, life reminds us more of dried out plains with virtually nothing to eat than of green pastures and refreshing streams of water. Often, we feel as if we live in deep darkness rather than bright daylight. Faith in God does not make life any easier. Following the Good Shepherd does not solve our problems once and for all. But what we do know is that when we follow Christ, we are going the right path. We are moving in the right direction. Our future will be one of abundance and peace. God’s goodness and love will pursue us as we seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. It is worth the troublesome journey because we trust God for bringing us to that perfect destination, where we will be guests of honor of God the Mighty Host.

And that brings us to our third point. Looking at the psalm as Hebrew poetry, we find that the structure is like a mountain. Its climax is not, as we often think, in the closing verses, even though they promise us a happy ending. The climax is right in the middle. The center phrase—the message which David wants to leave us with—is in verse 4: “You are with me.” It is great to know that we are on a journey towards a bright and glorious future, where there will be no tears, or pain, or grief, or lack of the essentials. But already now—as we journey over dry and miserable plains and through deep and dark valleys—God is with us. As long as we follow the Shepherd, we are not alone.

We can find a powerful illustration of what this means in Exodus 33. The people of Israel are on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land through the wilderness. God is shepherding his flock through his servant Moses. Pretty much the same picture that the first part of Psalm 23 sketches for us. But the people are rebellious and turn against God and Moses. Moses is meeting with God on the holy mountain to receive the covenant tablets with the Ten Commandments. But in the meantime, the people down in the valley force his brother Aaron to make a golden calf for them so that they can worship their god in their own way. And then God gets really angry. But what he says is actually quite amazing.

God could have threatened to destroy his people. In fact, he is so furious that it might very well happen if they are not careful. But, God says, I allow you to go to the Promised Land and conquer it. But… I will not go with you. I have had enough.

And how does Moses react? He says: No way! If you don’t come with us, there is no way we could go and conquer the land. There is no joy, no fulfillment in moving to the Promised Land if we must live there without you. And so Moses twists God’s arm, so to say, to make him come with his people after all.

If the Shepherd of Israel had left his people, they would have never made it to the Promised Land. They would have had no chance of conquering the fortified cities and drive out or destroy the original tribes of Canaan. The promises given to Abraham would come true only if the people followed their Great Shepherd in obedience.

In the same way, if we don’t follow God’s guidance in our lives, if we don’t listen to his voice and stay close to him, we may well find ourselves separated from him, and wandering in the wilderness of life without knowing where to go—a lost sheep. Only if we do follow, and if we do listen to his voice, we can be assured of his presence with us. And when he is with us, we are safe whatever the circumstances.

David was not much of a saint. He did many things that caused God great distress. But God loved him. David was a man after God’s heart, so the Bible says. And that is why God never left him.

We may not be saints either. There are many things in our lives, too, that makes God sad. We should repent of those and seek God’s forgiveness and reconciliation. God gave Israel the promise: “Return to me, and I will return to you.” That same promise and that same call to repentance God addresses to us through Jesus, the Good Shepherd. If we answer that call and claim that promise, we can have that same assurance that David had: “You are with me.”

Let us pray: Merciful and loving God, you call us your beloved ones and you seek to protect us, but we love to take risks, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Call to us again. Help us to hear your voice. Give us hearts of love and compassion for all our dear ones who suffer illness and any adversity. Be with those who travel, having no home to which to return, no land they can call theirs, no sense of ever being community again. They truly hunger and thirst in every way and you have called us to meet those needs—not to turn them away because they might be different. You always accepted us, so let us accept others, realizing that your sheep of your pasture are awash with diversity of spirit and origin. Let us celebrate those wonderful gifts and learn from them for we ask this in the name of the Good shepherd. Amen.

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Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Sermon contributed by Rev. Hans Krause.
God is our Shepherd; we are the sheep of his flock. Psalm 23 contains great promises for where we are going when life on earth is over. But it also gives a tremendous promise of comfort: On our journey, God is always with us.

The Daily Prayer for SUNDAY, May 3, 2020

https://biblegateway.christianbook.com/common-prayer-liturgy-for-ordinary-radicals/shane-claiborne/9780310326199/pd/326199
The Daily Prayer
SUNDAY, May 3, 2020

Septima Poinsette Clark (1898—1987)

Septima Poinsette Clark was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to a father who was an ex-slave and a mother who had been raised in the Caribbean. While her parents had very little formal education, they emphasized the need for Septima to go to school. Though Septima was eligible to teach after completing the eighth grade, her parents and teachers encouraged her to finish high school. After graduating she took a post as a teacher on Johns Island, off the coast of Charleston. There she began to notice the extreme disparity between the education of African-Americans and that of their white counterparts. This experience stayed with her and fueled her quest for educational reform. An avid social activist during the civil rights era, Septima traveled throughout the South to educate African-Americans about their voting rights. She worked closely with Myles Horton of the Highlander Folk School. Together they trained many civil rights activists, including Rosa Parks, in nonviolent resistance and local leadership. Although Septima was thrown in jail, threatened, fired from jobs, and falsely accused of wrongdoing, she never turned from her task of working against an unjust educational system. Septima Poinsette Clark has become known as the Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement.

Septima Poinsette Clark liked to say, “I have a great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift.”

Like a tree planted by living water is the person who commits to your ways, O Lord. Nourish us with your disciplining love; prune our branches for growth. Teach us also to recognize good fruit and to recoil from the bitterness of the bad. Amen.

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, May 3, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/verse-of-the-day/2020/05/03?version=NIV

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Read all of Romans 12

Listen to Romans 12

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Un dia a la Vez - Domingo 03 de mayo de 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/un-dia-vez/2020/05/03

Aprendamos de nuestros hijos

Los hijos son una herencia del Señor, los frutos del vientre son una recompensa.

Es un honor poder decir que tengo tres princesas que son mi orgullo y mi felicidad. Quizá te llame la atención que siempre que me refiera a alguna de mis hijas la señale como mi princesa. Y es que lo son para mí. No solo por la belleza física que les ha dado Dios, sino por una belleza interna que se destaca en cada una de acuerdo a sus edades. He admirado mucho de ellas que, a pesar de los errores de mami, se han mantenido bien paradas y firmes en los caminos del Señor, pues las pruebas vividas nos unieron y he podido recibir su consejo y su apoyo.

En medio de mi enfermedad, mis divorcios y mis quebrantos, siempre recibí el consejo sabio de mi Nathy, quien con carácter y autoridad me decía lo que necesitaba escuchar. Sin faltarme al respeto, las veces que necesita decirme las cosas, lo hace.

La admiro por su madurez espiritual y la manera tan equilibrada de afrontar cada situación. También aprendo mucho de ella por su comunión con Dios, su constancia en servirle en la iglesia y su vida de oración. ¡Qué linda!

Naty, mi princesa mayor, te amo y agradezco tu apoyo y tu rectitud. Te felicito por el ejemplo de orden, de valentía y entrega a tu estudio y trabajo.

En la actualidad, estudia Administración de Empresas y danza profesional, trabaja en un consultorio médico, danza en la iglesia y hace parte de un programa para jóvenes en Vida Network.

Entrega todo tu amor y dedicación a tus hijos, y recogerás sus triunfos.

No los ofendas ni lastimes. Valóralos y ámalos porque son tus hijos.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
Es un honor poder decir que tengo tres princesas que son mi orgullo y mi felicidad.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, May 3, 2020

https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/standing-strong-through-the-storm/2020/05/03
FIVE EXTERNAL TACTICS

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.

In the New Testament we see Satan using five external tactics against the church: rulers, priests, merchants, mobs, and families—and of course, these often occurred in combinations. The followers of Jesus tend to unite the enemies of Jesus so that quite unlikely alliances can be created. Jesus himself saw this when the Pharisees and the Herodians—two groups that never spoke to each other—got together to plot his assassination after he healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 3:6).

It is surprising to some that the rulers are not the biggest persecutors of Christians in the New Testament. That dubious honor falls to the Jewish priestly caste. But there is no doubt that strong opposition came from the rulers. Pontius Pilate was complicit in the death of Jesus; Herod Agrippa killed the apostle James in Jerusalem (Acts 12:2), and of course, Nero initiated a terrible persecution against the Christians of Rome in AD 64—the community most think Mark’s gospel was written to encourage.

Though it was Pilate’s order, it was really the Jewish high priest who pushed Pilate into giving the order for the crucifixion when he was inclined to let Jesus go (see John 18:31), and tried to accomplish this by arranging a crowd clemency scene. All throughout his ministry, Jesus’ bitterest enemies were the priests. And so it proved for the early church. The first flogging of Christians was administered under the auspices of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:40), and the first martyrdom of a Christian (Stephen) was carried out by enraged clerics (Acts 7:54-59). And so it continued also for Paul, the main character of the early church, ironically a former Pharisee and a witness to the stoning of Stephen.

But it is a sad fact that the class threatened most by radical Christian faith is the clerical class, whether of one’s own religious persuasion or of a rival one. This is not to say all clerics are persecutors. Many Pharisees became followers of Jesus, and some, like Nicodemus and Simon, were the very model of courtesy and open-mindedness. Nevertheless, in the history of the church, other “believers” have perpetrated most violence on Christians.

RESPONSE: Satan uses external as well as internal tactics to attack the advance of the Kingdom of God.

PRAYER: Lord, help me show love to other “believers” who do not hear Your voice but are used as tools of the enemy.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

LHM Daily Devotions May 3, 2020 - "Awake, My Heart, with Gladness"

https://www.lhm.org/dailydevotions/default.asp?date=20200503

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Awake, My Heart, with Gladness"

May 3, 2020

♫ "At the Lamb's high feast we sing, Praise to our victorious King, Who has washed us in the tide, Flowing from His pierced side. Alleluia!

"Where the paschal blood is poured, Death's dread angel sheathes the sword; Israel's hosts triumphant go, Through the wave that drowns the foe. Alleluia!" ♫

God's mighty acts throughout history provided living images of the grace to be revealed in His promised Messiah. For example, God saved Noah and his family from the catastrophic flood, bringing them "safely through water," an event, Scripture says, that corresponds to Baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21). Another example: although God had commanded the sacrifice, He stopped Abraham from harming his only son Isaac and provided a ram as a substitute. No one prevented the death of God's only Son, who was offered up as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Another example: Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, was raised up from a prison pit to rule Egypt. Jesus our Savior, betrayed and sold, was raised to life from the pit of death to reign as King of kings.

In an event that closely mirrors our salvation in Christ, God set His people free from slavery in Egypt. As Pharaoh's heart hardened in refusal, God delivered the final blow—the firstborn of Egypt were killed. Israel's firstborn were spared as God passed over homes marked with the blood of slain lambs. Fleeing Egypt, the Israelites became trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's chariots. God opened a way through the sea and Israel crossed safely on dry land. The walls of water swept back into place and drowned the pursuing enemy.

Our hymn uses images of the Exodus to celebrate the victory of Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose blood now marks our lives. The paschal, or Passover, blood we receive in Jesus' holy Supper was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, and where sins have been washed away in the blood "flowing from His pierced side," death has no power. Already buried and raised with Christ in Baptism, when the Lord calls us home to Himself, we will pass safely through the flood tide of death into eternal life. Until that day, we celebrate the Lamb's high feast, receiving His body and blood, given and shed for us, a foretaste of the feast still to come—the great wedding feast of the Lamb.

Israel stood on the far shore of the Red Sea and praised God for His victory over Pharaoh's pursuing host: "I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously ... Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:1b, 11b). Our hymn is a rehearsal for future praise, because we have seen God's saving acts in Christ. One day we will stand on the shore of the crystal sea and sing with all the saints the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb: "Great and amazing are Your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! ... For Your righteous acts have been revealed" (Revelation 15:3b, 4b).

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, You have triumphed gloriously! Now and forever, we will praise Your holy Name. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
1. Does God still do mighty acts in the world today? If so, can you name one or two?

2. What sort of spiritual connections do you see between the Exodus and the Passover?

3. Do you celebrate Passover in any special way? What do you do?
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing." Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Does God still do mighty acts in the world today? If so, can you name one or two?

Unser Täglich Brot - Der Gott, der sieht

https://unsertaeglichbrot.org/2020/05/03/der-gott-der-sieht/

Der Gott, der sieht

Lesung: 4 Mose 32,16-24 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: 1. Könige 14-15; Lukas 22,21-46

Eure Sünde wird mit Sicherheit auf euch zurückfallen.

„Oh nein“, erklang es, als meine Frau die Küche betrat. Im selben Moment schoss unser Labrador Retriever Max aus dem Raum.

Verschwunden war auch die Lammkeule, die zu nahe an der Tischkante gelegen hatte. Max hatte sie verspeist. Nur eine leere Pfanne war zurückgeblieben. Er versuchte sich unter einem Bett zu verstecken. Aber nur Kopf und Schultern passten in den Zwischenraum. Rumpf und Schwanz verrieten mir sofort, wo er steckte, als ich den Raum betrat.

Oh Max“, murmelte ich, „deine Sünde wird auf dich zurückfallen.“ Der Satz stammt von Mose und er gebrauchte ihn, als er zwei Stämme Israels ermahnte, Gott gehorsam zu sein und ihre Versprechen zu halten. „Wenn ihr euer Wort aber nicht haltet“, sagte er ihnen, „dann habt ihr gegen Gott gesündigt und eure Sünde wird mit Sicherheit auf euch zurückfallen“ (4. Mose 32,23).

Sünde mag sich im Moment gut anfühlen, aber letztlich bewirkt sie die schmerzhafte Trennung von Gott. Mose erinnerte sein Volk daran, dass Gott nichts entgeht. Oder wie es an anderer Stelle in der Bibel heißt: „Alles ist nackt und bloß vor den Augen Gottes, dem wir für alles Rechenschaft ablegen müssen“ (Hebräer 4,13).

Gott sieht alles. Aber es ist seine Liebe, die uns dazu bewegen will, unsere Sünde zu bekennen, zu bereuen und uns von ihr abzuwenden (1 Joh. 1,9). Ihm wollen wir folgen.
Wie kann das Wissen, dass Gott alles sieht und uns trotzdem liebt, dir heute Mut machen, dich von der Sünde abzuwenden? Was kannst du das ganz praktisch tun?
Danke, Herr, dass du ein Gott bist, der mich sieht. Ich danke dir, dass du das Gute und das Böse siehst. Du hast deinen Sohn gesandt, um mich zu retten und zu befreien. Hilf mir, dir heute deinem Wort zu folgen.


© 2020 Unser Täglich Brot
„Oh nein“, erklang es, als meine Frau die Küche betrat. Im selben Moment schoss unser Labrador Retriever Max aus dem Raum.