Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, May 23, 2021 — Day of Pentecost

 

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, May 23, 2021

Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Romans 8:22-27;
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 (NIV)
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Acts 2 — Pentecost

Opening Statement

The feast of Pentecost is celebrated today with images of rushing wind, tongues of flame, and with the breaking down of language barriers to receive the message of the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Romans passage uses the metaphor of birth to describe the infant church awaiting guidance of the Spirit, while making the transition from old ways to a new life in Christ. John introduces the Advocate, or Spirit of Truth, as the guide for those who follow Christ. The psalm proclaims that all creation rejoices at the touch of God’s hand. At Pentecost, the mission of the church is to reach out to the world with the love of Christ.

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, your Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ disciples, hidden in an upper room in Jerusalem. A violent wind and tongues of fire were the symbols of a new thing happening in their lives. May your Holy Spirit burst into our lives today, encouraging and inspiring us to proclaim boldly the good news of Jesus Christ who offers healing and hope to all people. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

We aren’t ready, Lord. It is easier for us to hide in the upper rooms of our lives, to let the world go by and not acknowledge your presence. But you have challenged us to come alive again with your love and words of healing mercy. Forgive our hesitant witness and our complacent spirits. Heal our fears and our wounds. Help us to be agents of healing and hope for others. Challenge and inspire us to overcome our feelings of inadequacy and remind us that you have called us beloved and have given us what we need to proclaim your Good News. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

Words of Assurance

Don’t be afraid! God’s Holy Spirit brings you healing comfort and hope. You are being prepared to serve God in some mighty ways. Rejoice! God’s Holy Spirit is with you always. Amen.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Life Lessons:
If we are serious about our Christian faith, we must take into consideration how our actions affect others. We cannot mature in our relationship with the Lord in isolation from others, and whenever we interact with others, we should have edifying them and glorifying God as our goal.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
A Reading from the Book of Acts of the Apostles
Acts 2:1-21
Filled with the Spirit


2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
      I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      your young men will see visions,
      your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
      I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
      and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
      and signs on the earth below,
      blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
      and the moon to blood
      before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
      on the name of the Lord will be saved.’


Commentary
Verses 1-4 — We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them there were strifes among the disciples which should be the greatest; but now all these strifes were at an end. They had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. A rushing mighty wind came with great force. This was to signify the powerful influences and working of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, and thereby upon the world. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make way for his comforts; and the rough blasts of that blessed wind, prepare the soul for its soft and gentle gales. There was an appearance of something like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, according to John Baptist's saying concerning Christ; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, burns up the dross, and kindles pious and devout affections in the soul; in which, as in the fire on the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered up. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than before. They were filled with the graces of the Spirit, and more than ever under his sanctifying influences; more weaned from this world, and better acquainted with the other. They were more filled with the comforts of the Spirit, rejoiced more than ever in the love of Christ and the hope of heaven: in it all their griefs and fears were swallowed up. They were filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they had miraculous powers for the furtherance of the gospel. They spake, not from previous though or meditation, but as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Verses 5-13 — The difference in languages which arose at Babel, has much hindered the spread of knowledge and religion. The instruments whom the Lord first employed in spreading the Christian religion, could have made no progress without this gift, which proved that their authority was from God.

Verses 14-21 — Peter's sermon shows that he was thoroughly recovered from his fall, and thoroughly restored to the Divine favor; for he who had denied Christ, now boldly confessed him. His account of the miraculous pouring forth of the Spirit, was designed to awaken the hearers to embrace the faith of Christ, and to join themselves to his church. It was the fulfilling the Scripture, and the fruit of Christ's resurrection and ascension, and proof of both. Though Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with tongues as the Spirit gave him utterance, yet he did not think to set aside the Scriptures. Christ's scholars never learn above their Bible; and the Spirit is given, not to do away the Scriptures, but to enable us to understand, approve, and obey them. Assuredly none will escape the condemnation of the great day, except those who call upon the name of the Lord, in and through his Son Jesus Christ, as the Savior of sinners, and the Judge of all mankind.


From the Psalter
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Renewing the Face of the Earth


24 How many are your works, Lord!
      In wisdom you made them all;
      the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
      teeming with creatures beyond number—
      living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
      and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 All creatures look to you
      to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
      they gather it up;
   when you open your hand,
      they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
      they are terrified;
   when you take away their breath,
      they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
      they are created,
      and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
      may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
      who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
      I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
      as I rejoice in the Lord.

35b Praise the Lord, my soul.

    Praise the Lord.


Commentary
Verses 24-30 — We are to praise and magnify God for the constant succession of day and night. And see how those are like to the wild beasts, who wait for the twilight, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Does God listen to the language of mere nature, even in ravenous creatures, and shall he not much more interpret favorably the language of grace in his own people, though weak and broken groanings which cannot be uttered? There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning, and which he must continue in till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work. The psalmist wonders at the works of God. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon, the more rough they appear; the works of nature appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they all answer the end they were designed to serve. Every spring is an emblem of the resurrection, when a new world rises, as it were, out of the ruins of the old one. But man alone lives beyond death. When the Lord takes away his breath, his soul enters on another state, and his body will be raised, either to glory or to misery. May the Lord send forth his Spirit, and new-create our souls to holiness.

Verses 31-35 — Man's glory is fading; God's glory is everlasting: creatures change, but with the Creator there is no variableness. And if mediation on the glories of creation be so sweet to the soul, what greater glory appears to the enlightened mind, when contemplating the great work of redemption! There alone can a sinner perceive ground of confidence and joy in God. While he with pleasure upholds all, governs all, and rejoices in all his works, let our souls, touched by his grace, meditate on and praise him.


A Reading from Paul's Epistle to the Romans
Romans 8:22-27
Praying with the Spirit


8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Commentary
Verses 22-25 — The sufferings of the saints strike no deeper than the things of time, last no longer than the present time, are light afflictions, and but for a moment. How vastly different are the sentence of the word and the sentiment of the world, concerning the sufferings of this present time! Indeed the whole creation seems to wait with earnest expectation for the period when the children of God shall be manifested in the glory prepared for them. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which has come upon the creature by the fall of man. There is an enmity of one creature to another. And they are used, or abused rather, by men as instruments of sin. Yet this deplorable state of the creation is in hope. God will deliver it from thus being held in bondage to man's depravity. The miseries of the human race, through their own and each other's wickedness, declare that the world is not always to continue as it is. Our having received the first-fruits of the Spirit, quickens our desires, encourages our hopes, and raises our expectations. Sin has been, and is, the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the creation of God. It has brought on the woes of earth; it has kindled the flames of hell. As to man, not a tear has been shed, not a groan has been uttered, not a pang has been felt, in body or mind, that has not come from sin. This is not all; sin is to be looked at as it affects the glory of God. Of this how fearfully regardless are the bulk of mankind! Believers have been brought into a state of safety; but their comfort consists rather in hope than in enjoyment. From this hope they cannot be turned by the vain expectation of finding satisfaction in the things of time and sense. We need patience, our way is rough and long; but He that shall come, will come, though he seems to tarry.

Verses 26-27 — Though the infirmities of Christians are many and great, so that they would be overpowered if left to themselves, yet the Holy Spirit supports them. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for; as a sanctifying Spirit, works and stirs up praying graces; as a comforting Spirit, silences our fears, and helps us over all discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.


Today’s Gospel Reading
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Christ Sends the Spirit of Truth

Gospel of John 15:18-27; 16:1-15

15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

16:4b I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”


Commentary
Verses 26-27 — The blessed Spirit will maintain the cause of Christ in the world, notwithstanding the opposition it meets with. Believers taught and encouraged by his influences, would bear testimony to Christ and his salvation.

Verses 4-6 — He did not tell them sooner, because he was with them to teach, guide, and comfort them; they needed not then this promise of the Holy Spirit's presence. It will silence us to ask, Whence troubles come? It will satisfy us to ask, Whither go they? for we know they work for good. It is the common fault and folly of melancholy Christians to look only on the dark side of the cloud, and to turn a deaf ear to the voice of joy and gladness. That which filled the disciples' hearts with sorrow, was too great affection for this present life. Nothing more hinders our joy in God, than the love of the world, and the sorrow of the world which comes from it.

Verses 7-15 — Christ's departure was necessary to the Comforter's coming. Sending the Spirit was to be the fruit of Christ's death, which was his going away. His bodily presence could be only in one place at one time, but his Spirit is every where, in all places, at all times, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name. See here the office of the Spirit, first to reprove, or to convince. Convincing work is the Spirit's work; he can do it effectually, and none but he. It is the method the Holy Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort. The Spirit shall convince the world, of sin; not merely tell them of it. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin; of the fault of sin; of the folly of sin; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become hateful to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly, of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Holy Spirit proves that all the world is guilty before God. He convinces the world of righteousness; that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous. Also, of Christ's righteousness, imparted to us for justification and salvation. He will show them where it is to be had, and how they may be accepted as righteous in God's sight. Christ's ascension proves the ransom was accepted, and the righteousness finished, through which believers were to be justified. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. All will be well, when his power is broken, who made all the mischief. As Satan is subdued by Christ, this gives us confidence, for no other power can stand before him. And of the day of judgment. The coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to the disciples. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, not only to show us the way, but to go with us by continued aids and influences. To be led into a truth is more than barely to know it; it is not only to have the notion of it in our heads, but the relish, and savor, and power of it in our hearts. He shall teach all truth, and keep back nothing profitable, for he will show things to come. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching, and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit, all the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ. It behooves every one to ask, whether the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in his heart? Without clear discovery of our guilt and danger, we never shall understand the value of Christ's salvation; but when brought to know ourselves aright, we begin to see the value of the Redeemer. We should have fuller views of the Redeemer, and more lively affections to him, if we more prayed for, and depended on the Holy Spirit.


Here end the Readings

The Nicene Creed

  • We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
  • And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.
  • And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer


Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Communion

A nondenominational serving of bread and wine

Benediction

May the power of the Holy Spirit transform you with the healing fire that unifies the world. Let the wind of that first Pentecost teach you of God’s grace, love, hope, and mystery. With tongues of flame, may you be marked for Christ. Go out in faith and abiding love. Amen.

This Is Pentecost


Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year B. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2021, we will be in Year C. The year which ended at Advent 2020 was Year A. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org. 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. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

The Morning Prayer for Sunday, May 23, 2021

 

The Morning Prayer
Sunday, May 23, 2021


They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:16-17 (NIV)

Dear God and Father of us all, sanctify us in your truth. Your Word is truth. We come before your presence and ask you to touch us with your Spirit, to shape our lives in the truth and in the joy of your name. Touch us with your Spirit, that we may carry out our tasks in your service. May your face shine on us and on all needy people who turn to you. May your power be given ever more fully, and may your cause become great in the world until at last it brings new life to all nations. Amen.

Verse of the Day for Sunday, May 23, 2021

 

Verse of the Day
Sunday, May 23, 2021


Romans 15:2
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Life Lessons:
If we are serious about our Christian faith, we must take into consideration how our actions affect others. We cannot mature in our relationship with the Lord in isolation from others, and whenever we interact with others, we should have edifying them and glorifying God as our goal.

Read all of Romans 15

Listen to Romans 15


Scripture from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Life Lessons from Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Notes.