Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, May 15, 2022 — Fifth Sunday of Easter

 

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible


Based on Matthew 22:34-39 and John 13:34-35, this mini-movie explores the meaning of a new commandment that Jesus gave his disciples, a commandment to love as Jesus loved.

Introduction & Theme

It’s a new day. Every scripture on this Easter season Sunday calls us to new life, new outlook, new hope, and a new call to love. Revelation’s promise of a new heaven and new earth is coupled with Jesus’ commandment that we are to love one another as we have been loved by Christ. As Peter explains his vision that all things created by God are holy and pure, he launches a new vision of the early church, one that will include all who are open to the Spirit’s powerful presence. That Spirit of inclusion is reflected in the psalmist’s celebration that all of creation proclaims God’s praise—a joyous portrayal of the new heaven and new earth promised in Revelation 21.

Opening Prayer
(Revelation 22, John 13)

Alpha and Omega, you make your home with us, you dry our tears and quench our thirst, you are the tender love that welcomes all people. Like a mother, you nurture your children, giving them life, teaching them to love. Come and dwell among us, and make all things new. Amen.

Call to Confession
(Acts 11, John 13)

God of all people, our hearts are too narrow, our perspectives are too small. We reject those who are not like us—those with different political opinions, those who struggle with mental illness, those who disagree with us. We forget that all are your beloved children, and neglect your call to love one another. Forgive us, O God, for the many ways we have failed to be a people known by our love. Show us how to be more caring. Teach us how to love one another, and make us faithful disciples. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
(Acts 11, Revelation 21)
God dwells among us, giving to all who believe the repentance that leads to life. Rejoice in the Lord, for we are a forgiven people.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Ecclesiastes 11:5

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
God’s ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts far loftier and greater (Is. 55:8, 9). And yet He reveals exactly what we need so that we can follow Him joyfully and successfully (Deut. 29:29). Let us treasure God’s Word!

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Acts of the Apostles
Acts 11:1-18
God Saves the Gentiles


11:1 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Commentary
Peter's defence.

The imperfect state of human nature strongly appears, when godly persons are displeased even to hear that the word of God has been received, because their own system has not been attended to. And we are too apt to despair of doing good to those who yet, when tried, prove very teachable. It is the bane and damage of the church, to shut out those from it, and from the benefit of the means of grace, who are not in every thing as we are. Peter stated the whole affair. We should at all times bear with the infirmities of our brethren; and instead of taking offense, or answering with warmth, we should explain our motives, and show the nature of our proceedings. That preaching is certainly right, with which the Holy Ghost is given. While men are very zealous for their own regulations, they should take care that they do not withstand God; and those who love the Lord will glorify him, when made sure that he has given repentance to life to any fellow-sinners. Repentance is God's gift; not only his free grace accepts it, but his mighty grace works it in us, grace takes away the heart of stone, and gives us a heart of flesh. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.


From the Psalter
Psalm 148
God’s Splendor is Over Earth and Heaven


1 Praise the Lord.

  Praise the Lord from the heavens;
     praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
     praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
     praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
     and you waters above the skies.

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
     for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
     he issued a decree that will never pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
     you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
     stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
     fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
      small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
      you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
      old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
      for his name alone is exalted;
      his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,
      the praise of all his faithful servants,
      of Israel, the people close to his heart.


Commentary
The creatures placed in the upper world called on to praise the Lord (vv. 1-6); Also the creatures of this lower world, especially his own people (vv. 7-14).

Verses 1-6: We, in this dark and sinful world, know little of the heavenly world of light. But we know that there is above us a world of blessed angels. They are always praising God, therefore the psalmist shows his desire that God may be praised in the best manner; also we show that we have communion with spirits above, who are still praising him. The heavens, with all contained in them, declare the glory of God. They call on us, that both by word and deed, we glorify with them the Creator and Redeemer of the universe.

Verses 7-14: Even in this world, dark and bad as it is, God is praised. The powers of nature, be they ever so strong, so stormy, do what God appoints them, and no more. Those that rebel against God's word, show themselves to be more violent than even the stormy winds, yet they fulfill it. View the surface of the earth, mountains and all hills; from the barren tops of some, and the fruitful tops of others, we may fetch matter for praise. And assuredly creatures which have the powers of reason, ought to employ themselves in praising God. Let all manner of persons praise God. Those of every rank, high and low. Let us show that we are his saints by praising his name continually. He is not only our Creator, but our Redeemer; who made us a people near unto him. We may by "the Horn of his people" understand Christ, whom God has exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, who is indeed the defense and the praise of all his saints, and will be so for ever. In redemption, that unspeakable glory is displayed, which forms the source of all our hopes and joys. May the Lord pardon us, and teach our hearts to love him more and praise him better.


From the Apocalypse of John
Revelation 21:1-6
New Heaven New Earth


21:1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.

Commentary
A new heaven, and new earth: the new Jerusalem where God dwells, and banishes all sorrow from his people.

The new heaven and the new earth will not be separate from each other; the earth of the saints, their glorified, bodies, will be heavenly. The old world, with all its troubles and tumults, will have passed away. There will be no sea; this aptly represents freedom from conflicting passions, temptations, troubles, changes, and alarms; from whatever can divide or interrupt the communion of saints. This new Jerusalem is the church of God in its new and perfect state, the church triumphant. Its blessedness came wholly from God, and depends on him. The presence of God with his people in heaven, will not be interrupt as it is on earth, he will dwell with them continually. All effects of former trouble shall be done away. They have often been in tears, by reason of sin, of affliction, of the calamities of the church; but no signs, no remembrance of former sorrows shall remain. Christ makes all things new. If we are willing and desirous that the gracious Redeemer should make all things new in order hearts and nature, he will make all things new in respect of our situation, till he has brought us to enjoy complete happiness. See the certainty of the promise. God gives his titles, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, as a pledge for the full performance. Sensual and sinful pleasures are muddy and poisoned waters; and the best earthly comforts are like the scanty supplies of a cistern; when idolized, they become broken cisterns, and yield only vexation. But the joys which Christ imparts are like waters springing from a fountain, pure, refreshing, abundant, and eternal. The sanctifying consolations of the Holy Spirit prepare for heavenly happiness; they are streams which flow for us in the wilderness. The fearful durst not meet the difficulties of religion, their slavish fear came from their unbelief; but those who were so dastardly as not to dare to take up the cross of Christ, were yet so desperate as to run into abominable wickedness. The agonies and terrors of the first death will lead to the far greater terrors and agonies of eternal death.


Today’s Gospel Reading
John 13:31-35
Love One Another


13:31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


Commentary
Christ commands the disciples to love one another.

Christ had been glorified in many miracles he wrought, yet he speaks of his being glorified now in his sufferings, as if that were more than all his other glories in his humbled state. Satisfaction was thereby made for the wrong done to God by the sin of man. We cannot now follow our Lord to his heavenly happiness, but if we truly believe in him, we shall follow him hereafter; meanwhile we must wait his time, and do his work. Before Christ left the disciples, he would give them a new commandment. They were to love each other for Christ's sake, and according to his example, seeking what might benefit others, and promoting the cause of the gospel, as one body, animated by one soul. But this commandment still appears new to many professors. Men in general notice any of Christ's words rather than these. By this it appears, that if the followers of Christ do not show love one to another, they give cause to suspect their sincerity.


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
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. This table is open to all who recognize Jesus Christ as healer and redeemer. This table is open to all who work to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth. No one is turned away because of life circumstances. No one is barred from this table. No one seeking God’s abundant grace and mercy is turned aside. We see before us the abundance that a life of faith offers as we respond to God’s everlasting mercy in prayer and deed.

Benediction
May the love of God which was lavished upon you by Jesus Christ be in your hearts, your minds, and your spirits as you go forth into God’s world. Be bearers of peace and hope to all you meet, and may God’s peace be with you always. Amen.


Jesus said that one commandment was greater than all the others: To love. Love God, love your neighbor, even love your enemies. It was a commandment with no exceptions.


Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year C. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2022, we will be in Year A. The year which ended at Advent 2021 was Year B. 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 15, 2022

 

The Morning Prayer
Sunday, May 15, 2022


Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3, NIV


Father in heaven, may we recognize and acknowledge that you are God. You have made us, and not we ourselves, to be your people and the sheep of your pasture. Baptize us with the truth we need throughout our lives. Give us the gift to discern who we are and what we should become. Free our eyes from all deception so that we can no longer delude ourselves with short-lived, earthly things. Clear our eyes to see what is eternal in and around us. Make us children, true children, who awake to exult and rejoice in what is childlike and who give thanks to you, O God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Verse of the Day for Sunday, May 15, 2022

 

Verse of the Day
Sunday, May 15, 2022


Ecclesiastes 11:5
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
God’s ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts far loftier and greater (Is. 55:8, 9). And yet He reveals exactly what we need so that we can follow Him joyfully and successfully (Deut. 29:29). Let us treasure God’s Word!

Read the full chapter



Scripture from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.

Our Daily Bread — Monkeying with the Cosmos

 

Monkeying with the Cosmos

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Colossians 1:17 nlt

READ Colossians 1:15–20

In the early 1980s, a prominent astronomer who didn’t believe in God wrote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.” To this scientist’s eye, the evidence showed that something had designed everything we observe in the cosmos. He added, “There are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” In other words, everything we see looks as if it was planned by Someone. And yet, the astronomer remained an atheist.

Three thousand years ago, another intelligent man looked at the skies and drew a different conclusion. “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?” wondered David (Psalm 8:3–4).

Yet God cares for us deeply. The universe tells the story of its Intelligent Designer, the “Super Intellect” who made our minds and put us here to ponder His work. Through Jesus and His creation, God can be known. Paul wrote, “[Christ] existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth” (Colossians 1:15–16 nlt).

The cosmos has indeed been “monkeyed with.” The identity of the Intelligent Designer is there to be discovered by anyone willing to seek.

By Tim Gustafson
REFLECT & PRAY


In what ways can you see God in every detail of your life? How might you humbly share your confidence in God with someone who doubts His existence?

Thank You, heavenly Father, that You can be known through Your creation. I pray for those who don’t see You. Please draw them to You.

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT

In important ways, Paul’s letter to the Colossians parallels John’s New Testament gospel. Both describe Christ as the Creator of the universe (John 1:1–3; Colossians 1:13,16–17). Both also show how Jesus came to earth as a servant-king who sacrificed Himself to lead a very different kind of kingdom (John 18:33–37; Colossians 1:9–14).

In the glory days of Rome, Caesar built his empire by the sword and by bribery. It was created on the backs of slave labor and for material glory; he offered wealth and freedom to his friends and serious trouble for those who challenged him. Confessing allegiance to anyone else could get a person beheaded or crucified. Yet that’s the risk John and Paul took and urged others to take. They gave believers in Jesus reason to confess Him as Lord and to model all relationships around the servant example of His Spirit and kingdom (Colossians 3:12–25).

Mart DeHaan