Bible Readings and Devotion for March 21, 2020
You are encouraged to read these passages from this page or from your personal Bible. After the readings is a devotion based on one or more of the readings.
1 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
21 So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
1 The mighty one, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
3 Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him.
4 He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge.
7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house, or goats from your folds.
10 For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.
12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.
18 You make friends with a thief when you see one, and you keep company with adulterers.
19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your kin; you slander your own mother’s child.
21 These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one just like yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver. 23 Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, 19 then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
1 The word of the Lord that came to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza: 2 Thus says the Lord: See, waters are rising out of the north and shall become an overflowing torrent; they shall overflow the land and all that fills it, the city and those who live in it. People shall cry out, and all the inhabitants of the land shall wail.
3 At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions, at the clatter of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels, parents do not turn back for children, so feeble are their hands,
4 because of the day that is coming to destroy all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper that remains. For the Lord is destroying the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.
5 Baldness has come upon Gaza, Ashkelon is silenced. O remnant of their power! How long will you gash yourselves? 6 Ah, sword of the Lord! How long until you are quiet? Put yourself into your scabbard, rest and be still! 7 How can it be quiet, when the Lord has given it an order? Against Ashkelon and against the seashore—there he has appointed it.
Devotion for March 21, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
I have watched the notes of many on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) during our time away from normal activity. Several have noted that they are doing various things around their homes. As we are in the beginning days of Spring and we are in the midst of Lent, this seems to be a renewal of the Spring Cleaning tradition.
Maybe some of us are working on cleaning out our garage. These become a catch-all for things which we may or may not have any need to keep. When doing this we find some of the strangest things. We have to ask ourselves, “How did this get here?” or “Why are we keeping that?” We find torn paint tarps, odd boxes, mysterious objects, spilled potting soil, and mud tracked in by cars or kids. If we get some time to work on this, we can see progress, and there is a sense of accomplishment. This same situation could apply to a closet, the dining room table, or any odd spot where we store anything and everything.
Cleaning out the garage is a bit like our spiritual practice of Lent. Lent always includes the Confession of Sin. Many have discomfort with the task of confession of sin, but it is for our benefit. Lent is a great time for this task. Lent has always been a time of cleansing and rebirth for Christians. It is similar to the Jewish Festival of Passover, which takes place during this same time of year. The Jews have a cleansing ritual to prepare for this Holy Day. One of the things they do is to toss out all yeast in the home. It is a way of making a clean break with the past year. This is a fresh start, a time to make all things new.
One of our readings today is Psalm 51. In this psalm we come before the Lord with a powerful request. It is one which helps us submit ourselves to God for him to work in our lives. Verse 11 of our psalm is familiar to most of us, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” It is a prayer for cleansing and rebirth. We are asking God to recreate us from our spiritual core. From this deep center of our lives we can be changed from the inside out. With this psalm we are asking God to do some serious Spring Cleaning in our lives.
We cleanse our hearts the way we often clean our homes and garages. We do this by making a more conspicuous mess at first. We may have to talk a lot with God about these struggles. Many benefit from talking with another person, such as their pastor or a trusted Christian friend. Some of these things we bring out for spiritual cleaning can be pretty messy. In all this we proceed knowing that the Grace and forgiveness of God are central to all we do.
First, we have to get all that stuff out in the open, and then spread it around just to see all that is there. We will need to ask ourselves, “How did this get here?” or “Why are we keeping that?” As we look at our lives, we can see that there are some sinful junk items that we know we do not need anymore. As we reflect, we note that some things we must give to God in confession and prayer. The practice of Confession of sin and of prayer can help us get rid of the spiritual and moral junk in our lives. Often this needs to be done before we do anything else.
At our Holy Communion liturgy, we begin with a confession of sin. It is an opportunity to come before God alongside our fellow Christians to recognize our sinfulness. More importantly, it is an opportunity to be reassured of God’s love, forgiveness, and merciful grace.
Here is what we say, and what the pastor says to assure us:
We say together: “Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.”
The pastor reminds us: “God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were dead in sin, and made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. In the name of + Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. Almighty God strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may live in your hearts through faith.”
On confession of sin, and the assurance of forgiveness of sin, connects us to the great actions of God in Jesus Christ. Our spiritual connection with the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to our lives as Christians. Our connection with these is provided as God’s way of Spring Cleaning of our lives. By his word of grace, we are made clean. May our prayerful connection and reflections today be a reminder to receive the support which God alone provides to clean out our spiritual garage.
Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. By your power, enable us to turn from our sin and learn to love as you command. We pray this in the name of your Holy and Blessed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen