Devotion and Readings March 22

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Bible Readings and Devotion for March 22, 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.

Matthew 20:17-28

17 While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; 19 then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

 

1 Corinthians 4:1-13

1 Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

6 I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?

8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you! 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. 10 We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, 12 and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.

 

Psalm 52

1 Why do you boast, O mighty one, of mischief done against the godly? All day long 2 you are plotting destruction. Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery.

3 You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth.

4 You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

5 But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.

6 The righteous will see, and fear, and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,

7 “See the one who would not take refuge in God, but trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge in wealth!”

8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.

9 I will thank you forever, because of what you have done. In the presence of the faithful I will proclaim your name, for it is good.

 

Psalm 53

1 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts; there is no one who does good.

2 God looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.

3 They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.

4 Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God?

5 There they shall be in great terror, in terror such as has not been.  For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly; they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.

6 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!  When God restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

 

Psalm 54

1 Save me, O God, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.

2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For the insolent have risen against me, the ruthless seek my life; they do not set God before them.

4 But surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

5 He will repay my enemies for their evil. In your faithfulness, put an end to them.

6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.

7 For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

 

Psalm 55

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; do not hide yourself from my supplication.

2 Attend to me, and answer me; I am troubled in my complaint. I am distraught 3 by the noise of the enemy, because of the clamor of the wicked. For they bring trouble upon me, and in anger they cherish enmity against me.

4 My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me.

5 Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.

6 And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; 7 truly, I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; 8 I would hurry to find a shelter for myself from the raging wind and tempest.”

9 Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech; for I see violence and strife in the city.

10 Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it; 11 ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace.

12 It is not enemies who taunt me—I could bear that; it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—I could hide from them.

13 But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend,

14 with whom I kept pleasant company; we walked in the house of God with the throng.

15 Let death come upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol; for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.

16 But I call upon God, and the Lord will save me.

17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice.

18 He will redeem me unharmed from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.

19 God, who is enthroned from of old, will hear, and will humble them—because they do not change, and do not fear God.

20 My companion laid hands on a friend and violated a covenant with me 21 with speech smoother than butter, but with a heart set on war; with words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the lowest pit; the bloodthirsty and treacherous shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.

 

Jeremiah 48

1 Concerning Moab. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Alas for Nebo, it is laid waste!  Kiriathaim is put to shame, it is taken; the fortress is put to shame and broken down; 2 the renown of Moab is no more.  In Heshbon they planned evil against her: “Come, let us cut her off from being a nation!”  You also, O Madmen, shall be brought to silence; the sword shall pursue you. 3 Hark! a cry from Horonaim, “Desolation and great destruction!”  4 “Moab is destroyed!” her little ones cry out.

5 For at the ascent of Luhith they go up weeping bitterly; for at the descent of Horonaim they have heard the distressing cry of anguish.  6 Flee! Save yourselves! Be like a wild ass in the desert!

7 Surely, because you trusted in your strongholds and your treasures, you also shall be taken; Chemosh shall go out into exile, with his priests and his attendants.

8 The destroyer shall come upon every town, and no town shall escape; the valley shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the Lord has spoken.

9 Set aside salt for Moab, for she will surely fall; her towns shall become a desolation, with no inhabitant in them.

10 Accursed is the one who is slack in doing the work of the Lord; and accursed is the one who keeps back the sword from bloodshed.

11 Moab has been at ease from his youth, settled like wine on its dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile; therefore his flavor has remained and his aroma is unspoiled.

12 Therefore, the time is surely coming, says the Lord, when I shall send to him decanters to decant him, and empty his vessels, and break his jars in pieces. 13 Then Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.

14 How can you say, “We are heroes and mighty warriors”?

15 The destroyer of Moab and his towns has come up, and the choicest of his young men have gone down to slaughter, says the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.

16 The calamity of Moab is near at hand and his doom approaches swiftly.

17 Mourn over him, all you his neighbors, and all who know his name; say, “How the mighty scepter is broken, the glorious staff!”

18 Come down from glory, and sit on the parched ground, enthroned daughter Dibon! For the destroyer of Moab has come up against you; he has destroyed your strongholds.

19 Stand by the road and watch, you inhabitant of Aroer! Ask the man fleeing and the woman escaping; say, “What has happened?”

20 Moab is put to shame, for it is broken down; wail and cry! Tell it by the Arnon, that Moab is laid waste.  21 Judgment has come upon the tableland, upon Holon, and Jahzah, and Mephaath, 22 and Dibon, and Nebo, and Beth-diblathaim, 23 and Kiriathaim, and Beth-gamul, and Beth-meon, 24 and Kerioth, and Bozrah, and all the towns of the land of Moab, far and near. 25 The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, says the Lord.

26 Make him drunk, because he magnified himself against the Lord; let Moab wallow in his vomit; he too shall become a laughingstock. 27 Israel was a laughingstock for you, though he was not caught among thieves; but whenever you spoke of him you shook your head. 28 Leave the towns, and live on the rock, O inhabitants of Moab! Be like the dove that nests on the sides of the mouth of a gorge.

29 We have heard of the pride of Moab—he is very proud—of his loftiness, his pride, and his arrogance, and the haughtiness of his heart.

30 I myself know his insolence, says the Lord; his boasts are false, his deeds are false.

31 Therefore I wail for Moab; I cry out for all Moab; for the people of Kir-heres I mourn.

32 More than for Jazer I weep for you, O vine of Sibmah! Your branches crossed over the sea, reached as far as Jazer; upon your summer fruits and your vintage the destroyer has fallen.

33 Gladness and joy have been taken away from the fruitful land of Moab; I have stopped the wine from the wine presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy; the shouting is not the shout of joy.

34 Heshbon and Elealeh cry out; as far as Jahaz they utter their voice, from Zoar to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah. For even the waters of Nimrim have become desolate. 35 And I will bring to an end in Moab, says the Lord, those who offer sacrifice at a high place and make offerings to their gods. 36 Therefore my heart moans for Moab like a flute, and my heart moans like a flute for the people of Kir-heres; for the riches they gained have perished.

37 For every head is shaved and every beard cut off; on all the hands there are gashes, and on the loins sackcloth. 38 On all the housetops of Moab and in the squares there is nothing but lamentation; for I have broken Moab like a vessel that no one wants, says the Lord. 39 How it is broken! How they wail! How Moab has turned his back in shame! So Moab has become a derision and a horror to all his neighbors.

40 For thus says the Lord: Look, he shall swoop down like an eagle, and spread his wings against Moab; 41 the towns shall be taken and the strongholds seized. The hearts of the warriors of Moab, on that day, shall be like the heart of a woman in labor.

42 Moab shall be destroyed as a people, because he magnified himself against the Lord.

43 Terror, pit, and trap are before you, O inhabitants of Moab! says the Lord.

44 Everyone who flees from the terror shall fall into the pit, and everyone who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the trap. For I will bring these things upon Moab in the year of their punishment, says the Lord.

45 In the shadow of Heshbon fugitives stop exhausted; for a fire has gone out from Heshbon, a flame from the house of Sihon; it has destroyed the forehead of Moab, the scalp of the people of tumult.

46 Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh have perished, for your sons have been taken captive, and your daughters   into captivity.

47 Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days, says the Lord. Thus far is the judgment on Moab.

 

Devotion for March 22, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

When driving down the road on a major highway or interstate, have you ever encountered this?  Another driver, typically speeding, is rushing about, changing lanes, cutting others off, and generally trying to be ahead of others. (I am not talking about a person trying to get somewhere to save a life or similar real emergency, for that is a different issues altogether.) In a sense, they are trying to end up in first place, no matter what.  Some individuals will do everything to be first place in all they do.  Many will quit, destroy, or complain if they get stuck in 2nd or 207th or wherever else the rest of us stand that day.

 

In our reading from Matthew today we have the scene in which the mother of James and John makes an involved request.  She asks the following: “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”  Our Lord responds that this is not for his to grant.  Only God the Father has that role to set who has those roles.

 

In the Luke 23:32-33, and 39-43: 32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left… 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

These two were not any of the Twelve Apostles.  Rather, they were sinners.  Interestingly, Jesus brings sinners close to himself in his greatest moment.  They are given a chance to reconnect with God, and he welcomes him with merciful, open arms.  Jesus is closest to those who need his love the most.  In a sense, God puts in first place in his care those who are the most likely to be the furthest from God’s glory and perfection.  In one way or another, each one of us is a first-place sinner in need of God’s love and forgiveness.  St. Paul notes about himself, and also each of us, in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.”

 

In this Lent we are reminded that we are people in need of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy.  God the Holy Spirit and God’s gift of the law help us see that we are sinners.  We are shown clearly that we have not lived up to God’s most excellent way.  The Holy Spirit leads us to the cross, and then leads us to a closer connection with Jesus. He is the one who seeks us out in our worst moments.  He is the one who loves us beyond measure.  He is the one who invites us to be with him in paradise.

 

Now, we don’t seek to be sinners.  God is not inviting us to be really bad sinners so that we can be close to Jesus.  Rather, God seeks us out in the depths of our separation from him.  It is not about being in first place, or winning, or anything of the like.  Rather, it is about realizing that we can’t beat others to anything, especially to get into God’s favor.  God chooses us, and God places us into the arms of his mercy.  God gathers us to the cross, and there has met us in sin and death.  We celebrate that, by his abundant mercy, God forgives us and leads us to the life of connection with God and others.  Our response to God’s love is not about getting ahead of others, but it is about giving our best for the sake of God and others.

 

 

 

Prayer

Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we worship you as our one true and holy God.  Help us to strive not for our own glory and power, but for life with you and for service to others.  We pray this in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

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