The sermon for May 14 is about the racial conflict in the church at Rome. Jews and Gentiles were pitted against each other causing distress in the early church. In the late 18th or early 19th century Adam Clark said that Paul wrote the Roman letter to adjust and settle differences which arose from the claims of the Gentiles to equal privileges with the Jews, and from absolute refusal of the Jews to admit these claims, unless the Gentile converts became circumcised. The sermon today explores the matter of building harmony within the church.
Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, May 8. Read Genesis 12:1-3. 1) What did God tell Abraham to do in this text? 2) What was God’s ultimate plan for Abraham and all people?
Tuesday, May 9. Read Acts 1:6-8. 1) What was the focus of the disciples’ curiosity? 2) How did Jesus answer them? 3) What was Jesus’ plan for the disciples according to this text?
Wednesday, May 10. Read Romans 15:5-13. 1) How did Paul hope that the Roman Christians would learn as followers of Christ? 2) Why did Christ come with respect to the Jews and Gentiles? 3) What did Isaiah write in this regard?
Thursday, May 11. Read Luke 24:44-49. 1) What did Jesus say would happen with the message about the death and resurrection of Jesus? 2) What was the nature of the message, and why would it be good news to the people who heard it? 3) How many people would hear it?
Friday, May 12. Read Isaiah 49:3-6. 1) The person called Israel in this text is commissioned to do what? 2) How expansive was this commission? 3) What are the implications for the church today?
Saturday, May 13. Read Romans 1:8-15. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear Father in Heaven. We praise you for your majesty, compassion, and love. Since the beginning of time you have shown your undeterred will to redeem and restore the creation and its creatures to their rightful state in your favor. Please help us, as your people, to be committed to that same mission. To introduce others to the good news of redemption, victory over sin and death, and restoration of favor with God. Lord, grant that those who know us will see the light of your love reflected from our lives. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
Go, Labor On: spend and be spent
Horatius Bonar, 1843
Go, labor on: spend, and be spent,
Thy joy to do the Father’s will:
It is the way the Master went;
Should not the servant tread it still?
Go, labor on! ’tis not for naught
Thine earthly loss is heavenly gain;
Men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not;
The Master praises: what are men?
Go, labor on! enough, while here,
If He shall praise thee, if He deign
The willing heart to mark and cheer:
No toil for Him shall be in vain.
Go, labor on! Your hands are weak,
Your knees are faint, your soul cast down;
Yet falter not; the prize you seek
Is near—a kingdom and a crown.
Go, labor on while it is day:
The world’s dark night is hastening on;
Speed, speed thy work, cast sloth away;
It is not thus that souls are won.
Men die in darkness at thy side,
Without a hope to cheer the tomb;
Take up the torch and wave it wide,
The torch that lights time’s thickest gloom.
Toil on, faint not, keep watch and pray,
Be wise the erring soul to win;
Go forth into the world’s highway,
Compel the wanderer to come in.
Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice!
For toil comes rest, for exile home;
Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom’s voice,
The midnight peal, “Behold, I come!”
Devotional Article of the Week:
“A Sort of Christ”
Can we re-find the way of Christ?
by Rubel Shelly
A strange thing seems to have happened over the course of church history…
Didn’t Jesus send his disciples into all the world? Have we been obedient to his challenge? Have we saturated the world with his transforming presence?
Martin Luther reminded his generation that Christians belong in the larger marketplace of ideas to be “a sort of Christ” there. However, a good case can be made for the claim that we have turned churches into Christian ghettos and isolated ourselves from the world.
Could any of the following be true?
We tend to put our hope in Sunday morning worship in church-owned properties rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit to disperse us into all the places we live, work, and play to demonstrate that the One in us is greater than the evil one who is prince of this world.
We have built churches that are monuments to egos and structured them on the model of a failed General Motors and a struggling McDonalds. We thought bigger is always better and franchised is best of all. Then, if we did not get big enough to be recognized and praised, we could argue that smaller means purer, more faithful, and persecuted.
The church is often viewed as nothing more than an irritating irrelevance by our world.
We have morphed discipleship into church membership and reduced the experience of worship to staring at the back of someone’s head. The Holy Spirit became a point of theological debate rather than the presence of the Living God. We bottled up the church’s ministry by robing and reverencing an ordained few.
We need to implement an authentic priesthood of all who believe. Go into our various homes, offices, classrooms, and workplaces as Christ’s servants. Go there in the humility of the Son of Man. Offer no judgments or directives; be confessional about our own inadequacies and modest about our occasional accomplishments. We should hesitate to speak; instead, we should be Christ’s presence so authentically that we will be asked to explain ourselves. Then we can bear gentle, faithful, and credible witness to the one who is our Lord.
Such Christians would be called anything but self-righteous hypocrites. In their reverent use of the name of Jesus, they would receive a more respectful hearing than is the case in so many venues where the Church of Sanctified Religiosity intrudes today. Where it shouts loudly and judges severely.
If the claim that the earliest church was “turning the world upside down” was true in its time, it certainly is not true today. The church is often viewed as nothing more than an irritating irrelevance by our world. So perhaps it is the church that needs to be turned upside down — divesting itself of a pagan style of leadership that puts the powerful few at the top and embracing the Jesus-style of leadership that understands serving as leading and humility as greatness.
May it be so in our time — and until Christ comes. Only then may we be said to be praying with authenticity the words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”