DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 4/6/19

Saturday, 4th Week in Lent

Opening Prayer

Behold, now is the acceptable time;
now is the day of salvation.
Turn us again, O God of our salvation,
that the light of your face may shine on us.
May your justice shine like the sun;
and may the poor be lifted up. (2 Cor. 6:2; Ps. 85:4; 80:3)

(from The Book of Common Worship)
God of compassion,
you are slow to anger, and full of mercy,
welcoming sinners who return to you with penitent hearts.
Receive in your loving embrace
all who come home to you.
Seat them at your bountiful table of grace,
that, with all your children,
they may feast with delight
on all that satisfies the hungry heart.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 43

Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

43:1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
    against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
    deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
Eternal God, source of everlasting light,
send forth your truth into our hearts,
and bring us into your presence with joy and gladness
in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.
Amen.

Laudate Psalm, Psalm 149

Sing to the Lord a New Song

149:1 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
    he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
    and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
    and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
    and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
    This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
God our Maker,
you crown the humble with honor
and exalt the faithful who gather in your name.
Because you have favored us with life,
we dance before you in our joy
and praise you with unending song
for Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Old Testament Reading, Jeremiah 23:9-15

Lying Prophets

23:9 Concerning the prophets:

My heart is broken within me;
    all my bones shake;
I am like a drunken man,
    like a man overcome by wine,
because of the Lord
    and because of his holy words.
10 For the land is full of adulterers;
    because of the curse the land mourns,
    and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up.
Their course is evil,
    and their might is not right.
11 “Both prophet and priest are ungodly;
    even in my house I have found their evil,
declares the Lord.
12 Therefore their way shall be to them
    like slippery paths in the darkness,
    into which they shall be driven and fall,
for I will bring disaster upon them
    in the year of their punishment,
declares the Lord.
13 In the prophets of Samaria
    I saw an unsavory thing:
they prophesied by Baal
    and led my people Israel astray.
14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem
    I have seen a horrible thing:
they commit adultery and walk in lies;
    they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
    so that no one turns from his evil;
all of them have become like Sodom to me,
    and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”
15 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets:
“Behold, I will feed them with bitter food
    and give them poisoned water to drink,
for from the prophets of Jerusalem
    ungodliness has gone out into all the land.”

Epistle Reading, Romans 9:1-18

God’s Sovereign Choice

9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Gospel Reading, John 6:60-71

The Words of Eternal Life

6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

Reflection for the Day

Sanctification and Growth in Grace”
from the Confession of Faith
for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America
(2015 printing)

Sanctification is God’s setting apart of believers as servants in the world. (Ps. 4:3; Ro. 6:6-14, 20-22; 1 Co. 6:9-11; 2 Co. 6:14-18; 7:1; Eph. 4:17-24, 5:25-27; 1 Th. 5:23-24; 2 Th. 2:13-14; He. 9:13-14; 1 P. 1:1-2)

As believers continue to partake of God’s covenant of grace, to live in the covenant community, and to serve God in the world, they are able to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord. Believers never achieve sinless perfection in this life, but through the ministry of the Holy Spirit they can be progressively conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, thereby growing in faith, hope, love, and other gifts of the Spirit. (Ps. 14:1-3; Ecc. 7:20; Ro. 3:23-24; 2 Co. 3:18, 9:10-11; Eph. 3:14-21; Ph. 2:12-16; Col.
3:5-17; 1 Th. 3:12-13; 2 Ti. 2:20-21; 1 P. 2:2-3; 2 P. 1:3-11)

The struggle with sin continues, for believers are still imperfect in knowledge and the power to do God’s will. Their freedom to trust, love, and serve God and neighbors is compromised sometimes by distrust, hate and selfishness. This inner struggle drives them again and again to rely on God’s power to conform them to the image of the new person in Jesus Christ. (Ro. 7:7-25; Gal. 5:16-17; 1 Jn. 2:9-11)

Prayer for the Day

Take time to reflect and pray. Pray for those listed on our prayer list from worship. If you’d like to use it, here is a prayer to guide you:

(from The Book of Common Worship)
Great and wonderful God, we praise and thank you for the gift of renewal in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for

opportunities for rest and recreation . . .
the regenerating gifts of the Holy Spirit . . .
activities shared by young and old . . .
fun and laughter . . .
every service that proclaims your love. . . .

You make all things new, O God, and we offer our prayers for the renewal of the world and the healing of its wounds. Especially we pray for

those who have no leisure . . .
people enslaved by addictions . . .
those who entertain and enlighten . . .
those confronted with temptation . . .
the church in North America. . . .

Lord Jesus Christ, who stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your name.

Amen.

Closing Prayer

(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
We invoke your mercy in humble prayer, O Lord,
that you may cause us, your servants,
corrected by penance and schooled by good works,
to persevere sincerely in your commands
and come safely to the paschal festivities.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  

Let us praise the Lord.
– And give him thanks. 
Amen.

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