Revised Common Lectionary: Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20 or Ezekiel 43:1-7a; Psalm 115:1-18; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21
- In our worship, we listen to the Word of the Lord.
Notice the importance of the Scriptures for both public ministry - ‘reasoning with them from the Scriptures’ and private devotion - ‘examining the Scriptures every day’ (Acts 17:2, 11).
We need the Word of the Lord on the Lord’s Day. We need the Word of the Lord every day.
God is not the ‘unknown God’. He has made himself known to us.
For many, He seems to be the ‘unknown God’. We must seek to lead them beyond a vague awareness of ‘the God who made the world’ to a real knowledge of Jesus Christ who died and rose again for our salvation (Acts 17:24, 3).
When our faith is grounded in the Scriptures, we will not think of God as the ‘unknown God’ about whom we can know very little. We will make it our ambition ‘to know Christ and the power of His resurrection’ (Philippians 3:10).
‘Let us press on to know the Lord’(Hosea 6:3).
- In our worship, we hear the Story of God’s salvation.
‘Come and see what God has done’ (Psalm 66:5).
God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us.
‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me’ (Psalm 66:16).
God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives.
We read God’s Word. We hear His Word.
This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us.
He waits to hear our prayer - ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us...’ He answers our prayer - ‘God has blessed us’ (Psalm 67:1, 6-7).
He wants us to ‘be glad and sing for joy’. He wants us to call ‘all the ends of the earth’ to ‘worship Him’ (Psalm 67:4, 7).
- In our worship, let us pray the glory of the Lord will fill His Church.
This is not only about the glory of the Temple. It’s about ‘the glory of the God of Israel’. This is the greater glory - ‘the glory of the Lord filled the Temple’ (Ezekiel 43:1, 5).
God is not only concerned about the creation of a beautiful place of worship. He wants our lives to be ‘radiant with His glory’. This happens when ‘the Spirit lifts us up’ and brings us close to God - ‘into the inner court’ (Ezekiel 43:2, 5).
We pray that the glory of the Lord will fill the place of worship: ‘May the fragrance of Jesus fill this place.’ We pray that ‘the glory of Jesus’ will ‘fill His Church’. We are not only praying for God’s glory in the place of worship. We are praying for His glory in our lives: ‘May the beauty of Jesus fill my life... Fill my thoughts, my words, my deeds’ (Mission Praise, 462).
- In our worship, let us give all the glory to the Lord.
‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness’ (Psalm 115:1).
God loves us. He loves us with a faithful love, ‘an everlasting love’, a ‘love that will not let us go’. His love ‘never comes to an end’. Nothing can separate us from His love (Jeremiah 31:3; Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:38-39; Church Hymnary, 677). What have we done to deserve such love? Absolutely nothing! We are ‘sinners’. We do not deserve to be loved by God. We have done nothing to earn His love. Love begins with God. It comes from Him.
How do we know that He loves us? Have we proved ourselves worthy of His love? No! - ‘God shows His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’. ‘To God be the glory!’ (Romans 5:8; Church Hymnary, 374).
- As we leave the place of worship, let us take the Gospel with us.
The world is preoccupied with outward appearances. As Christians, we should be more concerned with our inward attitude. ‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord’. Pray for His ‘attitude’ - ‘a tender heart and a humble mind’ (1 Peter 3:8, 15; 4:1).
We believe the Gospel - ‘Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’. Let’s share the Gospel - ‘Be always ready to give...a reason for the hope that is in you’.
How are we to share the Gospel? - ‘with gentleness and respect’(1 Peter 3:18, 15).
We must get the attitude right - ‘so that nothing will hinder our prayers’ (1 Peter 3:
We need more than the ‘right’ prayers - words that sound good. We need the right attitude. The blessing will not come because our words sound good. It will only come when our attitude is right.
- As we go into the world, let us pray that the fruit of the Spirit will be seen in us.
Those who love the Lord are called to a life of obedience - keeping His ‘commandments’, keeping His ‘Word’ (John 14:21, 23).
We cannot live this life in our own strength. Christ must make His home in us (John 14:23).
Once He has come to live in us, we are to abide in Him (John 15:4).
Jesus says to us, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).
You cannot live the Christian life until Christ comes to live in you.
‘The Holy Spirit teaches us all things’ (John 14:26). Christ’s ‘words’ abide in us (John 15:7).
We are called to a life of fruitfulness (John 15:5, 15) - ‘the fruit of the Spirit’: ‘love, joy, peace...’ (Galatians 5:22-23).
Jesus loves us (John 14:21). He gives us His peace (John 14:27). He gives us His joy (John 15:11).
Love, Joy, Peace: Let this ‘fruit’ be seen in us. Let it be shared with others. ‘Love one another... Go and bear fruit... love one another’ (John 15:12, 16-17).
Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98:1-9 (or Genesis 35:9-15); Psalm 101:1-8; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
- God’s Love, God’s Son, God’s Command, God’s Purpose
‘When the Holy Spirit comes on you... you will be My witnesses... to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). This great advance of the Gospel - Salvation reaches ‘the Gentiles’ (Acts 10:45; 11:1, 18) - is a movement of ‘the Spirit’ (Acts 11:12). The Spirit speaks through the Word (10:44; 11:15). In God’s Word, we read of (a) God’s love for the whole world (John 3:16); (b) God’s Son who died for ‘the sins of the whole world’ (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2); (c) God’s command that ‘the Good News’should be preached to ‘everyone’(Mark 16:15); (d) God’s purpose that there should be disciples of Christ in every nation (Matthew 28:19). ‘Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the News that Christ can save... Here am I, send me’ (Youth Praise, 128). ‘Go forth and tell!’(Mission Praise, 178).
- God is holy. God is love. Let’s worship Him with joy.
‘Exalt the Lord our God... Make a joyful noise to the Lord’ (Psalm 99:5, 9; Psalm 98:4, 6; Psalm 100:1). We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him. In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy! ... The Lord our God is holy!’ (Psalm 99:5, 9). In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever... He has done marvellous things!’ (Psalm 100:5; Psalm 98:1). The God of ‘awesome purity’ loves us with the most perfect love of all: ‘No earthly father loves like Thee...’. Let us worship Him with holy fear and heartfelt love: ‘O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears... with trembling hope and penitential tears! Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art, for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart’ (Church Hymnary, 356).
- We cannot expect to be fruitful witnesses, if we are not faithful worshippers.
‘God appeared to Jacob again ... and blessed him’ (Genesis 35:9). The Lord’s blessing does not come only once. Again and again, He blesses His people, leading us on to a closer walk with Him. God knows what we have been - ‘Your name is Jacob’ (Genesis 35:10). He knows how often we have failed Him, yet still, He loves us. Still, He holds out before us a new and better future - ‘Israel shall be your name’ (Genesis 35:10). God is inviting us to enter into a future of fruitfulness (Genesis 35:11): ‘I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that you fruit should abide’ (John 15:16). Special mention is made of ‘the place where God had spoken with him’- ‘Bethel’ (the house of God) (Genesis 35:15). We cannot expect to be fruitful witnesses if we are not faithful worshippers. Listen for God’s Word. Take His Word with you - and share it with others.
- Let’s worship the Lord. Let’s walk with Him.
‘I will sing of Your love... I will walk with integrity of heart...’ (Psalm 101:1-2). These words were written many centuries ago. ‘Things are very different now’- so we’re told! Worshipping the Lord and walking with Him: Are these things out-of-date now? Are they to be forgotten? So many people have no time for the Lord. They feel that they can do without Him. They refuse to worship Him. They do not walk with Him. In our ever-changing world, there is something we must never forget: The Lord is ‘enthroned for ever’. His ‘Name endures to all generations’. In all the changes of life, the Lord ‘remains the same’. His ‘years go on through all generations’. His ‘years will never end’ (Psalm 102:12, 24, 27). These words were ‘written for a future generation’. They were written for us. We must not forget to ‘praise the Lord’ (Psalm 102:18)!
- Looking to Christ, let’s walk in the way of victory.
What a great blessing we receive through faith in Christ - ‘Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God’ (1 John 5:1). Our life as God’s children is not a life of tranquility. We face conflict, real conflict - a battle. In this spiritual warfare, we have God’s promise of victory. In 1 John 5:5, we have a question: ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?’. The answer is contained in the question. Our victory is in Christ. We are not victorious because our faith is so strong that we couldn’t possibly fail. Many times, we fail. We take our eyes off Christ - and we are defeated. What are we to do? - when temptations seem to be so many and so powerful. When you feel so weak, let Christ be your Strength. ‘With Christ within, the fight we’ll win’.
- Abiding in Christ, let’s walk with Him on the pathway of fruitfulness.
Once Christ has come to live in us, we are to abide in Him (4). Jesus says to us, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’(5). You cannot live the Christian life until Christ comes to live in you. ‘The Holy Spirit teaches us all things’(26). Christ’s ‘words’abide in us (7). We are called to a life of fruitfulness (15:5,15) - ‘the fruit of the Spirit’: ‘love, joy, peace...’(Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus loves us (21). He gives us His peace (27). He gives us His joy (11). Love, Joy, Peace: Let this ‘fruit’be seen in us. Let it be shared with others. ‘Love one another... Go and bear fruit... love one another’ (15:12,16-17).
Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67:1-7 (or Deuteronomy 34:1-12); Psalm 109:21-31; Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5; John 14:23-29 (or John 5:1-9)
- Let us pray that the Word of the Lord will speak to us as the power of God for salvation.
Notice the importance of prayer in the advance of the Gospel. They were looking for a prayer meeting when Lydia was saved (Acts 16:13-14). They were going to a prayer meeting when the girl was saved (Acts 16:16-18). They were having a prayer meeting when the jailer was saved (Acts 16:25-34). They had gone to Philippi ‘to preach the Gospel to them’(10). Even when they were ‘in chains’, the Gospel proved itself to be ‘the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’(Ephesians 6:20; Romans 1:16). ‘The Word of God is not bound’. It is ‘living and active’. ‘Sharper than any two-edged sword’, it is ‘the sword of the Spirit’(2 Timothy 2:9; Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17). Do you want people to ask the Salvation question and heed the Gospel answer (Acts 16:30-31)? ‘Pray at all times in the Spirit... with all perseverance’(Ephesians 6:18).
- Let us read the Word of the Lord. Let us hear the Word of the Lord.
‘Come and see what God has done’(Psalm 66:5). God invites us to look into His Word, to read His Story, the Story of all that He has done for us. ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me’(Psalm 66:16). God invites us to listen to the preaching of His Word, to let His Story become our story, to let His salvation become real in our lives. We read God’s Word. We hear His Word. This is our journey of discovery. We discover what the Lord has done for us. We discover how much He wants to bless us. He waits to hear our prayer - ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us...’. He answers our prayer - ‘God has blessed us’(Psalm 67:1,6-7). He wants us to ‘be glad and sing for joy’. He wants us to call ‘all the ends of the earth’to ‘worship Him’(Psalm 67:4,7).
- Let us trust the Word of the Lord.
‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’(Deuteronomy 33:27): This is no guarantee of peaceful tranquillity. For Israel, there was conflict. ‘Saved by the Lord’, Israel had found true happiness. Still, there were ‘enemies’to be ‘thrust out’ and ‘trampled down’(Deuteronomy 33:27,29). Knowing the blessing of God’s salvation is no guarantee that life will be easy. When the enemies of the Gospel see a believer intent on glorifying the Lord, they do all they can to create problems. We have ‘enemies’in ‘high places’(Deuteronomy 33:29; Ephesians 6:12). Their argument is not with us. It is with God. If God’s work is to do well, there needs to be spiritual leadership. Moses had led God’s people in his day. Joshua was to take his place (Deuteronomy 34:9). Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important - ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’(Romans 8:31).
- Let us receive strength from the Word of the Lord.
We must come to the Lord, recognizing that, without Him, our situation is hopeless - ‘I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I fade away like an evening shadow’(Psalm 109:22). When our enemies are on the attack, we are no match for them. What are we to do when the world, the flesh and the devil are threatening to overwhelm us? We must come to the Lord, praying for His help, asking Him to save us - ‘Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with Your love’(Psalm 109:26). Let us look away from ourselves and our own weakness. Let us put our trust in the Lord and His strength. The Lord will not fail us. He ‘stands beside’ us in our time of testing. He ‘saves’ us from our enemies. Let us praise Him: ‘I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth. I will praise Him among many people...’(Psalm 109:30-31).
- Let us respond to the Word of the Lord. Let us come to repentance.
God has given us a glimpse of a future which is heavenly, eternal and glorious: ‘the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God - It shone with the glory of God’. Is this ‘eternal life’ for everyone? Will all people ‘dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’? Will everyone be saved. Is this what the Word of God teaches? ‘God wants everyone to be saved.’ He wants everyone to ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’, to ‘come to repentance.’ Sadly, there are many who ‘refuse to love the truth and so be saved’(Revelation 21:10-11; John 3:16; Psalm 23:6; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). Who will be saved? - ‘only those, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.’ ‘Come’ to Christ - ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they...may go through the gates into the city’(Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:17,14).
- Let us obey the Word of the Lord.
Those who love the Lord are called to a life of obedience - keeping His ‘commandments’, keeping His ‘Word’(John 14:21,23). We cannot live this life in our own strength. Christ must make His home in us (John 14:23). Once He has come to live in us, we are to abide in Him (John 15:4). Jesus says to us, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’(John 15:5). You cannot live the Christian life until Christ comes to live in you. ‘The Holy Spirit teaches us all things’(John 14:26). Christ’s ‘words’ abide in us (John 15:7). We are called to a life of fruitfulness (John 15:5,15) - ‘the fruit of the Spirit’: ‘love, joy, peace...’(Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus loves us (John 14:21). He gives us His peace (John 14:27). He gives us His joy (John 15:11). Love, Joy, Peace: Let this ‘fruit’be seen in us. Let it be shared with others. ‘Love one another... Go and bear fruit... love one another’(John 15:12,16-17).
- Let us believe the Word of the Lord.
In Jesus’ healings, we see the love of God. He ‘went about doing good.’ In His healings, we see the Source of His spiritual strength: ‘God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power’(Acts 10:38). We look beyond Jesus to God the Father: ‘mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through Him’(Acts 2:22). Jesus speaks of His unique relationship with the Father (John 5:19,26). Jesus is no mere servant. He is ‘the Son’. We are to ‘honour the Son’ as well as the Father (John 5:23). Through Christ, we receive ‘eternal life’(John 5:24). The gift of eternal life is the gift of God’s love. In love, God ‘gave His only Son’. ‘In His Son’, there is eternal life. ‘This life’ is given to everyone who ‘believes in the Son of God’(John 3:16; 1 John 5:10-12). Listen to ‘the voice of the Son of God’, believe and ‘live’(John 5:25).