Fifth Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, our redeemer, in our weakness we have failed to be your messengers of forgiveness and hope in the world. Renew us by your Holy Spirit, that we may follow your commands and proclaim your reign of love.
The season of Lent has typically held a special place in the life of the Church. Beginning with Ash Wednesday and culminating in the events of Holy Week, Lent is an invitation to focus on what is central to our faith. It has also become a time for personal and spiritual reflection on who we are as God’s people and on what God has given us so graciously in Christ.
In earlier times, Lent was a time to prepare for receiving Baptism. More recently it has become a time to lift up in worship and education the core teachings of our faith or to explore some of the major personalities who surround Jesus on His journey to the cross.
This devotional booklet is meant to enhance and enrich our Lenten observance. We have chosen two themes. One is a selection of biblical passages in which God is addressed as the “Great I Am.” The other is a selection of passages in which we are addressed as God’s people, “You are…”
It is our hope that, as we reflect on these passages from God’s Word, our faith in God may be strengthened and our commitment to His Word renewed.
It is also our prayer that, as we move from Ash Wednesday to Holy Week, we may join the two disciples of Jesus as they cried out, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32 ESV).
The Rev. Paull Spring, Bishop Emeritus
The Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, Assistant to the Bishop for Missions
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture is taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Scripture quotations marked (CEV) are from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission. Scripture quotations designated NASB or NASB95 are from the New American Standard Bible, © the Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Scripture quotations designated ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Samuel 22:26–51 (ESV)
26 “With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
27 with the purified you deal purely,
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
28 You save a humble people,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.
29 For you are my lamp, O Lord,
and my God lightens my darkness.
30 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
31 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
32 “For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
33 This God is my strong refuge
and has made my way blameless.
34 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your gentleness made me great.
37 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip;
38 I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
and did not turn back until they were consumed.
39 I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;
they fell under my feet.
40 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
42 They looked, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
43 I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;
I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.
44 “You delivered me from strife with my people;
you kept me as the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
45 Foreigners came cringing to me;
as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.
46 Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.
47 “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,
48 the God who gave me vengeance
and brought down peoples under me,
49 who brought me out from my enemies;
you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from men of violence.
50 “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing praises to your name.
Psalm 92 (ESV)
How Great Are Your Works
92 A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
5 How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7 that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8 but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
9 For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.
10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.
12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
Hebrews 3:1–11 (ESV)
Jesus Greater Than Moses
3 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
A Rest for the People of God
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’ ”
It was only the culmination point of this whole development when on April 18 [Luther] gave his famous answer in Worms: “Unless I am convinced by testimony from Scripture or evident reason (convictus testimoniis Scripturae aut ratione evidente)—for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils alone, since it is established that they have often erred and contradicted themselves—I am conquered by the writings (i.e., passages from Scripture) cited by me, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God; recant I will and can nothing, since it is neither safe nor honest to do ought against conscience.” This once forever established the Sola Scriptura. (19)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.