THURSDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

May 23, 2019

Acts 15:7-21

 

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “My brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written,

 

‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen;
    from its ruins I will rebuild it,
        and I will set it up,
so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—
    even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called.
        Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.’

 

Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.”

 

 

Psalm 96:1-3, 10

 

O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.

Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”

 

 

John 15:9-11

 

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

 

(NRSVCE)

 

 

Meditation

 

Today, there is a bad teaching out there that people get 'hung up' on the Ten Commandments or 'the old law'. They say that it has changed because Jesus fulfilled them. This Gospel ought to help refute that dangerous belief. Now we have the law of love but it is based on the commandments which was a gift to the Jews above all nations. Jesus obeyed the Commandments and they will never pass away. The law could not give life. The power in the old law was in death but Jesus conquered sin and death so we could have life. The new law of love means not that we are exempted from obeying the commandments. It means that the commandments were fulfilled so perfectly by Jesus who taught us the spirit of the law that he is our model of this love. Jesus is the interpretation of the Commandments.

 

1. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Jesus, the Messiah, is the revelation of the glory of the Father who sends His only begotten Son to deliver us from the power of sin and death and to show the way to the Father. We must be faithful to God through His Son Jesus, becoming children of God.

2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything…You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”

Idols keep us focused on the earth as our home instead of heaven and we should renounce them.

3.“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”

Jesus gives us power in His name. It does not mean that we can take it in vain and be unpunished. 

4.“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”

Jesus bids us enter into the rest of God through faith in him. But we still honor the Lord's Day by resting from unnecessary work so we can engage in spiritual refreshment.

5.“Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

God wills that we honor our parents just as we honor Him and work to do his will on earth. 

6.“Thou shalt not murder.”

We do no murder but we strive to bring new life into the world and nurture the life God has created.

7.“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

We ask forgiveness of trespasses and unfaithfulness to God because every sin is like an adulteration of who we are in Christ. We must love God with all our hearts, mind and strength. 

8.“Thou shalt not steal.”

We don't take what is not ours. Christians forgive even what we are owed.

9.“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

We live lives of truth and integrity rather than lie.

10.“You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

We don't desire anything that is not God's will for us because that pride, jealousy and rivalry is the devil's sin. 

 

The old law may have expanded to over 300 laws that were a big burden to the Jewish people but would have been a stumbling block for the Gentiles who were just coming into the faith. The apostles discerned rightly not to make huge impositions on their lives. The new law of love is simpler yet, how difficult it is to keep it perfectly when we have a fallen nature that makes us prone to sin. But we can grow in love if we listen to Jesus, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit and love God with all our hearts. 

 

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