Posted by: Pauline | February 16, 2015

Scriptures for Sunday February 22

Numbers 6:24-27

This familiar blessing has been used since ancient times, first by the Jews and later by Christians also, especially at the conclusion of worship services. Some interesting aspects about it are not evident to us in the English translation. The blessing is given to “you” in the singular, although the blessing is pronounced to a group of people. In Hebrew, the three lines consist of only fifteen words, the word Yahweh (translated “the Lord”) repeated three times to underscore God as the source of all blessings, and twelve more words which can be seen as corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel who are receiving the blessing.

Jude 1:24-25

After hearing the severe warnings in this letter about the sins people fall into, believers may wonder whether they can avoid falling into those same sins. But in his closing doxology, Jude reminds us that God is able to keep us from falling so that we can enter His presence blameless before Him. It does not mean that we never sin or that we have no responsibility to work at our obedience to God. But the power to walk by faith as a follower of Christ depends on Him and not on us.

Romans 12:1-13

Someone reading these verses for the first time may wonder what in the world it means to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice … which is [our] spiritual worship.” What does it mean for our bodies to be living sacrifices, and how is that “spiritual” worship? The King James translation says that it is our “reasonable service,” which may also lead to misunderstanding if we think the word “reasonable” means practicable, moderate, not extreme or excessive, as we often use the word in modern English.

In fact the word translated “spiritual” or “reasonable” is related to the Greek word logos which is used by John to call Jesus the divine Word. Whatever it means to present our bodies as living sacrifices, it is a service of worship which is not only sensible (logical) because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, but is in accordance with the divine order which shaped and sustains our lives and the entire universe.

It is also clearly a kind of service of worship which goes far beyond the “worship service” in church on Sunday. As the rest of the passage goes on to describe the way we are to act toward one another, it is service that encompasses all of our lives. It is sacrifice because we must give up our selfish desires and inclinations, but in light of God’s mercies (His grace shown to us in Christ), that is entirely “reasonable” in all senses of the word.

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