Welcome to The Living Word for Sunday, April 18 (TLW15Br). This was posted earlier with the readings for April 25 in error. Humble apologies for that. Here are the correct readings for April 18 although there is quite a lot of variation in the Easter scheme. This is a non-denominational Bible study, so it won’t fit every church or chapel’s use exactly.
Theme: Restoration and renewal
OT: Zephaniah 3:14-20 — A word of hope: the Lord has taken away the punishment and promised to be with us
NT gospel: Luke 24:36-49 — Jesus encourages the disciples and reveals to them how what has happened is all in the Scriptures
NT narrative: Acts 3:11-19 — Peter says faith in the living, healing Jesus has healed the crippled man and calls hearers to repent
NT letter: 1 John 3:1-7 — We believers should know we are children of God with the freedom to choose to live for Him
Zephaniah 3:14-20 — The Lord has taken away the punishment
A word of hope — the God of love and justice has promised to be with us
14 Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!
“Daughter Zion… Daughter Jerusalem” — meaning the people of God.
“Sing… be glad and rejoice” — God promises unrestrained joy for His people. Contemporary worship emphasises praise and joy.
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment, He has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
“The Lord… is with you” — this prophetic word of hope is fulfilled in part by Jesus’ reign through His church of joyfully forgiven people.
16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
“Hands hang limp” — do not go about discouraged.
17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Mighty Warrior who saves” — combining various attributions for Yahweh; and the Messiah.
• For further study, compare Psalm 24:8-10; Isaiah 10:21); Isaiah 42:13; Hab. 3:8-15; and Isaiah 9:6.
18 “I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you.
“I will remove from you” — better, “I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more” NLT.
19-20 “At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honour in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord.
“I will gather exiles” — those who have been abused and alienated for upholding God’s values will be first to know the justice of Jesus’ kingdom, Ezekiel 34:16; Micah 4:6-7; Matthew 5:3-4.
SUMMARY Zephaniah foretells God restoring justice, with His favour and joy for those who have been oppressed and marginalised by unrighteous power.
APPLICATION Throughout history, those who exalt their position and power over God’s sovereignty have oppressed those seeking to live by God’s values. Bad things happen to morally upright people. But God’s just kingdom is becoming more evident.
QUESTION If you have found loving God costly, what does He say to you? (v.17)
Luke 24:36-49 — Jesus encourages the disciples and eats with them
He reveals to them how what has happened is all in the Scriptures
36-39 Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at My hands and My feet. It is I Myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
“Look at My hands and feet” — which bore the scars of having been nailed to the Cross. Jesus was not an immaterial spirit but had the same body that had been put to death, but now gloriously not corruptible nor subject to death.
• For further study, read 1 Cor. 15:1-19, 50-58.
40-43 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it in their presence.
“He took it and ate it” — Jesus proves that He is not a spiritual manifestation by allowing the disciples to touch Him and by eating.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
“Fulfilled in the Law… Prophets and… Psalms” — meaning everything pointing to Christ in the OT. What Jesus did earlier on the road to Emmaeus, Luke 24:25-29, He now shares with the wider group of disciples.
45 Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
“He opened their minds” — what was hidden before now becomes plain, with greater revelation promised, v.49.
• For further study, Peter’s Pentecost message references Joel, Acts 2:16-21.
“The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead” — the OT foretells this in several places, see Acts 3:13 and 18 and notes, below.
49 “I am going to send you what My Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
“I am going to send you what My Father promised” — essential ending (the set reading ends incomplete on v.48) of the encounter with Jesus, fulfilled at Pentecost, Acts 2:1-41 and link to the continuation in Acts.
SUMMARY It is the evening of the day of the resurrection and following reports that Jesus had been seen, He has appeared in a renewed resurrection body where they are gathered. He shares fellowship — and food — and then takes them through the Scriptures (our OT) which point to Him, including the promise of the Holy Spirit.
APPLICATION This passage links the bodily resurrection of Jesus; the OT prophecies, Jesus, and the apostles; and divine empowering promised. They needed to understand from the OT references how this was always God’s plan. So do we.
QUESTION Why was sharing food with the disciples important?
Acts 3:11-19 — Peter says faith in Jesus has healed the crippled man
His hearers had called for Jesus to be killed; now God calls them to repent
11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.
“Solomon’s Colonnade” — a long portico enclosing the temple outer court near the Beautiful Gate where the disabled man had just been given new legs.
12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
“As if by our own power” — following the common pattern in Acts of a story related to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection (vv.11-16), then calling for a response to who Jesus is (vv.17-26 in the Bible).
13 “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus. You handed Him over to be killed, and you disowned Him before Pilate, though he had decided to let Him go.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” — Peter grounds the good news of Jesus firmly in the Hebrew Scriptures.
“His servant Jesus” — both God’s representative and the suffering servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (see also v.18 below).
14 “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
“You disowned the Holy and Righteous One” — chose against Him, although Pilate had six times declared Him innocent.
15 “You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
“You killed… God raised… we are witnesses” — a frequent theme in Acts (see below). They did not recognise Jesus as Messiah, and did not understand that the Messiah would be divine, Daniel 7:13-14; John 1:1-18.
• For further study, read Acts 2:23–24; 4:10; 5:30-32; 10:39-41; 13:28-29.
16 “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
“Faith in the name of Jesus” — the name stands for the truth about the person and the faith here is the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith operating in Peter.
17-18 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Messiah would suffer.
“Saying that His Messiah would suffer” — not only through Isaiah, v.13 and note above, but Luke also references suffering and rejection as follows: Psalm 2:1-2 in Acts 4:25-26; Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28, Acts 13:35; and Psalm 118:22 in Acts 4:11.
19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
“Repent” — turn to God in a change of mind and will that expresses remorse for sin.
“Times of refreshing” — every renewal movement of Christ’s church is a step change towards the ultimate end-time of refreshing.
SUMMARY A man disabled from birth has been miraculously given his mobility and as he goes leaping into the temple courts a crowd gathers. Peter addresses them in direct manner, saying that Jesus who they defied Pilate to have crucified, is alive, has been seen by t hem and is still healing people today. He calls for a response — repentance.
APPLICATION Former fisherman Peter, now full of the Holy Spirit, has done what He had seen Jesus do, taking a miraculous sign and giving God glory for it. He knows that the same Holy Spirit will bring conviction in his hearers. He calls on them to repent and take the opportunity to get right with God. Many who heard the message believed, Acts 4:4 and the church now numbered 5,000 with women not counted..
QUESTION To what extent is this a Christ-centred gathering, and a possible pattern for our meetings? What brings change and new life in us?
1 John 3:1-7 — We believers should know we are children of God
Jesus has given us a remedy for sin and the freedom to choose to live for Him
3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.
“See what great love” — amazement at the extent of God’s love.
“We should be called children of God” — a very big statement about the identity believers have through belonging to Christ, John 1:12.
2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure.
“We shall be like Him” —God’s children reflect the image of Christ and will share in His glory, Romans 8:18-30.
“Purify themselves, just as He is pure” — developed in vv. 5-6 below. Knowing who we are in Christ helps to keep us true to Him.
4-5 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.
“Sin is lawlessness” — likened to a spirit of rebellion against God’s law. Lawlessness, Gk. anomia, is activity wilfully independent from God’s guidance and law.
“He appeared so that He might take away our sins” — Jesus came so that our sin might be forgiven, but also to break the power of sin’s bondage.
6 No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.
“Keeps on sinning” — the difference between a moral lapse and habitual sin. John has in mind false teachers who professed Christ without the evidence of new life or morality. Genuine believers will show their faith in generally upright, if not perfect, lives.
7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.
“Does what is right, is righteous” — true believers live in union with the One who is righteous, so will want to make righteous choices and guard against deceptive temptations to be independent from God.
SUMMARY John writes to believers in the young churches about living their new lives in right living. He warns that there are some who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, and they are not to be deceived by them.
APPLICATION Genuine believers will live like renewed people who love the Lord — because they love His ways.
QUESTION What difference does it make to how you see yourself and how you pray, to know you are a child of God?
PRAYER Father God we thank You for the joy we have in knowing You through Jesus, and for choosing us to be part of your renewal and refreshing of the world.
And thank You, Jesus, for breaking the hold of sin so we can choose to live for You — and we have You to restore us if we slip.
You are alive and with us, and with joy we can can tell others. Amen.
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