Sunday, March 19, 2017

You’re Going to Die

For far too many people these days, religion is just another slice of life. There’s the job and stuff at home and whatnot. And then, there’s also your religion. Religion is just a part of the reality of a person’s life that needs to be dealt with. But that, of course, is not true. A person’s religion is not just a part of a person’s reality. His religion interprets reality for him. That’s true if you are a Muslim or a Buddhist or a person whose religion is atheism. It’s also true if you’re a Christian. Religion interprets reality.

Today, I’m going to, once again, use the Scriptures to interpret reality for you. And I do this, as always, so that you can live well. A person cannot live well unless he or she understands and embraces what is real. Failure to do this will have its consequences sooner or later. And it is the Christian Scriptures alone that interpret reality accurately.

The piece of reality that we’re going to be looking at today is death. This is certainly a part of reality that we need to be careful to interpret accurately. I’m going to use something from Hebrews to do this. Listen.

… it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment …  Hebrews 9.27

A Prayer

Father,
We all have issues to deal with. And at times it all gets to be a bit much. And while we won't say it, or even think it, what our feelings sometimes ask is: 'Do You know what You're doing?'

There are times when we look at our world, we look at ourselves, and we become confused and more than a little scared. And the question sits out there. 'Do You know what You're doing?'

It feels wrong to voice that, Father. We know what we're supposed to say and think. But sometimes that's so hard. Sometimes it's easier to wonder about the answer to that question.

So, Father, in the midst of our doubts and struggles, we do the only thing that makes sense. We look to You. You have told us that You are our Father, a Father who loves us more than what we can understand. We do believe that, but the question still looms. The confusion sometimes overwhelms. And we get a little afraid. So, help us, Father. We want to trust You. Help us to do that.

Make Your truth clear to us. Take those things that our minds have accepted and make our hearts fully embrace them. You are the God who controls every aspect of this universe. And You do that with Your eye on us. We know that. Help us to believe it when life gets hard.

We ask for this, Father, so that we can fulfill our calling as Your children. We are here to make You look as good as You actually are. And You really are very good. Help us to believe You, help us to trust You, so that we can live in such a way to complete our task.

We thank You, Father, that You're listening to this. Your ear is always open to our cry. How comforting. So, we thank You that You are going to respond to this. You're going to bless us with the change that we are asking for. We are going to be able to do better at believing the truth about You, even in the hard spots. We are grateful for that because we know that we live in a world that really needs to get to know You, to get to know You as the really good God that You are. And in time, as our world does get to know You, we will be comforted with the knowledge that our responding to our suffering in faith was worth it. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Prayer for the Week

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: 

Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hymn Commentary: Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

This hymn is all about the fact that we are Christian friends. It begins by asking for God’s blessing on the bonds that we have with each other. The rest of the hymn points to different ways in which these bonds hold us together. Notice how words like ‘we’ and ‘our’ and ‘us’ are repeated.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

This is something I wrote for the church I pastor since we will be singing this hymn this Sunday.

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6.2

Confession of Sin
Our Father, Your Word is clear. We are to be involved in each other’s lives. We are to be careful to notice when someone is in need. We are to help each other to bear the burdens You place on us. And yet, it is so easy for us to be concerned just for ourselves. It is so easy to neglect the others who are here. It is so easy not to care. Forgive us for this sin. Teach us to care for one another, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - every one - to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53.6

The almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon and forgiveness of all your sins, time for amendment of life, and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Common Prayer

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What Did Paul Pray For?

Once again, we're going to be taking a look at the topic of prayer. This time we're going to look at one of Paul's prayers. Actually, we'll be looking at his description of what he was praying for when it came to the saints in Ephesus. My goal in this is to help you to understand yourselves and your situation a little better and to consider what might be some new things for you to include in your prayers. Listen to what Paul wrote.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:15-23