Friday, October 19, 2018

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3.1

Confession of Sin
Our Father, You have been so kind and good in making us Your children. You have conferred upon us a great blessing in granting us this assurance of Your awesome love. And yet, how often we doubt You in this. How often we question the reality of Your love. How often we act as if we are orphans left to find our own way, instead of acting as the cherished children that we really are. We admit that this is a great sin against Your loving, fatherly heart. We have no excuse. We can only ask for forgiveness of our sin. We thank You that because You are a loving Father, You graciously promise to forgive. We thank You for the Gospel of Jesus that makes such forgiveness possible. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners, bring you his pardon and peace, now and for ever.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Lord’s Prayer: Thy Will Be Done


We’re continuing our look at the Lord’s Prayer. Today, we’re going to be exploring the third petition.

Thy will be done. Matthew 6.10

I’ve been praying that the Spirit will use what I have to say about this part of the Gospel so that you will take another step in maturing as disciples of Jesus. Let’s see what He will do.

As usual, we need to start by being clear about the words. And there has been confusion about these words. What does the Bible mean when it mentions God’s will? Something Moses wrote helps us to answer that question.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Prayer

Father,

You have made a glorious creation. And as You created each part You stepped back, looked at it and were pleased with what You had accomplished. And so, when You were done with it all, it was only right for You to declare that it was all very good.

Then, You handed it all over to humanity to develop and enjoy. And we ruined it. Now, Your once-perfect creation is anything but. And yet, it is still Your creation. It still belongs to You. And You are still at work using it.

And one way that You use it is to bring about terrifying bits of weather, things like hurricane Michael. And without realizing it, those who named it, made a really good choice: Mi-cha-el. 'Who is like God?' Indeed, who is like You, Father?

Father, we know that You have Your good purposes in all that happens, including terrible storms. So, when it comes to Your saints, You bring about such things to try us, to put our faith to the test. And that can be so very encouraging when, depending on Your grace, we are able to pass the tests, when we trust You in hard situations. But such a test is helpful to us even when we fail the test. Now we know what to work on.

You also use terrible storms to discipline Your saints, as a warning to those of us who are flirting with evil. Your discipline can be rigorous, but it still is an expression of Your love for Your errant children.

And then, Father, You use terrible storms to punish the wicked. Your punishment for rebels is not limited to what happens later. Sometimes they taste a bit of it now.

Father, we need to see our world more clearly as Yours. We need to see it as a tool You use to bring about Your plans for Your church as well as for the rest of the world. Get us to take the time and effort to work on this so that we will work to hallow your name, to bring in your kingdom and thus to live wisely. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Help!

‘O Lord, please help me in this situation.’

That sounds like a really good prayer. David thought so.
In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. Psalms 18.6
How good to know that we can call upon our God for His help.

However…

There is the possibility of a problem. And this is because of the subtle deceitfulness of our hearts. There is a way of calling out to God for help that we are to pursue as a part of everyday life. But there is a way of asking for His help that is deceptive and evil. This is when we ask for God's help thinking that all we need is just a little boost. We're confident that we have things mostly under control, but there is that one little tidbit that isn’t working the way that we want. And it’s for that little bit that we ask God’s help.

When we do that, when that is what's going on in our hearts, we are sinning. We are believing the lie that we are able to handle life, at least most of it. We are convinced that we really can do this. It’s just that we need a little assist – and that’s what God is for, isn’t He?

We don’t need a little assist. We need the grace of God without which life just won't work.

I've adjusted my prayers because of this. While it actually is okay for a Christian to ask God to 'help' him, more and more I'm leaving that word out. So, I don't ask Him to help me trust Him, for example. No, now it's, 'Make me trust You in this situation.' And I'm working at asking for that with the understanding that if He doesn't act, life won't work for me. I am in desperate need of His grace.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Scripture to Meditate On

I am a sojourner on the earth; 
hide not your commandments from me! Psalms 119:19

This is another verse that is quite interesting. Let's start with the second half first. Is this just overstatement by the psalmist to stress some idea or would God do something like that? Would God actually hide His commands from His people? Before you answer, you should read this:
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land - not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. Amos 8:11
I think that we need to say that God would, indeed, hide His commands. And He would do that as an act of punishment against His people. Woe to any who would suffer such a fate.

It seems that the psalmist feared that God just might punish Israel in this way and that he would be caught up in the punishment God sent. Remember that righteous Daniel suffered the exile that God punished Israel with.

Could something like this happen today to us who are the Church? I don't see why not.

And now for the first part of the verse. The psalmist yearns for God's commands. Why this yearning? The only reason that is given is that our writer is a sojourner. It seems that he understands that he is traveling through this life as someone who is a stranger to the place. He understands that as an alien he would need guidance on how to make it to his destination beyond this place. He understands that he needs God's commands to succeed in his trip. He is to be a model for us.

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2.15-17

Confession of Sin
Our Father, we feel the pull of the world. We find ourselves fooled by its allure. We think that the world and what it offers will last. Forgive us our folly in this. It is a great sin against You. Make clear to our hearts that loving the world is turning away from You. Teach us that loving You and Your ways is the path to life, to the fullness of joy and to pleasures forevermore. Please grant us our request for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  But the father said to his servants, Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:18-24

May the God of all healing and forgiveness draw us to himself, and cleanse us from all our sins that we may behold the glory of his Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.