Sunday, April 23, 2017

Choices

One very important reason God wrote the Bible is to help us understand how reality works. And that’s really good because there are many counterfeit explanations of reality. Remember, Satan is the great counterfeiter. Sad to say, we’ve all been fooled by him and his lies. We don’t understand, as well as we might, how reality actually works. But Jesus has come to change that.

So, what’s the nature of reality - how does reality work - when it comes to our making choices? That’s what we’re going to take a look at this morning. And to do that we’re going to use something Paul wrote. Listen.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6.7-9

A Prayer

Father,

Life sometimes is a whirlwind. Things come at us out of the blue. And there are times when they throw us for a loop. We find ourselves hurting and a bit confused. And the question that we come back to is, 'What in the world is happening? Why is it happening?' And all too often, we don't come up with answers for those questions.

But we can have some answers. Ultimately, whatever comes at us happens because of You. You are the sovereign God. And that means that everything happens because of the plan You laid out before there was anything. Everything happens because of the plan that You are now executing.

And while there are parts of that plan that really hurt, we do know some important things about it. The goal of the plan is to reveal who You are as God. And sometimes, You use evil to reveal how good You are. We exist to be a means of that revelation to the world around us. We live for Your good. Help us to believe that and to accept it. Ultimately, we are not here for our benefit, but rather for Yours.

And yet, You are so very clear that as we give ourselves to You so that You can reveal Your beauty, we will be blessed. The results of our accepting our role in Your plan include lots of really good things for us, things experienced now and especially later. Help us to hold on to that in the midst of our hurting.

So, Father, we pray for those in our group who are in the midst of hurting times. There's Dave and Pam as they deal with the scourge of cancer. There's Jon and Lisa who right now find themselves in a hospital concerned for JJ. We ask that You would give them Your peace and Your healing. What they are dealing with is a part of Your plan.

And while we may not all be dealing with such crisis situations, we are all dealing with something. Help us to accept our roles as the means through which You reveal who You are - even as that calls us to deal with some really hard things.

Father, we look forward to the day when all of this suffering will be over. That method of revealing who You are will no longer be necessary. Help us to endure to that day when it will only be bliss. And when we get there, seeing the wisdom of how You used our struggles to bring about so much good, we will praise You, our wise and loving Father. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Prayer for the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation:

Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer

Friday, April 21, 2017

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God    
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4.32

Confession of Sin
Our Father, at times we find ourselves abrupt instead of kind, preoccupied and indifferent instead of tenderhearted, and even holding a grudge instead of being quick to forgive. In this we sin against You as well as against others. Please, be gracious and forgive us. We thank You for showing us our sin. We thank You for being so willing to forgive. We thank You for Jesus who makes all this real for us. Amen.

Declaration of Pardon
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.6-8 

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

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Power of His Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus is something to celebrate. But there is celebrating, and then there is celebrating. Offering a Big Mac meal to someone might result in a great celebration of your kindness or it might result in nothing more than an odd look. It all depends on the situation of the person receiving your gift. It will be received in one way by a homeless person who hasn’t eaten in a while but quite differently by someone who is just leaving a five‑star restaurant. To be able to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection well, we need to accurately understand our situation and what exactly it is that Jesus has offered us. So, to help you in this, before I talk about the resurrection, I’m going to spend a little time talking about evil.

Prayer for the Week

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy:

Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer