Lord’s Day Praise and Supplication

Almighty Father,

Your children are here before you this morning.

Some of us are rejoicing. We’re coming off of weeks that have seen good success in our work, or blessing in our finances, or happiness in our relationships.

But some of us are hurting. We haven’t had success in our work, our finances are near collapse, and our relationships with our children or spouse is a mess.

Father, as well, some of us are grieving. Our hearts still hurt so badly over the loss of a loved one that we don’t know how we’re going to make it into the next hour.

But we’re here Lord – here before you – here crying out to you in our joy or in our pain – because you are the only source of blessing, and you are the only source of help and hope.

Father, thank you for Jesus.  He revealed you to us.  He died to ransom us from bondage and slavery to sin.  His resurrection from the grave gives us our hope of salvation – both now and for eternity – and hope that the pain of today will one day give way to eternal and endless joy.

We thank you, too, for the gift of your Holy Spirit to teach us all that we need to know about you – to equip us to love and worship and serve you – and to sustain and strengthen us when our faith grows weak and almost fails.

Father, the heavens above and the earth below shout the glory of your wonderful works.
There is no place on earth where the language of creation does not give you praise, so that only those who have hardened their hearts will refuse to believe this evidence and turn their hearts away from you.

Thank you for the wonderful rain and the glory of the thunder that you sent to us yesterday.

Thank you for the gift of music – this great and mysterious means by which we express our hearts to you, and which also inspires and encourages us to know and love and serve you more.

Thank you for the songs of the birds this spring – reminding us that as you provide for them, you will also provide for our every need.

Thank you for the beauty of leaves and flowers – of fruit on trees and vegetables coming up from the ground – reminding us that resurrection life is a reality – that you raise what is dead and dormant to life and abundance.

Thank you for a night of restful sleep, renewing the strength in our bodies to wake up this morning, and to go about our tasks each day.

Thank you for the provision you have made for food and clothing and shelter.
You have blessed us abundantly, and in our abundance, we pray for our brothers and sisters around us – and around the world – who have needs that have yet to be met.
Open our hearts, Father, and let us be your hands and feet in serving and providing for our brothers and sisters.

We thank you as well, loving Lord, for minds that can think and choose and worship and pray.  We thank you for the gift of conscience that is used by the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and lead us into righteous living.

We ask that you keep our fears and trials and worldly concerns from distracting us from our calling to be your witnesses – your ambassadors – your “missionaries” in our personal mission fields.

Help us to represent you well – to be faithful witnesses to your grace and mercy and love and power – to faithfully reflect the image of your glory that you have placed within us by your Spirit.

And may we represent you well.  May others get a true picture of who you are and what you are like by the love and unity that they see among us.

Open our hearts to love and worship and receive you afresh this day.  Shine the light of your presence on us and illumine our minds.  Strengthen and empower us through our worship together today so that we might lift high the name of Jesus Christ in all we do and say.

And it is for his glory that we offer this prayer.

Amen!

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A Resurrection Day Prayer for the Church

Our Father and our God –

Today we celebrate the most powerful act that has ever happened – the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from death.

We serve a risen Savior!  He’s in the world today!
We know that he is living no matter what others say!

Worship is rising from every nation and language and culture and style around the world – from diverse peoples who are all created in your image – celebrating the truth of your resurrection especially on this day.

The church of the Living God – the Body of Christ – the Kingdom of God – is growing and expanding by the power of your resurrection and the presence of your Holy Spirit.

But we have not been – and are not – a faithful people.  We have a great need to repent of sin and be revived in our spiritual life.

We know that genuine repentance needs to spread through your church and demolish strongholds of sin in our lives – tear down idols in our lives – bring new life / revival to your church.

We know that our love for you has grown cold, and that we need to grow in love for you.  We want love for you to consume us.

We know that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to flood your church – fill us to overflowing – flow through us to a needy world

On this glorious Resurrection day, we pray for your church – and for the spread of the Gospel around the world.

On this glorious Resurrection day, the message our risen Lord is tainted by false teaching and hypocritical living.  The Gospel – the “good news” – of our Lord Jesus Christ is compromised by heresies.

Some are being deceived by a false gospel that following you guarantees financial wealth and an easy life.

Some are being deceived by a false gospel of good works earning them a place in Heaven.

Some even go so far as to say that confession and repentance of sin – and a life of growing faithfulness – is unnecessary.

Some see no problem in thinking and living just like the world around us.

Perhaps this is because many people doubt the truthfulness of your Word – and even those who say they believe it spend so little time reading it and letting it change their lives.

And sadly, so many are in worship gatherings today with unbelieving and uncommitted hearts – passive and indifferent to the truths we are celebrating today.

Loving Lord, forgive us for the insult on your name and grace that our sin brings.

Change our hearts, O Lord!
You are the Potter – we are just your clay . . .
Mold us and remake us, we pray!

May a new and powerful move of your Holy Spirit come upon us and make us a people of great faith who expect you to do great things.

May your Spirit give us an insatiable hunger for your Word – for the spiritual nourishment we need to grow into the people you have created us to be.

May this hunger for your word lead us to be true and genuine disciples who are growing in our new life and casting off our old lives.

May we stop at nothing less than total surrender to filling our place in answer to your call to advance your Kingdom around the world.

What a wonderful salvation we have!  Help us to truly grasp – and accept – and rejoice in – your amazing grace!  We celebrate today because our salvation is guaranteed by a wonderful cross and an empty tomb.

Man of sorrows!  What a name for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

And when you come as our glorious king – and all of your ransomed host you bring – and we receive new bodies fit for eternity with you – then anew this song we will sing:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Savior! 

Amen!

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Always Abounding

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

1 Corinthians 15 is Paul’s signature treatise on the doctrine of the resurrection – the resurrection of believers that is assured because of the resurrection of Jesus.  Some of the first Christians may have been inclined to be so focused on when Jesus would return that they neglected the important tasks of evangelism (sharing the good news of Jesus) and ministry (caring for the needs of those around them).  Others of the first Christians may have been discouraged because of the persecution they faced at the hands of the Jewish “establishment” and the Roman Empire.  To both groups Paul gave a strong word of both admonition and encouragement.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV).

God has assured believers of ultimate victory.  That is really what the resurrection is all about – victory over death and over the enslaving power of sin.  First was Christ’s resurrection.  His death on the cross was in our place and because of our sin.  When he was raised on the third day, death was “swallowed up in victory” (15:54).

To the Christians in Corinth who were fearful and discouraged, Paul’s word was to stand fast in the hope that comes from Jesus’ resurrection.  “Be steadfast, immovable . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:58).  There is nothing a persecutor can do which will be greater than the hope of eternal life that Christ gives.  “The Gospel therefore combats hopelessness and gives purpose to our daily endeavors.”[i]

To the Christians in Corinth who were so focused on Christ’s return that they were neglecting his command to “go and make disciples,” Paul’s word was to “keep on keeping on.”  Be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” because “in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Look within:

  • What causes our thinking to focus more on self than on helping others and sharing our faith in Jesus?
  • What do you think when you read “be steadfast, immovable . . .?”
  • How do you respond to Paul’s admonition to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord?”
[i] Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:58. ESV Gospel Transformation Bible, Copyright © 2013 by Crossway. All rights reserved.

This post comes from the book “Do All to the Glory of God” by L. O. (Rusty) Rabon, Jr. It is available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/lor1958

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April 17, 2019 · 9:42 PM

A Prayer Thanking God for Coming at Just the Right Time

Alleluia!  Alleluia! We praise you, Lord!

Blessed Savior, our Redeemer!
You are the Savior of the world, Lord Jesus!
You came to us at just the right time – when the course of world empires intersected the path of divine ancestry – it was just then that you were born a human baby!

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  We praise you, Lord!

King of kings, Lord of lords – the one to whom every knee will bow one day in humble, adoring worship.
You are the highest name of all –

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  We praise you, Lord![1]

Because you have come to us, Lord Jesus, now all is well – all is well.
We rejoice because in your coming darkness fell – darkness fell as the glorious light of the Son of God began to shine on earth.

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  We praise you, Lord!

And because you continue to come to us moment by moment through the Holy Spirit –Because you have promised your unfailing presence –
Because we experience your deep, deep love –
Because you daily cover us with amazing grace and mercy –
All is well – all is well.

No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.

There is no longer a barrier between us and you –
Peace has replaced adversity –
Peace has replaced animosity –
Peace between people is now possible –
Peace on earth, good will to men.

And now it is our turn –
We must pick up the mantle of the shepherds –
We must go and tell –
We must lift our voices and cry out –
“Christ has come!”
Hope is come – Life is given – deliverance from bondage is possible –
All through the one whose first cries came from a manger.[2]

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel

 Emmanuel, Emmanuel, His name is called Emmanuel . . .
God with us, revealed in us, His name is called Emmanuel

 We know you are with us –
Now may you truly be revealed in us –
And through us –
May the beauty of Jesus be seen by all who see us

Because you are worthy to receive all honor and praise –
You do all things well –
You have made all things well –

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  For this we praise and thank you, Lord Jesus!

Amen!

[1] A Christmas Alleluia. (C) 2015 sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records
[2] Michael W. Smith / Wayne Kirkpatrick – All Is Well lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group

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THE LIGHT OF LIFE

John 1:4-5 ESV
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

This day has brought a thousand burdened thoughts,
Of goals unmet and actions all for naught;
Of aspirations not to be achieved,
Of love’s embrace desired but not received.

The world is dark around with pain and fright,
Though midday, still it seems the dead of night;
Nurture not returned and love grows cold,
A sheep without a shepherd or a fold.

Is there a light that drives darkness away?
Can midnight in my soul be turned to day?
There is a Light that conquers all that’s wrong;
It’s in this light I seek to find a home.

True light is found despite our toil and tears,
True light will overcome all doubts and fears;
True light is Life that shows the way to live;
True Life is One who came His life to give.

My heart desires to live bathed in this light,
From which my inner turmoil will take flight;
So, to the place of solace I will go
Where beams of holy comfort can be known.

This comfort comes from lingering in prayer
And giving to the Light-source all my care;
The altar opens to the throne of God,
His Life gives light and lifts the way I trod.

So, what about those thousand thoughts of pain?
Can dwelling on them beget any gain?
No!  Dwell instead upon the holy Light,
To feel and know God’s love and grace and might.

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An Advent Prayer of Praise as a Child of God

With all the angels who filled the sky so long ago, we lift our voices, our Father, to proclaim your praise and say, “Glory to God in the highest heaven!”

You are worthy of praise because you are the everlasting Lord.

You are worthy of praise because you are the King that outlasts – and is far above – all earthly rulers and leaders.

You are worthy of praise because you do great and mighty things for our good and your glory.

Lord Jesus, you have taken on yourself the weight and shame of our lostness and sin and delivered us from it by your great grace.

You are worthy of praise because you give us life and all the good things that go with life.

  • Treasure – a treasure greater than the gifts of the wise men – Jesus, you are that great treasure to us.
  • Mercy – undeserved but without which we would be doomed – Oh God, we have life because of your mercy.
  • Peace – O how we thank you for peace – in the midst of our storms – no matter how desperate our circumstances – Jesus, you give us peace as you give us yourself.
  • Joy – joy that we have hope beyond the trials of this life – joy that comes in knowing the hard times here have meaning and purpose – Jesus, you are the giver of true joy.
  • Love – real, genuine, self-sacrificing, never-ending, love – not matter who we are or what we have done – O God, how we are amazed by your love.

You have given all who believe in you the privilege of being your children.

Born to raise the sons and daughters of earth
Born to give them second birth

We are children of God – yes, we are!
We are chosen and not forsaken
You are for us and not against us 

You have given us a true home – a place in your house – in your kingdom – so how can we not shout with a loud voice from a full heart –

  • “Let us adore Him!”
  • “He alone is worthy!”
  • “We’ll give you all the glory.”

Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world.  Thank you for receiving us as your children. 

Jesus, thank you for coming to be our Savior and help us know the truth about God.  Thank you for living the life we could not live and paying the debt we could not pay.

Spirit of God, thank you for helping us to know our Messiah Jesus, and to receive Him as our Savior and Lord and Treasure.

We celebrate this season because of you!

Amen!

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Feelings and Facts at Christmas

The Christmas season can be tough.  For many people, the sights, sounds, and aromas of Christmas can resurrect painful memories of heartache, disappointment, or loss.  The transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, or the “perfect” Christmas kiss at the end of a favorite Hallmark movie, may cause some hearts to flutter, but will bring tears of pain or guilt or deep sadness to others.

I’m one of those people for whom Christmas brings a mixture of emotions.  I have some great memories of Christmases past, especially of the Christmas music concerts of my church and high school and college choirs.  Before the “advent” of CDs and digital downloads, I always looked forward to pulling out the Christmas records (remember those?) and playing favorites from Bing and Frank and Dean and Burl.  During my years in radio, I loved it when we began playing all Christmas music right after Thanksgiving.  When my kids were small, I enjoyed taking them riding to see the lights around town, and still enjoy doing that with the grandkids.  Christmas can indeed be filled with joy.

But some of my most painful memories are also of Christmases past.  I remember a year when a family crisis stretched from Thanksgiving through Christmas into the new year.  While that was over 25 years ago, the memory still haunts me.  There is also the memory of a Christmas with a 4-year old and a 1-year old, and the only presents we could afford were the cheapest things available at K-Mart.  When my son brought a toy identical to one of those cheap ones (a plastic bowling set) on vacation a couple of years ago for his kids to play with, just the sight of it brought tears to my eyes – 30 years later.  Christmas can truly be filled with pain.

The pendulum of emotions swings widely this time of year.  What is a person to do if the inner response to all the joyful sounds of Christmas is a painful groan in the soul?  I don’t have a formula which will take away the pain, but I do have a suggestion that I think will help all of us work through it.  Let’s spend this Christmas season giving focused attention to the life truths that we learn at Christmas, especially in our moments of pain.

You see, Christmas teaches us that the God of the universe – the God who gave us the breath of life – loves us.  We may feel that no one really loves us, but the fact is that “. . . God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16 ESV).  Because of His great love for us, God the Son took on human flesh in order to take care of our greatest problem and greatest need – our sin.  We may feel that no one really loves us, and this season may create feelings of loneliness, but the fact of Christmas is that we are never alone, we are infinitely loved by God, and we celebrate Christmas as proof of that love.

Christmas teaches us that we don’t have to be good enough to earn or merit any blessing from God.  In fact, we can’t.  Sure, we’ve made some messes in our lives – some of us a complete mess.  But what matters to God is that Jesus’ life was perfect, and when we trust Jesus as our Savior, God credits His perfect life to us.  “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB).  We may feel condemned by others, but the fact of Christmas is that, in Christ, we are accepted as God’s children.  Christmas celebrates that God is on our side.

Finally, Christmas teaches us that God is never late and never forgets.  We read in Scripture that “. . . when the right time came, God sent His Son . . .” (Galatians 4:4 NLT).  Think of the long centuries that faithful Jews had looked and hoped for their Messiah to come.  God had promised, and God is never late.  He is right on time.  No matter how we feel, the fact is that God sovereignly controls His world, and whatever comes – or has come – or will come – into our lives comes to accomplish His good purposes for us.  The fact of Christmas is that in the fullness of time the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  And we can trust that, at just the right time, God will be right there with us – no matter where we are or what we are feeling.  At Christmas, we celebrate God with us!  Emmanuel!  Merry Christmas!

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