Empower Me

Empower me,
oh God,
to live a life worthy of the Gospel.
Where there is hurt, use me to provide comfort.
Where there is conflict, use me to bring reconciliation.
Where there is hatred, use me to show love.
Where there is a need, use me to bless.
Holy God,
Creator and Redeemer,
may Your grace and lover spur me to stay in the game;
not becoming complacent,
and may I have the tenacity to never stop living for You.
All glory be unto You,
Oh God,
through Christ Jesus my Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Begin…

Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Holy God,
as I begin this day,
I am feeling the weight of demands and expectations.
I am feeling the prodding of Satan’s attacks.
I am feeling the weariness of the battle.
All of which work against that which You call me to do;
to shine the light of Your love.
Oh God,
May my eyes be fixed on the founder and perfecter of my faith, Jesus Christ.
May his strength alleviate the weight of demands and expectations.
May Your armor shield me from Satan’s prodding jabs.
May Your promises revive my weary soul.
May I continue to “run the race”;
following the example of the witnesses before me
and with my eyes firmly fixed on my Lord and Savior.
And so,
I begin may day,
ready to run.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Partnership in the Gospel

[Prayer of the Day for Sun, Sept 16, 2018, based on the preaching text from Phil. 1:3-11]

Holy God,
Through Your grace
You have called us to salvation
through faith in Jesus Christ.
Through Your Holy Spirit
You empower us to serve in Your kingdom.
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ,
You knit us together as a holy Church.
May we, together, work to advance the Gospel;
lifting one another up
and bearing one another’s burdens.
To You be the glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|–

Treasure

He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
Hebrews 11:26 ESV

Dear Christian, what has greater worth to you? The treasures of this world or Jesus? The rewards that worldly treasures offer are nothing more than short-term pleasures that will quickly burn out if you don’t work hard to keep the flame stoked. As anyone knows, a fire only burns as long as it has fuel. You can’t start a campfire and then watch it burn without end. You have to keep throwing logs on the fire. You have to expand energy to ensure the flame does not go out. You might have to go out before hand to cut wood and prepare it for the fire, but for what? The fire consumes your work and then you have nothing to show for it. What have you then gained for your work? It’s a wasteful work that gives pleasure for a short period of time. As the author of Ecclesiastes said, it is vanity, a chasing after the wind.

Now, oh Christian, contrast that with Jesus and the reward that only he gives. It is a fire that does not go out. The work beforehand to prepare is Jesus’ work. The stoking of the fire? Not needed for the joy of the Lord is unending; it never burns out or diminishes in the least. But people want what they can see now and not what is promised later. They want immediate satisfaction. They are too impatient and thus willing to foolishly sacrifice eternity. Moses had it all; living in Pharaoh’s household, but he gave it all up for the sake of God.

Dear Christian, what is promised later is of infinitely more value than anything that can be created here. Look to the reward; eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Bear his reproach now as a follower and disciple; keeping your eyes firmly fixed on the reward already prepared for you. Be sustained by Him and enjoy a treasure that is forever more.

The Pastor -|—

Following or Leading?

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” [Psalms 16:8]

Are you following the Lord Jesus or are you trying to lead him? Sounds like a silly question, but don’t laugh to much (or loud). For you see, many try to lead Jesus. They want him to conform to their way of living. Is that you, oh sinner? Do you want Jesus to conform to your way of living? Oh sinner, this is not the way. This way of living will never work for in this way you WILL be shaken.

Set the Lord ALWAYS before you…

…but don’t just fall in behind Jesus out of coercion or duty or fear or to try to get what you want out of him. No, don’t do that. Confess your sins. Receive his forgiveness. And SET Jesus always before you for he IS the Lord; he IS the Savior; he HAS overcome the world…FOR YOU. Fix your eyes on him. Gaze at his beauty. Obey his every command. Walk in his every step. Receive from him and worship him. For when you set the Lord ALWAYS before you, you shall NEVER be shaken.

The way that the Lord traverses many not be the way you would go, but it’s the best way. It may not be the easy way, but it is the glorious way. It many be the scariest way, but remember, oh sinner, you will never be shaken. Don’t try to lead Jesus. Don’t try to set the agenda. Don’t tell Jesus how you should live. Receive from him and follow. Set him ALWAYS before you. That is, if you don’t want to be shaken.

The Pastor -|—

You Ways and Your Thoughts

Holy God,
the prophet Isaiah records Your words,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Those words can be frustrating to sinners
who want what we want,
but I also take great comfort
that when everything seems out of control
and doesn’t make sense,
You really are in control.
And so, I come before You this morning in faith.
My life is in Your hands.
I don’t understand many things,
(and forgive me when I claim I do),
but You are God and thus I trust in You.
Mold me and shape me.
Renew me and remake me.
Guide me and lead me.
Transform me so that
my thoughts become Your thoughts,
and You ways become my ways.
I pray this through my Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Light in the World

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
[Philippians 2:14–15 (ESV)]

It seems to me that many in the Church need to take these words of Paul to heart. Too Christians spend way too much time fighting and complaining about the stupidest things or whining and complaining about this and that politician. They do this all the while as this “crooked and twisted” generation is watching and thinking, “why do I need to listen to them?“. Or worse yet, this “crooked and twisted” generation doesn’t even notice the Church because it looks like everything/one else. What would it look like, though, if the Church kept the main thing the main thing and actually were “lights in the world“; proclaiming the Gospel and working out their faith with fear and trembling. What if the Church was actually holy; set apart, different from the world? What if the Church actually sought transformation through the Gospel instead of conforming to the world around them.

Hey there, Church, if you are trying to advance the Kingdom of God, stop trying to look and act like the world. Stop trying to please the world by conforming to them. Be a light in the world; lights among a crooked and twisted generation. Remember whose you are and live a life worthy of the Gospel. It’s time to grow up, Church, and be who you are suppose to be.

Rant done…now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

The Pastor -|—