Wading in the Word: Open doors

As I was wading in the Word this morning, these verses from Colossians splashed me in the face:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Colossians 4:2‭-‬4 ESV

What got me wet this morning was Paul’s request to pray for him; that God may open doors for the Word. We pray with our children every night and go down the “list” of people in our lives. We thank God for our many blessings. We recount our day. We praise Him. But one thing I have not done was pray for God to open a door for the Word as we go about our days. Paul was in prison and had a captive audience (so to speak); the guards who were guarding him. But why not us? We encounter people nearly everyday and thus, when we encounter them, there is an opportunity for the Word – whether they are a believer or not. Pray that God opens a door for the Word, but also pray for that holy nudge to walk through that door. Pray also for the faith and courage to share the Word, but all the while, giving glory to God.

Holy God, open doors for me this day to share Your Word of life. Give me that nudge to walk through and the words to say in that moment. To You be all glory, honor, praise and worship, through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

Pass the Salt

Salt

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. [Colossians 4:5-6]

Speaking with “outsiders” about matters of faith can be a frustrating thing; especially when they don’t seem to get it. We talk about what we believe and then get attacked. One then gets defensive and fiery attacks continue. And before you know it, it’s a volley of barbs being thrown back and forth; causing more damage. This may continue indefinitely or you just give up and commend the outsider to be an outsider forever.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul tells the Church to “Walk in wisdom towards outsiders…” meaning, seek the wisdom of God when you are speaking to and living among outsiders. The temptation is to use cleverly worded arguments but that does not work if they are not Spirit lead; if they are not “salted”. When we walk in our own wisdom we get caught up in our own agenda and timing. We want the outsider to come around to our way of thinking and right now; not realizing that our way of thinking may not be God’s way of thinking. And when our agenda does not happen as we want and when, we get frustrated, and therefore what really get’s accomplished?

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

because the time is not yours but God’s. We don’t see the whole picture. We don’t understand God’s plan. It may not be the outsider that God is after but maybe you. Maybe it is not about making the outsider an insider but rather drawing you closer to God in order to help you see what your role is with outsiders. All very confusing and maybe a little time consuming, but remember, the time is not your’s but rather God’s. So make good use of what God gives you and trust Him.

And Let your speech always be gracious

because you know the saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than can with vinegar.” Getting defensive and argumentative with people about matters of faith is not going to win people over; but rather push them away. When things are getting heated with an outsider, stop and think what you are doing.
Is your speech gracious?
Is it giving God glory?
Or
Are you being selfish?
This is convicting for me when I think about past encounters with outsiders. So get out the honey and put away the vinegar.

So therefore let your speech be seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

knowing the answering of each person is something that comes from God. I am not smart enough to deal with outsiders but thankfully God is, so why not appeal to God in these matters? Why not let God, through the Holy Spirit, season your words? For the wisdom of God is greater and higher than anything man can come up with. That’s the side I want to be on.

So seek God’s wisdom;
continue in scripture;
let your light so shine,
and,
trust in God’s timing.

May God be glorified as you speak to and live among outsiders.

Holy Father, please pass the salt so that my words may be seasoned with wisdom and power that can only come from you; that the outsider may come to give you praise and glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Worship prayers for 04/26/15 (Belonging to Christ)

I offer these prayers to you for the glory of God; prayers written/compiled for worship on Sunday. A common thread running through many of these prayers is the theme of “belonging to Christ”. The sermon text is Mark 9:38-41 with the focus verse: [41] For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. 

May God be glorified in our worship.

Opening prayer [the italicized portion are the words of Charles Spurgeon]
“Hallowed be Thy Name.” Oh that all the earth would ever reverence it. As for ourselves, enable us by Thy grace to use it with awe and trembling; and may a consideration of the glorious character which is intended by Thy gracious name, ever lay us in the very dust before Thee, and yet lift us up with holy joy and with an unwavering confidence. We come before Thee this morning through Christ Jesus to express our entire confidence in Thee. Oh God, may our songs and praises be pleasing to your ears as we come before You in humble obedience. All praise and worship to you, holy Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Prayer before the sermon
Holy Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, for You are worthy, oh God. May we be found faithful and obedient to Your Word and to Your commands. So please send Your Holy Spirit to give life to the words that I speak here this morning; that they may create and/or nourish faith. May the ears of those listening be turned away from me and directed towards You. May any praise that comes from the lips of those listening be directed towards You and not towards me. And therefore may all praise and glory and honor and worship be to You, holy Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Prayer after the sermon
Once again, holy Father, I ask that Your Holy Spirit may take the words I have spoken here and use them for Your glory. May those hearing these words this morning see their lives as belonging to Jesus, for without Jesus there is no life. It’s a hard thing to be submissive like this; to turn everything over to Jesus; including our very lives, but it’s our very lives You came to redeem from sin and death and the power of Satan. So send us forth as beloved children belonging to You through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Offering prayer
We offer these gifts this morning as an act of faith and worship; remembering that all that we have belongs to You. Be pleased to use them for Your glory and multiply these gifts as You see fit to advance Your kingdom. Through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom we belong, Amen.

Benediction/Blessing [based on Colossians 1:11-14]
May you be strengthened with all power, according to HIS glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. For He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. So go and make disciples; proclaiming this Good News, as people belonging to Jesus. Amen.

May the joy of the Lord give you hope and peace this day and always.

The Pastor -|—

Richly (Colossians 3:16)

image

Let the Word of God dwell in you,

RICHLY

not poorly
not so-so
not half-heartedly
but,

RICHLY

Let the Word of God be abundant in you.
Let the Word of God be of utmost value to you.
Let the Word of God be something you would die for.
Let the Word of God dwell in you,

RICHLY

For if the Word of God is not richly in you then it will be of no value to you when teaching and admonishing others. You will not take it seriously and you won’t handle it with respect. If the Word of God is poor in you or just something that gets a passing notice in you, then there will be no incentive to use it and go to it and proclaim it in such a way that God is glorified. If the Word of God dwells half-heartedly in you then you will only be interested in finding glory for yourself.

But when the Word of God is rich in you then others are built up in the wisdom of God, and not put down in your superiority. And when the Word of God is rich in you then praise and worship comes flowing out of you in thanksgiving to the King of all creation.

And how does the Word of God dwell in your richly, by submitting to God through prayer and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to you. It dwells in you richly through faithful and humble study. It dwells in your richly through constant communion with it.

Let the Word of God dwell in you,

RICHLY

to the praise and glory of God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Holy Father, may your Word dwell in me richly and may it be of utmost value to me as it is Your holy word. May I not use it for my own gain but use it for training in righteousness and leading others to You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Pure and holy ways

Holy God…

You are an awesome, amazing, powerful, compassionate God. You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords. You put all other gods and other ways to shame.

You demand holiness for you are holy.
You demand righteousness for you are righteous.
You demand perfection for you are perfect.

And if that were not enough, the prophet Isaiah says:
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. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

Holy God, this is awesome and somewhat scary, and how can I attain to this?
How can I be holy as you are holy since I am so sinful?
How can I keep my way pure since I walk in other ways?
How can I keep my mind and eyes and thoughts on the things that are above since I am so easily distracted by the worries of this world?

By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9 ESV)

Help me to run to your Word.
Open my heart to hear.
Open my eyes to see.

May I find joy in your Word and may I see your holiness in your Word.
May you guard my ways and protect me from Satan’s power.
May I find joy in your presence.

May I always seek you that I may strive to be holy as you are holy.

Holy God…I thank you and praise your holy name.

Amen!

 

The Pastor -|—

Priesthood of all believers

The priesthood of all believers is one of the basic tenants of the Lutheran faith; that we are all ministers; all preachers of the Word of God.  Some people just happen to be called and set apart for this ministry, but it doesn’t mean it is reserved for the clergy alone.

A week or so ago my wife started writing and emailing devotions to her co-workers (and I managed to get on her email list as well…surprise, surprise).  She has been more faithful in writing than I have been at blogging recently (I hope she keeps it up).  Each night she spends about an hour or so in devotions; searching scripture and writing what God places on her heart.  Her devotions are thought provoking and definitely come from God (I keep telling her she need to write a blog, but so far no luck).  Each morning I sign on to my email and there is her devotion for the morning…and she ministers to me.  She says that every once in a while a co-worker will tell her how thankful they are that she does this…but don’t worry…she never let’s those comments go to her head.  She feels so unworthy to be doing this but at the same time she feels that God is placing these devotions on her heart to share.

For me, Connie epitomizes the “priesthood of all believers”.  She saw an opportunity to share Christ at work and she is taking it.  She doesn’t do it for her glory but for Gods.  Allow me to share an excerpt from her devotions for this morning (I do have her permission to share this) that speaks to this very thing…being a minister where ever we are at:

Colossians 3:16-17
“16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Here again we are commanded to be thankful and give thanks to God.   Do you ever think about your job being an extension of the Lord Jesus?  He just told us it is in this verse.  You are showing Christ when you answer the phone, do some filing, deal with a difficult person, go to a meeting, or go out on a visit.  I remind myself constantly throughout the day that whomever I am dealing with is a child of God.  He created this person and I need to love them, no matter how difficult.  I am thankful for people who have differing personalities because if everyone was like me, we would have way too much chaos in this world!  With Thanksgiving coming tomorrow, I want you to know that my thanks to God include my job and my co-workers.  I feel blessed to be able to share these devotions with you and know we are all focused on the same God everyday.

I am thankful for ministers such as Connie.  We all need to epitomize the phrase “the priesthood of all believers”.  It can’t simply be left up to the clergy.  Look for opportunities to talk about Christ.  Whether it is through an email devotion like Connie is doing or whether it is through how you respond to a “difficult person”.  Each and every person can be a minister/preacher in a variety and a number of ways.  Don’t miss your opportunity.  But what ever you do, do it all for the glory of God; giving thanks and praise to Him.

-edh-