Merry Advent everyone! That’s right, Advent is here but better yet, Jesus is coming. No, not some earthly birthday party where presents are exchanged in celebration, but rather our King is coming – here – soon – to bring his Church home.
That’s the joy in my heart.
That’s the excitement in my soul.
That’s the longing of my heart – my hope.
So join me in worship as we sing praises to God our Father through Christ Jesus the Lord.
Father in heaven, it is fitting and natural to sing Your praises at all times and in all places as joy overflows from our hearts. You sent Jesus to be born in our likeness – to take on our frail form and then to suffer and die, only to shatter the fetters of death that we may be free. And now we anxiously await Jesus – this time to gather his church for an all-out banquet feast as we engage in uninhibited worship of You, oh God, with all the saints. And so, we prepare our hearts to receive our King as we join with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing our joy-filled refrains of praise to You.
I read a story this morning about a church for whom my heart aches. I hate to see them going astray and so I penned (as it were) this prayer that I plan to use in worship this morning. To God be the glory!
Holy God, I don’t claim to be perfect, but there are many straying from the truth – ones who once held to the truth but now have been seduced away. They have gone the way of the world in search of calmer and more peaceful waters. They search and search, drifting further and further away. They water down Your Word to make it more palatable. And worse yet, they think they are being faithful. Oh, my God and King, my heart aches for them. Their only hope is a supernatural breakthrough by Your Holy Spirit. And so, I boldly ask that You may steer them back on course. Send now Your Holy Spirit – not for the sake of unity but for the sake of Your glory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Raise up faithful leaders in these apostate churches, oh God. Show them the Truth. Forgive them. Redeem them – as you have redeemed me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Another benediction that I plan to debut on Sunday…
As a pillar of cloud and fire led the Israelites by day and night through the wilderness without fail, may the Holy Spirit guide and bless you in through your wilderness. As their resources and strength never failed know that God will never fail you. As God fought for them, know that God fights for you. As God brought them into the Promised Land, know that through faith in Jesus Christ, you will enter His Promised Kingdom. As God remained faithful to them, Go in peace knowing God will always be faithful to you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
At the end of our morning worship, I typically offer the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. It is one I have heard and known for as long as I can remember – and it is beautiful, because, well, it’s the Word of God.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
I have heard other benedictions that I have liked. I have even made some up on the fly when my brain seemingly stopped working and I forgot Numbers 6. Whatever the case, my goal is to bless the people into the mission field as they glorify God.
The following benediction is something I wrote for worship this morning. It is nothing fancy, just something in which I want to bless my congregation and you. To God be the glory!
May you know the love of God that embraces;
the grace of God that frees;
the mercy of God that heals;
the peace of God that comforts;
the power of God that strengthens;
and the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ that brings you home.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Here we are – Sunday morning – preparing to travel to a location to engage in corporate worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Why? Because God is so freak’in awesome that if you are not worshiping then something is seriously wrong. Jesus died on a cross for the forgiveness of your sins and rose from the grave that you may live forever in eternal joy with him. How can one not worship this God? How can one be ambivalent? Our Creator God is not distant but close, loving and intimate as a father to a child. Our Creator God is not too busy for you but knows every hair on your head – He’s given them each a unique name. Our Creator God reigns on high but lives in your heart.
Worship? Of course.
And so, what are you waiting for?
[The following is part of the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote for worship this morning. To God be the glory, always and forever.]
Yes, God, it is right and our joy to give thanks and praise to You, at all times and in all places. It is our joy for through Jesus Christ You gave us Your Spirit that we may know the truth of the Gospel – the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls through faith in Jesus Christ. You redeemed us though we are sinful. You saved us because we cannot save ourselves. You love us because, well, You are love. Oh God, our praise and worship is so inadequate in compassion to what You deserve. Our self-conceived works fall oh so short. May we just let go and let the works you have prepared beforehand manifest themselves through us that You are rightly glorified. And so, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise…
On this Reformation Sunday, I give thanks to God for raising up Martin Luther and the other Reformers to show us the truth of the Gospel – that we are not saved by/through works of the Law, but apart from the Law through the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are saved by Faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone as revealed in the Word alone all to the glory of God alone. And so let pray together and sign God’s unending praise.
It is indeed right and our pleasure to give thanks and praise to You, oh God, our Creator and Redeemer. We are sinful creatures who only want to glorify ourselves – looking out for number one – but through the Law You have convicted us and showed us how we fall short. But through Jesus, You saved us through his death and resurrection. And now, through faith in him, You have given us hope. How can one not be excited about this? How can one not rise up and praise You? How can one not live out loud, proclaiming Your glory through word and deed? And so we do just that by joining with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…
Sunday, October 27 is Reformation Sunday. This is a day when we recognize a world-changing movement that God orchestrated through a group of ordinary and sinful men – most notably Martin Luther. Five hundred years later, many continue this “movement” which is nothing more than faithfulness to the Word of God. I pray every day that I remain faithful and stay true to the Word – not striving to tickle itching ears with a false gospel. This world needs scripture faithfulness in the midst of a plethora of false prophets. May I never be tempted to join the crowd.
So, God willing and through His Holy Spirit, I will continue in the footsteps of those first Reformers. The following is a prayer that I wrote that we will use as the Prayer of the Day on Reformation Sunday. May I always be faithful. To God be the glory. Amen.
Holy God, You have saved us by Your grace through our faith in Jesus Christ. Keep us steadfast in Your Word that we would live to Your glory. May we not be content with the status quo but, using the example of the Reformers, may we live out loud in the freedom that we have through the Gospel and stand strong in the mighty fortress that is You. To You be the glory, through Christ Jesus our Lord in union with the Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.