Opening Prayer ~ Performing for God

A prayer in preparation for worship. The part in bold type are the words of Charles Spurgeon. May God be praised and glorified in your worship this morning.

The Pastor -|—

“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 our Lord
to express our entire confidence in You.
We come before you in humble submission
to express our obedience to You.
We come before you in joy to express our thanks to You
for the life we have in Jesus.
So receive our worship
as our holy performance for You;
may you be pleased
and may we be filled with Your Spirit.
In Jesus name I pray,

Chasten Us, oh Lord

A prayer excerpt, from Charles Spurgeon, that I read this afternoon. His prayers challenge me and help me go deeper in my relationship with Christ. And so I share this with you in hopes that you too will continue to search out your relationship with God in Jesus and go deeper and deeper with him.

Lord, we ask that Thy Word may chasten us whenever we go astray,
may it enlighten us
whenever for a moment
we get into darkness.
May Thy Word be the supreme ruler of our being.
May we give ourselves up to its sacred law
to be obedient to its every hint,
wishing in all things, even in the least things,
to do the will of God from the heart
and having every thought
brought into captivity to the mind of the Spirit of God.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. [Psalm 119:9]

The Pastor -|—

The First Love

God bless you as you prepare to worship tomorrow. May you enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise.

My preaching text for Sunday, July 19 is Mark 11:15-19; Jesus cleansing the temple. The sermon focus deals with Church returning/keeping focus on it’s “first love” (Revelation 2, the letter to the Church in Ephesus).

May you, too, remember and keep your eyes focused on your first love, Jesus Christ.

Opening Prayer
Father God, our faith in Jesus Christ leads us to worship You, for it is our joy to lift our praises to You. You sent Your son to save a rebellious bride, the Church, and to sanctify her; washing her clean through the blood of the Lamb.
Oh God, we praise Thee and worship Thee.
Oh God, we thank Thee and adore Thee.
Oh God, we come before Thee, humbled and thankful.
Receive our worship and send Your Spirit. Fill our hearts with praise and may we spill that praise throughout our lives. It’s in Jesus most holy and awesome name we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching [the words of Charles Spurgeon in bold]
Holy Father, do not let any of us lose our first love. Let not our church grow cold and dead. We are not, we fear, what once we were. Lord revive us! All our help must come from Thee. Give back to the church its love, its confidence, its holy daring, its consecration, its holiness. Give back all it ever had and give it much more. Take every member and wash their feet, Sweet Lord, most tenderly, and set us with clean feet on a clean road, with a clean heart to guide us, and do Thou bless us unto your glory. And so, Lord God, I ask that Your Holy Spirit may guide my Words that we may hear Good News and receive encouragement and faith to be Your hands and feet. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Prayer following the Sermon
Holy God, may we not be founding lacking. May we not be found clinging to other loves in this world, but may we be found clinging to our first love, Jesus Christ. Strengthen our faith through Your Holy Spirit; revealing to us, over and over, the truth of the Gospel and the hope of the resurrection. It’s in Jesus’ name that I pray, Amen.

Offering Prayer
Receive these gifts here this morning, oh God, as an expression of our thanks and worship. Though our offerings don’t even come close to what You have done for us, may this offering be multiplied according to Your wisdom and will for the advancement of Your most glorious Kingdom. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Our First Love

I commend these words of Scripture to you and the following prayer:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
[Revelation 2:1-5]

Lord visit our church. We have heard Thy message to the churches at Ephesus (see text above); it is a message to us also. Oh! do not let any of us lose our first love. Let not our church grow cold and dead. We are not, we fear, what once we were. Lord revive us! All our help must come from Thee. Give back to the church its love, its confidence, its holy daring, its consecration, its liberality, its holiness. Give back all it ever had and give it much more. Take every member and wash his feet, Sweet Lord, most tenderly, and set us with clean feet in a clean road, with a clean heart to guide them, and do Thou bless us unto your glory. [Charles Spurgeon]

I read this prayer and then went to re-familiarize myself with the letter to the Church in Ephesus in Revelation 2 and I was struck by the words: you have abandoned the love you had at first. And I can’t help but wonder if this is still the message to the Church today.

Have we abandoned our “first love”?
Have we grown weary of bearing up the name of the Lord?
Have we lost patience in the midst of persecution?
Do we toil for the Gospel?
Do we test the spirits and those who say they preach in the name of Jesus?

Have we abandoned the love we had at first in order to cling to this world?

I read these words of Scripture over and over again and then went back to the prayer of Charles Spurgeon and found myself praying for the Church; pleading to God on behalf of the Church; appealing to God to send His Spirit. I found myself praying for
Gospel boldness,
a renewed sense of passion for Jesus,
courage and strength to resist the tides of change,
faith to be transformed and not to conform.

I found myself wondering why God has put up with the Church so long; why not just dump us. Then I was quickly reminded that Jesus, the bridegroom, will never ever leave his bride, the Church. Jesus died and rose that we may be made holy and sanctified and Jesus is not going to quit until the job is finished. In the mean time there is much to be done.

For you?

Pray for the Church (which includes you). Pray that we return to our first love (Jesus) and proclaim this Good New to a shifting culture. Pray for the Spirit to revive His people and pray for the Spirit to raise up passionate, God-fearing, Jesus-loving disciples. Pray for this nation. Pray for leaders. Pray for peace.

There is indeed much to do. There are many who need THE Good News of Jesus Christ. And there is no time to waste, so let’s get started and…

Let’s pray…

The Pastor -|—

Confession/Absolution ~ Hate Evil

The beauty of Charles Spurgeon’s faith, as expressed in his words, is something that never ceases to touch my heart and lead me deeper into God’s arms. I have enjoyed reading his sermons and taking a peak at his heart through some devotional reading.

This morning’s devotion was titled, Ye that love the Lord hate evil. Beautiful words that talk about the ugliness of sin in our lives and therefore the admonition to flee from it and hate it. So I took  some of these words (the ones italicized) and wrote a Confession/Absolution litany for worship this morning. Below is the product of the Spirit’s inspiration this morning. Feel free to use this as you will for the glory of God.

In the words of Charles Spurgeon ~ Thou hast good reason to “hate evil,” for only consider what harm it has already wrought thee. Oh, what a world of mischief sin has brought into thy heart! Sin blinded thee so that thou couldst not see the beauty of the Saviour; it made thee deaf so that thou couldst not hear the Redeemer’s tender invitations. Sin turned thy feet into the way of death, and poured poison into the very fountain of thy being; it tainted thy heart, and made it “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”

My friends, forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel, but to get there we first must admit and confess our sinfulness. Nothing is hidden from God so don’t even try, for we are indeed wicked. But also don’t be afraid but rather boldly go to our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus; confessing Your sins.

[Silent prayer and confession]

Holy God, the ugliness of sin draws us away from You. It stains our souls and causes us to run to that which is evil. But in the name of Jesus Christ we run to You with our confessions; seeking to be washed in the blood of the lamb. Make us whole again that our eyes may see Your awesome beauty. It’s in the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior I pray, Amen.

Jesus Christ was given to die for you that your sins would be forgiven. So as a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore boldly and confidently announce to you the complete forgiveness of all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. So, Therefore “hate evil,” O Christians, unless you desire trouble. If you would strew your path with thorns, and plant nettles in your death-pillow, then neglect to “hate evil:” but if you would live a happy life, and die a peaceful death, then walk in all the ways of holiness, hating evil, even unto the end. If you truly love your Saviour, and would honour him, then “hate evil.” We know of no cure for the love of evil in a Christian like abundant communion with the Lord Jesus. Dwell much with him, and it is impossible for you to be at peace with sin.

May God bless your day as you live as forgiven sinners.

All praise be to God!

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 -|—

Prayers of a child-like faith

I have been reading a Charles Spurgeon selection titled, The Pastor in Prayer. It is a beautiful selection of prayers that this great 19 century pastor prayed during worship. Some of them long and deep; some of them short and poetic; but all of them straight from the heart of a pastor. Many of them I have had to read and re-read because of his depth of language but also because of the beauty of the soul that is being revealed.

And as I read these prayers, part of me felt guilty about my own prayer life. Mine in comparison seems so shallow and I wonder if I am doing something wrong or holding back in some way. Maybe I need to be more deliberate and write something more fancy and articulate for worship.

But then 22 children convicted me…

These past two weeks, we have been talking about prayer in release time (3rd, 4th and 5th graders). We discussed what prayer is and why we get to do such a wondering thing. I then asked the kids to work on some prayers that I would use in worship on Feb 8. They all seemed really excited that I would use their prayers and they joyfully got to work.

But part of me was nervous about what I would get. Would I have to re-word some prayers for worship?

Not even close.

I read these prayers this morning and compiled them into a series of petitions. I found that the kids had similar concerns on their minds and hearts. But I also found that their child-like faith was anything but childish. They spoke with a depth that came from their heart. And through these prayers I realized that it is not about the structure of sentences employed in a prayer but where the prayers come from.

I pray for those who do not believe in God.

Dear God, please help people who have deadly sicknesses like cancer and Ebola.

Please give us strength, purity and faith.

Thank you for our family and friends and let them know that you love them.

There is nothing wrong with those prayers and it will be my joy and honor to lift these prayers, on behalf of these kids and the rest of the congregation, to God.

So I will continue to read Charles Spurgeon’s prayers in order to challenge me to probe deeper into my faith. I will also seek to nourish a child-like faith that is open and honest with God and doesn’t hold anything back.

What a joy it is to come before the Creator and speak to him as a child does with their Father.

Thank you, dear Lord, for hearing my prayers. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Prayer of revival

We ask Thee, O God, at this time to revive religion in our land. Oh that Thou wouldst be pleased to speak by the Holy Ghost that the gospel’s power may be known: there be many that run away from the truth; Lord, hold us fast to it, bind us to it. May there be a people found in this place, and throughout this land, that will abide by the doctrines of the gospel, come what may.
[The Pastor in Prayer by Charles Spurgeon]

Would you please pray this prayer (or some version of it) for, there be many that run away from the truth. Then as you pray this prayer, be the answer. Don’t just pray and wait for someone else to answer this (as many are so tempted to do),  but be the instrument that God uses to bring the Gospel to those who run away.

I see way too many people comfortably sitting in church pews:
waiting for the answer
waiting for God to do something
waiting for God to bring people through the doors
waiting for God to change lives.
Oh Christian, that is not the way God works. God works through you to bring revival.

And so I pray that there may be people found who will stand up and go. May there be people found who care about the lost. May there be people found who see this land running away from the truth. May there be people found who are grieved by this state of affairs. And may there be people found who are going.

Hold fast to the Gospel of truth, Oh Christian, and be a bold witness of the hope of the resurrection through Jesus Christ our Lord. And God willing, may there be a revival in this land to the glory of God.

The Pastor -|—