Turn Me Back

Father God,
I am ever mindful
that You are holy
and I am not.
I go our own way
and chase after other gods.
I am a sinful creature;
seeking my own glory.

Oh God,
heal my heart and turn me back to You,
in the name of Jesus,
for I am a miserable sinner.

And as I seek after You
may I always find a rich mercy
and an abundant grace
to fill my heart and heal my soul;
overflowing to Your glory.
May the joy of Your forgiveness ooze from my being
and infest the lives of others.

Through Jesus Christ I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

To Think of You

To think of You,
oh God,
is to be reminded of my sinful estate;
my fallen nature;
and my constant disobedience.

To think of You,
oh God,
is to run to You in confession;
to seek Your mercy;
and to fall at Your feet.

[Enter Jesus]

To think of You,
oh God,
is to hear forgiveness;
to know grace;
and to feel Your love.

To think of You,
oh God,
is to know peace in chaos;
hope in despair;
and tranquility in upheaval.

To think of You,
oh God,
is to know everything will be alright;
to be reminded that You are in control;
and to be filled with joy.

To think of You,
oh God,
is to know that I am Your child,
wrapped in Your arms,
and keep safe for all eternity.

To think of You…
🙂

The Pastor -|—

Worship for 08-02-15 ~ Amazing God

Good morning and a blessed Lord’s Day to you all. This morning the text for preaching is Mark 12:1-12 with an emphasis on verses 10-11:
Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” This is God’s Amazing Grace. The sermon will focus on these verses as I quote and use the 7 verses of “Amazing Grace”. And so the prayers have that theme.

For the Confession/Absolution I am using words from the hymn “Lord Jesus, Think on Me” from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book. For the Benediction I am using words from the hymn “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”. I like to connect things to hymns we are singing to help people think more about the words they are singing instead of just flying through them.

May God be praised in your worship and may the Word of the Lord dwell in you richly.

Opening Prayer
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound indeed, holy God, for it has saved a wretch like us. For we were once lost but now through faith in Jesus, we are found. We were once blind but now we see. And it is because of this amazing grace that we gather to worship you. We unleash the joy within us and pour it out as a fragrant offering to you. And as that sweet aroma rises to you, may you fill us with Your Holy Spirit; filling us more through adding joy unto joy. May we see and feel and know the presence of Your love and may our joy spill out for others to enjoy and know. To You be glory and honor as we lift our praises to You, holy God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

Confession and Absolution
All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.
All have sinned and failed to keep God’s commandments.
All have sinned and have hurt our neighbors.
All have sinned and have failed to honor God as He is worthy.
And so we gather together as a church to lift our prayers and confessions to God. Let us pray…

(ELW #599, “Lord Jesus, Think on Me”)
Lord Jesus, think on me, and purge away my sin; from selfish passions set me free and make me pure within.
Lord Jesus, think on me, by anxious thoughts oppressed; let me your loving servant be and taste Your promised rest.
Lord Jesus, think on me, nor let me go astray; through darkness and perplexity, point out your chosen way.
Lord Jesus, think on me, that when the flood is past; I may the eternal brightness see and share Your joy at last.
Lord Jesus hear our prayers and confessions…

[PAUSE]

Lord Jesus, You are awesome. You are love. You are grace. Through faith in you renew our strength and keep us on the narrow way.

In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us and for his sake God forgives us all our sins. So as a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ and by His authority, I therefore boldly and confidently announce the complete forgiveness of all your sins; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching
Amazing and awesome God, we have spilled out our joy through worship because of Your grace and now it is our pleasure to hear a word from You; for You have the words of eternal life. These are not mere words of man, spoken to make people feel better, but these are holy words spoken to create, build, maintain and/or strengthen faith. These words have power not because of me but because of Your Holy Spirit. These words are awesome, not because I formulated, crafted and organized these words but because they are inspired by You. So may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, amazing God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

Post-Communion Blessing
May the body and blood of Jesus Christ give you a greater appetite for him, a stronger desire to proclaim his life-saving love, and the boldness to speak into the darkness of this world. Let us pray…

Post-Communion Prayer
Loving Father, You have fed us with a holy food, Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Strengthen our faith and send us out to proclaim this life saving word through our words and deed, that people may run to glorify You. Through Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Benediction
Now may your tongues sing our great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of our amazing God and the triumphs of his grace. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

God, Help Us and Have Mercy

Holy and merciful God,

ALL of scripture is breathed out by You.
ALL of scripture is inspired by You.
ALL of scripture is authoritative.
ALL of scripture is useful for teaching and rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness.

ALL of scripture is life-giving and holy and blessed, but yet, as Your Church, we don’t run to and grasp Your holy Word as we should. We more often than not toss Your Word around as just a tagline or a sound bite or as an arrow to be fired off in an argument/debate. The awe of Your Word is more times than not, lost on us and thus we are lead to actions and thoughts and words that are anything but glorifying to You, oh God.

For this I confess on behalf of me and the Church, but only I can declare my intent to repent and receive Your Word as Your almighty, authoritative Word. My hope is that the Church would too, so I ask that Your Spirit may be sent into Your Church. Bring about repentance and a deep desire to speak Your Word of truth with passion and conviction and honesty and boldness; yet doing so out of love for ALL of our neighbors.

Oh God, have mercy.

May we flee judgmentalism
May we flee idolatry
May we flee hate
May we flee worldly passions
May we flee cultural acceptance

May we see the way of Jesus as our way; fearing nothing but You, oh God. And as curves and bumps and deadly ravines appear along the way, may we cling to Jesus.

We do not live in heaven on earth, far from it, but Your kingdom is coming. May we look with longing expectation for that Kingdom; proclaiming this truth and calling all people to repentance; ALL people.

May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven and help us to see this through Your most holy Word.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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.


Confession
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.

Absolution
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 -|—

Lenten prayer ~ Your Holy Law

Tonight I get to lead worship as my brother in Christ from First Presbyterian Church proclaims the word from Exodus 20:1-17. What a joy and privilege it is to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ; not getting caught up in denominational lines, but focusing on the fact that we worship an awesome God in Jesus Christ.

Below is the opening prayer I wrote, for worship tonight, to help us prepare as we confess our sins. We also need to recognize that God’s Law is still God’s Law; and that it is holy and perfect and sweeter than honey from the comb.

So I invite you into prayer and when you get to the part that says PAUSE, then do what it says; pausing to lift your confessions to God. Let us pray…

Holy God, we approach the throne of grace this evening as a community of believers. We also approach as sinners in need of Your grace. Your holy Law is very clear in that it demands obedience without fail. But we have failed. We have fallen short. We have turned away from Your holy Law. So as we prepare to bring our worship this evening and hear Your word proclaimed, receive now our confessions…[PAUSE]…It awes me to think that You just received the prayers of sinners. And it humbles and scares me to think that you know the sins that we didn’t confess. And so in the name of Jesus we throw ourselves at Your feet and appeal to Your boundless mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord. Forgive us, heal us and restore us. And through our restored souls may we bring glory to Your holy name. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Now what? (Psalm 119:14-16)

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. [Psalm 119:14-16]

Last night I made my appeal to God for forgiveness; something we all need to do on a daily basis and then some. I appealed to God’s mercy through faith in Jesus Christ and then threw myself at his feet. And then in the words of Romans 5:10-11 I heard that I am reconciled to God through faith in Jesus.

Praise be to God, but now what?

After we have made our confession; after we have appealed to God’s mercy through faith in Jesus; after we have thrown ourselves at God’s feet, what next? Of course we will hear a word of forgiveness, but after THAT; after the absolution of our sins? We certainly shouldn’t go away unchanged or unfazed. There must be something next.

And there is…

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
Take delight in learning God’s ways.
Take delight in knowing what God desires.
Take delight in following God in all things.

Take delight in God’s law, for in God’s law we see a holy wisdom that is far above anything of human understanding. God’s ways and thoughts are indeed above our ways and thoughts, so desire God more than all the riches ever known in the world and will ever be known.

I will meditate on your precepts
Don’t just read and study God’s law, but meditate on them. Think about them. Ponder them. Reflect on them. May they not be a passing thought. May reading God’s law never be cursory. May God’s law sink in and take up residence in your heart.

and fix my eyes on your ways.
And as you are walking with God; as you are meditating on God’s ways; fix your eyes on the object of your desire. When I take my wife out to eat, I am not staring and gawking at other women. That would be rude and unfaithful. My desire is for my wife and so I fix my eyes and attention on her. In the same way and much more, fix your eyes on God and His ways. Don’t be unfaithful.

I will delight in your statutes;
Delighting in God’s statues will only come through diligent study and appreciation of who God is through faith Jesus Christ. If your faith and trust is not in God through Jesus, then you are never going to truly delight in God’s ways. It’s only through understanding what God has done for you that you can appreciate what God is up to and wants for you and desires for you and commands you to do.

I will not forget your word.
Make your meditation of God and His ways a daily habit that you will not forget. Even one day off can cause our simple and weak minds to go astray. You may think you are smart and have a good memory, but when it comes to God we have the attention span of a flea. Mediate often and seek God continually.

But what if I fail?

You will fail.
You will fall short.
You will turn away from God.

Just don’t accept this sin condition of yours but rather keep running to God, for God’s mercy is great. His faithfulness is endless. His love is all encompassing. His grace is amazing.

Keep running to God and appealing to his mercy through faith in Jesus Christ, and start all over again; desiring to truly learn and desire God’s ways more than anything. Don’t take advantage of God’s faithfulness but desire God’s faithfulness with all your heart and being.

May God be praised in your learning and meditation of His holy Law.

The Pastor -|—