Praying the Psalms ~ Psalm 88

It is okay to be honest with God. It is okay to open the flood gates and pour out your heart to God. God can handle it. God can handle your feelings. You are not going to hurt God’s feelings with your laments and crying out to Him. Yes, there will be dark times in your life and yes, it is okay to run to God with your fears and despair. Too many people have been taught to be careful what you say to God, but one of the things the Psalms teach us is to raise our voices to God, but to do so in faith; for God is faithful.

Notice at the beginning of the Psalm, the psalmist refers to God as my salvation. It is in that light that I offer this prayer for you…

____________________________________________________________________________

O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!
[Psalms 88:1‭-‬2 ESV]

Oh Lord, my God, I am in utter despair.
I am lost.
I feel embattled on all sides.
My hope is waning, especially when I look to this world; seeing the hatred and violence, oppression and division, walls and weapons, loveless words and hate-filled rhetoric.
Oh God, I cry out to You but it appears a hopeless endeavor at times.
People close to me are hurting.
People that I love are in pain.
People dear to my heart are without hope and I am at a loss for words.
I don’t know what to say to You. I don’t know how to pray.
Turn Your ear to my prayer.
Look upon my sorrow.
Gaze upon me with Your love.
Though I feel You are distant, I know that You are not.
Though it feels like You are not listening, I know that You do.
Though is feels like I am abandoned, I know that I am not.

But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
[Psalms 88:13 ESV]

Enemies attack.
The Evil One is having a party in my midst.
Darkness surrounds me.
Oh Lord, my God, show me Your glory.
Touch me with Your mighty hand.
Speak to me with Your still, quiet voice.
Hold me in Your loving arms.
I cry out to You in hope, for You are ever present.
I cry out to You in hope, for thy will be done.
I cry out to You in hope, for I am Your beloved child.
Oh Lord, my God, You and You alone are my salvation.

Amen.

Overflow

This is part of the Holy Communion liturgy that I wrote based on the preaching text, Luke 10:25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan…

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God through Christ Jesus our Lord. For through Jesus’ death and resurrection, You have shown mercy and compassion to an unclean, sinful and lost people. You did not pass us by, but You have bandaged our wounds of sin and have brought healing to our souls. You have given us a home for which we long. You have given us hope. May our hearts be filled with Your love, so much so, that it overflows into acts of compassion and mercy to our neighbor; as we walk humbly with You. And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise…

Bold Witnesses

Today is Ascension Sunday and thus I will be preaching on Luke 24:44-53. The following is the Great Thanksgiving liturgy I wrote for Holy Communion with this context in mind. Stand firm for the Truth and never, ever shrink back in fear…

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God. You have shown us Your glory through Your son Jesus Christ.
You have opened our eyes to the Truth.
You have cradled us in Your arms.
You have given us hope.
Oh God, Creator and Redeemer, through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection we rest secure. My we live as bold witnesses of that Truth that others may come to know You as their Lord and God. May we not shrink back but stand firm; ready to die if called to do so. And so, since we have such a sure and certain hope we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

The Reason for Christmas

Holy Father,
As we inch ever closer to Christmas,
we are reminded that the point of all our preparations is
to worship our Savior,
Jesus,
who was born to die for us.
Many have suggested that Christmas has nothing to do with death,
but without the death and resurrection of Jesus,
we are left with nothing;
no hope,
no peace,
no JOY.
May the JOY of the Advent season fill our lives
so much so,
that Jesus radiates from us
and therefore brings You glory.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Announce!

Loving Father,
You sent Your Son,
Jesus Christ,
to die and rise for us that we would have forgiveness of sins
and thus the hope of the resurrection.
And now we wait
excitedly and
patiently
for Jesus’ return;
knowing that at any moment the trumpet will blast,
and our Savior will ride in triumphantly,
and bring us into the great wedding feast.
May we not be found wanting when he returns,
but also,
may we not be quiet until then.
Therefore,
may our preparations also include
announcing to all that Jesus WILL return.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon thoughts ~ John 11:1-41

In John chapter 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. He hears that Lazarus is sick and then waits four days. Had he left earlier, Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying, but Jesus waits that God may be glorified. Upon arriving, Jesus meets Martha and then Mary ~ “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Upon asking where they have laid him, they say, “Come and see”. At this we have one of the most famous verses in the Bible, probably because of it’s brevity.

“Jesus wept”

Question: Why did Jesus weep?

Jesus is the Son of God
Jesus can raise the dead
Jesus seemed to know that his delay would end in the dead of Lazarus
Jesus knows what he can do

So, why did Jesus weep?

I contend that Jesus is not weeping over the death of Lazarus but rather over the hopeless weeping that the others are doing. Do Mary and Martha not know Jesus well enough to know that he can raise Lazarus?

So Jesus raises Lazarus. He walks out of the tomb and he tells the people to unbind him. Word then begins to spread, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders. When you see people in hopeless despair, how do you show them Jesus? How do you show them that there is hope? How do you help people move from tears of despair to tears of Joy?

Just some thoughts. What say you?

The Pastor -|—

Reverberate

Father God,
may the song of my praise
reverberate throughout my being
and into all those around me.
May my words about You
reveal my deep love for You.
May my actions
reflect a faith that points to You.
May people know the joy of Your
love
through Christ Jesus my Lord.
And as people receive the Good News of
Jesus,
may the cares of this world
melt into oblivion
as we bask in the hope of the resurrection.
This is my prayer and hope as I being a new day.
All praise and glory and worship and honor
be unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus my Lord.
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Christmas, Enough Said

Waiting
Anticipation
Excitement
Joy
Celebration
Fellowship with family and friends
Worship

CHRISTMAS!

But…

What are you waiting for?
What are you anticipating?
Why are you excited?
What is causing your joy?
What and why are you celebrating?
Why are you in fellowship?
Who/what do you worship?

You see…

The answers to the above questions vary for some. For some Christmas is about the wrong answers. For some Christmas is about the wrong reasons. For some Christmas is about worshiping false gods. For some Christmas is nothing more than a holiday for which you get time off from work or school.

But…

Christmas is about Jesus; born for you, who later died for you, and then rose from the dead for you. Christmas is about hope, peace, love and joy. Without Jesus, Christmas is not Christmas.

Christmas
Jesus
Enough said.

The Pastor -|—

Thanksgiving

Unless you live under a rock, you know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A day of over-eating with relatives (some of whom may drive you crazy), watching a parade with lame commentary and trying to stay awake for the football games. It’s a grand ole holiday that ushers in the unofficial start of the Christmas season (even though Christmas decorations and commercials started a while ago).

None of this is new information for you.

For me, this holiday is the unofficial start of my Christmas ranting; one where I lament how commercialized Christmas has become, but I will spare you the ranting rhetoric this year and simply refer you to the Word of God. As you gather with family and friends, let’s keep things in perspective and remember the reason we can truly be thankful.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
[Psalms 136:1-9]

And the list goes on and on. Give thanks to the Lord for Jesus Christ and the hope of the resurrection we have through faith in him. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good for His steadfast loves endues forever and ever and ever and ever and…

Have a safe and God-glorifying Thanksgiving.

The Pastor -|—