Trials

This is a poem based on James 1:1-18 – the sermon text for Sunday, Sept 15 as I being preaching through the book of James. To God be the glory.


Lead me by the hand,
when trials come my way.
Hold me close to You,
So I’ll not go astray.

For You have a plan,
in all that I will face.
Trials have a goal,
Please help me to embrace.

I want to grow strong
For Satan tries to stop,
May I lean into You,
So I’ll come out on top.

Jesus is my Lord.
I know I’ll see some strife.
But, through my trials,
there lays the crown of life.

Invited

Today is the Parable of the Great Banquet; Jesus inviting the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame to the table. He invites sinners – you. And so I am excited, once again, to proclaim this Good News this morning – from Luke 14:1-14. The following is the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote with the Gospel text on my heart…

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It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God – Father, Lord and King. For You have invited and exalted us to the Banquet of the Wedding of the Lamb to his bride, the Church. Though we are sinful, lost and disobedient, You bring us in and make us whole and holy. You make us new through Your Son, Jesus. You give us a place of honor through no effort or merit of our own. You give us Life and hope in a world that would have us fend for ourselves; fighting our way to the top. You have turned things around and thus we can rejoice with You and dine at a Banquet that has no end. And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we join in singing Your unending praise…

A Prayer for the Church

Father God, Lord almighty, gracious and merciful, give to pastors a more intimate relationship with You that they would long to preach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners; a Gospel without the bells and whistles that often distract. Give Your Church receptive and picky ears that they may desire only the pure, unaltered Gospel, not a social justice rant that can not save their souls. May leaders not desire their own glorification but rather humble themselves under the cross of Christ. Your Church, oh God, seems to long to be accepted by the world; acquiescing to its demands to liberalize its message and turn a blind eye to sin. May You convict, transform and embolden Your Church to stand out and be a lighthouse in this dark world. It’s not about being liked or being popular, but rather about being obedient to You and shining the light of the Truth through Jesus Christ. Oh God, send now Your Holy Spirit into our lives that we may draw people to the light of Your love through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Shamelessly Persistent

The following is the opening prayer for the sermon I am preaching on Sunday, July 28. The text is Luke 11:1-13; Jesus teaching the Lord’s Prayer and the story of the persistent friend. To God be the glory. Let us pray…

Good things. That’s what we want, oh God, is good things. But too often those good things that we desire are only for our comfort and peace; for self-glorification. We want healing. We want stuff. We want notoriety. We ask and ask and ask some more. Maybe we even recruit others to ask on our behalf, because, after all, the more who are praying the better our chances. But that’s not how it works. Convict our hearts of this error, oh God. Give us understanding. Give us intimacy. Give us Your good gifts. We ask but we are too short-sighted. We long for something and become idolatrous. Forgive us, oh God, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Give us your good gifts. Through faith in Jesus Christ, may we long for the gift that only You can give. And thus, may we be shamelessly persistent in our prayer for the good gift of You. Now may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, oh God, our rock and Redeemer. Amen.

Adored

Oh God, Your name is awesome,
holy and true.
May all who preach Your name,
give praise that is due.
Not in realms of self-glory and pride,
but hallow Your name,
in all truth and purity,
for You, oh God, are the One who reigns.
May all who step into the pulpit this day,
do so with pause,
knowing that it is You
that deserves all applause.
May Your name be proclaimed
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May You receive all worship,
for You are to be adored.

Just the Gospel

From the sermon this morning. This can not be said enough. So I am going to just leave this right here…

My friends, through faith in Jesus Christ, your sins have been forgiven and thus you have been justified in the eyes of God. You cannot justify yourself. But your filthy rags have been removed and the white robe of righteousness has been placed on you. Jesus has personally dressed you with the wedding garment and has seated you at the banquet table. Through his death and resurrection, you have been made new. This is not from you. This is not something you can obtain through self-justification for you are unclean, dirty and filthy; always falling short of the glory of God. You are sinner. The justification that places you in God’s holy courts; His kingdom, is pure gift. It is all grace. Confess that you are a sinner and know a love like no other.

Preaching Preparation Prayer

Holy God, Your Word is truth. Your Word is Life. Your Word is living and active. Your Word speaks to the heart and inflames the soul. Oh God, speak to us this morning through Your Word and through the words that I speak. May this not be a self-glorifying speech but a faithful proclamation of Your Word; for I am not a good speaker, preacher or writer therefore if this were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin. And so, I beg of You to send now Your Holy Spirit, not just to guide me but to open our hearts to receive this Word, for Your Word is truth. Your Word is Life. To You be the glory now and forever. Amen.