Repentance for Straying

For our Lenten worship tonight, via YouTube live stream, I prepared this Liturgy of Repentance. I am preaching on Psalm 23 and highlighting God’s promise of peace. Feel free to worship with us at 7:00 PM (Pacific Time). See the church website for more information on accessing the live stream.

http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com

To God be the glory!


Holy God,
Father,
Creator,
Sustainer,
and Good Shepherd.
You give me everything I truly need.
Your provision is unmatched by anything or anyone of this world.
Your supply is endless.
You invite me to come and buy without money and without price.
You give and give and give some more.
For You are the Good Shepherd and I am your sheep.
Yet, I stray from the flock to seek my own.
My wants overwhelm me, and I spurn Your grace.
Fear leads me to stockpile wants that will not save me –
They won’t protect me,
They won’t shield me.
Oh God, I have strayed and gone my own way.
I have sought worthless wants.
Oh my Good Shepherd
retrieve me,
restore me,
revive me,
and lead me in the path of righteousness – repeating Your promises to me. Repeat them without end as I remain in You.
For You are THE Good Shepherd and with you I lack nothing.
All I want is You.
All I need is You.
Keep me close and may Your rod and staff comfort me.
Oh Lord, my God and Shepherd, I repent of my straying.

Never Alone

Have you ever felt discouraged, attacked, beaten down, driven away like chaff or defeated? Have you ever felt like running away, hiding or curling up into a ball to wait out what’s afflicting you? Have you ever felt alone, lost or hopeless? Have you ever wondered if God actually cares? Have you ever wondered if God really knows what is going on or is doing what He said He would do? Well, you are not alone – and in more ways than one. First of all, you are not the only one to feel this way and second, you are never alone. God, your Shepherd, is always watching His sheep – He is always watching over you. Satan may get his punches in, but Satan will never remove and devour the sheep of the Shepherd, our God through Jesus Christ. And so, raise your voice to the Shepherd, but know – you are never alone, and Satan will never win.


Satan is on the prowl,
Looking to devour,
And I feel so defenseless.
He bites and scratches,
Wounds are appearing,
Injuries sustained,
Energy is draining.
And there is nothing I can do to stop him.
Hopelessness is his goal.
Lostness is his desire.
Oh God, come and rescue me.
Smash out his teeth,
Destroy his goals,
Slay the lion,
Leave him defeated.
Oh my Shepherd,
Keep me close to You,
May Your rod and staff comfort me,
Lead me through this dark valley,
May I once again see green pastures and still waters,
As You lead me in Your path of righteousness;
Healing and restoring my soul.
Satan is on the prowl, but YOU, oh God, are my Shepherd.
And thus, I am yours,
In Your house dwelling,
Forever and ever to worship You.
Amen.

Secure

The following is the preface for the Great Thanksgiving in the Holy Communion liturgy for today (based on the Gospel text from Jon 10:22-30)…

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, Maker of all things. Through Jesus Christ You have brought us into Your eternal Kingdom, giving us a security and peace like nothing the world can offer. You hold us firmly in Your loving hands, where no thing or no one can touch us. You keep us free from all harm. Though the body is fragile and wastes away, our soul is kept perfectly in Your care. And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise…

All I Need

The following is the opening paragraph for the sermon I plan to give on Sunday, May 12 on John 10:22-30 using a bit of Psalm 23. If you want to hear the full sermon, stop by Living Word Lutheran Church on Sunday or check out our website later for the audio file. To God be the glory!

___________________________________________________

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, for He is everything I need. The first part of that sentence you recognize as the opening of the beloved Psalm 23. It headlines a beautiful Psalm of salvation; describing the peace we have because of God: Green pastures, still waters, restoration for the weary, security in darkness, evil forces irrelevant, sustenance, bounteous provision and a place prepared especially for you forever. This peace is something we have by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a peace secured by God’s love and faithfulness. This peace assures us of the forgiveness of sins and thus peace with God. And this is the Truth that we can cling to for it has been stamped and sealed with the blood of the Lamb. This beloved Psalm also details a future that can not be altered by those who would oppose God, not even you. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28) And therefore, through faith in Jesus, you WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, for He is everything I need. Do you hear his voice? Are you truly following?

Wanting Needs

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[Psalm 23:1]

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you couldn’t think of anything else?
I really want that new phone.
I really want that new car.
I really want that job promotion.
I really want _________.
You get the point. Wants are dangerous as they redirect our attention from what we already have. For if you are part of God’s flock through Jesus Christ, then you already have everything you need. And when you see that you have everything you need, then your wants become what God deems that you need in order to glorify him. Your selfish wants won’t do that unless you need those wants to glorify God and God agrees with your wants and thus gives you what you need. If that be the case, then those wants are not selfish but needs that want God more.

[Whew, did you follow all of that?]

Basically, it’s all about God and thus God will ensure you that you have everything you need (Jesus) to want to glorify him.

Oh God, give me what I need to want You more. Amen.

God’s House Forever

I “stumbled” upon this verse today from Psalm 84…

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. [Psalm 84:10]

Now, consider the closing verse of the beloved Psalm 23…

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. [Psalm 23:6]

Do you see it? One day in the courts of God would far exceed a 1000 years elsewhere. I agree with that. I am right there with the psalmist. But now consider this, through faith in Jesus Christ, we get more than one day in God’s courts. Actually, we get to dwell in God’s HOUSE…FOREVER. Did you just get goose bumps? Yup me too 🙂

All praise be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

Lenten Sermon Teaser ~ The Good Shepherd

Sermon teaser for our midweek Lenten worship tonight…

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
[John 10:3-4]

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our joy to hear the beautiful voice of our Shepherd; knowing that that voice is one of peace and love and compassion. It is a voice of Truth. It is a voice that can be trusted. It is a voice the beckons. It is a voice that soothes. To ignore that voice is foolish and dangerous; not because our Shepherd is vengeful; but rather to follow another voice means following unto our death. The Good Shepherd is the only one who loves us unto death and beyond; for he lays his life down for his sheep. The Good Shepherd is the only one who true cares about you. And therefore it behooves us to drown out the competing voices and listen to THE Shepherd and joyfully follow him…

The Pastor -|—