Good Pleasure

The text for preaching this morning is Luke 12:32 where Jesus says that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. It is a rich and Gospel-packed verse and I can hardly wait to preach it this morning. The following is part of the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote with the Gospel text in mind. May it bring glory to God.

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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, our Shepherd and Father; for it is Your good pleasure to give us Your kingdom. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, You have saved us from our sins and redeemed us from the clutches of the Evil One. You have placed us in the vault of Your fortress and carved, in granite, our names in the Book of Life. You are the hope in a violent and hate-filled world. You are the Light in the stormy waters. You are the Truth as the Deceiver works overtime to lead Your flock astray. Nothing and no one can stake their claim on Your children. For these reasons, and many more, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

No Matter What, God Reigns

Today, is August 4, and this nation is mourning after two deadly shooting sprees in the last days or so. Many are shaking their fists at heaven wondering where is God; and thus turning to worldly leaders for answers and action. But no matter the situation, God reigns. I have no explanation for this shooting sprees, I just know my God who holds my life in His hands and thus my hope is in Him. My prayer is that others come to know Him through Jesus Christ as well.

So with that in mind, I wrote the following Holy Communion liturgy for this morning. Let pray together, and instead of finger pointing, let’s raise all our fingers to God in praise and worship for being rich towards Him in Jesus Christ.

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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 and Creator. We look around and grieve the violence and hatred. We listen to our neighbors and hear hate-filled words, fear and hopelessness. We live in a sin-fallen world that looks to worldly gods and leaders for their peace and security, but You reign, and thus we give You praise. Through Jesus Christ You and You alone have overcome this world. You have defeated sin, Satan and hate. No amount of violence can stop Your will from being done. No amount of rhetoric can bury Your Words of Life. No amount of riches can compare to You, for through Christ we are rich beyond our wildest dreams and imagination. And thus, as children in Your family; sheep of Your flock we have no fear in this world, for You and You alone reign. And therefore, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we join in singing Your unending praise…

Unending Praise for the King of Glory

I wrote the following as part of the Holy Communion liturgy for today, July 28. God’s deserving title, the King of Glory, is still running around in my head and heart so thus that theme was picked up again, and why not 🙂
To God be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, the King of Glory. And You are indeed deserving of that title, the King of Glory. Through Jesus Christ we have salvation. You have given the Holy Spirit, without which we would not believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. You have made us Your beloved children and thus love to dote on us; giving us Your most wonderful and perfect gifts. You have sealed us with the cross of Christ and have engraved our names in the book of Life. Oh God, there is none other worthy of the title, the King of Glory and therefore, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we join in singing Your unending praise…

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.

Praying the Psalms ~ Psalm 27:1-6

Psalm 27 is the Psalm reading for worship this Sunday (July 21). As I read and meditated on it, I wrote this prayer for the first 6 verses. Adversaries will always oppose you if you follow God through Christ Jesus our Lord, but let them oppose, for God is your defender. Let us pray…

Oh God,
the Light of my life;
You are my salvation and my hope.
You are my strong fortress – a shield about me.
You are my hedge of protection – a guard for my life.
You are a mighty warrior – none can overcome.
You are victorious and You are for me.
Therefore, oh God, whom shall I fear? Why shall I be afraid?
What can overcome me?
Who can bring me down?
Adversaries oppose me; they oppose Your Church, but they shall not prevail.
They strike me on the left and the right; in front and behind,
but when they fight against me, it is You they oppose; for You are my God and my Defender.
They will be spin their wheels and gain no ground against You.
I am at peace as adversaries make war against me and Your Church;
for You have overcome them all.
Oh God, I hide in You.
I long to gaze at Your beauty and to know You better.
I long to dwell in Your temple; my home, to worship You without end.
I long to sing Your praises with the hosts of heaven as You lift me above my adversaries.
You are my salvation – my hope, and thus I do not fear.
Victory is Yours.
I am Yours.
And thus I will sing my praises to You,
here on earth and in Your courts forever.
Alleluia and Amen!

Beautiful Jesus

We worship God because he sent Jesus to reveal His love and grace to sinful people through his death and resurrection. As you prepare to worship on this Lord’s Day, reflect on the beauty of Jesus; the glory that shines forth revealing the Father. Don’t enter your places of worship out of a sense of duty to one another, but because of what God has done through Jesus Christ. As the psalmist says, in Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

The following poem is dedicated to the beauty of Jesus…

Lord Jesus you are beautiful,
And your heart is full of mercy.
Your love is all encompassing,
Your compassion has no boundary.

Your presence gives me holy peace,
Your comfort soothes my broken heart.
I was weak, blind and oh so lost,
From you I’ll never be apart.

You shine forth the Father’s glory,
Your face glows brighter than the sun.
Your beauty takes my breath away,
And with you I am so undone.

I long to gaze upon your face,
And to bask in your loving glow.
Lord Jesus you are beautiful,
And its you that I want to know.

We Will Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord ! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” [Psalm 111:1 ESV]

I pastor a congregation who can be described as a “church in a box”. What I mean by that is each and every Sunday a trailer is backed up to the building we rent at a county park. The trailer is then unloaded so we can set up for worship. Following our 9:00 AM worship, the take-down crew gets to work as we need to vacate the building by 11:30 AM. As long as this pastor doesn’t get too long winded, we still have plenty of time for Sunday school/Coffee fellowship time. For 10 years this congregation has had that routine. I’ve been part of that routine for the past 3 years.

Now, we are investigating a former church building that is up for sale. The location is a little farther away, but the size is great, the lot is big enough for expansion and the price is in our ballpark. There are still many questions that need to be answered, but the excitement is high. What is God up too? That is the question we are trying to discern. Is this God gift-wrapping a property for us that He may be glorified or is Satan presenting a stumbling block to trip and derail this congregation? Questions, questions and more questions. God help us.

Whatever the outcome I echo the psalmist in the verse above. Praise the Lord ! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Yes, Sundays are a challenge, especially considering this is an aging congregation. We don’t have the freedom to do certain things when we want to do them because the building is not ours (i.e. When funerals happen, we have to make phone calls to find a venue). But where ever God places us, we will worship and praise the Lord. We will praise the Lord in the company of the upright. The upright made that way through our common faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We will worship corporately as a congregation because we love the Lord and we love to be together:

– whether it is at a building in the park or in a school or in someone’s pole barn, we will praise the Lord.
– whether we have to meet in living rooms, basements or garages, we will praise the Lord.
– whether we have to share space in someone else’s fellowship hall, wander from place to place, or meet in a tent outside, we will praise the Lord.

With that said, my prayer is that we keep our eye on the ball and remember who we are and whose we are. We are not here to build our kingdom but we are here to advance THE Kingdom. I can not say that enough. If this place is being gift-wrapped by God for us, I will gladly unwrap it and give glory to God. If this is Satan putting a stumbling block in our way, then I say to him, “Go back to hell. We will worship the Lord where ever God places us.”

Praise the Lord where ever you are, for it is right to give God thanks and praise in all places and at all times. Praise the Lord, all you people – the upright, the congregation – praise the Lord.