A Memorial Day Prayer

Gracious Lord, heavenly Father, on this day the minds of men are turned in memory to those who have laid down their lives in defense of our country. We indeed owe a debt of gratitude to them who gave their all that we as a nation may continue our way of life. Grant that we worthily carry on where they have left off that our country may enjoy for generations to come peace and liberty and freedom. May we honor them by bringing the tribute of a ready heart, an obedient life, a worthy citizenship, to our country. Guide the counsels of government. Strengthen the bonds of true loyalty. Let the ideals of liberty and peace prevail. Above all, grant that we, Thy children by faith in Christ, find a field of service in which we, as salt and leaven, uphold righteousness, order, and peace. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Taken from The Lutheran Book of Prayer, 1951

Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 22

57. Question: What comfort does the resurrection of the body offer you?

Answer: Not only shall my soul after this life immediately be taken up to Christ, my Head,[1] but also this my flesh, raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.[2]

[1] Luke 16:22; 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23. [2] Job 19:25, 26; I Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54; Phil. 3:21; I John 3:2.

58. Question: What comfort do you receive from the article about the life everlasting?

Answer: Since I now already feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, [1] I shall after this life possess perfect blessedness, such as no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived– a blessedness in which to praise God forever.[2]

[1] John 17:3; Rom. 14:17; II Cor. 5:2, 3. [2] John 17:24; I Cor. 2:9.

Prayer Journal: Week 22

Much of our praying is just asking God to bless some folks that are ill and to keep us plugging along. But prayer is not merely prattle: it is warfare. (Alan Redpath)

This Week’s Scripture

·         Deuteronomy 30:15-20
·         Psalm 119:1-8
·         1 Corinthians 3:1-9
·         Matthew 1:21-37

Adoration

Psalm 119:1-2
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,

He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought (verse 1)
He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

(Joseph H. Gilmore)

Take time now to offer God your praise and worship.

Confession

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 30:15-18)

Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Gelasian Sacramentary)

As David did in Psalm 139, ask the Lord to search you and know you through and through. Confess the sins God brings to mind, knowing you are forgiven and that He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Thanksgiving

God of the harvest, you call some of us to plant the seeds of the Gospel of the kingdom. Others of us you move to water the seed to bring the increase. And still, you beckon others to nurture and cultivate that which is already growing. In and through this process, it is you who gives the growth. We give you thanks that you call us to be a part of bringing others to new life in Christ. Yet, we are reminded, O Lord, that it is you and you alone who are sovereign over such things. We are called to be faithful to the Great Commission, but always trusting in you to bring forth fruit. In Christ’s holy name we pray. Amen. (from 1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

Spend some time reflecting on the prayer of thanksgiving above and then thank God for who he is and the many ways he has poured out his goodness and grace in your life.

Supplication (Petition – prayers for yourself)

·         Help me to mature in my faith and to increasingly please God by my thoughts, words, and deeds.
·         Particular struggles in various relationships
·         My activities for this day
·         Other needs

Supplication (Intercession – prayers for others)

·         My Family
·         My local church
·         My denomination
·         Para-church ministries, particularly Christian education and discipleship
·         Evangelistic ministries
·         Other needs

Lord we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same. (Thomas Cranmer)

New Book: The Way of the Lord

God calls us to live a life of love. The Bible teaches us there is a shape to this love. The love God calls us to looks like something. It has content to it. It is first and foremost received from God, then directed back to God, and then, lived out toward neighbor. It’s sacrificial, others-centered, joyful, and obedient. This life of love is the Way of the Lord, and the reason for the title of this study.

The Ten Commandments are an expression of the love Jesus commands in his summary of the Law. The great commandment is to love God with our whole being and the second commandment is like it, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But even that word from our Lord Jesus is general, and even vague. Yet he could speak in such a way because he knew he was summarizing something more detailed and specific, something his first-century audience would have understood.

In speaking of the two great commandments, Jesus was really summarizing the moral Law of God, the Ten Commandments. The first table of the law, for example, which contains the first four commandments, focuses primarily, though not exclusively, on our love for God. The second table addresses the nature of neighbor-love, which as we learn throughout Scripture, is also an expression of our love for God.

This 11-Lesson, in-depth Bible study on the Ten Commandments will help you discover that there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the Law of God. This study will work well for individuals, with a small group, or as a guide for a larger Bible study.

Click here to learn more about the study or to buy it.

A Prayer for Those Who Grieve

Almighty God, who abidest always, and who art ever near to uphold and bless: Hear now our prayers for thy servants bowed down with grief. May they find strength and peace in thee. For all that has been gracious and helpful in days past we devoutly thank thee. Visit us with thy comfort, and be thou thyself our companion. Keep us mindful of the many good things which make life dear and sacred. May our hearts be united in a closer bond of love and sympathy, and give us strength to return to the duties of life with increased devotion and with purer and more earnest purpose. May we ever feel that the eternal God is our refuge, and that underneath are the everlasting arms; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Taken from The Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home, 1965

Called to Encourage

Part 2 in the series on encouragement

Called to Encourage

Barnabas seems to have had the spiritual gift of encouragement. Yet, though there are those with that particular gift, all Christians are called to encourage others.

Can you think of anything quite as meaningful and as powerful as a well-timed word of encouragement from a family member or close friend? Encouraging and comforting words are like balm to the soul. They’re healing. Observe how the book of Proverbs describes encouraging words.

Proverbs 15:23 – A man finds joy in giving an apt reply– and how good is a timely word!

Proverbs 25:11 – A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver

Is that your experience?

Who Encourages You?

Who is the person in your life you want to hear from more than anyone else when you’re scared or discouraged or depressed or hurting? When your world is crumbling all around you, who is the one person you know will have a word of encouragement for you? What is it they do or say that makes them such an encouragement in your life?

Who Do You Encourage?

Who in your life would say that you are that person for them? Are you an encourager? Do you seek to build people up with your words and presence, or tear them down? James puts it this way in James 3:9-10,

James 3:9-10 – With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. [10] Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be

Indeed, it shouldn’t be. Sadly, however, it often is.

Encouraged and Encouraging

The testimony of the Book of Hebrews is that we need to be both encouraged and encouragers.

We don’t know who wrote the Book of Hebrews, but we do know it was written primarily to a group of Jewish followers of Christ who needed to be encouraged. They were being persecuted and were losing hope. Many were being tempted to fall away from their faith and go back to previous ways of life.

Jesus is Supreme

Therefore, in order to encourage those believers not to lose hope, but to persevere to the end, the writer exalted the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all things. Jesus, the author made clear, had no equals. He was superior to Moses and the angels. His covenant was superior to the old covenant. His priesthood was superior to the old priesthood.

Through most of Hebrews, the writer showed how and why Jesus was supreme. And then, toward the end of the letter, the author revealed why the supremacy of Jesus matters.

Stay tuned for Part 3

The Church and Forgiveness

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 21

54. Question: What do you believe concerning the holy catholic Christian
church?

Answer: I believe that the Son of God,[1] out of the whole human race,[2] from the beginning of the world to its end,[3] gathers, defends, and preserves for Himself, [4] by His Spirit and Word,[5] in the unity of the true faith,[6] a church chosen to everlasting life.[7] And I believe that I am[8] and forever shall remain a living member of it.[9]

[1] John 10:11; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11-13; Col. 1:18. [2] Gen. 26:4; Rev. 5:9. [3] Is. 59:21; I Cor. 11:26. [4] Ps. 129:1-5; Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30. [5] Rom. 1:16; 10:14-17; Eph. 5:26. [6] Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6. [7] Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:3-14. [8] I John 3:14, 19-21. [9] Ps. 23:6; John 10:27, 28; I Cor. 1:4-9; I Pet. 1:3-5.

55. Question: What do you understand by the communion of saints?

Answer: First, that believers, all and everyone, as members of Christ have communion with Him and share in all His treasures and gifts.[1] Second, that everyone is duty-bound to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the benefit and well-being of the other members.[2]

[1] Rom. 8:32; I Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12, 13; I John 1:3. [2] Rom. 12:4-8; I Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8.

56. Question: What do you believe concerning the forgiveness of sins?

Answer: I believe that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins,[1] nor my sinful nature, against which I have to struggle all my life,[2] but He will graciously grant me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never come into condemnation.[3]

[1] Ps. 103:3, 4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18, 19; II Cor. 5:18-21; I John 1:7; 2:2. [2] Rom. 7:21-25. [3] John 3:17, 18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1, 2.