Praying the Bible ~ Hebrews 2:1

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Hebrews 2:1
For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away.  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, the old hymn* states: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” We face so many things in life that tend to distract us. Even good things can take our focus off the best. We thank you for giving us Jesus and bringing us to salvation in him through the Gospel. We have heard the good news. Remind us daily of your gift of grace. Stir our hearts daily to long to be in your word. Move us daily to long for you. So that we will not spend our days drifting away. Amen.

*Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Sunday 9.1.19 (the psalm of life)

This morning, we’ll take a look at Psalm 23 and how this famous song represents our lives following Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We’ll consider five truths about our life journey from this psalm as an introduction to our series on Psalms 120-134, the Psalms of Ascent. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
**Holiday weekend, no evening study

Sermon Notes
The Psalm of Life ~ Psalm 23

The sermon in one sentence: In the journey of life, we are to fix our eyes on eternity and live each day following Jesus as we head there.

  • žOur lives are an upward/Godward journey with an eternal end
  • žThe journey has moments of joy and contentment as well as moments of uncertainty and fear
  • žGod guides and walks with us through the good and the bad; he is our peace, comfort, and satisfaction
  • žAs we follow the Shepherd, we will find eternal joys in the end as well as great grace in each step
  • žOur task is to keep our eyes on our Shepherd-Savior

Songs for Worship
We’re Marching to Zion
Be Thou My Vision
The Lord Is My Salvation
On Jordan’s Stormy Banks
Victory in Jesus

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

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Praying the Bible ~ Philemon 7

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Philemon 7
For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, help me to be a greater encouragement to others. As Paul wrote of Philemon, may that be said of me. Increase my love for you and others. When my life has drawn to a close and people reflect back, may they not see my accomplishments. Rather, may they rejoice because through me they saw Jesus and were built up and refreshed in him. Amen.

Strive to Not Offend

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

We live in an age of offense, it seems. With public expression become more the norm, especially through social media, a word or statement with which someone disagrees can open a floodgate of cries of offense. On the other hand, however, some seem to want to intentionally offend and provoke. People write posts or post memes that call other people or groups of people (such as those of opposite political identity, other religions, other viewpoints): idiots, stupid, snowflakes, nazis, fascists, dogs, and the like.

Those on the political right do it. Those on the political left do it. Even sometimes those in the middle do it.

What is disheartening and most sad is when Christians do it.

Proverbs 17:19 warns, “One who loves to offend loves strife.” And a few verses before that, we read, “To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out” (17:14).

If we love strife and start conflicts, then we do the opposite of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” And we do the opposite of what Paul wrote in Romans 12:18: “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Now, some might object: “What’s wrong with offense? The Gospel is offensive!” And so it is (see: 1 Corinthians 1:22). If we cause offense because we faithfully strive to preach the Gospel in love, that is one thing. Sinful hearts reject Jesus until they are transformed in Jesus. Yet, we are to remove, as much as able, every possible cause of offense or strife from our lives that get in the way of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

We can disagree with ideas without disparaging people who hold them. We can challenge the validity of opposing worldviews without degrading those different than us. We can strive to not offend.

Better to strive for peace and exalt Jesus in view of the world than to needlessly offend and obscure Jesus behind our words.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Providence: God Behind the Scene

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

The book of Esther is the beautiful story of a young woman who became queen and was able to use her influence with the king to save the Jews, her people, from sure extinction while they lived in exile. One thing that sets the book apart from the other books of the Bible–Esther is the only one to not directly mention God.

It is a story of the survival of God’s people, who remained religious in their troubled times, yet God seems to be hidden in the background.

In a way, this makes the book of Esther a study on the doctrine of providence. Providence is God’s everyday, behind the scenes work. Miracles, in the Bible, are interventions by God against the normal course of the world and laws of nature. Revelation is God speaking to various people in various ways. Both are signs of God working in the open. Yet, compared to providence, both are rare.

Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” On the surface, not everything looks to be working for the good of God’s people, and sometimes we spend a lifetime wondering how the pieces fit. Yet, the promise is there: God is at work, intimately involved in the every day details, good and bad, to bring about the best as he rescues rebellious people from a broken world.

In Esther, Mordecai, the queen’s cousin, encourages her by pointing to providence. When it is made known that Haman has plotted to exterminate the Jews, Mordecai urges Esther to break rank and go before the king without summons to expose the plot and plead for the people. When Esther states that doing such could mean her own death, Mordecai responds, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Why else would a young Jewish lady become a Persian queen, if not placed there at that time to rescue God’s people.

This is providence. This is God behind the scene. This is encouragement that even if we don’t see God directly at work, he is, always, on behalf of his people.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible

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Praying the Bible ~ Luke 19:37-38

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Luke 19:37-38
Now Jesus came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.”  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Lord, you are the great King, the giver of peace, the one full of glory. As the crowd praised Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem, may my heart ever praise you–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Fill my heart and mind with joy. Let my words ring forth with your praise. May I declare your greatness day and night, especially because of the mercies and salvation you have given. Amen.

Practical Reconciliation

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

In Luke 19, Jesus encountered a man named Zacchaeus. As a man who had gotten rich from being a tax collector, Zacchaeus would have spent years defrauding people through extra fines and such. When Jesus declared he must visit Zacchaeus, the people even complained that someone like Jesus would dare go to the home of someone so sinful.

Yet, Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy. Yes, he had been a sinner, in rebellion against God, but through Jesus he found forgiveness.

This joy moved Zacchaeus on his own to seek to make amends with those he had wronged: “I’ll give half my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.” (Luke 19:8)

When we encounter the grace of God, it changes us. Through that change we long to correct damage done by our sinful past. Often this comes in the form of seeking to reconcile relationships.

On the one hand, we must be careful. Jesus doesn’t call us to do works to assuage our guilt. Jesus is the one who removed our guilt through the cross. We cannot add to that nor take away from it. On the other hand, though, when we have experienced the great love that God has for us through Jesus, then we can’t help but begin to love others in the same way.

So, we begin to practice reconciliation. We show forgiveness to those who have wronged us and we seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, at least as much as we are able. Restoring what is broken in relationships, after all, is what the Gospel is about–God reached to us, and feeling his love, we reach to others.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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