Praying the Bible ~ Psalm 149:4

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: Psalm 149:4
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, you call us to delight in you, to find you as our greatest treasure. Another Psalm asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Yet, more than mindful, you delight in your people. Father, like precious sons and daughters, you love us, enjoy our presence, and long for us to be in yours. Thank you for the gift of salvation in Jesus that opens that door. May you keep my heart in both joy and awe. Joy because of your delight and awe because grace is a gift of love that I do not deserve. Amen.

Peace or Division?

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

Sometimes we read statements in Scripture and we’re left scratching our head. We know some familiar verses in the Bible, like Luke 1:14 where the angels announce Jesus’ birth:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors!

Or, we know verses like Matthew 5:9 in the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

The we come to verses like Luke 12:49-53, which includes Jesus saying:

“I came to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already set ablaze!… Do you think that I came here to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

At first glance, we might read these passages as a contradiction of each other. Jesus is to bring peace and calls us to be peacemakers yet later he says he does not come to bring peace but division. It seems set at odds, unless we remember the fullness of who Jesus is.

Yes, Jesus is the Savior. Through the cross, he reconciles repentant sinners to God, bringing peace between us and our Creator by wiping away the stains of our rebellion. As we take this message of grace and forgiveness into the world, there we find reconciliation among people. Even those diametrically opposed to each other by background are brought together into one eternal family through Jesus. There is peace and peacemaking.

Yet, Jesus is also the Judge (John 5:22). The Bible speaks of final judgment being as a fire (Isaiah 66, 1 Corinthians 3, 2 Peter 3, Revelation 20, to name a few places). Fire is what ultimately cleanses and purifies. While the notion of hell contains a sense of fire as punishment against sin, the fire upon the earth is the ultimate purification that cleanses. And this brings a permanent peace as sin is forever removed.

So, what about the division of which Jesus spoke, even a few verses later saying that father and son, mother and daughter, etc. would be opposed to one another? In many cultures, family and religious identity are closely related. In Jesus’ day as much as there were many Jews and Gentiles who followed him, there were many who rejected him. When one member of a family turns to Jesus and another refuses, it can cause tension. When family and religious identity are welded together, it can cause great division.

The hope, always, is for reconciliation, for peacemaking. That if one member of a family follows Jesus, others would join him or her. Yet, when that is not the case, then the one who has chosen to follow Jesus must continue to choose to follow Jesus. They must continue to show kindness and should pray for familial peace. But if one cannot have Jesus and family but must decide between Jesus or family, the choice should be Jesus.

As God the Son, the great Savior-King, the Source of life eternal, Jesus is worth it.

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Sunday 7.28.19 (follow Jesus)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Luke 9 and see what it means to “deny self, take up your cross daily, and follow” Jesus. And we’ll see why Jesus is worth following as the Glorious Son, King, and Savior. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Why? video study in youth room

Sermon Notes
Follow Jesus ~ Luke 9:23-45, 57-62

The sermon in one sentence: Jesus, the glorious and all-powerful Savior, come to turn our lives around for eternal glory, if we will follow him.

  • Following Jesus involves…
    • Turning from self-exaltation to Christ-exaltation (9:23-24)
    • Turning from the treasures of the world to the treasures of Jesus (9:25-27)
    • Turning from a focus on the temporarily urgent to the eternally important (9:57-62)
  • Following Jesus is worthwhile because Jesus is…
    • The Glorious Son worthy of full obedience (9:28-36)
    • The All-Powerful King who displays God’s majesty (9:37-43)
    • The Loving Savior who rescues us from sin (9:43-45)

Songs for Worship
10,000 Reasons
Be Thou My Vision
Take My Life and Let it Be
He Leadeth Me
In Christ Alone

Luke

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Praying the Bible ~ Luke 12:31, 34

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 12:31, 34
“But seek his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, you are the Great Provider. Sometimes I don’t think so, because you say no to my wants though you care for my needs. Help me to remember true priority. The things that matter most are not the things of this world–the paychecks, retirement accounts, cars, and toys. While you might give such things at times to enjoy with wisdom, the things of your Kingdom are the treasures worth seeking. Help my heart grasp each day the greater worth of your goodness, let my heart be focused on the gifts above. Amen.

Sing to God!

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

“For the Church has been, is, and always should be and can be a joyfully singing Church. In a sense, singing is part of what we exist to do,” so proclaim songwriters Keith and Kristyn Getty.[1] And so they are correct.

Woven within the identity of Jesus’ people is song. Both in individual devotion and corporately gathered throughout the ages Christians have been known to sing.

It’s no wonder. Our sacred texts (the Bible) contains a song book. Yes, the tunes have been lost to the ages (though some are setting the words to ancient and modern tunes today), but the Psalms is a collection of prayerful songs.

Within their words, we even find exhortations to sing. Psalm 147:1 says, “Hallelujah! How good it is to sing to our God, for praise is pleasant and lovely.”

One of the great tragedies of our days is the so-called worship wars–churches dividing over preferences of musical style. We sometimes get in our own way of carrying out a good and beautiful act: Singing to God as one voice together.

Our singing should unite us to speak of God and his word in our harmonies. While praising God in song should help focus our minds, it can also help us to shut out, for a moment, the busyness of life and get lost in the worship and grace of God.

Let us sing. Let us sing as the redeemed of God through Jesus. Let us sing of his goodness. Let us sing because it is good.

Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

[1] Keith and Kristyn Getty, Sing! (B&H Publishing, 2017), xxi.

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Sunday 7.21.19 (who do you say Jesus is?)

This morning we’ll be taking a look at Luke 9:1-22 where people wonder who Jesus is–a teacher or a prophet, but Peter confesses him as the Savior-King. Through this passage we’ll see who Jesus is and what that means for our lives. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Why? video study in youth room

Sermon Notes
Who Do You say Jesus Is? ~ Luke 9:1-22

The sermon in one sentence: How we answer the question “Who is Jesus?” affects everything in life and eternity; see him as King, Provider, and Savior.

  • žJesus is the Great King, follow and obey him (9:1-9)
  • Jesus is the Great Provider, be satisfied in him (9:10-17)
  • žJesus is the Only Savior, find salvation in him (9:18-22)

Songs for Worship
Oh, Worship the King
His Name is Wonderful
There’s Something About That Name
Count Your Blessings
One Name
Holy and Anointed One

Luke

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A Steadfast Faith

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

Paul began most of his letters thanking God for the church or person he wrote to, and Second Thessalonians is no exception. In verse 3, he spoke on behalf of himself, Silas, and Timothy as they jointly wrote:

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing.

In his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson lamented that too many people in our culture want a quick-fix religion. They’re willing to give Jesus a try, but not as willing to follow him for the long-haul. “There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue.”[1]

Yet, Paul’s thankfulness for the Thessalonican believers was not found in their experiences or quick-fix solutions to life problems. Instead, he was thankful for a flourishing faith and increasing love.

Both these ideas carry a sense of growth and duration. If you have ever planted and tended a garden, you know that it does not flourish overnight. You must plant the seed, water the seed, and keep watering the seed. Even when sprouts finally burst through the dirt, they must be watered and fertilized to grow big, beautiful, and healthy. You also must fight the war against destructive bugs and weeds that might harm or choke out the life.

Flourishing and increase takes time, care, and patience.

This is the sense of steadfastness that must be in our faith. True faith endures the test of time, growing and increasing from beginning to end. Sometimes that growth seems rapid. Sometimes it seems we are hardly moving at all. Yet, grow we do, focused on Jesus, as our faith flourishes and our love ever-increases.

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

[1] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (InterVarsity Press, 2000), 16.

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