Monday Morning: 26 Aug 2019 – Matthew 7:15-29 ~ Jesus’ teaching on Identifying People, Obedience, and Rock Solid Foundations.

Monday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for the Renewal of Life – Monday)

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 7:15-29 (NLT)

The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)

The Tree and Its Fruit

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

True Disciples

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Building on a Solid Foundation

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
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Morning Reflection:

Jesus’ teaching on Rock Solid Foundations

“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,
for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”

– Matthew 7:28-29 –

Jesus concludes his Sermon on the Mount with an appeal for us to listen and follow his teaching. To do so is to live wisely, building our lives on a rock solid foundation. What are the benefits of obedience?

+ Discernment of Character – People can be identified by their actions, just as trees can be identified their fruit. Our words and works eventually reveal our true character. Of these two criteria, words and works, works are the more reliable indicator of character.

+ Citizenship in Heaven – Proximity to Jesus does not guarantee that we have a ticket to heaven. We gain entrance to heaven by God’s grace through faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Trusting Jesus with our lives, and making God’s will our priority, validates our citizenship.

+ Survival of Troubles – Trials and troubles hit everyone, whether or not we are believers – the issue is survival. Will we survive the storms, or collapse under their onslaught? Wise believers who trust Jesus and put his words into practice will remain rock-solid.

Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is not simply a recommended way of life – it is far more than that. Jesus’ teaching is a call to an allegiance that means the difference between life and death, between blessing and woe.

Questions for consideration:

  • If you are a believer, would anyone know it by the way you live your life? Do your actions reliably reflect your beliefs? Please explain.
  • People can know a lot about Jesus, and still not have a personal relationship with Jesus? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? (Click here if you’re not sure.) How do you nurture that relationship? Please explain.
  • What constitutes the foundation of your life? What is your source of identity and purpose? How do you hold up under pressure? Please explain.
  • Do you accept Jesus’ teaching as recorded in the Gospels as authoritative? How does that affect your life? What do you do when Jesus’ teaching doesn’t make sense to you, or seems unrealistic? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For Submission to God’s Will

Lord Jesus Christ, I love you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, and empower me by your Word and Spirit. Tell me what I should do; give me your orders – that I may submit myself to all that you desire of me, and accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will. In your name, and for your sake I pray. Amen.

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“The Solid Rock” – Mennonite Hour Singers

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

11th Sunday after Pentecost, 25 Aug 2019 – Luke 13:22-30 ~ “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening Prayer: 

To the banquet of your kingdom, O God of the nations, you have invited people of every race and tongue. May all who are called to a place at your table come by the narrow way to the unending feast of life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
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“How Firm a Foundation” – Fernando Ortega

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed;
for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
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A Reading from the Gospels: Luke 13:22-30 (NLT)

The Narrow Door

Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”
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Come to the Table – Keith Lancaster and Acappella

“Come to the table of mercy | Prepared with the wine and the bread
All who are hungry and thirsty | Come and your soul will be fed.

Come at the Lord’s invitation | Receive from His nail-scarred hand
Eat of the bread of salvation | Drink of the blood of the Lamb.
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Intercession:

Sovereign Lord: Your Kingdom is forever and the road that leads to it is narrow and difficult. Hear our pilgrim prayers as we journey along the way You have set before us –

+ That missionaries who are struggling may persevere in faith and not give up….
+ That those who preach the gospel may do so with clarity and courage….
+ That those who hear the gospel may welcome it with faith and obedience….
+ That believers around the world may live by faith and love of neighbor….
+ That believers who are sick may receive Your grace of healing and comfort….
+ That believers who are tired and worn down may receive Your rest and refreshment….
+ That believing teachers, students and staff may display unshakable faith in Jesus….
+ That people of goodwill around the world may prevail in their cultures and live together cooperatively….

Sovereign Lord: May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done in us. Hear our prayers and strengthen us for the journey ahead, we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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“Unshakable Kingdom” – Sandi Patty

They came to follow Him | Drawn by what He promised them
If they would sell all that they had
He said that God would send | A kingdom that would never end
Where all the poor would be so rich

And in their discontent | They heard what they thought He meant
They heard that the weak would be strong
Bread would be multiplied | And hunger be satisfied
And every servant a king

In this kingdom of God | The kingdom that would never end
The living unshakable kingdom of God

But He went His quiet way | Giving Himself away
Building what eyes can never see
While men looked for crowns and thrones | He walked with crowds, alone
Planting a seed in you and me

Crying for those who cried | Dying for those who died
Bursting forth, glorified, alive
And some of them looked for Him | Sad that it had to end
But some dared to look within and see

The kingdom of God | A kingdom that would never end
The living, unshakable kingdom of God

Still some of us look for Him | Sad that it has to end
Do we dare to look within and see
The kingdom of God | A kingdom that would never end
The living, unshakable kingdom of God, of God!
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Closing: Hebrews 12:28

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable,
let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

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+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Saturday Morning, 24 Aug 2019 – Matthew 7:1-14 ~ Jesus’ teaching on Hypocrisy, Persistent Prayer, and the Narrow Gate.

Saturday Morning

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening:  (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading: Matthew 7:1-14 (NLT)

The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)

Do Not Judge Others

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Effective Prayer

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

The Golden Rule

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

The Narrow Gate

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
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Morning Reflection:

Jesus’ teaching on the Narrow Gate

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate….”
– Matthew 7:13 –

Two Paths: the narrow road leads to life in the Kingdom, while the broad road leads to destruction and hell. Living for Jesus is restrictive and invites persecution – it’s a difficult road that leads us to the cross.

In today’s reading, Jesus speaks to the hypocrisy of judging others, the futility of speaking truth to pigs, the necessity of persisting in prayer, and the treating of others as we want to be treated ourselves. Hypocrisy, godlessness, unbelief, and selfishness all constitute the broad path along which most people are headed.

The Kingdom of God is not only counter-cultural (conflicts with prevailing norms), it is also counter-intuitive (conflicts with common sense). Kingdom living requires a radical transformation of our thinking, our feelings, and our behavior – it involves a complete makeover in the image of Christ. Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and healing embodied Kingdom values; Jesus walked the straight and narrow, difficult road. And his death and resurrection secured our place in the Kingdom, by grace through faith.

Questions for consideration:

  • Jesus warned against hypocrisy in judging others; have you ever fallen into that trap? Please explain.
  • Have you ever found yourself sharing God’s truth with people who have no interest whatever in listening? How did it work out? Please explain.
  • Have you given up praying for someone, or something? What would it take to begin again asking, seeking, and knocking? Please explain.
  • What is the most difficult thing God is calling you to do in order to remain on the straight and narrow road that leads to the Kingdom? Please explain.
  • Where do you need more of Christ and less of you in your daily life? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: Prayer of Self-dedication (William Temple)

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

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“Follower” – Moving Works

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Friday Morning: 23 Aug 2019 – Matthew 6:19-34 ~ Jesus’ teaching on Wealth and Worry.

Friday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Endurance – Friday)

Almighty God, whose beloved Son first suffered pain and crucifixion before entering into glory: Mercifully grant that we, walking in his footsteps, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 6:19-34 (NLT)

The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)

Teaching about Money and Possessions

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

“Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
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Morning Reflection:

Jesus’ teaching on Wealth and Worry.

“Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,
and he will give you everything you need.”
– Matthew 6:32b-33 –

How much is enough? When does preoccupation with the accumulation of wealth become a diversion from our single-minded pursuit of the Kingdom of God – from trusting God with our lives?

There is nothing wrong with wealth per se. Wise people work hard and plan for the future; they provide for their families; and they give generously to the needy. Jesus’ concern here is the accumulation of wealth (storing up treasures on earth) as a life goal.

+ Foolish people accumulate material goods that are perishable – vulnerable to wear and tear, theft, and the vagaries of world events and markets.The more they have, the more they want, and the more they worry about losing it. But the heart of their problem is trusting in what they own, instead of God.

+ Wise people accumulate spiritual wealth that is imperishable – doesn’t wear out, no one can take it away, and is based on the economy of heaven. The more they seek God, the more content they are, and the more freedom and joy they experience in life. Their hearts are focused on deepening their relationship with God – putting him first in their lives.

The thing that a person values most highly inevitably occupies the center of his or her heart. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will.

Questions for consideration:

  • What are some of your worries? What keeps you up at night worrying? Please explain.
  • Do any of your worries have to do with money? Please explain?
  • How does materialism influence your life? How does it affect your relationship with God? Please explain.
  • What would it take for you to be content with what you have, and live worry free? How would trusting God make that possible? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For Contentment

Heavenly Father: Thank you for never failing or abandoning your children; and thank you for knowing our needs and providing for them abundantly. Thank you for your loving-kindness and generosity.

Help me to grow in the grace of contentment that I may be grateful for what I have and not worry about what I don’t have. May I be quick to acknowledge that everything I have is a gift from you. Free me from bondage to material comforts, that I may respond in faith to your leading, trusting for your gracious provision in all things.

Heavenly Father: Fill me with awe and wonder at the love you have shown me by sending your Son, Jesus Christ, that I might be adopted into your family. And give me his heart, that I might seek your Kingdom first before all else. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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“Seek First” – Fellowship Music

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Thursday Morning: 22 Aug 2019 – Matthew 6:1-18 ~ Jesus’ teaching on Giving, Prayer, and Fasting

Thursday Morning

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening (A Collect for Guidance – Thursday)

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: Guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our lives we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 6:1-18 (NLT)

The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)

Teaching about Giving to the Needy

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Teaching about Prayer and Fasting

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair[d] and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
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Morning Reflection:

Pray like this….

When you pray, go away by yourself,
shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.
Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
– Matthew 6:6 –

In today’s reading, Jesus warns us not to display (show off) our righteousness in public. His concern is that we not fall into the trap of doing the right things for the wrong reasons. As we have already seen, God examines our hearts not simply our actions. Jesus cites giving as his first example: i.e. give your gifts quietly and privately.

Jesus’ second example addresses prayer and fasting. Like giving, prayer is to be done privately, without public display. And further, Jesus give us a model to follow in our own prayer life –

+ Our Father in heaven: reminds us of our privileged access into God’s sovereign, transcendent presence and of our need to treat Him respectfully.

The first three petitions deal with God and the last three with us –  reminding us to put God’s interests before our own, in our praying as in our living. All the petitions have some connection with the kingdom. The first three deal with the coming of the kingdom, and the last three are appeals in view of the coming kingdom.

+ May your name be kept holy: God’s name includes His reputation and everything about Him. Not only are we not to take His name in vain (e.g. OMG), God’s name and that of His Son are to be revered.

+ May your Kingdom come soon: This petition reflects the believer’s longing for God to turn the world upside down, to make all things new, with the glorious return of Jesus and His righteous rule and reign.

+ May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven: Nothing better can happen than whatever God’s will involves. The precondition of answered prayer is that it conforms to God’s will.

The remaining petitions focus on our needs. We need all three of these things equally; we cannot get along without any of them.

+ Give us today the food we need: Daily bread refers to the necessities of life, not its luxuries. The request is for God to supply our needs day by day. We only live one day at a time, and each day we are dependent on God to sustain us.

+ Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us: Our forgiveness of others demonstrates our felt need of forgiveness. The person who does not forgive a brother’s offenses does not appreciate how much he himself needs forgiveness. Personal fellowship with God is in view here (not salvation from sin). We cannot walk in fellowship with God if we refuse to forgive others.

+ Don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one: This petition acknowledges our felt human weakness to withstand severe trials of our character by the world, the flesh and the devil. God does not always rescue us from evil in the form of the world or flesh, but he does deliver us from the evil one – the devil.

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Morning Prayer – The Lord’s Prayer

Pray through the Lord’s Prayer making it your own. Pause and reflect on each petition – ask yourself what does this mean for me? How does this speak to my needs and concerns?

  • Our Father in heaven…
  • May your name be kept holy…
  • May your Kingdom come soon…
  • May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…
  • Give me today the food I need…
  • Forgive me my sins, as I have forgiven those who sin against me.
  • And don’t let me yield to temptation, but rescue me from the evil one…

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“The Lord’s Prayer “ – Shenandoah Christian Music Camp

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen