Friday Morning: 05 Jul 2019 – 1 Peter 1:1-12 ~ Live with Heaven in mind.

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.
__________

Morning Reading – 1 Peter 1:1-12 (NLT)

Greetings from Peter

This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

May God give you more and more grace and peace.

The Hope of Eternal Life

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.
__________

Morning Reflection:

Live with Heaven in mind.

May God give you more and more grace and peace.
– 1 Peter 1:2 –

The Apostle Peter sent his letter to believers, mainly Gentiles, living as foreigners in the northern regions of Asia Minor (modern western Turkey). His purpose was to encourage those who were facing persecution for their faith to stand firm.

In today’s reading, Peter reminds us of our identity as believers: we have been chosen by God, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and made holy by the Spirit at work within us.

+ In Christ, we have hope – because He lives, we shall live. Our new birth gave us this life. Consequently our hope is both alive within us and part of our new life in Christ.
+ In Christ, we have joy – even in our trials, because we have hope, faith, and love. Our present joy is infused with God’s glory; it’s a foretaste of the glory we will experience when Christ returns.
+ In Christ, we have a model of suffering in obedience to God. Both suffering and joy are normative aspects of Christian life.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you see yourself as a foreigner in the place where you live? How does that affect your understanding of citizenship? Please explain.
  • When you think about who you are (your identity), how is your self-image shaped by what people say about you? How is your self-image shaped by what God says about you? Please explain.
  • Can you think of an example when faith in Jesus Christ changed your despair into hope, your sadness into joy? Please explain.
  • Do you view suffering as normative for Christians? Please explain.

_________

Morning Prayer: For Times of Suffering or Weakness

Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: I hold up all my weakness to your strength, my failure to your faithfulness, my sinfulness to your perfection, my loneliness to your compassion, my little pains to your great agony on the Cross. I pray that you will cleanse me, strengthen me, guide me, so that in all ways my life may be lived as you would have it lived, without cowardice and for you alone. Show me how to live in true humility, true contrition, and true love. Amen.

__________

“This World is Not My Home” – Charity Youth Bible School

__________

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: 28 Jun 2019 – James 1:12-27 ~ Faith and Obedience

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.
__________

Morning Reading – James 1:12-27 (NLT)

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Listening and Doing

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
__________

Morning Reflection:

Faith and Obedience

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.

– James 1:12 –

In today’s reading, James builds on his premise that God uses our troubles to perfect us in faith and obedience that we might receive his promised reward – “the crown of life” – life to its fullest potential in the present and in the future.

But that premise requires clarification: God is not the source of our temptations, he simply uses them for our good. Rather than blaming God we need to recognize that we are responsible when we yield to temptation, not God. So how does temptation work?

+ Temptation comes from our own sinful desires.
+ These desires give birth to sinful actions.
+ When unchecked, these sinful actions lead to death.

Nevertheless, God is good; his desire is to bless us –

He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word.
And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
– James 1:18 –

So, how then can we respond positively to the God who chose us and loves us? By accepting God’s Word, by acting on it, and by abiding by it. Here are some practical examples to follow –

+ Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry
+ Control what you say and do, shun filth and evil
+ Humbly accept the word God
+ Care for orphans and widows in their distress
+ Refuse to let the world corrupt you

Questions for consideration:

  • As you consider these practical examples of faith and obedience, which one(s) are most difficult for you? Please explain.
  • What would would you need to do (or not do) in order to act positively on God’s word to you? Please explain.
  • Obedience is not simply a one-off, it is ongoing; and for believers it means taking on a lifestyle that distinguishes us from that of the world. Can you think of one way you are influenced by the corruption of the world? And what would it take to resist that influence? Please explain.

_________

Morning Prayer: For Holy Thought

O God, without whose beauty and goodness our souls are unfed, without whose truth our reason withers: Consecrate our lives to your will, giving us such purity of heart, such depth of faith, and such steadfastness of purpose, that in time we may come to think your own thoughts after you; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

__________

“Christ Be All Around Me” – All Sons & Daughters

__________

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: 21 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 11:17-31 ~ Faith is tested.

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.
__________

Morning Reading – Hebrews 11:17-31 (NLT)

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.

It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.

It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.

It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
__________

Morning Reflection:

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him.
– Hebrews 11:17

It’s difficult to get beyond the first couple of verses in today’s reading. God had big plans for Abraham – he would become the father of many nations with descendants as many as the stars in the skies. And yet, God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to give up not only the son he loved, but also his hopes and dreams for the future.

How could Abraham do such a thing – so counter to the promises that God had made to him? Here’s how Abraham reasoned – If Isaac dies, God can raise him from the dead. And so God did – so to speak – Isaac was spared and God remained faithful to his covenantal promise.

The Gospel of John reminds us –

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

– John 3:16

And the Apostle Paul pleads with us –

I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship him
. – Romans 12:1

Abraham was willing to continue to trust and obey God, even if it meant giving up his son. And God himself did just that – he gave up his Son so that we might live forever.

Questions for consideration:

  • What do you think it means to give yourself as a living and holy sacrifice to God? Please explain.
  • Abraham was willing to give up a loved one in trust and obedience to God? If God asked that of you, who comes to mind and how do you think you would respond? Please explain.
  • Have you received a promise from God that is yet to be fulfilled in this life? Please explain.
  • What does it cost you to trust and obey God now, believing he will fulfill his promise to you – if not now, then in eternity? Please explain.

_________

Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

 Heavenly Father: Pour out Your Spirit on all who advocate for the protection of human life. Deliver us from anger triggered by Christian apathy toward the desperate circumstances of the widows and orphans living among us. Fill us with a spirit of kindness and self-control, and give us the words to speak the truth, gently and lovingly – that we may act with love and compassion toward those who disagree with us. Thank You Lord for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins – remind us that He died for all of us, and that He alone will judge the living and the dead. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for Knowing and Loving God:

O God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: Help us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

__________

“Before The Throne Of God” – Lee Scott

__________

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: 14 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 8:1-13 ~ Jesus ministers to us in heaven

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.
__________

Morning Reading – Hebrews 8:1-13 (NLT)

Christ Is Our High Priest

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.

And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”

But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.
__________

Morning Reflection:

Jesus ministers to us in heaven

Here is the main point:
We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven.
There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle,
the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
– Hebrews 8:1-2

Today’s reading continues to make the case for the superiority of Jesus Christ as our High Priest under the new covenant that God has decreed. The new covenant has been established in heaven with Jesus seated by the throne of God – a place of worship, the Most Holy Place, unblemished by human involvement in its construction.

In this place of honor, Jesus ministers to us –

+ as our High Priest enthroned with God in heaven
+ as our High Priest in the real Tabernacle – the real Most Holy Place
+ as our High Priest in the real, eternal, presence of God

And how does this benefit us? Why is this ministry of Jesus under the new covenant a better way?

+ because under the new covenant – God lives in us
+ because under the new covenant – God empowers us to remain faithful
+ because under the new covenant – God gives us the desire to do his will
+ because under the new covenant – God establishes a privileged, unique relationship with himself
+ because under the new covenant – God permits us to know him directly
+ because under the new covenant – God makes a way for us to experience permanent forgiveness of our sins

Questions for consideration: As you review the benefits we receive from Jesus ministry to us –

  • What comes to mind when you think of Jesus seated in God’s presence? What does this mean for you? Please explain.
  • Which of the benefits listed above do you find most encouraging? Please explain.
  • Which of the benefits listed above are you least aware of in your every-day life? Please explain.
  • Which of the benefits listed above would you like to live into more? How could you do that? What would you like God to do? Please explain.

_________

Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

Heavenly Father: Thank you for the older members of my family, and my family of faith. Help me to listen and learn from them, that I may grow in wisdom and understanding beyond my age. I pray, too, for all who are facing the limitations of aging, that they may be active in loving others and be filled with hope and encouragement. Thank you for those whom you have called to care for the elderly, equip them with the love and compassion of Jesus. It’s in his Name I ask it, Amen. 

Prayer for Knowing and Loving God:

O God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you: Help us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

__________

“Be Enthroned” – Bethel Music

__________

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: 07 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 3:1-19 ~ Jesus is greater than Moses.

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.
__________

Morning Reading – Hebrews 3:1-19 (NLT)

Jesus Is Greater Than Moses

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.

But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

That is why the Holy Spirit says,

“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says:

“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”

And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.
__________

Morning Reflection:

Jesus Is Greater Than Moses

Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant.
His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later.
But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house.
And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

– Hebrews 3:5-6 (NLT)

Remember that the Book of Hebrews was written originally to Jewish believers outside of Israel, warning them against lapsing back into their former Jewish religious practices. That’s why the author makes a point of contrasting Jesus with Moses. God has placed Jesus in charge of what Moses originally built.

But at the core of today’s reading is a warning to us –

+ to keep our courage in Christ – following the example of Moses’ faithfulness as a God’s servant; but even better, following the example of Jesus’ faithfulness as God’s Son.

+ to remain confident in our hope in Christ – a living, dynamic person, not a set of rules, or some dead doctrine.

Questions for consideration:

  • Have you noticed that it’s often easier to make rules, than to maintain relationships? Yes/No? Please explain.
  • Where do you need courage to remain faithful to Christ Jesus today? Please explain.
  • Where do you need confident hope in Christ Jesus today? Please explain.
  • What can you do to deepen your relationship with Christ Jesus today? Please explain.

_________

Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

Heavenly Father: Send messengers with words of hope and help to women who are fearful and pregnant and to men who are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of fatherhood. And grant boldness and strength to all you call to protect life no matter how many are “arrayed against” us. I ask this in Jesus’ name and for your glory. Amen.

My Prayer: For Union with Christ – Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. Within thy wounds hide me. Permit me not to be separated from thee. From the wicked foe defend me. In the hour of my death call me, and bid me come to thee, that with thy saints I may praise thee for ever and ever. Amen.

__________

“Closer” – Amanda Cook | Brave New World

__________

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