Thursday Morning: 20 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 11:1-16 ~ Faith confirms and convicts.

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: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life 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 – Hebrews 11:1-16 (NLT)

Great Examples of Faith

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
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Morning Reflection:

Faith confirms and convicts.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
– Hebrews 11:1

In today’s reading, faith is described along with examples of old testament saints who persevered in faith.

So what is the nature of faith? Faith confirms our confidence in Christ, and convicts us of our hope in Christ. Faith is the basis of all the Christian life means, and all the Christian hopes for. Faith is essential for connecting with God. Faith is a way of viewing all of life, what lies ahead as well as what is in the past. It involves accepting God’s viewpoint as He has revealed it in His Word.

It is impossible to please God without faith.
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and
that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
– Hebrews 11:6

So how did faith play out in the lives of some of the old testament saints?

  • By faith – They understood the entire universe was formed at God’s command
  • By faith – Abel offered God his first and best
  • By faith – Noah built an Ark before it began to rain
  • By faith – Abraham went out not knowing where he was going
  • By faith – Sarah was able to give birth to a son in her old age
  • By faith – Abraham lived as a stranger, looking forward to eternity
  • By faith – They expected God to reward their faithfulness

Questions for consideration:

  • Where would you place yourself on the faith scale – from 1 (zero) to 10 (hero)? Please explain.
  • Can you think of an example where you exercised faith by believing without seeing? Please explain.
  • Which of the examples of faith listed above speak to your present circumstances? Please explain.
  • What do you expect to receive from God as a reward for your faithfulness? Please explain.
  • How long are you willing to wait for God to fulfill is promises to you? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

 Heavenly Father: Raise up capable leaders in every faith community – grounded in Your Word and empowered by Your Spirit – whom You can use to mobilize the work of loving and protecting human life. And produce in me the character and faith required to support this good work. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for Increased Faith:

Mighty Everlasting Father, I humbly come before Your throne of grace and mercy, laying down my life before You. Only You can satisfy the longing within me; You are my heart’s desire. I yearn to be in Your Holy presence, constantly seeking Your will and Your great plans for my life. Draw me nearer and closer to You daily, as my thirst is quenched by Your springs of living waters. Increase my confidence and boldness that I may move forward in faith wherever You send me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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“By Faith” – Keith & Kristyn Getty

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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: 13 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 7:11-28 ~ Jesus guarantees God’s covenant

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: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life 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 – Hebrews 7:11-28 (NLT)

So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron?

And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.

Jesus Is like Melchizedek

This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied,

“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

This new system was established with a solemn oath. Aaron’s descendants became priests without such an oath, but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to him,

“The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: ‘You are a priest forever.’”

Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God.

There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.
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Morning Reflection:

Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God.
– Hebrews 7:22

In today’s reading, we are introduced to God’s new (better) covenant with Jesus as the guarantor.

The particular word the writer chose to use for covenant conveys the idea of God’s absolute will, e.g. a last will and testament, rather than an agreement between two equal parties, e.g. marriage. It’s a one-sided declaration, rather than a negotiation; and God has appointed his Son, backed by God’s sworn oath, to be its underwriter.

So let’s look at why God appointed Jesus as our High Priest forever –

  • Jesus offered himself, once and for all, as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
  • Jesus’ sacrifice is one of a kind because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin.
  • Jesus has been set apart from sinners, and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.
  • Jesus’ priesthood saves, once and forever, those who come to God through him.
  • Jesus’ priesthood continues forever to intercede with God on our behalf.
  • Jesus’ priesthood lasts forever, because Jesus lives forever.

Questions for consideration:

  • In what way is the new covenant better than the old covenant? Please explain.
  • What do the expressions “once and for all, once and forever” mean to you? How do they relate to your every-day life? Please explain.
  • Since Jesus is continually interceding for you, where do you need his help today? Please explain.
  • How often do you receive the Lord’s Supper in your tradition? Why? Please explain.
  • Have you experienced God’s grace through receiving Communion? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

Gracious God: Thank you for the blessing of our children and the hope they give for the future of our faith. Watch over them and protect them. Thank you for placing them in believing families and faith communities where they can be nurtured by your Word and Spirit and grow into the faith-filled future you prepared for them even before they were born. Help them to find their place in your family, that they may love and serve you to the glory of your name. I ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer of Consecration (Preface): Anglican Church in North America

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and when we had sinned against you and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent your only Son Jesus Christ into the world for our salvation. By the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary he became flesh and dwelt among us. In obedience to your will, he stretched out his arms upon the Cross and offered himself once for all, that by his suffering and death we might be saved. By his resurrection he broke the bonds of death, trampling Hell and Satan under his feet. As our great high priest, he ascended to your right hand in glory, that we might come with confidence before the throne of grace….

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“Come To The Table” – Sidewalk Prophets

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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: 06 Jun 2019 – Hebrews 2:1-18 ~ Jesus became like us

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: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life 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 – Hebrews 2:1-18 (NLT)

A Warning against Drifting Away

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.

Jesus, the Man

And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. For in one place the Scriptures say,

“What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or a son of man that you should care for him? Yet for a little while you made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them authority over all things.”

Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority. What we do see is Jesus, who for a little while was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.

So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. For he said to God,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people.”

He also said,

“I will put my trust in him,” that is, “I and the children God has given me.”

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
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Morning Reflection:

For us and for our salvation.… (Nicene Creed)

Our reading begins with a warning for believers to remain in the truth that Jesus himself delivered and God confirmed by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.

So what is the truth – why did Jesus become like us?

+ to fulfill God’s purpose for everyone
+ to suffer death for everyone
+ to bring many of us to glory
+ to destroy the devil and his power
+ to deliver us from the fear of death
+ to become a priest who intercedes for us
+ to become a sacrifice for everyone’s sins
+ to help us when we are tested

In essence, Jesus became like us, to make us like him.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you know anyone who you thought was a believer, but has since fallen away from the truth they have heard? Please explain.
  • How can you prevent yourself from drifting away from the truth you have heard? Please explain.
  • Fear of dying is the litmus test for believers. What concerns you about your own death and dying? How does Jesus fit into your concerns? Please explain.
  • What sort of temptations affect your life? How can Jesus help you with them? Please explain.
  • Do you think you are becoming more like Jesus? Yes/No? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

Life Support Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, in you we have a living hope: Reveal yourself to those for whom life seems overwhelming and have become weary of waiting for an answer. Stir their hearts to a lively resurrection of hope that cannot be put down. Empower and equip believers to reflect your welcome, love, and care to all they meet who may tend toward despair. I ask this for your Name’s sake. Amen.

Prayer: For Grace to Seek God in Every Way – Benedict of Nursia

Gracious and holy Father, please give me intellect to understand you, reason to discern you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, a spirit to know you, a heart to meditate upon you, ears to hear you, eyes to see you, a tongue to proclaim you, a way of life pleasing to you, patience to wait for you, and perseverance to look for you. Grant me a perfect end, your holy presence, a blessed resurrection, and life everlasting. Amen

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“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” – Selah

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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: 30 May 2019 – Mark 14:66-72 ~ on denial and remorse

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: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life 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 – Mark 14:66-72 (NLT)

Peter Denies Jesus

Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”

But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.

When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” But Peter denied it again.

A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.
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Morning Reflection:

on denial and remorse

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind:
“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
And he broke down and wept.
– Mark 14:72

Peter’s presence in the courtyard during Jesus’ trial was a testimony to His love for Jesus. Unfortunately his love could not stand the test of fear – not just once, but three times.

Remember that the Gospel of Mark was written to a church under severe pressure of persecution. As such, Peter’s denial was both a warning and assurance.

+ Warning – If denial was possible for one of the leaders of the apostles, then every believer must constantly be on guard, lest they too succumb to fear over faith.

+ Assurance – If anyone does fail Jesus, if their faith is overcome by fear, there is always a way open for repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.

Questions for consideration:

  • Have you ever been overcome by fear? How did you handle it? Please explain.
  • Have you ever had to face your fears? What did that entail? Please explain.
  • Have you ever failed Jesus because of fear of one sort or another? Please explain.
  • Have you repented, received forgiveness and restoration? Please explain.
  • If you are not sure, click here.

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Morning Prayer:

The Persecuted Church: Prayer for churches to rise up:

Lord Jesus: Awaken your church to the critical needs of believers around the world who are suffering calamity and great persecution. Grant that we would be faithful in prayer, and generous in our giving for physical support. Rally your church around those who are suffering for your name’s sake. And empower us by your Spirit to engage our political leaders, especially here in America, in order to remind them that Christian persecution is a real issue that must be addressed in our time. I ask this in your name, and for the Father’s glory. Amen.

Prayer: To Overcome Fear and Anxiety

Lord Jesus: Sometimes, my heart and mind are flooded with fears – I feel paralyzed, not knowing what to do. Yet I hold onto your truth. You have told us not to fear, for you have overcome the world.

So I cling to you, and I trust in your promises, that you will never fail me, never forsake me. In moments of disabling fear, I choose to hold your hand. I know that you have experienced the most fearful places, and I know that you have risen again.

In you all promises meet and new life begins. You are my Savior, I hide in you, protected by your love, and sheltered by your grace. Amen.

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“Fear Is a Liar” – Zach Williams

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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: 23 May 2019 – Mark 13:1-23 ~ on signs and persecution (end times pt 1)

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: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life 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 – Mark 13:1-23 (NLT)

Jesus Speaks about the Future

As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these magnificent buildings! Look at the impressive stones in the walls.”

Jesus replied, “Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

“When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. For the Good News must first be preached to all nations. But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
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Morning Reflection:

on signs and persecution

“Tell us, when will all this happen?
What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?”

– Mark 13:4

At some point, every believer asks the question, “When will this present age end? What will be the signs that the end is near?”

In today’s reading, Jesus answers negatively with a warning us against false signs and the expectation of persecution.

False Signs will precede Jesus’ return:

  • People claiming to be the Messiah, claiming to be God.
  • Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines.

Severe Persecution:

  • From Jews and Gentiles, from religious and secular courts. However such treatment will also provide opportunity to bear witness for Jesus.
  • From betrayal by family members and blood relatives. All kinds of people will hate us for our testimony.

And where is the grace in Jesus’ warning? The Holy Spirit will give every believer under persecution and trial the appropriate words to speak at the appropriate time. And those of us who endure this persecution and suffering until our life’s end, or until Jesus returns, will be saved.

Questions for consideration:

  • While all kinds of people are seeking some sort of protected status, it seems to be “open season” on Christians. Have you experienced persecution in one form or another? Please explain.
  • Have you experienced social or legal difficulties because of your faith? How did you respond? Did the Holy Spirit help you in any way? Please explain.
  • How has your family responded to your faith in Jesus Christ? Are they supportive, or dismissive? How have you responded to them? Please explain.
  • It seems as though there are always “wars and rumors of wars” in every age. Do you think that present time is different? What does it mean for you to “watch out?” Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

The Persecuted Church: Prayer for churches to rise up:

Lord Jesus: Awaken your church to the critical needs of believers around the world who are suffering calamity and great persecution. Grant that we would be faithful in prayer, and generous in our giving for physical support. Rally your church around those who are suffering for your name’s sake. And empower us by your Spirit to engage our political leaders, especially here in America, in order to remind them that Christian persecution is a real issue that must be addressed in our time. I ask this in your name, and for the Father’s glory. Amen.

My Prayer: “We must not be silent” (ACNA)

Heavenly Father, we bring before you today the people of Syria and Iraq, asking you to be their defender and help in their time of need. Walk with them in their suffering and loss, and give them strength to face the days ahead. We pray for release of the captives and freedom for those held hostage. We pray for your intervention against the violence and evil against your people. We pray for your provision for the hungry, the homeless, and the bereaved. We pray for you to help your people who are called by your Name, Jesus’ Name, and it is in His Name we ask these things. Amen.
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“O God, Do Thou Sustain Me” – Anabaptist Martyr Hymns

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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