Wednesday Morning: 11 Sep 2019 – Matthew 9:1-17 ~ “Be encouraged, my child!”

Wednesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Grace – Wednesday)

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day: Defend us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin nor run into any danger; and that guided by your Spirit, we may do what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 9:1-17 (NLT)

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town. Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for giving humans such authority.

Jesus Calls Matthew

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’[d] For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

A Discussion about Fasting

One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?”

Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
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Morning Reflection:

“Be encouraged, my child!
Your sins are forgiven.”

– Matthew 9:2 –

Jesus’ ministry and mission was predicated upon God’s mercy – not our merit, From Jesus’ perspective, no one is unredeemable, deplorable, or despicable enough by the standards of society to be outside Jesus’ concern and saving grace.

Questions for consideration:

  • Is there anything that you have said, thought or done that you consider unforgivable, i.e. outside the bounds of God’s saving grace? Please explain.
  • What would you prefer right now, healing for your sicknesses and diseases, or forgiveness for your sins? Please explain.
  • What would repentance and restoration be like in your life right now? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

O most loving Father, in your mercy you put away the sins of those who truly repent, and remember their sins no more. Restore and renew in us whatever has been corrupted by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by our own selfish will and weakness. Preserve and protect us within the fellowship of the Church; hear our prayers and relieve our pain; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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“Redeemed”” – Big Daddy Weave

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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

Wednesday Morning: 21 Aug 2019 – Matthew 5:33-48 Jesus’ teaching on Vows, Revenge, and Love for Enemies.

Wednesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Grace – Wednesday)

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day: Defend us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin nor run into any danger; and that guided by your Spirit, we may do what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 5:33-48 (NLT)

The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)

Teaching about Vows

“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

Teaching about Revenge

“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

Teaching about Love for Enemies

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
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Morning Reflection:

Jesus’ teaching on Love for Enemies.

I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

– Matthew 5:44-45 –

Living by Kingdom standards involves a dramatic transformation of our thinking, our feelings, and our actions. Nowhere is this more evident than in Jesus’ teaching on loving our enemies. It’s not just a matter of going through the motions; God looks at our hearts and examines our motives as well.

Heartfelt love of enemies involves doing them good and praying for them. And that takes a work of God within us – an extreme makeover by God’s Word and Spirit – to move us from self-preservation to self-sacrifice, from meanness to generosity, from coldness to warmth, from distance to proximity – if not physically, at least emotionally.

Kingdom living is truly upside-down from the way the world lives and responds to enemies – with anger, hatred and retaliation. And prayer for the good of our enemies is one means of grace that facilitates that change in us as well as them.

Questions for consideration:

  • When you think of your enemies, who comes to mind? Why do you consider them your enemies? Please explain.
  • How have they harmed you? How have they hurt you? Please explain.
  • How have your enemies affected your thinking, your feelings, and your behavior? Please explain.
  • Has God changed the way way you think, feel, or behave towards them? Please explain.
  • What would it take for you to pray for them? How would you pray for their good? Please explain.
  • What would it take for you to be reconciled with them? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer – For Our Enemies

God of Grace and Glory: Have mercy on us all, and especially forgive our enemies – those who have slandered and persecuted us, those who seek to destroy us, those who defame Your Holy Name. Fill us with Your Spirit, that we may love them as Jesus commanded us. Lead us all from falsehood to truth: deliver us all from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time turn all our hearts to You, and enable us all to stand reconciled before you through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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“Love Your Enemies”” – Tom Blakely

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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

Wednesday Morning: 14 Aug 2019 – Matthew 2:16-23 ~ The Slaughter of the Innocents.

Wednesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Grace – Wednesday)

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day: Defend us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin nor run into any danger; and that guided by your Spirit, we may do what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 2:16-23 (NLT)

Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A cry was heard in Ramah—weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.”

The Return to Nazareth

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”

So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
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Morning Reflection:

The Slaughter of the Innocents

Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him.
He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem
who were two years old and under,

based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.
– Matthew 2:16 –

What prompts a person to do such a thing, even a despot like Herod? What prompts anyone to commit such an evil act – to kill children? Spiritual blindness? Fear? Paranoia? Deceit? Cruelty? Anger? Anxiety All of these were certainly true of Herod, but what of those who kill children today?

“We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of war, of hatred.
If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”
– Mother Teresa

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Morning Prayer

Almighty God, out of the mouths of children you manifest your truth, and by the death of the Holy Innocents at the hands of evil tyrants you show your strength in our weakness: We ask you to mortify all that is evil within us, and so strengthen us by your grace, that we may glorify your holy Name by the innocence of our lives and the constancy of our faith even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who died for us and now lives with you and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

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Heilarion Alfeyev. Christmas Oratorio 24: Rachel’s lament – Sung by Khibla Gerzvama.

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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

Wednesday Morning: 07 Aug 2019 – Ephesians 5:1-17 ~ Live and love like Jesus.

Wednesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Grace – Wednesday)

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day: Defend us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin nor run into any danger; and that guided by your Spirit, we may do what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Ephesians 5:1-17 (NLT)

Living in the Light

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
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Morning Reflection:

Live and Love like Jesus.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.
He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
– Ephesians 5:1-2 –

Paul sets a high standard for us in today’s reading – Imitate God… following the example of Christ. What does that involve?

+ Living a life filled with Christ’s love – a life of sacrifice, characterized by purity, contentment, thoughtfulness, and thanksgiving

+ Living a life filled with Christ’s light – a life lived openly, characterized by goodness, righteousness, truth, and wisdom

As children of God, we are united with God in Christ. And it’s in that union, that abiding in Christ, that his Spirit enables us to love like Jesus loved, and to live like Jesus lived.

Questions for consideration:

  • When you consider ways in which Jesus has loved you, what comes to mind? Please explain.
  • How can you follow Jesus’ example? Who or what comes to mind? Please explain.
  • When you think of the ways that Jesus lived openly, even in the face of opposition, what comes to mind? Please explain.
  • Can you think of times when you have hidden your sin, or hidden your faith, for fear of exposure? Please explain.
  • When you think of how Jesus openly lived and loved, what is the Holy Spirit prompting you to say or do? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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“Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me” – CityAlight

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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

Wednesday Morning: 31 Jul 2019 – Ephesians 1:15-23 ~ The church is the body of Christ.

Wednesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Grace – Wednesday)

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day: Defend us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin nor run into any danger; and that guided by your Spirit, we may do what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Ephesians 1:15-23 (NLT)

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
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Morning Reflection:

The church is his body;
it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

– Ephesians 1:23 –

In today’s reading, Paul has moved from praising who has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (vs 1:3), to praying that the church might grow in wisdom and understanding of the “incredible greatness” of God’s power given to us in Jesus Christ, the head of all things, for the benefit of the church which is his body.

I recently read of a several high-profile pastors/teachers who have fallen away from the faith and denied Christ. The author posed the question: “If this is happening in public, how many low-profile pastors have fallen away privately but labor on in unbelief because they need a job?” It’s a sad state of affairs for them, but worse for the people in their churches; they don’t know who they are in Christ, or the power God has given to all who believe in Christ.

This is why Paul’s prayer speaks to us today, as the devil prowls this world seeking those whom he can deceive and destroy. Consider again Paul’s praise and prayer –

+ Praise: God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms – not simply the temporal blessings of this earth and this life, but the eternal blessings of heaven. We are God’s holy people – his rich and glorious inheritance.

+ Prayer: That God’s holy people would appreciate the spiritual blessings they already have and grow in intimacy with God through faith and trust his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Morning Prayer Pray for Your Church

  • That your pastors/teachers may be protected from the wiles and deceit of the evil one.
  • That together you may grow in wisdom and understanding of the spiritual blessings you have received in Christ.
  • That together your relationship with God may grow deeper and fuller through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • That together your hearts would be flooded with the light of God’s Word and the insight of God’s Spirit.
  • That together you would live confidently in the hope God has given you in Christ.
  • That together you would understand the greatness of the power God has given you – resurrection power, enthronement power.
  • That together you would gladly yield to the authority of Christ who is head over all things for the benefit of the church.

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“Build my life” – Housefires

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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