Tuesday Morning, 22 Oct 2019 – Matthew 25:1-30 ~ use well what you are given

Tuesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 25:1-30 (NLT)

Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

Parable of the Three Servants

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.  He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

“The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

“The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

“Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
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Morning Reflection:

use well what you are given

He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone…
dividing it in proportion to their abilities.
– Matthew 25:14-15 –

Faithfulness, as Jesus illustrates in the story of the three servants, involves using what God has entrusted us to advance His interests in the world.

The teaching points include –

+ All that we are given are gracious gifts of God, distributed according to the abilities he has given us.

+ The gifts God has given us are a kind of working capital to use for his glory.

+ Faithfulness involves taking some prudent risks; fear of doing something wrong stifles our potential.

+ The greater our gifts and abilities, the greater our risk, and the greater our responsibility.

Questions for consideration:

  • How would you assess the gifts that God has entrusted to you? Think in broad terms, e.g.spiritual gifts, natural abilities, the gospel, opportunities for service, money, community, ethnicity – all that things that make you uniquely you. Please explain.
  • Can you think of ways that you have used some of these gifts to glorify God and advance his Kingdom purposes? Please explain.
  • When you consider the gifts that God has entrusted to you, do you think you have lived up to your potential? Why / why not?
  • Where do you need to risk stepping out in faith in order to glorify God and advance his Kingdom purposes? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For the potential You have given us –

+ For the potential You see in us and the possibilities that lie ahead:
Christ be before us.

+ For our plans and their fulfillment, for Your promises and their unfolding:
Christ be before us.

+ In the problems that beset us and the perils that ensnare us:
Christ be before us.

+ Be around us, above us, and beneath us.
On Your path, O my God and not my own,
be all my journeying.

Rule this heart of mine that it be only Yours.
Amen.

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“Rule In My Heart” – Beth Croft

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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

Tuesday Morning, 15 Oct 2019 – Matthew 22:1-22 ~ Come to the banquet!

Tuesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 22:1-22 (NLT)

Parable of the Great Feast

Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

“The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Taxes for Caesar

Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

His reply amazed them, and they went away.
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Morning Reflection:

Come to the banquet!

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
– Matthew 21:14 –

Jesus likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a great wedding feast for a king’s son. All the preparations have been made and invitations have been sent out to his subjects but the message is treated with contempt, and in some cases the messengers are even killed. But the banquet is ready, the time is come; so the king fills his banquet hall with anyone the servants can find, good and bad alike. And what happened to those who rejected the invitation? They were destroyed. Jesus ends his illustration: “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

What are we to make of this story living in and around unbelievers, in fact living in entire societies that have heard the call but have rejected Jesus?

Teaching point: Not all whom God has invited to the kingdom will participate in it. Only those who respond to God’s call and prepare themselves by trusting in Jesus will enjoy the feast.

Questions for consideration:

  • Can you think of a person who has heard the Good News, but is unrepentant – who has rejected Jesus? Please explain.
  • Reread the illustration of the Great Feast. How many chances did the king give his invited guest to respond?
  • What were some of the reasons they gave for rejecting the king’s invitation? Please explain.
  • How do these excuses relate to people who reject Jesus today? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For the Unrepentant –

Merciful God, you desire not the death of sinners, but rather that they should turn to you and live; and through your only Son you have revealed yourself as the God who pardons iniquity. Have mercy on the unrepentant and those who do not believe, [especially…]. Awaken in them, by your Word and Holy Spirit, a deep sense of their sinfulness and peril. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of your Word. Grant them to know and feel that there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which they must be saved, but only the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so bring them home and number them among your children, that they may be yours for ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

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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

Tuesday Morning, 08 Oct 2019 – Matthew 19:1-15 ~ One man, One woman, One marriage, One lifetime!

Tuesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 19:1-15 (NLT)

Discussion about Divorce and Marriage

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.

Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”

“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Jesus Blesses the Children

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.
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Morning Reflection:

One man, One woman, One marriage, One lifetime!

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied.
“They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’”
And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife,
and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,
let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
– Matthew19:4-6 –

Jesus’ teaching on marriage goes back to how God made human beings, i.e God’s intention for men and women at creation. The union of a man and woman is likened  to a “gluing” or “welding” together for lifetime. The ‘one flesh’ in every marriage between a man and a woman is a reenactment of and testimony to the very structure of humanity as God created it.

Separation by divorce then is a violation of the natural order and amounts to rebellion against the God. Divorce constitutes a hardening of hearts toward God and one another.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman? Please explain.
  • In modern society, “marriage” between various combinations and genders are not uncommon. Are these truly marriages? Why/why not? Please explain.
  • In modern society divorce and remarriage is common, even among believers. Why is this? Please explain.
  • Do you believe couples should remain married for the children? Or is there something more involved? Please explain.
  • How would you counsel friends or family members who are considering divorce? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For Families –

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you set the solitary in families: We commend to your continual care the homes in which your people dwell. Put far from them every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, and true godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy matrimony, have been made one flesh; turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be joined to one another with bonds of loving-kindness; through Jesus 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

Tuesday Morning, 01 Oct 2019 – Matthew 17:1-21 ~ shock and awe

Tuesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 17:1-21 (NLT)

The Transfiguration

Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.

Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.

As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Then his disciples asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”

Jesus replied, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but he wasn’t recognized, and they chose to abuse him. And in the same way they will also make the Son of Man suffer.” Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist.

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy

At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”

Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.

Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
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Morning Reflection:

shock and awe

“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
– Matthew 17:14-15 –

When people see the glory of God revealed and realize that they are in His presence, they feel terror.  The purpose of the transfiguration was primarily confirmation – confirmation of the reality of a future kingdom.

+ The presence of Old Testament saints on earth with Christ in a glorified state verified the kingdom promises in the Old Testament.

+ The reality of this kingdom is also evident from the connection of the transfiguration with the promise of Matthew 16:27-28. The Son of Man was going to come one day to judge the world and establish His kingdom (Matthew 16:27).

+ As an earnest of the coming of the kingdom three disciples were permitted to see the Son of Man in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28). This is exactly the manner in which Peter uses the transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-21).”

Questions for consideration:

  • Have you ever been in the presence of God, and/or heard his voice? How did you respond? Please explain.
  • When you consider that the Transfiguration is a glimpse into the coming Kingdom, how does that shape your understanding of Jesus’ return on the day of judgement? Please explain.
  • How do you reconcile the Father’s affirmation: “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy,” with Jesus prediction of his coming suffering and death? Please explain.
  • Where do you need to exercise faith in your life – for God to do the seemingly impossible? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: Prayer – For the Coming of God’s Kingdom

Hasten, O Father, the coming of your kingdom; and grant that we your servants, who now live by faith, may with joy behold your Son at his coming in glorious majesty; even Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
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“I Can Only Imagine” – MercyMe

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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

Tuesday Morning: 24 Sep 2019 – Matthew 13:44-58 ~ the problem of unbelief

Tuesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 13:44-58 (NLT)

Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Parable of the Fishing Net

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand all these things?”

“Yes,” they said, “we do.”

Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
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Morning Reflection:

The Problem of Unbelief

And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
– Matthew13:58 –

The essential problem of unbelief is that it devalues Jesus and his Kingdom. Today’s Kingdom parables and Jesus’ visit to Nazareth are illustrative.

+ The Treasure and Pearl – both make the point that the Kingdom of God is so valuable that the seeker is willing to look everywhere and sell everything in order to participate in it. But how many of us are actually eager to sacrifice everything – to pay any price – to join Jesus in the advance of his Kingdom? Why not? Because unbelief devalues the worth of his person and the Kingdom that he so freely offers.

+ The Fishing Net – makes the point of separation and accountability on the day of judgement. – the good and righteous will receive their promised Kingdom inheritance while the bad and wicked will be destroyed.

What distinguishes the two? – Unbelief.
_The good understand the unparalleled value and worth of Jesus and his Kingdom; they find their satisfaction (highest joy) in him and are willing to make the daily sacrifice of obedience, of delayed gratification, in order to receive their promised inheritance.
_The bad devalue Jesus and his promises to find their satisfaction in the things of this life – money, sex and power – they want it now, and have bought into the lie that the one who dies with the most toys wins. They are tragically mistaken.

+ Nazareth – The unbelief of Jesus’ family and neighbors in his home town is a devaluation of his worth from another perspective – familiarity. They were so used to seeing him in the context of everyday life that they couldn’t appreciate the wonder of his person and the worth of his coming Kingdom. In essence, he was hidden from them in plain sight. The result was that their unbelief prevented them from participation in the signs and wonders of the Kingdom. Familiarity devalued Jesus’ person  and his Kingdom.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ and citizenship in his Kingdom is your most precious possession? Please explain?
  • What has following Jesus cost you? What have you sacrificed?  Has it been worth it? Please explain.
  • Can you think of ways that unbelief has affected your relationship with Jesus? Please explain.
  • Can you think of ways that familiarity has led to unbelief in your life? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: Prayer – For Satisfaction in Christ (Julian of Norwich)

O God, of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are enough for me. I can ask for nothing less that is completely to your honor, and if I do ask anything less, I shall always be in want. Only in you I have all. Amen.

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“Seek First” – Housefires

Peace that passes, my understanding
Love that conquers, my fear and regret
Joy unending, eternal pleasure
In your presence, my risen King

I will seek first, Your kingdom
I will seek first, Your righteousness
Everything I need, You will provide for me
My heart is to seek first, Your kingdom

You’re all I really want
You’re all I really need
Father every breath I’ve got
You have given it to me
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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