Thursday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, 11 Jun 2020 – 2 Timothy 1-2, Psalm 111 ~ Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval.

Thursday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, 11 Jun 2020

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

Opening:

Merciful and gracious Father, you showed the fullness of your love when you gave your only Son for our salvation and sent down upon us the power of your Spirit. Complete within us the work of your love, that we who have communion in Christ may come to share fully the undying life he lives with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—
a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.

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A Reading from the Pastoral Epistles: 2 Timothy 1-2 (NLT)

Greetings from Paul

1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I have been sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.

I am writing to Timothy, my dear son.

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

Encouragement to Be Faithful

Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.

That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.

Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me—even Phygelus and Hermogenes.

May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return. And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus.

A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

2 Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

This is a trustworthy saying:

If we die with him, we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.
If we deny him, he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.

An Approved Worker

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith.

But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.
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Morning Prayer:

Praise to you, Lord God – for you have done wonderful things, more than anyone could ask for.

We pray especially today for those you have called to tell people about the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.

+ that they may remember the truths that they learned from godly family members and friends….

+ that they may grow in faith, understanding and the gifts God has given them….

+ that the Holy Spirit may overcome fear with faith, power. love, and self-control….

+ that they may be confident of Jesus’ protection and care, until the Day of his return…..

+ that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they may model Christ’s teaching with faith and love….

+ that they may teach others who are trustworthy the same truths they have received….

+ that they may endure hardship and trouble to help others receive the salvation that is in Christ….

+ that they will work hard to live faithfully and apply Christ’s teaching in the right way….

Praise to you, Lord God- everything you do is good and fair; all your commands can be trusted.

You have rescued us from sin and death, we praise you with our whole heart, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
__________

Psalm 111 (TLB)

Hallelujah! I want to express publicly before his people my heartfelt thanks to God for his mighty miracles.
All who are thankful should ponder them with me.

  • For his miracles demonstrate his honor, majesty, and eternal goodness.
  • Who can forget the wonders he performs—deeds of mercy and of grace?
  • He gives food to those who trust him; he never forgets his promises.
  • He has shown his great power to his people by giving them the land of Israel, though it was the home of many nations living there.
  • All he does is just and good, and all his laws are right, for they are formed from truth and goodness and stand firm forever.
  • He has paid a full ransom for his people; now they are always free to come to Jehovah (what a holy, awe-inspiring name that is).
  • How can men be wise? The only way to begin is by reverence for God.
  • For growth in wisdom comes from obeying his laws.

Praise his name forever.
__________

Psalm 111 – Nathan Clark George

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Closing:2 Timothy 2:11-13

This is a trustworthy saying:

If we die with him, we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.
If we deny him, he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

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

Monday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, 08 Jun 2020 – Titus 1:1-16, Psalm 108 ~ managers of God’s household must live blameless lives

Monday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, 08 Jun 2020

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

Opening:

Merciful and gracious Father, you showed the fullness of your love when you gave your only Son for our salvation and sent down upon us the power of your Spirit. Complete within us the work of your love, that we who have communion in Christ may come to share fully the undying life he lives with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

…Teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.
This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life….”

__________

A Reading from the Pastoral Epistles: Titus 1:1-16 (NLT)

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share.

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.

Titus’s Work in Crete

I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you. An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.

For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. And they do it only for money. Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, “The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.” This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith. They must stop listening to Jewish myths and the commands of people who have turned away from the truth.

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.
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Morning Prayer:

Jesus Christ has given us all a share in his priesthood.
We offer our prayers and ourselves in union with him.
– Lord, accept our love and service.

Jesus Christ, you are the eternal priest:
make this morning’s offering acceptable to the Father.
– Lord, accept our love and service.

Lord, you are love itself:
grant that we may love you.
– Lord, accept our love and service.

Give us today the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
make us patient, kind and gentle.
– Lord, accept our love and service.

Give us the discernment to know the needs of our neighbors,
and give us the courage to love them as brothers.
– Lord, accept our love and service.

Almighty Lord and God, protect us by your power throughout the course of this day, even as you have enabled us to begin it. Do not let us turn aside to any sin, but let our every thought, word and deed aim at doing what is pleasing in your sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
__________

108 (Bless the Lord) – New Wine “Hunger for the Living God”

Omnipotent Father we have seen Your power through all the ages You stay the same

And those who know Your name know You never forsake

They put trust and put their faith in you I will trust and put my faith in You

Great is Your love Oh God and Your faithfulness reaches to the sky

Be exalted God over all the heavens let Your glory be over all the earth
__________

Closing:Titus 1:4

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.

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

Monday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, 01 Jun 2020 – 1 Timothy 1:1-17, Psalm 103 ~ “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”

Monday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time, 01 Jun 2020

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

Opening:

Lord God, let the grace of the Holy Spirit come upon us, so that we may hold fast to your will with fidelity and show it forth in a holy life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love
that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 

__________

A Reading from the Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 1:1-17 (NLT)

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.

I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith.

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

Warnings against False Teachings

When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.

We know that the law is good when used correctly. For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.

Paul’s Gratitude for God’s Mercy

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.
__________

Morning Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

+ You forgive all my sins and heal all my diseases.
+ You redeem me from death and crown me with love and tender mercies.
+ You fill my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
+ You give righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
+ You are compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
__________

103 (Bless the Lord) – The Prestonwood Choir

__________

Closing: 1 Timothy 1:17 (NLT)

All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

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

Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020, Acts 28, Philemon, Philippians 1 ~ Paul’s Imprisonment in Rome

Tuesday, 25 Feb 2020

The Season of Epiphany

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

Opening:  (A Collect for Epiphany)

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
__________

Reading: Acts 28 (NLT)

Paul on the Island of Malta

Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. he people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.

Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. As it happened, Publius’ father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip.

Paul Arrives at Rome

It was three months after the shipwreck that we set sail on another ship that had wintered at the island—an Alexandrian ship with the twin gods as its figurehead. Our first stop was Syracuse, where we stayed three days. From there we sailed across to Rhegium. A day later a south wind began blowing, so the following day we sailed up the coast to Puteoli. There we found some believers, who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome.

The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he was encouraged and thanked God.

When we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier.

Paul Preaches at Rome under Guard

Three days after Paul’s arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders. He said to them, “Brothers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Roman government, even though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors. The Romans tried me and wanted to release me, because they found no cause for the death sentence. But when the Jewish leaders protested the decision, I felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no desire to press charges against my own people. I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel—the Messiah—has already come.”

They replied, “We have had no letters from Judea or reports against you from anyone who has come here. But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.”

So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul’s lodging. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening. Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe. And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul:
“The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet,

‘Go and say to this people:
When you hear what I say, you will not understand.
When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’

So I want you to know that this salvation from God has also been offered to the Gentiles, and they will accept it.”

For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.
_____

Philemon (NLT)

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

Paul’s Appeal for Onesimus

That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me—Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.

I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.

I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf. But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced. It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!

Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.

Paul’s Final Greetings

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
_____

Philippians 1 (NLT)

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.

I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Paul’s Joy That Christ Is Preached

And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.

Paul’s Life for Christ

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

Live as Citizens of Heaven

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
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Reflection:

Paul’s Imprisonment in Rome

For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense.
He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ.
And no one tried to stop him.
– Acts 28:30-31 –

Paul Proclaims Christ in Rome

News of Paul’s arrival preceded him to Rome where he was welcomed and encouraged by a group of believers – the first Roman Christians that he had personally met. Finally in Rome, Paul was now able to minister in the heart of the Gentile world, as God had promised. Paul has built the vital bridge from Jerusalem to Rome and the Church is now on the march – nothing can stop it

Note: The Book of Acts ends around 62 AD, 29 years after the death and resurrection of Christ and the day of Pentecost.

Paul intercedes for Onesimus

Paul wrote to Philemon from Rome. Onesimus may have been a runaway slave, or he may simply have been involved in some domestic trouble with Philemon in Colossae. Nevertheless, he eventually made his way to Rome. There, as God would have it, he came into contact with Paul and became a Christian – becoming a valuable helper to him. But Onesimus had to make things right with Philemon whom he had wronged. Paul appeals to Philemon to receive Onesimus back with kindness as a brother in Christ, not simply as a runaway slave. Christ Jesus has changed their relationship forever.

Paul Lives for Christ

Paul also wrote his letter to the Philippians from prison in Rome. Paul wanted to thank the Philippians for their generous support, and explain to them how God was using his imprisonment to advance the Gospel. The letter is positive and personal, reflecting Paul’s joyful spirit.

I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.
For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ.

– Philippians 1:20-21 –

This affirmation succinctly summarizes Paul’s philosophy of life. For him, regardless of the decision about whether he would continue to live or die or the opinions of other people, saved or lost, his whole life revolved around Jesus Christ.

Historians debate the exact date or manner in which Paul died, but it is almost universally accepted that he was martyred. Based on historical events of the day, it is likely that Paul was beheaded, possibly around the same time that Peter was crucified. Given the political turmoil of the day, both apostles could have been caught up in a wave of attacks on Christians following a great fire in Rome. (Christianity.com)

Questions for consideration:

  • Given the limitations of your own personal situation, what opportunities do you have to witness to your faith in Christ? Please explain.
  • Have you ever worked with a person over a period of time, only to find out later that he/she was a  believer? How did that change your relationship? Please explain.
  • For me to live is…. How would you complete that sentence – family, fame, fortune, career, sports, something else? Please explain.
  • What would you have to sacrifice in order to live or die for Christ?  Please explain.

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Prayer: Of Self-Dedication (William Temple}

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

Saturday, 11 Jan 2020, Galatians 1 ~ The Good News of God’s Grace

Saturday, 11 Jan 2020

The Season of Epiphany

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

Opening:  (A Collect for Epiphany)

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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Reading: Galatians 1 (NLT)

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.

May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

There Is Only One Good News

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Paul’s Message Comes from Christ

Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.

Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.

After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” And they praised God because of me.
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Reflection:

The Good News of God’s Grace

Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned,
in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.
– Galatians 1:4 –

Introduction: Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia in response to Jews who claimed to be Christians and wanted Christians to submit to the authority of the Mosaic Law. Paul’s critics attempted to discredit him personally, claiming that  his message was derived from human reasoning. In response Paul asserts that his message comes from Christ Himself.

What is the message that Paul has been given? It’s a message of “grace.”

“When Paul prays for grace on his friends, it is as if he said, ‘May the beauty of the wonder of the undeserved love of God be on you, so that it will make your life lovely too.’“ (William Barclay)

We are recipients of God’s grace because “Jesus gave his life for our sins.”

The purpose of Jesus’ self-sacrifice was that He might deliver us out of the control of this present evil age, the world system that dominates our present age. We are in the world, but we are free to live apart from the evil that dominates it thanks to Christ’s work for us.

 Questions for consideration:

  • What does God’s grace [God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense] mean to you? Please explain.
  • Has legalism (obeying certain rules) ever robbed you of the joy of living by grace? Please explain.
  • Paul views the world in which we live as evil. How do worldly values affect you? Please explain.
  • Where do you personally need freedom offered through the loving mercy of Christ? Please explain.

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Prayer: For God’s Grace

Thank you Heavenly Father for the great grace and love that You have poured out abundantly on me through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for my sins.

+ Give me the grace to truly accept that You have forgiven all my sins – past, present and future.

+Give me the grace to walk in newness of life in Christ, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

+ Give me the grace to rejoice in Your goodness and loving kindness towards me – past, present and future.

+ Give me the grace to I need to face my difficulties and the burdens of the day with confidence and joy.

+ Give me the grace to demonstrate the love of Christ under all circumstances to all people.

+ Give me the grace to rely on the strength and power of Christ, especially when I’m at my weakest.

+ Give me the grace to sacrifice what I want for myself, for what You want for me.

+ Give me the grace to embrace my advancing years with grace and enthusiasm, making every day count.

Heavenly Father: as an ambassador of heaven I pray that I may reflect Christ’s beauty and grace to others. May decrease in the sight of others so that He may increase in every area of my life – this I ask in Jesus name, Amen
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“Grace To Grace” – Hillsong Worship

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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