Morning Prayer: Thursday, 29 June – Acts 9:20-31 ~ Good News for the Church

Morning Prayer

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

Opening Prayer

Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word. Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.
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Reading: Acts 9:20-31 (NLT)

Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”

Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. He debated with some Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown.

The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.
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Pray for the Persecuted Church:

+ Pray for those in the midst of persecution (Hebrews 13:3, NLT)

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

+ Pray for those who are doing the persecuting (Matthew 5:44, NLT)

Jesus: I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

+ Pray for the families and loved ones of those being persecuted (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

+ Pray that churches would rise up (Acts 4:29-30 NLT)

“Now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

+ Pray that world leaders would do all they can to fight this persecution (Psalm 2:10-11 NLT)

Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling.

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“I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” – Grace Community Church – Sun Valley, California


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Concluding Prayer – Psalm 140:1-2, 12-13 (NLT)

O Lord, rescue me from evil people. Protect me from those who are violent, those who plot evil in their hearts and stir up trouble all day long.
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I know the Lord will help those they persecute; he will give justice to the poor. Surely righteous people are praising your name; the godly will live in your presence.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Morning Prayer: Wednesday, 28 June – Acts 9:1-19 ~ Good News for Saul

Morning Prayer

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

Opening Prayer

Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word. Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.
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Reading: Acts 9:1-19 (NLT)

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.

Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied.

The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
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Reflection and Prayer:

Lord Jesus: if it takes getting knocked off my “high horse” to get my attention, so be it. Do what it takes in me, to make me available and useful to you.

+ Forgive my years of self-centeredness and indifference, especially to the needs of those around me. I am truly sorry that you had to die because of my sin. Thank you for your amazing love for me, for your mercy and grace.

+ Before I was born, you knew me and called me by name to serve you. Everything you have done in me to this point in my life has prepared me to meet the challenges of this day. Fill me with your Spirit, that I may faithfully follow you.

+ Open my spiritual eyes and ears, that I may recognize what you are doing around me and join you in your work. Set me free from the prison of my fears, that I may press on, even when the prospects for success seem unlikely to me.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your amazing love for me. Renew and refresh me in your Spirit, that I may hear and obey your word to me, and love and serve you as your faithful witness today. All to the glory of the Father, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
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“And Can It Be” – Stuart Townend


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Concluding Prayer – Psalm 138:7-8 (NLT)

Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Morning Prayer: Tuesday, 27 June – Acts 8:26-40 ~ Good News for a God-fearing Ethiopian

Morning Prayer

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

Opening Prayer

Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word. Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.
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Reading: Acts 8:4-25 (NLT)

As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”

Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.

As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.
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Reflection and Prayer:

Lord God: Guide me by your Spirit to those you have already prepared to receive the Good News of your Son, Jesus Christ.

+ Give me courage to open a conversation with those I meet.
+ Give me discernment to understand the yearning of their hearts.
+ Give me wisdom to explain how Jesus can fulfill their deepest needs.
+ Give me clarity to invite them to begin a relationship with Jesus.

Lord God: Jesus is the vine and I am but one branch. Prune me as necessary; let his life flow in me and through me, that I may produce the good fruit of your Kingdom in his name – all for your glory.
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“Take Me To The River” – Desperation Band


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Concluding Prayer – Psalm 121 (NLT)

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Tuesday of 6th Week of Easter, 23 May – John 16:5-11 ~ truth & justice will prevail

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

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

Opening Prayer

Lord God, if I really believe in you and in your Son, I cannot be but your witness. Send me your Spirit of strength, that I may give no flimsy excuses for not standing up for you and for not loving my neighbors. Make me only afraid of betraying you and of being afraid to bear witness to you. I ask you this through Christ my Lord.

Reading: John 16:5-11 (NLT)

“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
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Reflection & Prayer:

Lord Jesus:

+ Sometimes I think, “if only I could have experienced your presence physically – to have walked and talked with you in the flesh – then I would be more confident in my faith.” But you tell me just the opposite; by leaving this earth – your death and resurrection – your resurrected presence now lives within me through the Spirit of Truth.

+ Thank you for sending me, and continually filling me, with your Spirit. Attune my heart and mind to hear him and obey him as he applies your teaching to the daily reality of my life.

Holy Spirit:

+ Convict me of my sin of unbelief: show me when I fail or falter because of weak faith, because of fear, because of an insufficient grasp of the enormity of your love for me.

+ Convict me of Jesus’ righteousness in all he said and did, and especially through his death and resurrection. And clothe me in his righteousness by grace through faith.

+ Convict me of the reality that Truth and Justice will ultimately prevail, no matter what it looks like now from my perspective. Fill me with confident hope that all will be made clear when Jesus returns in glory.

Heavenly Father:

+ You are the Sovereign over all of creation. You rule and reign over all of human history, and you have positioned me in this particular time and place to love and serve you, and to bear witness to the life-changing power of Jesus, my Lord.

+ Keep me faithful to you, in season and out of season, that Truth and Justice may prevail now and forever – to the honor and glory of your name.

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“Holy Spirit, Living Breath Of God” – Keith & Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend


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Concluding Prayer – Psalm 138:1-2 (NLT)

I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Pentecost Sunday, 15 May: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; Romans 8: 8-17; John 14: 15-16, 23-26 ~ the Spirit gives you life

Pentecost Sunday

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

Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts to overflowing and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Opening Prayer:

Send down, O God, upon your people the flame of your Holy Spirit, and fill us with your presence and power. May your life-giving Spirit lend fire to our words and strength to our witness. Send us forth to the nations of the world to proclaim with boldness your wondrous work of raising Christ to your right hand. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
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“Holy Spirit” – Francesca Battistelli


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A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles: Acts 2:1-11 (NLT)
[The events of the first Pentecost Day are described.]

The Holy Spirit Comes

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Pentecost Tapestry
Pentecost Tapestry

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”
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A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord. O Lord my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty.
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O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.
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But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust. When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.
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May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!
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May all my thoughts be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
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Psalm 104 – Psalm Project Africa


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A Reading from the Letters: Romans 8: 8-17 (NLT)
[God gives us life through the Spirit at work in us.]

Those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

spirit gives life

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 14: 15-16, 23-26 (NLT)
[The Holy Spirit reminds us of all Jesus has said.]

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.
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Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
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Hymn: “Come Holy Spirit”


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Intercessory Prayer:

Conscious of the Spirit praying within us, we present our petitions at the throne of grace with confidence.

+ That the Holy Spirit may breathe new life into church leaders around the world…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the Holy Spirit may help those who were baptized and confirmed this year to grow in grace…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the Holy Spirit may be close to every Christian persecuted for his/her faith…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the Holy Spirit may bring healing to all who are sick and suffering…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the Holy Spirit may pour our gifts of prophecy on our sons and daughters…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the Holy Spirit may give young men visions and cause old men to dream dreams…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the Holy Spirit may raise to life all those who have died in Christ and lead them home to heaven…. Lord, hear us.

God our creator, your Spirit brings us life and sustains us throughout our days: hear these prayers we are inspired to make, through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
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Hymn: “More And More Of You” – Richie Fike, Jonathan Lee, & Jennie Lee Riddle

Benediction:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NLT)

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