Saturday Morning, 23 Nov 2019 – Luke 18-19 ~ always pray and never give up

Saturday Morning

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

Opening:  (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading: Luke 18-19 (NLT)

Parable of the Persistent Widow

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus Blesses the Children

One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him.

Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

The Rich Man

Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’”

The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.

When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?”

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.”

“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus said, “Listen, we’re going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. He will be handed over to the Romans, and he will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. They will flog him with a whip and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again.”

But they didn’t understand any of this. The significance of his words was hidden from them, and they failed to grasp what he was talking about.

Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”

And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.

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Jesus and Zacchaeus

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Parable of the Ten Servants

The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’ But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’

“After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were. The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’

“‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’

“The next servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.’

“‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’

“But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’

“‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

“Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’

“‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’

“‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.’”

Jesus’ Triumphant Entry

After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?”

And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on.

As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!

But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

Jesus Clears the Temple

Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.
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Morning Reflection:

always pray and never give up

‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’
– Luke18:13 –

In today’s reading, Jesus urges us to be persistent in prayer – after the example of the widow seeking justice, who wore down an unjust judge with her appeals. How much more, Jesus says, “will God surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?”

How then should we pray? Here are some examples from our reading –

  • Pray persistently for God’s justice in conflicts with our enemies
  • Pray humbly for God’s mercy
  • Pray hopefully for God’s blessing on those we love
  • Pray trustfully for God’s provision for all our needs
  • Pray thankfully for God’s gift of eternal life
  • Pray earnestly for God’s wisdom and understanding
  • Pray humbly for God’s healing
  • Pray willingly for God’s guidance tor restitution
  • Pray faithfully for God’s wisdom in managing resources
  • Pray blessing on all who come in the name of the Lord
  • Pray and praise God for everything you have seen him do
  • Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
  • Pray for a clean heart and right spirit whenever you approach God

always pray and never give up

Questions for consideration:

  • What interferes with your praying regularly? Please explain.
  • What comes to mind when you think of giving up on prayer? Please explain.
  • What comes to mind when you think of approaching God humbly as a sinner? Please explain.
  • What comes to mind when you think of an injustice being done now. Please explain.
  • Who comes to mind when you think of praying for God’s blessing on them? Please explain.
  • What comes to mind when you think of praying for God’s mercy on your nation?
  • Which of the above prayer guidelines speak to you personally? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

For mercy – Almighty God, you have not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities; grant that we, who for our evil deeds deserve to be punished, by the might of your grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For our nation – Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure conduct. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom, in your Name, we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, sustain our trust in you; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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“If My People” – from the “Be Still Project” by Jay Norris

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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

Monday Morning, 18 Nov 2019, Luke 8:40-9:62 ~ Don’t look back!

Monday Morning

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

Opening –  A Collect for the Renewal of Life (Monday)

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Morning Reading – Luke 8:40-9:62 (NLT)

Jesus Heals in Response to Faith

On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.

As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”

But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Disciples

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

Herod’s Confusion

When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled. Some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead.

“I beheaded John,” Herod said, “so who is this man about whom I hear such stories?” And he kept trying to see him.

Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida. But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.

Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there.

Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” So the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”

Jesus Predicts His Death

Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

The Transfiguration

About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.

Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them.

Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy

The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. A man in the crowd called out to him, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, my only child. An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone. I begged your disciples to cast out the spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.”

As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

The Greatest in the Kingdom

Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. Then he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

Using the Name of Jesus

John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”

But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”

Opposition from Samaritans

As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. So they went on to another village.

The Cost of Following Jesus

As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”

The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”

But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
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Morning Reflection:

Don’t look back!

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority
to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out
to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
(Luke 9:1-2)

Up until now, Kingdom power and authority has only been exercised by Jesus, as He goes about the Father’s business – Jesus alone is the Father’s beloved Son in whom He takes great joy. But in today’s reading, Jesus gives His disciples Kingdom power and authority to do what He has been doing. And off they go!

So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.
(Luke 9:6)

To me the most surprising aspect of this is how little the disciples understood, and yet how much Jesus trusted them with His power and authority – even Judas, presumably, who would later betray Him.

Jesus sent them out-  even before Peter’s confession of faith, or His transfiguration witnessed by Peter, James, and John. And even then they couldn’t wrap their minds around His suffering and death. They were more concerned about jockeying for position in the coming Kingdom, than coming to grips with the cost of following Jesus. But for them, and all who follow Jesus, there would be no turning back.

“Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:62)

The disciples were works in progress and yet Jesus gave them Kingdom power and authority to spread the Good News and heal the sick. And God uses imperfect people today to do the same.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you consider yourself a work in progress? Are you concerned about where you fit into the Kingdom? Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Please explain.
  • After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given to every believer. Have you ever told people the Good News or prayed for them to be healed? What was the result? Please explain.
  • What prevents you from putting Jesus first in your life, i.e. leaving everything to follow Him? Please explain.
  • What have you learned about Jesus and His Kingdom that you didn’t understand when you first began to follow Him? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For the mission of the church

Almighty God, You sent Your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to Yourself: We praise and bless You for sending us in the power of the Spirit to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to all people in every part of the world. Thank You for the communities of love that You have gathered together by their prayers and labors. And thank You for Your servants who call upon your Name in every place; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are Yours, for ever and ever. Amen.

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“I Am Listening” – Forever Be Sure

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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

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

Thursday Morning, 10 Oct 2019 – Matthew 20:1-28 ~ “Do you begrudge my generosity?”

Thursday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Guidance – Thursday)

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: Guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our lives we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 20:1-28 (NLT)

Parable of the Vineyard Workers

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

“At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

“At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

“They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Jesus Teaches about Serving Others

Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. “What is your request?” he asked.

She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”

“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”

Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
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Morning Reflection:

Following Jesus even when it doesn’t add up.

“Do you begrudge my generosity?”
– Matthew 20:15 –

The parable of the vineyard workers contrasts our human way of reckoning the value of work with God’s way of reckoning the value of people. The landowner needed to have the work done and hired workers at different times to do it. But in the end, he hired the last worker out of generosity and human kindness, not because of his value as a worker.

The appeal to fairness of the early workers was not unreasonable if you view people from the perspective of value added to an endeavor; the early workers had added more value to the landowners workforce. But what did they expect from the landowner – an increase in wages, a decrease in the last workers wages, or were they just complaining. But the landowners response is telling – the early workers have already received the wages agreed upon, but it’s his money, and he can do what he wants with it… he can be as generous as he chooses with it. The landowner in the story was both gracious and just.

The point of the story is that God will reward all His disciples justly, graciously, and generously. In some cases the last called will be among the first in rank of blessing. Conversely in some cases those whom God called early in their lives may not receive as much reward as those called later in life.

Questions for consideration:

  • Do you consider yourself a long-time follower of Jesus, or a newcomer? How has God blessed you as a follower of Jesus? Please explain.
  • When you consider other believers in your fellowship of faith, how do you view newcomers in comparison to long-time members? Do either of them receive special treatment from other believers? Please explain.
  • How does this story affect your understanding of God’s fairness? Please explain.
  • How does this story affect your understanding of God’s goodness? Please explain.
  • If the first will be last and the last will be first in the Kingdom, how do you view those who get ahead of you in line? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer – A Litany of Thanksgiving –

Give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us:

+ For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea,
We thank you, Lord.
+ For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,
We thank you, Lord.
+ For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.
+ For health and strength to work, and time to rest and worship,
We thank you, Lord.
+ For all who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.
+ For all who earnestly seek after truth, and all who labor for justice,
We thank you, Lord.
+ For all that is good and gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.
+ For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen

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“His Mercy Is More” – Shane and Shane

Praise the Lord!
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness, new every morn
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

What love could remember no wrongs we have done
Omniscient, all-knowing, He counts not their sum
Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord!
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness, new every morn
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

What patience would wait as we constantly roam
What Father, so tender, is calling us home
He welcomes the weakest, the vilest, the poor
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord!
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness, new every morn
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

What riches of kindness He lavished on us
His blood was the payment, His life was the cost
We stood ‘neath a debt we could never afford
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord!
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness, new every morn
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more
Praise the Lord!
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness, new every morn
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more
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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

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

Wednesday Morning, 02 Oct 019 – Matthew 17:22-18:6 ~ The Greatest in the Kingdom

 

Wednesday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Grace – Wednesday)

O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day: Defend us by your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin nor run into any danger; and that guided by your Spirit, we may do what is righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Matthew 17:22-18:6 (NLT)

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

Payment of the Temple Tax

On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?” “They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free! However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”

The Greatest in the Kingdom

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

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Morning Reflection:

The Greatest in the Kingdom

“So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child

is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” – Matthew 18:4 –

 

Did you notice the dramatic shift of mood in today’s reading – from grief over Jesus’ predicted death, to visions of grandeur in the future Kingdom of Heaven. The disciples still had a lot to learn, and Jesus brought a young child forward as an example for them to follow.

The repentance that Jesus spoke of was a change in attitude – from prideful jockeying for position and prestige, to guileless humility and dependency.

Dependent faith is the mark of greatness in God’s Kingdom.

Questions for consideration:

  • Have you ever wondered how you measure up compared to other believers? Please explain.
  • When you think of the place that pride has in your life, what comes to mind? Please explain.
  • Where do you need to live by dependent faith right now? What’s hindering you? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer: For Trustfulness in Times of Worry and Anxiety

Most loving Father, you will us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on the One who cares for us. Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested unto us in your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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“Trust In You ” – Lauren Daigle


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Closing:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

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

Thursday Morning: 16 May 2019 – Mark 10:32-52 ~ on serving and suffering

Thursday Morning

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

Opening (A Collect for Guidance – Thursday)

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Morning Reading – Mark 10:32-52(NLT)

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”

Jesus Teaches about Serving Others

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.”

“What is your request?” he asked.

They replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”

“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”

Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”

When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
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Morning Reflection:

on serving and suffering

In today’s reading, Jesus set his course for Jerusalem, fully aware of what awaited him. Those following him were both amazed and fearful, because Jerusalem was a place of intense conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities – a place of danger, and condemnation to death.

But Jerusalem was also the place where Jesus would fulfill his purpose as the Suffering Servant –

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
– Mark 10:45

Still, the disciples didn’t comprehend what was ahead of them and preferred to focus on a coming physical kingdom. And Jesus continued to teach them and train them for the ministry that would eventually be entrusted to them. How?

+ Jesus gave them the clearest picture of his passion and resurrection to date. The disciples heard what he said, but couldn’t wrap their minds around it.

+ Jesus explained that service and suffering were the marks of greatness in his coming Kingdom, after his example. The disciples quickly agreed, but had no idea of the martyrdom they would eventually face.

+ Jesus explained that the Father would determine who would receive the positions of authority and honor in the messianic kingdom. Jesus had a job to do, the rest was left to the Father.

+ Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus in response to his recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, and his plea for mercy. And Bartimaeus followed him, in faith, to Jerusalem.

Questions for consideration:

We have an advantage over the disciples – the Bible gives us the whole story and 2000 years of church history records how it has worked out.

  • How does the passion of Christ inform your understanding of what it means to follow Jesus? Please explain.
  • When you decided to follow Jesus (if you have), did you consider the personal cost to you? How has your understanding changed over time? Please explain.
  • How do you handle the authority that God has given you – at home, work, church, neighborhood? Do you run a “tight ship” telling people what to do? Please explain.
  • How do you reconcile your authority with sacrificial service? What would you have to set aside in order for sacrificial service to be your priority today? Please explain.

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Morning Prayer:

The Persecuted Church: Prayer for churches to rise up:

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

My Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Open my eyes to see you as the One who died that I might live. Fill me with your Spirit that I might humbly and faithfully fulfill the ministry you have given me. And give me your heart, the heart of a servant, putting the needs of others before my own. All to the glory of our Father. Amen.
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“Man of sorrows” – Hillsong

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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