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!

5th Sunday of Easter: Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22:26-28, 30-32; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8 ~ stay connected

Fifth Sunday of Easter

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

Opening sentence and prayer:

Like branches of one tree, we are held together by our faith in Christ.
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O God, You graft us onto Christ, the true vine, and, with tireless care, You nurture our growth in knowledge and reverence. Tend the vineyard of Your church, that in Christ each branch may bring forth to the glory of Your name abundant fruits of faith and love. Grant this through Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
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The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord; she is his new creation by water and the Word. From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride; with his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.

Elect from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth; her charter of salvation: one Lord, one faith, one birth. One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with every grace endued.

Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war, she waits the consummation of peace forevermore, till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest, and the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One, and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won: O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we like them, the meek and lowly, may live eternally.
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A Reading from the Book of Acts: Acts 9:26-31 (NLT)

St. Paul  by El Greco, c. 1608-1614 St Louis Art Museum, USA
St. Paul
by El Greco, c. 1608-1614
St Louis Art Museum, USA

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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A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32 (NLT)

The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. For royal power belongs to the Lord. He rules all the nations.
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Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.
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A Reading from the Letters: 1 John 3:18-24 (NLT)

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 15:1-8  (NLT)

I am the vine and branches

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
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Intercessions:

God of wonders, Lord of heaven and earth – hear our prayers:

+ For all baptized believers – that we may never be separated from Christ, the true vine…. Lord, hear us.
+ For the people of Nepal, suffering after the earthquake – that believers around the world may help them…. Lord, hear us.
+ For immigrants who cross seas and oceans to find a better life – that they may be protected from every danger…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who persecute others and treat them badly – that, like St Paul, they may change their ways…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all who grow crops for their livelihood – that You may be in their work, sustaining and encouraging them…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who face crisis and change this summer – that Your gifts of comfort and calm may be theirs…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all whose pilgrimage on earth is over, especially those who have been martyred for their faith in Christ – that they may experience joy and wonder in the Father’s house…. Lord, hear us.

God our creator, we praise you for Your mighty deeds: hear the prayers of Your faithful people, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Benediction:

He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15b-16)

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

Morning Prayer: 24 Apr – Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59 ~ I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

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

Opening sentences and prayer:

Light’s glittering morn bedecks the sky, Heav’n thunders forth its victor cry: The glad earth shouts her triumph high, And groaning hell makes wild reply. While He, the King of sovereign might, Treads down death’s strength in death’s despite, And trampling hell by victor’s right, Brings forth His sleeping saints to light.
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Almighty God, we have come to know the grace of our Lord’s resurrection. Grant that through the love of your Spirit we may rise to new life. Make us radiant with Christ’s glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

A Reading from Acts: Acts 9:1-20 (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.

Conversion of St. Paul Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, 1767
Conversion of St. Paul
Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, 1767

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.

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!”
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Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood, remains in me and I in him, says the Lord. (John 6:56)
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A Reading from the Gospels: John 6:52-59 (NLT)

communion flesh and blood

Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.

So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, 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 the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Reading: Acts 13:4-12 NLT – Spirit sent

Reading: Acts 13:4-12 NLT

Apostle Paul's First Missionary Journey
Apostle Paul’s First Missionary Journey

So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.

Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.

Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.

When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

Prayer: Holy Spirit send me, equip me, to represent the Lord Jesus with wisdom and power from above. Purify my heart and calm my spirit so that I will know when to speak and when to listen. And give me the words of Life that quicken souls and lead to eternal life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: “Wonderful words of Life” – Philip P. Bliss (1874) performed by Fountain View Academy
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Morning Reading: Acts 13:1-3 NLT – hands on commissioning

Reading: Acts 13.1-3 NLT

commissioning alonso-hands-onAmong the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

Prayer: Holy Spirit – Call forth godly prophets and teachers from within your church… people who will worship, fast and pray. And set apart worker/evangelists who will go to harvest fields near and far… seeking those who are lost. Unite the world-wide community of believers around this missionary effort… regardless of religious tradition. Speak your Word of truth… that all might know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn: “Fling Out the Banner! Let it float!”George W. Doane (1848)
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