A Prayer Prompted by Mark 1

Heavenly Father,

We understand that when Jesus came as a sinless Savior entering a sinful world, all of history changed. We benefit from his example and incomparable service to us.

Help us to appreciate how much he identifies with us by enduring temptations, caring for our needs and ultimately dying so that we might receive eternal life.

Help us to be willing to serve him as our God and Savior, being willing to leave anything and everything behind that stands in the way of complete devotion to our Lord.

Help us also to be willing to serve him right where we are, if that is your will for us.

Give us supernatural insight so as to always be aware of the spiritual battle that is raging around us. We want to continue to further your kingdom and see your word go out to everyone everywhere.

And help us to be devoted to the proclamation of the gospel message, the message that tells us that Jesus Christ our Lord has come. We need to repent and believe in him.

In Christ’s name we pray,

Amen.

Matthew 25 Verse by Verse

Matt photoChrist completes his Olivet Discourse with two more parables and a passage of future judgment.  The need to watch and be ready is combined with some thoughts on what “being ready” means in day-to-day life.

Matthew 25.pdf

Matthew 25.mp3

How to serve Jesus – Matthew 25:34-40

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

I believe this passage has a special application pertaining to the nations’ treatment of the Jews in the days leading up to Christ’s return.  Still, pretty much all passages of Scripture have some sort of application for us today.  This one may be applicable in all places and at all times, except for some hypothetical place where no one is poor, needy, sick, etc.  I’m not sure where that might be.  

The other day, I was reading in Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries.  Though a professed agnostic, this sociologist of religion quoted the passage above and went on to explain how the early church put it into practice.

[Ancient] Pagan and Christian writers are unanimous not only that Christian Scripture stressed love and charity as the central duties of faith, but that these were sustained in everyday behavior … When the New Testament was new, these were the norms of Christian communities. (Stark, The Rise of Christianity, 86-87)

They should still be the norms today – helping the poor, the needy, the sick and those in prison  They probably are, for the most part, at least among Christians that I know,.  I’m happy to be pastor of a church where all of these behaviors are normal.  But still, let’s keep doing these things until Jesus comes.  When we serve those in need he says we are serving him.

A Prayer Prompted by the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard – Matthew 20:1-16

Heavenly Father,

I count it as a privilege to serve you, so help me always to be content in my service.  Help me also to be content with what you bless me with in the way of wages or rewards.  I know that all that you give me, especially that which will come my way in eternity is completely undeserved.

Help me not to look at the service or the wages of others in such a way as to make me envious of them.  I can easily forget that you are always fair and even generous when I fall into improper comparisons.

In the deepest sense it is really not possible for me to see what others experience as they serve you.  I cannot see their inner conflicts or background struggles, nor can they fully see mine.  In the end, all of us truly need to trust you and know that all that we have from you is all of grace.

Keep us ever mindful of your goodness and grace toward us.

In Christ,
Amen

A Prayer for Christ’s Rest Prompted by Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Dear Lord Jesus, 

Today I am feeling especially weak in my labors and I sense that I need your rest.  It is not merely a physical rest that I am in need of, but a spiritual rest for my soul.  Help me not to let my burdens get the best of me, but rather help me to share them with you.  Help me to experience your rest, the spiritual rest that only you can give.

I desire to learn from you, Lord Jesus.  Teach me what it is to be gentle and lowly in heart just as you are.  It is precisely in this lowliness that I am reminded I was not meant to bear these burdens alone.  You invite me to serve alongside you.  Just as two oxen were joined by their yoke, I desire to be joined with you.  It is then and only then that I will not be heavy laden in my service.  Again, help me to experience your rest, the rest that only you can give.

Your yoke is easy and your burden is light.  How different this is from the yoke and the burden of the world.  Elsewhere you said that apart from you, we can do nothing.  How true that is, and how clear it is that laboring alone, without you, is foolish.  Please take my work, my labors, my heavy burdens upon yourself and place your yoke upon me.  

Help me, Jesus, to experience the work that is actually rest when I labor together with you.  There is really no other way for me to effectively serve.

Amen.

 

Make Disciples. Week 5: Day Job

make-disciples

On Wednesday we will get together for Week 5 of 12 in our “Make Disciples.” series. Below you will find links to an overview of the full 12 weeks and for the fifth area on the map, Engaging God’s World: Day Job.

Overview

Make Disciples. Week 05

During the 12 weeks, we are addressing areas on a comprehensive discipleship map.  After discussing each area, we will try to establish Milestones that would provide evidence of personal spiritual growth – markers that we work toward.