CALL TO WORSHIP: ONE: We gather together in the name of the One who bids us come. ALL: We gather together to hear the words of the One who is love. ONE: We gather together to sing praises of the One who teaches us peace. ALL: Come, let us worship!
WELCOME: OPENING PRAYER & THE LORD'S PRAYER: All merciful, tender God, You have given birth to our world, conceiving and bearing all that lives and breathes. We come to You as Your daughters and sons, aware of our aggression and our drive to manipulate others. We ask You to forgive us, and by the gentle touch of Your Spirit help us find a renewed sense of compassion, that we may truly live as Your people.
Now in the words you gave us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Offertory Prayer: All good gifts come from You, Lord, and from these riches we bring this offering. Help us to use it for the benefit of those in need, Lord, and to further Your work. This we pray. Amen.
PRAYER FOR STRENGTH: Dear Lord, we come before You and ask for Your strength within us. A strength not of this world, but of Your kingdom. To refrain from judgement and feast on love. To push out greed and hold tight to joy. To dispel pride and rise with humility. To quell anger and rest in self control. To shun greed and rest in giving. To turn from power and embrace service. To let go of resentment and rest in peace. To push through fear and walk forward in grace. To run with faith, soar with forgiveness and allow Your eternal strength to abide with us. Amen.
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Habakkuk 3:16-19New International Version (NIV)16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
Ephesians 6:14-20New International Version (NIV) 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Mark 12:28-31New International Version (NIV) The Greatest Commandment28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
MEDITATION: The Story Of Job
When I was in l0th Grade, the literature curriculum included the Book of Job — and there weren't any Coles Notes! It was one of the hardest reads for me up to that time. I thought it was a terrible story.
I wasn't able to comprehend why God allowed Job to suffer so much The Story of Job is set in Uz, a rather unknown land far from Israel. It took place at an unknown time and focuses on questions about God's justice and why people suffer. I see this now, after many years since high school. And Now it is clearer to me that the story also asks why good people suffer.
I know now that this book is considered among the masterpieces of world literature, and I finally understand it. Let's listen to a simplified version of Job's story.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. He was a perfect man; a man who feared God and kept away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and in was very rich in the riches of that country. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys. And he also had a great many servants. In fact, he was the richest man inall the East.
Now about this time Satan came before the Lord and said he had been going up and down the earth, which he claimed for his own, to see how everything was. God asked Satan if he had seen Job who was a perfect and upright man, who feared the Lord and stayed away from evil.
Satan replied that he did know of Job, but that God had set a hedge around him so that Satan couldn't get close to him. And Satan told God to take away everything Job had and then Job would curse God right to His face.
Try him," said the Lord. "I will put all he has in your power, but you shall not touch him." So Satan went out to do evil to Job.
It came to pass on a day that everything Job had was swept away.
First there came a messenger to him, all out of breath, who said, "Some wild men made a raid and carried off you oxen and asses, and killed the servants who guarded them, and I alone escaped to tell you."
While he was still talking, another messenger came and said the Chaldeans made up three bands and fell upon the camels and carried them away. And they also killed the servants. And he told Job that he was the only one to escape.
And while he was still speaking, there came another servant with the worst news. He told Job that all his sons and daughters were feasting in the oldest brother's house, when a great wind came and blew down the house killing all of them, including the servants. He, too, was the only one to escape.
This was the most terrible news. All that Job had and all that he loved, except for his wife, were gone. Job rose and tore his robe to show his grief, and he shaved his head and fell down on the ground and worshiped God. He said, "Naked was I born and naked shall I die. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
So Satan went before the Lord again and God said to him, "Have you seen my servant Job who still worships God, even though I have let you afflict him so much?"
And Satan answered, "Yes. Everything that a man has he will give for his life. But You have only let me take away his possessions. You wouldn't let me touch his person. I tell You, if you give him a sickness now, he will curse You to Your face."
God told Satan to go ahead and do his worst. And Satan went and sent sore boils upon Job from head to toe which were very itchy and painful. Job was very sick but he went and sat on an ash heap and took a broken piece of pottery with which to scrape himself.
Then three of his friends came to visit him; Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. They hardly recognized him because he had changed so much.
They felt so sorry for Job that they couldn't even speak and so they sat down and kept still. Then they began to talk to Job.
Almost all the rest of the Book of Job is taken up with their reasonings and Job's replies. They said he had been bad somewhere or somehow, and that's why God let him be afflicted. But Job said he had not done anything bad, and he couldn't understand why he was punished in this way.
After a while, a young man, Elihu, joined in the talk, but he really didn't help Job. Yet what these men said and what Job said make a most interesting and helpful part of the Bible. They were among the wisest men of the East, and they knew a lot about the things of creation and the history of man, and they put forth their wisdom as it is told in the Book of Job.
In the end a great thunderstorm came up and it was no ordinary thunderstorm. The sky grew black, the lightning flashed, the whirlwind blew, and there was a great tempest. Then out of the whirlwind came the voice of God, speaking to Job: Gird up your loins like a man and hear Me. where were you when I created the earth and when all the angels sang and shouted for joy? Were you there?"
Then the story goes on about how God told of the many things in creation, in the waters, on the earth and in the air. And God asked Job how much he knew about all of that. He asked Job if he was able to judge without knowing the deep wisdom of God. At last Job answered. "I know that You can't do everything and that nothing can be hidden from You and therefore I repent."
Then God told Job that he had been afflicted by Satan to test him whether he loved the Lord because of the things God gave him, or because he purely loved Him. And God told Job he had passed the test very well. However, he told Job's three friends they hadn't told the truth, but if Job would pray for them, they would be forgiven. Job did pray for them and they were forgiven.
Then the Lord healed Job and gave him back twice the amount of riches he had in the beginning. He had also seven sons and three daughters, and again Job had a happy home. In the end Satan was defeated and God was proved just. Job was the righteous man and lived to good old age.
It's in our nature to try to avoid trouble. We don't like trials and tribulations, but if we trust in God, we will see that those trials give us the chance to rely on Him, which in turn will strengthen our faith. There are many passages in the Bible that talk of the struggle and need to trust God.
At the end of Job's story, Job refers to God as the Lord and he comes to God in complete humility. He confesses his disrespect that he had held for Him in the beginning. James refers to Job in the New Testament. He says, "We say they are happy because they were able to do this. You have heard about Job's patience. You know that after all his trouble the Lord helped him. This shows that the Lord is full of mercy."
I think Job finally realized that trying to find the answer to why he was afflicted and suffering was futile. He realized it wasn't enough to know about God, but he needed to know God personally. Job is restored, and in the end he is blessed.
Job could have turned his back on God. He could have cursed God and dies — but he didn't. Throughout all of God's testing, Job never turned his back on Him. Sure, he got angry and frustrated. He even got depressed, but he stuck it out. Job set an example for all of us to follow.
Let us pray now to find the courage and faith Job had: Dear Lord, You remind us over and over in Your Word, that You are always with us.
You tell us not to fear and You draw us close into Your presence. You're the only place we find refuge in the trials that surround us right now, Lord. You're the only place we can find peace and strength. So we ask You for Your words of truth and power to strengthen us in our life, and lift our hearts to You.
Thank You for Your goodness. Thank You that You understand our trials and You care. Through our own struggle and pain, help us to be Your vessels to offer comfort and strength to others who are hurting.
Please, Lord, stay at our side and let us understand that by looking to You, we will obtain the wisdom and patience and love that will complete us. Fill us with peace in knowing that even if we take a wrong turn, Your purpose will prevail. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Today is Mother’s Day. One day of the year is specially defined as a day to appreciate Mothers. Not all of us are mothers, but each and every one of us has in common the fact that we had a mother. This is a special relationship, like none other. Whether that relationship grew to a long-enduring blessed relationship, was cut short by some tragedy, or became scarred or even dangerous, the fact remains that the relationship between mother and child is unique, like no other.
In a way of speaking, the mother “created” the child, the child is part of her very self, her body and spirit. A separate being, but connected always. A special relationship.
Of course that special relationship can be nurtured, protected, developed and enjoyed for a whole life, a life that is blessed because of it. It can also be lost, damaged, even destroyed, either by the child or the mother, or undermined by others, by the use of lies or violence.
Today I want to speak about prayer. The kind of prayer that is a product of a special relationship.
We as Christians know about prayer. I think most peoples do. All religions pray to a god or gods, and even those who think they don’t have a religion, will say things like “I will just ask the universe, or “fate will decide..” The word “fate” comes from the names of Roman goddesses who supposedly were the deciders of the future. Whether humans believe they were created by God or not, there is something in a human, sooner or later, that reaches for an authority higher than oneself, and in so doing acknowledges that humans are spiritual as well as physical beings, and that there is some sort of relationship between the one who prays and the one or ones in some cases, to whom the prayer is directed.
What is prayer?
We are taught about prayer, specifically we are taught that we are supposed to pray. We are taught to withdraw to a quiet place and pray, we are taught to carve out a special time each day for Bible reading and prayer, we are taught not to pray to show off, we are taught to believe that what we pray God will do. We learn we should “pray without ceasing”.
Are there any “problems” with prayer? I think we can all say we have experienced problems with prayer. We question, does it work? Does God hear me when I pray? What difference does it make if and when I pray? The Bible teaches us that God has already decided the future, so what is the use then anyway? Prayer can become a religious exercise. It can have form but no meaning. It can look holy but be empty. as Christians we can be afraid to NOT pray because we are taught we should, but we can also be afraid TO pray. In case it “doesn’t work” and then we are forced to face the bigger question: what happens to our faith if our prayers seem never answered? Even though the bible tells us God hears and answers our prayers, that whatever we ask for we shall receive, etc. I personally know of those who have lost their faith when desperate prayers were not answered as expected. In the face of unanswered prayer, we can cling to our faith, but underneath there’s the fear that maybe we will be forced to question our faith. Am I believing a fairy tale, a myth? Or instead we decide we simply don’t have enough “faith” are not “spiritual enough” and end up feeling insignificant and frustrated, that we are lacking, not good enough. Anyway, how do you pray “without ceasing” We feel guilty, that we aren’t praying enough, that we are not faithful enough, or fervent enough. So it follows that if our prayers are futile, why do it? Doubt sets in. All this can hinder us from living fulfilled Christian lives, from being active intercessors that open the way for God to act.
What is a “fulfilled Christian life”? What is an “active intercessor that opens the way for God to act”?
I want to insert a little bit of Biblical history here. Condensed version for sure!
God created the earth, and mankind, and then said “Let them (ie mankind) have dominion over the earth” so with these words found in Genesis 1: 26-28 God actually gave over the legal authority for all earthly management to mankind. Pretty soon afterwards, Satan whispered lies into the ears of the first humans, partners of God and took their authority over all things earthly. He knew that strong relationship would thwart his own plans so he took quick steps to destroy it. But God is a God of His word, he does not break his word or go back on it by saying something like “oh-oh that was a mistake mankind is now going to mess this up big-time, so I am going to change my Word”.
No, he maintained this structure of authority in compliance with His word, which is now His law. So now if God wishes to have any effect on things earthly, how does He do it, having given that authority to mankind, who then gave it away?
He needs permission from the one in charge. He cannot break his own law, He needs Mankind to ask Him to take charge. Any time God needed anything done on earth, he used a person, for example Noah, Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Joshua, Esther. And finally through Jesus, God becoming Man in order to “buy back” the lost authority without breaking His word.
I have here a doll, one that I made when I was about 10. I never really finished her, so she lay in a trunk for many years. I named her Griselda because I figured a name like that would suit such an ugly doll. She’s not beautiful, but you can see there are some lovely things about her. Now I kind of like that name, but anyway.. I made Griselda. She belonged to me only. I had plans for her. But, something disrupted my plan.
SKIT: (*I will have (this person) whisper in Griselda’s ear. Then Griselda is suddenly in someone else’s hands. I need to get her back. So I arrange that she is rescued. (Jesus figure “buys” Griselda back from other person by taking her place). Now she is again in relationship with me, and of course has a special relationship with the one who bought her back. Now Griselda is back, and our relationship is healed.
This little skit demonstrates what happened when God sent Jesus to buy us back. But in His case, once Jesus himself went back to the Father, he then sent his Holy Spirit, not to hover around our heads, but to DWELL IN US. We know this, but do we understand it? If you are a believer in Christ, then God’s Holy spirit dwells with you, in you. Let’s take a moment to meditate on that.
If His Spirit dwells IN US, do we have to use special words to call Him down, to ask for His presence, to hope He hears us? If we are believers, God’s spirit lives with us, in us, and we live in Him. We have a special relationship, like no other, even closer than a mother. This too is a relationship that can be neglected, or nurtured to grow into a dynamic and blessed relationship. How important is it to nurture this relationship?
When I was in my twenties, I loved travel, loved learning about other cultures and languages. I worked hard and saved my pennies so I could go travelling. It was in the 70’s. Once I was at home at my parent’s in Saskatchewan and having learned to do yoga, I was doing a headstand on the living room floor. My dad was sitting there, and eventually said to me, “Deb, what are you seeking? what are you searching for in your life?” I told him I wasn’t “seeking” really, I just loved travel and discovery etc. Then he said to me, “Remember, life is about relationships.” He talked about living in community with others, participating, giving and taking, nurturing.
Relationships. At that time I just thought, yeah okay. But I didn’t really understand what he was saying.
Life. Relationship. Jesus said He came to give us life, and that more abundantly. He came to reestablish a relationship with God that had been destroyed by lies and violence. He came to pave the way to a life lived in community, giving and taking, nurturing. A community like we have here today, a community with Him in our midst.
So let’s recap our position and how we got there:
1.God created the earth and mankind. 2. He gave mankind authority over his creation. 3.This authority was given away to Satan because of his lies. 4. God the Creator bought us back by redeeming us with the life of Jesus, who as a man had authority on the earth, but who, as God, was able to bring things back to the beginning, which is why he is called the “second Adam”. 5.Jesus returned to Heaven. 6. He sent His Spirit to dwell in us. 7. His spirit in us allows us to connect with God and know His will and enact it. He needs us to fulfill His eternal purposes on earth
It is important to remember the Spirit of God is a Person, not an idea.
When Jesus prayed, or spent time with the Father, He “found out” what God needed done, and invited Him to do it. Jesus acted as a man while on earth, so it was in keeping with God’s law. He didn’t just say to God , I want this done, so I am asking. He said “ your will be done on Earth, the same as your will is done in Heaven” in other words, you rule in Heaven now please come and do the same on earth, enact that which you have revealed to me by your Spirit in me is your will. He was in constant relationship with God, constant communication. So he had already known what God wanted done by the time Jesus himself enacted it. He was the hands that God needed to do God’s will. For instance when Jesus healed the sick or lame, He already knew that God had willed it and Jesus enacted that will, because the Spirit within him had told him.
We are those hands today. We also have the spirit of God in us, we also can ask God what is His will and invite Him to do it.
Prayer is living in a dynamic relationship with God, through the work of Jesus and the presence of God’s Spirit. We are ALWAYS connected, we do not need ritual to “call God down” He is here in us and among us.
Prayer is the act of aligning our spirit with God’s Spirit, opening ourselves to His will, and asking Him to enact that will on earth. Our words our thoughts, (unspoken words) connect with the Holy spirit in us.
My dad told me Life is about Relationships. It is true, when life is threatened or ending, we recognize that the only thing important is our relationships with others, the love that we have or could have. Think on this for a minute: look at your own life, what you like, you don’t like, your path, your decisions, your possessions, everything. Now look at it all again, through the filter of valuing your relationships first, and every decision or desire is enacted to honour those relationships only. Does your story take on a different meaning?
The most significant relationship we will ever have, the one that brings life and peace not only to our own being but also to the world around us, is the relationship with the spirit of God within us. Stronger and bigger, closer than the relationship with our own mother. Through this relationship we have the right and power to request that He come and through us enact His good and perfect will for mankind. Prayer is the powerful tool that literally changes the world. Everyone who believes can use this tool. Roman 8:26-27 says The sprit helps us in our weakness. We don’t know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance to God’s will.
Let’s bow our heads and close our eyes. Let us take time.
Take time to recognize the spirit of God dwelling within you. Just say hello, and welcome God’s presence within you. Take time to open yourself to Him doing His will through you. “God I am opening myself to you doing your will through me” Take time to ask God His will for you today. allow your spirit to speak the question: God what is your will for me today?” Allow Him to direct your thoughts towards what or who may need God’s intervention right now. Take time to be His hands on earth. “God I am offering myself to be your hands on earth”
When we allow ourselves to aways be open to the spirit of God, then all of our actions thoughts and words can be prayers. You think of someone, through the filter of the spirit, lift them up to God. The young man who does a wheelie on his motorcycle at the Rockburn crossroads-lift him up to God, ask God to keep him safe-anything you hear about on the news, through the spirit of God in you, ask God to intervene, to enact His will. Hugging someone who seems like they may need a hug, cleaning up after the family or thoughtless persons, lifting them up to God in the meantime-all these things are prayer and allow us to pray “without ceasing”
Do we need liturgical texts, special meetings, fiery preachers, fancy words to call on God to move? No we don’t, though they are not wrong..
Prayer is the natural expression of the relationship between God and mankind, working together to enact the good and perfect will of God for all. It is the natural consequence of a living relationship with God who is there. God who is here. Amen
Introduction Today we take a look at the life of Paul. Starting with his conversion in Acts chapter 9. I wanna look at his relationship with his Savior. Jesus had specific plans for him. Plans it would ultimately take him to many parts of the world to testify concerning The Lord that would ultimately, Nate and him going to Rome. I want us to take note how Paul reacts to being faced with the resurrected Christ!
Title Who are you Lord?. What do you want me to do?
Sauls conversion acts chapter 9:3-7/. Sauls conversion was three hours out of the resurrection of our Lord. 36 AD Acts chapter 9 verse 15-16 A. Gentiles B. Kings C. Children of Israel D. Suffer for my namesake The lesson for us. We can go to people before us and testified bear witness to what the Lord has done and will do as well ——-- Paul went to the Gentiles. Pivotal moment But he went to the Jew first then to the Greek Acts ch 13: 44-47 ——-- Acts 23:11-21 Here we read of the plot to kill Paul Be of good cheer, Paul, for as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, you must also bear witness at Rome. The lesson for us. Though it seems like everything‘s against us. When we are for Christ. He is standing right by us. He has a plan for you, and he will fulfil it. The Lord is standing right by us. I will never leave you nor forsake you said Jesus. ——-- Paul before Felix. 59 AD ish Acts chapter 24:11-21 Here we see Paul accused of sedition by the leading Jewish authorities and religious leaders What is Paul‘s main defence? “The resurrection of the dead“ 24:16-21 ——-- What kind of person is Felix? Procrastinator Corrupt Fearful Yeah unrepentant or unwilling to believe./ on the contrary what kind of people are we. Or ask yourself what kind of person am I? Act 24:24-27 ——-- Fast forward, Festus two years later. Paul appeals to Caesar 25:11-22 ——-- Paul testifies to King Agrippa 26:1-21 What is a testimony. Former life. Conversion. Present life —- God has a plan for Paul to go to Rome and testify before Cesar It was an amazing thing that Paul was under house arrest in Rome. Has he gone to Rome as I can with the preacher his message more than likely would’ve been just one among many other preachers. And got lost but he was under house arrest in Caesar’s household. Speaking to the praetorian guard relatives of Cesar great and intellectual people God’s ultimate plan for him was achieved If you are a believer but your faith in Christ learn how to model this example. Everywhere you go you can testify of your former life. Your conversion and your life now. Trust in him he has a plan
And if you’re on the fence. Why?. Ask yourself. Who is this Jesus? Who are you Lord? What do you want me to do? Those are the two greatest questions we can ever ask. They are so important eternity depends on it!