In Philippians Paul talks about how Epaphroditus provided the very thing he was lacking – physical presence. Listen as a few members from Restoration talk to our brother and sister on the field. We went to complete what was lacking and provide encouragement. In turn, we are also encouraged in our gospel efforts.
Thanks giving has come and gone. Christmas time is here. In the midst of the season’s “hustle and bustle” we encourage you to be intentional about setting your heart upon Christ; hat’s what this Advent season is all about.
In fact Advent means “coming,” and for the Christian Church, Advent is a season marked by waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth in history (His first coming) and for the anticipation of Christ’s triumphant return (His second coming). It is a season of thoughtful reflection and repentance; an opportunity to rethink our priorities, to realign our lives with God’s desire for us, to seek forgiveness and to start anew.
On of the ways you can do this is through the use of an Advent calendar. Maybe that “calendar” is in the form of a devotional book you read each day. Books such as “Good News of Great Joy” or “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy” (are good options (and can be downloaded for here or here).
Or if you have kids (or are just a kid at heart), you could make a calendar. There are numerous ways to go about doing this. Here are 33 cleaver ways; and here are a dozens more; and here is a free one to download; and if you don’t like that one, you could download this one. Or just go the simple route and buy one.
Whatever the case, make sure your calendar and time spent using it revolves around Christ and not just chocolate. One way to do this is to pick a short passage of Scripture to read and think about how it points to Christ (here’s a suggested reading plan). Or just spend a month meditating on one verse per day.
Father, we come to you this morning in the name of Jesus Christ, our heavenly priest who intercedes for us. We praise you for who you are. We praise you for your inexhaustible love and lavish grace. You have acted toward us not as we deserve, but according to your compassion and the abundance of your steadfast love. We rest this morning knowing what we do does not define us. We rest this morning knowing our failures do not determine our worth. Remind us Lord, remind us of your graciousness shown to us in Christ Jesus. Holy Spirit, awaken our souls that we might taste and see the Lord is good and all together desirable.
We praise you that you are a God who hears our prayers; we praise you that you, though you are sovereign, you choose to use the prayers of your people to bring about your plans. So we pray. We pray for Christians around the world suffering persecution simply because they take the name of Jesus. We pray for the new believers in Liberia facing persecution from family members. We pray for pastor Yuri Park as he sits in prison for false charges. Bring justice, Lord. We pray for the underground church in China – make it flourish all the more.
Lord, we praise you that we find ourselves in a country with religious freedom. Cause us to realize the preciousness of this liberty. Do not allow us to become complacent and presumptive. By your grace, cause us to use this freedom to boldly live for Christ Jesus in every part of our lives faithfully proclaiming the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We praise you Lord that we live in a country that has a democratic process. We praise you that citizens in this country get to vote and voice their opinions. We pray for Venezuela – restore democracy there Lord. We pray for stability and peace in Syria and Somalia. We pray for justice to flourish in North Korea and Sudan. We pray for the government of this country, the United States. In these last days, we pray that you would grant President Barrack Obama much wisdom. We ask as newly elected officials transition in at local, state and national levels they would be mindful of their call to govern justly, upholding the God-given dignity of all people. We pray this for President-elect Donald Trump. That he would surround himself with those who will help him lead with justice and wisdom, that he would govern and advocate for laws that allow all people, all races, all socioeconomic statuses, all genders to flourish as your image bearers.
Father, above all, by your Spirit, fix our gaze on Jesus, and fuel our trust in you. Keep us perpetually aware of the warm-seated throne of heaven. We praise you that Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lord – and no earthly election can or ever will change that reality.
We thank you this day for the veterans of this country and those around the world who have served on the front lines to promote justice and peace. We thank you for J who served decades in the military and now serves those still enlisted. We thank you for Pillar Church that has a specific ministry to those in the Marines striving to bring the hope and peace for the gospel to marines around the world. We thank you for the Southern Baptist Convention and their ministry to resource all branches of the military with chaplains.
Father, your word tells us our main fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. So we pray for our brothers and sisters on the frontlines battling this darkness in unreached places. We pray for A as she labors to bring the gospel to refugees in the Middle East. We pray for R and E as they seek to bring the light of Jesus to the Middle East. We pray for the International Mission Board as they seek to resource missionaries all over this world. Raise up men and women from this congregation Lord, to take the hope of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
We praise you for this message of hope that forgives and frees sinners, of whom we are the foremost. As we pray for others, we confess our own sins. Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have been angry and greedy. We have pursued romantic immorality and been self-righteous. We have gossiped and slandered. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in the supremacy of Christ to the glory of your holy Name.
Refresh those of us who are weary. Comfort those of us who hurting this morning. Draw near to those of us who feel you are far off. Grant wisdom to the confused. Spur on the faithful. Stir the affections of those who find you dull and boring. Work in this place this morning. Do it for the glory of your name and the eternal joy of your people.
Joey sits down to talk with Misael & Alex. Listen in and learn more about their lives, how they came to faith, what they enjoy doing, etc. As our church grows and changes, we hope these “Get to Know…” podcasts will serve as a way for your to learn more about fellow church members.
We praise your name because you are GOOD, you are RIGHTEOUS and you are LOVING! And, Lord, you SAVE!
Father, so much around us is changing that we don’t quite understand the world we live in. There is so much conflict around the world and in our own nation. There is so much hurt and destruction. There are wars, there are civil wars, there is terrorism, there are illnesses and epidemics and so many economic problems.
Our country is divided and it seems most of us feel that our values are eroding. We feel like our living standard is decreasing and that a lot of what we hold dear is under threat. And it is not only impersonal forces that seem to be driving this, but it feels like our neighbors have different interests than us and sometimes seem to be taking advantage of us. No matter what political or economic preferences we stand for, there seems to be somebody who wants something from us.
Lord, all of these challenges seem to produce sinful patterns in our own hearts. We long for justice and so we point the finger. We long for truth, but when we hear something we don’t like we lash out. We long for security and seek it in our degrees, our work, our skills and our friends.
We live in fear and in worry, working hard at securing for ourselves and for our families the future we desire. Lord, the fear is strong and the pain doesn’t seem to go away. It is the pain of not being who we would like to be, not having what we would like to have, not going in the direction we would like to go in.
We are hurting and we don’t want to be hurting so we try to manufacture a salvation for ourselves. Many times we don’t cling to you, but we try to be safe independently of you. You are just too slow for us. Your salvation and your promises seem far off and too abstract. We have real problems and you talk too much about sin and repentance.
So we rationalize our sins. We shut off from our neighbor, in stead of openly loving them. We come to church and we read our Bibles and fast, but we do so with an expectation of quick deliverance, hoping, just hoping, that somehow we would escape the difficulties of our situation without having to change.
We hope for light, but behold there is darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes. We stumble at midday as in the twilight. All of us growl like bears and moan like doves. We hope for justice, but there is none, for salvation, but it is far from us.
Your arm is not too short that it cannot save, neither your ear that it cannot hear. It is our iniquities that have made a separation between you and us.
Lord, forgive us our pride and our desire to be independent of you, a desire manifested in such subtle ways that sometimes we are not even fully aware. Lord, forgive us our self-centeredness. Forgive us the fact that many times we go through the motions and we forget that you are a real God, wanting to engage with us in a real relationship.
Lord, forgive the fact that we forget your promises in the pursuit of short-term security and absence of pain.
Lord, we thank you, that by your servant, the perfect Servant Jesus Christ, you provided salvation for us from our sins. We thank you that our Lord is committed to restoration of your kingdom. Lord, we thank you that you provide the promises and the Holy Sprit for your people to grasp and believe them.
Father, we pray we would live in faith that you will, one day, on THAT GLORIOUS DAY, complete your deliverance us. We pray that we would patiently pray and watch that you would fulfill your promises. We pray that we would not despair in fear and worry or try to escape the pain we feel by lying to ourselves or to you. Rather, Father, we pray we would cry out to you in submission and prayer.
Father, have mercy on our country. We pray that you give wisdom to our officials and you give peace to the country. We pray that, whichever way this election goes, you would pour out your grace and help the people live together in a just way.
Father, we pray you provide righteous reconciliation between democrats and republicans, blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives, rich and poor, young and old, majority and minority. We pray that nobody would take justice in their own hands, nor attempt to define the truth, but that both justice and truth would be revealed from you.
Father, use these current events to call this country to spiritual reformation. We pray for repentance and for faith in you. We pray that we, your people, would be salt and light. We pray we would proclaim and live out the Gospel at all times, in front of all people. We pray we would love our neighbors.
Father, help us live in the pursuit of the future justice, glory and restoration.
In Jesus’ name,
Ladies of RC, did you miss the Discipleship: What, Why, How event? Check out these podcasts recordings! In this podcast, listen as Jodie discusses how we disciple one another. She tackles lies that we believe about discipleship relationships and walks us through what discipling can look like.
Ladies of RC, did you miss the Discipleship: What, Why, How event? Check out these podcasts recordings! In this podcast, listen as Liz explains the what of discipleship and the Biblical foundation for why discipleship relationships are important as we grow in our faith.