A Word about the New Day

image courtesy of oceans in the desert

We begin a new series today called Transformative Stories. Over the next few months, we’re going to look at some stories Jesus gave us in the Gospel of Luke. Luke offers some stories not offered in the other gospels while including most of the ones the others did. As we hear these stories Jesus told over the coming weeks, you will see just how transformative these stories are.

Title: A Word about the New Day

Text: Luke 5.33–39

Overview

  • stories
  • human nature
  • analogies
  • joy

Resources

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Day Two: Longing for His People to Grow

Scripture to Pray Through: Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

image of chaff driven away by the wind; courtesy of National Geographic

4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

From the Proposed Covenant

Fifth, we promise to guard the unity that the Spirit has given us in Christ, bearing one another’s burdens, bearing with one another’s weaknesses with much tenderness, and fellowshipping with one another in all conditions both outward and inward as God wills.

Prayers of Intercession

Pray specifically for fellow members of our church. Start with the three people you committed to invest time in back in September (someone older, someone younger, and a peer). For each one:

  • Give thanks to God for evidences of grace you see in their lives.
  • Pray the blessings of Psalm 1 over them, asking God to watch over their way and to preserve them from temptation.
  • Text or call them to find out specific ways you can pray for them.
  • Consider how the Lord might use you to serve them in the coming days.

    Use the space below to jot down notes from your conversation with them, as well as ideas the Lord gives you as you pray.

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Day One: Longing for His Glory to Be Known

Scripture to Pray Through: Psalm 57

image courtesy of IFGC

1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. 2 I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. 3 He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness. 4 I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

From the Proposed Covenant

First, we promise to walk in all holiness, godliness, humility, and brotherly love, as much as in us lies, that our communion might glorify God and bring joy to all peoples.

Prayers of Adoration

Take a few minutes to meditate on the glory of God. What is He like? What has He done? Jot down your thoughts, then praise Him for who He is.

Prayers of Aspiration

What would it look like if our city knew God in all His glory? How would our relationships be different? our homes? our workplaces? Imagine how our world would change if God’s glory were universally acknowledged and celebrated. Then take time to pray that the Omnipotent One would make His glory known through you, through us.

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A Prelude to Prayer

The following poem appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine on July 2, 2015.

The Word That Is a Prayer
by Ellery Akers

One thing you know when you say it:
all over the earth people are saying it with you;
a child blurting it out as the seizures take her,
a woman reciting it on a cot in a hospital.
What if you take a cab through the Tenderloin:
at a street light, a man in a wool cap,
yarn unraveling across his face, knocks at the window;
he says, Please.
By the time you hear what he’s saying,
the light changes, the cab pulls away,
and you don’t go back, though you know
someone just prayed to you the way you pray.
Please: a word so short
it could get lost in the air
as it floats up to God like the feather it is,
knocking and knocking, and finally
falling back to earth as rain,
as pellets of ice, soaking a black branch,
collecting in drains, leaching into the ground,
and you walk in that weather every day.

image courtesy of daintl.org

Who hasn’t experienced what Ellery Akers so poignantly describes in her poem “The Word That Is a Prayer”? Our prayers may be as simple as that one word please. Yet it feels so small, so powerless against the pain, the sorrow, the guilt, the loneliness, the monotony of our existence. Worse yet are those times when our fragile, feather-like prayers seem to have fallen back to earth—heaven unmoved, our circumstances unchanged.

We are right to feel that our prayers are small and powerless, for in fact that is what they are. They are the broken expressions of people undergoing transformation. We may love the Giver, but we often love His gifts more. We may ask for God to be glorified in our lives, but we want it happen on the path of prosperity and comfort and ease, not on the road marked by suffering and contempt and death. Like a soaring melody played on the bagpipe, our best deeds are darkened by the everpresent drone of our own brokenness. How could prayers so small, so powerless, so broken, reach heaven?

Only if Heaven comes to us.

The hope of the gospel is not: if you have enough faith, God will grant you admission to heaven. That is not good news at all, for we do not have enough faith. The hope of the gospel is that Heaven came down to us in the Person of His Son—to those like His disciples, weak in faith and broken by sin. You don’t have to have much faith to be heard; you need only put your trust in the right Person. That’s why the nineteenth-century Presbyterian pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote, “My only safety is to know, feel, and confess my helplessness, that I may hang upon the arm of Omnipotence.”

And when you believe the gospel, the Holy Spirit unites you to Jesus so that you become daughters and sons of the Most High. No parent says Yes to every request their child makes, and the child doesn’t always understand why. But if she knows her parent is good and wise, her confidence in them will grow. So too our Heavenly Father. We may not always know why He says No, or Not now, but we know Him. And because of our union with Jesus we know that none of our prayers, small and powerless though they are, goes unheard.

*****

This week’s Prayer Guide is available here.

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Soli Deo Gloria: 2017 Theme

diagram courtesy of the University of Cambridge

In 1514 a Polish astronomer published a short work that would change the world. In just 40 pgs, Nicolaus Copernicus set forth the theory that the sun was the center of the universe. In his day, people took it for granted that everything revolved around the earth, not the sun. After all, from their perspective, that’s just what they saw. All you had to do was stay up all night and you could see it for yourself.

We know now looking back that Copernicus was right: the sun, not the earth, is at center of our solar sys. But for centuries, people lived and died thinking that everything revolved around them. And what Copernicus did was reorient people to a truth that’d been there all along.

What was true in astronomy is certainly true in theology. We humans constantly think that world revolves around us. In a word we are egocentric. And the psalmist opens up his own experience to show us why we’re like that, and what hope we have for change.

Title: Soli Deo Gloria: 2017 Theme

Text: Psalm 103

Overview

  • egocentrism
  • love
  • what is due

Resources

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