A Prayer for A New Year

On Wednesday we engage in our annual day of prayer and fasting. Please join with your brothers and sisters in focused prayer, thanking God for bringing us along to this point in our corporate history, and asking him to lead us as a congregation in the year ahead.

O Lord,
Length of days does not profit us
unless the days are passed in your presence,
in your presence, to your glory.

Give us a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids, every hour,
that we may not be one moment apart from you,
but may rely on your Spirit to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every speck of faith;
Give us a desire to show forth your praise,
testify to your love,
advance your reign.

We launch our bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with you, O Father, as our harbor,
you, O Son, at our helm,
you, O Spirit, filling our sails.

Guide us to the New Jerusalem with our lamp burning,
our ears open to your calls,
our hearts full of love,
our souls free.

Give us your grace to sanctify us,
your comfort to cheer,
your wisdom to teach,
your right hand to guide,
your counsel to instruct,
your law to judge,
your presence to stabilize.

May fear of you be our awe,
your triumphs our joy.
Amen.

Source: Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975, p. 112. I gently edited this prayer; in particular, I changed the pronouns to turn a personal prayer into a corporate prayer.

[Originally posted on January 14, 2014]

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A Larger Vision of Christ

During this past Sunday’s sermon, I mentioned in passing the vision of Jesus as both Lion and Lamb. Here are excerpts from Robert H. Mounce’s commentary on Revelation 5:4-6:

Unless the seals are broken and the scroll of destiny unrolled, God’s plan for the universe will be frustrated. Hence the Seer breaks out in unrestrained weeping. One of the elders steps forward and tells the Seer not to weep. The scroll will not remain unopened, for there is One who has triumphed and is therefore worthy to break the seals.

He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. Both of the titles ascribed to Jesus are taken from the common stock of Jewish messianism. The first is from Genesis 49:9-10, where in Jacob’s final blessing on his twelve sons, Judah is called a “lion’s cub” and is promised that the scepter shall not depart from him “until he comes to whom it belongs.” The second title is an allusion to Isaiah 11:1 (“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse”), which looks forward to an ideal king of the line of David who will judge with righteousness and usher in an era of peace.

John now looks to the center of the celestial scene and beholds, not a Lion, but a Lamb! A Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, bearing the wounds of a sacrificial slaughter, yet standing in readiness for action. In one brilliant stroke John portrays the central theme of New Testament revelation — victory through sacrifice.

Q: “Why do you follow Christ?” A: “Who else did you have in mind?” (This quotation comes from Dallas Willard’s article entitled, “God and the Problem of Evil.”)

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Being Intentional About Worship During Advent

This year, on Sunday mornings during Advent, we will be listening to selections from Handel’s Messiah. Here are the specific movements to which we will be listening:

  • Dec 3: Movements 2 and 3 (Isaiah 40:1-4).
  • Dec 10: Movement 12 (Isaiah 9:6).
  • Dec 17: Movement 26 (Isaiah 53:6).
  • Dec 24: Movement 44 (Revelation 19:6, 16; 11:15).

I encourage you to be intentional this month. Find ways during the week to focus your mind on the First and Second Advents of Christ. Here are two ideas:

  1. Listen to Handel’s Messiah — even study it! This link is to the Wikipedia page about the structure of the Messiah. Scroll down on that page for a chart that will give you all the Scripture references used throughout the Messiah.
  2. Here’s a wonderful advent resource from Biola College. Try it out for a day and see what you think.

P.S. I’ll be mentioning this post as I introduce the Advent devotionals tomorrow morning.

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