Father, Almighty God, we praise You. You are our salvation and our deliverance. You are our strength. Who else is like You? Who else can we turn to? You are holy and just, yet Your mercy is boundless and Your grace immeasurable. You live in infinite eternal majesty, yet You are near to the broken hearted and to all who call on You in truth.
And You call us.
You call us out of darkness and into Your great light, to be Your children.
You call us to be salt in our world, to rub ourselves so much into the rot all around us, that our very presence through your Spirit helps slow the decay.
You call us to be light in our world, to shine the light of Your gospel compassion so that others see it and are drawn to You.
You call us to lives shaped by a Gospel that is not a theory, not an instruction or even advice, but is News. Good News that calls out to a lost world that something wonderful has happened, that changes everything.
But the world calls us too Father, and we often follow. We’re too easily led away from You, and we lose our saltiness and hide our light, and become burdened and detached from the very source of life that You designed us to crave. You. Help us to always remember that our hearts will not find true rest, until they find their rest in You.
Remind us this day of your steadfast lovingkindness shown to us by You in Christ who obeyed His call, and gave up infinite love and glory to come here, become like us, live among us, and suffer and die on a cross for us. All so we could be one with You. His blood was poured out so we could drink and have true life. His body was torn apart so we could eat together and be brought together through Your Spirit as one, in You. Natural-born enemies, called together in an enemy-free zone, Your body, Your church.
Father, as we rise each day to face our individual calls, feeling so inadequate, help us hear Your whisper in our ear that Your grace is sufficient and Your power is made perfect in our weakness.
Father, we know You care deeply about what is broken in our lives, and in this world. May those of us today who are broken and in the dark, call on You and be comforted by this truth. We are not alone, because Jesus faced utter abandonment so we would never have to, and the darkness we feel now are more like temporary shadows. You walk with us in the shadows. Your joy is inside of our sorrow. And You call us as a church family to walk in the shadows, with Lark and Heidi Perez, our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, and many others who are hurting.
Your death and resurrection are a promise for us that neither evil nor suffering have the last word. Not broken relationships, not physical ailments, not financial issues, not cancer, not pandemics, not even death. Help us remind ourselves and each other daily of this true and steadfast hope.
Father, we have many plans for our lives, individually, and corporately as a church for the new ministry year. In all of these, help us to be Your image bearers in this world, and to be in Your Word, to learn who You really are and what imaging bearing really looks like, and not for what we want You to be or for what we want to do.
Father, we call to You with our needs, our requests, our complaints, our cries and our praises. We are hurting, heal our pain, and help us see with eyes of faith that the pain and suffering we experience here, will be redeemed when You come. We are grieving, comfort us and help us feel Your presence. We are doubting, so we lay our doubts before You, knowing that You and You alone will only and ever be the true answer to all of our deepest questions. We praise you that we are Your children, help us remind ourselves daily of what our true identity is, in You. An identity not based on what we do, but on what You did. And we praise You because of who You are, remembering that each of us has a lifetime journey of being still and knowing You are God.
Your words are life. As Your word calls to us this morning, help us have ears to hear, so that we are changed at our core and abandon all that calls to us from the world with false hopes of happiness, doing all that we do, not for the sake of a creed, cause, ideology, promise or dream, but simply because You call to each of us this morning, Follow Me.
We call on You with all this as we stand in Your presence, naked and utterly helpless, but covered by the blood of Jesus and adopted as Your precious children. Chosen, Called and Sent. Praise You. Amen.
(David Kneller, Elder)