Sunday, April 24, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Easter Sunday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings: Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, Colossians 3:1-4, and Matthew 28:1-10.


He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!



Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the
day of the Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Drink Coffee. Do Good.

Another look at the Land of a Thousand Hills. Drink Coffee. Do Good.

Morning Prayer Guide - Holy Saturday

Read: Job 14:1-14; Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16; 1 Peter 4:1-8; and John 19:38-42

Today is a day of fasting and mourning. Many churches remove the colored paraments from the altar and pulpit, as well as veiling the crosses. Many believers, dressed in black, will visit fourteen churches on this day, meditating on one of the stations of the cross at each one.

Put yourself into the disciples' shoes. How would you feel? Lost? Betrayed? Confused?

Thank God for sending his Son to atone for your sins. You may find the following prayer helpful:

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Friday...



...but Sunday's coming!

Morning Prayer Guide - Good Friday

Read: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25, and John 18:1-19:42

It has been a long journey. Forty days of looking at ourselves, finding things that don't please God, and working out how to fix them. And then today our Savior is betrayed, denied, beaten, mocked, and crucified – just like in today's passage.

Thankfully, God is willing to forgive us for missing the mark. He knows when we are truly trying to be disciples, and when we only say we are. Ask God to help you with your walk. Thank him for his patience. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Maundy Thursday

Read: Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; and John 13:1-17, 31b-35

“Love one another!” Jesus commands us to love each other, and even to wash each others' feet. Washing someone's feet is a sign of humility and servanthood. It's not an easy task, especially when we don't like the person whose feet we are washing. Jesus' command to wash feet applies in a figurative sense, too. By doing things for others that would not otherwise do, we are allowing God's grace to work through us.

Think about a time when you had the opportunity to wash someone's feet, either figuratively or literally. Did you stoop down and wash them, or did you pretend to not notice? Jesus, in the ultimate foot-washing act, gave his body and blood to wash away our dirty sins. Take a moment to thank God for that. The next time God sends you an opportunity to was feet, make the most of it. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Read: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 70, Hebrews 12:1-3, John 13:21-32

Jesus predicted that Judas Iscariot would betray him. How often do we betray him as well? How often do we allow our life, our sickness, our “suffering” to come between us and obedience? How often do we become so lost in our pettiness that we forget all about Jesus?

Take a moment to ask God to forgive you for your betrayal. Then, ask him to give you the grace to avoid doing it again. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Read: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 71:1-14, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, John 12:20-36

To the men who approached Philip about seeing Jesus, Jesus' response was probably a head-scratcher. Some guys say, “We want to see Jesus,” and he replies, “The time has come for me to be glorified.” While Jesus' response may seem a bit nutty, as usual he has a reason for saying what he said.

Jesus wanted his disciples to understand that the end was near. Jesus knew that by the end of the week, he would be crucified. He mentions this to the Twelve, and then says something else that catches our eye: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (verse 24). In other words, we must be willing to die to self in order that we might be fruitful.

Take a moment to reflect on your self-denial. Do you die to self, or do your sins and bad habits hang on to life? Dying to self means to give up what you want and giving in to what God wants. Ask God to help you do that. His promise is that if we die to self, he is able to work in and through us. You may find the following prayer helpful:
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Read: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 36:5-11, Hebrews 9:11-15 and John 12:1-11.

Holy Week is the most important week of the Christian year. It is the time when we revisit Christ's suffering and death in preparation for the resurrection.

Today's passage in John tells the story of Jesus being anointed by Mary, Lazarus' sister. Judas Iscariot protested. Jesus replied that she was anointing him for his burial. The oil that Mary used on Jesus' feet was very costly, and giving it to Jesus was a great sacrifice.

Take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice you can offer to God. Worship is a sacrifice. Too many times we think that church is for us – our wants, our blessings, our desires – when actually it's for God. Ask God to show you what sacrifices you should be making. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other that the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Sixth Sunday in Lent: Palm/Passion Sunday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Readings:
Liturgy of the Palms: Matthew 21:1-11 and Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11,
and Matthew 26:14-27:66

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A collect for guidance:
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Missional Church: Simple

This is interesting... Is your church missional? Or is it a country club?

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Read: John 11:45-57 and Psalm 126

Jesus has a tendency to make people mad. He comes to us, rattling our cages, showing us things we would rather not see, and telling us things we don’t want to hear. Jesus loves us, but in a way that can sting sometimes. In fact, it is because he loves us that he does the things he does. He wants us to take notice, and to listen to what he is saying.

The Pharisees were deeply offended by the things Jesus did and said. They loved the status quo. How many times have you heard (or even said) “But we’ve always done it this way!”? How often have you used it as an excuse to not make any changes?

God wants us to change. He loves us enough to redeem us from our sin, but he also loves us enough to ask us to grow and change into something better. We are to be in his image, not the image that we’ve been in for as long as we can remember.
Ask God to show you some areas where change is needed. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Gracious God, we know that you confront us with our sin, so that we might repent. You ask us to change, so that we might become more like Christ. Grant us grace that we might be obedient to your loving commands and willing to change the things you ask us to change; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Read: Isaiah 43:8-15 and Psalm 126

Usually, the best person to ask about something is one who has experienced it first hand. For instance, the best way to learn how to knit is to ask someone who knits. Asking a non-knitter would be useless.

Today’s passage talks about telling others about our experiences with God. God is saying, “Go ahead. Put the word out. Let people tell what they have seen with their own eyes; what they have heard with their own ears.” God wants us to be vocal about our experiences!

How vocal are you about God? It’s easy to sweep God under the rug, to not mention him to others. It can be hard to talk about him with other disciples, and even harder with non-believers. Ask God to show you how best to do this. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Lord God, teach us how to tell others about you. Grant us grace to overcome our fears, so that we might spread the good news of redemption to all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Read: Isaiah 43:1-7 and Psalm 126

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you!” God has paid the price of our sins, and now we are free. We are restored into God’s family. We are bought from slavery to sin and death.

Take a closer look at verse two. God said that when we walk through the waters, he will be with us. When we go through the rivers, they will not overflow us. Note that we still have to walk through those waters and rough rivers. We still have work to do. God still expects certain things from us. We will go through things that will make us quake with terror. However, God will still be with us, protecting us and guiding us. He will not allow us to be swept away.

Think about some of the rivers you’ve had to cross. Think about how God has been with you every step of the way. What rivers do you face now? Ask God to reassure you and to let you know that he is with you. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Father Almighty, grant us strength as we face obstacles in the path of life, and give us grace to overcome all adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Read: 2 Kings 4:1-7, Luke 9:10-17, and Psalm 53

We look at two situations today which illustrate how God provides. In the first story, God provides enough oil to pay all of the widow’s debts, with some left over. In the second story, God provides enough food to feed all the people, with some left over. God’s grace and forgiveness is the same way. God provides enough grace to overcome whatever our difficulty, with some left over. His forgiveness washes away all our past sins, plus those we will do in the future. God knows that we cannot find salvation alone or through good works, so he provides a way.

Take a moment to thank God for his mercy. You may find the following prayer helpful:

God our Father, you have loved us when we were unlovable. You have forgiven us when we were unforgivable. You have had mercy on us when we failed you. We thank you for your grace and mercy and love, and we glorify your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Read: Leviticus 25:1-19 and Psalm 53

Today’s passage talks about the Sabbath years and the year of Jubilee. While this is important for many reasons, today we focus on the opportunity for fair dealing. God didn’t want people to be greedy; instead, he wanted his people to deal fairly with each other. Every fiftieth year was an opportunity to level the playing field, so that everyone would have an equal chance to succeed.

God still wants his people to deal fairly with one another. He wants us to do what we say we’re going to do. He doesn’t want us to speak evil of anyone, especially our fellow believers, either behind their backs or to their faces. He wants us to live the way we say we do.

Do you deal fairly with others? Do you treat them as well as you would like to be treated, or do you judge, criticize, and destroy them? Pray for the people you love. Now, pray for those you do not love. Ask God to help you deal fairly with those you do not like. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty God, you have commanded us to deal fairly with each other and to love others as we love ourselves: grant us grace to love others as you have loved us, that we might be known as your servants; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Read: Leviticus 23:26-41 and Psalm 53

God told Moses that he wanted the people to have a day every year where they reflected on their sins. They were to offer sacrifices to atone for those sins. God also wanted them to have a festival where they lived in booths or tents, to remember the time spent in the wilderness.

Lent, in many ways, serves the same purposes. It is a time of reflection on our sins and shortcomings, a time to seek forgiveness, and a time spent in the wilderness. Lent is a reminder that it is not about us, but about what God can do in and through us.

Reflect on your Lenten journey thus far. What have you learned about yourself? What sins or character traits do you need to overcome? What can you do to become a better disciple? You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty and most merciful God, we have devoted this season to searching ourselves that we might become closer to you. Give us grace to see the things that displease you, and forgive us where we have failed you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Read: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:6-11, and John 11:1-45

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rethink Church.

Rethink Church. What if church was a verb, instead of a noun? Not just a place we go, but something we do?



10thousanddoors.org

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Read: Luke 24:44-53 and Psalm 130

Death. Resurrection. These themes run throughout Christ’s ministry on earth. He ruined a perfectly good funeral. He raised a man who had been dead for three days. He was himself raised from the dead.

Death can be a good thing or a bad thing. Both Jesus and St. Paul talk about how we need to die to self and live for God. We have to put away the things which cause us to be distant from God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship (p. 99):

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. (Emphasis added

Death can also be a bad thing. When we are away from God, we are dead. Christ came to bring life. Seems like a contradiction, but it really isn’t. God wants us to die to the things that make us dead, and live for the things that bring us life.
In what ways do you need to die?

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Read: Ezekiel 36:8-15 and Psalm 130

The prophet Ezekiel writes about how Israel will come to a place where they are no longer dead. Ezekiel was writing to a nation which was in captivity in Babylon. Their homeland was in ruins, Jerusalem was a pile of rubble, and things seemed so hopeless. But God promises that after they have completed their judgement he will bring them back to prosperity.

God wants to draw us closer to himself. He wants us to put away the idols that get between us and God. Things like television shows, football teams, our children, even the way we worship can become idols if we let them. If it has more importance to us than God does, it is an idol.

The good news is that God knows our sorrow and our repentance. He is ready to pick us up, dust us off, and set us back on the path.

Write your own prayer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Read: Ezekiel 33:10-16 and Psalm 130

Turn from your wicked ways! Do not die, but live! The message of Ezekiel is clear: if you are not following God, you are dead. But if you do follow him, you find life. Death is a state of nothingness, of excommunication from God. Life is a state of blessing and communion with God. Which would you choose?

This is one reason why Holy Communion is so important and should be taken as often as possible. By participating in the liturgy, we join Christians from all parts of the world and all points in time in reliving Christ’s sacrifice, renewing our covenant to live a holy life, and allowing Christ to reveal himself within us. As we receive the Most Precious Body and Blood, we receive Christ within ourselves all over again. He takes the death within us and brings it to life.

Christ speaks the words of life. Will you listen?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Read: Matthew 9:27-34 and Psalm 146

Today we read about two more blind men whom Jesus healed. They were crying out, “Son of David! Have mercy on us!” Because they recognized that Jesus carried healing power, and that he was the Son of God, Jesus healed them. Though their physical eyes were blind, they could see spiritually.

Think back over the past seven days. How has the emphasis on light, darkness, blindness, and sight helped you in your Lenten journey? Have you been able to identify areas in your own life where Christ’s light needs to be? Have you asked God to help you see the way?

The question now is whether you will do anything about it or not.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Read: Isaiah 42:14-21 and Psalm 146

Blindness in the Bible often is a symbol of inability to see the truth. Isaiah implies that the Israelites are blind, and therefore they are deceived. By that definition, we are still blind today.

The good news is that Jesus is still in the healing business. Just as we talked about yesterday, Lent is the perfect time to ask Jesus to help us to see.

One of the best ways to do this is to confess the sins we have between us and God. Take some time to do that now. You may find the following prayer helpful:

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 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 your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Read: Isaiah 59:9-19 and Psalm 146

Our theme the past few days has been light. Yesterday we read about Jesus healing a man who had been blind since birth. He had been in darkness.

Isaiah talks about how the people had been in darkness, searching for light. Then he moves into a prophecy of how the Lord sees the injustice and darkness and comes to redeem his people. To Isaiah, this is light entering the dark places. This is blindness being healed.

The seasons of Lent and Advent are times when we realize that we live in darkness and that we need Christ’s light in our lives to be able to see where to go. Lent is a time when we can look within ourselves and see where the darkness is. Hopefully you have been taking the opportunity to examine yourself and see where you stand with Christ, and where you need to be.

Where do you need light? Is it on your path? Is it within yourself? Ask God to give you the light you need. You may find the following prayer helpful:

O Lord, grant us that love which can never die, which will enkindle our lamps but not extinguish them, so that they may shine in us and bring light to others. Most dear Savior, enkindle our lamps that they may shine forever in your temple. May we receive unquenchable light from yo so that our darkness will be illuminated and the darkness of the world will be made less. Amen. (Attributed to St. Columba of Ireland)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Read: 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, and John 9:1-41

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Project 7 Coffee

Changing the world one cup at a time.

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Read: John 1:1-9 and http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2023&version=NKJV

St. Paul’s writings to the Ephesian church and today’s passage about Christ being the Light combine work together with tomorrow’s reading about the blind man whom Christ healed. The common theme is light.

While Paul doesn’t mention light in the passages from Thursday and yesterday, he is talking about removing things from our lives that cause us to be spiritually blind. If we will allow the light of Christ to come within us, we can become faithful disciples and do God’s work. Today we read St. John’s passage about how Christ (the Word) is the light of the world. Tomorrow’s Gospel reading deals with a blind man receiving his sight – a miracle made more wonderful by the double application into our own lives.

Christ works among us, trying to remove our blindness. The problem is that sometimes we run and hide. Instead of embracing the changes God has for us, we get resentful and start throwing temper tantrums.

Open your eyes. As one man said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.”

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Read: Ephesians 5:1-9 and Psalm 23

We continue with our stream of thought from yesterday. This is the perfect reading for Lent, because it leads us to make sure we do not suffer from these faults. God wants us to be working toward perfection. Sure, we may never reach it. But that does not stop us from trying. There’s always room for improvement.

God wants to remove things from your life that displease him. Sometimes those things are near and dear to us. Usually it is things that get in the way of us following him. What does God want to remove from you? What do you need to release? How will you respond?

Almighty God, you work within our hearts to mold and shape us into your image: Grant us grace that we might put away the things which displease you, so that we might draw closer to you and be ever mindful of the calling you have placed upon our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.