Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

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

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely 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.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Matthew 19:16-24 and Psalm 62

The interesting verse in today’s passage is verse 22: “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” This passage fits well with the past two days’ readings. The passage from Revelation tells of Jesus’ dislike of lukewarm churches. The passage from James tells us that we should not be focused on ourselves and the accumulation of our own wealth, but that we should be focused on following Jesus. Today we read about how difficult it is to give up all our stuff so that we can enter the Kingdom.

If we look up the page a bit, in verses 13 through 15, we see that Jesus was blessing the small children. Mark and Luke both tell the same story, with slightly different details. Mark’s version (Mark 10:13ff) records Jesus as saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (verse 15).
A baby enters the world with nothing. No clothing, no retirement fund, no health insurance, and certainly no instruction manual. The only thing a baby has is complete and total dependence on the one who gives it life. It depends on someone else to change its diapers and feed it and care for it. Jesus takes that and compares it to the rich, young ruler who approached him in the street. Where the baby has only dependence on the life-giver, this man depended on his money and position within the community. To Jesus, the solution was clear: give up the money, stuff, and power upon which you are depending and transfer that dependence to the Life-Giver. The young man was sad to hear this, though, because he was too dependent on it. He just couldn’t let go.

Take some time to reflect on this. What are you holding on to? Maybe it’s not money. Maybe it’s a position within your family, your church, or your community. Ask God to help you release these things. Ask him to help you to give up everything and follow Jesus. Write your own prayer about this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

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

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely 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.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: James 5:1-6 and Psalm 62

Sometimes we think we’re rich. Compared to several billion people, we are. Many people live in housing that would make us shudder. We eat far better (and far more) than they do. We have opportunities available to us that many can only dream about having. Even if we live below the poverty line, we are still better off in many ways than a large number of the world’s population. Still, we can get so caught up in pursuing and accumulating wealth that we forget God.

Yesterday we read about the lukewarm church. Today, in many respects, we read about the cold church. The people St. James describes are so focused on getting richer that they have forgotten all about following Jesus. Greed replaces mercy. Fraud and deceit replace justice. Selfishness replaces love.

God wants us to put all that aside. There are things more important to God than our money. It should be the same with us. Instead of greed, deceit, and selfishness, maybe we should try mercy, justice, and love.

What does this look like for you? Have you focused too much on stuff or money and not enough on God? Have you allowed your greed and selfishness to drown out your mercy and love? Take a few minutes to talk to God about all this. Then, write your own prayer.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely 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.

Collect for Purity:

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

Read: John 7:40-52 and Psalm 80:7-15

Jesus was quite controversial. Some claimed he was a prophet. Others claimed he couldn’t be, because of his home town. He actually had been born in Bethlehem, but the people didn’t know that. It’s almost comical the way they argued over him.

Jesus didn’t pay them much attention. He just got to work. Too often we get caught up in the argument instead of getting to work. We allow the controversy to distract us from the things we’re supposed to be doing. We love a good argument, and of course we’re always right. So instead of following Jesus, we argue and fight and generally make fools of ourselves.

Stop the arguing. Stop the foolishness. Get to work. Jesus has given us clear orders, and we’re not doing a good enough job with carrying them out. Put aside the arguments and work together to accomplish the mission.