Archive for March, 2015
Dear God, we need the gospel of salvation your servant Paul describes so beautifully.
You gave your truth, but we suppressed it, and so we deserve your wrath, for knowing you, we do not honor you, instead, we descend ever more deeply into a life of sin.
Therefore you give us up to various lusts,
to disordered sexual relations
and to debased minds.
We do things that are hurtful to others.
Sinful deeds arouse your wrath.
So we thank your providing us a glorious way out through who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
Therefore we thank and praise you for the gospel, for it is powerful with your power that is able to save everyone who has faith, for the gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God through faith and for faith.
Praise to you, Triune God, that this news has been proclaimed and believed throughout the world. Amen.
God of mercy and justice, we will never learn or appreciate why you gave your son to suffer and be crucified until we learn from Scripture what it means to be a sinner.
So we thank you for teaching us about the complex and dark ways of sin.
However, we would like to pretend that we are not sinners. We would like to see it as a minor problem we can repair or atone for by means of keeping the law, and doing some kind deeds for others from time to time.
The paths of sin are a deep and ugly mystery.
We will never understand sin’s treacherous ways.
But we know that sin drags us down to deep darkness.
We dare to presume upon your kindness, forbearance and patience.
We do not see your gifts as a call to repentance.
But God, you will judge the secret thoughts of all people. Thank you for providing the way of escape for all who repent. For such there will be honor, glory and peace.
So nudge all of us to be people who repent from the heart.
Hear our cry for mercy which we raise in the name of the crucified Jesus. Amen.
God of faithfulness and justice: it is difficult for us to admit it, but we are people under the power of sin, people who have your word, but we are also those who do not obey it.
You are right in judging us because right and wrong,
justice and evil matter. We cannot justify ourselves by deeds of the law.
We praise you for showing us a new way.
You restore relationships.
You provide the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Now through faith we know that there is justification through grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
You have provided Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, made effective not through works we have done, but through faith.
Through Christ Jesus, you have shown us your righteousness, patience and mercy.
You passed over sins committed in the past.
You have proven yourself to be righteous and now we sinners are made right in your sight. We affirm that we have no reason to boast, only reason for endless thankfulness and praise.
We thank you for Jesus Christ, the one who fulfills are righteousness for us. Amen.
God, you give life to the dead, and call into existence things that do not yet exist.
You give us the promise that we will inherit the world to come, not through works of the law, but through the righteousness that you give us through faith.
We celebrate the overwhelming importance of faith.
Our ancestor Abraham was counted righteous through faith before he was circumcised. When you called him to go, he went. He trusted you to show him the way and the place where he was to go.
So Abraham is the ancestor of all who believe,
and you count righteousness to us, too, only through faith, not through circumcision or baptism or any work of merit.
Forgive us when we are misguided enough to boast before you because we think we have done really well in our obedience to the law. We forget that we are saved through faith in the living and life-giving suffering of Christ on the cross.
May we never have any mistrust that makes us waver concerning your promises. May we grow stronger in faith every day, and give you glory.
We pray in the name of Jesus who opens the door to your kingdom for us. Amen.
God of grace and glory, we praise you for the dominion of your abounding grace, grace sufficient to cover all our sins, and the sins of the whole world.
Through justification, we have received varied and rich gifts. We have peace with you our God. We have received an open door to the grace in which we now live.
We may now boast in the hope of sharing your glory.
We even boast in our suffering and the growth of character that comes with it.
We are glad that your love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
We thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for you were crucified for us, bringing salvation. We did not deserve this gift. We did not merit it because of any goodness in us, but while we were yet sinners, you died for us and reconciled us to God. We are now saved by your life.
We are free because sin no longer exercises its dominion over us. We have received that abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness, and we exercise the dominion of life through the one man, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Father God, we thank you for all Jesus has done for us. Amen.
God of grace and glory, we recognize that there are two roads through life, the road of unbelievers and believers, the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death.
Our way begins with being baptized in Christ’s death for us. Thank you God, for this way leads to complete renewal, and it allows us to walk in newness of life.
God, a glorious future awaits us when we have been baptized into Christ: we will one day participate with him in a resurrection like his. God, this also means that our sinful natures will be destroyed! We are no longer enslaved to sin! We may consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus! God, forbid that we allow sin to reign in us.
Do not allow us to let us yield our bodies to sin as instruments of wickedness, but to present our whole being to you as tools of righteousness.
God, great are the gifts you have given us in Jesus because you love us.
We have become obedient from the heart to the teachings entrusted to us. We are set free from sin. We became passionate about pursuing righteousness.
We thank you, God, that in Christ we are made holy.
Your free gift to us is the unimaginable wonder of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Amen.
God, merciful and mighty, we admit that it is difficult for us to be the people we want to be, and even worse, it is difficult for us to be the people you want us to be.
With your servant Paul, we need to say that our condition is wretched.
On the one hand, God, the good news is that we are free from the law for we are in Christ Jesus. With him we have died to the law to bear fruit to you, our God.
On the other hand, the law and the commandments are holy, good and just, but we are still the old fleshly self, sold to sin. So your law is not our enemy. The sin that lives in our hearts is the real enemy. Therefore we are not able to save ourselves in spite of our best efforts to obey your holy and good law.
God, we are troubled because we are deeply divided within. Your law is good, but our hearts are sold to sin and we are troubled by who we are. In this crisis we cry out to you: “who will deliver us from this losing battle?”
And then with gratitude and joy we remember: “the victory is ours through Jesus Christ. Jesus, you are our Lord!”
Thank you for giving this rich gift to us and all your people. Amen.
Father God, you have provided for our needs and the needs of the whole creation because we are in Christ Jesus, and we have the Spirit of life in us.
We deserve condemnation but we have been set free.
We were held captive under the law of sin and death, but you have delivered us, because Jesus fulfilled the just requirements of the law through his death and resurrection.
Sin held dominion over us, but now, the Spirit of life which alone can please you, rules in our hearts.
We were estranged from you, but now we have received the spirit of adoption. Through the Spirit we recognize you as our Father.
The groaning creation also will be delivered from its bondage to decay to share the glory that you will make known to us.
Father, we groan along with your creation.
We are eagerly awaiting our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
We admit that we are weak, but your Spirit helps us in our weakness and prays for us to express our wordless groaning to you.
Father, we trust that you will work all to our good, and you will complete what you have begun for us until we are at last glorified with you.
In the meanwhile, you will give us all we need, because you are faithful, and you will see to it that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Thank you for your gifts in Christ. Amen.
Electing God, why do some believe and others not?
We try to understand. We want to be faithful to your word.
God, we would like to know why some people’s hearts are hardened. So few of your own people believe, despite all the advantages they have. They are children of Abraham and Sarah. From them the Messiah came, according to the flesh.
But God, it cannot be true that your word failed.
Throughout history, your purpose of election continues.
Electing God, we fail to understand your ways. We are perplexed and puzzled by your works, you, God of justice. We trust that faith comes at your initiative.
Your people Israel failed to understand that our works of righteousness based on law did not succeed in fulfilling the law.
And so we learn that Gentile and Jew can only be saved and receive righteousness through the gift of faith in Christ Jesus.
As it is the potter’s freedom to shape the clay according to what he wishes to make, so we acknowledge that it is your prerogative to show mercy to whom you will, and to harden hearts as you choose.
Through your Holy Spirit helps us to live with mystery. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God, we pray that you will enlighten everyone who is zealous for you. We learn that if we think we can make ourselves good enough before you, we will be disappointed, for we cannot be completely obedient.
So we thank you that Christ has done everything for us the law requires. There is a free and perfect righteousness for us.
The good news is not far away, but close by, on our lips and in our hearts.
For all who thirst for you, O God, the preaching of the gospel comes as fresh, clean water, the water of grace.
May all who hear the message confess Jesus Christ with the mouth, and believe with the heart. So may we all be made right with you, and be saved.
God, we believe your word that no one who trusts in you will be put to shame. We are confident that your arms of invitation reach out to all, to all who seek you, but also to the disobedient and contrary-minded.
Thank you, Father God, for your generosity to us. Amen.
God, we marvel at your riches, wisdom and knowledge.
They are very deep. We cannot search out your judgments, nor understand your ways.
God, it is no wonder that we do not fully understand how you deal with people, but we do trust that it is within your plan to bless, and that you have not changed your mind.
So we trust that salvation is a gift of grace. We do not deserve to be saved. Yet for us great mysteries remain: some people’s hearts remain hard, and yet this becomes the occasion for the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles to make your own people jealous.
We learn that Israel’s stumbling has come to mean riches to the world. But God, how much richer everyone would become through Israel’s inclusion.
So God, we stand in awe of you. You are severe to the fallen. You are kind to all who continue in kindness.
You have power to graft broken olive shoots onto olive trees.
So the day will come, when the number of Gentiles has been completed, then also all Israel will be saved, for in your election plan Israel is also your beloved, and you will be merciful to all: enemies, the disobedient and sinful, too.
So to you be the glory forever. Amen.
Great are you, O God, and wonderful are all your works.
You are renewing the world you love.
You are bringing in your kingdom to heal the world.
We pray that our lives may be a fitting response to all you have done. By your Spirit we present our bodies as living sacrifices to you.By the renewing of our minds may we see what your will is, what is good and acceptable to you.
May we, your people, appreciate the value of the gifts and talents you have given us.
May none of us boast about our goodness, thinking we are more valuable than others.
Give us genuine love that holds on to the good.
May we honor and respect each person.
God, we desire to honor you together, and serve you eagerly.
Father, we pray that we will be good friends and companions to people in whatever their situation, of need or blessing, joy or sorrow, tears or laughter.
Strengthen our hearts that we may never be defeated by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Jesus, through your Spirit, you make us new. Thanks and praise to you for this wonderful work. Amen.
Lord God, governor of all people, each of us serves you in our own way, as you give us talents and callings.
Governing authorities are also your servants, called to pursue the peace and well-being of their subjects.
God, when those in positions of authority are basically good and just it is easier to comply with their governance, as in Paul’s day, but sometimes it becomes more difficult to agree and go along when those servants become evil, as when they persecute people for their faith, or impose burdens too heavy to bear.
God, we ask that we may have the wisdom to be good citizens in our time, knowing that in our nation this may require something quite different from us than for people under dictatorships and other forms of tyranny.
Help us to love one another in fulfillment of your law, and stop us from showing disrespect to others. We understand that love never wrongs another.
Forgive us our imperfect love. Remind us that Jesus will one day return to judge the living and the dead.
Keep us wide awake, with enough oil in our lamps until that day.
Help us to live honorably. This can be difficult for us, so with your gracious help may we put on Christ, carrying him proudly always and everywhere.
O God, come quickly to help us. Amen.
Dear Father God, our scruples can be harmful to other people. Therefore we pray that we may learn to welcome and live in loving ways even when we disagree and have differences opinions on issues such as what we may eat, or passing judgment on others on matters on which we are ultimately only accountable to you, our God.
We confess that we can be quarrelsome and too quick to judge, too slow to make allowance for people we deem to be legalistic or weak. Help us to know our own minds and to become fully convinced of your truth while remaining open to correction. In all things may we give thanks and honor to you, for in life and death we are yours, our Savior and Lord, God of the living and the dead.
May we learn to see clearly when our scruples put a hindrance or stumbling block before another. Prevent us from doing anything leads to the ruin of another for whom Christ died. May we discern what really matters from the trivial. May we see what it means that your Kingdom is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
God, instead of being quarrelsome, help us to do everything we can to pursue peace and leads to building each other up. May all we do proceed from faith.
Through Jesus, show us how to be faithful disciples always and everywhere. Amen.
God of steadfastness and encouragement,
grant that we may live together in harmony,
the strong and the weak,
the Jew and Gentile,
in accordance with the service with which Christ served us, for the glory of your name and so that everyone may be built up, especially our neighbors.
Teach us to welcome one another with the same grace with which Christ welcomed us, so that all of us,
sinful and broken, may live to the glory of you, our God,
because of your mercy.
God, fill us with joy and peace in believing,
so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for the passion your servant Paul had for sharing the story of Jesus with those who had never heard.
May we be filled with that same passion for those who need to hear today.
Father, as Jesus had compassion on us, may we have compassionate hearts. Amen.
Eternal, wise God, we are thankful for all who have made our lives better for us by their friendship and hospitality. We will remember them.
We pray for discernment to notice people who cause dissensions and offences. They oppose the truth of the gospel. God, we desire to be wise in what is good, and to shun evil.
We trust that Satan’s defeat is near.
God, strengthen us by the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, the good news long kept secret, but now made known to the Gentiles as you commanded, to bring about the obedience of faith.
To you, wise God, be glory forever! Amen.