Lifted

Jeremiah 38:6-7a, 11-13a
“So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern…They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.  But Ebed-Melech, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern…So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace.  He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern.  [He] said to Jeremiah, ‘Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.’  Jeremiah did so, and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern.”

Luke 10:33-34
“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.”

Psalm 40:1-2
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Merciful God, you look upon the disasters that have befallen us with deep compassion.

liftedAs we sink into the mud of despair, you hear our cry.  With acts of gentle love you tend to our wounds and lift us from the place where we have been abandoned.

Soften our hearts for the plight of the foreigner and the neighbour, so that as we have been mercifully rescued we might also stop to revive the downcast.  Teach us to bind their bruises with healing hands.

Thank you for the love shown to us by your Son Jesus Christ, who willingly entered the pit so that we might be lifted high and set firmly upon the Rock.

Listen to ‘He Lifted Me‘ by Jim Spencer Music

 

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Prisoners of Hope

Genesis 39:20b-23
“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden.  So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.  The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Zechariah 9:12
“Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”

Acts 28:17a, 20b
“When [the leaders of the Jews] had assembled, Paul said to them, ‘My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people…It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.’”

Eternal God, the expanse of the heavens speak of your delight in freedom.

prisoner hopeThough you cannot be contained, you bend low to free our hearts when we are imprisoned by circumstances.  You unlock hope when we have been sentenced to despair.

Fix our eyes upon Christ instead of our chains.  Let us rejoice in the knowledge that we are bound to you in love more tightly than any earthly fetter, and may others be released by the power of our joy.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, who served our sentence for us, that we might walk in life and liberty.

Listen to ‘O Christ What Burdens Bowed Thy Head’ by Amanda Greene

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Carrying

Genesis 22:6-8
“Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.  As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’  ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied.  ‘The fire and the wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’  Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’  And the two of them went on together.”

John 19:16-17
“Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.  So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull…”

Luke 9:23-24
“Then [Jesus] said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’”

Father of the Nations, you are a God who sees how your children stumble under the load of sin.

carrying (2)Though we are weary and our souls chafed raw, in your mercy you provided a load-bearer for us.  The splinters of sorrow pierced his innocent back and he took upon himself the death we were destined for.

In gratitude may we lay down our self-pleasing lives and take up the burdens of those that share our path, easing them only in your strength.

We ask this in the name of our substitute sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who walked under the weight of the crucifixion wood to be offered up for our salvation.

Listen to ‘Go to Dark Gethsemane’ featuring Sandra McCracken

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Cords

Hosea 11:1-2a, 4a
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me…I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love…”

John 2:14-15
“In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area…”

Hebrews 12:5b-6
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

Righteous Father, you hold the highest authority and we place ourselves under your command.

You have loved us like cherished children, but we are wayward and ungrateful.  We have rejected your gentle leading, but your wisdom and mercy will not allow us to wander far.

cordsForgive us for our crooked ways and help us to accept the unwelcome cords of discipline.  Remind our downcast hearts that your corrective striking is for our protection, coaxing us into saving obedience.

We are humbled that you gave up your precious Son Jesus to fall beneath the punishing lash in our place, that we might be bound to you forever.

Listen to ‘Heal Me for Thy Mercy’s Sake’ by Darby Hughes

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Branches

Ezekiel 17:22-23a
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.  On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar.”

John 15:1a, 4
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Isaiah 11:1-3
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

Giver of life, all green and growing things flourish as they reach for you.

branchesYou are the splendid cedar and the true vine.  We draw all sustenance from you, and would wither but for our grafting into a greater host.

Plant us and prune us into branches reverent to the Gardener.  May we be rooted in wisdom, nourished by your Spirit and produce fruit in keeping with our source.

This we ask for the sake of Jesus, the true tree of life, who was cut off from glory and nailed to a tree of death so that we might remain forever grounded in you.

Listen to ‘Vineyard’ by Strahan

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Wine

Daniel 1:8, 12b
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way…‘Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.’”

John 2:7-9a
“Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.  Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’  They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.”

Isaiah 25:6, 8a
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines…he will swallow up death forever.”

Loving heavenly Father, you grasp the ordinary and by your touch create the magnificent.

When we, like Daniel, choose water over the finest wine of a foreign power, your Son brings his kingdom to earth and turns our water into the best of wine.

wineTake and use us as vessels for your service, that in our transformation we might bring joy to the hearts of those around us.  May our lives taste sweet by your Spirit.

This we ask in remembrance of Jesus, who at the cost of his spilled blood offers us the new wine of the kingdom.

Listen to ‘In Glorious Feasting’ by Wen Reagan

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Clay

Isaiah 64:8
“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand.”

John 1:1-3
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

Romans 9:20-21
“But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?  Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

Sovereign Lord, you do not create from a distance, but touch and form all things by your skilled hands.

Until you mold us we are like raw clay without purpose or definition.  With your craftsmanship working in our lives we become centered, shaped and beautiful.

clayKnead us through your fingers until we are pliable to your will.  Conform us to the design we have been uniquely intended for.

Thank you for Christ’s willingness to be used for your purpose—to take on the form he created from the dust of the earth and become the vessel of our salvation.

Listen to ‘Have Thine Own Way’ by Josh Dix

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