Mercy

Jonah 4:1-4, 11
“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.  He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home?  That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.  Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’  But the Lord replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?…Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…should I not be concerned about that great city?’”

Luke 15:28-32
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.  So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look!  All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.  Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘…we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Hosea 6:6
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Heavenly Father, your love for the lost burns with a heat more intense than your anger.

unmercifulTo jealously preserve our self-righteousness, we lash out at your compassion.  Yet this greater insult inspires your better grace.

Teach us the discipline of mercy.  Nudge us in our sullen isolation until we join the celebration joyfully welcoming our sisters and brothers home.

This we pray for the sake of Christ, who bore your righteous anger for our unmerciful hearts.

Listen to ‘Thy Mercy My God’ featuring Sandra McCracken

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Sandals

Exodus 3:4-5
“When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses!  Moses!’  And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’  ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said.  ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’”

John 1:26-27
“‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know.  He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’”

John 13:3-6, 8b
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’  Jesus replied…‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’

Great I AM, beneath your feet lie the lands of earth and the vast expanse of heaven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn ignorance we touch holy gifts with unworthy hands.  We tread through sacred territories with apathy in place of awe.

In your mercy, bend and untie the straps we find knotted with the dust of the world.  Remove for us the sandals that walk carelessly on hallowed ground and make us clean.

We pray this in the name of the Servant we have been made worthy to serve, Jesus our Lord.

Listen to ‘Jesus the Very Thought of Thee’ by New Covenant Worship Collective

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Cornerstone

1 Chronicles 22:2
“So David gave orders to assemble the aliens living in Israel, and from among them he appointed stonecutters to prepare dressed stone for building the house of God.”

Ephesians 2:19-22
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Isaiah 28:16
“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says, ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”

Great King, you have designed a palace of people in which to dwell.

cornerstoneChrist is the stone chiselled by obedience and placed as our certain foundation.  In him slaves become sons, and foreigners, family.

Build us into a beautiful home for your Spirit.  May we be hewn by your loving hand so that we conform to the perfect lines of our Saviour.

We pray this in his precious name; the cornerstone cut and laid deep in the earth for us to rest upon.

Listen to ‘In Christ Alone’ by Matthew Smith

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Trees

Isaiah 41:19-20
“I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.  I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Matthew 13:31-32
“[Jesus] told them another parable:  ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.’”

Isaiah 61:3b
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.”

Creator God, thank you for the gift of a green earth as a symbol of the life found in you.

treesFrom unnoticed beginnings faith’s forest takes root.  In the cedar-scented shade of a place once barren, we discern the strong and beautiful growth of your kingdom.

Plant us as seeds capable of reaching towering heights.  Though diverse, may we each flourish to provide sheltering boughs for the tender ones in our care.

In the name of Christ we pray, who reversed the power of the tree of despair to give us the splendour of the tree of life.

Listen to ‘Evergreen‘ by Sojourn

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Carried

Isaiah 46:4b
“…I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Luke 5:18-20, 24-25
“Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.  When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven…But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…’  He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’  Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.”

Jude 24-25
“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen.”

Great Physician, you reach out your hands to receive us with pardon and healing.

la blessure au rugbyAt our most helpless moment the Spirit carries us into your presence.  Christ in his strength tears away all barriers to make a way for us in our weakness.

Because we are forgiven, turn our paralysis into praise.  With tenacious faith may we thrust our wounded brothers and sisters into your welcoming arms.

By the power found in Jesus’ name we ask this, the friend who lay broken and vulnerable so that we might enter your holy house.

Listen to ‘(121) I Lift My Eyes’ by Loud Harp

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Riverside

Exodus 2:5-8, 10
“Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank.  She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it.  She opened it and saw the baby.  He was crying, and she felt sorry for him.  ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said.  Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’…And the girl went and got the baby’s mother…When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son.  She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’”

Acts 16:13-15
“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.  We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.  One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.  When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.  ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’  And she persuaded us.”

Genesis 1:2b
“…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Loving Father, the current of your grace courses through thirsty lands.

Your Spirit hovers over those at the edge of faith, swelling in hearts open to obedience.  Like the branches of an endless stream you make a way for your will to be done.

riversideStir our dry souls and carve a channel for your compassion to flow through us.  May we welcome strangers and friends into homes blessed by your presence.

We ask this in the name of Christ, who waded into the river of death that we might be saved and sheltered in your eternal home.

Listen to ‘Like a River Glorious’ by Sovereign Grace Music

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Sabbath

Exodus 31:12-13
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths.  This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’”

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Hebrews 4:9-11a
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…”

Holy Lord, unlike the gods of our world you command abstinence from performance.

sabbathHow privileged we are to serve you by laying aside the burdens of our labour one day in seven.  By entering your rest we rely on your sufficiency rather than our striving.

In ceasing from self-important toil, may our obedience allow you to remove our weariness.  Make us people who honour deep fellowship with their Creator.

In the name of the Lord of the Sabbath we pray, the reason we are made holy in rest and our very great reward.

Listen to ‘O Day of Rest and Gladness’ featuring Ian Fitchuk

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New Name

Genesis 17:15-16
“God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.  I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her.  I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’”

Matthew 16:16-18
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…’”

Revelation 2:17b
“I will also give each of them a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

Gentle Father, you created each of your children to reflect your image as uniquely as a fingerprint.

Though the world labels us by a distortion of our God-given nature, you bestow on us a name we have yet to become.  The barren you call Blessed, the failure you call Fortress.

new name2Take our untrue titles and christen us anew.  Whisper the heavenly name in our ear that we will one day fully know.

We ask this because of Jesus Christ, who took the slander we are called by and gave us his high and holy name.

Listen to ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name‘ by Jaron and Katherine Kamin

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Shepherd

Exodus 2:11b-12, 15-17
“[Moses] saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.  Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand…When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.  Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock.  Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.”

John 21:17
“The third time [Jesus] said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’  He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’  Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’”

Hebrews 13:20-21a
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will…”

Lord of love, it is your nature always to seek and you alone are able to save.

shepherd2Though we have blood on our hands and lies on our lips, you find your lost lambs and make us shepherds.  The hands that once took life you call to feed the flock.

Forgive us for wandering and pursue us even as we hide.  Equip us to serve the least as you have served us.

Through the redeeming name of Christ we enter your holy presence and claim the promises of the Shepherd who was slain for his sheep.

Listen to ‘Psalm 23′ by Luke Morton

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Message of Joy

Acts 12:11a, 12-15a, 16
“Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches…’  When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary…where many people had gathered and were praying.  Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door.  When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’  ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her…But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”

Matthew 28:5-7a, 8
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples:  ‘He has risen from the dead…’  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”

Isaiah 52:7
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

Great Father, you hear our midnight prayers and your salvation comes with the morning.

Kazakh girlThough the miracle is immense, you entrust the message to the humble.  You choose the simple voice of a servant to proclaim your kingdom’s reign.

Prepare us to receive the good news of your presence amongst us.  May we in joyful witness announce your longed-for arrival, even to those most hesitant to hear.

We lift our requests to you in the name of the risen Christ, who brought us the gospel on his pierced and beautiful feet.

Listen to ‘How Marvelous’ by the Andy Needham Band

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