2 Samuel 14:1-2a, 4b, 5b-7a, 11b, 13-14
“Joab…knew the king’s heart longed for Absalom.  So Joab…had a wise woman brought…‘Pretend you are in mourning…then go to the king…’…she said, ‘Help me, O king!…I am indeed a widow…I your servant had two sons.  They got into a fight with each other in the field…one struck the other and killed him.  Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed…’  ‘As surely as the Lord lives, [David] said, ‘not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.’…The woman said, ‘Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God?  When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son?  Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die.  But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.’”

John 14:6
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Habakkuk 3:6b
“His ways are eternal.”

Lord and King, with unlimited capacity and profound wisdom you devise plans of love.

You sketched out a route to restore your guilty children by means of an innocent mediator.  As a living path, Christ offered himself as the way for us to return to you.

wayReceive our gratitude for initiating this most merciful solution.  May we answer wrongdoing by offering creative channels of reconciliation.

Because of your unrelenting hold on us we can ask this in the name of Jesus, your perfect plan and most brilliant way.

Listen to ‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten’ by Ordinary Time

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Genesis 3:17-18
“To Adam [God] said, ‘…Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.’”

Genesis 22:13
“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”

John 19:1-2a
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.”

Holy Lord, you have not abandoned our guilty race, but set the price of restitution and provided the payment.

thornUpon his innocent head your Son wore the curse of our sin-soaked ground.  Caught in a thicket of treachery, he sacrificed himself to free us from our fetters.

Open our hearts to the love that bore such a cruel crown.  Remove the thorns that choke our faith and cause you pain.

In Christ’s precious name, the Lamb of God pierced to make us whole, we kneel before you with grateful praise.

Listen to ‘The Cross of Christ’ by Todd Wright

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Exodus 24:9-10
“Moses and Aaron…went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself.”

Isaiah 54:11-12
“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. ”

Ephesians 2:21-22
“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.”

Majestic King, your royal city is inlaid with the gems of your glory, and no earthly jewel can compete with your radiance.

In love you reach down and gather up our flinty hearts, transforming our dusty souls into diamonds.  By merciful alchemy you take our worthlessness and make us precious.

sapphires.1May we reflect the grace in our lives by crowning others with love as rich as rubies, compassion as sparkling as sapphires.  Construct a beautiful dwelling for your Spirit through our unity, so that we might see our earthly cities paved with your righteousness.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, who paid the costliest price of all—his very life—to purchase us and make us priceless.

Listen to ‘Arise O God and Shine’  featuring Matthew Smith


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Deuteronomy 32:10-11
“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste.  He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.”

Ephesians 1:18-20
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…”

Isaiah 40:31a
“…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles…”

Almighty God, you cover us with your strong and beautiful wings.

eagleWhen we are helpless, you lift us from the mire to soar the heights.  Our hope is found only in our majestic King of the skies.

Teach us to know the power that renews and resurrects.  May we rest effortlessly, like a circling eagle, on the currents of your grace.

We ask this in the name of Christ; pinioned to free us, brought down to be raised high.

Listen to ‘Spread Thy Wings’ by Red Mountain Music

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Psalm 23:5b-6
“You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Romans 15:13
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 6:38
“Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Gracious God, you have blessed us with the infinitely extravagant gift of your friendship.

overflowingYou do not measure your generosity by our small cups.  You pour out peace with a heavy hand, joy splashes and soaks us, hope spills over.

Teach us to love without restraint.  By your Spirit may our unfailing kindness to others exceed all we have received from the hands of our neighbours.

Because of Christ we come to you, who poured himself into the cup of suffering to fill us to overflowing with an abundant life.

Listen to ‘The King of Love’ by High Street Hymns

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Mark 4:26-28
“[Jesus] also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’”

1 Corinthians 3:5b-7
“…the Lord has assigned each to his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Isaiah 55:10-11
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Lord of life, on the third day of creation you adorned the earth with the beauty of spring.

seedsThe fields and gardens obey your word alone, flourishing only at your command.  Your kingdom grows and produces fruit in the mysterious seasons of the Spirit.

Help us plant your word generously and water your work abundantly.  Allow us to trust in your life-giving touch for the harvest.

In the name of Jesus we pray, the seed sown in the dark grave and raised by your power to fill the storehouses of heaven.

Listen to ‘How Vast the Benefits Divine’ by Psalms and Hymns

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Isaiah 42:6b-7
“I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

Acts 16:25-30
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.  The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself!  We are all here!’  The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’”

John 18:38-40a
“‘What is truth?’  Pilate asked.  With this he went out again to the Jews and said, ‘…it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover.  Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?’  They shouted back, ‘No, not him!  Give us Barabbas!’”

Mighty God, you sing freedom from the heights of glory.

freedomIf we are imprisoned in body, you call us to free those held captive in soul.  You lock the righteous to the sinner to proclaim salvation in dark places.

Bend open the bars of our hearts and release us from our chains.  Give us courage to lay down our lives for those condemned by the world but not forgotten by you.

In the name of Christ we pray, who stepped forward to a prisoner’s execution so that we might know the truth and be saved.

Listen to ‘To God be the Glory’ by Redeemer Music

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Costly Water

2 Samuel 23:15-17a
“David longed for water and said, ‘Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!’  So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David.  But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. ‘Far be it from me, O Lord, to do this!’ he said.  ‘Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?’  And David would not drink it.”

Isaiah 55:1
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”

Revelation 21:6b
“To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

Righteous Redeemer, you are worthy of the highest devotion, honour and allegiance.

Yet as the servant King, you entered the battle on our behalf.  You beckon to the thirsty, and we drink the water of life cupped in your pierced hands.

costlyPour into us the free gift that cost your Son everything.  Let us fully taste the joy and peace that flavours salvation’s springs.

We pray this in the name of Bethlehem’s greatest well, Jesus Christ, who risked and lost his life for us, but rose to quench our deepest thirst.

Listen to ‘Grace Greater Than Our Sin‘ by Summit Church

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Numbers 14:6-8
“Joshua…and Caleb…who were among those who had explored the land…said to the entire Israelite assembly, ‘The land we passed through is exceedingly good.  If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.’”

Mark 1:4, 6-7
“And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And this was his message:  ‘After me will come one more powerful than I…’”

Psalm 19:9-10
“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.  The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.”

Father God, you guide your people with the sweetness of your word.

honey As a sign of the promised land and Christ’s new kingdom, you sustained the faithful with gifts of goodness.  You feed our souls with blessings of pure nectar.

Whet our appetites for the satisfaction found in repentance and obedience.  Let us taste sweet drops of grace, truth and love.

Thank you for the hope found in the name of Jesus, who tasted death that he might offer us abundant gifts of milk and honey.

Listen to ‘Tis So Sweet’ by Dave Hunt

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Close Behind

Psalm 139:5
“You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”

John 20:13-14
“[The angels] asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’  ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’  At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.”

Isaiah 58:8-9a
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

Eternal God, you spread the invisible shield of your hands around your loved ones.

close behindWhen we step into a troubling future with precarious faith, we look back to find you faithfully within arm’s reach.  When our past threatens to attack, you guard our way.

Help us trust that though you may delay confirmation, you will securely hem us in.  Teach us to follow the unrecognized yet reassuring presence at our burdened shoulder.

Thank you that we find the resurrected Christ behind us, as close as a tear-filled turn.  It is in his name that we pray.

Listen to ‘Poor Sinner Dejected with Fear’ featuring MP Jones and Katy Bowser

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