Running the Race

Graphic by Boaz Crawford

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”  1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Lord, You give my spirit strength to restrain the passion of the flesh.  Whatever is good in me comes from You, the font of all good things, because in me, by nature, there is nothing but sin.  I have to acknowledge that all good works I do–which are nevertheless impure because of the corruption and imperfection of my flesh–are gifts of Your grace.  I will give You thanks forever because of Your immeasurable gift to me.  Amen      ~prayer by Lutheran Theologian,Johann Gerhard, 1582-1637.

In The Lord

Photo by Chris Meirose

“In the Lord I take refuge;

how can you say to my soul,

“Flee like a bird to your mountain,

for behold, the wicked bend the bow;

they have fitted their arrow

to the string to shoot in the dark

at the upright in heart;

if the foundations are destroyed,

what can the righteous do?

The Lord is in his holy temple;

the Lord’s throne is in heaven;

his eyes see, his eyelids test,

the children of man.

Let him rain coals on the wicked;

fire and sulfur and a scorching wind

shall be the portion of their cup.

For the Lord is righteous;

he loves righteous deeds;

the upright shall behold his face.”

Psalm 11

Troubled world, troubled people

striking out blindly but boldly in the name of their cause.

Whether race, economics, politics, or creed

all are in vain for none of them can save.

Only One can save, give peace;

the One who gave His life as a ‘ransom for many’

for you, for me.

Turn away from strife, pride, ego, self-seeking

Turn to Him–Jesus Christ–who makes us new creations

through faith–

New creations capable of loving and forgiving and reconciling

peoples of all races, economics, politics and creed.

In the name of Jesus

Believe.

Lord God Heavenly Father, when we were dead in our sins You came to us and gave us life in Your Name.  Through the Water and the Word you placed your name–Father, Son and Holy Spirit upon us.  We are Yours.  Open our mouths that we might declare your praise in this world where many other voices can be heard.  May Your sweet Gospel ring true above the din.  We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

O keep me watchful, then, and humble;

Permit me nevermore to stray.

Uphold me when my feet would stumble,

And keep me on the narrow way.

Fill all my nature with Thy light,

O radiance strong and bright!

~Johann Scheffler, 1624-77

 

 

Let Them Come!

Picture by artist, Frances Hook  “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray.  The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  And he laid his hands on them and went away.”

Matthew 19:13-15

Lord, you did not ignore the little ones or their parents who brought them to you.  You took time to be with them and touch them.  Your hands, that were later nailed to the Cross, connected children to you.  You continue to connect both young and old to you through the waters of Baptism where you forgive sins and give the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for reaching out to us.  Keep us in the one true faith, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Solid Faith

I know my faith is founded on Jesus Christ, my God and Lord;  and this my faith confessing, unmoved I stand on His sure Word.  Our reason cannot fathom the truth of God profound;  who trusts in human wisdom relies on shifting ground.  God’s Word is all sufficient, it makes divinely sure;  and trusting in its wisdom, my faith shall rest secure.

Increase my faith, dear Savior, for Satan seeks by night and day to rob me of this treasure and take my hope of bliss away.  But, Lord with You beside me, I shall be undismayed;  and led by Your good Spirit, I shall be unafraid.  Abide with me, O Savior, a firmer faith bestow;  then I shall bid defiance to every evil foe.

In faith, Lord, let me serve You;  though persecution, grief, and pain should seek to overwhelm me, let me a steadfast trust retain;  and then at my departure, Lord, take me home to You, Your riches to inherit as all You said holds true.  In life and death, Lord, keep me until Your heav’n I gain, where I by Your great mercy the end of faith attain.

Hymn text by Erdman Neumeister, 1671-1756

“Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;  all day long an attacker oppresses me;  my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.  When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;  I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?”    Psalm 56:1-4

Lord God Heavenly Father, we may not be in danger of being pinned to a wall by a spear like David.  We may not be in danger from the perils of a sea voyage like Paul.  Yet, we do face enemies of body and soul because we still live in a fallen world.  Crime and violence surround our communities.   Godless belief systems conflict with Your good Word.  Our own sinful nature continues to threaten our peace in You.  So today, Lord, we entrust ourselves to You, to preserve us in the One true faith as we confess Jesus as our sovereign Lord and God.  Thank You for Your faithfulness to us through Jesus Christ.  In His name we pray, Amen.

Morning Song

Image

Now that the daylight fills the sky, we lift our hearts to God on high, that He, in all we do or say, would keep us free from harm today.

Would guard our hearts and tongues from strife; from anger’s din would shield our life; from evil sights would turn our eyes, and close our ears to vanities.

So we, when this new day is gone and night in turn is drawing on, with conscience by the world unstained shall praise His name for vict’ry gained.

“All praise to You, creator Lord!  All praise to You, eternal Word!  All praise to You, O Spirit wise!”  We sing as daylight fills the skies.

Hymn text–Latin c. 5th-6th Century.  Translated by John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Lord God Heavenly Father, we begin this day with our eyes on Your Word and Your promise to “never leave us nor forsake us.”  Enable us to be faithful in our vocations this day and to help our neighbors in need.  Open our eyes to see who may need a kind word or deed.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

Boundless Love

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me no thought can reach, no tongue declare; Unite my thankful heart to Thee, and reign without a rival there!  Thine wholly, Thine alone I am; be Thou alone my constant flame.

O grant that nothing in my soul may dwell, but Thy pure love alone; oh, may Thy love possess me whole, my joy, my treasure and my crown!  All coldness from my heart remove;  my every act, word, thought be love.

This love unwearied I pursue and dauntlessly to Thee aspire.  Oh, may Thy love my hope renew, burn in my soul like heav’nly fire!  And day and night,  be all my care to guard this sacred treasure there.

In suff’ring be Thy love my peace, in weakness be Thy love my pow’r; and when the storms of life shall cease, O Jesus, in that final hour, be Thou my rod and staff and guide, and draw me safely to Thy side!

Hymn text by Paul Gerhardt, 1703-91

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.”  Ephesians 1:7-8

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for your boundless, endless mercy and love which you poured out upon us through your dear Son, Jesus Christ!  You never stop forgiving us.  You never stop loving us even when we are at our most unloveable.  Help us to remember the gift of grace you gave to us at our Baptism that continues to bless and benefit us each and every day.  Accept our humble thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen