Tag Archives: Lisa Guest

5th Sunday Worship with the Word and Song: Prayer

This is the script from Sunday’s service.  Focusing on a theme, PRAYER, the service design is to use scriptures and hymns to carry the theme.  Having used the book, 100 Favorite Bible Verse, by Lisa Guest, I have been able to weave the verses into three sermons.  Thanks to her for the effort she has put forth and her comments.  They have certainly spoken to me during this winter month.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

**Opening scripture & thoughts:  Psalm 100a psalm for giving thanks.

Shout to the Lord with joy, everyone on earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come to him with songs of joy.
I want you to realize that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we belong to him.
We are his people.
We are the sheep belonging to his flock.

Give thanks as you enter the gates of his temple.
Give praise as you enter its courtyards.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
The Lord is good. His faithful love continues forever.
It will last for all time to come.

         “God is like a shepherd who, 24/7, protects and provides for His stupid sheep.  It’s not a flattering description, but like sheep, we find our selves drawn to unhealthy waters.  Sometimes we get ourselves turned upside down and can’t get right side up without the Shepherd’s help.  . . .          God has been faithful to generations before us, He shows Himself faithful to us, and He will be faithful to every generation to come.  Clearly, we have no excuse not to obey the Psalm 100 command!  Let us worship the Lord with gladness!”  (p. 215)

 

*UMH Hymn 437:  This Is My Song

 

**Scripture & thoughts:  Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.

 

UMH Hymn 496:  Sweet Hour of Prayer

 

The Congregation’s Prayer:  from Guest’s notes

 

Prayer is an amazing privilege, Lord, yet too often I take it for granted.  Forgive me, and fuel in me a desire to establish and maintain an ongoing conversation with You.  I do want to learn to pray always and about everything and to do so with thanksgiving.  Please teach me, so that each day I will see You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly. 

“. . . Pray.  Pray about everything.  Pray all the time.  Pray with thanksgiving.  . . . Knowing that worry is our default mode, Paul urged God’s people to pray for God’s presence with us and for the people He puts in our paths.  . . . Don’t worry, pray about everything, and experience God’s peace.”  (p. 35)

Private Prayer:

  • Remember to pray daily for relief from the drought
  • Remember your own supplications and praises

Lord’s Prayer:  Please join in the prayer Jesus taught us using trespasses.

**Matthew 6:9-13:  “This is how you should pray.

“‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name be honored.
10 May your kingdom come.
May what you want to happen be done
on earth as it is done in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our sins,
just as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 Keep us from falling into sin when we are tempted.
Save us from the evil one.’

 

   Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

   Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done

   On earth as it is in heaven.

   Give us this day our daily bread.

   And forgive us our trespasses,

   As we forgive those who trespass against us.

   And lead us not into temptation,

   But deliver us from evil.

   For thine is the kingdom,

        the power

             and the glory, forever.  –Amen

 

OFFERING:  Guests should not feel the offering is their responsibility.   Members prayerfully give to support the church’s ministry.

 

*DOXOLOGY no.  95: Please stand as you wish and sing.

 

*PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING:                                             the Pastor

Thank you, God, for allowing us to share our offerings with you.   May these offerings work in your behalf as we continue to share your love.   –Amen

 

UMH Hymn 600:  Wonderful Words of Life

 

Scripture & Thoughts:  Psalm 46

 

God is our place of safety. He gives us strength.
He is always there to help us in times of trouble.
The earth may fall apart.
The mountains may fall into the middle of the sea.
But we will not be afraid.
The waters of the sea may roar and foam.
The mountains may shake when the waters rise.
But we will not be afraid. Selah

God’s blessings are like a river. They fill the city of God with joy.
That city is the holy place where the Most High God lives.
Because God is there, the city will not fall.
God will help it at the beginning of the day.
Nations are in disorder. Kingdoms fall.
God speaks, and the people of the earth melt in fear.

The Lord who rules over all is with us.
The God of Jacob is like a fort to us. Selah

Come and see what the Lord has done.
See the places he has destroyed on the earth.
He makes wars stop from one end of the earth to the other.
He breaks every bow. He snaps every spear.
He burns every shield with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be honored among the nations.
I will be honored in the earth.”

11 The Lord who rules over all is with us.
The God of Jacob is like a fort to us.

 

from Guest’s comments:

         God is able to call forth powerful winds, part a sea, ad ravage a nation with plagues.  Yet He calls us to know Him not in the spectacular and loud, not in the dramatic and powerful.  He calls us to be still.  We are to find quiet—internal as well as external—is we are truly to know that He is God.  Faith grows during our quiet communion with Him.”  (p.55)

 

UMH Hymn 395:  Take Time to Be Holy

 

**Scripture & Thoughts:  James 5:13-16

 

13 Are any of you in trouble? Then you should pray. Are any of you happy? Then sing songs of praise.

14 Are any of you sick? Then send for the elders of the church to pray over you. Ask them to anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer offered by those who have faith will make you well. The Lord will heal you. If you have sinned, you will be forgiven.

16 So admit to one another that you have sinned. Pray for one another so that you might be healed. The prayer of a godly person is powerful. It makes things happen.

 

from Guest’s comments:

         “The power of prayer is one of the mysteries of our faith.  We go through dry seasons when God seems distant and prayer seem pointless, so we skip it all together.  We may feel discouraged from praying for a specific person or situation for months, if not years or decades.  We may also enter a season of great pain and loss when we simply can’t pray, and we rely on the faithful and faith-full prayers of our sisters and brothers in Christ.

         “Then come those prayer times when God seems to be in the same room with us as we pray.  . . .

         “In between these two extreme experiences are those regular prayer times, those acts of disciplined obedience that we do out of love for our Lord.  We pray because He calls us to; we pray because we love Him. 

         “. . . pastor David Jeremiah points out, “The surest way not to get an answer to prayer is not to pray!”  (p. 49)

 

UMH Hymn 527:  Do, Lord, Remember Me

 

Closing Prayer: 

 

Thank you for the privilege of prayer, and forgive me when I take for granted the awesome truth that I am able to speak to You, the sovereign King, the Creator of all, the Healer of my soul, anytime and from anywhere.  I am grateful for those seasons of prayer when You answer quickly and obviously, and I am grateful that you understand those dry times I go through.  So, Father God, please keep me disciplined and expectant as I pray.  (p. 49)

 

The Benediction:  Go in peace & be the Church for others.

 

**All the scriptures were from the New International Reader’s Version (NIRV).

 

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God Said It First: Lean on me!


Scripture:  Psalm 121

 Lyrics for “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Second Verse
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load you need to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (if you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me
Call me (if you need a friend)

[Written by Bill Withers.  Lean On Me Lyrics © Interior Music Corp.]

 

We hear those words, we sing those lyrics, we read the Bible verses over and over, but do we do it?  Hardly.  In fact, we may have that idea logged into our subconscious, but in the haste of the moment we cannot pull it up into our conscious and act on it.

“Lean On Me” seems so simple, but the concept–or maybe the right word is premise—escapes us at the most critical times in our lives.  We fail.  We fail time after time to lean on God.  What makes us think that we can carry on alone at the very times we should call on God!

As the week began, the list of trials and tribulations began.  Not to say that any week someone, somewhere could create such a list of issues, but in my immediate Christian community a list began to develop.  News surfaced of illness, job-related issues, surgeries, life transitions, personal challenges, and more.  And this list did not even include all the national and international news items which filter into our lives, also.

Mid-January and we are still in a severe drought pattern, but just a state away there has been a massive winter storm causing havoc all over the southern and eastern states.  Rain, freezing rain, ice, snow, tornadoes, and flooding—in January!  Still right here in our state, in our geographical region—a drought.

Surely you know this, surely you include the crisis in your prayers, and surely you have chosen to follow the scriptures and lean on God.  Or have you?

The psalm in today’s responsive reading (121) is believed to be written by someone other than David, possibly Hezekiah.  Under its title is the phrase “A song of ascents.”  This particular psalm is classified as one of the “Pilgrim Psalms” or Psalms of Ascents” which were sung by pilgrims as they went to the temple for the annual feasts.  It is something like a cadence used by military troops marching together.

The psalms 120-134 were sung throughout the entire journey to Jerusalem.  These psalms share the common theme of allowing God to lead the pilgrims in the journey as well as throughout their lives.  The pilgrimage was a time of prayer, but it was also a time to celebrate.  The pilgrims included families so one can only imagine the songs being sung while walking along the dusty paths to the temple.

The context of the psalms may explain the ancient setting and traditions, but the very message presented in them is easy to overlook in this 21st century world.  We do not make pilgrimages to holy sites.  We do not gather and travel in masse with other families just to celebrate a holy event.  We tend to take control and rely on ourselves to handle just about everything we face whether it is a spiritual journey, a family vacation, a personal challenge, or a wide-spread drought.

We fail to lean on God over and over.  We fail to join with others in prayer.  We fail to depend on ………. (I am sure you can fill in the blank on a very personal level).  Why do we fail to lean on God!

Reading through the list of 100 Favorite Bible Verses, I discovered that the thematic thread of leaning on God was clearly woven through five of the verses (for number people that is 20% of the verses) including Psalm 121.  Those verses wove throughout the Bible—Old and New Testament books.  How could any Christian not hear the message:  God said, “Lean on me.”

I know it is hard.  God gave us the ability to be independent thinkers.  He has given us special gifts and talents to use throughout our lifetimes.  He tells us not to give in to the secular world around us and to depend on him.  His spirit is all encompassing.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He knows out heartaches as well as our joys.  He knows everything while we know only what is in front of us at the moment.

The other four scriptural selections that Lisa Guest includes in her book echo the need for we humans, God’s children, to lean on God.  The lyrics from Wither’s “Lean on Me” can be today’s psalm.  It can be God’s call to depend on him.  It can be man’s cry to other men of God to be a friend to one another.  Leaning on God is leaning on one another in the lowest times of our lives as well as the peaks of our greatest joys.

Remember how last week I shared that a popular quote from Les Miserables was “To love another is to see the face of God.”  Maybe Withers saw how loving one another is being there for each other at times when life’s challenges seem too much for one.  God is present and may very likely be that friend you call when you need a little help.

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Is that not when we need to lean on God?

If there is a load you need to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call God with your prayers and share with him.

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

God hears you.  He is with you.  You just have to ask.

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

There is nothing wrong with asking for help.  Remember, the face of God is on the face of those you love and who love you.  God has told us over and over to lean on Him.  When we love one another as God commands, then we can see God on faces of our Christian family.

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Even today’s lyrics speak to us as the lyrics of the psalms did thousands of years ago.  The message, though, is the same:  When times are tough and you feel downtrodden, lean on God.  God is always there.

Dear Heavenly Father,

There are so many troubles to wear us down,

yet we know you are there to lean on.

Guide us as we tackle one issue after another

with the confidence that you are in charge.

Let us help one another, too, so we can lean on one another.  Amen

 

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Do you need a hug? Jeremiah did.

given on Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jeremiah 29:10-13

     10-11 This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

     12 “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.

     13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

No one listens,

No one understands.

I need a HUG!  Do you?

         Every once and a while, life seems to hand you more than you can handle.  The job has demands, the house needs cleaning, the family calls for one thing or another, and the calendar just keeps filling up.  Frustrations add up and suddenly all you want to do is go hide.  No one seems to listen, no one seems to understand, and no one even cares that you are caught up in a whirlpool and are beginning to lose the battle.

Part of the dilemma is the season.  January, February and March can be the longest months of the year.   The weather forces us inside more often than not.  We are financially challenged since Christmas is over and tax season looms over us.  The flu season begins, especially this year as reports indicate record numbers being affected.

Surely this craziness cannot continue!  There must be some way to put life back in order.  What do we need?  A hug sure is nice when you are feeling lost and overwhelmed.  Such a simple gesture that makes us feel safe, secure, and loved.  I know I certainly can use them, and I bet you do, too.

Listening to the radio this week has given me a few audio hugs.  First I stumbled into a new rendition of “Halleluiah.”  A few years ago I head it sung at the Olympics by K.D. Lang.  It literally caused my heart to soar.  I listened to it over and over, realizing it told the story of Samson and Delilah.  The new rendition is by Cloverton.

When those first few notes floated out of the speakers, I instantly recognized them.  Then the voice joined in—it was different, not K.D. Lang, it was a male voice.  But I listened; I listened carefully to the words.  These words were different, not the story of Samson and Delilah.  The words told the Christmas story.  Again, I felt that same of joy as I listened—another audio hug.

Reading about Jeremiah, I realized that no matter how difficult life becomes, it certainly couldn’t be as difficult as Jeremiah’s.  Here was one of God’s chosen prophets living in Judah, the southern part of the Israeli kingdom, who was trying to get the people to understand that God was not happy with what they were doing and that they were going to be destroyed if they did not change.  The people did not listen nor did they understand the full meaning of his prophecies.

Jeremiah did not give up.  The study notes describes his life as a “miserable failure” if measured by our contemporary standards of success:

“. . . For 40 years he served as God’s spokesman to Judah; but when Jeremiah spoke, nobody listened.  Consistently and passionately her urged them to act, but nobody moved.  And he certainly did not attain material success.  He was poor and underwent severe deprivation to deliver his prophecies.  He was thrown into prison and into a cistern, and he was taken to Egypt against his will.  He was rejected by his neighbors, his family, the false priests and prophets, friends, his audience, and the kings.  Throughout his life, Jeremiah stood alone, declaring God’s messages of doom, announcing the new covenant, and weeping over the fate of his beloved country.” (Life Application Bible, NIV, p. 1283)

Jeremiah was a man in need of a hug.  And God never walked away from him, his success was not in man’s eyes, but in God’s eyes.

Jeremiah’s story is ancient.  He lived during the 70 years that Judah was controlled by Babylon.  Reportedly his ministry covered the years 627-586 B.C.  The description of those times sound uncomfortably familiar:

  • Society was deteriorating economically, politically, spiritually.
  • Wars and captivity.
  • God’s word was deemed offensive.  (Ibid. p. 1285)

Jeremiah was working diligently to warn that the people of Judah must repent from their sins, or God’s judgment would be destruction by Babylon.

Repeatedly Jeremiah was ignored.  Much less he was thrown into jail and rejected.  His story may seem completely unrelated to us today, but I know that we are living in a world in which many of the same descriptors apply.  We are living in a time when our society appears to be deteriorating economically, politically, and spiritually.  We have war and we are held captive by a secular world that puts monetary success above our faith’s principles.  And think how our country has tried to cover up God.

In these dark days of winter, the need for a hug can be overwhelming.  We need light, more and more light.  We need God’s light to wrap its arms around us and hug us tightly.  We need to live with confidence knowing that God determines our success by what we do and how we live, not by the dollars tucked into a bank account or by the size of our house and the make of our car.  God measures success through our lives loving one another.

Today’s scripture, Jeremiah 29:11-13, is included in Lisa Guest’s book of 100 Favorite Bible Verses.  Her comments equate these verses to a flashlight in the middle of a dark winter night when the power has gone out.  She states:

. . . There’s nothing like a hug when the world seems to have turned against you.  And there’s nothing like good news when the hurts of the past weigh you down, when the burdens of the present overwhelm, and when the future looks bleak.  Today’s passage was something like that flashlight, that hug, and that bit of good news for the Jews who were still being held captive to Babylon.”  (p. 207)

Jeremiah writes those verses in a letter he wrote to the surviving elders and priests who were living in exile.  The Babylonians had moved them from Jerusalem to Babylon.  In Babylon they were to continue living productive lives, raising families, and following God.  In the end, they would be freed.

Even in the shortest days of winter, when the sun is hidden, when the cold sets in, when flu hits, we are to remain with God.  We are not forgotten; God is still caring for us—even 2500 years later than Jeremiah was telling his peers.  God knows when our spirits are so deflated or when our lives are overloaded with demands.  He knows when we need a hug, a dependable light in the storm.

Never give up.  Remember God is with us at all times.  When we allow him to reside with us, to pay attention to him, and to live our lives under his one rule, then we will see the light grow in the dark.  We will see that the dreary, burdensome days do not control us, but the glory of God, his light, shines around us.  That light shining around us is God’s hug.  The hugs we share among us are also God’s hugs.

The last audio hug came when the DJ’s were talking about the latest quotes people were sharing.  One from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable, were KLUV’s morning DJs favorites:  “To love another person is to see the face of God.”  Hearing that discussion and thinking about that quote brought the morning’s sunlight into the car and gave me a hug.

Dear Loving God,

Our days may overwhelm us with a sense of darkness,

   but we listen for your wisdom and guidance.

Days may fill with frustrations that clutter our lives,

   but show us solutions and keep your light around us.

Illness may spread from home to home,

   but wrap us up in healthy practices to keep us protected.

When we fail to keep our lives centered on You,

   send word through our prayers together, through family and friends.

Guide us with words like those of Jeremiah,

   with music like Lang and Cloverton, and discussions like the DJs.

Let us experience the hugs you send in so many ways,

   so difficult days are diminished by our love for one another.  –Amen

 

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