This past Sunday’s worship service was focused on coming before the Lord. We looked back at 2021, and we also looked ahead to 2022.  There are many examples in Scripture of people coming “before the Lord”.  Hannah, in First Samuel 1, was pouring out her soul in prayer “before the Lord”, asking for a child. In the book of Deuteronomy, the people were commanded to bring their sacrifices, eat, and rejoice “before the Lord”.  In James 4:10 we are instructed, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Throughout this week I encourage you to reflect on some of the scripture passages we read on Sunday.  Our service began with praise and thanksgiving, followed by confession, then communion and finally consecration (offering ourselves to God’s service).  Here are several of the Scripture passages, along with questions which you can use in your own time with the Lord.

THANKSGIVING

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.                                                                         Psalm 9:1-2, 9-12 

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!  Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered…

He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night. They asked, and he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance. He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river. For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant.  Psalm 105:1-5, 39–42

Reflection-

From 2021, what “wonderful deeds” of God can I remember, recount, and give praise to God?

What wonderful works and deeds of the Lord can I tell to others?

What were some events or moments in 2021 where God proved himself faithful?

CONFESSION

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.                                                                                                              Psalm 51:1– 4, 9-10

To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you.  Daniel 9:7-8

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”  Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.       Joel 2:12–13 

Reflection

What sins have been most prevalent in your life during the last month or the last year? 

For which specific sins is the Holy Spirit convicting you?   

What idols lie underneath your patterns of sin?

CONSECRATION

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.                                                                                                                                                Romans 12:1-2

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.                                                                                                                   Colossians 3:1-5

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.                           

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.                    Ephesians 4:1-3, 15-16

Reflection

In what areas of my life (my work, family, church, or community) does God desire more of my focus to be on “heavenly things” and not on the patterns of the world? 

What is an aspect of my faith in which God desires me to grow towards greater maturity? 

Where is God calling me to greater humility or patience? 

How does God desire me to serve Him, equip others, or help the church body grow in 2022?

ASSURANCE

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.                                                                                                     1 John 1:9

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.                                             1 Corinthians 15:57-58

Reflection

Spend some time thanking God that he gives you COMPLETE forgiveness and grants you the righteousness of Christ.  You are written on the palm of His hand! 

Declare and agree with God that He has given you victory over sin and death, and that He will equip you with everything you need for doing His will, day by day, in 2022.

I hope that re-reading these verses and reflecting on what the Lord brings to your mind will encourage, strengthen, and equip you this month to live for Christ!

For the King and His Kingdom, Pastor Jim