Collect: Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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In truth alone…

Our standing in doctrinal matters is well known, and we make no profession of latitudinarian charity, yet we find no failure in the number of earnest spirits who rally to our standard, believing that in truth alone, can true freedom be found.

CHS, Lectures to My Students, p. xii

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Congregational Prayer: September 21, 2014…

Our Holy Father and our God…we know, O Father, that it’s all of You. That whatever we have, and whatever we are…these things have been given to us. We know, O Father, that salvation lies in Jesus Christ alone, and that that is of You as well…that before there was time You purposed to give us a Savior. Before there was time, You purposed to provide for our greatest need…that our question might be the same as the question of those at Pentecost…’How may we be saved?’ You knew that that question was there before we even were. And You gave an answer, O God, that we might be saved in Jesus Christ, by Your grace through faith in Him. We give You thanks, O God, that You have given us Your Son, that we have the grace to stand before You, having no righteousness of our own, but only His righteousness to depend upon, the grace that allows us to be heard…the grace, O God, that not only has given new hearts, but builds around those new hearts new lives. And we pray, Father, indeed, as Your apostle says, be about completing that good work You have begun in us, that it might be complete in us when the Day of Jesus Christ comes for us.

Father, we look forward to a time when again, as Your Scriptures say, You and Your Son live among Your people on this earth. We look to a day when we might look upon Jesus Christ and see Him as He is. We look to a day, O God, when there is no need for sun and moon, because all the light we need will be Yahweh, the Living God, and His Son, the Lamb. We look forward to a day when we sin no more and we will no longer be in the presence of sin. Until that day we pray that You would be at work in us, that You would help us, O God, to focus on that mirror, the perfect law of liberty. Lord, we are incapable of changing ourselves, but by Your Spirit work in us to will and to do according to Your good pleasure. Make us like Your Son, O God, as hard and as painful as that might be…and give us joy in it, for we know that true joy comes only from the Triune God.

Father, we give You thanks for Christ’s church. We give You thanks that You have set it on earth, that in it Christ has a body. We thank You, O God, for Christ’s church wherever we find it. We know, O Father, that it suffers from without and from within, that it suffers without from persecutions in various places and that it suffers from within from unfaithfulness. We pray, O God, for those who are persecuted, that You would alleviate their persecution and that those who persecute them might die the death of baptism or that they might be swept from the face of the earth. And we pray, O God, may judgment start at the house of God.

We, O God, are not a perfect church, and there are none. We know that a day is coming when Christ’s church will be that glorious bride, without wrinkle or blemish or any such thing. And we pray, may Your Son be about that business of washing His church-bride by the Word as if with water. And Lord, may Christ’s church respond well to that.

Lord, we give You thanks for the CREC, for the brothers and sisters and sister churches that stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us. We thank You for those watch over us, presiding minsters and sponsor church and session, and ask that we might be a light and joyful burden for them.

O God, we pray, hear us. Look upon the list of our concerns. We know that You knew it before we wrote it down. And we know that You know better than us what must be prayed in each of those circumstances, and that Your Holy Spirit completes that for us. Lord, in the deep recesses of our hearts, our pains and fears and bitterness, our distresses and our disappointments…we lay those before You and ask that by Your Holy Spirit they might be prayed for effectively in groanings that we cannot utter.

And Lord, we pray, give us joy. The joy knowing that Your Son is risen. The joy of knowing that Your Son lives, and that with Him we win as we are in Him. Lord, may we see Him as we come to this Table.

Father, all this in Christ’s holy name we pray.

Amen

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Prayer after Sermon: September 21, 2014…

Our Father and our God…we, indeed, O God, if we did absolutely everything that we could, would still be unworthy servants, and it is only what Your Son has done for us that avails for us any opportunity at all to be known by You. Father, we pray, by Your Holy Spirit bring about within us that abundance of life, that fullness of life, that fullness of love, that brings out on us a life lived in a manner that it pleasing to You.

Father, we thank You for the salvation we have in Jesus Christ. We pray, O Father, make it real in us and on us. Make us like Your Son, O God, whatever it takes.

Father, all this in Christ’s holy name we pray.

Amen

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Prayer for Illumination, September 21, 2014…

You are our portion, O LORD;
We have said that we would keep Your words.
We entreated Your favor with our whole hearts;
Be merciful to us according to Your word.
We thought about our ways,
And turned our feet to Your testimonies.
We made haste, and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.
The cords of the wicked have bound us,
But we have not forgotten Your law.
At midnight we will rise to give thanks to You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
We are companions of all who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.
The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy;
Teach us Your statutes.

O God, indeed, it is our great need that You would be merciful to us according to Your word. And that great mercy is ours in Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Father, we know that He has given His life for us, that we might have life unto You, that we might die to sin and be raised to life in righteousness, that we might no longer be slaves of sin and Satan, but, instead, joyful slaves of the great Master of all masters, Jesus Christ.

Father, we pray, in Your mercy today open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts. By Your word make us more like your Son.

And Father, we pray, may the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts be in all ways acceptable in Your sight O God, our Fortress, our Strength, our Rock, and our Redeemer.

Amen

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Calvin on Matthew 24:45…

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?

“Let all who are called to an honourable office learn from this that they are so much the more strongly bound, not only to bestow their labour faithfully, but to strive with their utmost zeal and industry to discharge their duty.”

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Towards the heavenly life…

…God does not bestow the honourable title of his children on any but those who acknowledge that they are strangers on the earth, and who not only are at all times prepared to leave it, but likewise move forward, in an uninterrupted “course,” towards the heavenly life.

Calvin, Harmony of the Gospels, vol. 3, p. 163

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