Monday, January 31, 2011

Psalm 135.1-7, 13-14, Zechariah 10.1-11.3, 2 Timothy 3.1-17 - Lectionary for 1/31/11

Today's readings are Psalm 135.1-7, 13-14, Zechariah 10.1-11.3, and 2 Timothy 3.1-17.

As we pray that God will supply our need, in today's readings we see God doing just that. He is giving the people of Israel all they need, including restoration from their captivity. He has provided his Word which is useful for all good things. God's promises are many and good. Let us look to him as the one who does indeed provide all our need. May we have grace to believe and partake of his promises.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sermon Audio

So with the expert tech assistance of my dear wife I found today that my little .mp3 player is able to record a .wav file and can pick up the entirety of a sermon I preach. She tried it out today. Acuity is quite poor as she was clear across the room. But now I know I could make a recording of a sermon and could convert it into .mp3 format easily. I know there are places to post such things. And it would be pretty easy to put the recording device close enough that it will pick up moderately well. Remember, I currently preach in two small churches, no amplification, no need for it. We have no need to be high-tech.

So what do my readers think? Should I make that step and pull myself into the 21st century, albeit the early 21st century?

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Sermon for 1/30/11 - What Does the Lord Require of You?

Sermon "What Does the Lord Require of You?"

Blessed be the Name of the Lord Most High, who has himself provided all we need, by his grace and for his glory. Amen.

How has the Lord wearied you? This is the question our God asks through the prophet Micah. Why do we so despise our Lord? Why, when the Lord our God grants us all his blessings through Jesus Christ, do we pursue our own way, our own wisdom, our own ideas of what might be righteous? The fact is, every last one of us acts as if we don't like God very much. We don't seem to value what he has said to us. We don't seem to think he really has authority. We might not think he's very smart. We may even look at the world and think that God isn't very good. Maybe we're angry with God, even though most of us wouldn't want to admit it. So our Lord asks how he has worn us out. What has he done to incur our wrath? He's delivered his people out of the land of bondage. In Christ he has delivered us from the kingdom of death into the kingdom of life. He has taken all our sin and shame upon himself. How is this offensive to us?

Am I being too harsh? Maybe you think I must have forgotten who's sitting there in the pews. After all, I've had the opportunity to watch you. I know that as a whole you are faithful members of this congregation. You value God's Word. You believe in Jesus. Most of the time you aren't ashamed to confess that before the world. When push comes to shove, you are ready to live for Jesus no matter the cost. I'm aware of that. No doubt about it.

So what am I talking about? Let me give you a brief anecdote. I've engaged in a little bit of Christian counseling for years. Usually it isn't for too many people, but it isn't uncommon for people to come to me for counsel. Here's one of the situations that has come up time and time again. It won't betray any confidential situation because it is so common. Here's how it works.

A person comes to me with a problem. Something is causing strife. It may be a substance abuse problem, unemployment, hostility within the family, a medical issue, you name it. The presenting issue doesn't actually matter to the illustration. We start getting together to look at what God's Word says about living and dealing with the situation. And God's Word is not at all silent about suffering, temptation, or communication. We find the Scripture rich with help and encouragement. I spend a lot of time asking questions and listening at first. We look at some Scriptures together. I usually assign some sort of passage to memorize and maybe some sort of activity assignment as homework. We pray and continue meeting, praying, studying, and hearing how the situation is developing. We strive to bring Christ and his answers into the troubling situation.

About the third or fourth session, the person who has been coming to me often tells me something. If it's a female, she leans forward and her eyes get big. If it's a male, he usually leans back and mumbles. Know what comes out? "This just makes me feel terrible. But I've got to admit it. Sometimes . . . sometimes I'm angry with God. And I know that's just awful. I don't know what to do."

Now don't worry. I don't leave the counselee there. It's such a hard thing to admit. But the fact is, I've heard it enough times from enough people that I've come to the conclusion that this is one of the more common sins we commit. And we read here in Micah that even God thinks it is a real problem. And yes, it is bad. It's essentially saying that our Lord is not who he has said he is. It's making God a liar. It's denying our Lord.

Know what? God doesn't beat us up about it. He sees it is real. He sees it is sin. He confronts us with that sin. And then he suggests some of the solutions we might have come up with. We might want to make more offerings. We might want to reform ourselves and live a perfectly holy life before him to atone for our sin. We might want to change our mind and actually trust God for a change. We might want to sell all we have and give to the poor so that we will earn his forgiveness. But, as our Lord says here in Micah six, all that we can do will not accomplish anything.

Here's the good news. We don't earn that forgiveness. We have sinned against our Lord. We don't trust him. We are angry at him. And since we wouldn't really go to the effort God would require to earn our forgiveness, and even if we wanted to we couldn't, because of God's great love for us, he came in the person of Jesus, Immanuel, God with Us, in order to live that perfect life of love for the Father then to suffer condemnation on our behalf. God the Son has purchased our forgiveness. He has done what we couldn't and wouldn't do. He has died to take upon himself the enmity that the Father had against sinful man. He has died to secure our lives. He has done all that we need for holiness. And he's done it on our behalf. Jesus' perfect righteousness is right there, staring us in the face, just waiting for us to believe it. Jesus' forgiveness is right there, proclaiming us forgiven. Jesus has given himself to accomplish what all our offerings, all our prayers, all our works of righteousness could never do.

So what does the Lord require of us? What shall we render to the Lord for all his benefits for us? We offer the cup of thanksgiving. That's a quote, by the way, from the offertory that we don't seem to sing. Maybe we ought to try it. We wouldn't sing it too well the first couple of times, but we'd get over it. What does our Lord tell us to do? We see it in verse 8 of Micah 6.

Micah 6.8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

How are we going to do this? We can't do it by offering sacrifices. We can't do it by changing our behavior. We can't do it by enforcing a change of behavior on other people. We can't do it by exalting ourselves in any way. In fact, all that our Lord leaves us with is to look at his own perfect love, his own character, his own work on our behalf, and to rejoice in what he has done.

Salvation is of the Lord. It is not our doing. Let us look to our Lord in faith and trust.

Lord God, heavenly father, you have seen us act in anger toward you. You see and know all manner of sin that we would like to deny and to hide. And yet, though we treat you like we despise you, you have remained faithful to love and cherish your people. We thank you for your merciful gift to us, lavishing upon us hope and salvation. We thank you that you responded to our anger with your love. Commit our hearts today to walk in the light of your loving kindness, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Psalm 33.18-22, Zechariah 9.1-17, 2 Timothy 2.1-26 - Lectionary for 1/30/11

Today's readings are Psalm 33.18-22, Zechariah 9.1-17, and 2 Timothy 2.1-26.

As we read today a picture emerges of God and man looking at one another. While we don't understand God very well, he understands us perfectly. We see that God's will is for the good of his people. And the good of his people is primarily to believe he is the one who created and who sustains the world in his mercy and love. Therefore we see Paul's charges to Timothy, that he should pass the good news of Christ's kingdom to other people. For that reason also we see that we present ourselves to God as those who are faithful before him. Other things which we do, making ourselves presentable to our society are all right, but they are secondary. We look to God's loving approval, not to man's love. Mankind is fickle. God never changes in his mercy and grace.

Let us look to our Lord. He's already watching us.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I have purchase coffe maker that make Italian treat coffee. Wanting being safe I reading directions yester day. Directions are writing someone speak English very good. Here some.

3. Screw firmly the upper section to the lower one, then put the coffe-maker on the stove-top (electric or gas)

4. Wait few minutes until the coffee has flowed into the upper section. You will notice it by its typical noise.

Now I realize that the coffee-maker is supposed to make odorless and colorless coffee. Otherwise you would notice the coffee by looking through the window in the top of the pot and seeing it, or you might even smell it. As a first-time user, one wonders what the typical noise of coffee might be.

Warnings too!

Be sure the coffee maker is strongly closed before use.

After use, wait for the coffee maker to get cold before open it.

So we would need to reheat the coffee?

Well, it was a good mug of espresso.

Seriously, seeing directions like this on products makes me feel more sympathy for foreign language students. They try and try but still manage to say barbaric things in Latin and Greek. Keep trying! You manage to get the point across even if you sound quite foreign.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Psalm 107.1-9, Zechariah 8.1-23, 2 Timothy 1.1-18 - Lectionary for 1/29/11

Today's readings are Psalm 107.1-9, Zechariah 8.1-23, and 2 Timothy 1.1-18.

What kind of grateful expressions do we bring to the Lord? I hope we look frequently and hard at the situation of our world and see just how desperately bad it can be. It is so easy to become impoverished. Anyone can be subject to a terrible illness or come to harm in an accident. We are indeed fragile.

What attitude does our Lord picture in today's readings? Rather than dwell on the misery we may be subject to, we look to our Lord, giving him thanks, acknowledging his ability to rescue his people from all harm. We look to God's promise of restoration for his people. And we realize, with Paul and Timothy, that our deliverance is from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has endured all the suffering we could ever endure and has risen triumphant over all evil in order to impart his life and hope to his people.

How far does God's promise extend? It extends to all who believe. May the Lord grant us mercy.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Friday, January 28, 2011

Psalm 12, Zechariah 6.1-7.14, Romans 16.17-27 - Lectionary for 1/28/11

Today's readings are Psalm 12, Zechariah 6.1-7.14, and Romans 16.17-27.

It seems we are wired to rejoice in other people's downfall, to glory in their shame, and to revel in their defeat. I guess that's part of the sinful nature. We run afoul of God's grace and mercy by failing to have God's attitude when others are suffering or when others are receiving blessing.

In our readings today I'm struck by the sorrow over the sin of others. When people are suffering, when people are departing from the faith, when people bring shame upon the name of the Lord, we should mourn and weep over it.  The time will come when God will put all to right. In the meantime, let us be compassionate, having the same mind that our Lord had. And in all that, let us look, as Paul does in his doxology at the end of Romans, to God, the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is indeed able to strengthen us by his might.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Thursday, January 27, 2011

O'Brian, Patrick. The Fortune of War. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1979.

I've read several of O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin series, featuring Royal Navy captain Jack Aubrey and his surgeon, Stephen Maturin. They're always good stories, accurate in their details about seafaring life in the early 1800's, and full of action and intrigue. This book is no exception. It starts with our intrepid sailors having to leave a ship which is being decommissioned due to damage sustained in O'Brian's last book. A series of adventures eventually puts them on the third, or is it the fourth, or fifth, ship as they are still homeward bound from the Indies.

This is probably the last of the Patrick O'Brian books I'm going to go out of my way to read. Though I like them, they are becoming a little bit predictable and repetitive. The characters are endearing and well developed, but I'm ready for a change of plot.

Just a caution. I think in general O'Brian is not good reading for teens. He is quite frank about some very adult themes. Though he doesn't flaunt them, they are right there for everyone to see. Enjoy the books, but use discretion, as always.

Psalm 1, Zechariah 4.1-5.11, Romans 15.14-33 - Lectionary for 1/27/11 - St. John Chrysostom

Today is the day of St. John Chrysostom. Today's readings are Psalm 1, Zechariah 4.1-5.11, and Romans 15.14-33.

Paul's testimony in Romans 15 is clearly that any work he has done which is worthwhile is actually the work of God, working in and through him. His desire, therefore, is to "preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named . . . " (Romans 15.20a, ESV). How does this differ from our common attitudes? So often we wish to claim credit for God's work. We wish to arrange para-church ministries so as to have an influence for Christ, even though the existing local church would supposedly be having an influence for Christ. We try to plant a new church right down the street from an existing church. 

What do we claim as justification? We may claim that we have a better understanding of Christian doctrine, that we have a more dynamic presentation of the truth, that we know how the gospel applies to our world, any number of reasons. And there is something to be said for doctrinal distinctions. To put it bluntly, I don't think Lutherans, Methodists, and Baptists are the same. So I don't think we need to avoid establishing a congregation where there is another more or less orthodox community of believers. But do we do so at the expense of areas which are underserved by Christian ministry? For instance, I talked with someone not too many months ago who was a pastor of a church in a small community. He thought it was a nice enough place to serve in ministry, but he did not want to stay there indefinitely. Why not? It wasn't the kind of town where he thought he had a future. But what is the future of the congregation of believers there? What is the future of the claims of God's law and the liberating work of the gospel in that town? Are there people who need to hear from God? Most certainly there are.

Now I know that we may not all want to stay just where we are forever. Yet I think too often we are eager to move on when there is still much to be accomplished for Christ right where we are. We are eager to go to the place where we see a lot of activity in Christ's kingdom. And we do it at the expense of ministry to the people who are scattered around, dispersed, not already in community with other believers.

Let us look to those our Lord brings us, rejoicing that the Lord has brought us together, few or many.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Psalm 18.46-50, Zechariah 2.1-3.10, Romans 15.1-13 - Lectionary for 1/26/11

Today is the day of St. Titus. Today's readings are Psalm 18.46-50, Zechariah 2.1-3.10, and Romans 15.1-13.

In our reading from Zechariah we see God choosing a people for his special blessing, then clothing those people in righteousness, promising to provide them with all they need. As we continue into Romans we see that believers in Christ, strong believers, are to encourage and nurture weaker believers. We who have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ are to serve as God's instruments, clothing other people in the way they need to be clothed. How do we exhibit God's might in this world? We do it through providing Christian charity and comfort for those who are suffering. We give people a cup of cold water in the name of the Lord. We bless them with food from the hand of the Lord who gives us our daily bread. We give people the words of life which come from the mouth of our Lord and Savior. We act as God's messengers, bringing hope and life.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Psalm 6.4-10, Zechariah 1.1-21, Romans 14.1-23 - Lectionary for 1/25/11

Today is the commemoration of the conversion of St. Paul. Today's readings are Psalm 6.4-10, Zechariah 1.1-21, and Romans 14.1-23.

Zechariah presents God as jealous, but jealous in a positive way. He is jealous for the salvation of his people. He is jealous for their deliverance from bondage. He jealously pursues their good. In our reading from Romans we are told essentially to have the same mind. Are there doctrinal differences between different groups of genuine Christians? Certainly there are. It is the duty of the Church to pursue correct doctrine and practice. Yet in our pursuit of purity we do not endanger those people for whom Jesus died. We are jealous for their good as well. Are there some who choose not to participate in certain freedoms we think they have? It's all right. We nurture the faith and trust of those who are hesitant. As Romans 14.19 (ESV) says, "So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding."

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Monday, January 24, 2011

Psalm 131, Joel 3.1-21, Romans 12.14-13.14 - Lectionary for 1/24/11

Today's readings are Psalm 131, Joel 3.1-21, Romans 12.14-13.14. Today is the day to commemorate St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor.

It isn't uncommon for me to talk with people who have been through hard times. It happens more often when I'm wearing my black clerical clothes. Something about walking into a public place and being seen as a minister. It's especially common if I go to visit someone in the hospital. Other people come up to me and want to tell me things. That's fine.

One of the recurring themes is that people are suffering. It isn't surprising. We confess we are in a world living under a curse. But how do we deal with that suffering? In our Romans reading for today, the portion from chapter 12 is especially instructive. Here our Lord tells us what to do when we are enduring suffering. And we find that we are told to act in the opposite way from our inclination. When someone does evil to us we respond with good. When we think we're important, we associate with the humble. We care for those around us, no matter what they do to us.

Who is the one who will bring justice? It is the Lord. We see that throughout our reading today. It is our job to trust that He will take care of all of creation. Let us then look to our Lord in trust and do good for our enemies, praying for them.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Psalm 139.1-6, 12-14, Joel 2.18-32, Romans 11.25-12.13 - Lectionary for 1/23/11

Today's readings are Psalm 139.1-6, 12-14, Joel 2.18-32, and Romans 11.25-12.13.

As we read today we see that we are in the hands of a God who knows us intimately, who lovingly cares for the details of our life, and who desires to show that love for other believers through our works of mercy and love. This is a stark contrast to the way our Lord and Savior treats those who do not believe on him, who do not submit their will to his care. On those he promises judgment. Those people will receive the reward of their deeds. 

Why is this such a difficult concept in our culture today? I think it's because we see ourselves as generally good. We've diminished the idea of God's holiness and of mankind's sinfulness. So we've decided, on one level, that we are really pretty good. We've decided that pretty good is really quite good enough. We deny the idea that all have sinned. We deny the idea that God holds perfection as his standard. We figure that since we can't attain to perfection we need to adjust the standard so we can reach up to it. At the same time we look at the terrible things some people do. We are indignant because of them, though we are really not sure what the standard of "good enough" might be. In effect, then, we set ourselves up as the standard.

The Scripture paints a radically different picture. God is entirely holy and perfect. He demands that all his creation be like he is in perfection. Because creation has failed, has fallen away, all creation is condemned to destruction. Yet our Lord has said that he would take that destruction upon himself. In the person of Jesus, God the Son, God almighty took on our imperfection. He became sin for us and suffered separation and condemnation from the Father. In the person of Jesus, God almighty showed that death would not prevail over him, so he rose from the dead. the Bible says that all we do is believe what he did. Doing so, we receive the gift of God's perfect righteousness, despite what it seems we are like. We are declared not guilty. We are restored to the picture God holds of us in Psalm 139.

Is this hard to swallow? Lots of things are. But it's what our Lord has given us. Let us look to him in faith and trust.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Sermon for 1/23/11 - Repent, Believe, Follow

Sermon: "Repent, Believe, Follow"

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I had a pastor some years ago who would very frequently look at Scripture through a pattern he called, "repent, believe, obey." It isn't a bad pattern, all in all. In fact, it almost became a sermon title for today. But instead, looking at our Gospel lesson for today, I thought "obey" didn't exactly fit. There's something that seems to work better about "follow."

What do we see in Matthew 4 when Jesus comes onto the scene? Jesus' message from verse 17 is very simple. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (ESV). And that's that. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is present. We aren't God. Therefore we need to repent. God's demand is that his people be holy as he is holy. God's demand is perfect faith and obedience. God's demand is that we be utterly righteous. He cannot accept that which is not perfectly holy. As people who are fallen, people subject to a sinful nature, we can't obey him, at least not perfectly. Yes, we want to try. And as partakers of God's divine nature, imputed to us by Jesus who died to put our flesh to death, we have a desire to please God. He gives us this desire to obey him. But we all know it isn't a wholehearted desire. We all know that we sin, in sins of commission and sins of omission, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. For that matter, every one of us, if we are honest, can say that in the time since I proclaimed God's forgiveness at the start of the service, we have failed to think and act in a manner pleasing to God. Time to repent again.

The kingdom of heaven is at hand! Repent!

Is there some good news in there somewhere? Of course there is. If our Lord didn't care about us, would he call us to repent? Would he not rather leave us to wallow in our sin and shame? He certainly would. We would have no call to repentance, we would have no presentation of the loving and forgiving presence of Jesus, God in the flesh, if it were not for the love of God. A message of repentance is a message of love. Is that the way a call to repentance is always used? No, sadly it is not. It's kind of like that walking stick that I sometimes use when my knees or ankles are hurting a lot. I have an impressive walking stick one of my students made for me some years ago. I'm pretty sure it is black walnut. Some sort of very dense wood. It's about four feet long and a bit thinner than a baseball bat. Yes, it could be used to great effect on a hostile dog, or a hostile person for that matter. But do you know what it's really for? It's to keep my creaky knees from hurting as much when I go walking. It's a prop, not a weapon. It brings comfort, not pain. The message of repentance before God is just the same sort of tool. It is to bring comfort. Repent of your sin! God loves you too much to leave you hurting that way.

When people hear that message of repentance, some of them believe. After all, repentance without belief is foolish. Do we repent of our sins and then not believe they are sins, or not believe God is the one who forgives sin? Do we repent of our sins so as to live as enemies of God? No, not at all. We repent of our sins because we believe that our Lord hears our plea, that he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We repent of our sin because Jesus, the light of the world, has come to give us light and hope.

Again, we see in Matthew 4 that we have people who are repentant. They believe Jesus is who he says he is, that he is telling them truthfully of God's forgiving grace. In the same way, we are gathered today, primarily people who believe in our Lord and Savior. Primarily? Yes, primarily. Are there some among us who don't believe? Are there some who are skeptical? Are there some who think the love of God is just too outlandish to believe? It's quite possible. In fact, in a healthy congregation, there are normally some people who are looking at the claims of Christ, people who are not sure they believe, people who want to hear more. Maybe it's more likely that we all fit into the pattern of the man who told Jesus, "I believe, help my unbelief."

So we are called to repentance. We repent of our sins and we believe, at least as well as we have it in us, that our Lord is forgiving us. We confess that the same Holy Spirit who lives in us is in charge of our repentance and our belief. But somehow we manage to mix in a little doubt anyway. Gives us something to repent of, I suppose. Not that we need to go out of our way. We have plenty to repent of, just as we have plenty to believe.

So we repent. We believe. But then what do we see the people in Matthew 4 doing? Not obeying. All right, they are obeying too. The believer does that. We try to obey. But these people go ahead to follow Jesus. That's more important. When the light of the world has come, what do we do? Try to shine our own light? Create our own plans for how to celebrate Jesus? Try to demonstrate that Jesus is relevant to our world? No. We follow Jesus. We look at what he is doing and we go along to see what he will do next.

What is Jesus doing in this passage? He's teaching. He's proclaiming the gospel. He's healing people. He is providing his followers with all they need.

In Matthew 28 and in John 20, Jesus presents himself to some of his believers. He gives them authority to forgive. He sends them to make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey. Jesus promises his presence with them always. The light of the world, God incarnate, has presented himself in his own person. And he has commissioned his servants to continue the work as instruments of the Gospel. He has provided laborers to proclaim repentance. He has provided Christian ministers to remind people of the one in whom they believe. He has raised up countless Christian leaders through the ages whom we can follow, watching the way Jesus has worked in and through them.

When you call your new pastor, when you have someone here week after week, year after year, calling you to repentance, to belief, and to follow Christ, I want you to know, that man is someone who is commissioned by our Lord. He is someone who is appointed as God's servant. By God's grace, you can hope to have a man who is bold to call for repentance. By God's grace, you can hope to have someone who reminds you of Christ's death on your behalf and his presence with you as he promised. By God's grace, you can hope to have someone who will follow Jesus and with whom you can walk as you follow Jesus too.

Let's go this week. Let's see what Jesus is doing.

Lord, we pray you would give us eyes to see what you are doing. Even more importantly, let us look at this world through eyes that see your death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf as your greatest mercy upon us. Let us believe you care for us that much. And let us follow you wherever you are going. Amen. 

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Psalm 69.19-23, 32-33, Joel 2.1-17, Romans 11.1-24 - Lectionary for 1/22/11

Today's readings all paint one big picture. God has adopted his people, all who believe on him. All salvation is by adoption, there is nobody of privileged status. If it were not our Lord's will, we would not be his people. He has not left us without help, either. Even when we feel afraid, heavily burdened, overwhelmed, our Lord promises that he will take care of our every need. Let his enemies beware! God's final judgment is so powerful that none can endure it. He will protect his people and will reject those who do not come to him in faith.

These are strong words. They aren't the words most of our society likes to hear. But they are the words our God has given us. In the view we see in the Bible, it is in fact a matter of life and death. We are called to believe on the Lord. His offer is extended to all who hear. And he has described the consequences of unbelief in detail. Let us look to our Lord in faith, calling on his name, rejoicing in the adoption he has promised to all who believe.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Friday, January 21, 2011

Psalm 20, Joel 1.1-20, Romans 10.1-21 - Lectionary for 1/21/11

Today's readings are Psalm 20, Joel 1.1-20, and Romans 10.1-21.

Today we read about both God's deliverance of his people and his people's failure and willful plunge into sin and condemnation. There's something about the Christian life that makes these sharp contrasts important. We uphold the reality of human failure. We confess that the fallen human nature is sinful, that there is no way in the world we could pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, even if we had bootstraps. This clear view of the desperate situation we are in lets us see the promises of God more clearly. God's salvation purchased on our behalf by God the Son is revealed in all its enormity when we see the hopelessness of our situation otherwise.

For devotional purposes, I strongly recommend reading the Psalm both at the beginning and the end.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Psalm 117, Ezekiel 47.1-14, 21-23, Romans 9.19-33 - Lectionary for 1/20/11 - Sarah

Today is the day the Church commemorates Sarah, the wife of Abraham, who showed herself a faithful woman, taking on the calling of and the promises granted to her husband. Our readings today express the universality of God's call. In the Psalm we see that the call to praise God goes out to all nations. In Ezekiel we see that the living water flowing from the temple is a blessing to all nations, growing in its power as it reaches farther and farther, though it all stems from the one source at God's altar. In Romans 9 we see that God has called people from all nations, not just from Israel's race.

How great is this call of Christ? Just how big is our view of Jesus' atonement for sins? Do we really believe that Jesus' forgiveness and the life he grants us reaches as far as he promises it will - to all nations, to all times, to all our sin and suffering? Do we really accept the fact that our Lord has said forgiveness is appropriated by faith alone, not by any merit we could earn? This is liberation indeed. This is how we see the healing water of our Lord spreading through all the world.

May the Lord who called Sarah and Abraham to bring forth the child of promise counter to human reason also call forth faith in his salvation in Christ Jesus, another promise he has granted counter to human reason.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Early Church by Henry Chadwick

Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church (revised edition). London: Penguin Books, 1967, 1993.

I found this book serving the very important function of dust-collector on an attic bookshelf. About two years ago I moved it to my "read this" stack, where it continued to collect some dust. Finally, several months ago, I read the book and am just now getting around to writing something about it.  Chadwick's analysis of early Christian history was a fascinating introduction. One of the strengths I found in the book is that he is very good about specifying dates. So for the student who wishes to create a timeline of history, this is an excellent resource. Chadwick points out again and again the delicate tension between the Church's view of itself as God's appointed world leader and its realization that it was a small minority group. He also details many of the high points of early Church history, showing how the debate was carried on both within the Church and between the Church and State. We see clearly that the believers were not monolithic in their theological views. There was a good deal of diversity, sometimes without debate, sometimes with it.

I plan to refer to this book again with a timeline in hand, noting many of the dates and important people or controversies. It's a good sourcebook.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Psalm 15, Ezekiel 44.1-16, 23-29, Romans 9.1-18 - Lectionary for 1/19/11

The lectionary posts are back! At least for today they are. We'll see how things go on that front.

Psalm 15 tells us what kind of person can stand before the Lord, what kind of person is accepted before God. This text points out one of the weaknesses we see in many manifestations of Christianity today. Either we minimize the importance of God's Law, lowering it to the level of a good suggestion, or we reduce the demands of the Law, saying that God didn't really mean what he said.

We who confess the Scripture is God's infallible word must avoid those patterns.  So how are we prepared to be accepted by God? Take a look again at verses two through five. I can honestly say the only one of those I have truly kept is that I don't think I have ever taken a bribe against the innocent.

What hope do we have? This Psalm, like so many others, reminds us that we cannot stand in our own righteousness. We are not acceptable before the holy God. We need a savior. If we were able to keep God's Law perfectly we would have no need for Jesus. If we were able to present ourselves righteous before the throne of God we would need no savior to die in our place for our sins. If we were able to live as God requires we would have no need for the imputed righteousness of Jesus. Our hope is not in ourselves, but in our Lord and Savior.

Does this minimize the importance of God's demands? Not in any way. Regardless of Jesus' work, what God has spoken here is still his will. These are things which, though they don't earn us righteousness, do love and serve our neighbors. Remember the second great commandment? Love your neighbor as yourself? God may not need my good works. In Christ I might not even need my good works. But I'm surrounded by a society that does need my good works.

May the Lord who has called us out of darkness into his glorious light make us to walk in his grace in all we do this day. Amen.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Infernal Statistics

I actually looked at the page view statistics for my blog today. It's the first time I've ever done so. Not that I understand anything like that, but I observe the peak of page views was during the time when I was posting a daily reflection on lectionary readings. Maybe I'll pick it up again and see if I can manage those, at least sometimes.

It surprised me to see that I had quite a number of page views. I pretty much assumed that my blog would generally be something I'd post to and nobody would ever look at. Maybe that is so. In fact, there seem to be only a few readers most of the time, but there have been times when a fair number of people have seemed to hit the blog during any given week.

We'll see what happens. I make no guarantees, but I may just start boring people with observations on a more or less daily basis again, rather than basically once a week.

Sermon for 1/16/11 - All I Need

Sermon: "All I Need"

Our Lord, you have given your people every spiritual gift, providing for all our needs. Speak now through your word, give us ears to hear and a heart to believe in your great and mighty promises, through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

We've seen these promises before. God will supply your every need by his riches in glory through Christ Jesus. This is God's promise. He intends to take care of all we need. Our Lord will work in and through us. And our Lord is able to keep his promises. But how does he do this?

Yes, or course, through Word and Sacraments. But how is this worked out? In our passage from 1 Corinthians we see that believers in Christ are enriched in all speech and knowledge. Jesus' testimony is confirmed among them. They receive spiritual gifts. And they see Jesus as their sustainer. But by what means does God accomplish this? How does he enrich the saints? Just how does he put this strength, vigor, zeal into his people? How does he work to apply his word to his people?

There was a period of Church history which I think was very unfortunate in this regard. You may be familiar with it. It was called the "Second Great Awakening." This movement, primarily during the 19th Century, had an emphasis on a fervent belief on Christ, personal Bible study and prayer, and a life of holiness. Sounds good, right? We should be fervent in our belief. Look at the apostolic age of the Church. They were praying and proclaiming Christ crucified for sinners – no holding back, even if it cost them their lives. There was this unshakable character about their faith. This is a very good thing. Do we think that all believers should be commited to a thorough knowledge and understanding of Scripture? Sure! Read that Bible during the week. Pay attention to what the Lord says. Jesus is the one with the words of life. We want to take in those words. And how about that life of holiness? The apostle Paul puts it well. Should we continue in sin that grace may abound? Don't be ridiculous! Rather, we fight against sin in our lives, striving to live a life of holiness in the Lord.

Indeed, we do believe that Christians should be fervent in their faith, that they should be committed to the Scripture, that they should live a life of holiness. But there was a deep failing in the work of the Second Great Awakening. During that time period, again and again, revivalist preachers would shed whatever they could find from historic Christianity. In their emphasis on personal faith they created an atmosphere of "me and Jesus" where the guidance that nearly 2000 years of Christian life, ministry, and theology could give was rejected. Instead, if you wanted to be truly holy, you were to cast off all that the past had to offer. Don't understand something? Retreat to the cabin in the woods with your Bible and read and pray until you do understand it. Along with this, there was an attitude that said anyone who was a trained theologian or Bible scholar was probably irrelevant and maybe dangerous. Therefore, anything that believers in the past said was suspect. Our world went through a time looking for a new revelation. At the same time, since people became suspicious of established tradition, they were also operating outside of the auspices of the local church. The revivalists threw up tents where they would have their meetings. They would reject what went on week after week in the church buildings in towns. Instead, they would tell people to pursue holiness and a fervent, biblical faith in their own way, the way that the local church wouldn't.

I've seen this over and over again. It's still around. It was around in the church plant a block from my house. My colleagues in the denomination I used to be in asked me to be involved in approving it as a home mission work. They wanted me to be involved in nurturing the young man who was planting the church. I like that young man. He's fervent. He's smart. He knows the Scriptures. But he wants to "do church like it's never been done before." I can't support that. It's departing from orthodoxy. It's rejecting all the safeguards history has given us. It's denying that our forebears had any wisdom at all.

That young pastor is not alone. There are thousands of others like him. There are innumerable para-church groups. Motorcyclists for Jesus. Bungee Jumpers for Christ. Society of Christian Tractor-Pull Enthusiasts. Coffee-Drinkers for Christ. And they all make claims that they will nurture you in your faith, that they will help you know how to live out your beliefs in this world, that they will be able to reach the world for Jesus, with your help and cooperation, in ways it has never been reached before.

Now we want to encourage a fervent faith. We want to encourage people to holy living. Christians shouldn't be in the habit of self-destructive behavior, drinking or eating themselves to death or doing other harmful things. We do think that people should rejoice in the Lord always, in every place. We do think that believers should be ready to pray for one another and encourage one another in the faith. And we think all Christians should be faithful in reading and studying the Scripture, knowing what God's Word says about their world. But we don't want to reject that long history of Christianity, in which people have dealt with all the kind of struggles you are going to deal with in the upcoming week. Do we really think that difficult situations with relatives are new? Do we really think that only modern-day believers have had to deal with difficult bosses or co-workers? Do we really think that we're the first people in the world to have jobs we didn't like but to think we'd better avoid losing those jobs? Really, Christians throughout history have dealt with just the same kind of problems. But I'm afraid there are a lot of times we've been influenced, all too much, toward the kind of "me and Jesus" way of doing theology that came out of that revivalist movement.

The difference I see in historic Christianity is this. Throughout history believers have realized that God's gifts are active in the context of God's assembled people. True, our Lord works in and through individuals, but he most often seems to do it through those people when they are gathered together. He appoints times for Israel to gather for worship and sacrifice. He appoints festivals which will be centered around the proclamation of and instruction in the Scripture. And in the New Testament the pattern continues. Think of how 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14, talking about all sorts of spiritual gifts in operation, happen in the context of the corporate worship. Think about the way in Ephesians 4, verses 11 and following, the various people who are gifts to the Church work among the people, building the people up. You'll see there that it is until we all grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ. And in Romans 10 we see that people need to hear the Gospel, but they will not be able to without some preacher who is sent to proclaim God's good news to them.

Yes, Christians live this life for Christ in a community. We are in this together. And we look to godly people for our motivation and example. We look to the consistency of a local congregation where we can gather and hear God's word. We look to a fellowship of saints where we can turn to one another for prayer and encouragement. We look to our life in community. This is where God will provide us with all our needs. This is where we are enriched in all speech and knowledge. This is where the testimony of Jesus is confirmed. This is where we have spiritual gifts in operation. This is where we see Jesus as our sustainer.

I'd like to encourage you as a congregation. Over the past few months, as it has been my privilege to serve you in Word and Sacraments, I've seen you pulling together. I've seen you encouraging one another. I've seen you depending on one another. You've looked to me for some things and you've looked to one another for other things. This is good and healthy. If I were a permanent pastor, no doubt you would turn to me for some additional needs and there would be some differences in our relationship. But you're doing really quite well. This is why your congregation has remained about the same size it was when Pastor Maynard took another call.

You're now in the process of finding another pastor to call. How are you going to welcome that pastor into your midst? How are you going to encourage him in his faith, even as he is encouraging you in yours? Are you going to be courageous enough to welcome him with open arms, to get to know him, and to let him get to know you? Maybe I should ask the people who have begun coming in the past three months how they think you'll do. Or maybe not. We can all do better. We've all done worse. Another important question is how you will expect your pastor to serve as God's instrument in your lives. Do you really expect that the pastor is God's gift to you, to build you up? Do you really expect that the pastor is going to bring you words that you need, week after week? Do you really expect that the pastor has been called by the Lord and is able to act in the stead of Christ, bringing our Lord's forgiveness to you?

We're to encourage one another, so I'll also ask you to think about how you will serve as God's instrument in the life of your pastor and his family. While he is nurturing you, he can benefit from your encouragement and prayers. Change is difficult. Will you make the transition a joy or a burden?

There's much to be learned from the past. There's much to be learned from the biblical saints and from those who have come before in some two thousand years of Christianity. Let's look to this living hope that we have. Our Lord has given us all his gifts. He has provided us with what we need. And he provides that through his saints, assembled together in his name.

Let us pray. Our Lord Jesus, you have given us all we need. By your death for our sins you took on our sin. By your resurrection from the dead you have given us an assurance of eternal life. You have given us Word and Sacraments. You have given us your messengers to nurture us in the faith. Let us build one another up in this most precious faith, bringing you honor and glory in all things. Amen.

Dave Spotts
blogging at

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sermon for 1/9/11 - 1st Sunday after Epiphany

Sermon "Gently Urgent"

Lord, grant us your mercy, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Maybe you've been in a situation where someone has directed you to do something right away. You've been brought to a stop or re-directed by a police officer. Or maybe someone has had you take a step to the side and you then saw you were in a place which was dangerous in some way but you are now safe. As someone who has worked in music, theater, and ballet productions, I know that when the person dressed all in black grabs you by the elbow and moves you somewhere you want to go there without complaining.

Our Lord and Savior is a little like that stage hand or that police officer. He has a purpose for his people. He is working diligently toward that purpose. He will not give up until it is accomplished. And this purpose is, in fact, a matter of life and death. We, on the other hand, normally don't have a very clear grasp of the overall picture. We are haplessly standing in the way, ready to be run down by a truck, closed into the lion's cage, or have a piece of scenery lowered onto our head.

We see our Lord Jesus here in Isaiah 42. He is God's "servant." As we look at the passage it becomes quite clear that he is none other than the very God who saves us.

Jesus is the one who will be coming again in judgment. He's the one that everyone will look to for salvation, for a righteous decision. He's the one who, being the very righteousness of God, is able to give a righteous judgment. He's the one who, being truly man, is able to live and die in our stead.

Jesus, like the servant of God in Isaiah, is the one who overthrows sin, death, principalities and powers with no army, no revolutionaries, no riots or explosions. In fact, a movie about most of Jesus' work could hardly be considered an action film. It seems more like an inaction film. Jesus teaches some people. He walks here and there. People try to do things to him. He doesn't actually seem to be doing anything. He eventually ends up being put to death and buried. One author compares Jesus' saving work to the lifeguard who sees a drowning girl. He walks into the water, swims over to her, and drowns along with her. Then three days later he walks out of the water all alone and says the girl is fine. This doesn't seem like a salvation story to us. But by faith we believe, teach and confess that Jesus has accomplished salvation by his death, burial and resurrection. He didn't have to blow up the temple. He didn't have to kill all the people who opposed him. There isn't even a good chariot chase in the Gospels. No, Jesus doesn't create a stir, he doesn't raise his voice. He just saves us.

Jesus, like the servant in Isaiah 42, is the one who rules over all the earth. See how verse 4 is very universal in its scope. We see him bringing "justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law." He doesn't seem to limit himself. No, Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. He has come with his promise which is for you, for me, and for all who are far off, as many as he will call. And that call is extended to everyone. All who believe Jesus has died for their sins, all who trust that Jesus is the savior, all those people are called and redeemed.

So what is our status in all of this? In verse three we see "a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench." In verse seven we see he came "to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon."

The picture of the reed is a picture of a lamp and its wick. The oil lamps used throughout history have used rushes or reeds for wicks. That was actually common up into the nineteenth century. What happens when the wick is broken? What happens to a candle with a broken wick? We've seen it many times. That's why we remind acolytes to just hold the snuffer over the candle and let the candle go out. We don't want to break the wick because then the candle is really difficult to light. But wicks get broken. Reeds get bruised. And when they are bruised they are about to break. The reed breaks and the light goes out. What is Jesus' attitude toward us when we are bruised, battered, even broken and about to burn out? Jesus will not quench that faintly burning wick. He came to give life, abundant life at that. Jesus came to give us his light, the light of the world. He came to heal and restore. Jesus cares about us when we are downtrodden.

What if we're wandering around in darkness? We are prisoners, blind prisoners, who couldn't find the way out of the prison even if it were unlocked. What has our Lord done? He himself is the key. Just as we heard when we were looking at the O Antiphons during Advent, Jesus is the one who has unlocked forgiveness. He is the mighty king, the one who rules on the throne of David. He is the one who has come to deliver his people. He is the one who releases us from prison, from death.

So what are we to do with this servant of God? What's our part to play? How are we to throw off our shackles? Are we to clean ourselves up to present ourselves to our Lord? No, not at all. Not that we sin so God's grace can abound. But we who have been purchased by our Lord have already been moved from death to life. We don't make ourselves holy. Only God can do that. We whose eyes have been opened, the redeemed of the Lord, those he has set free from prison now walk in the light. He grabs us by the elbow and moves us. We go where he puts us. It brings us no glory. It brings us no honor. There is no power sharing. Remember Isaiah 42.8. Salvation is by God's glory and by his glory alone. No, there is no other name given by which we should be saved. We call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, God's servant, who has called us to himself.

This is our hope. Jesus has come. He has been baptized as one of us. He who washes our sins away has himself entered into the dirty water of humanity. He who brings us life has shown himself to us. He has come to suffer as one of us. And in his suffering he sets us prisoners free. Yes, Jesus, God's servant, has come to move us from death to life by placing himself into our death and giving us his life. This he has accomplished by himself. And like the man who comes to Jesus with a demon-possessed son, we say, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."

Thanks be to God. Amen.


Dave Spotts
blogging at

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sermon for 1/2/11 - Second Sunday after Christmas

Sermon: "Where's Jesus?"

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.

Maybe you remember a series of books and activities called Where's Waldo. Or maybe you've looked at one of those I Spy books where you are given a poem full of clues and you get to find all the objects in a very busy picture. Or you may have played "I Spy" with small children, letting them figure out that the green thing you see is their eyes. I think most of us have played hide and seek. The object is always to find something or someone. Sometimes it's something hidden. Sometimes not. But we aren't satisfied unless we find what we're looking for.

How about looking for Jesus? We need to ask ourselves where Jesus is. In our Gospel passage today Jesus went with his family to Jerusalem as he did every year. But this time while they were in Jerusalem they lost track of him. It took three days to find him again. Why did it take them so long? Was Jesus hiding? Was he moving around like the people in those old movies who pop in and out of doors in a house looking for but never finding each other? Not at all. Jesus was, in fact, in plain sight, in a public place, doing perfectly normal things. He was not being the least bit secretive. But his parents were looking for him in all the wrong places.

Where do we look for Jesus? What do we expect him to be doing? Are we looking for him in the right places? Do we miss seeing him because we don't expect him to be doing what he's doing?

We realize that Jesus is the ruler of all creation. Despite this lofty status he has promised to be present for us in Word and Sacraments. There are two very important words in that statement. Did you notice? "For us." A couple of weeks ago I talked briefly about the "Deus absconditus" and the "Deus revelatus" - the hidden God and the revealed God. The hidden God, Deus absconditus, is in a way plainly visible. Look at an insurance policy sometime. Do you see a mention of "acts of God" there? Odd, how acts of God are always bad things in insurance policies. They're always the acts of God revealing his power but not his personal love. They're always the acts of God who is moving but is not expressing his care for his people. You never get an insurance policy that talks about an act of God like a beautiful sunrise, a blooming flower, a good harvest, or good health. But since this isn't an insurance office and I'm no insurance agent, I can talk to you about the God who is there "for you." He has promised that he will be present for your good in Word and Sacraments.

Where we are gathered in his name for his forgiveness, Jesus has promised to be with us. Recall that in the upper room Jesus came to his disciples. What the Father gave to him, Jesus gave to the disciples. He breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit and to forgive sins. That's why we are told to confess our sins and pray for one another, so we may be forgiven. Jesus has promised that if his word abides in us then we are his disciples. We are intimately involved in that same life of forgiveness which he has given us. We hear the Word of God and we believe him. He is present for us.

For that matter, along with the promise that our Lord is with us in his Word, we see in Matthew 28 that he promises to abide in us to the end of the world as we go, baptizing people and teaching them. How are people baptized? In Greek it is strikingly clear. People are baptized "into" the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is something that theologians call "performative speech." We believe that the Lord has made certain promises and that when we speak and act in accordance with those promises he will in fact accomplish something. Our Lord transfers us from the kingdom of death into the kingdom of life when we receive baptism. We are washed, se are cleansed, we are placed into the divine kingdom. God's forgiveness, purchased on our behalf by Jesus on the cross, is applied to us in baptism. We are cleansed from sin, a cleansing which we receive by faith as we believe daily that we have been cleansed.

What about Jesus' presence in communion? As we are celebrating communion today it's a good time to remember specifically that Jesus promises to be with us. We confess a real presence of Christ. This doesn't mean he is only symbolically and spiritually here. Jesus, in fact, says very specifically, "this is my body." The New Testament is very clear throughout. The passages in the Greek text don't have the variant readings in manuscripts that you'd expect if people in the first few centuries thought Jesus was saying the bread and wine were to serve as symbols of his presence. The verb "is" doesn't vary. It's always "is," never "represents," never "seems like." Always "is." Paul tells the Corinthians that the bread is a "participation" in the body of Christ and the wine is a "participation" in the blood of Christ. He clearly believes that Jesus is very truly and physically present. This resurrected Christ, who ascended into heaven, who is sitting at the right hand of the Father, is still God. He's still omnipresent. Though we can't understand it, we confess it. That's why we say, "this is my body" and "this is my blood."

How does this compare with most of what we see in modern American Christianity? Almost uniformly believers try to explain the presence of Christ. Roman Catholic people explain that the bread and wine are no longer bread and wine but that they are now body and blood. Protestants by and large explain that the bread and wine are just bread and wine, symbolic of Jesus, but that Jesus is present only spiritually, or that believers' spirits are ushered into the presence of Jesus' spirit in heaven. It's pretty much only the Lutherans who don't flinch at Jesus' saying that he is here for us in communion. And I'm afraid many of us flinch as well.

I have good news for you. Jesus is in fact present. He's present, for you, right here, right now, giving you and giving me forgiveness, life, hope, salvation. He will continue working in and through us as we receive his provision by faith. He will continue working with us as we bring his grace and mercy to the world.

I first said that Jesus has promised to be present for us in Word and Sacraments. So we can find him right here, right now. But what about this afternoon? What about tomorrow? What about people who don't attend a church or who attend a church where the true Gospel is not preached? What hope do those people have?

There's much hope in every way. The Bible presents Jesus as the savior of the world. The Scripture says he gave his life as a ransom that all should be saved. We see over and over again in the Bible that God pours his mercy and grace out on people who are in need, all sorts of people, the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

There's a great little book I'd like to recommend. It's called God at Work by Dr. Gene Edward Veith. I don't have a copy of it to show you. Every time I get one I seem to give it away. This book lays out a picture of Christian vocation. Think about it. Everything you do, every situation you are in, every interaction with your friends, co-workers, neighbors, even strangers, everything you do is an opportunity to be used by our Lord and Savior to show his grace to this world. Notice I said "to show." I didn't say "to bring." Why is that? Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has already brought his grace to the world. But we are his means of showing the world what they have. Just like finding Waldo in the book, Jesus is right there in the world. People are waiting for God's provision. Some of them want to see him. And they are welcome to see Jesus in our good works. They can see Jesus as we are used by God to provide people with their daily bread. They see Jesus as we do the works that our neighbors need. We are God's hands reaching out to this world. We do God's work, loving and serving our neighbor, providing the neighbor with what he needs. In a very real way, Jesus loves the sick person through the hands of the doctor or nurse. Jesus feeds the hungry through the farm laborer, the person who transports food to the store, the person who puts it on the shelf, the person who runs the cash register. Jesus provides warmth for people on cold winter days through the person who maintains the electric lines, through the person who buys goods from that cold person's employer, allowing the employer to pay the staff, through the person who built the house years ago, through the person who made the insulation for the walls. You name it. Whatever you need, whatever you do, it is God working. In fact, your going to work tomorrow is an "act of God" even though it isn't something included in the insurance policy. We are all interconnected. What we do is God's work, showing his grace to this world.

With that said, let's pray together.

Our Lord, you have shown yourself to your people. You have shown us that you are present right here, right now, for us. We realize that we have done nothing to deserve your love or favor. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Use us, your people, to bring this news of your love to our world. We pray that you would use us in service to you. We pray for those we will come in contact with, that you will awaken in them a desire to hear where their hope comes from. We pray that you will draw our community to you in faith. We pray for those whom we will serve in the upcoming days and weeks, that they will see you as the one who has redeemed the world to yourself. We pray that you will give us a love for this lost and dying world that is like the love you expressed, coming and dying on our behalf. Grant us this, we pray, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dave Spotts
blogging at