A PERSONAL PRAYER
I can’t seem to quit. I want to be different, but I can’t. And the more I seem to fight it, the more it seems to own me. And every time I think I have it beat, it comes back again. I am losing hope, God. Help me. Save me.
God, my own bad habits seem big to me, but small compared to the bondage of others I care about. I see families destroyed, lives ruined, bodies broken, minds wasted. Habits, compulsions and addictions are tearing apart our social fabric. Alcohol. Drugs. Pornography. Promiscuity. Eating disorders. Gambling. Spending. Overworking. Social Media. The list goes on and on, and the impact on our communities multiplies. We can’t seem to fix it ourselves. We have tried harsher laws and more lax laws. We have tried treatments and imprisonments. We have waged war on drugs and taught our children to “just say no.” But still, we seem to be fighting the symptom rather than the cause… How can we get at the root of it all?
We feel so helpless. I feel so helpless. But you tell us that when we are weak, you are strong. When we can’t, you can.
So we cry out for a savior, God. We ask for someone to liberate us, to set us free. Come, Lord Jesus.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me, to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” Luke 4:18 Read the whole scripture passages for Sunday’s sermon here: Romans 7:21-25, Luke 4:16-19
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION AND REFLECTION
Where do you find yourself in bondage? How can you learn to sing in your chains? What do you ask God to do that you cannot do for yourself?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Sermon Series: Getting Through The Storm of Addiction
St. Paul writes that “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Romans 7:18-19) I can think of no better description of the bondage we have to compulsions and addictions than this. How do we get through the storm of this kind of captivity? This Sunday we will talk about what it means that Jesus came to set the captives free, as we close our series on getting through the storms. Come and join us!
We have a new St. Luke’s App!
Our new St. Luke’s app is up and running. Last year, we unveiled an app for our Scripture + Shared Bible Study. A new more comprehensive St. Luke’s United Methodist Church app has sermons from all our campuses, event signups, a staff directory, push notifications for important events (if you want them). Search for St Lukes UMC Houston in your app store, or click here to download: https://subsplash.com/stlukesunitedmethodistchurchtx/app.
Ash Wednesday services are this coming Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 a.m. in the chapel, 12:00 noon and 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary. Hope you will join us for this tradition of imposition of ashes, as we begin a season of repentance.
Sign up now for a Lenten Scripture + Shared LIFT Group
Lent begins this Wednesday. Our Lenten sermon series and study this year is called “These Bones Shall Live,” and is based on the book of Ezekiel. There are hard truths we often avoid. There are things we don’t want to hear. There are consequences to the decisions we make and lifestyles we choose, and we would rather not think about them. But the prophet reminds us that truth and consequences will catch up to us. And the prophet also helps us to see that God can redeem us, and put the broken pieces back together again. This Scripture + Shared study is team taught by Eric Huffman and Tom Pace, and will support the sermon series by the same title as well. Sign up for one of our Lenten Living in Faith Together (LIFT) groups here.
Sunday, February 11
God of Peace, in a world full of change and distractions, you are constant and faithful. You create order out of chaos, you redeem the bad things and make them good again, and you cleanse our hearts and renew our spirits. Transform us to seek your good will in the chaos of the world. Send us into the world with your peace, your love, and your grace so that the world may see your presence in us. Amen.
Monday, February 12
Heavenly Creator, you made the whole earth and everything in it in seven days, and you saw that your work was good. Help us to remember that you created every day and that every day is full of opportunities to make good things happen. Show us how to be good stewards of the time here on earth that you have given us. Help us to always give our best effort for you. Amen.
Tuesday, February 13
Eternal God, we confess that we become complacent and unmotivated to put forth effort to make real changes in ourselves and in the world. As the season of Lent begins, we ask that you would renew our spiritual fervor and help us to rely on your strength. Prepare our hearts for Jesus and ignite a passion inside of us so that we may influence the world for your Kingdom. Amen.
Wednesday, February 14 – Ash Wednesday
Loving God, it is not a coincidence that today is both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. You wrote the Book on love and gave it to us in a great treasure called the Bible. You gave us simple commands of loving you with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves. You came down to earth to be with us and teach us about love. You lovingly paid the price for our sin with your only Son in order to redeem us. You have taught us well on how to love- unconditionally, without ending. As we celebrate Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day and begin the Lenten season, turn our hearts towards you and fill them with your love so that love overflows into all that we do. Amen.
Thursday, February 15
Dear God, help us to be more faithful by spending time in your presence, reading your word, and following your guidance. Help us to focus on you, and to not be distracted by the things of this world. In your name, we pray. Amen.
Friday, February 16
Help those who are struggling with addiction, put people in their life who can lovingly speak truth into their situation and be received in love. Lord Jesus, who sets the captives free, we ask these things in your name. Amen.
Saturday, February 17
Heavenly Father, we pray for the staff and clergy at St. Lukes. Please multiply the fruits of their labor. Please bless them and their families as they guide our church. Amen.
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