We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
God of mercy,
Oh, how quick I am to judge others. I don’t want to categorize people, but I do: Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, black or white or Hispanic, gay or straight, old or young, rich or poor, Longhorns or Aggies, with me or against me. I could go on and on. And then, of course, I form judgments about those people based on the category. If it isn’t about appearance, it is about their opinions or background or circumstance. None of these judgments have to do with the heart. But you, O God, judge according to the heart. You look at the heart and see what is there. You see whether we really love you, or simply speak those words with our lips. You know our compassion, or lack thereof. You know what really rules our hearts, what we worship, what we value more than anything else. You know what breaks our hearts, and where the calloused places are.
But I can’t see the heart, God. I can only guess about the conflicting motivations, the values, the hopes, the dreams, the pain and the joy. I can only speculate about the heart’s content based on words and actions and my impressions. But my speculations about heart stuff are only guesses… So God, if I can’t really see the heart, by what standard am I supposed to judge others? Ah… Even as I ask you the question, your answer rings in my ears – I am not to judge at all. Compassion challenges me to seek to understand the heart of my brother or sister, but humility reminds me that my understanding is so imperfect. So who am I to judge?
What is even more amazing is that you have looked on my heart, with its mixed motivations and scars and darkness, and you have said, “this is the one.” And you have called me to ministry. And you have anointed me with your Holy Spirit. Thank you, O God. Thank you. Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me, that I may answer your call and serve your purposes.
In Christ, I pray. Amen.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 Read the complete text here.
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
In what way do you find yourself judging by appearance? Does appearance make any difference at all? For what purpose has God said about you, “…anoint him (or her), for this is the one”?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
It’s been a tough week for our staff here at St. Luke’s. Bill Ellerbrock, the husband of Julie Ellerbrock, our director of Children’s Ministry, died suddenly at the age of 57. Bill was a pillar of our Encounter community, a Stephen Minister, a PM Pals volunteer, and served in a hundred other ways, as well as supporting Julie in her amazing ministry. I will miss him. I hope you keep Julie and Taylor and Cole in your prayers, and if you see them, make sure they know they are loved.
We begin our summer series of sermons this week, looking together at the crazy story of King David, found in 1 and 2 Samuel. Saga: the story of King David is our title, and we will look at the ups and mostly downs of his life, his crazy passion, his dysfunctional family, and the ways God used him anyway. Throughout the summer, if you can’t be with us, watch us on livestream or television, or listen to the podcast, so you can stay up with this wonderful story.
Next week is Vacation Bible School. We have hundreds of kids, teens, and adults all here every morning having a great time and being formed in Christ. Our theme is “Let’s hit the waves!” Make sure and pray for these kids this week, that the community they find here will help them to build a faith that lasts a lifetime.
Sunday, June 5
Great Father, I need you and your grace each day. Thank you for how you care for and protect me. Please make yourself known to me today in a new and precious way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Monday, June 6
Precious Lord, we thank you for all the blessings and opportunities we have at St. Luke’s. We ask that you would continue to guide our steps and our actions so that others may always see you in us. Amen.
Tuesday, June 7
Dear Lord, my heart is filled with joy. Your love surrounds me in such a powerful way, and my words cannot adequately express my gratitude. I lift up my heart and ask your continual guidance as I strive to follow you. In love and thanks, Amen.
Wednesday, June 8
Dear Lord, grant us peace in a world full of uncertainty, fear and worry. Help us feel your presence. Remind us that you’re here and that, no matter what, we will never walk alone. Amen.
Thursday, June 9
God, may you calm my heart in the middle of the night when I awake due to anxiety. I pray I hear your voice above the noise of my things to do and my fears of failure. Amen.
Friday, June 10
Dear God, we pray for St. Luke’s Woodshop Ministry. Bless the men and women who are dedicated to helping our church and community through the repairs they do, and toys they make. Amen.
Saturday, June 11
Father, my prayer is that you would continue to move in this church. Set a fire in our hearts that burns for you so that we would be a people that glorify you. Amen. -Prayer by Johnny Reeves, The Story Houston Worship Leader