We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
Gracious and merciful God,
Right now, things are calm in my world, at least as calm as my world gets. The problems I face seem surmountable. My heart is at peace. Thank you God, for seasons like this. Joy is easy to claim, and gratitude wells up from my heart. I praise you and thank you.
But it hasn’t always been so, God; you know that. There have been some days, some seasons, when it seemed like everything was falling apart. Some of those haven’t been so long ago, and I can remember them well. The things I counted on faltered. My own failures haunted me. The floor I stood on shifted beneath my feet. I thought I had built my house on the rock, but it was apparently on shifting sand. What a mess. It was harder for me to praise you on those days. I wasn’t as good at it as I expected to be.
The prayer of King David was the prayer I prayed:
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me out of my distress.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins. –Psalm 25:15-18
You got me through all of that, God. Thank you for your salvation. Thank you even for the scars I bear from those days. Remind me, O God, that such days may come again.
O Lord of the broken-hearted, I pray for all those who find their feet “in the net,” those who are in a season of life that is a tangled mess. Give them direction. Set their feet on right paths. Draw them to trust in you. Hear their prayers, O God, and bring them out of their distress. And let them know, as you have done for me so many times, that you will never give up on them.
In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK
The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” –2 Samuel 18:33 Read the whole passage for Sunday’s sermon: 2 Samuel 18
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
What, in your life, do you regret, and how have you dealt with the consequences? What do you need to say now before it is too late? What are the ways you practice putting God first?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
As we come near the end of our series on the Saga of David, the tragedies of his life seem to multiply. Have you ever reached a point where your life just seems a mess, and you ask yourself “how did I get here?” We will talk this week about the revolt of Absalom, his son, who briefly claims the kingdom from David.
A preview of coming attractions:
- On August 21, I will begin a three week sermon series titled “An Attitude Adjustment.” Do you ever need to change your attitude? Let’s look together at the 4th chapter of Philippians, and see the way Paul challenges us to see the world and life in positive ways. A new attitude will get the Fall and the new school year off to a great start.
- Beginning September 11, all of St. Luke’s, including The Story, Houston, will join in a four week series focused on what it means to be a church family, and claim our common responsibility for forming children and youth in the faith. The sermon series is “Yours, Mine and Ours,” and Rev. Eric Huffman and I have written a small group and adult class study guide to accompany the series. I hope you and your small group will join in it. Dr. Chap Clark of Fuller Theological Seminary will be our Shamblin lecturer on that promotion Sunday, September 11, and reflect on his research on what it takes to build a “sticky faith” into our young people. As we prepare to open new buildings aimed at children and youth, how will we all take seriously and put into action the vow we make every Sunday in the baptismal response, to “surround these children with a community of love and forgiveness.” Remember, no building has ever told anyone about Jesus. It is the people in those buildings who do so.
- Put on your calendar the grand opening of our new facilities on Sunday, October 16, 2016!!! It will be a marvelous celebration, and the culmination of five years of work and dedication. God is good. All the time.
Sunday, August 7
Loving God, you have blessed us with the gift of relationships. And, successful relationships require good communication. Let me listen to others so that I may hear their needs. Then, I ask that you would choose my words. Help me to speak words that show the world your great love. Amen.
Monday, August 8
Dear God, I know that there is a cost of your discipleship and sometimes a risk involved in following you. Help me to be brave for you. When it comes to you, I want to be “all in.” Bless me with the strength and courage to follow you always. Amen.
Tuesday, August 9
Gracious God, you have been more than generous in my blessings. Help me to follow your example and to bless others as you have blessed me. Show me opportunities to give my money, my time, my expertise, my space, my witness, and my gifts to help others. Place it upon my heart to be generous in all that I do so that others may see your example in me. Amen.
Wednesday, August 10
Father, you tell me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, but sometimes I feel weak and insecure. I know that you are in control and that you made me with a specific purpose in mind. Give me inner strength and confidence and help me to remember that I am a child of the King of Kings. Amen.
Thursday, August 11
Dear God, you bless me with so many opportunities to serve you throughout the day, and I confess that I am often too busy or too hesitant to make a difference in those times. I pray that you would bless me with wisdom and discernment to know when you are calling me into action. I pray that you would give me what I need to move into action in those moments. Help me to seize each opportunity for you and your Kingdom. Amen.
Friday, August 12
God of forgiveness, I admit that I am sometimes held back by my past mistakes or failures. The Bible tells me that your mercies are new each morning. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and show me how to learn from my past. Be at work in me to use my story to help others overcome their past mistakes. Fill me with your holy confidence so that I may boldly tell my story. Amen.
Saturday, August 13
God of wisdom, you have given me such a gift in the Bible, your written word. I know that I have a lot to learn, and you are ready to teach me through your Scriptures. Give me the self-discipline to set aside some time each day to read and study the Bible so that I may grow in your Kingdom ways. Amen.