Bread – Nearsightedness

November 30, 2009

Readings for Monday, November 30 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Amos 2:6-16; 2 Peter 1:1-11. Matt. 21:1-11
    Psalms 1, 2, 3, 4, 7

One of the many "problems" with getting old is our eyesight.  We tend to develop one of two conditions – nearsightedness or farsightedness.  With nearsightedness, we can see those things which are in front of our face very well, but cannot see "down the road" (what is ahead) at all.  With farsightedness, we can see the end very well, but cannot see what is around us at all.  In the first, we are so focused on the present we cannot see the future.  In the second, we are so focused on the future we cannot see the present.

Unfortunately, nearsightedness and farsightedness are not just conditions of the eyes, but conditions of the heart, mind, and soul as well.

In today’s reading from 2 Peter, he gives us a list of things (characteristics) that build upon each other to maximize our ability to love, and he says that people who do not work on acquiring these things, we are "nearsighted and blind."  2 Peter 1:9.  His words are:

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness…For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love…But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind…"  2 Peter 1:3-9

How are we nearsighted?  By forgetting what God has done for us and focusing upon ourselves, by raising ourselves up to God’s level, we focus closely upon our own needs, wants, desires, objectives, lusts, etc.  We are therefore only able to focus on the present – how does this help me today?  On the other hand, by remembering what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, by focusing upon Him and His desires and His glory, by placing ourselves in proper relationship to God as His servants and children, we are able to raise our sights into eternity and to see clearly "down the road."

An analysis of this paragraph shows clearly the difference between being God-centered and able therefore to see clearly, and being self-centered and being nearsighted and blind.  The first sentence begins with "His" as opposed to "Our" or "My."  To see Him we must look beyond ourselves; to see me, all I have to do is look in a mirror.  In the second quoted sentence, "faith" is considered the foundation, the jumping off point, to everything else.  The kind of faith Peter is speaking about is faith in Jesus Christ.  Again, the focus of faith is external to us – it requires us to look beyond ourselves.  Faith in ourselves is self-centered and nearsighted.

Even the word "perseverance" has an element of forward-thinking to it.  We normally think of perseverance as proceeding through something in spite of obstacles.  There is the sense of movement through, not just sitting.  There is a sense of moving toward a goal, toward something "down the road."  Perseverance is not sitting and "just putting up with it."  Perseverance is not a characteristic of nearsightedness, because an element of perseverance is being able to see clearly that the future is brighter than the present.

Peter’s concern for being nearsighted is not that you won’t be able to love (although focus on the present and ourselves does promote a loveless nature), but that you will forget whose you are and where you will spend eternity — "…nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."  2 Peter 1:9

When we forget that we have been cleansed by Jesus Christ from our past sins, we forget that there is a future for us with Jesus Christ because of His work on the cross.  And when we forget these things, what is lost in the shuffle?  Hope.

Ultimately, the focus upon ourselves and the present, the acquisition of nearsightedness, is to lose hope.  Why?  Because an honest self-appraisal of ourselves as individuals, as people, and as people-groups results in the conclusion that we have no power to overcome to any significant degree our sinful nature or to overcome death.  In us there is no hope, in us there is no future.  Once there is only us, there is nearsightedness and blindness.  Once there is only us, there is death.

So, do you feel hopeless today?  Do you feel depressed, put out, down-in-the-dumps, tired, lost, lonely, forgotten, unloved?  If so, maybe it is because you are nearsighted and blind.  Maybe you have forgotten that it is "His" divine power who has given us everything we need for life and godliness through Him.

Luckily for us, Peter not only describes the condition so that we can recognize it, but he also lays out the action plan to overcome our nearsightedness and our self-centeredness.  If you want to read this plan, read 2 Peter 1:5-7.  But notice how the plan begins — it begins with faith in God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It begins with God taking our nearsightedness and turning it into vision which sees a long time in the past and a long time in the future.  Our new vision is one which sees Jesus Christ, sacrificed on the cross because we sin, and having faith that His work is sufficient for my salvation, and our new vision is one that sees clearly into the future, a future with God in everlasting glory.

If you have faith but have developed a case of nearsightedness, my prayer is that you lift your head, read and inwardly digest God’s action plan for your life set forth in 2 Peter, and follow the plan.  If you have no faith, my prayer is simply that God give it to you.  But while you are waiting for God to give faith to you, you might cast your eyes back to that time and place in Jerusalem when Jesus died and think about what happened and why, and ask God for wisdom.  The answer will strip away your nearsightedness and give you hope.


Bread – Dogs

November 20, 2009

Readings for Friday, November 20 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Rev. 22:6-13; Matt. 18:10-20
    Psalms 102, 107:1-32

Dogs are often used in writings to describe animals of low character.  In Webster’s dictionary, this use of the word is described as "slang" to mean the following — "a mean contemptible fellow" or "an unattractive or unpopular person or an unsatisfactory thing or unsuccessful venture."  In many cultures, to call someone a dog is an extreme insult, justifying a highly negative reaction.

In today’s reading from Revelation, Jesus (either speaking directly or through the angel or John) says, quite bluntly, "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehoods."  Rev. 22:15.

Can’t say I have heard many (any?) sermons on the dogs, but they do appear to be a people group worthy of comment.  In fact, Jesus makes it clear that in the end, when He returns to take up residence in the holy city, there will be people inside the city (those who have the right to the tree of life – Rev. 22) and the dogs who do not.

Who are the dogs?  They are (a) practitioners of "magic arts," (b) sexually immoral, (c) murderers, (d) idolaters, and (e) people who lie and really like it.  Upon closer examination, the dogs are us (unless we have had our "robes washed;" in other words, unless we wear the borrowed clothes of righteousness given to us by Jesus).

How could this be us?  For example, do we practice the "magic arts" (in other translations, "sorcerers")?  Well, in a sense we do.  What is the defense of evolution, except a statement of belief that something can come from nothing (in other words, a statement of belief in alchemy)?  What is our "name it and claim it" theories about how God works, except to say that "If I say the magic words, then this will happen?"  What is our transactional prayer life, except to say that "If I do "x" (say the right prayers, in the right spirit, at the right time, in the right place), then ‘poof’ something good happens?"  In fact, at a baser level, what is our utterance of the "salvation formula," except to invoke (by a form of incantation) a "necessary" result from God? [Do not confuse what I am saying with a genuine statement of belief in Jesus Christ, following a true turning of the heart to Him and a true trust in Him, or a prayer to God made in the understanding that all good things come from Him, recognizing however that in all matters He is sovereign].

Well, all right, we may often act like sorcerers, but are we "sexually immoral" (translated "whoremongers" in the King James, "impurity, adultery" in the Amplified, simply "immoral persons" in the NASB)?  Well, this is a question best answered in the privacy of our confessions, remembering Jesus’ comment on adultery (see Matthew 5).  But to broaden the scope of the question a bit, isn’t our quest after different ways of thinking, different philosophies, different "truths" a form of whoremongering – isn’t it a form of intellectual adultery?  And who among us, even if we are sexually pure, does not chase after new ideas so that we may prove that we are smart, that we are part of the "in crowd?"

OK, you say, but "I am not a murderer."  Have you been angry at anyone to the point of wishing them out of your life, out of your business deal, out of your group of friends, or maybe even out of the country?  "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer…" 1 John 3:15.  Or let’s try this one on – If you do not tell your brother or sister the good news about salvation through Jesus Christ, are you not condemning them to eternal death, because "…how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?…" Rom. 10:14  Perhaps this thought was part of Paul’s motivation behind his statement that "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel." 1 Cor. 9:16b

Three out of five is pretty bad, but you say that "I am not an idolater."  Well, let’s see — work, money, power, myself.  Enough said.

Finally, there is the telling of lies and loving it.  Perhaps your response is this – "I don’t tell lies," in which case my response is "Really?"  Or maybe you do tell lies, but you say "I tell lies but I don’t love doing it, it is just necessary to get along in the world, my job, my social circle, [fill in the blank]."   In which case, I would respond that behavior leads to patterns of behavior which leads to character which leads to behavior, and that, therefore, if you lie regularly you must have a character of a liar, which is really close to "loving and practicing falsehood."  But maybe you get away with this one.

So, we must be dogs.

And so what?  We are all dogs – we all sin and fall short.  What is the difference between those who are outside and those who are inside if we are all dogs – God’s willingness to lend us Jesus’ robes bearing the blood of His sacrifice for us and our willingness to take those clothes and put them on.

So I have two questions: (1) are the clothes you wear dirty (dog’s clothes) or clean (Jesus’ clothes) and, if the answer to the first question is that you wear Jesus’ clothes, then (2) what are you going to do today to be less doggy?


Bread – Transfiguration

November 16, 2009

Readings for Monday, November 16 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Rev. 20:7-15; Matt. 17:1-13
    Psalms 89

In the gospel lesson from Matthew today, in a few words we are provided a glimpse into the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.  Matt. 17:1-5.  In these few words, Jesus’ appearance is changed from His identity as a simply dressed and unadorned man to His identity as Son of the Father, as God, as one dressed in glory – "This is my Son, whom I love…"  Matt. 17:5.

Not only was Jesus transfigured, but the disciples were transformed.  For those whom Jesus chose, they witnessed a transformation in their thinking.  They saw Jesus communing with Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets).  They had been thinking that Jesus was a great prophet, perhaps even Elijah (see disciple’s questions about Elijah in verse 10).  However, confronted by Jesus in His glory and hearing from God the Father Himself who identified Jesus as His Son, the disciples’ thinking about Jesus was instantly transformed into knowledge about who He is.  This new knowledge, this new insight, is expressed by the disciples’ immediate reaction to being in the presence of God, falling facedown on the ground, the immediate reaction of anyone who has come into God’s presence.  Matt. 17:6.

Now, this is the uplifting part, the lovely part.

But we are also presented another transfiguration today, where Jesus’ appearance changes into the Judge.  In Revelation, we read:  "Then I say a great white throne and Him who was seated on it…The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."  Rev. 20:11-15  This "book of life" is different from the "books [of deeds]," in that the only people listed in the book of life are those who have believed in Jesus Christ ("All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.")  Rev. 13:8.

Not so uplifting, not so lovely.

There might be some who object to my apparent sloppiness in the use of "transfigure" and "transform." After all, transfiguration is a change of appearance without necessarily a change of substance (Jesus was and is God whether He "appears" to be or not.  It is just easier to recognize Him in certain ways than others.)  Transformation, on the other hand, is a change of substance, which may or may not be accompanied by a change of appearance.  And yet, when we are transformed into a new man by rebirth through belief in Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are often transfigured into a different appearance, one which exudes confidence, courage, grace, and love.  And often when we are confronted with one who has been transfigured (changed appearance), we ourselves are transformed, recognizing that there is something different about the transfigured person which we want and need.  When Jesus is transfigured before us from a good teacher or prophet into God, we are transformed.

It took Jesus being transfigured for the disciples to fall to their faces in worship of God.  Not only did the disciples get to walk with Jesus and visit and talk with Him, but they also got a good whack from the transfiguration two-by-four in order to wake them up to who Jesus really was.

What is it going to take for us to recognize who Jesus really is, so that we readily fall on our faces in worship of Him?  Is it going to take walking with Him and talking with Him?  Is it going to take standing with Him on a high mountain?  Is it going to take Jesus appearing as the Son of God, resplendent in glory?  Or is it going to take Him appearing as Judge, reading from the books [of deeds]?

Let us pray that it is not that last event, because by the time He appears as Judge and starts reading, it will be too late.  Instead, pray that you will recognize Jesus now for who He is, that you will respond by taking the gift of grace and salvation He offers, and that, as a result, your name will be read by Him as Judge in His Book of Life.


Bread – Jesus Who?

November 13, 2009

Readings for Friday, November 13 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Rev. 19:11-16; Matt. 16:13-20
    Psalms 88,  91, 92

Who is Jesus Christ?  That is the question presented in today’s readings.  In Matthew, Jesus asks His disciples "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"  Matt. 16:13.  The response was a list of prophets.  Jesus then asked the disciples, "But what about you?..Who do you say I am?"  Matt. 16:15.  Peter answers the question by saying "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Matt. 16:16.

In Revelation, Christ is described as a warrior king in these terms: "With justice He judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns…He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God….Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords."  Rev. 19:11b-16

The world would call Jesus a nice man, a good teacher, perhaps even a great prophet.  Almost everyone knows the Revelation story,  where Jesus will come back to earth to rule it as king, even if they don’t believe it.

But not everyone knows who He really is.  Not everyone speaks with Peter – "You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Living God."  Instead, Jesus points out to Peter that he could not have learned this on his own and that, therefore, God revealed it to him.  Matt. 16:17.

What stage in recognition of Jesus Christ are you?  Do you know Him as a nice man and a prophet?  Have you been blessed by God with insight to know that He is the Messiah, Son of God, a living Son of a living God?  Have you grown beyond the knowledge of Jesus as Messiah to recognize Him as the Word of God?  Have you grown beyond recognizing Jesus as the Word of God to also recognize Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as King and Lord over your life?

Perhaps you don’t even recognize Jesus as a historical figure, but believe He is a myth created by gullible fishermen.  Read the Gospel of Luke, a scientist (physician) who did his best to record history accurately.  Perhaps you recognize Jesus as a historical figure, but no more than a long line of people like Confucius who have great wisdom or the ability to foretell.  If so, read the Gospel of John and ask God to open your mind, your heart, and your soul.

Or perhaps you have recognized Jesus as Savior, as Messiah, and have come to trust in Him for your eternal salvation.  If so, read the Gospel of John and witness Jesus as Word, as creator and as God’s revelation of Himself.

And perhaps you have come to know Jesus Christ as God, as Savior, as Creator, and as the human embodiment of God’s Word – do you know Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  If not, then let Him take His rightful place in your life.

You might notice that there is no Old Testament reading for today.  The reason is that the Book of Common Prayer has listed for today a reading from 1 Maccabees, which is not an Old Testament book, but a book from the Apocrypha.  Because those books are not considered part of the Bible by all believers everywhere, and in any event are not used for doctrine, I do not use them in Bread.  However, although not part of the regularly considered Bible, the 1 Maccabees is a historical text, describing the battles between the Jews and the Romans during the one hundred or so years before Christ.  The history contained in the first chapter describes great troubles for the Jews caused by the Romans and surrounding countries, and the faithful Jews’ reliance upon God as their King to guide them during these rough times.

We suffer through rough times ourselves, and we may often feel we are fighting off the Romans.  However, isn’t it great that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and that we can rely upon Him to lead into battle, confident that under His leadership and the covering of His sacrifice on the cross that we can be, and are, victorious in all things.

Who is Jesus?  Messiah, Savior, Word, and King.


Bread – Sabbath

November 4, 2009

Readings for Wednesday, November 4 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Neh. 13:4-22; Rev. 12:1-12; Matt. 13:53-58
    Psalms 72, 119:73-96

"Remember the Sabbath day [the seventh day, the day of rest], to keep it holy [set apart for honoring God]."  Ex. 20:8 (NASB).

This is the third commandment of God, the first one being to place God first and the second not to mistreat His Name.  If the Ten Commandments have any ranking in their order, then the command to keep the Sabbath day holy is pretty important.

Wow, have we screwed this one up.  Who among us does not disobey this command by doing work on Sunday (or Saturday, if you consider that day to the Sabbath day), by going grocery shopping, planting flowers, buying new electronics and installing them, cutting the grass, taking advantage of that sale at the department store, or cleaning up the car?

I guess familiarity breeds contempt.  We are so used to God’s miracle of the week that one day to us is like every other day.  "Oh – that demand by God to honor Him by setting aside a day a week for Him (and us), well it was for another era when people had nothing to do and lived in an agrarian society where people worked with their hands and back all week long and needed a day of rest and, well, today we have machines and the Internet to make our life easier.  And, in any event, it is the only day when I can run all my errands."  This last statement should hit home.  I have used it myself.

Or maybe you like the excuse that runs along the lines of "Well, that is Old Testament and we have freedom in Christ."  We have the freedom in Christ to honor and glorify Him, which brings us back to the point that, if you believe Jesus is God, then God Himself told us to honor Him by making the Sabbath a holy day.

Well, in today’s lesson in Nehemiah, believe it or not he had exactly the same problem.  He leaves Jerusalem for a while to go report to the Persian king and then returns to Jerusalem to find that … people are doing things on the Sabbath:

"In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs, and all other kinds of loads.  And they were bringing them into Jerusalem on the Sabbath…Men from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people Judah." Neh. 13:15-16.  [except for the winepress and the donkeys, sounds a little bit like Wal-Mart]

Nehemiah immediately rebuked the people of Jerusalem by saying "What is this wicked thing you are doing — desecrating the Sabbath day?  Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city?  Now your are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath."  Neh. 13:17b-18.  Later, Nehemiah threatens to beat up the foreigners who were trying to sell merchandise on the Sabbath to the Jews, and so they stopped selling their merchandise.

Notice that desecration of the Sabbath by buying and selling goods and by doing work is not just a problem today, it was a problem back then and, even before then.  In fact, Nehemiah describes desecration of the Sabbath as one of the reasons God destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jews during the Babylonian captivity.

Now I am not suggesting that you go out and beat up the clerks at Wal-Mart so they will stop selling stuff to you on Sunday, and I am not suggesting that God is so mad at you for desecrating the Sabbath that He is going to blow you up tomorrow.  But, stop and think for a moment, would doing nothing one day a week hurt or would it help?  Would a day spent reading a good book (one suggestion – the Bible) hurt or help?  Would a day a week spent talking to your spouse, your neighbors, and God hurt or help?

Ask yourself – am I leading the kind of joyful and peaceful life which Christ promised for all those who follow Him?  If not, think about whether part of the reason may be that you are desecrating the Sabbath.  Just think about it … pray about it … and listen to what God tells you.  And I suspect He will tell you to obey Him.

Lord, help us to wisely answer the question, "Will you really lay down your life for Me?"  Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture, and to rely solely upon them as our source of information about how we should live.  Help us Lord to come to You, and once having come to You to become closer to You and to preach the Gospel to all people in all circumstances, in and out of season, as You have commanded.  Help us know that You are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be willing and obedient servants, and to keep your Sabbath holy as You have commanded.  It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank You and praise You!  Amen.

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Bread – Rumor

November 2, 2009

Readings for Monday, November 2 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Neh. 6:1-19; Rev. 10:1-11; Matt. 13:36-43
    Psalms 56, 57, 58, 64, 65

One of the Ten Commandments is "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor."  Ex. 20:16.  We know not to do it, but what do we do when we are the recipient of false witness?  What do we do when we are the victim of rumor?

If you are like me, your reaction to this last question was probably negative and you probably assumed that the rumor contained vile lies about you.  It is true that the the term "rumor" has a connotation of "bad," partly because we all know the children’s game where everyone sits in a circle and somebody begins with a fact, like "the sky is blue" and, after the fact is repeated around the circle (in whispers, of course), the fact ends up sounding like "Sue’s dress is sky blue."  We know that, even if rumors are not a lie at the beginning, they can become so distorted in the retelling that they might as well be a lie by the time you hear it.

But the truth is that a rumor may very well convey important information about a situation.  Jesus talks about reading the signs, referring to our hearing about "wars and rumors of wars."  Matt. 24:6.  At church this weekend, you may have heard something like "Did you know that John is in the hospital?"  This is a rumor, but it possibly conveys important information about a loved one.

So we hear a rumor about us – what do we do, how do we react, what is our response?  Most people will respond to this question by saying things like "investigate the source of the rumor," "go deal with the person making the statement and confront him or her," or "counter-attack with my own rumor."  None of these are the right reaction, if we follow what Nehemiah did in today’s Old Testament Lesson:

"Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written: ‘It is reported among the nations – and Geshem says it is true – that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt…according to these reports you are about to become their king…so come, let us confer together.’" Neh. 6:5-7

Our response would have likely been to go meet with Sanballat and give him a piece of our mind.  We would have reacted to the rumor and in so reacting fallen straight into Sanballat’s (and Satan’s) trap.  Instead, Nehemiah clearly states that the rumor is not true and then goes back to work doing what the Lord commanded him to do, rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls.

Since the rumor that challenges Nehemiah’s integrity does not work, another rumor is cooked up which challenges Nehemiah’s safety.  Sanballat goes and hires a friend of Nehemiah who tells Nehemiah that people are going to come to kill him at night, and then suggests the proper response – go and hide in the temple, behind the big heavy doors.  Neh., 6:10-13.

In response to this second rumor, we may very well have taken the advice and hidden in a safe place.  After all, who wants to be handing around when there are bad people coming in the night to get you?  Nehemiah’s response, however, reflects that he is about the Lord’s purpose, by responding "Should a man like me run away?  Or should one like me go to the temple to save his life? I will not go!" Neh. 6:11.  When Nehemiah was confronted by a rumor that attacked his security, his response was to do nothing except stand where he was.

Satan is always trying to distract us from our walk with Jesus, from our growth toward Christ and the Father, from our joy in doing God’s assigned work.  One of his most powerful tools is rumor, because reacting to the rumor leads us into following rabbit trails rather than continuing in the work to which we are appointed.  Nehemiah serves as an example to us, showing us the right response to rumor.  If the rumor is directed to your integrity, your honesty, your faith, or some characteristic which you hold dear, then by all means simply point out its falsity, but spend no time in trying to convince people of its falsity – instead, continue doing the work God has asked you to do and continue to walk in His paths.  If the rumor is directed toward your safety or security, do not run to safety but acknowledge the safety you have in God, doing His work.

Nehemiah ends the lesson today with this … "so the wall was completed … When all of our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of the Lord."  Neh. 6:15-16

By ignoring the rumors and by continuing the work God had given him, God, not Nehemiah, was raised up.  When we respond to attacks by continuing to walk in the strength of our Lord, we do not show that we are special, we show that God is special … and as a result everyone spreading the rumors will come to understand that "this work," that your work, "had been done with the help of the Lord." 

And God will be glorified.

Lord, help us to wisely answer the question, "Will you really lay down your life for Me?"  Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture, and to rely solely upon them as our source of information about how we should live.  Help us Lord to come to You, and once having come to You to become closer to You and to preach the Gospel to all people in all circumstances, in and out of season, as You have commanded.  Help us know that You are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be willing and obedient servants, and to deal with rumors against us by conducting ourselves in ways which only glorify You.  It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank You and praise You!  Amen.

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