Mid-Week Worship - Our Challenging God
Our Challenging God
'I will give great praise and thanks to the Lord with my mouth; yes, and I will praise Him among the people.'
(Psalm 109 verse 30)
A prayer: this day and all days are yours, Lord God. And this day and all days, you give us reason to rejoice and be glad for you have loved the world in Jesus, your Son, once and for all, for all days, all places and for all time. We bring you our offering of praise in token return for your gift of life with you. In the name of Jesus we meet and in the name of Jesus we pray.
Photo by Galen Crout via Unsplash
Praise time: you now have the opportunity to give thanks to God in song for the many gifts you have received from His hand this past week. Please choose your own hymns/songs and perhaps sing-along to CDs or YouTube. You may wish to include the following song;
O Lord our God (Mission Praise 507)
Prayer time: as you continue in the presence of God, express to Him your gratitude for all He has done and meant to you in the past few days. You may like to include the following prayer:
Lord of the morning and of all our days and nights, we are here now to praise you for this new day. We thank you for all your gifts and praise you for all your care. For you are Maker of all we see and know, Giver of all good gifts and Lover to us all. You are Friend in all our lives, reaching out your hand to the stranger, to embrace with strength and hope. You are Guide for all our days, giving us wisdom, showing us the way to be. Lord of the morning and all of our days and
nights, we are here to praise you this new day. In the name of Jesus we pray,
The Bible reading; The First book of Samuel chapter 3 verses 1 to 10)
'Then Samuel answered: ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’
(1 Samuel chapter 3 verse 1).
If your faith is never challenged or tested, how will you grow? The story of the persecuted church is often one of growth. Look at what happened in China when the church was under severe persecution; it grew rapidly. It is estimated there were 4 million Christians when Mao tried to crush the church. Thirty years later, when restrictions were lifted, the world was surprised to discover an estimated 10 million believers, a number that soon doubled to 20 million. A short time later it had grown to 50 million. (an extract from the Secret Church Devotional produced by Open Doors for July 3rd)
Which challenges, if any, do you face on a daily basis? Perhaps it is your health, your mobility, loneliness or coming to terms with age. None of us escape a challenge of one form or another at some stage in our lives.
Thankfully, we have a God who cares so much that He supports us with the challenges we face, small or big. But our God also challenges us in our faith and our relationship with Him. Let us now consider 5 such challenges, there are more that you may like to spend time reflecting upon at a later time.
Obedience: there are many examples in the Bible where God challenges individuals or group of people to be obedient to His will and purposes; Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit (Genesis chapter 3) the journey of the exiles in the wilderness for 40 years (Exodus chapter 15 onwards) and the story of Jonah. There is also the story of Jesus instructing the disciples about fishing (John chapter 21) and the healing of the blind man (John chapter 9) Obedience comes with a price tag.
Trust: in the story of Gideon, trust is a two way street; God has to prove that Gideon can trust Him before Gideon can place his trust in God (Judges chapter 6) The Nativity story involves a huge amount of trust and not just for Mary and Joseph but most of the other characters involved in this narrative (Luke chapter 1). One example of the ultimate challenge of trust is when Jesus invites Peter to get out of the boat and walk on water (Matthew chapter 14). Trust involves risk.
Sovereignty: the 10 Commandments are given to inform the Israelites that there is only One God (Exodus chapter 20). The people of Israel are given Saul as their first king against the will of God who is and always will be King of creation (1 Samuel chapter 8). In the Garden prayer of Gethsemane, Jesus accepts the sovereign will of God (Luke chapter 22 verse 42). Sovereignty is no easy issue.
Relationship: the Bible contains many stories where relationship is an issue; the Prodigal Son who defies family and cultural norms (Luke chapter 15), the conversion of Saul and the transfer from religious to relationship (Acts chapter 9), the roller-coaster relationship God has with the Israelites even though God made the relationship (Exodus chapter 19 verses 5 and 6). Relationships are rarely straight forward.
Love: the challenge here is to love, the way God loves, and to receive love. The rich young ruler had a materialistic type of love (Luke chapter 18) Peter had to learn a new dimension of love when he met Cornelius (Acts chapter 10). The commands of Jesus about loving others are very challenging (Matthew chapter 5 verse 43 and Matthew chapter 22 verse 37 and John chapter 15 verse 12).
In the Bible story, the boy, Samuel, is challenged to listen because God has a truly amazing purpose for his life which will include many challenges including the ones outline above. When God challenges us in our faith, there is a real purpose for this because He wants us to grow deeper in our relationship with Him and closer to Him.
Are you ready to meet your challenge?
Photo by Ben White via Unsplash
A prayer of response: Father God, thank you that you use the hard times in our lives to help us grow into the people you want us to be. Help me now to grow closer to you.
Prayers for others: you now have the opportunity to pray for those you know who live challenging lives. As you pray, you may like to include the following prayer: Loving God, I pray for those in sorrow or need, the bereaved, the anxious, the hungry, the homeless and lonely. I pray for the leaders of nations, the leaders of our own country, locally and nationally. I pray for those who give of their time and talents to serve others. I pray for my brothers and sister in Jesus who are persecuted because they are yours. I ask this prayer in the name of Jesus.
The Lord’s Prayer
Praise time: please now use this time to sing your hymns/songs of praise to God, perhaps using your favourites and you could include, if you wish, this golden-oldie hymn;
On a hill far away (Mission Praise 536)
Photo by Jukan Tateisi via Unsplash
The Blessing: be strengthened and made what you ought to be. Be encouraged, consoled and comforted. Be of the same mind with one another and live in peace. May the God of love, who is the source of affection, goodwill and benevolence, and the author and promoter of peace be with you.
Extra: if you have access to YouTube either on-line or TV, please try this new worship song:
Thank you for sharing your worship with us.
God bless you