Call to Worship

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works
shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall
speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the
children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout
all generations.[PSALM 145:8-13]

Father God I bless your Holy Name… I praise you and all your good works. I honor you for all that you have done and are doing, and will continue to do throughout eternity. From the smallest smile and gleam of eye, to moving mountains and falling rain in the desert. i thank you for your graciousness to the worst of us, and your mercy to the best. All our righteousness is as filthy rags but thanks to your unasked for and unsought  and undeserved love…we are clothed in white. And I thank you.  Your kingdom reign for ever and ever in power and glory and majesty. Amen.

Confession

Word of God Incarnate, you came to this world to accomplish salvation. By your
grace you call us to repent, to be crucified with you, that we might be raised as
new creations. But we confess that we often do not live as renewed people it’s true 😦.
We confess that often we “go with the flow” instead of stemming sin’s tide. Forgive
us when we do not show evidence of renewal. Forgive us when we let the fruit
of the Spirit be choked by the weeds of evil. You have made us your children,
members of your kingdom. Help us to show evidence of that every day as we
work to bring your justice, peace, gentleness, goodness, love, joy, and hope to
all we meet. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Father forgive us and teach us to live for you, selflessly and in righteousness.

Contemplation

GOSPEL READING

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked
around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the
twelve. On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And
seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything
on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season
for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his
disciples heard it. And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and
began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he
overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold
pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall
be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of
robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way
to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his
teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.[MARK 11:12-19]

DEVOTIONAL

We are to think of ourselves with “sober judgment, according to the measure of faith
that God has assigned” (Romans 12:4). In other words, the humble person knows who
he is, and whose he is.

This is the secret to Jesus’ remarkable humility. Even as a child, Jesus was about his
Father’s business. People always questioned his identity, but he was not thrown off
by their doubt or criticism (Mark 8:27-30). When the crowds were flocking to Jesus, he
withdrew to prayer. He did not need the approval of the masses because he was rooted
in the words that came down from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well
pleased” (Mark 1:11). Without any hubris, Jesus could say, “I am the way, and the truth,
and the life” (John 14:6). Without self-concern, Jesus could say, “The Son of Man will be
delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death”
(Mark 10:33). Jesus lived and died for us.

In contrast to pride and fear, the humility we see in Jesus is marked by dependence and
confidence. If we aspire to walk in this path, we will have to think with sober judgment.
We will have to be clear-eyed about who we are and whose we are. Where do we get this
kind of clarity?

The gospel tells us who we are: We are made in the image of God, created in his likeness
for his glory. This truth speaks to both our dignity and our dependence. Before and after
the fall, people need God in every aspect of life, “for in him we live and move and have
our being” (Acts 17:28).

The gospel tells us whose we are: We belong to God, body and soul. He is our Maker, to
whom we belong by virtue of design. He is our Father, whom we belong to by means of
adoption. He is our Master, and we are his bondservants. He is our king, and we are his
subjects. “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our
Lord” (Romans 8:39).

We believe this gospel, but we need help in our unbelief. We need others to remind us
of the gospel, to speak the truth in love for our edification. We must be grounded in
community if we are to be rooted in the gospel. In other words, the very people from
whom we are trying to hide our true selves, God has ordained to help us see.

To use Dan Allender’s phrase, “You can’t see your own face.” That is, when God shines
light on our lives, as we have been talking about, we become visible to others. We
desperately need them to tell us what they see, good and bad. It’s not that other people’s
opinions are absolute truth, but neither are our isolated opinions of ourselves. To be
humble means we are willing to be seen as we are, by God and man. Our pride resists
this kind of exposure, but it takes humility to become humble.
That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis anyone? 😛

Roy Hession comments: “We cannot be in the light with God, and in the darkness with
our brother … We must be willing to know ourselves for what we really are, and we must
be willing for our brother to know this as well. We will not hide ourselves from those
with whom we should be in fellowship. We will not cover our faults. We will speak the
truth about ourselves with them. We will be ready to give up our spiritual privacy. We
will not keep bad feelings in our hearts about another person.”

If we aspire to love one another, then we aspire to be humble enough to accept and
speak to whatever the light reveals. In humility we are becoming less concerned with
our prestige. Our wills are breaking and we are not demanding our rights anymore. On
the journey to the cross, fear is losing its grip as we cling to our identity in Christ. Pride
is being starved because we are letting go of our need to be right and our desires to be
recognized. We are being liberated from the solitary confinement of self-concern.

REFLECTION

1. How does your community help you know who and whose you are? Never really had a community that lasted who did tell me anything about that… but, I do have one person–my husband–who always tells me the truth about myself, both the good and the bad. Sometimes it really hurts to hear, but most of the time, he encourages me not to believe lies about myself: my looks, my worth, what I mean to people, etc. He is a good, good man. 🙂

2. Are you walking in darkness with those who are close to you? I try not to. If other people want the closeness that God intended for us I’m more than happy to comply. I really want openness and vulnerability… but I don’t want to bare my soul and then have someone do nothing. Maybe I’m being too stingy and I just need to be open and genuine and let God take care of the rest. I’ve just had too many people say yes lets be friends, lets be open and honest… and then forget about me entirely… and what was the point? y’know. Now that I’m writing it I feel stupid for hiding behind a wall of laziness and pride and fear. “sigh”

3. What aspects of the gospel do you need to believe anew today? God works all things for good to those who love Him and obey His commands. If I am open and vulnerable, truth and light, God will honor that. He will use it. Nothing may change, people still may forget and not care, but my attitude towards it should change. I can see life as momentary chances to speak truth into the lives of others and show them the love of Christ, instead of failed attempts at lifelong friendships. 

Closing Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, you are enthroned in the majesty of heaven, yet you gave
up that heavenly perfection to become a servant. We adore you for laying aside
your glory and clothing yourself in complete humility as one of us. We praise
you for the example of washing your disciples’ feet. Teach us to do as you
have done. Deliver us from pride, jealousy, and ambition, and make us ready
to serve one another in lowliness for your sake, O Jesus Christ, our Lord and
Savior. Amen.

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