Daily Prayer – 31st August 2014

I give Thee thanks, heavenly Father, through thy dear Son Jesus Christ, that Thou hast this day graciously protected me. I beseech Thee to forgive all my sin and the wrong which I have done. Graciously protect me during the coming night. Into thy hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let thy holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one may have no power over me.


Lutheran Lectionary – 31st August 2014

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

1st Reading: Jeremiah 15:15-21

You who know, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.
Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, Nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, For You filled me with indignation.
Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream With water that is unreliable?
Therefore, thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you– Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, But as for you, you must not turn to them.
“Then I will make you to this people A fortified wall of bronze; And though they fight against you, They will not prevail over you; For I am with you to save you And deliver you,” declares the LORD.
“So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.” (Jer 15:15-21 NAU)

Psalm: Psalm 26

A Psalm of David.

Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, And I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.
For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth.
I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders.
I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked.
I shall wash my hands in innocence, And I will go about Your altar, O LORD,
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving And declare all Your wonders.
O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house And the place where Your glory dwells.
Do not take my soul away along with sinners, Nor my life with men of bloodshed,
In whose hands is a wicked scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes.
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on a level place; In the congregations I shall bless the LORD. (Psa 26:1-12 NAU)

Epistle: Romans 12:9-21

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Respect what is right in the sight of all men.If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:9-21 NAU)

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.
“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mat 16:21-28 NAU)

Let’s Play A Game – The Results

I posted a series of book titles without reference to the authors, and encouraged  you tell me which were the New Age/Self Help and which were the ‘Christian’.  Here are the Results:

Instinct | The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive – TD Jakes.  ‘Christian’

Modern life can seem like being lost in a jungle. With distractions and dangers emerging from every direction, it’s easy to lose focus. Over time, we lose touch with one of our most powerful, purposeful, God-given attributes–the desire to be fruitful and multiply, what Bishop T. D. Jakes calls our “instinct for increase.”

Combining historical, cultural, and personal examples with biblical insights, in INSTINCT Bishop Jakes outlines how to re-discover your natural aptitudes and re-claim the wisdom of your past experiences. When attuned to divinely inspired instincts, you will become in sync with the opportunities life presents and discover a fresh abundance of resources. Knowing when to close a deal, when to take a risk, and when to listen to your heart will become possible when you’re in touch with the instincts that God gave you.

Bishop T.D. Jakes–iconic preacher, bestselling author, and entrepreneur–has inspired millions of people around the world. Here he writes from the peak of his personal power about how to experience the satisfaction of a life well lived. If you long to conquer the jungles of life, INSTINCT offers the personal and professional tools needed to navigate your course successfully and according to God’s design.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle ‘New Age’

Ekhart Tolle’s message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle’s clear writing, supportive voice and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who’s ever wondered what exactly “living in the now” means. Foremost, Tolle is a world-class teacher, able to explain complicated concepts in concrete language. More importantly, within a chapter of reading this book, readers are already holding the world in a different container–more conscious of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of their ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.

Tolle packs a lot of information and inspirational ideas into The Power of Now. (Topics include the source of Chi, enlightened relationships, creative use of the mind, impermanence and the cycle of life.) Thankfully, he’s added markers that symbolise “break time”. This is when readers should close the book and mull over what they just read. As a result, The Power of Now reads like the highly acclaimed A Course in Miracles–a spiritual guidebook that has the potential to inspire just as many study groups and change just as many lives for the better. –Gail Hudson

Get the Vibe: Achieve Your Goals, Increase Your Productitivity and Improve Your Relationships – Melissa Moraja ‘New Age’

Discover the power within you! Learn how to change your future by just changing your thoughts. Find out how to use color and music to achieve your goals. Understand how energy works and how you can have a more balanced life.

Getting Out of the Quagmire: Twenty suggestions to improve yourself and make the world a better place -Georgia Wray-Littlejohn ‘Christian’

Getting out of the Quagmire comes out of the author’s quest for psychological and spiritual fulfillment. It gives suggestions that the author uses and continues to use on her path to growth and fostering positive human relations. The book’s aim is to effect change in persons, thereby ensuring positive changes in human social behaviour throughout the world.

The 7 Secrets of Happiness: An Optimist’s Journey – Gyles Brandreth ‘New Age’

‘Marvellous, brilliant, wonderful, best thing I’ve ever heard, transformational…’ Grace Surman ?@GraceSurman. That was the response from a total stranger when Gyles Brandreth delivered the Happiness Lecture at Birmingham University in June 2013. Someone else in the thousand-strong audience tweeted: ‘The 7 Secrets of Happiness are amazing. Thank you Gyles Brandreth, wherever you are.’ Well, Gyles Brandreth is here now with those 7 Secrets of Happiness. The secrets are simple rules, easy to remember, but challenging to achieve. Gyles Brandreth found them when he set out on a journey looking for happiness and ended up in the psychiatrist’s chair – with Dr Anthony Clare. What is happiness? Who gets to be happy? And how? These are the big questions that Gyles Brandreth aims to answer in this little book. Research (from Manchester University and University College, London) shows that happy people live up to ten years longer than unhappy people. This is a book that won’t simply enhance your life: it will extend it.

Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health – Dr. Caroline Leaf ‘Christian’

According to researchers, the vast majority–a whopping 75-98 percent–of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think about truly affects us both physically and emotionally. In fact, fear alone triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses in our bodies, activating more than thirty different hormones! Today our culture is undergoing an epidemic of toxic thoughts that, left unchecked, create ideal conditions for illnesses.

Supported by current scientific and medical research, Dr. Caroline Leaf gives readers a prescription for better health and wholeness through correct thinking patterns, declaring that we are not victims of our biology. She shares with readers the “switch” in our brains that enables us to live happier, healthier, more enjoyable lives where we achieve our goals, maintain our weight, and even become more intelligent. She shows us how to choose life, get our minds under control, and reap the benefits of a detoxed thought life.

You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay ‘New Age’

If you haven’t seen Hay House’s “Lifestyles” series of gorgeous gift books, there is no better way to acquaint yourself than with publisher/author Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. A bestseller for many years, You Can Heal Your Life has been republished with bright beautiful illustrations in full living colour and exquisite typography–each and every page is a work of art by artist Joan Perrin Falquet. The timeless message of the book is that we are each responsible for our own reality and “dis-ease”. Hay believes we make ourselves ill by having thoughts of self-hatred. She includes a directory of ailments and emotional causes for each with a corresponding affirmation to help overcome the illness. For example, the probable cause of multiple sclerosis is “mental hardness, hard-heartedness, iron will and inflexibility”. The healing “thought pattern” would be: “By choosing loving, joyous thoughts, I created a loving joyous world. I am safe and free.” –P. Randall Cohan

Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter your Soul – Bill Hybels ‘Christian’

Sound familiar? Too familiar?

You are living at a velocity you know deep down is unsustainable. Your life is off course – too crammed with busyness, too out of focus. You keep waiting for things to get better, but they never do.

In Simplify, bestselling author Bill Hybels identifies core issues that drive this kind of living and offers action steps to help you live a better way. By eradicating clutter from your inner world, you can experience immediate rewards: greater energy, clearer purpose, richer relationships and more.

Your life won’t simplify itself. You must act.

Isn’t it time?

Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires – Esther & Jerry Hicks ‘New Age’

Ask and It Is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, which presents the teachings of the nonphysical entity Abraham, will help you learn how to manifest your desires so that you’re living the joyous and fulfilling life you deserve.

As you read, you’ll come to understand how your relationships, health issues, finances, career concerns, and more are influenced by the Universal laws that govern your time/space reality – and you’ll discover powerful processes that will help you go with the positive flow of life.

It’s your birthright to live a life filled with everything that is good – and this book will show you how to make it so in every way!

Surprised?  Or not?  Are we continuing to see a trend in books labelled as Christian yet offer little distinction to the teachings of New Age?  I for one got rid of so many books that even under the guise of Christianity were actually self-help books.  I came to the realisation that it is not myself I need to help, but the allow Christ even further into me in order that I may continue in working out my salvation, in dying to myself, in order that Christ would live in me.

So what do I read?  Commentaries, theological works.  I do have a few other biographies, books on particular topics such as fasting, etc, but mostly books to help me grasp a deeper understanding of scripture.  Not these books, that mostly seek to puff up the self, try to assure us of earthly happiness, security, in this life, our ‘best life now’.  No, not these books.

[Guest Post] – Who God Hates, Who God Loves

This article has been copied from http://www.definegrace.net/god-hates-god-loves/ with permission and written by Bryan Rhoden. Please visit them to give feedback and encouragement.

What if the God you pledged your allegiance to and professed your love for suddenly became much different than you knew Him to be? What if, in one moment, you started to question everything you were taught about Him? What if a truth became so clear, you realized God was much bigger than the box you had put Him in? What if you learned something so great and so terrible that it caused you to physically bow before His invisible presence? That’s what happened to me when I saw Psalm 5.

It’s a troubling feeling—to realize that God is very different than what you have been told. Too many times we do not act like the Berean Jews in Acts 17 who, when they heard Paul speak, “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Instead of checking the Scriptures about things we hear, we may find ourselves guilty of quickly accepting a teaching and defending it until our last breath. But what would happen if we simply let the God-breathed Scriptures teach us about who God is? Would we even recognize the God we see in those pages?

One of the most popular ways of simultaneously expressing God’s love and wrath is the statement, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.” For a long time, I accepted this premise and even used the expression many times myself. But then I read the Scriptures and found out my thoughts about God were not fully correct, and the premise I clung to was anchored in man’s wishful thinking.

“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers,” (Psalm 5:4-5, ESV).

“You hate all evildoers.” Wait a minute. Just hold on a second. God is love (1 John 4:16)! Yes, He is. He is perfect in His love, but He is also perfect in His righteousness, perfect in His holiness, perfect in His mercy; and yet He is perfect in His wrath, and perfect in His hate. God is love. But God hates. This isn’t the only time the psalmist says this. Psalm 11:5 states, “The Lord tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” The God of love has the capacity to hate and to be perfect in all His attributes. God hates, but who does He hate?

The Scriptures make it plain that God hates “evildoers,” the “wicked,” and the one who “loves violence.” The New King James Version translates the word of “evildoer” in Psalm 5:5 as “workers of iniquity.” Who are these workers of iniquity? What have they done to merit God’s hatred?

We may be tempted to point to others, to the “really bad sinners” and say they are the ones God hates. However, the word “iniquity” in the original language describes wickedness, unrighteousness, and vanity. It is a very generic term for sin. So, by being very general, the psalmist is not saying that God hates the ones who perform drastically wicked deeds; rather, he is stating that God hates those who practice sin in general. And who does that include? Doesn’t that include all of us? “You (God) hate all evildoers,” could properly be rendered, “God hates sinners.”

Proverbs 6:16-19 states, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, a feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” What we have to remember is that the eyes, tongue, hands, feet, and heart are not separate from the individual. They are controlled by the person. Therefore, it is not just the devices used to sin which God hates; His hatred is against the one controlling those devices. The writer makes this evident by saying God hates all individuals who are false witnesses (liars) and those who sow discord among others. So, this idea of God hating people is not a new idea, nor is foreign to the Scriptures. Perhaps we have just never thought about it, or we didn’t want to think about it. Or maybe we agreed with the concept, but quickly thought that God’s hatred could never be toward us. Most believers forget they were haters of God at one point, much less that God would rightly hate them.

Yet, there is no one righteous (Rom. 3:10). Haven’t we all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)? What is the fate of evildoers, of sinners? Evildoers will perish. Jesus makes this known when he states in Luke 13:27, “Depart from me, all you workers of evil!” His judgment is sure against those who are condemned already (Jn. 3:18). He disposes the individuals, not just their sin. Individuals and their deeds are intertwined (hang on to this thought).

How is it then, that all of us could be hated by God, and yet in love He chose some before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him (Eph. 1:4)? I would submit that these are not two opposing thoughts. As Spurgeon once said concerning another doctrine which seemed to have two opposing facets, “You do not have to reconcile friends.” Knowing that God hates all workers of iniquity, all sinners, yet He sent His Son to die for His people is what makes His love incomprehensible and turns grace into amazing grace.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We in no way deserve His love, nor are we entitled to it. In spite of the wrath justly due us, God loved us to the point that He gave His Son to die for us—His enemies (Rom. 5:10), the workers of iniquity, the ones He hates—that we should become His own children. We deserve nothing but His eternal anger and wrath, and yet now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). How does this happen? How is this accomplished? He does this by not just dealing with our sin, but with us. Remember how the individual and his deeds are intertwined? God did not just cast our sin away. There had to be a payment for it. Christ was our wrath-bearer, our propitiation. He cancelled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col 2.13-14). This was our sin, but what about us? Because the sin and the individual are intertwined, our sin was not the only thing nailed to the cross. We can say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ,” (Gal. 2:20), and that we are “new creatures,” (2 Cor. 5:17).

God hates sinners. It sounds horrible, but it is true. Yet, the love of God is so great that Christ died for those He hated. Isn’t this a greater truth? How humbling it is to know that I was an enemy of God, and hatred for Him filled my heart. Yet even more humbling is that He hated me, but in His mercy He loved me, and chose me, and made me His own, in order to have me forever.