Week 4: Saturday Morning

Morning Praise: How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:1-2 (TNIV)

The Lord’s Prayer: Quiet your hearts before the Lord for a few moments. Then recall the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Jesus Hymn: Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. I Tim 3:14-16 (TNIV)

Today we are focusing on our Five Ways of Being: Be Accepting.

The news traveled fast and in no time the leaders and friends back in Jerusalem heard about it—heard that the non-Jewish “outsiders” were now “in.” When Peter got back to Jerusalem, some of his old associates, concerned about circumcision, called him on the carpet: “What do you think you’re doing rubbing shoulders with that crowd, eating what is prohibited and ruining our good name?”

So Peter, starting from the beginning, laid it out for them step-by-step: “Recently I was in the town of Joppa praying. I fell into a trance and saw a vision: Something like a huge blanket, lowered by ropes at its four corners, came down out of heaven and settled on the ground in front of me. Milling around on the blanket were farm animals, wild animals, reptiles, birds—you name it, it was there. Fascinated, I took it all in.

“Then I heard a voice: ‘Go to it, Peter—kill and eat.’ I said, ‘Oh, no, Master. I’ve never so much as tasted food that wasn’t kosher.’ The voice spoke again: ‘If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.’ This happened three times, and then the blanket was pulled back up into the sky.

“Just then three men showed up at the house where I was staying, sent from Caesarea to get me. The Spirit told me to go with them, no questions asked. So I went with them, I and six friends, to the man who had sent for me. He told us how he had seen an angel right in his own house, real as his next-door neighbor, saying, ‘Send to Joppa and get Simon, the one they call Peter. He’ll tell you something that will save your life—in fact, you and everyone you care for.’

“So I started in, talking. Before I’d spoken half a dozen sentences, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us the first time. I remembered Jesus’ words: ‘John baptized with water; you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So I ask you: If God gave the same exact gift to them as to us when we believed in the Master Jesus Christ, how could I object to God?”

Hearing it all laid out like that, they quieted down. And then, as it sank in, they started praising God. “It’s really happened! God has broken through to the other nations, opened them up to Life! Acts 11:1-18 (The Message)

Members of one Christian church are sometimes disapproving of the people and traditions of another Christian church. The disciples were aghast when they heard that Peter had eaten the non-kosher food of the new Christian Gentiles. We may never be aghast, but perhaps we are scornful and rejecting of other denominations’ faith traditions that are unlike ours. How does this manifest itself in your life? Does that fit in with God’s mission of reconciliation for us all?

Closing Prayer: Almighty God, remind us that we are not a church, but your Church. Grant us an attitude of acceptance toward other Christians, so that we may know them as brothers and sisters, made family by our common baptism in the Holy Spirit. We pray for an open heart to listen to and learn from other Christ-followers. Help us remember that it is not agreement with each other that makes us so deeply related, but it is your gifts of grace and love that bind us together. Amen.

Week 4: Saturday Evening

Call to Praise: Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2 (TNIV)

After a time of reflective silence, proclaim these words that Jesus spoke: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 (TNIV)

Examen: Tonight open your hands and your heart before God. Ask God to cleanse the works of your hands and purify the intentions of your heart.

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, who do not put their trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Psalm 24:3-6 (TNIV)

Apostles Creed: We believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Today we are focusing on our Five Ways of Being: Be Accepting.

(After praying for his disciples, Jesus prays for all believers.) ”I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”John 17:20-23 (NRSV)

The night before his death, Christ took the time to pray to the Father for us, all of us coming after him who would believe in him. Think about what all the Christians of the world could accomplish if we were unified and accepted each other, as Jesus prayed we would be.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you prayed that we your followers would be one, as you and the Father are one. Grant us healing for the divisions of the past and acceptance of each other now and in the future. Help us be unified as your church so that we may spread your good news with one voice to the world. Amen.