Our Father, we come into Your presence to rest in Thee. We come to rest from the labors of the week. We work hard and we become tired. We are under stress. We are under deadlines. We spend a great deal of time traveling on the highway. We have responsibilities that must be done for the sake of others. All these things added together drain us of our physical energy. Lord, You saw that this would happen and You prepared a day for us to rest from the labors that drain us of strength and vitality every week. The Lord's Day came not from man but from You. We have not forgotten the source of this blessing. We give Thee thanks.
Lord, we also come to rest in Christ. We labor against sin all week. We battle against temptation. We get discouraged. We battle in the mind. We sometimes do those things which we should not do, and we sometimes fail to do the things we ought to do. We need to be reminded that Christ loves us. He died for us, and he will never leave us nor forsake us. His promises are forever true.
We need to be reminded that his sacrifice was sufficient to cover all of our sins. He was our substitute. He bore our sins. He died because we have a sinful nature, and also because we do sin. His righteousness is alien. It is not ours. Yet, it is charged to our account so that we may stand before Thee clothed in His righteousness, imputed unto us. Thus we come this morning with no hope in ourselves. We have no hope in our faith, either the amount or the quality of our faith. We have no hope in the verification of the evidence of faith in our lives. We can search ourselves through and through, and yet come up lacking. We can examine ourselves, as we often ought to do, but at the end of the day, even our self-examination comes up short. What can we do but turn our eyes upon Jesus? What can we do but stand afar off and look to the cross. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness that the death of Israel might be stopped, so Christ has been lifted up that whosoever looks to Him might know that the instrument of death and judgment has been turned away from us.
Lord, we also know that it is by grace through faith that we are saved. Even before the foundation of the world You loved us and singled us out for salvation. You sent Your Son to die for us, and this very day, You have given us the Holy Spirit to secure our salvation. No matter how weak we are, no matter how we tend to drift, since we belong to Christ, You will always bring us back to the fold. You are the Good Shepherd who tends to us, leads us to food and water, and protects us from the evils which threaten to undo us each day.
Lord, this has been a week of sickness and trials for many in our congregation and their loved ones. We have seen how fragile life can be. One day we are on top of the mountain, and the next day, we may be fighting for our lives in a critical care unit of a hospital. Lord, we live in a day when medical expertise can save many lives. Yet, we all have to die some day. Not all diseases can be prevented and not all illness can be cured. Sometimes we are called to live with a thorn in the flesh the rest of our days. Lord, it makes the days seem so long. It makes life seem so long. Lord, help us to have that grace that can even find joy in the time of suffering. Only You can give this unto us. It is not natural. It does not come from the heart of man born after Adam. It is the supernatural work of God that enables us to see that there is a purpose in all things. All things work together for good for those who love Thee, and who have been called according to Thy purpose.
Lord, we are convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.
Lord, we live in days of war. We live in days when men look to the civil government for salvation. We live in days when Your common grace is less evident. Oh Lord, remind us that nothing happens apart from Thy will. Nations rise and fall. Civil governments change hands as sure as the sun rises and sets every day. Yet the one blessing we have, is that regardless of what happens to the institutions of man, the Church shall always be here generation after generation. Men, at their time of deepest despair, and at the time when they become hopeless, shall find peace and strength in Thy Church. Lord, give us peace and strength today. In Christ's Name we pray. Amen.