This was my twist on the popular love song “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts that I did at church for Valentines Day weekend as a way to say thank you to Jesus for always being my side through all of the ups and downs of my life.
I believe that everything that we experience, good and bad, simply leads us to His truth for our lives which includes all of the ups and downs and everything else in between. And as I get older, I can see that all of those times, places and people that maybe were not the most pleasant to experience, were merely preparing me to help find my way back to Him. And because of Him, I can forgive others as I have been forgiven because that burden is finally freed from my shoulder, so that I can really live this life in the way that He would want me to live. A life filled with grace that is sufficient for every possibility and circumstance that we will encounter on the road called life..
Yes, the road is broken but the journey always leads us back to confront the reality of the cross and the open arms of Jesus Christ. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:17).” So if we do not have condemnation from a God that could/should condemn us for our mistakes, then how could we condemn others? Can we forgive those who trespass against us as we have been forgiven by Almighty God? Yes, I believe that we can.
We can only share or gift something that we have an abundance of. We have an abundance of amazing grace, love and forgiveness, so let’s share that gift that was given to us on this broken road called life. We can’t run to Him by holding on to the baggage of yesterday, so let’s just let go and let God by following His truth and message; that all people are children of God, who are loved as His unique creation, and need to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. Amen.
Lord Jesus, thank You for another day and another moment to be in Your presence. Ever since you touched our hearts, You gave us more than just dreams because You showed us what God can do and gave us all a reason to live. Lord, some of us are trying to deal with the weight of the world on our own. Remind us that even though we must walk through the dark valleys in this life we are never alone. So take away any of the doubts that we have and fill them with the truth of everything that You are. You are the hope, the way and light. Lord, You are everything that You that You say You are. Give us the wisdom to trust in You for all things and give us the strength to glorify You in all that we do. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being everything that You are. Thank You for this life. This journey that started at the foot of the cross: the place where all of the darkness of the world lost to the light of God’s amazing love. You gave us more than just words on a page, you showed us what God can do and gave us a reason to live. The world may bring us down but, because of You, we don’t need to stay there. Whatever issue we are going through, Your resurrection, allows us to go through life’s dark valleys without fear for You are always with us. Jesus, You are the song that opens up our souls to the story that is bigger than ourselves. Your life, death and resurrection gave us glimpses of our own humanity intertwined with the compassionate relationship with our Creator. Because of You, we live. Because of You, we can love. Because of You we have hope in the promise of never ever being separated from the Father’s love.
Lord God, our life and our eternity belong to You and to You alone. Open our eyes to see the glimpses of heaven all around us. Reveal the signs that lead us to the embrace of Your truth. You stepped into our story, those many years ago, so that the courage of God would be revealed in His Son as proof that God stands beside us throughout every joy and sorrow in this life. Help us to grab hold of Your promises that grace and forgiveness are real, so that we can have the courage to just show up in this life and stop performing with the crowd. Don’t let us see just want what we want to see, but expose what we need to see. We exist in the here and now but You, Lord, have always existed and the doors to Your love have always been open to us through Christ Jesus. We can’t wait for anyone to give us permission to practice our faith. We just need to live out our faith in Christ, anywhere and anytime. And whether or not the crowd jeers or cheers, we serve only Him today, tomorrow and forever.
Lord God, we come here today and pray that You will remove the blinders from our eyes and ears so that Your truth can be revealed to us. Thank You for “the miracle that something so small and seemingly worthless as printed words, written 2000 years ago, would utterly and completely change our lives. “ (Emily Timbol) Let Your word reverberate in this room and in our hearts so that the truth of the Gospel would resonate in our lives beyond these walls. Tune our hearts to be in line with You because Your love inspires us. Don’t let us be numb to this life or to each other. Open our eyes to see that there is a child of God deep inside all of us and that child will be the one who will see You face to face. In a world that gets it wrong so many times, we have You, Lord, and You get us. You understand us because You created us. You heal our wounds and You take our place at the cross so that we can be free to share our lives and our stories to all for the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We are here and we are smiling because there is nothing that can compare to the time spent in the presence of the One true God. So open the doors of this place and our hearts by revealing Your truth for our lives because we are ready for You but You have always been ready for us. We can’t ignore what makes us human with all that we had to go through and will have to go through. Just remind us today that You do not sleep, You do not grow weary and Your light of hope never fades. Everything else goes away but we are never alone because Your love remains. Teach us to have that same love for one another by choosing to accept each other rather than just tolerating each other. Help us to go beyond the polite conversations so that we can see the details that the Creator has set in each and every one of us. Please be patient with us because we are still learning that we are all children of God and that our differences pale in comparison to the gospel truth that we are all sinners and saints who are redeemed by the Son of God who lives and reigns in our hearts now and forever. Amen.
Lord God, breathe into us new life today and lift our eyes off of the daily rubble so that we can magnify You in this place. Whatever circumstances we are in (financial, emotional, spiritual, or personal), take us to the place that is the presence of Jesus Christ. Don’t let shame or guilt stop us from experiencing Your grace and salvation. Just make Your presence known and print Your word on our hearts. Take away any doubt of our worth because the cross at Calvary shows the cost of Your love for all of us, and by taking Your first steps on this earth You changed our history forever. Help us to see Your greatness. Help us to hear Your word. And help us to live Your love. For “no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For (we) have every confidence that nothing – not death, life…the present, the future…nor any created thing – can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39).
From Northwest Community Church UCC in Las Vegas, NV
Holy One, Emmanuel, God with Us…We come into Your presence today with prayers for those who matter most to us. We seek guidance, comfort and hope in an upside down world that needs You to turn it right side up. Today millions of voices and thoughts race past us but we need to hear only one. We need to hear the Word of God speak truth into our lives. The truth that is the sacrifice of the cross and the joy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ separated us from our transgressions. And as we confront the reality of Jesus, in our lives today, we need to understand that we are not defined by our sins or mistakes. We are defined in Christ as children of the most-high God. Let’s give thanks to Him because we don’t know how many more tomorrows we have, but we do know that we are citizens of heaven and not products of this world. So let’s do something special…let’s do something great, right now, for God and His Kingdom here on earth because if we don’t plant the seeds of faith in Christ, so that others will know of the good news, then who will? If not now, then when will we start to just give what we have been given? We have been grace-sufficient for every obstacle in this life. Amen.
So last week many people around the world celebrated Chinese New Year. I love this time of year. Living in Las Vegas, one might get desensitized to the array of extravagance on the famous “Strip” and it’s numerous casinos and attractions. This is also the main time of year where all casinos pull out the stops and unleash their Asian marketing strategies with lavish Chinese decorations, events and concerts specifically for Chinese people. And with all of this opulence, it is so easy to forget how fortunate we are if we live in a country that doesn’t persecute us based on our religious beliefs. Now, I am not Chinese, although my great grandparents on both sides are of Chinese origin, but I am a Christ follower and believe that my purpose on earth is to minister the grace, love and forgiveness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I find it hard to stomach that there are some parts of the world where the Bible is illegal. I find it very painful to accept that, even in the present day, people are being persecuted or killed because they believe in Jesus Christ. Why one human being would harm another is beyond me, and I pray for those being persecuted and I especially pray for those who are doing the persecuting. It is with this that I reflect on the following scripture passages from the Gospel of Mathew and John.
John 15:19-21 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.”
Matthew 5:10-12“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12″Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:44“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
Letting all people know that they are loved, cherished and forgiven is the most precious gift that I can share with this world. I could not imagine being forced to remain silent about the salvation that we all receive through the intercession of Christ on the cross and His glorious resurrection.
The video above is my favorite Chinese song known as “Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo Di Xin” made famous by Teresa Teng who was also banned from performing in her native China. The title is loosely translated into “The Moon Represents My Heart” and the translation is:
You ask me how deep my love for you is,
How much I really love you…
My affection is real.
My love is real.
The moon represents my heart.
Even though it is a secular love song, I see these particular lyrics, of this section of the song, as the words of Christ and how He loves all of us more than we could ever imagine. His love was and is real and surpasses anything that we might experience on earth. His love says that we have value to God. His love says that the battle has already been won and that we can live freely, knowing that our salvation through Christ and the glory of Almighty God is ultimately victorious over sin and death.
His love is the foundation of my faith and the example that I strive to live by everyday. That being said I pray…Lord God, Abba Father, we pray for those in this world who are persecuted because they accept You, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior. Give them strength in the knowledge that they are not alone and never have been. Comfort them as they grow in relationship with You and with each other. Let the power of the Gospel and the truth that is Jesus Christ shine through every dark valley of this world and life. We also pray for those who are persecuting our Christian brothers and sisters. Let Your compassion melt away the coldness of an unfeeling heart and open the windows of their lives to reveal all that You are. We pray that it will be on earth as it is in heaven, and that the true and authentic love of our Creator will be what binds this human family together. In the name of Christ we pray all of these things. Amen.