Sometimes I choose sin

Photo by Nick Gavrilov on Unsplash
 
Father – the truth about me is that often I choose sin:
    Sometimes I choose hatred.  Sometimes I choose slander.
    Sometimes I choose envy.  Sometimes I choose greed.
    Sometimes I choose pettiness.  Sometimes I choose lust.
    Sometimes I choose gossip.  Sometimes I choose pride.
    Sometimes I choose self-reliance.
    Sometimes I choose self-righteousness.
    Sometimes I choose self-aggrandizement.
    Sometimes I choose dishonesty.
    Sometimes I choose unkind words.
    Sometimes I choose to ignore the obvious needs around me.
    Sometimes I choose to hoard my resources.
    Sometimes I choose to neglect Your command to share the gospel.
The list of things I wrongly choose could go on and on.  And sometimes
I act on these things in ways that are darker than I ever care to state.
Each time I make such a choice, I choose death.
Today, I ask that You breathe life into my soul afresh
    and enable me to choose life – to choose You and Your ways.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author or
 
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For the wages of sin is death, 
    but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

deliver those who have fallen into sin

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Deliver, O most merciful God,
  those little ones of thy flock who have fallen into sin.
Remember not their offences,
  but set them free from the snare of the enemy.
Prosper with the help of the Holy Spirit
  the endeavors of all who are seeking to train them for good.
Grant that following after humility
  and being made partakers of thy heavenly wisdom,
  they may be strengthened to the performance of thy will
  and may be restored to the perfect fellowship of thy saints;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Robert Leighton, 1611-1684, Scottish minister and scholar
2000 Years of Prayer

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Hebrews 3:12-13

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart 
    that turns away from the living God.  
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” 
    so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
 

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Praise to you, saving sacrifice

Twelfth Station / Tango7174 / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus Christ,
I approach your banquet table
    in fear and trembling,
    for I am a sinner,
    and dare not rely on my own worth
    but only on your goodness and mercy. . . .
Praise to you, saving sacrifice,
    offered on the wood of the cross for me and for all mankind.
Praise to the noble and precious blood,
    flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ
    and washing away the sins of the whole world.
Remember, Lord, your creature,
    whom you have redeemed with your blood.
 
John of Fecamp, 1028-1078, Benedictine spiritual writer
 
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And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, 
    he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son 
    while we were still his enemies, 
    we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

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cleanse me from my sin!

Adam and Eve, Sistine Chapel / Sebastian Bergmann / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Where shall I begin to weep for the actions of my wretched life?
What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, in this my lamentation?
But in Your compassion grant me forgiveness of sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Come, wretched soul, with your flesh to the Creator of all.
Make confession to Him, and abstain henceforth from past brutishness;
    and offer to God tears of repentance.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
I have rivaled in transgression, Adam, the first-formed man,
    and I have found myself stripped naked of God,
    of the eternal Kingdom and its joy, because of my sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.  
 
Woe to you, miserable soul! How alike you are to first Eve!
For you have looked in wickedness and were grievously wounded;
    you have touched the tree and rashly tasted the deceptive food.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind:
    the passionate thought in my flesh,
    showing me what seems sweet;
    yet whenever I taste from it, I find it bitter.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Adam was justly banished from Eden,
    because he disobeyed one commandment of Yours, O Savior,
What then shall I suffer, for I am always rejecting Your words of life?
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
By my own free choice I have incurred the guilt of Cain’s murder.
I have killed my conscience,
    bringing the flesh to life and making war upon the soul 
    by my wicked actions.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
  
O Jesus, I have not been like Abel in his righteousness.
Never have I offered You acceptable gifts or godly actions,
    a pure sacrifice or a life unblemished.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Like Cain, O miserable soul, we too have offered,
    to the Creator of all,
    defiled actions and a polluted sacrifice and a worthless life;
    and so we also are condemned.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
 
Frederica Mathewes-Green, American Orthodox author
 
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Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

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repentance and forgiveness

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Almighty God of Mercy,
 
I come before You in humble submission,
    repenting for my sins.
Though I sincerely believe in Your forgiveness,
    I seek to right my wrongs 
    through a form of restitution acceptable to You.
I feel that my repentance is simply not enough.
I pray to be able to pay back my great debt to You in some way.
 
Lord, I know that the debt is too great to repay in action alone,
    and it is only through the blood of Jesus 
    that we are washed clean and made pure as gold.
I know forgiveness flows freely to those who sincerely repent.
Please accept my humble repentance
    as I lay prostrate before Your throne of grace.
Lord, please receive my efforts with my heartfelt prayer of gratitude
    for your everlasting love and kindness shown to us 
    through Your gift to the world,
    Your only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.
In Christ’s name. Amen.
 
Chestina Mitchell Archibald, Pastor serving in Nashville, TN
 
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In him we have redemption through his blood, 
    the forgiveness of sins, 
    in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

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hope in times of pain

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Dear Jesus,
Whether it comes from betrayal, neglect, abandonment, or from a broken bone or failing health – the result is some kind of emotional or physical pain.  When I look back on my life, I remember the physical tension of my aching body or the chest-tightening ache that came from a broken heart.  My greatest hope in times of pain is that you will bring me healing.  Thank you that I never have to worry you haven’t noticed my pain.  How compassionate you are to comfort me in my hurts.  On the other hand, there are times when I hurt so badly that I forget about you, Jesus.  I become completely focused on how to stop the pain.  But you never abandon me.  When I feel alone in my hurt, it is often because I am concentrating so much on easing the pain of my problems that I have forgotten you have promised to help me in my difficulties.  Thank you that you never leave me.  I find comfort in your promise to be with me and give me hope and purpose in the midst of my aching body and soul.
 
Ron A. Beers 
 
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And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved.

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strength to overcome the temptations

 ChristTempted / John Ritto Penniman / Wikimedia Commons
 
We thank you, Father, for those days in the desert when, 
    through prayer and fasting, 
    Jesus discovered your will for his life 
    and overcame the temptations of the Evil One.
Help us, during these days of Lent, 
    to come close to you and to listen to your voice.  
Give us strength to overcome the temptations 
    to please ourselves and live life without you.
Teach us your way.  For Jesus’ sake.
 
 
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Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,  where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
 

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transforming lives for your glory

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Creator God, our heavenly Father,
your Son was a carpenter in Nazareth:
we pray for all those who labor
in our factories and shops.
Grant them wisdom and honesty, strength and skill,
to provide for themselves
and for the needs of our country.
Look with compassion on the landless poor,
the unemployed and homeless,
the orphans and the hungry,
and grant us your power to work towards justice
in transforming their lives for your glory;
through the risen Lord Jesus Christ,
who had nowhere to lay his head.
 
prayer from Kenya
 
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Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

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to finish my course of service

image / Joshbdork at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
I know, O Lord, and do with all humility acknowledge myself 
    an object altogether unworthy of your love;
    but sure I am, you are an object altogether worthy of mine.
I am not good enough to serve you,
    but you have a right to the best service I can pay.
Do then impart to me some of that excellence,
    and that shall supply my own want of worth.
Help me to cease from sin according to your will,
    that I may be capable of doing you service according to my duty.
Enable me so to guard and govern myself,
    so to begin and finish my course that,
    when the race of life is run,
    I may sleep in peace and rest in you.
Be with me to the end, that my sleep may be rest indeed,
    my rest perfect security and that security a blessed eternity.
 
St. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430
 
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However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

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embraced by your unwavering love

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Dear Lord, today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh:
“It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.”

You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained; and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love.

My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.

O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.

Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author 
 
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Psalm 65:5-8

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
    O God of our salvation,
 the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas;
 the one who by his strength established the mountains,
    being girded with might;
 who stills the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples,
 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth 
    are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening 
    to shout for joy.

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