to confess what the Lord has done for us

Jarena Lee, By Lithograph by P.S. Duval, from life by A. Huffy, Wikimedia Commons
 
God, you know the secrets of all hearts.
Favor us with your presence, O God.
Display your power by a general outpouring of the spirit.
May sinners cry for mercy, while others shout for joy.
May we be faithful stewards of the manifold gifts of God
    and never be ashamed to confess what the Lord has done for us.
May we never lose the witness out of the heart
    by withholding our testimony from our friends and neighbors 
    of your power to save.
May we not just run well for a season,
    and yield to the temptation of the tempter’s whisper
    saying “not now” 
    and by and by the soul becomes barren and unfruitful.
May we “watch” and tell around what a dear Savior we have found.
 
Jarena Lee, 1783-1864, African American minister
 
______________________
 
 
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. 
It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes
    —the Jew first and also the Gentile. 
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. 
This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. 
As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

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Our Good Shepherd

image / Hans Schäufelein 15th century / Metropolitan Museum of Art
 
Show me, O Lord, your mercy, and delight my heart with it.
Let me find you whom I so longingly seek.
See, here is the man whom the robbers seized, mishandled,
    and left half dead on the road to Jericho.
O kind hearted Samaritan, come to my aid!
I am the sheep who wandered into the wilderness – seek after me,
    and bring me home again to your fold.
Do with me what you will, that I may stay by you all the days of my life,
    and praise you with all those who are with you in heaven for all eternity.
 

St Jerome, c.347-420, translator of the Latin Vulgate

Seasons of Devotion

 
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I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
 

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Guide us to your will

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash
 
Almighty Lord God,
    your glory cannot be approached,
    your compassion knows no bounds,
    and your love for all mankind
    is beyond human expression;
    in your mercy look on us and all your people:
do not leave us to our sins
    but deal with us according to your goodness.
Guide us to the haven of your will
    and make us truly obedient to your commands,
    that we many not feel ashamed
    when we come before your Messiah’s
        dread judgement seat.
 
For you, O God,
    are good and ever-loving,
    and we glorify you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
    now and for ever,
    to the ages of ages.    Amen.
 
from The Barberini Codex, 8th Century document of Byzantine prayers
 
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By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. 
We have received all of this by coming to know him, 
    the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  
And because of his glory and excellence, 
    he has given us great and precious promises. 
These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature 
    and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

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Compassionate heart of Jesus

The Crucifixion 1360’s / Metropolitan Museum of Art / Public Domain
 
Compassionate heart of Jesus, have mercy on me.
Even before I offended you, my Redeemer, I did not deserve
    the great graces you have given me.
You created me, gave me so many inspirations 
    and all totally undeserved on my part.
But having offended you, not only did I not deserve your favors,
    I certainly deserved to be abandoned by you for all eternity.
But you, in your great mercy, have waited for me
    and preserved my life even when I was at enmity with you.
Your mercy allowed me to see my misery and you called me to conversion;
    you gave me sorrow for my sins and a desire to love you.
Now, I hope that, with your grace,
    I am in your friendship once again.
 
Alphonsus Liquori, 1696-1787, Italian Catholic bishop and theologian
 
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You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

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Pentecost prayer

Pentecost mosaic / Pete Unseth, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Holy Spirit, almighty God,
  proceeding from the Father and the Son;
Jesus the eternal Son, our Redeemer,
  has promised that you will kindle in us the true knowledge and love of God.
Stir up in our hearts, we pray true fear, true faith,
  that we may acknowledge the mercy
  which the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hast promised
  unto us for his sake.
Be our comforter in all difficulties and dangers,
  and kindle divine love in our hearts,
  so that by true obedience,
  we may offer perpetual praise to you
  and to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  and to his blessed Son, our Saviour and Redeemer.
Amen.

Philipp Melanchthon, 1497 – 1560, German reformer with Martin Luther
 
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But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, 
    will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
 

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You justify the humble

Publican & Pharisee Icon
Publican & Pharisee Icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
 
Humility once exalted the tax collector,
    who bewailed his sin
    and cried: ‘Be merciful,’
    and was justified.
Let him be our example,
    for we have all fallen into the abyss of evil.
Let us cry to the Savior
    from the bottom of our heart:
  we have sinned, be merciful,
    for you alone love us.
 
Lord, you condemned the Pharisee
    who, boasting of his works,
    justified himself.
You justified the tax collector
    who, humbling himself,
    with sorrowful sighing asked for mercy.
For you reject proud hearts.
    but do not reject contrite hearts.
So in humility we prostrate ourselves
    before you, who suffered for us.
Grant us forgiveness
    and generous mercy.
 
From Orthodox Lent. Holy Week, Easter
 
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To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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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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Great God Almighty, We Are Free at Last!

 Martin Luther King, 1964 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
 
God grant that right here in America and all over the world,
    we will choose the high way:
a way in which men will live together as brothers.
A way in which the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
A way in which every man will respect 
    the dignity and worth of all human personality.
A way in which every nation will allow justice to flow down like waters,
    and righteousness like a mighty stream.
A way in which men will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
A way in which men will be able to stand up, 
    and in the midst of oppression, in the midst of darkness and agony,
    they will be able to stand there and love their enemies,
        bless those persons that curse them,
        pray for those individuals that despitefully use them.
And this is the way that will bring us once more into that society
    which we think of as the brotherhood of man.
This will be that day when white people, colored people,
    whether they are brown or whether they are yellow  or whether they are black,
    will join together and stretch out with their arms and be able to cry out:
“Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, we are free at last!”
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 -1968, American pastor and civil rights activist
 
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And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
    and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

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prayer for mercy against lying

 image / GDJ / Pixabay
 
Almighty and eternal God, you see how your saints are so few and indeed how rarely and infrequently they seek or promote your honor.  And now, as unfortunately you can see, in churches and worldly governments as well as in common life there is a great sense of  discord and dissension.  Thus, dear Lord, we ask you that you would mercifully turn away, or, even as a father, temper our well-deserved punishments and leave us a true seed, so that we would not become like Sodom and Gomorrah.  
 
Send faithful workers into your vineyard who do not speak of useless matters and made-up fables, who are not hypocrites, who are not proud, arrogant and lazy and self-assured.  Ensure that they teach from unity of heart and that they are united in you; grant them humble hearts.  
 
O Lord God, it is dearly needed! Bring your help, so that we would be consoled and taught rightly and remain in our Christian walk and life, that we would not be a stumbling block for others nor would we continue in sins against conscience.  Protect us from sluggish people who do not observe your Word; sustain us by your Word which is pure, perfect and clear.  Grant us endurance in suffering and crossbearing and rule us with your Holy Spirit, so that we would not fall into error and vice but instead would be and remain your dwelling and temple.  Amen
 
Nikolaus Selnecker, 1530 – 1592, German Protestant Reformer
 
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Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”

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