Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Jan
06

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Almighty Father in heaven, we thank You for making all things new!

We praise You now as our Creator, and we will praise You forever as our Re-Creator in Jesus Christ.

Thank You for washing us, cleansing us, and purifying us, for hiding Your face from our sins and blotting out our iniquities through the washing of regeneration that we have received in Jesus’ blood and by the renewing of the Holy Spirit.

Father, we thank You that the old things have passed away; that we no longer live in sin, in guilt, in shame, under condemnation, alienated and distant from You, but that we have been brought near through the sacrifice of Your Son and we stand before You clean and pure; counted as righteous and holy through Your Son.

Father, just as You created us in our nature after Your own image, give us the strength, courage, and commitment to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ in our lives.  Help us to walk daily in His steps, to speak His words, to show His grace, compassion, and love, and to be His hands and feet in this world.

Father, may we truly come to know Jesus; may we see Him face to face.  Lord, touch us, hold us, use us, and mold us.  Let us truly live in You.

Father, may we allow Jesus to draw us ever nearer, and hold us in His loving arms.  May He wrap us in His gentle presence, and, when the end comes, Father, we ask that He bring us home to You.

We ask these blessings of You and give You our eternal thanks through the name of Jesus Your Son and our Savior, Amen!

Submitted by Tim Pyles

Jan
05

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Our God, Our Father in heaven,

We come before the throne of your grace, seeking your face, humbled by your presence.

You are a God of steadfast love, your mercies are new every morning, and your faithfulness is toward every generation.

What can we render to you for your benefits toward us in this past year? Your mercies are abundantly poured out on us daily. You have lavished us with grace. The cup of our salvation runs over.

You have exalted us above the heavens in your son Jesus Christ. You have redeemed us for your glory and our good. You have filled our hearts with joy and gladness. You have made us kings. You have crowned us with righteousness. You are truly the God of hope—the fountain of all hope.

And as we begin this New Year, we relish that hope. Our hearts are daily refreshed by the hope of Jesus. In a world of despair, you make us sing; in a world of decay, you revive us.

This year, help us Lord, to keep our eyes on that bright and morning star, the glory of your face, the commander and the Lord of Host, our Savior and High Priest, Jesus Christ. Allow that hope to infuse us with purpose and goodwill toward our community and world. Allow your love to fill us with zeal for your cause. Make your word flourish so fully in our hearts that the fruit of holiness is daily witnessed in our actions. May all of this be for the coming of your kingdom and the fulfillment of your will.

Fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by your power, so that you are glorified in us, and we are glorified in you. For from you, and to you, and through you belong all things.

Amen.

Submitted by Jacob Rutledge

Jan
04

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

There’s something special about being together week after week.

We are a gathered people

.

We are a rescued people

.

We are story people

.

We are gospel people

.

We are family!

We share one another’s hurts, carry one another’s burdens, celebrate one another’s victories and accomplishments.

While we are all different, in this moment around this table, the Lords table, we are one!

There’s no rich or not so rich…

There’s no educated or uneducated…

No, we come together as sinners all in need of the grace and mercy of God. We come together as saints clinging to the story of the cross and the empty tomb.

We come together, together to celebrate the life that was given so that we might have life.

Submitted by Jason Retherford

Jan
02

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We serve a God who creates; a God who re-creates, a God who renews, who restores, who refreshes, who revives, who resuscitates; A God Who Makes Things New

He is a God whose steadfast love never ceases, whose mercies never fail; rather, they are made new every morning, with the dawning of every single new day.

God says, “Behold, I make all things new.”

As we enter into a new year, we want to focus our hearts and minds, through Scripture and song, on the God who makes new and on the new life He has given us in Jesus Christ.

Through Jeremiah, God promised to make a new covenant with His people.

Through Isaiah He declared, “Behold, I am doing a new thing.”

To make this a reality, God sent His Son

Jesus came with a new teaching; teaching with authority. Even His enemies said, “This is new; this is unprecedented; no one ever spoke like this man.”

The new wine of the Gospel could not be contained in the old wineskins of the Law; new wineskins would be needed; the wineskins of grace and truth.

Jesus spoke a new commandment.

Jesus spoke of the new birth.

His apostles would describe this new birth as the creation of a new self that is clothed with Christ and led by God’s Spirit; the old self dies and is buried; the new self is raised to walk in newness of life – just like a newborn baby

The old things have passed away, behold new things have come!

We share in the blessings of God’s new covenant, with a better priest, a better sacrifice, and better promises.

In Christ we have a new mindset, a new agenda, a new set of values

We have the hope and promise of a new heaven and a new earth, the new Jerusalem, where we will receive a new name and sing a new song. The former things will be no more.

The One who sits on the throne says, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

As another new year begins, let us continue committing ourselves to:
Walk with God more devotedly
Love Him more dearly
Trust Him more deeply
Receive His grace more freely
Praise Him more adoringly
Talk with Him more intimately
Feed on His Word more regularly
Obey Him more consistently
Follow Jesus more closely
Listen to Him more carefully
Accept His promises more trustingly
Share our faith in Him more courageously
Sense the Spirit’s presence and power more keenly
As a result, may we:
Treat one another more kindly
Speak to one another more graciously
Listen to one another more attentively
Respond to one another more compassionately
Serve one another more humbly
Bear with one another more patiently
Forgive one another more readily
Defend one another more valiantly
Give to one another more willingly
Trust one another more implicitly
Lord, let it begin with me!

Submitted by Tim Pyles

Jan
01

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To the Progenitor of all
I offer up my new year’s prayer,
and i now commit my past and
future into your tender care.

The year behind has been mingled–
blazing joy laced with bitter tears.
Now, as I look toward this year
I’m bludgeoned by unforeseen fears.

But all my life I give to you
and cast my soul before your throne.
I trust your guiding Spirit to
bring perfect peace and lead me on.

Lord, stir my heart for love ahead
and give me strength in you to face
the triumphs and the tragedies
by trusting in your love and grace.

Father keep my path from evil.
Protect my soul from strife and sin.
Cultivate reliance and faith
by your Spirit’s power within.

Bless my life and spread your kingdom
by reigning here within my heart.
When my peace within is threatened,
then, Lord, stay. Please don’t depart.

In the new year go before me.
Renew me for that final hour
when by your grace we all will stand
happy and holy by your power.

Submitted by Chris Clevenger

Jan
01

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This year on Resurrected Living, I am going to begin a new project with the help of many friends and contributors. As often as possible, I hope to post prayers, communion talks, suggested Scripture readings for worship, examples of how one might order worship, posts about worship, and much much more. I hope these resources will bless the church. I hope people will use them and learn from them. I hope they will cause people to think more deeply about worship and the sacrifices we offer to God.

Why this project?

We believe in the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). This means a person does not have to be ordained or have any special training to lead worship. The only requirement is to be a faithful Christian. Although one does not have to be ordained to lead worship, we should realize the importance of this role, and we should give serious thought to what we say and do. Anyone who leads worship has a responsibility to properly prepare for the privilege they have been granted. I hope this project will be a useful tool that congregations and Christians will be able to use to help prepare worship leaders.

Liturgy

The word liturgy refers to what we do in worship. For an excellent discussion of this term, please see Steven Hunter’s post “Liturgy” or “Acts of Worship.” Although Churches of Christ do not have a formal liturgy, there are certain phrases that have become a defacto liturgy for many congregations. We often hear things like “guard, guide, and direct,” “separate and apart from the Lord’s Supper,” “until the next appointed time,” etc. Although these phrases have served their purpose in the past, I would like to think that we could give more thought to the words we use in worship. The purpose of this project is not to create a formal liturgy, but to merely present various ways faithful Christians have thought through what they might say in worship.

Finally, this is a work of the church for the church. There will be many contributors to this project over the course of this year. Anyone is welcome to submit a prayer, communion talk, etc. for consideration. Unless otherwise stated, you are welcome to use the prayers, communion talks, etc. in worship. Most of all, I hope that you will be blessed, and God will be glorified by the fruits of this labor.

Dec
15

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I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
(Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)

My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
(Psalm 42:2)

One of C. S. Lewis’ greatest contributions to the Christian faith was his articulation of the argument from desire. Alister McGrath offers a simple and concise summation of Lewis’ position.

“Lewis was aware of certain deep human emotions which pointed to a dimension of our existence beyond time and space. There is, Lewis suggested, a deep and intense feeling of longing within human beings, which no earthly object or experience can satisfy. Lewis terms this sense ‘joy’, and argues that it points to God as its source and goal.” (Alister McGrath, “C. S. Lewis, Defender of the Faith”, C. S. Lewis and His Circle: Essays and Memoirs from the Oxford C. S. Lewis Society)

Everyone has desires. Thirst is the desire for water. Hunger is the desire for food. We have sexual desires. We desire oxygen to fill our lungs. Each of our desires has an object that satisfies said desire. Water satisfies thirst. Food satisfies hunger. Lewis argues there is a desire within each of us that is never satisfied. Why? If every desire within us has an object that satisfies it, then why is this one desire never satisfied? Lewis suggests it is because we were created for something more. It is a longing for our true homeland. This desire points to God.

Our world is not right. What we experience in our everyday lives is not the world as God intended it to be. Ever since the fall, human beings have lived in a world corrupted by sin. We still see glimpses of God’s beauty and glory in the world. Our world is not all sin. When we look around, we are still able to recognize God’s good creation, but we are also aware of a disease that has forever altered the way things are. Because we are created in the image of God, we long for things to be made right. We long for redemption.

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22-23)

The deep longing within us for something more points to God and the redemption of all things, but this lack of satisfaction with the way things are may be broader than we imagined. To understand the desires we have, and how they will be satisfied, we must ask three important questions: What do we long for? What has been corrupted by sin? What will redemption look like? We long for God, but we need to be careful not to stop there because the presence of God influences many things in our life. God is the source of joy and peace. God causes us to fully enjoy one another. God is love. When sin entered into the world, it disrupted all things. Work, something present prior to the fall, became hard labor. Relationships were disrupted. Pain, disease, and death were introduced into the world. God’s plan is to redeem creation. Sin will not win. What has been made imperfect by sin, God will redeem and make right again.

In short, here are the answers to all three questions:

What do we long for? God

What has been corrupted by sin? All things

What will redemption look like? All things will be redeemed

All of this is important to understand because our longing for something more may be at times much more specific than some mysterious desire within us that is never satisfied. For instance, we may experience a lack of satisfaction in our relationships with others. It is possible to receive joy from the relationships we have with others while at the same time not being fully satisfied. This can be quite confusing, but I believe it is something we should expect. The more we grow in Christ and the more our spouse, friends, co-workers, etc. grow in Christ, then the more satisfaction we will experience in our relationships with one another. At the same time, we will probably never be fully satisfied with our relationships on earth because we live in a fallen world. We long for something more. We long for a relationship with someone else without the negative influence of sin.

From time to time, we all experience a lack of satisfaction in our lives. Sometimes there are remedies on this earth for the longings we have, but other times there is not. Other times we cannot get any satisfaction. Perhaps some of the dissatisfaction we feel in life could be nothing more than an indicator of something that is lacking but will be fulfilled in the life to come. We may devote ourselves to a vocation and receive fulfillment from our many years of service while at the same time feeling like we were created to do more. We may experience much love in our life, but still feel as though there is a love greater than all the love we have received. We may have had numerous conversations in our life that have blessed us, but still believe there is a conversation we need to have that will bless us in ways we cannot imagine. I don’t believe these small longings in our life are unusual. I don’t believe they are something that should cause us concern, but instead, I believe they are an indicator of what is to come.

We can experience much joy and fulfillment in this life, but we will always long for something more. It is not until Jesus returns, and God redeems all things that we will find the satisfaction we desperately long for. We will then experience love, relationships, vocation, conversations, and much much more as it was intended to be. The life to come will not be marred by sin. We experience God’s goodness in this life, but it is only a taste of the goodness we will know in the new heavens and new earth.

Nov
30

“It has long been my experience that the most nourishing spiritual food is not found so much in the controversial literature as in the devotional literature of the church.” Hughes Oliphant Old

Controversies fill our history books. Controversies get people excited. People like to gossip about the latest controversies whether they are religious, political, or something that happened in the office. Most people enjoy a good controversy and are more than willing to share their opinion. Christianity is not lacking in controversies, but controversies are not what cause Christians to grow and mature. We must be careful by what we are shaped by as Christians. If we are shaped by controversies, then we will likely become a Christian who is eager to fight, jumping from one controversy to another. Devotion draws us deeper into the heart of God and forms us into the image of Jesus. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and being aware of controversies, but we must not allow them to consume us. More than anything, we need to be shaped by times of devotion. We need to carve out times in our life for prayer, meditation, and study. We need to read the Psalms again and again and again. If we truly want to have a heart for God, then we will spend more time seeking him rather than searching for the next great controversy.

Nov
13

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Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:32-44)

This is an intimate story in the life of Jesus. We see things with Jesus here that we do not see in other places. We see how he interacts with people who are very dear to him. We see him mourn and even cry. Jesus has feelings and we may be a little surprised by this. Over the years, some commentators have tried to explain this away. They think that emotion is a sign of weakness and that God has none. This was a belief the ancient Greeks held, but it is not a Biblical idea. A careful reading of the Bible will reveal that God is an emotional being. At times he is angry. Other times he is sad. In the New Testament, God is described as love.

This text is about a time of lament and grief. Lazarus dies and his family is distraught. Death and tragedy is something we must deal with, and this story gives us some insight about how God comforts the mourning. We like easy answers. We want something to say that makes everything better, but the truth is there are no magic words. There is nothing we can say that will erase the pain of the loss of a loved one. In this story, Jesus offers no words of comfort, but instead he enters into their grief. The text simply says, “Jesus wept.” Whenever we experience loss, we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus is with us. He understands our pain. He identifies with what we are going through. His presence is never far from us and he is grieving along with us.

This should bring us a since of comfort. We don’t have to have any words. We know that the God of the Universe understands our grief and is mourning alongside us, but this is not the only thing we learn from this story. It also gives us a since of hope because this story foreshadows an event that will forever alter human history. Jesus has the power to bring Lazarus back from the dead. He speaks and Lazarus comes to life. This is remarkable, but what is even more remarkable is that not too much longer after this event Jesus will be crucified and he will be raised from the dead three days later. Jesus will claim victory over death. The pain and separation we experience in this life is not permanent. One day death will be no more. One day we will be reunited with the loved ones we have lost. One day all things will be made right. What a bright and glorious day that will be!

Nov
09

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We live in a world that is much smaller than it used to be. Things like satellites and the internet have made global communications simple and easy. We can now communicate with someone halfway around the world on our cell phone. We receive news from other countries as it is happening. We belong to online communities comprised of people from different cities, states, and countries. The interactions we have with individuals on a daily basis is no longer limited to the people who live in close proximity to us.

The news we receive and care about is global in nature. Not too long ago, we received news from the daily newspaper and maybe at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., but now we have 24-hour news. There are multiple channels that broadcast nothing but news. Talking heads constantly discuss issues that may have little to do with our lives. Newspapers have been replaced by online news sources where news is reported as soon as it is received. We are reminded of big issues and global events throughout the entire day.

These little changes are impressive. Technology and progress can be beneficial, but they also influence the way we see things, including our faith. Rather than focus on how we treat our neighbor, we begin to think in global terms. We think we must make this gigantic impact on the way things are. We think we must save the world. This can be quite dangerous because it sets us up for failure.

What does the Bible expect of us? Jesus came to save the world, but we are not expected to do the same. In fact, it would be wrong to think we can do what God alone is capable of doing. What is required of us is to be faithful to what is before us. We are to love God and love our neighbor. We are to love our enemies. We are to help those in need. When our focus becomes global rather than local, we can either become burdened by the overwhelming work there is or use it as an excuse to neglect the people God has placed right in front of us. Neither is good.

We are not a failure for our inability to change the world. God is not looking for superheroes. He is looking for faithful servants who will do his will. When we do the things God has asked us to do, then we can rest assured that we are pleasing in his sight. When we go out into our own community and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the orphans and widows then we have done what God has called us to do.

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