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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

God Our Helper

27 August 2014

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: O God Our Help in Ages Past

Theme: God Our Maker

Topic: God Our Helper

Reading: Psalm 124:1-8
If the Lord had not been on our side, let Israel now say; if the Lord had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us; then would they have swallowed us up alive in their fierce anger toward us; Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over us; then would the raging waters have gone right over us. Blessed be the Lord! he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth. We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

The Lord is not just our Maker; He is our Helper too, especially in the time of trouble.  The exodus of Israelites from Egypt is an excellent example of how great the help of the Lord is.  Despite several warnings from God to Pharaoh to let Israelites go, the king of Egypt refused to let them leave.  However, following some plagues sent against the Egyptians, Pharaoh yielded and let the Israelites leave.  Pharaoh later changed his mind and pursued the Israelites with the intent of re-enslaving them.  While the Lord allowed the children of Israel pass through the Red Sea unhurt, He destroyed Pharaoh and his army.  The Israelites would have continued to live under the bondage and tyranny of Pharaoh had the Lord not come to their rescue.  Similarly, Christians, called and chosen to be free in Christ, experience bondage in several ways- sickness, fear, loss of a loved one, economic hardship, etc. Whatever we may be facing today, let us remember that we serve a God who is able to intervene and deliver us.

1. In what ways do we need help from the Lord?
Psalm 46:1-11
1 God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
   though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
   God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
   see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields with fire.
10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God!
   I am exalted among the nations,
   I am exalted in the earth.’
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Matthew 16:13-20
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ 14And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 15He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ 17And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Romans 12:1-8
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

2. What are the lessons for us in Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10 regarding help of the Lord?
Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ 11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. 13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them. 15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16‘When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.’ 17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?’ 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ 20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.’
2:1-10 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him. 5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ 8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’

3. What is our role in receiving help from the Lord?
Psalm 77:1-20
1 I cry aloud to God,
   aloud to God, that he may hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
   in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
   my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan;
   I meditate, and my spirit faints.
4 You keep my eyelids from closing;
   I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old,
   and remember the years of long ago.
6 I commune with my heart in the night;
   I meditate and search my spirit:
7 ‘Will the Lord spurn for ever,
   and never again be favourable?
8 Has his steadfast love ceased for ever?
   Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
   Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’
10 And I say, ‘It is my grief
   that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’ 
11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
   I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will meditate on all your work,
   and muse on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
   What god is so great as our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
   you have displayed your might among the peoples.
15 With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
   the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
   when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
   the very deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
   the skies thundered;
   your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
   your lightnings lit up the world;
   the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
   your path, through the mighty waters;
   yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
   by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

All our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  

Prayer over the Gifts
God of glory, receive all we offer this day as a symbol of our love, and increase in us that true and perfect gift. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer 1
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is indeed right that we should praise you, gracious God, for you created all things. You formed us in your own image: male and female you created us. When we turned away from you in sin, you did not cease to care for us, but opened a path of salvation for all people. You made a covenant with Israel,
and through your servants Abraham and Sarah gave the promise of a blessing to all nations. Through Moses you led your people from bondage into freedom; through the prophets you renewed your promise of salvation. Therefore, with them, and with all your saints who have served you in every age, we give thanks and raise our voices to proclaim the glory of your name.
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy God, source of life and goodness, all creation rightly gives you praise. In the fullness of time, you sent your Son Jesus Christ, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all. He healed the sick and ate and drank with outcasts and sinners; he opened the eyes of the blind and proclaimed the good news of your kingdom to the poor and to those in need. In all things he fulfilled your gracious will.

On the night he freely gave himself to death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: this is my body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Gracious God, his perfect sacrifice destroys the power of sin and death; by raising him to life you give us life for evermore. Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Recalling his death, proclaiming his resurrection, and looking for his coming again in glory, we offer you, Father, this bread and this cup. Send your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts, that all who eat and drink at this table may be one body and one holy people, a living sacrifice in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory is yours, almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer
And now, as our Saviour Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread
“I am the bread of life,” says the Lord.
“Whoever comes to me will never be hungry;
whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are they who trust in him!

The Communion
The gifts of God for the People of God.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer after Communion
Closing Prayer
Almighty God, the giver of all perfect gifts; send upon us Your Holy Spirit, that we may constantly have your help in the face of life’s challenges.  We ask this through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Blessing
May love, joy and peace be yours in abundance; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Go forth in the name of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

God has a Plan for our Lives

20 August 2014
Opening Prayer/Worship                 Hymn: Now the Day is Over
1. Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh,
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.

2. Now the darkness gathers,
Stars begin to peep,
Birds, and beasts and flowers
Soon will be asleep.

3. Jesus, give the weary
Calm and sweet repose;
With Thy tenderest blessing
May mine eyelids close.
4.  Grant to little children
Visions bright of Thee;
Guard the sailors tossing
On the deep, blue sea.
5. Comfort those who suffer,
Watching late in pain;
Those who plan some evil
From their sin restrain.

6. Through the long night watches
May Thine angels spread
Their white wings above me,
Watching round my bed.

7. When the morning wakens,
Then may I arise
Pure, and fresh, and sinless
In Thy holy eyes.

8. Glory to the Father,
Glory to the Son,
And to Thee, blest Spirit,
While all ages run.
Theme: God Our Maker                          Topic: God has a Plan for our Lives
Reading: Genesis 45:1-15
1Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. 3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ 12“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.” 14Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

Just like Joseph, we all have God-given dreams: to be successful, get well, earn a degree, get married, get out of debt, resolve issues in a relationship, break an addiction, and so on.  However, at some point between the dream and when it becomes reality, we may encounter setbacks; situations that may cause us to think that the dream will not come true.  The truth is that, as far as our expectations have been promised and blessed by God, they will surely come to pass.  Joseph passed through several ordeals and near-death experiences before his dream became reality.  One interesting fact is that he never doubted that God will fulfill His promise to him.  Whatever you are believing God for, trust that He who has a plan for all His children will make your dreams come true in His time.  Simply keep believing and never, never quit!


1. How do we know that God has a plan for our lives?
Jeremiah 29:10-14
10This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Romans 11:1-2A, 29-32
1I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. 29for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
1 Peter 2:4-10.
4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

2. What are the lessons for us in Matthew 15:21-28 regarding trusting that God will make our dreams come true?
Matthew 15:21-28
21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

3. What are some of the challenges to believing and accepting God’s plan for our lives?  How do we overcome these challenges?

2 Chronicles 20:2-6, 9-17, 20-23
2Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 5Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 9‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ 10“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 13All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord. 14Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 15He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’ ” 20Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 22As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set mbushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
Psalm 133:1-3
1How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
2It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.
3It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
John 1:6-14
6There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God has a plan for each of us.  As we trust Him with our dreams and cares, He will make His promises a reality in our lives.

Closing Prayer (Collect for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost)
Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and sent into our hearts the Spirit of your Son.
Give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that all people may know the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Take heart, it is I

13 August 2014

Opening Prayer/Worship

Hymn: God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Theme: God Our Maker

Topic: Take heart, it is I

Reading: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2This is the story of the family of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. 12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.13And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’14So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. He came to Shechem, 15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ 16‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’17The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. 20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ 21But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’22Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. 28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

One of the complexities of the journey of faith is that Christians do get into trouble.  This is one of the reasons the Scripture says that the wind blows and rain falls on both the just and unjust.  Although we do not always have all the answers to why painful things happen, one thing is for sure: God uses both the good and unpleasant events in our lives to work out His purpose for us.  This neither means that we like nor seek trouble but that God is able to use the challenging situations to get us where He wants us to be.  The Cross of Christ, as ugly as it is, was what our Savior had to endure to restore the relationship we have with God.  Jesus Christ endured the Cross to wear His Crown, and has His Name lifted high above every other name.  When the going gets tough, let us take heart and remember that the Lord is with us, and will see us through the storm.

1. Why did Christ say “Take heart, it is I” in Matthew 14:26-27?
Matthew 14:26-27
But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Psalm 56:3-4, 10-13
3when I am afraid,
   I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
   in God I trust; I am not afraid;
   what can flesh do to me? 
10 In God, whose word I praise,
   in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I am not afraid.
   What can a mere mortal do to me? 
12 My vows to you I must perform, O God;
   I will render thank-offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
   and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
   in the light of life.

Mark 4:35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

2. What are the lessons for us in Matthew 14:22-33 regarding faith in time of trouble?
Matthew 14:22-33
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ 28 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Genesis 37:14-20, 26-28, 50:15-21
So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. He came to Shechem, 15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ 16‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’17The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. 18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. 20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ 26Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed. 28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. 15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?’ 16So they approached Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17“Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.” Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’ 19But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

3. Discuss how we can grow in faith especially in tough times.
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45c
Refrain: The Lord has always been mindful of his covenant.
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, and speak of all his marvellous works. R Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek his face. R Remember the marvels he has done, his wonders and the judgements of his mouth, O offspring of Abraham his servant, O children of Jacob his chosen. R Then he called for a famine in the land and destroyed the supply of bread. He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet in fetters; his neck they put in an iron collar. Until his prediction came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. R The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free. He set him as master over his household, as a ruler over all his possessions, To instruct his princes according to his will and to teach his elders wisdom. Hallelujah! R

Isaiah 59:15-21
15 Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled. 
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
   and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm brought him victory,
   and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
   and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
   and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay;
   wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies;
   to the coastlands he will render requital.
19 So those in the west shall fear the name of the Lord,
   and those in the east, his glory;
for he will come like a pent-up stream
   that the wind of the Lord drives on. 
20 And he will come to Zion as Redeemer,
   to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord.
21And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and for ever. 

Romans 10:5-15
Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’ 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’


When the going gets tough, let us remember that God is with us, and will bring us through the storms of life.  

Closing Prayer (Collect for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost)
Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church. Open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love, joy, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.