After giving the Beatitudes to the multitude on the plain, Jesus articulates seven aspects of his demand for love for others without qualifications. The demonstration of this supernaturally provided love provides proof of a disciple’s connection to the Father, whose love is to be distinguished from the preferential, selfish love that we normally give to those in our circles. He commanded them to love their enemies, do good to those who hate them, to bless those who curse them, to pray for those who mistreat them, to never retaliate (v. 29a), to give to others freely (vv. 29b-30), and to treat others the way they would want to be treated (v. 31). This kind of unconditional love and mercy is of the same kind demonstrated by the Father to us and all humankind.
Jesus then spoke of the law of sowing and reaping (cf. Gal. 6.7-8), which is outlined in his testimony that we should not judge lest we be judged, that we do not condemn to avoid condemnation, that we forgive in order to be forgiven, and that we give to others in order that the Father will generously give back to us. He ends his teaching by saying, “the measure you use will be measured back to you” (v. 38b). The disciple of Jesus is here exhorted to give and love even as the Father gives and loves, and through those actions, be ready to receive the same in kind as s/he offers and provides to others.
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Eternal Father, give us a heart of forgiveness, generosity, and compassion that you have, that you demonstrated to us through the gift of your Son. We are confident that if we obey your Word, even as Jesus taught us, that you will provide even more for us, in abundance and good measure, and graciously, abundantly beyond what we gave. Make us like your Son in every way, amen.
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of grace and mercy, grant us the power to be merciful, even as you and the Father have been merciful to us. We are confident that if we love our enemies and do good, expecting nothing in return, truly our reward will be great and we will be children of the Most High God, he who is kind to the ungrateful and to the evil. Let the power of the Father be seen in how we live and love, for your sake, amen.
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Father, grant me the grace through your Spirit to do to others what I wish to be done to me, and to love my enemies.
Weekly Reflection on the Priesthood of all Believers
In spite of all this evidence, thousands of sincere Christians apply the go in the Great Commission to foreign missions, with the possible inclusion of home missions and the work of the pastor. It never seems to dawn on them that it is an individual and personal command which includes them. Because they are not providentially directed to give their whole lives to the ministry of missions, home or foreign, they imagine that the Lord’s command has to be obeyed by proxy. The unscriptural phrase “Either go, or send someone in your place” has helped multitudes to live in constant disobedience to the Great Commission, theoretically in good conscience. The Lord never intended for us to send someone in our place. He intended for us to go! Every Christian has a personal world into which he is to go. Our business is to go; the Lord’s prerogative is to send.
~ Roy J. Fish and J. E. Conant, Every Member Evangelism.
Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1976. p. 21.
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Chosen One of God, Luke 9.28-36
Carter, Guard the Good Deposit