O blessed and most merciful Father,
We acknowledge this day our sins and shortcomings before you and confess our having forfeited every right to any and all good. We, by our guilt, have provoked you to anger, incurred your just indignation, and made ourselves liable to your eternal and righteous curse.
Yet, knowing that we deserve not the least of your favors, we humbly as that you would have compassion on us, and, through your infinite goodness and according to the riches of your grace, we pray that you would pardon the bounty of our sins and forgive all our trespasses.
We hold not back the depth and breathed of our evil. We readily confess and grieve the full bounty of it. We, poor sinners that we are have sinned each day, in thought, word, and deed. We have sinned against heaven and against our neighbor. We have sinned both intentionally and unintentionally. We have both by way of omission and commission; having left undone those things which we were commanded to do and having done those things which we were forbidden to do. We have sinned both because of our ignorance and lack of understanding and despite having had the light of nature and the gift of greater revelation.
There is not one commandment that we have not transgressed, and there is not one person within our purview who we have not offended in some way.
And knowing that our sins are so numerous that cannot even begin to be counted, we fly to you and hold only to the precious blood of your dear Son, who gave his life for sinners such as us. We have no grounds to ask even for the least of your favors, except by the cross upon which He died. Indeed, we would hold our tongues and submit to the just penalties of our condemnation had it not been for the gospel and the promise we have by it for full and complete reconciliation.
So God, with the hope of salvation that has been procured for us by our Friend and Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray that we might be restored to a right relationship with you. We trust that you will blot out all our sins and cast them as far as the east is to the west, never to be remembered again or counted against us.
We put our hope in your promise that you will cleanse us and fill us with the strengthening power of your Holy Spirit. And we look to you not just for the renewal in righteousness that we so desperately need, but also for the further affirmation of your saving love and tender mercy.
For all these things we pray in the Strong name of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Acts 13:38
“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man—the Lord Jesus Christ—forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything.”
Father in Heaven,
You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. You have pledged to never leave us nor forsake us, and this you have done. You have kept your promises to the uttermost and not one word has fallen to the ground.
While you have shown yourself to be faithful, we have been faithless. We have not kept your commandments and we have fallen woefully short of our covenant obligations. We sin daily in thought, word, and deed, and we quickly turn aside to follow after idols and the corruptions of our hearts.
Your words describes us well when it says that a faithless man is as dependable as a broken tooth or a unsteady foot. And this is how we have been to you and to towards those around us. Indeed, Lord, we have failed you by failing one another.
We have been faithless in our friendships and in our marriages, in our business contracts and in our pledges as parents. Our yes has not been yes, and our word is sand because we have broken vows, reneged on promises, and spewed out lies in abundance.
Father, we confess that we are nothing and deserve nothing. You would be right to damn us for all eternity.
But we look to you because your compassions are great and your mercy never fails. Father, we confess that we depend solely upon the veracity of your covenant love and the promises that were sealed with the blood of your dear Son.
God we pray in this blessed hope, asking that you would pardon all our sin and renew us through the cleansing that only your Spirit can provide. For this we pray in Jesus’s strong name, Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
Almighty God and merciful Father,
We thank and praise you for having forgiven our sins through the blood of your dear Son, Jesus Christ. We thank you for uniting us to Christ through your Holy Spirit and for adopting us as your children.
We pray, O Lord, that you will always govern and guide Hudson through every moment of his life. May he, through the working of your Spirit, be ever nurtured in faith and godliness all his days. Help him see your fatherly goodness and mercy which surrounds us all. Make him a champion of righteousness under the direction of Christ our King and High Priest. Give him the courage to fight against sin, grant him grace to overcome the wiles of the devil, and keep him from the dominion and domination of the world.
Above all, let him be fully dedicated to You all his life and never know a day where he did not know the only True and living God.
Adapted from the form for baptism of children [Psalter Hymnal].
We come before you this morning, knowing that you are the very embodiment of gentleness. Its chief demonstration is found in your not treating us with the severity that our sins deserve. Instead of heaping upon us the harsh terrors of your wrath, you have been gentle with us.
It is in lieu of this we come before you and confess that we have not lived up to our calling to mimic you in gentleness.
Father, we confess that we more are akin to rabid animals and wild savages than we are to Christ. By nature we are quick tempered and blood hungry. As such we are prone to be cruel and austere, rather than hospitable and civil in our temperament.
Father, we acknowledge that we have not been gentle with our children. As fathers and mothers we have been given that special duty to be honorable, and invite their honor. But we have failed to do so because we have been abrasive with them, critical of them, and unkind to them.
You have given us children and charged us to nurture them with the same fatherly affection that you bestowed upon us; being tender in our discipline and warm our embrace. But we have fallen short: When they have provoked us we have not remained calm. When they have sought us out, we have not been sympathetic to their needs. When they have been troubled, we have not been sensitive to their state.
Father, we confess that we have not been gentle as parents. Neither have we demonstrated this virtue in our marriages.
We took vows to “have and to hold.” But oftentimes it would seem that we had promised to “yell and to chide.” Forgive us, Father, for not gracing the one you have put at our side with the amiable spirit that we should.
Forgive us as men for not treating our brides with the tenderness that is due to her as the weaker vessel, and pardon our failure to live with her with understanding, as you have commanded.
Forgive our ladies for the times when they have broken out against their husbands and their authority. Forgive them for not having demonstrated a meek and quiet spirit, and embodied those two gems of gentleness that characterize a submissive spirit.
And Father, forgive us for all those other ways we fail to bear the fruit of gentleness: for being overly sarcastic; for correcting one another, but not with love; for lacking proper manners; for our failure to be polite; for all expressions of hatred; for all undue anger; and for our fits of envy.
These sins we bring to you, O God, solely because we know that “a bruised reed you will not break, and a gently burning wick you will not snuff out.” Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Mat 11:28-29
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Great and precious are your promises, O God, and we thank you that you have chosen to extend those promises to poor sinners like us. Moreover, we praise you that you seal us in them by the powerful working your Spirit.
It is for this reason that we bow our heads now. We pray that we would, by faith, experience the full power of this sacrament. We pray that by these waters you would impress the reality of those promises upon our hearts and confirm us in them. We pray that each of us might be comforted by the gospel and be further assured that you are the Savior of sinners.
Most especially we pray for Dan as he undergoes this rite. We pray that the reality to which this points may enliven his soul and stir him up to greater obedience. We pray that this cleansing would be that which strengthens him in times of temptation, steadies him in seasons of doubt, and encourages him when he does stumble and fall into sin.
Yea, o God, we pray that his baptism would be constant reminder to him of the depth of your grace, mercy, and love.
And this we do ask in the strong name of Jesus; Amen.
I was asked to participate in today's Election Day Prayer event that is being held downtown. It is put on by Southview Church and the Coalition, a conservative political group here in town. My segment of prayer is to focus on the topic of families. Here is what I plan to say...
As we bow our faces before you we acknowledge that a renewal in our country requires a renewal in our marriages and families. We know that we cannot have the former without first having repentance and reformation in the latter.
We confess that our nation is broken because our homes are broken. We suffer oppression from Pharaohs and Caesars because we have not first had godly mothers and fathers.
So we pray that you would grant us renewal at the grassroots level. May there be a reformation in our land, where we take to heart what it means to be united in the covenant of holy matrimony. May we begin to see that there is nothing more patriotic than the fidelity of a husband and his wife. May you grant us fathers and mothers who, instead of slaying their children, will instead love them and cherish them all their days. May these parents then take up their responsibility to train their children them in the fear of you and not further the decay of our country by handing them over to schools where atheism and relativism are the rule.
As we stand here today, we pray “God save the home.”
But yet, we know that as the king goes, so goes the nation. And for this reason we pray not just for a grassroots revival, but we also pray for our leaders and the policies that they make.
Lord, we ask that you would grant that those who would win out these elections would be restrained from instituting policies that further the destruction of marriage and family in our land. Instead, may they be made to do what is just and promote what is in accord with rule of King Jesus.
We pray that policies that strike against godliness would be revoked. You know how our nation permits (and even encourages) things like divorce, sodomy, and abortion. Moreover, our leaders continue to wrap the chains of debt around us. They oppress our families with heavy taxation. They rip apart families with their welfare programs. All this leads only to death at every level.
So we pray, like our forefather’s before us “God save the king.”
Finally, We pray “God save the church.” Where is the light to be found for our families? It is not in the pure preaching of your word and in the revelation of Biblical Truth. Father, we know that families will only rise out of the ashes when you unleash the gospel and unveil the fullness of its saving power. So we pray that you would raise up godly men to preach your word and send them throughout our nation as heralds of Your eternal kingdom.
All this we pray in the strong name of our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Call to Confession
Reformed theology is unique among the different strands of Christian belief because we have a particularly low view of man and our depravity.
We will often confess that man is morally incapable of doing anything good apart from God’s grace. But that is not all that we will say. Reformed theology goes further to confess that man is wholly dependent upon God to restrain us from perpetrating the full potential of our evil. In other words, we are not as bad as we could be—and that is only because God is actively holding us in check and preventing us from further sin.
This doctrine is found in many places in Scripture. For instance, in Genesis 20 we read about how Abraham gave his wife to Abimelech. And it says that God kept Abimelech from touching Sarah. The idea is that God restrained Abimelech and prevented him from doing what he had every intention of doing with Sarah.
This past week in our Sunday evening study we came across that passage in David’s life where he was snubbed by the wicked man named Nabal. We read how his wife, Abigail, ran out to meet David and attempted to keep him from coming and slaughtering Nabal’s household. And in that passage it says that the Lord prevented David from doing that.
We could cite a number of New Testament passages as well. The foremost among them is Romans 1, where it says that “God gave them over to their sinful desires.” The idea there is that God punishes us by removing his hand and the restraints he places on our evil propensity.
Well, this morning I wish to lead us in a prayer of repentance, and I will be dealing with this theme of God’s gracious restraint. So I’d ask that you bow your heads and agree with me in prayer as we come before the Lord.
Confession of Sin
Apart from you we can do nothing. And before you we are nothing. For we are sinners who are desperately lost and powerless in and of ourselves to rectify our moral condition.
Father, we confess that, were it not for your restraining hand, we would have long ago plunged headlong into every sort of grave and grievous sin. Yea, had you not held our nature in check we would have destroyed ourselves, our neighbors, and every good thing in our path. For we do not just have a vulnerability for being tempted, but we are predisposed by nature to all that is evil and we do earnestly yearn for the vile pits of ruin and misery.
Lord, we thank you that you have not let our depravity follow its natural course nor let it escalate to its full potential.
And this day we do confess our desperate need for your pardon and saving power. Our sins will not be diminished in one least bit if you do not intervene and renew us in righteousness. We can no more change our heart’s disposition than a leopard change his spots. Our only hope of reformation lies in the effectual power of your grace and the inward working of your Holy Spirit.
So we pray that your mercies may fall upon us and quicken us. Put to death what is unrighteous in us and bring to life any and all godly affections. May you, through the shed blood of our Dear Savior, forgive all our thoughts, words, and deeds that have violated your law, and may you crucify them there with Christ once and for all.
God we know that even this prayer does not find its origin in us. That we even look heavenward is owing to your kindness. And we count it but a token of what you may do to revive us in newness of life.
We only ask that you would continue to override our hearts and let the Spirit of grace rule in us.
Assurance of Pardon
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8
My friend Joe and I have been doing some street evangelism through the summer here in Ashland and over in Mansfield. We've had so many opportunities to share the gospel and are praying that fruit may come of it. Here are a few pics of some of our outings:
Providence Church is a dual confessional church, which means we allow for either infant baptism or infant dedication if the family is of a credo baptist persuasion. This morning we had a child dedication. This was the prayer that I offered for the occasion:
You sent your own Son into this world as the child of Mary and Joseph. And in the same way you commit to us the joy of raising children.
We thank you for the life of Josiah and Nevin, which now have been entrusted to the care of these parents. Help us to remember the weight of this great privilege and to assist them as they raise them in the fear and admonition of your name.
Grant Matt & Rachel and Mike & Renata all grace and fill them with your Spirit, so that they may love these precious gifts and help them walk in the way of God. Equip them with the patience, strength and wisdom to impart our most holy faith at all times. Guide them to speak what is in accord with sound doctrine, to use the rod of discipline with the most affectionate skill, to exemplify repentance, and to hold forth the gospel in all its purity.
And in so doing, may Josiah and Nevin grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. May they hold fast to Christ all their days and seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. May there never be a day that they did not know Christ as Lord and Savior. And may you shine the light of your love upon them even now.
For we ask this in the strong Name of Jesus.
Providence's evangelism team recently purchased this prayer stand to assist in our outreach to the area. Joe and I gave it a "test drive" yesterday and we were blessed in our time out on the town.
Joe picked a perfect spot to set it up: just outside the municipal building in Mansfield, a place where people were definitely interested in having prayers offered for them! We were there from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm and enjoyed a steady flow of people passing by.
We got to pass out a goodly number of tracts, and many of them were read as people walked away or sat around waiting for their court hearing. More significantly, we had opportunity to talk to a couple people who wanted prayer.
One such person was Dora. Dora was 8 months pregnant and going in to court because her boyfriend had beaten her. She requested prayer for the case and her pregnancy. We talked with her, prayed for her, and gave her a gospel tract.
Ben was our most intriguing contact. He was on his way to an AA meeting up the street and, as he sped past, he asked that we pray for his sobriety. He came back after his meeting and we talked for about 1/2 hour about the gospel and how it applies to addictions. Ben expressed that he had recently made a profession of faith. So we encouraged him to continue trusting Christ for the power to overcome these addictions. Then we concluded our time with prayer.
All in all, we loved the addition of the prayer stand. For one, it is a good "marker." It helps people know what we are out to do. It also makes others more inclined to approach us as most people are willing to have prayers offered for them and would avoid someone who is out doing straight up evangelism.
As mentioned above, Joe and I had a great time out on our trial run. We are looking forward to doing this on a more regular basis. It is our plan to be in both Ashland and Mansfield on a weekly basis through the spring and summer months.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.