The Messenger (Part 1)
The foundational competence for every messenger fo the gospel is a heart that loves God above all else.
” 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.“
– Mark 12:28-34
I. The Gospel Messenger Must Be A Lover Of God
II. A Lover Of God Must Be A Gospel Messenger
III. Growing In Love For God
Framing your day with prayer
As mentioned in today’s sermon, the practice of regular conversation with God throughout the day has always been part of the life of God’s people. David’s morning (5) and evening (4) Psalms are great examples, Daniel’s practice of prayer three times a day another. Paul taught a life of constant prayer (1 These 5:17, Eph 6:17,18, Phil 4:6, Col 4:2). Finally, Jesus’ own teaching on prayer is a sure confirmation of all of this (Luke 11:2ff, Mark 14:38).
Throughout church history then it should be no surprise that various ministers have put together guides for individuals and families to frame the regular activities of the day in prayer. One example of this comes from the reformer John Calvin’s 1545 Geneva Catechism. Here Calvin suggested a pattern of time in prayer to reorient the heart to God at specific points throughout the day: Upon rising from sleep; Upon beginning one’s work or study; after the midday meal; Before sleep. Some freely adapted versions of these prayers can be found in Timothy Keller’s book Prayer (2014: pages 264-266). These kinds of written prayers were meant of course to supplement fresh prayer based on regular meditation on God’s word and reflection on other needs but they provide a framework for learning to commune with and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to God as an act of love and adoration. Here is the adapted version of Calvin’s Prayer upon Rising from Sleep found on page 264 of Keller’s book Prayer.
Prayer upon Rising from Sleep
My God, Father, and Savior, since you have been pleased to give me the grace to come through the night to the present day, now grant that I may employ it entirely in your service, so that all my works may be to the glory of your name and the edification of my neighbors. As you have been pleased to make your sun rise upon the earth to give it us bodily light, grant the light of your Spirit to illumine my understanding and my heart. And because it means nothing to begin well if one does not persevere, I ask that you would continue to increase your grace in me until you have led me into full communion with your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the true Sun of our souls, shining day and night, eternally and without end. Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.