O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets, shineth The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight
THE WORLD OF SINNERS.
Father God, we live in darkness. The world is a dark place.
The nations are angry. The kings are furious, getting ready for war. The rulers are plotting against the anointed one, plotting against the Messiah. (Acts4:24-27 NLT)
The world is full of evil and wickedness, suffering and violence, injustice and grief, families ripped apart, refugees fleeing from oppression.
You have told us that the source of the world’s evil is every human heart.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race;
to see, if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away.
They eat up one another like bread and wouldn't think of praying to the LORD. (Ps14:1-4 NLT)
Father, we admit, while the Nations are against you, we too plot against You.
We don’t just sin. We are sinners.
Each of us wants the world to orbit around us, our needs and desires.
Each of us wants to be the captain of our own soul.
Our self-interest always comes first.
Instead of loving each other, everyone is looking after himself.
There is a “little King Herod” that wants to rule in every heart,
that is easily threatened by anything that may compromise its power over his neighbours.
Like the children said last week. It is the I-trouble, trapped in that fatal narcissism.
We want to be god.
We want our own Babylon.
Satan knows exactly how much we adore ourselves. And he uses that against you.
So readily, we believe in what sin promises;
and stop believing in your promise.
Instead of clinging to your word desperately as the only guidebook for our life,
we rely on news and Facebook to find the truth.
We drift instead of pressing on.
We neglect, instead of holding fast, to our great salvation.
We exchange indestructible joy for anxiety;
and let anxiety shape our decisions and investments.
Instead of calming our fears; we are scared and are feeling alone.
Father God, this is the fight we face every day in our Christian life.
We live in darkness. The world is a dark place. But You are Light.
You are God with us, your name is Immanuel (Mat1:23 Is7:14).
You are a great hope. This world is not all there is. Because of you, there is grace; there is life after death.
Evil and suffering will one day end. despite all our repeated, unending failings.
The dark world does not have the power over us.
You know that we could never climb up to you. So, You came down.
Your love was joyous in the presence of King Herod’s corrupt rule. You were unafraid, not anxious over the state of affairs.
You found truth and beauty in people and places.
And because you came to fetch us, there is Christmas; there is hope.
We can be Christians only because You show up every day in our lives, fighting our battles for us.
So, “every warrior’s boot used in battle will be burnt
and every garment rolled in blood will be fuel for the fire.”
The great victory over evil, You have fought and won;
it will not require our strength. (Is 9:5)
Christmas tree may burn.
The God of Christmas may be hung to the tree.
The earth gives way; the ocean roars;
Even when the mountains are swallowed by the sea,
You are our refuge, our strength, our very present help in trouble. (Ps6:1-3 ESV)
To the world darkened by sin, let’s not give it the power it doesn’t deserve,
because that Tree of sacrifice and salvation
shines as a light of eternal hope –
it will never, ever go out.
Your love would never run out.
They're created new every morning.
Your faithfulness is just awesome! (Lam 3:22-23 MSG)
PRAYER FOR OURSELVES
Thank you for convicting us for our wrongs.
They are your beautiful grace in action to protect and to rescue.
They are evidences of your tender, patient care,
which you do so relentlessly,
to give sight to our eyes and to tender our hearts
so that we can be progressively freed
from the hold of sin on our thoughts, our desires, and our actions.
We ask you to be merciful,
to blow through our walls of spiritual blindness and self-righteousness;
to help us see ourselves who we actually are;
and to seek the grace that is ours to grab for free in Jesus Christ.
Father, I pray that you will give us repentance. (Heb6:6)
Stop us from drifting, to be passive, distracted.
Draw your people out of trusting promises of sin, into trusting promises of God.
Forgive us for being so cavalier about your word, your promises, your oath, your covenant -considering them dispensable. (Heb6:11-12 NLT)
Father, I pray that you will help us.
Enable us to be far more intentional about our spiritual growth, about prayers, and about overcoming our bad habits,
as we cannot just glide through our Christian life.
Save, sanctify, secure and protect us; give us joy, heal us, pull us back from any suicidal trajectory.
Attract us with your beauty to break our addictions to fame, security, stability and power.
Palpate and pierce our hearts with your love. So that we see things the way you see them.
Enable us to pursue vigorously,
so that we will not wander around in doubt and unbelief;
we will not retreat when things get hard.
Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst.
Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long
that we should just putter around on the porch of eternity. (John Piper)
We ask you to take this heart of stone out of us and give us a new heart of flesh. (Ezr11:19 NASB)
Put the fear of You in our hearts, so that we will not turn away from You.
Circumcise us to love you with all our hearts, mind and soul.
Infect us with your holiness. (Is 1:18)
Grant us the liberty to only do what is right to do.
Strengthen us, so that we will not get tired from running a footrace,
Energize us, so that we can run with the horses.” (Jer12: 5).
Yes, we admit we don’t have the strength or character to live this way.
Time after time, our will to live for You only exposes the depth of OUR need for your grace. Thankfully, that grace is ours to receive,
because your Son, Jesus had endured till “it is finished”.
Father, I pray that you will help us with your word
That it will seep down into the crevices of our hearts.
Help us feel content with your word and your promises,
as your word is powerful, is active, is living,
let it cut, and penetrate thru all our layers of hardened shells of deception,
right down to the bottom of our hearts, until it reaches our defences, our every lie,
like a 2-edged sword -
so sharp that it penetrates down, to that division of flesh, joints, bone, marrow and soul;
exposing our unbelief, judging our thoughts and intentions.
And when it gets to the bottom,
there it starts assessing with your great promises.
Other than finding the I-trouble, the ugly sinner there, rescue is waiting.
There, merciful and gracious God, You are waiting for us - slow to anger, abounding in love, ready to forgive our every transgression.
There we will pursue your goodness and mercy all the days
and there you will give us rest that will satisfy our hearts forever and ever.
O God, give us great confidence as we hang-on to the hope that lies before us,
as you have given a strong and trustworthy anchor
that does not hold us down, deep into the water,
but up, up all the way toward heaven, thru the veil, into the sanctuary.
Lord, enable us to hold fast to the other side of the rope. Bind us with that rope so tight,
that we will wander no more. (Heb6:18-19 NLT)
In the name of your Son, Jesus,
Who came as a baby to shine his everlasting light in darkness;
And who will come again with sword in his mouth and tattoo on his thigh, (Rev 19:15–16).
It is in his name we pray. Amen.