Wrestling With God

Preacher: Bruce Leonhart

Bible Passage: Ephesians 6:10-19

Theme for the Week beginning December 27, 2020:  “Wrestling With God”

  • An EXCITING video service just for children (and kids at heart) is found at the end of this service. Just scroll down!  (Thanks, LifeChurch!)
The Prelude:  We Prepare Ourselves to Worship God

 

 We Gather Together
  • If you have family worshipping with you, give everyone a hug.
  • If you are alone, take a moment and imagine the arms of the Loving Lord wrapped around you.  Send thoughts of love to those most important to you.
  • Then, find a spot at your chosen place of worship.  Light your candle(s).
  • Be silent for a moment, asking God to open your hearts to every good gift that God has for you today.

 

We Open with Prayer

(If possible, please pray out loud):

Mighty One of Israel,
we walk in paths well trodden
by generations of fellow believers.
We love to claim you as our God
and to be known as your people.
We love to hear the great deeds of the saints
who went before us.
We love to count ourselves
in their mighty company.
Forgive our reluctance
to put on our own armor of faith
as we face the powers of sin and death
in our own lives. Amen.

We Sing a Song of Praise: “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”

(UMH #514; FUMC, Houston, February 24, 2019)

(Please sing along or just listen to this inspirational song)

 

We Call Each Other to Worship

(If possible, read out loud.  If you are not alone, take turns reading the light and the bold lines.)

Leader: We have come to praise God, who has done wonderful things among us.

People: In Jesus, the Christ, God has shown us love, giving light for our darkness, and strength for all our days.

Leader: Sing praise to God’s name, bow before God in prayer, open your hearts to God’s saving word.

People: Arise, shine, for your light has come!

We Pass the Peace of God to Others

If you are with others in your home, give each other a hug, and pray for those who will not have any human touch today.

If you are alone, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind at least one person who needs a call or email or card.  Commit to following through on this as soon as this worship service ends.  (If you have others in your household, they can do this, too).

 We Read the Bible
Ephesians 6:10-19 (NIV)

(If possible, read all scriptures out loud)

Finally, be strong in the lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flash and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have everything, to stand 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 19 pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

Leader:  The word of God for the Children of God:

People:  Thanks be to God!

We Testify to God’s Grace:    “Wrestling with God”

Rosie DiBianca (California, USA), The Upper Room, January 24, 2020

After Jacob wrestled with a stranger, this stranger gave him a new name. The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Gen. 32:28, NIV). Through his struggle, Jacob changed. He was not the same person as before.

Perhaps at one time or another, all believers have felt as if they have been wrestling with God. I feel this way when I’m searching for a new job. For some people, this task may not be particularly stressful; but at times in a job search I have felt as if I were in a push and pull with God and with the people involved. I struggle to deal with one rejection after another, to pray, to send out more resumes, and to make more phone calls — in what at times feels like a losing battle to prove myself. All the while I try to be content that my task is to trust the Lord while I search. Like Jacob, after an encounter with God I am not the same person as before.

I have learned that when we are faithful, our wrestling is not in vain. In whatever we are struggling with today, we can find courage — believing that staying in what seems like a fight may result in a blessing because God is at work.

“Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3 (NIV)

 

We  Sing a Hymn of Devotion: “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown”

(Written by Charles Wesley. Performed November 11, 2015, by the Washington Choral Arts Society. Director: Scott Tucker)

Please play the music video and reflect or sing along.

 

We Hear the Sermon from Bruce Leonhart, Lay Servant

“Wrestling with God”

We Pray to the Lord

To receive the prayer email, please reach out to healing@hopefortulsa.com

(If possible, please pray out loud)

 God, today I (we) pray . . .

    • for the people of Hope United Methodist Church, and especially …
      • We pray for Cyndi McNutt in her recovery from cataract surgeries.
      • We pray for our members and friends who are in nursing homes and rehab centers.
    • for those who suffer and those in trouble, and especially…
    • for the concerns of this local community, and especially…
    • for the world, its peoples, and its civic leaders, and for the earth that you have given to our care.
      • We especially pray for President Donald Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, President-elect Joe Biden, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and their families.  We pray for a smooth and peaceful transition of government.  We pray for all those newly elected into public offices, locally and nationally.
    • for the battle we are facing with COVID-19, and especially those who are suffering and those who are responding, and for … 
      • . . . God to stem the uprise in the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations.              
    • for the Church universal—its leaders, its members, and its mission. We especially pray for Bishop Nunn and for our Superintendent, Connie Gibson.  We also pray for those churches that are now opening up and ask that those who gather would be wise and caring for each other.  We ask that you would protect all your congregations from harm and disease, and give us a mighty dose of your Spirit.  We pray for these and for other Christian leaders, including…
      • . . . the Hoffmanns as they move this week to Oklahoma City.
      • . . . the new pastor soon to be appointed to Hope UMC.
    • in communion with the saints, remembering all those who have gone on before us, and now form part of the Great Hall of Faith which encourages those of us who remain on earth.  Today we especially remember . . .
      • . . . all those from the family of Hope that have passed away in 2020.
      • . . . all those who have died from COVID, or have died apart from family and friends.
    • For my (our) needs today, which include…

Help us remember, Lord, that you are merciful and good, and quick to act in times of need.  We thank you for all of your many blessings that you graciously give to us and to the world you love.

Therefore, as your children on earth, we pray the prayer that our Brother Jesus taught us to pray:

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, 
and the power, and the glory, 
for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Gifts to the Lord

Even during COVID-19, the work of Hope United Methodist Church continues!  Please take a moment to remember all the many blessings God has given you, and then go to

www.hopefortulsa.com/give

to make an online donation.  It’s simple to sign up–just have your checkbook, debit card, or credit card ready to provide the requested information.  You just have to do this one time.  You can continue to use this online portal in the weeks ahead to bless your church and your Lord.

If you’d like to mail a check instead, please make it out to “Hope UMC” and send it to:  Hope UMC, 12424 E. 31st St., Tulsa, OK  74146.  All donations are tax-deductible.  And thank you in advance!

Closing Hymn: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

(UMH #110; FUMC, Houston, January 12, 2020)

Benediction 

(Please read together aloud):

Go in peace and take peace into the world. You are the body of Christ. Serve and honor one another as we pray for health and prosperity in the new year. Amen.

 

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Enjoy this LOOP Show Worship-at-Home-for-Kids Video from LifeChurch!

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