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Restoring to God our "Totality-of-life"

Restoring to God
our
"Totality-of-life", treasured-possessions, time, and talents

The Worship of God by the People of God

Let us Pray:

Lord, to whom can we go, for you have
the words of eternal life? You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You
know everything and you know that we love you. Lord, save us for you are the
Holy One, the Son of God.

Lord, give us today the enthusiasm to
worship you. We are alive and overwhelmed with joy because of who you are. At a
time when self-isolating and self-distancing measures prevent us from gathering
in fellowship the way we once did, 
we remain positive that you are making all things new. Come and dwell with us and enable us to restore to you our "totality-of-life",
treasured-possessions, time, and talents.

Help us, O Lord,
never to nurse the grievance that separates us from you and from one another.
Grant us grace to forgive those who have wronged us. May we know that no sin is
so great that it cannot be confessed; no wound so deep it cannot be healed, and
no sinner so lost that grace cannot bring them home. Amen (
William Booth 1829-1912).

Hymn: 102 'For the beauty of the earth' (Singing the
Faith)

Psalm 99 & Matthew 22:15-22

Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to trap him with his own words.
They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance
with the truth. You do not court anyone's favour because you show no
partiality. Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay
taxes to Caesar or not?" But Jesus realized their evil intentions and
said, "Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? Show me the coin used for the
tax." So, they brought him a denarius. Jesus
said to them, "Whose image is this, and whose
inscription? "They replied, "Caesar's." He said to them, "Then
give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are
God's." Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and
went away.

Reflection: To God, our 4 Ts!
As we mediate on this reading, I propose that we aim to restore to God the following 4 Ts: "totality-of-life", treasured-possessions, time, and talents:

"Totality-of-life": The penny Jesus asked to see bore Caesar's image, and
then he concluded that it belonged to Caesar. In the same way, since as the fruit of God's creation (Gen 1:26), we bear the image and likeness of God we certainly therefore belong to God. So, if we render our pennies to Caesar (i.e taxes to the UK government) because they bear his image, we yield then ourselves to God. Rightly so, because we bear God's image, we owe God the
glory, worship and adoration, praise and thanksgiving. We surrender our whole life to him as we sing "Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee", then this verse:
"Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is
thine own; it shall be thy royal throne".

To restore the "totality-of-life" to God is to present as an offering our heart to God together with everything we have and will have. By way of three examples, we can aim to restore:

Treasured-possessions: The things that
we treasure come from God. It is a part of our responsibility that out of love
we restore to God what belongs to God, for example, our offering of money. Paul
admits that "...Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under
compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9.7).
God loves receiving whatever we give out of the abundance of love from our heart. Church, whenever we restore our treasured-possessions to God by giving to the Church, friends in need, and worthy causes, we deepen our love relationship with God. Are you a cheerful giver?

Time: Sometimes we wish we could fast forward time, rewind it, or slow it down. Ironically, this
is not at all possible. My first recollection of wanting to fast forward time
was when I was in year 5, I could not wait to do my 11+ test in order to be in
secondary school among big girls and boys. Guest what, I had to wait. Another
time, as a family friend was rapidly dying from a stroke, I wish I could slow
down the clock to allow the ambulance to arrive. I couldn't. The point is that
we have no control over time but God who gives it. As God's precious gift to us
we have the responsibility to restore it to God by using it wisely and
prayerfully. Church, are you too busy to pray, search the Scriptures and be
with a friend in need?

Talents: Alongside time and treasure, our gifts and graces, expertise and qualities, wisdom and
knowledge – all our talents – are best used in the Kingdom of God. Our skills
in IT, social media, in pastoral care, leadership and our spiritual gifts can equally
be restored to God. We restore them to God whenever we join God in whatever God
is doing to transform life. Our God equips us with endless talents to be used
in church, society, and communities for his glory. Church, how best can we
use your talents for God?

Many of us may have already heard God's voice telling us to restore our "totality-of-life", time, treasure, and talents to him. Now, God is patiently waiting to hear from us. Church, how long
should God wait for?

Going Deeper: 
John Wesley was asked what he would do if he knew his Lord would return at a certain
time the next day. He said in effect, "I would go to bed and sleep; wake
up in the morning, and go on with my work, for I would want Him to find me
doing what he had appointed."

In this response, what was John
Wesley restoring to God?

Hymn:
446 'I will offer up my life' (Singing the Faith)

Let us pray:
Lord, we continue to pray for strength and clarity
of mind in the search for a vaccine for covid-19 as a culture of fear and death
is consistently crippling the wellbeing of nations. Speak your word, O Lord,
and rescue us from this pandemic.

Lord, we prayerfully uphold family members and
friends who are lonely, poorly and in need. We call on your name to provide for
people who have become unemployed, homeless, and bereaved at this time. 
May they abide in your presence where there is healing, fullness of joy and abundant life.
Grant wisdom to people in authority in our nations who take decisions that affect our lives and provide strength in your abiding presence for people whose lives are adversely affected
by the decisions they made.
We
also pray for wisdom for the urgent, life-changing decisions we get to make
soon.

Lord, take control of the church and fill us with your life-giving Spirit as we minister in these unprecedented times.

Other prayer concerns:

........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

The Lord's Prayer


Hymns: 566 'Take my life, and let it be' (Singing the Faith)

Blessing:
May the Lord bless you and take
care of you; May the 
Lord be kind and
gracious to you; May the 
Lord look on you with
favour and give you peace. Amen.

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