John Wesley’s Covenant Service for the New Year
2023 at SBFN
Revised by Jonathan Powers and Andy Lauer
Leader: Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations (Ps. 90:1)
People: You are the one true God who reigns forever.
Leader: Almighty God, You search our hearts and you see every part of us. All our desires are
known to You, and from you no secrets are hidden. Cleanse now the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may perfectly love you and glorify Your holy name forever. We pray this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Leader: Now, let us pray the Lord’s prayer together:
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and glory forever. Amen.
2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3
Leader: Dear SBFN family, the Christian life is a life found in Christ–redeemed from sin, and
consecrated to God. We are those who have entered into this life and have been admitted into the new covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He is the Mediator of this covenant. He sealed it with His own blood so that it would last forever.
On one side of this covenant stands God, who promises to give us new life in Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfector of our faith. Every day God proves His goodness and grace to us, showing us that His promise still stands firm.
On the other side, we stand as those who promise to no longer live life for ourselves but instead to only live for Jesus Christ because He has loved us and given His life for us.
There are times in our lives when it is important for us to remember and reaffirm our promises and vows. In this same way, we come today to renew our covenant with God. Many generations have done this before us. Today, we make the covenant our own, renewing with both joy and sincerity the covenant that binds us all to God.
EXAMINE OUR HEARTS AND CONFESS OUR SINS
Leader: We are those who seek to live as true disciples of Jesus Christ, but sometimes we fall short. Let us now examine ourselves before God, humbly confessing our sins and submitting our hearts so that we do not fool ourselves and push ourselves away from God. Let us pray:
People: Father God, You have set forth the way of life through Your Son Jesus Christ, whom You
love dearly. With shame at our sins, we confess that we have been slow to learn from Him and have been reluctant to follow Him. You have spoken and called to us but too often we have not listened. You have revealed Your goodness to us, but we have been blind. You have stretched out Your hands to us through our friends, but we have ignored them. We have accepted Your gifts and yet offered little thanks. We are unworthy of Your unchanging love.
Leader: We now confess to You our sins.
Please forgive us for the distractedness of our worship…
for the selfishness of our prayers…
for our inconsistency and unbelief…
for the ways we neglect fellowship together
for the ways we take for granted Your grace…
for our hesitation to tell others about Christ….
for the ways we deceive others…
People: Forgive us for when we waste time and for the ways we misuse the gifts You have given us,
and if we’ve neglected tithes and offerings. Forgive us for when we have made excuses for the wrong
things we have done and when we have purposefully avoided responsibility.
Leader: Forgive us when we have allowed evil to flourish without resistance from us and when we
have failed to overcome that evil instead with righteousness and goodness. Forgive us when we have not not been faithful to carry our cross. Forgive us that we have not allowed Your love to work through us to help others and that we have not made their suffering our own. Forgive us for those times when instead of working for unity we made it hard for others to live with us because of our lack of forgiveness, inconsiderate judgment, and quick criticism. But also forgive us when we have sought a false unity that is not centered on Jesus Christ, His Truth, and His Word, the Bible.
People: Forgive us for when we have not tried to reconcile with others and when we have been slow to seek redemption.
Leader: Forgive us also for these sins that we silently confess to You now.
Leader: Our God, the Father of all mercies, You are faithful to cleanse us from our sins and restore us to Christ’s image. Praise and glory be to You, God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling – Charles Wesley
Leader: Let us gathered here before the Lord now reaffirm our covenant and commit ourselves to
Christ as His servants. Let us give ourselves to Him so that we may fully belong to Him. Jesus Christ has left us with many acts of service and worship to be done. Some of these services are easy and bring us honor, but some are difficult and may incur the abuse of others. Some line up with our desires and interests, while others are contrary to both. In some we please both Christ and ourselves, but then there are other works where we cannot honor Christ except by denying ourselves.
As we pray the following prayer together, let me encourage you to pray these words with as much sincerity, humility, and seriousness that you can.
Leader: Our Lord, Jesus Christ, together now, as the people of SBFN, each of us now offers this prayer with all sincerity and worship:
People: Let me be Your servant. Let me follow your commands. I will no longer follow my own desires. I give myself completely to your will.
Leader: The power and strength to live as true servants is given to us in Christ. We accept the place and work that He gives us, acknowledging that He alone will be our reward.
People: I am not my own. I am Yours alone. Make me into what You will. Rank me with those You will. Put me to use for You. Put me to suffering for You. Let me be employed for You. Let me be cast aside for You. Let me be lifted high for You. Let me be brought low for You. Let me be full or let me be empty. Let me have all things or let me have nothing. With a willing heart, I freely give everything to Your will and purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Leader: Christ is Savior to those who are His true servants. He is the source of all salvation to those who obey. To be His servant is to consent fully to His will. Christ accepts nothing less. Christ will be all in all, or He will be nothing.
Now confirm this truth in holy covenant. Make it a reality in your life in these ways:
First, set apart time in your day to spend alone with the Lord. Seek to perceive God’s special care for
you and gracious acceptance of you. Carefully think through the words of this covenant and its
conditions. Examine your heart, even if you have freely given your life to Christ. Name the sins in your
life. Reflect on whether you are willing to choose Christ’s holy laws and strict commands. Be sure you
are clear in all of these so you do not lie to God!
Second, maintain a constant, humble spirit of holy awe and reverence, recognizing that God is the Author and Giver of Life as well as the Final Judge of all.
Third, claim God’s covenant. Do not trust in your own strength and power but rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength. In this way, He will empower you to keep your promise.
Fourth, be determined to be faithful. You have given your heart and life to God. You have opened your mouth to dedicate yourself to the Lord. With God’s power, never go back to your former way of living.
And last, be prepared to renew your covenant with God. Fall on your knees in humility before Him. Lift your hands in supplication. Open your hearts in prayer and obedience.
CONGREGATIONAL SONGAnd Can It Be? - John Wesley
THE COVENANT PRAYER
Leader: Let us pray together:
People: Our righteous Heavenly Father, for the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, see us now as we fall down before You. Forgive our unfaithfulness when we have not done Your will. You promise mercy if we turn to You with our whole heart.
Leader: God requires that you rid yourself of every idol in your life.
People: From the bottom of my heart, I here and now renounce every idol in my life, covenanting with You that I will not knowingly or willingly sin. By turning against Your will I have turned my love toward the world. In Your power I will watch for any temptation that will lead me away from You.
Leader: Through Jesus Christ, God offers to be your God again, if you allow Him to be.
People: Before all heaven and earth, I here and now acknowledge You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as my Lord and God. I vow to give all of myself, body and soul, to be Your servant and to serve You in
holiness and righteousness all the days of my life.
Leader: Jesus Christ is the only way and means to God. God has given us Jesus as the way and
means to salvation.
People: Jesus, I here and now accept You as the only Way to live my life. I join myself in covenant with You. With all my power, I accept You as my Lord and King. I renounce my own unworthiness, and vow that You are the Lord, my righteousness. I renounce my own wisdom and take You for my only guide. I renounce my own will and take Your will as my law.
Leader: Christ has told you that you must suffer with him.
People: Jesus, I here and now make this covenant with You and accept whatever comes in life,
whether easy or difficult. Through Your grace I promise that neither life nor death will separate me from You.
Leader: God has given holy laws as the rule of your life.
People: I here and now willingly take on Your holy Word and Your teaching. All Your laws are holy, just, and good. I accept them as the rule for my words, thoughts, and actions, promising that I will
strive to order my whole life around Your direction. I will not allow myself to neglect anything I know to be my Christian duty.
Leader: The Almighty God searches and knows you, even the thoughts of your heart.
People: O God, You know that we have made this covenant today in sincerity, without deceit or reluctance. If You find anything false in us, guide us and help us to set it right. From this day forward,
I will look upon You as my God and Father. Jesus, You have loved me and washed me from my sins in Your own blood. From this day forward, I will look upon You as my Savior and Redeemer. Holy Spirit, by Your almighty power, You have turned my heart from sin to God. From this day forward I will look upon You as my Comforter and Guide. O mighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You have now become our Covenant Friend, and through Your infinite grace, we have become Your covenant servants. You are ours and we are Yours. May this covenant that we have made here on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.
CLOSING CONGREGATIONAL SONGChrist Be Magnified - SBFN Worship Band