Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Hab. 3:17-18
Dear heavenly Father, I approach the throne of grace today on behalf of those of us who are living in difficult stories, like Habakkuk, with unsettling circumstances and uncertain outcomes. I’m so thankful you always welcome us in our brokenness, never despise us in our anxiousness, and thoroughly understand our weariness. You, alone, are grace-full—bidding us cast our cares on you, even as you are prepared to catch everyone of them.
I pray for those of us facing difficult health issues—in our own bodies and minds, or in the lives of those we deeply love. Father, the promise and hope of our resurrection bodies never looked so good (2 Cor. 5:1-5).
We know that Jesus’ finished work has secured our ultimate healing (Isa. 53:5); but as our “outer man” further deteriorates, we trust you for wisdom, grace and the supernatural work of your Holy Spirit. It’s not a matter of “claiming healing,” but loving and trusting the Healer. Bring great glory to yourself, and peace to our hearts, no matter what you write in the next chapter of our stories.
I pray for those of us living in difficult relationships—marriage and family, church and vocation, neighborhood and community. Few things are as unsettling and upsetting, as broken, strained and messy relationships.
We praise you for Day when we will enjoy perfect relationships forever—in the new heaven and new earth. But until that Day, grant us mercy, strength and love—whether we get to see the beauty of reconciliation, or must bear the pain and grieve the loss of relationships.
I also pray for those of us facing uncertain outcomes in difficult jobs, legal proceedings, financial stress, parenting challenges, global fears, and in any of a number of hard providences—though we may not yet be see and fig leaves, grape buds, olive blooms, or baby calves, grant us a centering inner joy—knowing the gospel is true, we are your beloved children, and you are in complete control of all things. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus trustworthy name.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?
For what can a man give as an exchange (a compensation, a ransom, in return) for his [blessed] life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?”—Mark 8:36-37 AMP
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. Ps. 63:1-5
Dear Lord Jesus, we want what David had—an intense yearning and craving for you. Make us so thirsty that we’ll remain insatiable until you hydrate our hearts with the gospel; satiate us with your steadfast love; quench us with fresh grace.
It’s a dangerous thing not to miss fellowship with you, Jesus. It’s a deceptive thing to enjoy you, but no longer actually need you. It’s a deceitful thing to be satisfied with correct theology about you, without experiencing rich communion with you. It’s a deadly thing to find our ultimate satisfaction in anyone or anything else but you.
Only your steadfast love is better than life, Lord Jesus—only your mercy drenched, grace propelled, God-favor-filled affection for us. Nothing else will do. You’ve created a gospel-shaped vacuum in our hearts—a screaming empty place that fits only you. Forgive us when we try to cram human love, creature comforts, or anything else into that place. Keep us redemptively discontent until our hearts rest again in you.
Lord Jesus, our cry isn’t just for ourselves as individuals, but also for our churches. Forgive us for being so organized, creative, and “right,” that we no longer miss your presence. If you actually “left the house,” how long would it take before we knew the difference? Show us, convict us, forgive us, and change us.
Let us see and experience your power and glory in fresh ways, Jesus. We want to lift our hearts, voices, hands, and whole lives to you as a sacrifice of praise. May the truth and grace of the gospel satisfy us, as “fat and rich food”. So very Amen we pray, with longing and expectant hearts.
A Prayer for Relinquishing Ownership of Our Battles to God
Posted: 20 Mar 2014 03:36 AM PDT
The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s. (1 Sam. 17:47) This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chron. 20:15)
Dear heavenly Father, I’m so thankful to begin this day relinquishing ownership of my battles to you. Your Word is so timely and encouraging. Though you call us into spiritual warfare and give us the appropriate armor to wear (Eph. 6:10-18), it’syou we must trust in as our “shield and buckler” (Ps. 91:4), high tower and safe refuge, mighty Warrior and faithful Deliverer.
I’ll fight, not a disengaged pacifist but as a fully engaged worshiper—”beholding the salvation of the Lord.” I’m never more than a little David facing a formidable Goliath; but with you, that is enough. Whether it’s a mere skirmish or an all-out assault, the battle belongs to you, Father. Fear and discouragement aren’t the order of the day; faith and peace are.
When dark plans and wicked ways threaten; when it seems like evil men and their destructive plots will triumph, let me hear your laughter in heaven, Father. Let me see your already-installed King, the Lord Jesus—for all things are subject to him,all things. Show me the occupied throne of heaven, and it will shut up my fears (Ps. 2; Rev. 4).
When I’m under attack by the seducer, accuser, and condemner of the brethren, once again let me see Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. Jesus, alone, is my wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30-31). My boast is in Christ plus nothing, not in anything in me.
When I get pulled into petty fights and relational turmoil, with friends, “brethren, and others, center me quickly by the power of grace, and bring me back to faith expressing itself in love (Gal. 5:6)—the only thing that matters.
When I’m in the presence of systemic evil and extreme brokenness, keep me sane, calm and wise. When my divided heart wages war inside of me, come to me in the storm, Father, and bring your peace that passes all understanding and transcends every difficulty. So very Amen I pray with confidence, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name.
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:18-19
Gracious Father, the season of Lent is, once again, confronting me with my penchant for living more of a driven life, than a called life. The last few weeks have been a blur—filled with too much navel gazing and second-guessing, and performance-ism and perfectionism.
By your grace, I want to live with less fear and more freedom, less by frenzy and more by faith, with fewer obsessions and with much more adoration of you, the God of all grace and peace.
As I get older I just don’t have as much energy to juggle as many balls or spin as many plates as I used to. This is simultaneously a humbling thing and a good thing. For if greater grace comes to the humble, then accepting my limitations is essential for my liberation. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!
It’s not difficult to see that my driven-ness and busyness are rooted in fear—the fear of not being enough and having enough, the fear of losing face and losing control, the fear of missing the mark and missing out.
Come, Lord Jesus, come. Perfection can only be found in you. Your perfect love alone can liberate this poser, performer, and perfectionist. Drive out my fears by a greater grasp of your grace and knowledge of your love. You lived a life of perfect obedience for us, as the second Adam—fulfilling everything God requires of us.
You died a death of perfect love for us, as the Lamb of God, exhausting God’s judgment against our sin. Your resurrection from the dead on the third day is the firstfruits and guarantee that one Day, we too, will be made perfect in love—the Day for which I long more than any other.
Lord Jesus, I love you because you first loved me and continue to love me. May your perfect love continue to drive every lingering and limiting fear from my life. So very Amen I pray, in your merciful and mighty name.
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James 2:1
Have you ever felt like people were treating you different from others? Have you ever felt like you were mistreated because of a belief that you had or for the clothes you were wearing or because of something you said?
Most of us have had this experience, and for most of us, it hurts.
James tells us that God hates this type of behavior. He uses the word “partiality.” To be partial to someone means to show them special favor. This isn’t always bad: A father might show special favor to his son in ways that he wouldn’t to his son’s friends. A husband might rightly show special favor to his wife that he would never show to other women.
But in the context of the book of James, he is exhorting his hearers to stop showing special favor to certain groups of people and to start treating everyone the same. In James’ day, there were groups of people who were tempted to mistreat other groups of people, and James wants them to know that this does not honor God. Everyone should have equal value because all are valuable in the sight of God.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
What does God creating humans in his image have to do with this verse?
Are you tempted to be partial to certain types of people?
Father, help us to love as you love. Help us to see your image in each person you have made. We are tempted to be selfish and unloving. Forgive us for this because of Jesus. May the world know that we are your children by the way we love one another. May you use our love as a witness to the truth of who you are. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love (Eph. 6:24). I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first (Rev. 2:4). I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3)
Dear Lord Jesus, I need this closing verse of Ephesians as much as I need air and water, for it calls us to focus of the most important thing in life—to love you with everything we have and are. Don’t let me ever forget, even for one nanosecond, that we love you only because you first loved us and gave yourself for us on the cross.
You didn’t lay down your life for deserving friends, but for rebels, fools, and idolaters—likeme. You love us, you’ve freed us from our sins by your blood, and you’ve made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and Father forever (Rev. 1:5-6). Now, Jesus, please make the familiar sound of these words come alive with renewed passion and fresh delight.
Even as we first needed grace to respond to your love (Eph. 2:8-10), so we need grace to stay alive to your love, and to grow even deeper in our affection for you. Your love for us is the one constant in our lives—for you love us with everlasting, unwavering, unabated affection. Everything else changes—everything else is subject to whim and fancy. But, unfortunately, our love for you does ebb and flow.
Jesus, give us fresh grace to love you with an undying love. May the cooling of our affections for you bother us more than the fragile economy, our broken relationships, political upheaval in the world, concerns about our health, getting older, or anythingelse. Jesus, don’t let us get used to status quo, middle-class, business-as-usual love for you.
If, by the Holy Spirit, we hear you saying to us this morning, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4), may we welcome it as a great gift, and respond with humility, gratitude and repentance.
For it means you are pursing us, and that you delight in us; it means your banner over us is love and your jealousy is current. That you are jealous for our love, Lord Jesus, is the greatest compliment you could possibly pay us. So very Amen we pray, in your glorious and grace-full name.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Rom. 7:22-25
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other. Gal. 5:17
Dear Lord Jesus, though I’m conflict avoidant by nature and choice, this is one conflict about which I am actually excited. The very fact that there’s a war going on inside of me is a good thing, especially since the combatants are the gospel and residual sin. For this means the outcome of this war has already been secured. The gospel will prevail! Yet I’m not naïve about the “mop-up” operation. Growing in grace is great, but it gets messy and intense.
The only reason I now delight in God’s law is because the law drove me to you, Jesus. I needed a substitute and a Savior, not a model and a coach. You perfectly met all the demands of law, and you exhausted its judgment against us. Hallelujah, many times over.
The messy part of this war involves your commitment to make us like yourself. Sanctification is certain, and certainly painful at times. You’re more committed to getting “heaven” into us than getting us into heaven. There’s great joy and peace in knowing that, one Day, I’ll be as loving and as lovely as you, for the Father will complete his work in each of his children.
Lord Jesus, now that I’m robed in your righteousness, and free of all guilt and condemnation, let me fearlessly see my sins, ruthlessly hate my sins, and relentlessly repent of my sins. Increase my love for holiness and decrease my self-contempt. Only the gospel can bring me such freedom. Only by seeing more of you will I delight in this liberating journey.
Jesus, you’re the end of all my wretchedness. You’re the one who’s rescuing me from this “body of death”—all the effects and residue of the fall, all the trappings of my grave clothes, every semblance of every way I’m not like you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So very Amen I pray, in your most powerful and loving
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”—Proverbs 11:24, 25 ESV
And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,
Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.
Gracious Father, this Scripture is so encouraging. I find great comfort today in remembering your tenacious commitment to change us—to make each of your children increasingly like Jesus. From beginning to end, salvation is of the Lord. Hallelujah! You began the good work of salvation in us, and you alone are sufficient to complete it.
I’d despair if this wasn’t the case, for the disparity between Jesus’ beauty and my brokenness is overwhelming at times. The thoughts I think; the things I feel; the choices I make, fall very short of the perfection that can only be found in Jesus. I could never be my own savior, and only a great Savior like Jesus is sufficient for someone like me.
As “the God of peace,” you are making me wholly holy—changing me through and through. You’re healing and freeing every part of my being—spirit, soul, and body—from the effects and affects of sin. You’re not anxious about the process. You’re at peace, even when I’m not. You don’t roll your eyes, furrow your brow, clear your throat, or show any signs of a nervous twitch when you think about me. O kind Father, you rest in your love toward me in Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I will be wholly blameless and shameless at your second coming, only because you took our blame and shame upon the cross. Even now, my life is safely hidden in you, and when you do return, I will appear with you in glory; for you are my life—my righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:31; Col. 3:4). I boast in you plus nothing, for I have nothing in myself in which to boast. My hope is built on nothing less, nothing more, and nothing other, than your blood and righteousness.
By faith, I actively trust in the righteousness I have passively received in you, Lord Jesus; and I gladly surrender to the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit—by whom I’m sealed, with whom I’m indwelt, and through whom I will be safely delivered into your presence. I long for the Day, finally, when I will be as loving and lovely as you are. So very I pray, with peace and joy, in your faithful and kind name.