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This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.“ Lam. 3:19-24 (NIV)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isa. 26:3 (ESV)
We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. Psalm 39:6 (NLT)
Dear heavenly Father, I woke up today with all kinds of random thoughts competing for my attention and energy. My “to do list” has more demands than there are hours in this day. That’s what makes these Scriptures so precious and timely. Even before the sun comes up, I want to remember what really matters, and Who matters the most. Well before I grab a bite of breakfast, I choose to feast on your new and daily mercies.
Father, thank you for your steadfast, irrepressible, and life-liberating love. Today isn’t about getting everything done, but knowing you, walking with you, and enjoying you. I won’t add a day or hour to my life by stress and worry. Far better do to a few things well today, as a man of peace and kindness, than to rush through my list, treating people like projects and problems, or objects and obstacles. Help me to remember, all day long, that the only thing that counts …
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
Dear Lord Jesus, you are my shepherd, my Good Shepherd. You give me everything I need and more than I want. All I need in life is you, plus what you choose to give me. I believe this; help me when I fight it.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
Even the most difficult places in life are like green meadows as long as you are there; and in the desert seasons of my journey and the drought like conditions of my heart, you quench my thirst with living water and give me a peace that passes all understanding.
3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
By your grace I’ve learned to boast in my weakness, and pose and pretend less. For when I come to the end of my strength, you faithfully meet me there—granting me rest in my weariness and strength for my tired heart and body. I am so grateful that you have both marked the path for me, and that you yourself are my Way, Truth and Life. I want to honor your name much more than I want to go my way and get my way.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
Jesus, you …
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Dear Lord Jesus, I’ve always loved this invitation, but sometimes I’m desperate for it, and this is one of those little “stretches.” I feel like I’ve got seven balls to juggle but I’m only a three-ball juggler. I praise, bless, and adore you for the promise of rest in the middle of the “much-ness” and the “manyness.”
Sometimes I take too much on myself, and nobody’s to blame for that but me. But other times, like this one, there’s a convergence of important stuff that demands more energy, mental focus, and time than I have. So today, I readily and gladly cry, “Help!” Grant me rest in the middle of a 24-hour day with 72 hours of demands.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
Jesus, thank you for not giving me a lecture on time management, but your gentle and humble heart, and your yoke of grace. Reading through the gospels, I don’t ever remember encountering a busy, frustrated, irritated, rushed spirit in you. You always spent time with your Father, and you always accomplished his will. May it be the same for me.
and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
So, I fully expect your Holy Spirit to give me rest well before my to-do list becomes a now-done …
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Eph. 4:29-30
Glorious Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—I praise you for the incalculable riches of redemption you’ve lavished on us in the gospel. Father, for planning such a stunning salvation; Jesus, for accomplishing all things necessary for our complete salvation; Holy Spirit, for faithfully applying the finished work of Jesus to us, and through us. I wish I had adequate words to express my gratitude, but my words fail me.
That being said, I don’t want my words to fail you, gracious God. Indeed, there’s no greater stewardship to which you have called us than being careful about how we speak to one another; for our words have the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21).
Father, you spoke the Word which gave life to my dead spirit—giving me both the will and the wherewithal to believe the gospel. Forgive me when I speak words, or even think words, which have the opposite effect on others, bringing discouragement, decay, even death.
Holy Spirit, you faithfully preach the gospel to my heart—incessantly telling me that I’m a beloved child of God. Continue to so fill my heart with the beauty of Jesus that, like Balaam’s donkey, I cannot help but …
A Prayer in Response to the Newtown, CT Tragedy
Jesus wept Jn 11:35
Dear Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you tonight—we come running with our tears and our fears, our anger and our anguish, our lament and our longings. We collapse in your presence, with the assurance of your welcome, needing the mercies of your heart.
Some stories are just too much for us to absorb; some evil just too great to conceive; some losses beyond all measurability. We need your tears and your strength tonight. That you wept outside the tomb of a beloved friend frees us to groan and mourn; that you conquered his death with yours, frees us to hope and wait.
But we turn our thoughts from ourselves to the families who have suffered an unconscionable violation of heart and all sensibilities. Bring your presence to bear, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit and through your people. May your servants weep with those who weep and wail with those who wail. Extend your tear wiping hand—reach into this great tragedy with an even greater grace.
We cry out on behalf of the children of Newtown, those most directly affected by this evil, and for children throughout our country and the world, whose little hearts are reeling with fear and terror. Give parents wisdom and kindness, as they seek to love their children well, this night and in the coming days. Raise up gifted counselors and care givers to serve those most traumatized.
Lastly, Lord Jesus, we cry out with a loud voice, …
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ”Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Eph. 5:29-32
Dear Lord Jesus, I’m painfully aware of a growing number of friends who feel disconnected, despairing, or “dying” are in their marriages. I’m saddened, but not shocked, for two reasons.
It makes complete sense that the powers of darkness would assault the one relationship meant to tell the story of your great love for your bride.
Of course marriage is going to be a war zone—the front lines of spiritual warfare, until the Day you return. Satan is a hater. He hates you, he hates the gospel, and therefore, he hates your bride and he hates marriage.
But knowing my own heart also decreases the shock factor. Like most of us, I came into marriage with a little gospel and big naïveté. I had no clue about the depths of my brokenness, the degree of my selfishness, or the devices of my sinfulness. I had no clue about what it would take to love one person well the rest of my life—like every other spouse, someone who needs the gospel just as much as I do.
And I certainly had no clue that your love alone is better …
You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isa. 40:9-11
Gracious Father, Advent is upon us—the cherished season when we remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus, the promised Messiah, your beloved Son, our gracious Savior. Grant that it will prove to be much more than Advent-as-usual. Surprise us, Father. Let us engage with the story of Jesus’ birth as though for the very first time. Rescue us from the sentimental and the predictable. Bring familiar Scriptures alive in worship-producing, life-changing ways. Reshape how we do Christmas this year by the power of the gospel and the glory of grace.
On this, the first Sunday of Advent, my heart has already been arrested with Isaiah’s picture of your “Advent arms.” The promise of the Messiah carries with it the promise of the embrace we all need, but barely believe. In Jesus, you come near to us as the sovereign Lord, with your sleeves rolled up as the great ruler. Your arm rules over all history and every nation; over all kings and every circumstance; over …
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” Matthew 27:62-64
Jesus, as “Good Friday” gave way to silent Saturday, the range of emotions following your crucifixion was as broad as the Grand Canyon. Shock and sadness gripped the hearts of your disciples, family and friends. Yet many others were filled with glee and relief, that you, “the deceiver,” could no longer threaten their existence.
As the sun rose on Saturday, no one had a clue that the most undeserved death imaginable would yield the greatest return calculable. As you were nailed to the cross, the written code—God’s law, with all its regulations and requirements, was taken far away from us, losing all condemning power over us. As you drew your last breath, you were actually disarming the powers of darkness and triumphing over all authorities marshaled against the reign of God (Colossians 2:14-15). We praise the glory of your name!
No one yet grasped that your mortal punishment would bring our eternal peace; that your fatal wounding would secure our everlasting healing; that your …
We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9
Gracious heavenly Father, though I understand the illustration, the first half of this verse needs some qualifications. Indeed, many of us didn’t grow up respecting fathers for the ways they disciplined us. Some of us we’re just flat out willful, rebellious and disrespectful of good fathers. Others of us had fathers who seemed to delight in crushing our spirits more than cherishing our hearts.
Still others of us grew up as orphans in our own homes—either suffering an early death of our dads… the disappearance of our dads through divorce or abandonment… or we had fathers who we’re physically present, but in another orbit, emotionally and spiritually. You know all this and you meet each of us exactly where we are…
But the second half of this verse is wondrously incontrovertible—it needs no qualifications and it cannot be denied. You are the Father of our spirits and you generously give us life—eternal life… abundant life… everlasting life. No matter how healthy, hollow or horrible our experience of our earthly father was/is… you can be trusted without reservation.
You delight in us as your God and you discipline us for our good. You deploy angels on our behalf to protect us and you deliver good gifts to us for our enjoyment. You’ll complete the good work you began in …