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Trusting God with People and “Stuff” Over Which We Have Zero Control

Feb 04, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?’” Matt. 6:25-27 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is consider the incomparable sacrifice you made for us. The birds of the air have nothing on us. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re clothed with the righteousness of God, and freely feast on bread from heaven and living water. We praise, bless, and adore you.

     Nevertheless, our weaknesses persist, our anxieties flare up, and our worries paralyze us. So we run to you today, confident of your welcome and needful of your grace. Please help us with situations we’d love to control, but can’t. We’re not anxious to add a single hour to our lives; but we’d love to minimize unnecessary pain in the lives of those we love.

     Jesus, please reveal more of your beauty and love to our children. If we could give our kids and grandkids anything, it would be to know and love you—to find safe haven in your heart. Keep them restless until they rest in you.

     For friends and family members facing vocational crises, health issues, and relationship challenges, Jesus, lift the weight of our worries as you give us the assurance of your engagement. Show us how to love well, without meddling and manipulating. We’d love to dispense formulas that work and anesthetics that relieve. But the biggest need, in any of our lives, isn’t for relief, but for more of you.

     Jesus, we will trust you—not horses, chariots, or strategies. Grant us grace, fuel our hope, and give us peace. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and strong name.

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The One Great Irrevocable Unwavering Constant in Our Lives

Feb 03, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure1 John 3:1-3 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, every time I read these familiar verses, they expose my unbelief and fuel my hope. Thank you for not “just” loving us, but for lavishing your love upon us—super-abundantly, immeasurably, irrevocably. The most it-can-be-counted on reality in our lives is your love for us in Jesus. The weather changes every day; the Dow Jones Average changes every hour; people’s opinions about us change on a whim. But your love for us is steadfast, impassioned, and joyful.

     And Father, as your adopted daughters and sons, our future is just as spectacular as it is certain. Though there is much about our life in the new heaven and new earth that remains unclear, of this we are sure; when Jesus does return, we will see him as he is and we will be made like him—in all his beauty, love, and wholeness. Nothing about us will remain broken or sinful, diseased or bound, sad or selfish. Hasten that Day, Lord; hasten it.

     Because of this great and living hope, we want to live lives shaped by the gospel and compelled by your love. Continue to free us by your grace, change us by your Spirit, and liberate us for your purposes. As Christ is pure, make us pure; as Jesus is joyful, so fill us with his joy; as you are filling the earth with your glory, so use us in that story. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ mighty and merciful name.

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Accepting and Resting in God’s Timing

Feb 02, 2016 | Scotty Smith

      But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you. 2 Pet. 3:8-9 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being patient with our impatience. You’ve never been late for anything. “Swiss timing” is tardiness, compared to the precision of your faithfulness. You’ll send Jesus back into our world, to finish making all things new, at just the right time. That grand Day will happen not a day, early and not a day late.

And how we long for that Day. No more death, pain, or mourning; no more knowing in part or loving in part; no more goodbyes or good riddance’s; no more disappointing others or being disappointed; no more betrayals or rejections; nor more broken hearts or broken anything; no more heartaches or even heartburn.

But Father, your faithfulness isn’t just tied to the timing of the second coming, but to everything else you’ve promised as well. Indeed, there’s no panic or second-guessing in heaven today. You’re not distracted, agitated, or perplexed about anything—that’s us, not you. Though it’s hard to imagine why you haven’t answered certain prayers with a quick and big “Yes!” nevertheless, you do all things well. You gave Jesus for our sins; certainly we can trust you to give us everything else we really need (Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3).

So grant us grace in our waiting, strength in our weariness, and wisdom in our bewilderment. And in the meantime, help us to be more attentive to the needs of others around us. Fill our hearts with kindness and gentleness, as we bear one another’s burdens. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ compassionate and grace-full name.

 

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A Good & Gracious God Has Numbered Our Days and Is Writing Our Stories

Feb 01, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you. Ps. 139:16-18 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, as vast as the sum of my years seems to me today, on my birthday, vaster and greater are my thoughts of you. My years are calculated merely in terms of decades, but if I tried to “do the math” about your glory and grace, I’d have to count every grain of sand on every beach, every star is every galaxy, and all every particle of dust in the universe. With David I honestly say, “How precious to me are your thoughts” (Ps. 139:17).

Father, it’s a source of great peace and freedom to know that you’ve ordained all our days for us, your children; and that you’re writing our stories. You’re the author and perfecter of our faith, and the architect and builder of our lives. That doesn’t feel like robotic fatalism, rather, robust affection—for you are the perfect Father, and you do all things well. I’m thrilled you’re in control. We won’t live one day more, or one day less, than you decree, and nothing can separate us from your love.

Your name is Redeemer, and you’re the God who restores years eaten away by locusts and squandered by our foolishness. Through Jesus, you’re making all things new, including us. Every tear will be wiped away and every wound will be healed.

Father, all I ask is that every day, week, month, or year you’ve decreed for me, will be filled with a greater grasp of the only love that is better than life—your love for us in Jesus. Father, open the curtains ever wider on the heart-liberating, cosmos-transforming goodness of the gospel of your grace.  Everything else will take care of itself. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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A Prayer for Accepting God’s Decrees Over Our Druthers

Jan 31, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hopeJer. 29:11 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, this well known, beloved verse simultaneously confronts us and comforts us. It confronts that part of us that wishes you would simply “baptize” the plans we make for ourselves. We’d write stories that include as little disruption and change as possible; few surprises and no suffering; tons of familiarity and predictability, and very little actual need for faith and waiting. In essence, we’d love for you to be more of a Sugar Daddy than Abba Father. Thank you for your kindness and patience with us.

In our heart of hearts, that’s not what we really want. We don’t really want you to be the clay and us the potter, not really. We trust you; we love you, Father. You gave Jesus to us and for us; of course you’ll give us everything else we actually need (Rom. 8:32).

It’s just that sometimes your plan includes things that, in the moment, don’t really feel like they’re for our welfare at all. There are stretches when it seems like you answer our prayers with a disproportionate amount of “No’s” to “Yes’s”. Healing doesn’t come quick enough (if at all), and there’s more month left over at the end of our budgets. Our kids struggle and furnaces die, cars break down and good friends move on. Instead of grace upon grace, sometimes life feels like disappointment upon disappointment.

And yet—big-time yet, Father, we know better. So grant us fresh grace to wait upon you for the hope to which you have called us. Turn our whines into worship, our daily carping into carpe diem, and our frets into faith. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’s beautiful and grace-full name.

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A Prayer for Getting Still and Trusting God to Fight for Us

Jan 30, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:12-14 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, fear and worry can really do a number on us. I totally get how your children preferred returning to a life of slavery in Egypt, over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. I’ve often felt a similar temptation to choose a known brokenness over the promise of unseen beauty. Help my unbelief as I face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help me be still and trust that you’ll fight for me.

Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). Often my biggest battles are within my own heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus—which I really believe is true; yet too often I look to people and circumstances to fill me up. Free me, Lord, free me.

Many times I battle with trusting you with the hearts of those I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to “fix” people. It never works, never. Help me love others as Jesus loves me. Help me to extend your welcoming heart, your merciful acceptance, and your counterintuitive grace. Yet again, I throw down my toolkit of trying to be the 4th member of the Trinity in the lives of others.

Father, I’m also facing the unknown land of aging. I’d love to run back to the land of 30-something, but that’s not going to happen. Help me trust you in the journey of getting older; as joints get stiffer and memory gets slower, as I bury friends and long for Jesus’ return. You’ve always been faithful, generous, and present; and you’ll never cease to be. I choose stillness and trust, over fear and worry. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ tender and triumphant name.

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A Prayer for Seeing and Savoring the LORD’s Beauty

Jan 29, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, it’s only through the gospel of your grace that I’ve come to know you to be a beautiful God. Before then, your loveliness was veiled to me, mostly by the darkness of my unbelief. But now, your splendor outshines the sun; your excellences stagger my imagination; and your kindness melts my heart.

I see your beauty in the things you have made. Open my eyes wider, Father. Grant me jaw-dropping wonder as I come even more alive to your fingerprints everywhere. Your great artistry, and the joy you experienced creating a world, loudly declare your glory.

I see your beauty in people—all kinds of people. Really, in every person, if I take time to look. Oh, Father, continue to heal my vision of people. Though we’re all broken, yet as your image bearers, each of us reveals glimmers and glimpses of your loveliness. Forgive me when I see anybody’s brokenness, to the exclusion of his or her beauty.

I see your beauty in Jesus. Indeed, Father, I’ve come to behold your beauty most expressly and fully in Jesus. No one has ever seen you completely—in the fullness of your glory and being; but Jesus, your Son, at your side, has made you known to us (John 1:18). Hallelujah, many times over, for this gift—this incomparable honor and privilege. In Jesus, I see the magnificence of your mercies, the grandeur of your grace, and the wonders of your love. Show me more, Father; show me more and more and more.

I long for the Day when we will see the unfettered undiminished beauty of your face (Rev. 22:4); for that will be our first Day in the new heaven and new earth. Hasten that Day, LORD. Until then, I bless you for your commitment to make all things beautiful in their time—including us, your children. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ tender and triumphant name.

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A Prayer for Marinating in Jesus’ Commitment to Completely Save Us

Jan 28, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Heb. 7:24-26 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, this Scripture is like a 72-degree, no-humidity, cloudless, deep blue-sky day; in other words, it’s perfect.  What joy, peace, and gratitude we have knowing of your commitment to completely save us.

Because of your finished work, all of our sins have already been forgiven; and we’ve been declared righteous in God’s sight. Your banner over us is love, your desire for us is passionate, and your delight in us is constant. We’re God’s inheritance, his beloved treasure, and secure children. We’re co-heirs with you of the new heaven and new earth—destined for a life beyond all we could ask or imagine. Who can measure such a spectacular standing in grace?

Because of your constant intercession, we have perpetual advocacy before the Father. All your prayers for us are perfect, and all will be answered. Though Satan’s attacks are constant, your love and care for us are even more unremitting, trumping everything he throws at us.

Because of your imminent return for us, we live with hope and certainty. One Day we will be as lovely as you, and as loving (1 John 3:1-3), as hard as that is to imagine. Nothing can separate us from your love; nothing can sabotage this grand work of grace; nothing can derail or deter our Father’s joyful resolve to make all things new through you. May this über-good news free us to live and love to your glory, now and forever.

Should we draw our last breath today, we’ll draw our first breath in heaven. Every salty, painful tear we’ve wept, will one Day be a redeemed tear. So very Amen we pray, in your righteous and reigning name.

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A Prayer for Bringing Our Friends to the Throne of Grace

Jan 27, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Heb. 4:15-16 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, with joy and confidence we run to the occupied throne of grace today, on behalf of many friends. No one understands and empathizes with our weaknesses like you; and no one has the ability to dispense copious amounts of mercy and grace like you. You are, indeed, a most wonderful, merciful Savior. Hear our cry for our friends.

     We pray for parents nearing the end of their strength, resources, and hope. Few stories have the power to multiply our heartaches than when our kids choose to live without boundaries or a conscience. Jesus, grant fresh mercy and sufficient grace to our friends; and Lord of resurrection power, reveal yourself, to our kids who seem allergic to your grace and love.

     Jesus, we pray for friends who still affirm the gospel, but who feel disconnected from your presence and like strangers to your love. Whatever the genesis of their spiritual crisis, come close Jesus. Renew, restore, and refresh our friends, we pray; and show us how to offer kind presence without pressure to change.

     Jesus, we pray for friends with health struggles, job complexities, and marriage messes. Give us listening hearts, words from above, and non-spin hope for them.

     Lastly, Jesus, we pray for ourselves. You know where we struggle the most and trust you the least; you know our most difficult relationships, persistent fears, and nagging weaknesses. Grant us the mercy and grace we need today, for healing and freedom. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and strong name.  

 

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A Prayer for Reaffirming, Resting, and Rejoicing in God’s Sovereignty

Jan 26, 2016 | Scotty Smith

     “After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?‘ Daniel 4:34-35 (NLT)

Dear heavenly Father, O, how I love and need this passage. Like Nebuchadnezzar, I’m never saner than when I’m worshiping you and acknowledging your sovereignty, over all things. I’m so very thankful that you are God, and I am not. Forgive me when I think less of you, and otherwise of me.

I’m grateful that you do as you please, and not as we often beg you to do. Indeed, Father, I’ve lived long enough to praise you for some of the “No’s” I’ve received to prayers for which I desperately wanted a “Yes“. You do all things well, not easy; but in time, you will make all things beautiful. Give me grace to wait for that Day, Father.

Help me to trust your heart when I cannot see your hand at work. Forgive me for thinking I need to draw certain international crises, and personal situations, to your attention—as though you’re not aware; or worse, as though you don’t care. Thank you, Father, for your kindness and patience, when I’m anxious and demanding.

So as this day begins, and continues, I’m grateful to affirm that Jesus has the hearts of all kings in his hand; that you not only care for birds and fields, but for me and the people I love; and that nothing can happen, or will happen, apart from your sovereign discretion and eternal delight.

Forgive me when I doubt your faithfulness, and grant me grace when I struggle with your hiddenness. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ trustworthy and worship-worthy name.

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