He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. Rev. 2:17 (NIV)
Dear Lord Jesus, this Scripture reminds me that nothing is more central to our identity than the name(s) by which we live. And often our most functional and formative name isn’t the one on our birth certificate. Some of us have been branded with names that have shamed and wounded us deeply; and some of us have greatly harmed others by the labels we have placed on them. All of us stand in need of your mercy and grace, which you readily and freely give.
Jesus, whether or not there’s literally a new name you’ll give us in heaven, I’m not sure. But it is enough that you look at us today and address us today as “Beloved,” ”Mine,” and “Desired”. I am so grateful for the power of the gospel to rename, renew, and release us from old destructive labels—including the ones we’ve given ourselves.
But as much as I love my new gospel-names, your name is the name I love to hear more than any other. It’s by your name we’re fully forgiven and declared righteous, are being healed of every disease and freed from …
A Prayer for Remembering the Riches of Our Identity as Believers
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James—to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1-2 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, the back-story to these opening words, in the little book of Jude, is as encouraging as this remarkable salutation. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, didn’t grow up realizing (or believing) Jesus was anything more than a sibling with whom he played, did household chores, and broke bread. Like many of us, Jude appreciated Jesus long before he worshipped him. He came to realize that Jesus was your Son long before he was Mary’s son. Thank you, Father, for rescuing Jude, and us, from a nice, but woefully incomplete knowledge of Jesus.
For through Jesus’ finished work, you have called us from the grave into newness of life. You literally spoke the word, and we came alive in Christ—no longer dead in our sin and trespasses. We would have never chosen you if you hadn’t first chosen and called us to yourself. We praise you for your sovereign mercy and power, Father.
And now, alive in Christ, we are beloved in your sight. May the name “beloved in God the Father,” trump and mute other names with which we have been branded through the years. When you look at us, you always delight and you always say of us, “My …
“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table. Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 2 Sam. 9:7-8 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, though we’ve never been “dead dogs” to pity, we have been dead in our sins and trespasses, utterly shut up to your sovereign grace. And you, who are rich in kindness, poured measureless mercy upon us—raising us from the grave of our sin, hiding our lives in Jesus, the Beloved.
Truly, Jesus is the greater Jonathan. For his sake, you have been extravagantly generous to us. Because of Jesus’ finished work, you have lavished your welcome and love upon us. For your glory, you now greatly delight in us and will bring us safely home. Our hope is built on nothing less, nothing more, and nothing other, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. The gospel is true, Hallelujah, the gospel is really true and really this good.
And now, Father, you don’t merely tolerate us, endure us, or “legally” like us. We are your redeemed image bearers, and cherished daughters and sons. You truly desire and enjoy us. May this good news radically impact us; may it free us from our crippling insecurities and lingering shame, from our pride and …
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Rom. 4:4-8
Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture contradicts everything we assume about the way life is “supposed to work”. We expect to get what’s coming to us. We demand fairness—an honest return for our labor, time, and sweat. But the gospel flies in the face of conventionality, predictability, and normalcy. To which we cry, “Hallelujah!”
Thank you for not being fair with us. Thank you for being outrageously generous, immeasurably kind, and scandalously good. What we could never earn—your perfect righteousness, you have credited to us as a gift. What we fully deserve—to be dealt with according to the wages of our sin, you will never do so. What we cannot imagine—that you would justify ungodly people, you have joyfully and legally done.
Because of Jesus’ perfect and finished work, our transgressions are forgiven (all of them), our sins are covered (every one of them), and you’ll never hold us guilty for them. King David called such people “Blessed”. Because we are among …
I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Song of Songs 7:10
Dear Lord Jesus, the Song of Solomon has never been one of the most underlined books in my Bible; but the more I look for you in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27), the more I’m drawn to its startling, scintillating, sensual imagery. To read the Song of Solomon is to tap into our deepest longings for intimacy, playfulness, passion, and delight—knowing and being known by you.
Indeed, you are the great lover of whom this book speaks. In our best moments, our love for one another is a mere hint and whisper of the way you love us. We are the “beloved”—the Bride upon whom you have set your deepest affections, and for whom you’ve given your very life.
This isn’t the gospel I grew up with, but this is the gospel revealed in the Scriptures. To be desired is to be wanted and pursued, seen and accepted, known and nourished, remembered and cherished. All of these grand realities are promised and provided in the gospel.
Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to believe and experience the liberating truths, the unparalleled beauty, and the oceans of delight revealed in the Bible, and held out in the gospel. So I cry out today: come, Holy Spirit, come. Rescue me from my unbelief. Unseat and replace any notions of God and the gospel that still linger in my mind. Enthrall …
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:13-14
Dear heavenly Father, sometimes reading Paul’s letters is like standing in front of a gushing fire hydrant. It’s hard to stand up to the rush of so much glory and grace, peace and love, encouragement and hope. It’s simply overwhelming.
Reading through Ephesians, alone, we discover that we have been loved before the foundation of the world; chosen in Christ and called in life; justified by faith and declared righteous in your sight; adopted by Abba, Father and betrothed to Jesus, our Savior; sealed, indwelt and gifted by the Holy Spirit. What a generous God you are!
In Christ, you’ve given us a completely forgiven past, a present standing in grace, and a future of unimaginable wonder. But what really encourages me today is knowing that all of this heavenly goodness is guaranteed. You’ve “sealed the deal” by the Holy Spirit. You’ve guaranteed our inheritance in Christ. You’ve given us the down payment, firstfruits, and promise of a future beyond our wildest dreams and asking.
There’s no possibility of “bait and switch” or “revoking the warranty.” There’ll be no rejecting and disinheriting your children. Nothing will deter, distract, or sabotage your bringing to completion of …
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. Rev. 2:17
Dear Lord Jesus, this Scripture powerfully underscores the fact that we live and die by the names we are given, and we harm or heal by the names we give. Nowhere, more clearly, is the death-doling and life-giving power of the tongue demonstrated than in the world of names. Grant us ears to hear what you call us in the gospel, this very day.
Speaking of names, Lord Jesus, you have the name that is above every name. It’s by your name, and everything your name signifies, that we’re forgiven and declared righteous in the sight of God; being set from every bondage and healed of every disease; gifted for life in the kingdom and secured for life in eternity. And it’s at your name, one Day, that we’ll gladly bow our knees—with everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil. 2:9-11).
It’s only because you overcame sin and death for us, that we dare think of ourselves as, “overcomers.” It’s only because you drank the cup of our judgment that we’ll feast on the “hidden manna” of heaven. Lord Jesus, we praise you for living and dying in our place. Our hope …
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Heb. 10:17-18
Dear heavenly Father, what a heart-palpitating, peace-fueling, worship-generating joy it is to begin this day by remembering your forgetfulness.
You have promised never to remember our sins and lawless acts against us. You will never deal with us according to our sins or reward us according to our iniquities; for on the cross, you dealt with Jesus according to our sins and rewarded him according to our iniquities. Hallelujah, many times over.
But that’s not all, gracious Father. Because the gospel is true, you now deal with us according to Jesus’ righteousness and reward us according to his obedience. What an exchange. What a salvation, what a rich standing in grace and firm rooting in your love. What a God you are!
Boldly and humbly, I revel in the gospel today, summarized profoundly in these words from the Heidelberg Catechism:
Question:How are you right with God?
Answer:Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as …