Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8
Dear Jesus, change is hard. I love to come home to the normal and known, predictable, and user-friendly—like one of my old, broken-in pairs of Birkenstocks. Grant me grace to accept change, because there’s so much change going on everywhere I look.
Another new grave of an old friend; a field of wildflowers and grazing cows, bulldozed for 400 new homes; the coffee shop which served awesome java, rich conversation, and an ambiance of welcome was razed to become a huge concrete complex. I don’t like it, Jesus. Change is disruptive. Precious things don’t become vintage things overnight.
How thankful we are that there’s one part of our lives that will never change, and that’s you, Jesus. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. That certainly doesn’t make you predictable, and even less so manageable. But it does mean that we can trust you without any reservations whatsoever.
You are the one who puts change into perspective. Change has no sovereignty. Only you are Lord. Nothing is random in this world. Nothing catches you off guard. The scary becomes the sacred when we’re wearing the lens of the gospel.
The most fundamental change we need is to become like you, Jesus, and that process is the most disruptive and painful change we will ever go through—but the most important of all changes. Yet with the knowledge that one Day we’ll be as …
I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” . . . Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Dan. 4:34-37
Dear Lord Jesus, I so relate to Nebuchadnezzar’s story. Yet again, I find myself needing a fresh vision of your unassailable sovereignty and your inexhaustible goodness. There are two places of insanity, or “crazy,” I tend to fall into. Sometimes, like King Nebuchadnezzar, I arrogantly think I’m in control, and I get preoccupied with my little fiefdom of “self”. Other times I act like the consummate orphan—as though I don’t have a Father in heaven and a secure place in his family. Both of these extremes contradict the gospel I trust and the kingdom I love.
But Lord Jesus, you’re the only King that’s really in control, and only your kingdom will endure from generation to generation. You’re a hands on, fully engaged …
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 1 Cor. 9:16
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that “to woe” is to express dread, distress, and despair—an orientation toward life with which I’m quite familiar, for I’ve certainly done my share of “woe-ing.” That’s why this small portion of the Word is so convicting and refreshing. Paul turns the image of woe upside down. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
Jesus, make us the kind of people, like Paul, who are so taken and captured with the gospel that all of life is impacted by the gospel—who you are, and what you’ve accomplished for us by your life death and resurrection.
Teach us more and more of the lyrics of the gospel—its rich theology permeating the entire Bible. Fill our hearts with the music of the gospel—its radical sweetness, generating peace, worship, and gratitude. Release our feet for the dance of the gospel—a missional lifestyle of giving and serving.
May our joys be defined by the incalculable riches of the gospel. May our thinking be shaped by the liberating truths of the gospel. May our dreams be fueled with the wondrous future of the gospel. May our hopes be bound up with the guaranteed advancing of the gospel. May our peace be strengthened by the resurrection power of the gospel.
May our choices be regulated by the kingdom priorities of the gospel. May our satisfaction be intensified by the fruit-bearing …
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col. 3:15
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Dear Lord Jesus, today, like every day, somebody or something is going to seize the passion and preoccupation of my heart. Some entity will be the “boss of me,” the ruler of the manor, the fascination of my imagination.
It could be my bitterness, pettiness, or cowardice. It could be shame from the past or fear in the present. It could be overbearing people or aggravating co-workers; my greed to have a little more, or my “need” to be criticized less; the lusts of my flesh or the longings of my soul; old regrets or new fantasies; my pet poodle or pet peeves—any of a number of things will clamor for the best of me.
But right now, in submission to Paul’s admonition, I choose your peace as the ruler of my heart—as the centering and focusing power for this moment and day. No one is better at giving peace than you, Lord Jesus, for you are the Prince of Peace.
On the cross you secured God’s peace with us and our peace with God. The enmity and hostility between us have …
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 …
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
Dear Lord Jesus, I’ve memorized this Scripture, taught it, preached it, and prayed it for many struggling friends. Today, however, I need to lay hold of it for myself. I know you don’t want us to “suck it up” or pretend, for the gospel frees us from that inauthentic way of life. So here I am, as honest as I can be before you.
Jesus, it was you who turned the chaos of an unformed world into the beauty of creation. Please do the same with all the chaos dancing around me and in me. Replace my fretfulness and antsy-ness, my disquiet and edginess, with order and beauty.
For the things that grieve me, bring your tear-wiping hand. For the things that offend me, keep me from a critical and selfish spirit. For the things the people who, flat out, wear me out, grant me compassion. For the things that cause me great concern, grant me the perspective of heaven and gospel sanity. Please don’t let me fall into the cynical spirit of “Whatever!”
For the things over which I have no control, give me a fresh vision of the occupied throne of heaven. For the things I do …
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isa. 26:3-4
Most kind and trustworthy Father, you haven’t promised us a storm-less, hassle-free, disappointment-empty life. You offer us no formulas for decreasing the probability of sad things happening around us, or disruptive things happening to us. But you have promised something that transcends the predictable uncertainty of life—your peace.
You’ve promised to keep us in perfect peace in the midst of whatever happens. The older I get, the more I absolutely treasure the promise of being kept by you, because I simply cannot keep myself. I’m out of bootstraps to pull up; there’s no magic happy pill to take, no fix-it button to push. Thank you for being a Father who will never forget or abandon your children—who will never forget or abandon me.
But you’ve promised even more: you’ve promised to keep us in perfect peace. All we have to do is mine the riches of the gospel and keep in mind the wonders of your love. For you are the Lord—the eternal Rock that is higher than us, the Rock of refuge, the Rock of ages.
Because the gospel is true, because Jesus is the precious “living Stone” (1 Pet. 2:4-8), I won’t despair when I am weak in concentration and focus—when my grasp is slipping and my heart is wandering.
Indeed, Father, you’re not calling us to …
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus. Rom. 15:5
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom. 15:13
May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Rom. 15:33
Dear heavenly Father, your Word never ceases to astonish, nourish, and cause my heart to flourish. Today I’m reveling in the fact that you delight to be known, and I’m rejoicing in who you reveal yourself to be. In this one chapter alone (Romans 15,) out of nearly 1,200 in the Bible, you come to us this very day as…
The God of endurance and encouragement: Father, you know how much I need both of these grace gifts. It’s been a busy stretch, of late—fruitful, but busy. Grant me fresh wisdom for living at the pace of grace. Once again, teach me the difference between living a driven life, and a called life. Grant me endurance to do exactly what you’ve called me to do, and encouragement to cut from my schedule the things that, may be good, but aren’t essential. Though sacrificial living and serving are always the way of the gospel, ignoring Sabbath rest, not taking care of ourselves, and living faster than we can love aren’t.
The God of hope: Father, ours is an increasingly complex world—one that feels more uncertain …
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, And he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” Dan. 4:34-35
Dear heavenly Father, I need to “bookmark” this passage and return to it often, for it doesn’t just tell the conversion story of a pagan King; it’s the ongoing story of my heart. Your sovereignty is our sanity; your rule is our rest; your dominion is our delight. Navel-gazing, circumstance watching, and talk-radio-fixating never serve us well.
Father, help us to understand the glorious implications of your perpetual enthronement. Your dominion is the only eternal dominion. November elections and political insurrections; the world economy and temperature instability; earthquakes and oil leaks; multiplied conspiracies and grassroots organizing, don’t affect your reign one micro-bit, for one nanosecond.
For your kingdom endures from generation to generation. There never has been, nor will there ever be, any nervous sweat, furrowed brows, or anxious pacing in heaven. There’ll never be one moment of consternation or vexation in the corridors of paradise; no need for a contingency plan to emerge from the “big boardroom in the sky.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
Dear Lord Jesus, as this new day begins, many of us are facing important decisions. We need the wisdom, guidance, and peace you alone can give. It’s a joy to come before your throne of grace confident of your audience, grateful for your advocacy, and resting in your authority.
Indeed, Jesus, you’re an engaged Shepherd, not an absentee landlord. Even as we make plans in our hearts, you are actively ordering our steps (Prov. 16:9). Oh, the freedom and peace this brings! You are the Lord who “opens doors no one can shut” (Rev. 3:8). And the converse is just as true; you also shut doors no one can open. Our future is tied not to making the right decisions but to trusting the right Lord.
Because of your great love for us in the gospel, we’re learning to trust you with all the stuff in our hearts—with our longings, fears, hurts, and dreams. To acknowledge you in all of our ways isn’t to make you Lord but to recognize and to rest in your lordship. We can no more make you Lord of something than we can make water wet, or chocolate good.
So in surrender to the occupied throne of heaven, we anticipate straight paths, as we move ahead into both the daily and difficult decisions facing us. For those of …