So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7
Dear Lord Jesus, on this Lord’s Day before Thanksgiving, we declare our desire to give you the quality and quantity of thanks of which you are eternally worthy. Not like a slow drip, babbling brook, or a meandering stream, but joyfully erupting and overflowing thankfulness.
Our motivation is manifold. From the nanosecond we trusted you as Savior and Lord, we were fully forgiven, and firmly rooted in your righteousness and love. Just as we can’t add one iota to your righteousness, we can never be separated from your love. You’ve already rescued us from the penalty of sin; you’re continually setting us free from the power of sin; and one Day you’ll deliver us from the very presence of sin.
Jesus, we now live in you, and are being built up and strengthened by you—maturing by the same grace that saved us; being liberated for the race that you’ve set before us; loving others as you so radically love us.
You’ve freed us from our little stories and fiefdoms of self, and have written us into your big Story of redeeming love and cosmic restoration. You’ve made us citizens of heaven, and heirs of life in the new heaven and new earth. Your generosity is …
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.“ Heb. 13:5 (ESV)
Do all things without grumbling. Phil. 2:14 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, there are some aspects of this life of grace for which I seem to need constant refreshment courses. Contentment is one of them. I know you’re not calling us to kill desire, demonize ambition, or decry enjoyment; and yet I totally “get” your warnings about complaining, ingratitude, and discontent.
So I come to you, Father, once again, acknowledging a need you alone can meet. Grant me the grace of contentment. Whether I have a little or a lot; am well known or forgotten; live in a palace or a garage apartment; feast on filet mignon or yesterday’s mac and cheese. Whether I feel included or left out; celebrated or underappreciated; have discretionary funds for splurging, or literally have to pray for daily bread. Whether my relationships are “rocking” or are rocky; whether I have really good health, or chronic maladies. Father, I want to be content—not passive or in denial, but truly grateful; not immune to pain, …
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Ps. 115:3 (ESV)
Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. Isa. 46:9-10 (NLT)
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.“ Job 42:2 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, though I am quite capable of fretting, carping, and lamenting about how out of control things seem, the truth is, nothing could be farther from the truth. I may not always see your hand, discern your heart, or like your ways, but you are God and there is no other. Hallelujah, many times over.
Italy has her three tenors, but your Word gives us these three magnificent voices today, all affirming the same glorious truth: You are God, and we are not. You were sovereign over King David’s challenged rule, crazy family, and personal failures. You were sovereign over Isaiah’s difficult ministry and the outlandish promises you gave him to proclaim. You were sovereign over Job’s loses and betrayals, misery and waiting. Indeed, no purpose of yours can be (or will be) thwarted.
Surely, therefore Father, I can trust you with however you choose to write my story. You give and you take away—but always and ever to bring glory to …
Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 (NIV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)
Do all things without grumbling. Phil 2:14 (ESV)
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Ps. 37:4-5 (NLT)
Dear heavenly Father, I assume that until the Day you either take me home, or send Jesus back to finish making all things new, I’m going to be both a whiner and a worshiper. Some days, nothing feels like it’s enough—people, places, or things. Other days, your love, grace, and presence are more real and satisfying than anything else, and all things combined.
I want more of those days, Father—more of the days when your love is better than life, your grace is more than sufficient, and your presence is sweeter than honey. But until the Day of nor more whining, discontent, and grumbling, free me, Father, to more fully delight myself in you. Not to get the desires of my heart, but that you may be the primary delight of my heart. I cannot imagine a freer posture in life.
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isa. 40:27-29
Dear heavenly Father, whenever I started to whine as a child, my parents had a way of letting me know our home was a low-tolerance zone for whiners. I “got it” once I became a parent, and then a pastor. Nobody likes to be on the other end of a whine.
Today I find great delight in knowing that, as your children, when you have to discipline us, it’s always in love. You never roll your eyes at us in disgust. You never get exasperated or irritated with us. Though you convict us, you never shame us. The only look you give us declares your welcoming heart. Though you find no pleasure in our whining, you greatly delight in us; for you have hidden our lives in Jesus—in whom you find ultimate joy and pleasure.
Though it presently feels as though heaven isn’t paying attention to some very important things in my heart and story, I hear you say to us in your Word and gospel, “My name is …
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife (or husband, parent, child, or friend). (Prov. 21:9) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Tim. 2:24)
Dear Lord Jesus, I’m sure this proverb wasn’t generated by a group of men sitting around a Judean campfire complaining about their nagging, “drippy-faucet” wives. For whining, complaining and quarreling are no respecters of gender, age or position in a family system. All of us have our moments of forgetting the gospel and acting like spoiled children.
Today I want to own my penchant for quarrelsomeness, and to ask you to free me for far more healthy and redemptive ways of expressing disappointment, making a point, and engaging in conflict.
Lord Jesus, when I lose sight of the real issue and simply get argumentative with my spouse, friends, kids, or even strangers, arrest my proud heart. I’m very aware that sometimes my need to make my point sabotages my commitment to love well. The result is never good.
When I keep festering on the inside and pestering others, rather than resting in you, expose my insecure ways for what they really are: I’m assuming the role of the fourth member of the Trinity. Lord, I get no joy out of driving the people I love onto the corner of a roof, simply by my bad attitude.
When I get …
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:3-7
Dear heavenly Father, today I need a fresh supply of free grace, for the “various trials,” of which Peter speaks, are sucking my energy like bothersome leaches. I feel a bit weary, easily distracted, and a bad attitude coming on. A part of me just says, “Buck up, you woosie whiner!” But I think the gospel offers a better way.
Honestly, I’m embarrassed to even speak of my trials, because I didn’t go to sleep hungry or thirsty last night; I didn’t hear gunfire echoing through my neighborhood; there’s no plague pillaging my community; I don’t live with the fear of my children being sold into slavery; and my government isn’t threatening the exercise of my faith. These …
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, once again I find myself needing a vision of your might and mercy, your dominion and delight, your sovereignty and your goodness—just like the one captured in this remarkable passage. There are two expressions of temporary insanity, or “crazy,” to which I default at times.
Sometimes, like King Nebuchadnezzar, I arrogantly think I’m actually in control of my world. I ignore you, and act like a little sovereign over the micro-fiefdom called “self.” If things go my way, I take the credit. If life is hard, I blame others—after all, I am the point (or so, I can assume).
Other times I act like the consummate orphan. Whine and worry, scrambling and scheming, blame and shame can take over; and I charge you with …
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you. Eph. 1:18
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 15:13
Merciful Father, if a sheriff knocked at my door this morning to present me with a subpoena, I’d be a bit unsettled. But today, like every day, the gospel is knocking at my door to subpoena me to hope. Nothing is more settling and centering.
Father, thank you for making hope a calling. You haven’t merely extended a general notification or given me a polite invitation. I’m called to hope in Jesus just as surely as you called me to a saving knowledge of his grace, and just as surely as you will call me to leave this life for the next, one day. I wouldn’t think of ignoring a summons from the sheriff; I’d be a madman to ignore a summons from you.
This morning I gladly make myself an object of Paul’s petition. Open the eyes of my heart, Father, and help me see Jesus clearly today. I’d be thrilled to see more of heaven, and all the amazing stuff you’re got planned for us in the new heaven and new earth; but just show me more of Jesus as my perfect righteousness, my constant intercessor, my …
[The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:28-31
Forbearing Father, meditating through this familiar portion of your Word has taken to me a familiar place again, unfortunately. Though I’d never boast about my many years of serving you—as thought my service merits your acceptance; and I’d never think of boasting in my record of obedience to your commands—as though my works earned a relationship with you; nevertheless, I acknowledge there are times when my ingratitude matches that of the older brother.
This has become obvious to me lately, and I want to repent before it gets any worse. My best repenting happens, not when I grovel, but when I preach the gospel to my own heart, so here goes.
Father, you are constantly running to me in the gospel—inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace—to enjoy the music of reconciliation; to sing the songs of redemption; to make merry to the glory of God.
You are constantly …