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A Prayer for My Everyday Prayer Partners

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. Phil. 1:3-4 NIV

     Heavenly Father, I thank you for this amazing community of women and men with whom I get to begin my days, and on this particular day from Sitka, Alaska. We, quite literally, come from all over the glob, represent so many different parts of the Body of Christ; and are all over the map, with respect to the joys and pains of life.

I don’t pray that we will agree on all things political, social, or theological; but I do ask you give every one of us a greater grasp of the gospel of God’s grace, a 20/20 vision of the beauty of Jesus, and a deep and abiding conviction, that you, our Father are sovereign over all things in our lives and in our world.

Indeed, Father, send your Spirit into our hearts and give us a greater sense of gospel-astonishment. May your grace be the most encouraging, freeing, and transforming power in our lives. May we rest in your love, abide in your peace, and overflow with your kindness. Restore to us the joy of our salvation, that we might live and love to your glory.

Continue to free us from old “tapes” and “Samsonite” (baggage) we have been toting around for years–wrong grace-less thoughts about you, the guilt of sins you’ve already forgiven, habits of the heart that sabotage intimacy with you (and others), …

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Scotty’s Prayer-less Morning

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Col. 3:15

Dear Heavenward Prayer-Blog Friends

When I got up this morning to write my daily prayer blog, alas, I discovered that my computer power cord had died to my MacBook. It was just a couple of hours before leaving with friends, here in Sitka, Alaska, to go out and try to catch King Salmon. I was frustrated, anxious, and a bit “cheesed.” I didn’t have time to find an alternative and I’m an IT-goober, with very little technological savvy.

Do you see the inherent contradiction? Indeed, the Lord convicted me about my prayer-less, graceless attitude. I got a bit angry because I couldn’t meditate on a Scripture, wearing the lens of the gospel, and pray/write a prayer that would benefit you guys. While fishing, it was good to realize I can turn having control over my schedule, presuming on unbreakable electronics, and even writing a daily prayer-blog into an idol. Aren’t we thankful the gospel is true, and that we have a Father who convicts us, without one iota of condemnation?

Well, we had a great day on the waters of Sitka, and even through we didn’t bring in a boat load of salmon, the fellowship was sweet, and the mellowing ministry of the Holy Spirit even sweeter. Rest well tonight my friends, and, Lord willing, I have a means of resuming the blog in the morning. Grace and Peace, my friends, Scotty

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SO Many Good Gifts from God

(As you pray-read through these Scriptures and my prayer today, contextualize your own story and moment. For what do you need to be more grateful today?)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Cor. 4:7

Heavenly Father, as I wake up today in one of the most beauty-soaked, fish-laden, awe-fueling spots in the world–Alaska, I want to take time to say a big “Thank You!” I want to express heart-felt gratitude for a wide array of things I’d never have if you weren’t so generous.

Father, thank you for an over-the-top glorious salvation in Jesus. By your sovereign goodness, you revealed the depth of my need, and then you lavished the riches of the gospel on me. I’m hidden in Christ, standing in grace, and rooted in your love. I’m an object of your constant affection and a subject in your unshakeable kingdom, a focus Jesus’ prayers, and a son in whom your Spirit dwells. These things, alone, mock any whining and pining, carping and harping I can muster. But there’s so much more.

I have a roof over my head and heaven as my home; a family to love and your Story to live; a Bible filled with trustworthy promises, and buddies with whom to catch big salmon; a body that still mostly works, and a resurrection body that …

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When We See Things Differently Theologically

     For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Gal. 5:14-15 (NIV)

     For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 1 Cor. 13:9-10 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, there are so many reasons I’m looking forward to life in the new heaven and new earth. And though it’s not at the top of my list, theological agreement and unity among your children is right up there. Surely you must grieve when we “bite and devour” one another, because we disagree on the best understanding of a passage in the Bible. Robust dialogue is one thing; mean-spirited diatribe is quite another. Defending the gospel is one thing; being arrogant and argumentative is never okay. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

On this Lord’s Day, the color of our skin, the address of our church buildings, and our denominational differences will separate us. O for the Day when we will no longer know in part or love in part–the Day when we will no longer label, dismiss, or marginalize one another, because we don’t cross every theological “t” the same way. When I think about it, Father, it’s quite sad (and tragic) that we, who’ve been saved by grace alone, should ever resort to condescending, judgmental, dismissive attitudes.

Father, have mercy on me. Please forgive me for leading with my rightness over my kindness. Forgive me for loving …

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Owning Our Jar-of-Clay-ness

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Lord Jesus, to have you plus nothing, makes us as rich as anybody in the history of the cosmos. To have you plus everything else wouldn’t make us any richer than he who has you alone. You are the treasure all other currencies mimic and counterfeit. Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing you and the wonder of being loved by you.

You inhabit our weakness like a Rembrandt painting in a picture frame of straw; or like the Hope Diamond mounted in a necklace of tin foil and Scotch Tape. You get all the attention and honor, and we get the supreme privilege of simply being used of you. Just as it should be, and just as we want it to be.

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Though few of are in a season of intense persecution for our faith (like Paul was), nevertheless, we can relate to his images of being hard pressed and perplexed. The stories, demands, and emotional expenditure of life tax our limits and drive us to you–which is a good thing. None of us is called to be the 4th member of the Trinity. None of us is called to be a Super-Hero. All of us are called to own our limits, rest in your love, and trust in your sovereignty.

10 We always carry around in our …

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Getting Free of Our “Grave Clothes”

     Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44 (NIV)

     Lord Jesus, you spoke the words to a dead Lazarus, “Come out!” and he was raised from the dead. The same thing happened to us when you spoke the gospel to our hearts. We passed from death to life; from condemnation for our sins, to being clothed with your righteousness; from slavery in the kingdom of darkness, unto freedom in the kingdom of God. For your sovereign, irresistible, resurrecting grace, we shout, Hallelujah!

     Yet as surely as Lazarus needed to be freed from his grave clothes, so do we. The vestiges and habits of death still cling to us, bind us, and trip us up. Untie us; heal us; liberate us.

     Jesus, grant us greater freedom from what people think of us. Some people have more functional power over our hearts than the gospel. Their criticism and rejection can devastate us; and their praise and appreciation can “make” us. May your unparalleled love for us, and your great delight in us, shift the center of our relational world.

     We also crave freedom from our self-centered pursuits, our soul-sapping anxieties, and our anger-producing triggers. You have the hearts of all kings in your hand–as well as all of our days and pains, longings and …

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Bringing Our Fears to Jesus

     And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)

(As you read through some of my fears, bring yours to Jesus, as well)

Lord Jesus, like bookends of grace, the heart-settling command, “Do not be afraid“, accompanies your birth and resurrection (Luke 2:10; Matt. 28:5). Ever since our first parents sinned, fear and hiding have been part and parcel of life; and I’ve helped keep the family tradition alive. At times, fear has more power over my life than your love; and though I already know myself to be clothed in your righteousness, I still reach into my closet for fig leaves.

I join shepherds in hurrying off to come to you, Jesus, for you alone bring the good news of great joy for which my heart longs every day. You alone can charm our fears and set prisoners more fully free. I’m not really afraid of angelic hosts and I’m not afraid to die. I’m …

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Grace Upon Grace Upon Grace

      Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.1 Peter 1:10-12 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, the season of Advent has just begun, and I am praying it will be a season marked more by hush than rush. If I’m going to be busy with anything, may it be with quieting my heart, focusing my gaze, and setting my affection on things above–especially on you–the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the Source and Lord of my salvation, the Fountain and Fullness of all Grace.

Grant me the same intensity and care the prophets invested in searching out the promises of your coming. May old Scriptures come alive in profoundly new ways during Advent. Humble and gladden my heart with the realization that the prophets were serving me–even me, when they spoke of your coming, your sufferings, and the glories that would follow.

And if angels were on “tiptoes with joy”–as they pondered your coming, so renew my awe …

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Savoring the Lavish Love of God: Psalm 63:1-5

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

Heavenly Father, you are “my God” only because you adopted me and made me your beloved child in Jesus. I praise, bless, and adore you for so great a privilege, secure a relationship, and so liberating a joy. I earnestly seek you today because you first sought me and found me, and continue to pursue me for rich fellowship.

Every experience of thirst I’ve known in life pales in comparison with the thirst I feel for you. I long for you with the most intense craving–for you made me for yourself and redeemed me for your praise.

2 I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.

Father, my clearest sighting of you comes in the sanctuary of the gospel. There, in the face of Jesus I’ve discovered you to be more glorious than I ever imagined, more grace-full than I ever hoped, and more sovereign than I ever dreamed. You are so merciful and so mighty.

3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!

Father, your love doesn’t just give us a great life; your love is better than life itself. When I’m most alive to your love, my worries and fears shrink. Thank you for lavishing (not dribbling) your lavish love on us in Jesus–a love from which we’ll never be separated, a …

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Basking in God’s Everlasting Love and Unfailing Kindness

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jer. 31:3

Heavenly Father, it’s Monday, and we’d love to live the rest of our workweek in full view and non-stop wonder of this one verse. For your glory, the blessing of our families, and the benefit of our fellow workers and neighbors, fill our hearts to overflowing with the astonishing truth of Jeremiah’s words.

Not just in the past–but also in this very moment, you love us with an everlasting, irrepressible, unwavering love. We can’t supersize your affection for us, nor can we diminish it, because it’s entirely generated, maintained, and guaranteed by what Jesus has done for us. Oh, the peace and joy, freedom and focus this assurance gives us.

The more secure we are in your love, the less we obsess about what others think about us; the less we look to success and stuff to fill up the God-shaped vacuum inside of us. The more alive we are to your love, the less we worry, and the more we worship; the less we criticize others, and the more we encourage them; the less busy and irritated we get, and the more unrushed and present we are with others.

Father, we also bless you for your perpetual kindness towards us today, and every day. Your kindness first led us to repentance, that we might receive Jesus as our righteousness; and your kindness continues to lead us deeper into your commitment to make us …

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