Search

Seeing Jesus Standing, When Circumstances Are Challenging

     But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55-56 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, this chapter from Stephen’s story underscores that, when life is really hard, you are really near and really caring. Just before he was stoned for proclaiming your glory and grace, Stephen saw you standing at the Father’s right hand–rising for the occasion of his greatest need. What a merciful and mighty Savior you are.

Though few of us will be stoned to death as your martyrs, all of us are called to love and serve you, in all kinds of disruptive moments and difficult stories. We too need to see you standing at the Father’s right hand for us–praying, loving, and advocating for us. On this Thursday in October, I’m thinking of friends waking up to hard news, painful providences, and unexpected changes.

I pray for friends in workplace crises. So much of life is impacted by “what’s going on at work.” One day things seem quite normal, and then a major disruption occurs. Our default mode is often confusion, fear, or anger. Jesus, we want our default mode to become running to your throne of grace, and fixing our gaze on you. Bring your peace into our storms.

I pray for couples in seasons of marital mess. Lord of resurrection and hope, I ask you to do exceedingly beyond all …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trusting Jesus with Things We Can’t Control

     “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matt. 6:25-27 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is remember the gospel. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re forgiven, robed, adopted, and beloved. We feast on a free diet of daily mercies and living water. The birds of the air have nothing on us.

Nevertheless, our fears flare up, our worries persist, and our burdens bother us. So, we run to you today, confident of your welcome and resting in your love. Please help us with the things (and people) we’d love to control, but can’t. It’s not so much that we’re anxious to add a single hour to our lives; it’s more that we don’t want unnecessary suffering–for ourselves or anyone else.

Let’s start with the obvious, Lord. We woke up today to the horrific news of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Why do these things happen, Lord? And, in post-hurricane morass, tens of thousands of people are living without the basics of water and electricity. How Long, O Lord? And who could …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Hurricane Watching Anxiety

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19 NIV

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Prov. 12:25 ESV

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 ESV

Heavenly Father, something’s afoot when personalities on the Weather Channel become household names to us. What meteorological madness we’ve been living through lately. And it doesn’t seem like things are going to quiet down anytime soon, with even more storms brewing in the world’s oceans.

We own our fears, state our worries, and run to you, Father, on this angst-producing Friday. Thank you for promising to catch every care we cast in your direction. Thank you for speaking the “good word” we need when anxieties weigh our hearts down. Thank you for giving us consolation when anxiety is great within us, like it is right now.

We know we don’t have to ask “Why?” all these storms are coming to us–as though those in the cone of the hurricane are more of less deserving of major life-disruption. For you make your sun rise on the evil and on the good, and you send rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:45).

But most certainly, Father, things that threaten us–things over which we have zero control give us a chance to get quiet before you, own our vulnerability, and listen to your pursuing heart. Speak, Lord, speak clearly; speak tenderly; speak convincingly.

Though hurricanes are quite capable of separating us from …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Valley of Fear and the Grip of Grace

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise–in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Ps. 56:3-4

Heavenly Father, because of the Internet, the world feels smaller than ever, and the struggles and suffering of humankind are inescapably before us. When King David prayed this prayer, he was a prisoner of Philistines in Gath. As we pray, Father, here are some fear-producing storylines to which we awake today. We bring them to your occupied throne of grace, confident of your mercy and might.

Father we pray for those in the trajectory of Hurricane Irma. The destruction of property is one thing, the loss of life is another. Grant wisdom and protection for the tens of thousands on edge, and on their knees. We all feel more vulnerable in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and the pillaging fires in California, Oregon, Montana, and Washington.

We pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan–the five countries where Christians are most likely to be singled out for daily persecution. Father, may your perfect love tame their fears, deepen their trust, and encourage their hearts. As they suffer, we suffer, because we are family.

We continue to acknowledge our fears about the threat of nuclear madness and war. Even as you number our days and bottle our tears, so you direct the hearts of kings–all of them. Father, we trust you to restrain evil and limit anarchy.

We pray with sadness …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Breaks the Power of Lingering Shame

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth.” Isa. 54:4 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, we’re thankful today for you for the truth of your Word and the power of the gospel to heal us in the core of our being–especially where shame lingers, doing its dastardly work. Indeed, the eradication of all shame is one of the things we’re most looking forward to when Jesus returns.

Never again will we feel “dis-graced,” only “fully-graced.” Never again will we remember the wounding events of our childhood, or of our youth, or of our adult years. Never again will we feel the disintegrating, contemptuous, and paralyzing power of shame. No more need to cover up, look down or run away.

The Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Rom. 10:11 (ESV)

How can we be certain? Because, on the cross, Jesus bore the full weight of our guilt and has broke the eviscerating power of our shame. To believe in Jesus is to trust in the One who was shamed for us on the cross–the One who doesn’t despise our weaknesses or spurn our brokenness.

Nor does Jesus turn away from us when we feel fractured or fragile, too self-aware or easily condemned. Yes, Jesus has clothed the nakedness of our shame with the garments of his grace. Such mercy and tenderness, understanding and compassion, calls forth a big Hallelujah!

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 …

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearing God Laugh When Feeling Threatened, Fearful, and Angry

     A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. Ps. 37:10-13 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, we so look forward to the day when we’ll actually hear you laugh–a merriment and felicity that already fill the counts of heaven and the chambers of eternity. That will be the Day when every expression of darkness and death, evil and folly, meanness and wickedness will be totally eradicated.

It’s hard to conceive of our world devoid of every semblance of sin and brokenness, and filled to overflowing with your goodness, truth, and beauty. But you’ve promised that Day, and Jesus has secured that Day. Though not as quickly as we’d like, but more certainly than we can imagine, the Day of “all things new” is coming.

And as this Scripture highlights, it’s not the powerful and proud who will “inherit the earth and enjoy great peace“, but “the meek.” Therefore, we praise you, Father, for the meekness of Jesus, who like a lamb (the Lamb) was led to the cross–taking our sin (my sin), defeating the devil, and securing the transformation of all things.

It’s in union with Jesus that, we too, will inherit the earth–as mind-boggling and heart-humbling a thought as that is. And it’s in union with Jesus, that we too become humble and meek, and useful in your kingdom service.

So Father, …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace Replacing Worry in Our Hearts: Philippians 4:6-8

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Heavenly Father, thank you for catching every care we cast in your direction; taking every burden we offload onto your heart; and for welcoming every worry we leave at your throne of grace. You know our needs better than we do, but here are a couple that stand out.

We need to know you are at work in our country, and we need your Spirit to fill our hearts with a fresh sighting of Jesus. After witnessing something more akin to a mud-slinging debacle, than a presidential debate, our hearts are heavy, sad and greatly concerned. All the vitriol, rancor, and contempt are wearing us out and down, Father.

Thank you for what you’ve already done? That’s easy, Father. You’ve given us Jesus–who is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption; and our loving Bridegroom, constant Advocate, and returning King. No matter how this election plays out, this we can say with confidence, Jesus is Lord!

7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

We gladly receive the promise and provision of your peace, Father. We don’t have to understand everything. We know your timing is perfect and your ways are incomparable. Guard our vulnerable, wandering, impatient hearts with a greater measure of your peace, wisdom, and kindness.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trusting God with Things We Can’t Control

     “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matt. 6:25-27 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is remember the gospel. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re forgiven, robed, adopted, and beloved. We feast on a free diet of daily mercies and living water. We praise, bless, and adore you. The birds of the air have nothing on us.

Nevertheless, our weaknesses persist, our anxieties flare up, and our worries get the best of us. So we run to you today, confident of your welcome, and resting in your rule. Please help us with the things we’d love to control, but can’t. It’s not so much that we’re anxious to add a single hour to our lives; it’s more that we don’t want unnecessary suffering–for ourselves or anyone else.

I’ll start with the obvious, Lord. Tuesday, November 8th, we’ll elect a new president in our country. Every day we have more reasons to feel angst, anger, and anxiety. Help us to really believe you’ve “got this one”–that you actually are …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Freedom of Treasuring Jesus

     Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:32-34 NIV

Lord Jesus, as convicting as your words are, they are exponentially more comforting. Of course I fear things in life–things over which I have little, if any, control. My list of “what if’s?” is real, and gets longer, if I give worry the microphone. But today, your voice transcends the noise and exposes my fears for what they really are–thieves, brigands, and liars.

What can I work up a good case of worries about? I fear for the future of our country–even the whole world. And yet–so gloriously yet, you are the King of the kingdom the Father has joyfully given us. Indeed, you are the ruler of the kings of the earth, the resurrected and reigning Sovereign over all things–our returning Bridegroom and Lord, actively making all things new. Jesus, I truly want your Kingdom more than I want a lasting city in this world.

Jesus, I can get anxious about the health, stories, and wellbeing of people I love. But you’ve given yourself for our salvation; certainly I can trust you to take care of everything else. Right? Though I wish you promised me a pain-free, stress-free, crisis-free life …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment