It’s All About Loving Jesus

     Though you have not seen him (Jesus), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Pet. 1:8-9 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, Peter’s words are so heart encouraging and hope fueling. We greatly long for the Day when knowing you in part will give way to knowing you fully. Indeed, we crave the Day when seeing you will no longer require faith or imagination, or waiting or repentance. Hasten that Day, Lord; hasten the grace-full moment we will see you as you are, and we will be transformed into your likeness (1 John 3:1-3).

Everything we already know about you fills our hearts with awe, worship, and joy; but there’s so much more to see and know. We are mere babes-in-the-woods of gospel-wonder; neophyte prospectors in the mountains of the riches of the gospel; children with water wings wading into the bottomless ocean of your glory and love. Continue to open the eyes of our hearts, Lord Jesus. Show us more of you; expand our capacity for knowing and marveling at you.

The joy from being pursued, known, and loved by the Creator of all things is immeasurable. The delight born from knowing you gave your life for us–fulfilling the law, taking our judgment, becoming our righteousness… such joy is incomparable. And the peace we feel as we ponder your return–Bridegroom for his bride, Lover for his beloved, Friend …

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Savoring the Perfections of Jesus: Praying Hebrews 1:1-3

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,

Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God who speaks–a Father who delights to reveal yourself to his children through your Word. The Bible is such a gift to us–a trustworthy record of everything necessary for knowing and loving you, worshiping and serving you–in this life, and the one to come.

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

In particular, we bless you for how the Scriptures will always lead us to Jesus–the central focus, and true hero, in your entire Word. For every promise you have made finds it’s “Yes!” in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20).

By Jesus, you created the world; through Jesus, you sustain all things; for Jesus, everything is being kept as an inheritance.  And, through the gospel, you have made us–even us, co-heirs with Jesus (Rom. 8:17). What a merciful, kind, and generous God you are. Open the eyes of our heart to see and embrace such a hope.

3 He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

     To see Jesus is to see everything we need to understand and grasp about you, Father. Throughout eternity, Jesus has been one with you, in nature and love, passion and delight. And to know Jesus is to rest in the good news that, indeed, “He’s got the whole world, in his …

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On Wednesday of Holy Week

     Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Messiah? Matt. 22:41-42 (NLT)

Dear Lord Jesus, we praise, bless and adore you for the unparalleled privilege, honor, and joy of knowing you–and there’s so much more to know. That’s why the question you put to Pharisees, the day before your arrest, remains the most important question for us to answer, in any season of life.

What have I already discovered to be true about you, Jesus? You are everlasting God, and I am a mere man. I would despair if you were less, and I am weary of pretending to be more. You are the Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all things. You are the Alpha and the Omega, and everything in between. Angels worship you and birds depend on you.

You are the Second Adam–our substitute in life and in death. You lived a life of perfect obedience for us, and exhausted God’s judgment against us. By you, we’ve been completely forgiven; and in you, we’re declared perfectly righteousness. You are our faithful Bridegroom and we are your beloved Bride. You cannot love us more, and you’ll never love us less. We believe, help our unbelief, Lord.

You are our reigning and returning King–sovereign over days and dominions, the Lord of every hair and heartache, in control of international terror and kingdom triumphs. Broken reeds love your appearing and demons tremble in your presence. Lord Jesus, you are all this and so much more. Eternity will be an endless revelation and celebration, of your glory and grace.

But what stuns me the …

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A Prayer for Rejoicing in the New Name(s) Jesus Gives Us

     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 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 things we have called 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 me today and address me as “Mine”, “Beloved”, and “Desired”. I am so grateful for the power of the gospel to rename, renew, and release us from old destructive labels—the ones others have given us, and the ones we’ve given ourselves.

     But as much as I love my new name, Lord Jesus, your name is the name I love to hear more than any other. It’s by your name that I’m fully forgiven and declared righteous, being healed of every …

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A Prayer Celebrating the Redeeming of Creation

     I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. Rev. 5:13-14

Dear Lord Jesus, John’s vision of redeemed creation declaring your praise, captures my heart and fuels my hope this morning. Even as my heart grieves over any of a number of environmental disasters in our world, including the most recent tornados in Oklahoma, nevertheless I’m thankful that one Day we’ll enjoy the perfected and never-to-be-broken-again world of the new heaven and new earth.

Indeed, Lord Jesus, I’m filled with hope by your promise of the new creation world of inviolate beauty, irrepressible goodness, and perpetual flourishing. I greatly long for the Day when creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will enjoy the glorious freedom of the children of God (Rom. 8:18-25). Hasten that Day!

By faith I can already hear the faint, but sure, singing of every creature “in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them” (Rev. 5:13) singing to you, Lord Jesus—Creator and Redeemer. But what will that frustration-free (Rom. 8:20), fully engaged, full-throated, pan-creature symphony and chorus actually sound like? I can hardly wait to see and hear.

Until …

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A Prayer in Praise of Jesus–Our Prophet, God’s Last Word

     The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.” And the Lord said to me, “They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” Deut. 18:15-18

Dear Lord Jesus, of all the incredible promises made about your birth, I often overlook one of the first and most wonderful ones given. You are the greater Moses—God’s last Word, in person and proposition. What a joy it is to know that you rule the world with grace and truth, both of which you are full of (John 1:14).

Throughout the history of redemption, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets, at many times and in various ways. But finally and fully, he spoke to us through you, his beloved Son—Creator and heir of all things (Heb. 1:1-3). You are the final Word, Jesus, the living Word, the loving Word, the incarnate Word! We worship and adore you.

Oh, the freedom and joy I have in knowing you’ve spoken and have not stuttered, Lord …

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A Prayer About the Final Word

     In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3

     Dear heavenly Father, after 26, this is my last Sunday as pastor of a remarkable community of faith—an amazing family of brothers and sisters just as needy of your grace and grateful for your love as the first day we gathered before you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the privilege and honor of getting to serve you in Christ Community Church. You’ve done exceedingly beyond all I could’ve ever hoped or imagined. Great is your fatherly faithfulness; daily your measureless mercies; exquisite and lavish, your steadfast love.
     So what is a last sermon—the final word by an outgoing founding pastor supposed to be? When I first asked myself that question, I felt pressure—as though everything would be on the line; I’d need to “hit it out of the park,” to bring “a word for the ages”. But fortunately, that didn’t last very long, for it’s never been about my performance, but that of your Son, Jesus. …

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A Prayer to Pray for Our Friends

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Sam. 12:23-24

Lord Jesus, there’s a lot more to friendship than praying for our friends, but we haven’t really been a good friend unless we’ve prayed and continue to pray for them. Knowing you call us friend is astonishing, and knowing you’re are always praying for us is all the motivation we need. Indeed, how can we enjoy such a rich standing in grace and not “stand in the gap” for our friends?

For our friends with broken hearts, Jesus, we pray for the reach and touch of your tear-wiping hand. Loss, betrayal and personal failure can be devastating.  Bring the gospel to bear with tenderness and power. Help us take our friend’s pain seriously, yet keep us from trying to heal their wounds quickly or lightly. Give us grace to stay present in their hurt. Please heal them in ways that will leave them merciful toward others, not merely pain free.

For our friends with angry hearts, Jesus, please dialogue with them the same way you entered Jonah’s rage. “Do you have a right to be angry?” you asked the conflicted prophet. Help them see the sad behind their mad, the pettiness in their petulance, and the …

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A Prayer about God Owning Our Battles

The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s. 1 Sam. 17:47

This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:15

Dear Father, I’m thankful when you’re selfish with things I don’t really want anyway–especially when you claim ownership of my battles. Though following Jesus involves intense warfare and wearing the armor you provide (Eph. 6:10-18), you are the Divine Warrior we must trust. Whether it’s a mere skirmish or an all-out assault, the battle belongs to you, Lord. Fear and discouragement are not the order of the day, faith and hope are.

We’re never more than David standing before Goliath (1Sam. 17); Elijah facing 400 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18); Gideon taking on the Midianite army (Judges 6-8); Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in a fiery furnace; Esther against the Persian government. It’s not our competence but your presence that matters. Not as disengaged pacifists, but as fully engaged worshipers, we will behold the salvation of the Lord.

Father, when it seems like evil and terror will triumph, let us hear the laughter of heaven. Give us eyes to see your already installed King, the Lord Jesus, reigning over all things (Psalm. 2).

When we’re under attack by the seducer, accuser, and condemner of the brethren, once again let us see Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He is our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30-31). Our …

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A Prayer about Jesus and the Brokenhearted

     The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3

     Dear Lord Jesus, I’m increasingly grateful for all the reasons the Father sent you into the world. When I behold the perfect holiness of God, I’m so thankful you came to set us free from our imprisonment to sin and death and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. In the gospel we hear you singing these words over us: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). We have no righteousness apart from yours, Lord Jesus, none.

     When I look at places like Haiti, Calcutta and Darfur, I’m so thankful that you came to preach good news to the poor–not just good news concerning spiritual poverty but also the good news of a kingdom which provides food for the hungry, clean …

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