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Longing and Working for Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matt. 5:9

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Rom. 12:18

Lord Jesus, irrespective of our gardening skills, there’s at least one kind of gardening for which there’s no possibility of crop failure. When we sow in peace and seek to live out stories of your reconciling love, you guarantee a harvest of ample, delectable, righteous fruit. It may take longer and cost more than we wish, but we are never foolish to long for and to work for peace, where there is strife, disconnect, and brokenness.

O, that certain relationships didn’t get so dicey, messy, and complicated. We miss the innocence of Eden and long for the perfections of heaven, Lord. Thank you that we don’t have to pretend with you; thank you that we can bring our exhaustion and frustrations, and reaffirm our hope and trust in you.

Jesus, you are our peace and the ultimate Peacemaker. While we were God’s enemies, you died for us—destroying the hostility, and replacing the enmity with your great affection and perfect peace. You reconciled us to our Father, through the cost of your life and the currency of your love. There is no greater expression of love than the gospel. Never let us forget, or doubt, the reconciling power of the gospel, never.

Give us your patience when peacemaking requires more emotional currency than we have, and demands more forgiveness than we want to offer. Give us courage when you send …

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On Memorial Day: The War That Ends All Wars

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Rev. 19:11-16 (NLT)

Dear Lord Jesus, on this Memorial Day we appropriately honor the courageous men and women who lost their lives serving our country, in a world filled with “wars and rumors of war.” But on this particular Memorial Day, we want to honor you, as the ultimate Servant-Warrior—the quintessential Serviceman who, on the cross, won the war to end all wars. No one paid a greater price to bring the final and full peace, for which we long and hope. John’s vision of that Day fills our hearts with worship.

Having secured the defeat of the prince of darkness, you’re now the rider on the white horse—alone worthy of the name Faithful and True and Word of God. You are …

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On Tuesday of Holy Week

     As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, long before the Day you will wipe away our tears, you wept many of your own; and we praise, bless, and adore you for doing so. The tears you shed coming into a broken and rebellious Jerusalem, underscore the mercy and magnificence of these words from the Apostle Paul:

     “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).

     Jesus, I humbly and gladly acknowledge Paul was writing about me in this Scripture. I am one of the powerless, ungodly sinners for whom you gave your life—demonstrating God’s lavish love for the undeserving. I wasn’t an impassioned seeker or a misguided God-fearer; I was an indifferent rebel and self-righteous fool, when I received the gift of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10). The only reason I have peace with God is because God made peace with me through you.

     I would still be looking for peace elsewhere, if you hadn’t opened my eyes to see my need and your grace. I have no claim to …

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God’s Peace Ruling in Our Hearts

     Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess. 3:16 (NLT)

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Col. 3:15 (ESV)

Dear Lord Jesus, there’s no part of our being or chapter in our stories, sphere of life or place in the universe, outside your interest and care. You are Creator and Sustainer, Redeemer and Restorer; and we praise, bless, and adore you. Because of your finished work, God is at peace with us and we have peace with God. Hallelujah!

Today we come to you, as the Lord of Peace, seeking a greater measure of peace about relationships and situations dear to us. Hear our prayers; grant us grace; increase our peace.

Lord Jesus, we pray for marriages in stress and under duress. Of course Satan doesn’t want our marriages to thrive, or even survive, because this relationship is meant to reveal your great love for your own Bride, the church. Of course we act foolishly in our marriages, for we wrongly assume the right human partner can “fill us up”. Forgive us and free us, O Lord. Bring ongoing repentance, refreshment, and renewal to our marriages.

We pray for our children—made for wonder, but prone to wander. Jesus, thank you for the privilege of parenthood. At times, nothing gives us greater delight; at other times, nothing brings us greater frustration. Thank you that our easiest children aren’t beyond the need of your grace; and that our more challenging children …

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A Prayer for Getting Still and Trusting God to Fight for Us

     Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:12-14 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, fear and worry can really do a number on us. I totally get how your children preferred returning to a life of slavery in Egypt, over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. I’ve often felt a similar temptation to choose a known brokenness over the promise of unseen beauty. Help my unbelief as I face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help me be still and trust that you’ll fight for me.

Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). Often my biggest battles are within my own heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus—which I really believe is true; yet too often I look to people and circumstances to fill me up. Free me, Lord, free me.

Many times I battle with trusting you with the hearts of those I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to “fix” people. It never works, never. Help me love others as Jesus loves me. Help me to extend your welcoming heart, your merciful acceptance, and your counterintuitive …

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A Prayer of Über Encouragement

     God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:9-11 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, there are many things over which I don’t have any control; many outcomes that remain hidden from me; and many broken stories, broken people, and broken circumstances that may, or may not, get better this side of heaven. But this I do know, because of the finished work of Jesus, our future contains zero judgment and 100% joyful welcome by you you; zero wrath and100% perfect righteousness in Jesus; zero brokenness and 100% perfect relationship with you. It’s all gonna be—not just okay, but bodacious and magnificent, beyond our wildest dreams and hopes. This isn’t sentimental hype; it’s our guaranteed hope.

     Until then, Father, make me a genuine encourager and “builder-upper” of my family, gospel-posse, and friends. Thank you for the privilege we have of bearing one another’s burdens; showing up in one another’s stories; holding one another accountable for believing the gospel; giving each other hope-fueling perspective at low times, and life-giving rebukes at wandering times.

     Father, thank you that, whether we die before Jesus returns, or live to see that blessed Day, we are your beloved children, now and forever. Nothing can ever separate us from your love, deplete your mercies, or exhaust …

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A Prayer for a Mary Heart in a Martha World

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
Dear Lord Jesus, first of all, thank you for being so welcoming and desirous of our fellowship, just as you were of Mary. Not only do we have access to your throne of grace 24/7, it’s you who greets us there. We’re never a bother to you; we’re never “put on hold”; we never have to “take a number and wait.” We’ll never meet a tired and frustrated you, because you’re always the Bridegroom who delights in his Bride—rejoicing over us with singing, giving us new mercy every day and sufficient grace for every circumstance. Hallelujah, many times over.
We’re the ones who get tired and frustrated. We live in a …

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A Prayer for Being Still and Trusting God to Fight for Us

     Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:12-14 (NIV)

      Dear heavenly Father, fear and worry can really do a number on us. I totally get how your children could prefer returning to a life of slavery in Egypt over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. I’ve often felt a similar temptation to choose a known brokenness over the promise of unseen beauty. Help my unbelief as I face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help me to be still… and trust that you will fight for me.

     Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). Often my biggest battles are within my own heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus—which I really believe is true, yet too often I give people the power to validate me—as though your delight in me is not enough. Continue to free me from my love of the approval of man.

     Many times I battle with trusting you with the hearts and stories of people I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to …

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A Prayer for Days When We Wake Up with a Low-grade Irritability

     If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1 Cor. 13:1-5 (ESV)

      Dear heavenly Father, though there’s a lot more in this remarkable passage about love, but I chose to stop this morning with Paul’s couplet about love not being “irritable or resentful”—because I woke up with a measure of each vying for my day. I need your grace, even before the sun comes up. So I come to you—I run to you, thankful for your ready welcome, new mercies, and sufficient grace.

     Father, I don’t want this to be a bad attitude day, and as tempting as it is to blame and make excuses for my low-grade irritability, I’m not gonna do it. I am canceling my plans for a pity party; and I relinquish my elder-brother attitude of condescension, entitlement, and judgment. Our feelings are to be taken seriously, but our feelings aren’t lord—that would be Jesus.

     So, Father, by your …

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A Prayer for Reaffirming There’s Only One Source of Sufficient Peace

      “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” ”Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace.”  Luke 19:38-42 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, the ache within our hearts for peace is intense and unrelenting. Though I already rest in you-plus-nothing for my forgiveness and righteousness, I can still get tricked into thinking a better peace can be found somewhere else.

     Some days I’m like Esau. My peace-lust take over, and in the moment I’ll gladly settle for a bowl of hot porridge over the hope of a future banquet (Gen 25:29-34; Rev. 19). The provision of a snack in hand blinds my eye, deafens my ear, and dulls my taste buds to the fullness I already have in you, Jesus, and the greater fullness of your return.

     Some days I get sucked in the world of “if only.” If only I were 20 years younger, lived somewhere else, had a different body, had more money, had fewer hassles, had never been deeply wounded, could control the decisions of others, had a different family of origin . . .

     But right now I hear you utter the only …

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