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)
Heavenly Father, this story underscores how fear and worry are two of the most cunning and successful thieves. I understand why your children preferred returning to a predictable 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 me be still and trust that you’ll fight for me, whatever the battle.
Thankfully, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers. Often my biggest battles are within my heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus—which I believe is true, yet often I look to people’s approval, control over my circumstances, and creature comforts to fill me up. Free me, Lord, free me.
At 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 to extend your welcoming heart, your merciful acceptance, and your counterintuitive grace. Yet again, I throw down my toolkit of trying to be the …
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?‘ Daniel 4:34-35 (NLT)
Heavenly Father, I love this passage, and the truth it affirms. It gives me peace and hope, as I pray for (and vex about) our new President. But I too have much in common with Nebuchadnezzar. I’m in constant need of bowing my knees and acknowledging your sovereign rule over all things. I’m very thankful you are God, and I am not. Forgive me when I think less of you, and otherwise of me, or of anybody else.
Father, I’m glad you do as you please, and not as we beg you to do. I’ve lived long enough to praise you for some of the “No’s” I’ve received to prayers for which I desperately wanted a “Yes“. You do all things well, not easy; but in time, you will make all things beautiful. Give me grace in this day to wait for that Day.
Help me to trust your heart when I cannot see your hand at work. Forgive me for thinking I need to inform you about certain international crises and personal …
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Dan. 3:16-18
Heavenly Father, I’m convicted and encouraged by the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—doing life in a foreign land under a pagan king. Life in our country, in this particular political season, makes this story incredibly relevant. These three friends didn’t worship you because of the gifts you gave them, but because of the God you were to them.
They were convinced that you could rescue them from the fiery furnace, but even if you didn’t, it wouldn’t impact their love for you one bit. They’d rather be delivered into your presence through the fire, than worship some other false god just to escape the fire.
Father, forgive me when my worship of you vacillates based on my circumstances. As cynical as I am about the “name it and claim it” and prosperity theologies, I’m quite capable of doubting your love when life gets complicated and painful. I want to worship you before there’s a fire, when I’m in the fire, if I’m delivered from the fire, or if you should choose to take me home through the fire.
Because of Jesus, such a longing isn’t wishful …
“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 …
Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40 (NIV)
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isa. 45:7 (ESV)
The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Prov. 16:4 (ESV)
Lord Jesus, when I first read Martha’s question to you, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” my initial reaction was one of self-righteous judgment. I found myself wanting to say to her, “If Jesus doesn’t care, who does?” Or, “Martha, get over your whining and finish the meal.”
But there are other scenarios in life, far more confusing and frustrating than Martha’s kitchen, that lead us to ask the question, “Lord don’t you care?” Grant us grace to steward our confusion, hurt, and anger when that happens.
Jesus when we’d prefer your predictability to your sovereignty, grant us big grace and trusting hearts. When you don’t intervene in the lives of our children and when suicide bombings persist; when floods come, jobs go, health fails, and crooks succeed … help us to accept the fact that you “make well-being and create calamity“, and that you have made “everything for its purpose,” even “the wicked for the day of trouble.”
It’s easy to accept disruptive sovereignty, as long as it doesn’t encroach upon our space, our stories, or our families. But …
Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.
Heavenly Father, though I don’t have an awesome singing voice, I do trust an awesome gospel. I am godly only because you have hidden my life in Christ, and I am pure only because you have robed me in the righteousness of Jesus—for which I am profoundly grateful. At least my heart can sing with great volume and robust joy.
2 Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. 3 Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
Father, you are the quintessential artist, and you have given us the gift of music and gifted musicians to express our love to you, and deepen our enjoyment of you. For the arts and the artists in our communities, we praise, bless, and adore you.
4 For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.
What really fuels my worship this today, is this reminder of the truth of your Word and the trustworthiness of your heart. Though we’ve experienced the pain of betrayal and broken trust, you remain trustworthy—all the time in every way. Though we don’t understand everything you do, we can trust you with all things—our past regrets, present challenges, and uncertain future.
Though we often wish you’d adjust your timeline to fit our druthers, we can trust you are doing all things well. Though we’ll only understand some things in heaven, we can totally rely on you now. Great is your faithfulness, endless your mercies, more-than-sufficient your grace.
5 He loves whatever is just and …
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 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, meditating on this verse today is like standing under a gentle, steady shower of grace, after near drought-like conditions; or like waking up on a cool, crisp, morning in the mountains of Montana after a month of high-humidity breath-sucking heat; or like a panoramic train ride through Switzerland, in which every scene seems to top the last. Such is the wonder of your Word, the sweetness of the gospel, and the power of hope.
Nothing or no one really has to change for your Spirit to bring us hope in the depths of our hearts, the messiness of our stories, and angst of our circumstances. Whether it’s a “Brexit” vote that causes global uncertainty or the poor choices of good friends; the cancelling of a flight or the adding of a root canal to new week’s schedule; the vacation that didn’t happen or the mold infestation that did happen; the cancer that came back or the prodigal that hasn’t yet… you are still God, still in control, and still good; and we have more than sufficient reasons to have hope—even overflow with hope.
You gave Jesus to us and for us. Everything that needed to be finished, when Jesus was in this world, has been accomplished; and everything …
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for commanding our stillness, for otherwise, we wouldn’t choose it—especially when we’re a little bit (or a big bit) anxious. Help us to cast our cares upon you, as we quiet our hearts before you.
Confirm in our hearts, yet again, that you are in complete control; that you are working all things together after the counsel of your will; that you are working in all things for our good; that we cannot add one minute to our lives by our worry or change one broken story by our fretting.
Father, we long for the magnificent, über-glorious, all-things-new Day of Jesus’ return—the Day when you will be “exalted among the nations.” But we also long for you to be exalted in situations that weigh heavy hearts in this day.
Be exalted in our health care stories. Some of us are waiting for our MRIs and scans to be read; some of us just got disappointing lab reports back for people we love. Father, whether we live or die, whether we have twenty more years, or twenty more minutes, we belong to you through Jesus—and we are ever so thankful. Grant us grace and peace, for however you choose to write our stories.
Be exalted in our family stories and relationships. Nothing fuels our joy, and our anxieties, more than our relationships. Father, renew and refresh our relationship with Jesus, so that we will see others with …
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for welcoming us in our weaknesses and worries, and for catching every care we cast in your direction. Should we “pray more and worry less”? Indeed, that’s not a cliché; it’s our freedom. You know my needs better than I do, but here are a few obvious to me:
Always, I need power to love others as Jesus loves me—rather than repaying criticism for criticism, indifference for indifference, or hurt for hurt. I need grace to accept my aging and aching body. I need peace about the political chaos in our nation. I need wisdom for decisions lining up in front of me. I need freedom from the accusing and condemning voice of the enemy. I need faith to trust you with the lives of people I love.
Thank you for what you’ve already done? That’s easy to do, Father. You’ve given Jesus to me and for me—who is my righteousness, holiness, and redemption and a whole lot more! I praise and bless you for the indescribable gift of the gospel.
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.
I gladly receive the promise and provision of your peace, Father. I don’t have to understand everything. I know your timing is Swiss and your faithfulness is great. Guard my fickle, wandering, impatient …
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, we praise you for your promises of steadfast love, daily mercies, and doing the impossible, for we need all three. Because of your steadfast love, we have incomparable peace. Because of your daily mercies, we have the freedom to be vulnerable. Because nothing is impossible with you, we can trust you with our heaviest burdens and hardest situations.
Father, some of us are running to your throne of grace today, primed for a miracle; some of us are making our way very slowly, under the weight of shame and emotional exhaustion; and some of us are stuck on the mercy-road, not sure we can risk the pain of hoping again. Thank you that you meet us where we are, as we are. Thank you for always running towards us in the gospel.
For those of us who ache with the pain of betrayal, loss, and rejection hold us tightly, close to your heart. We want healing, yet some days we want justice much more than we want mercy for those who have hurt us. Help us Lord.
Father, for those of us who feel the burden of our guilt, the consequences of our failure, and the shame of our foolishness, free us from our attempts at putting things right with you. You must script our repentance and renewal. Only your grace is sufficient. We’re tired of trying to be our own savior.
Father, for those of us who want to trust you with failing health, …