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The Knee-buckling Weight of God’s Grace

 Romans 8:31 – What we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 

Heavenly Father, it’s hard to stand up under the weight of all the grace in this passage. Our knees buckle and our hands shoot up heavenward. Indeed, when we consider your great love for us in Jesus, there’s no justifying our whining and worrying. When we do the mercy-math, all the wonderful things you’ve given us in the gospel far outweigh all provocations, disappointments, and exasperations of life.

32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Since you gave Jesus to us and for us, of course we can trust you for everything else we actually need. Forgive for thinking otherwise. Forgive our discontent, envy and unbelief.

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has justified us. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

You made and chose us, bought and reconciled us, and now you fully delight in us. Forgive us for giving anybody else’s opinion of us more attention than yours–whether it’s the accusations of the devil or the meanness of men, the contempt of our shame or the flattery of the world.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves …

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Overflowing with Gratitude

     Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 2 Cor. 9:15

     Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Col. 2:6-7

Heavenly Father, I’ve come to realize that gratitude is a discipline before it’s a feeling. Indeed, the best way to wage war against whining and murmuring is to remember and rehearse the opulent riches you’ve given us in Christ, and the many good things you’ve given us as a loving Father. So here I go, as this day begins.

I want to express thanks for the inexpressible gift of the gospel. Even as my fingers fly across my Mac’s keyboard as I pray this prayer, not just my fingers, but also my whole being is hidden in Christ. You’ve forgiven all my sins and robed me in Jesus’ righteousness; you’ve rooted me in your love and I now stand in your grace.

Nothing will separate me from your love or keep me out of heaven. Jesus is always praying for me and the Holy Spirit is constantly telling my heart how much you love me. Why would I EVER complain about anything? But there’s more!

Father thanks for clothing and a home, a comfortable bed and plenty of food. May I never assume the right to such things, or think I have them simply because I worked for them. Thank …

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The Freedom, Joy, and Power of Contentment

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

Do all things without grumblingPhil. 2:14 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, I wish, as soon as you made us alive in Jesus, you would have given each of your children a PhD in contentment. But, alas, I’m still leaning the secret of this wonderful expression of your grace.

Of course, the gospel doesn’t call us to kill desire, demonize ambition, or embrace denial; and yet, at the same time, I totally “get” your warnings about complaining, ingratitude, and discontent. Left unchecked, these deadly toxins infect hearts and homes, friendships and the work place.

So I come to you, Father, once again, acknowledging a need you alone can meet. Please supersize the grace of contentment in my heart. Whether I have a little or a lot; am well known or forgotten; feast on filet mignon or yesterday’s “beanie-weenies.”

Whether I feel included or left out; celebrated or underappreciated; have discretionary funds for splurging, or financial pressures out the wazoo. Whether my relationships are “rocking” or rocky; whether I have great health or chronic discomfort; job security or vocational uncertainty… Father, I want to be content–not passive, but truly grateful–not immune to pain, …

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Worship Trumping Whining: Praying Psalm 103:1-4

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

Heavenly Father, King David captures the desire of our hearts, which is to love, praise, and bless you, with everything we have and are. If you never gave us anything, you would still be worthy of my whole-soul worship. But in fact, you have been outrageously generous. Here are a few of your grace-gifts we remember today.
who forgives all your sins

Through the finished work of Jesus, you’ve forgiven all our sins–not just the 4% we’re aware of, the other 96% as well. Though we will be more like Jesus one Day, we’ll never be more forgiven than today.

and heals all your diseases,

     Though you don’t always heal on our timetable, nonetheless, by the gospel, you have secured for us perfect health forever. One Day, every expression of our brokenness will give way to the fullness of Jesus’ beauty, joy, and life. All the ways sin and death have impacted our bodies, emotions, and thinking–it’s all going to be healed and made new. No more gunk, only glory. Hallelujah!

who redeems your life from the pit

Not only have you redeemed us from the ultimate pit of death and judgment, you also rescue us out of other kinds of pits–pits we naively fall into; pits we get pushed into; and pits into which we foolishly jump.

Waterless pits like self-pity and self-righteousness; dark holes of seething bitterness and soul-sucking resentment; caverns of toxic shame and vain regrets; the bottomless craters of hopelessness and the dark dry prison of unbelief. Continue your rescue pit-rescuing mission …

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We Always Have Ample Reasons to Be Grateful

      [The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”  Luke 15:28-31

Dear heavenly Father, though I’d never boast about my “many years of serving you,” nor am I tempted to trust in my works for your favor, nevertheless, there are times when my ingratitude matches that of the older brother, recorded in these verses.

But I do my best repenting, not by beating myself up and groveling, but by preaching the gospel to my own heart, so here goes.

Father, you are constantly running to me in the gospel–inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace–to enjoy the music of reconciliation, to sing the songs of redemption, to make merry to the glory of God.

You are constantly saying to my grumbling, complaining, discontented, self-righteous face, “My son, you’re always with me because I’m always with you. Nothing will ever separate you from the everlasting love I have for you, and all my children. I greatly delight in you. I rejoice over you with singing. Everything I have is yours.”

All your sins …

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Contentment Trumping Whining

     I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

Do all things without grumblingPhil. 2:14 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, there are some aspects of this life of grace for which I seem to need constant refreshment courses. Contentment is one of them. I know the gospel doesn’t call us to kill desire, demonize ambition, or decry enjoyment. And yet at the same time, I totally “get” your warnings about complaining, ingratitude, and discontent. Left unchecked, these deadly toxins infect hearts and homes, friendships and the work place.

So I come to you, Father, once again, acknowledging a need you alone can meet. Grant me the grace of contentment. Whether I have a little or a lot; am well known or forgotten; live in a palace or a garage apartment; feast on filet mignon or yesterday’s mac and cheese. Whether I feel included or left out; celebrated or underappreciated; have discretionary funds for splurging, or financial pressures a many.

Whether my relationships are “rocking” or rocky; whether I have great health or chronic maladies; job security or vocational uncertainty. Father, I want to be content–not passive, not in denial, but truly grateful–not immune to …

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A Prayer for the Beginning of Thanksgiving Week

     So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7 

     Dear Lord Jesus, on this Lord’s Day before Thanksgiving, we declare our desire to give you the quality and quantity of thanks of which you are eternally worthy. Not like a slow drip, babbling brook, or a meandering stream, but joyfully erupting and overflowing thankfulness.

     Our motivation is manifold. From the nanosecond we trusted you as Savior and Lord, we were fully forgiven, and firmly rooted in your righteousness and love. Just as we can’t add one iota to your righteousness, we can never be separated from your love. You’ve already rescued us from the penalty of sin; you’re continually setting us free from the power of sin; and one Day you’ll deliver us from the very presence of sin.

     Jesus, we now live in you, and are being built up and strengthened by you–maturing by the same grace that saved us; being liberated for the race that you’ve set before us; loving others as you so radically love us.

     You’ve freed us from our little stories and fiefdoms of self, and have written us into your big Story of redeeming love and cosmic restoration. You’ve made us citizens of heaven, and heirs of life in the new heaven and new earth. Your generosity is …

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A Prayer for Learning the Secret of Contentment, Again and Again

     I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

     Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

    Do all things without grumbling. Phil. 2:14 (ESV)

      Dear heavenly Father, there are some aspects of this life of grace for which I seem to need constant refreshment courses. Contentment is one of them. I know you’re not calling us to kill desire, demonize ambition, or decry enjoyment; and yet I totally “get” your warnings about complaining, ingratitude, and discontent.

     So I come to you, Father, once again, acknowledging a need you alone can meet. Grant me the grace of contentment. Whether I have a little or a lot; am well known or forgotten; live in a palace or a garage apartment; feast on filet mignon or yesterday’s mac and cheese. Whether I feel included or left out; celebrated or underappreciated; have discretionary funds for splurging, or literally have to pray for daily bread. Whether my relationships are “rocking” or are rocky; whether I have really good health, or chronic maladies. Father, I want to be content—not passive or in denial, but truly grateful; not immune to pain, …

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A Prayer for Reaffirming and Resting in God’s Sovereignty

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Ps. 115:3 (ESV)

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. Isa. 46:9-10 (NLT)

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.Job 42:2 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, though I am quite capable of fretting, carping, and lamenting about how out of control things seem, the truth is, nothing could be farther from the truth. I may not always see your hand, discern your heart, or like your ways, but you are God and there is no other. Hallelujah, many times over.

     Italy has her three tenors, but your Word gives us these three magnificent voices today, all affirming the same glorious truth: You are God, and we are not. You were sovereign over King David’s challenged rule, crazy family, and personal failures. You were sovereign over Isaiah’s difficult ministry and the outlandish promises you gave him to proclaim. You were sovereign over Job’s loses and betrayals, misery and waiting. Indeed, no purpose of yours can be (or will be) thwarted.

     Surely, therefore Father, I can trust you with however you choose to write my story. You give and you take away—but always and ever to bring glory to …

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A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Discontented

     Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 (NIV)

     Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

     Do all things without grumbling. Phil 2:14 (ESV)

     Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Ps. 37:4-5 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, I assume that until the Day you either take me home, or send Jesus back to finish making all things new, I’m going to be both a whiner and a worshiper. Some days, nothing feels like it’s enough—people, places, or things. Other days, your love, grace, and presence are more real and satisfying than anything else, and all things combined.

     I want more of those days, Father—more of the days when your love is better than life, your grace is more than sufficient, and your presence is sweeter than honey. But until the Day of nor more whining, discontent, and grumbling, free me, Father, to more fully delight myself in you. Not to get the desires of my heart, but that you may be the primary delight of my heart. I cannot imagine a freer posture in life.

     …

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