Friday, March 20, 2015

a prayer of contrition based on Psalm 34

O Father, as this moment is a part of “all times” and “continually,” I would seek to bless and praise You, even as I am aware of my feebleness in so doing. Truly I am far more prone to bless You “sometimes” and to praise You “sporadically.” Forgive me. Fix my mind and heart on You. As my eyes are fixed on You, may my boast be in You alone. I confess that far too often my eyes are on me and that my boasting is in myself. Forgive me. You, O LORD, hear the righteous, and in and of myself, I have no hope of being heard by You (although, so often I find myself trusting in my own righteousness and believing that I am that righteous man). Today, I am reminded that I am the sinner. Today, I am reminded to look once again to Christ who is my righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that my boasting may be in Him, even as my hope of being heard is in Him. 

To magnify You, O LORD, is my great desire – to bring into focus that which is so immense and beyond my ability to fathom: You who are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable (while I am finite and temporal and fickle); You who are Almighty (while I am weak); You who are all-wise and just and holy and true, conform me to the image of Your Son, who is the image of Your glory and the exact representation of Your being. I consider His name, the name that is above every name: Jesus – the Lord saves; Immanuel – God with us. I praise You that You are the triune God, and that You have gifted me with Your Holy Spirit, Your very presence dwelling in me. Forgive me for so often grieving and quenching Him. May He move freely in me, sanctifying me through and through.

You are the LORD, Yahweh, our covenant God, faithful throughout all generations. You are a good God. The earth is filled with Your goodness. You give us rain from heaven and food to eat. You do not treat us as our sinful rebellion deserves, but have provided in Your own beloved Son, a Lamb without blemish or defect, more precious than silver or gold. You do not stand far off, but bid us to draw near to You with boldness, to You who are a good Father who gives good gifts to His children when they ask. Today, I would ask for that greatest of all Your good gifts: the Holy Spirit in full measure! And may I know with Him the blessing of Your presence and the enjoyment of all that is necessary for this day of trouble. Today, loved ones grieve, comfort and console them with Your presence. Today, my wife faces potential dangers, encamp around her to protect her. Today, my father and sister are weighed down by heavy burdens of financial need, may they know your hand of provision this day. Today, the weight of work to be done hangs over me, focus me. Today, I will interact with people, not by random chance, but by Your appointment, use me.

Teach me this day to fear You. Forgive the evil of my lips. I truly am a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips. Purify me from cursing, lying, backbiting, scheming, gossiping, demeaning, and boasting. Make me a man of peace. Help me to pursue it. Teach me to speak Your truth with great patience and careful instruction. Teach me the time to speak and the time to remain silent. 

Trustworthy God, I trust You. May those not be merely idle words which fall from my lips, but may they be my continual mindset and lifestyle. May I lean on You today, my Redeemer and my Deliverer, my Protector and my Provider. May Your holy name be praised to the gladdening of Your people. Amen.

Psalm 34:1-22

Thursday, March 19, 2015

a prayer for america (and the ends of the earth) based on Psalm 33

Great God, You who created the heavens with a word, You whose counsel stands and whose plans are accomplished from generation to generation, You whose word is right and who work truth and righteousness and justice and goodness throughout the earth, we praise You. May our praise be a reflection of Your greatness, and may it be found beautiful in Your sight. Sovereign God, as You control all things by the word of Your power, we pray that Your sovereignty might be duly recognized throughout the earth. May all the nations fear You and stand in awe of You. Even in our nation, O LORD, might you be recognized as the one true and living God. Might it be said of us that we are a nation whose God is the LORD. Truly, O God, we are a nation that has gone astray, a nation that trusts in its own counsel and plans rather than looking to You, a nation that trusts in the multitude of our armies and our great strength. O God, when we consider Your wisdom and strength, we recognize that these are as nothing, that You can bring them down in an instant. May we be reminded that You are the only sure hope, that Your counsel and might will always prevail. We bow before Your majesty and plead for Your mercy. We wait for You, who are our help and our shield – our only true hope. Have mercy on us, O God for the sake of the glory of Your Son, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Psalm 33:1-22

Thursday, January 1, 2015

let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start...

On this, the first day of 2015, I am thinking about the opening questions of two old catechisms: the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646-48) and the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). These catechisms are extremely helpful in understanding the basic framework of biblical teaching, and it is amazing the great depths which can be found even in grasping the teaching of the first two questions of each.

WSC #1 What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
(Scripture proofs: Psalm 86:1-17; Isaiah 60:21; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 6:20,31; Revelation 4:11; Psalm 16:5,11; Psalm 144:15; Isaiah 12:2; Luke 2:10; Philippians 4:4; Revelation 21:34)

WSC #2 What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?
Answer: The Word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how to glorify and enjoy Him.
(Scripture proofs: Matthew 19:4-5 with Genesis 2:24; Luke 24:27,44; 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14:37; 2 Peter 1:20-21, 3:2,15-16; Deuteronomy 4:2; Psalm 19:7-11; Isaiah 8:20; John 15:11, 20:30-31; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 John 1:4)  

(*** The second question is especially important in showing that we don't decide for ourselves how exactly we are to glorify and enjoy God.)

HC #1 What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
(Scripture proofs: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 14:7-9; 1 Corinthians 3:23; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7, 2:2; John 8:34-36; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8; John 6:39-40, 10:27-30; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 1:5; Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18; Romans 8:15-16,28; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:14)

HC #2 What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
Answer: First, how great my sins and misery are; second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.
(Scripture proofs: Romans 3:9-10; 1 John 1:10; John 17:3; Acts 4:12, 10:43; Matthew 5:16; Romans 6:13; Ephesians 5:8-10; 1 Peter 2:9-10)

May 2015 be a year of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Scriptural Prayers for Reading the Scripture

Here are some great prayers to pray in coming to the Word of God. I was thinking of a few of them this morning (the list is by no means comprehensive - really, just the tip of the iceberg) :
  • open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18)
  • enlarge my heart. (Psalm 119:32)
  • revive my soul. (Psalm 19:7)
  • grant wisdom. (Psalm 19:7)
  • rejoice my heart. (Psalm 19:8)
  • enlighten my eyes. (Psalm 19:8)
  • warn me. (Psalm 19:11)
  • teach me. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • reprove me. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • correct me. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • train me in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • equip me for good works. (2 Timothy 3:17)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving (2 weeks early)

This morning, I was reading Romans 11, and I was reminded of my grandmother. I praise God quite often for the godly impact that she had on my life (though probably not nearly enough). I have learned so much of the Bible because of her - whether through Bible club, Sunday School and youth group OR by the hours and hours she spent reading verses to me repeatedly to help me memorize them for Bible quizzing (hundreds if not thousands of verses). Today, however, I was reminded of a verse that I learned from her in none of the aforementioned ways, and quite honestly, it may have been the first verse that I ever learned from her:

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable are his ways!" Romans 11:33

This is the profound doxology into which Paul bursts after spending 11 chapters expounding on the wonders of the gospel: that we all are sinners who have fallen desperately short of the glory of God, but that God has provided a means for our receiving righteousness through the willing sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ - that our sins may be forgiven through faith in Christ alone thus restoring us to a right relationship with the Father, escaping his rightly deserved wrath. Wonder of wonders, what God has done to redeem his people! That is what so bowls Paul over that he pens the words of 11:33.

How did Gram teach me this verse? Quite simply, there was no other verse that I heard her quote more frequently in her prayers. May my prayer life similarly be marked by an awestruck wonder and praise of our great Savior God!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

a good reminder

i was reminded this morning of a quote from Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper:

"If God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him... then living for the glory of God must mean that we live to gladly make others glad in God. Our gladness and our pursuit of their gladness glorifies God. And since gladness in God is the greatest and most lasting happiness, pursuing it is also love. Since the same joy in God both satisfies man and glorifies God, we never have to choose between the motive to love people or to glorify God. By gladly pursuing the gladness of others in God - even at the cost of our lives - we love them and honor God. This is the opposite of a wasted life."

Monday, June 3, 2013

meditating on service and relying on God for results

I love 2 Timothy 2. Today, I am sitting in verses 24-26. May the Lord continue to transform my heart that I may be useful for His service!

"the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:24-26

God, work these characteristics in me: kindness, patience, gentleness. Grant me wisdom in teaching & correcting!