Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:19-21
Dear heavenly Father, whether in our own lives, or in the lives of those we love, few things are as beautiful as Spirit wrought conviction, generating grace-laced-humility, leading to times of gospel-saturated refreshing. That’s always a win-win for everyone—for our families, the church, the community, our culture, and us.
Surely, this is what Luther had in mine when he stated that “repentance is a way of life”, for those who understand the gospel. Yet how easily we forget, you are a God who gives grace to the humble; yet, you know the proud “from afar”. We’re never freer than when we see our own sin more clearly than anyone else’s; and when we see the finished work of Jesus as our most present need, and glorious provision.
Father, as this beautiful Saturday begins, I’m thankful you’ve already sent Jesus for me, and that you’re going to send him again, to finish the “job”. I’m grateful all of my sins have already been “wiped out,” and that you’ve clothed me with the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Now, gentle and sweeten my heart, I ask. I sincerely want to be …
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 2 Cor. 8:1-5
Dear heavenly Father, this one little gospel-vignette underscores why we can never emphasize your grace too much. Indeed, through Jesus you continue to give us grace upon grace; and more grace in the place of that grace. (John 1:16)
What an amazing story—the severely afflicted and extremely poor Christians of Macedonia became a model of radical freedom to the much wealthier believers in Corinth. Father, only the gospel is powerful enough to create this kind of contentment and joy, compassion and generosity.
For the glory of Jesus and the advancing of your kingdom, we ask you to give us the same grace you gave the churches of Macedonia. The needs all around us are exponential; but your resources are endless. Help us to excel in the grace of giving.
We know that you are “able to make all grace abound to [us], so that having all sufficiency in …
Who do I have in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Ps. 73:25-26
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Col. 3:12-14
Dear heavenly Father, it’s called the busiest traffic day of the year in America—the day before Thanksgiving. Tens of millions of us are making our way “home,” or will be opening our doors to family and friends, for a day of turkey-basting, goodie-prepping, parade-watching, merry-making, story-telling, sports-enjoying, nap-taking, and more goodie-eating. It’s a great time of year.
Father, thank you for the common joys of life—our family traditions and favorite dishes; for the same old jokes and new glimpses of hope; for the burdens we bear and the longings we share; for the “more” we all want, and the fullness you alone can give.
Indeed, Father, may this be a holiday in which we welcome the reminders that you alone are enough. Give us joy in the circumstances and moments, and for the brokenness and the people, which underscore there’s a place in our hearts reserved only for you—a God-shaped place made for grace. No one is meant to be “the strength of …
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:7-10
Dear Lord Jesus, you spoke these inviting words of hope to a very broken woman, trying her very best to keep her distance from you. She’d been on a quest to find life in the arms of men—many men, and it obviously wasn’t working for her very well. The more she tried to evade your gaze, the more you simply applied your grace. She ran; you pursued. She danced around; you stopped the music. I praise you for coming to seek and save the lost, and not just broadcast an offer from the distance.
Though the details of my story are different from this nameless Samaritan woman, the same foolish strategy is there: Playing games with you—like hide-and-seek, only I do all the hiding and you do all the seeking. I wish this tendency was completely in my past; but I still default to this fear-based, grace-robbing pattern when I forget the gospel.
Jesus, deliver me, and others like me, from our grace allergies—living with any degree of …
A Prayer for Strength When Facing Temptation(s)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Cor. 10:13
The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal. 5:17
Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Gen 4:7
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matt. 6:13
Dear Lord Jesus, as you know, this was one of the very first Scriptures I committed to memory, as a young believer, in the summer of ’68. It’s no less timely, necessary and encouraging today as it was then. The seizing power of temptation in my life is just as real today as it was over forty years ago.
It would be one thing if temptation came like junk mail—easy to recognize, ignore, and trash. But at times temptation comes with such alluring and promissory power, that “standing up under it” is an incredibly difficult thing to do. I would despair, and question the reality of my faith, if I didn’t have the assurance that temptation itself is not sin (James 1:13-15). Jesus, the very fact that you suffered the full fury of …
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9
Dear heavenly Father, I begin this day humbled and repentant. I extend my empty hand to you trusting you to give me some of the same sufficient grace you gave Paul. Not only do I need your grace for owning and boasting in my weaknesses, but I need your grace so that I will stop despising weaknesses in others. I’ve had the attitude of a grumpy toddler, the self-righteous elder brother in Luke 15, and a serial killer in my heart. Like every day, I need the gospel today.
Though I’d love to justify myself, there is no such justification. I’m a selfish man who would love for everything and everyone to work in concert to give me an undisturbed, enjoyable, predictable life. Too often, I assume the right to green lights at every intersection, an open cash register when I’m ready to check out, and that the fish will be biting anytime I put a bait in the water.
What is worse, there are times when I don’t want people to fear the stuff they should fear, struggle with the same things I struggle with, or simply be the normal sinners that we all are. God, have mercy on me, the sinner. I am humbled to …
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:4-7
Dear heavenly Father, reading these words from Paul is like standing under Niagara Falls of grace with my mouth wide open. I’m capable of taking in only a tiny portion of the mighty waterfall of all this gospel goodness. You inundate us with daily mercies, steadfast love and eternal encouragement.
But today, what arrests my attention the most, in this passage, is your commitment to demonstrate your limitless kindness to us in Jesus—today and forever. This promise absolutely fries the circuit board of my imagination, throws fuel on the fire of my longings, and reveals the paucity of my faith.
You never get irritated or annoyed with us; you never roll your eye in disgust or exasperation; you’re never surprised at our inconsistencies or impatient with our weaknesses. You’re not stop, full bore kind towards us in Christ. I believe; help my unbelief.
Father, the revelation of your irrepressible kindness touches something very deep inside of me in this season of life. Maybe it’s because of how little kindness I see in the world …
Sometime later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. Acts 15:36-40
Dear Lord Jesus, I start this day grateful for the stories of brokenness and messiness included in the Scriptures. Thankfully, they weren’t edited out, for these kinds of stories give me hope. The Bible is quite authentic and unabashedly honest, about the mess we are in and the mess that we are. Mere men wouldn’t have included these kinds of broken relationships between your people, without your hand and heart guiding them.
In particular, I’m thankful today for this story of two good friends, Paul and Barnabas, having “such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.” Lord, I’ve been in that situation, and right now I’m watching that story play out between two friends I deeply love and respect. It’s sticky and messy, and I hate being caught in the middle.
So I look to you right now for the resources of the gospel. I need …
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Rom. 2:1-4
Heavenly Father, thank you for a new day and a portion of your Word which reminds me I’ll need the gospel today, as much as any day. The call to love others as Jesus loves us keeps driving me to you for more grace, and for the power of the gospel. I cannot change myself.
Meditating on this passage has convicted me about being way too selective in my love for broken people. I’m a selective lover. I’m not an equal opportunity dispenser of your compassion.
Father, it’s not difficult for me to shower the riches of your kindness, tolerance, and patience on people whose sins and struggles are like mine. But I’m self-righteous and judgmental toward people who deal with brokenness and temptations different than mine. Though understandable, it’s not excusable. Have mercy on me, Oh God, and extend your mercy through me. I’m a mere man. …
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Rom. 8:22–24
Dear heavenly Father, as easy as it would be to tune out, numb out, and check out, the gospel compels us to keep our hearts present in the struggles and heartaches of the world—and those within miles of our homes. As I pray this morning, there are over 27 million of your image bearers owned as slaves by other image bearers; 140+ million children who begin and end their days as orphans; over 50% of the world’s population living on the equivalent of 2 American dollars a day. And a short driving distant from my home, people are without heat and enough good food, women sell their bodies and meth is sold like candy.
Paul’s words about the intense painful groaning of childbirth seem appropriate; and there’s no epidural, there’s no anesthesia, there’s nothing to diminish the raw pain of what’s going on in many nations of the world’s poor, and even in our own nation. How long, Oh Lord, how long?
Our only hope is that you, our God, do not lie. Though to some degree it mocks my sensibilities, when I stare at the overwhelming needs that exist, I abandon …