Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
Dear Lord Jesus, I’ve memorized this Scripture, taught it, preached it, and prayed it for many struggling friends. Today, however, I need to lay hold of it for myself. I know you don’t want us to “suck it up” or pretend, for the gospel frees us from that inauthentic way of life. So here I am, as honest as I can be before you.
Jesus, it was you who turned the chaos of an unformed world into the beauty of creation. Please do the same with all the chaos dancing around me and in me. Replace my fretfulness and antsy-ness, my disquiet and edginess, with order and beauty.
For the things that grieve me, bring your tear-wiping hand. For the things that offend me, keep me from a critical and selfish spirit. For the things the people who, flat out, wear me out, grant me compassion. For the things that cause me great concern, grant me the perspective of heaven and gospel sanity. Please don’t let me fall into the cynical spirit of “Whatever!”
For the things over which I have no control, give me a fresh vision of the occupied throne of heaven. For the things I do …
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isa. 26:3-4
Most kind and trustworthy Father, you haven’t promised us a storm-less, hassle-free, disappointment-empty life. You offer us no formulas for decreasing the probability of sad things happening around us, or disruptive things happening to us. But you have promised something that transcends the predictable uncertainty of life—your peace.
You’ve promised to keep us in perfect peace in the midst of whatever happens. The older I get, the more I absolutely treasure the promise of being kept by you, because I simply cannot keep myself. I’m out of bootstraps to pull up; there’s no magic happy pill to take, no fix-it button to push. Thank you for being a Father who will never forget or abandon your children—who will never forget or abandon me.
But you’ve promised even more: you’ve promised to keep us in perfect peace. All we have to do is mine the riches of the gospel and keep in mind the wonders of your love. For you are the Lord—the eternal Rock that is higher than us, the Rock of refuge, the Rock of ages.
Because the gospel is true, because Jesus is the precious “living Stone” (1 Pet. 2:4-8), I won’t despair when I am weak in concentration and focus—when my grasp is slipping and my heart is wandering.
Indeed, Father, you’re not calling us to …
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus. Rom. 15:5
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom. 15:13
May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Rom. 15:33
Dear heavenly Father, your Word never ceases to astonish, nourish, and cause my heart to flourish. Today I’m reveling in the fact that you delight to be known, and I’m rejoicing in who you reveal yourself to be. In this one chapter alone (Romans 15,) out of nearly 1,200 in the Bible, you come to us this very day as…
The God of endurance and encouragement: Father, you know how much I need both of these grace gifts. It’s been a busy stretch, of late—fruitful, but busy. Grant me fresh wisdom for living at the pace of grace. Once again, teach me the difference between living a driven life, and a called life. Grant me endurance to do exactly what you’ve called me to do, and encouragement to cut from my schedule the things that, may be good, but aren’t essential. Though sacrificial living and serving are always the way of the gospel, ignoring Sabbath rest, not taking care of ourselves, and living faster than we can love aren’t.
The God of hope: Father, ours is an increasingly complex world—one that feels more uncertain …
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, And he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” Dan. 4:34-35
Dear heavenly Father, I need to “bookmark” this passage and return to it often, for it doesn’t just tell the conversion story of a pagan King; it’s the ongoing story of my heart. Your sovereignty is our sanity; your rule is our rest; your dominion is our delight. Navel-gazing, circumstance watching, and talk-radio-fixating never serve us well.
Father, help us to understand the glorious implications of your perpetual enthronement. Your dominion is the only eternal dominion. November elections and political insurrections; the world economy and temperature instability; earthquakes and oil leaks; multiplied conspiracies and grassroots organizing, don’t affect your reign one micro-bit, for one nanosecond.
For your kingdom endures from generation to generation. There never has been, nor will there ever be, any nervous sweat, furrowed brows, or anxious pacing in heaven. There’ll never be one moment of consternation or vexation in the corridors of paradise; no need for a contingency plan to emerge from the “big boardroom in the sky.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6
Dear Lord Jesus, as this new day begins, many of us are facing important decisions. We need the wisdom, guidance, and peace you alone can give. It’s a joy to come before your throne of grace confident of your audience, grateful for your advocacy, and resting in your authority.
Indeed, Jesus, you’re an engaged Shepherd, not an absentee landlord. Even as we make plans in our hearts, you are actively ordering our steps (Prov. 16:9). Oh, the freedom and peace this brings! You are the Lord who “opens doors no one can shut” (Rev. 3:8). And the converse is just as true; you also shut doors no one can open. Our future is tied not to making the right decisions but to trusting the right Lord.
Because of your great love for us in the gospel, we’re learning to trust you with all the stuff in our hearts—with our longings, fears, hurts, and dreams. To acknowledge you in all of our ways isn’t to make you Lord but to recognize and to rest in your lordship. We can no more make you Lord of something than we can make water wet, or chocolate good.
So in surrender to the occupied throne of heaven, we anticipate straight paths, as we move ahead into both the daily and difficult decisions facing us. For those of …
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). And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.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 (Rom 5:5-7).
Dear heavenly Father, of all the ways you are revealed in the book of Romans, none is more precious to me than the title, “the God of hope.” Oh, the centering and settling, the peace and joy, the consolation and comfort that come to us because of the hope with which you intend to fill us through the gospel.
You give hope, not hype, blessed assurance, not empty rhetoric. There’s no “bait and switch” with you, just promise and delivery, no “house of cards,” but a household of faith.
And, Father, we know this to be true because at just the right time, you sent Jesus for us—the sinless One for ungodly rebels, fools and idolaters like me; your omnipotent Son for powerless wannabe self-saviors like me; the Author of life for men and women, like me, dead in our sins and trespasses. We praise, bless and adore you.
The hope you give will never disappoint us or put us …
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Eph. 4:26-27
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Eccl. 7:9
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20
You must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Col. 3:8
Dear Lord Jesus, these Scriptures are so convicting. Help me steward my anger. It’s always been a confusing, immobilizing, damaging emotion to me, because I’ve been on the destructive end of anger and rage. I remember the fear, the confusion, the shame, and the ambivalence I felt when I was the target of this important, but lethal emotion. I don’t wish such a crushing of the spirit on anyone.
But I’m just as quick to own the ways my anger has also harmed people I love. Though I don’t get loud and large, I can my passive aggressive anger has never resulted in anything good, anything I’m proud of. I praise you for your kindness, mercy and grace for me, Lord Jesus.
As I meditate on these Scriptures, I realize you’re not telling me never to be angry, but to be careful not to sin in my anger. Jesus, help me be angry at the right …
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col. 3:15
Dear Lord Jesus, today, like every day, somebody or something is going to gain the upper hand on the attention and affection of our hearts. Our hearts will be ruled—informed and impacted, convicted and compelled.
Some entity will be the “boss of me.” It could be my bitterness, pettiness, or cowardice. It could be the shaming power of darkness. It could be overbearing or aggravating people. It could be my greed to have a little more. It could be religion or my hatred of religion. It could be old regrets or new fantasies. There’s simply no such thing as a dormant, inert, disaffected heart.
But in glad obedience to this Scripture, right now, I choose your peace as the ruler of my heart—as the “boss of me”—as the centering hope and the dominant power in my day.
And as the Prince of Peace, knows peace better than you, Lord Jesus—no one has more and can give more. On the cross you secured God’s peace with us, and our peace with God. The enmity and hostility between us have been obliterated and eradicated. Peace with God is now a legal right of mine—a done deal, a settled issue. How can I not overflow with gratitude as this day begins and as it continues?
Jesus, please make this legal right a personal delight—an actual power mightily at work in my heart …
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:21).
Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15).
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Gal. 5:6).
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, ”you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
A new command I give you, love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34).
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Phil. 3:8).
Dear heavenly Father, these Scriptures are convicting, timely, and freeing. They are a collage of gospel sanity and a tapestry of heart freedom. I need all of them; for the older I get, the more I see how our culture (and the idol factory of my heart) celebrates busyness, much-ness and many-ness as core values. Yet you have placed the greatest value on loving well, not having or being enough.
If (when) I throw my heart into cruise control, I live much more of a driven life than a called like—a life more preoccupied with paying for life than being present in relationships; more involved with managing chaos than enjoying beauty; more distracted about the next I have to do, than engaged with the person with who I sit; more taken up with serving Jesus than savoring Jesus. Have mercy on me, Lord, have mercy.
May the gospel continue to change the price tags …
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?“ Dan. 4:34-35
Dear Lord Jesus… Oh, how I love this story, for several reasons. I’m always needing to be reminded of which kingdom, and which King, is actually in control of all things.
Suicide bombings and non-stop bombast; covert attempts to develop nuclear weapons and overt rhetoric of global domination; environmental concerns and economic instability; health-care craziness and spy-gate madness—these things add up to a grand recipe for super-sizing fear and misinterpreting the Bible.
But I now know better than to allow the political pundits and prophecy pirates to interpret world history for me. You are God, and there is no other god. You’ve spoken in your Word, and you haven’t stuttered.
You have no rivals, contingencies, or concerns. There’s no sweat on your palms, vacancy in your eyes, or vexation in your heart. You set up kings and you sit them down at your discretion. You live forever, your dominion is eternal, your kingdom endures, and you do as you please . . . period!
Even as you brought King Nebuchadnezzar …