21 God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
Dear Lord Jesus, I need every truth so beautifully crammed into this one small portion of the Word. First of all, don’t let me ever forget that you are my substitute before you are my example. You suffered in our place on the cross, once-and-for-all; and now, we follow you into the fellowship of suffering in our world.
Because you never sinned, we have the resources of the gospel when we do sin. And “testy,” provoking, conflictive relationships are the fertile soil in which I can super-grow weeds of defensiveness, self-righteousness, and a bad attitude. Jesus, grant me a thicker skin and a bigger heart.
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
Jesus, if anyone ever had a right to get hair-trigger defensive and vengeful, it was you. Your sufferings were entirely unjust, and yet, they fulfilled the demands of perfect justice for us, forever. Hallelujah, many times over!
Because you “left your case in the hands of God,” you have won salvation for your whole Bride, including me. And now, through your finished work, I know God to be Abba, Father—the one I too, can trust in difficult moments, stories, and relationships.
24 He personally carried our sins in …
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev. 22:13 (NIV)
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Ps. 94:19 (ESV)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isa. 26:3 (NLT)
Dear heavenly Father, it’s time for me to shift my focus from the immediacy of a big disappointment to the permanency of who you are. It’s one thing to be lovingly concerned about a matter, and another to angrily obsess about it; one thing to pray without ceasing and another to vex without sleeping; one thing to engage sacrificially and another to be enmeshed unhealthily.
So with palms up, I release my burden to you, Lord. I’m not going to shift into a snarly, “I could care less” attitude; but I will care less, and trust you more. You are God, and I am very much not so. You’ve begun a good work in each of your children, and in every sphere of your creation, and you’re neither AWOL, disinterested, bored, or negligent. You’re going to complete your story to your glory, in your time, on your dime, and in your way. Hallelujah!
You are the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, and everything in between. Hallelujah, many times over! You are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—perfect Trinity, and not looking …
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Rom. 12:19 (NIV)
It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deut. 32:35 (ESV)
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Rom. 16:20 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, in view of the increase of kidnappings and human trafficking, the proliferation of pornography and the spirit of jihad, I find myself growing angrier and angrier. I find myself craving revenge, and relishing the thought of harming the purveyors of terror and evil. So I’m desperate for you to apply these Scriptures to my heart this morning. I need fresh and specific grace. It’s one thing for me to long for justice, but an altogether different thing to want to repay harm for harm, evil for evil, beheading for beheading.
Father, thank you for your commitment to avenge and annihilate all evil. Thank you for your commitment to wipe away all tears, put all things right, and to make all things new. Just as in the “fullness of time” you sent Jesus to be our Savior (Gal. 4:4), so in “due time”, the day of disaster and doom will come upon the kingdom of darkness. I praise, bless, …
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?’” Matt. 6:25-27 (NIV)
Dear Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is consider the astonishing sacrifice you made for us. By your life, death, and resurrection, we are clothed with the very righteousness of God, and have been given a steady free diet of bread from heaven and living water. We praise, bless, and adore you. The birds of the air have nothing on us!
Nevertheless, our weakness persists, our anxieties flare up, and our worries often get the best of us. So we run to you, confident of your welcome, compassion, and grace. 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 our loved ones to suffer unnecessarily.
Jesus, please reveal more of your beauty and love to our children. If we …
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)
Dear heavenly Father, fear and worry can really do a number on us. I totally get how your children could prefer returning to a 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 my unbelief as I face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help me to be still and trust that you will fight for me.
Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). Often my biggest battles are within my own heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus—which I really believe is true, yet too often I look to people to validate me, as though your delight in me is not enough. Continue to free me from my love of the approval of man.
Many times I battle with trusting you with the hearts of others—people I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to “fix” people. …
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Prov. 16:9 (NLT)
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Rev. 3:7 (NIV)
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 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, some decisions are “no brainers,” and some require nothing more than sanctified common sense. But there are other decisions in front of us that tie us in knots, rob us of sleep, and keep us second-guessing. Today I’m praying for myself, and friends, who find themselves in that third category. We need your peace to rule in our hearts, as we seek to choose wisely (Col. 3:15).
It’s incomparably comforting to know that you are the God who determines our steps, even as we nervously punch an address on the GPS of our hearts. This doesn’t mean we are to be passive in our decision-making, but to realize that you are very present—opening doors we cannot shut, and shutting doors we cannot open. We praise and bless you, for your sovereign, comprehensive, and constant engagement in our lives.
We certainly have every reason to trust you with all of our hearts, Father, because you loved us with all of your heart when you sent Jesus …
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 ESV)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isa. 41:10 ESV)
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:13 ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, I begin this day so very thankful for your Word. As I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, I’m deeply grateful you chose to reveal yourself to us with words we can understand and trust. Though we don’t worship the Bible, we worship you because of the Bible.
Today, in particular, I’m thankful to know and worship you as the God of hope. In a world of predictable unpredictability’s; unsettling circumstances; and broken people, places, and things, it is a source of immeasurable joy and peace to know that you love us and are in control of all things. And thank you that you intend for us to abound in hope; and not just have enough hope to get by on.
We don’t have to be afraid or be dismayed by anything or anyone, for your righteous right hand …
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isa. 46:4 (NIV)
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Cor. 4:16 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, a brief conversation with aging friends yesterday reminded me of the inevitable—we’re all getting older. And with the increase of years, comes changes over which we have little, or no control. Those changes are either going to drive us to you; or to denial, self-absorbing sadness, or foolish ways of medicating our pain and fears. I choose option #1.
Thank you for your promise to sustain us—when our energy is abating; to carry us—when we cannot carry as much as we used to, or even carry ourselves; and to rescue us—when we get entangled in ways of thinking and choosing that contradict your great love for us in Jesus.
Father, thank you for the promise that age doesn’t preclude flourishing and fruitfulness. By your Spirit and grace, …
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7
Dear heavenly Father, it’s centering and settling to begin this day knowing how much you care for us, your children. This is always good news to me, but especially this week. The combination of what I’ve taken on, plus the burdens that have been laid at my feet, are way too much for me to carry. I need your kind heart and broad shoulders.
So, by faith, I offload my cares upon you, gracious Father. Carry my burdens for the people I love—dear friends I so wish I could help or change. Sometimes I foolishly think if you’d only let me be the 4th member of the Trinity for fifteen minutes, I could do a lot of good in the lives of a lot of people. What arrogance. You haven’t called me to fix anyone, but to love as Jesus loves me. And you haven’t called me to vex about anyone; as though you’re not aware, don’t care, or need me to pester you.
Receive my anxieties about living in a world with a fickle economy, the daily-ness of terror, and the threat of diseases, like Ebola. Father, I cannot add one minute to my life through worry. In fact, I can take a lot away from my life through trying to carry burdens you alone can carry. Turn my “What if’s?” and “If only’s”, into “Now that’s”—now that Jesus has risen from the …
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6
Dear heavenly Father, today is a great day for remembering, “salvation is of the Lord.” You’re the one who began the “good work” of redemption in our lives; the one who’s carrying it on—even when you’re not working according to our timetable and agenda; and the one who will complete our salvation, the Day Jesus returns to finish making all things new.
This is incredibly peace-giving, heart-freeing, joy-fueling news. I can’t be my own savior, and neither can I be anyone else’s savior. The pressure is off. What a great relief, but also what a critical truth to remember. This good news, this best of all news, leads me to offer these earnest prayers . . .
Father, give me the same confidence for my family and friends you gave Paul for the Philippians. Sometimes irritation, worry, and fear loom larger in my life than patience, trust, and hope. When this happens, I don’t love well, and my body language begins to speak broken grace.
Father, teach me how to wrestle in confident prayer for others, like Epaphras, wrestled in prayer for the believers in Colossae (Col. 4:12). My tendency is to wrangle emotionally rather than rest believingly. This leaves me worn out, and it frustrates others. Father, I don’t want anyone to feel pressure from me to change.