Friday, February 24, 2012

Praying for Hope when I have none...

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be. 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.

God, sometimes I feel like there is so little I can say to you, even more so I feel as though it is so hard to hope against all hope. I look in myself and I see the worst of the worst and I ask myself how it is possible I can ever be fixed, how is it possible I can ever be accepted. In me I see a stone hearted cold person, who isn’t always moved by touching moments or charitable opportunities. I see someone who immediately defaults to worrying about me. I see someone who is bent for comfort and at the expense of others wants it. How is it you could possible love or even desire to use me? God I look in myself and am discouraged. I often question whether or not I am yours, and at times I ask myself why it is I am the way I am.

You tell me to hope against all hope. God I have no hope outside of you. I am so glad that righteousness is about believing, not about doing, meriting or earning. It doesn’t matter that I am as bad as they come, as bad as I am, you are better still. Where I abound, You abound infinitely so. Through one man sin entered into the world and by one Man, the God Man, grace entered. Lord, which is greater the one brought forth by man or the One brought forth by God? I am so glad the answer is clear, though sometimes it doesn’t seem so clear in the clouds of doubt and fog of fear that often invade the vision of you I so desperately grip in the depths of my heart.

I am so glad it isn’t about me. I am so glad that You have shown me how a person who is redeemed is not valued based on themselves, but on the price willing to be paid by the One doing the redemption. You paid a heavy price via your own blood and that speaks volumes of what you think of me, more than any commentary, person, loved one or book could possibly speak. God please help me to live there. To live in the position I have in Christ. God I don’t want to look at myself anymore, I hate looking, but God if looking means knowing and better appreciating You, then I’ll look, but give me the strength and the grace to see You, to look past me and see You.

To hope against all hope that you truly are enough and no matter how disgusting or dead I think I am on the inside, not matter how bent on sin I can be at times, no matter how hell bound I may sometimes feel, God you are bigger than all those thoughts and in me You, because of Your blood, You see “Your beloved Son, in whom You are well pleased.” "Though my heart condemn me, you are greater than my heart." Please help me live and move and have my being in that. Help my decisions be governed by that, help my words be filtered through that, and please help me glorify you. Don’t let me get so caught up in living in victory that I forget the Victor of this all.

Please keep me weak so that I can rely on you...for when I am weak, then I am strong, for when I realize it is not I who live, but you who live in me, then I can truly live by faith in You.

Help me to die into life...

Friday, February 10, 2012

24-Hour Armor

Taken from:

24-Hour Armor
by Jared C. Wilson

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God . . .”

– Ephesians 6:11-17

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10 to “be strong,” but he tells us to be strong in the Lord’s might, not ours, which is why before we get to praying and making supplication, we are to put on the armor of God. Notice that this armor consists entirely of things God does or provides for us. We don’t put on the helmet of self-affirmation. We don’t put on the shoes of motivation. We don’t put on the belt of intestinal fortitude. No, we put on what God has done for us in Christ, which is to say, we put on Christ.

When the enemy attacks my heart, I don’t want my self-righteousness standing guard, but the breastplate of actual righteousness, Christ’s righteousness. When the enemy whispers his accusations into my ear with his forked tongue, I don’t want Stuart Smalley-esque daily affirmations sitting there; those would protect me about as much as cotton-ball earmuffs. But the helmet of salvation is another story. If my mind is ready with the great salvation of the gospel encasing it like a force-field of grace, I am really prepared.

Which is why we must wear this armor constantly. We should never take it off. We should wear it to bed as pajamas. We should make sure we’ve got it on first thing in the morning by turning to the gospel as immediately as possible. This is wartime. Don’t take the armor off. You don’t try putting on your seatbelt when you see the Mack truck bearing down on you at 60 mph; you put it on before you pull out of the garage. Likewise, don’t wait for the enemy to show himself before you start suiting up.

You don’t know when the attacks will come; best to sleep with your boots on and your sword by your hand.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turn on the Ignition

Gen 39:2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Gen 39 …20b And he was there in the prison. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

The theme of Gen 39, at least from the perspective of Joseph is that the Lord was with him, whether it was in the house of a foreigner, whose people hated Hebrews, or in the cell of a prison, whose walls hate anyone, the Lord was with Him. How can that apply to us? Often we ask ourselves, “Is God with me right now?” I know I do. I ask more often than I should. I should be confident to know He is with me, especially after He has told me to “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you.” But how does that translate over as applicable. We hear all the time of how God is with us, and He loves us, is with those that fear Him. Why is it then that we don’t always “feel” like He is.

See this is the part where I quote “We live by faith not by sight,” or I give you some cookie cut answers, as if the bible were just a magical box in which you stick your hand and pull out an answer. While those answers hold truth, we can’t just always aimlessly give answers to others without context, much less, without any practical application to their lives.

I can quote Romans 8:28 every time I have a friend who doesn’t understand why things happen as they do, but sometimes, that is like quoting an axiom most of the secular world often quotes: “Everything happens for a reason.” And I am not saying this from the outside, oh no, I am saying this as a person who loves having all the answers. But what good is having all the answers? What good does giving someone the answer to a question and then just leaving them there. That’s like giving someone who needs a lift your car, and not giving them the keys to turn the ignition.

So then what is the key? The answer is simple, yet so often we undermine its power. The Gospel. I don’t know who said it, I think it was Dave Harvey in his book “When Sinners say I Do” (and yes this is a marriage book) that says (and I paraphrase) “Today we treat the gospel as a simply a means to attain salvation, however, what we need to understand is its power to transform every aspect of our lives, especially our marriages.”

I have to say, at first I didn’t really understand that statement, but as I continued reading guys like Tulian Tchividjian, Paul Tripp, David Powlison, Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, you’ll see the overwhelming theme of these guys, is the gospel. We are so good at glorifying our sanctification above and beyond the means by which it happens. It doesn’t take place because I do good things and therefore God accepts me and makes me better. This is precisely what Paul calls “another gospel” in Galatians. It takes place because Jesus has already done it, and therefore, I am free to respond. I can love others because He already did it, I can love my wife because He already did it, I can work hard at work because He already did it.

How does this play into Joseph? Because like Joseph, God is with YOU. How do I know? Because this is the gospel. “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) Immanuel, “GOD WITH US”

We do a great job of quoting it when we evangelize and proclaim the gospel, but when was the last time we used these verses and spoke them into our own hearts in response to our most troubling moments? Try it, preach the gospel to yourself. No it won’t solve the problem you are facing, but it will solve the issue of having strength and power enough to endure.

True peace is not a tranquil lake scene with a beautiful sunset and a bird perched lovingly on a branch chirping away the sweetest of songs. No real peace, is tornado’s and winds, rain and lighting falling, torment all around, and that bird still sitting on that branch, singing the same sweet song. Not oblivious to the issues, but also, not oblivious to the presence of his God, who controls all things and not only sees our problems, but knows and understands them, because He Himself came down from heaven onto earth and dwelt among us. (Phil 2:5-8, John 1:1-15, Heb 4:12-5:2)

Friday, February 3, 2012

A prayer for wanting just Jesus

Job 1:9 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?

Job 1:20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Dear Lord, I come before you right now asking you to forgive me. Forgive me for those moments that I am not much of a person for you to brag about. I know that no matter what I do, and no matter what is happening, nothing can separate me from Your love. This isn’t what this is about. It is those moments where Satan comes and asks me “Do you fear God for NOTHING?” Lord, I will admit, there are moments and sometimes periods in my life where I don’t. Where I love you more for what you have given me and for what you can do for me than just for the fact that You are God and you are all I need.

Forgive me for those times I pray what I know you want to hear and convince myself that by doing so, I’ll get what I want. Lord forgive me when I take your promises for granted and place them above you. Forgive me when I fail to thank you for what I do have and instead complain about all I don’t have. Forgive me when the most important thing in my life is me. God my biggest idol is me. It is a gold statue of myself, with a big bright smile on my face that hides the lack of depth I have, the lack of satisfaction that I have and the emptiness that so often comes with placing something ahead of you.

Give me what Job has. Teach me to understand my life in such a way that everything my eyes lay sight on is seen as something you have allowed me to have. Teach me to release my claim of ownership to anything. Teach me like Paul to say “I am not my own, I am bought at a price” with what Peter calls “the precious blood, not a perishable thing.” God please break me and make me a servant of You and of others, not of my own desires, ideals, likes, dislikes, peeves and anything else that belong to me.

Control and ownership is a myth. You are ultimately sovereign over all things. Help me to realize this on a daily basis. Help me to look to you, author and finisher of my faith. May I find in you everything I need to exist. May you be my main goal, my inheritance. May you not be just means to an end, but just the end, the Alpha and Omega.

Please do this in me and please show me how to love as you do. Give me more of You. Don’t give me solutions to my problems, don’t give me answers to my questions, just give me You and You alone, and then You go from there. Let me love you more. In your name, amen.