Think back to when you were first in love. You were completely devoted to that person. As you sat across the table from them you looked into their eyes hanging on every word they said. You laughed at every joke they told, whether it was funny or not. You touched their hand, and enjoyed the smell of their perfume or cologne. You wanted to know everything about them and to be fully known by them. Then, your smartphone buzzed. You quickly checked it to make sure it’s not an emergency. Then you think, maybe I better check what other calls and texts I’ve missed. All of a sudden, you’re no longer fully present. You’ve been pulled away from the person that you love and who is right in front of you to address what may be causing the buzzing on your phone.
When I was in seminary along with working 50+ hours a week, I was really stretched for time. After work, my wife and I would meet for a quick dinner before I would begin studying, but she could often tell my mind wasn’t on her. Even though I was sitting right in front of her, more than once she would tell me that I might be listening to her, but she knew I was thinking about all I had to do that evening. Definitely preoccupied.
Isn’t this how our relationship with God becomes at times? When he first drew us to him we couldn’t get enough of him or his word. We just wanted to be in his presence, to learn all that we could about him and be known by him. Continue reading
Heavenly Father, thank you for this morning. As I pull back the drapes I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I didn’t sleep all that well last night due to the pain, but I am thankful for the sleep that you did give me. I pray for energy to get through this day. Father, I sometimes feel like I am such a bother to my loved ones and friends. Really, I think I’m ready to “go home” now, but you have told me “not yet”.
It seems like it wasn’t too long ago that my body allowed me to enjoy so many of the blessings that you provide for us – playing golf on a beautiful summer day, walking our dog, travelling with my spouse, or just taking a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood. Now my body is limited and I’m always in pain, and so afraid of falling.
I started out walking with a cane, and now it’s usually with a walker and at times I’m in a wheelchair. Someone once told me that the “’Golden Years’ aren’t so golden”, and I know that’s true for some. I sometimes laugh when I see how many pills I have to take each day just to get through the day. Isn’t that just for “old people”?
Draw me close to you Father. I ask for healing today, oh my Lord. Sometimes you are silent, and so I choose to trust you in your lovingkindness; trust you in your wisdom; trust You in Your word that by your silence you are stretching my faith because you say, “when you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. “ I Peter 1:6-7
So help me to find my joy in you and your Word and wait upon You.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
“Oh grant me wisdom from above,
To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say:
“Your perfect will in your perfect way.” (Keith & Kristyn Getty)
Help me to take my focus off of me and my pain and onto you and others. You know that my health doesn’t allow me to get to church or our small group as much as I would like, but I love my church and the members of my small group. Although I can’t be with them as much as I would like, I do pray for them. And Father, they are so kind to drop me notes, stop by for a visit, and even bring by dessert. I’m so thankful for them.
In this season of life, help me to find my purpose, my calling. My mind is still sharp, maybe I could lead a Bible Study in my home? Show me how I can be a blessing to others, just as many have been a blessing to me.
In Jesus’ precious name, Amen
As Christians, we know that prayer is the most powerful way for us to experience God. But most Christians would agree that their prayer life is not what it should be. I’ve read many books about prayer in an effort to improve my prayer life. Here are 10 of those books that I would recommend.
Many Christians want to know the way in which to pray, but they are just not sure how to get started. There are a number of models that people follow, such as what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6: 9-13). A new book I would recommend that discusses this model is Albert Mohler’s The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution. David’s prayer in Psalm 51 is a good model for contrition. Paul Miller in his excellent book A Praying Life, talks about the use of prayer cards (one for each person you are praying for), while a friend of mine uses a prayer jar. I have tended to use a prayer list to capture my prayer requests. In addition, in his book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, the best book on prayer that I have read, Tim Keller writes “From earliest times, the Christian church adopted the Psalms of the Old Testament to be its prayer book”.
Some people use a daily “Quiet Time” for their prayer time, while others, including my wife, pray throughout the day.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
I’ve found that the acrostic A.C.T.S. is the best model for me to use for my prayers. Each of the letters in this acrostic stand for one of the key elements of prayer: Continue reading
Father in Heaven, on this Christmas morning, we thank you for Jesus, your only, and beloved, son. The busy period leading up to Christmas is now over. The decorating of our homes, the gift buying and wrapping, the sending of cards, the parties with friends, special programs at church, etc. The sound of Christmas music has been filling the air, sharing the gospel in music with some who would not normally hear it.
We’ve been looking forward with joyful anticipation during Advent to celebrating Jesus’ birth, His first coming. This is indeed good news of great joy.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
We hear many in our culture talk about the “true meaning of Christmas”. Some say the true meaning of Christmas is peace, and indeed we are told that the angels praised God saying that there will be peace on earth among those with whom He is pleased (Luke 2:14). Tim Keller tells us that Christmas means the increase of peace, both with God and between people. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus that He would be the Prince of Peace:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Others say that Christmas is about light and hope. Father, we know that there would be no Christmas at all without Jesus, who came to earth as a sacrifice for us. He is our only hope and The Light of the World.
For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
We know that the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is You, O God, substituting yourself for man. We are so glad to read in 2 Corinthians 5: 19 where Paul says “that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them”. Mark 10:45 tells us that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
He took the punishment we deserve and gave us His perfect life in its place so we can be reconciled with You. Love came down at Christmas. That’s the meaning of Christmas.
Father, be with us today. Help those who will be with family and friends to enjoy the wonderful time together. For those who will be alone today, and perhaps missing loved ones, please help them to feel the presence of your Holy Spirit. May we share this good news of great joy with everyone. May we live this day and every day for your glory.
In Jesus precious name,
Heavenly Father, we thank you for this beautiful morning, and the good night of sleep you have given us. Use that sleep to refresh our bodies for this day so that we can serve you in our vocations and callings today.
We pray for our commute into the office, that we leave in plenty of time so that we don’t get upset when someone sits too long at a light that turns green. Help us to show your love on the roads we travel, giving other drivers the benefit of the doubt, even if it “wasn’t their turn” to go. As we travel, prepare our hearts for the day ahead of us, and we lift up those we will meet with and come in contact with. You are sovereign and we are not. We don’t know what will happen today, but you do.
We pray for your guidance in the workplace today, no matter what our particular job is. Help us to treat others with kindness, so that they will see you through us. We want to shine your light in a dark world and point others to you, people who might never even consider going to a church on Sunday to worship you. Help us to use our words wisely. Perhaps those words will be used to encourage someone who is going through a difficult time. Perhaps our words will be needed as we lead others, perhaps providing constructive feedback. If so, let us do so with kindness. Help us to serve others in the workplace. Help us to truly get to know our co-workers, finding out what it is that they value in their lives. Use us for your glory.
Help us to make eye contact with those we pass by, offering them a smile, instead of ignoring them, or having our face in our phones. Give us patience to treat interruptions with grace, putting others needs in front of ours.
Help us to handle difficult people and situations that may come our way today with integrity. Help us to be honest, trustworthy and people of good character, admitting our faults, even when they could easily be covered up.
You are a worker too, and we are made in your image. So, help us to do our work well, with excellence and a positive attitude and approach, not to make ourselves look good, but for Your glory, because we are doing our work for You. We don’t want the credit for a job well done. No, all glory goes to You, who created us and equipped us to do our work.
In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. Each year, Advent begins four Sundays before December 25. This year it will be December 2 to December 24. Advent means the coming of Christ. It is the celebration of the first advent of Jesus, and the anxious awaiting of His second. During the next four weeks we will be preparing our hearts to remember the first coming of Jesus through reading, music, teaching, etc., while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to His promised second coming. The season is a time for remembering and rejoicing, watching and waiting, and a time to reflect upon the promises of God and to anticipate the fulfillment of those promises.
How are you going to prepare your hearts this Advent season when there is so much pressure – shopping, Christmas events (parties, concerts, etc.), sending Christmas cards or writing family Christmas letters, gifts buying, travel, family gatherings, house decorating – and on and on. We can get exhausted and defeated even thinking about it. Without a doubt, there are many things that can distract us from what most matters during this season.
My wife Tammy and I love the Christmas season. Over the past few years we’ve made it a practice to choose a book of Advent devotional readings each year. In year’s past we have read John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent and his Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, Nancy Guthrie’s Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent, and last year we chose Paul Tripp’s Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional. This year, we will read Sinclair Ferguson’s new book Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings for Advent. We also both love to listen to Christmas music, both Christian and traditional holiday favorites. My favorite Christmas song is “O Holy Night”. Songs such as that truly draw our hearts to the Lord.
Father in Heaven, we pause this morning as we begin the Advent season. We are so thankful for the sacrifice of your only Son, Jesus Christ. He willingly came to earth to humble himself by becoming a man and pay the price for our sins.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
We are thankful for the price being paid once and for all.
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow
Help us to focus on Christ this Advent season when there are so many things, even good things, that can distract us from Him and why He came to this earth. He came once to save us from our sins and He will come again to gather His people into His Kingdom.
We pray that many – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – will be drawn to Jesus this season. Prepare our hearts to remember His first coming as we anxiously wait for His promised final return.
In Jesus name,
I’ve read a lot of books about prayer, including a few about “The Lord’s Prayer”. Probably the best book I’ve read on prayer is Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller. In that book Keller states that there are many different ways to organize our prayers. I often use the ACTS method for my prayers. In ACTS, the “A” stands for adoration, “C” stands for confession, “T” stands for thanksgiving and “S” stands for supplication, or request. Many times I’ve found that our prayers jump right to supplication. I like the ACTS model because it starts with adoration.
I want to address the “T” in ACTS – thanksgiving. The Bible tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I think being thankful is an aspect of prayer that we (or at least I) tend to overlook. I think thankfulness and contentment tend to go together, when we are thankful we are also content. What would it look like if we lived a life of thankfulness? Here are five great verses from the Bible about being thankful:
- Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34
- And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15
- And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17
- Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
I recently enjoyed spending some time thinking about what I am thankful for, the blessings in my life. Here are a few of them:
- Being saved through Christ (salvation).
- My immediate family – wife, parents, brother, sister, and my extended family.
- State Farm for a nearly 38-year career and all of the wonderful people I worked with.
- Our dog Molly, an Alaskan Malamute.
- Our church, pastors, elders and deacons.
- Covenant Seminary.
- Our home.
- The Bible and other good books to read.
- Music to listen to.
- Watching movies.
- Good health.
- St. Louis Cardinal baseball.
- Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul.
- God’s creation.
Take some time and reflect on what you are thankful for in your life and click on ‘Leave a comment’ to let us know.