Silent

Matthew 27:1-26; 1 Chronicles 24-26

Matthew 27:14 – But he gave them no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Lord Jesus, your silence before Pilate and all your Jewish accusers is stunning.  You were silent when you had every reason to speak up in defense of your innocence. But you didn’t need to defend yourself.  No, you had your Father’s approval already; he was pleased with you.  But more than that, you were silent because you had taken all of my guilt on you and I had actually done it.  You couldn’t speak up because you became guilty of my sins. You couldn’t defend my actions because they were sinful.  And for that reason, Lord Jesus, I give thanks for your silence.  You became completely guilty of all my wrong doing.  You completely took on my sin and were accused of it by my Father in heaven.  And now, I have the Father’s approval.  Now, I stand before God righteous and innocent.   Now, I don’t need to defend myself either.  Now, whether I am guilty of an accusation or innocent, I don’t to respond – as if my good need name depended on it.  I have your approval.  I have your good name.  I have your righteousness.  I have your love.  I can be silently confident of your verdict about me, because your approval is the only approval that matters to me.  Give me a godly confidence in your name, the name that you have given me.  Amen.

Seek

Matthew 26:36-75, 1 Chronicles 21-23

1 Chronicles 22:19 – Now, set your mind and heart to seek the LORD, your God.

Lord God, there are so many things calling for my attention today.  All of them want me to seek them.  Fame, attention, and popularity call for my attention.  It would be easy for me to live out my day chasing for a reputation.  Money, property, and a cushy life calls for my attention.  It would be easy for me to seek out another dime, another dollar, all to have a better life.  There are so many things that would have me chase them.  Lord God, teach me to seek you first and you alone.  Help me to set my heart and mind on you and on you alone.  Turn my thoughts to you, Lord Jesus, where you are seated at the right hand of God.  There my life, my real life, is hidden with you.  Turn my heart to you and to the riches and treasures that I have in you, O Jesus.  Turn me to you that I may seek first you and your righteousness.  Then, all these other things will be added to me as well.  But they won’t matter because I already have the biggest, the best, and the most important.  Help me to do what David called his son, Solomon to do.  Amen.

Beautiful Offering

Matthew 26:1-35, 1 Chronicles 17-20

Matthew 26:16, 18 – For she has done a beautiful thing to me… In pouring out this ointment on me, she has done it to prepare me for my burial.

Lord God, you love the offerings that your people give to you in faith.  It may seem strange to some that I would give offerings to my church, but you love the offerings that come from my cheerful heart.  It may seem strange to some that I would show kindness to the outcast and the alien, but you love the way that I show your love to the world.  You love what I do for you in faith. Take my time this week and use it for your glory.  Take my money and help me to use it in a way that seeks first your kingdom whether I am buying lunch or supporting the poor.  Take my energy this week and use it for you and your purposes, that I may pour myself out for you and not for me.  Take my time this week and help me to use it in a way that honors you and your will.  Take all that I am, all that you’ve given me, all the strength that I posses, and all the time that I have and receive it as a beautiful offering in your sight. Whatever is sin this week, forgive it.  Whatever is sinfully motivated it, cleanse it.  Whatever is good, receive it Lord as an offering, beautiful in your sight.  Amen.

Forever.

Proverbs 15:12-24, Psalm 101-103

Psalm 103:17-18 – But from eternity to eternity the LORD’s faithful love is toward those who fear him, and his righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep his covenant.

Lord God, I am but a vapor and a breath.  I am but dust and ashes. I am faithless.  My focus lasts but a moment even though I want it to last much longer.  I can’t even finish the Lord’s Prayer without distraction.  But you, Lord, God are faithful to me without ceasing.  Forever is the only way to describe your faithfulness to me.  Your eyes and your ears, yes, even your heart are tuned to me because you love me.  Your love and righteousness are even turned toward my children and whatever grandchildren you may give me.  My ability to love them suffers greatly because of my frailty.  Oh God, I depend on you.  I can’t be and do what you want me to be and do.  Save me.  Forgive me.  Never turn your back on me, I pray.  Stay true to who you are and keep turning to me; and then, keep turning me back to you in repentance all the days of my life. Just as you stay true to who you are, keep turning me back to stay true to you. Amen.

Sing.

Matthew 25:31-46, 1 Chronicles 15-16

1 Chronicles 16:9 – Sing to him; sing praise to him; tell of all his wondrous works.

Lord God in heaven there are so many reasons for me to sing.  You have done so many great and magnificent things in my life that I can hardly count.  You have formed and fashioned me just the way you wanted me to be.  You put me in this place at this time with these people and these skills to serve them. You have given me family and friends. You have given me a house and property, even pets and toys, for me to enjoy!  More than that, Lord God, you have done other magnificent things in my life.  You have given me faith, baptism, and instruction in the truths of your Word. You have not left me to fend for my spiritual self in this world.  You have sent a person who baptized me and people who taught me.  You continue to use them to speak your truth into my life. Through your Word, which they speak, your Spirit comes to me and gives life to my soul.  Through your Supper, which you give me often, you restore my soul and lead me to the rest of your forgiveness.  You, Lord God, have done so many magnificent things in my life and this barely begins to mention them all.  Lead me and all those around me to sing of all the wonderful things which you have done for me. Amen.

Single-minded.

Matthew 25:1-30, 1 Chronicles 12-14

1 Chronicles 12:38 – All of these, men of war, arrayed in battle order, came to Hebron with full intent to make David king over all Israel.  Likewise, all the rest of Israel were of a single mind to make David king.

Lord God, you gave your people a single-mindedness and a unity that people dream of.  You rallied an army around your man, David, and gave them all a single-mind to make him king. You gave them a single-mind to align themselves with you and your will to make David king. In all truth, they weren’t just rallying around David, they were rallying around you and your will.  Lord God, I pray, align my will with yours.  Make me want the things that you want.  Help me to set aside my wants and to seek yours instead.  Teach me to seek the things that are of you and of your kingdom.  Give me wisdom to discern what your good and pleasing will is in the different circumstances of this day. Give me a passion to accomplish this.  Align me with your will.  Align the hearts and minds of your people here too.  Give all of us a single-mind to chase down your will and your purposes as we pull together to seek your kingdom and to share the gospel with people.  Align our will with yours. Make us want the things that you want.  Teach us to put aside our own agendas and give us wisdom to know yours and to seek it most of all.  And then gather us together into a body that we might seek your will as a unity.  I pray, Lord God, keep on gathering your people together around your Word that we might have a single mind to do your will.  Amen.

Today, Lord?

Matthew 24, 1 Chronicles 9-11

Matthew 24:34-35 – Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Lord God in heaven, as I read this list of signs that Jesus gave that I might be alert, aware, and especially ready for your coming, I find that all of these things are already happening.  There are signs in the skies and signs on the earth.  I see them all over the place.  There are signs in society and signs among nations.  I see the turbulence among peoples in every news cycle.  There are signs in the church.  I see the antichrist sitting on his throne, claiming that he is lord of God’s Word, tricking people by his false Christianity.  I see love growing cold because of the loveless way by which we treat each other.  It’s all happening.  Today, Lord?  Is today the day that you’ll come back on the clouds?  Is today the day that you’ll come with your angels to gather your children into your arms and to send the wicked into the eternal fires prepared for the devil and his angels? Today, Lord? Your disciples saw and lived these days.  So did our fathers.  So do I.  I pray, Lord Jesus, give me a faith that is living, alert and ready for your coming in whatever instant that coming may be.  Make me ready now. Keep me ready in the dead of night.  Make me ready in the midst of my daily busyness.  Today may be the day, Lord.  You alone know. Make me ready for that day whenever it may be.  Amen. 

Broken-hearted

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Matthew 23:13-39, 1 Chronicles 8

Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Jesus, your heart breaks for the hard-hearted, even for those who have rejected you and spurned your love and affection.  You want these people and this city to have salvation so desperately that it breaks your heart when they won’t have it.  You have made every effort to save them, to get the message to them, but they didn’t want to hear it.  They didn’t want your message, your messengers or you.  Lord Jesus, I pray, keep me from pushing back against your message.  Keep me from pushing back against your messengers whom you lovingly continue to send to me.  You have sent messengers for me that I would be gathered into your arms and saved.  Your love and your salvation comes for me with passionate love and compassion.  You do not want me to be damned; no, you want me to be gathered in and kept safe.  Keep me from spurning your message, your messengers, or you.  And then, Lord, give me a heart like yours.  Give me a passionate and compassionate heart for those for whom I am a messenger.  Just as you used prophets in the past to get your message to your people, so you send people like me to my family, to my neighbors, my friends.  Break me heart with what breaks yours that I may be like you toward all whom I meet.  Amen.

Leadership.

Matthew 23:1-12, 1 Chronicles 6-7

Matthew 23:11 – The greatest among you shall be your servant.

Lord Jesus, you see clearly to the heart of the matter and you help your disciples do the same.  He wanted them to learn how to lead the church and how to care for their sheep.  He wanted them to understand that their position was a mercy and a gift, not a place from which to exert power and to lord it over their sheep.  He wanted them to understand that leadership meant service to others and not service from others.  He wanted them to understand that their preaching and teaching was to relieve burdens not to add burdens.  Lord Jesus, help me learn this lesson and learn it well.  Help me to see that having a title and a position of leadership is not what makes me someone.  It is my identity in you that makes me who I am.  It is my righteousness in you that makes me someone.  It is my calling as your child that makes me a somebody.  Help me see that having a position of leadership is a place from which I am to relieve burdens and to serve those who are, by position and calling only, below me.  Make me a servant as I go about my work today.  Make me a servant of all whom I meet today – whether they are rich or poor, lowly or mighty, powerful or weak.  Make me their servant, one who relieves their burdens with your gospel.  Amen.

He Reigns!

Proverbs 15:1-11, Psalm 96-100

 Psalm 98:2 – The LORD has made his victory known; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.

 Lord Jesus, the church is at war.  I am at war.  My enemy the devil comes after me like a roaring lion, seeking to pounce and swallow me whole.  This a war against the spiritual forces of evil in this world. It feels like an unending cycle of guerrilla warfare.  I’m always ducking and dodging.  I’m always attacking and retreating.  When will this end?  Oh, Jesus, this is such a sweet passage.  It helps me remember that even though I am in the midst of battle, the war has already been won.  You have made your victory known.  You, Lord Jesus, came down to this earth as a tiny baby and grew to become a simple man.  But as true man and true God, you gave up your life to defeat all my enemies, even the devil. You rose from the dead and declared your total victory. The war is over.  The war is won by you.  Help me, Lord Jesus, as I wage war and am in the midst of battle, to remember that you have already won the war.  This I know. This I believe.  Here I stand. Help me stand here until the very end.  Amen.

Get busy, Not Discouraged

Matthew 22, 1 Chronicles 5

Matthew 22:9-10 – Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good.  So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

O Lord, God, I get discouraged sometimes when people don’t hear the invitation that I offer on your behalf.  Sometimes I can barely get it out of my mouth before they’ve shut down the conversation.  I can hardly imagine how you feel.  This world is full of people whom you created to be with you and they don’t want to be with you.  Yet, in this parable I see your heart.  You don’t give up.  Instead, you leave those who reject the invitation to be destroyed and send out your servants to gather more souls to enjoy the wedding feast.  Lord God, I see clearly my role in all this.  You send me out not to get justice against those who don’t want to listen, but instead you send me to keep on going to invite more and more people.  Help me to find joy and contentment to do your work.  Keep me from focusing on the results of my invitations and the results of my gospel sharing.  Instead, give me joy to share the work and to offer the invitation.  As I go out into this day, help me to take this invitation with me wherever I go.  Give me energy to get busy inviting and keep from being discouraged.  Amen.

Divine Authority

Matthew 21:23-46, 1 Chronicles 2-4

Matthew 21:23 – The chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority.”

Lord Jesus, you teach some hard things. You confront me in my life about the possessions in my life and how I am to use them.  You confront me in my life about the purpose, direction, and purpose of what I’m doing.  You confront me as you confronted the Jewish leaders when you overthrew their traditions and their temple practices.  It led them to ask, “What gives you the right to overthrow our temple practices? What gives you the right to say and do them these things?”  Lord Jesus, my heart pushes back against your confrontation.  When your word calls me out about my life and my thinking, my heart pushes back because I want my way.  I like my way.  It’s the way I chose.  And my heart even asks, “Who gives you this authority?”  I don’t like it when you confront me like that in your Word.  I don’t like it when you confront me like that in a sermon or in Bible study.  I don’t like it when I am confronted by a good Christian friend or a good Christian book.  It makes my heart bristle to consider what your Word is saying to me. But, Lord Jesus, I need this. I don’t want to be crushed by you.  I don’t want to be thrown outside when the Master of the house returns.  I don’t want to be hardened.  Please, keep me from it.  You have authority over my life and over the things in my life. You have authority over me. All authority truly belongs to me.  Keep me from hardening my heart against you.  Rather, soften my heart and humble me that I might hear your Word and humbly accept the teaching from you, even when it confronts me.  Open my ears that I may continue to listen to you.  Keep leading me to repentance day after day. Help me Lord and keep me from the hardness of the Jewish leaders here who questioned and rejected your authority.  You are my Lord!  You are my Savior!  Work by your Spirit so that those sentences are always true for me.  Amen.

The Lord Needs It

Matthew 21:1-22, 1 Chronicles 1

Matthew 21:3 – If anyone says anything to you, you should say, “The LORD needs them,” and he will send them at once.

Father, in heaven you have given me so much.  I just glance around the room in front of me and the bounty of your goodness to me is astounding.  I look at the house in which I’m sitting and I am filled with thanks.  I look at the computer on which I’m writing this and I am filled with wonder.  I see my wife, my children, my clothes and my shoes.  I see my health.  I see my cars sitting in the garage and parked on the driveway.  I look into a pantry filled with good food and a refrigerator with leftovers for days. I consider how you have made me, fearfully and wonderfully, just as I am. You made me unique and gave me gifts and abilities.  All this and more is a gift from your hand.  And it’s all from you.  Thank you, Father!  Lord Jesus, help me to remember that these things that my Father has given me are simply entrusted to me that I might use them for you and for your kingdom.  When you need it, you want me to give and you want me to use it. I often forget the purpose for which you gave me all these things.  I often forget the purpose which you made me, with all my abilities, to fulfill.  I think it’s all about me and it’s all for me.  But really, it’s for you.  You need the things in my life to seek the good of your eternal kingdom, just like you needed that donkey to fulfill the Scriptures on Palm Sunday. You need my offerings to support the work of your church on earth.  You need my abilities to serve the people in my life and to make the church on earth operate.  You need the things in my life for your kingdom.  You need me to live my life for your kingdom.  Help me hear your voice calling me in this verse saying to me about all the things in my life, “The Lord needs it.”  And help me send them at once, not clinging to them, but letting them go for your sake.  It’s all yours anyway, dear Lord.  Amen.

Reformation Leads to Worship

Matthew 20, 2 Kings 23-25

2 Kings 23:22 – For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the Judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or the kings of Judah.

Lord God, when your people repent and return to you, then there is worship unlike any other time.  If there is no repentance, then we’re just going through the motions.  Too many times I admit that I’m showing up at worship because it’s the time for worship and not because my heart is repentant.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’m just going through the motions.  If there is no repentance then there is no joy in worship; it’s just words.  I’m embarrassed to tell you that often my worship is joyless, just a repeating of words that the service folder tells me to say.  I’m worshipping you with my mouth, but my heart is far from you.  But when you have worked repentance in me, then worship is a time unlike any other.  Then worship is a time for me to receive forgiveness from you for my heartless and ritualistic worship.  Oh, how sweet your forgiveness is.  Then worship is a time for me to hear and receive with joy your Word, given to me and filled by your Spirit with life.  Then worship is a time for me to receive your body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Oh, how worship changes when you have lead me heart to repent.  Lord God, this week as I meditate on your Word in my daily devotions and prayers, continue to lead me to repentance and reformation in my heart and life.  Keep working repentance in me so that I’m ready for Sunday, ready to worship you with my whole self – body, soul, and spirit.  Keep working repentance in me so that I’m ready to worship you unlike any other time.  Make this Sunday another Easter for me, full of loud, boisterous and confident worship.  Amen.

Reformation Starts with Leadership

Matthew 19, 2 Kings 21-22

2 Kings 22:11 – When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.

Lord God, the people of Judah had fallen so far from you, so far from your word, so far from obeying you both in heart and in action. In your mercy, you gave Josiah to them and you gave him a repentant heart when he heard your word which had been long been hidden from him and the people.  He heard what you said and it broke his heart.  Lord God, grant the same repentance to me and to my leaders.  If they are going to lead us in true reformation and in a true mission for the kingdom, then their hearts must be broken and repentant before you.  Lead them to seek the Scriptures and to repent when they hear it and study it.  But don’t just break their hearts, lead them to find joy in forgiveness and cleaning.  Lead them to find hope in your promises.  Don’t just break them, mend them by the power of your Word so that they are raised up by your Spirit to lead your church into your Word and then out into the community with that Word.  Breathe life into their bones by your Word and by your forgiveness that they might have a fire for your Word.  Let it burn in their souls so that they will not keep quiet, but will constantly share the truth in word and action.  Lord, I need this reformation too.  But I pray, first for my leaders that you would give it to them so that they might lead me to it.  Amen.

Delighted with Discipline

Proverbs 14:20-35, Psalm 92-95

Psalm 94:12-13 – LORD, happy is the man you discipline and teach from your law to give him relief from troubled times until a pit is dug from the wicked.

Father in heaven, I never liked to be disciplined as a child.  I didn’t much like losing privileges, missing out on parties, or any other other painful punishments when I lived at home with my parents.  It was never pleasant or fun, but it was good for me.  I learned important lessons and powerful truths from them.  Lord God, you discipline me perfectly and always in love.  And though I don’t always relish the painful moments under discipline or rejoice in the suffering, you show me that these disciplinary moments are truly a gift and a blessing from you.  Discipline is really your mercy in disguise.  It reminds me that you do truly love me because you’re disciplining me as a son.  If you didn’t care about me, you’d let me go through life footloose and carefree.  But because you love me, you enter my life to discipline and teach me. Sometimes you even use the evil intentions of wicked people to do that.  Lord God, I don’t rejoice in the pain that your discipline brings, but I do find joy in your love and in the instruction that you give me in it.  Help me to always learn what you want me to learn from your loving discipline.  Amen. 

Pursuit

Matthew 18, 2 Kings 18-20

Matthew 18:14 – So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Father, sometimes I forget how desperate you are that none should be lost to hell.  Sometimes I forget how dearly you cherish each soul who walks and lives in this world.  But here it is. I cannot miss your heart, your desperate pursuit of the lost.  I cannot miss you heart long for the salvation of each person who walks in this world.  You desperately pursue the lost sheep, even leaving the 99 other sheep unattended.  You desperately turn over every stone in an effort to win back the wanderer.  Like a parent who is frantic in the grocery store when their child isn’t by their side, so you are frantic for the lost.  That has been your heart for me to this day.  You have frantically and desperately been seeking my salvation.  You lost everything, even your own Son, to give me everything.  And you did it willingly though it pained you to do so.  Throughout my life you have been actively involved, turning events and bringing circumstances just so that I would stay close to you.  You have been desperate for me just as you are for all people.  Use me, I pray, to chase down those who are struggling or wandering in their faith.  Make me as zealous and desperate for their salvation as you are.  You don’t want anyone to perish.  Give me a heart like yours that wants the very same.  Amen.

Mustard Seed Faith

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Matthew 17, 2 Kings 16-17

Matthew 17:19-20 – Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith.  For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a mustard seed…”

Lord Jesus, I want to have a mustard seed faith, a simple faith that trusts you, your power, and your promises most of all.  And yet, I find myself in the shoes of the disciples who were trying to do this miracle without praying, who were trying to do this miracle with their own strength and might.  Of course they couldn’t do it!  They weren’t trusting you.  Lord Jesus, help me and forgive me.  I find myself walking through the day, tackling projects, handling problems, and planning for the future without much of a prayer.  I only sit down and think about how I’ll be able to do this. Lord Jesus, forgive me.  I do too much of my work without relying on you.  Forgive me and give me a mustard seed faith.  Give me a simple faith that trusts you, your power and your promises alone.  Keep me from self-trust and self-reliance.  Give me a mustard seed faith that leans on you fully and completely.  Give me a mustard seed faith that prays first and works second.  Give me a faith that prays first and thinks second. Give me a faith that trusts first and plans second.  Fill me with a full faith that trusts you alone all the time.  Then, by your power and as fulfillment of your promises, nothing will be impossible because it’s you doing; because then it’s you working; it’s you fulfilling.  Nothing can stop you!  Amen.

Life Lessons.

Matthew 16, 2 Kings 14-15

2 Kings 15:9 – And did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done.  He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

Lord God, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  It becomes so clear from these chapters in the book of Kings.  The sins of the fathers, going back many generations.  The sons to the third and fourth generation – and even beyond this – fall into the sins that their fathers taught them.  Lord God, my children and the other people in my life are learning from me even when I’m not teaching them. And what I teach them in the classroom, around the dinner table, and especially by my lifestyle will stay with them and with their children for generations to come.  Keep me from evil and sin.  Help me to get a hold of and gain control over the sins that seem to have a hold on me.  Not only will these sins destroy me, but they can destroy those who learn from my sin.  We’re a hundred years and more from Jeroboam, but his family is still stuck in his sin.  I don’t want that for my children.  I don’t want that for other people who see me live and listen to me teach.  Help me to exert my baptismal power over sin so that it does not rule me.  Help me to set an example for my children and others in my life to follow, so that through my life and through my teaching they might know you.  Let the lessons that my life and my lifestyle leaves behind be one that points people to you.  Amen. 

Ask Boldly

Matthew 15, 2 Kings 10-13

2 Kings 13:19 – Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”

James 4:13 -You do not have because you do not ask.

Father, your invitation to ask for anything – anything at all – is astounding.  It’s astounding because you invite me into your presence at all.  I shouldn’t have an entry into your throne room, but you invite me in to be with you and to ask for anything, anything at all.  It’s astounding because you invite me to ask for anything, anything at all.  There are no limits on what I might ask of you and ask from you.  You don’t put boundaries on what I might pray about. This should embolden me to ask for anything. And yet I don’t.  Neither did the king of Israel.  The prophet invited him to pray about the destruction of his enemies, but he wasn’t bold. He was timid and weak in his prayers.  He didn’t understand the power and privilege of prayer.  Lord God, give me a fuller and deeper understanding of prayer’s power.  You invite me to ask for anything, anything at all, and you don’t qualify this invitation with any “but not this.”  Lead me to realize this invitation and then to ask more boldly, more persistently, more aggressively.  Prayer is not a time for me to be timid or wimpy.  You even show this to me in the prayer that you teach, Lord Jesus.  Each of the petitions is more than a request, it is a demand.  “Make this happen, Lord.” “Give this to us, Lord.”  “Protect us, dear Father.”  Make my prayer so bold that I would dare to make such demands of you.  Amen.