When You Have Fallen in Your Spiritual Journey – A Prayer of Confession & Renewal

Good and gracious Lord,
we praise and thank You
that our moral failings do not take You by surprise.
You told Peter he would deny you three times
before the rooster crowed.
Forgive us for the ways that we have denied You
by loving the approval of others more than Yours.
Grant us renewed boldness
to openly identify ourselves as Your followers.
Make us people of honest confession,
unshakeable assurance, unquestioning obedience,
abiding joy, and full devotion.
For we pray in the strong name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Barabbas and Jesus – A Prayer of Confession of Sin

Luke 23:18 – But they all cried out together,
“Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas
(whose name means ‘son of the father’).”

23:22 – A third time he [Pilate] said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?
I have found in him no guilt deserving death.

God, our heavenly Father,
we adore You for the sweet,
beautiful exchange of the Gospel.
A guilty son of the father is released
because the innocent son of the Father is condemned.
Overwhelm us with gratitude
knowing that we were that guilty son.
Forgive us the times that we allow
the fear of man to compromise our convictions,
to violate our consciences,
and to lead us into many snares.
Grant us a firm resolve to follow Jesus
no matter what the costs
because He is the true King of heaven.
We make our prayer in His name, Amen.

Reflections on Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

Only those who have first tasted peace with God at the cross of Christ can become peacemakers. – James M. Boice

The peace intended is not merely that of political and economic stability, as in the Greco-Roman world, but peace in the Old Testament inclusive sense of wholeness, all that constitutes well-being… The ‘peacemakers,’ therefore, are not simply those who bring peace between two conflicting parties, but those actively at work making peace, bringing about wholeness and well-being among the alienated. – Robert Guelich

If we are really under the influence of the gospel, each encounter we have with another person should be an expression of that. – Alfred Poirier

To put it simply, peacemaking involves getting in between two conflicted, warring parties, bringing calm, listening attentively, and working toward a resolution. – Mike Kasting

O Father, until Jesus comes again and brings His fullest blessings of peace, may we become a peacemaking and peace-loving people who commit ourselves to intentional acts of love by which we work to overcome the enmity between us and other people. Amen.

Putting on Airs vs. Putting on Armor

A Prayer of Confession

Gracious heavenly Father,
we confess that we put on airs
more often than we put on Your armor.
Forgive us for our self-promotion,
self-protection and self-reliance.
Pardon us for not cherishing and trusting in Your gifts
of righteousness, faith, and salvation
during times of temptation and spiritual conflict.
Transform us by Your Spirit
so that we live as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
For we pray in His strong name,
Who is our strength and our defender. Amen.

Awakened to the Lord – C.S. Lewis

CS Lewis“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it,
that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.
Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it,
but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 120)…

I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country,
which I shall not find till after death…
I must make it the main object of life
to press on to that other country
and to help others do the same.”

One Powerful Lesson for the Church

On November 18, 1978, at the direction of charismatic cult leader Jim Jones, 909 members of the People’s Temple died, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning,” including over 200 murdered children.

Mel White, a Christian writer and filmmaker and adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, set out to investigate the causes of the Jim Jones’ Jonestown tragedy in the Guyana jungle, and pub­lished his findings in Deceived (1979).

In talking to defectors and survivors, he discovered that Jones’s victims had church backgrounds, but they did not find love there. Jean Mills, for exam­ple, a defector after seven years, said, “I was so turned off in every church I went to because nobody cared.”

And Grace Stoen, whose lawyer husband Tim became the second most powerful man in the People’s Temple, said, “I went to church until I was 18 years old .. . and nobody ever befriended me.” In the People’s Temple, however, according to Jean Mills, “everyone seemed so caring and loving. They hugged us and made us welcome … and they said they wanted us to come back.”

This discovery led Mel White in his last chapter (entitled “It Must Not Happen Again”) to list several resolutions, of which the first is, “I will do my best to help make my church a more loving community to our members and the strangers in our midst.”

Please make this one of your resolutions for 2019!

The Lord is Your Portion

Thomas Brooks, a Puritan pastor, counsels believers
to confront all temptations
(the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life) with the words of the Psalmist:
“The LORD is my portion” (16:5; 73:26; 119:57; 142:5).

He exhorts:

Every blast and every wind of temptation will overset and overturn that man that hath not God for his portion. Such a man may pray a thousand times over and over, ‘Lord, lead me not into temptation,’ and yet every day falls before the least temptation, as common experience doth abundantly evidence;
whereas a man that hath God for his portion will stand fast like a rock in all storms, yea, in the face of all temptations he will be like mount Zion,
that cannot be removed.

Luther counsels every Christian to answer all temptations with the short saying, ‘I am a Christian’  and I would counsel every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying, ‘The Lord is my portion.’

O Christian, when Satan or the world shall tempt thee with honors,
answer, ‘the Lord is my portion,’
when they shall tempt thee with riches, answer,. ‘the Lord is my portion;’
when they shall tempt thee with preferment, answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’ and when they shall tempt thee with the favors of great ones,
answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
yea and when this persecuting world shall threaten thee with the loss of thy estate, answer ‘the Lord is my portion;’
and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of thy liberty,
answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of friends,
answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;’
and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of life,
answer, ‘the Lord is my portion;. O sirs!

If Satan should come to you with an apple, as once he did to Eve,
tell him the “the Lord is your portion;”
or with a grape, as once he did to Noah,
tell him that “the Lord is your portion;
or with a change of raiment, as once he did to Gehazi,
tell him that ‘the Lord is your portion;
or with a wedge of gold, as once he did to Achan,
tell him that “the Lord is your portion;”
or with a bag of silver, as once he did with Judas,
tell him that “the Lord is your portion.”[1]

[1] Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, vol 2, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh, Scotland: James Nichol, 1666), 114.