Praying through Psalm 1 to Start 2019

Psalm 1

Prayer of Preparation
In this new year O Lord, grant us a renewed hunger and delight in Your Word.
So move in our hearts that we delight to do what You command.
Free us from finding our happiness and well-being in created things so that we might find You our greatest treasure.

Adoration: Praise God for Who He Is

  1. We praise You, O Lord, that you are in the business of transforming hearts so that we can think, behave, and belong in a way that pleases You and brings us good.
  2. We praise you for your willingness to share with us your wisdom and your Word.
  3. We adore you for changing the desires of our hearts so that we might find you our greatest delight.

Confession: Acknowledge and Turn from Your Sin

  1. Forgive me for the ways that I have conformed to the world in departing from you by accepting the world’s advice, being party to its ways, and adopting its most fatal of its attitudes – scoffing.
  2. Pardon me for allowing worldly values and thinking to shape my life and decisions.
  3. Forgive me for all the ways that I have thought that true fulfillment and happiness could be found apart from you and your Word.

Thanksgiving: Express Gratitude to God for His Works and Ways

  1. Thank you Father that you have freed me from judgment, collapse and expulsion from your presence because of the Cross of Jesus.
  2. Thank you Father that Jesus is the only, truly blessed man who always delighted to obey you and never failed in delighting in your law. Thank you for his perfect obedience to your law for us.
  3. Thank you that you care about and identify with us, your people, and you call us the congregation of the righteous – acceptable in your sight because of what Jesus has done not us.
  4. Thank you for imputing to us the righteousness of Christ by faith alone, and now you grant us power to work out in our lives what you have worked in us.

Supplication: Ask God to Meet Your Spiritual and Physical Needs

  1. Lord, please give me a greater delight in you and your Word. May it be reflected in an established, guarded rhythm of spending time with you in your word.
  2. Grant that I might discern and reject unbiblical, worldly patterns of thinking and living so that you might receive greater glory from my life and ministry.
  3. Lord, would you be pleased to prosper our work for you in this new year?

Consecration: Commit to Obey God’s Will

  1. In 2019, I will regularly meditate on God’s Word using the Psalms and a Read through the Bible in a year plan.
  2. In my reading and studying, I will endeavor to focus more on what Christ has done in order to increase my delight in Him and His Word instead of focusing on what I must do.

Intercession: Asking God to Meet the Needs of Others
 Family

  1. So work by your Spirit in the lives of Scottie and the kids that they become discerning, fruitful, mature, stable, flourishing, and godly men and women.
  2. So work in their lives that they recognize and reject worldly thinking and living so that their lives might conform more to your character.

Church Leaders

  1. Grant your Spirit in full measure to the leaders of our church so that they might think deeply about your Word and will and become fruitful and effective in building your church and extending your kingdom in the world.
  2. Make them people of substance who are rooted deeply in your Word and useful in your kingdom service.

Governmental Leaders

  1. Free them from the curse of the counsel of the wicked, the path of sinners and the seat of scoffers.
  2. Grant all of them your wisdom to lead and serve well.
  3. Overwhelm them with their personal inadequacies for the task at hand so that they might seek and find you.
  4. Give them your wisdom from above that is peaceable (see James 4). Bring our divided country together O Lord, break down the walls of hostility.

All this we pray in the great name of our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.

AMEN.

Your Name in the Lamb’s Book of Life

Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 9.03.42 AMIf you have turned from trusting yourself and placed your faith in Jesus alone for salvation, then you did this because the Father gave you to Jesus so that you would come in faith to Him (John 6:37). You came to believe on Jesus because the Father drew you to Jesus (John 6:44). All of this happened because of what God did.

I encountered again in in my Bible reading this morning a verse that reminds us of these wonderful truths of sovereign grace.

Revelation 13:8 reminds us that the only ones who are saved are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and when did that happen? “Before the foundation of the world.”

Here are a couple of corollary passages: Revelation 21:27 teaches us that “only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” will enter the celestial city.

Jesus tells his disciples to not rejoice that they have incredible spiritual powers, but to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

May our Lord fill your heart with renewed wonder and joy in this new year that your name was “written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:8).

Knowing this promotes humility, gratitude, and joy… not pride!

May it be so for all of us in 2019!

Psalms of Ascent – What do they teach us about our Lord?

The Lord gladly answers us when we call out to Him in our distress (Psalm 120)

The Lord exercises His watchcare over us when we face physical and spiritual dangers (Psalm 121).

The Lord is worthy of our thankful praise for He extends peace to us (Psalm 122).

The enthroned God of heaven delights to show mercy to us (Psalm 123).

The providential Lord draws near to His suffering people to deliver us (Psalm 124).

Our trustworthy Lord surrounds his people and offers us true security (Psalm 125).

The Lord who weeps promises future joys for tearful sowers (Psalm 126).

Our Lord is the divine architect and builder of our lives, families, and church. Therefore, he sets us free from the blasphemous anxiety of trying to do his work for him (Psalm 127).

Our blessed Lord comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found: in our work, our families, our church, and our community (Psalm 128).

Our suffering Lord enters into the affliction of His people and is afflicted Himself in order to ultimately end all affliction (Psalm 129).

Our gracious Lord delights to forgive sin and redeem us (Psalm 130).

Our high and holy Lord sets his people free from the spiritual cancer of pride (Psalm 131).

Our Lord has chosen the new Zion as your dwelling place, the Church as your place of rest. and have kindled in it a lamp that will burn brightly forever before Jesus Christ, our anointed ing.

Our Lord delights when his people reflect his nature and dwell together in unity (Psalm 133).

Our Lord, the maker of heaven and earth, looks down with delight when His family gathers for worship and graciously pours out His blessing (Psalm 134).

 

A Scripture Prayer based on Psalm 120

As the pilgrims ascended for worship in Your city,
the city of peace,
where you and your glory dwells,
they longed to encounter You there.
We too long to have a fresh encounter with You.
We long for the day when the final door will open
and we will ascend and pass into your glory forever.
For then we shall know you perfectly
and experience a deep, abiding peace
– no more hostilities, no more misunderstanding,
no more deceit and no more falsehood.

Thank you that from You alone
comes deliverance from all these things,
especially lying lips and a deceitful tongue.
How many times have we wanted people to think well of us
and lied and stretched the truth.
It is a curse-like existence
to live among those who hate peace and love war.

Thank you that Jesus did battle with the devil at the cross of Calvary
and that now we can not only experience peace,
but promote peace among our friends and families.

Enable all who claim allegiance to the Prince of Peace
to proclaim: “I am for peace.”
Lord, I claim with the Psalmist “I am for peace.”
I know true peace comes only to a heart, a marriage,
a family, a nation
only through Jesus Christ who is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

Would you be pleased to bring peace to the war-ravaged parts of your world…
namely the Middle East and the southern border of our own country.
In Your church, cure Your children’s warring madness
and bend our pride to your control.
Bring peace, reconciliation,
forgiveness and restored relationships
for Your glory and the building up of Your church.  AMEN.

 

The Significance of Bethlehem

Let us now go even to Bethlehem, and see — Bethlehem’s wonder!
Every year the Christian takes, in thought,
the shepherd’s pilgrimage to Bethlehem.
In this district lay the fields of Boaz in which Ruth gleaned.
Here the son of Obed was born. David was anointed in Bethlehem.
Best of all, in Bethlehem, Christ was born and revealed.

It was not without significance that Bethlehem, “The House of Bread,”
should be the birthplace of Him
who had come down from heaven to be the Bread of Life for us,
and that He, who was in after years to be the Friend of the people
and Savior of the world,
to be Himself so distressed as often to have nowhere to lay His head,
should commence His earthly pilgrimage within the precincts of a stable.

Let us ask what it was that the Bethlehem manger contained.
I. A VIRGIN’S CHILD.
II. ISRAEL’S MESSIAH.
III. THE WORLD’S SAVIOR.
IV. GOD’S SON.

A Transcendent mystery! Thought is paralyzed when it attempts to conceive how the Eternal could become a child of days, how the Infinite could be reduced to dimensions, how the Adorable Creator could become one with His own creature.

Let it kindle our gratitude
that we can understand something of the purpose of this sublime mystery,
if even we  learn little of its manner.
The Son of God became incarnate,
that He might reveal the Father,
that He might exemplify human virtue,
that He might take away our sins,
and that He might be able thereby to make us partakers of His own Divine nature.

– Adapted from Joseph Exell, The Biblical Illustrator: St. Luke (Vol. I, p. 185). London: James Nisbet & Co.

The Transcendental Interferer

The coming of Jesus Christ initially disrupts us.
It was true for Joseph and Mary… for the wisemen…for the shepherds.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Surprised By Joy, explains:
“No word in my vocabulary expressed deeper hatred than the word interference.
And the Bible placed at the center what seemed to me a Transcendental Interferer” (p. 172).

What an interesting description of Jesus: The Transcendental Interferer.
Jesus messes with our plans. He interferes with our carefully laid schemes.
He delights in ruining what we thought was a sweet deal.

Here are a few examples.
Moses had it good in Egypt. He was sitting pretty.
Until the Transcendental Interferer got him thinking about his destiny.
Joseph had a dream coat and a good arrangement at home.
Until the Transcendental Interferer started giving him dreams.
Paul was advancing in Judaism far beyond his contemporaries.
Until the Transcendental Interferer knocked him off his high horse.

He does this in order to have unhindered sway on the throne of our hearts.
He does this to reign unrivalled in the hearts and lives of his children (“the place of supremacy” or “first place” – Colossians 1:18).

Taking Time to Treasure God’s Truth

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

The truths of Christ are worth keeping; and the way to keep them safe is to ponder them. Meditation is the best help to memory. The truth will never disclose its inmost sweetness to us, nor take such a solid grip of our hearts so as to mold our lives, unless we too treasure it in our hearts, and by patient reflecting on it understand its hidden harmonies, and spread our souls out to receive its transforming power.

A non-meditative faith is a shallow faith. But if we hide His word in our hearts, and often in secret draw out our treasure to count and weigh it, we shall be able to speak out of a full heart, and like these shepherds, to rejoice that we have seen even as it was spoken to us.

J.I. Packer offers a wondering description of biblical meditation:

Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let his truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us — “comfort” us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word — as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ.