Tuesday Prayer: Godly Grief

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 
(2 Corinthians 7:10)

2 Corinthians 7:10

Perfect Father, Your word tells us that You reprove and discipline those You love, reminding us to be zealous and repent of our sin (Rev. 3:19). Today we want to thank You for giving us a chance to repent. As our Creator, You would be within Your right to simply exterminate us as a people for our rebellion. Yet in Your overwhelming mercy and compassion, You gave Your only Son to ransom us from our captivity to sin. O Lord, may we never cease to wonder at Your astonishing grace!

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Revelation 3:19

Today we pray that Your Spirit will lead us into a time of reflection and sober self-judgement. Open our eyes to any places we have lied to ourselves about sin or any area in which we have believed the lies of the enemy simply because they are cultural norms. Help us to see every single sin for what it is, Lord, even in the most subtle disguise. Then once we have understood and acknowledged our sin, we pray for the Godly grief which produces repentance leading to salvation without regret.

Because of what You have done, because You are powerful and truly do use all things for the good of those who love You, we do not have to be weighed down by unending remorse for any sin we have confessed, for Your forgiveness is sufficient. Though we may bear a temporary consequence for our crimes, You have removed the eternal punishment through the work of Jesus on the cross. For that, we are grateful beyond measure!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Not only to us, O God, but to those we loved who are not yet saved, we pray for Your Spirit to stir up this Godly grief. Let none be weighed down with worldly grief – either the false grief which is only an outward pretense nor the grief of inescapable guilt by which repentance is not produced but only a continual downward spiral of self-loathing and misery.

Please, Lord, do not let our loved ones be caught in this worldly grief but set them free by repentance and joy in Christ! Draw them to Your Son and heal their spiritual sin sickness by salvation through Him. Use us to share of Your great mercy and grace and by our changed lives and joyful love of You and Your ways.

Help our lives to show others the way out of sin and the despair it causes. Bring hope to the hopeless, Lord, and by Your loving discipline, bring the unsaved to a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, amen. 

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Taking It Personally

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 2:29

I’ve often heard it said that the church from Revelation which most resembles the modern American church is the lukewarm, spoiled church of Laodicea. And this is true.

As a whole, we do tend to be complacent in a rather shallow, wealthy, and self-serving social club we call the church. We neither offer a refreshing drink of cool Living Water to the world around us nor a sanitizing scalding from the heat of holy fire. We are, to use the modern vernacular, meh.

But the letter to Laodicea isn’t the only one we could take to heart as a solemn warning. Like Ephesus, many of us have forgotten our first love of the Lord – going through acts of service as if our works will save us and not His grace. We can be guilty of making service into an idol, serving others out of humanistic motives rather than from an overflow of the love of God in our hearts.

Like Pergamum, we think we can compromise with the world. We think we can trust the modern-day Balaams who go thrice with the kings who desire to curse God’s people and eventually urge us to mingle our God-ordained values with the fluctuating and unstable mores of the world around us.

Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor…

Numbers 31:16a

Like Thyatira, we tolerate sexual sin within our churches and the exploitation of our freedom in Christ to the point of causing others to stumble when they see us behaving in a way which appears to them to compromise with the culture’s petty gods.

In those days, some would see the eating of food sacrificed to idols as actual worship of said idols. Today, the practices are more subtle but not less damaging to the consciences of others and are still tolerated within the Body of Christ. For us just as for them, tolerance has become a pitiful alternative to love.

Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:12

Like Sardis, we are capable of pantomiming vigorous, Spirit-led worship, while inside we are spiritually dead. What looks like worship is sometimes nothing more than reactivity to stirring music; automatons who respond to stimulus, going through the rote of worship while failing to truly adore and serve the Lord our God.

But I want to take these things more personally. Not us, not we, but me.

Where do I stand in all this? Is my worship genuine and alive or just a task I check off my list? What evils am I overlooking in my heart or my home, tolerating them in the name of getting along and not rocking the proverbial boat? Where am I compromising with culture or serving others just because I should but without the love of Christ? Have I grown stale and complacent in my walk with the Lord?

For me, this season is a time of prayerful self-examination. I invite the Lord to answer these questions, exposing sin in me so that I may repent and turn fully to Him. You see, I believe the promises He gives to the one who conquers. I long for them.

I want to eat of the tree of life, enjoy the hidden manna of His presence, receive my new name, be given the Morning Star, and be clothed in bridal white before my King. I long to be with Him forever, enjoying Him and His people and utterly free from the battle against sin and death that I constantly wage in my earthly body.

And in my longing, there is a strong desire never, ever to grow spiritually lazy and complacent.

Oh Lord, grant that I may always grow in Your love and wisdom and in the knowledge of You. Bring revival to my heart, my home, and Your Church and restore us to our first love. Teach us to repent of tolerance and compromise, of lifeless worship and service by rote. Teach us to hunger for Your Word and desire Your Kingdom above all. Remove the god of entertainment from the throne of Your Church and restore us to proper zeal and reverence for You. May it be to us for Your glory and Your Name’s sake, amen.

Tuesday Prayer: Glory to God

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psalm 115:1


Oh Lord our God, You are the Almighty; the Holy One whose patience is beyond imagining and whose compassion knows no end. Thank You for loving us enough to step down from Your throne and walk in the midst of the mess of humanity. Thank You for paying the price of a sin debt we could never hope to repay and setting us free from slavery to sin! We owe You everything, Lord; may it be that we cheerfully give all to the One who gave Himself for us.

As we minister to others here on earth in Your name, we confess that often our pride creeps in. At times, we begin to do a work for You, yet we secretly hope for recognition or praise for the thing we have done. Other times, we trust in our good works rather than in Your grace, not remembering that the best we have to offer You is nothing more than rags stained with our own self-righteous conceit.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Isaiah 64:6

We confess that sometimes we forget apart from You, we can truly do nothing of eternal value.

Forgive our pride, Lord! Forgive us when we seek glory for ourselves or when we serve others for accolades from man rather than from a posture of humility and gratitude for the undeserved gift of salvation. Teach our hearts true humility. Change our hearts to love serving You for who You are and not for applause and accolades. Let the love of You be motive enough for us to do all that You call us to do. 

May it be that if any amount of recognition or praise falls on us, we shift the burden of it to You. In truth, glory is a burden too heavy for mortal shoulders to bear. You alone are able to carry the weight of glory without being warped or twisted by it. When we seize glory for ourselves, we become distorted by it and our pride advances like a cancer infecting all we do. Thanks be to You, our King, that Your grace saves us from our own self-importance!

Open our eyes to places where pride has encroached on Your grace, then uproot our pride and destroy it, Lord. As we repent of pride and reject it, make our lives into an accurate a reflection of Your glory. Purify our motives by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Teach us to delight ourselves in You, doing justice and loving kindness all while walking humbly with You, our God.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

Then, O Gracious Lord, use us as ministers of Your grace, love, and truth everywhere we go. May our changed lives be evidence of Your redemptive power, and may we glorify You in all we do so everyone we encounter will hear and see the goodness and excellence of our mighty God. In the name of the Son we pray, amen.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude 1:24-25

Sanctuary

Last week, I chaperoned my tenth-grader’s field trip to New York City. One memorable site we visited, at least to me, was the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

As is often the case with field trips, we had little time in the building. Still, for the time I had, I trailed my fingers over the heavy polished wooden pews as I took in the ornate ceiling, columns, and alcoves all bathed in light filtered through stained glass windows.

My thoughts strayed from the sights before my eyes to the beautiful descriptions of the two Temples given in Scripture. For a moment, my heart stirred with sorrow and I whispered, “O Lord, when did we stop building You such glorious houses of worship?”

He whispered back, “This is not My house, child. You are.”

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 3:16

The thought has been with me since.

On this day, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I invite you to join with me in an endeavor which will have eternal benefits. Now that God’s people are His house – His temple – let’s do a little spiritual housecleaning. If our bodies are God’s temple, ought we not be certain the bodies we offer Him are worthy of His residence?

So by His grace and with the sound counsel of the Paraclete – the Holy Spirit our Helper – let’s resolve to search our temples by the Light of the Word. When we find something unsavory or rotten, let’s remove it, banishing it from the house. What is filthy, let’s cleanse; what is ugly, let’s beautify; what is dishonorable, let’s cast out.

From here on out, let’s join together in Christ to become a Temple of incredible beauty. Let the worship performed in these, our temples, be genuine, breaking forth from the overflow of gratitude for His sacrifice which has set us free from sin.

Then let us choose to live as free men and women every single day. Let’s keep these houses swept clean of debris and deceit. Daily, we’ll let the Light in so that by the light of the Word we can see clearly. We’ll let the Spirit of God do His work in us, putting our houses in order so that by our lives and in our bodies, we can magnify the beauty of our great and awesome God!

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Tuesday Prayer: A Prayer for Lent

 “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 

Daniel 9:4b-5

Faithful and True, You are the unchanging God and the only just Judge. As the Psalmist says, “Your word is firmly fixed in the heavens and Your faithfulness endures to all generations.” Though cultures, fashions, and social mores may change, Your Word never does. Your Truth never does. What You say is right does not later become wrong, and what You say is sin does not later become acceptable. 

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations…

Psalms 119:89-90a

Today as we look ahead to Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, we choose to acknowledge the fact of Your unswerving truth and righteousness. This year, we beg, send Your Spirit in abundance to move in our hearts during Lent.

Open our eyes to the places we have called what is evil, good or anywhere we have called what is good, evil. In all places where we have made excuses for sin or justified it according to what is socially or culturally acceptable, expose our deceit as just that: deceit.  Where we have tried to hide a “pet” sin, drag it out into the light and convict our hearts of evil. 

Oh Lord, we echo Daniel’s prayer: “To You, O Lord, belongs righteousness but to us, open shame!” We have sinned and fallen short of Your grace. We have taken lightly the great and terrible sacrifice of our Lord Yeshua (Jesus) and used the freedom He offers as an excuse to sin. We have turned from Your Word and pursued our own selfish ways. We have placed jobs, entertainment, wealth, family, and other worldly pursuits in priority over You and over Your Word. We have worshiped self and ignored Your still, small voice.

To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame…

…O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.

Daniel 9:7a, 19

Forgive us, Lord, for these sins and others! In the weeks to come, we ask that You will continually be at work in our hearts. Convict us of sin and drive us to confession and to genuine repentance.  Change us heart, soul, mind, and strength so that our one passion is to honor You and the sacrifice You’ve made. Let us not only say we believe, let us live as though we believe that Yeshua Messiah died to set us free from sin. May our behavior reflect this belief.

And Lord, as You work in us, changing us and renewing our hearts before Your throne, open our mouths in praise to You every single day. Let us speak to all of the good our God has done in our hearts. Let us celebrate openly our freedom from sin, and let us walk in freedom – slaves to sin no more. May we never again present our bodies as slaves to sin but instead present them as slaves to righteousness, walking in joyful obedience to the living Word of our mighty and compassionate, God.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 6:16

By our changed lives and the righteousness of Christ evident in us, set other prisoners free from slavery to sin so that we may rejoice with many new brothers and sisters in Christ! We eagerly wait to see Your work in us and in the people around us, in the mighty name of Yeshua Messiah our Lord, amen. 

Tuesday Prayer: Against You Only

Once again, I will be away for a week, so please be patient if I do not respond to comments or interact in the blogosphere…

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 

Psalm 51:4

YHWH our God, merciful and gracious are You and how great is Your Name in all the earth! We can search the depths of the sea, the most untamed wilderness, or even the vastness of space and never find the limits of Your power nor of Your steadfast love. You are truly Emmanuel; God With Us, and because You have chosen to dwell with Your people, we can come to You in honesty because You already see and know all things. 

Today, Lord, we wish to ask You to search our hearts, even to the most secret places and the darkest corners and shine Your light into them. Expose any sin we may think we’ve hidden, for nothing is hidden from You, O God. Lay bare our self-deceit and uproot our pride. Open our eyes to places we have allowed what is normal in our culture to become our excuses for sin. Because You love Your servants, do not allow us to remain complacent in sin but goad us to true repentance. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

Forgive us, Lord, and give us clean hearts and renewed minds! Cleanse our hearts from the taint of sin and rebellion. Heal our spiritual blindness and give us broken and contrite hearts. Let us not measure our sins against other people but against the perfect standard of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Renew in us the joy of salvation and make our whole being to long for You as a dry and thirsty land longs for the rain. 

Then, Lord, send us out in right standing with You so we may freely share the nature of our depravity and the greatness of our God who is mighty to save us from it. Let Your praise be ever on our lips and let our hearts overflow with gratitude for Your mercy and forgiveness. Make us into a people who are bold for You, who address our own sin with the greatest strictness and ruthlessness and who openly share the evidence of Your redeeming power in our lives with others.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Psalms 51:12-13

Thank You, Lord, that Your hand is not so short that it cannot save. Thank You for patiently instructing us and for the fact that, as John wrote, if we confess our sin, You are faithful and just to forgive us. What a magnificent God we serve! May Your Name be honored on our lips, in our thoughts, by our deeds, and in our heart of hearts, amen. 

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17


Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not In Athens Anymore

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

Daniel 1:1

I read this article from The Gospel Coalition a day or two ago after hearing it referenced in a class covering Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. In it, the author compares the modern stance of the church in America to the Babylonian exile. He writes:

Unlike Athens, Babylon is not interested in trying to out-think us, merely overpower us. Apologetics and new ways of doing church don’t cut it in Babylon.  Only courage under fire will.

Steve McAlpine, The Gospel Coalition

It’s no coincidence, then, that many of the points of the article resonated with me after spending the previous week studying in the first half of Daniel. Even a brief reading of Daniel 1 reveals that the conquering nation didn’t seek to compromise or share philosophy with the Jews. By isolating, re-educating, and renaming the captives, the goal was full integration and assimilation into Babylonian society.

The truth is, though, many of these points would have resonated with me even if I hadn’t been recently reading in Daniel. As a former atheist who once immersed herself in the darkness enough to see glimpses of how just how deep the shadows really stretch, the comparison of the current cultural trends to Paul’s speech on the Areopagus in Athens (see Acts 17:16-34) has always seemed a trifle naive to me.

After all, during the days of my darker bent, most of the denizens of the world I chose to associate with did not view Christianity or even the Christ Himself with the slightest degree of reverence. At best, I encountered apathy from them; total unconcern about the very idea of a Creator or God.

However, the majority treated the idea of God with scorn, derision, or open hostility. Not that the mention of God fell from my lips in those days. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I was on the side of the mockers. How great is the grace of God who can forgive me such a sin!

So it is that even now, just under two decades since my sin-blinded eyes were opened to the wickedness of me and the mercy and compassion of a God who loved me anyway, I still cannot reconcile the world I once moved in with a friendly Aeropagus debate.

What I can understand without the slightest hesitation is the warning my Lord left His disciples with hours before His crucifixion:

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:19

You see, the men and women I knew then were not “very religious in every way,” as Paul observed of the Athenians. The people I knew then hated God, hated the very mention of Him. They were hostile to anything that challenged their freedom to do as they chose.

To me, even before reading the article, the darkness I have known reeks of Babylon – of conquest and assimilation. What I see is not a culture mildly interested in the Church and her God but a culture which will have nothing to do with a god it can’t make in its own image.

I agree with McAlpine; the culture is really just the world. And the world isn’t happy with concepts such as sin and rebellion or with the idea it may have gone wrong somewhere along the way. In fact, it despises the merest suggestion, thrusting it away with a perfunctory, You’ve no right to judge me! 

The world, in fact, believes that sin and evil are found, not in the human heart and in both public and private acts of injustice, but within the ancient and (to them) archaic moral system proposed by the Bible. How dare the Creator tell His creation right from wrong? Who does He think He is, anyway?

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

Luke 6:22

There it is, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Even though we are not at home in this Babylon, even though we must constantly withstand the pressure to name ourselves after their gods, entertain ourselves their way, worship as they want us to worship; even if we are threatened by lions and furnaces and social ostracism, we are blessed.

This doesn’t mean we give in to the pressure -far from it! We fill ourselves with the Lord so that the pressure of His Spirit within strengthens us to resist the pressure from without so we are not crushed. It also doesn’t mean we rant and rave and try to out-shout the Babylonians who apply the pressure.

When they say, “Just bow down, already; just eat the food, swallow the pill, drink the Kool-aid, and stop fighting the inevitable,” we don’t argue with them. We just stand firm on our conviction and trust in the Lord who calls us.

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.

Ephesians 6:12-13

And we pray. Pray for our enemies, for those who persecute us, pray to have compassion even when we are shown nothing but hate and disgust. We remember that it is not people who are the enemy; people are deceived as I once was. Our enemy is far more ancient and cunning.

And we wait for the day of our exile to be over and for our final Homecoming, hoping to bring as many as we can out of the darkness with us into the Light!

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.
(Daniel 2:20-22)