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

All That Glitters…

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
(Luke 12:34)

Ah, Christmastime…

As I think back on the last 16 years of Christmas celebrations as a parent, I could fill a good many pages with items ardently desired by my children on December 1 and summarily forgotten by March 1 – or significantly earlier.

 

Take this rather gaudy tree topper, for example: 20171218_135503.jpg

When my middle daughter was 5 or 6, we were shopping for seasonal decor (which, by the way, is not precisely one of my strengths). She saw this garishly bedecked woman-thing and her eyes were dazzled with all the golden glitter. She and her sister made a fervent appeal to place this sparkly woman (who, to me, seems to bear no resemblance whatsoever to any of the angelic messengers described in the Bible) atop our tree. Since the thing was inexpensive and their mom is rather, shall we say, thrifty… the girls got their wish.

This year, the old tree topper was pulled from a box in a forgotten corner of our attic. A good portion of her glitter now dusts the furniture and floors, some of the fake flowers have gone missing, and her plastic hair has lost much of its original shimmer.

In many ways, she is a reminder of how like children we humans really are concerning spiritual matters.

Far too often, our heads are turned by whatever bedazzles our eyes at the moment. Our obsession with all that is fleeting is perhaps particularly obvious during the gigantic marketing extravaganza of December, but it is no less firmly in place year-round.

This Christmas, I am challenged by my perceptions of what makes up a good Christmas. Is it food, family, health, and comfort? Or is it the Christ?

In my circles, this December has brought with it a tidal wave of hurt, strife, difficulty, and loss for many who are dear to me. Marriages are foundering, families do their best to ignore empty seats, bitter feuds are barely contained. All around me, there is conflict and both physical and emotional pain. There is suffering. There is sorrow.

Yet even still, there is Christmas. Despite what we may be told or how we may feel, the gift of Christmas goes far beyond even the boon of family, friends, health, and prosperity. It is for rich and poor alike, for the happy and the sorrowful, for the healthy and the maimed.

The gift of Christmas is salvation from sin and the presence of the Almighty God forever and ever, and it remains a limitless treasure and an unending well of joy no matter what curveballs life may throw our way.

And it is not just for December. The gift of Christmas is eternal. The Lord really did come to bind up the broken-hearted, to set free those who are shackled by sin, and to comfort those who mourn. What’s more, He does this regardless of our circumstances.

He, Himself, is the Gift. He is the prize. He is the goal. And He is good – so, so good.

This Christmas, I am praying for all of the redeemed to catch hold of the breathtaking expanse of treasure we have in Him, no matter what else may happen.

I am praying for my Lord to find and rescue friends and loved ones who have wandered far and wide chasing after shiny trinkets, which when caught, are nothing more than gilded garbage.

I am praying that the disillusioned will see past the facade of our adversary’s cleverly enticing deceptions to the trap within, and for them to seek and find the life-giving Well of Living Water instead.

Finally, I am praying for all of God’s people to remember that Christmas does not consist in who we are with nor in what we give or get, but in what we already have in Christ.

May that reality give weight to our joy, defining every interaction we have with others and outshining any glitter-coated bauble so the world will know our hope is not in this world.

It is in the Glory of the Lord of Hosts.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
(Isaiah 61:1-3)

My friends, as much as I love reading all your thoughts here on the  blogosphere, I must take a bit of a break. It is time for me to spend some time focusing on my Lord and seeking His will for me in the new year. I may be around if time allows, but if not, I will see you next year. Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

A Small Glimpse of Glory

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.   — Psalm 19:1

A typical night: I went to let the dogs out before I headed off to bed. However, the night sky caught me and drew me in. I could see so many stars. I even think I may have, for the second time this month, seen a faint trail that could have been the Milky Way.

I was overwhelmed by thoughts. . . Far too much to put down all at once. Yet two I want to share:

First, that the Creator of all this splendor and all the vast array of the heavens would entrust such a faulty and unreliable vessel as I am to do His work! It makes me long to be more worthy, to be less wayward, and to be more fixed on Him. To  be loved by such as Him makes me want to be more lovable.

Oh, how I do love Him! If moments like this are just “seeing in a mirror, dimly,” I am not sure I can handle the real thing. But I want it; I want to see even more of His glory, even if I cannot survive it.

Beyond that, I was stricken with the thought that our enemy often masquerades as an angel of light.  More specifically, He counterfeits every single attribute of the Almighty; and he is subtle and he is wily.

The Eternal One and His Son are both called the Light in various places throughout the Scriptures — the Light of the World, a Light to the Gentiles, and so on. Yet what is it that masks the glory of God proclaimed in the heavens above? Light pollution.

Call me crazy — you wouldn’t be the first — but before you do, allow me to say that I do not believe all technology is evil or any such nonsense.

Yet I cannot help but think that our enemy tries to use every benign thing to cloak the glory of God. Even our artificial lights.  Maybe especially light, because it gives him that same grim satisfaction bullies get when they can use the good kid’s own goodness against him.

However, the heavens still proclaim the glory of God and they will go on proclaiming it even if no one can see it. His glory is beyond the enemy’s power to corrupt; it is beyond any power to destroy. There is no counterfeit of the enemy that can cover or contain the one true Light of the World.  He may have been able to dim the stars for a time, but he has not yet found a way to darken the sun.

And the Sun of Righteousness is oh, so much stronger and brighter than that little ball of blazing gas.

I don’t know what it is, exactly, but tonight in one brief, electricity-blurred, and mosquito-harried examination of the nighttime masterpiece, I was overcome by how truly great is our God.  He is truly Sovereign over all and I put all my trust in Him.

As the old hymn by Louisa M. R. Stead says, “Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”   John 16:33