I think too much. But not about you. I think about what I need to do, or what I want to do. I think about homework, school….and most of all…I think about my future. I think about things I have very little control over. I worry. I think about the past…I remember…I analyze and justify. I hate…
For two friends do I now pray.
Two very different people, but both in need of your grace.
No, I do not at all doubt their position before your judgment seat, as they have both exemplified in their lives a growing knowledge of who you are. And I love it.
But I approach your throne of grace, knowing that every good gift comes from you, indeed, every moment has been sovereignly orchestrated by your own articulate hands, and so I trust that even every minute is a moment of grace and goodness. Nonetheless, you have chosen pray as the means by which you work. What a wonder to be involved in the work of God!
May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob set you [securely] on high!
May He send you help from the sanctuary
And support you from Zion!
May He remember all your meal offerings
And find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah.
May He grant you your heart’s desire
And fulfill all your counsel!
We will sing for joy over you victory,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
May Yahweh fulfill all your petitions.
Now I know that Yahweh saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.
Some [boast] in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of Yahweh, our God.
They have bowed down and fallen,
But we have risen and stood upright.
Save, O Yahweh;
May the King answer us in the day we call.
~Psalm 20, NASB
Oh, Yahweh… we know that your salvation is ultimate; that it reaches vastly beyond everything we imagine. That your salvation wrought through the second person of the Trinity not only saved us from sin, but also our sins, and not only our sins, but also sin. Your salvation promises to wipe away death and dismay and bring to life a kingdom of life and joy. You desire our salvation, and you will bring it to us. Because you are the Rescuer. The Mighty King. Thank you.
I do want to pray specifically for several people as they are experiencing more oppression than I am familiar with. Arif and his wife. Both of Pakistan, and who have been forced to leave their home after brutal imprisonment. I thank you for Arif’s faith as he prayed to you, “O God, we thank you because you have not left us…. But we have seen and experienced that you never leave us…. lord, we are ready to obey you.” Thank you, Holy Spirit, for maintaining such a strong presence in his life that he can see all circumstances from your viewpoint and even thank you for the suffering because it has allowed him to experience you anew. I pray that Arif will encourage his wife and that they will worship you throughout every moment as they seek to do what you have commanded them. With joy. But I also pray for deliverance. I pray, that the suffering will cease as they explain what you have done in their lives and others come to know you. To love you. To worship you. I ask that Arif and his wife will have courage and strength as you, Christ, live through them and that they will become missionaries to Pakistan and the whole Mediterranean world! Spirit, speak through them, and convict men and women of their sin before the Holy God, such that they are driven to repentance with tears. Use Arif and his wife as encouragers who can introduce them to the God who saves from sin and will save from persecution.
I pray also for Musta Kim who does not have the comfort a wife… not now, leastwise. Musta’s family left him after a bitter turn of justice which caused him to spend 8 months in prison without trial. Yahweh, I do thank you for delivering him from prison. But I do wonder if Musta would rather have stayed in with the hope of his family to be waiting for him. Give him hope. Even as he is still suffering persecution, and as he deals with the skin disease from prison. May you give Musta hope which transcends all circumstances—which is founded in you alone, who saves and delivers. May he be able to say with the Psalmist, some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of Yahweh, our God. You are our God, the God of the living and the ‘dead’; the God of the Christians in the States and China and Korea and Pakistan and Comoros, where Musta lives. May the islands their see awakening as they glimpse the glory of Christ revealed in men who carry around the death of Jesus that the life of Jesus might also be revealed…hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed.
We look toward you, our Lord.
For you are sovereign.
For you are good.
Bring in your kingdom. In your time.
I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:15-17
Dear Lord Jesus, even as Paul was eager to preach the gospel to believers in Rome, I’m equally eager to preach it to my own heart today—this morning, afternoon and evening. All I really need is you plus what you choose to give me, but I really do need you all the time.
There was a time, however, when I thought the gospel was only for nonbelievers—the doorway, just the portal for beginning a relationship with you. I now realize the gospel is just as much for believers as it is for nonbelievers; because from beginning to end, our salvation is entirely dependent upon the grace, truth, and power of the gospel.
Thank you for showing me that salvation is not merely our post-mortem holiday—the good news of going to heaven when we die. It’s about dead people, like me, coming to life in you now. It’s about becoming like you, Jesus—being transformed into your loving likeness. Only the resources of the gospel are sufficient for such a task, for we’re not just separated from God by a great distance, we are thoroughly broken and corrupted by sin. We need a big gospel for our great need. Indeed, there’s nothing more than the gospel, there is just more of the gospel. (I believe this… free me to believe it much, much more)
So I praise you today, Jesus, that you’ve already accomplished everything necessary to completely save us. You came into the world as God’s promised Messiah—the man from heaven, the second Adam. You lived a life of perfect obedience on our behalf—as our substitute, fulfilling all the demands of God’s law for us. You died upon the cross for us—taking the criticism and judgment we deserve; and you have completely exhausted God’s righteous anger against our sin. (Sing and soar, O my soul!)
Through faith in you, all of my sins have been forgiven (past, present and future), and I’ve been given the gift of your perfect righteousness. God has already declared me righteous in his sight, for he has hidden my life in yours. He cannot love me more than he does today, and he will not ever love me less. In fact, because of your work for us, Jesus, God now loves me just as much as he loves you. Amazing! I’d be slap-worthy arrogant—make that a blasphemer, if this wasn’t revealed in the gospel.
By adoption, I’m God’s beloved child; by his generosity, I’m indwelt by the Holy Spirit; by his faithfulness, I’m an heir of the new heaven and new earth. Though a non-dancer, this makes me want to dance in the Spirit! Lord Jesus, keep pressing this gospel into my yet-to-be glorified heart—pound it, reveal it. So very Amen I pray, in your priceless and peerless name.
Praise is due to you, O God in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. But you do not receive all the praise you deserve. And you do not receive payment on the vows made to you. Such is the case not solely with those who refuse to acknowledge you or those who loosely use the term ‘god’ to denote some extrinsic notion of goodness, but such is even the case with your Church, and with me. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. And yet, we are not all before you now. And once again, this is not only the case with people who deem you wicked, but also with us who gather together in worship; we do not draw as near you as we ought. How similar I am to the faithless! How often I act in faithlessness. How often I am faithless. How often… I behave as though I am not your own. Yet, though this is true, When iniquities prevail against me, even at my own doing, you atone for our transgressions. Though we have not deserved it, you have given your Son, the Christ, who is God, as the sacrifice for my sins. And so, Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! I am so grateful, God, that you did choose me. That you did bring me near. That you do desire me to dwell with you. You have saved me and continue to save me from gross sins—from cynicism and pride and arrogance and individualism and self-sufficiency and approval and anger and every idol known and unknown which I worshiped and still at times do worship. I look forward to the day, Savior, when I will no longer turn to idols—when I will no longer worship myself as god, but will be utterly satisfied with you in your house. I look forward to the day that I will not be tempted to turn aside from the glory of your face and to the bug zappers that I currently do.
But God… God all-wise, and loving. God who is just and justifier. God who is eternal and whose judgment is beyond argument, for it is perfect, I pray. Today, I pray not for myself, and not even for the quick come of your eternal kingdom. I pray not for my selfish desire to be free from the presence of sin. Instead, Lord, I pray. I pray for others. And I pray for delay. I pray as Paul wrote that to depart and to be present with Christ is better by far, but it is to the advantage of others that I remain here for now. And that you remain here for now. That you do not bring the world before your tribunal to condemn those who have refused to repent. I ask, King, that you would delay your judgment that you may still choose even more and welcome them into your family. That I may still see many more and call them brother. And sister. I think specifically of several few. Some very near to me, if not in relationship, then by blood. And some others who are near me, by neither relationship or blood, but by extension of relationship and then by blood. Do I speak in riddles? No, but I do hide it slightly for the sake of those who may read this now, and those who may read later. For you know the people for whom I pray. And I pray, though at times with tears, and at times other with fear; at times with anger, sometimes sadness; some nights with lack of sleep, and some days with lack of joy, I pray for those who are far from satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! Those who are not blessed because not yet did you choose and bring near, them to you, to dwell in your courts. Because their transgressions are not atoned for, and iniquities prevail against them. You who do not hear their prayer because to you they have not yet come. Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, but these people remain in Babylon and refuse to praise you at all. They make vows but do not know your name. They attempt to be their own savior, and think they truly can. but.they.cannot.
Please, rescue them. Save them from themselves as you have saved me from myself. Strip away all arguments that they latch onto, and may they see that it is simply you and they. Holy Spirit, lay upon, and lay heavy upon them—convict them of their sin in such a way that leads to repentance, not to depression. May their strength whither until they acknowledge their weakness and depend upon you as the only might. May their sin be ever before them, and may they see their wickedness every direction they turn, and see you as true righteousness and the only way. May all solace and security leave them destitute, until they see your powerful love. May the ones they believe love them abandon them so that you may rescue them. May their anger consume them to the point that no one else remains around them save several loving Christian men and women. And may they point them to you. May you bring up men and women who fear you and institute them into peoples’ lives. Strategically. Wisely. Effectively. May I, and all my brothers and sisters, take advantage of every situation and point people to you. Sometimes blatantly and sometimes slyly. Whichever the person needs. May we rise up and show people the truth of who you are. May we not take the comfortable and easy road; may we not submit to fear; may we not think somebody else will take the mantle, but may we work with everything within us to draw people to you. But, Lord, may we never consider ourselves to be the ones who effect salvation. Instead, God, may trust you, Holy Spirit, to work in the lives of people and regenerate them as the Father has called them and the Son has redeemed them.
I need you.
Others need you.
May I never forget that.
May others come to learn that.
Creator, today is a beautiful day. Positively beautiful, and though all days are magnificent in their splendor, full of the glory which exudes from your very being, beyond anything I could create with paint and brush or even imagination… today is beautiful. The weather is warm, as gently kisses my face; not hot. True, it is winter by calendar, but shall I let numbers and names determine how skilled you are with your hands—or is it your breath? You spoke the universe into existence, and are capable of sustaining it so too. But such questions are really pointless, and we would better revel in your majesty than question the extent of your sovereignty, for you are God. You created mountains and oceans, and still you look upon me with greater joy than these. How wondrous and unthinkable! We humans cannot help but gape at the power of crashing waters, to stand with trembling at the lightning and tornadoes, but you, creator, are so concerned with your people that you have numbered the hairs on my head—how many fell out yesterday, I wonder. Thank you for your love. I know it is not because of that which I have done. Truly, I could not even determine my birth. Everything which I have is from you, except for the sin which I carry with me. And were it not for your amazing grace, I would be lost in my sin, separated from the favor which I now have from you. So I thank you for redeeming me—for purchasing me from self, sin, satan, and death. It cost you your very life, Christ, and I will never know the true extent of those grave words. Grave words which bring joy. Unending joy through all of life’s circumstances. Thank you, thank you.
At the end of Psalm 33, your Psalmist sings,
Behold, the eye of Yahweh is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for Yahweh;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Yahweh, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
And such is my prayer today. Give me a great fear of you, which stands in awe even with trembling at your terrible might. How can I stand aghast at the power of oceans, and not at their creator? How can I hide from lightning and tornadoes, and not seek shelter from the power of your fist? But may it never stop there only, may I move on into hope in your forever-love. A true hope. A firm hope. Yes, please. I do believe, but only in part; help my unbelief because death does threaten and famine does come, but may I always wait for you, Creator God, who are my salvation. You created the world, and one day soon, you will recreate it. How I long for that day. But until then, Savior, save us from fear and dismay. Give me and all my brothers and sisters joy in who you are. Even when difficult times come, as they are certain to, may we find joy beyond it. You are beyond it. May we find joy in you.
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, when you redeemed them—bought them from their slaveholders and led them from the land through your servant Moses, when you accomplished this mighty act, this exodus, this awe-striking salvation, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion—that is your sanctuary and your dominion; shall one who has not accomplished this mighty deed rest in its splendor? No, but you are the one who rescued our fathers from the land of dread and bloody death where they were whipped day-by-day and hard-pressed to do labor that was not their own for a people that were not their Lord. Their feet were calloused from the hard sand, their hands were cut with gashes from wood and stone, their faces wrought with sweat, their hair matted, and their lips chapped, their muscles ached and their bones creaked… then, in a glorious moment that has traveled through history that we can speak of it as though it were yesterday, you swooped in like a majestic eagle, and you rescued your people. You took them and lifted them up, sheltering them with your wing to comfort them from their oppressors, and you led them with love out of the land of slavish dominion. And so, Judah became your sanctuary, and Israel became your dominion. You yourself established the nation of Israel and sat upon your throne in the midst of the people in the land that you conquered as a mighty warrior. You led your regime across the Jordan River as the waters swept back and held against itself, creating a bridge from nothing; your mighty procession traveled through the bed of sand, and found itself on the other side were it waged war at your command. You took up the sword to protect your people. You slaughtered those who threatened your children, and set up cities within the land for your people. What a great salvation!
And as you did these things, The sea looked back and fled; as you led them through the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds, whichever it be. The sea itself was petrified of your power; the sea, whose chief character is chaos, was dumbstruck by the sheer might of the peacemaker, the one who turns chaos into Sabbath. Jordan turned back. How shall it not? Mighty Yahweh has stepped foot into the water and his presence itself commands with force stronger than words. The creator created a passage as it commanded the rushing waters to cease for a moment. But it was more than a moment was it not? Yes, you carried your whole people, the nation of your choosing through a vast river. Speculation does not serve me here, but is it too small to think of it as a day? Hours and hours, you held back the currents with the wind of your Spirit. But your miracles do not stop there for The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. And what does this mean, Holy Spirit? What does your word speak now? Do you speak of the people who filled the hills now fleeing from the general of the army of Israel? Do you speak of the sin of Aichan and the ground swallowing him whole, down to Sheol? Do you speak of the walls of cities crashing down? Do you speak of the tearing down of high places and the establishing of your altar? Your mighty deeds are countless! Mighty they are—without comparison in strength or wisdom! Deeds indeed—accomplishing good with exertion of your will. Countless… without a doubt. How many miracles have I seen even in my short lifetime? You are wonderful, Savior of Israel.
What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? O mountains, that you skip like rams? o hills, like lambs? I might have answered the question myself, but your Psalmist continues instead, Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Adonai, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water. You, God, are the reason that the waters turn back and the hills flee—You strike terror into the hearts of everything that truly witnesses your awesome power. The earth itself trembles as your feet step to and fro. You turned rock into water to satisfy your people, reversing the very elements you sewed together. How grand! How phenomenal! How mysterious! And yet… my Lord, my God, you do not stop there.
I was a man stuck in the land of slavery, daily doing the bidding of an unworthy master, or shall we say masters? For I was a slave to sin, only able to accomplish anything sinful. I was a slave to satan, the accuser, who would stand before you to accuse me without shortage of evidence. I was a slave to death, never able to escape the promise of imminent cessation of everything I knew to be. I was a slave, perhaps most sorely, to myself. I was my own god demanding of myself to be something more than humanity, something of deity, and believing it to be so. Yet… You came in with your servant the Holy Spirit, you sent him to rescue me, to lead me out of the land of slavery. And you led me through sea and desert and river and war—your acts of salvation did not stop with Israel, but I can say today that as you have redeemed them, so you have redeemed me. I thank you for such a wonderful picture that captures the salvation you have exacted for me. Sin has let go of the reins; satan has reeled in terror death has been cast away; my ego has fled. All because they have seen your person and have dreaded your untempered might. May I rejoice because of it! But may I never forget your power myself. May I stand in fear of your power until you call me forth to tenderly touch my head in love. May I be your temporary sanctuary, and may I look forward to your visible dominion over all the land.
Today, my Savior… remind me of your Gospel. May I relish in it.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
Oh, our God… in our reading of Scripture, may we first remember the history into which you spoke. Keep us from ripping your words from whence they were written and indiscriminately applying them to our own life situations. This is difficult, Teacher, because we innately approach anything with the lens by which we view everything, namely our own life—knowledge and experience contained therein. But keep us also from the opposite danger of deeming all your words as impractical for our daily lives. Truly, your word is a lamp for our feet, and a light to our path, not only your Psalmists’.
And so, God, though your chosen king, David, was writing about war and battle, may we be able to discern just how true your word is in our circumstances as well. For we are all with days of trouble. Yes, some more than others, but trouble befalls us all; and protection is necessary every moment. Every one of your children is daily in a war… we fight, however, not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark age—those treacherous accusers and seducers. The war persists around us even when we are oblivious to it. May you reach down your loving hand and support us throughout this war. May you embolden us by your Spirit; may you equip us with your word; may you strengthen us with righteousness. Save us from this unceasing day of trouble which threatens to take captive our souls. God of Jacob, the same God of Isaac and Abraham, the God of Enoch, the God of Seth, the God of Adam… you are one God, and you are ever present with your people. I thank you for your sustaining love throughout millennia of our forsaking you. Rescue us from the wounds of sin as much as we have already been rescued from the dominion of sin.
I pray especially for those who face not just spiritual troubles, but physical ones as well. You are the savior, not just of soul, but of body as well. There are many people I know who are experiencing true physical hardship, such that I cannot even relate. I know of some who are deathly sick. Heal them, Great Healer who made our bodies. I know of many who are without jobs. Supply them, Great Worker who created the universe in seven days. I know of some who are without experience of love. Cherish them, Great Romancer who has loved us even while we were enemies. I know of some who are despairing. Confirm them, Great Faithful One who gives hope even when no hope is present. There are names attached to each of these predicaments, and you know them all. You know even more than I do. And for them I pray.
May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans the Psalm continues, and I do pray so. But I ask even more that our plans would be your plans and our desire your desire. That we would long for the revelation of your glory, and that we would seek it with every breath. Even if we cannot speed your actual return, may we exist to bring your return on earth before you even get here. May our plans be your plans, that we would teach your love and mercy in the context of your justice to all peoples. To our families, yes. To our friends, yes. To our neighbors, yes. To those across city, and those across state, even so those across the world… yes. May we be so overwhelmed with your love: may we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May Yahweh fulfill all your petitions! And may our petitions be precisely what you have wanted all along.
I know, my King, that Yahweh saves his anointed. And who is anointed but your Son? But who is not anointed who is in your Son? Not a single one—all who are found in Christ are found in a spirit of sonship, and so we who are in Christ are in your anointing, and you who have anointed your Son will save us from the powers existent in this world. You will answer us from your holy heaven with the saving might of your right hand. We anticipate the day of your return, King. We eagerly await your everlasting domain. The domain that will bring eternal peace. The domain that will bring true love. The domain that will celebrate the family. Your wondrous kingdom come, your will be done. That is what we await. Increase our desire for it. And until that day, your people will say
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of Yahweh our God.
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
O Yahweh, save your children!
May he answer us when we call.
Yahweh, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
Oh, my God. You are not only my God, but you have been God for all time. You are the same God that ruled over Israel and led them out of the wilderness and into the land. You are the mighty and powerful God, yes, the only God. And you restored your people Israel from Babylon—you returned them to the land of their fathers. 70 years only, and then you relented from your anger in you mercy. It is only by your mercy that you would restore such a rebellious people. I do not say this with indignation, but rather with humiliation for I too am rebellious, far too often and far too grievously. If you were to simply hold justice and were not also the picture of grace, then I should be lost forever… cast to utter darkness. lost in my own sin. lost in my self. lost. separated. from life and love and you—You who are everything which is good. But Yahweh, my God, this has not happened! You have forgiven, not just the sons of Korah who sang this psalm, but also me. You have brought me out of a land of slavery, and you have brought me into your glorious kingdom. For this I thank you. I utterly thank you. Thank you for forgiving my sin, my nature and my actions; for though my nature is changed, my actions continue to my shame.
So I plead, along with the sons of Korah, Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation towards us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Yahweh, and grant us your salvation.And though, I can only suppose what the sons of Korah were experiencing at this time, I nonetheless beg the same thing if under different circumstances. Restore me, always, to your salvation. Every time that I look to another god aside from you, may you restore me. May I cherish that awakening smack delivered by your loving hand. May I see my sin immediately, and turn and run to you! Keep me from sin, God! Keep me from following after the desires of my flesh. May I instead see each desire as a chance of looking to you and the satisfaction you offer! Do not leave me alone to do what I want; that is no freedom, but slavery to hedonism, to sin, to satan. But chasten me quickly that I may not fall too deep. Never has your reach been to short, yet all the same, I long to rest near you at all moments… And so comes this prayer: Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and I do not speak now of momentary lapses corrected, but of ultimate restoration to come in the new age. Truly it has yet dawned, but yet remains distant at the same. Bring your kingdom, O Yahweh, may it invade this present planet and restore everything to the way it ought to be. Maranatha, Lord Jesus, Maranatha! Come quickly, God, and create a new heaven and a new earth that I might find true love in your presence amongst your people. Every day that passes by makes the day of glory seem that much further, and makes me even more parched for her life-giving waters. Bring true salvation, Yahweh, bring it please! Do not let our sin dissuade you from rapid coming! May we always live in such a way that we bring some essence of your kingdom to earth even now. But bring it now! For only you, the Father, can give the decree that will institute the new age with your Son on the throne for eternity and evermore!
And what will you say to this prayer, O God? Let me hear what God Yahweh will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Peace… peace… yes, Adonai God, I do have peace. For your Spirit resides deeply within me, welling up to a fountain of peace. I do have true peace from Yahweh. And so I will trust you. May I not turn back to folly. Yes. Keep me within your arms, and never let me go. Keep me from folly and bring salvation ever nearer. Give me a holy fear of you God. May I tremble at the sound of your voice and find sanctuary in the gaze of your eyes which speak peace to my soul, love to my heart. Your salvation is near, I believe it. More than that, I know it. Fiducia, Father. Fiducia—you shall come, and you shall come soon, and it shall be more glorious than ever I’ve imagined. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, Yahweh will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. We long for your redemption, Savior. Our assurance of your coming only enhances our dissatisfaction with the ways of this world. We long for righteousness, peace, love, and faithfulness. We know that we will not live long in this barren exile, but that you will bring us home. May we now live to reflect your glory and bring our neighbor home with us. Let us not waste this opportunity to spread zeal for your wondrous grace, and the grace yet coming.
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 1:9-11
Heavenly Father, I sometimes wonder if Satan watches American religious television, or spends his time thumbing through many popular Christian books, because he’d certainly find a bunch of material to work with. There’s a lot there he could use to substantiate his charge that the only reason we love you is because of the goodies you give us, the comforts you bring us and the riches you loan us. But instead of being cynical, please show me to what extent I’d have to say, “guilty as charged.” What affects the ebb and flow of my affection for you, Father?
On this Thanksgiving Day Eve, my list of “creature comforts” is long, even longer than I realize. I don’t have anything especially whine-worthy going on. There’s nothing moving me to question your goodness or leading me to cry, “Where are you, Lord?, What are you thinking?” I’ve got good health; there’s more check left over at the end of the month; none of my family members are in crisis. Nothing beyond the normal fallen-ness and brokenness of life is happening around me or within me.
I presume on none of these kind providences and mercy provisions, Father. I don’t takeany of your good gifts for granted. I don’t think I struggle with entitlement as much as I used to, and the gospel has certainly convinced me that everything I have comes from you (1 Cor. 4:7). But Satan’s question always remains current: Why do I love you? What’s my motivation for worshiping you? How will I think about you the next time I suffer loss, betrayal and pain? That, no doubt, will happen, again. What would happen if I were to go through a significant loss—a major gut-wrenching heart-breaking doubt-fueling season? I don’t need to camp out there, but at least consider such a story-line.
I know what I want to be true. I want to be your child who loves and worships you simply because you are God. There’s no other god besides you, and there’s certainly no other godlike you. I know this to be true only because the gospel is true. I want to adore you because you’ve hidden my life in Christ, even during times when I feel like you’re hiding from me. I love you because you first loved me and gave Jesus for me, period. I’m grateful for your creature gifts, but I want to love and worship you, as the primary treasure of my heart. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus exalted and glorious name.