Praying for your KIDS!

After a week of stress,sickness, and even sexual harassment against our children I sit here in awe of Christina Fox’s insighful prayer. Please think on these words as you approach our Heavenly Father.

Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19 inspired this prayer of my heart:

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are a gracious and merciful God, whose love is unending. You are always patient with me, forgiving me time and time again. I am so thankful for Christ’s death, which opened the curtain into your presence, allowing me to call you Abba.

I come before you today to pray for my children. I confess that I so often pray about their health and behavior more than anything else. I’ve prayed for their healing from illness and from surgeries. I’ve prayed for particular behavioral changes. I’ve asked for help and wisdom in dealing with tantrums and defiance and in weeding out discontent and selfishness.

But increasingly, I’ve come to see that while those prayers are good, that you hear them and accept them, there is one prayer that stands above them all. While asking for healthy bodies and good behavior certainly makes my life easier, it doesn’t address my children’s most serious and deadly ailment: their heart.

The most important prayer I can pray for them is that they would see their sin and need for you. I ask that you humble them before you. Pierce their heart so they would see their need for the gospel of grace. I pray that they would know there is nothing they can do to earn your love or to keep your love. Each time they stumble into sin, draw them back to the gospel and foot of the cross. I pray that they would be overcome and overwhelmed by your love for them, that their love in response would overflow beyond measure.

I pray, along with Paul, that my children would know the hope that is theirs in Christ. I ask that your Spirit would enlighten them, grant them wisdom and understanding. Give them a desire to know you more deeply and intimately.

You have been teaching my own heart that change happens from the inside out. Help me to parent them in this way. I ask that you would give me grace to speak to their heart and model the grace of the gospel in all my interactions with them. Please keep me from being a barrier between them and you.

I thank you for the power of the gospel. May it be the motivation for my children’s growth in you as well as my own. I thank you that because of Jesus, all is grace.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

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Our Daily Bread- by Julie Ackerman Link

In [Christ] we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. —Ephesians 3:12

True confession: When I found out that astronaut Rex Walheim would be taking a copy of Our Daily Bread with him into space for the last mission of the shuttle Atlantis, I looked ahead to find out which devotionals I had written that he would be reading. The idea of having my words read in outer space seemed, well, pretty amazing for this small-town kid.

No sooner had I satisfied my curiosity, however, than I had another thought. Why do I consider this such a big deal? My words are heard in heavenly places whenever I pray. What has happened to me that I take for granted the concept that the God who created the universe listens to my words? In Christ, I can approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12). Why be more awestruck at having a human read what I have written than having Almighty God hear what I pray?

If that idea isn’t enough to rouse me from complacency, there’s this: The Lord is using the church to make known His wisdom to the “principalities and powers in the heavenly places” (v.10). Imagine. God not only hears our prayers, but He uses us earthlings to teach heavenly beings the plan of redemption He has accomplished through Christ. Now that’s a big deal!

God is waiting in the silence— Oh, to know that He is near! Earth recedes and heaven opens, God is waiting, God is here. —O. Smith
God is always available to hear the prayer of His child.

Spurgeon on Mad-Caps and Semi-Lunatics- Tim Challies

This week I came across a sermon by Charles Spurgeon in which he preaches on the Holy Spirit as the Comforter or Helper. As he comes to his conclusion, he suddenly turns on those who approach him with a word from the Lord. I share this excerpt because it is amusingly stated and because I find it interesting that he takes so hard a line against those who speak with a message from the Lord that does not originate in Scripture. “When my Lord and Master has any message to me He knows where I am…”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, honor the Spirit of God as you would honor Jesus Christ if He were present! If Jesus Christ not there! Do not ignore the Presence of the Holy Spirit in your soul! I beseech you, do not live as if you had not heard whether there were a Holy Spirit. To Him pay your constant adorations. Reverence the august Guest who has been pleased to make your body His sacred abode. Love Him, obey Him, worship Him!

Take care never to impute the vain imaginings of your fancy to Him. I have seen the Spirit of God shamefully dishonored by persons—I hope they were insane—who have said that they have had this and that revealed to them. There has not, for some years, passed over my head a single week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs. Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me and it may save them some trouble if I tell them once and for all that I will have none of their stupid messages. When my Lord and Master has any message to me He knows where I am and He will send it to me direct, and not by mad-caps!

Never dream that events are revealed to you by Heaven, or you may come to be like those idiots who dare impute their blatant follies to the Holy Spirit. If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God! Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the Word of God already—He adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses.

I only wish they would follow the advice and no longer insult the Holy Spirit by laying their nonsense at His door. At the same time, since the Holy Spirit is with you, Beloved, in all your learning ask Him to teach you. In all your suffering ask Him to sustain you. In all your teaching ask Him to give you the right words. In all your witness-bearing ask Him to give you constant wisdom and in all service depend upon Him for His help. Believingly reckon upon the Holy Spirit. We do not continually take Him into our calculations as we should. We reckon up so many missionaries, so much money and so many schools—and so conclude the list of our forces. The Holy Spirit is our great need, not learning or culture! Little knowledge or great knowledge shall answer almost as well if the Spirit of God is there—but all your knowledge shall be worthless without Him.

Let but the Spirit of God come and all shall be right. I would we took the power of the Spirit into our calculations always. You have a class at school and do not feel fit to teach it—ask Him to help you and you do not know how well you will teach! You are called to preach, but you feel you cannot—you are dull and your talk will be flat, stale, unprofitable. Bring the Holy Spirit into it and if He fires you, you shall find even the slender materials you have collected will set the people on a blaze! We ought to reckon upon the Spirit—He is our main force—what if I say He is our only force and we grieve Him exceedingly when we do not reckon upon Him?

Love the Spirit. Worship the Spirit. Trust the Spirit. Obey the Spirit, and, as a Church, cry mightily to the Spirit! Beseech Him to let His mighty power be known and felt among you. The Lord fire your hearts with this sacred flame, for as this made Pentecost stand out from all other days, may it make the close of this year stand out in our history from all other years. Come, Holy Spirit, now! You are with us, but come with power and let us feel Your sacred might!

Like Jesus- Tim Challies

Being Transformed into Christ’s Likeness

I have been enjoyed a re-reading of Jerry Bridges’ The Discipline of Grace, a true modern-day classic work. I have come to the sixth chapter which discusses sanctification, or being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Bridges looks at two different texts and two different ways the Bible speaks the goal of the Christian life. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that “we are being transformed into [Christ’s] likeness” while Romans 8:29 states that God “predestined [all believers] to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” Bridges says, “Christlkeness is God’s goal for all who trust in Christ, and that should be our goal also.”

Both words, transformed and conformed, have a common root, form, meaning a pattern or a mold. “Being transformed” refers to the process; conformed refers to the finished product. Jesus is our pattern or mold. We are being transformed so that we will eventually be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Sanctification or holiness (the words are somewhat interchangeable), then, is conformity to the likeness of Jesus Christ.

He then asks, “How can we know whether we are being transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ?” He encourages Christians to begin with studying the character of Jesus, saying

One of my favorite descriptions of Christ is that He “loved righteousness and hated wickedness” (Hebrews 1:9). Jesus did not just act righteously, He loved righteousness. In His humanity He loved equity, fairness, justice, and upright dealings with others. At the same time He hated wickedness. Jesus hated sin as sin. We often hate the consequences of sin (even if it seems to be no more than guilt feelings that follow sin) but I suspect we seldom hate sin as sin.

I can certainly testify to this in my own life. In fact, one of my regular prayers is that the Lord would let me see sin as he sees it and, therefore, to hate it as he hates it. Bridges looks also to John 6:38 and says, “To be like Jesus is not just to stop committing a few obvious sins such as lying, cheating, gossiping, and thinking impure thoughts. To be like Jesus is to always seek to do the will of the Father. [It is] to come to the place where we delight to do the will of God, however sacrificial or unpleasant that may seem to us at the time, simply because it is His will.

 

The heart of the chapter, at least in my estimation, is Bridges’ explanation of the role of the gospel in our sanctification. This is something we all know at one level, but something that many of us have difficulty explaining. He says, “A clear understanding and appropriation of the gospel, which gives freedom from sin’s guilt and sins grip, is, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, a chief means of sanctification.” To know the gospel and to continually apply it, is one of the means the Lord uses to conform us to Christ’s image.

To the degree that we feel we are on a legal or performance relationship with God, to that degree our progress in sanctification is impeded. A legal mode of thinking gives indwelling sin an advantage, because nothing cuts to the nerve of the desire to pursue holiness as much as a sense of guilt. On the contrary, nothing so motivates us to deal with sin in our lives as does the understanding and application of the two truths that our sins are forgiven and the dominion of sin is broken because of our union with Christ.

We need to understand that “the cleansing of our consciences from the guilt of sin must precede our efforts to deal with the presence of sin in our daily lives.” And so we need the gospel to continually remind us that our sins have been forgiven in Christ and that we relate to the Lord through grace rather than law. “Our specific responsibility in the pursuit of holiness as seen in 2 Corinthians 3:18, then, is to behold the glory of the Lord as it is displayed in the gospel. The gospel is the ‘mirror’ through which we now behold His beauty.” And, therefore, until we see him face-to-face, we need to continually preach that gospel to ourselves every day.

 

How to be CLEAN-Paul Tripp

How to Be Clean

When David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” (Psalm 51:10) he’s admitting the one thing we don’t want to admit. He’s confessing to the depth of his moral dilemma. He’s looking at life God’s way. He’s saying, “I’m facing something that I can’t free myself from. I’m dealing with something that I can’t solve. I’m in the middle of something that I don’t have the independent power to alleviate.”

Here’s the confession, here’s the plea: “God, my problem is that I have a fundamentally unclean heart. I bring this uncleanness to every situation, location, and relationship of my daily life. In some way, it influences all of my thoughts, desires, choices, words, and actions. Lord, I want to be clean because now I can see clearly the legacy of my uncleanness, but I’m not able to make my heart clean. God, I’m asking you to do what I can’t do for myself. I’m asking you to create in my heart what isn’t there; fundamental moral purity – a moral goodness of heart that will then shape all of my actions and reactions to life.”

The word for create here is the same word that’s used in Genesis 1. Why is this important? Because it tells you that David understands to whom he’s talking. He’s appealing to the One who’s the Creator of all things to do exactly what he did as he spoke the physical universe into to being. He’s asking the Redeemer to exercise the expansiveness of his creative power to create moral purity at the motivational core of his personhood, the heart. David is pleading for a miracle that’s every bit as astounding as what’s recorded in Genesis 1. He’s asking God to create a moral universe in his heart that doesn’t yet exist. And he’s asking for this because he knows that unless he’s the recipient of such a miracle, he’ll never be what he’s supposed to be or do what he’s supposed to do.

David gets it. He gets that he desperately needs forgiveness, but he also understands that he needs something more. He gets that he needs to be recreated at the core of who he is as a person. His prayer for a “clean” heart is a prayer for deliverance from the moral pull and the vulnerability that’s the functional danger of an unclean heart. In praying this way, David prays for all of us.

Psalm 51:10 is the “says it all” diagnosis of the moral struggle of all of us. So isn’t it wonderful that Jesus, the Messiah, was sent to earth so that we could be the recipients of the one thing that we could never provide for ourselves: a new heart? So don’t be discouraged and don’t let yourself be defeated. There’s help for us! There’s hope for us! There’s a Creator Redeemer who delights in exercising his power to create a moral cleanness in the hearts of needy people who seek it because they know that it can only be found in him.

Be humble enough to pray David’s prayer, recognize your need of the same Creator cleansing, and watch what your Redeemer will do.

God bless

Paul David Tripp