We have a busy Saturday ahead of us. I’ve already taken care of bills for the coming week (my, but that was fun), Christi has fixed the tiles in the shower (all of this before 9am), after I finish my devotion and final preparations for tomorrow’s worship, we’re going to a Craft Fair at Keller High School. Then there’s Christmas lights to put up on the house, ornaments to put on the Christmas tree, groceries to be bought, and I don’t remember what else. Oh, yeah. And library books are due!
When I think about how far we’ve come with Stephanie since last December, I just have to give praise to God. Those of you who are close to us know what I’m talking about. Others, if you’re interested, you can read my Diaryland diary from back then. Just click on “archives” and look around December of 2009. All I’m going to say that the awesome power and grace of God is worthy of all of our praise.
Psalm 141:1-2, 8-10
1 A Psalm of David. O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
8 But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.
I like the way the author begins today’s reading. “For many people prayer is a one-liner beginning with ‘Gimme.'” Isn’t that the truth? How many times are our prayers just requests for __________ (fill in the blank)? Even some who consider themselves to be “mature” Christians fill their prayers with nothing more than requests for this or that. Granted, much of the time, they are thinking about others when they make some of those requests, as in healing or blessings for other people. But still, does not God deserve so much more than our “grocery list?” Or a hurried “thank you” over a meal? “For David, prayer was a way of life.”
David begins this prayer with a request (yes, he is asking for something, but look at what it is) for God’s presence! “Hasten to me,” he says. He asks that his prayer be heard. He asks that his prayer be like incense before the Lord, sweet smelling as it rises up to God. He seeks refuge, a place where he can hide from his enemies. He trusts in the defenses of the Lord to keep him from the traps that have been laid for him by his enemies.
The point is, he is not just reading off a list of wants or desires to God. He is pouring out his life, while at the same time, seeking God’s presence in his life. Tomorrow, we will look at more of the Psalm and see him asking God to put a guard over his mouth to keep him from speaking wrongly. David is seeking a righteous life.
Several weeks ago, we had a prayer session at church on a Wednesday evening where all we did for about 20 or 30 minutes was praise God and tell him how awesome he is. Sure, he already knows this, but it does our hearts good to recognize this fact. To pray for a while and not ask for anything was refreshing and invigorating! I left that evening feeling much closer to God, much more alive.
There is nothing wrong with asking God for things. In fact, we are told to, by Jesus. But our prayers should be more than just asking.
(From A Musician Looks At the Psalms, by Don Wyrtzen)
2 Timothy 2:23
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
Sigh. This is gonna hurt.
“The more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil. The keeping up the communion of saints, will take us from fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness. See how often the apostle cautions against disputes in religion; which surely shows that religion consists more in believing and practicing what God requires, than in subtle disputes. Those are unfit to teach who are apt to strive, and are fierce and obstinate. Teaching, not persecution, is the Scripture method of dealing with those in error. The same God who gives the discovery of the truth, by his grace brings us to acknowledge it, otherwise our hearts would continue to rebel against it.”
I love to argue. Raise your hand if you’re surprised at this shocking revelation about me. Yeah…that’s what I thought. Don’t see any hands. But Scripture is very clear that we should NOT love to argue. Especially about “religion.” And even more especially (and this may not be explicitly Scriptural, but I believe it, nonetheless) not in front of unbelievers! I’ve been “fierce and obstinate.” And probably, not too long ago. This reading falls into two categories, one that God has been teaching me from a great deal this year. That is how we need to love each other. If I’m being involved in “foolish, ignorant controversies,” I’m not showing love to my brothers and sisters. The other is how we deal with those who are “in error.” We are to teach them, showing them the truth in love. Persecution and ridicule do not show love. There is a method of church discipline (which is rarely used in this day) wherein we are to first attempt to teach and restore a brother who is “in error.” If and only if all of the other tactics fail, then the brother is to be shunned. But, in today’s church, the common method is to do either one of two things. One is to completely ignore the error and embrace the brother, along with his error (which leads to churches with weak theology). The other is to jump straight to the shunning. Both methods are very wrong.
But again, the key word is “teaching.” Arguing is not teaching. Arguing is pretty much useless. I really need to learn that.
(From Matthew Henry Daily Readings)
You have led me singing to the cross where I fling down all my burdens and see them vanish,
where my mountains of guilt are leveled to a plain,
where my sins disappear, though they are the greatest that exist,
and are more in number than the grains of fine sand;
For there is power in the blood of Calvary to destroy sins more than can be counted even by one from the choir of heaven.
You have given me a hill-side spring that washes clear and white,
and I go as a sinner to its waters, bathing without hindrance in its crystal streams.
At the cross there is free forgiveness for poor and meek ones,
and ample blessings that last forever;
The blood of the Lamb is like a great river of infinite grace
with never any diminishing of its fullness as thirsty ones without number drink of it.
O Lord, for ever will your free forgiveness live that was gained on the mount of blood;
In the midst of a world of pain it is a subject for praise in every place,
a song on earth, an anthem in heaven, its love and virtue knowing no end.
I have a longing for the world above where multitudes sing the great song,
for my soul was never created to love the dust of earth.
Though here my spiritual state is frail and poor, I shall go on singing Calvary’s anthem.
May I always know that a clean heart full of goodness is more beautiful than the lily,
that only a clean heart can sing by night and by day,
that such a heart is mine when I abide at Calvary.
(From The Valley of Vision)
And to that I proclaim a resounding HALLELUJAH!!!
A beautiful song by one of my favorite bands. Also…I just noticed the title is wrong on the video. It should be “Beautiful Scandalous Night.”
Prayers from the Presidential Prayer Team
PRAY FOR OUR JUDICIARY
For the second time in two months, a federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of the new health care law, ruling
that the requirement that most Americans obtain medical coverage falls within Congress’s authority to regulate.
The Supreme Court will decide whether extra public funds may be given to state candidates who have foregone
private fund-raising and who are facing wealthy, free-spending individuals.
Pray for the Supreme Court as they ponder the briefs and oral arguments presented to them on all issues.
Father, I thank you for your presence in my life. I thank you for promises that you will never leave or forsake us. I desire your presence to be obvious in my life at all times, even though I act, at times as if I either don’t know you’re around or would rather you not be. I pray that those times would be fewer and fewer. Let my prayers not be completely filled with asking, Lord. Rather, I desire to spend time praising you and meditating on your Word, that you might teach me more about you and about how to live with and love my brothers and sisters in Christ. I also desire that you be my refuge. Be the foundation on which I can build my life. Be the fortress in which I am protected from the schemes of Satan. Be my loving Father, in whose lap I can sit, resting as a child does in his father’s lap.
My Father, I pray that my argumentative spirit would be diminished. I am shamed by the frequency with which I argue, sometimes causing them myself, just for my own entertainment. I confess that I have been “fierce and obstinate” in my life. Forgive me for those times, Lord, and guard my tongue and my spirit from creating them any more. Let the Holy Spirit be there to stop me the next time I am tempted to argue.
Lord, I praise you for Calvary! The prayer above is full of glorious truth! I echo the words of that prayer and give you honor and praise for the cross. Jesus, I thank you that you did not shy away from the tremendous suffering that you endured for our sakes on that wretched instrument of torture. You are our Savior, Jesus! Thank you!
Lord, let this day be restful, even in its flurry of activity. Let us have a good time together as a family. I also pray that for tomorrow, as we look forward to lunch and an afternoon with Rachel and Justin. Let us have a joyful time together as a family.
Let us remember to do more than just ask when we pray. And if you’re like me, and you might be sometimes, let’s try to stop the quarreling.
Grace and peace, friends.