Psalm 51:2 "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. "
Sometimes we have soul-moving, life-changing encounters with God. These times often involve an extensive cleanup job on our lives from sin. They fill us with an awareness of His grace and joy. It might happen during a church service, at a conference, or even in the safety of our own home. We almost don't want to move on from such experiences, out of fear that our everyday sinful life will mess everything up again. The bad news is that we will mess up again. But, through the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, we can deal with it!
The first story that comes to mind to describe this experience is of a man who lied, committed adultery, and killed an innocent man. You may have heard of him--King David, ""a man after His own heart"" (1 Samuel 13:14).
Psalm 51, one of many psalms written in reflection after one of David’s most-noted sins in Second Samuel 10-11 with Bathsheba and company, shows David as a broken, unworthy sinner. And yet David said, ""Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow"" (Psalm 51:7). He had full confidence that God would cleanse his heart. And God did.
So what about us? We all make mistakes and mess up. But we have the same promises David claimed: If I admit my sins in repentance, God will forgive (1 John 1:9). Then I can have the assurance that God has made me pure.
Father, I thank you that the cross means we no longer have to hide our sin. The cross welcomes both honest confession and the assurance of complete forgiveness in your name. Father, our Christianity will be imperfect. But help us to be simultaneously biblical and humble, with both high standards and honest confession before you. Father, for you are worthy! You forgave all my sins past, present, and future by the death of your Son! Thank you, Lord! I pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. Satan's desire is to destroy those that love Jesus."
He daily stands before the Father in heaven pointing his fingers of accusation against Christian after Christian, trying to prove that he has legal right to their immortal soul. Not only this, but he knows how to upset you. He knows what strings to pull to get your anger to rise. He knows what button to push to get you to deny your faith in Jesus under the pressure of friends and family. He knows how to trigger your impatience. He knows how to "get under your skin" and get you frustrated.
Is Satan sifting you? Remember this: The Lord desires to use this time of sifting to mold you into Christ-likeness just as he did with Peter. However, He uses trials and all sorts of circumstances accomplish this feat. Yet He is in control at all times and will give you the grace to sustain the attacks of Satan. Your job is to place your complete trust in Him and know that Jesus Himself has "pleaded in prayer for you" so that "your faith should not fail" (Luke 22:32).
Father, as Peter was sifted by your hand in your providence and plan, I, too, am going through something similar. Thank you that you prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail and you still do this that for me today. Thank you that your Son intercedes and mediates for us in the midst of all of our trials. And thank you, Father, that these trials are making me more like you and preparing me for heaven. Thank you for your grace, strength, and Spirit to guide me today. I pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Philemon 18 "If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me."
Though Onesimus most certainly deserved to be punished by the law for his action, Paul referred to him as a ""child"" (v. 10) and as a ""dear brother"" (v. 16). He even went so far as to offer to pay for any money stolen or trouble caused by Onesimus.
Jesus endured the pain of the cross on our behalf. Despite our rebellion of sin against Him, He willingly offered His life up for a ransom for many. We certainly do not deserve such a gift. Yet, when following in our Savior's footsteps and modeling Paul's attitude toward Philemon, we must learn to trust the Lord to mend broken relationships.
Ask Him today who you can approach to forgive or ask forgiveness from as part of a past sin or hurt.
Father, thank you that in grace, Jesus came as our substitute to do for us what we could not do for ourselves—all for our forgiveness and transformation. Yes, we still struggle with sin, but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus guarantees that our forgiveness is complete. Thank you, Lord! Forgive me of my sins this day. Search me, try me, and consume all of my darkness. We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Oh, God, praise your name forever! In Jesus’ name I praise and pray this. Amen.
Genesis 31:5 "But the God of my father has been with me."
Jacob has been working for his uncle Laban and discovers that his uncle is a selfish and deceitful man. Laban is not concerned about the welfare of Jacob. He is only concerned about himself. Laban feels no obligation to Jacob and no sensitivity to Jacob’s role as the head of a family of twelve. For 14 years, Jacob’s service was a payment for the wives he married. With his contract now fulfilled Jacob beings to pack up his family and possessions to move on to his own land.
Jacob revealed that he was a man of integrity and character. Even in unfair, difficult, and trying times, he faithfully kept his word. He did his best in whatever he had to do (Colossians 3:23) and God was pleased.
The Bible is clear that a measure of a person’s faith is not how they behave in church or at Christian events. Rather, it is how one handles the tough, painful, and unfair times of life. It is shown in who we are when no one is looking. It is seen in how we handle the routine duties and chores of life. Jacob was not perfect, but he was growing. He was becoming a person of character in the image of God. May the world say the same about us this week to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ unto His glory (2 Peter 3:18).
Father, I realize that you began a good work in me the day I was justified in your sight by believing the Gospel. I am not where I should be with you, but you are not done with me yet. I don’t pray this in some sort of TV preacher way, Lord. But that your Spirit would transform me to be more like Christ and would allow me to see the greater glory you are working in me for your kingdom. I look forward to the day when we are face to face and to behold your glory! Thank you, Lord, for sanctifying me to be like Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
2 Timothy 1:3 "I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers."
In the Paul's second letter to his faithful disciple Timothy, he told the young pastor that he was praying for him night and day (1:3). Timothy was facing some big challenges in carrying out the tasks the Lord had set before Him, so it must have been encouraging to know that Paul was praying specifically for him.
Do you know someone who needs Jesus Christ as their Savior? Do you know someone who is facing a challenge like Timothy? Are you willing to spend some concentrated time praying for them? Are you confident that God will answer?
""Who's praying?"" you ask. We all should be. Start right away. When we want to influence others for God, we must intercede with God for others."
Father, I pray that when I die, all of hell will rejoice that I am no longer in the fight. I pray that my life will bear much fruit for you, Lord. God, I pray light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for you. Consume my life my God for it is yours. Father, as I'm given opportunity, I pray that my responses offer more grace than accusation. Thank you for hearing my prayer today. In Jesus name – amen.
Colossians 1:15 "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation."
While at work this week, I have come to the realization that the major reason for my inability to find this expression applicable in my daily life is my failure to consider the fullness of who Jesus Christ really is in His deity. You see, if I am not careful, my mental picture of is of One who 2,000 years ago went around ancient Israel doing good works and teaching important lessons about life, faith, and salvation. However, that image limits Jesus to a mere historical figure I try to imitate from a distance. That’s why the apostle Paul shows us that Jesus is so much more than that:
-He is the sustainer (Colossians 1:15).
-He is the creator and He is ever-present (1:16).
-He is everlasting (1:17).
-He is the giver of life and first in everything (1:18).
-He is the sin sacrifice for the world's sin (1:20-22).
What does living a Christ-centered life mean? Essentially, to be Christ-centered means that we have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross so that we can be right with God the Father and have eternal life. What's more, it also means we understand that our physical life here on earth depends on Jesus and that every word we say and every thought we think must be guided by the truth of His Word. Ultimately, we must believe the Jesus is in control of all things and is the supreme creator.
We need to understand that the living Christ is our whole life on earth—He is our creator, sustainer, mediator, authority, guide, and life’s most essential truth. We literally would not exist without Him. When we see Jesus as He really is, we begin to develop more trust and faith as we live out His will in the world.
Father, thank you for reminding me today that a God-centered God like you created a God-centered cosmos that saved us by a God-centered cross. I praise you that the gospel is God-centered, but also personal to us. You are not some far off God who doesn't care. You are Immanuel - God with us! Thank you for watching over us! Help me to live the cross-centered life--one that is opposite of the world but exactly what you would have me do. You are my Sustainer and Redeemer. Thank you, Jesus, for saving a wretch like me--all by grace and the completed work! In your name - Jesus' name, amen.
Acts 4:21 "After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened."
The apostle Peter was in some tough situations on a number of occasions that caused him to verbally freeze. You likely will remember what happened when Jesus was arrested and taken away to trial. Peter was watching from a distance, and when someone asked if he was one of the disciples, he denied it--three times (John 18:15-27)! Peter caved in under the pressure of the moment.
Yet, Peter quickly became a bold witness in the days after Jesus was crucified and had been resurrected. In Acts 4, for example, we read how he stood up to the zealous Jewish leaders who demanded that he quit telling people about Jesus Christ or face punishment. In one of his most shining moments, Peter told them, ""Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard"" (4:19-20).
You may find yourself in a tough, sticky situation today where it may seem impossible to say the right words. You might just have a verbal freeze. But like Peter, depend on the Holy Spirit and make it your prayer to please the Lord above all else (Colossians 3:17). To speak and live effectively for Christ, you must depend on the Holy Spirit to carry you through. After all, His opinion is the only one that matters in this life.
Father, I pray that the meditation of my heart and the thoughts of my mind would bring praise to you today. I realize that you taught that I will give an account on the Day of Judgment for every loose word I speak. Father God, Almighty maker of heaven and earth, there is no greater word spoken than that which is in your Word, the Bible. I am humbled to even think that you would speak to us through your Word. Let your Word fill my heart and my conversation. May what I read today—even more than this one verse—be glorifying in your site. And, Father, if it means I suffer for your name, I consider it all joy to be considered worthy as Peter and John did to suffer for your name and kingdom and plan. I pray this all in the name of Jesus. Amen.