A Prayer About Perpetually Coming to Jesus

by Scotty Smith

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:4-6

Heavenly Father, I used to think that “coming to Jesus” was a phrase whose meaning was exhausted when we first trust your Son to be our Savior. For sure, that is the most glorious and essential “come-to-Jesus-meeting” we’ll ever have. How I praise you for showing me how much I needed your Son and for giving me the faith to trust Jesus plus nothing for my salvation.

It’s obvious to me now, however, that the whole Christian life is about coming to Jesus. We need Jesus today as much as the first day he entered our lives. In fact, we’ll never exhaust our need for what Jesus alone can give. We’ll forever discover more and more reasons to give him the worship, adoration and praise of which he alone is worthy.

Indeed, Jesus, you are the life-giving living Stone for your beloved people… the precious cornerstone of the living temple, called the Body of Christ… the Rock of refuge that’s higher than I am (Psalm 61)… the Rock from which God gave water in the wilderness in Moses’ day (1 Cor. 10:1-4)… the Honey-ed Rock of whom Asaph spoke (Psalm 81:16)… Daniel’s stone, cut from a mountain by the hands of God, which will become an everlasting kingdom of redemption and restoration (Daniel 2:36-45).

Jesus, we exalt you… we delight in you… the more precious you become to us, the more we watch our shame melt away… the more we see you for you really are, the more we see all other precious currencies as “fool’s gold”… the more we come to you, the more we realize that it’s you who is always coming to us first.

Jesus, we come to you right now… we come bringing our emptiness to the fountain of your fullness… we bring our brokenness to the storehouse of your kindness… we bring our weakness in the great assurance of your endless mercies. We come to you right now… for enough gospel-manna to meet the demands of this one day. So very Amen, we pray, in your precious and shame-freeing name.

 

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I lay my sins on Jesus

by Horatius Bonar

I lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us from the accursèd load;
I bring my guilt to Jesus, to wash my crimson stains
White in His blood most precious, till not a stain remains.

I lay my wants on Jesus; all fullness dwells in Him;
He heals all my diseases, He doth my soul redeem:
I lay my griefs on Jesus, my burdens and my cares;
He from them all releases, He all my sorrows shares.

I rest my soul on Jesus, this weary soul of mine;
His right hand me embraces, I on His breast recline.
I love the Name of Jesus, Immanuel, Christ, the Lord;
Like fragrance on the breezes His Name abroad is poured.

I long to be like Jesus, strong, loving, lowly, mild;
I long to be like Jesus, the Father’s holy Child:
I long to be with Jesus, amid the heavenly throng,
To sing with saints His praises, to learn the angels’ song.

 

Our Father’s love letter

by Father’s Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications
©
1999-2010 http://www.FathersLoveLetter.com

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don’t know me.

John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.

Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.

1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.

1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32


Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

 

Should the church and state be one?

Thoughts on the church by Timothy G. Gombis

Evangelical culture, at least in the United States, is almost completely beholden to triumphalism—the notion that God is magnified through human power, prestige, political influence and outward success.

We love it when we see our leaders sitting with presidential candidates talking earnestly over policy and international relations. We do not recognize, however, that often we are being played: candidates are merely looking to gather support from a potentially huge pool of votes. If it takes mentioning God here and there and talking about family values, then candidates will do that while posing for pictures with the evangelical leader of the moment.

Is this too cynical? In my view, it may not be cynical enough! I would have thought that we had learned our lesson by now. Billy Graham realized decades ago that he was being used as a prop to earn favor with evangelicals and vowed not to be used in such a way again. It seems that every year or so we are embarrassed by another evangelical leader, ambitious to gain political powers, compromised in the process. The temptation is great to matter in a wider culture that seems out of control. But if we pay attention to how Paul plays his role in God’s triumph, we would not be hunting for political power or social prestige.

The Drama of Ephesians, p.119

His thoughts tend to add to my growing belief that the Reformation led by Luther and Zwingli and others was incomplete. They were too enamored and fearful of the state and collaborated with them, supported them, and used its power for their own use and safety. Can’t blame them too much, considering the times, but certainly in retrospect, one can see how much more biblical and wise were many of the Anabaptists who practiced separation of church and state.

The church is different, but in what sense?

Thoughts that correlate to some I have been having as I study some of the history of the Anabaptists and their thoughts on the church are these by Brian LePort in his Near Emaaus blog

Early in his book The Drama of Doctrine (pp. 3-4) theologian Kevin J. Vanhoozer writes these two challenging chapters:

Each new Christian generation must grapple with the question: What has the church to say and do that no other human institution can say and do? Nature and society alike abhor a vacuum, and there are many ideologies and agendas waiting to rush and fill the hearts and minds of the uncommitted. Bereft of sound doctrine, the church is blown about by cultural fads and intellectual trends. Indeed, this has largely been the story of the church, and of theology, in the modern world. There has been an atrophying of theological muscle as a result of too many correlations and accommodations to philosophical and cultural trends.

What the church uniquely has to say and do cannot be reduced to philosophy or politics. The church’s unique responsibility is to proclaim and to practice the gospel, to witness in its speech and life to the reality of God’s presence and action in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The theologian’s unique responsibility is to ensure that the church’s speech and action correspond to the word of God, the norm of Christian faith and practice. A number of contemporary theologians are not sure, however, whether to invoke the notion of authority or, if they do, where to locate it:  in the history of Jesus Christ, in the biblical text, or in the believing community.”

I am interested primarily in the opening sentences of both paragraphs. In these sentences we are asked, essentially, what makes the church the church and not something else. Then we are told the church has the unique responsibility of spreading and enacting the gospel.

Yet, as Vanhoozer notes, we are often not even sure of what that means or where our definition is to be found. We are not in agreement as to where to find an authoritative answer. I am wrestling with this even now.

What does it mean to stay faithful to God in Christ? What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? Where do we find these answers?

For a few years I have tried to dig behind dogma in order to find a more pure, more original Christianity. I was not successful. I am thankful for all those studying the historical Jesus and the historical Paul, but if we stop there it has become my conviction we will forget the active, living Spirit and the Scriptures and the unity of the faith. We cannot think that our nifty historical reconstructions are a sufficient foundation for living the gospel. We can’t do this without denying, in essence, that the Spirit has been active in the church for these last two millennia and we are not the first generation to “get it”.

This doesn’t mean the church finds shape in traditionalism, but maybe a little more tradition; we are not limited to Catholicism, but maybe catholicism. The church must find her grounding and wherever that grounding is to be found there must be the impetus for mission and gospel-centered living.

The church will never be more “intelligent” than the university; more gifted in music than the world; more creative than marketing companies; better at gaining crowds than professional sporting events, but we do have the gospel. That makes us different. Now I need to go think some more on this.

Do we really have a quest for godliness?

by J. I. Packer

When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.

Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour.

We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.

Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us.

But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God.

A Quest for Godliness, p. 215

 

Stained Glass Masquerade

A powerful blog by Alan Knox that probably hits us all.

Have you heard the Casting Crowns song “Stained Glass Masquerade”? Here are some of the lyrics:

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain

Arthur from “The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia” reminded me of this song with his post “Hiding behind our suits and smiles and status updates.” Arthur concludes his post with this:

The way we do church, gathering on schedule for an hour to “worship” leads to people hiding their hurting behind smiling faces and their Sunday best. We are rarely honest with each other because we spend so little time together. We need to get out of the pew and get into the lives and homes and families of other believers. We need to see what is going on behind the smiles because no one I have ever met really has it as together as they seem “in church”. Brothers sharing over a cup of coffee, mothers sharing during a playdate, families spending time with other families. That is fellowship and community. Almost anyone can fake it for an hour and look happy. Those who can’t won’t come because they feel out of place. We need to shed the artificial world of church and get the church out of the building so we can see one another at our worst, not just at our best.

Have you and the people you meet with been able to shed the artificial “stained glass” world that Arthur is writing about? If so, there are hurting people who need to know how you did it. And, there are people out there who have never experienced this kind of openness that need to hear your example.

How did you and those in your fellowship move past artificiality into the messy realm of reality?