A Prayer about the New Year and the Gospel

I just got a book that was long on my Wish List from Amazon. I used a gift card and I am so happy to get it. I HIGHLY recommend it to all of you. It is Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith. I had found him on the web and have frequently included his biblically based devotional prayers on my site. His website and book are prized inspirations to me. They will be to  you, too. The day I post this I see the book is free on Amazon. If you read this post regularly and see it Dec 31, go quickly and get your copy.

Tullian Tchividjian in his introduction says:

Through these daily prayers, Scotty teaches frail, fallen, needy people like me how to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. These are prayers filled with heart and hope. They possess a rare combination of gravity and gladness, depth and delight, doctrine and devotion, precept and passion, truth and love. By God’s grace you will find yourself (as I did) weeping over your sin, celebrating your forgiveness, and exalting in God’s grace. These prayers are intended to make you feel your desperation, cry out for deliverance, and celebrate your pardon.

Scotty writes:

Though the gospel is personal, it is not private. God’s grace frees us to be quite specific with things going on in our lives, but it also compels us into deeper community with others. This individual and corporate prayer rhythm is most clearly seen in the book of Psalms. Praying the gospel involves engaging with all three offices of Christ: Jesus as prophet, priest, and king. Engaging him as our prophet, we listen to Jesus and we look for him in every part of the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Engaging him as our priest, we honor Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the righteousness we have by faith, and our loving Savior and High Priest who meets and greets us at the throne of his grace. Engaging him as our king, we submit to Jesus as the one who is making all things new—including us and the broken world all around us. Praying the gospel involves “redemptive redundancies.” I intentionally always come back to who we are in Christ and who he is in us. Like Luther said, we need the basics of the gospel every day because we forget the gospel every day.

~ Smith, Scotty, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith 

A Prayer about the New Year and the Gospel

by Scotty Smith in his book Everyday Prayers.

Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And ff it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the L4Drd. (Josh. 24:14‑15)

Gracious Father, as I sit here sipping fresh coffee and watching flames dance in the fireplace, it’s early into the first day of a new year. Tons of confetti cover the streets of Manhattan, and gratitude fills my heart.

I’m thankful I’m beginning this year with a little better understanding of the gospel than I had last year and the previous years. I’m already praying that I’ll be able to say the same thing this time next year. For the gospel is not just good news for people getting ready to die — it’s good news for people who are now ready to live.

In the gospel you lavish us with your love, liberate us by your grace, and launch us into your transforming story of redemption. What more could we possibly want or hope for, in life or in death?

Because the gospel is true, I don’t respond to Joshua’s bold charge with a list of New Year’s resolutions — promises of what I’m going to do for you. Rather, I begin this year resolving to abandon myself to everything Jesus has done for us. Jesus is the promise keeper, not us. He’s the one who has promised to make all things new, including me.

Father, that’s why serving you is much more than merely “desirable”; it’s the greatest privilege conceivable and the purest delight imaginable. For Jesus is our Joshua—the one who has saved us, is saving us, and one day will completely save us. Without any embarrassment or fear of cliché, I gladly affirm: Jesus saves! What other savior died for us that we might find life in him? What other god sacrificially serves us that we might gratefully serve him?

Because of the gospel, throwing away my idols feels less like a painful sacrifice and more like a liberating dance. For all my “empty nothings” have ever given me is momentary pleasure and lasting regrets. Remind me of this all year long when I’m tempted to think otherwise.

Father, may this be a year of considering our lives worth nothing to us, if only we may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us — the task of testifying (by word and deed) to the gospel of your grace (ActS 20:24). In Jesus’ loving name we pray, with great anticipation and much thanksgiving. Amen.

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A Prayer about “Blessing” God

by Scotty Smith from his book Everyday Prayers

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without faultand with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1 ‑25

Heavenly Father, while many clamor about and try to “claim” more blessings from you, may this be a year in which we come alive to the multiplied blessings you’ve already lavished upon us in the gospel Already you have mscued us from the dominion of darkness and have placed us in the kingdom of your beloved Son, Jesus (Col. 1: 13). Already you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1: 3). Already we are completely loved by you because of Jesus’ completed work on our behalf. As the year progresses, open the eyes of our hearts to see all these glorious riches more clearly and enjoy them more fully (Eph. 1:18‑19).

All year long you’ll prove your covenant and capacity to keep us from falling. Though we may falter in the journey, the grasp of your grace is steady and secure When we waver in our adoration of you, you will remain constant in your affection for us. When we are faithless and disobedient, you will remain committed and fully engaged with us. Even when you must discipline us this year, it will be in love, never in disgust or regret that you have adopted us (Heb. 12:7‑12). We praise you for being the perfect Father to your daughters and sons.

All year long youm be at work preparing us for the day when we come into your glorious presence. We’re confident and grateful as we face that day, because you have promised to complete the good work of the gospel you’ve begun in us (Phil. 1: 6). Indeed, Father, ff this should be the year in which you call me “home,” herein Hes my humble confidence: I will stand before you without fault because you’ve placed me in the faultless Righteous One, Jesus.

Our hope is built on nothing less, nothing more, and nothing other than Jesus’blood and his righteousness. Jesus is the only reason we can be sure we will stand before you with great joy. Your joy is our strength (Neh. 8:10). Because of your great delight in us, we find great delight in you. Because you rejoice over us with singing, we will sing the new song of the gospel forever (Zeph. 3:14‑17).

Gracious Father, you are the only God, the only Savior‑to you “be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!” (Jude 25 ). In Jesus’ merciful and matchless name we pray. Amen.

Moving forward

A good New Year’s video, courtesy of Vanja Bule’s Facebook

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MX7MI6hKLAU

Review: Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith

Review: Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith by Robert Spencer

December 29, 2012 by SLIMJIM from The Domain for Truth blog

spencer-islam-unveiled

This is no doubt a controversial book. The history of oppression by Islam and the author bringing up of Islamic terror from recent headlines is sobering. Maybe because it was all the negative reviews and attacks on the author might have influenced me, but this book was more balanced than I expected. Those who have spent some time studying Islam critically might find things covered elsewhere questioning whether Islam really is a religion of peace. I thought the author was nuanced enough in the work to make it clear this is not an attack on Muslims as it is a critique of Islam itself. Since much of Islamic apologetics has to attack Judism, Christianity and Catholicism, the author does have to compare these faiths with Islam and show their objection does not stand. Here is probably the weakness of the author, who is not really as strong in the Bible as he is with the Quran.

The author from what I understand is Catholic, though from the feel of the book his influence also include Western classical liberalism and a product of Modern Enlightment. As a result of his influence, the chapters in his book addresses the concern of Secular Western democracy such as whether Islam is compatiable with Liberal Democracy (chapter 5), whether it is compatible with Western pluralistic framework (chapter 6) and respect human rights (chapter 3), all three which the author answer in the negative.

Most fascinating for me was his chapter dealing with whether Science can florish under Islam, in which he dealt with the history of Islam’s golden period of scholars such as Avicenna (known best among Christians probably for the Kalam Cosmological Argument) were really those who sought learning and synthesizing knowledge from non-Muslims such as Classical Greek sources. However, eventually strong dogmatism with the Quran crushed scientific endeavors and brought about the end of the “Golden Age” of Islam. It makes me want to learn more about these Muslims scholars and their Muslim opponents.

The work also put historical perspective of the Crusades (which the author does not endorse) and also pointed out that if Muslims were to argue against the Crusades they also have to argue against Islamic Imperialism as well.

Perhaps the saddest part of the book is the chapter on Islam and woman, in which the charge of rape and honor killing was incredibly sad.

Has not God revealed himself unto them?

from a sermon by George Whitefield

How foolishly then do the disputing infidels of this generation act, who are continually either calling for signs from heaven, or seeking for outward evidence to prove the truth of divine revelation? Whereas, what they so earnestly seek for is nigh unto, nay, within them. For let them but consult their own hearts, they cannot but feel what they want. Let them but consult the lively oracles of God and they cannot but see a remedy revealed for all their wants and that the written word does as exactly answer the wants and desires of their hearts, as face answers to face in the water. Where then is the scribe, where is the wise, where is the solidity of the reasoning of the disputers of this world? Has not God revealed himself unto them, as plain as their own hearts could wish? And yet they require a sign. But there shall no other sign be given them. For if they believe not a revelation which is every way so suited to their wants, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead.

~ “The Duty of Searching the Scriptures,” The Sermons of George Whitefield (Kindle Edition)

A prayer by John Wycliffe

A prayer by John Wycliffe

Wycliffe died on December 31, 1384.

Lord, give me grace to hold righteousness in all things
that I may lead a clean and blessed life and prudently flee evil
and that I may understand the treacherous and deceitful falseness of the devil.

Make me mild, peaceable, courteous, and temperate.
And make me steadfast and strong.

Also, Lord, give Thou to me that I be quiet in words
and that I speak what is appropriate.

Amen.

The post A Prayer for Sunday (John Wycliffe) appeared first on Everyday Theology.

The Offense of Christ

A offensive blog by Kevin DeYoung to some of my readers, I suppose, but true nevertheless. From Already not Yet blog.

C. S. Lewis was right. Jesus cannot be just a good, moral teacher. He said so many audacious, outlandish things that he must either be a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Jesus was not just one of many pointers; he was the point. Not just a prophet, but the fulfilment of all prophesy. Not just a lord, but the Lord of lords. Not just a godly man, but the God-man.

Our world suggests that there are any number of saviours  and they are not all religious or “spiritual.” The world says, “Here’s what will give you purpose. Here’s what will give you meaning. Here’s what will help you feel like a better person. Here’s what will deal with the guilt you have in your life. Here’s what will give you satisfaction.” The list of saviours is ever expanding: technology, art, diets, sex, entertainment, education, morality, humanitarianism, sincerity, hard work, patriotism, politics. But according to God’s Word, they do not save.

This has always been the offence of Christianity: that we are guilty of sin; we are all in need of a Saviour; and the only Saviour who can truly save is Jesus Christ the Lord.

This was the message that is proclaimed over and over again in the early church. It didn’t matter if the Apostles were talking to Jews or Gentiles, servants or masters, ordinary people or religious people or the highest ranking official in the Romans Empire. The message was the same. Still is. Repent. Believe. Look to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin. Submit yourself to him. Open your heart to him. Trust in him. Look to him for the hope, the healing, the new life that only he can give.

The scandal of Christianity is that there is only one way. The good news is that despite all of our selfishness and all of our stubbornness and all of our sin, there is still a way.