Apr

23

2014

Scotty Smith|3:47 am CT

A Prayer for Investing the Rest of Our Days Wisely

     O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, And my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Ps. 39:4-7

Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture is a freeing wake up call to me. Though I have no desire to know the exact day or means by which you will take me home, I want to live more intentionally with that day in view.

Because the gospel is true, I have no fear of dying, for to be absent from my body will mean that I am immediately present with you. The sting of my death has been removed and the grave has been robbed of its victory. I can honestly say with Paul that it is better by far to depart and be with the Lord (Phil. 1:23).

But until that departure, how do you want me to invest the rest of my days? If you give me one more, ten more, twenty-five more years, I want the riches of your grace, and the gospel of your kingdom, to fill and define that brief span.

What do I need to make a bigger deal about, and a lesser deal of? What things do I simply need to let go of? Who should I be spending more time with or, quite honestly, less time with? All of history is bound up with your commitment to redeem your people through the gospel and to make all things new through Jesus. How do you want me to engage with both of those stories, “down the stretch”?

Indeed, give me greater love for people who don’t know Jesus, Father. I spend way too much time just with other Christians. And help me live more intentionally as an agent of redemption and restoration in my community and neighborhood. Thank you for rescuing me from such a tiny pointless story called “personal fulfillment”. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ magnificent and merciful name.

 
 

Apr

22

2014

Scotty Smith|4:14 am CT

A Prayer in Praise of God’s Irrepressible Goodness

     May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus. Rom. 15:5

     May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hopeRom. 15:13

     May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Rom. 15:33

Dear heavenly Father, your Word never ceases to astonish, nourish, and cause my heart to flourish. Today I’m reveling in the fact that you delight to be known, and I’m rejoicing in who you reveal yourself to be. In this one chapter alone (Romans 15,) out of nearly 1,200 in the Bible, you come to us this very day as…

     The God of endurance and encouragement: Father, you know how much I need both of these grace gifts. It’s been a busy stretch, of late—fruitful, but busy. Grant me fresh wisdom for living at the pace of grace. Once again, teach me the difference between living a driven life, and a called life. Grant me endurance to do exactly what you’ve called me to do, and encouragement to cut from my schedule the things that, may be good, but aren’t essential. Though sacrificial living and serving are always the way of the gospel, ignoring Sabbath rest, not taking care of ourselves, and living faster than we can love aren’t.

     The God of hope: Father, ours is an increasingly complex world—one that feels more uncertain and fragile than ever. I need a fresh and compelling vision of your finished story—one that will remind me that our labors in the Lord are never in vain. Quicken my senses with the sounds of the new heaven and new earth, the smells of that garden city, the beauty of what it’s going to be like when Jesus finishes making all things new. Indeed, Father, I want to overflow with hope, not just be a slow drip.

     The God of peace: Father, you are the consummate peacemaker—reconciling enemies and restoring broken things. I presently have peace with you, only because you’ve made your peace with us through the finished work of Jesus. May this profound and transforming assurance free me to live today as a conduit of your peace-making love and healing presence. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ matchless and merciful name.

 
 

Apr

21

2014

Scotty Smith|3:53 am CT

A Prayer for We Slow-of-Heart Types

     And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

     Dear Lord Jesus, of all your post-resurrection appearances (1 Cor. 15:3-7), my favorite is the visit you paid disheartened friends on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Your meeting with a shattered and shamed Peter was incredibly kind and healing. Your appearance to the apostle Paul, who in his own words was a man unworthy of even being called an apostle, marked him forever. All of us have enjoyed the fruit of that visitation, through Paul’s life and writings.

But I love how you came alongside of the Emmaus men, for I am so much like them. I’m often a foolish slow-of-heart man, who needs the gospel today as much as the first day I believed it. How I praise you for your tender forbearance, unlimited patience, and grace-full persistence.

As you dealt with my brothers, so deal with me. Continue to reveal yourself as the main character and hero in all the Scriptures. Don’t let me read the writings of Moses without thinking about you, Jesus—especially the law. May Moses’s words always drive me to the riches of your grace; for you have fulfilled the demands of the law for us, and are now fulfilling the beauty of the law in us.

And continue to show me how you are fulfilling everything the prophets have spoken—not just the things concerning your sufferings on the cross and your resurrection from the dead, but also all the promises of your present work, as Redeemer and Restorer. Your cry from the cross, “It is finished,” is the foundation and guarantee of your ongoing work in our world.

Lastly, Lord Jesus, grant me “redemptive heartburn,” like that which you ignited in the hearts of our Emmaus brothers. Continue to open the Scriptures to me, Jesus, until the Day you return to finish making all things new. So very Amen I pray, in your holy and transforming name.

 
 

Apr

20

2014

Scotty Smith|3:35 am CT

A Prayer of Boundless Hope on Easter Sunday

     But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:20-26

Exalted and resurrected Jesus, we offer a threefold “Indeed!” to the Apostle Paul’s bold declaration, and we shout a threefold “Hallelujah!” early this hope-filled morning. For you have been raised from the dead, with healing in your wings and redemptive implications for everything.

Because you have been raised from the dead, preaching the gospel isn’t useless; it’s essential. Faith in you isn’t futile, but fertile. We’re no longer encased in our sins; we’re fully wrapped in your righteousness. Those who’ve “gone to sleep” in you, aren’t slumbering in the void; they’re rejoicing in your presence.

Because you have been raised from the dead, we’re less to be pitied than anybody, and more to be grateful than everybody (1 Cor. 15:14-19). Your resurrection changes everything. You are the firstfruits and guarantee of a whole new order—the “new creation” dominion of redemption and restoration. Everything sad will come untrue, and all things broken will be made new.

Because you have been raised from the dead, you are already reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. All evil dominions, wicked authorities, and malevolent powers now stand defeated, and one Day they will be fully eradicated.

Jesus, your death is the death of death, and your resurrection is the resurrection of all things. You died for our sins and have been raised for our justification. Oh, the wonder, marvel and gratitude that fills our hearts today. We are forgiven, we are beloved, and we are yours!

In light of this great hope, compelling love, and measureless grace, free us for spending the rest of our days living and loving to your glory. So very Amen we pray, in your resurrected and reigning name.

 

 
 

Apr

19

2014

Scotty Smith|4:50 am CT

A Prayer for Silent Saturday

     The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”  Matt. 27:62-64

Dear Lord Jesus, as Good Friday gave way to silent Saturday, the range of emotions following your crucifixion was as broad as the Grand Canyon. I can only imagine the degree of shock, and the depth of sadness, which filled the hearts of your disciples, family, and friends. And yet, there were also many filled with glee and relief, that you, “the deceiver,” could no longer threaten their existence.

As the sun rose on Saturday, no one could have possibly understood that the most undeserved death imaginable would yield the greatest return calculable. As you were nailed to the cross, the written code—God’s law, with all its regulations and requirements, was taken away from us—losing all its condemning power over us. As you drew your last breath, you were actually disarming the powers of darkness and triumphing over all authorities marshaled against the reign of God (Col. 2:14-15).

No one yet grasped that your mortal punishment would bring our eternal peace, that your fatal wounding would secure our everlasting healing, and that your being crushed would lead to our being cherished by the thrice-holy God (Isa. 53). Though they had the Scriptures, they had no clue.

And yet the chief priests and the Pharisees did remember your promise of resurrection. They weren’t sad about your death; they were mad with fear about the possibility of your life. Having already plotted to put to death a resurrected Lazarus, they weren’t about to indulge a resurrected Jesus.

Oh foolish, silly, sinful men—they could sooner hold back the rising of the sun than the rising of the Son of Man, the Son of God, God the Son! Resurrection Sunday was coming, and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. The silence of Saturday would soon be shattered with the shouts of Sunday: “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Jesus, continue to astonish and nourish our hearts with the whole Easter story and the full glory of who you are and everything you have done. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and loving name.

 

 
 

Apr

18

2014

Scotty Smith|4:58 am CT

A Prayer for Good Friday

     And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the day in Holy Week we call “Good Friday.” I’ve always felt conflicted about calling the day of your crucifixion “good.” That there had to be a day when you—the God who made us for yourself, would be made sin for us, is not good at all. But on the other hand, that you would freely and fully give yourself for us on the cross, is never-to-be surpassed goodness—quintessential goodness.

Oh, the wonder of it all. From the cross, and from your heart, came these two cries. “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34) and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). The first required the second. The second secured the first. Together, they humble our hearts and fuel our worship.

And then, there’s the third cry. “It is finished.” Nothing is left undone, concerning our salvation. Once and for all—perfectly and fully, we have been reconciled to God. You became sin for us, than in you, we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Hallelujah, many times over.

Lord Jesus, how can we even begin to express the gratitude, love, and praise we feel in response to what you’ve done for us on the cross? Every response we offer is woefully insufficient to the magnificence of your mercy and the measure of your grace lavished on us in the gospel.

So like everything else we offer you, Jesus, take our humble praise and purify it, magnify it, and cause it to be a sweet aroma in your heart. No one could have ever taken your life from you, and we would have never found life on our own.

Because you were fully forsaken, we are forever forgiven. Because you exhausted God’s judgment against our foul sin, we now live by the gift of your perfect righteousness. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! So very Amen we pray, in your all-glorious, all-grace-full name.

 

 
 

Apr

17

2014

Scotty Smith|4:25 am CT

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday

     Now before Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (John 13:1) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

     Dear Lord Jesus, as I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, my heart is stunned, silenced and left in awe. What but the gift of faith can enable us to grasp the wonder of these words and the magnificence of this moment? What but the power of the gospel can free us, to believe and obey them? Grant us both, I pray, grant me both.

     On our Holy Week calendar we call today Maundy, or “Mandate” Thursday. It’s a day in the history of redemption brimming over with glory and grace. Passover will soon become the Lord’s Supper—your supper. The promises of the Old Covenant are about to be fulfilled by the blood of the New Covenant—your life given as a ransom for us on the cross.

     Having shared eternal glory with the Father, you now show measureless grace to your disciples. Having loved this ragtag bunch of broken men—who vied for positions of honor a few hours earlier (Mk. 10:35-45), and who would all scatter and deny you later that same evening—having loved them so well, you now show them the full extent of your love.

     Your disrobing to wash their feet was with a full view to your being stripped naked to wash their hearts, and our hearts. What wondrous love is this indeed! How wide, long, high, and deep! (Eph. 3:14-19)

      “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). This is the new and never-ending mandate you’ve given us as your disciples. The most obvious expression of our “getting” the gospel is our loving others as you have loved, and do love, us. Jesus, fill my heart with an even greater knowledge of your love, that I may love others, more spontaneously, sacrificially, and joyfully. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and tender name.

 
 

Apr

16

2014

Scotty Smith|5:03 am CT

A Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week

     While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ?” Matt. 22:41-42

     Dear Lord Jesus, on this Wednesday of Holy Week, we praise and bless you for the privilege of knowing you, loving you and serving you. And the question you directed to Pharisees, just before your death and resurrection, you still put before us: “What do you think about the Christ?” There’s no more important question for us to wrestle with, in any season of life.

     Jesus, continue to free us from all wrong notions we have about you—those generated in our fallen hearts; the ones that come to us from Satan—the father of lies; others which reveal the wrong and incomplete teaching we’ve received through the years.

     But what do I think about you today, Lord Jesus? What do I believe in my heart? You are everlasting God, and I am a mere man. I would despair if you were anything less, and I am weary of trying to be more. You are the Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all things. You don’t just care about my soul; you care about everything you have made.

     You are the Second Adam—our substitute in life and in death. You lived a life of perfect obedience for us, and you exhausted God’s judgment that stood against us. By you, we’ve been completely forgiven, and in you, we’ve been declared perfectly righteousness. You are our impassioned Bridegroom, and we are your beloved Bride. You are the reigning and returning King—committed to making all things new. Lord Jesus, you are all this and so much more. Eternity will be an endless revelation of your glory and grace.

     But during this Holy Week, what stuns me the most, as I think about you, it is realize that you are always thinking about us. We are in your heart and on your mind all the time. You’re always praying and advocating for us before the Father. You know us the best, and yet love us the most. How peace-giving joy-fueling! With fresh gratitude and awe, we worship you. So very Amen, we make our prayer, in your holy and grace-full name.

 

 
 

Apr

15

2014

Scotty Smith|4:27 am CT

A Prayer for Tuesday of Holy Week

     As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42

    Dear Jesus, everything about Holy Week reveals the depth of your compassion for sinful, broken people, like me. The tears you wept coming into Jerusalem, and even the passion you showed driving the moneychangers from the temple—every encounter, parable, and action gives staggering clarity to Paul’s words,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).

Paul was writing about me. I’m one of the powerless, ungodly sinners for whom you died—demonstrating God’s incomparable, irrepressible love for the ill deserving. I wasn’t an impassioned seeker; I was God’s enemy when I received the gift of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10). I have peace with God only because God made his peace with me, through you.

I would still be blind to what alone brings us peace, if you hadn’t opened my eyes to see my need and your provision. The gospel would still remain hidden from my eyes unless you had given me sight to behold you as the Lamb of God, who took away my sin. I have no claim to salvation… no boast, no hope, no assurance of sins forgiven and righteousness received, apart from sovereign grace.

How I long for the Day when I will no longer even be tempted to look for peace anywhere else, but in you, Lord Jesus. I yearn for the Day when we will see you as you are and we will be made like you (1 John 3:1-3).

This is my great hope—until that Day, keep healing the eyes of my heart of all spiritual myopia, astigmatism, or anything else that keeps me from seeing the magnificence of your glory and the full measure of your grace. So very Amen I pray, in your tenacious and tender name.

 
 

Apr

14

2014

Scotty Smith|4:08 am CT

A Prayer for Monday of “Passion Week”

     ”Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:27-32

    Dear Lord Jesus, I’m greatly moved as I consider on how profoundly troubled you were as the events of “Passion Week” began to unfold. There was no doubt in your mind why you came into Jerusalem riding the foal of a donkey—great conflict, but zero doubt.

There wouldn’t be any surprises, for you knew what was coming—a plan secured before the world began (Eph. 1:3-14). In a matter of days, you’d take the wrath of Judgment Day for all who will trust in you. At the end of the week, your “bruised heel” (Gen. 3:15) would secure the ultimate crushing and “casting out” of the “ruler of this world”—Satan himself (Jn. 12:30).

     At the end of the week, you’d pay the supreme price for the redemption of God’s covenant people—a beloved family from every nation, tribe, people, and language—a number as great as the stars in the sky, the sand of the beaches, and the dust of the earth.

For this very reason you came from eternity, into time and space. For this very reason you emptied yourself of your glory by taking the form of a servant-man—the Lord’s Servant. For this very reason you became obedient—even obedient to death on the cross. Understandably so, your heart was greatly troubled, Lord Jesus (Phil. 2:5-11).

As the events of our week now unfold, grant us grace to survey the wonders of your cross, with greater attention and awe, humility and gratitude than ever. May our boasting in your cross grow exponentially, demonstratively, joyfully. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.