“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Eph. 4:26-27
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Eccl. 7:9
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20
You must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Col. 3:8
Dear Lord Jesus, these Scriptures are so convicting. Help me steward my anger. It’s always been a confusing, immobilizing, damaging emotion to me, because I’ve been on the destructive end of anger and rage. I remember the fear, the confusion, the shame, and the ambivalence I felt when I was the target of this important, but lethal emotion. I don’t wish such a crushing of the spirit on anyone.
But I’m just as quick to own the ways my anger has also harmed people I love. Though I don’t get loud and large, I can my passive aggressive anger has never resulted in anything good, anything I’m proud of. I praise you for your kindness, mercy and grace for me, Lord Jesus.
As I meditate on these Scriptures, I realize you’re not telling me never to be angry, but to be careful not to sin in my anger. Jesus, help me be angry at the right …
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col. 3:15
Dear Lord Jesus, today, like every day, somebody or something is going to gain the upper hand on the attention and affection of our hearts. Our hearts will be ruled—informed and impacted, convicted and compelled.
Some entity will be the “boss of me.” It could be my bitterness, pettiness, or cowardice. It could be the shaming power of darkness. It could be overbearing or aggravating people. It could be my greed to have a little more. It could be religion or my hatred of religion. It could be old regrets or new fantasies. There’s simply no such thing as a dormant, inert, disaffected heart.
But in glad obedience to this Scripture, right now, I choose your peace as the ruler of my heart—as the “boss of me”—as the centering hope and the dominant power in my day.
And as the Prince of Peace, knows peace better than you, Lord Jesus—no one has more and can give more. On the cross you secured God’s peace with us, and our peace with God. The enmity and hostility between us have been obliterated and eradicated. Peace with God is now a legal right of mine—a done deal, a settled issue. How can I not overflow with gratitude as this day begins and as it continues?
Jesus, please make this legal right a personal delight—an actual power mightily at work in my heart …
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:21).
Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15).
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Gal. 5:6).
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, ”you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
A new command I give you, love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34).
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Phil. 3:8).
Dear heavenly Father, these Scriptures are convicting, timely, and freeing. They are a collage of gospel sanity and a tapestry of heart freedom. I need all of them; for the older I get, the more I see how our culture (and the idol factory of my heart) celebrates busyness, much-ness and many-ness as core values. Yet you have placed the greatest value on loving well, not having or being enough.
If (when) I throw my heart into cruise control, I live much more of a driven life than a called like—a life more preoccupied with paying for life than being present in relationships; more involved with managing chaos than enjoying beauty; more distracted about the next I have to do, than engaged with the person with who I sit; more taken up with serving Jesus than savoring Jesus. Have mercy on me, Lord, have mercy.
May the gospel continue to change the price tags …
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?“ Dan. 4:34-35
Dear Lord Jesus… Oh, how I love this story, for several reasons. I’m always needing to be reminded of which kingdom, and which King, is actually in control of all things.
Suicide bombings and non-stop bombast; covert attempts to develop nuclear weapons and overt rhetoric of global domination; environmental concerns and economic instability; health-care craziness and spy-gate madness—these things add up to a grand recipe for super-sizing fear and misinterpreting the Bible.
But I now know better than to allow the political pundits and prophecy pirates to interpret world history for me. You are God, and there is no other god. You’ve spoken in your Word, and you haven’t stuttered.
You have no rivals, contingencies, or concerns. There’s no sweat on your palms, vacancy in your eyes, or vexation in your heart. You set up kings and you sit them down at your discretion. You live forever, your dominion is eternal, your kingdom endures, and you do as you please . . . period!
Even as you brought King Nebuchadnezzar …
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Gal. 5:1
Dear Lord Jesus, as I meditate on these encouraging passages, I realize I’m not nearly as free as you intend me to be. Though you’ve already freed from every notion that I can gain a relationship with God by being good and doing right; and though you’ve already liberated me from the illusion that I can earn more of God’s love by ramping up my obedience and decreasing my foolishness; and though the chains of condemnation have already been broken in my life and the fears of death, Judgment Day, and the future have been sent packing—nevertheless, I’m still in need of your liberating grace.
Indeed, I’m still a babe, a neophyte, and a raw rookie in so many gospel freedoms. It’s your kindness that shows me these things, and your love that gives me great hope as I offer these prayers.
Lord Jesus, please free me so I can be less irritated, and less often, with fewer people. Turn my hair-trigger reactions into slower, wiser, caring responses. Help me to use fewer words and more listening, when engaging others. Unshackle me from the illusion of control and my commitment to a pain-free heart.
Lord Jesus, please liberate me from thinking about the next thing, so I can be present in the current moment. Enable me to make …
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Ps. 37:7-9
Faithful Father, you send your Word with Swiss timing, uncanny precision and eternal encouragement. Whenever I get busy working myself into a bit of vexation or agitation, you’re patiently present, preparing to settle and center me.
Whenever I’m feeling vulnerable or angry, you come to me in the Scriptures—bringing me back to gospel-sanity, time and time again. When I get anxious or antsy, you’ve already spoken about the matter in multiple places in the Bible. I praise you for the counsel and consolation of your Word.
Today, Father, I’m worked up over the apparent success of those who bring harm to others, and even get rewarded for their madness. Whether it’s the ongoing reach of terrorism, the evil exploits of trafficking; the gazillion-dollar-machine of pornography; the political posturing the last few weeks in Washington, or any of many other broken storylines in the world. How long, O Lord, before you send Jesus back to put all things right?
Your answer to me today in this Scripture is just what I need. You won’t give me a date, but as always, you do give me yourself. I hear you loud and clear, Father. You’re speaking stillness and fretless waiting to my …
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col. 3:15
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s not a formula, but I can surely see how the depth of my gratitude is largely determined by the extent to which your peace is ruling in my heart. So as this day begins, and continues, I surrender to the dominion of your peace—the governance of your grace, the might of your mercy, the sanity-making freedom of your all-encompassing sovereignty.
The increase of your government and peace will know no end, in the entire cosmos, and in my little heart as well. Hallelujah, many, many times over. I am my least grateful when I lose sight of who you are, and who I am, in your heart and kingdom. It’s patently true: When I forget the gospel is when I get my grumpiest, most distractible and anxious.
Indeed, Jesus, I am my freest, most joyful and most peaceful, when I remember that you are the Lord, and I am not—though I foolishly grasp for autonomy and authorship of my story, at times. You never sleep nor slumber, and your timing is always perfect—even though I whine and vex, before coming to realize that good news, yet again.
You never get anxious or second-guess anything; you never react to anything, because you’re never surprised by anything. You do all things well, even (maybe, especially) when you don’t do things the way I want you to. Birds eat, flowers get dressed, and stars …
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Ps. 62:5-8
Gracious Father, nothing compares with being certain of your love for me. The peace and freedom that come from knowing we don’t have to pose, pretend or perform, with you about anything is incomparable, and cannot be found anywhere else. The gospel put an end to my old “he loves me; he loves me not; he loves me; he loves me not” spirituality.
Today, in particular, I’m thankful for the unfettered freedom to pour out my heart to you. Because of your grace, I don’t have to measure my feeling and words with you. You don’t judge my prayers. You purify them by the Spirit, as they wing their way to heaven. How I praise you for such a standing in grace!
So here’s what’s going on inside of me today. I feel a restlessness that I cannot really attach to any one thing. There’s a floating disquiet, a nibbling anxiousness, a low rumble of dis-ease that’s just hanging there. It could easily morph into something much bigger if I’m not connected to you in a fresh and vital way.
So today, I echo …
Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Jn. 14:27
For he himself (Jesus) is our peace. Eph. 2:14
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the day on our calendars that earned its own dark branding, “9/11.” Other days, in history, stand out as graphic reminders of the pervasive brokenness of the world; but in my lifetime, no day underscores that reality more clearly than September 11, 2001.
I’ll never forget how it felt watching the twin towers of theWorldTradeCentercrumble to the earth. It was chilling, frightful, and surreal. But as I remember that day of terror and trauma, I choose, even more so, to remember you, and to fix my gaze on you, Lord Jesus.
You are the Prince of Peace—the archetypal, quintessential, irrepressible Peacemaker. You’re the one who’s come to make all things new and put all things right; to restore broken things and broken people; to bring new creation delight from old creation decay; to lift the curse on creation and pour out your love into our hearts.
Your death on the cross, to use the image in the James passage, was the ultimate “sowing of peace”. As you died, taking the judgment we deserve, you were planted as the very seed which has secured an eternal harvest of righteousness. Your death was the death of death itself; and …
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
Dear heavenly Father, we know you never command anything without resourcing our obedience through the riches of the gospel. For you don’t delight in our frustration; find pleasure in our shame; or intend our despair. So the command not to be anxious, about anything, comes to our anxious hearts, not as an indictment, but as an invitation. By your grace, help us cast our cares, bring our burdens, and flee our anxieties.
About what are we anxious? Good concerns and vain quests. Father, it’s easy to be anxious about our children. More than anything else, we want them to rest in your love, know your delight and seek first your kingdom. We know you love our children more than we do, (at least that’s our theology); so forgive our penchant for playing Holy Spirit in their lives—acting as though you don’t care, aren’t involved, or that your hands are tied. Help us love our kids, as unto you, period.
Father, we confess our anxieties about international turmoil and American politics. Emotionally, we often live as though the throne of heaven is vacant, or at least on vacation—like Jesus only had the hearts of the kings in his hand during the Roman era. Spiritually, we got …