Prayer Journal: Week 49

Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything. (D.L. Moody)

This Week’s Scripture

·         Genesis 45:1-15
·         Psalm 133
·         Romans 11
·         Matthew 15:10-28

Adoration

Romans 11:33, 36
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! …36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.Amen.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord (verse 1)
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will
while I am waiting, yielded and still.

(Adelaide A. Pollard)

Take time now to offer God your praise and worship.

Confession

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”. (Matthew 15:18-20)

Dear Jesus, give me the mind that was in you. Put in my heart that spirit of meekness and humility that you showed as you served the poor and the outcast and as you poured yourself out for others. Keep me this day from seeking the praise and affirmation of people; keep me from longing to be thought of as somebody in terms of wealth, fame, influence, and all the other empty toys of the world. Make it my whole and single desire to be somebody in your eyes. In Christ I pray.  Amen. (John Wesley)

As David did in Psalm 139, ask the Lord to search you and know you through and through. Confess the sins God brings to mind, knowing you are forgiven and that He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Thanksgiving

God of tender providence, I praise you for your faithful hand in my life. You sent Joseph ahead of his family to prepare a place for them in Egypt. It cost Joseph many years of pain, suffering, and loneliness, yet he recognized it was your hand guiding and protecting him through it all. He also saw how you were the great Orchestrator who never left him nor forsook him. Similarly, the Lord Jesus went through pain, mockery, alienation, suffering, and death upon the cross for my sake. Yet, he knew it was his purpose and your plan. In and through it he prepared a place for me with you, as Joseph did with his family in Egypt. Indeed, all of my life reveals the fingerprints of your continual care. For your constant love and provision, O Lord, I am grateful. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen. (based on Genesis 45:1-15)

Spend some time reflecting on the prayer of thanksgiving above and then thank God for who he is and the many ways he has poured out his goodness and grace in your life.

Supplication (Petitions – prayers for yourself)

·         Spiritual Warfare
·         Growth in Christlikeness
·         Increasing faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines 
·         My health
·         For my ordinary appointments and activities to become divine appointments and activities. 
·         Other needs

Supplication (Intercession – prayers for others)

·         My Family 
·         Mercy for those who are poor and hungry  
·         Justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted  
·         Love for those who oppress and persecute others
·         Peace for those in the midst of war, crime, and violence   
·         Other needs

It is true that we may desire much more. But let us use what we have, and God will give us more.
(Adoniram Judson)

Ten Commandments Study, Lesson 6: Honor Your Mother and Father

From my new book, The Way of the Lord: A Study of the Ten Commandments. Click here to buy the book and Bible study so you can use it devotionally or work through it with a small group of Christian brothers and sisters… or to even give away to someone who desires to learn more about the way of the Lord.


[This commandment means] I should love, serve, respect, and care for my parents all their lives, and should obey them in all things that are reasonable and conform to God’s Law. …I also keep the fifth commandment by showing respect for teachers and elders; by obeying, as far as is lawful, those who hold authority in the Church, my employment, and civil government; and by conducting myself in all things with reverent humility before God and my neighbor. (To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism)

But the fifth commandment and similar Bible passages use the vocabulary of fear, honor, and worship, on a human level, to indicate the proper attitude of children to parents. And, moreover, they demand such reverence for parents as a consequence of our reverence for God. Our reverence for parents is not in spite of our reverence for God, but because of it. Deuteronomy 5:16 adds, “as the Lord your God commanded you.” Leviticus 19:32, Ephesians 6:1–3, and Colossians 3:20 also invoke divine sanction for the content of the fifth commandment. Jesus too… strongly defends the fifth commandment, even though he demands for himself a higher honor than for parents. (John Frame)

The terms “father” and “mother” remind those in authority that, like fathers and mothers, they are responsible for and should act in a loving and tender way, appropriately reflecting their particular relationship, toward those under them; and those under them are also encouraged to accept their authority more willingly and cheerfully, as if they were their parents. (Westminster Larger Catechism)

Introduction

In this lesson we move from primarily focusing on our vertical relationship with God to our horizontal relationships with our neighbors. The Ten Commandments are usually understood in the way Jesus defined the Great Commandment. The first tablet, commandments 1-4, emphasize our love for God, while the second tablet, commandments 5-10, focus on neighbor-love. Of course, it’s not quite as neatly divided as that description makes it out to be. For our love for other people, of necessity, shows up in our love for God, expressed in the first four commandments. Moreover, our love for God is the foundation for how we should treat other people. And we show our love for God when we show our love for our neighbors.

As you have no doubt noticed in the previous lessons, there is much more packed into each commandment than meets the eye. That will continue to be true throughout the rest of this study, and this commandment is no exception. The language of “father and mother” encompasses much more than one’s biological parents. Instead, the Israelites would have understood that to mean those in authority over you. The natural starting place is the home. But the impact of this commandment extends out in concentric circles to other spheres of authority, such as one’s teachers, employers, spiritual leaders, and civil government leaders, just to name a few. Yet, as the third quotation above, from the Westminster Larger Catechism emphasizes, those in authority should also act in loving and tender ways to those under their authority.

The last introductory note to emphasize before we get into this lesson is to point out that honor denotes respect and care, and in appropriate seasons of life, circumstances, and relationships, obedience. For example, a child living under his or her parents’ roof, ought to obey the loving guidance and discipline of his or her parents. Later in life, the adult child may choose to honor his or her parent by listening to their advice, but are under no obligation to necessarily obey what the parent’s advise. I hasten to add that honoring one’s parents should extend throughout the parents’ lifetime. As parents age, it is a loving and tender expression of honor to care for them, as parents once cared for their child.

As this lesson will help us understand, to honor one’s parents, or anyone else in authority over us, is ultimately to honor God who set those in authority over us. Yet, honor and obedience to human authority should only be expected insofar as the human authority conforms to the authority of God and his Word. Our first commitment is to God (commandments 1-4). Learning how to honor and respect those in authority over us in the home at a young age, ideally helps us better live in society, thereby making it a stronger and healthier society in which all may live and flourish.


Bible Study (Each chapter in the book is followed by an in-depth Bible study)

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all

Praying for God’s Kingdom

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 48

123. Question: What is the second petition?

Answer: Thy kingdom come. That is: So rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to Thee.[1] Preserve and increase Thy church.[2] Destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against Thee, and every conspiracy against Thy holy Word.[3] Do all this until the fullness of Thy kingdom comes, wherein Thou shalt be all in all.[4]

[1] Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33. [2] Ps. 51:18; 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47. [3] Rom. 16:20; I John 3:8. [4] Rom. 8:22, 23; I Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22: 17, 20.

Prayer Journal: Week 48

Every Christian needs a half hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour. (St. Francis of Sales)

This Week’s Scripture

·         Genesis 37:1-28
·         Psalm 105
·         Romans 10:1-15
·         Matthew 14:22-23

Adoration

Psalm 105:1
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us (verse 1)
Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care;
in thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are.

(Dorothy Thrupp)

Take time now to offer God your praise and worship.

Confession

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, truly lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wickedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Worship for Church and Home)

As David did in Psalm 139, ask the Lord to search you and know you through and through. Confess the sins God brings to mind, knowing you are forgiven and that He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Thanksgiving

God of salvation, I thank you with all that I am for reaching down and redeeming me. Indeed, I am grateful for those you placed throughout my life who brought your good news to me. Because you sent them with the gospel, they were able to faithfully proclaim it. Because they faithfully proclaimed it, I was able to hear it. And because I was able to hear it, through your gracious work, I was able to believe in Christ my Savior and Lord. I pray almighty God that you would use me on behalf of others, just as others served you on my behalf. In the name of the risen Christ I pray. Amen. (based on Romans 10:14-15)

Spend some time reflecting on the prayer of thanksgiving above and then thank God for who he is and the many ways he has poured out his goodness and grace in your life.

Supplication (Petitions – prayers for yourself)

·         My personal mission field
Ø  Help me to identify those people who make up my personal mission field.
Ø  Enable me to begin sharing the gospel with those who do not yet know you.
Ø  Empower me to disciple those who are young in their faith.
Ø  Allow me to encourage those who are struggling in their faith.
Ø  Please give me perseverance in all areas of ministry.
·         Today’s events and interactions with others, planned and unplanned
·         Other needs

Supplication (Intercession – prayers for others)

·         My family
·         For missionaries throughout the world
·         For those seeking to faithfully minister to loved ones at home
·         For those who share the gospel in the inner city
·         For those who bear witness to Christ in places of power
·         Other needs

Be to the world a sign that while we are Christians do not have all the answers, we do know and care about the questions.  (Billy Graham)

Ten Commandment Study, Lesson 5: Remember the Sabbath

From my new book, The Way of the Lord: A Study of the Ten Commandments. Click here to buy the book and Bible study so you can use it devotionally or work through it with a small group of Christian brothers and sisters… or to even give away to someone who desires to learn more about the way of the Lord.


First, under the repose of the seventh day the heavenly Lawgiver meant to represent to the people of Israel spiritual rest, in which believers ought to lay aside their own works to allow God to work in them. Secondly, he meant that there was to be a stated day for them to assemble to hear the law and perform the rites, or at least to devote it particularly to meditation upon his works, and thus through this remembrance to be trained in piety. Thirdly, he resolved to give a day of rest to servants and those who are under the authority of others, in order that they should have some respite from toil. (John Calvin)

 Q. 103. What does God require in the fourth Commandment?

A. In the first place, God wills that the ministry of the Gospel and schools be maintained, and that I, especially on the day of rest, diligently attend church to learn the Word of God, to use the holy sacraments, to call publicly upon the Lord, and to give Christian alms. In the second place, that all the days of my life I rest from my evil works, allow the Lord to work in me by His Spirit, and thus begin in this life the everlasting sabbath. (The Heidelberg Catechism)

How do we keep the fourth commandment? By worshiping the Lord on his day. To keep something holy in the biblical sense is to dedicate it exclusively for worship. …To keep the Sabbath “to the Lord” is to give the day over to God, setting it apart for him and his glory. …The Sabbath is not only a day for worship, but also a day of rest. It is a day for ceasing from work, and especially from common labor. (Philip Ryken)

Introduction

We have now arrived at the most controversial of the commandments. Throughout church history, there have been a variety of perspectives on what the fourth commandment means and does not mean. What makes this commandment especially difficult to honor today is that our culture largely ignores it. It is merely the second day of the weekend. It’s a day for sleeping in and reading the paper, or it’s the last day of our child’s soccer tournament or our round of golf. It is a day for traveling home from a weekend getaway or vacation. Honoring it as a holy day does not appear to be on the radar screen of the world in which we live. In fact, some treat it as any other day of regular work. But that ought not be the way Christians view the Sabbath. But therein lies the question: How should Christians view this sacred, set-apart day?

A minority view has been that this commandment has been abrogated by virtue that the Sabbath day of the old covenant, Saturday, has been replaced with Sunday as the Lord’s Day, changed because it was the day our Lord rose from the dead. It is functionally the day the church still makes holy through rest and worship, but primarily because it is practical to do so, not because God has commanded it. Christians are called to gather corporately to worship God and since this day has already been set aside, it makes sense to keep it as a special day on the Christian’s weekly calendar.

On the other side of the spectrum, from a Christian perspective on Sabbath-keeping, is that Sunday is indeed the Sabbath of the new covenant. Christians are, therefore, commanded to focus on God in worship, both corporate as well as private, including with one’s family. It is also a day of rest from one’s regular work. This stricter view would prohibit any sports or leisure activities that were not focused upon, and set apart for, worshiping the Lord. This view does not intentionally promote legalism, but does emphasize that Sunday is a day to be made holy unto the Lord and therefore, the Lord’s should be our focus. I even read one proponent of this view that suggested naps would not be considered in keeping with this commandment.

A third option is not quite in the middle of the previous two; it leans closer toward understanding Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, or Lord’s Day. It is grounded in an understanding that the Sabbath is based in creation, following the example of God who worked for six days and rested on the seventh. Thus, not only does it emphasize resting from regular work on the Sabbath, but like the people of Israel who were called to remember their escape from slavery in Egypt, Christians are called to remember God delivering us from slavery to sin and death through the redemption Christ won for us through his Cross and Resurrection.

In Luke 4 we read that it was our Lord’s custom to worship on the Sabbath, so he clearly did not think it had been abolished. Yet, he did indicate in Mark 7 that all food was now permissible to eat, in the apparent abolishment of the Mosaic dietary restrictions. Furthermore, keeping the Sabbath was included in the decalogue, a summary of the moral law of Israel, which as we saw in an earlier lesson, remains authoritative and required for Christians to obey today. This view would not prohibit doing household chores, enjoying family recreation, and the like. Yet, it might still encourage one to ask: “Am I honoring the Lord on this day?”

Thus, the issue for most Christians today is not whether or not the Sabbath should be kept, but how it should be kept. What does it mean and not mean to keep the Sabbath holy? What is prohibited and what is permissible? Moreover, even if something is not expressly forbidden, what is the best and most integrity-filled way of keeping the spirit of the commandment, without degenerating into legalism? Paul cautioned his readers to beware of doing whatever they desired and hiding behind a claim of grace to cover their licentious decision. That seems an especially apt caution for Christians today when it comes to the fourth commandment. We want to walk the right path that guides us between the ditch of legalism on one side and licentiousness on the other.

Hopefully, the questions below will help you better understand the intentions and requirements of this commandment and enable you to find ways to obey and honor God’s desire for you to set apart the Sabbath as a special day to rest from your labor and to honor God with your worship of him. This lesson will also focus on the nature of work, rest, and time. May God help us employ all these spheres of our life to bring him glory and be a blessing in the lives of others.


Bible Study (Each chapter in the book is followed by an in-depth Bible study)

Knowing God as Holy

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 47

122. Question: What is the first petition?

 Answer: Hallowed be Thy Name. That is: Grant us first of all that we may rightly know Thee,[1] and sanctify, glorify, and praise Thee in all Thy works, in which shine forth Thy almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth.[2] Grant us also that we may so direct our whole life– our thoughts, words, and actions– that Thy Name is not blasphemed because of us but always honored and praised.[3]

 [1] Jer. 9:23, 24; 31: 33, 34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3. [2] Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11: 33-36. [3] Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16.