Daily Prayer – Dec. 2, 2020

+ Behold, our savior will come; you need no longer fear

Reading #1 Psalm 79

Reading #2 Luke 20:9-18

Reflection:

The Advent season is about more than just preparation for Christmas. It is a time when we connect with the deep longings of our hearts for God’s presence and salvation to be visible in our world. This means that it is a season of hope in God’s accessibility and love. But it is also a season in which we are challenged to recognize that we don’t always experience God’s presence as we would like.

Our world is a challenging place, and the pain of this can be overwhelming. When we see violence, corruption, poverty and disease ravaging our world, it is natural for us to grieve and to long for a better world. This is why the lament prayers of the Bible are so comforting. They show us that the Bible does not ignore our suffering, that God feels our pain, and that it is right and good for us to cry out for God’s intervention.

Today’s prayer from Psalm 79 is a good example of biblical lament. As the writer observed the destruction of his homeland, and the violence done to his people, he cried out in grief and longing to God. This prayer contains all kinds of emotions that we may feel are inappropriate. There is grief and offence at what Israel’s enemies have done. There is anger, both at the invaders and at God for allowing this disaster to happen. There is even a request for God to enact vengeance on the enemies of God’s people. This vulnerable honesty gives this prayer its power and reveals the writer’s deep faith in God’s love. He knew that even his “unacceptable” emotions were not a problem. In the end, he finally declares thanksgiving and praise, which reveals his underlying faith in God’s grace. Where in your life do you need to get honest with God like this?

DO: Sometimes we try so hard to be good, that we bury our negative emotions deep within us. But our negative feelings always come out –and if we don’t work with them consciously, they come out in destructive ways. This is why lament is such a healing practice –it helps us express our negative feelings in a positive way. Today, express any feelings of grief, anger, fear, and despair through a prayer of lament to God.

PRAY: Hear my grief, God. I pour it out to you.

Faithful God Hear our Prayer.

For all who suffer, that they may find comfort through their faith, we pray.

For all those who minister to the sick, that they be signs of God’s love we pray.

For doctors, nurses and caregivers, that their actions be done with love we pray.

For Ourselves, that we always believe that God holds us gently we pray.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Look with favor, O God.

On all our needs

And hear our pleas when we cry out to you.

Grant to us, the faith of the centurion,

That we might give you glory

For the mercy and compassion

That lifts us up with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever Amen!

Sacred Spaces – Dec. 1 , 2020

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

–Ephesians 6:10-11

“Don’t quit.” “Keep fighting.” “Stay strong.” That’s the message we often hear during the difficult seasons in our lives. The problem with this advice is that it’s not always possible. Sometimes things get so hard and go on for so long that we simply don’t have any fight left in us. Sometimes the burdens of this life are just too heavy for us to carry on our own. Nevertheless, we find ourselves constantly facing the pressure to be strong and at least appear to hold everything together.

Paul no doubt experienced that same kind of pressure, but he refused to give in to it. Instead, Paul was open about his weaknesses. In one of his letters, he wrote, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”–2 Corinthians 1:8

Paul knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed. He understood that the trials of this life were far greater than anything you or I could ever carry on our own. In the book of Ephesians, Paul emphasizes the reality that things are even worse than we could have ever imagined. He says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”–Ephesians 6:13

Abraham Kuyper once described this battle by saying: If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game. Not here, but up there–that is where the real conflict is engaged. Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.1

You and I are fools to think that we can hold it all together against the cosmic powers that rule over this present world. Even the strongest of us are no match for our enemy. So what are we supposed to do when faced with an enemy that is far stronger than we are?

Fortunately, we are not the first to find ourselves in this position. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat finds himself facing an enemy that is far stronger than he is. I want you to watch what he does as he goes out to fight a battle that he knows he could never win on his own. In verse 12, he prays, “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

What Jehoshaphat did thousands of years ago is what Paul is calling you and me to do today when he says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”–Ephesians 6:10-11. Paul is calling us to recognize our powerlessness and look to the one who is able to raise the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9). He is calling us to lay aside our flimsy man-made defenses and put on the armor that God alone is able to provide.

There is only one person who has stood against all the schemes of the devil, only one person who single-handedly disarmed all of the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame (Colossians 2:15). His name is Jesus, and it is in the strength of his might that Paul is calling us to fight our battles. It is the armor that he bought with his precious blood that Paul is calling us to put on.

So you can stop pretending that you are stronger than you really are. You don’t have to keep trying to look like you have it all together. You don’t have to wrestle your own demons alone anymore. Let the Lord be your strength and your shield (Psalm 28:7). Let him be your stronghold and refuge in the day of trouble (Jeremiah 16:19). In Christ, we can know for certain that our God is for us; so who can be against us? If you will only trust him you will find that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:31, 37). “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”–Ephesians 6:10-11

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

  1. Have you ever felt like you didn’t have the strength to keep everything together anymore? How did you respond?
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. Have you ever despaired of your own strength and chosen to rely on God instead? What happened?
  3. In the Gospel, where do we see God’s strength demonstrated? In the Gospel, where do we see that God is for us? What would it look like for you to stop trying to fight your battles in your own strength and instead “be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might”?

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Sacred Space 11/24/20

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 6Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 7In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. –Psalm 86:5-7

In his book A Praying Life Paul Miller offers this great truth: “Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart.” As we approach the words of Psalm 86 this week, we can modify Miller’s quote to apply to the circumstances of the psalmist facing severe trials, “learning to pray doesn’t offer us a more peaceful life, it offers us a more peaceful heart.” The psalmist comes with childlike dependence on the God who is able. He doesn’t seek a trouble-free life, he seeks the peace that comes from being a child of the One who is working all things for good (Romans 8:28).

This week’s verses will be a particular encouragement to those facing difficulties in their lives right now. But, because trials are to be expected in the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:12), these verses are of great value for all of us. As many of you have likely experienced, even if we are not in danger and difficulty now, storing up God’s Word in our heart will prepare us for the battles and challenges that will certainly come.

It is often in the valley of the shadow of death that it is very easy to fear evil, and to doubt that God is, in fact, with us (Psalm 23). But this prayer looks beyond the dire circumstances the psalmist is facing and appeals to the compassion and faithfulness of his sovereign God. Just as the Lord Jesus assured his disciples they would certainly encounter trouble in this world, all believers can “take heart” because our Lord and God has overcome the world (John 16:33).

The confidence of this prayer in verses 5-7 is based on four affirmations about who God is – He is good, He is forgiving, He abounds in steadfast love, and He answers those who call. When things look bad, when our weaknesses are exposed, when we feel alone, when we cry out, we have a God who is absolutely dependable. We see that in the verses that follow. “There is none like [Him]” (verse 8), all nations shall “come and worship” before Him (verse 9), for He is great and does wondrous things (verse 10).

Whether the day of our trouble is yesterday, today, or tomorrow, we have a God who has overcome the world. We have a God who is sovereignly loving. And we can trust in Him.

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

  1. What are some specific examples of God’s faithfulness and power in your life?
  2. How might you make sure you remember and entrust yourself to who God is when you face troubles in your life?
  3. How might this week’s Fighter Verse encourage you to encourage those in your life who are facing troubles right now?

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Sacred Spaces – 11/17/20

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.
Psalms 40:17 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Every once in a while, we need comfort, don’t we? The news is worst than we thought; the pain is overwhelming; the pressure is tough; the fearful thoughts are relentless. What are we to do? The Psalmist remembered God. We should remember God too. He is our help and deliverer. Even if we are poor and needy, God’s hand can still extend to our aid. Paul writes, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” Come to Him today and let Him comfort you. He knows your need. He will be your help and deliverer.

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

Father, I come to You, poor and needy. Help me today. Comfort me with your grace, love and mercy. AMEN

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

The smile of the Father shines on me – I am approved of; [i]

I have the mind of Christ – I have important things to say; [ii]

Upon me is the anointing of the Holy Spirit – I am empowered. [iii]

Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I dwell in his Kingdom of the Heavens; [iv]

He is my Teacher and I am his beloved apprentice – [v]

I urge people to join me and be with Jesus to become like him. [vi]

The Word of God is alive and active and it dwells richly in me [vii]

And the Holy Spirit reminds me of Jesus’ words of truth and grace – [viii]

So I can minister the Word of life to others and it will not return void. [ix]

The Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in me [x]

So I do not speak with human wisdom or worldly excitement [xi]

Or rely on my own strength – I count on the power of Almighty God.[xii]

As I teach I listen to the voice of God and invite others to listen too; [xiii]

As I serve I join the intercessions of the Holy Spirit, [xiv]

Praying that we all cry out with the Spirit, “Abba Father!  Jesus is Lord!” [xv]

The Lord is glorious in all things and captivates me continually;

So I do not draw attention to myself, but to Jesus Christ alone;

Nor do I base my identity on what people say about me.

I am Christ’s Ambassador; [xvi]

My citizenship is in heaven’s kingdom; [xvii]

My message is simply: “Follow me as I follow Christ!” [xviii]

Prayer for Leaders

The smile of the Father shines on me – I am approved of; [i]

I have the mind of Christ – I have important things to say; [ii]

Upon me is the anointing of the Holy Spirit – I am empowered. [iii]

Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I dwell in his Kingdom of the Heavens; [iv]

He is my Teacher and I am his beloved apprentice – [v]

I urge people to join me and be with Jesus to become like him. [vi]

The Word of God is alive and active and it dwells richly in me [vii]

And the Holy Spirit reminds me of Jesus’ words of truth and grace – [viii]

So I can minister the Word of life to others and it will not return void. [ix]

The Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in me [x]

So I do not speak with human wisdom or worldly excitement [xi]

Or rely on my own strength – I count on the power of Almighty God.[xii]

As I teach I listen to the voice of God and invite others to listen too; [xiii]

As I serve I join the intercessions of the Holy Spirit, [xiv]

Praying that we all cry out with the Spirit, “Abba Father!  Jesus is Lord!” [xv]

The Lord is glorious in all things and captivates me continually;

So I do not draw attention to myself, but to Jesus Christ alone;

Nor do I base my identity on what people say about me.

I am Christ’s Ambassador; [xvi]

My citizenship is in heaven’s kingdom; [xvii]

My message is simply: “Follow me as I follow Christ!” [xviii]

SACRED SPACES – 11/10/20

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. —Colossians 3:1-3

In this passage, the apostle Paul helps us understand who we are in Christ, and what we are to do in light of that reality. Before we examine our condition in Christ and subsequent calling, though, let’s consider the contrast that Paul sets up as his letter transitions into chapter three. You might want to grab a Bible and follow along.

The Contrast

At the end of Colossians 2, Paul sets up a contrast, making the point that those of us who have died with Christ have also died to the idea of setting up regulations or living ascetically in order to work our way to God. Christians have died to a works-based lifestyle, and now live gospel-driven lives. Paul is saying that Christians recognize they can never work their way to God, and fight to rest in his power instead of their own. But what does it mean to live a gospel-driven life? Enter chapter three.

Our Condition

Paul wants to tell us what a gospel-driven life looks like, but first, he wants to remind us of our condition in Christ. “If then you have been raised with Christ…”, he begins (emphasis mine). Paul is not telling us what we must do in order to be raised with Christ; he’s telling us what to do because we have been raised with Christ. He’s making the point that our condition drives our calling, and to make the point stronger, he bookends this section by telling us who we are in Christ twice. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” Colossians 3:3 states (emphasis mine). Let’s put away our checklists, because this is not about how we must make ourselves right before God; indeed, we cannot. Yet, we do have a calling. What must we do in light of who we are? More precisely, what do lives that are hidden in Christ look like?

Our Call

Because we have been raised with Christ, Paul says, we are to “set our minds on things above.” What does that mean, though?

John Piper has a helpful word on this question in his article entitled, Setting Our Minds on Things Above in Summer: Thoughts on Colossians 3:1-2:

“[Things of earth are all a] prelude to the real drama of heaven. It is a foretaste of the real banquet. It is a video preview of the reality of what the eternal summer will be like when ‘the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb’ (Revelation 21:23).”

Piper is saying that Jesus is in the details of our daily lives. “Things above” are things pertaining to the beauty of Jesus. Colossians 3:1-3, then, calls us to live in such a way that Christ can be seen in us, and we would worship him in the details of our lives. It is a call not to ultimately treasure the things of earth, but – as Piper goes on to say – to “see the Light beyond the campfire.” To acknowledge that everything exists for God’s glory, and so, to glorify him in everything we do.

Because we have already been raised with Christ, believers, this call is attainable. Because our lives are hidden with Christ, “who is our life,” we are already counted righteous even as we struggle daily to obey Paul’s exhortation. Because we are seated with Jesus in the heavenly places, we have been given access to the source from which we must draw our strength to live out Paul’s charge – God himself. Best of all, our union with Christ guarantees that we can never be disconnected from this source of power.

We need only ask, and God will again breathe gospel-driven life into us, by his Holy Spirit, empowering us to set our minds on things above.

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

  1. Do you find yourself forgetting who you are in Christ? How does that manifest itself in your life? How can you keep the gospel forefront in the “details” of your life?
  2. In what ways are you tempted to rely on yourself instead of all that God is for you in Christ? How can you fight these temptations?
  3. What things currently occupy your time? How might you see past those things to “things above”?

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

ENCOUNTER GOD/ ENCUENTRO CON DIOS – EPISODE #2

Scripture Reading/Lectura bíblica:  Mark 12:38-44 / Marcos 12:38-44

38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

38 Como parte de su enseñanza Jesús decía: —Tengan cuidado de los maestros de la ley. Les gusta pasearse con ropas ostentosas y que los saluden en las plazas, 39 ocupar los primeros asientos en las sinagogas y los lugares de honor en los banquetes. 40 Se apoderan de los bienes de las viudas y a la vez hacen largas plegarias para impresionar a los demás. Estos recibirán peor castigo. 41 Jesús se sentó frente al lugar donde se depositaban las ofrendas, y estuvo observando cómo la gente echaba sus monedas en las alcancías del templo. Muchos ricos echaban grandes cantidades. 42 Pero una viuda pobre llegó y echó dos moneditas de muy poco valor.[a] 43 Jesús llamó a sus discípulos y les dijo: «Les aseguro que esta viuda pobre ha echado en el tesoro más que todos los demás. 44 Estos dieron de lo que les sobraba; pero ella, de su pobreza, echó todo lo que tenía, todo su sustento».

Confession/Confesión:

Merciful God, You call us to love You with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But our tendency is to disobey You and to distrust our neighbors. We are loud when we should listen. We are cocky when we should be caring. We gather and glean, but struggle to give. Lord Jesus, forgive us. Show us again that whenever we seek You, love is what we find. Holy Spirit, fill us with Your love, and make us daily more like Christ, Whose love never ends. Amen.

Dios misericordioso, nos llamas a amarte con corazón, alma, mente y fuerza, y a amar a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos. Pero nuestra tendencia es desobedecerte y desconfiar de nuestro prójimo. Hablamos fuerte cuando deberíamos escuchar. Somos engreídos cuando deberíamos preocuparnos. Reunimos y espigamos, pero luchamos por dar. Señor Jesús, perdónanos. Muéstranos de nuevo que siempre que te buscamos, el amor es lo que encontramos. Espíritu Santo, llénanos de tu amor y haznos cada día más como Cristo, cuyo amor nunca termina. Amén.

Pause for 2 Minutes of Silence/ Pausa por 2 minutos de silencio

Pause for 1 Minute of Silence/ Pausa por 1 minuto de silencio

The Our Father (slowly pray this)/El Padre Nuestro (reza lentamente esto)

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre. Venga tu reino, Hágase tu voluntad en la tierra, como en el cielo. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día. Y perdona nuestras ofensas, como perdonamos a los que nos ofenden. Y no nos dejes caer en la tentación, sino líbranos del maligno. Para ti es el reino, el poder y la gloria para siempre, Amén.

SACRED SPACES – 11/3/20

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2 

The text is simple: the blessed man doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked. On the contrary, the blessed man meditates on the law of the LORD day and night.

Going Deeper

We would short-circuit the point here if we only walk away saying, “I want to be a blessed man so I should read the Bible a lot.” As sensible as that reasoning is, we must go deeper to be true to this psalm.

Meditating on the law (or instruction) of the LORD day and night is said somewhere else. Moses commissioned this sort of meditation to Joshua when he became the new leader of Israel (Joshua 1:8). The head of God’s people will be characterized by a delight and understanding of the Word.

Going a little further back, one of the stipulations for Israel’s kings in Deuteronomy 17:18-19 is that he be a man of the Word—reading it all the days of his life.

The theme of Scripture leading to Psalm 1 suggests the King of Israel as the preeminent model of meditating and delighting upon the Word. Now does the Book of Psalms have anything to say about kings? And if it does, would that tip the scales to make us read Psalm 1 as if it were fundamentally about someone else other than us?

Yes to Both

Yes: the Psalms have quite a lot to say about the King.

Psalm 2 moves right into this powerful depiction of the LORD’s anointed who is both King and Son (Psalm 2:6-7). This theme resounds throughout the entire book as we see over and over God’s kingdom whose dominion will have no borders, and whose leader will be a hoped for Son of David.

Yes: this psalm is fundamentally about someone else, not me.

The lack of a superscript between Psalms 1 and 2 lead us to see a strategic unity (as well as similar language such as the repetition of “sit”). The blessed man in Psalm 1 is the King of Psalm 2. The King to come and reign over everything will be a virtuous King who meditates on the Word and fulfills all of Israel’s laws concerning the character of kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

Psalm 1 Is About Jesus

I think Psalm 1 is about the Messiah Jesus. He is the perfect blessed man and if we’re to be blessed, it can’t happen apart from him. The way to be a blessed man is to take refuge in the Blessed Man (Psalm 1:1; 2:12). Our blessedness does not ultimately come from moral refinement, it comes from being united to the One who bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might be dead to sin and alive to God.

We ourselves are moved to meditate on the Word of God when we know the man who is God the Word.

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.