In the morning you hear my voice…

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. Psalm 5:3 (ESV)

O Lord – the first person I speak to in the morning is you, Lord. For only you hear me in the truest, deepest sense of hearing.

in the morning – at the beginning of the day, I need you. I need you to hear me. I need you to answer me.

you hear my voice – you do hear me, Lord. You hear me to the depths of my soul, whether in joy or despair, faith or hopelessness

in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you – what is my sacrifice for you today, Father? I sacrifice my self-assurance, my self-confidence, my confidence in my own wisdom and strength.

and watch – I watch for your answer! You answer prayer all the time, faithful God, and I miss it too often because I’m looking for my answer, the answer I want. Help me to look for your answer.

Spurgeon on prayer for the new year

Dear ones, as we begin this new year, please be encouraged in your life of prayer by this devotional thought by C.H. Spurgeon. It comes from his classic book of devotions, called “Morning and Evening”.

“Continue in prayer.” 

— Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob—there a Daniel who prayed three times a day—and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises.

What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.

Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”


Live your life with purpose

I just posted something to my Facebook page, a verse and a comment.
Here is the verse:
Proverbs 1:32 “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;” (NIV)
Here’s the comment:
“OK, that may seem a little intense for a first verse share of the new year, but my heart (for you and me) is that we live our lives for the Lord *intentionally* in this new year. Make today count *for HIM*. There is a way you can live, today and for the year, that shows that your life is no longer yours, but *HIS*. Live your life *that way*. Today, by the power of His grace, begin to live that way. May God strengthen you for the journey.”

Have you ever gotten to the end of a day and thought, “well, that was a wasted day”? To be honest with you, I HATE it when I feel that way. Ever since becoming a follower of Christ, I have wanted every day to mean something in my walk with Him. To grow in grace, to put away a sin issue, to share the gospel with someone, to love others better…all of these and more drive me each day in my life with Him (and for Him). By God’s grace, I think I have had many days that were lived with a real kingdom purpose and mindset.

But what do I do with the day that just doesn’t “feel” that way? How do I come to God at the end of that day? Well, here are a few things that I do:
1. first and foremost, I do a heart-check. Was this day really a failure? Was there some artificial marker that I had set for myself, and, not having achieved it, feel like a failure? If the answer is “yes” to the artificical marker question, I confess my sin of works righteousness before God, and ask Him to show me how to do good works for His sake (not my own sense of self-fulfillment) and in His strength. God has prepared good works for me to do (Eph. 2:10), but I am a fool if I think that the good works that I do make me more acceptable in His eyes (Eph. 2:8-9). I breathe a prayer of confession and repentance and seek to commit the next day to Him.
2. Was there a blatant sin (of commission or omission) that I did during the day? Did that keep me from pursuing my whole-hearted service to the Lord in everything? Nothing makes me feel like more of a failure than when I sin. Jesus died to pay the price for my sin, so that by faith in Him I could be restored to a loving relationship with God the Father. When I sin, I despise the price paid for me. I take for granted that which Christ purchased with His blood: my life and my hope, now and forever. Satan wants me to wallow in the regret of the sin. God wants me to confess the sin (and therefore confess my utter dependence upon Him), accept His forgiveness, forsake the sin (turn away from it, by the power of the Spirit), close my eyes and rest in Him. I can rest and sleep a peaceful sleep by resting in the grace and mercy of God.
3. I am a physical being. Is my sense of the day being wasted just wrapped up in my tiredness? Or my sickness? One of my daughters has rheumatoid arthritis. I have a close friend who has fibromyalgia. I know others who are suffering with cancer and suffering with the treatment for cancer. If all they have to count on for a sense of purpose and peace in life is their physical sense of well-being, then they are in the most despair. God is sovereign over all things. These afflictions are His doing. I am tired or weary or sick because I am *not God*. My tiredness reminds me that He is always the one who gives strength. So, I have to pray for my spirit to rest in Him. And, if neither #1 or #2 from above are in play, then I try to recount the blessings of the day, give God the glory for them, and close my eyes in rest.

So, what do these things have to do with the verse quoted from Proverbs? Even as a Christian, it is all too possible for me to live like a fool. It is all to practicable for me to be complacent in my life. (Complacency = “satisfaction or *self-satisfaction* accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies”). I want my life to be the *opposite* of those qualities. I want to be wise in my living. I want to be intentional in the life that I live. I don’t want to be wayward, directionless, in my life in Christ. I don’t want to be complacent. I want to be satisfied in Him (not self-satisfied). I want to be aware of the dangers around me (the world, the flesh, the devil). I want to be aware of my deficiencies (so that I would glory all the more in the *sufficiencies* of Christ.)

O Sovereign Lord, help me in 2012 to live a life that is purposeful. Help me to make the most of each day, each opportunity to love You and to serve You, as well as loving others and serving them. Help me to focus the energy and grace of the day You have given so that it resonates with Your strength and joy and hope. Help me to be aware of the dangers of complacency. Help me at the end of each day to confess my sins, count my blessings, and rejoice in the glorious hope of the Gospel.

Prayer for 2011

It’s the time of year that we think about New Year’s resolutions.  There are things about us that we want to change, so we make a list of habits to get rid of or habits that we want to add. I’m not here to give you advice about how to lose weight or save money or make better use of your time. I do want to help you think about your goals for growth as a Christian in 2011.

At Faith Bible Church, we have 3 main priorities. We call them “growth” priorities, because everything about our Christian life should be about growing, not remaining stagnant. We have a priority of personal growth, which we define as Pursuing our love for Christ. A key verse related to personal growth is Matthew 22:37: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. We also have a priority of church growth (not about numerical growth), which we define as Helping one another grow in Christ-like Maturity. A key verse related to church growth is Eph. 4:14-15 Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way…into Christ, from whom the whole body…when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. We have a goal of gospel growth, defined as Declaring in word and deed the gospel of Christ. One of the key verses that speaks about gospel growth is Acts 1:8, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

Here are some more key verses relating to each priority, along with prayer suggestions to voice the heart for each area. May God bless you and answer these prayers in you according to His perfect will.

New Year’s Prayer for personal growth, church growth and gospel growth

Personal Growth

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land

where there is no water.

Prayer for personal growth in 2011

  • Seeking after God
  • Thirsting for Him
  • Keeping a soft heart before Him

Church Growth

Heb. 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Prayer for church growth in 2011

  • Prayerfully helping fellow Christians towards love and good works
  • Encouraging each other by regularly meeting together
  • Exhorting each other that the Day of the Lord is near

Gospel Growth

Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, … grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,

Col. 4:3-4 …pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, …that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Prayer for gospel growth in 2011

  • Pray for a heart that is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ
  • Pray for boldness to share the gospel with words as well as deeds
  • Pray for open doors and opportunities to clearly speak the gospel of Christ