quote: the God of the second chance

 

“In terms of qualifications and rights, we are all like Jonah. Who can claim to be qualified for participation in the divine work? Who has not disobeyed in the past and forfeited any rights that might pertain to serving God? The service of God is thus … always a second chance, always an undeserved privilege. And if vocation comes to us, we can never say that it is on the grounds of our gifts and qualities, or our capacities for the job at hand. The call of God is … a sign of mercy, in that he is willing to employ the unworthy …” (Peter C. Craigie)

quote: how is it God reaches out to us?

 

“God is holy and just. In all his deeds, God is true to himself and faithful to his promises. In contrast, we act in opposition to our true selves and break our covenant promises. Rather than acknowledging God’s gifts with grateful hearts, we take our lives for granted; or, even worse, we use them as if we had created ourselves. When we ought to honor God by conforming to his holiness and justice, we follow our own foolish inclinations and reject the divine wisdom embodied in God’s law.

“Even if we admit that God has bridged the gaps between being and nothingness, between meaning and meaninglessness, why should the righteous and holy God reach out to an arrogant and ungrateful sinner? That which is nothing might at least arouse pity, since its pitiful state is not its own doing. But the ungrateful lawbreaker who considers himself wiser than God clearly deserves the consequences of his actions. Divine righteousness on one side and human unrighteousness on the other, God’s holiness above and our unholiness beneath – how can God bridge such chasms? And why would he do so if he could?

“To our amazement, God wills to have fellowship with the unrighteous: he chooses to save sinners from the consequences of their actions. … Why does God forgive sinners and reconcile them to himself by taking on their sin? Because he loves us with a love that ‘surpasses knowledge’ (Eph. 3.19), and that provokes our wonder and amazement.”

(Ron Highfield, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God; pp. 175-176)

a prayer for the oppressed & persecuted

 

Great God, Ruler over all, we come before you in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Your power is indisputable and all-surpassing. Your rule ever is right and good, just and merciful. All glory, honor, and praise be to you, God!

Without your rule, God, we would be nothing at all, swept away with the wind. And we sadly confess that your rule, we often ignore. Wipe away this weakness in your servants, we pray, and bring your kingdom to completion in the lives of your people. Forgive us, God.

Thank you for every measure of quiet and calm that you have granted humankind. Thank you for working your will of peace through rulers and officials, heads of state and governmental leaders, throughout all the world. Thank you for the many things we take for granted in how we are able to live our everyday lives.

And God, hear our plea for relief to all who live lives that are always greatly burdened and often in upheaval. We pray for all who groan with the rest of creation under the weight of sin, but who also must bear the added weight of affliction for faith, beating for believing, torture for trust, and threatening for obedience to you. Shield those who are in jeopardy now and deliver those who are on the brink of martyrdom. Set the captives free and break the rule of those who rule with little sense of humanity. In it all, God, may witness of you and your supreme rule abound.

Decree it and it will be, God. This we believe and know. Pour out your compassion and bring justice. Sweep away oppression and bring in your kingdom more now than has ever been before.

Amen.

quote: what Christ’s cross accomplishes

 

“I suggest that we see the achievement of the cross in three expressions: Jesus dies ‘with us’ – entering into our evil and our sin and our suffering to subvert it and create a new way; Jesus dies ‘instead of us’ – he enters into our sin, our wrath, and our death; and Jesus dies ‘for us’ – his death forgives our sin, ‘declares us right,’ absorbs the wrath of God against us, and creates new life where there was once only death.

“Not only is this death saving, this same death becomes the paradigm for an entirely new existence that is shaped … by the cross. A life shaped by the cross is a life bent on dying daily to self in order to love God, self, others, and the world. And a life shaped by the cross sees in the cross God becoming the victim, identifying with the victim, suffering injustice, and shaping a cruciform pattern of life for all who would follow Jesus. The cross reshapes all of life.”

Scot McKnight, A Community Called Atonement; p.69

a prayer for the younger & the older

 

Each Friday for the bulk of this year, I plan to share with you a brief prayer to God our Father. These prayers will address all sorts of matters and concerns and will appear in no particular order. There is no grand plan or schedule to them; just prayer, pure and simple.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Father God, thank you for the light you have given me and have enabled me to walk in thus far. Praise be to you, my God, Dispeller and Defeater of darkness, my Light and my Salvation!

Forgive me of every grain of darkness in me. I beg you to continue to be patient with me for I know that I remain so very blind to so very much more of what you would have me to see, what you would have me turn from, and what you would have me embrace. I will die in this condition, on this ceaseless journey of enlightenment, in and toward, your light. How I need your constant guidance and direction! I know this, and so, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Keep me humble, Father, about what I think I know. Never stop working on me. In your Son’s name I pray, chisel me into something useful and good for your name. Make me a good reflector of your light. Grow me!

And I ask such not for myself alone, but also for all of my brothers and sisters everywhere, in every church family. Especially for those who are very young and are so very dependent on how those who are older model the meaning and practice of a walk of faith with you. Shield their hearts and minds from being shaped wrong, lest they grow hardened or cold, misled and misleading. Grow in them great discernment and persistence, so that they pick the good and toss the chaff away.

And I pray especially for those who are up in years and are growing more limited in their options in life and company. Continue to mature in them a mind ever opening wider to your work and ways of love. Protect their spirits lest they fall prey to the manipulative ways of our enemy, the evil one, and give way to disappointment and fear or give up and quit their journey with you altogether.

Please hear my prayer in the name of your Son, my Savior.

Amen.