Dear God, Thank you for my son. Thank you for the experiences and people who have shaped his life. Thank you for the hard times that he has walked through, for I know that these difficult experiences will allow him to better minister to others who are facing their own challenges. Thank you for the opportunities that I have had to teach, coach and pastor him. Thank you that my son has been able to get a great education at Legacy Christian. Thank you, God, for his Christian teachers and quality friends whom you used to lead him to Christ this past fall. Thank you that he chose to accept your forgiveness for his sins and to give Jesus Christ control of his life. God, might he never forget that you are his only source for a rich and satisfying and abundant life.
God, I pray that my son will continue to seek you all the days of his life. May he be disciplined to establish personal habits in his life that bring honor to you. May he grow in prayer and in knowing and obeying your Word. God, I pray that he will always make church a priority. May your church provide him with blessing, teaching of truth, and spiritual protection. And as he participates with your church, may he find great delight in sharing with others the gifts that you have given to him. God, I pray Jeremiah 9:23 and 24 over my friend and son in the faith.
Don’t let him boast in his wisdom, or in his power, or in his riches. But let him, if he chooses to boast, boast in this alone: that he truly knows you and understands that you are the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth.
Prayer for my daughter
Dear Jesus, You tell us that each and every life is precious and is a gift directly from you and that is how we view our daughter - a precious gift that you've entrusted us with here on earth. Thank you so much for this gift of her and we pray today, and every day, that she will continue to use her life for you, knowing that your plans and purposes for her are the very best life she can live. We know that Satan wants her to not be used by you and so today our prayer for her is that you guard her heart as it says in Proverbs 4:23 because everything we do flows out of what we place in it. Because Matthew 6:21 tells us that where our treasures are our heart will be also, we pray that what she values will be only the things that are important and of value to you. We're so thankful that you've placed in her a love for children and we ask that her heart for them be sold out for seeing them come to faith in you and having a personal relationship with you!
With having a goal like that we know that our daughter will need to stay close to you, remember that her identity comes solely from you and that she will daily need to renew her mind in you, and so we pray Psalm 51:10 over her so that she will have a steadfast spirit within her and a pure heart before you.
And, Lord, for the days that are long and hard, because we know she WILL have them, we pray Proverbs 73:6 for her that reminds us that when our flesh and heart fail us YOU are the strength of our hearts and YOU will give us the portion of yourself that we need in those tough discouraging moments of life.
So, Lord, we again say thank you for the precious gift of our daughter and thank you for the desires you've placed in her heart. May she love you, honor you, fear you, serve you faithfully and delight in you as you give her the desires of her heart. Amen.
Happy Father's Day! I hope your day with your family is a sweet time of celebrating God's goodness as a Father and giving thanks to him for blessing you with a family—even if your family is not all with you or is broken in some deep way. I want to encourage you (and me) to continue to be a man who looks up, shows up, and stands up. I know I sound like a preacher but honestly these were the phrases that popped in my mind when I began reflecting on Father’s Day. I found that there is little else in life that will stretch and challenge me more than being a Dad. The thought, when I'm in my right mind, of being responsible for the lives of little human beings that are created in God's image and are so important to God that Christ died for them, is something that overwhelms me. At the same time, I have never gotten over just how my girls got wrapped around my heart without me even trying. Between my deep love for them and the awesome responsibility they represent I have been tempted to shrink back and even take off on a run. I simply am not sufficient for such a task! However, I have come to realize that this is a good place to be. I need to feel out of my league because I am. I cannot do this without God's help. I need to be a Dad who always looks up. God not only defines what a good Father is, he is the only one that can transform me, empower me, direct me, and clean me up and restore me so that I can be a Father like him. I need him to show me how a Father behaves and where a good Father should be taking his kids--what really matters and what is most important. I need him to protect me from my stupidity, to keep me from trying to make my family serve me (or at least just not bug me :), to keep me pressing through the daily grind with a view to the long impact of my life on the lives of my kids, to keep me pressing toward their mother out of love and to settle and orient me when I get overwhelmed, insecure, or confused. As Jesus taught us, reflection on him and prayer to our heavenly Father that celebrates him, learns from him and looks to him for everything we need are indispensable for the immense task that fatherhood is (see Matt 6:5-15). I have also found that one of the most important things I did for my girls (though imperfectly!), and something they still want, is for me to show up. They want me to be around at the moments that matter in their lives and, generally, just to be a part of their lives. They have always wanted me to be present so that we could just be together, or so that we could laugh together, or so that we could celebrate some achievement together, or so that I could answer a question, or so that I could help them work through a relationship issue, or so that I could weep with them over a disappointment, or so that I could be a sounding board for working through some issue, and on and on and on. I know in my own life that when people show up it says "you matter to me", "I am here for you". And, their presence for me makes me want to be present for them. This, of course, is something always true of God. He always shows up for his children, loving them consistently, relentlessly, and always in the right way and in the right measure (Matt 6:25-34; 7:7-11; 28:20). May we never be absentee Dads (an oxymoron if there ever was one!). I have also found that I need to be someone who stands up to the responsibilities of being a Dad. I need to shoulder, with God's help, my responsibility to lead spiritually (by life and word), to provide materially, and to protect spiritually, emotionally, and physically. To lead spiritually, I need to tend to my own walk with the Lord so that he can transform my heart to beat with his. I need to live out my faith by letting God shape my priorities, my speech, my habits, my attitudes, my marriage (broken or whole), my friendships, my involvement in the body of Christ, etc. etc. After all, as one has said, we teach what we know but we reproduce who we are. To provide materially, if I am able, I need to go to work and work as if I'm working for the Lord directly. As God provides, I want to take any sense of financial insecurity out of my wife's and kids' lives that could be tied to my character. I want her to know that I take my responsibility to provide seriously. I can be trusted to handle my relationship with my boss and not be a hothead or a baby. I know where the family is financially and can be trusted not to spend foolishly so that I compromise the family's ability to pay its bills and meet the needs of the members of the household. I reflect God's priorities with our money so that he gets first dibs and his priorities govern my use of money and my counsel with regard to the family's finances. Lastly, I need to fight for my family's souls on my knees. I need to watch what influences are coming into my home through media and relationships. I need to take care of the car so that it is safe for my wife or kids to drive. I need to pay attention to the emotional health of my wife and kids and provide a safe place for them to unload or work through what is troubling them (note to self: I cannot run from emotionally charged moments!). Dads, I'm already too long so I'll stop. I don't write this as a man who has succeeded in all these areas all the time. I write as a man leaning in on Jesus with a constant feeling of how weighty and overwhelming the task is and of how inadequate I am for it.
May we all be fathers like the Father, to his glory, by his grace, for the blessing and flourishing of our families.
I'm enjoying our study in 1 Peter and I want to encourage you to "get your feet wet" in the book if you haven't done so already. We will be working straight through the book throughout June, July and most of August. Peter writes to believers who are going through tough times because they are Christ-followers. He writes during the decade in the early church where the Apostle Paul was beheaded by Nero and where Peter himself will soon follow Paul in martyrdom when he is crucified upside down. They are powerfully aware that their lives are out of sync with the culture around them. As followers of Christ, they feel like aliens and strangers even though they live where they grew up! Throughout, Peter is teaching his people how to always be in a state of readiness in mind and body to set apart Christ as Lord in every area of life (see 1:13-15; 3:15; 4:1-2).
James Eldred got us started with a look at the identity of a Christ-follower laid out by Peter in 1:1-2. He reminded us of the truth that how we think about who we are will affect how we live (he did a nice job by the way, didn't he?). Do we understand that our relationship with God was secured by him through the work of the Holy Spirit based on the work of Christ? We are his chosen people! And as his chosen people, we have been called and enabled to come under his good rule and to serve his purposes for his glory, our blessing, and the blessing of our brothers, sisters and neighbors. This makes us his children. We are his heirs entitled by God's grace to all his riches in this life and, in full, in the life to come. It means that we are freed from enslavement to our sins and the old, toxic life we used to live. But it also means that we will no longer feel at home in a world still in rebellion against God. As his people, we will be strangers and aliens. Where his people gather together, it will be like an outpost of another kingdom in foreign territory. At the same time, we will live with a heart that yearns for those who are enslaved to sin to know the freedom we have found by God’s grace. And, we will labor to live out and explain the good news of what God offers them through Christ. Nevertheless, we expect opposition from the evil one and those committed to the rebellion against our God, the Creator and Deliverer of everyone. Is this how we think about ourselves? How would that affect us if we did?
Last week we looked at the soaring praise that marks the opening to the body of Peter's letter (1:3-12). Writing to people suffering persecution and hardship, Peter shows them and us how to get our bearings so that life's challenges and difficulties do not distract or defeat us from the wonder of God's blessings that we have been given in Christ. He teaches us that the practice of praise prepares the believer’s heart: 1) to trust in God’s good greatness without wavering and 2) to embrace his game plan fully no matter what the circumstances.
To get “praise prepared” let’s follow Peter’s practice of praise. Below, I have given you a guide for writing your own praise to God. Over the next weeks, see if you, or you and your family or friends can write your own expression of praise to God that you can pray (and/or sing) back to him. As you do, we want to give opportunities for you or someone on your behalf, to bring those to us as a body to help us get praise prepared as we worship and serve together. Here is a short one (short for me :) I wrote out of the passage I’m studying for this week’s sermon (1:13-25):
Holy Father, I praise you because you are free from any evil. There is nothing in you that is attracted to evil and nothing in you to move you to do evil. You always act consistent with your good greatness. You are always merciful. You are always gracious. You are always just. And you are always faithful. And I praise you that you have made me your child. Out of your mercy and grace you conspired with your Son to provide a way for me to be freed from the power and consequences of my sin. Even when I ignorantly followed my own evil desires in rebellion against you, you provided the costliest of sacrifices in the willing death of Jesus so that your justice would not be compromised as your mercy and grace were extended to me. Then you invited me to come to you! You graciously convinced me to abandon any trust in myself and throw myself on you as the only one worthy of total trust and the only one that can be counted on to bring me to life, both now and forever. You alone are my hope! And now, you empower and invite me to increasingly experience this new freedom from the old life that had enslaved me and to run with joy on this new path of life you have opened up for me while I wait for the full and complete experience of all that life means when Christ returns. You urgently desire that I increasingly live into and know the blessing of my new identity as your child, to be holy as you are holy. Who am I that you would do such a thing as this!? May I never forget who you are and who I am. May I never get over the immensity of your love. May I never doubt your good intentions and purposes. You alone are Holy. You alone are my Father. To you alone my I give glory in my thoughts, my affections, and my actions.
You give it a try. Do something simple and short or complex and long, but take this opportunity both to give God deserved praise and to encourage us all to see him better (and so get a better view of ourselves and each other!). I look forward to praising God together as God works through our body!
Blessings, Pastor Greg
Writing Prayers of Praise & Thanks
Scriptural Names for Addressing God The following scriptural names for God are provided to help us prepare to address God in prayer. Often the following names are combined in various ways, such as “Almighty, everlasting God” or “Holy God, our provider.” Start your prayer with the name that speaks to the circumstances for your prayer.
A Selection of Names of Address for God in the Scriptures: Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8; 22:13); Almighty and loving God (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 68:1-6); Almighty God, giver of strength (Gen. 17:1; Ex. 6:3-8; Ps. 68:4-14); Creator (Isa. 43:15; Rom. 1:25; 1 Pet. 4:19); Everlasting God (Gen. 21:33; Isa. 40:28); Faithful God (Deut. 7:9; 32:4; Ps. 31:5); Father of compassion and God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3); Father of mercies (2 Cor. 1:3); God, our healer (Ex. 15:26); God, our provider (Gen. 22:14); God, our peace, or God of peace (Judges 6:24; Heb. 13:20); God, our purifier (Ex. 31:13; Lev. 20:8); God, our righteousness (Jer. 23:6); God, our shepherd (Gen. 49:24; Ps. 23:1; 80:1); God and Father of Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:6); Gracious God (Jon. 4:2); Holy God (Lev. 19:2; Josh. 24:19; Isa. 5:16); Living God (Jer. 10:10; 2 Cor. 3:3; 6:16); Lord (Gen. 15:2; Ex. 3:14-15; Acts 3:22); Lord God (Ps. 68:32; Dan. 9:3); Lord of hosts (Josh. 5:14; 1 Sam. 1:3; Ps. 24:10); Most High God (Gen. 14:18; Ps. 9:2); Our Father (Isa. 64:8; Matt. 6:9; Eph. 1:2); Redeemer, covenant God (Ex. 3:14-15; Isa. 49:26); Refuge (Ps. 28:8; 46:1; 91:2); Rock (2 Sam. 23:3; Hab. 1:12; 1 Cor.10:4); Triune God (derived from 2 Cor. 13:13 and other passages).
Actions and Attributes of God The following lists cite actions and attributes for which we praise and thank God in prayer. We ground our petitions in God’s character by naming particular attributes and actions of God and praising God for them. The following actions or attributes can be included briefly in a form of address to God (such as “Almighty God, you have given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead us to Christ”) or in an extended prayer of thanksgiving. These lists merely offer suggestions on the many actions and attributes of God we can refer to in prayer.
Actions: Gracious God… you created the world in beauty . . . you created us in your image and yet more wonderfully restored us in Christ . . . you are re-creating the world in Christ . . . you revealed yourself to us in Christ . . . you allow us to glimpse your glory in the face of Christ . . . you teach, comfort, and challenge us by your Word . . . you govern this world in power and love . . . you lead us faithfully . . . you led your people by fire and cloud . . . you prepared the way for the coming of your Son . . . you sent your Son to the world for its salvation . . . you led the Magi by a star to worship your Son . . . you anointed Jesus your Son with your Spirit at his baptism . . . you raised Jesus from the dead through the power of the Spirit . . . you send us out into the world to make disciples . . . you sent your Holy Spirit to point us to Christ . . . you send your Holy Spirit to empower the church . . . you hear our prayers in Jesus’ name . . . you promise always to be with us . . . you promise the coming of Christ’s kingdom . . . you alone can bring healing . . . you alone can bring unity out of dissension . . . you alone can conquer evil . . . . Others?
Attributes: Gracious God…, we praise you as the one who is . . . abundant in truth, almighty, beautiful, eternal or everlasting, ever present, faithful, good, gracious, holy, incomprehensible, infinite, invisible, just, living, long-suffering, loving, perfect, wise, or…?
For extended expressions of praise, each attribute may be linked with a particular text, a story of God’s actions in history, or an experience of God’s blessing in your own life or in the lives of those you know and love (such as “Gracious Lord, we praise you as the one who was faithful to Abraham and Sarah, Boaz and Ruth, Joseph and Mary, and even to us . . .”).
Using the above names or addresses, and actions or attributes of God, write several expressions of praise or your own prayer of praise! Here are some of the many Biblical examples you could follow (1 Chron 16:8-36; Psa 100, 104, 118; 1 Peter 1:3-12; Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3-7; Rev 4:8,11; 5:9-10).