Sunday, January 6, 2008

Evening Gratitude

As the time for sleep approaches, Father, I would think upon Your faithfulness through my days, and thank You. Only in eternity will I fully see the constancy of Your care, the protection You so precisely provided, and Your timing of all my circumstances within Your sovereign providence.

I get misty-eyed recalling the numerous moments when I neared tragedy and death, seeing in my memory how unmistakably You intervened. They each rise up in my recollections, bearing silent testimony to the ways You've shown Yourself strong on my behalf. Whether car crashes, near-drownings, or falling unconscious in the hallway, You've made Your loving protection so very plain.

Thank You for bringing them to mind. May Your blessed Spirit use these remembrances to:

deepen my desire to walk in a manner worthy of Your calling;

speak more freely of Your gracious nature to those who do not know You;

refuse the urge to complain or murmur in adversity;

meet each morning with declarations of Your goodness;

close each day with greater gratitude for your grace.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ephesians: All of Grace (1:18, 19)

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might"

* After telling the Ephesians that he never ceased praying for them (v.17), Paul breaks out in prayer for them! What a natural sequence this was for him--- moving from a discussion of prayer straight into intercession. May our praying likewise come as naturally!

*Here Paul specifically asks for three aspects of spiritual awareness: he asked the Father that they would come to understand (1) the hope of His calling; (2) the rich inheritance He gives His own; and, (3) the enormity of His power resident within each one of His children.

*First, the calling. Unlike our everyday use and assumption regarding hope, in the Scriptural use of the term there is a certainty involved. We say we hope something will happen (or not happen), and feel assured by past experience which way it will turn out. But we lack the element of certainty. The Bible, however, speaks of the Christian's hope as a settled, immutable issue, having no possibility of failure. Why? The omnipotent and sovereign God of the universe has declared it to be so!
Therefore, we can know that we know we are His. Some would label such confidence arrogance--- the Lord knows it to be grateful belief, taking Him at His infallible Word.

*Secondly, the inheritance. The Lord Jesus said, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also," (John 14:2,3). Though it is possible to be 'so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly good', Christians are to think much of our heavenly inheritance. The Lord who has prepared a place for His own would have us meditate longingly upon the time when we will be where He is.

*Thirdly, the power. Paul states the principle autobiographically in II Corinthians 12:9,10 -- the Lord's power is most plainly seen through usable, weakened, and tried vessels. As a thoroughly normal human, Paul took no masochistic delight in the physical adversities to which he was subjected. What caused him the gratitude, endurance, and even rejoicing through the torturous times was the evident power God displayed. Pain increased Paul's dependence on the mighty One. When he could find comfort in no one else, he found Him faithful.

Father, forgive for the ways we chafe against the very tools You use to conform us into the image of Your Son. Increase our trust in Your infinite wisdom, believing You for the loving God that You are.
In Your Son's Name,