I stand very much in need
of greater grace,
if You want me to attain that
spiritual frame of mind
that allows no one to keep me from You” Thomas a ‘Kempis (ref#147, p185).
FATHER, You send Your HOLY SPIRIT to quicken me (John 6:63). For I am as one dead (John 5:25).
CHRIST, You work out Your righteousness in me. You make me realize its preciousness. Your righteousness in obeying perfectly all the law is imputed to me (ref#35, p298). So I am perfectly accepted by the FATHER (ref#35, p297).
The work of the HOLY SPIRIT is to prepare me for obedience; He enables me to be obedient and brings forth the fruits of obedience (ref#35, p305).
Everything the Triune GOD does for me is to make it possible to be obedient. My obedience to You gives You glory and honor. You give me everything and my only proper response is obedience (ref#35, p306). This is all I can give You. My every other interaction with You is all about receiving from You.
“…divine love…begins with the Father, is carried on by the Son, and then communicated by the Spirit; the Father designing, the Son purchasing, the Spirit effectually working” (ref#35, p302). I ascend “to the Father’s love through the work of the Spirit and blood of the Son” John Owen (ref#35, p302).
The SPIRIT is first, working in my heart giving me an interest in CHRIST’s blood. Then my interest is accepted by the FATHER.
TRIUNE GOD, I adore the labor-intense means You exert Yourself for me. I am triply blessed by Your means—blessed much more than if You would describe Yourself as just “the One GOD who saves me.” You are not a GOD who is far off (Jer 23:23).
POWERFUL IS YOUR ARM
“I…submit to Your unfathomable judgments, Lord;
You alone are truly great.
Uncrossable sea” Thomas a ‘Kempis (ref#147, p149)!
Powerful is Your arm! Strong is Your hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength (Ps 89:13).
Not only is Your arm and hand mighty and strong to save Your people, but also to destroy Your enemies. None can resist the force of Your mighty hand. Not one of Your enemies shall flee away. Even if they climb up to heaven You will bring them down (Amos 9:2). Your lifted right hand is a signal of Your power. Your right hand does valiantly (Ps 118:15).
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants (Ps 89:14). Righteousness and judgment inhabit Your throne. Your rules of equity and wisdom never vary. Mercy and truth go before You. These are all Yours in perfection (ref#18, [Ps 89:14]).
Powerful is Your arm to save. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me” (Ps 138:7 ESV). I will meditate on Your strength.
Among us, CHRIST, You were gentle and humble in heart (Matt 11:29)—as the One who serves (Luke 22:27). You made Yourself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Phil 2:7). And being found in human form, You humbled Yourself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). For my sake You became poor, that through Your poverty I might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).
In the days of Your flesh, You offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Your FATHER. Only He was able to save You from death (Heb 5:7).
You gave Your back to those who struck You, and Your cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; You did not hide Your face from shame and spitting (Isa 50:6). You were a reproach to men and despised by the people (Ps 22:6). Zeal for Your FATHER’s house consumed You; all who reproached Your FATHER, fell on You (Ps 69:9).
FATHER, keep reminding me that my life’s goal is to be Your bondservant as CHRIST was. If You allow me to serve You in a specific way, keep me from focusing on that service. Rivet my focus on being Your bondservant. Refine me into salt (Matt 5:13)—too much salt to the unregenerate but a perfect portion for the regenerate so that my life mirrors CHRIST.
A Sure Foundation
“…thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone of sure foundation; he who believes (trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone) will not be ashamed or give way or hasten away [in sudden panic]” (Isa 28:16 AMP).
FATHER, I hold You in reverence for the provisions You have gifted me. You give and take away and I stand or fall, but when I fall it is into the arms of CHRIST.
When I hold CHRIST’s hand catastrophes cannot separate us (ref#15, [Isa 28:16]). I honor You, FATHER, for the contentment You bring through CHRIST. CHRIST is so right for me, I never think of looking elsewhere for comfort (ref#67, [Isa 28:16]). Rest comes by just this reminder that I have CHRIST not only supporting me but also willing and able to move me through situations I see impossible.
CHRIST is the cornerstone of preciousness—“a stone of tested solidity to bear the vast superstructure of man’s redemption” (ref#17, [Isa 28:16])—including all my weaknesses. When You make my life unsteady with various trials my stability can be regained when I rest on CHRIST. FATHER, I treasure Your provided Cornerstone.
SCRIPTURE WRITTEN SO I MIGHT KNOW GOD
…FATHER, You, a GOD who needs nothing from me, puts at my disposal word-pictures that I might acquaint myself with Your majesty and love. You reveal Yourself through the Bible.
“…when we understand the words used, the historical background, and the cultural conventions of the writer and his readers, we are well on our way to grasping the thoughts that are being conveyed” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p844, “Understanding the Word of God”).
Without the SPIRIT’s help I will read the Bible from my vantage point, looking for facts that will help me know and achieve what I want. So, FATHER, I desire the SPIRIT to generate in me a passion for You.
May I seek You as I read noting Your attributes so I might strengthen my trust and love for You “not reading the Bible looking for information like an academic subject or trivia or doctrines, but a Person…” Dan Cummings (ref#141, Basking In the Light of the Glory of Christ, (sermon notes) Jan 1, 2005).
CLOTHED WITH THE GARMENTS OF SALVATION
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,…” (Isa 61:10 ESV).
FATHER, I will rejoice with holy joy, to Your honor. For the beauty of Your grace has clothed me with a durable covering. You have provided this garment for protection and ornamentation. It is the image of the church—how You defend it and make it beautiful (ref#16, [Isa 61:10]).
“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown…to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations” (Isa 61:11 ESV).
May I be pleasing to You with the righteousness and salvation that JESUS CHRIST clothes me. I rejoice to think of the fathomless blessings that shall spring forth for future ages and spread to distant regions—from generation to generation. How great is Your salvation that shall be published and proclaimed to all the world and the ends of the earth shall see it (ref#18, [Isa 61:10-11]).
“…’Holy, holy , holy is the Lord of hosts;…” (Isa 6:3 ESV)!
“…what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15 ESV). FATHER, Your abhorrence for ungodly things sobers me when I think about it. I think about it too little, now free me to think about it. Let me review ways of behaving that You positively hate:
“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Ps 5:4-6 ESV).
“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts” (Ps 7:11-13 ESV).
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (Prov 6:16-19 ESV).
FATHER, sin is whirling dust—filthy grit in Your eyes. Holiness is what I long for; may I tremble at Your Word lest I offend You (ref#89, p101). Save me, O GOD, that I may give thanks to Your holy name and glory in Your praise (1 Chron 16:35).
“…You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place…” (Ps 22:3 AMP).
CHRIST JUSTIFIES, THEN SANCTIFIES
“Thou hast shown me that because thou art mine
I can live by thy life,
be strong in thy strength,
be guided by thy wisdom;
and so I can pitch my thoughts and heart in thee” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p167).
FATHER, CHRIST does not remove the gap between You and me that sin causes, then sit back and expect me to make and maintain a relationship with You, no—He actually transforms me into a creature that brings You joy (ref#35, p289). He makes me suited to fellowship with You. He makes me…
“He [CHRIST] does not only justify his saints from the guilt of sin, but also sanctify and wash them from the filth of sin….He makes us not only accepted, but acceptable” John Owen (ref#35, p 291, [brackets mine]).
He is as a refiner’s fire so whatever in me that is of the SPIRIT, remains and whatever is of my natural self is consumed. CHRIST does not let me be independent. CHRIST never lets me alone to rely on my depraved natural self. In every minute of life He provides new supplies of grace through the SPIRIT. I must have new grace for every new morning. It is He, Himself Who is constantly working in me to will and do His good pleasure (Phil 2:13) (ref#35, p293).
FATHER, I can observe Your magnificence by looking at creation, but Your lovingkindness can only be seen through CHRIST JESUS (ref#35, p185). Give me the countenance to comprehend such adoring provision.
COVENANT OF GRACE
“…after the story of the fall in Genesis 3 is the story of God working out in history the amazing plan of redemption whereby sinful people could come into fellowship with himself” Wayne Grudem (ref#63, p519).
FATHER, as Your first covenant (the “covenant of works”), Your “covenant of grace” promises that You will be my GOD and I will be Yours (Jer 31:33). But, in this covenant You introduce a “mediator”—one needed for me if I’m to uphold my end of the covenant.
JESUS CHRIST fulfills the conditions of the covenant for me; He reconciles me to You, FATHER. It is called, the “covenant of grace” because it is entirely based on Your grace—Your unmerited favor toward me (ref#63, p520).
The “works covenant” of following rules is intended to lead me to faith in CHRIST. In attempting to keep all the works rules, I realize I can’t and thus need a Savior. Even the Old Testament people were not saved by following laws set down by You, they were saved by looking with faith forward the work of JESUS who was to come (ref#63, p519). I am saved by looking back in faith to CHRIST.
From faith to faith, You say the righteous shall live by faith (Rom 1:17). FATHER, I pray You give me such a strong faith that I continue all my life in faith. I want to prove I have faith by following Your direction in accomplishing deeds and actions of obedience to back up my faith (James 1:17). This is the result of You enabling me to keep the second covenant—good works that pour from a changed heart. FATHER, I want no more of the first covenant of works where I continually frustrate myself by trying to please You with my good deeds.
“…I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him….I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God…” (Gal 2:19-20 MSG).
CHRIST is the only one perfect as You are perfect (Matt 5:48). Thank You, FATHER, for sending CHRIST and seeing to it Yourself that I keep Your “covenant of grace.”
“BENIGN LORD, I praise thee continually for permission to approach thy throne of grace,…” (ref#76, p145).
FATHER, Your Son, THE CHRIST, is GOD, inseparable from deity, the second person of the Trinity (John 1:14,18). He is not merely an image or reflection of You, but absolutely the authentic representation of Your being (ref#96, p1813 [Col 1:15]). He comes out of You, the FATHER, as a Son (ref#21, p809, [Heb 1:2]).
CHRIST is “the Founder and Builder” of Your family (ref#21, p809 [Heb 1:2]). The seeds CHRIST propagates are ever being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge after the likeness of Yourself (Col 3:10).
Natural man can rule the animal and plant kingdoms (Gen 1:28-29), but he cannot rule the heavenly powers, especially Satan (Eph 6:10-12). He is unable to use his powers to reflect Your holiness (ref#56, p9, “The Image of God”). Only CHRIST, being the very image of Your Person (Heb 1:3), rules all powers on both earth and heaven. He triumphs, and the community united with Him triumphs over the forces of sin, death, and the devil (ref#56, p14 [Gen 3:15]). Thank You, FATHER, for sending CHRIST to live in me to reflect Your holiness (Gal 2:20).