Scriptures and Prayers for Uncertain Times

A reminder of God’s greatness:

Say among the nations: “The Lord reigns. The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken. He judges the peoples fairly.” Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound. ~ Psalm 96:10-11

Father, you are the great, awesome, and mighty God. You reign over all creation. The whole earth is yours. Nothing happens that is beyond your control. Nothing surprises you or catches you off guard. Father, we are weak. We are prone to fear. We don’t see everything as you see. Help us to remember your strength. Help us to trust in your sovereign rule. Even in the midst of trouble, make us glad so that we may rejoice at all you are and all you have done. Amen.

A reminder of God’s presence:

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” ~Moses, Deuteronomy 31:8; “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~Jesus, Matthew 28:20

Lord, sometimes we feel alone and isolated. Sometimes we can feel as if there is no hope. Sometimes we are confused and scared. Yet, you promise that you are always with us. You promise to always be near. By your Spirit, remind us of your nearness. By your word, remind us again and again of your great promises. Help us to realize that as our souls cry out, “Abba, Father!”, you are there near to us. Always and forever. Amen.

A reminder of God’s compassion:

Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before you. Do not hide your face from me in my day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call… But you, Lord, are enthroned forever; your fame endures to all generations. You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her–the appointed time has come. ~Psalm 102:1-2, 12-13

Father, you are the God of compassion. Look upon us with your kindness and mercy. Hear our prayers for help in this day of trouble. Answer quickly, Lord. Hear from your throne, and for your glory, rise up and show your compassion to us. Show us your favor and bring relief. You are the God delighting in doing good; the God who gives eternal love to your children. Amen.

A reminder of God’s love and grace:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so is his faithful love toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. ~Psalm 103:11-12

Father, your love is greater than we can imagine. Your grace is deeper than the depths of the oceans. Because of our rebellion against you, we don’t deserve your goodness. But through Jesus you draw us near as your sons and daughters. You have looked upon us with love; you have given us grace. You have taken our sins and cast them away from us, so you hold nothing against us. Your gift to us is greater than all the goodness we could otherwise see in this life. Your love is so vast that all the evil and hardships we face will one day fade to a distant memory. Thank you for your love and grace. Amen.

A reminder of God’s protection:

The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen. ~2 Timothy 4:18

Father, as much as we desire comfort and safety, we have no guarantee of that in this life. Yet, this does not make us fear, nor does this rob our joy. For, in Jesus, you promise us something greater. You will protect us into eternity. At worst, today, we might die. But then, if we die, we step into forever life, forever joy, and forever glory. You have given us a purpose in this life to know you and your love and make you and your love known. For each breath you give us, may we seek to do just that. And then, when our days are done, we rejoice that you bring us safely into your heavenly kingdom. Amen.

All Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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More Than a Symbol

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, since all of us share the one bread. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

In the Baptist tradition it is sometimes popular to emphasize the symbolic nature of the Lord’s Supper. Unlike some faith traditions, we do not hold that the bread and cup in any way become the actual or even spiritual body and blood of Jesus. The bread remains bread and the wine/juice remains wine/juice.

Yet, sometimes we can take this idea too far, as if to say that the Lord’s Supper is only symbolic of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul made it clear that there is something deeper that happens with the Lord’s Supper. The word that is translated “sharing” in the passage above is the same word that is also used for “fellowship.” Fellowship is a sharing of life, a sense of treating one another as family, because in Christ that is what we are.

Yet, there is also a spiritual aspect to fellowship. In the same letter, Paul wrote of the fellowship we have with Jesus (1:9) and in his followup letter, Paul wrote about the fellowship we have with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:13).

When we think that part of the Christian life is Christ in us through the Holy Spirit, we see that fellowship goes beyond “doing life together” or a sharing of what we can see, taste, hear, and touch. In our fellowship with God, as well as our fellowship with other followers of Jesus, there is a spiritual communion that takes place.

In sharing with the body and blood of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, there is a special sense of this spiritual fellowship that we experience. This is not, however, in the transformation of the bread and wine used, but in the act itself. The bread and wine are physical elements that engage our senses to what occurs spiritually. In the Supper we have a heightened moment reminding us that we belong to Jesus and that his sacrifice is the very thing that brought us into God’s family. Along with this is a heightened sense that as we participate in the Supper together as followers of Jesus, we truly are part of the same eternal family through Jesus.

This is why in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul warned against taking the Supper improperly, which, in its context, is partaking in the Supper selfishly to satisfy the cravings of our bellies without consideration for our broader family in Christ. When we ignore the sense of sharing, we miss the communal purpose of communion–we are one with Jesus and one with each other in God’s global family.

So, while yes, the bread and wine are symbols, the Supper itself is more than a symbol. It is a family meal, a communion of souls.

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Make the Most of Your Days

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.

In fact, you have made my days just inches long, and my life span is as nothing to you. Yes, every human being stands as only a vapor. ~Psalm 39:5

Life is short.

We don’t think much about it when we’re young, when old seems so far away, when we feel invincible, like nothing can touch us. Yet, the older we grow, we begin to realize the brevity of life. Days seem to go by faster. In a blink, you were in high school and now you’re the parent of a high schooler.

The Bible calls life a vapor, especially compared to the timelessness of an eternal God. A vapor–you can think of a cold morning where you let out your breath, a brief cloud forms, and then it fades.

Life is short. We must learn, then, to make the most of our days.

One thing we must keep in mind is even though life on this present earth is short, physical death is not the end of our existence. We have a beginning, but we have no end. Life is short, as some say, but eternity is long. What we do with our today helps determine what will become of our forever.

The way we make the most of our short days is through love.

First, we must embrace the love of God offered us through Jesus. Without Jesus, we stand alone as rebels against God, condemned by his goodness, and far from his joy. Yet, when we receive God’s free offer of love in Jesus, by simple trust, we stand in him as beloved children of God, blessed by his goodness, and flooded with eternal joy. God loves us and offers his eternal love to all who will receive it.

Second, we must respond to love with love. A life found in Jesus is a life meant to love God supremely. We devote ourselves fully to him. We commit to go wherever he leads. Loving God is a grand delight in which we find true, unfading pleasure.

Third, we must love all others. A life found in Jesus is a life meant to love others deeply–our family, our friends, our neighbors, and even our enemies. In love, we happily seek their best. This means that we show them the love that God has for them by telling them of Jesus and by meeting their needs.

When we embrace such a life of love, we will find our days, in the end, not wasted.

Life is short. Love well and make the most of your days.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ 1 Corinthians 6:11

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: 1 Corinthians 6:11
And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, how you see us matters more than anything. What you have done for us through Jesus matters more than anything. We each have our sins. Apart from Jesus, we each lived lives full of rebellion against you. Our sins may have looked different than our neighbor’s, but our sins still condemned us. On our own, we would be hopeless. But you acted. You changed things. You gave us Jesus and your Holy Spirit who washed away the stain of sin, who purified us before you, and who made us right in your sight. Though we are still far from perfect, you do not hold our sin against us. Instead, you hold us as pure and righteous, all because of your great love for us through Jesus. Thank you for this gift of grace. Amen.

Scripture verses taken from our Daily Bible Reading Calendar which you can find here.

Praying the Bible ~ Romans 13:8

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Romans 13:8
Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, to love is your great command. To love is a fulfillment of all that you have commanded us. May we owe a debt of love to everyone we meet. May we owe them kindness and patience. May we owe them in such a way that we pay them back by seeking their best in you. May love be our everyday currency and may we lavishly spend it, going deeper in debt with the outpouring of our love. Amen.

Scripture verses taken from our Daily Bible Reading Calendar which you can find here.

Go and Preach

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? ~ Romans 10:13-14

In a way, salvation is easy to obtain. In some ways it is hard. Our own pride and arrogance get in the way. We’d rather cling to our traditions than to recognize our need for change. We stubbornly hold onto our idols. Those things can make it hard, but if we are willing to let go, then salvation is easy to obtain.

Jesus will not turn away any who trust in him. This is why Paul said, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But, as Paul went on to say, they won’t call on Jesus if they have never heard of Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) but people cannot know the way, the truth, and the life unless they’re told.

So, who is to tell them? Who are the preachers who are sent?

Every follower of Jesus. We are all called to be everyday preachers.

But wait? Isn’t preaching a task of pastors? Yes, pastors are to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) but they also equip “the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Telling others the good news about Jesus is not limited to the pastors.

But don’t we send missionaries? Yes, missionaries go with the gospel. The reason we send them is we can’t all be everywhere at once. Missionaries are trained and equipped to go to places with the good news of Jesus, where we can’t ordinarily go due to personal constraints. Telling others the good news about Jesus is not limited to missionaries.

In the Great Commission of Matthew 28, Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he commanded. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a disciple; and as a disciple you are charged to obey all that Jesus commanded, which includes going and making disciples.

That is the call to all of us to be everyday preachers. The world needs Jesus. Our neighbors need Jesus. Our coworkers and classmates need Jesus. Our families need Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we have the message of hope and joy, so let us tell them so they can hear and so they can believe.

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ Romans 8:18

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, it is easy for our hearts to be distracted by the moment, especially when the moment runs high or low. In the low points, the pain and suffering we face, we can easily take our eyes off you. We can drift into self-pity and sadness. Yet, beyond the moment, you have intended something greater. Beyond the pain, you are designing for us great beauty and joy. The day will come, standing in your presence, flooded by your joy, that we will not think upon all that we suffered. Father, help us to remember that there is more to life than the moment. Help us to remember the great Tomorrow–the grand eternal pleasures you have promised us through Jesus. Amen.

Scripture verses taken from our Daily Bible Reading Calendar which you can find here.