Heaven’s HR Department

Human Resource departments fill three necessary purposes fHr deptor the workplace: compensation, staffing and designing work. The goal is to “maximize the productivity of an organization by optimizing the effectiveness of its employees.”

Heaven has the perfect HR Department.

Paul was on his way to strengthen the churches he and Barnabas had previously seen take root in Syria and Cilicia. From the familiar places, he and his teammate Silas wanted to press on to unfamiliar places: Asia, Bithynia and further, Lord willing. He wasn’t. In fact, the Holy Spirit forbade Paul to “speak the word in Asia.” Wow! Turning to Mysia with his target Bithynia, “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.” Again, wow!

What’s going on? Doesn’t the Lord love people in Asia and want to save them through the gospel? Are they not part of the Great Commission’s instruction to disciple the nations?

Yes, heaven’s HR Department, headed by the sovereign Spirit of Jesus, aims to maximize the work of the church in the Great Commission. The Spirit always directs the right resources to the right places at the right times. After being told “No” twice, I can imagine Paul planting himself on a park bench with Silas and saying, “OK, Lord. We’ll just wait for your next assignment to come to our In-box.” It came that night. In a vision. Paul saw a Macedonian man appealing to him with a special invitation: “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Paul and Silas left immediately and made it to Philippi. And what an assignment it was! The Lord opened the heart of a business woman who immediately became a believer. A demon-possessed girl, a money-maker for her occult masters, followed Paul around like an annoying, yapping puppy: “These men are the bondservants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” Paul was miffed; annoyed actually. A lot. So, he turned to the spirit in the girl and in Jesus’ name commanded the spirit to come out of her. He did! She was delivered. She became a believer. She quit her day job.

But her masters were even more annoyed because their money stream dried up as quickly as the demon took flight. They stirred up the chief leaders of the city. Paul was arrested, beaten with rods (punishment due for all but Roman citizens) and thrown into prison. Sitting in the bottom of a dank jail cell, singing hymns of praise to God with Silas, entertaining all the prisoners, God provides an earthquake to remove chains and doors and set the prisoners free.

The Roman guard knew what this meant: The Roman HR Department would dispatch him to Hades, the Roman underworld for losing his prisoners! He was about to fall on his sword when Paul stopped him assuring him they were all still present and accounted for. A quick word about how to be saved and another Christian was spiritually born.

The grateful guard took Paul and Silas to his house, cleaned their wounds, fed them and they had a baptism service for the whole household.

The membership of Philippi’s first Christian church was three unlikely people: a business woman, a formerly demon-possessed girl, and a near-retirement Roman soldier.

But here’s why the Spirit of Jesus blocked Paul and moved him to this city.

When the city fathers found out that Paul, a full-fledged Roman citizen, was illegally beaten with rods, a punishment reserved to all non-Romans as second-class citizens, they sheepishly and quietly asked him to leave town through the back door. Paul wouldn’t have it. He wanted a public apology from the Magistrate, not his intermediaries, and a Magistrate’s escort out of town in full view of the city population.

Pride? Revenge? Christian demands for justice? No. You see, Paul wanted public recognition that the new church was not a threat to the Empire. He used his Roman citizenship as personal proof that Christianity isn’t about breaking laws or making trouble for the city. Christianity saves lives and improves cultures. The public apology and escort by the magistrates calmed fears and put the church in a positive light.

Peter, John, James or the other apostles could not provide this legal cover for the fledgling church the way Paul could. Heaven’s HR Department knew that and sent the right man, at the right time, with the proper credentials and competencies to secure the future of the Philippian church.

The HR Department of heaven takes the long view of discipling the nations. Someone in their files would tackle Asia and Bithynia. China, Burma, and India had to wait for Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson and William Carey.

So, when you apply for that job in Texas and don’t get it but you get the one in Minnesota, it’s just Heaven’s HR Department doing what it does best. Sending the right man, or woman, with the right qualifications to fulfill heaven’s assignment.

The Decrees of kings and The King

Politics. Political parties. News cycles. I’m a news junkie, but sometimes . . .

It seems like our elected officials believe their reason for being there is to investigate the “other guys” who are there and shouldn’t be, in their humble defense of the Constitution.

Glad to read how God works behind the scenes of people in power. Ezra 6 gives us a glimpse of God’s awesome power and sovereign grace on the move. Here are ten snapshots from the chapter to calm the overly-politically-concerned person.

  1. When resistance to God’s work arises, he uses even pagan (i.e., secular) governments to show favor to his people (vv. 1-12).
  2. God is always at work, behind the scenes, aiding and assisting his people so we can do what is required, namely worship him wholeheartedly (v. 14b)
  3. God’s leaders are the means he uses to influence his people to persevere in serving the kingdom.
  4. With God, failure is never permanent for repentant and faithful believers. Renewed strength to persevere is available.
  5. Joy isn’t self-manufactured; it comes from knowing God (v. 22)
  6. God’s powerful grace turns hearts toward his cause. He can turn an unfavorable government favorable toward his people (v. 22; Prov 21:1). Point in case, he just moved a community organizer to use city funds to paint a large portion of our church!
  7. God provides everything necessary to be his people in our community. If it’s a building he provides; if its things necessary for worship, he provides; if its possessions that have been stolen, he returns them no devil in hell or evil person on earth can withhold forever what God wants for his church . . . or your family (vv. 6-18).
  8. God decrees that the Church prays and work for the welfare and righteous leadership of the city, state, nation so that these authorities rule well and so the church can peaceably advance the mission of the gospel of Christ (v. 10b).
  9. To join Christ is to join the people of God and to separate one’s self from the corruptions of the world (v. 21) The community of saints band together to grow in holiness and fight the sins of the flesh. No drifting into holiness. No holiness apart from the assistance of brothers and sisters in Christ.
  10. Be amazed at how God works. He works his will where he wants, through whom he wants, when he wants, his timing and ways are always perfect. God works for his cause and his people; it is his love in action.

So now, we can watch the evening news and sleep well!

10 THINGS ABOUT TRUE FAITH FROM 2 HEROES

 

Esther and MordecaiWe all like heroes because they make us believe there is still some good in the world. We like heroes because they show courage in the face of crisis and exude confidence, even if they will admit later they were scared to death or they were just doing their jobs.

The Bible has heroes too; heroes of the faith. But they are also people like us, made of the same stuff. What sets them apart isn’t so much their courage as their faith. When a crisis comes, the residuals of the world and flesh are revealed and faith is proven for what it is. A crisis can call out the faith in us or deplete us.

Two such heroes are Mordecai and Esther. Faced with a genocide of the entire Jewish population in captivity, the two endured the crisis and revealed the nature of true faith. Mordecai said, “Esther if you don’t do something about this crisis, deliverance will come from another place. But how do you know that you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Esther said, “I’ll do. You pray and fast, I’ll pray and fast and if I perish, I perish.” Sounds heroic, right?

Here are 10 things in now particular order about the crisis they faced that brought out of their faith:

  1. True faith is both optimistic and willing to “lose.” They believed God and left the outcome in his hands.
  2. True faith sees opportunities and expresses encouragement.
  3. True faith is sensitive to God’s timing and willing to wait.
  4. True faith takes risks for big things.
  5. True faith is born of confidence in God.
  6. True faith acts; it makes wise plans and executes them patiently.
  7. True faith looks to God first in every circumstance; crisis or not.
  8. True faith recognizes personal inadequacy and calls for the Spirit’s help; a sort of spiritual 911.
  9. True faith is not afraid to alert others to the dangers ahead.
  10. True faith rallies a network of help.

Father, we may not be facing a crisis yet but we have a situation for which we can’t plan well. Give us faith to face the changes we see on the horizon. Reveal your plans so we can walk in true faith. Father us into your will as you’ve done before.

Longing for Home

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

I recently drove from Baltimore, MD to Fitchburg, MA where my wife and I currently live. I’m a transitional pastor for a local church. We were in Baltimore to visit our daughter and celebrate her birthday. On the day after our arrival there, we got the phone call we didn’t want to get on vacation: our brother-in-law (my wife’s sister’s husband) passed away from cancer. He was just 59 years old. We knew it was coming but . . .

We quickly made plans for my wife and daughter to fly to Minnesota to be with my wife’s sister. My plans called for taking two dogs and heading back to MA to continue my work.

Just about half way home, I drive just 10 miles south of my hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY. Just a quick right hand exit and in 20 minutes I can be driving the familiar streets of my childhood. It’s been nearly 50 years since I lived there, but despite some of the changes, I can still make my way around town and to each of the houses in which we lived. Every one is etched in my mind.

It’s always an odd nostalgia that catches me when I’m able to do this. It’s my home town but not my home. I remember my schools, my church, the parking lot of the bank where my brother and I raced our bikes, the parks in which my friends and I played football and sandlot baseball, even the small cemetery where my great-aunt and great grandmother are buried, and the old hang outs as a teen. But with each visit the a sense of detachment deepens. Vivid memories but not emotional attachments.

In fact, my wife and I have been recently discussing where our home is. Believe it or not, we are not sure where we’d call home at this point! We sold our house in CO to take this assignment. Our daughters live 2000 miles apart; one on the east coast and one in CO. We like both places but not sure that either is home now.

Which providentially brings me to this chapter of John’s Gospel. It gets lots of attention at funerals. But it’s really meant for the living. In it, Jesus makes some stunning life-transforming statements. Big ones. But I want to focus on a relatively small statement with big meaning that humbled me as I read it.

Jesus comforts the disciples after letting them know he’s “going away.” The meaning escapes them, but that doesn’t bother Jesus. They’ll understand soon enough. Now, it is enough for them to know that though they might be tempted to think they’re being “orphaned” by his going away, Jesus promises that he will be with them. In fact, Jesus says that he, his Father and the Spirit will “make our home with” them.

Think of it: the Father, his Son and the Spirit plan to make a home for themselves where you are! We don’t need to wait until heaven to experience glimpses and bits and pieces of what kind of home they are making of us. Your address may change, but not your home. As we prove our love for Jesus by obeying his word, we are the home of the Trinity.

Now, of course this is a “mystical” home (in theologian-speak) akin to our mystical union with Christ but it’s home nonetheless. In fact, there is more homeness in this home.

“Home” invokes lots of pleasant memories. It’s a place that poets write about and singers sing about: Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel or Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins and Two of Us by the Beatles come to mind. When you’re away from home, there’s a longing for it that you know when you get back there will restore your soul and soothe your mind. Home is the place that accepts us when the rest of the world rejects us, heals us when the world bruises us and rebuilds our confidence when the world laughs at or scorns us. Home means being rooted and safe. Home is the place where the pressures of performance are off and we can relax and be at peace with ourselves and others. Home is just the way things should be when everything is just right.

This is a chapter full of the language of family relationships. The home that Jesus, his Father and his Spirit are making of us is where the Trinity resides. Since you are reading this and I am writing it, we are not in our real home just yet. But the Father, Son and the Spirit have come to be “at home” with us. (And that’s a whole other blog!)

Therefore, this world will never be our home; “we’re just traveling through.” If the Trinitarian God is making his home with us, we can never be “at home” (read at peace) with this world. We can’t ever settle in. We can’t “take possession” of it the way we do when we buy a house. As I heard said recently, don’t set your happiness on something that you can lose. You can’t lose the home where the Father, the Son and the Spirit call home!

We are a home away from home when the Trinitarian God makes his home with us. We belong to a household. Christian fellowship expands and fills out this sense of being home while being away from home. The reflection of the Father’s house (i.e., real Christian fellowship) is the hearth that warms the soul when the world sends the chill right to the bone.

If you are longing for “home,” long for the home that the Trinity makes with you and enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit with other believers. You’ll never feel alone and you’ll always have a place of retreat for your soul.

 

 

Church Life: Keep It Two Chevrons Apart

Hurry sickness plagues us all. Read this remedy.

Stephen McAlpine

keep-apart-2-chevrons-road-sign

As a pastor I make it my aim to encourage people to live life, and especially church life, in a “keep apart two chevrons” manner.  Let me explain.

If you’ve ever driven a UK motorway you’ll see the sign above as you hammer along at the usual twenty or thirty (miles) over the speed limit.  Chevron are those arrow signs, and they’re painted on the motorway for a good reason.

They’re there because the speed you are travelling will, over time, lull you into thinking you are not going as fast as you are.  It’s called speed intoxication.  It’s that feeling you get when you go slow down to go through a country town in rural Australia after two hours at maximum speed limit on an open road.  It feels like you’re crawling, until of course you hit something, or someone, and then you realise that 60kmh is just as…

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8 Considerations for Contemporary Worship from Chronicles

You may not think 1 Chronicles would be a place to find guidance for contemporary worship. After all, isn’t the book steeped in lots of language about rituals and rules and prescriptions?

Yes, but . . .Dancing David

Let’s remember the first audience to read 1 Chronicles – the returned exiles. The Jews spent years in exile, away from their homeland and the temple where God dwelled and now many of them were home. The important point to be made is this: how they came to be exiled was not lost on them. It was as fresh in their minds as if it happened yesterday. The sting still smarted. They were guilty and they knew it. Now that God made the way for their return, what they wanted to know was how not or never have it happen again. They knew what went wrong, now they wanted to get it right.

That’s the all-important historic frameworkof the story about David returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David did a few things wrong but lots of things right. It wasn’t just about the prescriptions for the transportation of the Ark, but about the prescriptions for the heart.

So, without unpacking all that goes into these two summary chapters (15 and 16), here’s eight things we can learn from the episode in Israel’s life that applies to contemporary Christian worship.

  1. Contemporary worship no longer requires Mosaic rules or regulations. David didn’t pay attention to the Law of Moses that proscribed that the Levites carry the Ark on their shoulders. David ordered a new cart drawn by oxen to transport the Ark. When the oxen stumbled, the Ark toppled, Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark, God became angry and killed Uzzah. David was angry at God’s anger but later got the proscription right. All that to say, we are no longer obligated to Mosaic Law. Even though we know this, it’s important to know why – Jesus is the center of worship. He fulfilled all the rules and regulations of the temple because he replaces the temple. This must be stated up front even though there is no evidence in these two chapters. Jesus takes care of this in John 4.
  2. Reverence for God is still required. David knew that his anger at the Lord’s anger for “breaking out against Uzzah” was unwarranted and he replaced it with the proper response of the fear of the Lord. Our worship must rest on the same foundation of the fear of the Lord.
  3. Music! Music stirs the heart for worship and frees the lips to sing praises. The more musicians and singers the better! Luther was right: “I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God. The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them…. In [summary] next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits.”
  4. Worship declares the judgments of God. Christ is to be praised for being the covenant promise that saves through the power and efficacy of his shed blood. That plan was God’s judgment since before the foundation of the world.
  5. Worship declares the miraculous deeds of God. God is to be praised for healing the man at the pool in Bethsaida (I’ve been reading John’s Gospel at the same time) as well as for healing the young mother with four children of cancer down the street. All God’s deeds, old and contemporary, are praise worthy.
  6. Worship declares the works of God. He is the God and Governor of creation, the life-giver (natural and eternal), our ransom from sin, the Savior and Redeemer.
  7. In worship, we condemn all idols. Jesus is above all other gods, to be held in awe because splendor and majesty and strength and joy satisfy the needs of our souls. Worship rids the soul of disordered lovers that still linger in our hearts.
  8. God’s work of salvation in Jesus is for all peoples of all nations to give them strength and joy.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

 

The Man After God’s Own Heart?

Can we agree that David was an imperfect man? Although God chose him to be the great ancestor of Jesus, he too was, in the words of John Newton, a great sinner in need of a great Savior. Though he committed adultery with Bathsheba, conspired to have her husband killed, took a census he should not have, wasn’t a model father, mourned more bitterly over the death of Absalom than was appropriate for a leader and gave his son Solomon a “hit list” to execute at his death, he claimed that he “walked in his integrity.” This means that David understood himself to be “complete,” “full,” “perfect,” “upright,” and “innocent.” Even God, who saw it all, agreed with David’s self-understanding. We know this because God favored David with the title: “a man after my own heart.”

It eluded me for years how David could make this claim. David wasn’t one to boast in his own accomplishments; he boasted in the goodness of God. And I understood that he walked in the promised righteousness of the (for him) coming Messiah, yet I winced whenever I read a psalm that said, “You have upheld me because of my integrity.” Did David really think he earned God’s favor because he attained a level of spiritual and moral perfection that obliged God? “May it never be!” Hard to imagine.

The statements David and God made could not be contradictory, much less wrong. So, during my scheduled reading through the Bible, I decided to pay careful attention to the things David did and said and what God said about it. I marked every place where I thought David’s heart was revealed with “D’s H.” It wasn’t until my reading took me to 1 Kings that I discovered the nugget of truth I’d been looking for.

The way to explain this will involve an observation about the story or the statements said (by David, God or others).

That’s what this series of blogs will be about. But the big goal is to see our hearts changed to be like David’s. Stay with me won’t you?

10 Things Lambs Pray For

We have friends that are going to be with family members that are not Christians this Christmas. Some of their comments lead me to believe that they expect to feel the pressure of being a Christian in an unwelcoming environment. You know the feeling: like lambs led to the slaughter.

christmas-lambThe other day when I was reading my Bible, but not particularly thinking about the situations my friends would encounter, I read the story of Jesus sending out seventy-two disciples. He sent them ahead of him to the places where he intended to go. He told them this was a “harvest” situation and to pray earnestly “to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:1-12). He gave them specific instructions about what to bring, where to stay, with whom to stay and what to do when they got there. When the disciples returned, they were filled with joy and stories about what happened. The most notable story was that they experienced the dark powers of demons “subject to [them] in [Christ’s] name!” Talk about thrilling! What could be better than knowing the powers of darkness were no match for the authority of Jesus in their service? Well, Jesus told them what was better: “Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to  you but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Lambs will always be weak and vulnerable and led to the slaughter, even when they are fully dependent on Jesus’ name for power to serve the kingdom of God. And no matter what happens, your name has a permanence of place.

As I read the rest of the chapter that tells the story of Jesus’ making his way to Jerusalem “to be taken up,” it occurred to me that the whole chapter was instructive for the prayer life of lambs who will go into hospitable and inhospitable places where Christ is to be magnified.

Here are ten things lambs can  pray for as they go to those place:

  1. Pray to be a faithful laborer because there are never enough of us.
  2. Pray for direction to places where peaceful people live.
  3. Pray for the sick and those oppressed by the powers of darkness for healing and deliverance.
  4. Pray for personal protection – you’re a lamb after all in need of the Shepherd’s presence at all times. Wolves are everywhere!
  5. Pray that you keep the right perspective – it’s not about demons being subject to you, it’s about your name written in heaven. Rest in that.
  6. Pray for opportunities to be a lamb-like neighbor. Show mercy at all times – even when you don’t feel like it.
  7. Pray for time to experience the “good portion” of being a lamb at sitting at Jesus’ feet.
  8. Pray to be convinced about Satan’s defeat and that the Father has revealed to you his gracious will.
  9. Pray to bring the kingdom of God near wherever you are.
  10. Pray for the same determination that Jesus had to do the Father’s will.

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How Do We Magnify the Lord?

telescopes Mary’s song is known as the Magnificat, taken from the first words, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” How do we magnify God? Is it only with words? Luke portrays Mary as the model disciple who magnifies God with her life, too. In the simplest terms, to magnify the Lord means to “make much of Jesus,” as John Piper has defined it. We make Jesus big and attractive and admired by our words and actions and even in our thoughts.[1]

Piper reminds us that there are two kinds of magnifying: microscope magnifying and telescope magnifying.[2] The first makes small things look bigger than they are. The other makes big things that are far away look as big as they really are. “When David says ‘I will praise the name of God in song; I will magnify God with thanksgiving,’ he doesn’t mean, ‘I will make a small God look bigger than he is.’ He means, ‘I will make a big God look as big as he is with the ways I show and speak my gratitude,'” and I would add, bring him near so others can admire his value.

Piper uses this helpful analogy by calling Christians to become telescopes, not microscopes. Here is the idea for an application to our lives: our calling is to live in such a way that our lives make God look as great and as valuable as he really is and bring him near to others. What does that look like? According to Luke, Mary is our example.

In Mary, we see an example of someone who developed a life that does just that. As I reflected on Mary as a model of someone who makes much of God, I saw a pattern of five activities from her life that when combined have the power to transform us into telescopes of God’s worth.

  1. We make much of God by meditating on his word.[3] Mary “steeped” herself in God’s word through the practice of meditation. Christian meditation is like a tea bag steeping in hot water. Two things happen to steeped tea bags: they transform the color and taste of the water. God’s word transforms the way we think, act, and “taste” to others. This is the only way to account for the content of Mary’s song which has nearly fifty direct references or allusions to the OT Scriptures.[4] She let God’s word draw her in and rewrite the direction of her life. Mary let God’s word reshape her soul’s thinking and renew her affections for him. As a result, Mary had a mind and heart filled with a God-saturated theology.
  2. We make much of God by treasuring his promises.[5] Mary understood that God’s grace is mined by treasuring his promises. She kept alive all the events of the birth of Jesus, the words of Gabriel, the visits of the shepherds and Magi, the words of Simeon, and Anna and no doubt the words of Scripture. She held onto all these as from the Lord to help her face the most challenging times of her life during the ministry and execution of her Son. When we face the disappointments and confusion of life, treasuring God’s promises makes much of God because others would tell us to give up on him.
  3. We make much of God by serving him at the risk of reputation. What motivation did Mary have in the face of the inevitable spiteful gossip and crushing judgments of others? It was not from arguments against those judgments but the joy of serving the Lord in that way. She found personal strength and relief from fears as she put her trust in the mercy of God. She was quick and eager to do it because she savored the holy God whom she knew would not give her anything evil or unloving or impossible to endure. She knew that a holy God never makes mistakes in orchestrating the providences he brings into the lives of those humble enough to receive it.
  4. We make much of God by expressing gratitude for his mercy. Gratitude marks the heart of the person who loves God’s mercy. Knowing God’s mercy the way she did enabled Mary to accept from God’s hands even his mysterious providences. When we don’t understand what God is doing in our lives, we make much of him by expressing gratitude for his mercies.
  5. We make much of God by encouraging others in the obedience of faith. This is a practice that she shared with Elizabeth. Both women were eager to visit, not so much for the confirmation of the work of God, but as a way of encouraging each other in their respective roles in God’s plans. Their praise for God and for each other’s faith gave mutual strength to continue in their obedience.

As we enter into this Christmas season that is sometimes more a distraction to magnifying the Lord than a help, reflecting on Mary’s life as an example for our own worship and praise will bring us back to center. Mary’s focus was centered on the God who sent his Son into the world to save sinners and praised him for his mercy.

Remember: the calling of the Christian is to become a telescope for the world to “look through” and see the infinite wealth and value of the glory of God.

[1]1 Cor 10:31.

[2]John Piper, “How to Magnify God” [on-line]; accessed 5 December 2016; available from http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-magnify-god; Internet.

[3]Luke 1:29; 2:19, 51.

[4]Verse 41 = Gen 25:22-28; Malachi 4:2; v. 42 = Judges 5:24; Deut 28:1, 4; v. 43 = Ps 110:1; 2 Samuel 6:9; vv. 46-47 = Ps 34:1-3; Isaiah 26:9; Job 12:10; Daniel 3:39; 1 Sam 2:1; Habakkuk 3:18; v. 48 = Deut 22:23-23; 26:7;  1 Sam 1:11; 2:1-10;  9:16; v. 49 = Zephaniah 3:17; Deut 10:21; Isaiah 47:4; 57:15; Ezekiel 36:22-25; Malachi 1:11; v. 50 = Ps 103:17; v. 51 = Exodus 6:1, 6; Deut 3:24; 7:19; Isa 51:5, 9; 53:1; Ps 88:1; v.52 = Ezk  12:26; Ps 107:9; 1 Sam 2:5; Job 15:29; Jer 17:11; v. 54-55; Isa 41:8-9; 42:1; 44:1-2, 21; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3; Pss 97:3; 98:3; Micah 7:20.

[5]Luke 2:19.

22 Prayers for Your Bible Reading

kristen wetherell

Reading the Bible before praying is like putting the cart before the horse.

The proverbial horse is the Holy Spirit of God, who empowers and enlightens our Bible reading as we mine the depths of his Word. The proverbial cart makes up our willing eyes and hungry hearts, the Spirit-led choice to crack open our Bibles and pursue his everlasting truth.

The cart must be pulled by the horse; our efforts to read must be motivated and helped by God’s grace and power. Christians come to God’s Word willing and hungry because he first made us willing and hungry to receive—but only he can enable us to receive. This is why we ask for help before we start reading.

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