Six Benefits of Ordinary Daily Devotions

Private devotions aren’t magic. We know that (for the most part).

But still, we can be tempted to think that if we just figure out the secret formula — the right mixture of Bible meditation and prayer — we will experience euphoric moments of rapturous communion with the Lord. And if that doesn’t happen, our formula must be wrong.

The danger of this misconception is that it can produce chronic disappointment and discouragement. Cynicism sets in and we give up or whip through them to alleviate guilt because devotions don’t seem to work for us.

Our longing for intimate communion with God is God-given. It’s a good thing to desire, ask for, and pursue. The Spirit does give us wonderful, occasional tastes. And this longing will be satisfied to overflowing some day (Psalm 16:11).But God has other purposes for us in the discipline of daily Bible meditation and prayer. Here are a few:

  1. Soul Exercise (1 Corinthians 9:24Romans 15:4): We exercise our bodies to increase strength and endurance, promote general health, and keep unnecessary weight off. Devotions are like exercise for our souls. They force our attention off of self-indulgent distractions and pursuits, and on to God’s purposes and promises. If we neglect this exercise, our souls will go to pot.
  2. Soul Shaping (Romans 12:2): The body will generally take the shape of how we exercise it. Running shapes one way, weight training shapes another way. The same is true for the soul. It will conform to how we exercise (or don’t exercise) it. This is why changing your exercise routine can be helpful. Read through the Bible one year, camp in a book and memorize it another year, take a few months to meditate on and pray through texts related to an area of special concern, etc.
  3. Bible Copiousness (Psalm 119:11Psalm 119:97Proverbs 23:12): A thorough, repeated soaking in the Bible over the course of years increases our overall biblical knowledge, providing fuel for the fire of worship and increasing our ability to draw from all parts of the Bible in applying God’s wisdom to life.
  4. Fight Training (Ephesians 6:10–17): Marines undergo rigorous training in order to so ingrain their weapons knowledge that when suddenly faced with the chaos of combat they instinctively know how to handle their weapons. Similarly, daily handling and using the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) makes us more skilled spiritual warriors.
  5. Sight Training (2 Corinthians 5:72 Corinthians 4:18): Jesus really does want us to see and savor him. Savoring comes through seeing. But only the eyes of faith see him. “Blind faith” is a contradiction, at least biblically. Faith is not blind. Unbelief is blind (John 9:38–41). Faith is seeing a reality that physical eyes can’t see and believing it (1 Peter 1:8). And “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). So if we’re going to savor Jesus, we must see him in the word he speaks. Faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8). And like most of God’s gifts, they are intended to be cultivated. Daily devotions are an important way to train our faith-eyes to see the glory of Jesus in his word and to train our emotions to respond to what our faith-eyes see. Keep looking for glory. Jesus will give you Emmaus moments (Luke 24:31–32).
  6. Delight Cultivation (Psalm 37:3–4James 4:8Psalm 130:5): When a couple falls in love, there are hormonal fireworks. But when married, they must cultivate delight in one another. It is the consistent, persistent, faithful, intentional, affectionate pursuit of one another during better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health that cultivates a capacity for delight in each other far deeper and richer than the fireworks phase. Similarly, devotions are one of the ways we cultivate delight in God. Many days it may seem mundane. But we will be surprised at the cumulative power they have to deepen our love for and awareness of him.

There are many more benefits. You could certainly add to this list. But the bottom line is this: Don’t give up on daily devotions. Don’t whip through them. Don’t let them get crowded out by other demands.

Brick upon brick a building is built. Lesson upon lesson a degree is earned. Stroke upon stroke a painting is created. Your devotions may have seemed ordinary today, but God is making something extraordinary through it. Press on. Don’t short-change the process.

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Burnout Begins with Bad Theology

Innumerable books and articles have been published over the last several years on the subject of burnout. But for all the millions of words that have been spent, the statistics continue to rise at an alarming pace. And behind the cold statistics is a conflagration of relationships, families, careers, lives, and souls.

The reason the vast majority of cures and solutions for burnout don’t work is that they merely focus on various techniques to manage stress or reduce anxiety. Some of these practical remedies can be helpful, but they don’t address the heart of the issue. They may put out the fire around the edges, but, because they don’t extinguish the central blaze, the fire within keeps erupting and charred remains keep piling up.

Can’t Sleep?

So, what leads us to burnout? Ultimately, it’s false theology. Behind every exhausted person are bogus beliefs that must be identified and doused by replacing them with true theology. Let’s start by pointing our fire extinguisher at our (false) theology of sleep.

“Behind every exhausted person are bogus beliefs that must be identified and doused with truth.”

Perhaps the greatest contributor to burnout today is sleep deprivation (usually defined as sleeping less than 6–7 hours a night). Sleep researchers have published numerous studies highlighting the horrendous physical, emotional, mental, relational, and even moral damage that results from sleeping too little. Hence the multibillion-dollar industry in computerized mattresses, hi-tech pillows, and various exotic scents. In Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture, I list a number of practical steps that scientists have found to be effective in promoting better sleep.

But often the core problem behind our sleeplessness are wrong views of God and of ourselves.

For example, ask yourself what’s behind your sleep deprivation. What beliefs are driving your decisions about bed-times and rise-times? How about some of these:

I am indispensable. Sure, I believe God is sovereign, but he needs all the help I can give him. If I don’t do the work, who will? Although Christ has promised to build his church, who’s doing the night shift?

I am indestructible. I am strong enough to cope without God’s gift of sufficient daily sleep. I refuse to accept my creaturely limitations and bodily needs. I see myself more as a machine than a human being.

I am infinite. I can neglect my body, and my soul will not suffer. I can weaken my body and not weaken my mind, conscience, or will.

I am an idolater. What I do instead of sleep shines a spotlight on my idols, whether it be late-night football, cultivating my online persona, surfing the Internet, ministry success, or promotion. Why sleep when it does nothing to burnish my reputation or advance my glory?

Lullaby Gospel Truths

The only way to suffocate these destructive flames is with health-giving truths such as:

God is my heavenly Father. As God cares for me more than the sparrows, I can trust him to provide for me in every way and so I cast all my cares, including my career and my children, upon him (Matthew 6:25–27).

God is good. His command to sleep is not optional advice for the weak, but a loving gift that I must gratefully receive (Psalm 3:5).

God is truthful. Therefore, when he says that it is vain, it is utterly pointless, for me to rise too early or stay up too late (Psalm 127:1–2), he’s telling me the truth. I will believe this even when I’m convinced that sleeping less and working longer will benefit me or the church.

“Often the core problem behind our sleeplessness are wrong views of God and of ourselves.”

God is my protector. “Father, I’m sometimes afraid for my job, my church, or my country, but I believe Psalm 4:8, which says, ‘In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.’”

God is strong. I am not. I will therefore respect rather than stretch the limitations of my weak humanity and trust far more his almighty divinity.

Do you see that when and how long we sleep makes a huge statement about what we believe about ourselves and God?

What About the Puritans?

One burned-out pastor confessed to me that he had been depriving himself of sleep for years because “that’s what the Puritans did.” If they could do it, why couldn’t he? After eventually accepting that his frail humanity needed rest, he said,

As long as we are working hard while we work and getting the sleep our body needs, we are honoring the Lord. In fact, I was quite dishonoring God by saying, “I realize you tell me in Psalm 127 that sleep is a gift. But really, why don’t you give it to somebody else? Somebody more needy. Somebody less superhuman. Some mere mortal, on whom the world is not depending so much?”

I was also abusing coffee, trying to compensate. I was a paper Calvinist, but a closet Pelagian, working more by law than by love. Work is good. But it’s only good if it’s anchored and totally conditioned by grace. Now I’m receiving grace and receiving the grace of sleep. Because my Father is good and I am needy.

Many godly Christians who have tried to follow the reported sleeping practices of the Reformers and Puritans died as young as many of them did.

Firefighter with Faith

“When and how long we sleep makes a huge statement about what we believe about ourselves and God.”

Hopefully this step-by-step guide to replacing false theology with true theology in the area of sleep will encourage you to tackle other fires that may be burning you up from within. After lack of sleep, the three biggest and most common fires I’ve seen in the lives of charred counselees have been neglect of a weekly Sabbath, digital intoxication, and false identity.

Regarding the latter, the most common false identities I encounter are “I am my children” (mainly women), and “I am my career” (mainly men). Not surprisingly, anticipating this future problem, God put a specific gender-related curse on each of these areas to ensure they would never satisfy or fulfill us (Genesis 3:16–19).

Ask yourself what false beliefs stoke these and other fires, and what biblical truths will put them out in your heart.

The Assurance of Salvation

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. – I Peter 8-12

Can anyone know for sure that he is saved? For someone to declare that he is certain of his salvation may seem to be an act of unspeakable arrogance. Yet the Bible calls us to make our salvation a matter of certainty. Peter commands, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).

It is our duty to seek assurance of our salvation with diligence. This is not done out of idle curiosity about the state of our soul, but to enhance our growth in sanctification. Christians who remain uncertain about the state of their salvation are subject to all sorts of questions that paralyze their walk with Christ. They stumble in doubt and are vulnerable to the assaults of Satan. So we must seek to be assured of our salvation. There are four possible positions with respect to one’s assurance of salvation.

Position One: There are people who are unsaved and know that they are unsaved. These people are aware of the enmity they have in their hearts toward God and clearly want nothing to do with Christ as their Savior. They are bold to proclaim that they do not need Christ. Such people are often openly hostile to the gospel.

Position Two: There are people who are saved but do not know they are saved. These people are actually in a state of grace but are uncertain of it. Perhaps they are wrestling with sin in their lives and doubt their own salvation because of a troubled conscience. In this group are those who have not yet made certain that they are among the elect.

Position Three: There are people who are saved and know that they are saved. This is the group who are certain of their election and calling. They have a clear and sound understanding of what salvation requires and know they have met the requirements. They have believed the testimony of the Holy Spirit when He witnessed to their spirits that they are the children of God (Romans 8:16).

Position Four: There are people who are not saved but confidently believe that they are saved. These people have assurance of salvation without salvation. Their assurance is a false assurance.

Because it is possible to have a false assurance of salvation, how do we know if we are in group three or group four? To answer that we must look more closely at group four and ask how it is possible to have a false sense of assurance.

The easiest way to have a false assurance of salvation is to have a false doctrine of salvation. For example, if a person holds to a universalist view of salvation, he or she may reason as follows:

Every person is saved.
I am a person.
Therefore, I am saved.

Because the person’s doctrine is faulty, his or her assurance has no firm basis.

Another way that people falsely assure themselves of salvation is by believing that they will get to heaven by trying to live a good life. Those who think they are living a good enough life to satisfy the demands of a holy God are only deluding themselves into thinking they are saved.

But what if a person has a sound doctrine of salvation? Is it still possible to have false assurance? We must answer yes. A person might think he has saving faith but not really possess it. The test for authentic assurance is twofold. On the one hand, we must examine our own hearts to see if we have true faith in Christ. We must see whether or not we have any genuine love for the biblical Christ. For we know such love for Him would be impossible without regeneration.

Second, we must examine the fruit of our faith. We do not need perfect fruit to have assurance, but there must be some evidence of the fruit of obedience for our profession of faith to be credible. If no fruit is present, then no faith is present. Where saving faith is found, fruit of that faith is also found.

Finally, we seek our assurance from the Word of God through which the Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are His children.

It is our duty to diligently pursue assurance of salvation.
Assurance of salvation enhances our sanctification.
There are four possible groups or positions regarding assurance:

(a)Those who are unsaved and know they are unsaved
(b)Those who are saved but don’t have assurance that they are are saved
(c)Those who are saved and know they are saved
(d)Those who are unsaved but believe they are saved

False assurance is primarily based on a false doctrine of salvation.
To gain authentic assurance we must search our own hearts and examine the fruit of our faith.
Full assurance comes from the Word of God coupled with the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Messianic Prophecies and the Integrity of the Gospels

Thus said the Lord my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. Those who buy them slaughter them and go unpunished, and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, I have become rich,’ and their own shepherds have no pity on them. For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.”

So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs, one I named Favor, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep. In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me. So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die. What is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. And let those who are left devour the flesh of one another.” 10 And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples.11 So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. 12 Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. 14 Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

15 Then the Lord said to me, “Take once more the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16 For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.

17 “Woe to my worthless shepherd,
    who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm
    and his right eye!
Let his arm be wholly withered,
    his right eye utterly blinded!”

-Zechariah 11:4–17

Isn’t it possible that the gospel writers fabricated details to make it appear that Jesus fulfilled the Messianic passages of the Old Testament? For example, one passage foreshadows that the Messiah’s bones would remain unbroken (see Psalm 34:20), so maybe John invented the story about the Romans breaking the legs of the two thieves being crucified with Jesus and not breaking his legs (see John 19:31–36). Another prophecy talks about Judas’ betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (prophesied in Zechariah 11:12–13 and fulfilled in Matthew 26:15; 27:3–7). Could it be that Matthew played fast and loose with the facts and said, yeah, Judas sold out Jesus for that same amount?

Pastor Louis Lapides has spent 30 years studying prophecies found within Scripture. He quickly settles these objections: “In God’s wisdom, he created checks and balances both inside and outside the Christian community. When the Gospels were being circulated, there were people living who had been around when all these things happened. Someone would have said to Matthew, ‘You know it didn’t happen that way. We’re trying to communicate a life of righteousness and truth, so don’t taint it with a lie.’”

Why would Matthew have fabricated fulfilled prophecies and then have been willing to be put to death for following someone who he secretly knew was really not the Messiah? That wouldn’t make any sense. What’s more, the Jewish community would have jumped on any opportunity to discredit the Gospels by pointing out falsehoods. “They would have said, ‘I was there, and Jesus’ bones were broken by the Romans during the crucifixion,’” Lapides says. “And even though the Jewish Talmud refers to Jesus in derogatory ways, it never once makes the claim that the fulfillment of prophecies was falsified. Not one time.”

Adapted from interview with Louis Lapides

Let Israel Rejoice in Him

Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
    he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
    and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
    and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
    and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
    This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord! – Psalm 149

Be glad of heart, O believer, but take care that thy gladness has its spring in the Lord. Thou hast much cause for gladness in thy God, for thou canst sing with David, “God, my exceeding joy.” Be glad that the Lord reigneth, that Jehovah is King! Rejoice that He sits upon the throne, and ruleth all things! Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness. That He is wise should make us glad, knowing as we do our own foolishness. That He is mighty, should cause us to rejoice who tremble at our weakness. That he is everlasting, should always be a theme of joy when we know that we wither as the grass. That He is unchanging, should perpetually yield us a song, since we change every hour. That He is full of grace, that He is overflowing with it, and that this grace in covenant He has given to us; that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory-all this should tend to make us glad in Him. This gladness in God is as a deep river; we have only as yet touched its brink, we know a little of its clear sweet, heavenly streams, but onward the depth is greater, and the current more impetuous in its joy. The Christian feels that he may delight himself not only in what God is, but also in all that God has done in the past. The Psalms show us that God’s people in olden times were wont to think much of God’s actions, and to have a song concerning each of them. So let God’s people now rehearse the deeds of the Lord! Let them tell of His mighty acts, and “sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously.” Nor let them ever cease to sing, for as new mercies flow to them day by day, so should their gladness in the Lord’s loving acts in providence and in grace show itself in continued thanksgiving. Be glad ye children of Zion and rejoice in the Lord your God.

On Getting ‘Un-dragoned’ By the Light of Christ

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, ‘We have fellowship with him,’ and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:5-9

The same light that exposes us heals us.

We get a picture of this in those early pages of the Bible, right after the fall. As Adam and Eve are called to account, do you remember what the LORD does? They had covered themselves in fig leaves–just like we do. And he covers them instead with something else: “The LORD God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.”

They had brought death into the world, and he’s showing them that only death will cover them now. And this is perhaps the first foreshadow of Christ’s sacrifice for us, shedding his blood that covers us from all unrighteousness. They came into the light, were exposed, despite their own coverings, and God covered them with a sacrifice. “If we walk in the light,” John writes, “as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

We have to understand just how much this sacrifice has purchased! Christ’s shed blood has delivered us from the domain of darkness. His blood speaks the better word of justice accomplished. His blood declares pardon for us, cleansing for us, and–as John Calvin helpfully reminds us in his commentary on 1 John–this cleansing pardon is “gratuitous and perpetual.”

Christian, you are never not covered by the blood of Jesus. So: If his blood has covered your sin, why are you still walking in fear and hiding?

You know, the one place I finally felt “at home” I got eventually got chewed up in and spit out of. I’ve had a pretty good life, but I’ve also got some pretty good reasons to keep entirely myself and never let you or anyone else in. That would be the safest and–to some extent–most understandable way for me to live my life.

And yet here comes my Savior, who ought not to be embarrassed by anything, who has no sin. And while I’m piling up as many fig leaves as I think it might take to impress you and distract you, Jesus is exposing himself to all the hurt, all the pain, all the weakness, all the condemnation that I am desperately trying to avoid. You cannot be any more exposed than Christ was on the cross. And he went there. For us.

And here is what else John means by “the light”–he means a vision of the glory of God, the radiance of his loveliness exemplified in his cross and resurrection and ascension. The illuminating vision that captivates sinners desperate for salvation. In the early verses of his Gospel, John writes:

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it . . . The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Shortly thereafter he records John the Baptist crying out in his Gospel, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Or, as Isaiah says, “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

You can’t even see clearly when you’re hiding! But when you’re found? Suddenly we see.

Paul uses this same vision talk in Colossians 3, when he says, “If you’ve been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” And then he says –in what’s become one of my all-­time favorite Bible verses, Colossians 3:3–“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Oh, to be hidden with Christ in God! See, the gospel isn’t trying to expose us to shame us. The good news is that Christ was exposed for us that we can confess without fear and find our refuge in him. If we are hidden with Christ in God, we have nothing left to hide! It may cost us a little something, but the reward for walking in the light far surpasses keeping whatever it is we’re trying to protect.

One of my favorite scenes from Lewis’s Narnia stories comes from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Eustace Scrubb–who is about as cuddly a personality as his name would suggest–finds himself in a scaly predicament. Eustace comes across a great treasure; overcome with greed he begins to imagine all the comforts of life he could enjoy with this treasure. He goes into “hoarding” mode. Eventually he falls asleep and when he wakes up, he discovers he’s become a dragon. Why a dragon? Because dragons are hoarders. They protect their secret fortunes at all costs. And they also physically represent this kind of protection, right? Heavy, scaly skin. They are covered in fleshy armor.

Eustace doesn’t quite understand how he’s gotten into this situation but he becomes afraid. The gold bracelet he was wearing constricts his dragon arm and it hurts–just like our secrets will eventually–and he realizes that as a dragon he’s been cut off from humanity–just our like our hiding will do to us eventually. And then Aslan comes. And Aslan leads Eustace the dragon to a garden where there’s a well, and Eustace just knows if he can get into the water in the well, he will be healed. But he can’t get in the way he is.

“Then the lion said–but I don’t know if it spoke–You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. “The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know–if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy–oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.” “Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off-just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt-and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly–looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me-I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on–and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

Walking in the light may sting a little, but it is far preferable to life in the dark. And on top of that, it is the only way to healing.

“If we walk in the light, his blood cleanses us.” You know, Jesus only deals with us on the playing field of reality. So come to him as a sinner. You cannot hide from God’s gospel anyway. Come as a real person to the family God’s gospel has made. We must not hide from each other. Come and be cleansed by his blood and hidden forever in the safety of Christ himself.

Who Gets to Be Your Heart Boss?

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:12-17

Gracious Jesus, today, like every day, somebody or some entity is going to claim “dibs” on the attention and affection of our hearts. Our hearts will be wooed and ruled, enticed and seized. Something, or someone will be our “heart boss” today.

It could be bitterness, resentment, or unforgiveness. It could be the shaming power of Satan or the empty promises of greed, overbearing people or aggravating circumstances. It might be old regrets resurfacing or new fantasies emerging, the quest to be included or the approval of a dead parent.

Therefore, Jesus, in obedience to this life-liberating Scripture, we choose your peace as the ruler of our hearts. With palms up, we gladly surrender our hearts to your peace as our sovereign, king, and boss, for you are the Prince of Peace.

Through your finished work on the cross, God made his peace with us, and we now have peace with our Father. Alienation has been replaced with reconciliation, distance with intimacy, judgment with affection. God isn’t just “okay” with us; he delights in us. There is NO peace like the peace of God. How can we not overflow with gratitude and humility, faith and hope?

Jesus, may your peace-that-transcends-circumstances work as a centering and settling power in our hearts today. In our “testy” relationships and the things we cannot control; in our angry culture and our less-than-fulfilling jobs; in our known weaknesses and our unknown futures. Be beautiful and big in our hearts, Lord.

Because of your peace with us, we will seek to live at peace with those in our web of relationships. And where peace isn’t possible, yet, we’ll rest in your love and wait on your timing. So very Amen we pray, in your praise-worthy and persistent name.