Posted on Leave a comment

Jesus Christ | Discipleship Prayer Day 3

Jesus ChristMessiah, Immanuel—The Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.     

–Acts 5:42

“Jesus—the Christ, Messiah, Immanuel”

In Southeast Asia is it not uncommon for children to be named simply with a number representing their order of birth. In some areas, many first born sons have the same name which, in their local language means “first” or “one.”  This name becomes and important identifier of ones place in the family, along with the rights, responsibilities, and tasks which will be required of them.

In Scripture names also carry much deeper importance than simply distinguishing one person from another. Names function as descriptions of ones personal nature (Barnabas—Son of Encouragement), physical characteristics (Esau—”hairy,” or perhaps “red”), family relationships (Jonah, Son of Amittai), calling, purpose, or identity (Jesus Christ, the Messiah). “Christ” was not a family like “Smith” or “Jones,” but rather the Greek (Kristos) version of “Messiah” which meant “anointed one.”

Children, of course are given names at birth (or at some point following birth):

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the  name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.     

–Matthew 1:21

The Savior’s given name at birth was “Jesus,” while the name “Christ” or “Messiah” describe his divine identity, his calling, and his purpose; similar to other names used to describe who Jesus was but not used as a personal moniker –

  • Immanuel (Matt 1:23) – “God with us”
  • Son of God (Mark 3:11)
  • Son of the Most High (Mark 5:7)
  • Son of Man (Luke 9:22)

Finally, as the time of Jesus’ earthy ministry is coming to an end, Jesus gives his followers three more names designed to help us know how to live following his departure:

Thomas said to him,

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, 

“I am the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE

~John 14:5-6a



→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love… 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Heavenly Father | Discipleship Prayer Day 2

Heavenly Father, God Most High, Most Holy, Most Loving

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

–James 1:17-18 (NIV)

“Heavenly Father…”

Everything good, right, perfect, and true comes to us by the divine initiative of our Heavenly Father, who is:

“God Most High”

The Creator of the heavens, the earth, and all that is contained in all the created world (Gen 14:2). There is no thing and no one greater or more powerful the Almighty God who is above all things (Isa 46:9).

“God Most Holy”

The greatness of God is grounded firmly in holiness (Lev 11:45).  God is wholly separate (different) than the created world (Jos 3:14); completely pure and free from contamination (Deut 32:4); entirely perfect, complete, and whole, lacking nothing; and defined from beginning to end by love—holy, perfect, cross-bearing love (Psalm 13:5).

“God Most Loving”

Self-sacrificial, cross-bearing, perfect love is the foundational, defining nature of God (1 John 4:16). This love is also the essence of holiness and the motivation behind every display of divine creativity and power.

As we come into God’s presence in prayer it is important to begin with praising God for who God is – most high, most holy, most loving, and much more – and remembering that it pleases God to love and be loved. As we come before the Lord, seeking to be renewed and re-created in the Imago Dei (image of God), it is God’s pleasure to give the gift of renewed goodness and re-created perfection (wholeness and purpose) to those who sincerely seek the face of God.



→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love… 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Discipleship Prayer | Day One

Your way is the way of fullness and life.  In Jesus name…Amen

Read the “Discipleship Prayer” below slowly, intentionally, pausing to think and reflect along the way as the Spirit leads. Notice which parts cause you to pause, which parts bring about questions, and which parts do not come out as easily as it seems they should. Over the next 30 days we will be breaking down this prayer, investigating, considering, and reflecting on each line. Today, spend as much time as you can familiarizing yourself with the prayer.

DAILY DISCIPLESHIP PRAYER

Heavenly Father—God Most High, Most Holy, Most Loving

Jesus—the Christ, Messiah, Immanuel—The Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Holy Spirit—Our Strength, our Comfort, our Helper and Guide.

Almighty, Triune God

———

Your name is holy and worthy to be praised above all others.

You are perfect in love and in all your plans and purposes.

We bow before you today with humble, thankful hearts.

———

Let your kingdom rule in my body, my relationships, and my world.

Let love and mercy be the starting point of everything I do.

Let justice and truth be always on my mind and on my lips.

Let your grace, your peace, and your blessing flow through me daily.

———

I desire to walk close to you today, Lord.

In all things give me what I need and no more

Love & wisdom;

Perseverance & courage;

Guidance and direction

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your path.

———

Forgive me when I turn my back on you or hurt the people around me;

When I am less than loving, less than peaceful, and less than truthful.

And give me strength to truly forgive those who do the same to me.

———

Teach me to follow you more and more

To trust in you more and more

To listen to and obey you more and more

———

Let my words be full of grace and seasoned with salt

Let my thoughts and actions be full of spiritual fruit:

Love, Joy, Peace, patience, Kindness, Faithfulness, gentleness, and Self-control

———

Keep me from things that knock me down and pull me away from you

And when these things come, give me strength to stand firm.

For your kingdom is a kingdom of power, hope, and forgiveness.

Your way is the way of fullness and life.

In Jesus name…Amen



→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love… 

 

Posted on 2 Comments

Discipleship Prayer | Introduction

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.     ~Psalm 143:8~

 Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith.     ~1 Thessalonians 3:10~

Mornings get a bad rap in busy, sleep-deprived, burn-the-midnight-oil-then-get-up-and-get-to-work world where every day becomes grind; a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual battle just to survive. On the other end, our evenings are filled with playing to-do list catch-up, children’s extra-curricular activities, keeping up with minimal household chores, and so much more.

We are busy. Too busy.

Always moving but rarely arriving at the place we desire to be.

“…if I were to let my life be taken over by what is urgent, I might very well never get around to what is essential. It’s so easy to spend your whole time being preoccupied with urgent matters and never starting to live, really live.”       ― Henri Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

When was the last time you let yourself ease into the new day, sipping a coffee while watching the sun rise from below the horizon to shining brightly in the morning sky?  Have you ever walked in the fresh, dew-covered grass, enjoying the brisk coolness of the morning before the world begins to awake?

The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.    ― Henry Ward Beecher

As a culture we no longer sit on the front porch chatting with neighbors and passerbyers at the day cools down into evening. Instead we spend our time driving from garage to parking lot, entertained via headphones, televisions, and our phones. We are both more connected than ever while at the same time being increasingly disengaged in the lives of the people around us. We are either so consumed by a drive to achieve—or so distracted by those things which keep from achieving—that we fail to see the value, and the opportunities for meaningful interactions, that each day holds.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.    Robert Louis Stevenson

In Genesis both work and rest are prescribed to humanity—both are good and necessary, at right times, in correct quantities, and done properly. Work is good and necessary, not only as a means of caring for our families and the community in which we live, but as a part of our God-given vocation of caring for the created world in which we live. Rest, in the same way, is good and necessary, providing the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual renewal that we need.

The exception is the Sabbath, the day on which there is to be no work (Exodus 20:10); a day reserved for rest and doing good (Mark 3:4). This Sabbath rest is to be a time of remembering all that God has done, trusting in God’s provision as we step away from our own efforts to provide for ourselves, and to entering into a time of fellowship with family, friends, and our community.

[Sabbath] declares in bodily ways that we will not participate in the anxiety system that pervades our social environment. We will not be defined by busyness and by acquisitiveness and by pursuit of more,…      Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance

In the same way that God has given us the gift (yes, it is a gift when we realize fully its purpose and power to transform our lives in meaningfully ways) of a Sabbath day, we might also consider arranging our daily schedule with one or more “Sabbath moments” – short periods of time to intentionally and purposefully separate ourselves from the many busyness and distractions of the day for the purpose of praising God, praying, practicing hospitality, and putting our priorities in proper perspective. These Sabbath moments could take a variety of forms:

    • Waking up 30 minutes before the rest of the household;
    • A post-lunch “pillow retreat” while the kids nap;
    • Sitting in the car for a few moments after work before driving home;
    • A morning walk or evening stroll, alone or with a friend;
    • Sitting around the table sharing with family the things for which we are thankful;

Susanna Wesley, mother of John Wesley, was said to sit at the kitchen table with a towel over her head as household activities continued all around her.  During those few moments she was not to be bothered. I have found morning walks to be a time of refreshing reflection and preparation for the day ahead.  Find something that works for you and do it well and do it consistently.

During one moment of personal prayer and reflection, while thinking about how, as a father, I could lead my family in the art of prayer, reflection, and good Sabbath rest, the Spirit gave to me a prayer.  I began calling it “Morning Prayer” as we would read it—in part or in whole as part of our regular personal and family devotional time.  For the purposes of this book, I have changed it name to “Discipleship Prayer” to avoid the misconception that it can only be used in the morning.

This discipleship prayer, I hope, will be a blessing and an encouragement to you, as it has been for me.  Each days reading will focus on a line or phrase from the prayer along with related Scripture, quotes, song lyrics, journal reflections, and more.  How and when you use each days reading is completely up to you. My primary encouragement to you is to not read these words only with the goal of simply doing your devotional duty, but rather with the hope of interacting with God, being strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and growing in Christlikeness.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you…      ~Numbers 6:24-25~



→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love…