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For Our Stories of Greatest Grief (via Scotty Smith at Heavenward)

Another day at the graveside with those who are grieving.
This prayer for saddened hearts from Scotty Smith is apt.

Jesus wept. John 11:35
Lord Jesus, though it’s the shortest verse in the Bible, these two words bring immeasurable comfort. Your hot tears, shed outside Lazarus’s tomb, are one of the greatest showers that ever kissed the face of the earth. You wept a waterfall of mercy, a river of compassion, a reservoir of grace.
You knew that within moments, your friend would breathe again, and walk out of his tomb. You knew you’d enjoy Lazarus’ company very soon. And yet you wept full-heartedly, as you allowed yourself to feel the harsh reality of his death. Those who witnessed your sacred fury and fierce sadness, offered this commentary. “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36). Indeed, no one loves like you, in life and in death.
Jesus, today we’re thankful you’re such a tenderhearted Savior, because many of us are in the agony of grief. Some of us have lost a friend, a parent, a spouse, or most painfully, a child. Others of us are coming upon the painful anniversary of great loss. Thank you for validating the pain and emptiness, the confusion and sadness we feel. We grieve with hope, but we really do grieve.
At times, like Martha, Lazarus’ sister, we cry, “Lord, if only you’d been here,” assuming you could have done more. You don’t respond with a lecture on sovereignty, rather you say with great understanding, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). No one hates death more than you, Jesus. No one grieves death’s ugly violation more deeply. No one is more looking forward to the day of “no more death” (Rev. 21:4) than you. And no has done more to put death to death than you.
Today we rest our sobered, saddened hearts on your shoulder, trusting you for the peace and comfort we need. Jesus, we honor you as “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Death, the “last enemy,” will soon be a long-gone enemy (1 Cor. 15:26). Because of your resurrection, we sing in advance of ours, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). We praise, bless, and adore you, as we rest our heavy hearts in your loving hands. So very Amen we pray, in your grave-robbing name.


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Once And For All (via Scotty Smith)

From Scotty Smith’s prayer/blog Heavenward:

The Once-and-For-All-ness of Jesus’ Single Sacrifice for Our Sins

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, once and for all. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. Heb. 10:11-14 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, O, the wonder of this Good News … We cannot hear it too much, believe it too deeply, or rejoice in it too fully. By your death on the cross, you have taken away our sins, once and for all. Nothing is left undone; nothing more needs to happen; nothing else could’ve met our need. It’s not, you did your part, now we must do our part. It’s, you did your part; now let us trust in your part.
And now, having justified us by your finished work, you’re perfecting us by your Holy Spirit. We who’ve been declared perfectly righteous will be made perfectly holy—not by our grit, but by your grace. One Day we’ll be as lovely and as loving as you, Lord Jesus. Justification now flows sweetly into sanctification; sanctification will eventuate into glorification, and glorification will be the beginning of our eternal vacation—a life of never-ending rest and worship, adventure and creativity, perfect relationships and perfect everything!
Even as we rest in your finished work, so we rejoice in your present reign, Lord Jesus. Atoned-for-sin will be abolished sin; already-defeated evil will be eradicated evil; vanquished enemies will be eliminated enemies. May the joy of this good news buckle our knees in humble adoration, and empower our hands for neighbor love.
As we are loved, so let us love; as we have been served, so let us serve; as we are encouraged, so let us encourage one another. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.


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The Eradication Of Shame (via Scotty Smith)

Scotty Smith provides these words, an encouragement as Jesus’ people prepare to gather in worship tomorrow:

Heavenly Father, drive the good news of these Scriptures deep, deep, deep into our hearts, for shame has marked and marred many of us. Heal and free us, by the power and truth of the gospel.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth.” Isa. 54:4 (ESV)
The eradication of all shame is one of the things I’m most looking forward about our life in the new heaven and new earth. Never again will we feel “dis-graced,” only “fully-graced.” Never again will we remember the shaming events of our childhood, or of our youth, or of our adult years. Never again will we feel the disintegrating and paralyzing power of shame, or the need to hide and cover up. Hallelujah!

The Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Rom. 10:11 (ESV)
And there’s only one reason for such a hope: Because Jesus bore the full weight of our guilt and has broken the eviscerating power of our shame. To believe in Jesus is to trust in the One who was shamed for us on the cross—the One who doesn’t despise our weaknesses or our insecurities; nor does he turn away from us when we feel fractured or fragile; painfully self-aware or the pain of self-contempt. Indeed, Jesus has clothed our vulnerable nakedness with the garments of his grace. Hallelujah!

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Rom. 5:5 (ESV)
Father, thank you that the promise of a shame-free eternity isn’t self-hype; it’s a sure hope. As we wait for the Day of no more shame, we now live in the day of your lavish love. You’ve poured your love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and you’ll continue to do so. May the voice of the Spirit, witnessing to our beloved-ness, drown out all other voices pestering us about our brokenness. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.


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Extending Mercy When It’s Not Easy To Do So (via Scotty Smith)

From Scotty Smith, a prayer when a tendency towards not being merciful demonstrates a lack of appreciation for grace:

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 (NIV)
Speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, we praise you for being the Father of mercies and God of all comfort—the God of limitless patience, inexhaustible forbearance, and incomparable compassion. Instead of giving us what we deserve, you have given us Jesus—who is our perfect righteousness, everlasting peace, and greatest joy.
As you extend mercy to us, so we want to do so to others—even when it’s hard. We want your mercy to trump our judgmental attitude; and we want to live more fully by the law of liberty, instead of by the toxin of criticism. Only the gospel can free us to live and love this way.
Father, we lament and repent for being too easily irritated, offended, and impatient. We confess to you what you already know: We keep records of the ways people hurt, fail, and disappoint us, more readily than we remain committed to overlooking, forbearing, and forgiving. Thank you for the full forgiveness we have in Christ, and for grace to repent and change. Father, too whatever degree it is possible, for redeemed sinners, we want to be merciful with others as you are merciful with us.
And for our more complex relationships, Father, we appeal to you for wisdom and strength. Show us what mercy looks like with we feel like we are being exploited, manipulated, and “played”. We know you’re not calling us to be “doormats”, but you are calling us to wash the feet of repeat offenders, like ourselves. Our cry is, “Help, Abba, help!”
Father, teach us about healthy boundaries, severe mercy, and extraordinary grace. Free us for loving in the broken places, as Jesus loves us. Fill us with your Spirit, empower us by the gospel, and bring the right people into our lives that can help us navigate some of these more soul-depleting relationships. Thank you for your promise and provision of daily mercies. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ kind and powerful name.

From Heavenward.

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A Prayer For Christmas Day (Via Scotty Smith)

From Heavenward:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, we joyfully celebrate the day angels “harked,” shepherds ran, and Mary treasured. You have come to us and for us. For God so loved the world, he gave you—blessed Savior, Christ and Lord.
We praise you for being born in Bethlehem, the “house of bread.” We were a famished people—filling ourselves with worthless buffets, spending money “for that which is not bread” and cannot satisfy (Isa. 55:2). But you came as the Bread of Life, and now we freely dine at the banqueting table of your welcome and grace. Our hearts are filled with irrepressible gratitude.
Indeed, how fitting that you entered our world in the city of David—Israel’s beloved shepherd-king. For what King David could never be, you’ve become for us—the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep; and now you perpetually care for us, with relentless tenderness and unwavering kindness. There is no other Savior like you; there is no other Savior but you.
We worship you with irrepressible delight, for you are the long-time promised and much longed for Christ—the Messiah. Every promise God has made finds its fulfillment—its unequivocal and irrevocable “Yes!” in you. You are the resolve for all our fears and the answer to all our hopes.
We bow before you in joyful adoration, for you are the Lord of Lords, very God of very God—presently reigning over everything and working in all things for our good. You are the ruler of the kings of the earth—setting them up and sitting them down at your sovereign discretion. Only your kingdom is unshakable and everlasting. Of the increase of your government and peace, there will be NO end.
As we celebrate your 1st Advent, our passion for your 2nd Advent is intensified. O for the Day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that you are, indeed, Lord, to the glory of God the Father. O for the Day when every tear will be wiped, everything sad will come untrue. O for the Day when all things broken will be all things new. So very Amen we pray, in your magnificent and merciful name.


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A Prayer For Getting Free From Our “Grave Clothes” (via Scotty Smith)

From Scotty Smith’s daily prayer blog, Heavenward:

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave-clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, as surely as you spoke the words to a dead Lazarus, “Come out” and he was raised from the dead, so when you spoke the gospel to our hearts, we too were raised to newness of life. We have passed from death to life, from condemnation for our sins to the righteousness of faith, and from life in the kingdom of darkness to life in the kingdom of God. Hallelujah, for your sovereign, irresistible, inexhaustible grace.
Yet as surely as Lazarus needed to be freed from his grave-clothes, so do we. The smell and signs of death still cling to us, bind us, and trip us up. There are many areas of our lives for which we long for greater freedom.
Jesus, grant us greater freedom from the fear and awe of mere men. Some people have way more power over our hearts than they deserve. Their criticism and rejection can devastate us; and their praise and admiration can make us. May your great love for us, and delight in us, shift the center of our relational world. Help us to love others as you love us, period.
We also crave to be set free from our self-centered worries and our soul-sapping fears. Jesus, you have the hearts of all the kings in your hand—not to mention our days and wounds, longings and burdens. Perhaps the most tenacious fragment of our grave-clothes, still wrapped tightly around our hearts, is our unbelief. Continue to free us to trust you implicitly and explicitly, with all things at all times.
Lastly Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, help us stay more alive to your love than to our losses; and be more marked by your grace than our gripes. So very Amen we pray, in your glorious and grace-full name.

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A Prayer For Preparing Ourselves For Corporate Worship (via Scotty Smith)

Scotty Smith’s words are timely preparation for tomorrow.

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of corporate worship—for the joy of gathering with sisters and brothers to boast in Christ, worship by the Spirit, and receive your Word. Forgive us for presuming on this honor and for coming less than prepared, to give you the worship of which you alone are worthy, as our Triune God.
Thank for you those who will lead us in your worship today. We pray for the singers, musicians, and liturgists. Father, may they serve us as lead worshipers more so than worship leaders. Fill their hearts with a fresh sighting of the beauty of Jesus and give them a keen awareness of the riches of the gospel. Thank you for their preparation; now bless them in their service to us.
Thank your for your servants who will read and preach your Word to us today. Give him focus and freedom, passion and pacing, and faithfulness to the text and joy in Christ. By your Spirit, Father, open us to your Word today and your Word to us. May the gospel come with convicting and humbling power, and with gladdening and transforming grace.
Thank you for the guests and visitors who will gather with us today. May they experience your welcoming heart, the magnificence of your glory, and the riches of your grace. And as we leave the service today—with your benediction and blessing, free us to serve you this week with gladness, in everything we think, say, and do.
So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.