Ministry, leadership, discipleship, the local church and the deep riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Today's encounter with God in His Word is in James 4:1-12.
I bow before Your rule today (7). Draw me near to You so I will be purified and led by You alone (8). Break my heart over my own sin (9). Don't allow me to fight and bicker just to protect what I want (1-3). Don't let me give the Spirit reason to be jealous of my affection and loyalty (4-5). Ever more aware of Your greatness, I am increasingly aware of my need for Your grace to accomplish any of this today (6).
Today's time meeting with Christ in His Word is in James 3:13-18.
Let the fruit of my life today be evidence that You are planting Your wisdom within me (13). Teach me to distinguish the fruit that grows from worldly wisdom and the fruit that grows from Your wisdom. Prune from my life any bitterness, envy, self-promotion, bragging, lying, or anything else that comes from priorities that Christ does not have (14) knowing that these fruit have the after-taste of disorder (15). Instead, grow in me today fruit that is untainted, peace-making, gentle, flexible, ready to forgive, loving all, and having actions that match my words (17).
Today's time encountering God in His Word is in James 3:1-12.
Always change me by Your Word before I teach it to bring transformation in anyone else (1). And if spiritual maturity means having a Spirit-controlled mouth (2), then do as the psalmist says (Psalm 141:3) and "put a guard over my mouth" today and control my mouth (8). Let it boast only of You (5). Don't let it be hypocritical by blessing those I like but cursing those I don't like (9-10). Make my mouth a pure spring flowing with truth spoken in love (11). Keep the sinful tendencies of my mouth from being a destroying fire today (6). Let others see You in what comes out of my mouth.
Today's time being formed by the Spirit-applied Word is in James 2:14-26.
Give me a faith that produces fruitful work. Let that which I work at hardest be prompted by my faith, not by my desire for comfort, success, entertainment, or security. Let my faith be seen in a mind that knows You and a heart that depends on You (14-23). You justified me by faith to do good works under Your rule (24-25). Let my works be the animation of my faith today for all to see and conclude that I trust You (18). Cause me to despise a faith that just sits.
Today's time being constrained by the Word is in James 2:1-13.
Don't let money or success be a criteria by which I judge another or myself to be more important or less important (1-4). Remind me today that the real important things are being "rich in faith," being "an heir of Your kingdom," and having "love" for You (5). Let me focus on increasing in these three today instead of in wealth, security, and image. Don't let me sin by holding onto worldly values (8-9). And even though I don't murder, don't let me think I have no sin if I retain worldly values (10-11). Free me from worldly ways of judging so I will display Your mercy (12-13).
Today's time being shaped like Christ is in James 1:19-27.
I really want to accomplish Your righteous will (20). So make me ready to listen and slow to speak and slow to get mad (19). Help my heart humbly accept the truth of Your Word (21). Help me to obey Your Word, instead of just knowing it (22). Let me see who I really am when I look into Your Word (24-25). Use me to bless those who cannot help themselves and help me be unstained by the world (27).
Today, we move to James 1:1-18, submitting to its truth as the Spirit applies it.
I am Your slave today with no right to rule. As Your people are dispersed, spread Your gospel (1). Lord, grow me to maturity in Christ, even though that means trials and tests. I trust You for my endurance (2-4). I need Your wisdom today (5). Don't let money be my security since it is so temporary (9-11). Instead, let me live for the crown of life that You will give to those who love You most (12). Don't let me be dragged away from You today by the temptations of my own sinful desires, but draw me closer to You by killing my sinful desires with Your wise testing and trials (4,13-15). Thank You for choosing to give me new birth in Jesus, and that Your gifts are as unchanging as You (17-18).
Today's time being shaped by the Spirit-applied Word is in the last chapter of Psalms, 150.
Let me praise you in account of Your holiness, power, and for being above all else (1). I praise You because You have acted so kindly and powerfully in my life, displaying Your greatness (2). Let me declare Your glories with every skill and ability You have given to me. Don't let even one talent be wasted by being used to glorify me (3-5). Use me to lead others to praise You from when I awake until when I fall asleep (1,6).
Today, let's read and submit to the truth of Psalm 149.
Don't let my praise become old, repetitious, and empty. Your glories are so numerous that I can sing a new song every day forever and never run out of new things for which to praise You (1). Let me not neglect worship with my church family and even encourage them to worship the One who made us a family 1-2). Be my King today (2). Let my entire body exalt You (3). I humbly recognize Your salvation as my only lasting beauty, victory, and joy (4-5). May my words exalt You and may Your Word be my weapon against the enemy (6-8). Thank You for the honor of bearing Your Truth before the nations (9). May You be exalted today from beginning to end (1,9).
Today's time being reminded of why we are breathing is in Psalm 148.
Use my life today to direct everyone around me to recognize Your greatness as the Creator and to praise You (1-5). The lightning, hail, snow, and wind don't rebel against Your commands. Don't let me rebel either (8). Point out to my dim sight the ways that ALL creation displays Your glory today (9-13). You are the strength of Your godly ones. Draw me close to You so I will reflect Your greatness from the beginning of my day until the end.
Today's time letting the Word sanctify us is in Psalm 147.
Make my life praise You (1). When my life falls apart, You rebuild it. When I lose my way, You find me (2). When I become broken, You heal me (3). You can because all power and knowledge are Yours (5). You provide everything I need (7-9). Convince my heart that true power comes from fearing You and hoping in You (10-11). Your Word is unstoppable. By grace, You have made Your rule known to me. Let the nations know Your rule by watching me (15-20). Let my day from start to finish exalt You (20).
Today's time being shaped by the Psalms is in chapter 146.
May You be what I exalt with my mind, body, and spirit and with all the days that you give me (1-2). I trust in You alone to be my help and hope (3-5). Open my eyes to sin in my life to which I am blind. Free me from that sin. Raise me up as I bow before You (7-8). Let my day begin and end with "hallelujah" (1,10).
Today's time being conformed to the Truth of God is in Psalm 145.
My King (1),
Don't let me miss a day of becoming more and more aware of Your greatness and praising You (2). Don't let me keep it to myself. I want all generations to know and tell of your beauty, power, righteousness, patience, grace, unending rule, faithfulness to Your promises, support, satisfying provision, love, nearness, and protection (4-20). Help me not miss any of these things that You are to me daily.
After reading this article about an atheist “Sunday Assembly”,
it got me to thinking about what makes a Sunday Assembly truly Christian. Is it
style? Format? Order of service? Liturgy? Giving? Personal reflection? Friendliness?
If all of those things can happen in both an atheist and a Christian assembly,
then how are our church services any different from atheists who desire to
We sing songs, they sing songs. Is it the style and
instrumentation of the songs that make them Christian or atheist? Of course
not, it’s the content and the audience.
If an atheist can copy the format and order of a Christian
church service, then there must be nothing inherently Christian about it. Format
and order are evidently religiously neutral.
Of course the readings differ. There is no way a good
atheist would tolerate contextual Bible readings. The act of public reading is religiously
neutral. It is the reading material which makes it either Christian or atheist.
Apparently the congregants of the atheist assembly are
challenged, “to think about living better, helping often and wondering more.”
Public exhortation to live morally can be present in both atheistic and
Christian services. So if a sermon is moral and encouraging in nature, it is
not necessarily Christian. Once again, it comes down to content—but rather than
the nature of the content, it is the basis of the content that determines
whether it is Christian or atheist.Atheistic
sermon content can only be morality based on human achievement. Christian
sermon content is solely based on the achievement of God in Christ as told in
As you go to church this Sunday, think about the things that
make your service different than an atheistic Sunday Assembly. Would an
unchurched person be able to tell the difference? How? It is those (and only
those) differences that are non-negotiable elements of Christian corporate
worship. We must not confuse non-negotiables with things that can (and should)
change with time and culture.
Atheists can print bulletins, sing moving songs, extend warm
greetings, drop money in a collection plate, read inspiring quotes, quietly bow
their heads, and give motivational sermons. But they can’t worship the one true
God in spirit and truth. They can’t fellowship in the furtherance of the Gospel.They can’t sacrificially give out of the
abundance of God’s goodness to them.They
can’t explain, encourage and exhort from the very Word of God Himself.They can’t pour out their emotional adoration
in worship to the One who created, saved and sustains them. They can’t boldly
come together before the Almighty’s throne of grace in prayer.They can’t publicly read the very words of
God Himself as His Spirit opens their mind, breaks their heart and bends their
will to Him.
The style, trappings, format and environment of an atheist
Sunday Assembly might be similar to many of our church services. But those
things that are similar are the flexible, cultural things. We should be willing
and eager to change those things as the culture around us changes. The things
we can never change are the things that make our services distinctly Christian.
Passionate corporate worship, sacrificial giving, richly deep fellowship, fervent
corporate prayer, celebration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s
Supper, and systematic exposition of God’s Word.
Today's time being shaped by the Word is in Psalm 144.
Teach me how to wage battle ruthlessly against everything that keeps me from Your holiness (1). You are my only truly safe place (2). I praise You for Your care over me, even though my life on earth is so fleeting (3). Show Your power today in my life, even if it means I must endure hardship for a time from which You powerfully rescue me (5-8). Then I will have a new song of victory to sing to You (9-10). I will be secure only if You are the source (12-14). Be my security today. Only then will I know real (lasting) happiness (15).
Today's time bowing before God in His Word is in Psalm 43.
My Savior and Master (9,12),
When I am faithless, You remain faithful to me. Although I am unrighteous, I can come to You only because You gave Your righteousness to me in Christ (1-2). When I feel defeated, remind me of the powerful ways You have worked in my life to draw me to You and hold me securely in You (3-5). I am a beggar before You. I have nothing of value apart from what You graciously give me (6). Help me not be grabby and to use wisely what You give me. Thank You for the promised presence of Your Spirit. Without Him, my life today would be as ineffective as that of a dead person (7). I trust You to fill me with Your love this morning (8). Show me Your will in Your Word and teach me how to follow it (8,10). Save me from the attacks of those who threaten to keep me from You (9). As Your servant, help me hear and do what You ask today (12).
Thank You that I can cry out to You and that You will never change (2). Thank You that you know every obstacle that I will ever face, even when I am at my weakest (3). When there is no one else who cares, You are my protector and blessedness in this crazy life (5). Show me today that when I am Your captive, I can be neither the captive of nor be captivated by anything or anyone else (7). Captivate my thoughts today. Free me from being trapped by my selfish wants and others' worldly expectations. Put me in the wide open place of being under Your rule today.
Today's time being conformed to the image of Christ is in Psalm 141.
May this prayer be sweet for You to smell as an act of my worship (1-2). Please muzzle my mouth today (3). Keep my heart from chasing what satisfies those who don't know You (4). Let me be corrected by those who do know You and be thankful for it, knowing that it is an act of real love that brings healing to me (5). Not until the hopes of the wicked crumble will they listen to me (6). Until perfect justice comes, I look to You to be my safe place and my vindicator.
Today's time shaping our minds to think like Christ is in Psalm 140.
Keep me from stirring up conflict today (2). Guard my mouth from causing others pain (3). Let my only agenda today be to bless and give Your freedom, not to harm by taking captive or controlling others (4-5). Cause me to run to You when I need help (6) and to trust You alone as my Savior who protects me (7). Don't give me my selfish desires or ambitions so that I won't become proud and stop relying on You (8). Be just to those who attack me. Thank You for treating me better than I deserve in Christ (9-12). Help me remain in awe of Your greatness and in Your presence today (13).
Today's time being shaped by Christ through His Word is in Psalm 139.
You know EVERYTHING I do, EVERY thought, EVERYWHERE I go, ALL my habits, and ALL my words before I even say them. That kind if knowledge blows my mind (1-6). If ever I try to escape You, there is nowhere I can go (7-9). Thank You that as my Father, You hold onto me even when I run from You (7,10). You made me and planned each of my days (13-16). Remind me that You know all so that I will trust You and obey You when life is difficult, knowing You are working to keep me close to You (17-18). I look forward to the day when all wicked can't cause anymore pain to Your people (19-22). Test me, purify me, and lead me today in works that last forever (23-24).