Praying Ephesians -Ephesians 3-

 

Probably Valentin de Boulogne, Saint Paul Writing His Epistles

Father, I praise today your glorious grace and give you thanks for revealing the mystery of redemption to your church: that now we, Gentiles in the flesh, who were once separated from the commonwealth of Israel and were strangers to the covenants of promise, are now -through the blood and resurrection of Christ Jesus- fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. How wonderful these news are! Because of this, because it pleased you to made for yourself a people out of the midst of the unworthy, is that we are alive and have been made your children. Thank you, Father! And I join the voice of a saint who said after meditating on this passage of the Scriptures, How great our obligations to sovereign grace!

Lord, thank you for the gospel. I ask you to please have mercy on me and give me grace to proclaim the gospel, the unsearchable riches of Christ with all diligence. Help me so that in every word that comes out from my mouth, in every work I do, I will be a testimony of the grace that saves. Help us, each one of your children, to live a life that will not bring shame but glory to your Name. Oh Lord, help us make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places that Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings!

Thank you, Father, because we can come before you with all boldness and confidence through our faith in Jesus. Thank you for calling us by name to enjoy fellowship with you. How is that we sometimes neglect to come before you, when it was through the blood of Jesus, through that enormous sacrifice, that we can now have access to your presence! Forgive us for so often neglecting prayer and instead embracing anxiety and fear!  I ask you to help us endure through trials and tribulations and to continue to pray for one another as we proclaim the good news to the broken world. Help us, Father through your Holy Spirit, to grow in the grace and in the saving knowledge of Jesus, our Lord. Help us to seek you with all diligence through out our day.

Father, because of the way that now is open for your own children, because now we can come with all boldness to lay before you the petitions of our hearts. I humbly bow my knees before you, Father, and pray for my husband, for my children and their future spouses. I pray that according to the riches of your glory you may grant them today to be strengthen with power through your Spirit in the inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. Oh Father, help us to be well rooted and grounded in love so that we all may have strength to comprehend (what is humanly impossible) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that we may be filled with the fullness of God. That knowing You in the Scriptures becomes the daily longing of our heart until we awake to you likeness.

Father, what a blessed assurance it is to know that you are able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. Let you glory shine forth in your Church and in the future generations, forever and ever amen.

Becky

Truth and Love -Ephesians 4:15-

John Stott writes in his commentary on Ephesians (referring to Eph. 4:1-16):

“Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God’s revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation. Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself ‘the spirit of truth,’ and his first fruit is ‘love.” There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.” (emphasis mine)

I read the Word of God and the words of godly men like Stott and Bonhoeffer, and many others, and I still feel like a broken vessel which knows not how to love others while embracing His Truth, while upholding God’s Word, while giving it preeminence and not compromising it. Stott says that “this should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers,” I think that is the only line in this quote with which I do not agree. I find it one of the most difficult things to learn. I pray I will always be brave enough to stand strong on the Truth that is so often changed, but humble enough to recognize when I am not loving like Jesus would.

The more I ponder on these things, the more I recognize that only in God we can find perfect justice and perfect love.

Learning under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

*Thanks to Tim Challies who shared this quote on his blog today and to my friend Melissa who pointed it to me.

The Giving of Thanks and My Obedience

@Jim LePage Crux Sola Project

The giving of thanks can only begin when the gift of the divine Word is acknowledged; indeed, only when I am immersed in the study of the divine Word. How could one begin to give thanks to God and not concern oneself with his Word? What kind of thanks would it be to receive the gifts but refuse the required obedience to the giver? It would be a pagan thanksgiving, which is indeed widely practiced.
That is not a giving of thanks to the Lord God, but rather to an impersonal fate or fortune to which I am in no way obligated. Thanks to God that does not proceed from an obedient heart is presumption and falsehood. Only when God’s revealed Word has made our heart want to obey him can we thank God for earthly and heavenly gifts… 

I thank God because I want to learn and know what he requires of me, but I thank him as one who is still only learning, who still lacks everything when measured by God’s righteous judgments. So thanksgiving leads me back to the giving God and then forward to the commanding God, in order finally to find in him his righteousness, which I experience anew as righteousness given to me. “Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God” (Ps. 50:24).”

Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word (emphasis mine)

Today as I fix my heart on the Cross, and I am drawn to give Him thanks -over and over again- for His perfect sacrifice, for His atonement, I am also drawn to pray, “Lord, help me to show you my gratitude through my love and obedience to your Word.”

Becky

Praying Ephesians -Ephesians 1-

We make the Scripture ours by reading it, studying it, meditating on it, living it, and praying it.

 “Prayer is the most tangible expression of trust in God.” Jerry Bridges, Trusting God

@Shiloh Photography (used with permission)

 

Father, thank you because you made a way for me to become yours. Thank you for your immeasurable Grace and its perfect fruit: Peace. Lord, when I see beyond the many physical gifts, all wonderful and undeserving, that it has pleased you to bestow upon me; when I lift my eyes to the heavenly realms and see all the gifts that are beyond all comprehension, I fall on my knees and bless your name. Lord, thank you for calling me, for choosing me in love to be called your own, to be adopted by you, Father. Thank you for each spiritual blessing, for the promises of eternal life, for the miracle of the Cross, for the hope of the resurrection, for that peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank you, O Lord!

Father, I praise your glorious grace with which you have blessed us in the Beloved, in Jesus. I praise you, Father, for Jesus because it is in Him that we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of all our sins, according to the riches of His Grace. O what a wonderful, glorious Grace!

As I see the cross and the blood of the Lamb, I see your wisdom and insight making known to us, your children, the mystery of your will: to have for yourself one Church united in Jesus. How I long for that day!

Thank you, Father, because it is in Jesus, In Him alone, that we have obtained our precious inheritance. Only in Him can we possess the gift of Eternal Life. Only in Him, when we heard the word of Truth, the gospel of our salvation that pierced our soul, and revived our dried bones, only when you made us believe in Him, is that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. This is just glorious, Lord! That no one can rob that inheritance from us! That the salvation of our souls is assured by the seal of the Holy Spirit and not by our own feeble efforts is wonderful! Thank you, Lord! I praise your glorious Grace!

For this reason, for the faith that you have given me, I now come before you to pray for my children. Give me a heart that is inclined to intercede with all kinds of prayers and supplications for my sons and daughters all day, every day. That I may not cease to fall on my knees on their behalf, that I may not fall in the sin of worrying and being anxious for them and their future instead of trusting that their life,  all of it is under your sovereign, loving hand. Give me the faith that trusts that your will for them is that they may know You and your perfect will. Father, I pray for the children that you have given me and for their future spouses. I pray that you, Gracious God, may give them a spirit of wisdom and of revelation so that they may know You. Lord, that they may seek you in the days of their youth and grow in the wisdom that is only found in the Scriptures. Father, draw them to your Word, keep them from the evil one, from all false teachers, from all deceptions, from their own sinful desires. Father, enlighten their eyes that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them. I pray that you will deliver them from all the false hopes and all the false promises that the gods of this age offer. Deliver them from setting their eyes, their efforts, and their heart in the riches that will perish, that are vain and leave men and women empty. Strengthen them so that they may be able to stand firm in the days of trial, in the many times in which they’ll have to face fierce temptations. Call them by name, O Lord, show them what are the riches of the glorious inheritance that we have in You; let them see with the eyes of their soul what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe in You. Open their eyes that they might understand the power of the cross and the resurrection and live a life that will bring glory to your name.

Father, draw us to you, to Jesus. Apart from you we can do nothing, we can go nowhere, we are lost, and fruitless. Help us today to live by Grace, with our eyes fixed on the cross and the power of the resurrection. Help us today to build your Kingdom and build up for ourselves treasures in Heaven.

I pray trusting that you hear me because of your steadfast love.
In Jesus’ perfect name,

Amen.

Becky

Stories of Endless Grace

It is when I see my sisters in Christ
who have lost a child,
a husband,
a dream.
Sisters who have been betrayed,
abandoned.
Who have heard many times
that they have the “right” to be mad
to be bitter,
to be anger.
But by God’s Grace
are still clinging hard to
God’s Word,
to His Perfect love,
to the Cross,
That I learn the most
about trusting God.

These women, these sisters,
Who have lost the most precious gifts,
Are the ones who have their hands
And hearts full.
Their cup is overflowing.
God has filled their emptiness
With His prescence.
They now know Him as the God
who satisfies all of our needs.
They have walked with Him
through valleys
and shadows and
have embraced the blessed gift of
His Peace which surpasses all
understanding.

These women don’t name and claim promises.
These women bow down and
Glorify God in the abyss.
When silence is everywhere,
and no answers are found,
they cling to the Word of God,
and hide under the Shadow of the Almighty.

The lessons learned in the furnace,
in the missionary field,
in the trials,
in the hospitals,
in the cemetery,
in the court,
in the office,
in the kitchen,
in the prayer closet,
are all invaluable,
all of them rich.
All appointed by God,
to draw them closer to Him.

How they stood firm through each battle,
how they have persevered,
how they have glorified and thanked God
when they could have cursed Him.
Oh! It is only through Grace…
Grace that flows from the Cross,
Grace that knows the power of the Resurrection.
Grace that calls each one of us by name.
Grace that doesn’t let us go
or die,
or despair.

And we all know this,
the school of sanctification is not easy.
And we fail at times -many times-
but we persevere,
we have not been chosen to perish.
It is not about us,
about will-power,
about our own capacities,
or strength,
or godliness.
It is neither about our sin,
how big it is,
how low we have been.
It is all about His Saving Grace,
Grace that saves,
Grace that helps us fight,
Grace that brings us all the way to the finish line.

And I have heard my sisters say,
“I never thought I could possibly live through such a trial…
      and yet God’s grace sustained me through it all.”

I close my eyes and try to swallow hard.
Isn’t this the testimony that we need to hear?
The Doctrines of Grace,
The Catechism,
Our Creeds,
Worn as our daily robe?

As one man said,
“Stories are catechisms 
                 with flesh on.”
I believe it.
I have heard the stories my sisters have lived.
I have seen them being sustained by
the faith that is found in the marrow of their bones.
Their scars are real.
But so their smiles.
So their joy.

All is Grace and
each story hides in it many mercies.
And each one draws us near to our Father.
Beautiful stories of unending Grace.
mercies adorning their days.
Day after day…
New mercies which never fail to come.

God’s blessed joy has come in the morning,
His peace has guarded their hearts,
their minds.

And I look at each one of them,
how beautiful they are!
How strong
and meek they are.
How much like Jesus they have become.

And I give thanks for each one of them,
And always remember them in my prayers,

Becky

The Two Objects Needed to Make a Home

 

Peasant Family at the Dinner Table by Jozef Israëls

What a great a read is Bed and Board: Plain talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon. I am absolutely loving this book. I posted some quotes from the first four chapters here, and today I want to share with you a few more quotes from chapters 5 and 6.

“I usually say that you need only two things, two pieces of matter, to make a home: a bed and a table. It’s an oversimplification, but it’s a good one…For Bed and Board are the fundamental geographical divisions of the family; they are the chief places, and it is in them and around them that we dance the parts we are given.”

“He who perished by a tree is saved by a tree. He who died by an apple is restored by eating the flesh of his Saviour. Our lust is to be healed by being brought down to one bed, our savagery tamed by the exchanges around a lifelong table. Bed, Board, rooftree and doorway become the choice places of our healing, the delimitations of our freedom. By setting us boundaries, they hold us in; but they trammel the void as well. By confining, they keep track of us -they leave us free to be found, and to find ourselves. The vow of lifelong fidelity to one bed, one woman, becomes the wall at the edge of the cliff that leaves the children free to play a little, rather than be lost at large. Marriage gives us somewhere to be.”

“The bed is the heart of the home, the arena of love, the seedbed of life, and the one constant point of meeting. It is the place where, night by night, forgiveness and fair speech return that the sun go not down upon our wrath; where the perfunctory kiss and the entire ceremonial pat on the backside become unction and grace. It is the oldest, friendliest thing, in anybody’s marriage, the first used and the last left, and no one can praise it enough.”

“We were meant to meet, to sustain and to ease each other, and in the marriage bed we lie down to do just that. It is an island in a sea of troubles, where there is nothing else to do but rest and refresh. Yet how resourceful we are, with our turned backs and stubborns silences, or with our interminable pouts and dreadful debates about What’s Wrong With Us.”

“People admit is hard to pray. Yet they think it’s easy to make love. What nonsense. Neither is worth much when it is only the outcropping of intermittent enthusiasm. Both need to be done without ceasing…”

“The table can make us or break us. It has its own laws and will not change. Food and litter will lie upon it; fair speech and venom will pour across it; it will be the scene of manners and meanness, the place of charity or the wall of division, depending. Depending on what is done with it, at it and about it. But whatever is done, however it enters, it will allow only the possible, not the ideal. No one has ever created the Board by fiat. God himself spread his table, but Judas sat down at it. There is no use in thinking that we all have to do is wish for a certain style of family life, and wait for it to happen. The Board is a union of thing and persons; what it becomes depends on how the thing is dealt with by the persons.”

“The Board will always give birth to liturgy.”

“[I]t is precisely the absence of visible liturgy that nowadays makes the common life less obvious to common men.”

“Few of us have very many great things to care about, but we all have plenty of small ones; and that’s enough for the dance. It is precisely through the things we put on the table, and the liturgies we form around it, that the city is built; caring is more than half the work.”

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky