Posts Tagged ‘in Christ alone’

Crafted prayer for this hour that we might be strengthened in the Lord

March 26, 2020

Psalm 18_1--3

As believers across the globe are calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ during these intense times that challenge us to the depths of our souls, I thought of this blog entry which is modified and re-posted here. Psalm 18:1-2 is a is an expression of David’s calling upon the Lord, and it reflects the cry of our hearts also:

Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT)

[Psalm 18] [For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:] I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.

In this passage we find two references to the strength that comes from God Almighty: “O Lord, my strength” and “my God, my strength.” As I reflected upon this passage, I recall a “crafted prayer” composed as a petition to God that, as believers, we might be strengthened in the Lord.

Developed by Graham Cooke, the concept of “crafted prayer” involves using the Scriptures to construct specific, targeted prayers, addressed to God. Such prayers may be expressed individually as well as corporately. In his book Crafted Prayer, Cooke reveals that those who “pray the Bible” or use the Scriptures as the basis for their prayers will experience “the joy of always getting your prayers answered.”

A Crafted Prayer that We Might Be Strengthened in the Lord, Our God

O God, you have been our help in ages past; you have delivered our souls from destruction in days gone by, and we know that you are a very present help in the midst of every one of the trials and tribulations that we face each day, as you continue to deliver those who call upon your name. God of power and might, you are our hope for every tomorrow. As the days of our lives unfold before us, we face the future with confidence, knowing that our times are in your hands and that you shall deliver us out of the hand of the enemy.

God, you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. We come to you, the source of all strength and might, thanking you that you have fortified us through Christ Jesus. We know that the Lord saves His anointed; you will answer us from your holy heaven with the saving strength of your right hand.  Though our flesh and our hearts may fail, God, our almighty fortress, is the rock and firm strength of our hearts and our portion forever. In the day when we cry out to you, you answer us and strengthen us with strength in our souls.

We declare that the LORD is our light and our salvation; whom or what shall we fear? The LORD is the strength of our lives; of whom or what shall we be afraid? You declare that we should not fear, for you are with us. We should not be dismayed, for you are our God. You will strengthen us; yes, you will help us. Indeed, you will uphold us with the right hand of your righteousness.

We had fainted, unless we had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. As we wait on the LORD, we will be of good courage, assured that He shall strengthen our hearts. We are confident that as we wait upon the LORD, we shall renew our strength. We shall mount up with wings as eagles; for you make known that just as you bore Israel upon eagles’ wings and brought them unto yourself, so you will elevate us and raise us above any circumstance that seeks to keep us from being all that you have called us to be. As we wait on you, we know that in due season, we shall run, and not be weary; and we shall walk, and not faint.

As you bless and refresh us and fill us anew with your overflowing goodness and mercy, so we pour into one another, as we encourage ourselves and one another in the Lord, Jesus Christ, who infuses inner strength into us. We minister and pray for one another that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, as we go from strength to strength, and glory to glory, even from faith to faith. Your desire is that we may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of your glory, to exercise every kind of endurance and patience, perseverance and forbearance with joy.

We conclude our petitions with this declaration:

That we will be strengthened, perfected, completed, and made to be all that you have called us to be. We will be encouraged and consoled and comforted and will be of the same agreeable mind one with another. We proclaim that we will live in peace, knowing that the God of love, who is the source of affection, goodwill, love, and benevolence toward men and the author and promoter of peace is with us. We make known that according to the riches of God’s glory, that we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in love, are able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height and that we know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we are filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. All these things we declare to be so through the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our soon-coming King, who is the strength our lives. Amen.

Psalm 18:1-2 are among the verses forming the foundation for “In Christ Alone,” the source of strength in whom we stand:

Our confident hope

May 3, 2017

Romans 12--12

The Verse of the Day for May 3, 2017 comes from Romans 12:12 in the New Living Translation:

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

Yesterday I received an announcement regarding the approaching hurricane season, encouraging residents in North Carolina to have a plan in place should there be need to relocate during a severe storm. The email brought to mind Hurricane Matthew, the devastating Category 5 tropical storm that ravaged the Eastern seaboard in September of last year.  I also thought of a teaching series related to the storms of life by Dr. David Jeremiah and others, who spoke of the cycle of life, whereby, as believers, we are either in the midst of a storm or coming out of a storm and preparing to go through another storm.  One of the messages inspired the following poem that uses Romans 12:12 as its epigraph or scriptural introduction:

The Prayer Directive: Strength between Storms

Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation,

continuing steadfastly in prayer;

Romans 12:12 [NKJV]

When it seems that we have reached our outer limits

Of exhausted options and can no longer cope,

Wrestling with unbelief, our foe that inhibits,

God’s word reminds us to keep rejoicing in hope.

We know that in patience we possess our soul.

In the midst of life’s pressures, we remain secure,

Assured that in Christ Jesus, we have been made whole,

Watching and waiting with renewed strength to endure.

As stately palm trees, we yield and bend in the wind,

And pray in the spirit, with requests that never cease.

As sweet-smelling incense, our fervent prayers ascend

In greater measure, as our petitions increase.

Though storms may overwhelm, we are still in God’s care:

Therefore rejoice, be patient, continue in prayer.

The Verse of the Day opens with a reminder that we should be continually rejoicing in hope. We are also mindful that Jesus Christ is described as our “blessed hope,” and because of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin, sickness and even death itself, we have hope that lives eternally.

As a child I have fond memories of singing in the Junior Choir, where I recall “leading” my first song at the age of eight or nine. Actually I did not “sing,” but I narrated the verses while the choir sang the lyrics to “On Christ, the Solid Rock.”  This “vintage hymn” which resounds with “hope” is part of this moving medley “In Christ Alone My Hope is Found.”

In the midst of difficult situations, we reflect upon the goodness of God who has been faithful in past instances, and the Word of God assures us of His steadfast love and encourages us to:

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble  and keep on praying.

Brace up your mind, be sober, set your hope

January 6, 2017

1-peter-1-13

We begin this day, January 6, 2017, with the Verse of the Day, which is found in 1 Peter 1:13

Amplified Bible Classic Edition also offers a powerful rendering of the verse:

13 So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed.

In this section of scriptures labeled “A Call to Holy Living” in the New Living Translation, we find a trio of commands: Brace your minds . . . be sober . . . set your hope.

Brace up your minds:

Jesus Christ uses a similar expression, “Gird up the loins of your mind,” to describe those servants who are waiting for their Lord’s return (Luke 12:35). In the same way that the Israelites were instructed to observe the Passover with their loose outer garments girded up about the waist to be ready for their journey, believers today are to prepare themselves mentally so that nothing impedes their progress. Hensler comments, “The believer is to have his mind (mental powers) collected and always ready for Christ’s coming.”

Be sober (circumspect, morally alert):

The expression “be sober” is generally thought of in terms of “do not be drunk” or “don’t get intoxicated.” His graceoasis.com points out that “the word does not mean to abstain from the use of alcohol but rather to refrain from the abuse of it which leads to intoxication.” The verb means “to be sober-minded, watchful, and circumspect.”  One translation renders the term: “to be sober, calm and collected, to have good sense, good judgment, wisdom, and level-headed in times of stress.” “Be sober” is used eight times in the New Testament, most notably in 1 Peter 5:8 (AMP):

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.

Set your hope wholly and unchangeably. . .

The final exhortation is to “set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed.” Hope has been described as “the expectation of a future good.” The word is used in 1 Peter 1:3, where it is translated “a living or lively hope” while the New Living Translation speaks of “the hope of eternal life” and renders the verse in this way:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,

The reference to “grace or divine favor” embodied in Jesus Christ also brings to mind a recent blog entry that spoke of the designation of this year, 2017, as a demonstration of God’s “unlimited goodness and unlimited favor.”

1 Peter 1:13 also connects the idea of being sober with the hope of the Lord’s return which is also the context for two uses of the verb in 1 Thessalonians, whose focal point is the parousia or gathering together at the return of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:6

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

1 Thessalonians 5:8

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.

The Verse of Day provides a resounding, three-part call as to how believers should behave in the midst of these last and evil days:

We close with “In Christ Alone (My Hope is found)” by Phillips, Craig, and Dean.

Complete in Him, in Christ alone

July 16, 2016

Colossians-2--9-10

To remind believers of who we are in Christ Jesus, The Verse of the Day for July 16, 2016 makes this bold declaration:

Colossians 2:9-10 (AMP):

For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God]. And in Him you have been made complete [achieving spiritual stature through Christ], and He is the head over all rule and authority [of every angelic and earthly power].

This is how the New Living Testament renders the verse:

Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT)

For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

To more fully understand our identity in Christ, let’s take a look at the preceding verses found in Colossians 2:6-10

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

God desires that we recognize that we are complete, that we lack nothing in our relationship with Him through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

James 1:3-4 (AMP) reveals God’s desire toward us:

Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

The fullness of God abides or remains in Christ, and we abide or remain in Christ as those who are born again of His spirit. To express this reality the Greek preposition “en” is translated “in,” denoting “being or remaining within, with the primary idea of rest and continuance, also denoting continuance of time, relating to union and fellowship (E.W. Bullinger). The position of this particular preposition is conveyed as the center of a circle, a position that never changes but remains fixed. In a similar manner, our position in Christ never changes, despite what may transpire in our circumstances that constantly fluctuate.

As we have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, we are to walk in him, which is an aspect of renewing the mind, whereby we put off the old and put on the new. The culminating aspect of renewing the mind is to put on charity or to demonstrate or manifest or to put into action the love of God. The Word of God encourages us to

Walk in Love: Our Best Defense

Don’t bite the bait,

Don’t take offense.

Walk in the love of Jesus Christ

It’s your best defense.

Scripture Memory Song

 

Always attacking, the Accuser stalks his prey,

Relentless in maligning Saints, both night and day.

Fiery darts of wicked words hurled in endless assaults:

The aim of evil deeds that magnify our faults.

He sets the traps, lures of the Spirit of Offense.

To counteract, we walk in love, our best defense.

He tries to trip us up, to be a stumbling block,

But we are ever vigilant around the clock.

Although we strive to reach the highest good,

Our motives are questioned; we are misunderstood.

Despite life’s challenges, we seek to rise above.

Though deeply wounded when betrayed, we still walk in love.

The thief comes to offend, falsely accuse, and betray,

But we conquer through Christ each time we trust and obey

The Verse of the Day and related scriptures remind us that we are complete in Christ, “In Christ Alone,” powerfully expressed in this song by Travis Cottrell:

in His expressed image

December 2, 2015

Hebrews-1--1-2

The Verse of the Day for December 2, 2015 comes from Hebrews 1:1-2 but to apprehend more fully the essence of the message, let us take a look at Hebrews 1:1-3

The New Living Testament renders the passage this way:

Hebrews 1:1-3:

1Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.

2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.

3The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

As I considered deeply who Jesus Christ is and what he represents, I thought of the opening phrase of verse three “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God. . .” or as the King James states that Christ is “the express image of his [God’s] person.”

As believers our innermost desire should be that our lives become expressions of the character of Christ, just as Christ is the expression of the very character of God. References to our desire to be formed in the express image of Christ are found in this poem:

Firstfruits

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word
of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits
of his creatures.

James 1:18

Transform and then so fashion our very visage

To be like Christ, the full brightness of your glory.

In your refining fire so melt us so that we

Might be molded and cast in His express image:

As boldface type is stamped, printed upon the page,

As newly minted coins are placed in your treasure,

Precisely stamped with the essence of your character,

So that we convey the power of your message.

So saturate our spirit, heart, and soul and mind,

Every fiber of our being, your hand restores

To so permeate our presence that we might find

Our true calling as Christ’s faithful ambassadors.

More than any vessel, vehicle, or instrument,

Like Christ, the Lord, we are firstfruits of God’s intent.

“In Christ Alone” offered by Avalon is also an expression of where we take our stand as believers: