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40 Days of Prayer, Day 30

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Day 30, Monday, September 19

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Psalm 95:6-7

The Contrite Heart is a Dependent Heart
God is our Creator. We have been made by Him and for Him. He is a God of relationships. Our creation by Him is for the purpose of a relationship with Him. There are a variety of portraits in the Bible that depict our relationship with God. Many of these portraits convey more than the Creator and creature relationship. For instance, the biblical image of a parent to a child communicates many aspects of our relationship to God. There is the picture of God as the master and we as His servants. There is the New Testament portrait of the church as the bride of Christ. These images allow our minds to grapple with the incredibly complex notion of an infinite God loving His finite people. Another portrait of our relationship to God is that of a sheep to a shepherd. This agrarian language spoke so clearly to the culture of ancient Israel and to the people of the time of Christ. Shepherds and sheep were common to everyone. This image points to our continual dependence upon God. Sheep are helpless and completely dependent on their shepherd. The shepherd brings the sheep into the pasture. He watches over them. They live under the protective care of the shepherd. It’s a personal and close relationship. “The sheep of His hand” provides us with the portrait of the personal care of the shepherd, the gentle hands of our loving shepherd. There is a dependence on the him. The sheep continually live with an awareness of every need being met by his loving hands. So we too, as God’s people live with a continual, personal relationship with God. We need Him and He loves us. He watches over us. He provides for our daily needs. He knows what is best for us even when we cannot see it. His flawless wisdom and complete knowledge provide for His perfect shepherding ability over His sheep.

Prayer Focus
Lord, I need You every moment of my life. Thank You for Your gracious and personal care for me. Your love and provisions comfort my heart and mind. You are my Creator. You are also my Shepherd. I know You watch over me and guide me. Amen.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
Ah! pride, pride! You are that which holds many a man in the chains of his sins; you are it, you cursed self-conceit, and keep them from believing that their state is damnable. 'The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God' (Psa 10:4). And if there is so much in the pride of his countenance, what is there in the pride of his heart? Therefore, Job says it is to hide pride from man, and so to save his soul from hell, that God chastens him with pain upon his bed, until the multitude of his bones stick out, and until his life draws nigh to the destroyer (Job 33:17-22). It is a hard thing to take a man off his pride, and make him, instead of trusting in, and boasting of his goodness, wisdom, honesty, and the like, to see himself a sinner, a fool, a man that is cruel, as to his own immortal soul. Pride of heart has a power in it, and is therefore compared to an iron chain, by which they are made stout, and with which they are held in that stoutness, to oppose the Lord, and drive his Word from their hearts (Lev 26:19; Psa 73:6).

 

40 Days of Prayer, Day 29

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Day 29, Sunday, September 18

O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation, let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His. also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Psalm 95:1-5

The Contrite Heart is a Heart of Worship
The contrite heart worships God. Seeing God as worthy of praise and then engaging purposefully in the worship of God must become a natural extension of the life of every contrite believer. We were created by God in order to see, know, experience and enjoy Him forever. Worship provides the tangible expression of that purpose for which we have been created. Sin blocks our access to God. Sin prevents us from seeing God as worthy of worship. Sin is the barrier to our purpose. God tears down the barriers to His glory by destroying our sin on the cross of Christ and through His resurrection. Because God is holy, He cannot and will not allow unredeemed sinners to have access to His presence. But God made us for worship. As Jesus told the woman at the well, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:23-24. God seeks worshippers. He made us for this purpose. He seeks worshippers who will worship Him with hearts engaged and minds set in truth. Our hearts and minds are never truly satisfied until they are satisfied in discovering this purpose, the purpose for which we have been made. God seeks us all the way to the death and resurrection of His Son, the greatest display of love possible.

Notice the call to worship from the psalmist. "Let us..." This call reflects the corporate nature of the purposes of God. We were made to see, know, experience and enjoy the presence of God. However, this is not purely an individual act of worship. God has also designed us for fellowship with others. The most binding act of a community of believers is the act of corporate worship. The singularity of purpose, the unifying of common expression, the joyful lifting of voices, all point our hearts and minds toward the One who made us and the One who saved us. As we sing, we engage not only our own hearts, but also the hearts and minds of others, setting their hearts and minds with greater focus on Him.

Today, Sunday, provides the opportunity to gather with the purpose for our own joyful expressions of worship but also to encourage others in corporate worship. "Let us sing for joy to the Lord." Let's come together on this day of worship with contrite hearts, broken before our God. Let's come together with joyful hearts, having been forgiven. Let's come together with worship hearts, longing to see, know, experience and enjoy God in the gathering of His people.

Prayer Focus
Oh Lord, give me a heart of worship today. Let me seek you with heart and mind. Help me in my weaknesses. So many things distract me from the worship for which You have created me. Set my mind on You. Use me as an instrument of encouragement to others. Take our time of worship as a church and fill it with humble expressions of gratitude. Come in power by Your Holy Spirit so that our worship as a church might bring You glory. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
And now the heart lies open, now the Word will prick, cut, and pierce it; and it being cut, pricked, and pierced, it bleeds, it faints, it falls, and dies at the foot of God, unless it is supported by the grace and love of God in Jesus Christ. Conversion, you know, begins at the heart; but if the heart be so secured by sin and Satan, as I have said, all judgments are, while that is so, in vain. Hence Moses, after he had made a long relation of mercy and judgment to the children of Israel, suggests that yet the great thing was wanting to them, and that thing was, a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear until that day (Deut 29:2, 3). Their hearts were as yet not touched to the quick, were not awakened, and wounded by the holy Word of God, and made to tremble at its truth and terror. But I say, before the heart is touched, pricked, made aware, how can it come to a place of thinking that it should repent, cry, bow, and break at the foot of God, and beg for mercy! and yet it must do so; for thus God has ordained, and thus God has appointed it; men cannot be saved without it. But, I say, can the spiritually dead, whose heart is past feeling, do this; before this dead one be awakened, to see and feel its state and misery without it?

 

40 Days of Prayer, Day 28

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Day 28, Saturday, September 17

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. Psalm 51:12-13

The Contrite Heart and the Care for Others

David’s lack of care for others created his traumatic sin of adultery and murder. His complete disregard for Uriah and Bathsheba and their families, along with the rest of the nation, led to one of the greatest moral failings in the history of God’s people. In this psalm, a psalm that was dedicated to confession and repentance, David asked God to restore him. Then, once restored, David requested God to use him. He asked God to restore him so that he could focus his energies on the care of others. Maybe David learned some valuable lessons in the midst of his rebellion against God? Maybe David now sought to be an instrument of good in the lives of others? He had done so much evil and had caused so much pain. His sin had ripple effects for a whole generation of his family and for Israel. Now humbled through the gracious hand of God, David longed for a restored, joyful spiritual life. Out of this horrific experience, he now sought for God’s work in the lives of others. “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” His self-centered focused created this crisis. Now he longed for an others-centered life as evidence of his restoration by God.

A humble, contrite heart is a heart that cares for others. A humble, contrite heart longs for the good in others. Those who are truly contrite seek the good in others by serving, helping, encouraging, and supporting. The prayer of the contrite is, “Use me, oh God, to help others.” David’s request came from the heart of a repentant believer. Having our sins forgiven, now that we have experienced so much undeserved good in our lives from God, we now seek good in the lives of others. Remember the act of humble service by Christ on the very night of His betrayal. He was betrayed into the hands of the Jewish leaders followed by His subsequent execution at the hands of the Romans. The disciples seemed too proud and too busy to wash their own feet as they entered the home where they were celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover. They certainly were too proud to wash anyone else’s feet. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, stepped into the upper room and found it filled with egos far too big for the significance of the events that would unfold in the coming hours. Shockingly they received no lecture from Jesus, just a display of humility. He said nothing to them. He just got up from the table, took a towel and basin, and started to serve by washing their dirty feet. Though a variety pointed truths were on display in this incredible moment, He left them with these words to clarify what they had just seen and experienced. Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. John 13:12-15 This is the life of the contrite-hearted. This is our life as believers in Christ. Having been freed from the bondage of our sin by His merciful work on the cross, He gave us an example to follow. May we imitate our Savior’s life of service.

 

Prayer Focus

Lord, teach me to serve others. Out of an abundance of mercy You have forgiven me. You have also called me to serve others.  Open my eyes to the needs around me.  Give me the courage to help.  Amen.

From Bunyan’s The Acceptable Sacrifice
There are the sorts of people that tremble at the words of God, and that are afraid of doing anything that is contrary to them; but they are only such with whose souls and spirits the Word has had to do. For the rest, they are resolved to go on their course, let God say what he will. 'As for the word' of the Lord, said rebellious Israel to Jeremiah, 'that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes forth out of our own mouth' (Jer 44:16). But do you think that these people did ever feel the power and majesty of the Word of God to break their hearts? No; had that been so, they would have trembled at the words of God; they would have been afraid of the words of God. God may command some people what he will, they will do what they will. What do they care for God? What care do they have for his Word? Neither threats nor promises, neither punishments or favors will make them obedient to the Word of God; and all because they have not felt the power of it, their hearts have not been broken with it. (Acts 9:4-6, 16:29, 30). Trembling at the Word is caused by a belief of what is deserved, threatened, and of what will come, if not prevented by repentance; and therefore the heart melts, and breaks before the Lord.

 

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