Hashtag Blessed (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 15, 2015)

The other day, I overheard someone who I don’t think of as being very spiritual describe a situation that had happened to her, and she added that she was “blessed” by it. That word caught my attention, and I thought about what she said – as well as my preconceived ideas about her. I thought about sports figures pointing to heaven or making the sign of the cross when they complete a great play. I thought about musicians and other performers mentioning God in their long list of people to thank for this-or-that award. I admit that sometimes I question their sincerity because those token acknowledgements often come across as fake to me.

 

Out of curiosity, I did a quick search on Twitter for posts with the hashtag #blessed. I found entries about new babies, Valentine’s Day gifts, waking up without an alarm, spending the day at the lake, a heart-shaped breakfast biscuit, meeting a famous person, and a new car. A few posts actually mentioned God, but most of the ones I read did not. Are these things really blessings, and should I even care whether they are or not?

 

In Mark 9:38-41, we read that John approached Jesus to let him know that he and the other disciples had taken a stand against a man who was performing miracles in Jesus’ name. The reason they stopped the man was because he wasn’t one on their group. I can relate to John’s perspective, because I think it’s the same attitude that I had above, judging people for saying that they were blessed.

 

I like the way The Message paraphrase interprets v. 41: “Count on it that God will notice.” I could be wrong, but I don’t think God is particularly bothered by people mentioning him in passing and offering quick words of thanks; however, he desires a deeper relationship with us. Those of us who walk with the Lord have an opportunity, like John and the other disciples, to mentor and be an example to the “hashtag blessed” crowd and help them become committed followers of Christ.

 

It’s great to give God credit for the blessings in our lives, but our faith-walks should be more than mere lip service to God. We shouldn’t have to rely on #blessed for people to see that there’s a real difference in our lives with Christ, compared to who we were before.

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Who am I? (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 30, 2014)

I wear many hats, and I’m known by different names & titles to various people. I go by my first name with most colleagues and friends. My students call me by my last initials. A friend I’ve known for nearly 30 years calls me “Bestie.” My brother used to call me his big-little sister (big sister because I’m older, and little sister because he was 6’5”). My favorite custodian at work calls me “sweet baby.” To my kids, I’m just Mom. To their friends, I’m so-and-so’s Mom.

Hopefully, if you were to ask anyone from those circles, “Who would you say that she is?” then they would have similar things to say about my character. The “me” you see on Sunday morning should be the same person you encounter at the office breakroom, grocery store, Facebook, stop light, or anywhere else around town. (If that isn’t the case, then I need to be held accountable.)

The point is that if we are believers in Jesus, then we represent him 24/7. No matter what our name or position may be, we bear the title “Christian” wherever we go.

In Luke 9:18 and following, Jesus asked his disciples what others were saying about him. He referenced the crowds that had been following them around to hear Jesus speak – who did they say that he was? The disciples shared some of what the public was saying, and then Jesus turned the question to them and asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (v. 20).

Peter knew the answer. He knew that Jesus was more than just a public speaker, healer, or even a prophet. Jesus was the real deal – the one the Israelites had been praying about for generations. Philippians 2:9-11 pulls no punches about Jesus’ place in the hierarchy of the universe. He is the Messiah, as Peter answered – the one who loved us so unconditionally that he conquered death for us.

The question I want to ask you today is not just who do you think Jesus is, but who is he to you? Does he mean enough that you aren’t embarrassed to bear his name? Does he mean enough that you are willing to change a few things about your old way of life so that your new life will reflect him better? Those are tough questions, but they are ones that we each need to answer for ourselves, daily.