Prayer prompts for the week of Jan. 31

I was just about to upload next week’s posts when I realized that I missed all of last week! :/  Here ya go …

 

Journey or Destination?

In your opinion, which is better: the journey or the destination? I can think of occasions when both answers were true in my life. On a cruise, the ports of call are lovely, but the journey is also a lot of fun. On a road trip, the drive can be exhausting, yet some of my favorite memories were made on the highway, so I guess that one kinda depends. On a flight, the arrival tends to be more enjoyable to me than the getting there part.

 

What about your life, in general? Are you focused on the day-to-day, or do you have your sights set on eternity? Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of wonderful things to experience in life. My question, though, is whether that should be our focus. Check out what the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-21. He referred to the Christian life as striving toward a goal, using the imagery of a race with a heavenly prize at the finish line.

 

We would be doing ourselves a disservice if we only thought about the finish line and neglected the steps we need to take along the way. However, I think more often than not, we take side trips, detours, or stop to take a nap (spiritually speaking) and distract our minds from the ultimate destination of spending eternity with the Lord. In Philippians 3:20 (NLT), Paul explained, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” We don’t belong here; we’re just visiting.

 

King Solomon put this idea in different words in Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. He described how futile it is to chase after pleasure, because such things don’t last. As a man who had everything his heart could desire, he still experienced much emptiness. Here was a man who had more wealth, fame, possessions, relationships, and accolades than any of us could ever dream, but at the end of the day, he considered it all meaningless.

 

Life is fleeting (Psalm 39:4, Isaiah 40:6-8, 1 Peter 1:24). I would encourage you to keep your eye on the prize, yet still live for Christ in the here and now. This life is our opportunity to share the love and hope of Jesus with others, and we ought to be making the most of our time here.

 

(Sunday) James 4:14 describes our life like the morning fog: here only temporarily. What will you do today that matters for eternity?

 

(Monday) My yard is dead/dormant for winter. Isaiah 40:6-8 describes our lives like grass that withers away, but the word of God lasts forever.

 

(Tuesday) Job 14:5 tells us that God knows the exact length of our lives. Commit each day like a marathon trainer, with a heavenly prize awaiting you.

 

(Wednesday) In Psalm 39:4, King David asks God to remind him how brief life is. Too easily, we can get ensnared by the world and lose our eternal focus.

 

(Thursday) We read in Genesis that God breathed life into Adam. Psalm 39:5 reminds us that our lives are a breath – a mere moment compared to eternity.

 

(Friday) We who are in Christ have our names are written in the Book of Life, and our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20, Rev. 3:5). Praise God!

 

(Saturday) Job 14:2 describes life as a passing shadow. May we keep our eyes on the Son and reflect his light to the world around us.

 

What is your citizenship worth? (Prayer Devotional for the week of July 13, 2014)

We talked last week about Paul’s peculiar testimony. In Acts 22, he shared the outrageous story of his conversion with the religious leaders who brought him in for questioning. The folks in charge were not too happy with Paul’s comment that God had sent him to minister to the Gentiles (i.e., non-Jews), and they ordered him to be flogged.

Paul cooperated and let them stretch him out and chain him up to prepare for his flogging, then he turned to the guy strapping him down and casually asked if it was legal to flog a Roman citizen who had not been proven guilty. The stunned guards were terrified. They could have gotten into big trouble for beating a Roman citizen!

They tattled to the commander who came and questioned Paul about his citizenship (verses 27-29). The commander made the smart-aleck retort: “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship,” as if flaunting his wealth would trick Paul into admitting that he was lying about being a Roman citizen. Paul answered him simply, “But I was born a citizen.” Back in those days, being a Roman citizen carried with it special privileges, and the commander was rightfully frightened about the possible repercussions for having put Paul in chains.

As for us, I would venture a guess that most of us were born on American soil and gained our citizenship by birth. Others waited, studied, waited some more and then took a test to earn citizenship by naturalization. The latter way is expensive and takes a lot of time and effort. The naturalization process carries most of the perks of citizenship, but birth citizens still have more privileges—like the ability to run for President.

I am proud of and thankful for my American citizenship, but what about our heavenly citizenship? What is it worth? Is it worth the time, effort and potential backlash to let the world know that we’re followers of Christ? This story in Acts 22 was just the tip of the iceberg for Paul; he spent much time in prison and getting beaten up for the sake of the gospel. What is heavenly citizenship worth to you? It was worth more than life to Paul.

Originally posted August 21, 2011

Proof of citizenship (Prayer Devotional for the week of July 6, 2014)

I let time get away from me (again) and just realized that I forgot to schedule this week’s devotional posts! Here ya go …

 

Do you know which documents are acceptable as proof of citizenship in the U.S.? Birth certificate, passport or naturalization certificate are the commonly accepted items. Other government-issued forms of photo identification, such as driver’s license, military ID, etc., are useful to demonstrate that you are who you say you are, but they do not validate your citizenship.

We may have photo IDs to prove where we go to school or work, certificates to show that we’re married, framed diplomas to display our college degrees and notarized papers to explain legal matters … but none of those documents prove our citizenship.

In his letter to the Philippians (chapter 3), the apostle Paul gave a litany of his qualifications as a religious leader in order to drive home the point that none of it matters – not the accolades, not the bragging rights, not the pedigree. He went so far as to call his credentials “garbage” (verse 8) compared to the joy of knowing Christ. Paul, formerly known as Saul, was an unabashed weirdo; in fact, he embraced his peculiar testimony so that God would receive the utmost glory.

The thought of Paul’s former life as an “enemy of the cross” brought him to tears (verse 18) as he pleaded with the Philippians to focus their sights heavenward. Our worldly credentials pale in comparison to heavenly glory! Paul describes our true citizenship as being in heaven (verse 20) – will we embrace it?

Originally posted August 14, 2011