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.

 

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How long, O Lord? (Prayer Devotional for the week of September 6, 2015)

As I was getting close to finishing grad school, I remember the idea of writing my dissertation being very daunting. How do you just sit down and write 100+ pages? One of the best pieces of advice that I received during that time was: You don’t. You write a chapter, or a section of a chapter, or sometimes just a paragraph. You divvy up the project into bite-sized chunks to make it more manageable.

 

Sometimes, though, I would write and write and write, then look at my page count and realize it had barely budged. I would strum my fingers on the keyboard and ask myself, “How much longer will this take? How will I ever finish? I have so many people rooting for me; what if I fail?” Looking back in hindsight, of course, I’d like to tell that worrywart that she’s going to rock her dissertation; she’s going to graduate on schedule; and, she’ll even get a job offer of her dreams before it’s all said & done. 🙂

 

We’re only human, and it can be difficult to look beyond our current challenges and see the big picture in the future. If it makes us feel any better, we aren’t alone in our fretting. At least eight times in the book of Psalms (depending on the translation), the writer cried out, “How long?” to the Lord. King David would often beg God through poetry and song to spare his life when he was being pursued by his enemies, or forgive him when he felt God’s wrath hot on his neck for his sins. As I read the Psalms, I picture David cowering in a secret cave, scribbling his prayers by a campfire.

 

Do you realize that the same God who answered David’s prayers also listens to ours?

 

Is there something you are dealing with right now that you keep wondering how long until it is resolved? Don’t hesitate to take your concerns to the Lord, but don’t just dump them in prayer and then walk away. Spend time quietly listening for God to impress upon your heart what he might want you doing while you wait for the answer. Perhaps you are in a challenging situation at work, home, school, etc., and he wants to use you to be a witness to a specific person. Maybe your trial is a test of character, not a punishment. Whatever the situation, trust God to handle the details; you just be willing to listen and serve.

The Perfect Woman (Prayer Devotional for the week of May 3, 2015)

I had the chance to attend a ladies’ retreat last weekend with about 80 women from several different churches. The guest speaker used Proverbs 31 as her text, and I have to admit that my first thought was, “Oh, great – I’m in for two days of hearing about all my faults as a mother and ex-wife.” If you’ve ever read “The Wife of Noble Character” passage, then you know what I’m talking about.

 

The Proverbs 31 chick is perfect, and many sermons I’ve heard about that passage focused on some aspect or another about this implausibly flawless woman and left me feeling like a complete failure. To my surprise, that’s exactly what the speaker said: it’s pointless to try to compare ourselves to the Proverbs 31 woman, because none of us are Betty Crocker, Oprah Winfrey, and Mother Theresa combined! Instead, she explained that rather than line ourselves up (with all of our failures and baggage) against this perfected image, perhaps we’re looking at it from the wrong angle. Maybe this depiction of the ideal woman is actually how God sees us, through the lens of Christ.

 

For example, the woman in Proverbs 31 came from a well-to-do family and ran in high society circles (Proverbs 31:21-23). Not many of us would consider ourselves upper class, but when it comes to our status through Christ, we are royalty! (1 Peter 2:9)

 

In God’s eyes, we are worth far more than jewels (Proverbs 31:10). He sees the work we do – often behind the scenes and seldom acknowledged – at home, at work, in the church, and in our communities. It may seem like no one notices or appreciates our efforts, but God does!

 

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t measure up to the heroes of the Bible or people like the Proverbs 31 woman (or her husband, for that matter, whose accolades are touted among the city leaders), then I encourage you to spend some time reading about folks like David, Moses, Rahab, Martha, or Peter. They were all flawed people who allowed God to use them, anyway. They made mistakes in life (some were real doozies), but those issues didn’t define who they became; God did.