Prayer prompt for Monday, July 6

Let us be like Abel, whose offering pleased God and whose faith still speaks through his life, long after his death (Hebrews 11:4).

Buried with him (Prayer Devotional for the week of June 28, 2015)

Do you ever wonder what Lazarus’ life was like after Jesus raised him from the dead (John 11)? When I first read Don Piper’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, I was struck by the way he described the intense longing for heaven that he experienced after he was brought back to life an hour and a half after paramedics declared him dead at the scene of an automobile accident. How could anyone not want to return? Of course he was happy to be reunited with his family, and he learned to reevaluate God’s call on his second chance at life, but there was still a piece of him that wanted to go back.

Lazarus had been dead for days (verse 39) when Jesus ordered the tomb opened. I can only imagine the amazingly awesome heavenly things that he witnessed in that timeframe! Then, to be yanked back into his creaky old body – to eat, drink, work, live – only to die again at some point in the future … I wonder what he felt.

Lazarus was brought back to life by Christ himself, and then he had to watch his dear friend die on the cross. Can you imagine the roller coaster of feelings that Lazarus went through during Jesus’ death and leading up to his resurrection? Just, wow.

Something truly remarkable happened when Jesus died. (Actually, several somethings amazing happened, and I encourage you to read the whole scenario in Matthew 27.) At the moment Christ died, there was an earthquake, the temple curtain tore in half, and … people rose from the dead. Seriously, check it out in Matthew 27:51-53.

When we talk about being “buried with Christ” in our decision to follow him, it’s symbolic of our desire to give up our old, sinful lives and begin a new, different life with him. 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes it as becoming “a new creation.” This week, let’s pray through 1 Peter 1:3-9 and think about how astounding – how wonderful! – is his great love for us.
(Originally posted March 11, 2012)

What’s Your Title? (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 29, 2015)

I heard a sermon recently that shed some wonderful new insight about a story in John 9, and I can’t wait to tell you about it. You may have heard the story before: the Pharisees berated Jesus for healing a blind man on the Sabbath. However, that’s not the part of the tale that we’re going to talk about today.

 

On two occasions in the story (three times if you count his parents’ account of his birth), the person healed by Jesus is simply referred to as “the man who had been blind” (John 9:13 & 24). We don’t know his name, but he was given an informal title of who he was before he encountered Jesus.

 

Do you have a title? I don’t mean Mrs., Mr., Dr., Esq., or some other courtesy title. I’m referring to the “title” of who you were before you met Jesus. I’ve been thinking of mine for days, and the one that keeps coming to mind is “the woman who had been afraid.” Fear (and the removal of it) is the essence of my testimony. I went through a period of time where I was afraid of things that now seem laughable, but at the time were crippling. I once cried in school because I had to give a presentation in front of my classmates. And look at me now: I’m a professor! I talk in front of people every day, and I love it.

 

Fear of being in the spotlight was only the tip of the iceberg; I was also very afraid of dying. By the time I finished middle school, I had attended more funerals than I can even recollect, and the number has at increased by at least 15-20 since then. It was actually the fear of dying that led me to the Lord. I was afraid of not knowing if I would go to heaven. I wanted to know for certain that I had eternal life with Jesus, and after I gave my life to him, I clung to verses like 1 John 5:13 for reassurance.

 

I love the title of “the woman who had been afraid,” because it reminds me of how good and faithful God has been to me during our journey together. Have there been times when I felt afraid even since I became a Christian? Absolutely, but those moments are fleeting and no longer debilitating. Fear doesn’t define me like it might have before.

 

The neat thing is, if you have a descriptive title of who you were before Christ, then you have the beginning of a faith-story to tell others. Like the man in John 9, you have a unique experience to share about what Jesus has done in your life.