Are You Even Listening to Me? (Prayer Devotional for the week of September 13, 2015)

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, except that my kids don’t really have a frame of reference for scratched vinyl albums, so the cliché is lost on them. The point, as many parents will agree, is that I feel like my words go in one ear and out the other. I don’t talk just to hear myself speak, for cryin’ out loud!

 

Sometimes I wonder if God feels the same way about us. He communicates with us through his word, the Bible. He also communicates through messengers, like the sermon on Sunday morning, a worship song on the radio, or a godly friend’s counsel. He communicates through prayer and the nudges of the Holy Spirit on our hearts. Case in point: Have you ever heard a particularly poignant sermon that echoed something that had been on your heart for a while, and then a song came on the radio that was spot-on about what you were dealing with? Lo and behold, you open your Bible later and seemingly coincidentally stumble upon a passage that reiterates everything God has been trying to tell you?

 

God is so patient with us; isn’t he? In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul explains that scripture comes from God’s inspiration, and it is not only useful to teach us, but also to redirect us, point out our mistakes, and build character. All of these things, in turn, work together to equip us to do the work that God calls us to do. Think back to when you started your current job: you might have attended an orientation, gone through training, perhaps even had a mentor. You probably weren’t an expert on Day One; it took time to learn the ropes.

 

Our spiritual journey is not much different. We have ample training opportunities through church and studying the Bible. You can build mentorship connections through Life groups. You can gain on-the-job training by serving in a ministry. Even people who have walked with the Lord for decades will admit that they have much to learn, but each day should find us growing closer and closer to the Lord. Check out Philippians 1:6 – God is in the business of finishing projects, and how wonderful for us that he never throws in the towel!

 

Isaiah 55:11 reminds us that God’s word will not return empty-handed; he speaks to be heard, and he communicates with us in order to bring us into a deeper relationship with himself. Are you listening?

 

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But, I don’t like curry! (Prayer Devotional for the week of June 14, 2015)

I had an imaginary conversation with God this week, and it went something like this:

God: “So, what time do you want to meet for lunch today?”

Me: “Whenever, Lord.”

God: “Let’s say noon.”

Me: “It’s really crowded then. How about 11:30 a.m., instead?”

God: “What do you want to eat?”

Me: “Whatever, Lord.”

God: “Let’s have Thai.”

Me: “Eww, you know how sick I got in Thailand that one time. Besides, I don’t like curry.”

God: “But, I like Thai.”

Me: “Fine, which Thai restaurant do you want to go to?”

God: “The one in Thailand.”

Me: “Where?!?”

God: “But, you said you’d follow me whenever, wherever, whatever.”

Me: “I meant anywhere but there, Lord.”

 

I know better than to say that I would never move someplace (Never say never!), but there are certainly spots on the globe that I would rather not go. No offense to the breathtaking terrain and colorful culture of Thailand, but if I had my druthers, I’d prefer to not go back. I became violently ill the one time I was there; consequently, the smell of curry makes my stomach churn, even to this day.

 

When we sing songs in church with lyrics like, “Where you go I’ll go,” or “I surrender all,” do we really mean it, or are we just giving lip-service to God? I don’t believe that God calls each of us to a life of poverty or compels us to move continents away from our extended families, but I think the point is that we are willing if he does call us, and that we are open to his voice. We are each gifted in unique ways (check out 1 Corinthians 12 and take Crosstraining 301 to learn more about spiritual gifts). He expects us to use those gifts to his glory, no matter where we are. Be assured, though, that our faith-walk does require sacrifice. It may not mean getting cholera and typhoid immunizations and relocating to South Asia, but it could mean inviting your grumpy co-worker to church or giving up an evening of television every couple of weeks to tutor at C4.

 

Whenever. Whatever. Wherever. Do you mean it?

(Originally posted January 29, 2012)

There’s This Guy … (Prayer Devotional for the week of April 19, 2015)

I’ve been spending time with someone special. To be honest, I’ve known him for a while. We were on-again, off-again for years, and although I was always the one who got busy or bored and drifted away, he welcomed me back with open arms every time. I’ve never known someone so patient; he’s obviously smitten for me.

 

Have you ever read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages? I highly recommend it, if you haven’t. This guy I was just telling you about really seems to like our quality time together, but words of affirmation score pretty high, as well. He has written me so many love notes that I’ve lost count. Come to think of it, he also showers me with gifts for no particular reason, so I would add gift-giving to his languages, too. He’s a keeper, for sure.

 

I suppose when I think about it, I’ve made a few sacrifices for him – I have given up free time, attempted things outside of my comfort zone, donated money – but nothing compares to the stuff he’s done for me. I don’t even know where to begin, but I do know that if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

 

Perhaps it is apparent by now that I’m referring to my relationship with Jesus. I owe my entire life to him, and I’ve given him plenty of reasons to doubt me and walk away from our relationship, but he has been stubbornly faithful never to leave me. In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV), we read that we have “eternal comfort and good hope through grace” because of Jesus, and I can attest to that fact through my personal experiences. I also believe firmly that Romans 8:38-39 is right on target when it says that nothing can separate us from his love.

 

How would you describe your faith-walk with the Lord in relationship terms? Is he your confidante because you talk to him often and openly? Are things strained and distant between you? Are you just pals who hang out every week or whenever you happen to make it to church? Maybe you’re not sure where things stand, and you don’t have a know-that-you-know-that-you-know kind of assurance in your faith. If that’s you, then I encourage you to check out 1 John 5:13, which reminds us that we can be certain of our eternal plans. If you’re not even sure about what a faith-walk looks like, then talk to your Life group leaders or pastors; they’ll bring you up to speed. Wherever you are in your faith-walk, know this: you never have to walk alone. There’s a reason we use the term “church family,” because we’re in this together.