Eternity on our Hearts (Prayer Devotional for the week of April 5, 2015)

Ecclesiastes 3 is the home of the “time for everything” verses, but if you read a little further, verse 11 is an absolute gem: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (NIV). I love the way the New Living Translation says that God “has planted eternity in the human heart” because it makes me think of how faith grows in our lives over time.

 

I’ve mentioned before that Easter is my favorite holiday, and it isn’t just because of chocolate (although, I saw that York now has a Peppermint Pattie bunny, so I’m going to raid the discounted stash at the grocery store on Monday!). The thing I love most about Easter is the focus on hope and eternity. Hebrews 13:14 reminds us that this world is not our permanent home, and Paul tells us in Philippians 3:20 that our citizenship is in heaven. This brief snippet of time that we call life is just a training ground, a dress rehearsal, a preview of eternity with Christ. The best is yet to come!

 

I’m a planner; I like to know what to expect, and I’m not a big fan of surprises when it comes to things that I feel like I should have control over. That said, I got a chuckle out of the way Ecclesiastes 3:11 implied that we humans try – in vain, of course – to figure out the things of God. It’s true, isn’t it? We want answers for this, a reason for that, an explanation for something else … yet, the Bible reminds us that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).

 

It’s ok to not have all the answers or everything planned out just-so. Sometimes, we just have to walk in faith and trust that God does have a plan, even if we aren’t privy to it. He has put eternity in our hearts, and I wonder if perhaps it’s to keep us focused on the end goal of our endless days together in Glory, rather than getting bogged down in the worries of this world. This Easter, let your focus be on eternity.

Baby Food (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 8, 2015)

I came across an old home video this week while looking through archived files on my computer. It was of my youngest kiddo eating in a highchair. He had just learned to pick up finger foods, and he was eating peas and Cheerios – complete with green mush on his chin. The kids had a big laugh watching the video, especially with my sing-song voice in the background praising him for being such a big boy and feeding himself.

 

With kids, we get excited about every little milestone, don’t we? We ooh and ahh about moving from milk to baby food, then finger foods, and finally table food using a fork and spoon. In some ways, this progression mirrors our spiritual development. We start out our new spiritual lives needing to be nourished with the simple truth of the gospel. Peter described it this way: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-3, NIV). Yet, our development doesn’t (or shouldn’t!) stop there.

 

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he scolded them by saying, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, NIV).

 

Likewise, the writer of Hebrews challenged readers for being unwilling to grow in faith: “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14, NIV).

 

What, then, does it mean to be ready for solid food, spiritually speaking? Partly, it means that there should be evidence of our growth. We should seek out spiritual instruction that challenges us to stretch and grow even more. It also means that we should begin teaching, mentoring, and leading others to help them grow in faith.

Looking Behind, Moving Ahead (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 1, 2015)

It rained last night for the first time in several weeks, and it was still sprinkling when I left the house this morning. On the drive to work, I glanced in my rearview mirror and noticed a bright rainbow in the distance. I could only look at it for a moment, since I was driving, and I started thinking about how God gives us glimpses of his promises – not necessarily for us to stare at and dwell on for a long period of time, but a quick reminder to prod us as we move forward.

 

We first read about rainbows in Genesis 9, when the Lord illustrated his promise to Noah that he would never again destroy the earth in a flood. Rainbows are lovely, but they don’t linger very long. They come and go with the rain. This is speculation on my part, but I wonder if God chose a rainbow purposefully, as a periodic reminder.

 

You’ve probably heard the cliché, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” In my experience, oftentimes, he may show me the window, but I have to get up off of my rump and open it myself. We can’t go through life expecting easy answers. Sometimes, you just have to keep walking in faith until God reveals the next turn.

 

It’s important to keep that rainbow in our rearview mirror, though. We need to remember God’s faithful promises. He assured us that he will never abandon us (Deut. 31:6 & Hebrews 13:5). His mercies are new every morning, and he is faithful (Lamentations 3:23).

 

Perhaps your life feels like you are driving in circles right now. I encourage you to hold on to the promises of God. Spend time in the word, reading your Bible and renewing your mind with scriptures (Romans 12:2). Commit verses to memory, so that you can easily recall them in times of distress. Pray scriptures over situations and people in your life. Put you own name into the Psalms, for example, and pray for yourself. When you aren’t sure which step to take next, keep your focus on God’s word and remember his faithfulness.