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.

 

Called to Sacrifice (Prayer Devotional for the week of April 20, 2014)

As he concluded his inaugural address on January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan shared a story about a young man named Martin Treptow who lost his life in the First World War. He related the story to the economic woes of the time by saying: “The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.”

President Reagan was referring to his goals for improving America’s standing as “the world’s strongest economy,” but I would like to suggest that similar words could be said of our faith-walk, particularly in the context of Easter.

For every Purple Heart recipient and Gold Star military family, there are thousands of men and women in the armed forces who serve our country sacrificially in less drastic ways. In the same way, Jesus doesn’t call each of us to follow in his literal footsteps by facing death for our faith. However, I do believe that he calls us to be ready, and to be willing to make sacrifices for what we believe. Romans 12:1 (ERV) puts it this way: “So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him—an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way.”

It is too easy for us to become comfortable in our comfy little bubbles and forget that around the world at this very moment, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are facing very real persecutions – including death – for their faith. This Easter and in the weeks and months to follow, let us remember not only Jesus’ sacrifice and glorious resurrection, but also how we can put our faith into action so that “… with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us” locally and around the globe.