Our Legacies (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 13, 2016)

The time has come for me to move on to other areas of ministry. I hope this final devotional entry will encourage you to seek after God’s plans for your own life and strengthen your faith for the journey. Thank you for walking this path with me for 5+ years! It has been a joy! Please feel free to visit the archives to read past entries.

Early in my walk with the Lord, I felt drawn toward ministry, especially foreign missions. My pastor at the time once quipped that I would become the next Lottie Moon (a famous missionary to China in the late 1800s). I tucked away his comments in my heart as I mulled over God’s plan for my life. A few years later, that same pastor disgraced his family and left the church amid a scandalous affair. I struggled for a long while about his teachings and encouragement that had meant so much to me as a new believer in Christ, but suddenly felt tainted. I learned the hard way to put my trust in the Lord, rather than in people.

 

That isn’t to say that godly leaders have no impact on us – of course they do! Look at the story of Elijah and Elisha, beginning in 1 Kings 19. Elijah had accomplished amazing things for the Lord, but this part of the story picks up with him hiding in a cave to avoid capture. Elijah felt like all of God’s people had turned on him, and he was the only faithful one left. The Lord spoke to him, encouraging him that not only were there still thousands of loyal Israelites, but God had also identified Elisha as his successor to carry on the work that he had started.

 

Elijah may have thought his ministry was a goner (through no fault of his own), but as it turns out, his legacy was so incredible that he even had an encore performance in the New Testament (see Matthew 17)! There may be times – no, there will be times – when serving the Lord feels like a one-man band, and you question your purpose or calling. There will be times when other Christians let you down, disappoint you, even betray your trust. In those times, we need to remember that we are serving the Lord, first and foremost. When we walk with the Lord, great things happen – not for our own glory, but for his.

 

When we began these devotionals a little over five years ago, I could not have imagined how the Lord would use them. After all, I’m no Elijah; I’m just a gal with lots of ideas in her head and words on her heart. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts, struggles, and prayers as you came alongside and walked with me through grief, despair, joy, heartache, growth, and change. This season of ministry is coming to an end for me, but I hope that somehow I have spurred each of you on to find ways in which you can serve the Lord through your own gifts, talents, and passions. Don’t be afraid to strike your cloak on the water, as it were, and step out in faith (see 2 Kings 2 for Elijah & Elisha’s river story). Who knows, you might just become the next Lottie Moon … but even if you don’t, God still has mind-blowing things planned for you. Just trust him.

Prayer prompts for the week of Feb. 28

(Sunday) The Refiner’s fire (Malachi 3) is not particularly fun. Change, especially spiritual growth, can be difficult. Stick it out. It’s worth it.

 

(Monday) Need motivation to stay the course? Imagine that moment when God looks directly at you and says, “Well done!” Your service isn’t overlooked.

 

(Tuesday) We are saved by grace alone (Eph. 2:8), but how we live our lives is a reflection of our faith. Let’s not be “wicked & lazy” (Mat. 25:26).

 

(Wednesday) Unlike the Old Testament with its burnt sacrifices, our new covenant through Jesus compels us to live holy, sacrificial lives (Rom. 12:1).

 

(Thursday) Throughout Exodus and elsewhere, the Lord demonstrated his power through fire. Spend a few moments expressing your awe through praise.

 

(Friday) Psalm 44:5, Jeremiah 10:6, Acts 4:10 – the very name of Jesus is powerful! Call on him in your time of need and trust him in faith.

 

(Saturday) Why is change so difficult? The enemy isn’t going to let you go without a fight. Allow God to help release you from sin’s stranglehold.

Well Done (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 28, 2016)

As someone who claims to be a grillmeister, I have a confession to make: I don’t care for steak any rarer than Medium. Truth be told, if it’s still tender, I actually prefer Medium Well. I know, I know – that’s heresy to some of my fellow carnivores. Besides, what does steak have to do with this week’s message? 😉

 

In Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable about three servants. Each of them were entrusted with a certain amount of resources to take care of while the master was away from home, and when he returned, he called them to give an account of their responsibilities. Two of the servants had invested the funds wisely, and verses 21 & 23 record the same comment to each of them: “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” (NLT) The third servant didn’t receive the same compliment; in fact, the master called that person “wicked and lazy” (v. 26).

 

The third servant is like a rare steak: just “done” enough to sear the outside, but not cooked thoroughly. This person does barely enough to give a decent first impression, but when you look deep within, they lack substance. They’re practically raw, not much change at all.

 

The first two servants were “well done.” (Granted, that’s not usually advisable for preparing a steak, but I think the illustration can work if we’re talking about the Christian life.) The mature believer has endured the Refiner’s fire (see Malachi 3) long enough to burn off impurities. These individuals are tough when it comes to standing firm in the faith, yet tender(hearted) with others.

 

So, what’s it going to be? Are you content to be “rare” and go through life pretending to look godly when you’re really just a mess on the inside, or are you aiming to be a seasoned, committed, “well done” believer, even if it means staying in the fire a while longer?

Lingering Doubt (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 21, 2016)

You have probably heard of “The Great Commission” at some point or another. It’s a New Testament story where Jesus met with his disciples after his resurrection and sent them out into the world to teach and disciple the masses. The story usually picks up in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations …”

 

However, if we take a couple of steps back and start reading in verse 16, after the disciples learned of Jesus’ resurrection, we see something very interesting: “Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!”

 

What? You mean after all this time – three or so years in the daily company of Jesus – and they still doubted the truth of what they saw?

 

As silly as that sounds to me (since we have the benefit of the Bible at our fingertips, rather than living the story of Jesus as it’s unfolding), it also gives me comfort that even those closest to Messiah were still sometimes clueless. I’ve gone through periods of time (some more recent than I care to admit) where I have questioned God’s direction for my life, doubted certain instructions that I used to feel totally confident about, and generally felt like a sub-standard disciple. Well, the good news is that we’re in excellent company! Ha!

 

Not all doubting is bad. Doubt means that you’re still seeking answers, and that’s a good thing. Even under the excellent teaching of a well-respected pastor, you should still seek out the answers in the Bible for yourself, reading and memorizing scriptures to tuck away in your heart. Doubt means that you are still growing and learning, and we should never stop doing either of those things. So, the next time you find yourself in a faith/doubt struggle, use it as fuel to fire you up, instead of letting it bog you down.