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.

Advertisements

Are you an Andrew or a Paul? (Prayer Devotional for the week of September 27, 2015)

Have you ever wondered about your qualifications for serving the Lord? I’d like to share two examples to encourage you. First, we’ll talk about Andrew. He was a blue-collar worker – a fisherman by trade, not a scholar. We are introduced to him in Matthew 4:18 & Mark 1:16, where he is described in both instances as Simon Peter’s brother.

 

Let’s pause there for a moment. I have five sons, and I know that it doesn’t go over very well when any of them are routinely described as so-and-so’s brother. Everyone wants his own identity. Andrew did become one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, which is pretty amazing, but I wonder if sometimes he felt like the also-ran in comparison to his more famous brother. For example, in John 1:40-42, we read that Andrew started out as one of John the Baptist’s disciples, and he even introduced Simon Peter to Jesus. Verse 42 in that passage talks about Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter, yet there seems to be no acknowledgement of Andrew at all. One historical reference I read said that Andrew was actually the elder of the two, so I imagine it felt even more humbling to be overshadowed by his little brother.

 

Then, there’s Saul-turned-Paul. In Philippians 3, Paul tried the “Annie Get Your Gun” tactic of “anything you can do I can do better” to explain how we should not put too much confidence in ourselves, especially when it comes to ministry. Paul described himself as “a Hebrew of Hebrews” and itemized a whole list of reasons why he would be considered the cream of the crop. He wasn’t being conceited, though; he was trying to prove a point that no matter how stellar your qualifications, it all pales in comparison to Christ.

 

So, whether you relate more to Andrew or Paul, remember that both individuals were used mightily for the Lord, regardless of their qualifications. After all, don’t you think that Andrew was better suited to witness to the common folk than Paul (especially considering his early career of persecuting Christians)? Paul, on the other hand, was perfectly poised to speak truth to the know-it-all religious leaders of his day.

 

The point is that God calls each of us for an individual purpose, and our callings may not resemble each other in the least. We may have a high-profile role like Paul, or we may work behind the scenes more like Andrew, but as with both of them, God wants to use us in his sovereign plan. Are you willing?

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?