Prayer prompt for Tuesday, Jan. 20

What comes to mind when you hear the word “love”? Chocolate, a pet, your kids, your spouse? How much more powerful is God’s love for us?!

Do Difficult Things (Prayer Devotional for the week of October 26, 2014)

The Bible doesn’t give us much insight as to what went through the potential disciples’ minds when Jesus called them to put down their fishing nets and follow him. It simply said that they did. In fact, Matthew 4:12 and Mark 1:18 report that Simon [Peter] and Andrew left their things “at once.” A few verses later, we learn that not only did brothers James & John also leave “immediately” upon hearing Jesus’ call, but they even left their father Zebedee behind in the boat preparing the fishing nets. Luke 5 gives us a bit more insight into the four men, as we learn that they were fishing partners who witnessed Jesus bring in a catch so full that their nets began to break.

 

And yet, where were the disciples later on, when things looked uncertain? They were back in a boat, fishing. In John 20, we read that the risen Christ appeared to his disciples and others, and although they were thrilled to see him, I imagine it was a lot to take in, mentally and emotionally.

 

John 21 goes on to say that Simon [Peter] decided to go fishing. My hunch is that he needed to clear his head, so he went back to something that was familiar to him.

 

I feel validated when I read about the disciples going back to their fishing boats while waiting for Jesus to give them instructions, because it tells me that they didn’t always know what to do, either. Yet, they knew to wait. They knew Who was in charge, and they followed his call. Just look at our fishing pal, Peter. Jesus told him that he was the rock upon which the church would be built (Matthew 16), and Peter was later martyred for his faith (John 21:18-19).

 

I have often struggled with understanding my place within God’s bigger plan, and sometimes I feel a little jealous of the disciples for having the advantage of Jesus’ face-to-face instructions, because honestly, I frequently feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. We can learn a lot from the fishing disciples: Be willing to wait on the Lord, but also be willing to get up and go when he calls.

Lord and Savior (Prayer Devotional for the week of September 28, 2014)

Two of my kids are rehearsing for a Shakespeare play this fall, and understanding the dialogue can be as tricky as reading the King James Version of the Bible. Oftentimes when a subordinate is addressing his superior in Old English, he uses the phrase, “My lord …” I started thinking about how many lords (with a lowercase L) we can have in our lives.

Other people can be our lord, when we defer to their influence. Money can certainly become our lord, if we let it. Likewise, ambition and greed can be lord of our lives. We can be lord over others when we wield authority in a way that makes people feel subservient to us.

But what of Jesus? He doesn’t want to be the lowercase-lord of our lives; he wants us to acknowledge him as Lord with a capital L. Jesus is the only one worthy of being called Lord, as his disciple cried out in John 21:7 and Peter reiterated in Acts 10:36. When we confess Jesus as Lord, we are offering him authority over our lives – not because he demands it of us like a feudal lord over his fiefdom, but because we willingly give up control out of loving submission to him.

Jesus also came to be our Savior – again, with a capital S. We can think of countless saviors (with a lowercase S) in our lives. When I was just a toddler, my mom was my savior when she dislodged a Maple Nut Goodie from the back of my throat as I was choking. I could have died, and she saved me. A parent’s love is sacrificial: she would lay down her life for her kids. A parent’s love is authoritative: there was a time when she could dictate my comings and goings. A parent’s love endures: her love for me is unconditional.

A parent’s love is safe: she would do everything in her power to protect me. And yet, even she can’t save me from myself. As deep and abiding as my mom’s love is toward me, she cannot be my Savior. Only Jesus can be my capital-S Savior because of his perfect sacrifice.

Who do you say Jesus is? Have you accepted him as Lord and Savior of your life?

Who am I? (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 30, 2014)

I wear many hats, and I’m known by different names & titles to various people. I go by my first name with most colleagues and friends. My students call me by my last initials. A friend I’ve known for nearly 30 years calls me “Bestie.” My brother used to call me his big-little sister (big sister because I’m older, and little sister because he was 6’5”). My favorite custodian at work calls me “sweet baby.” To my kids, I’m just Mom. To their friends, I’m so-and-so’s Mom.

Hopefully, if you were to ask anyone from those circles, “Who would you say that she is?” then they would have similar things to say about my character. The “me” you see on Sunday morning should be the same person you encounter at the office breakroom, grocery store, Facebook, stop light, or anywhere else around town. (If that isn’t the case, then I need to be held accountable.)

The point is that if we are believers in Jesus, then we represent him 24/7. No matter what our name or position may be, we bear the title “Christian” wherever we go.

In Luke 9:18 and following, Jesus asked his disciples what others were saying about him. He referenced the crowds that had been following them around to hear Jesus speak – who did they say that he was? The disciples shared some of what the public was saying, and then Jesus turned the question to them and asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (v. 20).

Peter knew the answer. He knew that Jesus was more than just a public speaker, healer, or even a prophet. Jesus was the real deal – the one the Israelites had been praying about for generations. Philippians 2:9-11 pulls no punches about Jesus’ place in the hierarchy of the universe. He is the Messiah, as Peter answered – the one who loved us so unconditionally that he conquered death for us.

The question I want to ask you today is not just who do you think Jesus is, but who is he to you? Does he mean enough that you aren’t embarrassed to bear his name? Does he mean enough that you are willing to change a few things about your old way of life so that your new life will reflect him better? Those are tough questions, but they are ones that we each need to answer for ourselves, daily.