The Lord has need of ME?? (Prayer Devotional for the week of December 13, 2015)

In a passage frequently referred to as “Jesus’ Triumphant Entry” (see Mark 11, Luke 19, Matthew 21, & John 12), we read the story about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s account:

“As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” (Mark 11:1-3, NLT)

 

If you’re like me, you may have heard that story so many times over the years that it feels very familiar, but let’s look a little more closely. First of all, a lot happened around Bethany in the New Testament, and this story is no exception. Bethany was the hometown of Lazarus, the raised-from-the-dead friend of Jesus (John 11:1); it is also where a woman anointed Jesus with expensive perfume (Matthew 26:6); and, it is the place where Jesus cursed a fig tree (Mark 11:12). Bethany is also where Jesus blessed his disciples after his resurrection, right before he ascended into heaven! (Luke 24:50-51)

 

Next, Jesus chose a donkey in fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, but I find it interesting that God – in his wisdom and sense of humor – selected an untamed colt as his animal of preference. He could have specified any magnificent creature on earth, yet he chose a lowly, stubborn, beast of burden. (May we remember that little fact whenever we think too highly of ourselves in the Lord’s work – if he can use an untamed jackass … er, donkey … then who are we to think we’re so important?)

 

Lastly, Jesus instructed his disciples to respond to any inquiries by saying, “The Lord needs it.” This word for Lord is the Greek word Kyrios, which is translated “master.” In essence, the Master of the universe is asking to borrow a lowly, untamed donkey so that he can ride into the city where he will ultimately sacrifice himself on our behalf. Let that sink into your heart for a few moments.

 

God always has a reason for why he asks things of us. He does not demand them of us, but he gives us opportunities to partner with him in his work. Sometimes the things he asks of us don’t make any sense right then, and to be frank, they may not ever make sense in our lifetimes. But, one day, all will be revealed in his perfect, eternal timing. In the meantime, we are called simply to obey. The Lord has need of you … are you willing to serve?

Worst-case scenario (Prayer Devotional for the week of August 11, 2013)

Imagine relaxing at home one evening watching the news, and you receive a call out-of-the-blue from your boss. Your boss says that there was a hostile takeover of your company and you are being laid off, effective immediately. In the background, the newscaster reports that the stock market closed at a record low, and your retirement plan is now worthless. Meanwhile, a neighbor knocks on the door to let you know that a tree branch just fell onto your car and totaled it. While you are talking, a text message buzzes with news from the vet that your dog died. Then, the police show up to let you know that several family members have been killed in a terrible wreck. How would you react to such a horrible chain of events?

A similarly tragic tale unfolds in Job 1:13-19. Job was devastated with grief by all that happened, but v. 22 reveals that he did not disrespect or blame God for his plight. Things got even worse for poor ol’ Job. He became physically ill, and even his wife thumbed her nose at him. He stood his ground, though, and Job 2:10 says again that he did not mouth off about God.

Three of Job’s friends to came to visit him. At first, they sat with him quietly for moral support, but one by one, they became tired of the pity party. They took turns giving Job some so-called advice about his predicament, and it boiled down to his fault. They suggested that surely, he must have sinned against God, or perhaps it was even his children’s sin that led to their untimely demise. Job did not take the criticism lightly, and he pleaded his case and begged for answers from God.

Job’s story is a worst-case scenario that I hope none of us ever experience. You can read more to find out how it ends, but suffice it to say that Job learned a thing or two about trusting God. There is a lot that we could learn from his situation, as well. How we respond in times of trouble can communicate volumes about our faith. Are we critical, complaining and ranting about how the world is always against us? Do we blame others for our “bad luck” and vow to get even someday? Do we listen to the naysayers and turn our backs on God? God is not daunted by our questions, frustrations or fears. Sometimes, though, what God wants to teach us isn’t just about the solution to our problems. It’s about the process in getting us there.