Sunday morning reminders

Today was full of reminders of the on-going work God has been working in me lately. It started with a devotional article by Chip Ingram in Indeed magazine entitled Always on the Altar: The Meaning of Ongoing Sacrifice in which Chip says “I’ve found that Christians today are fairly certain of what Jesus saves us from, but pretty vague on what Jesus saves us for. That discrepancy explains, at least in part, why we have a lot of Christianity in our country but relatively little Christian living–evidenced by the statistical similarities, morally and ethically, between the church and society in general. If we don’t understand what we are saved for, we’re likely to fall short of it every time.” Chip later continues: “A moment of expressing our intent to be a living sacrifice isn’t the same as being one. That’s why it’s so important to pray daily, to read God’s Word daily, to be accountable to others daily, and to encourage, exhort, and fellowshoip with one another daily–and to envision Jesus standing before you daily, listening to your very important question: ‘Lord, what do You want from me?'”

After exploring this topic in my Adult Bible Fellowship, along with the topic of being ready to follow God’s wisdom (in contrast to the world’s), I was deeply challenged by another reminder from a visiting preacher in the morning worship service. Prayer isn’t exactly my strongest of skills/gifts. In fact, it is one I struggle with a lot. I’m overwhelmed when I hear stories of specific and dramatic answers to other people’s prayers, but disheartened that so many of my most heart-felt and important prayers have not seen similar responses from God. For example, last week our church’s prayer chain was circulating requests for prayer for a woman in our church who was going through the same tests, treatments, and setbacks as my wife had gone through before her death. I feel silly to admit it, but I honestly wondered a time or two if she wasn’t worse off having me praying for her no better off than my prayers were answered (in my limited view) the last time I was praying for that condition. And so when Russ Shinpoch from Branson took the pulpit today to share with us Simple Steps to Changed Lives in a lesson about prayer, I was reminded that God really does want to hear from me — even in this area which I feel so weak in.

Being in the Lord’s presence today was an excellent way to start the week. It’s going to be a busy week at the office that is going to require a dramatic change of my normal workday routine, which in turn is going to make it difficult to work out at the gym or spend my usual time in devotions. Which makes me all the more thankful for these early-in-the-week reminders of what the Lord wants from me each day.