Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: February 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ascending in Prayer

This week I was reminded that apart from God everything is vanity. I can achieve intellectual pursuits, gain the world's riches, and obtain fame and notoriety but in the end they all lead to emptiness and vanity. Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, knew this all too well and said the ultimate purpose in life is to fear God and obey his commandments.

Paul challenged the great thinkers of his day in Acts 17. These men were great thinkers and were highly respected and yet they "didn't get it." Paul told them that God created all things so that people would search for God "and perhaps grope for him and find him" (NRSV). Knowing God brings indescribable fulfillment.

In my devotion this morning I read William Law's definition of prayer as "the rising of the soul out of the the vanity of time into the riches of eternity."

If life apart from God is in vain, then shouldn't we take every opportunity to draw closer to him. Too often our emotions keep us from God as we just don't feel like praying. Perhaps our intellect, too, keeps us from calling out to him in prayer. We mistakenly believe that God isn't listening or doesn't care enough to answer us so we cease to reach out to him. Ultimately, it is our will that determines our actions...will we be faithful to rise above the vanity on earth and reach into the riches of eternity with prayer even when we don't have "the want to"?

A dear friend was widowed for the second time in six years this month. There are nine children. Let that sit with you for a minute. How dare we get so caught up in the mundane things of life that we fail to cry out to God on behalf of our brothers and sisters like her who are suffering intense pain?

I am asking God to give me a renewed passion for prayer. May it be like air to my lungs. May I not settle for vanity on earth but strive daily to fear God and obey him. Will you join me in this journey?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A New Twist on Valentine's Day

Each year I hear people bemoaning Valentine's Day (aka Single Awareness Day). Some feel jipped because they don't have anyone special with whom to celebrate. Others are grieving the loss of their Valentine to either death or to break up. The sad truth is that for millions of people, Valentine's Day is a day of great sadness and disappointment.

My question is "Why?" How did we get to a place where it is not only culturally acceptable, but culturally expected to elevate romantic love to a status above all other forms of love? Culture teaches that romantic love is to be sought after above all else.

What if instead of focusing on our relational status on Valentine's Day, we looked for practical ways to show love to others. A widow recently shared with a group of us how tough Valentine's Day is for her because her husband always spoiled her...my heart hurt at her declaration. To my surprise, not one, not two, but several of the people with me that day were moved to action. They sought out practical ways to express love to this precious woman on Valentine's Day.

Can you imagine the difference we could make if we were intentional about blessing others on Valentine's Day? I'm not suggesting couples neglect each other, but I am suggesting that instead of being self-focused we become other-aware.  Will you make a commitment today to be a blessing to some unsuspecting person next year on Valentine's Day?

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