Daily Devotions

Practical

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Any animal that has divided hoofs and is cleft-footed and chews the cud—such you may eat. But among those that chew the cud or have divided hoofs, you shall not eat the following: the camel, for even though it chews the cud, it does not have divided hoofs; it is unclean for you. (Leviticus 11:3-4)

 

“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school…it is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.”

- Henry David Thoreau

 

By Thoreau’s definition, all Christians are philosophers. As people of faith in Christ, we are able “to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.” The greatest instinct we humans possess, is the instinct for survival. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we humans have the opportunity for life beyond the grave, to survive eternally.

 

Many of the Biblical laws and Jesus’ parables and sermons dealt with practical matters. The Jewish food laws were, in part, to assist the people from acquiring illnesses. Practical! Jesus’ exorcisms were an ancient attempt to address any number of issues, including mental illness. Practical! Even Jesus’ beatitudes were a way of transforming society’s views of the poor. Practical!

 

Today, think about the Biblical examples you can find that were practical in nature. The Bible is not some book of platitudes, but was a way for the “chosen people” to live happy and healthy lives. Practical! The Bible is not entirely otherworldly, but is steeped in the practicality of this world and how to live in the here and now. Today, take some time and read different passages in the Bible. Ask yourself, what is the story line, and what meaning would it have for the reader in that time? Answering this question is the first step in learning how to live as people of faith in our world, today. Reading the Bible in this manner opens new doors to understanding.

Over-and-Over Again

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Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:6)

 

“We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.” I love that quote by Cal Newport. You do not wake up one day and decide to build a cathedral. It takes time, education, experience, mistakes, support, vision, and much more.

 

Rusty Ellis tells the story of an art teacher who broke her class into two groups. One group was told to make as many clay pots as fast as they could. The other group was told to take their time and build just one “perfect pot.” By the end of the class period, the ones who worked as fast as they could created some pots that were as good or better than the students who worked at the “perfect” pot.

 

In other words, hard work and repetition is often more beneficial than concentrating on creating the perfect thing. The same is true of prayer. When I was a young pastor, I was immediately flung into the deep end of public prayers. Oddly, there was never a seminary class on offering public prayers. Crafting a good prayer is an art. Often, I use the words of those who are better at it than I am in our worship services. But that isn’t always possible in public prayer. Through the years I’ve become more proficient by simply doing it, over-and-over again.

 

A well-crafted, meaningful prayer for public consumption is best learned through practice, over-and-over again. Today, write your personal prayers. Try to craft your prayers to God as if a group of people would hear them. When you do this activity, you will learn to take your time and focus on the deeper meaning behind your words. Writing your prayers will allow you to speak to God in a new and exciting way. Start cutting your prayerful stones and molding your prayerful pots today.

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