“Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…” Sometimes it is easy to talk about godly character in some theoretical way, disconnected from what we live in our body. “Self-control” is the embodiment of bringing the body under the discipline of heart and mind. Why is it tempting to have an intellectual faith separated from the body? Why is our body and what we do with it important to our faith and ministry? Spirit of God, only through your power may I live a holy and honorable life. Empower me.
“The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor.” The king’s great wealth, honor, and power come to him as an extension of God’s kingdom’s control. In ministry leadership there is always a temptation to think we are in charge and run things, even
good things. Is my leadership rooted in and submitted to the Kingdom of God in Christ? Am I aware that any leadership I have flows as an extension “under his control?” Lead me not into a power trip temptation. Amen.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The fruit of the Spirit produces Godly heart, character, and behaviors. Fruit is singular; it all comes in one package.
We pick love, joy, and peace and decide self-control isn’t for me. How is
self-control necessary for all these other characteristics to be displayed in
our lives? Does self-control characterize my life? Lord Jesus, forgive me for times when I desire to lead with my choice of godly characteristics. Develop the full fruit of the Spirit in me and my ministry. Amen.
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Protection from the intruding enemies was the purpose of city walls. Broken walls meant easy target. In what ways are people without self-control easy targets? What enemy or enemies might be ready to intrude in the life of the one without self-control? What level of self-control do you show in your work, family and personal life? Lord Jesus, help me to build “self-control” walls around my life that I might find protection from the evil one and all temptations to live outside of your ways.
“As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now!” Paul’s speaking about “faith in Jesus Christ (vs 24), included talk about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment.” Are these themes part of our preaching/teaching of faith in Jesus Christ today? What do you think Paul said about these? Why was Felix afraid? In our Christian leadership, preaching, and teaching are we afraid to preach that which causes fear in the hearts of those not surrendered to God. Give us courage to preach the full Christian faith, O God. Amen.
“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control…” Aaron, as leader, attempts to side-step responsibility for the people’s idolatry, wandering from God, and wild partying. Moses sees through Aaron’s excuse and sees that Aaron’s leadership sanctions their wanderings. Perhaps Aaron wanted the people to like him. What responsibility do Christian leaders have to keep God’s people from running wild? Where have you led like Aaron? Forgive us for “going along” rather than leading people toward your ways. Strengthen us to lead with loving firmness. Amen.
“Let both of them grow together until the harvest…” Preoccupation of leaders with perfection and “weeding out” those who are not on board with the current vision is
not a healthy approach. The Master is not ambivalent about the problem of weeds; he is patient to see the problem solved later, in a way that benefits the growth of the young wheat. How has my preoccupation with “weeds” hurt my leadership and ministry with the “wheat”? Forgive me, O Father, and help me to wait with You. Amen.
“If she loses one coin, does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” Most commonly I’ve heard this parable preached as an example of how we as Christians should behave. Though this may be true, let us pause to reflect that the parable is really about God, who, like the woman, carefully and thoroughly searches for her prized possession. You and I are God’s prized ones. Too what extent has God sought you/us? What are the full implications of a God who cherishes us so? Thank you loving me so O God!
“…the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how…” “Stay busy, work hard, and success will come,” so claims some leadership gurus. What a contrast to the farmer who is active in planting/harvest, but waits dependently on the mysterious growing work of God, while he himself sleeps and wakes each day. Do I focus too much on my success in matters in which I have no control? How do I wait with
dependence and patience like the farmer? Where do I need to trust that God will grow the seed? God of mysterious growth, grow your kingdom. Amen.
“Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous.” I can still hear my mother’s response to this parable: “It’s just
not fair.” As insiders with God we often love to share stories of “amazing grace” to us, but our heart misses a beat with God when we are surprised and grumble about His grace to others. Is all my work, ministry, and leadership worth a greater reward than others? How does that idea shape my heart? As you did with Jonah Lord, teach me your heart.