“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against…against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” It is easy to get caught up in political, philosophical, and theological debates demonizing people who think differently than us. Paul’s words here are a reminder that our real enemy is not people different than us, but spiritual powers that work behind the scenes in powerful ways for evil. Help us, Holy Spirit, to put on the full armor of God that we might stand against the deceptions of the devil.
“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time…” The sin of “sloth” or laziness is not simply sitting on a couch in inactivity. Sloth implies that I am wasting time. Even though I might be very active, I may be active about things that really have no value. Am I living wisely, making the most of time? Am I investing my time in things of eternal value? God, help me to live wisely, discerning accurately what matters and what does not and the difference between the two. Amen.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Extraordinary signs, wonders, and miracles. Large crowds and emotionally charged services and happenings. These are often the barometer of success in our church culture. Jesus warns his disciples in their successful service not to be caught up in the exciting and miraculous. Relationship with God in Jesus Christ is priority. What are you rejoicing in these days? What are you focused on in your life? Lord Jesus, keep our eyes on you and eternal life in you. Amen.
“say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you!'” Sharing our faith in its essence is declaring that God’s Kingdom, that is the time and reality of God’s rule, has come near. This reality is true whether people believe and welcome the news (vs. 9) or not (vs.11). What difference does it make if God rules the world? What do you consider to be the most important thing to share about your faith with others? Almighty, Ever-loving God, grant that we might follow your ways and proclaim your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
“Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” After speaking about the need for workers in the Lord’s harvest Jesus gives some direction on what our ministry might look like. The starting point of the workers is to enter people’s homes and lives with a word of “peace.” Words and actions of peace and healing come to all people we encounter before other kinds of words and actions. Where do you start in your interactions and conversations with people? Jesus, give us grace to learn from your words and actions. Amen.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Jesus never doubts the potential of the harvest; his concern is whether there are workers. We learn quickly in ministry that we cannot harvest alone; the work is endless. Do I have eyes to see those who might join the work of the harvest? Do I pray for and encourage others in the work of the Kingdom? – Lord, send out laborers into your harvest and let us rejoice how you are using each one.
“the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them ahead of him in pairs…” When Jesus sent out people into ministry, he sent them in pairs. There are many dangers in planning and living out ministry alone: security, temptations, accusations, misunderstandings, inflated egos, heresy, discouragement; the list goes on. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one…” Jesus seems to agree. Who are you doing ministry with? Who is on your team? Are you trying to live and ministry alone? – God give us the gift of friends and coworkers and the wisdom to minister with others.
“The believers who had come with Peter were astonished…” Those outside the faith are astonished at believers, but it goes the other way as well; believers are astonished when God does something with those outside. God salvation and gifts are for everyone. Why would the believers be astonished? Who would you be astonished to see come to Christian faith and be given gifts for God’s service? Why are we apt to think God’s salvation and gifts are only for us and our group? Open our eyes to your wonderful salvation offered to everyone through Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Amazed and perplexed, the asked one another, ‘What does this mean?” The reaction of those outside the church is no different in the first century than now; they don’t understand the life and practice of Christians. What happens between the “making fun” of Chapter 2:13 and outsiders being added to the the faith in Chapter 2:47. Is it possible that seeing the power of loving community/boldness of Christian witness is a door for those outside to understand and embrace Christ? Let our witness be bold and our loving community in Christ be real to your glory O Lord.
“It is written…therefore it is necessary for us…” Jesus’ first followers were committed to obeying the word of God. They waited, as Jesus commanded them to do and as they wait they are reading and reflecting upon the scriptures and how they call them to follow God faithfully. When they discern God’s will, they do it. Are you inclined to follow and obey? How is the Word of God guiding your life and actions these days? May we be doers of Your Word Lord Jesus, not just those who hear. Amen.