“Flee from sexual immorality…honor God with your body.” Our bodies are not separate from our spirits. It’s all us. Our bodies give physical expression of our love and faith to God and the people around us. Why do you suppose it is so easy for Christian leaders and people to divorce the body from faith life? Do I honor God with my body? – Father God, in a world so saturated with the physical and a desire to feel good for the moment, help me to honor you with self-control and joy that endures.
“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.” The Apostle Paul viewed his purpose and vocation as a piece of what God was doing to redeem the world. This big vision kept him focused on God’s heart for the world and a reliance on God’s grace and power to accomplish anything. What will define your purpose, calling, and vocation? How will your life be a part of spreading God’s Good News this year? Mighty God, empower me by your grace to serve faithfully this year. Amen.
“Long ago God spoke…in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.” God speaks to us directly in and through his Son. When Jesus acts and speaks it the action and words of the Father. Why does God speak ultimately in His Son? What does his “word become flesh” say to us? To the world? Father, Grant that we may hear and receive your Son and become the children of God.
“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” This Psalm that speaks of the restoration of Israel after the exile enlightens us with the reality that restoration, healing, and progress come at a cost and with a certain amount of faithfulness in waiting. Hope keeps us turning over soil, planting seeds, and looking for signs of growth along the way. Our praise and thanksgiving rise to God as we sow, even sowing with tears, because we hope for the day of full restoration with shouts of joy. Where are you planting seeds in the midst of tears and discouragement these days? What does it mean to hope in the Lord? “Lord, hear the prayer of every tear, move us toward the day of harvest.”
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. To worship God is to listen to Him; to be faithful is to turn toward Him. This is what our gathered worship is each week, listening to our God who speaks peace as we turn toward him with listening ears and grateful hearts that seek Him and His way for our lives. Are you listening? Are you seeking? Speak peace to us as we gather in your name Lord. Amen.
“Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” “Restore” has to do with fixing something that has been broken, in this case, “us.” “Shine” has to do with a seeming lack of God’s presence in the midst of current circumstances. “Being saved” often involves both some restorative work in us and the obvious presence of God that makes such restoration possible. What seems broken in your life these days that needs restoring? In what areas of life do you need to see God’s presence and the difference He makes? Restore Lord, Shine Lord, that we may be saved.
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Our reasons for thanksgiving are both voluminous and diverse. The Psalmist here makes the reason for his praise, not the blessing of family and friends, not health and property, not the prizes of shopping endeavors or winning sports teams, his reason for thanksgiving is simply the greatness of God and His Kingship over all things. What am I thankful for today? How much of my thanksgiving recognizes God as King and source of life? Great God, keep my focus upon You above all. Amen.
“The heavens are telling the glory of God…their voice goes out through all the earth.” God speaks to us through all that He has made. Created things are not god, but they do give us clues to what the Creator is like just as the painting, song, poem and sculpture tell us something of the artist. When you stop to observe and notice what God has created, what do you hear of His voice? When have you stood still long enough to hear God’s voice through His creation? Lord Jesus, speak and help me to listen.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth…you shall meditate on it…so that you may be careful to act in accordance…” I’ve heard many Christian leadership lectures on Joshua 1:9. Boldness, courage, and strength that come from God’s presence in our lives are all important elements, but Joshua 1:8 provides a context in which the “word and ways of the Lord” are constantly on our lips, on our minds, and showing up through our action. Perhaps “strength and courage” flow easily with those who are thinking and living God’s way. How is your strength and courage these days? What’s on your lips, on your mind, and gives guidance to your actions. Holy Spirit, redeem us for your purposes.
“Now proceed…” Joshua 1:2 is reminder to the “next generation” that God’s purpose transcend the generation that is aging and dying and that he calls leaders from the next generation to “proceed” with faithfulness with God mission and purposes in sight. How does this verse compare with Jesus’ words “Go into all the world,” in Matthew 28:18-20? God, what is it that you are calling me to “proceed” with and to “go” to these days. Strengthen me to live for you and your purposes. Amen.