When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit… God chooses the time. His people come together in one place for His purposes. God’s Spirit empowers. It is so easy for us to want the power of the Spirit for our purposes like Simon (Acts 8:8ff); without a thought for God’s timing and the unity of the body of Christ. How is this a temptation for me? Why is the time and common gathered place essential and prerequisite? Forgive us, Fill us O Lord.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing…” What a powerful verse; every word is loaded. To think of a Savior who keeps us, strengthens us, purifies us, and brings us into his presence in such a way that our response will be not fear, but rejoicing, is mind boggling. How could living in the reality of these truths change our hearts, our lives, and our future? Which words are most significant to you? You, O Lord Jesus, are simply amazing!
“Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love.” Duty or love? Perhaps there are things we should just do, whether we feel like it or not; yet, when does our faith wane when a heart of love is not the engine that drives our actions? What area of your life might need more love than duty these days? Help me Holy Spirit, to gain the heart of Jesus Christ in all things that I might act on the basis of love. Amen.
“Is it right for you to be living in fancy houses while the Temple is still in ruins?” Haggai, chapter 1 traces the flow of conversation between God’s people who think the time has not come to rebuild the temple and God who sees their opinion flowing from their desire to hoard wealth and riches for themselves. Our assessments and God’s are often different. Are there areas in your life that you might see things differently than God? What about our church? Our country? Let us see this world as though we were looking through your eyes O Lord.
“Your proud heart has deceived you, you that live in the cleft of the rock…” The short book of Obadiah recognizes a big problem in human nature. We are given to be prideful, to think that we are better than other, safer than others, stronger than others, more spiritual than others, and on and on it goes. God’s word to Obadiah challenges our pride and reminds us that all pride will be brought low. What elements of pride show in my life? What about the group(s) I am part of? What is Obadiah’s message for me? Have mercy Lord Jesus.
“I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink, instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.” John knew, even without Facebook, twitter, and Snapchat, that there was something different about face to face communication that was better than pen and ink. What makes face to face conversations meaningful and essential? Who do you need to see face to face to really communicate that you would like to? God, real communication is work, messy, and time consuming; help us to love others face to face.
“Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In a world of “tolerance” and “diversity,” God’s word still challenges and warns us. What does it mean to abide in Christ’s teaching? What does it mean to “go beyond it?” Why is this scripture still important for us to hear and apply? Father, it is always easy for us to make faith comfortable and agreeable to our personal desires and whims. Keep us focused on Your truth that endures.
“If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation…and your faith have been in vain.” Just how important is the resurrection of Jesus Christ to Christian faith? In some places “resurrection” has been envisioned as a myth, a story of new beginnings, a story of the disciples with a renewed memory of Jesus and his ideals and mission. Is this enough? What is the purpose of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)? What does this mean for our lives, the church, and our faith and the witness of our proclamation? Your Kingdom come, your will be done, Lord Jesus. Amen.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Love is foundational to the keeping of God’s commandments in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ summarizing the law and purposes of God in the New Testament. Why is love the best? How does it bind all the other virtues together? There is much talk of love in the culture all around us, how is this love we are called to here similar or different than how the term is used elsewhere? Help us to love, Lord Jesus!
“Forgive each other; just as the Lord forgave you…” Forgiving others is not a prescription for how we have assurance of our own sin forgiven, but rather a prayer that we might truly live as those created in the image of God. As His people, we seek to live out his will on earth and in so doing to honor his name throughout the earth. To reflect his image, we forgive. In God’s kingdom relationship are healed and restored. Does my life reflect God’s forgiveness in the world? We want to be like you, our heavenly Father. Amen.