“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” Christian leaders are often tempted to focus completely on the future. We need to get somewhere. The pressure is, “where are we headed”. Yet, the scriptures often instruct us to remember, to not forget, where we’ve been and what God has done in the past. When we are not praising God, is it possible we are forgetting something? -Bless the Lord, O my soul, and help me not to forget all your blessing O God.
“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.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Acts 1 shows clearly that disciples of Jesus can get caught up with trendy questions (vs. 6) or with miraculous showings or desired endings (vs. 10-11). Jesus however, called his people to a mission (vs 7-8). How do we stay focused on doing God’s mission? – Guide us, Holy Spirit, to live your mission. Empower us to be your witnesses. Amen.
“God does not enjoy the strength of a horse or man, He is pleased with those who respect him, with those who trust His love.” It is easy to get our eyes on the strength of our resources (the horse) and our own physical, mental and even spiritual abilities. What does it take to refocus our attention on honoring God and trusting in His unfailing love? Where are you tempted to take pleasure in your own strength? – In humility I rely on your strength O God; I will honor You and trust in Your loving-kindness to me. Amen.
“I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but I ask that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus prays that his followers will be protected in the world. Do the ministries of the church and Christian sometimes favor pulling us away from the world? Are we called to protect ourselves and our family, or is that God’s job? Where do I see myself pulling away from the world? What does Jesus’ prayer call me to today? – Lord Jesus, who prayed for all who trust in you, help us to trust you as we live for you in this world amongst people who need to trust in you. Amen
“For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great King over all the earth.” The Holy Spirit is given to encourage, empower, and embolden the church in its witness to Christ in the world. The Spirit is given to increase the Kingship of God over all the earth. Are we ever tempted to take God’s resources to build our own kingdoms rather than His? Is our ministry under the great King? – Forgive us O Lord for building our own kingdoms that give us control; help us to surrender to the true King and Your will and ways. Amen.
“Jesus said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find a catch.'” There have been times in my ministry in which I have felt like nothing good was coming from my efforts. Sometimes, I’ve felt a nudge from the Lord to “throw the net” somewhere different, finding fruit elsewhere. Are there places you feel ineffective in ministry these days? How do you decide when to let go and when to be persistent? – Guide us, Holy Spirit, when to stay the course and when to move on?
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone their sins, they are forgiven…” Many Christian pastors preach on “keeping the main thing the main thing.” What is the main thing for Jesus as he leaves the disciples in John’s gospel? What is the meaning and the significance of Jesus giving the promised Holy Spirit? How is this connected to the forgiveness of sins and the ministry of Christ’s church/disciples? Do I keep Jesus’ main thing in my life and ministry? – Give us your heart for your world, Lord Jesus.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” There is a down-to-earth, real and practical relevance to our need for a Savior. It’s not just a theological, intellectual ideal. Jesus’ saving work through cross and resurrection mean we can receive mercy and find grace to help us in everyday living and leading. Where do you need mercy and grace today? Lord Jesus, thank you for mercy and grace; help me to find them each day in You.
“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” The goal of salvation in Christ is a transformed life; freedom from sin and freedom to live for God. In what areas are you still struggling with sin? Are there temptations to which Christian leaders are most vulnerable? Raise us to the righteous life that is our in Christ Jesus. Amen.