“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” The fact that the followers of Jesus were all in one place was not a random, surprising thing. They were joined together constantly (Acts 1:14). In a day that is much more individualistic, is there something lost when we resist meeting and living together? What would it look like for the church to be “all together in one place” in our day and age? How might God’s Spirit move and empower us if we were praying together? Break down the walls that keep us from praying together.
“They all joined together constantly in prayer…” After the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus leaves his disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit and power from on high. While they are waiting they pray. Prayer leads them to the next step, searching the scripture and what they need to do to be obedient to God. Obedience leads to readiness for the coming Spirit’s empowerment? What do I do as I wait for God? Are they some things that we must join together in prayer for as we wait? Lead us to prayer, lead us to obedience Lord Jesus.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” One of the great temptations of Christian life and leadership is lack of focus: the desire, the temptation, the downfall of trying to do everything and all things. Perhaps a lack of joy reveals my divided heart. How do we discern the one thing that demands all my investment? Focus me Lord Jesus on the “one thing” that matters.
“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” I have heard the verses before this many times; about compassion of the Lord being new every morning. Can we discern the presence of God and his mercies in our lives though surrounded with the busyness and noise all around us in the world, in the church and in ministry? What would it take for me to “wait quietly”? What might I discover near “still waters”? Make quiet spaces in my life that I may discern your faithful mercies each day O Loving Father. Amen.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” How earnest is my “seek”? Does my soul thirst? Do I feel it in my body? Have I come to find there is no water except the Jesus, the Living Water? What do I thirst for more than anything in life? Quench the deepest thirst of my soul, O God. Lead me to refreshment from the deep wells found only in you.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” It is common in leadership to hear talk of mission, goals, and objectives and the need to prioritize. Jesus speaks these words in the context of “not putting the needs of life first.” Perhaps in our day, these words need to be heard in contrast to our “wants” as well. As we begin a new year, perhaps it is right to sit with the question: Is God’s Kingdom, living out his ways in all of my life, the priority of my life? Give me a heart for one thing Lord. Amen.
I stopped in to pick up a gift box for wrapping one of my Christmas gifts. While waiting in the Dollar Store check out line the manger scene caught my eye. It’s not that I never noticed a cheap nativity scene before, but I never really thought about it deeply.
My first thought was, “How terrible; what have we come too cheapening the real meaning of Christmas to a dollar piece of junk?” Feeling a bit righteous about my position as well thought and spiritual I moved up closer to the check out and set my item on the belt. Then, an unexpected thought came to find.
Maybe Jesus would have come to a Dollar Store just like he was born in a stable. After all, he didn’t come to the royal palace and amongst the rich and famous. Jesus came to simple, common people who were faithful to God. He was born in a stable, announced to poor shepherds, celebrated by people who just caught a glimpse of what he was all about.
Maybe a Dollar Store nativity is a better symbol than an ivory or gold plated one. Maybe it would remind us that Joy to the World comes in the midst of common people trying to live, to make ends meet, to find meaning amidst the pressures and struggles of life; perhaps “good news” would seem more like good news if we embraced a dollar store nativity.
“Rachael weeping for her children…because they are no more.” Christian leaders often stand shocked at the evil of this world. Do not be shocked, embedded in the Christmas story itself is a mass murder to satisfy the threatened king’s power, bruised ego or mental illness. It is in the midst of the suffering and evil of this world that Jesus comes, “God with us” in and through it all. What shocks me? Am I aware of “God with us” in the midst of all circumstances? – Be with us Lord Jesus we pray. Strengthen and comfort all those who grieve…
“Surely God is my salvation…make known his deeds” Isaiah shows the vital connection between joy and thanksgiving of the individual experiencing God’s salvation and the natural flow of making known, proclaiming, and singing it to others. How can we encourage the sharing, singing, testifying of individual stories so that all in the congregation and beyond can know of God’s goodness? – Father, let us who lead encourage the telling of the stories of salvation, so that all may know you.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.” In Zachariah’s prophesy, the birth and coming of John the Baptist was not simply an answer to the couple’s prayer for a child, it is an answer to the prayers and hopes of all God’s people. How do we as leaders in the church focus on the whole Community of Faith in a culture and time that emphasizes the individual experience with God? Is my ministry focused on just individuals? – Help us to see Your saving work for all people. Amen