“Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” For those of you who follow this weekly blog, forgive me. Over the past few months I have needed a Sabbath from all my work. This blog has been weekly for over 5 years now so I hope a short break was not too much of an inconvenience. As I begin again let me draw your minds and hearts to Jesus’ words. Why was Sabbath made for humans? What need does it fill and how does it rest fill it? How’s your weekly Sabbath going these days? Jesus, thank you that beyond rules to follow, you care for our holistic health and thriving; grant us the Sabbath rest we need. Amen.
“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.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Often the church focuses on the “gifts of the Spirit” and the abilities to get tasks accomplished with giftedness and excellence over the “fruit of the Spirit” and the character and heart of God’s people. Are the gifts effective outside of the fruit? Why are we tempted in the church to favor gifts? How might this be connected to the original temptation of Adam/Eve? Let the image of Christ himself be formed in 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 we as Christians 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 your followers, 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. How can we be 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.
“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.
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so your words may give grace to those who hear.” What a strange idea in our world today. We use words to overpower, to gain praise and gain riches, to get our way, and to have our voice heard. What if our words were more for the benefit of others? Are my words useful for building up, for meeting other’s needs, for giving grace? Why or why not? Lord hear our prayer: let nothing evil come out…Amen.
“Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Jesus does not scold Thomas. Instead he gives him the evidence he needs and gently invites him to believe. In response, Thomas speaks one of the greatest affirmations in Jesus ever recorded. How do we as leaders deal with those who doubt our plans and strategies for ministry and for change? What might Jesus’ dealing with Thomas teach us? It is easy to grow discouraged with those who don’t agree with me Lord. Teach me, by Your Spirit, to respond with patience and grace.
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb…”In her grief, Mary is at the tomb. She is there early, in darkness. The resurrection light dawns on her before many others. Jesus speaks powerfully into her life, because she is there, at the tomb, on the first day, early, in the darkness. Where are you these days in your life? Do you seek the Lord in the high places, in the exuberant celebrations, in the noise? Sometime we find him by the tomb places. He is risen! Resurrect us Lord!
“Go into the village ahead of you…untie the colt and bring it here…’The Lord needs it.’” What an amazing Lord and savior, always involving us in his work. I am sure Jesus could have miraculously created or made a donkey to appear anytime for his needs, but instead some person or family is invited to supply the donkey that Jesus needed on this day and this time and he finds a faithful, generous sharing in response. What simple things does Jesus ask of you? How easy do you find it to share? Yes Jesus, whatever you need. Amen.