“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.
“You are concerned about…should I not be concerned…” At the end of the book of Jonah it is clear that there is a difference between what Jonah is concerned about and what God is concerned about. Jonah cares about temporal things that bring him pleasure; God’s heart is for a world that is lost and short of his intent for his creation. What are you concerned about these days? Are your concerns aligned with the concerns of God? “Let us see this world, O Lord, as through we were looking through your eyes. Amen.”
“But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry…” Jonah’s displeasure turns to anger, a sign of obsessing on his feelings of displeasure. God, loving and patient with everyone we see throughout the entire book, now turns his loving patience toward the displeased and angry prophet. Good news: God loves us even when we are angry. What are you displeased with these days? Is there something that makes you angry with God? What would it take for you to have an honest encounter with God to address it? Lord, reach out to me with your patient love.