“And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Jesus.” It is hard to be honest about our desires to correct Jesus and tell God that our way would be better than his. Peter’s blunt honesty gives Jesus room to transform Peter’s thinking and show exactly why his way is not God’s way, because it is rooted in listening to the wrong voice. What do I wish I could change Jesus’ mind about in my life? What voice am I listening to these days? May I listen only for your voice Lord Jesus. Amen.
You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Most of us do not see ourselves as “preachers.” “Preachy” is not the word want label us. Paul calls us to preach that Jesus Christ is Lord! What does it mean to preach Jesus as Lord without drawing attention to ourselves? How can I be a servant to others, through my giving witness to Jesus as Lord? Jesus, be the Lord of all, including our witness.
“I try to find common ground with everyone; doing everything I can to save some…to spread the Good News…” This verse has been used to justify many actions and strategies to be “relevant” to different audiences as we share the Gospel. Paul’s point here is really more about sacrificing my understandings and cultural biases in order to put the Gospel first. How might my cultural perspectives, political views, and nationalistic pride get in the way of the message of the Gospel I preach and witness to? Lord, give me a heart to reach across barriers to share your Good News!
But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. In youth group, college, seminary, and ministry I’ve had occasion to debate many people on different sides of many different issues. What if knowledge is not the “main thing?” What if loves trumps right answers, Biblical accuracy, and what we think and believe? What is making you feel important these days that misses the strengthening that love could bring to those around you? Teach us Lord Jesus. Amen.
“Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.” It is very easy to become attached and comfortable with the “things” that fill our lives. It is easy to expend great energy to save, hold, and grasp things we feel like we are losing. What am I currently attached to and holding on to that does not matter for the long haul? Lord, free us from our attachments that hold us back from living fully for you.
“Flee from sexual immorality…honor God with your body.” Our bodies are not separate from our spirits. It’s all us. Our bodies give physical expression of our love and faith to God and the people around us. Why do you suppose it is so easy for Christian leaders and people to divorce the body from faith life? Do I honor God with my body? – Father God, in a world so saturated with the physical and a desire to feel good for the moment, help me to honor you with self-control and joy that endures.
“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.” The Apostle Paul viewed his purpose and vocation as a piece of what God was doing to redeem the world. This big vision kept him focused on God’s heart for the world and a reliance on God’s grace and power to accomplish anything. What will define your purpose, calling, and vocation? How will your life be a part of spreading God’s Good News this year? Mighty God, empower me by your grace to serve faithfully this year. Amen.
“Long ago God spoke…in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.” God speaks to us directly in and through his Son. When Jesus acts and speaks it the action and words of the Father. Why does God speak ultimately in His Son? What does his “word become flesh” say to us? To the world? Father, Grant that we may hear and receive your Son and become the children of God.
“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” This Psalm that speaks of the restoration of Israel after the exile enlightens us with the reality that restoration, healing, and progress come at a cost and with a certain amount of faithfulness in waiting. Hope keeps us turning over soil, planting seeds, and looking for signs of growth along the way. Our praise and thanksgiving rise to God as we sow, even sowing with tears, because we hope for the day of full restoration with shouts of joy. Where are you planting seeds in the midst of tears and discouragement these days? What does it mean to hope in the Lord? “Lord, hear the prayer of every tear, move us toward the day of harvest.”
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. To worship God is to listen to Him; to be faithful is to turn toward Him. This is what our gathered worship is each week, listening to our God who speaks peace as we turn toward him with listening ears and grateful hearts that seek Him and His way for our lives. Are you listening? Are you seeking? Speak peace to us as we gather in your name Lord. Amen.