“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.
“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.
“If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” A new year, new opportunities, new chances; Christian people and leadership need to be ever reminded of new life in Christ and live in the reality of new life for themselves and others. What specific ways can I keep my passion to announce this “new creation” and “new life” for others and carry this into practical actions each day of the New Year? – Continue your renewing work in us and let us join you in it, O Christ, our Savior.
“Rachael weeping for her children…because they are no more.” Christians 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 the 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 one another to share, sing, and give witness of our individual stories so that all in the congregation and beyond can know of God’s goodness? – Father, let us freely share the stories of your salvation in our lives, so that all may know you.
“for a short time…being separated from you–in person, not in heart…” The Apostle Paul spent time among the Thessalonian Christians; his ministry there was fruitful and he grew to love these believers like they were his own children (1 Thessalonians 2:7ff). Isn’t it a wonderful gift that God created us with the capacity to love in such a way that though there is distance in geography, there is no separation in the heart? Who are the people you love who are distant right now? Who are the people who love you from afar? Give thanks for these people!
“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.
“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…