“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against…against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” It is easy to get caught up in political, philosophical, and theological debates demonizing people who think differently than us. Paul’s words here are a reminder that our real enemy is not people different than us, but spiritual powers that work behind the scenes in powerful ways for evil. Help us, Holy Spirit, to put on the full armor of God that we might stand against the deceptions of the devil.
“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time…” The sin of “sloth” or laziness is not simply sitting on a couch in inactivity. Sloth implies that I am wasting time. Even though I might be very active, I may be active about things that really have no value. Am I living wisely, making the most of time? Am I investing my time in things of eternal value? God, help me to live wisely, discerning accurately what matters and what does not and the difference between the two. Amen.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Extraordinary signs, wonders, and miracles. Large crowds and emotionally charged services and happenings. These are often the barometer of success in our church culture. Jesus warns his disciples in their successful service not to be caught up in the exciting and miraculous. Relationship with God in Jesus Christ is priority. What are you rejoicing in these days? What are you focused on in your life? Lord Jesus, keep our eyes on you and eternal life in you. Amen.
“Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” After speaking about the need for workers in the Lord’s harvest Jesus gives some direction on what our ministry might look like. The starting point of the workers is to enter people’s homes and lives with a word of “peace.” Words and actions of peace and healing come to all people we encounter before other kinds of words and actions. Where do you start in your interactions and conversations with people? Jesus, give us grace to learn from your words and actions. Amen.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Jesus never doubts the potential of the harvest; his concern is whether there are workers. We learn quickly in ministry that we cannot harvest alone; the work is endless. Do I have eyes to see those who might join the work of the harvest? Do I pray for and encourage others in the work of the Kingdom? – Lord, send out laborers into your harvest and let us rejoice how you are using each one.
“Amazed and perplexed, the asked one another, ‘What does this mean?” The reaction of those outside the church is no different in the first century than now; they don’t understand the life and practice of Christians. What happens between the “making fun” of Chapter 2:13 and outsiders being added to the the faith in Chapter 2:47. Is it possible that seeing the power of loving community/boldness of Christian witness is a door for those outside to understand and embrace Christ? Let our witness be bold and our loving community in Christ be real to your glory O Lord.
“It is not for you to know the times or periods…But you will receive power…” Even after Jesus’ resurrection the disciples still are concerned with things that Jesus sees more as distraction. “Is this when you will restore your kingdom?” Jesus refocuses them on the coming Spirit and the power to be witnesses to Christ in the world. What questions occupy your thoughts? What distracts you from the main purposes of God for your life?” Distracting thoughts and busyness are plentiful for us Lord; deliver us from distraction so we may be a powerful witness to Christ.
“Jesus ordered them to wait there for the promise of the Father.” The book of Acts begins where the Gospel of Luke ends. After staying with and teaching his disciples, before his ascension, Jesus orders, that is commands them, to “wait.” No strategic planning committees, no fund raising campaigns, no busy weekends at church, no dynamic worship music sets or concerts. Only “wait for the promise of the Father.” What does waiting on God imply? What does “not waiting” imply? Are you inclined to do something or wait on God these days? Help us discover you in the waiting Lord.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…The writers of the New Testament see the resurrection as a central truth of Christian faith. Is the resurrection seen by modern Christians as the center of our faith? Why or why not? Is there a new birth or a living hope without the resurrection of Jesus Christ? How important is resurrection to the faith? May your church Lord, give testimony to the risen Christ!
“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” Kings of Jesus’ day would celebrate their conquests with big pompous parades. Jesus enters his kingship on a donkey, as a humble servant of those who came to save. What might this suggest about the way Jesus enters the life of a sinner who needs him? What might it suggest about our approaches to ministry in our day? Let your church O Christ, live humbly, preach humbly, and be like Jesus in announcing his Lordship over all. Amen.