“They came to Philip…and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.'” Seminars and classes teach many things about going out to share the Gospel with others. Many of these have valuable information and skills we can learn from, but often the simplicity of “people are looking for Jesus” gets lost. We don’t need to market Jesus a little better, people already wish to see Jesus. Am I ready to pay attention to those around me? Am I ready to point the way or share a word of my encounter with Jesus? Lord, let it be true of me!
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Often the Good News of the Gospel is shared through the amazing word of John 3:16 – “he who believes…shall not perish but having eternal life.” No less of a wonder however is the God displayed in John 3:17 who did not send his Son to condemn, but to save the world. Do I present God as one who is more interested in saving than condemning? Why or why not? Give us your heart O God.
“After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this… they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” Being a disciple is a process. We don’t always catch things the first time. Some of what Jesus taught his first disciples had to simmer until after his death and resurrection. What parts of God’s word do I need to remember and believe so that it can be fruitful in my life? What have I been forgetting these days? Speak Jesus so that I might hear, understand, and live in congruence with your word. Amen.
“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.
“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.
“Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” “Restore” has to do with fixing something that has been broken, in this case, “us.” “Shine” has to do with a seeming lack of God’s presence in the midst of current circumstances. “Being saved” often involves both some restorative work in us and the obvious presence of God that makes such restoration possible. What seems broken in your life these days that needs restoring? In what areas of life do you need to see God’s presence and the difference He makes? Restore Lord, Shine Lord, that we may be saved.