“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.
“Jonah, meanwhile…had lain down, and was fast asleep.” Many Christians these days like to use the “peace” test to determine whether their actions, direction, and relationship with God are as they should be. But is an inner peace enough? Jonah seemed at peace enough to be sound asleep while he headed away from God and a storm raged around him threatening his life and all with him in the boat. What are you seeking direction for these days? Are you settling for inner peace as a barometer? What else might you consider? Lord, help me to walk in your way.
“Then Joseph died…but the Israelites were fruitful and prolific, they multiplied and grew exceedingly…” Exodus begins, not with a problem, but with a blessed people who are in fact following God’s plan “to be fruitful and multiply.” The problems of the bondage of Israel arise out of Egypt’s fears over their growth. How do fears in our lives or in our churches prompt negative responses to other peoples? What kind of other motivations and approaches could lead to loving communities despite the differences of people? Heavenly Father, as your children, let love characterize our leadership, our communities, and our lives.
“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.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Many will say they are seeking God’s will for their lives. What if we were to start here: God’s will is for you to give thanks… How would this look in our daily lives? How might it change our perspective as Christian leaders? – Let me see this world, Dear Lord, as though I were looking through your eyes and give thanks. Amen.
“We were gentle…like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children…like a father with his own children.” Christian leaders can learn much from these verses. I have observed many Christian leaders who talk about and put their visions/dreams ahead of relationships. For Paul, ministry is a context of family. Leaders are parents who are gentle, tender, caring, urging and encouraging. The goal is that all may actual live a life worthy of God who saves us and calls us. Are these parenting fruits part of my ministry with people? Lord, have mercy and make me to lead like you.
“We speak not to please mortals, but to please God” (2:4). Courage and motives. It takes courage to face suffering, to declare God’s truth in places where there is opposition. How courageous am I? For Paul, his motives do not spring from deceit, impurity, trickery, or flattery to win some money and riches. He speaks to bring the life Jesus offer to the people. He seeks God’s pleasure, not his and not that of those around him. What motivates me in my faith? in my living? in my serving? Give us courage and a pure heart O Lord! Amen.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” The fact that the followers of Jesus were all in one place was not a random, surprising thing. They were joined together constantly (Acts 1:14). In a day that is much more individualistic, is there something lost when we resist meeting and living together? What would it look like for the church to be “all together in one place” in our day and age? How might God’s Spirit move and empower us if we were praying together? Break down the walls that keep us from praying together.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.” In Zachariah’s prophesy, the birth and coming of John the Baptist was not simply an answer to the couple’s prayer for a child, it is an answer to the prayers and hopes of all God’s people. How do we as leaders in the church focus on the whole Community of Faith in a culture and time that emphasizes the individual experience with God? Is my ministry focused on just individuals? – Help us to see Your saving work for all people. Amen
“We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! We go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless…When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world…” How does Paul’s view of Christian leadership line up with current perspectives? What about my leadership? Help us to follow in your way Lord Jesus.