“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.
“say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you!'” Sharing our faith in its essence is declaring that God’s Kingdom, that is the time and reality of God’s rule, has come near. This reality is true whether people believe and welcome the news (vs. 9) or not (vs.11). What difference does it make if God rules the world? What do you consider to be the most important thing to share about your faith with others? Almighty, Ever-loving God, grant that we might follow your ways and proclaim your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
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.
“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.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits.” Christian leaders are often tempted to focus completely on the future. We need to get somewhere. The pressure is, “where are we headed”. Yet, the scriptures often instruct us to remember, to not forget, where we’ve been and what God has done in the past. When we are not praising God, is it possible we are forgetting something? -Bless the Lord, O my soul, and help me not to forget all your blessing O God.
“When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.” Jesus tells a parable. The main question: What will those left to steward the owners property do when he comes to collect fruit of his land? All of us have been given a life with all our gifts and abilities, visions, and resources. What am I doing with all that God has entrusted in me and the life he has given? How will I answer when he looks for the fruit of my life? Father, help me to steward well all you have given to me and grant that it may be an honor to you as I lay it at your feet.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” One of the great temptations of Christian life and leadership is lack of focus: the desire, the temptation, the downfall of trying to do everything and all things. Perhaps a lack of joy reveals my divided heart. How do we discern the one thing that demands all my investment? Focus me Lord Jesus on the “one thing” that matters.