“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb…”In her grief, Mary is at the tomb. She is there early, in darkness. The resurrection light dawns on her before many others. Jesus speaks powerfully into her life, because she is there, at the tomb, on the first day, early, in the darkness. Where are you these days in your life? Do you seek the Lord in the high places, in the exuberant celebrations, in the noise? Sometime we find him by the tomb places. He is risen! Resurrect us Lord!
“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 day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” God chooses the time. His people come together in one place for His purposes. God’s Spirit empowers. It is so easy for us to want the power of the Spirit for our purposes like Simon (Acts 8:8ff); without a thought for God’s timing and the unity of the body of Christ. How is this a temptation for me? Why is the time and common gathered place essential and prerequisite? Forgive us, Fill us O Lord.
“I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but I ask that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus prays that his followers will be protected in the world. Do the ministries of the church and Christian sometimes favor pulling us away from the world? Are we called to protect ourselves and our family, or is that God’s job? Where do I see myself pulling away from the world? What does Jesus’ prayer call me to today? – Lord Jesus, who prayed for all who trust in you, help us to trust you as we live for you in this world amongst people who need to trust in you. Amen
“When the Pharisees knew he was talking about them they looked for a way arrest Jesus.” It is often easy to hide, run, lash out, or kill when we feel threatened by the truth about ourselves and our motivations. It is more difficult to see ourselves in light of the truth and embrace the healing, the repentance, and the change that needs to take place. How do I respond to new truth in my life? How do I relate to truth tellers? Lord Jesus, let the truth set us free. Amen.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” How earnest is my “seek”? Does my soul thirst? Do I feel it in my body? Have I come to find there is no water except the Jesus, the Living Water? What do I thirst for more than anything in life? Quench the deepest thirst of my soul, O God. Lead me to refreshment from the deep wells found only in you.
“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
“…what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Wow, would we not love Jesus to say a remembrance of our work and ministry will be told right alongside of the Gospel? It is the temptation of many leaders and ministries to be “known.” But what is the woman known for? Why do we know of her, but not know her name? What might this mean for my leadership in the church and in ministry? – Jesus, forgive my foolish pride and teach me to be satisfied with your love and with loving in return. Amen
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34 is one of the acrostic psalms, using successive Hebrew letters to begin each new line. The very form itself says we need help to remember the goodness of God in our life. This Psalm tells us our thanksgiving can be “all times,” “boasting in God,” and though our thanksgiving may be personal and individual, it is meant for “exalting together.” What are you thanking God about these days? Who is exalting God together with you? – We give thanks to You, O God!
“‘How can this be,’ Nicodemus asked. ‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and you do not understand these things?'” Nicodemus had some blind spots, unknowns, and questions. The image of having all the answers can be a mirage in the desert. What things “do you not understand?” Father, I depend on you; Jesus, free me to admit “I do not know everything:” Spirit, grant me wisdom to understand Your ways and movements of grace.