“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.
“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.
“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.
“…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
“One of them, seeing he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.” Christians often like to talk about 10% for tithing, but unfortunately it is often the percent of us “giving thanks”. What if more Christians gave loud thanks? How would the world change? If you are honest, would you be in the group of nine enjoying your answered prayer, or the one who kneels before Jesus feet? – Lord Jesus, healer and compassionate one, I bow before you to simply say, “Thank you.”
“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!
“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.
“When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers…” Have you seen the new pictures of Pluto? Have you seen the pictures of stars and galaxies? Even before we could see any of that the Psalmist stood in awe of the God who created the heavens. How can we as human matter at all in the vastness of creation? Are we not just specks of dust on the shoulder of the cosmos? And yet, the Psalm does not end here. Like the Psalmist, help us to see beyond creation, to your plans and purposes for our lives. Amen.
“They make a pit, digging it out, and fall into a hole that they have made…” The scriptures imply that a great deal of sin and evil has a built in judgment and punishment. Evil people end up falling into the holes that they have made. If this is true, why do we worry so much about revenge, making sure others pay for their sin and mistakes? Lord, give me faith to believe that I don’t have to worry about getting even or making sure others are punished. Free me instead, to be part of your salvation for the world.
“…establish the righteous, you who test the minds and hearts…” Just as we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, body, and mind; so the Psalmists says, God is the one who “tests” the truthfulness of both our mind and our hearts. Can our hearts be right with God if our minds are out of sync with God? Is our thinking right, if our hearts are out of sync with God? Try us, O God, and be sure that we have pure hearts and clean and truthful thinking about all things.