“for a short time…being separated from you–in person, not in heart…” The Apostle Paul spent time among the Thessalonian Christians; his ministry there was fruitful and he grew to love these believers like they were his own children (1 Thessalonians 2:7ff). Isn’t it a wonderful gift that God created us with the capacity to love in such a way that though there is distance in geography, there is no separation in the heart? Who are the people you love who are distant right now? Who are the people who love you from afar? Give thanks for these people!
“the Gospel came to you not in word only..but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction…” Much Christianity these days tends to focus upon right words, right answers and catch phrases; Paul speaks here of the Thessalonian believers receiving and welcoming God’s saving work in their lives in a manner that transcends words alone. The words “power, Holy Spirit, and full conviction” imply full involvement of both God’s initiation and human response. Does my life show the power of the Holy Spirit and my full engagement? – Holy Spirit you are welcome in my life. Amen.
“Keep me safe, my God for in you I take refuge.” I’ve been thinking about this simple prayer. Each day many pray for safety for self, family and friends; but it is vastly different from different lips. For some it is just nice words to say in the midst of a wealthy, well supplied life, for many others it is a deep cry for justice, for bread, for God’s intervention in spite of overwhelming odds. What does safety mean for you? Lord Jesus, as I pray for personal safety, let me actively work toward a safe world for all. Amen.
“They all joined together constantly in prayer…” After the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus leaves his disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit and power from on high. While they are waiting they pray. Prayer leads them to the next step, searching the scripture and what they need to do to be obedient to God. Obedience leads to readiness for the coming Spirit’s empowerment? What do I do as I wait for God? Are they some things that we must join together in prayer for as we wait? Lead us to prayer, lead us to obedience Lord Jesus.
I stopped in to pick up a gift box for wrapping one of my Christmas gifts. While waiting in the Dollar Store check out line the manger scene caught my eye. It’s not that I never noticed a cheap nativity scene before, but I never really thought about it deeply.
My first thought was, “How terrible; what have we come too cheapening the real meaning of Christmas to a dollar piece of junk?” Feeling a bit righteous about my position as well thought and spiritual I moved up closer to the check out and set my item on the belt. Then, an unexpected thought came to find.
Maybe Jesus would have come to a Dollar Store just like he was born in a stable. After all, he didn’t come to the royal palace and amongst the rich and famous. Jesus came to simple, common people who were faithful to God. He was born in a stable, announced to poor shepherds, celebrated by people who just caught a glimpse of what he was all about.
Maybe a Dollar Store nativity is a better symbol than an ivory or gold plated one. Maybe it would remind us that Joy to the World comes in the midst of common people trying to live, to make ends meet, to find meaning amidst the pressures and struggles of life; perhaps “good news” would seem more like good news if we embraced a dollar store nativity.
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.” The word, “refuge,” is defined as “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.” The Psalmist say, God will be that for his people. What pursuers, dangers, or troubles are you facing in your life right now? What would it take to change your troubles into joy? What would it take to get you to sing? What would you sing? Cause me to rejoice and sing O Lord, as you provide safety and shelter in my life. Amen.
“O Lord…in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.” The Psalmist demonstrates an interesting posture in prayer. I, personally, tend to plead my case by trying to do something about it. The Psalmists commits to watch and see what God will do. What is the difference? What are you pleading these days to God? Are you content to watch and trust him? Help me to watch and wait on you O Lord, let me “take refuge in you and rejoice! Amen.
“I will both lie down and sleep in peace…” There is a confidence, a trust, a gladness that comes from the Psalmists relationship with God that transcends what others are doing and saying knowing God allows him to sleep at night. Do you sleep well? Is something particular keeping you awake at night? Father, there is noise, there is threat, there is injustice, there is wickedness; all that upsets me in body, heart, and soul. Help me to trust you fully and know the peace of rest in Christ and his Spirit. Amen.
“Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people.” This general blessing upon all God’s people, comes on the tail end of verses 1-7 where the Psalmist seems to get his own needs met. I’ve always heard to pray for others first, but is it possible to be fully concerned about and pray for others, if we are struggling with adversities that leave us drained? Does God invite us to trust him and bring our needs? What need in your life, if met, would free you to bless others? Lord hear my prayer…Lord bless your people. Amen.
“O kings, be wise; be warned O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet…” Psalm 2 is advice to kings and rulers of this world. Though many my think they have power and control over things, God laughs at their misunderstandings and applications of power. What temptation of power appeals to you? Whether parent, employer, teacher, preacher, or any other kind of authority, how does this Psalm call us to humility under God? Teach us O Lord, that all power in given by you for your purposes alone. Amen.