“Forgive each other; just as the Lord forgave you…” Forgiving others is not a prescription for how we have assurance of our own sin forgiven, but rather a prayer that we might truly live as those created in the image of God. As His people, we seek to live out his will on earth and in so doing to honor his name throughout the earth. To reflect his image, we forgive. In God’s kingdom relationship are healed and restored. Does my life reflect God’s forgiveness in the world? We want to be like you, our heavenly Father. Amen.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Part of the normal and growing Christian life is a testing of our hearts, our thinking, and our actions. When is the last time I prayed this prayer and took some time silent before God to hear His findings? What might I be missing by avoiding such times with God? Search me, O God…
“But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.” Jesus tells a “tale of two sinners.” One who knows their great debt and finds forgiveness gains a heart of love for others. One who does not acknowledge their own debt seeks no forgiveness and shows little love toward others. If Christian leadership and ministry is ultimately about loving others, who is best fit to minister? How much do I love people? How grateful am I? Reveal the depths of my heart Lord, that I may know Your love and show it to others.
“Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures…” The content of Jesus’ opening the scriptures included his suffering, dying, and rising on the third day along with repentance and forgiveness of sin proclaimed in his name to all nations. They were called and empowered to be witnesses to “these things.” In our day and age in the church, what are we looking for in the scriptures? Inspiration for life? Leadership principles? Strategies for growing organizations? What does Jesus want to open our minds to in the scriptures? Lord Jesus, open our minds to understand the scriptures. Amen.
“While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’” Following Jesus is often such a romantic, ethereal ideal in our minds. For Stephen, it meant following the Lord, even in his passion, death, and his response to his enemies. Do I really want to follow Jesus? How do I prepare to follow in the tough circumstances during the times of normal life and ministry? Teach me what it means to follow Jesus in everything. Amen.
“The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor.” The king’s great wealth, honor, and power come to him as an extension of God’s kingdom’s control. In ministry leadership there is always a temptation to think we are in charge and run things, even
good things. Is my leadership rooted in and submitted to the Kingdom of God in Christ? Am I aware that any leadership I have flows as an extension “under his control?” Lead me not into a power trip temptation. Amen.
“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control…” Aaron, as leader, attempts to side-step responsibility for the people’s idolatry, wandering from God, and wild partying. Moses sees through Aaron’s excuse and sees that Aaron’s leadership sanctions their wanderings. Perhaps Aaron wanted the people to like him. What responsibility do Christian leaders have to keep God’s people from running wild? Where have you led like Aaron? Forgive us for “going along” rather than leading people toward your ways. Strengthen us to lead with loving firmness. Amen.
“Let both of them grow together until the harvest…” Preoccupation of leaders with perfection and “weeding out” those who are not on board with the current vision is
not a healthy approach. The Master is not ambivalent about the problem of weeds; he is patient to see the problem solved later, in a way that benefits the growth of the young wheat. How has my preoccupation with “weeds” hurt my leadership and ministry with the “wheat”? Forgive me, O Father, and help me to wait with You. Amen.
|“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…” Salvation involves “washing,” “rebirth,” and “renewal,” Christian leaders live with the wonderful truth that both in their own lives and in the lives of those we lead change and transformation is possible. Where do I see God’s renewal in my life these days? Who may I think is beyond hope, that God might transform this New Year? – Save us Lord Jesus: wash, rebirth, renew us by the power of the Holy Spirit this year. Amen|
|MERRY CHRISTMAS! “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son…He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.” Jesus, born, growing, living, loving, dying, trusting in his Father; this is how God speaks. This is how he reveals who he is to those whom he loves. Open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts; that we may know You perfectly in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.|