“I try to find common ground with everyone; doing everything I can to save some…to spread the Good News…” This verse has been used to justify many actions and strategies to be “relevant” to different audiences as we share the Gospel. Paul’s point here is really more about sacrificing my understandings and cultural biases in order to put the Gospel first. How might my cultural perspectives, political views, and nationalistic pride get in the way of the message of the Gospel I preach and witness to? Lord, give me a heart to reach across barriers to share your Good News!
“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” This Psalm that speaks of the restoration of Israel after the exile enlightens us with the reality that restoration, healing, and progress come at a cost and with a certain amount of faithfulness in waiting. Hope keeps us turning over soil, planting seeds, and looking for signs of growth along the way. Our praise and thanksgiving rise to God as we sow, even sowing with tears, because we hope for the day of full restoration with shouts of joy. Where are you planting seeds in the midst of tears and discouragement these days? What does it mean to hope in the Lord? “Lord, hear the prayer of every tear, move us toward the day of harvest.”
“Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” “Restore” has to do with fixing something that has been broken, in this case, “us.” “Shine” has to do with a seeming lack of God’s presence in the midst of current circumstances. “Being saved” often involves both some restorative work in us and the obvious presence of God that makes such restoration possible. What seems broken in your life these days that needs restoring? In what areas of life do you need to see God’s presence and the difference He makes? Restore Lord, Shine Lord, that we may be saved.
“The heavens are telling the glory of God…their voice goes out through all the earth.” God speaks to us through all that He has made. Created things are not god, but they do give us clues to what the Creator is like just as the painting, song, poem and sculpture tell us something of the artist. When you stop to observe and notice what God has created, what do you hear of His voice? When have you stood still long enough to hear God’s voice through His creation? Lord Jesus, speak and help me to listen.
“After the death of Moses…the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’assistant…” The promises of God transcend my life and generation. In an individualistic culture and society we are tempted to look for how God’s promises relate and are “relevant” to our personal lives. God’s promises from the beginning have reached to all people on the earth, through all times. Why does this truth matter? Who assists in my life and ministry today, who are the ones the Lord may speak to about leading his work and ministry next? Lord, help me to trust your eternal promises and invest in the people of the next generation.
“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.
“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.
“Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” For those of you who follow this weekly blog, forgive me. Over the past few months I have needed a Sabbath from all my work. This blog has been weekly for over 5 years now so I hope a short break was not too much of an inconvenience. As I begin again let me draw your minds and hearts to Jesus’ words. Why was Sabbath made for humans? What need does it fill and how does it rest fill it? How’s your weekly Sabbath going these days? Jesus, thank you that beyond rules to follow, you care for our holistic health and thriving; grant us the Sabbath rest we need. Amen.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Often the church focuses on the “gifts of the Spirit” and the abilities to get tasks accomplished with giftedness and excellence over the “fruit of the Spirit” and the character and heart of God’s people. Are the gifts effective outside of the fruit? Why are we tempted in the church to favor gifts? How might this be connected to the original temptation of Adam/Eve? Let the image of Christ himself be formed in me. Amen.