“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.
“Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love.” Duty or love? Perhaps there are things we should just do, whether we feel like it or not; yet, when does our faith wane when a heart of love is not the engine that drives our actions? What area of your life might need more love than duty these days? Help me Holy Spirit, to gain the heart of Jesus Christ in all things that I might act on the basis of love. 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…
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” The content and attitude of our hearts are revealed through what comes out of our mouth, both in words and songs. What are you talking about these days? What are you singing about? How does this reflect your heart? Lord, so much noise and so many words each day; let my mouth be filled with talk and songs about You.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” It is common in leadership to hear talk of mission, goals, and objectives and the need to prioritize. Jesus speaks these words in the context of “not putting the needs of life first.” Perhaps in our day, these words need to be heard in contrast to our “wants” as well. As we begin a new year, perhaps it is right to sit with the question: Is God’s Kingdom, living out his ways in all of my life, the priority of my life? Give me a heart for one thing Lord. 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.|
|“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous…who are upright in heart!” Psalm 32 suggests there can be no joy and gladness where there is hidden sin and rebellion of heart toward God. What is the connection between joy and gladness and righteousness and uprightness of heart? Does joy and gladness characterize our lives as Christians and Christian leaders? Let us learn the lesson of Psalm 32 O Lord and so discover joy and gladness. Amen.|
|“…since you have taken off your old self with its practices…” Paul uses the imagery of “taking off” and “putting on” clothes to describe God’s transformation of our lives. What do you need to “take off”? What do you need to “put on?” Are there things that we as a church need to take off and put on together? How would Christian leaders lead this process? May our lives reflect and wear the glory of God, whose image we bear in Christ.|
|“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Modern Christians often expect God’s love in found in celebrative music, positive preaching and expressive emotions. What is the role of fasting, weeping, and mourning in experiencing God’s love? When was the last time you fasted? What part do weeping and mourning play in your prayer life? We thank you the “even now” you offer us the invitation to return to you with all our heart. Give us grace to accept your invitation. Amen.|
|And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Justice, mercy and humility before God are the heart of God for us. What does it mean to act justly in everyday life, to love mercy among people and to walk humbly with God? Is there evidence of these three in my life? So form my life O Lord, so that your requirement becomes my own desire and natural expression. Amen.|