“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!
“Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.” It is very easy to become attached and comfortable with the “things” that fill our lives. It is easy to expend great energy to save, hold, and grasp things we feel like we are losing. What am I currently attached to and holding on to that does not matter for the long haul? Lord, free us from our attachments that hold us back from living fully for you.
“Flee from sexual immorality…honor God with your body.” Our bodies are not separate from our spirits. It’s all us. Our bodies give physical expression of our love and faith to God and the people around us. Why do you suppose it is so easy for Christian leaders and people to divorce the body from faith life? Do I honor God with my body? – Father God, in a world so saturated with the physical and a desire to feel good for the moment, help me to honor you with self-control and joy that endures.
“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.” The Apostle Paul viewed his purpose and vocation as a piece of what God was doing to redeem the world. This big vision kept him focused on God’s heart for the world and a reliance on God’s grace and power to accomplish anything. What will define your purpose, calling, and vocation? How will your life be a part of spreading God’s Good News this year? Mighty God, empower me by your grace to serve faithfully this year. Amen.
“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.
“Now proceed…” Joshua 1:2 is reminder to the “next generation” that God’s purpose transcend the generation that is aging and dying and that he calls leaders from the next generation to “proceed” with faithfulness with God mission and purposes in sight. How does this verse compare with Jesus’ words “Go into all the world,” in Matthew 28:18-20? God, what is it that you are calling me to “proceed” with and to “go” to these days. Strengthen me to live for you and your purposes. Amen.
“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.