“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.
“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.”
“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.
“Surely God is my salvation…make known his deeds.” Isaiah shows the vital connection between joy and thanksgiving of the individual experiencing God’s salvation and the natural flow of making known, proclaiming, and singing it to others. How can we encourage one another to share, sing, and give witness of our individual stories so that all in the congregation and beyond can know of God’s goodness? – Father, let us freely share the stories of your salvation in our lives, so that all may know you.
“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.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The fruit of the Spirit produces Godly heart, character, and behaviors. Fruit is singular; it all comes in one package.
We pick love, joy, and peace and decide self-control isn’t for me. How is
self-control necessary for all these other characteristics to be displayed in
our lives? Does self-control characterize my life? Lord Jesus, forgive me for times when I desire to lead with my choice of godly characteristics. Develop the full fruit of the Spirit in me and my ministry. 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.|
|“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” The most amazing thing in the entire world is that God wants to be with us. Despite all the mess we’ve made, despite all our sin, despite our continued failings and moves away from his grace, he still wants to be with us. Do I want to be with people like God does? What moves me toward and away from God and people? Thank you for loving us, thank you for being with us Lord Jesus.|