“Hear me, Lord, my plea is just…” The Psalmist is confident the Lord God will answer his prayer (vs. 6) because his prayer does not flow from sin, evil, or violence; rather his prayer comes from a righteousness that follows in the ways of the Lord. Do you think there is prayer that is unjust? How so? Does God hear unjust prayers? Can we confidently prayer if we are consciously walking a different way than the way of God? Save us Holy Spirit from faulty religion, presumption, and unjust prayers. Teach us to pray!
“They make a pit, digging it out, and fall into a hole that they have made…” The scriptures imply that a great deal of sin and evil has a built in judgment and punishment. Evil people end up falling into the holes that they have made. If this is true, why do we worry so much about revenge, making sure others pay for their sin and mistakes? Lord, give me faith to believe that I don’t have to worry about getting even or making sure others are punished. Free me instead, to be part of your salvation for the world.
“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.
“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…and sin gives birth to death.” James shares an anatomy of sin, how it works in us. Perhaps God would rather transform our desires than simply work at changing our behavior. Is temptation best dealt with at the point of desire or later in the chain James describes? How is desire transformed? Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 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.
“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.
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Protection from the intruding enemies was the purpose of city walls. Broken walls meant easy target. In what ways are people without self-control easy targets? What enemy or enemies might be ready to intrude in the life of the one without self-control? What level of self-control do you show in your work, family and personal life? Lord Jesus, help me to build “self-control” walls around my life that I might find protection from the evil one and all temptations to live outside of your ways.
“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.
|“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.|