1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
We all have friends with whom we lost contact. Friendship is not just a relationship between people; it is also something that takes time and great effort to maintain. Quality friendships endure because those in such relationships have a genuine interest in the life of the other.
The apostle Paul formed many friendships throughout his journeys. These relationships were important to Paul, so he was sure to strengthen them through daily prayer. Rooting his caring and close relationships between God’s people.
Christians are not unlike others in the world in that we often become nostalgic thinking of distant friends. Many of our friends are those we have lost touch with through the years. Sometimes we feel reluctant to reconnect, seemingly embarrassed by our lack of communication. Maybe they’ve forgotten us? Perhaps they too have moved on? Sadly, rationalizing distant friendships in this way leads to even further separation. So, do we simply forget those friends from our past? Certainly not!
The memories of our friends are their memories as well. Not only do we reminisce about past friendships, but the friends from our past most likely remember us fondly too. Praying and thanking God for the gift of friendship helps keep those relationships alive. Through prayer, we can offer thanks to God and once again feel the joy of being a friend to someone whom we love.
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for the friendships we share with others, for they truly are a blessing from you. Amen.
It goes without saying, our feet aren’t our most attractive attribute. Yet, the human foot is wonderfully designed by our creator. Our feet carry us places; hold us up on sure footing. Feet can be graceful and athletic; they can be sturdy and agile. But the most wonderful thing about our feet is that, because of Christ, they can stand in the presence of God as we worship him in his temple, and then carry us in mission for the sake of God’s people.
Consider the feet of Christ, those once wounded by the nail. They are the same feet once anointed with Mary’s tears and dried in a devotional act of love with her hair. Even as the nail pierced his feet and affixed them to the cross, Jesus continued to speak words of love and forgiveness. Even as his feet could no longer take him to places where people were in need of healing, Jesus provided ultimate healing for a broken humanity. And even though life giving blood ceased to flow through the wounded feet of our Lord Jesus, death could not hold them in the grave; our Savior would walk again in the glory of the resurrection.
Consider your own feet, once wounded by the nail of sin, yet forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Christ Jesus. Consider your feet, made strong and sure by the power of the Holy Spirit and empowered to take you to those places God would have you go. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, God calls us to take to our feet and proclaim his gospel to a fallen broken world. God calls us to bear witness to his grace, proclaiming the life-saving power of Jesus’ victory at the cross.
Prayer: Walk with me, O Christ, as I follow in your ways to share your gospel. Amen.
1 John 1:5-10
Early in his first epistle, John states clearly to the Church that, although through Christ our sins are forgiven, no Christian lives without sin. Salvation is not found through moral perfection, but through the sacrifice of God’s only Son. This truth is realized when the children of God strive to walk in the light of Christ.
Sometimes we bear grudges. We remember the sins committed against us and are wary of the sinner lest they repeat the offense. Other times we fail to realize how our actions hurt someone else. John teaches us that people who practice such behavior really do not understand the concept of grace. If we claim forgiveness through Jesus, but cannot forgive others or confess our sin, we are not walking in the light of Christ. The best we can do is stumble in the darkness.
John reminds us who we are, people who have known the Father. Knowing the Father means knowing the Son, through whom we are forgiven. So too are we to forgive as we have been forgiven. This is the truth that is in us.
Prayer: Holy God, help us to live in the light of Christ, forgiving others as you forgive us. Amen.
The rich young man doesn’t understand. Even as he kept the commandments, he just can’t bear to separate himself from his worldly possessions. Instead of inheriting eternal life, he went away dejected. He could not claim the promise of life in God’s kingdom, because his many possessions had their claim upon him.
It isn’t just the rich young man who wanders into this trap. We all fall short in our attempts to live a godly life. Yet, no matter how much we try, no person has the power to save their life for eternity. Even the selling of all we own and giving the money to the poor, as noble as it would seem, is not enough to purchase a place in God’s kingdom forever. That, as Jesus says, is humanly impossible; we need a Savior. Thankfully, in Christ we have one.
Through the life, death and resurrection of his Son, our heavenly Father does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God claims us, forgives us and saves us. Through Christ, God makes us inheritors of his kingdom. The rich young man didn’t understand; his wealth could not buy him a place at God’s table. Yet, through Christ Jesus the banquet was already prepared and waiting for him. All he had to do was give thanks and follow.
Prayer: Holy God, we thank you for your mercy and grace through Christ Jesus. Give us the will to follow him. Amen.
Following the crucifixion and death of Christ, Peter seemed lost. So much had taken place in the three years since he had first encountered Jesus. At the beginning of their ministry, Peter was bold, but his assertiveness often proved to be a hindrance to his maturing in faith. Following the death of his Master, Peter seemed to be a shell of the once confident disciple he became known as. Yet, even with the foreknowledge of all this, the Lord chose Peter to be the rock on which the church would be built.
We all have our shortcomings. Even with the best of intentions, Christians can charge head first into a ministry opportunity with the boldness of Peter but things just don’t seem to work out. There are even those instances when we fail to recognize the beggar, turn away the poor, or simply ignore the aged one in the nursing home. When we disregard them, we, like Peter, deny our Lord Jesus.
Peter wasn’t perfect and neither are we. Called to be disciples, we often stumble and must rely on God’s grace. Our Lord asks but one question; Do you love me? These words reach us at the center of our being. Of course, we love Jesus. And so the Lord says to his people, Feed my sheep.
Prayer: I love you Lord Jesus, and long to do your will. Amen.
Posted in Discipleship, Easter
Tagged Disciple, Discipleship, Easter, Grace, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, Love your neighbor, Salvation, Servant, Spirituality, Teaching of Jesus
The rule is, when your heart stops beating and you quit breathing, you die. But God’s raising Jesus changes the rules. The resurrection changes the rules of the world, of life and death. Everything is changed. Suddenly we are redeemed. Our sins are forgiven and believers have the assurance of new life in God’s kingdom.
On the cross, Jesus confronted the powers that defy God. Our sin, the hurt we cause others, and the disregard for God’s commandments were put to death as Jesus breathed his last. The sin of the world was placed within the tomb along with Jesus’ lifeless body. It seemed death claimed the victory. But the resurrection of Christ conquers even the grave. And because Christ lives, the lives of those who believe can never be the same.
Jesus’ resurrection is our opportunity to throw off the old worn out garments of worldly life that rob us of hope. Finally, we can leave the damage done by sin in the empty tombs of our old lives, leave them behind like the rolled up grave clothes that they are, and step forward with the assurance of God’s mercy and grace. The rules have changed, and this is good news for all who believe.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for your saving grace, and for the life that comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen.
No one ever said life was going to be easy, and no one promised things would always go your way. Surely, we live in a harsh world, one rife with sudden twists and turns. Does this sound familiar? It should because it happens to all of us at one time or another. But, contrary to what some might believe, the world isn’t out to get you. It is the powers that defy God that want to turn your life into a shambles.
As we continue our pilgrimage on earth, the devil is at work trying to convince us that we are no good, we don’t measure up, and we are doomed to failure. Try as we might, sometimes we just can’t seem to turn the corner. Still, Satan cannot win the day. We have a Savior who has withstood the storms for us. It is Christ who has gained the victory.
The apostle Paul instructs Christians to rely on God’s mercy and walk with Christ. Take up the whole armor of God and live in the truth of his gospel. A life of prayer and knowledge of the scriptures is the sure defense against the tempter’s tricks. With these, we persevere and continue to bear witness of the saving power of Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Holy God, give me the assurance, each day, of your presence, power and love. Amen.