Lent Prayer Guide, week 6

Week 6, March 25th, Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week

The Cross of Christ: The Treasures that Come from Suffering

Silence

Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.

 

Pray

(Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence)

Loving God,

I am just beginning to realize how much you love me.

Your son, Jesus was humble and obedient.

He fulfilled your will for him by becoming human and suffering with us.

I ask you for the desire to become more humble

so that my own life might also bear witness to you.

I want to use the small sufferings I have in this world

to give you glory.

In your grace, strengthen my life by the example of Jesus.

He was never apart from you, and knew the treasures for which he died:

The salvation of this world you love.

Help me to feel how close you are.

To remember the treasures you promise in spite of suffering,

and to live in union with you.

Amen.

 

Read

(Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud)

 

Matthew 26: 6-13

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. 8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

 

Romans 5:1-8

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

21 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

 

Reflect

  1. It is easy to consider the “waste” of the extravagant material value of the perfume the woman anoints Jesus with.  Why did Jesus defend her choice to use it the way she did?
  2. What does Jesus’ reaction tell us about the value of money from God’s point of view?
  3. What does this memorable event tell us about the “treasures that come from suffering?”
  4. Early Jesus followers knew full well that their lives would entail hardships.  What kinds of hardships might you endure as a Jesus follower in your context today?

 

Read

(Read the passages above again, aloud)

 

Pray

(Pray the prayer above again, intentionally, and now aloud)

 

Action

What can you do, this week, to courageously endure a hardship for Jesus’ sake, remembering the treasures that Jesus promises those sufferings will lead to?

 

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.

Advertisements

Lent Prayer Guide, week 5

Week 5: The Cross of Christ Reconciles Us to One Another

Silence

Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.

 

Pray

(Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence)

Loving Lord,

it’s so hard to love the world sometimes

and to love it the way Jesus did seems impossible.

I am far too inclined to seek comfort,

And stay as comfortable as possible.

Help me to be inspired by Jesus’ love and

guided by his compassionate example,

journeying with those who are suffering.

I need you, God, to give me support in this journey.

Show me how to unlock my heart.

Let me be less fearful of the pain and darkness

that will be transformed by you into Easter joy.

Amen.

 

Read

(Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud)

Matthew 27: 45-46

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Hebrews 5:7-9

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

Reflect

  1. When Jesus cries out the words of Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) how does it make you feel?  What questions does it raise?  What questions does it answer?
  2. What can we learn from Jesus’ own prayers?  How did he pray?  Why was he heard?  Were his prayers always given a “yes” answer from the Father?

 

Read

(Read the passages above again, aloud)

 

Pray

(Pray the prayer above again, intentionally, and now aloud)

 

Action

What can you do, this week, to intentionally set aside your comfort and enter into someone’s struggle?

 

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.

Lent Prayer Guide, week 4

Week 4: The Cross of Christ Reconciles Us to One Another

Silence

Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.

PrayPray the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence

Loving Creator,

I feel the pace quicken, the time draw near.

I am filled with anticipation as I move toward Easter

and the promised reconciliation with you.

And yet I know that as I am reconciled with you,

I must be reconciled with people.

Grant me the courage to reach out

To seek and give forgiveness.

Teach me to follow the example of Jesus.

Help me to live each day as he did,

turning hatred to love and conflict to peace.

I await the new life with eagerness, faith

and a deep gratitude.

Amen.

Read — Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud.

Matthew 27: 37-44

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

 

Colossians 1: 20

20 Through him God reconciled to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

 

Reflect

  • There are three points of view in Matthew’s telling of this scene: the two rebels, those witnessing the crucifixion, and Jesus himself. Imagine the scene from each point of view.  How does it change the meaning?  Can you empathize with any, or all, of the characters?
  • In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is recorded as having prayed for the forgiveness of those who were mocking him. What does this mean about his ability to forgive you?

 

ReadRead the passages above again, aloud

 

PrayPray the prayer above again, intentionally, and now aloud

 

Action

What can you do, this week, to intentionally seek reconciliation with someone in your life?

 

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.  

Lent Prayer Guide, week 3

Week 3: The Cross of Christ Bearing Our Burdens

Silence

Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.

Pray — (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence)

God of Mercy and Understanding,

I know that with your help

I can open my heart more fully.

More fully to the mysteries of the suffering and death of Jesus.

More fully to the suffering and death of people around the world;

Of people in my own country;

Of people in my own state;

Of people in my own town, even my neighbors.

Help me to be humble in this journey

and remember that any mercy and compassion I can give

is because of the mercy and compassion you have already given.

Amen.

Read — (Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud)

Matthew 26: 57-68

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.66 What do you think? “He is worthy of death,” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Isaiah 53: 3-6

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Reflect

  • In verse 5 above, the prophet Isaiah used the words “transgression” and “iniquity” to describe something that we are guilty of, but that we also need healing from. What kinds of actions do people sometimes choose, that later require “healing”?
  • Can you apply Isaiah’s words to any of your own actions? What choices might you have made in your past that you now need to be healed?
  • As a member of Jesus’ Body, the Church, we can be agents of others’ healing, too. Whom do you know, or know of, who needs someone to share their burden?  What can you do to share it with them?
  • In Matthew’s passage, Jesus refers to himself as both the “Son of Man,” and “coming on the clouds of heaven.” Consider the meaning of Jesus’ willingness to set aside divine power in order to endure human suffering.

Read — (Read the following passages again, aloud)

Matthew 26: 57-68

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.66 What do you think? “He is worthy of death,” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

Isaiah 53: 3-6

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ

Pray — (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and now aloud)

God in heaven and in my life,

By your grace, you have guided and protected me.

I so often forget that you save me,

and instead I believe I can save myself.

I always end in failure of one kind or another.

Lead me as you always have, with your mercy;

Lead me to remember your guidance;

Lead me to repeat your love.

May your Spirit inspire the Church

and make us instruments of your

ongoing love and guidance.

Amen.

Action

What can you do, this week, to intentionally share in someone else’s burden?

 

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.  

Lent Prayer Guide, week 2

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.  

Week 2: Something Decisive Happened for Me

Silence

Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.

Pray (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence)

God in heaven and in my life,

By your grace, you have guided and protected me.

I so often forget that you save me,

and instead I believe I can save myself.

I always end in failure of one kind or another.

Lead me as you always have, with your mercy;

Lead me to remember your guidance;

Lead me to repeat your love.

May your Spirit inspire the Church

and make us instruments of your

ongoing love and guidance.

Amen.

 

Read — (Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud)

Matthew 26: 30-35

Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.  On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”  Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”  “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Isaiah 49:15

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

Reflect (Reflect on the following in your own time, either silently, in writing or journaling, or in conversation with a trusted friend)

  • Matthew describes the deep bond of Jesus’ friendship with his followers, including their promises of loyalty. Have you ever made promises you could not keep, as Jesus’ followers did that night?  Bring them to God in this time of reflection.
  • God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and describes Himself as more loyal even than the mother of an infant. Take a few moments and imagine what that means in your daily life.

 

Read — (Read the following passages again, aloud)

Matthew 26: 30-35

30Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.  31 On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  32 But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”  33 Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”  34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”  35 “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Isaiah 49:15

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

Pray — (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and now aloud)

God in heaven and in my life,

By your grace, you have guided and protected me.

I so often forget that you save me,

and instead I believe I can save myself.

I always end in failure of one kind or another.

Lead me as you always have, with your mercy;

Lead me to remember your guidance;

Lead me to repeat your love.

May your Spirit inspire the Church

and make us instruments of your

ongoing love and guidance.

Amen.

 

Action

What can you do, this week, to repeatedly remember God’s grace in your life?


Many blessings,
MM

Lent Prayer Guide, week 1

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.  

Week 1: The Cross of Christ is Where We Find God

Silence:  Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.  

 

Pray  (Read the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence):

Loving God,

you call us back to you with all of our hearts.

I feel your call for me deep in my heart

and I know you want me back

as much as I want to return.

Please, Lord,

give me the wisdom to know how to return.

Make my journey back to you this Lent

one of grace, forgiveness and gentle love.

Amen.

 

Read (Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud):

Matthew 26: 1-5; 14-15

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”…Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Galatians 1: 11-12

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Reflect (Read and consider the questions, reflecting in silence, speaking, and/or writing):

  1. In the passage by Matthew, there are three points of view to consider: the disciples’, the chief priests’, and Judas’s.  Imagine yourself seeing Jesus from each point of view.  What is the experience like?
  2. Paul insists that the good news he shared with the Galatian church was divine in origin.  What do you think it must have felt like for Paul to come to a knowledge he was convinced was from Jesus Himself?

 

Read (Read the following passages again, aloud)

Matthew 26: 1-5; 14-15

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

3 At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, 4 plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests 15 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.

Galatians 1: 11-12

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

 

Pray (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and now aloud)

Loving God,

you call us back to you with all of our hearts.

I feel your call for me deep in my heart

and I know you want me back

as much as I want to return.

Please, Lord,

give me the wisdom to know how to return.

Make my journey back to you this Lent

one of grace, forgiveness and gentle love.

Amen.

 

Action

What can you do, this week, to make room for a personal encounter with Jesus?

 

Many blessings,

MM

2018: Moving Forward

“The Church must be outwardly focused to be inwardly strong.”  

This morning, Pastor Aaron shared some of the fundamental principles that made the original followers of Jesus bond so permanently, and which to this day still solidify the Church’s identity and purpose.

When Jesus initially called disciples to himself, he identified himself as having a purpose: “I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 4:19).  Even after Jesus’ ascension, the early church simultaneously saw health in their community and rapid growth.

The reason?  Purpose.

“Healthy community flows out of a unified cause — not the other way around.”

So the question each of us is asking today is: “What part is God calling me to play in the purpose God is fulfilling through this congregation and in this community?”

For reflection:

  1. Have you ever shared a common purpose with someone so powerful that it created a lasting bond?
  2. Have you ever lacked a common purpose with someone and felt your friendship grow weak?
  3. If you had to tell a stranger what UPPC’s purpose was, what would you say?
  4. If you had to tell a non-Christian what your purpose is as a Jesus follower, what would you say?

Many blessings,

MM

What the Lord Requires of Us

Thousands of years ago, God set up a system by which he would bless the world through people: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3).  During the second temple period, the system was the same as it had been since God gave Moses the Law: everyone bring a tenth of their best wealth to the temple, so the storehouse would be full.  So that…who would be blessed?

Those in the most need.*

But when the chosen people of God aren’t faithful in this calling, the community suffers.  This faithlessness of God’s people and its repercussions are at the heart of Malachi 3.  Of course God could solve all the world’s problems.  But scripture is clear from end to end: God plans to bless the world through you, me, and all whom he calls.

The good news in this passage is that God intends to abundantly bless the community who are faithful stewards of what God has given.  Note: to bless the community.  There’s no individual “prosperity gospel” here.  This is not a call to manipulate God into fulfilling our wish lists.  This is a call to join God in blessing others, so that we, like the faithful before us, can have our names written in the scroll of remembrance as those who honored God.

For reflection:

  1. What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to giving a portion of your income to ministry efforts?
  2. God’s law has always been to give the first 10% of our income.  Does this challenge you?  Why or why not?
  3. Can you think of a time when you gave from your personal income or wealth and experienced God’s provision afterward?
  4. Do you think our city would change if every Jesus follower gave the first 10% of their income to ministry efforts?  If so, how?

 

Many blessings,

Mike

 

 

*See Deut. 14:28-29.

Sharing Burdens

Revelation 7:9-12

Last week, we heard about “pilers,” that is, people who tend to pile up their homes or offices with the clutter of everyday life.  And while we’d like God to bless our mess, what we really need is transformation.

In so many places worldwide, people’s lives are “piled” with messes that they cannot transform.  They come in the form of poverty, injustice, disease, corporate and cultural challenges, and many more.  And of course the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is active in the world.  Moreover, God is calling us to engage people’s “messiness” by sharing their burdens with them.

In this way, we hope to move ever closer to the vision John had in the book of Revelation: a great multitude from every nation praising God for the freedom God has given us in Christ Jesus.

For reflection:

  1. When you consider the needs of your local community, what needs stand out the most?
  2. When you consider the needs of the wider world, what needs stand out the most?
  3. Have you ever “shared someone’s burden” with them?  What was your experience?
  4. Have you ever had someone else share in your burden with you?  What was that like?
  5. Regardless of the way we serve others, it requires a degree of self-sacrifice.  What might you have to give up, or give away, from your normal routine in order to answer God’s call to share in others’ burdens?

 

Many blessings to you in gracious service!