Week 26, Day 4,
June 30, 2022
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, TNIV)
“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51, TNIV)
Treasuring and pondering Jesus.
Mary treasured and pondered Jesus. I think that is discipleship in it simplest form. Certainly we would add to the list. But treasuring Jesus and pondering him are certainly important elements to our growth in Christ.
Mary takes it all in. This child of mine, miraculously conceived, will change everything. He will bring peace and be known as God with us.
We have children that frequently all we can do is treasure and ponder as well.
Often, I think, how can someone I love so much drive me this crazy?
I treasure them, but I am bewildered by them also.
I’ve digressed, a bit. But I think the treasuring and pondering on Mary’s part grows out of sincere love for her son, and an excited heart at all that God will do through him.
Let’s take time today, to treasure and ponder Jesus. Consider his love for us. Consider his ways. Consider his mercy and grace.
Treasure and ponder Jesus.
Week 26, Day 3
June 29, 2022
Scripture: Luke 1
“to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”” (Luke 1:79)
There is eager anticipation surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. God is awakening people to the call out of darkness and into the light. He will use John in a miraculous way to draw people out of death and into life. He will tell them of the coming Lord, and call people to repentance and life in the Kingdom of God.
As I weigh the significance of John the Baptist’s ministry today, I think it’s important that we continue his ministry still. We point people to the arrival of Christ as well. We anticipate that our king will return and right the wrongs of the world. As John will make paths straight, we too align our hearts to God and embrace our call to “shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Week 26, Day 2
June 28, 2022
“I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” (Philemon 6)
Paul challenges Philemon and the church that meets together to accept back a runaway slave, Onesimus.
This runaway ran into Paul and his life changed forever. In a stunning bit of story, Paul challenges the Christians to receive Onesimus back, even forgiving him! Of all things, consider him, more than a slave, but a brother in Christ.
The real challenge here is that this has enormous social implications. What would the other slaves think of Philemon? They might get the idea that this is how Philemon rolls. It could be quite detrimental to the whole household to lose all the slaves. In the ancient world, slaves were as common as televisions and electricity in our modern households.
Paul is sharing this challenge with Philemon and invites him to see the goodness of Christ within it. “Deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.”
Just as Jew and Gentile are reconciled in Christ. Another good thing is that now, slave and free are one in Christ as well.
It leads us to today, to consider what is the good that Christ is leading us towards? How far reaching is the forgiveness of God? What social implications do we need to disregard as Philemon does for the good things that Christ is leading us towards?
Week 26, Day 1
June 27, 2022
Scripture: Colossians 4
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:2–6)
Several years ago, Nick Pollard wrote the wonderful book “Evangelism made slightly less difficult.” This was required reading for me in one of my ministry courses at GLCC. Pollard outlines Colossians 4 as a prayer that we lift up to God to help us reach others with the love of Jesus.
Pray that we proclaim the message clearly.
Pray for an open door to share the hope of Christ.
Pray for our conversations to be filled with grace.
Pray for wisdom in how we act towards others.
Pray for making the most of every opportunity we get to share Jesus.
Would you join with me in focusing in on this prayer? The mere act of asking God for opportunities awakens us to the moments throughout our day to point people to Jesus.
Week 25, Day 5
June 24, 2022
Scripture: Colossians 3
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1–3)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23–24)
It can be difficult to set our mind on things above. Just in reading that, you’ve already thought of five different things you need to be doing right now. Or perhaps you’ve set your mind on all the earthly struggles that you are presently facing. It wasn’t nice that I even mentioned it!
But take a deep breath and focus now on this: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
You have been raised.
This is your life in Christ.
Imagine now, all the things that died in the old life we used to live. The troubles that we face, the struggles of having enough, being enough, doing enough… they died.
The sinful past that we lived, filled with evil and idolatry – all the things that we chased…died.
What is left is this new life. We are dearly loved and chosen. You are clothed in kindness, compassion, gentleness, these things are from above. Because I have died and now live in Christ, it is not so daunting now to consider the life from above.
How wonderful it is that I may consider Christ and his compassion today! How now might I live my new life today with the gentle reminder of his grace and the new life that I share in him.
I have died, but I am raised to new life. Say that to yourself a few times. I have died, but I am raised to new life.
What sorrow melts away? What pressures from the world? IS there peace for you in this?
Think upon our King Jesus reigning from heaven today. He has chosen you and made you his.
Serve Christ today, in all grace, compassion and mercy. God is with you and loves you.
You have died, and now live in Christ.
Week 25, Day 4
June 23, 2022
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13–15)
One of my favorite connections is found here in Colossians. “Legal indebtedness” is in reference towards a public statement of debts. It became public knowledge of what was owed. Well that legal indebtedness is not nailed for all to see in the town square, but rather, nailed to the cross.
What was once a debt that condemned us, is now forgiven. God has made a spectacle of this, through the cross, triumphing over the powers and authorities.
Because of this, we are made alive in Jesus. We are set free!
Paul is moving swiftly to make a point; our righteous new life is founded on Jesus Christ. He is setting us free. He lives, he reigns and we have life in him.
As for us, we now know that we are forgiven and have our life in Christ. Paul will encourage us next to set our minds on things above. Today, let us simply be thankful for our forgiveness. The debt of sin is paid, you are free!
Week 25, Day 3
June 22, 2022
Scripture: Colossians 1
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13–14)
If you would like a quick summary of the Gospel I try to preach, this is it, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus preached this message, throughout his ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” It’s what John the Baptist preached during his ministry and Jesus continued that message following the ministry of John the Baptist. People were called to believe in something that was going to fundamentally change the world. A new ruler, the Messiah, was coming, and this kingdom would be unlike any kingdom that existed before. The hearts of those who belong to the kingdom would be changed, forever. The law would not be written on tablets to be broken, rather, hearts that would continuously be changed.
This kingdom would be on Jesus’ mind quite frequently. He would teach about it and help people see it’s true worth, its unconventional approach, starting small, with humble beginnings. It would be a kingdom worth giving up everything for a life within it.
Paul takes the ministry of Jesus, all that he accomplishes and teaches us that we are rescued from the dominion of darkness, and now belong to the Kingdom of the Son.
It can be hard for us to understand all of this, or find each day that we live in this kingdom. But this is the work of Paul, to help us keep growing in the knowledge of Christ and realize that he reigns today. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He was with God in the beginning, he reigns today. And this King, is the head over the church. Jesus leads and reigns over us.
This encouragement is much needed in our world today. It feels like we are ruled over by the kingdom and dominion of darkness. But Paul most assuredly believes that we are no longer dominated by darkness and death. We live in Christ and have life in Him!
You have life in Jesus!
Spend time today, thanking God that he has rescued you. His rescue is true, you are loved, and you have life in His kingdom today!
That’s some really great news!
Week 25, Days 1 & 2
June 20-21, 2022
Scripture; Philippians 3-4
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
It is difficult to live a life of contentment. Paul earlier in chapter 4 teaches us that he knows what it is to have needs, as well as to have plenty. Through all the trials of his life, he has learned the art of contentment. It is through Christ and his power that it is possible.
I figure I still have a long way to go in this regard. I can often think of the countless things that I am missing. I suppose we all can struggle with the enemies of contentment; greed, loneliness, contempt, bitterness, envy. We play the comparison game and it kills contentment. In the age of affluence and influence, how much is enough? Will I ever be satisfied? Will I ever feel complete? Will I have enough money? Will I have enough friends? Accolades? Will my life ever have a sense of completion?
These are the questions that run around in my head, and I am sure I am good company with everyone reading this. How much is enough?
Well, like a balm for the soul, “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” That’s Paul’s word for the faithful, generous, loving people in Philippi. They gave and supported Him, maybe we should follow their lead. Live generously, walk humbly, and trust in the Lord. Paul learned contentment, even in prison. I heard or read recently, that Philippians is possibly the happiest of Paul’s letters, and it’s written in some of the most dire of circumstances. This is what it is to have all our needs met in Christ. Despite not having enough, Paul clearly knows Christ is truly all we need. He can do all things through Christ, who gives him the strength.
Week 23, Day 5
June 10, 2022
Scripture: Ephesians 3
Let’s pray Paul’s prayer for the church!
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14–21)
Week 23, Day 4
June 9, 2022
Scripture: Ephesians 2
Ephesians 2:19–20 (TNIV)
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
The divisiveness of the world has been discouraging lately. Unfortunately, it is easy to grow further apart from our neighbors and disconnected with one another.
Paul’s message of encouragement is to both the Jews and the Gentiles. Those who knew God and were close to God, the Jews, as well as those who were “far” from God, Gentiles, who are now a part of God’s family. It’s a wonderful picture of unity, brought about by God’s grace. This is a difficult idea to hold in one’s head if you are a Jew, and that’s the reason why Hebrews, Romans and Galatians exists. How do we function together, in view of God’s Grace?
Well here, Paul gives us a beautiful encouragement. It’s all by Grace that anyone is saved, Jew or Gentile. We all need Jesus, no matter what. He’s the foundation of this new humanity. He’s the one who holds this new house together, in which everything is built.
This encouragement to find our life on the Cornerstone Jesus Christ is just what we need for these divisive days. He’s the only one we can sufficiently and appropriately hold us together and unite us.
Let’s be a unified people who are built together on the grace, hope and love of Jesus.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.