Allow others to see God in you.

8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1 Pe 3:8.
Peter is instructing those reading this letter on what being a Christian looks like. This is important to us here and now but was of upmost importance for the early church. As the disciples and Paul were starting to see followers of Jesus coming from multiple different countries and backgrounds they were confronted multiple different social levels, educations, backgrounds, cultures, etc that people were coming together with. It created problems on what it meant to be a Christian, what Christian worship looked like but also what Christian community looked like.
Some of the Jewish Christians believed that the full Jewish believe system needed to be adopted to follow Jesus since they did not see following Jesus as a deviation from their Jewish faith but a fulfillment, thus why wouldn’t the full believe system be applicable to new followers of Jesus no matter where they were from.
The argument progressed from being Jewish to being a follower of Jesus. Not that being Jewish as a problem, more that not being Jewish wasn’t a problem. The focus went from the Jewish religion to Jesus who was interacting within the Jewish religion. It wasn’t a one or the other but they wrestled with how can it be both.
Part of the answer is describing what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. Peter is describing traits that Paul would agree with whether as fruit of the Spirit or as evidencing the Love of God. The focus while is on traits that people are displaying, we see the importance of relationship and changing the dynamics of relationships that would have people stopping to take notice of the difference not just in the followers but in what is required by God.
This then raises the standard for us today, it is not just ourselves that we are representing, it is also God. We are not just showing how us as followers are different but how our God is different and treats His people differently, with love, grace, and forgiveness. May we live it out for all to see the greatness of our God.

Prayer to thanksgiving for blessing of special people

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139‬:‭7‬-‭12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus as we face each day of our lives, You have blessed us with those special people who gives us strength, at times to their own detriment. They give of themselves but keep very little to sustain their own lives. Their love is a constant example of Your love for all of Your people. Their constant care brings hope that the dark times that are being experienced will soon pass but even through them we are not alone. The troubles do not scare these people away. They rely on Your holy gift of grace to be a blessing to others. Lord we hear their voices speaking to us Your words of life. They share the blessing that You have given to them and that blessing is passed down from generation to generation. Lord we thank You for these treasures that You have given to us to help us experience the fullness of life that You provide. We pray this in Your loving name, Amen.

Prayer of humility

Psalm 8:4 (NIV): 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, we look around us and see the intricacies of Your creation. The ground that houses seeds and bulbs that become flowers and plants that dance with the beauty of life and bring hope to despairing eyes. The birds that sing from the trees songs of praise to their creator calming the troubles of hurting ears. The twinkling of the stars shining their lights as the creatures of the night come to explore the quiet world yet teeming with life.

Lord with all these and so much more when we consider the vastness of space and the trillions of stars and worlds we know nothing about but You know them all, and to think that You know each one of our thoughts and care intimately about all of Your people. Lord You know the all the processes of life on this planet that is part of the balance of all the worlds in our universe. Too often we see ourselves in such a grand way but when we put ourselves in the picture of the vastness of space and time we realize how small we really are in the greatness of Your creation. Yet Your love for us is felt each day. We see it displayed in Jesus, in the simpleness of a child or the gentleness of one who has lived live in Your faithfulness.

Help us to trust Your faithfulness to care for each of us even in our smallness and insignificance, so that we would seek You and not give into the problems that we face. Bless us with Your strength and courage to face this day as we humbly realize the fullness of Your creation that we are but a part of. Lord we pray this all in Your holy name. Amen.

Not just me and Jesus

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15‬:‭5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We have probably heard this verse in one way or another and thought about ourselves and Jesus. Yet too often we just think about ourselves, me, and Jesus. It is a nice and comforting image about having the divine vine providing for me, giving me a place and the security that I need to flourish but too often we miss the ‘es’ as in branches. Too often we don’t realize that this is a picture of Christ formed community. It is a picture of a community that can thrive if we recognize our place in this community.

It is a struggle for those who don’t believe in Christ to see how remaining in Christ can give us life. To often the suggestion to skip being part of the community of Christ is more alluring than skipping passing fancies that we will do for a time but in reality we one day will be unable to continue with or will be taken away from us. Sometimes it is a matter of the time, but we as a community should be making an effort to provide time and space for the community to happen. The question is not what is my priority, it is what is our priority? To make any changes we have to look at the problem together and work together or we just perpetuate the same mindset that has got us here.

We need to take time to see the us as part of the vine and not just me and Jesus.

Your place in community

““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭17‬:‭20‬-‭21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is part of the prayer that John records Jesus praying before Jesus was arrested, in this translation of the Bible it is known as the “High Priestly Prayer”. The prayer is for all believers, it is for the time that Jesus was living in, it is for Jesus, it is for people like us.

In this prayer we have a beautiful picture of relationship and if we take it a little bit further, it is about community since community is all about relationship. I can’t remember who pointed out this truth of relationship but it is important to share it and for us to think about it. Each person in our lives will bring out something different in us, (yes the good and the not so good), and when they are around we see a different part of ourselves and so do those around us. Without them, that special part could very well be lost.

Too often we don’t realize the effect that we have on someone else. Sometimes we don’t always see our presence as important or beneficial to others. Yet your absence creates a void and changes the community. Each person’s presence is equally valuable and important. If we think in terms of individuals we only look at individual roles and titles but when we look at the big picture of the community we start to see wholeness and importance of each person and each contributions, even those tough people are important too.

Yes at times we can get hurt and we shy away but even in those times of hurt are potential for healing and growth, not just for yourself but also for your community. And even with this statement we are too often short sighted. Our community is not made up just those we are sharing the same space and time with, those that we can see and hear, but also those who have gone before us and provided the space and opportunities for us to grow and live today, also those who we are preparing the world for and community for in the future, whether it is tomorrow, next week or a hundred years from now.

We find this when we start talking about the communion of saints and the great cloud of witnesses. When we start to think about being joined together through the Holy Spirit we need to look beyond our own front door, our own community and realize the great connection that we have with complete strangers, long forgotten pioneers, and those whose cells have not been conceive except in God’s creative mind.

You are part of God’s community of life.

Unity in Community

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭1‬-‭3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul’s writing to the Ephesians sums up nicely what it means to live in community. Verse 3 above talks about the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We see this being lived out throughout the Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit brings unity to the believers and in that unity they are able to live in peace. Living in community changes how we look at each other and how we relate to each other and even how we think about our selves. When we think about living in community it reminds us that there is something more than ourselves to think about. Yet for some all they see is themselves with others. They see individuals that make up a community where the individual comes before the community. This is foreign to the Bible, well not so foreign but it is seen as examples of sinfulness.

When we go from it the other way, seeing the community before the individual, the hierarchy of importance changes, not that either is eliminated but our identity and importance, even our belonging changes. Coming at it from a community first stand point assumes that you have a place, that you do belong. When we come at it from an individual first, you are trying to belong and fit in. How we talk to each other changes. How we think about honouring each other changes. How we perceive how are words and actions are received changes. From an individual stand point my actions are my own and they shouldn’t affect others. However, from a community standpoint, each member is affected by each other both good or bad. The word honour relates to this concept as does shame in a collective manner.

We have to be care though. Too far in either direction and we find ourselves entering into abuse. God created us to each be unique but to also be part of His community. Do we recognize our place in community and our responsibility to each other? When we are living in the unity of the Holy Spirit, we are balancing that needs of both the community and the individual.

Prayer for a Spirit filled peaceful day

“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭32‬:‭17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus help us to seek to live lives of righteousness as we walk with You and share You grace with those around us. Help us to resist the temptations of evil no matter how grand they appear or how subtly they creep in. May our hearts be in tune with Yours so that we will clearly hear Your guiding words in our lives every day.

Lord Jesus, instil in us the richness of the Gospel for our daily living. May our words shine with Your grace and compassion and our actions filled with Your live giving love. Guide us with Your Holy Spirit to work for healing in families, in schools, at work, at play, on the streets, in our communities, with friends, strangers, and even enemies. Lord remind us what it means to up hold all people in prayers.

Lord Jesus, cleanse our minds from damaging thoughts that bring unseen wounds into our lives. Help us to live by faith and not merely by our own understanding because at times it is flawed and far from You. May Your words of live be heard by our ears, held in our hearts and minds, empower our steps, and be heard coming from our mouths.

Lord we pray this all in Your Holy Name, Amen.

Prayer to fear not

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let us pray.

Lord of all grace.grant us help to be present in the life that You have blessed us with. May we not be overcome by the worries that we face or by the worries that others are enduring. Grant us clarity during these times of uncertainty so that we might experience peace while others have forgotten Your steadfast love. Help us to live inspire of the fear that tries to paralyze us from doing what is right and faithful. Lord strengthen our hearts with the resolve to show grace even when we are hurting. May are eyes be adjusted to the world around us so that we can see past the sins of division and recognize the grace of Jesus Christ for us and our fellow people, especially those we don’t always see.

Lord may our walk be true to Your guiding word. May Your Holy Spirit fill us beyond what we think we can handle so that we would learn to trust You more and more each day. We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for these times

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, help us to walk in Your ways even when we struggle to understand or like what we are given. Grant us hope for our uncertain future that we might walk into the light of Your grace each and everyday. Lord we at times struggle with the paths that You have laid before us. We want to follow You with all of our heart but we don’t understand all of the why’s that lead us away from what we know and love but we still want to be with You no matter what we face, we know that You are at our center. Our hearts and minds, our bodies and souls are focused on You no matter where we are.

Lord help us to not loose sight of You no matter where You lead us. Help us to trust Your faithfulness to care for those around us. Lord take our eyes off of ourselves so that we might see You at work all around us Grant us peace and deliverance from the struggles that we face in heart and mind, body and soul. Lord we know that it is Your Holy Spirit that brings us together and guides us through monotony and complexities that are all around us. Your faithfulness is what sustains us in times of distress and in times of grace. We love You Lord for the blessing that You have given to enrich our lives. We thank You Lord. We pray this in Your holy name. Amen.

God’s big picture

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭4‬:‭11‬-‭12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The above verses should bring us great hope for a number of reasons. One is that we have salvation, we have hope and we are loved by God through Jesus. The second is sometimes missed because we do not always look beyond the meaning that comes through Jesus. What we miss is that even the people that chose to have Jesus crucified could not stop what God was doing and there is still hope for these people. Too often people forget how powerful God’s grace is even when they think that have acted against God.

This doesn’t mean that we can do what ever we want or that what we do doesn’t matter. It does and yes there are consequences for of actions however, we serve God who is not hung up on the minute, He is the God of the big picture. We can get caught up in all the small details and it can be daunting for us. God is well aware of everything that is going on in each of our lives but we are not the stars of this story. We are part of the great work of Jesus Christ in this life, in this world. Too often we get so focused on ourselves that we miss all that is going on around us and miss all that God is doing to bring healing into our broken world. We are not the stars but we are part of the work of art that is being created.

We can’t mess up what God is doing.