November 8 – November 14, 2016

WORD

6Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us.  7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you.  9This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate.  10For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.  11For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.  12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.  13Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13


Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.

I love animals, especially cats; even more especially, I love my cats.  Daisy and Bailey are 13 years old.  Elizabeth and I have had them since very early in our marriage.  They were our “kids” before we had children and we love them very deeply.  But there is one thing that is truer than true about cats: they are lazy!  Ours are no exception.  In their long kitty lives they have probably slept away a combined ten of those thirteen years.  The cat in the image above is taking a posture that my cats are very familiar with (I have spared them the embarrassment of including their picture!).  In fact, if you pass by the parsonage at any given time, you will probably see Daisy or Bailey stretched out on the end table by the front window, basking in the sunshine.

Rest is a good gift of God.  After all, God made sure to include rest within the rhythm of creation and time.  Sabbath is an essential element of the Christian life.  However, we have been given work to do as well.  In the United Methodist Church we have affirmed that our work is to disciple one another in Jesus Christ so that the world might be transformed into a reflection of God’s intentions for creation.  The part we play in such work is as unique and varied as we are.  That work is expressed in our professional vocations and in our personal service to others.  Whatever you do professionally and personally is an opportunity to serve God and to disciple others.

What work is God setting before you today?  How might you fulfill God’s vision for the creation by giving of your self, your time, your energy, your talents, and your resources?  We have all been called to fulfill a specific manifestation of the work of the kingdom of God.  Take some sabbath time to renew and refresh your soul and to commune with God.  Then, follow God into whatever work you have been given for God’s glory.  The Spirit of God is already at work and goes before you to open up that path of fruitfulness.  Let’s get to work!

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, November 8 – 2 Corinthians 9
  • Wednesday, November 9 – 2 Corinthians 10
  • Thursday, November 10 – 2 Corinthians 11
  • Friday, November 11 – 2 Corinthians 12
  • Saturday, November 12 – 2 Corinthians 13
  • Sunday, November 13 – Ecclesiastes 1
  • Monday, November 14 –  Ecclesiastes 2

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: We were not idle when we were with you.

We often take the blessing of work for granted.  There are so many people who want to work but cannot find a job or who are underemployed and work one or more jobs and still cannot provide for themselves and their families.  Take time today to thank God for the work you have been given – professional vocation, works of service, and labors of love – that helps to add meaning and provision to your life.  Lift those persons before God in mercy and compassion who are out of work and need to find endurance, encouragement, hope, and opportunity.  Ask God to lift the burden of oppressive work conditions for the many who labor in dangerous or exploitative environments.  Pray for our world that it would become more generous, fair, and just.

Meditation Focus: Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly.

Often we give in to the temptation to draw attention to our work and to expect accolades for doing what we are supposed to do.  What would it look like if we all served others and did the work God has set before us with humble hearts and simple gratitude?  What if we even did good for others without them knowing about it?  I think particularly about an anonymous person who once blessed our family with an envelope of money that was slid under our door during a transition period.  Or the many persons who quietly but lovingly sent food over to our apartment when the girls were born.  Or the friend who mowed our yard when I hurt my ankle.  Or the generous neighbor who mulched our leaves last week simply because he was doing the same in his yard and he had a surplus of time, energy, and love.

In a quiet moment, imagine the community around you.  As you picture the people and places of your community, ask God to lead you to those opportunities, those corners of your world, in which you might be able to do good covertly, without any expectation of recognition or payback.  Who are those people whom you might serve, for their good, without them even knowing it?  As God leads you to those people and places in your mind, commit to do the work of God this week faithfully and quietly.

Journaling Focus: Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

We are called to do what is right.  How, though, do we define what is right?  Sometimes, one of the hardest aspects of being a follower of Christ is trying to discern what is the right, Christ-like thing to do in any given situation.  Think about a situation in which you struggle to know what is the right or wrong course of action.  Perhaps it is a decision you are facing now.  Perhaps it is a situation you have faced in the past, whether you feel like you chose rightly or not.  What is it about this situation that causes you to struggle to ascertain what is right?  Listen carefully for the voice of God: what is God saying to you about this? How has God directed you toward the right path in the past and how might you connect to God’s guidance now?  How has God taught/shaped you through the aftermath of choosing wrongly?  The practice of discernment through prayer, meditation, and seeking God through Scripture is a discipline that will lead us into God’s will.  Reflect on how you might practice this discipline of discernment in the decisions facing you today.  As you reflect through writing, ask God to give you the strength, courage, wisdom, and grace to choose and act rightly.

Breath Prayer: Father, give us a holy energy.

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