December 6 – December 12, 2016

WORD

2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.  6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?  A reed shaken by the wind?  8What then did you go out to see?  Someone dressed in soft robes?  Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.  9What then did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  10This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’  11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Matthew 11:2-11

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: What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?  A reed shaken by the wind?

Take a moment to think of all the fads that you have seen come and go in the years you have been alive: poodle skirts, bell bottoms, pet rocks, disco, boomboxes, parachute pants, MySpace.  Fads come and go and the world seems to get blown about this way and that by any and every wind of change.

The Jewish people of Jesus’s time were always on the lookout for a Messiah and there were many opportunists ready to claim that they were the true Messiah.  All of them, though, eventually failed the people.  So, John is essentially asking Jesus, “Are you another faker or are you the real thing?  Have we been blown about by another wind of change, or are you going to prove to be different than just another Messianic fad?”

Jesus proved to be the real deal, so to speak.  And this was evidenced in what he was doing.  He was not using his influence to gain power and fame as the false Messiahs did.  No, Jesus was using the power of the Spirit to bring healing and wholeness to the suffering and sin-enslaved people.  He came not for himself, but for us.

How do we stay true to Jesus and his mission without getting blown about by every wind of “wisdom,” every societal change, or every spiritual fad?  How do we prevent ourselves from becoming a thin reed blowing in the wind, about to break if the wind pushes too hard against our roots?  There are many winds that blow through society and the Church that threaten to uproot us if we follow their course.  Stay grounded and rooted in the love, grace, and mission of Jesus Christ.  And in so doing, find the joy that only Jesus Christ can bring.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, December 6 – 1 Samuel 8
  • Wednesday, December 7 – 1 Samuel 9
  • Thursday, December 8 – 1 Samuel 10
  • Friday, December 9 – 1 Samuel 11
  • Saturday, December 10 – 1 Samuel 12
  • Sunday, December 11 – 1 Samuel 13
  • Monday, December 12 –  1 Samuel 14

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing…

Did you know God is at work in prison?  There are a good number of stories in the Bible that detail God’s work in the lives of those who found themselves in prison: Joseph, Jeremiah, John, Peter, Paul…  Today in our prisons God is still at work redeeming and renewing the lives of those who have been imprisoned.  Pray for those who are incarcerated and those who are charged with providing for their safety, care, and rehabilitation (especially for those in the prisons/jails in your local area).  Ask God to change the lives of the inmates in prison and to give the wardens/guards/officials hearts of compassion and mercy.  Pray that God will work within our justice system to bring fairness and to renew a commitment to restoration over punitive vindication.  Pray for those who have been sentenced to lengthy sentences or even to death, that God might bring them hope and forgiveness through the divine grace of Christ.  Pray especially for those who minister in prisons (chaplains and volunteers), praying that their message of love and mercy might multiply and find open ears, minds, and hearts to receive the message.  For more information on prison ministry, check out the ministry of Kairos at www.kairosprisonministry.org.

Meditation Focus: And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.

What an interesting statement by Jesus.  Take some time this week to ponder the meaning of this statement.  What does it mean to “take offense at” Jesus?  Do we ever take offense at Jesus without realizing it?  Reread the list of the actions of Jesus in verse 5.  What do you think of this work of Jesus?  Is it commonplace to see such things happen in the church?  How would you respond to seeing such things happen in today’s church culture?  Would we be offended?  How might you partner with Jesus in such Spirit-empowered work?  Do not dismiss the work of opening eyes and ears, of cleansing the impure, of healing the broken, of raising the dead, and of preaching to the poor as if these were just works of the past.  Jesus has come today to bring such miraculous work to the world.  Jesus is inviting you to not be offended, but to accept what he is doing and to join in the work of the kingdom.  How might you be blessed today by not taking offense at Jesus?

Journaling Focus: Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

We have all known those persons of whom we would say something similar to what Jesus says about John.  What great person of the kingdom have you been privileged to know in your life?  This week, take out a picture of a beloved person who shaped your life and who helped lead you to the kingdom.  Perhaps that person is still with you; perhaps they have died.  Spend some time looking at them in thanksgiving, joy, and remembrance.  Let those feelings guide you as you write to them, recounting how they made a great impact in your life.  Tell them how they shaped you and how they showed God’s love and opened God’s ways to you.  End your journaling time by writing a note to God expressing your gratitude for that person.

Breath Prayer: Father, be our joy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s